Archive for the ‘US Immigration’ Category

Documents Needed While Traveling

Friday, November 25th, 2011

Travelers from every country who come to Canada by air, land and sea needs a passport or equivalent travel document. When you are returning to the US from Canada, it is mandatory that all US citizens present a valid US passport to enter or re-enter the US through air. While entering the US through land and sea borders, US citizens have to show either a US passport, passport card, NEXUS card, Enhanced Drivers License or other Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI)-compliant document.

US citizens under the age of 16 (or under 19, if traveling with a school, religious, or other youth group) are exempted from this requirement. They just have to present a birth certificate (original, photocopy or certified copy), Consular Report of Birth Abroad, or naturalization certificate.

Americans can enter Canada with a government issued ID and birth certificate but they alone are not good enough to get them back to the US. You should have a valid passport to enter the US. Make sure you take take all of your ID along with you including your passport to guarantee re-entry back into the US. Since 9/11, car searches have become very common.

Children under age 16 will be able to continue crossing land and sea borders using only a U.S. birth certificate (or other evidence of US citizenship such as a naturalization certificate.). The original birth certificate or a copy can also be used. If you are traveling with children and entering into Canada or the US, you should have identification for each child. If you are a divorced parent sharing custody of your children, you should have copies of the legal custody documents. If you are an adult who is not the parent or guardian, you should have written permission from the parents or guardians to supervise the children.

Dogs and cats from the US that are at least three months old need a signed and dated certificate from a veterinarian certifying that they have been vaccinated against rabies within the last three years. The certificate should identify the animal clearly. If you are bringing you dog or cat that is less than three months old, you do not need a certificate of rabies vaccination to enter Canada. But it is important that the animals are in good health when they arrive. Most pet foods are not allowed to cross the border.

NEXUS is a highway program (joint Canada-US initiative) that allows low-risk, frequent travelers to cross the border through dedicated lanes.

Immigrating To The United States

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

It is a well known fact that the United States is the most preferred destination in terms of immigration. The process and procedures to enter the US differ depending on the intention of one’s visit. Visas and green cards are the most commonly preferred entities that will help you move to the US. To get a visa or green card, specific forms have to be filed at the American Consulate in the immigrant’s home country or with the USCIS, depending on the classification one applies for.

There are two types of visas, namely Immigrant and non-immigrant visas. Non-immigrant visa classification is for temporary visits such as for tourism or studies and the immigrant visa classification is for Permanent Residence. Visitor visas, Work Visas, Student visas are some of the visa classifications that are issued based on the immigrant’s intention of visit.

Four most common ways to get a visa are :

Through Family:

If one of your relatives is a US citizen or a legal permanent resident (green card holder), he/she can sponsor you for immigration. There are difference procedures depending on the closeness of your relationship with the sponsor and waiting periods for getting such visas differ too. Processing times are pretty lengthy due to the restrictions in the number of visas allotted each year.

Through Employment:

If you want to work in the US, you require a qualified US employer to sponsor you for immigration. If you qualify under the extraordinarily-qualified foreign nationals category, you can immigrate without being sponsored by an employer. Your sponsoring employer has to establish the fact that there are no sufficient number of qualified workers available in the US to satisfy their need. Since the number of visas are limited, processing time can last for years.

Through Asylum and Refugee Status:

You can also get a visa if you are not able to or not willing to return to your home country because of persecution or fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Asylee status is granted in the United States and refugee status is granted abroad.

Through the Diversity Lottery Program:

If you wish to migrate to the US but do not have a family member or employer to petition you, there is the Diversity Lottery Program through which you can apply. 50,000 winners from across the globe are issued visas every year through this program. It is important to note that not all countries are eligible to participate in this program. Promoting immigration from underrepresented countries is the main idea behind this program. Every year, the State Department issues the list of countries that do not qualify.

DV-2011 Green Card Lottery Winners

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

According to the U.S. State Department, there were a total of 16.1 million entries for the DV-2011 green card lottery program including all family (derivative) members. According to news reports, 12.1 million applications were filed, which means that each registration counted for an average of 1.4 applicants each, including the principle applicant, his/her spouse and children.

The highest number of winners in DV-2011 lottery program were from the following countries:

Ghana – 6002, Nigeria – 6000, Ukraine – 6000, Bangladesh – 5999, Ethiopia – 5200, Uzbekistan – 5091, Kenya – 4689, Egypt – 4251, Sierra Leone – 3911, Cameroon – 3674, Iran – 2819, Democratic republic of the Congo – 2575, Turkey – 2266, Nepal – 2189, Morocco – 2003, Germany – 1895, Liberia – 1826 , Algeria – 1753, Albania – 1469.

