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Visas M3 para estudiantes mexicanos

Wed, Nov 4 2:49 PM by Romona Paden

Visas M3 para estudiantes mexicanos

La visa M3 es una visa que se le otorga a los estudiantes mexicanos que desean poder estudiar en los Estados Unidos. Esta visa solo te otorga el permiso de estudiar en territorio americano pero no te permitirá hacer otras acciones como trabajar.

El origen de la visa M3

El 11 de agosto del año 2011 entró en vigencia una ley que creó nuevas categorías de visas para estudiantes mexicanos M3. Esta visa permite que los estudiantes mexicanos entren a territorio estadounidense para estudiar en una escuela que esté aprobada para tener estudiantes con un visado M.
Antes de que existiese esta visa, los estudiantes mexicanos únicamente podían entrar a los Estados Unidos de visita. Un estudio que se llevó a cabo por el Departamento de Seguridad Interior demostró que existía una gran necesidad de entrar a estudiar por parte de los estudiantes mexicanos. Esto se basó en la información de que muchos estudiantes querían asistir a clases y no solo visitar el país como turistas.
Sin embargo, en ese momento solo existían las visas F1 que tampoco eran viables para los estudiantes que deseaban estudiar a medio tiempo. Hay que recordar que las visas F1 se otorgan a los alumnos que van a estudiar tiempo completo y tienen otros requisitos y limitantes.

Cómo obtener la visa M3

La visa M3 es válida para cualquier tipo de estudios, ya sean de tiempo parcial como para jornadas completas. Para obtener esta visa, primero debes contactar la escuela o universidad a la que quieres asistir ya que esta te puede ayudar o guiar en el proceso para obtener la visa.
La escuela o universidad te pedirá que llenes una encuesta con tus datos personales y debes asegurarte de tener varias fotocopias de tu pasaporte porque las necesitarás en varias ocasiones. También te pedirán la fotocopia de certificado de la preparatoria o título universitario y tendrás que pagar un depósito del curso que quieras hacer o la carrera universitaria que quieras cursar.
Algo muy importante para obtener la visa M3 es el comprobante de que tienes 1300 dólares o más.  Este dinero en ningún momento es para la escuela o universidad a la que quieres asistir, solo lo piden para saber si tienes los recursos económicos necesarios para permanecer el tiempo deseado en los Estados Unidos ya que con la visa M3 no puedes trabajar. Si personalmente no tienes esa cantidad, puedes optar por mandar la cuenta de tus padres o de tu fiador.
Después de tener todos estos requisitos, la escuela te enviará el módulo I-20 que se encargará de certificar que la escuela o universidad te ha aceptado y te dará una carta de recomendación.
Después de tener todo el papeleo de la escuela o universidad, deberás pagar el costo de la visa M3. Para finalizar deberás entrar en la página y rellenar las encuestas que te piden, luego de esto deberás llamar al consulado y ellos te harán una serie de preguntas sobre la información que has enviado.
Te recomendamos tener todos los documentos que enviaste a mano para evitar cualquier contradicción. Luego te darán una fecha para la entrevista donde tendrás que llevar todos los papeles que sacaste más los requisitos para la solicitud de la visa M3.

Un procedimiento sencillo

Obtener la visa M3 no resulta demasiado complejo y mucho menos imposible. Tan solo debes asegurarte de tener claro tu objetivo y toda la información de la escuela en la que estudiarás. En caso de que tengas alguna duda, recuerda que puedes contactarnos y con gusto te ayudaremos en cada paso del procedimiento.

Consejos para aumentar tus posibilidades de obtener la visa estadounidense

Mon, Oct 5 11:46 PM by Romona Paden

Descubre algunos consejos para aumentar tus posibilidades de obtener la visa estadounidense.

Aplicar para la visa en Estados Unidos es una de las cosas más difíciles de hacer. Necesitas preparar una gran cantidad de documentos, llenar formularios y seguir varios pasos para enviar tu solicitud, incluyendo una entrevista. Después de enviar tu solicitud, deberás esperar mucho tiempo hasta conocer el resultado. Aquí te hablaremos de algunos consejos que aumentan tus posibilidades de obtener la visa estadounidense.
Estos son consejos muy sencillos pero muy efectivos. Verás que algunos son bastante lógicos y obvios.

Asegúrate de enviar toda la información correcta y actual

Te darás cuenta que hay varios formularios. Todos son muy específicos y debes elegir el correcto para tu situación en particular. Si envías un formulario equivocado probablemente recibirás una negativa por parte del USCIS y perderás mucho tiempo.
Para evitar retrasos en tu aplicación debes asegurarte de entender el tipo de procedimiento que quieres para descargar los formularios correctos. Después, llena todo lo que se te pida con información actual y siguiendo las instrucciones con cuidado.

Sé consistente

Todos tus datos deben estar completos y ser reales. Es común que algunas personas usen abreviaturas o un solo nombre si tienen dos. Toma en cuenta que estos formularios se reparten en distintas áreas y no se pueden corroborar tus datos. Responde cada pregunta por separado y no te preocupes si sientes que te estás repitiendo porque esto es parte del proceso.

Escribe tu información completa siempre

Cuando llega el momento de completar todos los formularios nos damos cuenta que se trata de un proceso repetitivo y tardado. Esto ocasiona que algunas personas quieren agilizar todo y usen símbolos o abreviaturas, incluso omiten el primer o segundo nombre cuando tienen dos. Este es un gran error porque las autoridades creerán que tratas de engañarlos o que no se trata de la misma persona. Si esto pasa, te negarán la visa y tendrás de empezar de nuevo. Al momento de preparar tu documentación, tómate tu tiempo y si te sientes cansado, deja pasar unas horas o continúa al día siguiente.

Sé honesto con todas tus respuestas

Dar información falsa o incompleta es un gran riesgo porque podrías perder todas las oportunidades de recibir una visa. También debes asegurarte de que toda la información sea entendible y fácil de descifrar. Escribe con letra clara, sin prisa y con los datos más completos que te sea posible. Si la autoridad siente en algún momento que has intentado cometer fraude o que los has querido engañar, podrías perder el derecho a obtener la visa que quieres en el futuro.

Busca ayuda para entender los formatos

Te vas a dar cuenta que todos los formatos, o la gran mayoría, están en inglés. Por lo tanto, si no tienes muchos conocimientos de este idioma te recomendamos que busques ayuda. Puede ser un familiar o amigo que entienda bien el inglés, un experto en migración como nosotros que te ayude a completar el formulario o un diccionario. Creemos que la peor alternativa es justamente la del diccionario porque puedes interpretar mal lo que se te pide.

No te olvides de las firmas

Una gran cantidad de solicitudes que son devueltas no llevan firma. Incluso si todo tu proceso ha sido perfecto, un documento sin firma lo puede arruinar por completo. Para evitarlo, asegúrate de completar página por página en su totalidad. Puede parecer un detalle menor y quizás quieras dejarlo para el final, pero no es una buena idea.

Envía todos los documentos a la dirección correcta o llévalos tú mismo

Si planeas enviar tus formularios por correo postal, debes estar seguro de escribir de forma correcta y entendible todos los datos. Si te es posible, copia la información e imprímela en una etiqueta lista para pegar en el sobre. Esto te ahorrará mucho tiempo perdido en espera y la incertidumbre de saber si enviaste la información al lugar correcto.

No te des por vencido

Cuando la primer aplicación es rechazada, mucha gente se siente desanimada y no lo vuelve a intentar. A veces creen que si ya han sido rechazados, será imposible cambiar esa decisión en el futuro. La realidad es que si se te negó la visa que deseas, debes identificar el motivo y la posible solución. La mayoría de las veces puedes usar la primer negativa para presentar una solicitud perfecta la segunda vez. Incluso si te lleva más de un par de intentos, vale la pena seguir intentando.

Esperamos que estos consejos te sean de ayuda. En el caso de que necesites una asesoría más especializada o de que quieras obtener tu visa sin errores, contáctanos y te ayudaremos a lograr tu objetivo.

Mon, Oct 5 3:48 PM by Romona Paden

Para poder entrar a los Estados Unidos y desempeñar tus funciones dentro de la empresa en la que laboras necesitas obtener la visa L1.

Al trabajar en una empresa con oficinas en Estados Unidos habrá ocasiones en que tendrás que reubicarte. Para poder entrar a los Estados Unidos y desempeñar tus funciones dentro de la empresa en la que laboras necesitas obtener la visa L1. En caso de que seas un ejecutivo te corresponde solicitar la L1-A y si eres un trabajador con conocimientos especiales necesitarás la L1-B.

¿Cuánto tiempo podrás estar en Estados Unidos con la Visa L1?

La estancia inicial con esta visa es de un año pero se puede solicitar una renovación para tres años más. Con la visa L1-A se puede obtener un permiso máximo de hasta siete años en Estados Unidos y con la visa L1-B el máximo es de cinco años.
Quienes poseen esta visa tienen derecho a estar dentro de los Estados Unidos por el tiempo permitido sin contar las salidas. Esto quiere decir que si tu empleo te obliga a permanecer dos meses fuera de Estados Unidos, esos dos meses no se contarán como estancia en el país y podrás reutilizarlo.

Requisitos para la visa L1-A

Tanto el empleado como el empleador deben cumplir con algunos requisitos para obtener este tipo de visa.

Requisitos para los empleadores

  • Deben estar haciendo negocios en los Estados Unidos y en cualquier otro país al mismo tiempo. Esto implica que la empresa en la que trabajes en el extranjero debe ser la misma en Estados Unidos. En la mayoría de los casos no se permite aplicar para dos empresas distintas aunque sean del mismo dueño.
  • Deben cumplir con todas sus obligaciones legales y fiscales tanto en los Estados Unidos como en los otros países donde tengan actividad. El empleador debe estar listo para entregar toda la información que le sea requerida.

Requisitos para los empleados

  • Deben tener al menos un año trabajando con la empresa que los quiere llevar a Estados Unidos. Esto se puede demostrar con un contrato o con los registros de pago del salario
  • Deben comprobar que su entrada será para laborar en la empresa y que tienen conocimientos o capacidades no disponibles entre el personal que ya esté en los Estados Unidos. Usualmente basta con el contrato laboral para demostrar los dos puntos. Debes recordar que si decides dejar tu empleo, tu empleador puede avisar a las autoridades y tú tendrás que salir del país para evitar problemas.

¿Cómo calificar para obtener la visa?

Demostrar que las funciones que realizas son importantes para la empresa no siempre resulta tarea fácil. Aquí te dejamos algunas pistas para que te sea más fácil crear tu perfil y completar la información necesaria.

  • Gerente o personal de supervisión. Si diriges la empresa, uno de sus departamentos o una subdivisión y tienes la autoridad necesaria para controlar, dirigir, contratar nuevo personal y despedir entras en esta categoría. También puedes aplicar en esta modalidad si tienes funciones especiales relacionadas a las finanzas, relaciones laborales o control de producción.
  • Ejecutivo. Entras en esta categoría si tus funciones no tienen que ver con el control y supervisión de la empresa. Será necesario que demuestres que tienen capacidad de toma de decisiones en tu departamento específico y que solo eres supervisado por tus superiores. En esta categoría no entran los empleados que se encargan de la producción de bienes o prestación de servicios.

Aspectos generales sobre las visas L1

  • El tiempo que la autoridad necesita para procesar la información y aceptar o rechazar la visa L1 es muy variado y depende de la cantidad de aplicaciones que haya en el momento. Es recomendable que se inicie el proceso con suficiente tiempo porque nunca sabes si tendrás respuesta en una semana o seis meses.
  • En caso de que se quiera agilizar el proceso, se puede pagar una tarifa especial de $1000 dólares. Esto reduce el tiempo de espera de la resolución a solo 15 días pero no garantiza que se otorgue la visa. Muchas personas tienen la idea equivocada de que con pagar esta tarifa garantizan o facilitan el otorgamiento de la visa. Esto no es así, el pago solo les asegura que su documentación será revisada con prioridad pero también pueden recibir una respuesta negativa.
  • Los trabajadores que deseen llevar consigo a su esposo e hijos menores de 21 años lo pueden hacer. Ellos recibirán el permiso de estancia por el mismo tiempo que el trabajador. Esta es una buena alternativa para las familias que no desean separarse pero es importante analizar las ventajas y desventajas en lo que se refiere a la posibilidad de encontrar un nuevo empleo por parte de la pareja.
  • Un poseedor de la visa L1 puede aplicar a la residencia permanente durante su estancia.

La visa L1 no es aplicable para todos los casos pero es una excelente alternativa para quienes buscan la residencia permanente en los Estados Unidos y tienen la opción de crecer dentro de la empresa para la que trabajan. Recuerda que si tienes dudas te podemos ayudar, solo necesitas contactarnos.

Visas and your adopted child

Fri, Aug 14 1:37 PM by Romona Paden

Adopting a child from abroad means contending with the visa process.

If you are adopting or intend to adopt a child from overseas, there are many preparations you have to make. From getting everything ready for your new arrival at home to coordinating travel schedules, time off work and agency fees, you have a lot on your plate. Another necessary step will be to acquire a visa for your child. This must be done before your child enters the country, and the visas will be issued at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where your child currently lives. Which type you get will impact the way you will ensure U.S. citizenship for your child. Let's review.

For Hague adoptions
These visas are issued for children coming from Hague Convention countries. This includes many nations, and you should consult a listing to determine whether the country your child is from is a Hague Convention country.

"The type of visa your child receives is important."

If your child has been fully and finally adopted before he or she enters the U.S., you will apply for an IH-3 visa. On the other hand, an IH-4 visa is for children whose adoptions will be finalized when they enter the U.S.

Orphan or non-Hague adoptions
For all non-Hague adoptions, you'll need a different route to a visa for your child. This will mean either an IR-3 or​ an IR-4 visa. An IR-3 visa requires that the adoption is full and final when completed abroad, and that at least one parent has physically seen the child before or during the adoption. If the child is coming to the U.S. to be adopted, was adopted abroad by only one married parent or wasn't seen by the parents prior to adoption, you will need to get an IR-4 visa.

Child citizenship
All children with IR-3 and IH-3 visas will automatically become U.S. citizens if they enter the country before their 18th birthdays and reside in the U.S. with their parents (unless their parents are U.S. government or military employees living overseas).

If your child acquires an IR-4 or IH-4 visa, he or she will receive a green card and become a permanent resident upon arrival in the U.S. On his or her adoption date, provided it is before his or her 18th birthday, he or she will become a U.S. citizen.

Reingresar a Estados Unidos cuando estuve m

Fri, Aug 7 6:35 PM by Romona Paden

Reingresar a Estados Unidos cuando estuve más tiempo del debido como estudiante

Si en algún momento estuviste más tiempo del debido en los Estados Unidos con la visa de estudiante, tendrás algunos problemas para reingresar al país. Incluso si deseas regresar por vacaciones o por muy poco tiempo, debes considerar ciertos aspectos importantes. Sigue leyendo y descubre los retos que tendrás.

Lo primero que necesitarás será aplicar por una nueva visa antes de regresar. En este caso puedes encontrarte con varias restricciones. Es importante comenzar este trámite con suficiente tiempo, incluso si vas a estar en los Estados Unidos de paso. Un ejemplo común es cuando vas a viajar a otro país pero harás escala en algún aeropuerto estadounidense.

Otros dos problemas que te puedes encontrar son:

  • Puedes ser inadmisible para entrar en los Estados Unidos por varios años dependiendo del tiempo extra que estuviste con la visa de estudiante.
  • El agente consular puede estar renuente a darte la visa que requieres incluso si eres admisible. Toma en cuenta que ya una vez infringiste la ley y este no suele ser un buen antecedente a los ojos de los agentes aduanales.

Casos en que serás inadmisible por estar más tiempo del debido

Permanecer en el país unos días o unas semanas más de las que debías no te hará automáticamente inadmisible para regresar a los Estados Unidos, para obtener otra visa o para obtener la tarjeta verde. En caso de que permanezcas más de 180 días después de que venció tu visa de estudiante serás inadmisible cuando:

  • Permanezcas en los Estados Unidos entre 180 días (seis meses) y 365 días (un año) no podrás regresar a los Estados Unidos por los siguientes tres años. Este lapso de tiempo comenzará a correr a partir de la fecha en que saliste de los Estados Unidos.
  • Cuando estés en los Estados Unidos más de un año serás inadmisible por diez años a partir del momento en que saliste de los Estados Unidos.

Recuerda que estar en los Estados Unidos más tiempo de que tenías permitido genera situaciones muy complejas dentro de las leyes de inmigración. Por ejemplo, si eras menor de 18 años no contará el tiempo que estuviste dentro del país. Algunas personas que desean obtener la tarjeta verde pueden pedir el perdón legal por haber estado más tiempo del debido. Es importante que revises estas situaciones especiales antes de comenzar cualquier proceso migratorio.

Reglas especiales que aplican a los estudiantes que estuvieron más tiempo del permitido

La visa de estudiante es un tipo muy especial por las características que posee. Para empezar, no tienes una fecha muy específica de salida de los Estados Unidos. Esto quiere decir que tienes la posibilidad de permanecer dentro del país hasta que concluyas todos tus estudios siempre que no cometas algún delito o inclumplas los términos de esta visa (como dejar la escuela por un semestre).

Debido a lo anterior, permanecer más tiempo del permitido no cuenta como presencia ilegal para la Oficina de Servicios de Migración y Ciudadanía de Estados Unidos ni para un juez. Pero si contará como antecedente si el tiempo es excesivo.

Aplicar para una nueva visa de no migrante

En caso de que apliques para otra visa de estudiante, para una visa de visitante o cualquier otra visa temporal para ingresar a los Estados Unidos, deberás probar que se trata de un intenta no migratorio. Es decir, que realmente piensas estar por poco tiempo. Algunos intentos de obtener la visa para permanecer por períodos de tiempo largos o dependiendo de tus circunstancias personales pueden resultar dudosas.
Puedes demostrar que tu estadía será por poco tiempo con algunos documentos pero toma en cuenta que no siempre es suficiente. Entre los documentos que puedes usar están:

  • Comprobantes de contratos de hipoteca.
  • Contratos de renta.
  • Contratos laborales.
  • Récords estudiantiles.
  • Etc.

Busca el consejo de un experto

Si tú o algún familiar o amigo desean regresar a los Estados Unidos pero ya una vez estuvieron más tiempo del permitido por su visa de estudiante, es probable que enfrenten algunos problemas. Para facilitar el proceso pueden acudir con un experto que les asesore sobre los mejores procedimientos posibles. Recuerda que nosotros podemos ayudarte con este y otros problemas relacionados a la migración a Estados Unidos.

What you need to know about student visas

Tue, Jul 21 10:16 AM by Romona Paden

Studying in the U.S. is exciting - learn how to make it happen.

