Archive for the ‘Green Card’ Category
Winning the Green Card Lottery is one thing, but choosing where to live in the massive and beautiful landscape that is America is an entirely different issue! We’ll be publishing regular articles this month about some of the best places to live in the United States. Don’t have permanent residence? Find out how to get a green card here!
Hawaii has a reputation for being a tropical paradise all its own. A place where folks all over the United States and the Pacific rim travel to escape the ennui of their lives and recharge on vacation. Honolulu is a huge tourist destination, but it also ranks very high on lists for the best places to live in America.
Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and is the home to the majority of the population of that state. Part of an island chain formed by volcanic activity in the middle of the Pacific Ocean the climate is warm and pleasant year-round.
Honolulu is a beautiful city and its skyline, one of the most striking in the United States, viewed from Diamond Head (a volcanic crater on the island) is a truly impressive sight.
Attractions accessible in Honolulu are vast. The geographic features of this archipelago located in the center of the Ring-of-Fire are endlessly fascinating and wonderful and active volcanoes continue to bubble and froth molten rock on many of the Hawaiian Islands. The island of Oahu, the island that Honolulu is located upon, is home to many beautiful beaches and bays. Many people like to spend their days in the crystal clear water of the beaches surfing on some of the largest waves that the world can offer. Surfing is an activity where a person stands up upon a board which is propelled and stabilized by a wave creating the effect of being able to glide upon water.
An important cultural center for the Pacific region, Honolulu is home to a multitude of museums, theaters and arenas. It is also known for being a popular location for filming movies and television shows such as Lost and Waterworld.
Honolulu is also known for a variety of famous people who called its shores their home. President Barack Obama was born and raised there and is the first president from Hawaii. Nicole Kidman, an actress known for her excellent roles in film, was also born there. Lois Lowrey, the author of the famed, but controversial children’s novel, The Giver, is from Honolulu. Even Robert Louis Stephenson, the author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde called the South shore of Oahu his home at one point.
Of all the places in the United States to visit, Honolulu is probably the most envious. Many Americans view Hawaii to be only a place to visit on a short vacation and to live there year round to be a special kind of paradise. Bloomberg Businessweek, a news magazine, ranks Honolulu third on its list of 50 best cities in which to live.
The application period for the green card lottery is almost upon us. At noon on October 2, 2012 electronic applications will start to be accepted. There are no applications designed for submittal through the postal system, so it is absolutely necessary to file online. The Department of State will stop accepting applications at noon on November 3, 2012.
It is very important to keep track of the confirmation number you receive after you submit your application because without it you will have no way to check whether or not you have won. The State Department does not re-send confirmation numbers to applicants. However, if you take part in USAGreenCardLottery.org’s application service we will securely store your confirmation number until you need it or as back-up in case you lose it.
When the State Department draws winners in May of the following year approximately 100,000 potential immigrants will be selected to move on to the next step in the diversity visa process. However, not all selected from the lottery will receive a visa. There are only about 50,000 visas available per year and as soon as the government reaches this number the rest will just have to re-apply for next year.
However, there have been some exceptional years in which the visa quota was not reached with the 100,000 lottery winners and there was an additional drawing as is exemplified in the DV 2013 drawing. The second drawing occurs in the fall and those applicants will get a second chance to have their name drawn and attempt to get a diversity visa. This is why it is extremely important to keep your confirmation number handy because in the event of a re-draw if you have thrown your number out in frustration months ago you won’t know if you have won or not!
Regarding one’s chances in the lottery, it’s hard to say. Unlike conventional gambling lotteries where there are a set of numbers and an average amount of entries upon which the statistics can be based the green card lottery is based upon an entirely different system altogether. For the green card lottery the world is divided into regions and countries of which there must be equal statistical chance and there are certain countries that are excluded due to high immigration numbers over the past five years. Though it is uncertain what the chances are of winning the green card lottery you can be relatively confident that your chances are equal to anyone else in other eligible countries.
A foreign national who becomes lawful permanent of the United States, is granted a permanent resident card also known as a Green Card, which is valid for ten years. This card is issued as a proof of the holder’s lawful status in the United States. It is an important document to all permanent residents of the United States and hence it must be kept safe. It is mandatory to contact the USCIS, if you had lost your permanent resident card. Similarly you must ensure that you do not let it expire.