Successful applicants of the DV-2011 lottery were notified between May and July of 2010. For successful DV 2011 entrants, the DV immigrant visa application process is underway and most likely visas will be issued by September 30, 2011.

The same countries with large numbers of lottery winners in the year 2009 green card lottery (DV-2011) also had significant totals for the year 2008 (DV-2010):

Ghana – 8,752 , Nigeria – 6006 , Bangladesh – 6001, Ukraine – 5499, Ethiopia – 5200, Kenya – 4619, Egypt – 4201, Uzbekistan – 4059, Sierra Leone – 3898, Cameroon – 3719, Morocco – 3124 , Turkey – 2,826, Iran – 2773, Albania – 2311, Germany – 2188, Liberia – 2172, Nepal – 2132, Algeria – 1947, Democratic republic of the Congo – 1817.

Successful entrants of Diversity Visa program will receive instructions and then will have to demonstrate that they are eligible for a diversity immigrant visa by successfully completing the next steps. The Kentucky Consular Center will send instructions and you will then be required to complete the immigrant visa application, submit necessary documents and forms, pay the appropriate fees and go through a medical examination.

You will then be interviewed by a consular officer at the US embassy or consulate to establish your claim that you qualify for the diversity visa. The Kentucky Consular Center will provide application information either through mail (for DV-2011 successful entrants) or online through the Entry Status Check at (for DV-2012 successful entrants).

All successful green card lottery entrants should be eligible to get a visa by satisfying education, work, and other eligibility requirements. Every DV entrant must have at least:

  • A high school education or its equivalent; or
  • Two years of work experience during the past five years in an occupation that requires at least two years training or experience.

Filing Immigration Forms

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

To get a legal immigration status in the US, a foreign national has to file certain immigration forms with the US consulate abroad or with the USCIS if he/she is in the US. If in the US, all petitions/applications have to be filed with the USCIS. All the forms can be downloaded and are in PDF format. To view, print, or fill out these forms, you will need the latest version of Adobe Reader which can be downloaded for free.

It is very important to note that applications/petitions that are incomplete and contain erroneous information will be rejected. To make sure you complete and submit your application correctly, make sure you carefully read any notices, warnings, or explanations on the Forms Entry Page (FEP) in the official govt website before you print (or download) the form, complete it and send it to USCIS. Making sure you verify the filing location of the forms for the specific benefit you are seeking is extremely vital as there are different filing locations across the country.

All the immigration (“I”) or naturalization (“N”) forms come with detailed instructions which will have information about the supporting documents needed, the submission fees and where to file. Instructions will differ with specific circumstances. Filing the immigration forms with the appropriate office or with the correct fee should be a high priority as failure to do so might result in an application or petition being returned to you and will also result in further delay in processing. Do not mail your application or petition to the “HQPDI” address, (that address is for submitting comments on the form itself.)

Immigration Forms Fee and Fee Waivers

Most immigration forms have to be accompanied with a submission fee when filed. If you fail to include your payment of all required fees, including any fingerprint fees when you submit your application, the application will be returned to you. Checks should be made payable to “Department of Homeland Security”. USCIS will subsequently notify you of the time and place for biometrics.

Certain applicants who are not able to pay the fee may apply for and be granted a fee waiver while filing certain immigration forms. To claim a waiver, you have to file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. The USCIS adopts a particular methodology to arrive at a decision on waiver requests. The instructions page that come with Form I-912 will have detailed information on the whether the request should be submitted through Form I-912 or through a written statement by the applicant.

The USCIS methodology generally consists of determining whether the applicant is receiving a means-tested benefit, or reviewing the applicant’s household income level and/or recent financial hardship that makes the applicant eligible for the fee waiver.

Downloading Forms

Forms are in such a format that it will allow you to fill them out on your computer, print them out, and mail it to the USCIS Application Service Center (ASC) in order to file for a benefit. Some forms that are rather large files can be downloaded directly to your local computer, instead of filling them out through your web browser. Ensure you use the latest version of Adobe Reader. While filing an immigration form, you are most likely required to submit photographs. The specifications for photographs can be found in the form instructions page.

File Form I 751 to Remove Conditions of Residence

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

A conditional green card is issued to persons who received a green card through marriage and came to the US on a K1 visa. It comes with a two year validity. Permanent residence status will expire as soon as this two-year conditional period ends, and you may be deported or removed. To avoid being deported, it is crucial to file Form I 751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. The form has to be filed 90 days or less before the conditional residence expires. Once the USCIS approves this petition, the conditional status will be removed and you will receive a Permanent Resident card that will be valid for the next ten years.