If you're looking to come to the United States to study, congratulations! It is an exciting time in your educational career. To take this step, however, you will require a student visa. These visas give you the right to reside in the U.S. temporarily during your course of study, and the kind of degree or certificate you are undertaking will determine which visa you need.

The F-1 visa: Your most likely choice
People coming to the U.S. to study at a university, college, seminary, conservatory or any other academic institution (including a language training program) will need an F-1 visa. The only people who will need an M-1 visa are those who will be studying at a vocational school.

"To study in the U.S., you'll need a visa."

You can't use a visitor visa or travel on the visa waiver program to study in the U.S.  The only exception to this rule is if your course of study is really short and part of a vacation. If you will be a student, you must have a student visa.

Getting an F-1 visa
First, you must be accepted to a school that is approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program. Unless you are accepted, you can't apply for a visa. Once this happens, you will have your information entered into the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System, or SEVIS, and you will pay the SEVIS I-901 fee.

You will then need to complete the online nonimmigrant visa application, known also as Form DS-160, and print its confirmation page. You will also upload a photo of yourself to this form. Then, you will need to schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where you reside if you are between the ages of 14 and 79. Students who are younger or older than this range generally do not need to be interviewed.

The interview will require you to already have paid the visa application fee in most cases. You will also need to bring your documentation, including your passport, the confirmation page from Form DS-160, your application fee payment receipt, a photo if the upload failed and your certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status, which is form I-20A-B.

Your interview will mostly consist of determining whether you qualify for a visa and which category is the right one, and of you establishing that you meet the requirements for that visa. You will also have fingerprints taken.

Further information
You should keep in mind that completing these steps does not guarantee you will get a visa. Therefore, you shouldn't make concrete travel plans until after you have received one. Furthermore, while it's true you can apply for visas for your spouse and children, this is a different process that involves applying for F-2 visas for them.

Recommendations to update immigration process revealed

Thu, Jul 16 11:35 AM by Romona Paden

A task force has suggested ways to make immigration processes digital.

As part of his efforts toward immigration reform, President Barack Obama called for federal agencies to begin to make the process of applying for a visa more modern and digitized. Currently, applying for a green card, visa or other necessary immigration document involves many steps and a lot of paper. A task force convened on this issue recently released its report, "Modernizing and Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century," and has quite a few recommendations for how the process could change.

The group followed applicants looking to get their visas for several months, according to WIRED. An official who spoke with the source said the legwork involved was daunting. "As a group of technologists, that stuff just killed us. It's insane we would do that in 2015. We invented these things called computers," the official said.

In place of the paperwork-heavy system now operating, the group recommended a few key changes. First among them was allowing applicants to pay all fees at once rather than having them pay out small amounts over time. Another key change would involve tailoring the application experience to the user – the needs of a permanent resident seeking citizenship are different than those of a student from abroad looking to come to the U.S. to complete his or her studies, and any digital system should reflect that.

Your guide to same-sex spousal visas

Thu, Jul 9 1:58 PM by Romona Paden

The recent Supreme Court decision means same-sex spouses can obtain visas.

The recent U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same-sex marriage was a landmark. It changed the lives of millions of Americans and has been heralded by many as a step in the right direction in the fight for equality. However, not as many news outlets have pointed out that it is a serious advance in immigration reform as well! Because of the ruling, same-sex couples of which one member is not a U.S. citizen will have the ability to obtain a spousal visa for this person.

"You can sponsor your same-sex spouse for a visa."

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage legal and ensured it is recognized on the federal level, possibilities have opened up for same-sex couples in the world of immigration. A same-sex couple with one spouse who needs a U.S. visa now has recourse to the same processes available to opposite-sex married couples. Here's a quick review of how to file for a spousal visa for your same-sex partner:

Remember that the process is no different
Though the country and perhaps certain officials are still getting used to fully recognized same-sex marriage, the process you'll use to apply for a spousal visa as part of a same-sex marriage is the same as a man and a woman who are married would use. There are resources available to you if you encounter officials who are hostile to you as a couple because of your sexual orientation, but hope for the best – after all, this is simply a spousal visa application.

Are you married yet?
If you are not married to your partner yet, you may apply for a nonimmigrant visa for a fiance(e), known as a K-1. You will need to fill out an I-129F fiance(e) petition to acquire this visa. Once your partner has arrived in the U.S., you can then marry and pursue citizenship through applying for an immigrant visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen, known as IR1 or CR1. You will need to fill out a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130.

If you are already married
If your spouse currently lives in the U.S. and you are married, that is the point from which you will start the process of obtaining a visa. You will need to fill out an approved I-130 petition for your spouse to obtain the IR1 or CR1 visa.

Note also that these steps apply to any of your immigrant spouse's minor children as well.

Los inversionistas pueden obtener una visa estadounidense

Tue, Apr 14 11:05 PM by Romona Paden

Los inversionistas pueden obtener una visa estadounidense

Estados Unidos te permite trabajar y residir con tu familia si te conviertes en un inversionista. Existen dos tipos de visa otorgada para los inversionistas: la visa conocida como EB5 y la E2. La diferencia mayor es el capital requerido para la inversión y si puedes o no, luego podrás tramitar la ciudadanía americana.
Ambas solicitudes de visa se llevan un tiempo muy largo. Toma en cuenta que debes presentar formularios, proyectos y demás temas relacionados a tus inversiones. Procura tener toda la información perfectamente detallada desde antes de iniciar tu proceso.

Cuándo debes tramitar la visa EB5 y la E2

Para solicitarla debes realizar una inversión de $1,000,000 de dólares. Puedes reducir esta inversión inicial a $500,000 dólares en caso de que busques invertir en zonas urbanas deprimidas económicamente o zonas rurales designadas a este visado.
Si no tienes esa cantidad de dinero puedes tramitar la visa E2. Esta visa no requiere un mínimo para invertir. Toma en cuenta que es del tipo visa no inmigrante. Esto significa que se debe renovar temporalmente y no te sirve como camino para obtener la ciudadanía. Sólo la puedes obtener para ti, tu cónyuge e hijos menores de 21 años y les permite trabajar y vivir temporalmente en Estados Unidos. La única ventaja frente a la EB5 es que requiere menos capital.

¿Es recomendable que obtengas la EB5?

Si deseas obtener la tarjeta verde permanente, debes considerar la EB5 ya que luego de dos años puedes comenzar los trámites para la tarjeta verde. Noventa días antes de cumplir los dos años de obtener la tarjeta, debes completar el formulario I-829 y enviarlo a la USCIS. Si aún sigues cumpliendo todos los requisitos solicitados, el Servicio de Inmigración te concederá a ti y a tu familia la residencia permanente y definitiva.

¿Qué debes hacer para solicitar la EB5?

Debes completar el formulario I-526. Los pasos a seguir luego difieren si estás residiendo en los EEUU o si la solicitas desde el extranjero.
Si resides en los Estados Unidos debes solicitar un ajuste de estatus, completando el formulario I-484. Así obtendrás la residencia temporal. Si estás en el extranjero debes realizar esta solicitud a través de la oficina consular correspondiente. En caso de que tu solicitud sea aprobada, se te enviará un número de visa de inmigrante. Cuando te lo entreguen tendrás la residencia permanente condicional.

Requisitos para la EB5

Para tramitar y obtener esta visa es importante que no tengas antecedentes criminales ni ser inadmisible para la solicitud. Puedes ser de cualquier nacionalidad y no se te exigirá ningún nivel básico de educación ni de conocimiento de inglés.
Si vas a comenzar un negocio nuevo, debes generar al menos diez puestos de trabajo nuevos para los estadounidenses. Si vas a comprar un negocio ya existente y se trata de una zona con alto índice de pérdida de puestos de trabajo, bastará con mantener los trabajadores existentes. Si no es en una de esas zonas, deberás incrementar los puestos de empleo en al menos un 140 %.
Puedes también realizar una inversión indirecta a través de los Centros Regionales. Esto te permite tramitar tu visa y no estar directamente involucrado en el manejo de un negocio. Las inversiones las puedes hacer en el rubro que desees, incluyendo hoteles, bienes raíces, granjas, etc.

Procedencia de tu capital

Toma en cuenta que el gobierno de Estados Unidos estudiará realmente a fondo tus finanzas y la procedencia de tu capital. Puede ser de una herencia, fruto de tu trabajo o inclusive de un préstamo bancario pero debes tener todo legalmente autorizado y comprobar que es legal.
Sea cual sea tu residencia actual, no dudes en consultar con nuestros profesionales autorizados. Ser inversionista es una excelente opción para aumentar tu riqueza y ayudar al crecimiento de Estados Unidos y de tu propio país.

Informacion general sobre las visas de estudiantes

Mon, Mar 16 10:33 PM by Romona Paden

Información general sobre las visas de estudiantes

Es posible estudiar a tiempo completo en diferentes instituciones aprobadas por el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de los Estados Unidos, esto incluye diferentes escuelas de idiomas, tecnológicos, escuelas de nivel medio y segunda enseñanza, universidades y otras instituciones de la educación superior.
Con visa de turista también se pueden cursar estudios en Estados Unidos pero, si dichos estudios superan las 18 horas semanales entonces debes sacar una visa de estudiante F-1 o M-1.

¿En qué consisten dichas visas?

Las visas F-1 se otorgan a estudios académicos y del lenguaje cubriendo toda la extensión del período en que estudiarán los solicitantes. Con respecto a la visa M-1 ésta se otorga en el caso de estudios vocacionales de hasta un año de duración en el país.

¿Cuál es el proceso de solicitud?

Primeramente debes hacer la solicitud a una institución académica aprobada por el Servicio de Ciudadanía e Inmigración de los Estados Unidos, dicha institución académica te envía los formularios I-20, F-1 o M-1 en dependencia de tus particularidades. Tu escuela y tú deben firmar estas solicitudes. Luego la escuela se encarga de tramitar tu solicitud de visa de estudiante al Sistema de Información al Estudiante y Visitante de Intercambio, que es un sistema en Internet que regula la información acerca de estudiantes no inmigrantes.
También debes proporcionar el formulario de Solicitud de Visa de No Inmigrante DS-156, así como la Información de Contacto DS-158 y la Historia Laboral para Solicitud de Visa de No Inmigrante.  Después que tu solicitud se haya aceptado tendrás una entrevista. Se te tomarán las huellas digitales y fotos. Además, se te solicitará un pasaporte que tenga fecha de expiración de al menos 6 meses después de que concluyan tus estudios en Estados Unidos. Debes proporcionar además fotografías de pasaporte, y un recibo que confirme que todos los pagos relativos a la solicitud de visa se han realizado.

Lo que debes tomar en cuenta

Los meses de verano justo antes del comienzo del curso escolar son los más ajetreados en las embajadas y consulados. Las visas de estudiantes se emiten luego de 120 días y no importa si la solicitaste antes, vas a tener que esperar a que pasen los 120 días estipulados.
Prepárate para tener a mano los títulos y diplomas que has obtenido en diferentes instituciones académicas de tu país. También debes dar prueba de tu situación financiera pues el USCIS necesita saber que tú y tu patrocinador pueden cubrir tus gastos en el país. La evidencia puede incluir documentos bancarios, registros empresariales etc.
No puedes viajar a los Estados Unidos con más de 30 días de antelación al comienzo de tus estudios. Si necesitas venir antes entonces necesitarás una visa de visitante. En este caso ten en cuenta que luego necesitarás un ajuste de tu estatus de visitante a estudiante. Esto requerirá pagos adicionales y no puedes comenzar tus estudios hasta que no se hayan aprobado dichos cambios en tu estatus dentro del país.
Cuando llegues a Estados Unidos darás el formulario I-20 al oficial de aduana quien revisará tu documentación y autorizará tu entrada a los Estados Unidos. Entrarás bajo el Programa de Visitas de Estados Unidos y se colocarán los datos pertinentes del I-94, el Registro de Entradas y Salidas en tu pasaporte. No puedes perderlo pues es la única prueba de tu entrada al país.

Duración de la visa de estudiante

Si te aceptan por la visa F-1 puedes permanecer en el país mientras duren tus estudios, incluso después de que haya expirado tu permiso. Después que los hayas terminado se te permite una estadía temporal y un tiempo antes de que debas dejar el país. Generalmente los estudiantes que tienen visa F-1 pueden quedarse en el país por dos meses más.
En el caso de la visa M-1 se admite la estadía de los estudiantes durante un año y tienen hasta 30 días para abandonar el país después de que se venzan sus estudios. En este caso la estadía total no debe exceder el año.
No dudes en contactarnos si necesitas cualquier tipo de ayuda durante tus trámites para viajar a Estados Unidos, estamos aquí para ayudarte y hacer que tus trámites sean mucho más fáciles.

Visa K1: todo lo que debes saber

Mon, Feb 9 4:43 PM by Romona Paden

Visa K1: todo lo que debes saber

Con el gran número de visas que existen en Estados Unidos, no es raro que surjan las dudas sobre la más adecuada para tus necesidades. En esta ocasión te hablaré de la Visa K1 o Visa de Prometido. Este documento permite la entrada de un extranjero a los Estados Unidos por 90 días para casarse con un ciudadano americano. Una vez que se ha llevado a cabo el matrimonio, el ciudadano extranjero puede solicitar un ajuste de estatus a residente permanente.

¿Qué es un "prometido"?

El prometido es una persona extranjera soltera que va a casarse con un ciudadano americano. Las dos personas deben ser libres para casarse y cumplir con todos los requisitos que señala la ley. Uno de los requisitos es que el prometido y el ciudadano estadounidense se hayan conocido en persona en el último año.

¿Quiénes pueden realizar el trámite para obtener la Visa K1?

Los trámites los puede iniciar el ciudadano americano al presentar los documentos de solicitud en las oficinas correspondientes. El prometido extranjero también puede realizar el trámite presentando su solicitud y documentación en la embajada correspondiente.
Los formatos necesarios para obtener la Visa de Prometido

1. I-129F
2. G-325a
3. G-1145 (opcional)

Aunque estos formatos puedes completarlos tú mismo, debes asegurarte de hacerlo con mucho cuidado. Actualmente existen servicios especializados que te pueden facilitar el proceso evitando retrasos y errores al completar los formatos.

Documentación necesaria

La documentación que deberás presentar como prometido extranjero en la entrevista para la visa es:

  • El Formato DS-160 completado.
  • La Solicitud de Visa de no inmigrante (el original y dos copias de la página de confirmación).
  • Un pasaporte para viajar a los Estados Unidos válido por al menos seis meses.
  • Acta de divorcio, acta de anulación de matrimonio o certificado de defunción de la pareja anterior si has estado casado antes.
  • Certificado policíaco de tu país de residencia y de todos los países donde hayas vivido por 6 meses o más desde que tenías 16 años.
  • Examen médico.
  • Evidencia de situación financiera y Formato I-134.
  • 2 fotografías de 2×2
  • Evidencia de la relación con tu prometido americano.
  • Pago de las tarifas correspondientes.

¿Pueden negarme la Visa K1?

Sí. Existen ciertas condiciones o actividades que te hacen no elegible para la visa. Básicamente cualquier actividad ilegal te pondrá en esta situación:

  • Historial de tráfico de drogas
  • Haber permanecido en el país en una visita anterior cuando tu visa ya había expirado
  • Enviar documentos falsos
  • Tener historial de delincuencia en tu país de origen.

Si te enfrentas a alguna de estas situaciones, procura informar al Oficial Consular. En algunos casos existe la posibilidad de analizar la causa de no elegibilidad y buscar una solución.

¿Cuánto tiempo tardan en aprobar o negar la Visa K1?

Es importante que una vez que tu pareja y tú deciden casarse, se tomen un tiempo antes de planear la fecha de la boda. A partir del momento en que se entrega la documentación, el proceso puede detenerse en varias ocasiones. Hay parejas que se enfrentan a retrasos porque enviaron la documentación incompleta o mal. En otros casos se solicitará información o documentación extra. Por todo esto, puede pasar de 6 meses a 1 año para recibir la Visa K1.

¿Qué recibiré?

  • Si te autorizan la Visa K1, recibirás un paquete con los siguientes documentos:
  • Pasaporte con la Visa K1.
  • Los documentos que entregaste al inicio del proceso.
  • Otros documentos que el Consulado otorga para demostrar la autenticidad de tu Visa K1.

Si estás pensando en obtener la Visa K1 recuerda que siempre es buena idea contar con la asesoría de especialistas que tengan experiencia en el procedimiento. De esta forma evitarás errores o confusiones que retrasen por semanas o meses el trámite.

Casarse en Estados Unidos con una visa de turista

Tue, Jan 13 3:20 PM by Romona Paden

Casarse en Estados Unidos con una visa de turista

¿Puedes casarte con una visa de turista? Por lo regular sí pero deberás entrar a Estados Unidos con la visa de turista, casarte con un ciudadano americano y regresar a tu país antes de que tu visa expire. Los problemas aparecen cuando entras con una visa de turista con la intención de casarte y permanecer en Estados Unidos.

Todos hemos escuchado historias sobre personas que llegaron a Estados Unidos con una visa de turista, no regresaron a casa y pudieron cambiar su estatus migratorio a residente permanente. Pero no debes cometer el error de pensar que tendrás la misma oportunidad. Lo que pasa es que estas personas pudieron demostrar satisfactoriamente que llegaron al país con la sola intención de viajar y que la decisión de casarse fue espontánea.

Lo que debes considerar antes de casarte con una visa de turista

1.¿Qué pasa si te niegan el cambio de estatus migratorio?
Tienes la opción de permanecer en el país para iniciar el procedimiento para cambiar tu situación migratoria pero quizás no has pensado que te lo pueden negar. Toma en cuenta que factores como la salud, el historial delictivo o problemas anteriores pueden ser causa de una negativa. Si esto pasa, ¿estás preparado para iniciar un proceso de apelación, pagar a un abogado y regresar a casa? ¿qué pasaría con tu pareja? ¿podría dejar su vida en Estados Unidos e irse contigo a tu país? ¿el divorcio es posible en este caso? Son preguntas muy difíciles que deben ser tomadas en cuenta porque podría presentarse esta situación.

2.Olvídate de viajar por un tiempo
Si planeabas una luna de miel en algún lugar exótico o en tu país de origen, deberás olvidarlo por un tiempo. El proceso para modificar la situación migratoria puede ser muy largo y durante este tiempo, el extranjero no puede dejar los Estados Unidos hasta obtener una respuesta del gobierno. Si el esposo extranjero deja el país, el proceso debe ser reiniciado por el esposo estadounidense y no podrá regresar hasta obtener el permiso correspondiente.

3.Los oficiales de migración están poniendo atención
Cuando un extranjero llega al país, un oficial le preguntará el motivo de su viaje. Siempre debes ser honesto porque si descubren que traes un vestido de novia cuando has dicho que solo pensabas pasear, te pueden negar la entrada. Lo peor es que este problema puede quedarse registrado y te complicará futuros viajes.