If you had lost your Green Card during your trip abroad, you may not be able to re-enter the United States. Green Card replacement process involves filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, with the USCIS. You may not get a new Green Card as soon as you file Form I-90, so it is wise to plan accordingly. You must also remember that the airlines do not board travelers who do not have Green Cards. You may be able to travel if you have Form I-797, Notice of Action, which verifies that you had applied for Green Card replacement. Similarly certain airlines do not allow passengers to travel with an expired Green Card. The notice of action that you had obtained while filing an application to renew your Green Card will establish that you are a lawful permanent resident and will help you to travel back to the United States.
If you had lost your permanent resident card or if it was stolen while you were outside the United States, you must immediately file a complaint in the local police station. Make sure that you obtain a police report on filing a complaint. You may also publish an advertisement in the local newspaper, stating that the card is invalid and obtain a copy of that ad. Go to the nearest US Consulate or Embassy, with the police report and the newspaper ad and request a US government transportation letter. You may be able to travel back to a United States with that letter and remember that you must complete the Form I-90 and pay the required fee while you re-enter the United States.
To apply for a transportation letter, you must present your valid passport, the police report, recent passport photographs, completely filled Green Card renewal application, Form I-90 and copies of the lost Green Card if available. Though you present all the required documents, a transportation letter may not be issued immediately. The US Embassy or Consulate may take at least two days to process your application and to affirm that you are a legal resident of the United States. You may receive the transportation letter only after that. These transportation letters are valid only for one entry into the United States and are valid for one week to a month. The validity period of these letters are based on the issuing US Embassies or Consulates. If you fail to enter the United States before the expiration of your transportation letter, you must follow the same process and obtain a new letter to re-enter the United States.
You must also remember that a lost or an expired Green Card may not be replaced or renewed by a US Embassy or Consulate outside the United States. Form I-90 that you submitted along with the application for a transportation letter will be returned to you by the US Embassy or Consulate and you may use that to replace or renew your Green Card. You must pay the required fee to obtain new permanent resident card.
As a Green Card holder, you will be allowed to travel around the United States with some restrictions. Though you can travel outside the United States, you may not be allowed to stay outside the country for more than two years. You will be required to obtain a re-entry permit or a returning resident visa in order to re-enter the United States, if you wish to travel abroad for a year or more. As a permanent resident, you may not be granted a US passport but you must provide the passport from the country of citizenship while you travel to a foreign country from the United States. Make sure that you always have a valid Green Card, as this document is mandatory to establish your legal status in the United States.
While you return to the United States and while you arrive at a US port of entry, you must present a valid Green Card. Your permanent resident card along with other documents such as your passport and US driver’s license will be reviewed by a US Customs and Border Protection Officer. It is only after that you will be granted permission to enter the country. At times a lengthy travel outside the United States may affect your lawful status in America.
As the permanent residents are allowed to travel outside the United States, a short and a temporary travel will not adversely affect your status in the United States. You may face problems only if you are found to have abandoned your status in the United States. The immigration officers will determine that you had abandoned your status, if you leave the United States for more than a year. Certain things such as your US mailing address, US bank account may be considered while determining whether you have abandoned your status.
The United States allows the permanent residents to travel abroad for more than a year. If you plan to travel abroad and if you understand that your trip will not be short, you may file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, to get a re-entry permit. With a re-entry permit, you may be granted permission to re-enter the United States, even if you had resided outside the United States for more than a year. You may be allowed to enter the United States during the validity of this permit and you may not be required to obtain a returning resident visa from a US Embassy of Consulate abroad.
Being a Green Card holder, if you had stayed outside the United States for more than two years and if your re-entry permit is no longer valid, you must get a returning resident visa from an overseas US Consulate or Embassy. While traveling outside the United States, you must remember that if you leave the United States for six months or more, you may not be able to satisfy the continuous residence requirement, while you apply for naturalization. Yet, you have an option to preserve your continuous residency by filing Form N-470, Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes, while you travel abroad for more than a year.
Winning the Green Card lottery and obtaining an immigrant visa to enter the United States is not a simple task. You would have taken a lot of efforts to enter the lottery program and winning the lottery shows that you are lucky enough to immigrate to the United States. All the winners of the lottery are not selected for immigrant visas; only the qualified individuals are issued immigrant visas. The immigrant visa will be issued to you with six months validity, before which you must enter the United States and obtain a Green Card.
