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You have to file Form I-131 to apply for a re-entry permit, refugee travel document or advance parole travel document, to include parole into the US for humanitarian reasons.

Advance Parole is for applicants who have a pending Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident, and who want to travel before the Application is approved. A Refugee Travel Document is for applicants who hold Refugee or Asylee status and who want to travel outside the US. Re-entry Permit is for Lawful Permanent Residents who will be abroad for an extended period of time, generally one year or more.

If you are filing Form I-131 based on your pending or approved Form I-821, you are required to file form I-131 with the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility. Make sure you include a copy of the I-797 C Notice of Action that shows that your application was accepted or approved. If you are applying for renewal of your advance parole document , the USCIS will accept and adjudicate Form I-131 filed up to 120 days before the date your current Advance Parole document expires.

All Refugee Travel Document applicants or one for a Reentry Permit must complete biometrics at an Application Support Center (ASC) or if applying for a Refugee Travel Document while outside of the U.S. at an overseas USCIS facility. If you are between 14 and 79 years of age and you are applying for a Refugee Travel Document or Re-entry Permit, you must also be fingerprinted as part of USCIS biometric services requirements. After you have filed this application, USCIS will inform you in writing of the time/location of your biometrics appointment. It is important to remember that if you do not appear to be fingerprinted or for other biometric services, it might lead to denial of your application.

 

Applicants for Re-entry Permit and/or Refugee Travel Documents between 14 and 79 years of age have to pay the additional $85 biometric fee. The submission fee while filing for advance parole or re-entry permit is $360 and for a Refugee Travel Document for an individual aged 16 or older is $135. For a child under the age of 16 years, it is $105. For individuals aged between 14 and 79, a biometric fee of $85 is necessary for a Reentry Permit and a Refugee Travel Document , unless the applicant resides outside of the US at the time of filing their form. Note that there is no biometric fee required for advance parole applicants. The submission fee and biometrics services fee may be paid with a single check for $445 and it must be made payable to the DHS.

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If you encounter any problem as a temporary worker in the US, remember you have certain rights and you can get help. You have to right to be treated and paid fairly. You will not be held in a job against your will. Note that you can have your passport and other documents in your possession. You have the right to report abuse without retaliation and can get help from unions, immigrant and labor rights groups and you can also seek justice in US courts.

If you are treated badly or rights are violated, you can get help if you call these toll-free numbers:

  • National Human Trafficking Resource Center – Toll-Free Hotline 1-888-373-7888
  • Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line (Monday — Friday, 9am-5pm Eastern Time)1-888-428-7581
  • If you are facing physical danger, Call 911

Ways to protect yourself

Ensure that your passport is kept in a safe and easily accessible place. Have copies of your passport, visa, work contract in your country. Save the phone number of your country’s embassy. Have a record of the days and hours you worked and the amount and date of each payment you received. Help is available at the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline. You can call 1-888-373-7888 (24 hours) or the Trafficking in Persons and Worker Exploitation Task Force Complaint Line at 1-888-428-7581 (weekdays 9am-5pm EST).

Immaterial of you visa status, you have many other rights. If you think these rights are being violated, you can report it to a government enforcement agency. You also have the option of bringing a lawsuit to recover your losses. Remember it is against the law for your employer to try to punish you (threatening to report you to immigration or the police if you try to enforce your rights). If your employer threatens you at any time, get help immediately.

Another important right is the right to get paid for all work you do, just as how U.S. Workers are treated. You can earn at least the federal legal minimum wage $6.55 per hour, and $7.25 per hour ( from July 24, 2009) in the similar fashion as US workers. Verify the minimum wage for the state where you work. Should the wage be higher, you should be paid the higher amount.

You may be eligible for overtime pay of one and a half times the amount of your wage for any hours worked above 40 hours per week. Deduction is something that your employer takes money from your paycheck. Many deductions are considered unlawful if they diminish your legal wage rate. An employer normally will not deduct for housing, most uniforms, safety equipment, or recruitment fees.

You also have the right to not be treated differently or badly at workplace because of your gender, race, national origin, color, religion, or disability. Also remember your employer has to pay the same amount to each worker for the same work and offer each worker the same job opportunities regardless of the worker’s gender, race, national origin, color, religion, or disability. You are not required to speak only in English at work unless there is an important business reason that requires you to speak English.