4.Trae evidencia de que piensas regresar a tu país
Si el matrimonio ha sido planeado y vienes a Estados Unidos con esa intención pero planeas regresar a tu país, debes traer pruebas de ello. Cuantas más pruebas tengas, mejor: el contrato de renta de tu departamento, tu contrato laboral, cartas de tus jefes y el boleto del avión de regreso.

5.Evita los fraudes de visa
Si planeas casarte con tu pareja con una visa de turista para evitar todo el proceso que se necesita para obtener la visa de prometido, puedes enfrentarte a problemas legales más serios. Esto se llama fraude de visa y puede ocasionar tu deportación y la prohibición para entrar al país indefinidamente.

6.Olvida tu antigua vida por algún tiempo
Si usas una visa de turista para casarte, olvídate de ver a tu familia y amigos por algún tiempo. Si tienes otra clase de compromisos o problemas en tu país (laborales, financieros, etc.) tampoco podrás hacer mucho para solucionarlos. Por esto se recomienda una visa de esposo o prometido desde el inicio. Con esta alternativa tienes la oportunidad de resolver todos tus asuntos mientras se obtiene la aprobación de la visa.

Recuerda que es mejor obtener la visa adecuada para el estatus que deseas tener. Así evitarás problemas legales y gastos innecesarios.

US expands Chinese visa program

Tue, Nov 11 3:29 PM by Romona Paden

Chinese visitors can now apply for extended, 10-year visas.

For those seeking temporary stays in the U.S., you know how difficult it can be getting a B2 visa. The application process can be complex and lengthy, and these visas often do not last long enough to suit your needs. This is an issue that many Chinese visitors are having, which is why the White House has agreed to a new, extended visa policy for tourists and businesspeople from China.

According to CNN, President Barack Obama has made an agreement with China for a new, reciprocal visa policy for vacationers and people in the U.S. for business. It will allow Chinese citizens to travel to the U.S. for up to 10 years on one visa. Major trade partners such as Brazil and various countries throughout Europe are already on visa extension policies like this – an effort to drive growth of the tourism industry and boost employment in the U.S. As part of the agreement, Americans will also have access to 10-year visas to China.

"I've heard from American business leaders about how valuable this step will be," Obama said at an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. "And we've worked hard to achieve this outcome because it clearly serves the mutual interest of both of our countries."

This extension agreement between America and China is expected to significantly improve trade between these two powerhouse nations. According to a statement released by the White House, the changes should create up to 440,000 new jobs for American citizens by 2021 due to the rise in tourism and new business opportunities spurred by an increase of more than 7 million Chinese visitors per year. It could potentially generate as much as $85 billion in revenue.

DHS implements Haitian Family Reunification Parole program

Wed, Oct 22 1:29 PM by Romona Paden

The Haitian Family Reunification Parole program will allow eligible relatives if U.S. citizens enter the country.

When it comes to receiving a green card or visa, those who are family members of people with American citizenship often have their applications expedited. That's because the U.S. government puts particular emphasis on family reunification. The Department of Homeland Security has just announced that it will put the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program into place.

This program will award eligible Haitians with the opportunity to come to the U.S. two years before the priority dates for their immigrant visas become current. To qualify, an applicant must reside in Haiti and be a beneficiary of an approved, family-based immigrant visa petition. The program is scheduled to go into effect in early 2015, when the Department of State National Visa Center will begin sending out letters to eligible beneficiaries. Only those with a letter of eligibility from the center will be able to apply.

In a press statement, Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas discussed the importance of the Haitian Family Reunification Parole program.

"The rebuilding and development of a safe and economically strong Haiti is a priority for the United States," Mayorkas stated. "The Haitian Family Reunification Parole program promotes a fundamental underlying goal of our immigration system – family reunification. It also supports broader U.S. goals for Haiti's reconstruction and development by providing the opportunity for certain eligible Haitians to safely and legally immigrate sooner to the United States."

Mayorkas went on to explain that it is imperative for those seeking visas through this program not to attempt to enter the country legally. Water-bound journeys to the U.S. are not only life threatening but illegal, and those who are caught will be disqualified from the family reunification program and will be returned to Haiti.

US State Department announces 2013 green card lottery winners

Thu, Oct 9 3:15 PM by Romona Paden

The green card lottery winners from 2013 have been announced and can begin to apply for their visas.

Acquiring a green card can be a difficult and drawn-out process, and many immigrants fail to obtain or renew theirs and must stay in their country of origin for unforeseen periods of time. But the U.S. government offers an alternative method for securing a green card: the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.

Also known as the green card lottery, this program awards as many as 50,000 immigrant visas each year to applicants pursuing American citizenship. The visas are distributed to applicants from six geographic regions, doling out a larger number to people from countries that have low levels of U.S. immigration with the aim of increasing diversity among America's immigrant population.

The process of selecting winners can also be a long one, taking a year to complete, but the U.S. Department of State has just announced the selection of applicants for the 2013 green card lottery. The winners, who applied in 2013 between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2 to obtain visas in 2015, were chosen at random using a computerized program. Among all the countries involved in the lottery, Nigeria had the largest number of winners with more than 6,200, according to RocketNews24​. Nepal and Iran also had some of the biggest numbers in terms of visa recipients.

Applicants have through Sept. 30, 2015, to check the status of their entry online through the U.S. Department of State website, and the lucky winners can then begin the application process in order to obtain their visas, which grant them permanent American citizenship.

The selection of the 2013 green card lottery winners comes just as the 2014 lottery is underway. For this year's contest, immigrants interested in American citizenship should apply between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3, 2014, and the results are expected to be announced about one year from the beginning of the registration period.

US State Department announces 2013 green card lottery winners

Thu, Oct 9 3:15 PM by Romona Paden

The green card lottery winners from 2013 have been announced and can begin to apply for their visas.

Acquiring a green card can be a difficult and drawn-out process, and many immigrants fail to obtain or renew theirs and must stay in their country of origin for unforeseen periods of time. But the U.S. government offers an alternative method for securing a green card: the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program.

Also known as the green card lottery, this program awards as many as 50,000 immigrant visas each year to applicants pursuing American citizenship. The visas are distributed to applicants from six geographic regions, doling out a larger number to people from countries that have low levels of U.S. immigration with the aim of increasing diversity among America's immigrant population.

The process of selecting winners can also be a long one, taking a year to complete, but the U.S. Department of State has just announced the selection of applicants for the 2013 green card lottery. The winners, who applied in 2013 between Oct. 1 and Nov. 2 to obtain visas in 2015, were chosen at random using a computerized program. Among all the countries involved in the lottery, Nigeria had the largest number of winners with more than 6,200, according to RocketNews24​. Nepal and Iran also had some of the biggest numbers in terms of visa recipients.

Applicants have through Sept. 30, 2015, to check the status of their entry online through the U.S. Department of State website, and the lucky winners can then begin the application process in order to obtain their visas, which grant them permanent American citizenship.

The selection of the 2013 green card lottery winners comes just as the 2014 lottery is underway. For this year's contest, immigrants interested in American citizenship should apply between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3, 2014, and the results are expected to be announced about one year from the beginning of the registration period.

Everything you need to know to apply for the green card lottery

Thu, Oct 2 3:39 PM by Romona Paden

The green card lottery awards 50,000 immigrant visas every year.

The process for obtaining a green card can be a long and complicated one, and many people wait years to receive theirs. But the green card lottery is an additional opportunity to obtain a green card. Formally known as the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, it provides as many as 50,000 immigrant visas each year to people seeking American citizenship. In 2014, the program opened on Oct. 1 and will accept applications through the beginning of November, providing visas to citizens of particular countries to create a more diversified immigrant population in America.

How to enter
To enter the green card lottery for the 2016 year, apply online before noon (EDT) on Monday, Nov. 3, 2014. It is completely free to enter. The application must be submitted in English, though unofficial translations are available. No paper or late entries will be considered. After submitting your entry, you will be given a confirmation number. Print or write down this number so you can check the status of your entry and so you can complete the visa process if you are selected as a winner.

Exclusions
The 50,000 green cards awarded to applicants each year are intended for people from countries with low rates of U.S. immigration. The U.S. Department of State has determined that 19 countries have high immigration rates, and so citizens from those areas are not eligible for the green card lottery. These include:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China (those born in the mainland)
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti, India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories
  • Vietnam

Despite these restrictions, you still qualify if you're married to someone from a country that is not on this list. Additionally, someone born in one of these countries may apply for a visa under the lottery program if neither of his or her parents were born or legally resided in the country.

Requirements
Applicants must meet a simple but strict set of guidelines to be eligible for the green card lottery. You must meet one of the following requirements:

Have at least a high school education
Have at least two years of work experience within the past five years; the position must be in an occupation that requires at least two years worth of experience or training

The selection process
The Department of State selects the winners at random from all entries according to how many visas are available for each region or country. On or around May 5 of the following year, the department announces the winners. To see if you were selected from the lottery, use your confirmation number to check the status of your entry on or after this date.

A guide to US visas

Thu, Sep 11 12:43 AM by Romona Paden

A guide to US visas.

There are a number of different visas available in the U.S., and knowing which one is right for you can be difficult to determine. Between work and study visas, immigrant and nonimmigrant visas, the process of applying for one can become complex. 

What is a US visa?

The U.S. government awards visas to those entering the country following the proper legal process. This is a travel document that is issued for specific purposes of travel including tourism, employment, business, study, or to join family that already lives in the U.S.

Are there different types of visas?

Yes, there are two types of U.S. visas: nonimmigrant and immigrant. 

A nonimmigrant visa is given to those who are only staying in the U.S. for a set amount of time. It's issued to travelers who are in the U.S. for business, tourism, work or study. A nonimmigrant visa is typically valid for any time between three months and two years. However it can be extended under certain circumstances.

The other type of visa is an immigrant visa, and it is issued to individuals who want to permanently stay in the U.S. Immigrant visas allow you to establish residency. After receiving an immigrant visa,  you'll be able to become a permanent resident and be issued a green card. There are three types of immigrant visas: special immigrant, employment-based and family-sponsored.

The differences between a visa, green card and citizenship

What often becomes confusing is determening the difference between green cards, visas and U.S. citizenship. However, all three of these terms relate to an individual's immigration status. 

Visa holder: An individual with a visa is only permitted to stay in the U.S. temporarily. Visa holders have the right to the following in the U.S.:

  • Visiting friends and family
  • Conducting business
  • Attending conferences
  • Participating in events
  • Receiving medical treatment
  • Studying at a school in the U.S.
  • Training or interning with a company in the U.S.
  • Working

Permanent resident: A permanent resident is also known as a green card holder and can permanently stay in the U.S. Green card holders have the right to the following in the U.S.:

  • Working
  • Applying for citizenship after three to five years
  • Traveling in and out of the country without needing to apply for a visa

U.S. citizen: Once a permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen, they have the right to the following:

  • Unlimited protections under the Constitution and its laws
  • A U.S. passport
  • Voting in local, state and federal elections
  • Working and receiving full employment benefits

Applying for a US visa

The application process for a U.S. visa depends on the type for which you're applying, but all applicants must complete these steps:

  • Obtain a valid passport
  • File an application with the U.S. Department of State and Bureau of Consular Affairs
  • Attend a visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country
  • Fill out forms such as a DS-160, I-526 or I-94, depending on the visa they're applying for

Immigration Direct can help those who want to apply for a U.S. visa.

President Obama considers increasing green cards and H-1B visas

Fri, Aug 22 1:10 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama may increase the number of visas available each year.

While in the midst of considering executive action to address the U.S. immigration crisis, President Barack Obama is also weighing the possibility of increasing the number of green cards and H-1B visas issued to immigrants by as much as 800,000 annually. According to Fox News Latino, technology businesses' request to expand the number of H-1B visas, which are given to immigrants who come to work in the U.S., may become a reality following a meeting with White House officials in early August.

The approach to immigration reform has not been finalized yet, as President Obama did not make a decision on the next steps. However White House spokesman Shawn Turner said in a statement that the president has a number of potential solutions he's considering. The Obama administration and immigration advocates would likely be surprised by an increase in available green cards and visas. The source reported that there would also be a relief in the number of deportations for some undocumented immigrants following failure by Congress to address the issue.

One of the requests from technology business leaders was to make changes to the way green cards are counted. By doing this, there would be a reported 800,000 additional H-1B visas available in one year. If green cards are used a different way, then there would be more H-1B visas available for international workers.

If this were to be the solution President Obama pursued, it would encourage immigrants to use legal avenues for coming to the U.S., make it less difficult for companies who want to bring in talent from overseas to do so, and lessen the wait time for sponsored relatives seeking a green card, Fox News Latino reported.

More than 20 meetings have been held with business groups in recent months to try and find a solution for the immigration crisis. The leaders from these companies are making suggestions on how to address the issue and working with the Obama administration on making the pathway to citizenship for immigrants more streamlined.

Supreme Court decision could further divide families

Tue, Jun 10 10:48 AM by Romona Paden

Children who 'aged out' of the immigration system may now wait in even longer lines.

The Supreme Court, in a closely divided vote, ruled on Monday that there would be no exception given to children of immigrants who turned 21 prior to receiving their immigrant visa. Those not in favor of the decision argue that these children, who effectively "age out" of eligibility for citizenship, are being cheated by the slow-moving nature of the U.S. immigration system. The final vote from the justices came in at 5-4.

The issue is that these children are only aging out of the immigration system because they lose their place in line, so to speak. These children are allowed to wait in the proverbial line for citizenship in the same spot as their parents, but often find that they reach their 21st birthday prior to being processed properly. A 2002 ruling by the Supreme Court in the case of Sciaballa v. Cuellar de Osorio et al had allowed immigrant children to maintain the priority status given to them even after they turned 21, assuming that they had already been in line for naturalization prior.

While critics of the decision have argued that it violates the 2002 ruling, Justice Elena Kagan maintains that the former law had contradictory clauses and was ambiguous in its presentation. Kagan cited this absence of clarity as a key factor influencing her decision in her written ruling on the matter.

"Whatever Congress might have meant, it failed to speak clearly. The two faces of the statute do not easily cohere with each other," wrote Kagan.

This most recent ruling sets aged out children back greatly, putting them in lines that, realistically, they may not ever see the end of, and heightening their risk for deportation and separation from their families. The co-director of the Immigrant Rights Clinic at New York University, Alina Das, reaffirmed this sentiment.

"[Aged out children] continue to be in limbo, waiting for leadership from the administration and Congress to make sure they're back on a path to citizenship," Das told The New York Times.

Should you choose the immigrant or nonimmigrant visa?

Wed, Apr 30 3:22 PM by Romona Paden

How to choose between immigrant and nonimmigrant visas

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers two main types of visas, which are broken down into more specific categories. These two types of U.S. visas are known as immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.

Immigrant visas are granted to individuals who want to work toward becoming a citizen of the United States. The U.S. government provides a limited amount of these visas, and applicants are often placed on a waiting list before they receive their visa.

A nonimmigrant visa is designed for those people who permanently reside outside the U.S. but want to enter the country on a temporary basis. Some reasons for this might include tourism, business, temporary work or study, and medical treatment. Nonimmigrant visas generally do not require a waiting period, but they do not authorize the holder to live and work in the U.S. 

A large number of subcategories of visas exist within these two classifications. For individuals interested in entering the U.S., it is encouraged to do some research into the best visa for their needs. The visas that are available are situation-specific, so applicants should be aware of the requirements for each type. There are specific nonimmigrant visas for business visitors, tourists, fiances of U.S. citizens, medical travelers, government officials and more. Those who can recieve visas to live and work in this country include employer-sponsored immigrants, family-sponsored immigrants, and immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. 

It is very important that applicants know which type of visa will meet their needs. Applying for the wrong visa will not only delay the process, but can potentially bar the applicant from performing the tasks they came to the U.S. to complete.

Which work visa is right for you?

Fri, Apr 25 12:54 PM by Romona Paden

There are several kinds of work visas to choose from

If you are interested in coming to the U.S. to work, you may be overwhelmed by all the visa options that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers. For a brief overview of the different kinds of visas, take a look at the information provided here.

There are more than 60 different temporary visas available to immigrants to the U.S. Some offer immigrants a path to citizenship and permanent residence (known as a green card). One of the first things an immigrant employee should know is the length of time they are planning to stay in the United States. If it is for a short period of time (usually less than six months), a visitor's visa (or visa waiver) is appropriate. If the stay extends longer than six months, a 'proper' work visa is required.

The three most common categories of proper work visas are discussed here. The first kind of work visa is the B-1 visa for people who are considered to be business visitors. These individuals arrive in the U.S. to make sales, conduct negotiations, attend meetings and seek investments for their companies abroad. The maximum stay on a B-1 visa is six months.

The next type is the H-1B visa, and this is designed for employees who work in specialty occupations like engineering, science and mathematics. Individuals who apply for an H-1B visa must have the equivalent to a U.S. bachelor's degree. The maximum length of time these individuals can stay in the country is six years.

A third type of work visa falls under the L category. The L-1A visa allows executives or managers who work for a company that is based abroad but has an office in the U.S. to come to this country. The employee must have worked one year in the past three for that company and plan to work for the Unites States branch when they arrive. L-1A visa holders can stay in the U.S. for seven years. The L-1B visa allows employees with specialized knowledge to work for the company's U.S. branch. L-1B visa holders can stay in the U.S. for five years.

What you need to know about R-1 visas

Wed, Apr 23 5:38 PM by Romona Paden

Religious workers can be eligible for R-1 visas

Immigrant applicants interested in entering the U.S. to become employed by a nonprofit religious organization must be aware of the requirements for an R-1 visa. R-1 visas are provided by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and are meant for ministers, religious workers and employees of religious organizations.

If a religious worker or minister is interested in staying in the U.S. for a short period of time they are permitted to apply for a visitor visa (also known as a B visa). Certain religious activities can be performed under a B visa, including private worship, prayer, meditation, informal religious study, and attendance at religious services or conferences in the United States. However, this visa is only appropriate if the individual plans to remain in the United States for a temporary period of time, and if their wages or reimbursement will be paid by their religious group outside the U.S. (versus by a religious employer in the country).

If the religious worker's salary is to be paid by a nonprofit religious organization in the United States, they must obtain an R-1 visa.

Eligibility requirements for an R-1 visa include the necessity for the immigrant to be a member of a religious denomination that has a legitimate non-profit religious organization in the United States. That organization needs to be in place for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition. The prospective employer of the religious worker in the U.S. needs to file Form I-129, or the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, before the applicant seeks a visa interview. Then the immigrant must complete an online application called Form DS-160 and bring the confirmation page to their visa interview, usually held at the embassy or consulate in the applicant's home country.