As a new immigrant in the United States, you will not be assisted by the US government in terms of finding jobs or housing and you will be on your own. Finding a job in the United States is the most important thing for many new immigrants. You can choose a state to live and you can also find a job anywhere in the United States. While finding jobs, remember that you will not be hired in offices that hire only US citizens. Most US employers require a proof of your legal status, such as a Green Card, in the United States. Initially you may use your passport, with the temporary I-551 stamp, as a proof of your lawful status in the United States until you get a Green Card. With that you may be able to find jobs.
As a new immigrant, you can find employment opportunities through your friends or relatives who are already in the United States. The US Federal Government has developed many resources for new immigrants who do not have friends or relatives in the United States, to help them find jobs. Hence you can make use of such resources to get employed in America.
Before you enter the United States, it is better to get to know well about the nation and its states. Most new immigrants get settled in California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts, Virginia, North Carolina, Alaska, Washington D.C. and Florida. These states are common among immigrants because there are ample job opportunities for new immigrants here. New immigrants with IT background may easily find jobs in Silicon Valley which is a cybercity located in Northern California. Immigrants with no work experience may initially find jobs in restaurant chains such as Domino’s Pizza, McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, etc. These chain restaurants are found in almost all the states, and a new immigrant with a 12 year primary and secondary education may find a job in one of these restaurants.
People who have relatives to sponsor them for permanent resident status in the United States may not have difficulties in finding housing and in finding jobs because the sponsoring relative will guide the new immigrant. But the Green Card lottery winners may find it difficult when they enter the United States, as they may not have a finalized plan in terms of housing and employment. They can make use of the resources that are offered by the Federal government to overcome their difficulties. There are certain community organizations in America that help the new immigrants to find housing initially.
Generally, immigration is considered to be a complicated process. A Green Card makes it easier for non US citizen to immigrate to the United States, though obtaining a Green Card is not so easy. Even if it is not easy to obtain a Green Card, a non-US citizen may get a Green Card to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, through few different ways.
To cross the US border and to enter into the United States, a foreign national must possess a visa, which is a legal document which certifies that the visa holder is authorized to enter into the United States. There are various types of visas and all those visas do not serve the same purpose. Visas must be obtained based on the purpose of travel. There are two different types of visas; visas for immigrants and non-immigrants. A non-immigrant visa permits the holder to stay in the United States for a limited period of time. An immigrant visa is provided to a non-US citizen who wishes to live and work permanently in the United States.
Visas are generally issued to individuals based on the purpose of their travel and the type of visa to be issued to an individual, is determined by the American immigration law. By obtaining an immigrant visa, you will be eligible to reside permanently in the United States and you can get a Green Card. You must also remember that a Green Card will not make you an American citizen; you will only be a lawful permanent resident of the United States. You may later become a US citizen after residing in the United States as a Green Card holder for 5 years or more. Your Green Card will also serve as a travel permit and you can travel with the Green Card across the US border, with few restrictions.
A non-US national, with the intention of immigrating permanently to the United States may be eligible for an immigrant visa, if he is sponsored by his US citizen relative or his relative who is a Green Card holder. Many people who are offered jobs in the United States are also eligible for immigrant visas. The Diversity Visa Lottery is a program through which people from eligible countries may get a chance to immigrate to the United States.
Applying for a Green Card involves a lot of paperwork followed by interviews. A criminal or a terrorist will not be allowed to immigrate to the United States. An immigrant will be questioned several times before being allowed to become a permanent resident of the United States. People entering into the United States through the US port of entry with an immigrant visa, will go through security checks and their baggage may be checked to make sure that no smuggling is done. Persons may not be granted entry into the United States if their answers are found to be untrue by the immigration officials. All the supporting documents will be verified. Immigrants need to make sure that they have all the required documentation and be ready to provide them when requested by the immigration officer at the US port of entry.
When immigrating to the United States with an immigrant visa, the immigration officials will verify the foreign passport and other identity documents. Though immigrants carry a permanent resident card or a Green Card, they must undergo all the required security checks, to enter into the United States, as per the requirement. Their passport will be stamped after going through the security checks and then they may enter the United States as lawful permanent residents.
