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Archive for the ‘Visas’ Category

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The Visa Waiver Program

Through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) persons from certain qualifying countries can come to the US and stay for a maximum period of 90 days without a visa. This program was established to eliminate unnecessary barriers to travel, stimulating the tourism industry, and permitting the Department of State to focus its resources in other areas. There are some eligibility requirements to be met for nationals of VWP countries to travel without a visa on VWP. Some travelers from VWP countries are not eligible for this program. VWP travelers should have a valid authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before they travel, are screened at the port of entry into the US and are enrolled in the Department of Homeland Security’s US-VISIT program. As of now, 36 countries qualify for this program.

To qualify for the Visa Waiver Program, a country has to fulfill many security and other requirements. It includes enhanced law enforcement and security-related data sharing with the US and timely reporting of both blank and issued lost and stolen passports. VWP members have to also maintain high counter terrorism, law enforcement, border control, and document security standards. Satisfying these conditions alone will not make a country eligible as designation as a VWP country is at the sole discretion of the US government.

Nationals of the qualifying countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program may use this program under these conditions:

  • They have received an authorization to travel under the VWP through ESTA
  • They have the correct type of passport that has a validity of six months past their expected stay in the US. There are other passport requirements for all categories of passports — regular, diplomatic, and official – when the traveler wishes to enter the US for business or tourist purposes (for a maximum of 90 days)
  • Their stay in the US is for 90 days or less and for the purpose of tourism or business.
    Note that Foreign media representatives seeking to engage in that vocation in the US do not qualify under this program, as the reason for their stay will not qualify as “business”. Such persons have to get a non immigrant media (I) visa. In addition to this, travelers planning to work or study cannot travel on VWP
  • If traveling by air or sea, they do so on an approved carrier and have a return trip ticket to any foreign country.
  • They have to demonstrate sufficient funds to support themselves while in the US.

Travelers admitted under the Visa Waiver Program and who make a short trip to Canada, Mexico or an adjacent island are allowed to re enter the US under the VWP for the balance of their original admission period. VWP nationals resident in Mexico, Canada or adjacent islands are normally exempted from requirements to show onward travel to other foreign countries

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Getting a Tourist Visa

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Visa Interview Questions

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If you are in the US in a legal status and qualify to apply for a green card based on being sponsored by an employer or family member or holding asylee or refugee status, you are required to file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident. This form has to be filed with the USCIS.

Who can apply?

To be eligible for filing this form, you should currently be in the US and have an approved immigrant petition. To put it in simple terms, adjustment of status is the process where a foreign national applies for a lawful permanent residence (green card) while being in the US. Unless you are applying in a visa category for which visa numbers are always available, you should have a “current” Priority Date in order to qualify. Priority date means the date you filed the immigrant petition. If you are applying because you are married to a US citizen, the parent or child will also be eligible to file this form to adjust status at the same time the immigrant petition is filed.

If you were in an asylee or refugee status for one year or more, you are eligible to adjust status to a green card holder. You cannot adjust status if you are outside the US. If you are abroad, you should apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate there. Even Cuban nationals who want to change the date their permanent residence began in the US, also have to file Form I- 485.

Form I-485 has to be filed with the appropriate supporting documents and the submission fees with the USCIS service center that has jurisdiction over your area. Persons who are 79 years of age or older need not pay the biometric fee. There is no fee if you are filing this form based on being admitted to the US as a refugee. After reviewing your application, if it is rejected, the USCIS will inform you through a letter that will have the details as to why the application was rejected.

It is important to remember that if you are not in a legal status in the US, the process to remove you will start as soon as your application is rejected. So after your application is rejected, you can have an immigration judge review the rejection of your application during removal proceedings. Under such instances, immigration officials have to justify their decision and prove that the information on your I- 485 application were false and that your application was rejected for a reason. Even after this review, if the judge decides to remove you from the country, you can further appeal this decision. You have 33 days for the appeal after the immigration judge passed the judgment to get you removed from the country. Your appeal will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals after your appeal form and the required fee are processed.

 

 

 

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One of the most commonly used non immigrant visas is the B visa. Through this visa classification, you can come to the United States for business (B-1) or pleasure (B-2). As a visa holder in this classification, you are not allowed to study or work within the US.