What you need to know about P-3 visas

Tue, Apr 22 3:40 PM by Romona Paden

The P-3 visa was created for Culturally Unique Artists and Entertainers

The P-3 visa is offered by USCIS and is designed to allow artists or entertainers to enter the United States, either individually or as a group. The goal of the artists or group should be to develop, interpret, represent, coach or teach a traditional or artistic cultural, folk, ethnic musical or theatrical performance or presentation.

Applicants for P-3 visas must be coming to the U.S. to participate in a cultural event or events that will further the understanding or development of their art form. The program may be of a commercial or noncommercial nature.

For the presentation to be deemed culturally unique, it must be in a style that is an artistic expression, methodology or medium that is specific to a particular country, nation, society, class ethnicity, tribe, religion or other group of persons.

Those who request a P-3 visa must be sponsored by a U.S. organization or employer. The sponsor must submit Form I-129, Petition for a Non-Immigrant Worker. Documents that are required for the application include proof that the applicant's or group's performance is culturally unique as evidenced by reviews in newspapers, journals or other published materials. Applicants will also need to provide an explanation of the event they will be participating in and an itinerary, especially if they plan to perform in more than one location.

Those individuals or groups that hold P-3 visas will be permitted to stay in the U.S. for the time it takes to complete the event, activity or performance, up to one year. They are allowed to petition for an extension in one-year increments in order to continue or complete the event, activity or performance.

Spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of P-3 visa holders may obtain P-4 status. The dependents may not obtain employment but may attend school or college.

Information on the V visa

Mon, Apr 21 12:26 PM by Romona Paden

The V visa is one of many offered by the U.S. government to immigrant families

The United States government offers a temporary visa to spouses or unmarried children (under 21 years old) of immigrants who currently live and work in the country. This visa is called the V visa, and allows lawful permanent residents (LPRs, also known as green card holders) to maintain their family structure and unity while the immigration process runs its course.

V visas were created in 2000 by the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act. The goal of the act is to provide an alternate way for immigrants to speed up their citizenship applications. Prior to the passage of the LIFE Act, immigrants could only remain in the U.S. on a temporary work visa for a specific period of time. If they overstayed this period of time, they would not be allowed to apply for permanent residency. The immigrants would be required  to return to their home countries before they could apply for a green card.

Those individuals that are eligible for a V visa must have filed Form I-130, known as an immigrant petition, on or before December 21, 2000, and be sponsored by a legal resident. With this visa, the families can stay together in the U.S. The spouse is allowed to work and children are permitted to go to school. With a V visa, international travel is also allowed.

While the V visa is available to those who satisfy these conditions, those who missed the deadline of December 21, 2000, have no relief. Currently many spouses and children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents are waiting for five to six years for immigrant visas without being allowed to live with their spouses or parents in the U.S. However, the U.S. government offers many different visa options for immigrants and their families. They are all worth investigating to determine eligibility and whether applying for a different visa would expedite the immigration process.

What you need to know about the Exchange Visitor Visa

Thu, Apr 17 3:57 PM by Romona Paden

The Exchange Visitor, or J-1 visa

The Exchange Visitor Program, or J-1 visa program, was implemented by the U.S. government in the early 1960s. The goal of the program is to promote cultural exchange by inviting non-immigrant visitors to enter the U.S. to obtain business or medical training. All immigrant applicants must be sponsored by a government program or private organization.

The United States' motivation behind enacting the Exchange Visitor Program was to encourage the understanding of other cultures through educational and cultural exchanges. The U.S. Department of State plays the primary role in providing J-1 visas to immigrant exchange visitors.

A J-1 Visa is a non-immigrant visa, meaning it is granted to individuals who are not seeking a path to citizenship. Those individuals that hold J-1 exchange visas are permitted to travel to the United States through a Department of State-approved sponsor program. They are permitted to study, receive training, teach or demonstrate special skills. Sponsors for J-1 visas must be accredited through the Exchange Visitor Program that is designated by the U.S. State Department.

Some designated sponsor organizations include those that cater to au pairs, camp counselors, college or university students, interns, teachers or trainees.

Individuals that qualify for a J-1 visa if they are sponsored through an accredited Exchange Visitor Program include but are not limited to:

  • Government visitors
  • International visitors
  • Physicians
  • Professors and research scholars
  • Secondary school students
  • Short-term scholars
  • Specialists
  • Summer work travelers

According to visa regulations, an individual holding a J-1 visa may stay in the U.S. until the end of their exchange program. Once the program ends, they may remain in the country for an additional 30 days (often referred to as a "grace period") in order to prepare for departure from the U.S.. If the visitor leaves the United States during these 30 days, they may not re-enter with the J-1 visa.

There are certain types of J-1 exchange visas that require the immigrant to return to their home country or country of last permanent residence for a period of two years after the expiration of the J-1 status.

Chinese immigrants overwhelm EB-5 visa program

Wed, Apr 16 12:49 PM by Romona Paden

Chinese immigrants are applying for more EB-5 visas

Currently, a visa program in the United States is available to wealthy immigrants who have the funds to pay for a visa. These visas are known as investor immigrant (EB-2) visas, and with $100,000 and the promise to create 10 American jobs, an immigrant can secure one and move to the U.S.

The U.S. is experiencing a huge demand from Chinese citizens who are eager to move to the U.S. and open businesses here. The rate of demand is so high, in fact, that the U.S. government has issued a warning that the program could be flooded with requests and the system is about to hit a wall as early as this summer. 

Of all the visas that are issued to immigrants, Chinese nationals account for more than 80 percent. Just a decade ago, only 13 percent of all immigrants in the U.S. were from China. That figure translates to roughly 6,900 Chinese immigrants in 2013, which is a massive increase compared to 2004, when there were only 16 visas granted to Chinese immigrants.

Many immigrants from China say there is a panic starting there because the demand is getting so big for the EB-5 visa that there will be a long waiting list. 

For wealthy Chinese immigrants, opportunities in the U.S. are attractive. A green card offers Chinese children the opportunity to go to college, escape heavy pollution and enjoy an improved quality of life. For these wealthy Chinese citizens, the EB-5 program is relatively cheap.

The EB-5 visa program only allows 10,000 visas per year, and that number includes visas granted to an investor's spouse and children. Currently there are 7,000 applications pending, and if just half are approved – and each investor moved with two family members – the program would easily surpass its annual limit.

Preparing for a visa interview

Mon, Apr 14 2:25 PM by Romona Paden

Guidelines for a visa application interview

Individuals preparing for a visa interview should be aware of several important guidelines. Failure to follow these steps may result in the application being denied.

1. Applicants should not make travel arrangements to come to the United States, dispose of any property they may rent or own, or resign from their current employment until the visa has been issued.

2. Individuals applying for a visa must complete the medical examination before the visa interview. Otherwise their application can be denied.

3. Applicants cannot receive assurance in advance that their visa will be issued. One the application is reviewed by a consular officer and the individual is interviewed, then a decision regarding receiving the visa can be made.

4. If an applicant is found to be ineligible, an immigrant visa may not be issued. The consular officer will advise those affected about how to become eligible. One example of ineligibility involves applicants living in the U.S. under the Exchange Visitor Program. They will be subject to the two-year home-country physical presence (foreign residence) requirement. This means those individuals will be required to return to their home country for two years at the end of their exchange visitor program.

5. Individuals whose 21st birthday falls before the interview appointment date should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the interview will occur immediately to request an earlier appointment. The applicant may become ineligible for an immigrant visa if they do not apply before their 21st birthday.

6. Immigrant visas are usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance. If the applicant's medical examination validity expires sooner, the visa may only be valid for less than six months. Individuals must arrive and apply for admission in the U.S. before the visa expiration date.

7. The appointment letter is required for the interview, and failure to bring a copy of it may delay the appointment.

U.S. businesses to benefit from an EB-5 visa program

Mon, Mar 24 12:33 PM by Romona Paden

Investors can contribute to economic growth in the U.S.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) created a program called EB-5 in 1990 to benefit businesses in the U.S. This program provides visas to immigrant investors in the hopes of stimulating economic growth and creating jobs across the country. The EB-5 visa system is known as the Immigrant Investor Program, and USCIS designates Regional Centers in every state where investors can apply for and receive these visas. Immigrant investors must provide $500,000 to invest in a U.S. business, and if that business creates at least 10 jobs, the visa holder will receive a permanent green card.

Because the government in Canada has recently shut down its immigrant investor program, many of those business people are choosing to come to the U.S. There are currently 65,000 investors waiting for approval from the Canadian government, and they will be turned away. So USCIS is getting ready to accommodate an influx of EB-5 projects and developers in the U.S. very soon. A large number of the investors interested in immigrating to Canada come from China, and although they will not be able to gain a foothold there, Chinese investors will still be eager to start their business in the West. More than $32 billion dollars in investment money is expected to enter the U.S. via EB-5 visas.

Many immigrant investors look to Canada for business opportunities because of the education system, health care services, and desirable environmental and economic conditions. These advantages can also be found in the United States, so USCIS believes the EB-5 program will be a persuasive incentive for immigrants to invest here. However, there are a few differences between the Canadian investor program and the one in the U.S. For example, in Canada, there are no job creation requirements, and in the U.S. the investor must be prepared to create at least 10 jobs. Also, in Canada the investor was simply required to make an interest-free loan of $750,000 (Canadian) to a provincial or territorial government. In the U.S., the money must be applied to the advancement of a U.S. business.

Information on H2-B visas

Mon, Mar 17 6:04 PM by Romona Paden

H2-B visas allow immigrants to work in the U.S.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a visa for immigrant workers who are employed in seasonal, non-agricultural work in the United States. This visa is known as the H2-B visa, and is awarded to nationals of specific countries that have been designated by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Some of those countries include Argentina, Croatia, South Korea and Ukraine.

Immigrant employees who receive an H2-B visa are permitted to live and work in the U.S. for up to three years. After that period the applicant can extend their stay with permission for increments of one year each. Those individuals holding an H2-B visa can request permission for their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to come to the U.S. and carry an H-4 non-immigrant visa. However, those family members are not eligible to work under an H-4 visa. 

The number of H2-B visas provided per fiscal year is capped at 66,000, with 33,000 allotted for employment between October to March (the first half of the fiscal year), and 33,000 for employment between April and September (the second half of the fiscal year). Any visas that are not assigned to an individual from the first half of the year will be made available to employers who want to hire H2-B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. However, there is no "carry over" from year to year.

Once the cap for the fiscal year is reached, no employer can submit their H2-B visa late for processing. Those employees already carrying H2-B visas are allowed to petition to extend their stay in the U.S., as well as petition to change the terms of their employment, and these requests do not count against the mandated cap.

More victims of crimes request special U.S. visas

Fri, Mar 14 1:56 PM by Romona Paden

Immigrant victims of crimes can be protected under special visas

The United States government issues visas to immigrant victims of certain crimes, which automatically allows those immigrants to legally live and work in the U.S for up to four years. These visas are known as U-visas, and they are nonimmigrant visas – only 10,000 are issued every fiscal year. Immigrants holding U-visas can include their family members, specifically spouses, children, unmarried siblings under 18, parents and stepparents as well as adoptive parents.

To be eligible for a U-visa, the immigrant applicant must have suffered significant physical or mental abuse caused by criminal activity in at least one of more than 20 categories, including torture, murder, sexual assault or rape, kidnapping, slave trade, obstruction of justice or hostage situations, or involvement in solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes.

An applicant's petition must include information on how the immigrant victim can help U.S. government officials learn more about the crime, including but not limited to aiding in an investigation or prosecution of the individuals that committed the crimes. Applicants for U-visas must also be willing to cooperate with local law enforcement. Also, to be eligible for this visa, the crimes against the victim must have taken place in the United States or in a U.S. territory, or they must have violated a United States law.

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act started to provide U-visas in 2000, but they weren't formally distributed until 2008. Between 2009 and 2013, the number of applicants for a U-visa increased dramatically. More victims request assistance from the government every year. The visa they are applying for gets them involved in a program that is designed to boost cooperation with law enforcement. Federal officials attribute the increase in U-visa applications to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services' (USCIS) outreach campaign to protect these vulnerable populations. Officials see the increase as a positive sign that more law-enforcement organizations are participating and more immigrants are aware of the protections offered by the government.

Visas for immigrant students in the U.S.

Thu, Mar 6 1:29 PM by Romona Paden

Immigrant students have two visa options

There are two main visas available for students who want to further their education in the United States. These visas are known as the F1 and M1 visas, and the type of school and course of study the applicant is interested in determines which visa option is appropriate. F1 visas are made available for students who want to enter the U.S. to study at a university or college, a high school, a private elementary school, a seminary, a conservatory or another academic institution, such as a language training program. M1 visas are granted to students enrolled in a vocational or other officially recognized, nonacademic institution, other than a language training program.

Immigrant students seeking an F1 visa must prove Availability of Funds before they apply. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or an officer at the local U.S. Embassy is required to be sure that the student can afford to live in the U.S. and pay tuition without working. Under very rare circumstances, immigrant students are permitted to work in the U.S. to support their education. The Proof of Availability of Funds can be provided by either the prospective student or through sponsorship from their educational institution.

The M1 visa is reserved for students pursuing a degree from a technical or vocational school. For immigrant students to receive an M-1 visa, they must provide a signed Form I-20 at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. After the prospective student has completed the school's admissions requirements and presented proof of financial resources, they can receive this form from a designated school official (usually the international student adviser). Students with M1 visas are permitted to study in the U.S. or a temporary period of time – the length of their training program plus any Optional Practical Training, and a 30-day grace period at the end of their schooling. These students may not exceed the one year time frame unless they are allowed an extension for medical reasons. Violations of M1 status include not maintaining a full course of study, which results in the student being ineligible for the 30-day grace period. 

Tech industry giants support immigration reform

Fri, Feb 28 1:05 PM by Romona Paden

The technology industry is fighting for immigration reform

The world's most influential technology leaders are raising their voices in support of immigration reform. Executives like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg and Microsoft's Bill Gates are leading the fight to allow more immigrants with STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills to work and live in the United States. These tech giants have expressed how important it is to invite highly skilled immigrants to this country because they could eventually start their own technology businesses, which will boost America's economy and improve the U.S. presence in the global marketplace.

There has been some criticism of the technology industry's approach to supporting immigration reform. A campaign called FWD.us, which was introduced by Mark Zuckerberg in April 2013, garnered some negative attention when critics complained that undocumented immigrants were being overlooked as tech companies expressed more of an interest in tech-skilled immigrants. Zuckerberg expressed publicly that the issues facing immigrants in the U.S. don't just affect his industry, but the whole country. Bill Gates joined the argument for reform by saying in an interview with CNN Money that by preventing immigration reform, the United States is only hurting its own global competitiveness. Gates explained that jobs created by the tech industry would lead to the creation of other jobs, which could help immigrants and the economy alike.

The technology industry in the U.S. relies on highly skilled workers from other countries because oftentimes those immigrants have more relevant skills and experience than American workers. When those tech companies realized Congress had failed to take action on passing immigration reform, many lobbied to increase the number of available H1B visas, which are provided to companies to temporarily employ workers from other countries who have special skills. Currently, the number of H1B visas is capped at 65,000 a year, and an additional 20,000 are made available for those eligible candidates who have graduate-level credentials. The competition for those visas is fierce, and they are often exhausted very quickly, hence the push from big business to provide more.

What is the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program?

Fri, Feb 21 5:20 PM by Romona Paden

Diversity Immigrant Visa Program information

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offers a program that is run by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) called the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program). This program provides up to 50,000 visas for immigrants each year. The visas are drawn from a random selection among all the entries and granted to individuals who are from countries that typically see low rates of immigration to the United States. The majority of diversity visa lottery winners live outside the U.S. and immigrate through consular processing and by receiving an immigrant visa.

Some visa lottery winners, however, reside in the U.S. at the time of "winning the lottery." These individuals are living in the U.S. with a nonimmigrant or other legal status, which means USCIS is required to process an adjustment of their status application. Those applicants who are living in the U.S. when they win must establish that they have been selected to win the visa lottery and have an immigrant visa immediately available at the time of requesting an adjustment application.

Immigrants to the U.S. should be aware that fraudulent websites exist posing as U.S. government entities to scam individuals out of money. Some companies have requested money from users in order to "complete" DV entrance forms, but immigrants should know that there is no charge to download and complete the Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form. Emails that claim to be from the Department of State should be suspected as fraudulent as well, because the DOS does not notify winning DV applicants by letter or email. Applicants can check the status of their entries by accessing the lottery website at www.dvlottery.state.gov to find out if they were or were not selected.

L1 petitioners to be included in USCIS site visits

Tue, Feb 11 1:01 PM by Romona Paden

More site visits of L1 employers will combat fraud

L1 visas allow organizations in the United States to transfer an overseas employee to the U.S. to work for the same company, its parent or subsidiary. This visa grants working immigrants, along with their spouses and children, temporary residence in the U.S. Many L1 visa holders eventually apply for a green card.

As of January 2014, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began to conduct worksite inspections of L1 employers under the USCIS's Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS) Division's Site Inspection Program. The Department of Homeland Security released a report that studied the L1 intracompany transferee program, and discussed concerns over fraud within the L1 program. Their report is the first step in addressing the instances of wrongdoing and is an attempt to make the L1 system more efficient and fraud-proof. Some offices that apply for L1 visas for their overseas employees, or extensions for immigrant workers already in the U.S., have falsified documents that were incorrectly approved. For this reason, the USCIS intends to be more rigorous with their worksite inspections before renewing L1 petitions.

Employees working under an L1 visa may be interviewed on these site visits, but an immigration manager is requested to be present to answer any questions the interviewer or the employee may have. Immigration managers are there to defend the rights of immigrant workers and are expected to contact legal counsel if they feel the site inspector is taking inappropriate liberties. The site inspector is charged with asking the immigrant employee for details about his or her employment, such as job duties, job title, work hours, work location and salary.

L1 employers visited by a site inspector will not be notified if they passed the inspection, and if no fraud was suspected the employer will likely hear nothing more. If the inspector reports an instance of wrongdoing, petition denials or revocation could occur.

Tech companies push for more H1B visas

Fri, Feb 7 12:42 PM by Romona Paden

Tech companies are pushing for more H1B visas for immigrant workers

Tech companies in the U.S. are especially interested in President Barack Obama's plans for immigration reform in the near future. These companies have long desired access to overseas talent who have training in the science, technology and math industries. Companies centered around technological research and manufacturing are pushing for an increase in the amount of H1B visas qualified candidates from other countries can receive. They are also asking for an expedited process in the U.S. to allow immigrant employees to stay and work in the country.

H1B visas are non-immigrant visas that allow U.S. companies to employ immigrant workers in specific, specialty occupations that require advanced training and technical or theoretical expertise. Different industries that commonly employ workers under this kind of visa are engineering, architecture, science, medicine and mathematics. Immigrants who are eligible for H1B visas are able to live in the U.S. for up to six years, and the application process is generally faster than applying for a green card. Companies utilize this documentation so they can bring workers to this country for long-term assignments.