Green Card lottery or the Diversity Visa (DV) lottery is a program conducted by the US government every year. It provides 50,000 immigrant visas to people from various countries around the world. People from all the countries are not allowed to enter the Green Card lottery. If you belong to a country which has sent more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States, over the past 5 years, then you may not be eligible to enter the DV lottery.
The DV lottery program is something that helps most people to get an immigrant visa to immigrate to the United States. This is more helpful to people who do not have a relative or a job offer through which they can enter the United States. Such people who do not have sponsors, may be eligible for an immigrant visa, it they win the DV lottery. Winning the Green Card lottery is strictly based on luck. All the winners also do not get an immigrant visa to immigrate to America. Only the selectees who satisfy the DV lottery eligibility requirements, qualify for an immigrant visa.
Entrant Status Check
On applying for the DV lottery online, the applicant will receive an application confirmation number. The entrants of the DV lottery must retain their confirmation numbers until the DV lottery results are out. It is because they can check whether they had won the lottery or not only through the Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website. They cannot check their winning status without the confirmation number.
The US Department of State does not send any notification letters my mail or email to the successful DV lottery entrants. The applicants can only check the status of their applications, through the E-DV website, in order to find out whether they are one among the lucky winners.
The entrant status check is the only way of getting information about your entry. All the applicants including those who are not selected for a diversity visa can check their status through the entrant status check. While they check their application status, they will be required to enter their name, date of birth, last name and the confirmation number. Without such information they will not be able to check the status of their applications, even if they had won.
While the applicants enter all the required information to check their status, the selected applicants will be directed to another page which provides further information about their application process. The people who had not won will not be directed to any other page containing other information.
The winners will be able to receive all information about their application processing only through the entrant status check and they will not receive any mails from the Kentucky Consular Center. The will receive e-mails as a reminder to check the entrant status check for information about their application process, required documentation, interview date and time.
After being selected for further visa processing, the selectee must collect all the required civil documents and file an application for an immigrant visa. The required fee must be paid and the applicant must also complete a medical examination. An interview with an immigration officer will be scheduled after that. Hence all the information starting from receiving the Green Card lottery winning notification to the final interview can be obtained only through the entrant status check.
The Green Card Lottery or the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery was created by the Immigration Act in 1990. This lottery program makes available 50,000 green cards for people from countries around the world that have sent the lowest number of persons to the United States during the last five years.
Applications are invited from eligible candidates from eligible countries and during a random selection process winners of the green card lottery are chosen. Winners have to prove eligibility for the green card. They maybe ineligible if they are found to be inadmissible to the United States for any reason, for example – maybe health related or due to criminal activities. The winners should also establish their ability to support themselves financially when they are in the United States.
Once winners enter the United States with their green cards, its a new life for them. America has been known as the land of opportunities and its economic prowess was what has always been attracting people from all over the world to come to this country. However, with recession, things are not so rosy now. Still, the benefits of living and working in the United States are many.
Life in the United States as a Green Card Holder
Having a green card means being a lawful permanent resident of the United States. A green card holder has a lot of benefits; nearly as much as a US citizen. The differences are that the US citizen is eligible to vote and get federal jobs whereas a permanent resident cannot. In all other aspects, the green card holder’s status is as good as that of a citizen.
Permanent residents can live and work in the United States permanently. They have better job opportunities as they are allowed to work in any of the 50 states and do not require any employer sponsorship. They can own property, invest in business or start their own businesses.
After a green card holder has lived in the country 5 years they can apply for citizenship if they meet other eligibility requirements. Green card holders can petition their immediate relatives for a green card.
Green card holders are eligible for social security benefits. They are also eligible for government sponsored financial aid for educational purposes. Green card holders generally pay lower tuition than foreign students.
Green card holders can travel outside the United States and return without the fear of being denied entry. As long as the trip outside the country does not last for more than six months, there will be no problem in traveling any number of times.
If the lottery winner has good education or sound skills, then it will be easy finding a job. Or winners can invest in a business in the United States if they have the resources. Otherwise, one has to come prepared to support oneself financially until a job can be found. Knowing the English language is an added advantage. It will make life easier. Once the green card holder gets a job he or she can settle for life and make use of all the benefits offered.