Student Visas

There are two types of student visas, F-1 and M1. The F-1 visa is for students attending a full-time degree or academic program at a school, college, or university approved by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in compliance with the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, also known as SEVIS. The M-1 visa is for students who are enrolled in non-academic or “vocational study”. Mechanical study, technical study, cooking classes, a language program, flight school or cosmetology program are a few examples that fall under “vocational study.”

Work Visas

You can become eligible for a E-1 Treaty Trader visa, if your country of citizenship has a treaty of friendship, commerce, or navigation with the US and if you are coming to the US to engage in substantial trade between the US and your country.

If your country has a bilateral investment treaty or agreement with the US and if you are coming to the US to direct and develop the operations of an enterprise in which you have invested or are in the process of investing, you may qualify for a E-2 Treaty Investor visa .

If you qualify for specialty occupations and are coming to the US to work in such occupations, you may get a H-1B visa. Foreign companies who already have or wish to establish US offices may have to transfer executive, managerial, or specialized persons to the U.S. Through the L-1 Visa, employees can be posted temporarily at the US parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch office.

If you can demonstrate extraordinary ability in science, arts, education, business, or athletics, and are coming temporarily to the US to work in your area of extraordinary ability, you may well qualify under the O-1 visa classification.

The TN visa classification is reserved for citizens of Canada and Mexico who qualify for a work-authorized visa under NAFTA. NAFTA is an international trade agreement between the US, Canada, and Mexico.

If you have either a degree or professional certificate from a post-secondary academic institution overseas and at least one year of related work experience outside the US, you may qualify as a J-1 trainee. Even if you do not have a degree, you may still qualify if you have five years of related work experience acquired outside the US.

Family Visas

The K-1 Visa category provides an alternative to the marriage-based visa process for individuals who are engaged to be married. The V-1/V-2 visa classification authorizes spouses and children of Lawful Permanent Residents ( green card holders ) to enter the US without waiting for an immigrant visa number to become available.

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Form I-94 is the Arrival-Departure Record issued to non-immigrants while entering the U.S. Form I-94 acts as a proof that the non-immigrant entered the U.S. legally. Form I-94 will have information such as the date of entry, the visa classification, and the date the status will expire. Whereas Form I-95 is the Arrival – Departure Record issued to crewmen who land temporarily in the U.S.


Form I-102, Application for replacement/initial Non immigrant Arrival-Departure:

If you lost I-94 card or if it is damaged, you can apply to replace it by filing Form I-102, Application for Replacement Arrival-Departure Document. You can file Form I-102 if you want to replace a lost, stolen or mutilated Form I-94 or I-94W. You can also use this form if you want to replace a mutilated Form I-95. Additionally, if you want an initial Form I-94 and if you want to file Form I-102 at the same time as an application for an extension of stay or change of status, you may use this form.

As far as the supporting documents are concerned, if you are are applying to replace a stolen or lost I-94 card, I-94W, or I-95, you have to submit a copy of the original or submit a copy of the biographic page from your passport and a copy of the page indicating admission as claimed, or other evidence of your admission. If you are not able to provide this evidence, you will be required to submit a full explanation stating why you cannot give any of the above evidence, along with a copy of evidence of your identity and copies of any evidence in your possession to substantiate your claim. In case your card was stolen, then you have to submit a copy of the police report relating to the theft.

Suppose you were not issued Form I-94 at admission and have not since been issued Form I-94, but now require Form I-94 for another application you are filing, submit a copy of any evidence in your possession to substantiate your claimed admission.

The filing fee for Form I-102 is $320. You do not need to pay the fee to request USCIS to correct your Form I-94, I-94W, or Form I-95 if the error(s) on your document was made by USCIS, through no fault of your own. If, however, the error(s) was made because of information you provided or failed to provide to USCIS or the U.S. Department of State, you must pay the fee.

The fee must be submitted in the exact amount. It cannot be refunded. Do not mail cash.

While making you payment through a check, it will be converted into an electronic funds transfer (EFT). It means your checked will be copied and the account information on it will be used electronically to debit your account for the amount of the check. It normally would take 24 hours for the debit from your account and will be shown on your regular account statement.

The processing time for Form I-102 will vary, depending on the specific circumstances of each applicant. The USCIS might deny an application if you do not give the requested information or do not go to a scheduled interview. Every application must be properly signed with the correct fee.

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