Advocates of this push for more H1B visas include powerful players in the tech world like Microsoft, Google, IBM and Accenture. Facebook and Salesforce's CEOs have both pledged their support, and executives from technology companies have composed a letter asking Congress to reform immigration standards and allow more highly skilled workers to come to the U.S. and contribute to the global economy. Even smaller startup companies are in support of inviting more immigrants to work for them because they want to advance their global market competitiveness. Technology companies believe that by encouraging innovation with a diverse workforce of skilled employees, they can provide better products and benefit the entire global economy.

U.S. visa opportunities and their requirements

Mon, Feb 3 4:26 PM by Romona Paden

Information on specific visas that are available for immigrants

The United States offers a variety of different visas for immigrants interested in living and working in the U.S. However, every visa has different requirements, different expiration dates, and offers different options for spouses and children. Some visas are linked to employers, some are affiliated with schools and universities, and some cater to newlyweds. A degree of creativity is required when filling out immigration forms in the U.S., and some information about two specific visas is below.

Visas for investors
More than 50 countries have a treaty with the U.S. that allows immigrants from those countries to live in the United States and invest in a U.S. business. Some of these countries include Mexico, Belgium and Thailand. While the investment amount provided by the immigrant investor does not have to be substantial, it must be sufficient to start the business, anywhere around $15,000 is common. However, there are limitations on how that amount is secured, including the fact that it cannot be in the form of a loan. E visas can continue indefinitely, but if the immigrant wishes to obtain a green card, a different visa is required, as the E visas are categorized under "no immigrant intent."

Student and recent graduate visas
The visa that is most widely used by students arriving in the U.S. is the F1 visa. This type of documentation allows a student to stay in the country for as long as they are in school, and they can extend that stay an additional 12 months with an Optional Practice Training document. Students who work for verified companies can stay in the U.S. for an additional 17 months, as long as the work they are doing is integral to their field of study.

International marriages in the U.S. are increasing

Thu, Jan 23 1:00 PM by Romona Paden

International marriages are on the rise in the U.S.

In the United States the number of international marriages is increasing. As of 2010, there were more than 5 million marriages performed in which one spouse was from another country. Many different factors account for this trend, including the globalization of commerce and business.

The K-1 visa is available to those who are looking to grant their fiance entry into the U.S. from another country. This type of visa stipulates that the couple must marry within 90 days of the immigrant's entry, and if this requirement is not met, the fiance will have to leave the United States within 30 days. However, once the marriage takes place, the individual can apply for permanent resident status.

The majority of individuals that apply for a K-I visa are approved. In 2009 95 percent of all K1 visas that were requested were granted. The largest group of people entering the U.S. with this type of visa hail from the Ukraine and Russia, which are not countries that generally see large populations of immigrants coming to the United States.

Newly married individuals can begin the adjustment of status procedure to secure a permanent residency in the U.S as soon after the marriage as possible, or they have the option to apply for an employment authorization. These are important steps to take because the safety and ownership of the U.S. citizen's estate could be at risk if the immigrant spouse is not a recognized citizen. Assets left to the foreign-born spouse may be subject to taxes and could be claimed by the IRS, a fact motivating many spouses who married with the use of a K1 visa to immediately get on the path to citizenship.

Why top companies are hiring immigrants

Mon, Jan 20 3:10 PM by Romona Paden

Companies in the U.S. support granting more work visas to immigrants

Immigration reform will affect many aspects of the way Americans eat, shop and do business. A variety of companies based in the U.S. hire skilled labor from other countries, securing H1B visas for their employees to allow them to stay in this country for an extended period of time. Annually, more than 100,000 immigrant workers enter the U.S. with this type of visa, but with more focus on border security and the current wording in the immigration bill, that number may be reduced by more than 40,000. Companies with the need for more highly skilled workers experienced in technical and engineering positions are supporting immigration reform that will grant more work visas to people eager to work in the U.S.

Amazon
Many companies here in the U.S. are still seeking highly skilled workers from other countries. Amazon is one example, as they explore the consumer electronics market and seek individuals skilled with technology. Amazon is currently one of this country's largest sponsors of H1B visas because it is seeking out people in technical industries, from software developers to financial analysts, and have had much success filling those positions with immigrant workers.

Microsoft
Bill Gates has long been a supporter of granting more work visas to people willing to immigrate to the U.S. His company, Microsoft, hired more than 4,000 immigrant workers in 2012. Other companies similar to Microsoft have said it is difficult to find an American worker with the skills or training they are looking for, leading them to outsource projects or entice immigrants with H1B visas to work in the U.S.

Facebook
The social networking giant has far-reaching influence throughout the world, and that includes its tendency to hire outside the U.S. Much like Amazon and Microsoft, Facebook has the need for employees with backgrounds in software development and computer and information research science, who are often found in other countries like India and China.

Best visa options for immigrant entrepreneurs

Tue, Jan 14 3:08 PM by Romona Paden

Different visas exist to help immigrant entrepreneurs

There are several different options for entrepreneurial-minded immigrants if they are considering coming to the U.S. to start a company. Different visas allow for different benefits for these workers, and a few are listed below.

H1B
The H1B visa allows companies based in the United States to sponsor an employee to work in this country for up to six years. While this does provide those individuals with the opportunity to live and work here for an extended amount of time, H1B visas are limiting for those wishing to start their own company because this type of visa must be requested by an existing organization or corporation and most startups do not have that status yet.  But the benefit for entrepreneurs is that the extended stay allows them to absorb the culture in the U.S. and ultimately create their new business using that new knowledge.

E2
The E2 visa was created to benefit entrepreneurs entering the U.S. to set up a new business and intending to invest money to do so. The amount of money varies between industries, but it is required to be a significant amount in relation to the cost of starting up the company. Reports vary as to the exact amount required. This type of visa is only available to residents of the 37 countries the United States has treaties with. Australia, France, Italy, and Japan are just a few examples. A benefit of the E2 visa is that it can be indefinitely renewed, but this type of visa does not provide workers with a path to citizenship.

L1
The L1 visa permits U.S. companies to transfer a manager or employee from one of their foreign offices in another country to the United States. These visas can be renewed for a maximum stay of five to seven years, so these benefit employees who are motivated to experience the American workplace and integrate themselves into the culture here. A benefit of the L1 visa is that it allows spouses of eligible individuals to also apply for a work visa in the U.S.

Female activists take on immigration reform

Thu, Dec 5 11:19 AM by Romona Paden

Women's rights activists have become some of the most active advocates of immigration reform.

The push for immigration reform has been picking up allies from nearly all corners of American society. And now another group that has a long history of advocacy is joining the fight.

Framing immigration reform as a women's rights issue, feminist organizations have become some of the more vocal supporters of an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws in recent months. Famous activists like Gloria Steinem have come out in favor of reform, and that kind of support is lending even more weight to the movement.

Women, children and families
While the immigration debate is often talked about in terms of legalities, enforcement, border security and economic impact, many women's rights advocates are trying to reposition the debate in terms of its real-world effects on families, especially mothers and their children.

"When you ask people what images they think of when they think of immigration reform, (it's) often men, scary looking, scaling the border walls," Pramila Jayapal, co-chair of We Belong Together, a national immigration campaign that focuses on women, told reporters, according to the Kansas City Star. "The idea that it's really women and children that are the majority of immigrants to the United States is completely lost."

By emphasizing the more human aspects of the immigration debate, and discussing how a lack of citizenship can lead to broken homes, these female activists are hoping to put a more sympathetic spin on an issue that is often dealt with in broad generalizations.

Domestic workers
As immigration reform legislation has worked its way through Congress, and found itself stalled in the House, making it easier for immigrants who work in the science, technology and agricultural sectors to get work visas has been a major topic of discussion.

However, one major group of immigrant workers that has largely been ignored are those who work in domestic settings, many of whom are women. According to Steinem and other female activists, that outlook needs to change if the issue of equality for immigrants is to be addressed honestly.

Filipinos in the US may get temporary protected status

Wed, Dec 4 12:39 PM by Romona Paden

Natives of the Philippines who are living in the U.S. may get temporary protected status as a result of the effects of Hurricane Haiyan.

In the wake of Hurricane Haiyan, which hit the Philippines with devastating force in November, immigration reform advocates and a group of U.S. senators are urging the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant temporary immigration status to Filipinos who are currently living in the U.S.

Temporary protected status
Temporary protected status is granted to foreign nationals after natural disasters or civil war. If granted in this case, it would allow Filipino students and tourists who have valid visas, as well as those who are living in the U.S. without documentation, to stay and work in the country for a designated period of time.

"It's meant to help people who are in the U.S. and whose conditions in their home country prevent them from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately," Claire Nicholson, a spokeswoman for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) told the Los Angeles Times. "It allows them to stay in the U.S. and work until they can safely return home."

While the Philippines government has yet to formally apply for temporary protected status for its citizens, 20 U.S. senators recently signed a letter asking the DHS to grant that right. And with an estimated 800,000 to 1 million Filipinos currently living in the U.S., according to Aquilina Soriano Versoza, executive director of the Pilipino Workers Center of Southern California, that move would allow them to work and send money home to friends and family who have suffered from the hurricane and its after-effects.

And as Aida Rivera, Pennsylvania chairwoman of the National Federation of Filipino-American Associations, told Philly.com, there would be other positive effects as well. Namely, it would allow freedom of travel, even for Filipinos in the U.S. with expired visas, allowing them to go home and bury the dead and help surviving victims without worrying about not being allowed back into the country.

DREAM Act trials and triumphs

Fri, Oct 25 1:03 PM by Romona Paden

DREAM act gives participants hope

Since the DREAM Act was passed by the federal government in June of 2012, stories have been circulating of participants' hardships and triumphs. The DREAM Act gives children of undocumented immigrants the opportunity to work toward a visa without fear of deportation. Participants must complete college in the U.S. or commit to military service. 

Jose
According to USA Today, Jose Patino received word through the mail that he had been accepted into the DREAM program. The 24-year-old Phoenix resident celebrated with his family. The next day, he got his work permit, which he believed would help him get a job in engineering.

Patino graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in mechanical engineering, but with no legal papers he could not apply for jobs in his field. Instead, Patino worked in construction to make ends meet. When he received the permit, he applied for engineering jobs. However, Patino's permit only lasted two years, and most companies did not want a temporary worker.

Patino is still struggling to find a job, and his story struggle is not uncommon. The two-year time period is a complication many employers do not want to handle.

Terrance
According to SF Gate, Terrance Park has lived in the U.S. since his parents snuck into the U.S. he was 10. The California DREAM Act allowed Park to apply for financial aid when it was time to attend college. The legislation gave students who were brought into the U.S. illegally before their 16th birthday, and who attended school on a regular basis and met in-state residency and GPA requirements, the opportunity to apply for college financial aid benefits.

While the California DREAM Act helped Park afford school, the national DREAM Act is what will make or break his future. Park has been accepted to a biostatistics graduate program at Yale. The two years he would be afforded under the national DREAM Act would allow him to complete the program. 

Boat crash survivors released from ICE custody

Wed, Oct 23 3:58 PM by Romona Paden

Four boat crash survivors released from ICE custody

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement held 15 people in custody after their boat capsized off the coast of Miami on Oct. 17. Four women died when the vessel, which was apparently used for smuggling, overturned, and the survivors were detained while the incident was being investigated. 

The crash
U.S. Coast Guard crews found 15 survivors clinging to wreckage early in the morning. The group was found near the 25-foot boat, which capsized approximately 7 miles from Miami. The survivors, including the boat's captain and crew, were taken into custody and charged with attempted smuggling and returning to the U.S. after deportation. 

Four men released
Four of the survivors were released from custody. The men were all Haitian nationals, and will be witnesses in the impending criminal investigation. Since the accident, Haitian activists had called on ICE to release the survivors, or at least their names, so that their families can be notified. Nestor Yglesias, a spokesman for ICE,  told the Miami Herald that information could not be released.

Haitian immigration
Since the Haitian earthquakes in 2010, the U.S. has maintained an immigration policy where that country's residents cannot be deported unless they have a criminal record. Despite the federal order, Haitian immigrants have been held in custody, and their released has been a slow process. According to the Miami Herald, this most recent incident surprised activists.

"Haitians are getting released, it's just taking a long time," Randy McGrorty, executive director of Catholic Legal Services, told the Miami Herald, "I am perplexed as to why they are keeping them so long. This [release] was pretty quick."

The four men were released on Oct. 22. According to the Miami Herald, they do not qualify for Temporary Protected Status, which was the allowance given to Haitians after the earthquakes. However, according to the Washington Post, cooperating with law enforcement in the crash investigation may help them earn eligibility to work in the U.S.

"We'll do our best to assist them in their transition to life in South Florida," Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, told the Washington Post.

How to change your nonimmigrant status

Tue, Oct 22 12:29 PM by Romona Paden

Change your nonimmigrant status to reflect your activity in the U.S.

You may have come to the U.S. with a Temporary Nonimmigrant status and want to change the purpose of your stay. For example, you may be visiting on a tourist visa and now wish to study in the states full-time. You can change your nonimmigrant status by filling out the proper forms before your visa expires.

Submit an application
As with any other petition for a visa, you have to fill out an application to change your status. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends that you file the application as soon as you determine you need to change your nonimmigrant status, and definitely before your current visa expires. The form you must file is the I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. You can find this application online. You cannot change your activity until USCIS approves the application. 

Requirements
You are eligible to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted into the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa that is still valid. You must also have met and maintained the conditions of the visa, and have not committed any crimes while in the country. If you do not meet these requirements, you are not eligible for a visa change. 

When not to apply
​If you came on a nonimmigrant visa for business reasons, and you want to stay for pleasure before your current visa expires, you do not need to apply.  Also, you don't need to apply if you want to attend school and you are the spouse or child of a person in the U.S. who has a nonimmigrant visa.

You cannot apply for a status change if you were admitted into the U.S. in one of these categories:

  • Visa Waiver Program· Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States on a C nonimmigrant visa
  • In the U.S. without a visa
  • You are engaged to a U.S. citizen or a dependent of him or her (K nonimmigrant visa)
  • You are an informant (or accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant visa)

How to change your nonimmigrant status

Tue, Oct 22 12:29 PM by Romona Paden

Change your nonimmigrant status to reflect your activity in the U.S.

You may have come to the U.S. with a Temporary Nonimmigrant status and want to change the purpose of your stay. For example, you may be visiting on a tourist visa and now wish to study in the states full-time. You can change your nonimmigrant status by filling out the proper forms before your visa expires.

Submit an application
As with any other petition for a visa, you have to fill out an application to change your status. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends that you file the application as soon as you determine you need to change your nonimmigrant status, and definitely before your current visa expires. The form you must file is the I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. You can find this application online. You cannot change your activity until USCIS approves the application. 

Requirements
You are eligible to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted into the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa that is still valid. You must also have met and maintained the conditions of the visa, and have not committed any crimes while in the country. If you do not meet these requirements, you are not eligible for a visa change. 

When not to apply
​If you came on a nonimmigrant visa for business reasons, and you want to stay for pleasure before your current visa expires, you do not need to apply.  Also, you don't need to apply if you want to attend school and you are the spouse or child of a person in the U.S. who has a nonimmigrant visa.

You cannot apply for a status change if you were admitted into the U.S. in one of these categories:

  • Visa Waiver Program· Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa)
  • In transit through the United States on a C nonimmigrant visa
  • In the U.S. without a visa
  • You are engaged to a U.S. citizen or a dependent of him or her (K nonimmigrant visa)
  • You are an informant (or accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant visa)

Protection for abused immigrant spouses, parents and children

Mon, Oct 21 4:03 PM by Romona Paden

Stop domestic violence

Being in an abusive relationship is frightening. Getting out of one can be terrifying. With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, be sure you know your rights as an immigrant in case you need to get out of an abusive situation. 

The facts of abuse
Domestic violence doesn't only refer to physical harm, it is a general behavior pattern developed to exhibit power over another person in a relationship. This could be something as small as the abuser telling you you can't talk to another guy. He will use tactics like shame, guilt and ridicule to lower your self-esteem. Frequently, when you are feeling guilty, he then lifts you up and makes you feel like he is there for you. 

If you feel that your spouse or partner is abusive, it is important to get out of the situation as soon as possible. 

Immigration protection
A battered parent, spouse or child may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This means that if you are the parent, spouse or child of a person with U.S. citizenship who is abusive, you can file for a visa without the knowledge of the abuser. You don't have to worry about being alone without documentation. You're safety and security is protected. 

How to file
If you meet the requirements that are listed on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, you must file Form I-360, the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant status and all supporting documents. The form must be filed with the Vermont Service Center. If your petition is approved and you are not a legal resident of the U.S., you may be placed under a deferred action, which will allow you to remain in the country. The bottom line is, you do not have to worry about deportation if you are fleeing an abusive relationship. 

Protection for abused immigrant spouses, parents and children

Mon, Oct 21 4:03 PM by Romona Paden

Stop domestic violence

Being in an abusive relationship is frightening. Getting out of one can be terrifying. With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, be sure you know your rights as an immigrant in case you need to get out of an abusive situation. 

The facts of abuse
Domestic violence doesn't only refer to physical harm, it is a general behavior pattern developed to exhibit power over another person in a relationship. This could be something as small as the abuser telling you you can't talk to another guy. He will use tactics like shame, guilt and ridicule to lower your self-esteem. Frequently, when you are feeling guilty, he then lifts you up and makes you feel like he is there for you. 

If you feel that your spouse or partner is abusive, it is important to get out of the situation as soon as possible. 

Immigration protection
A battered parent, spouse or child may file an immigrant visa petition under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). This means that if you are the parent, spouse or child of a person with U.S. citizenship who is abusive, you can file for a visa without the knowledge of the abuser. You don't have to worry about being alone without documentation. You're safety and security is protected. 

How to file
If you meet the requirements that are listed on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website, you must file Form I-360, the Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant status and all supporting documents. The form must be filed with the Vermont Service Center. If your petition is approved and you are not a legal resident of the U.S., you may be placed under a deferred action, which will allow you to remain in the country. The bottom line is, you do not have to worry about deportation if you are fleeing an abusive relationship. 

Obtaining a temporary worker visa

Fri, Oct 18 3:53 PM by Romona Paden

Obtain a visa to work temporarily in the U.S.

The U.S. offers temporary visas for those looking to work in the country for a short period of time. All sorts of categories are available to foreign workers, including artist, researcher, cultural exchange participant, information technology specialist, religious worker, investor, scientist, athlete, nurse, agriculture and more. Those hoping to find employment in the U.S. must obtain legal permission by filing a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form.