Regardless of whether you are a woman or a man, note that your employer cannot sexually harass you. The employer should not demand you to do sex acts, touch you in a sexual manner or tell sexual or offensive remarks. As far as hygiene is concerned, you have the right to a safe and clean working condition. If you get injured or get sick at workplace, you can request medical treatment. Mostly, you will be entitled for free medical treatment and part of the wages lost while getting injured. These are only few of the many rights, temporary workers are entitled to.

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Demand for Visas

More than 9.6 million visa applications were processed during the year 2011. Out of those, more than 7.5 million U.S. Visas were issued. This was an increase of more than 17 percent over the previous year where 6.4 million visas were issued. There has been a significant increase in demand for visas in some of the world’s fastest-growing economies. In the last five years, visa issuances have increased 234 percent in Brazil, 124 percent in China, 51 percent in India, and 24 percent in Mexico. During 2011, more than one million visas were processed for Chinese foreign nationals. This was an increase of more than 35 percent compared to the previous year.

Sixty million visitors entered the US in 2010, and 35 percent of these visitors entered the US using visas issued by the Department of State. Travel to the US generated $134 billion in revenue and supported 1.1 million US jobs during the year 2010. According to the Department of Commerce, the number of visitors to the US will increase six to nine percent annually for the next five years and is estimated to reach 88 million visitors by the year 2016.

Considering the demand for visas, the Department of State is keeping pace and has more personnel and resources to visa adjudication. The DoS plans to increase visa adjudications by one-third during the year 2012 in both China and Brazil, where there is the greatest increase in visa demand. DoS will be adding 98 visa adjudicators this year and the next year in China and Brazil. The first group of these special recruits will arrive at posts in China and Brazil in the spring of 2012. At some posts in China and Brazil, the department is operating with extended hours. The Department is using many different tools to maximize efficiency and improve security-related screening.

It is a known fact that wait times for visa appointments fluctuate depending on seasonal demand. At most places around the world, visa applicants have to wait less than one week for an interview appointment. The department will send temporary duty officers to manage seasonal hike in demand.

Throughout the world, wait times for student visa interview appointments are less than 15 days. This category is prioritized because of the tremendous intellectual, social, and economic benefits foreign students provide to the US. economy. Per the Department of Commerce, international students contributed nearly $20 billion to the US. economy during 2009-2010.

There are procedures to expedite interview appointments for urgent business travel. US. officials work with American Chambers of Commerce in more than 100 countries to streamline visa processing for people traveling for business. The Department’s Business Visa Center facilitates visa application procedures for American companies and convention organizers who invite employees or current and prospective business clients to the US. The Center handled nearly 3,500 requests during 2011.

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The US government offers a free service called the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to U.S. citizens who are traveling to, or living in, another country. Through the program, you can enter information about your intended foreign trip so that the Department of State (DoS) will be in a better position to assist you in an emergency. The program also helps Americans residing abroad to get all the important information from the nearest US embassy or consulate.

The US government encourages more US citizens to avail this service. The registration process is very simple. All you need to do is create an account by clicking on the “Create an Account” link and then go through the instructions provided. You can have your own username and password through which you can access your travel data at any time. The account that you create will also have your personal information so that it can be saved and used again whenever you travel outside the US. The personal information section will have information about yourself, and will also have an emergency contact that is not traveling with you.

After you create your account, you can see your profile and will be able to add trips or overseas residences in order to register with a particular US Embassy or Consulate. By clicking on the “Add Trip” button or “Add Overseas Residence” buttons, you will be able to add this information. Go through all the pages, and provide as much information as you can. Though there are very few required fields, providing detailed information will be handy and will enable the US Embassy to help you more efficiently, when needed.

Remember that US consular officers will help Americans who encounter serious legal, medical, or financial difficulties. Though they cannot help or act as your legal counsel or representative, they can assist by giving the names of local attorneys and doctors and give loans to destitute Americans. They will also give you important information about dangerous conditions affecting your overseas travel or residence. They also provide non-emergency services, helping US citizens with absentee voting, selective service registration, receiving federal benefits, and filing US taxes. In addition, they can also notarize documents, issue passports, and register American children born outside of the US. You can check the websites of these embassies and consulates for additional information.

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The Citizenship Test

Immigration has been a very important part of American history ever since colonists first landed on US soil more than 400 years ago. The civics test deals with important milestones and events in American history to make new immigrants feel part of this shared experience. As part of the citizenship process, one has to understand the system of government and the principles of American democracy. Citizenship applicants need to have a basic knowledge and understanding of how the US government works and how they can participate after becoming citizens.