Winners should come prepared for their new life. It will definitely be different from the life in their home countries. Financial support, basic knowledge of English and the ability to get a job may make life easier. Without these, it might be a bit of a struggle, but not hopeless. You are in the land of dreams and opportunities after all!
Once you get to know that you that you are one among the lucky winners to be selected for an immigrant visa through the DV lottery program, the next thing that you must do is get yourself prepared for the immigrant visa interview. The only way to obtain your winning notification is through the entrant status check on the E-DV website, as you will not receive any mail or e-mail, if you had won the lottery.
Make sure that you satisfy all the DV lottery eligibility requirements in terms of education and work experience. As the primary applicant, you must complete and submit Form DSP-122, Supplemental Registration for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program and Part I and II of Form DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. Form DS -230 must be submitted by the eligible dependents along with the primary applicant. Two photographs of the principal applicant and the family members must also be submitted while applying for an immigrant visa. The bar code sheet from your original selectee notification letter along with the above mentioned forms must be sent to the Kentucky Consular Center.
Before you get your interview notification, obtain all the necessary civil documents with translations, if the documents are not in English. You must obtain documentation related to your qualifying education or work experience. Your birth certificate with your name, date of birth and names of both your parents must be submitted. Other documents such as court and prison records, deportation documentation, if you were already deported from America, marriage certificate if you are married, marriage termination documentation if divorced, military and police records must be obtained.
After all your documents are received and verified by the Kentucky Consular Center(KCC), you will receive an immigrant visa interview appointment letter. The letter will contain details about the date, location and time of your interview. You must appear for the interview along with your eligible dependents such as spouse and children, if they are applying for an immigrant visa, to immigrate along with you to the United States. The KCC will send all your documents to the US consulate or the US embassy where you will be required to appear for the interview.
Before the Green Card lottery immigrant visa interview, the selectees will be required to complete a medical exam and get vaccinated accordingly. The applicants must schedule a medical exam appointment choosing from the list of required Panel Physicians, in their home countries.
You must prepare for the immigrant visa interview carefully. If you are not well prepared for the interview, it may result in delay or denial of the immigrant visa. Make sure that you carry with you the required documentation such as your passport valid for six months and original documents or certified copies of the required civil documents. The DV lottery visa fee must be paid during the immigrant visa interview.
In the employment based green card, there are many factors that have an impact on the processing times. The processing time may range by years from one case to the other.
All labor certifications are filed under the PERM process. It could take as long as four to six months for the PERM case to be ready for filing. After this is filed, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will process in approximately 60 days. In the past, PERM processing period have ranged from a few days to more than six months. There would be further delay if there is an audit by the DOL. Though the time needed for the additional processing of the audited PERM application cannot be evaluated, it can add an additional year or more. The time from the initiation of the PERM process to the final approval may approximately take six to ten months.
Once the labor certification is approved, the next is the employer petition (I-140) and the adjustment of status (I-485) process. Coming to the I-140 petition, the time taken to prepare this can depend upon the availability of documents and the rapid action by the US employer, the foreign national employee, and if needed an attorney. It is better to gather all supporting documents well in hand and while filing the PERM LC. Updated financial information has to be got and that would mean further slowing the preparation time.
You can get the average processing time based upon the Service Center Processing Times reports. The processing time can differ depending upon the service center where you filed your application. On an average the processing times range from four months to a year. You have the option of expediting the I-140 process through premium processing. You can file Form I-140 and the I-485 at the same time as soon as the labor certification is approved. But remember that you cannot file Form I-485 unless the priority date is current. It is mandatory that you have a medical exam, which implies further delay as you have to wait for a doctor’s appointment and test results. You also have to submit birth and marriage certificates and biographical information.
Due to the unavailability of visa numbers, you cannot always file the I-485 with the I-140. It is mandatory that there is an visa number available in the particular classification in order to file an I-485. Even if you have an approved labor certification and even an approved I-140, but you may not be able to get to the I-485 stage. Labor certification and the I-140 can be approved without regard to visa number availability. Till the visa numbers become available, this particular case will have to wait to file Form I-485. This wait could be a few weeks, months, years or longer. Because of these reasons, it is difficult to predict when you will be getting your green card.
There are many other factors that add to the delay. Receipt of requests for evidence (RFEs) will further slow down the process. Processing times vary form each service center to the other. Some employment-based green card are forwarded to the local USCIS offices for interview which can cause additional delay.