Worker categories
If you want to apply to work in the U.S. without moving toward citizenship, you must file for a visa under the correct category. Here are the categories for individuals staying temporarily: 

Temporary (nonimmigrant) working: You fit this category if you seek to enter the country for a specific purpose for a short period of time. You will be restricted to the activity for which you applied for a visa. All workers under this category will file a Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129). 

Students and exchange visitors: Students and exchange visitors are entering the country specifically to continue their program of study. If you want to go to college in the U.S., you must apply at a school approved by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Once accepted into the school, you must fill out  an online Nonimmigrant Visa Application, Form DS-160. 

Temporary visitors for business: If your company would like to send you to the U.S. for an important merger or other business purpose, this is the category you fall under. You will need to apply for a B-1 visa. 

Interviews
Once you've applied in your proper category, and the application has been approved, you must schedule an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate where you live. Hold on to the receipt number that is printed on your approved Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, or Notice of Action, Form I-797, as you will need it to schedule an interview.

Documents
You will need to provide a passport valid for travel to the U. S., your application confirmation page, the application fee payment receipt, a photo and your receipt number. 

How companies deal with e-verify shutdown

Tue, Oct 15 10:07 AM by Romona Paden

some companies hiring without verification

As the federal government has still not reached a budget decision, all non-essential functions are still shutdown. One of the functions not available for use is e-verify, a program that allows employers to find out if new hires are eligible to work in the U.S. 

In limbo
When an employer inputs information about a potential new hire – things like social security, name and proof of citizenship – a message comes back verifying the employee's eligibility to work in the U.S. However, in the case of certain immigrants, the employer instead receives a Tentative Non-Confirmation message. This basically means that a more thorough check is required as social security information could not be verified. 

According to Fox News Latino, many employers were at this stage of the process when e-verify was put on hold. Employees waiting to start their job have to wait even longer, and employers cannot hire some of the workers they need.

Hiring on
In some cases, employers are allowing new hires in the Tentative Non-Confirmation stage to begin working. They plan to run checks in e-verify once the system is back online, the St. Cloud Times reported. Some companies may find out that they have been keeping an ineligible worker, which will lead to complications later. However, many companies feel hiring is worth the risk. 

"It is just adding to the administrative cost of hiring," Scott Wright, an attorney with the Minneapolis firm of Faegre Baker Daniels told the Times. 

The point of e-verify is to be sure companies are hiring those legally eligible to work in the U.S. Without the proper visa, green card or citizenship, employees cannot legally work and employers who hire them could get in trouble. The system is meant to protect employers from accidentally breaking the law. However, some fear companies will take advantage of the shutdown and hire an illegal worker knowingly, believing they can get away with it. 

How to extend your stay as a tourist

Thu, Sep 26 12:08 PM by Romona Paden

Extending a tourist visa

If you are a tourist visiting the U.S. on a visa, you can stay longer than the initial date granted. For more time to see amber waves of grain and purple mountain majesty, be sure that you qualify.  

Just to be clear
According to the U.S. Department of State, getting a b2 visa does not guarantee access into the U.S. It does allow you to travel to a U.S. port of entry and then request permission to enter the country. Once in port, the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials make the call on whether you have permission to proceed beyond the airport or seaport.They may permit or deny access as well as determine the length of your stay. The stamp made on your I-94 document will indicate the date by which you must depart. Be sure to keep this document in your passport and with you at all times. 

Extended visit
So you've already been admitted into the country and your date to leave is fast approaching. You can apply for an extended visit by filling out Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, but it must be done before the date arrives. If you do not apply prior to your I-94 expiration, you could be deported. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends you apply 45 days in advanced. 

Stipulations
You may only apply for more time to spend in the U.S. if you meet the following requirements as stated by USCIS: You were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa; Your nonimmigrant visa status remains valid; You have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa; You have not violated the conditions of your admission; Your passport is valid and will remain valid for the duration of your stay. If all those statements are true, you may apply for an extended stay. 

You may not apply if you were admitted into the country in any of the following categories: Visa Waiver Program; In transit through the United States; In transit through the United States without a visa; Fiance of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiance; Informant on terrorism or organized crime. 

Reuniting families on U.S. soil

Thu, Sep 19 11:52 AM by Romona Paden

bring loved ones together with the correct immigration forms

Immigration is often a matter of urgency for families, especially when someone is left behind. Do not loose hope; there is a way to petition for relatives to receive a green card. 

The route to bringing over a family member is categorized based on your relationship. Is the family member a sibling, parent  or spouse? The USCIS website has links to the proper paperwork for each family member. 

Spouse: To petition for a spouse, fill out Form I-130. When turning in the form, you must also give proof of your citizenship, evidence of the relationship – in the form of a birth certificate or marriage license, etc – and proof of a legal name change if it applies. If a U.S. citizen is deceased and another family member would like to petition for the widow or widower, it can also be done with this form and the same documents. 

Immediate relatives: Immediate relatives are defined as "immigrant relatives of U.S. citizens" and include spouses, children and parents of the citizen. Immigrant relatives living in the U.S. can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-130 to be awarded a green card simultaneously. 

Preferences: Relatives falling outside the immediate relative category get broken down by preference. To petition for the spouse of a green card holder or a child of that individual over the age of 21 be sure to file Form 130. Family members are then reviewed by priority of their preference category. Relatives in preference categories are awarded visas in the order of their priority, once a visa becomes available. Preference category breakdown can also be found at the USCIS website. 

The next step: Family members already in the U.S. can file to become a green card holder by filling out Form I-485. Petitions for relatives living outside of the U.S. are sent to and processed by the National Visa Center (NVC). When a visa becomes available, the NVC will pass the petition on to a U.S. consulate and the relative will be notified. 

Reuniting families on U.S. soil

Thu, Sep 19 11:52 AM by Romona Paden

bring loved ones together with the correct immigration forms

Immigration is often a matter of urgency for families, especially when someone is left behind. Do not loose hope; there is a way to petition for relatives to receive a green card. 

The route to bringing over a family member is categorized based on your relationship. Is the family member a sibling, parent  or spouse? The USCIS website has links to the proper paperwork for each family member. 

Spouse: To petition for a spouse, fill out Form I-130. When turning in the form, you must also give proof of your citizenship, evidence of the relationship – in the form of a birth certificate or marriage license, etc – and proof of a legal name change if it applies. If a U.S. citizen is deceased and another family member would like to petition for the widow or widower, it can also be done with this form and the same documents. 

Immediate relatives: Immediate relatives are defined as "immigrant relatives of U.S. citizens" and include spouses, children and parents of the citizen. Immigrant relatives living in the U.S. can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-130 to be awarded a green card simultaneously. 

Preferences: Relatives falling outside the immediate relative category get broken down by preference. To petition for the spouse of a green card holder or a child of that individual over the age of 21 be sure to file Form 130. Family members are then reviewed by priority of their preference category. Relatives in preference categories are awarded visas in the order of their priority, once a visa becomes available. Preference category breakdown can also be found at the USCIS website. 

The next step: Family members already in the U.S. can file to become a green card holder by filling out Form I-485. Petitions for relatives living outside of the U.S. are sent to and processed by the National Visa Center (NVC). When a visa becomes available, the NVC will pass the petition on to a U.S. consulate and the relative will be notified. 

Steps for international students toward studying in the U.S.

Wed, Sep 18 4:48 PM by Romona Paden

Study in the US with a student visa

Spending any extended period of time in the U.S. can be tricky and there seems to be a visa for everything. Here is a breakdown of what students should do to apply for a visa, according to the U.S. Department of State. 

Select the right school: Not all schools are supported under the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), so it is important to gain acceptance at one that is. A list of approved schools is available at the Department of State Education USA website. Once accepted, you will automatically be enrolled in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You will also be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. Fortunately, if your spouse or children are staying with you during your studies, they do not have to pay the fee, though they do need to fill out a Form I-20. You will receive the Form I-20 during your visa interview from the school that accepted you.

Talk to your embassy: The embassy or consult where you apply for your visa will have different requirements regarding which steps to take in which order. Be sure to check your local embassy's website to make sure you have the information straight. 

Interviews: Students between the ages of 14 and 79 will be required to attend an interview. Students applying for their first visa should interview at least 120 days prior to their school start date. 

Documents: There are several documents you should gather before applying for a visa, including a passport valid for travel to the U.S., a Nonimmigrant Visa Application – essentially stating your primary purpose for traveling to the U.S. is to study – Form DS-160 and a photo. 

Working during school: According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you cannot work off-campus during the first school year. However, you are allowed to take on-campus employment with some restrictions. 

Though this is all a lot of work, it does not ensure that you will obtain a visa. This is why it is so important to complete the necessary steps as soon as possible. 

Steps for international students toward studying in the U.S.

Wed, Sep 18 4:48 PM by Romona Paden

Study in the US with a student visa

Spending any extended period of time in the U.S. can be tricky and there seems to be a visa for everything. Here is a breakdown of what students should do to apply for a visa, according to the U.S. Department of State. 

Select the right school: Not all schools are supported under the Student Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), so it is important to gain acceptance at one that is. A list of approved schools is available at the Department of State Education USA website. Once accepted, you will automatically be enrolled in the Student Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). You will also be required to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee. Fortunately, if your spouse or children are staying with you during your studies, they do not have to pay the fee, though they do need to fill out a Form I-20. You will receive the Form I-20 during your visa interview from the school that accepted you.

Talk to your embassy: The embassy or consult where you apply for your visa will have different requirements regarding which steps to take in which order. Be sure to check your local embassy's website to make sure you have the information straight. 

Interviews: Students between the ages of 14 and 79 will be required to attend an interview. Students applying for their first visa should interview at least 120 days prior to their school start date. 

Documents: There are several documents you should gather before applying for a visa, including a passport valid for travel to the U.S., a Nonimmigrant Visa Application – essentially stating your primary purpose for traveling to the U.S. is to study – Form DS-160 and a photo. 

Working during school: According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you cannot work off-campus during the first school year. However, you are allowed to take on-campus employment with some restrictions. 

Though this is all a lot of work, it does not ensure that you will obtain a visa. This is why it is so important to complete the necessary steps as soon as possible. 

Business owners want to hire international talent

Thu, Sep 5 5:30 PM by Romona Paden

Business owners are looking for international talent.

Business owners in New Jersey are pushing for immigration reform because they believe it will help their companies grow. Entrepreneurs in New Jersey are looking to diversify their staff and want a greater pool of applicants to apply for their job openings, reported NJ.com. Similarly, business owners in Texas have pleaded with lawmakers to speed up immigration reform for workers.

Community leaders and members of various chamber of commerce offices are hoping for fast legislative reform within Texas and New Jersey. Supporters of immigration reform feel they are missing out on top talent when intelligent and skilled international students attend college in the U.S. only to return to their home countries because of strict laws.

"These are good people who show up to work every day, who want to be citizens," J. Kelly Conklin, president of Foley-Waite Associates Inc., told NJ.com.

Conklin has tried to go through the lengthy process of sponsoring foreign workers, however, he has faced setbacks. When the paperwork does not go through in time, a temporary visa expires and workers are forced to leave the country.

If sponsoring a foreign worker or getting him or her a work visa did not take a long time, more businesses would be able to hire top talent. With 764,000 international students scattered across the country, it is no wonder why many companies want to hire college graduates and other international workers.

F2A Visa Approvals to Begin in August

Fri, Jul 12 11:17 AM by Romona Paden

Adjustment of status for F2A visa holders can be changed beginning next month.

The spouses and children of green card holders in the U.S. currently under petition for F2A Visas could receive an adjustment of status in August, according to ABS-CBN News. The date for the petition filed by a green card holder would not affect when the adjustment could be issued. 

"That means regardless whenever the petition was filed, you can now file for adjustment of status, work authorization, obtain a driver's license, social security number if you're otherwise eligible," Citizen Pinoy host, Michael Gurfinkel, told the source.

The availability of petitions would be similar to a U.S. citizen requesting the documents for a spouse or child when the visas are issued immediately. By making the filed petitions current, the large amount of F2A visas wasted from 2009 to 2012 would be used, ABS-CBN reported. With the ruling by the Supreme Court, same-sex married couples whose marriage is recognized, could also receive an adjustment of status for their petition.

However, green card holders and immigrants should remember the restrictions that apply to the family-based F2A visa category. Any individual who's status is out of date or entered the country without inspection and do not have Section 245-I may not be eligible for adjustment of status even if their spouse has a green card, Gurfinkel told ABS-CBN.

There are also consequences for failing to comply with the privileges of the petition. Anyone in a fixed-marriage, regardless of sexual orientation, will result in a lifetime ban and no other petition will be approved if officials discover there is a fixed-marriage, the source stated. In order to have the adjustment of status approved, spouses and children with a pending F2A petition should have their status updated before dates are moved back. 

Dairy farmers want access to foreign labor

Mon, Jun 3 1:07 PM by Romona Paden

Dairy farmers want better access to foreign workers.

As the immigration reform debate heats up, dairy farmers are entering the mix, demanding better access to foreign workers. To get Republicans to back the controversial bipartisan "Gang of Eight" proposition, senators need to earn votes from conservative leaders. To do this, they've decided to rely on the dairy farm industry, which Reuters says is a $35 billion business. Votes from those who support a growing economy are what senators are after, and with the dairy industry's potential to employ many new workers, this could be a deal they can't pass up. 

"It is a way of giving something to those who may see parts of the bill as undesirable and let them say, 'At least I'm going to be helping the agriculture industry in my state,'" Mel Martinez, former Republican senator of Florida, told Reuters. 

The dairy industry needs access to skilled foreign workers at different times of the year, and having workers on hand to complete tasks would allow farmers to have more flexibility, according to The Manchester Enterprise. 

"This would enable [farmers] to plan ahead and not wake up in the middle of the night wondering if they'll have enough workers to pick their crop," Ryan Findlay, national legislative counsel for the Michigan Farm Bureau, told The Manchester Enterprise. 

If the proposed immigration bill passes, agricultural workers who have visas would be able to extend their stays in the U.S. by another three years. Dairy farmers told Reuters that the demand for immigrant workers has increased because U.S. citizens aren't interested in filling the open positions. 

"Before I started hiring immigrant workers, it was nearly impossible to keep all positions full," Tony Brubaker, a farm owner, told Reuters. 

Because conservatives are worried about giving what they call "amnesty" to 11 million immigrants without citizenship, the ploy for dairy farmers could end up working to get 60 votes in the Senate. 

Immigration reform will prevent ‘visa overstays’

Mon, May 13 4:08 PM by Romona Paden

Immigrants who overstay their student or work visas is becoming a huge problem for the U.S. immigration system.

While border security is a main concern for senators working to revamp the nation's immigration system, a less likely problem- immigrants who come to the U.S. legally but stay long after their visas expire- is another issue that government officials aim to end with new legislation. The proposed bill may adapt a system similar to Australia's, where passports are scanned upon arrival and exit of the country. The proposed U.S. Senate bill envisions a similar entry-exit system at airports and seaports to be enacted within the next five years.

"We have nearly four and a half million visa overstayers in our country," Chris Crane, National ICE Council president, told The Daily Caller. "Five thousand officers and agents can't deal with those kinds of numbers. … [It's] politics, politics politics over public safety."

According to Fox News, the U.S. originally envisioned a biometric-based system, where foreign tourists, students and businessmen would provide 10 fingerprints and eye scans when they enter and exit the country. However, this method was too expensive and time consuming. Currently, there is no exit control at the airport, so officials have no idea who has overstayed their visas.

The lack of security for student visas rings true at universities, where there is typically only one person overseeing the process. Universities, according to visa expert Luis Guerra, benefit from these visas because of the monetary charges for international students. 

Although many immigrants whose visas have expired live normal lives, work or go to school, PBS reported that 40 percent of immigrants who do not have legal citizenship are in the country with expired visas. Doris Meissner, director of the U.S. Immigration Policy Program at the Migration Policy Institute, said that this is still grounds for breaking the law. 

"There are a whole range of circumstances that lead to visa overstays, but they also are in violation of the law," she told PBS. 

Senate cracks down on H-1B exploitation

Thu, Apr 25 11:13 AM by Romona Paden

New Senate rules attempt to stop the outsourcing of high skilled tech jobs to countries like India.

The Senate plans to crack down on those who are outsourcing tech jobs and abusing the H-1B system with new rules issued by the immigration legislation. According to an outline from the Senate, figures show that the leading recipients of these highly skilled  H-1B visas are IT outsourcing companies, most of which are based in India. This bill could cost outsourcing firms more than $10,000 in visa fees and limit the use of H-1B visas to 50 percent of the employer's workforce. More than half of the U.S.-based workforces of many offshore firms are foreign workers holding temporary visas.

"These companies are using this visa program to undercut the American worker and undercut American companies hiring American workers," said Ron Hira, an outsourcing expert at the Rochester Institute of Technology and the son of Indian immigrants, according to the Financial Times.

Those vying for H-1B visas use them in two main ways, according to the source. Companies need to staff jobs that must be done in the U.S. –  such as IT support for the financial services industry – and bring in workers to learn skills before rotating them back to India, where they train others. 

Hira told Computerworld that the Senate's rule enforcement won't completely stop outsourcing, but it will help change the hiring process for some companies and bring foreign workers into larger U.S. firms.

"The upshot is that it will force some changes in the outsourcers, but it won't eliminate the H-1B as the outsourcing visa, just blunt it some," said Hira. How much will depend on the wage requirements, which remain vague, he noted.

Another way to bring transparency to the system is through the Senate's requirement that the U.S. must establish a searchable website for posting H-1B positions. This would require employers to post their job openings on the U.S. Department of Labor's website at least 30 days before hiring an H-1B applicant to fill the position. 

Visas in high demand for skilled workers

Thu, Apr 4 10:58 AM by Romona Paden

U.S. technology companies are scrambling to get high-skilled visas to award to potential employees. The availability is said to outweigh the demand for these visas.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is bracing for a large number of applications for high-skilled immigration visas. This demand is likely to outpace the available supply in a matter of days in one of the fastest runs for the highly desirable work permits in history. With just 85,000 visas, called H-1B visas, available for the 2014 allocation, large technology companies like Microsoft, Apple and Google want to award these visas to potential employees. According to Fox News, for the first time since 2008, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will use a lottery to pick which companies get visas.

This "mad scramble," as MSN referred to the rush for high-skilled visas, started April 1 and will continue until April 5. 

"It will be a frenzy, because the cap is nowhere near high enough to meet demand," Robert Holleyman, president and CEO of the Software Alliance, told Fox News. 

According to USCIS, 65,000 visas are awarded each year to companies looking to hire high-skilled workers from around the world, and 20,000 more visas are available specifically for foreign workers who have earned a master's or another advanced degree from a U.S. university. USCIS noted that businesses award the H-1B program to foreign workers in occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including science, engineering and computer programing.