A test of the English language is also a part of the citizenship test. Having the necessary vocabulary is expected regardless of the applicant’s language level. The vocabulary required for the listening and speaking includes words used in basic conversation, general commands, and about the information provided in the Application for Naturalization, Form N-400.

LISTENING – The applicant should be

1. Able to understand and act on basic commands.

2. Able to understand and respond accordingly to clarification commands.

3. Able to understand questions about everyday events.

4. Able to understand questions asked orally on the N-400 application and other relevant USCIS forms.

5. Able to understand the questions asked orally about supporting documentation.

6. Able to understand oral questions from the civics test.

SPEAKING – The applicant should be

1. Able to engage in basic conversations in English.

2. Able to construct clarifying questions.

3. Able to answer questions about everyday life and events.

4. Able to make statements about personal information.

5. Able to give complete answers and statements to the N-400 application questions.

6. Able to respond to requests for clarification.

7. Able to complete answers to civics questions.

READING – The applicant should be

1. Able to read and understand all relevant USCIS forms including the N-400 application.

2. Able to read civics items and answers.

3. Able to read vocabulary and sentences on the reading test.

4. Able to read directional and security signs at USCIS offices.

WRITING – The applicant should be

1. Able to write to complete all the appropriate USCIS forms.

2. Able to write dictated sentences on the writing test.

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Indians seeking to go to the US will hereafter be subject to a simpler visa process. The US Embassy today announced a hassle free visa processing system that will simplify the fee payment and appointment schedules for a travel document. This system will come into effect from September 26. Applicants will be able to pay the visa application fees through Electronic Fund Transfer (EFT) or even with their mobile phones. They will now be able to collect their documents from 33 document pick-up centers in the country.

For the convenience of the applicants, an online system has been introduced through which applicants can schedule their appointments online or by phone. If you like to schedule an appointment over phone, you can contact a call center. Representatives at these call centers will answer your queries in English, Hindi, Punjabi, Gujarati, Telugu and Punjabi.

Julia Stanley, Minister Counselor for Consular Affairs of the US Embassy, said. “It is our goal to make our visa process as efficient as possible to meet the increased demand for US visas worldwide…we are offering appointments by phone for the first time. The new global appointment schedule will offer group and expedited appointments.”

At a press conference, she said the main difference from the existing system is that those applying for the first time will have to schedule two appointments. One will be for fingerprint collection at an Off site Facilitation Center and the other would be for consular interview at the Embassy or Consulate. When asked about the safety of documents since there is more than one location involved in the process, she said the US has always accorded “highest possible security” on visa issues and would ensure all the documents are kept very safely.

The new system will provide applicants with more options when it comes to payment. The visa fees can be paid through ETA, mobile phone and also by cash at over 1,800 Axis and Citibank branches.
Applicants renewing their visa need not have to get their fingerprints done more than once. Stanley also expressed her hope that the number of applicants who do not need to visit the premises would grow significantly.

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If you happen to see any suspicious activity, make sure to report it to the Police. Reporting such activities in a timely manner will help stop major crimes or terrorist attacks. Once you report, local law enforcement officers will be able to respond immediately and start assessing the situation. Citizens should always have it in mind to call the local law enforcement. If there is a life threatening emergency, you always have 911 to call.

Giving detailed information about the suspicious activity as much as possible will be of much help. Giving a brief description of the activity along with the date, time and location of the activity will be very useful. In addition, physical identification of persons you observed and any descriptions of vehicles will certainly prove handy.

Remember there is an active national strategy for information sharing. The Nationwide Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) Initiative (NSI) is a collaborative effort led by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Bureau of Justice Assistance, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and state, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement partners.

This initiative helps law enforcement in preventing terrorism and other terrorism-related crime by gathering, documenting, processing, analyzing, and sharing SAR information. The NSI is a standardized process for identifying and reporting suspicious activity in jurisdictions across the United States and also serves as the unified axis point for sharing SAR information. If you are afraid to report such activities, remember that you can report anonymously. DHS also has other reporting avenues for reporting incidents.

To report crimes to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (his) you can call 866-347-2423 (from the U.S., Mexico and Canada) and 802-872-6199 (from other countries in the world).

The nationwide “If You See Something, Say Something” public awareness campaign was launched to raise public awareness about giving information on terrorism and terrorism-related crime, and to stress the importance of reporting suspicious activity to the appropriate local law enforcement authorities. The campaign was initially used by New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). It then licensed the use of the slogan to DHS for anti-terrorism and anti-terrorism crime related efforts

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