It is important to file Form I 751 within 90 days before the card expires. It is always better to file it at the early end of the 90-day period. Likewise, do not file this petition before the 90-day period because if you file too early, the USCIS will most likely return your I-751 application.

Who May File Form I 751?

If you are still married, you can file a joint application with your US citizen or permanent resident spouse through whom you got the conditional resident status. If you have dependent children (on a K-2 visa) who obtained conditional resident status when you did and they entered the US within 90-days of your arrival, you have to include their names in your I-751 petition. Whereas, if your children got their conditional status ninety days after you obtained or adjusted your status, they have to file Form I 751 separately to remove the conditions. The same applies even if the conditional resident parent dies.

In circumstances where your spouse died or your marriage ended because of divorce or annulment, you can apply for a waiver for joint filing. But make sure you are able to prove that you got married with honesty and good intentions. In addition to this, you can get a waiver of joint filing if you are able to prove that you got married in good faith and have remained married, but have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your US citizen or permanent resident spouse or the termination of your status would result in extreme hardship.

Request for waiver for joint filing should be adequately backed by proof to support your request. Copies of divorce decree or police, court or medical proof that you were abused or a death certificate showing that you spouse died are few of the important documents required.

While mailing your application package, make sure it includes a completed and signed Form I-751 and a copy of your Conditional Green Card. Also make sure that two passport-style photographs for you and children applying with you, are also be a part of the package. Apart from these, two completed fingerprint cards (Form FD-258) for you and any children applying with you and evidence showing that the marriage is a bonafide one and that it was entered in honesty and good faith should accompany the application. Do not forget to send the filing fees. If your conditional permanent resident card is lost, stolen or mutilated, you can get a replacement of the same by filing Form I-90 with the USCIS.

Who Should File The I-765 Form?

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Persons who are temporarily in the United States requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) should file the I-765 form, Application for Employment Authorization. Others who are authorized to work in the US without restrictions should also use the I-765 form and file it with the USCIS to get a document evidencing such authorization.

However, you should not use this form if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, Conditional Resident, or a non immigrant authorized to be employed with a specific employer.

Employment Authorization Document (EAD)

Form I-688, Form I-688A, Form I-688B, Form I-766, or any other document issued by USCIS serves as an evidence that the holder is authorized to work in the US.

Renewal EAD

- is an EAD that is issued to one at or after the expiration of a previous EAD issued under the same category.

Replacement EAD

- is an EAD that is issued when the previously issued EAD is lost, stolen, mutilated, or contains erroneous information, such as a misspelled name.

Interim EAD

- is an EAD that is issued when the USCIS failed to adjudicate the application within 90 days of receipt of a correctly filed EAD application or within 30 days of a correctly filed I-765 form based on an asylum application filed on or after January 4, 1995. The interim EAD will be issued for a period that does not exceed 240 days and is subject to certain conditions noted on the document.

The USCIS adjudicates a request for employment authorization by determining whether an applicant has submitted the required information and documentation, and whether the applicant is eligible.

The I-765 Form Filing Process

Along with the I-765 form, the applicant has to send a copy of Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, if available and a copy of the last EAD. If no prior EAD was issued, the applicant has to submit a copy of a federal government issued identity document, such as a passport that has the applicant’s picture, name, and date of birth. In addition to these, the applicant should also submit two identical color photographs taken within 30 days of the filing the I-765 form.

The filing fee for the I-765 form is $380. However, no fee is required if the applicant is filing because the card issued was incorrect due to a USCIS administrative error. If the error was not caused by USCIS, both the submission fee and biometrics fees are required.

Applicants who filed a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, as of July 30, 2007, need not pay the fee to request for employment authorization on Form I-765. One can file the I-765 concurrently with the I-485 form, or can submit the I-765 at a later date. Applicants filing the I-765 application separately should submit a copy of their Form I-797 C, Notice of Action, as evidence of the filing an I-485 as of July 30, 2007.

If, within 90 days of receipt by USCIS of a properly filed EAD application or within 30 days of a properly filed initial EAD application, you did not receive a decision based on an asylum application filed on or after January 4, 1995, you can get an interim work authorization by appearing in person at your local USCIS district office. You should bring proof of identity and any notices that you received from USCIS in connection with your application

If your application is approved, your EAD will either be mailed to you or you may be required to appear at your local USCIS office to pick it up. In case your application cannot be granted, you will receive a written notice explaining the reason for the denial.

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