The rush for H-1B visas is partly due to a flourishing economy. However, the scramble also signifies a need for more visas, something that has been supported by lawmakers and political candidates in recent years, and is now being considered as part of immigration reform plans in Congress.

"Across the economy, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that between 2010 and 2020 there will be at least 1.2 million job openings in computing professions that require a bachelor's degree," Holleyman told MSN. "But the National Center for Educational Statistics says we're on pace to produce less than half that many graduates."

South Carolina is front and center at immigration debates

Tue, Apr 2 1:32 PM by Romona Paden

Lindsey Graham is aiming to get the support of Hispanic Immigrants in the ongoing immigration debate. Graham will be up for reelection in 2014.

Referred to as "Ground Zero" by Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican champion of reform and member of the bipartisan "Gang of 8" negotiating a draft bill, South Carolina is emerging as a major battleground in the immigration debate. Graham is one of the GOP's leading voices on immigration reform, a position that five years ago damaged his political image in the religious and conservative state of South Carolina, and caused him to back off of the issue. This time, the evangelicals have brought Graham key support that he didn't have before. 

Republican party members are using South Carolina as a "test market" for their message, stating that immigration is as much a moral issue as it is an economic one. Until now, most religious groups have stayed out of the immigration debate.

The senator said his immigration plan would secure the country's borders, control who gets jobs in America, provide access for noncitizen workers as needed and carve a path to citizenship for the illegal immigrants in the country. Graham noted that the path to citizenship would require illegal immigrants to go to the back of the line to apply for citizenship, take English proficiency exams, ensure that immigrants are paying taxes and impose a fine for those who are illegally in the United States.

However, not all are welcoming this approach, saying that Graham's plan will help immigrants steal jobs. That's why opponents of immigration reform have targeted South Carolina with an ad campaign that plays into the idea that immigrants will steal jobs in the future if Graham's ideas pass through the Senate. 

"The consequences of breaking immigration law is, you have to go home," Roy Beck, executive director of Numbers USA told Fox News. "Everything about this says 'you don't have to go home.'  You get to stay here and you get to keep the jobs that you came here to steal."

Graham insists that this time, his stance on immigration reform won't let up, especially since he has the support of the evangelical community. He commented that the input of the religious community in South Carolina will help the cause.

"If you want to run ads, spend all the money you want to spend," he said. "I'm not backing off."

Republicans like Graham are also trying to welcome more immigrant Hispanics into their ranks. According to Fox News, the Republican party earned 27 percent of the Hispanic vote in the 2012 election. This is down from 44 percent during George W. Bush's campaign. Graham said that he planned to recover this problem and bring more Hispanics to the Republican side. 

"We've gone from 44 percent to 27 percent of the Hispanic vote," Graham said, according to Fox News. "Not because conservatism is bad, it's because the rhetoric around immigration has tainted the Republican brand with the Hispanic community for no good reason. We're going to fix this problem. The problem with the Hispanic community is the way we've conducted ourselves over this debate. If we can get this issue behind us, we can be back in the ballgame."

The New York Times reported that Graham is up for reelection in 2014, and he's not stopping his immigration fight anytime soon. 

"There's 67 million reasons not to run against Lindsey Graham," Chad Connelly, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party, told The New York Times. "You're going to have a heck of a run."

Graham furthered this point when he told reporters that he would fight for immigration reform. He's focused on securing the borders and the idea that immigrants should not be rewarded for breaking the law, and only then moves on to citizenship. 

"When people come up to me and say, 'You've got to send them all back,' I say, 'Thank you very much, that ain't gonna work.'"

Senate close to immigration deal, solves key issues

Mon, Apr 1 11:16 AM by Romona Paden

The Senate is close to reaching a final agreement on the new immigration reform bill, but there are still a few problems to work through.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), the largest labor federation in the country, reached an agreement on a guest-worker program on March 29, meaning that a final bill is now in the works of being written and agreed upon. 

The bill will include an earned pathway to U.S. citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants, increased border security and ways for businesses to meet the need for both high-skilled and low-skilled workers.

"With the agreement between business and labor, every major policy issue has been resolved," New York Democratic Senator Charles Schumer​ told NBC's 'Meet the Press,' according to Reuters. "We've all agreed that we're not going to come to a final agreement until we see draft legislative language and we agree on that."

After much conflict between business and labor, legislature expects there to be a final draft of the new immigration bill so all eight senators in the group can review it.

"There are a few details yet," Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told CNN's 'State of the Union' program, according to Reuters. "But conceptually we have an agreement between business and labor, between ourselves that has to be drafted. It will be rolled out next week. I think we've got a deal."

However, there are still a few issues to work out between legislature before the bill can be drafted. One of these issues is cost. That is, the price of securing the border is expensive. People involved in the talks are hopeful that the cost can be balanced with increased visa fees. But Republicans are more concerned about the burden undocumented workers could put on the nation's entitlement structure, or the massive costs that are absorbed officially into the nation's new healthcare system. The GOP is considering demanding that language be inserted into any bill to make it clear that 11 million new immigrants cannot get added onto the nation's social safety net. Legislature calls this procedure a "pathway to status."

This pathway to status could take more than two decades to reach, which is another source of debate among members of the Senate. According to Politico, under the House plan, it would take more than 10 years to get a green card, and the process requires paying back-taxes . Undocumented immigrants would also have to gain proficiency in English.

Some republicans said that a pathway toward U.S. citizenship would create "amnesty," and attract even more undocumented immigrants into the United States.

However, some have voiced confidence that the "earned pathway" toward citizenship that they drafted will attract Republican support.

"I hope that we can pull some Republicans our way," Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona told Reuters. "I think a number of them are with us already."

Another problem that has caused some bumps in the road towards an agreement is the issue of a guest-worker program, which would include a new "W visa" for employers to petition for foreign workers in lesser-skilled, non-seasonal and non-agricultural occupations. Some fear that this would cause a huge boost in low-wage immigrants moving to the U.S. and taking away jobs from American citizens. 

Still, after almost four years of debates over the immigration reform, Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said the senators had made "substantial progress" on a deal.

"I'm encouraged by reports of an agreement between business groups and unions on the issue of guest workers," Rubio said in a statement issued by his office. "I believe we will be able to agree on a legislative proposal that modernizes our legal immigration system, improves border security and enforcement and allows those here illegally to earn the chance to one day apply for permanent residency contingent upon certain triggers being met."

Immigrants invest in U.S. project in exchange for green cards

Fri, Mar 29 10:16 AM by Romona Paden

Immigrants are investing in the EB-5 program, which guarantees them U.S. citizenship if enterprises succeed.

Immigrant families can receive permanent residence in the United States if they invest in a project called "EB-5," which was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign shareholders. The project asks immigrants to invest $500,000 in a project that creates at least 10 jobs in exchange for permanent residence in the U.S.-so long as the project succeeds. 

Due to a struggling U.S. economy, EB-5 is driven largely by developers who are searching for new sources of funding for their projects. It is also fueled by rising demand from foreigners looking for access to U.S. schools and safe investment in U.S. enterprises. In some cases, like with the Dekker family, Dutch immigrants living in Michigan, the investment guarantees that they will stay together. 

"We love our life here," Judith Dekker told the Washington Post . "We have invested so much money because we want to live here in Michigan. And we don't want to split up our family."

The Dekkers have invested $500,000 in the Marriott Marquis Hotel rising in the District next to the Washington Convention Center. They'll get five temporary green cards in November, and if the project succeeds, in two years they will be permanent residents of the United States. 

The program has a large amount of bipartisan support in Congress, and negotiators from the Senate who are taking part in immigration reform talks have said they are leaning toward expanding visa programs that provide an immediate boost to the economy. On the other side, lawmakers argue that the EB-5 program is like buying citizenship, and that it unfairly allows wealthy foreigners to cut the visa line ahead of others who have waited for years.

Many feel that EB-5 will be a great boost for the nation's economy due to the attraction of investments and the creation of jobs. 

"If you get highly skilled, highly talented immigrants with money, who are paying and committing to things that are positive, I'm inclined to think it's terrific," former Treasury secretary Lawrence H. Summers told the Washington Post.

Obama says immigration bill to pass by this summer

Thu, Mar 28 11:05 AM by Romona Paden

Obama said that a new immigration reform could be in place by this summer, if plans go accordingly.

In a statement to Telemundo on March 27, President Barack Obama said that the historic immigration reform bill could be in place by summer of this year, and that any last-minute issues are "resolvable" by Congress. In this immigration reform proposal, Obama has given responsibilities almost entirely to Congress from start to finish, saying that a bill crafted by Capitol Hill stands a better chance of winning Republican support than one overtly influenced by the president. Obama said that he will only step in with his own bill if it's necessary.

"If we have a bill introduced at the beginning of next month as these senators indicate it will be, then I'm confident that we can get it done certainly before the end of the summer," Obama said.

One of the issues that Obama deemed resolvable is the debate over wages for low-income workers. According to Reuters, the issue in question is the distribution of work visas to new immigrant workers and the wages that they will ultimately receive. The proposal stated that these visas will only be issued if they do not drive down the wages of those doing the same job in the United States, but arguments as to what these wages will be is becoming a stalemate in the reform process. A draft proposal is expected to be released when Congress returns from a two-week recess on April 8.

Although there is disagreement between the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) regarding wages, they have reached significant agreements on a new visa program that would bring up to 200,000 low-skilled workers to the country each year, according to Fox News. 

"We're very hopeful that we're moving," Ana Avendano, a lead AFL-CIO negotiator, told reporters after a briefing for congressional staff on temporary worker programs.

Avendano said that the chamber had moved off what she termed as its insistence on "poverty-level wages" for the new workers.

Expedited Visa Process Boosts U.S. Travel

Thu, Mar 21 11:39 AM by Romona Paden

Travelers have an easier time visiting the United States from many countries.

Tourism to the United States is booming as several countries are eligible for the visa waiver program. Last year, the Obama Administration made efforts to welcome more foreign visitors to the United States because some foreign-born residents were forced to wait more than four months for a tourist visa, Roll Call reported.

According to travel industry professionals, the number of Chinese tourists to the United States will increase by 13 percent over the next year. In 2012, an estimated 1.5 million China-natives visited the States, partly because of the streamlined visa application process. The American Chinese Tourist Association has been focusing on outbound travel from China since 2008 when both governments agreed to let leisure travelers visit the United States on group tours.

"Visas are government tools to ensure safe and orderly international travel," said Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China, according to the Xinhua News Agency. "And what makes our work worthwhile is the deep and meaningful relationship between our two great peoples. It brings American and Chinese culture together and builds bridges of understanding between us."

The Department of Homeland Security's Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 36 countries to visit the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. It also eliminates the need for travelers to go through the interview process. As this initiative has boosted travel to the United States, one of the biggest supporters is the U.S. Travel Association, which released a report in 2001 proving that garnering a larger portion of international travelers could increase exports by $390 billion in the next decade.

Although China is not a part of the Visa Waiver Program, Chinese applicants now have only a five day waiting period for visa interview, and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing intends to continue this streamlined process.

Local Chambers Have Voice In Immigration Debate

Wed, Mar 20 3:08 PM by Romona Paden

About 40 local chambers joined together to make their voice heard in immigration reform.

Business for Skilled Worker Immigration, a consortium of approximately 40 chambers across the country, has joined in on the debate on immigration reform in effort to gather the opinion of community members and business owners on a national level. The group was started by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, according to the Chicago Tribune.

One of the groups joining the consortium is the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce, based in the western suburb of Chicago. Cholly Smith, Great Lakes regional manager for the U.S. Chamber, recently visited Naperville to inform the chamber members on recently debated topics in immigration reform and to ensure they are able to voice their opinions. The coalition is pooling information from all of its members to have a cohesive standpoint on the hot-button subject.

In Naperville, business owners voiced their concern on the lack of skilled workers and the difficulty and time period of getting work visas. Mike Evans, president and CEO of the local organization, said the reform needs to address long-term employment and give employers easier access to skilled workers. Smith said the U.S. Chamber shares similar concerns, in addition to securing borders and creating a national standard for employee verification.

The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce is another member of the group, which hopes to ask Congress to address immigration reform to foster economic development.

"Some of the world's best and brightest come to the Greater Madison region to advance themselves at our globally recognized universities," Zach Brandon, chamber president, said in a statement to the Wisconsin State Journal. "As these foreign nationals complete their education and look to create new opportunities, we send them home to work for companies which compete with Wisconsin businesses. It makes no sense."

Statistics Find Major Gender Bias In Visa Program

Tue, Mar 19 4:09 PM by Romona Paden

Statistics found an imbalance in the H-1B visa program.

On March 18, the State Judiciary Committee heard testimony arguing that the H-1B visa program for high-skilled workers is discriminating against women, according to The New York Times. During the 2011 fiscal year, the U.S. Office of Immigration Statistics recorded that 347,087 H-1B visa holders were men and 137,522 were women. This marks the first time in 2013 that lawmakers addressed the gender-inequality issue in the immigration system.

The hearing was devoted to issues that women face during the immigration process, family unification and ways to improve the integration of families and women into the immigration system. The largest imbalance was seen in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. According to Contra Costa Times, about 67,000 immigrant men and 39,000 immigrant women were granted green cards last year, a 63-37 percent split.

Karen Panetta, a Tufts University computer engineering professor who was testifying on behalf of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, said that companies prefer to hire men over women. In addition to the outdated immigration and visa policies, corporate hiring practices contribute to the issue.

Another major concern is the values of families and the ability to set roots in the country. Proponents believe that allowing individuals with U.S. citizenship to sponsor their extended families could help women and other immigrants become productive and integrated assets to society.

"Family immigration is critical to our economy, and we know that our communities and all Americans benefit when we're able to provide immigrants with an opportunity to set roots," Mee Moua, president of the Asian American Justice Center, said. "We know that siblings provide immigrants an immediate social support system, that is able to help them with child care or if they fall on hard times, or instances where they need some help to start a business."

Budget Cuts Could Effect Visa Wait Times

Thu, Feb 28 10:44 AM by Romona Paden

Significant budget cuts could effect U.S. travel visa wait times.

Natives of India, China and Brazil can expect an increase in the wait time to receive a visitor visa to the United States as impending spending cuts have raised concerns among some U.S. officials. The upcoming sequestration on March 1 will cut all State Department budgets, according to Patrick Ventrell​, State Department spokesman, who talked to a group of reporters on February 27. One India News reported that the budget cuts will equal $85 billion in 2013 and $1.2 trillion through 2021.

The United States has had an influx of hiring new consulate officers to accommodate the high volume of individuals who want to come to the country for the first time. This has decreased the wait time for individuals in India, Brazil and China from hundreds of days to only several, which took a lot of effort to make possible, according to Ventrell.

"It is impossible to say exactly how it would impact in each individual country," Ventrell said. "And indeed, as we get closer to this, I'll see what more I can provide for you on sequester would impact this Department, but there's no doubt in my mind and those who look at this closely that one of the areas that there'll be an impact on, obviously, is our ability provide consular services."

People traveling to the United States from these countries help improve the economy significantly, and officials are concerned the budget cuts will create major setbacks in the effort it took to drastically reduce the wait times. In 2011, a deal to increase the debt limit in the U.S. is expected to make it challenging for Congress to take action against the mounting debt. White House officials plan to meet on March 1 to produce a deal to avoid the cuts.

Agricultural Leaders Urge Guest Worker Programs

Wed, Feb 27 11:48 AM by Romona Paden

Agricultural coalitions urge a change in the guest worker programs for meat packing and poultry farms.

The agricultural industry is pushing for immigration reform to help create a permanent and stable workforce to harvest crops and work in meat​-packing and processing plants or on poultry farms. According to Reuters, the majority of the 1.5 million agricultural workers in the United States are thought to be undocumented immigrants.

The existing H-2A visa for temporary farm workers allows immigrants to work for 10 months at a time, but dairy farms and meat processing plants are not covered by the program. In 2011, approximately 55,000 H-2A visas were distributed, but there are more than one million workers on fields across the country. These workers play a critical role in keeping the U.S. food supply domestic and improving the economy.

"If we are honest we must admit that Congress essentially left farmers with no choice but to hire undocumented workers, said Zoe Lofgren, U.S. Representative from California. "Let's not fool ourselves."

Mike Brown, president of the National Chicken Council, told Reuters on behalf of the Food Manufacturers Immigration Coalition. The coalition, which is comprised of poultry producers and meat processors, calls for a visa that will be good for at least three years, potential opportunities to apply for visa extensions and an indented path to U.S. citizenship.

The Agriculture Workforce Coalition, which is made up of a dozen farm and landscaping groups, released details for a guest worker program proposal that would allow workers to choose between a three-year and 11-month opportunity. Agricultural workers should also be granted an authorization to commit a minimum five-year set term to work in the industry. Following this time period, they could continue to do labor "under the Ag card" and work toward permanent status. The Ag card gives agricultural workers legal status to work in the United States.

H-1B Petitions Accepted Beginning April 1

Fri, Feb 15 1:46 PM by Romona Paden

USCIS will begin accepting H-!B petitions on April 1,2013.

On April 1, 2013, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will begin accepting new cap-subject H-1B petitions. The quota of 65,000 H-1B visas for foreign nationals and an additional 20,000 for individuals who hold master’s degrees is expected to be exhausted as early as mid-May. Although there is a set 20,000 visas designated for those with a master’s or higher, once those are exhausted, petitions will be taken out of the regular “65,000” quota. 

Employers who are not willing to miss out on this opportunity will likely send in their H-1B petitions on March 29 to guarantee their paperwork will be stamped by USCIS on the day the filing season begins. The new cap-subject H-1B petitions will start on October 1, 2013. In accordance with the H-1B visa work status regulations, employees must have university-level degrees or equivalent experience.

In previous years, the H-1B visas have been claimed at quicker rates, and this trend is expected to continue. In 2010 they exhausted by January 26,2011; in 2011, by November 22, 2011; and by 201, on June 11, 2012.

Proposed

Wed, Feb 6 1:18 PM by Romona Paden

A bipartisan group released a proposed measure to increase the cap of H1-B visas.

The Immigration Innovation Act of 2013, announced by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), would increase the cap of H1-B visas from 65,000 to 115,000 or higher. According to Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, the bipartisan group’s measure would be for foreign professionals working for biopharmaceutical companies and U.S. tech employers.

The measure also states that if the cap is reached within 45 days after petitions are accepted by businesses to hire immigrant workers, the cap will increase by 20,000. That number decreases after 60, 90 and 185 days to a cap of 15,000, 10,000 and 5,000 H1-B visas, respectively.

The visa cap applies to private biopharma​ceutical and tech companies, but it excludes non-profits such as research institutions or universities. Because the demand for biological and life scientists is so high, the increased visa cap will allow businesses to hire the best candidate for the position, whether he or she is a foreign-native or U.S. citizen.

“People don’t like to put their lives on hold, whether they’re from outside the United States or the United States. If you know you’re stuck for the next four to nine years, basically in the same job, it makes it really unattractive to immigrate to the United States,” Edward Litwin, founder of an immigration law firm, told GEN. “It’s the private companies that are really struggling. That may be a strong term, but they want the best person. And if the best person happens to be from India or from England, they want to hire that person.”

This measure was introduced almost immediately following President Barack Obama’s speech on the need for immigration reform on Jan. 29, and one day after the release of the immigration outline from a group of eight senators.

Understand Fianc

Tue, Feb 5 2:19 PM by Romona Paden

Know the basics before applying for a fiance visa.

There are several ways for a U.S. citizen to bring his or her foreign fiancé to the United States, but each type of visa has different requirements. It is important to understand the eligibility criteria and required documents before applying for an immigrant visa for a fiancé.

A dual intent visa, or K1 and K2 visa, is issued to the fiancé of a U.S. citizen. With this visa, the immigrant partner is required to marry the U.S. citizen partner within 90 days of entering the country, and adjust his or her status to that of a permanent resident. If the foreign-born individual has children, he or she can apply for a K2 visa that permits unmarried children to enter the United States. To apply for a K1 visa, one must file a petition on behalf of the fiancé with the United States consulate.

The K3 and K4​ visas allow the spouse of a U.S. citizen (non-resident) to waive approval from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services on the U-130 petition and enter the country. The K4​ visa can be applied to unmarried children under 21 years old. To be eligible, one must have had a valid marriage with a U.S. citizen, filed an I-130 form and earned approval on the I-129F form. Individuals applying for this visa should expect to wait about eight months to receive it.

One must have a valid passport, birth certificate, medical examination and police certification from all places of residence since the age of 16 to apply for the K3​ visa. The visa sponsor must have completed and signed the I-130 form,  as well as the G-325A biographic data sheets, have evidence of citizenship and have proof of a relationship.

The IR1/CR1 visa requires a couple to be married before applying, but does not require AOS or AP to travel or EAD to work.

Obama Calls For Startup Visa Program

Fri, Feb 1 1:36 PM by Romona Paden

President Obama calls for a visa start up program for young entrepreneurs.

On January 29, President Obama called on Congress to create a visa category for immigrants who launch successful startup companies. A few days prior, officials in Canada announced that they launched a comprehensive startup visa program, reaping the benefits of the outdated immigration policies in the United States.

The need for a start-up visa is pertinent for the United States to stay competitive on a global scale. This would allow immigrants who have founded startups to live in the United States as long as they are able to raise a low level of financing and employ workers. According to The Huffington Post, foreign-born entrepreneur Asaf Darash faces deportation after studying at the University of California, Berkeley, and launching a startup in San Francisco because of the low number of green cards available. Unfortunately, this story is not rare and many graduates are forced to take their talents to other countries.

“Right now in one of those classrooms there are students wrestling with how to turn their big idea – their Intel or Instagram – into a big business,” Obama said in a speech in Las Vegas. “We’re giving them all the skills they need to figure that out, but then we’re going to turn around and tell them to start that business and create those jobs in India or China or Mexico or someplace else. That’s not how you grow new industries in America. That’s how you give new industries to our competitors.”

Canada’s startup program will enable immigrant entrepreneurs to launch innovative companies that will boost the economy and create jobs, as well as provide those individuals with assistance in the challenging Canadian business environment. The program will also provide private sector firms with a broad access to the world’s brightest minds.

Immigrants Gain Employment To Gain Experience

Thu, Jan 31 2:59 PM by Romona Paden

An H2-B visa program find employment for immigrants in the U.S.

Alex Gomez, 23, hopes to one day own his own Cuban restaurant in the United States. In the mean time, however, he is getting food service industry experience at the KFC in Minot, North Dakota. Gomez received his job through an H2B visa immigration program that employs individuals from around the world in entry-level positions, according to the Minot Daily News.

Global Employment Services, headquartered in Maine, connects immigrants and U.S. citizens with employment opportunities in businesses throughout the state. The company relocates individuals who are willing to move from areas with high unemployment rates to those with more opportunities for employment. 

Employers in Minot previously relied on the J-1 visa program, which allowed foreign students to work and make money during their stay in the United States, but was discontinued last fall.

“The J-1 students are great, also,” Becky Beechie, a restaurant owner, told the Minot Daily News. “That’s been a wonderful program. But every three months you are retraining. So this is a little bit more permanent solution, and we hope that with these employees, it works out that they want to stay with us indefinitely.”
 

Know The Basics Before Applying For A U.S. Visa

Thu, Jan 31 2:38 PM by Romona Paden

Understand the basics of applying and interviewing for a U.S. student visa.

Traveling from India and South Asia to study abroad in the United States can be challenging, and many students may wonder how to apply for a visitor visa to the United States. Applicants need to obtain a student visa from the U.S. embassy in their area, which will cover a trip to pursue full-time education at either the graduate or undergraduate level.

The B-2 visitor visa is primarily for students who are traveling to the United States for tourism and wish to take a short course at a local college or university. The student visa is for individuals who will be enrolled in school full-time. There are very specific requirements for applicants, which include acceptance at a school, sufficient funds to attend school, preparation for the course of study and intent to return back to their country of origin after completing the program. These qualifications are determined by the consular office.

Before going to the student visa interview, there are several forms and procedures that need to be completed. The DS-160 form must be completed and a confirmation page with the barcode should be printed around. {reword: seems like a word is missing at the end} A payment needs to be made for the visa application, as well as an online payment for the I-120 form issued by the institute where one is pursuing his or her course of study. An I-901 fee must also be made through the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

During the interview process, one must have a valid passport on hand, as well as any previously issued passports. Other required items include the student’s most recent passport sized photo, a DS-160 confirmation page with bar code, bank receipts with necessary fee transactions, a VFS appointment letter, an I-120 form, and original proof of education, identity and address.
 

UAE Residents Taking Interest In Investor Visa Program

Tue, Jan 22 4:00 PM by Romona Paden

Middle Eastern investors are among the top applying for a EB-5 visa.

Citizens of the United Arab Emirates with at least $500,000 to invest in a company without borrowing funds may be able to secure an EB-5 visa, which is an investor class of the United States green card. According to Phoenix Fox News affiliate KSAZ, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Immigrant Investor Program also recently saw a record number of applicants from Mexican Immigrants.

The program has become an increasingly popular option for UAE residents looking to gain U.S. citizenship. Iranians, Pakistanis Indians, and Arab expatriates from Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Syria have shown the highest demand for the visa. Currently, the Middle East shows the second-largest source of investment and entrepreneurial interest.

“The U.S. government is helping them leave Iran faster and come to the U.S. faster,” Armand Arton, chief executive and president of Arton Capital, told The National. “The UAE is becoming a hub for wealthy citizens from problematic countries who go on to migrate to other countries.”

Individuals who are applying for the visa are seeking a better future, better education for their children and a safer environment for their entire family. Green cards are typically given out as part of a lottery, but the investor green card is an expedited process. Investors can receive a green card in 18 months, and after 21 months of living in the states, they can apply for a new green card. Once they’ve been in the country for five years, they can be granted U.S. citizenship.

According to The National, the application process will cost an additional $65,000. Sam Bayat, managing director of Bayat Legal Services, told the publication that because Canada’s business immigration program has been closed for two years, the price tag is fairly low. Once Canada opens back up, he expected the price to increase.

Debate Continues Over H-1B Visas

Mon, Jan 21 4:55 PM by Romona Paden

Companies like Microsoft are speaking out about H-1B visa policies.

Microsoft reported last year that it had roughly 6,000 job vacancies that could not be filled because of the lack of STEM graduates in the United States. The technology company raised concerns about increasing education standards because of this issue in 2012, and began to lobby for a change to the current H-1B visa immigration work programs.

The current H-1B visa polices gained some criticism because immigrants are often forced to seek sponsorship if they are planning to establish their own startup, according to the Silicon Valley Business Journal. In 2008, 404,907 immigrants applied for an H-1B visa, but only 65,000 can be given out, in addition to another 20,000 that are allotted for individuals with a master’s degree or higher.

“Our immigration policy must expand the avenues for these valued workers to seek legal employment,” said Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles. “The president has suggested, let’s staple a green card to the diplomas of foreign students getting advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math. We need to expand the H-1B visa program, and at the same time, we need effective visa programs for agricultural workers and low-skilled non-seasonal workers.”

The need to find skilled workers is not only pertinent to the growth of companies like Microsoft, as pushing jobs out of the country can further stifle the economic growth and competitiveness of the workforce in the United States. H-1B visas are expensive for companies. Employers who hire more than 26 visa employees must pay $1,500. However, Microsoft suggested an increased fee for businesses who want H-1B visa employees, and the money invested could be used to train U.S. IT graduates.

Indian Natives MayBypass Interview Process

Wed, Jan 16 2:22 PM by Romona Paden

Some Indian natives can bypass interview process during the visa application.

In2011, a record number of Indian natives visited the United States, according to TheEconomic Times. This has prompted the Obama administration to exempt certain applicants from having to appear for personal interviews during the visa process through the Interview Waiver Program.

The record of travelers, 660,000 Indian-native visitors, is expected to increase to more than a million in 2015. The U.S. Department of State implemented the Interview Waiver Program because of the increase of travel, as well as the welcoming natureof U.S. residentsand strong relationship between thecountries.

The United States is one of the top MICE – meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions – destinations in the world because of the abundance of amenities foundnear convention centers, including shopping, restaurants, travel options and tours.

“Travel and tourism to the U.S. is an important way for us to expand our cultural and commercial ties and increase trade with countries,” Nancy Powell, U.S. Ambassador to India, told The Times.”But most important aspect of travel and tourism is not dollar figures, but the person-to-person relationships that are cultivated.”

On January 14, U.S. consular staff in India reported that H1-B visasand other category​-H visas will be issued at a higher rate, according to Workpermit.com.The main category that Indianatives apply for is theH1-B visa, which isgranted to highly skilled graduates in STEM fields, orscience, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The amount of L-1 visas, a non-immigrant visa used to enter the United States for work, granted to India natives has decreased by a few thousand; however, the number of category-H visas rose from 114,000 in 2011 to 130,000 in 2012. This is one of the main reasons why the numberof visas given out has changed categories. H1-B visas arecapped at 65,000 withanother 20,000 designatedfor individuals withmaster’s degrees.

U.S. Congress Set to Debate Israeli Visa Exemption

Fri, Jan 11 8:34 PM by Romona Paden

Israel citizens hope to be able to visit the United States without a visa.

Members of Congress will soon debate a new bill – the Visa Waiver for Israel Act of 2012 – that would exempt Israeli citizens from needing a visa to enter the United States for up to 90 days for tourism or business purposes. Currently, the Visa Waiver Program allows citizens of 37 countries to visit the United States without a visa, including western and central European countries, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan and Australia. The United States Congress is set to vote on the bill on January 15, and if it passes, it will eliminate the need for Israeli citizens to know how to apply for a visitor visa to United States.

Efforts have been made in the past to add Israel to the Visa Waiver Program list, but these measures were rejected in the Senate. The new bill was drafted by Ted Poe (R-Texas) and Brad Sherman (D-California), and signed by 25 other members of the House of Representatives. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) will propose the bill to the Senate. Sherman, the senior member of the House of Foreign Affairs Committee, introduced the bill in May 2012.

Since 2005, Israel has sought admittance into this program; however, because Israelis' entry visa rejection rate is more than 3 percent and not all citizens have biometric passports, the country has not been added. Israeli officials have also urged the United States to enforce a more thorough security check for U.S. citizens of Palestinian origin who enter the Jewish state.

"I’m pleased to join with my colleagues Ted Poe, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and eleven additional members of Congress to introduce the Visa Waiver for Israel Act," Sherman said after the introduction of the bill. "Israel is our closest friend and democratic ally in the Middle East. Adding Israel to the Visa Waiver Program will boost business, tourism, and job creation here in the US and enhance cultural ties between our two nations."

Indian Applicants Can Now Check Visa Status Online

Fri, Jan 11 8:30 PM by Romona Paden

Indian applicants can check their status of a U.S. visa online 24 hours a day.

Indian citizens who apply for U.S. immigration visas can now check their status online, according to a statement from the U.S. Consulate General in Kolkata. The US Mission in India, a sector of the Embassy of the United States, stated that the US Department of State's new system will offer better customer service 24 hours a day and continued transparency during the application process.

The new Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) Status Check is available for both immigrant visa (IV)  and nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applicants. Individuals need their CEAC barcode, and the interview location for NIV cases or the case number for IV cases, and the CEAC will deliver the status of their application. For NIV applicants, the status will either be "no status," "ready," "administrative processing," "issued" or "refused." IV applicants will have a status of "ready," "administrative processing," "issued," "expired," "expiring soon," "return to NVC," "transfer in progress" or "refused."

This initiative is coming at the heels of several other enhancements, including off-site fingerprinting and photography services and the expanded Interview Waiver Program. The combination of these initiatives is an effort to allow more people to apply for visas in the future, streamline customer service and improve travel between India and the United States.
 

Highly Skilled Graduates Forced Out After Americans Foot Tuition Bills

Thu, Jan 10 11:08 PM by Romona Paden

Some highly skilled graduates are forced out of the country after their student visa expire, but high tech companies are urging legislation to change to allow more STEM workers.

An annual cap on the number of U.S. work visas issued to thousands of immigrants with advanced degrees causes many to face the possibility that they will be forced to leave the country. Kazeem Olanrewaju is one of the immigrants suffering the consequences of this rule, and is scheduled to be deported from his beloved home of Iowa this summer with a doctorate degree in chemical and biochemical engineering in hand, The Des Moines Register reported.

Olanrewaju, 38, came to the United States eight years ago with an ambition to offer his skills to a nation in desperate need of skilled workers. The Nigerian native holds an expiring student visa, and hopes to one day receive an H-1B visa. Congressional leaders and President Barack Obama have stated their concerns with immigration laws and have pledged to address policies in 2013.

Reform advocates believe that pushing graduates like Olanrewaju out of the U.S. would hurt the economy because there is already a shortage of STEM workers – those in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Olanrewaju received a full scholarship to earn his master's and doctorate degrees at the University of Iowa, which totaled $149,500 in tuition and fees. American taxpayers paid a bulk of the costs.

"I don’t think it’s wise or makes any sense to spend that kind of money on someone, then leave them to struggle for themselves," Olanrewaju told The Register.

Leaders at the International Society for Optics and Photonics support fast-tracking a U.S. visa legislation that would allow individuals like Olanrewaju to receive a visa. The SMART (Sustaining our Most Advanced Researchers and Technology) Jobs Act of 2012 and the STEM Jobs Act of 2012 are two bills that were designed to allocate visas for foreign born students with graduate degrees in STEM subjects.

The STEM Jobs Act was passed by the House of Representatives in November, but was halted because it would eliminate a number of visas in the diversity lottery that enable low- and high-skilled workers an opportunity to gain a visa.

Changes in U.S. Visa Applications Affect Russia, Azerbaijan

Thu, Dec 27 6:32 PM by Romona Paden

Several countries will have new procedures for applying and obtaining U.S. visas. Several overseas countries are changing their process for applying and obtaining a U.S. visa. Azerbaijani and Russian citizens are among those who have or will experience changes of the process.

Citizens of Azerbaijan are now able to pay for their U.S. visa via a credit card payment during the online registration for an interview. This process, which went into effect on December 27, allows applicants to skip the next stage of the procedure, and go right to choosing the date and time for an interview at the embassy. According to News.Az, the first interview will begin on January 3.

In Russia, individuals seeking a U.S. visa will now have a lower consular fee starting on January 1, 2013, according to the Information and Press Department of the Foreign Ministry. Russian citizens applying for a B1/B2 visa will not have a reduced fee, which is for business travelers.

"We are very pleased to be able to say that the parties' agreement to reduce consular fees completely corresponds to the mutual desire to simplify visa formalities for our countries' citizens," the Foreign Ministry reported according to the Moscow News. "We hope that this will promote economic, cultural, academic and humanitarian relations between Russia and the United States and will be a significant step towards the further liberalization of our bilateral visa regime, eventually leading to its full cancellation."

On August 29, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow also released a statement that Russian and American travelers for business or tourism would be eligible for multiple entries during a period of 36 months. During this time, the fee for Russians entering the United States was reduced from $100 to $20 for business or tourism. 

Visa-Waiver Program Offered in Taiwan

Tue, Dec 11 10:27 AM by Romona Paden

Travelers from Taiwan can now apply for a visa-free program. A new U.S. visa program was implemented successfully for Taiwanese nationals, according to the Taipei Times. Taiwan was admitted into the US visa-waiver program on November 1, allowing business travelers and tourists who don't hold e-passports to obtain U.S. visas. This new program will allow individuals coming to the United States to travel multiple times of up to 90 days over a two-year period.

Americans have long been able to fly to Taiwan without a visa, but this new program is the first opportunity for Taiwanese to come to America without a visa. Bruce Linghu, director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' Department of North American Affairs said that that US travel authorization of applications have a 99 percent approval rate, and the few cases when individuals were not approved were often because they lied about previously being denied a US visa.

Linghu urges individuals who are applying for the program online to be honest. However, some Taiwanese travelers were rejected for trying to visit for purposes other than tourism or business.

Taiwan and the United States are also planning to discuss the Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, which was signed in 1994 as an outline for trade-related issues, but discussions were halted in 2007.

In November, eTravel Blackboard reported the overwhelming demand for Taiwanese travelers wanting to come to the United States after the announcement of this program.

“When Taiwan was included in the Visa Waiver Program, we originally estimated a 50 percent growth in November and December, but the number has already increased by two to three times,” Lion Travel Service spokesperson Andy Yu told Channel News Asia.

This year, Taiwan became the 37th nation to be granted visa-free travel to the United States. 

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Saudi Arabian Women Receive Victim Visas

Mon, Nov 19 12:43 PM by Romona Paden

Saudi Arabian women who came to the United States on student visas were recently granted victim visas to ensure their safety.After heated arguments with male family members back home, five Saudi Arabian women living in the United States recently replaced their student visas with victim visas. Women and children may be eligible for the visa if they've been the victim of a crime, such as sexual harassment, rape, human trafficking, torture or abduction, according to The News Tribe.

When these women are granted a changed status, their newfound feeling of safety comes at a price. They are no longer eligible to receive economic support from Washington D.C.'s Saudi Cultural Bureau. While the embassy and SCB try their best to fix family and spousal issues peacefully, these efforts often go unresolved and the victim visa serves as a last resort, the source reported.

"Many of the girls argue that they do not feel safe going back to their husbands or to their families in Saudi Arabia, so they opt for giving up their student visas and the financial assistance provided by the Saudi government and apply for the victim visa which allows them to stay in the U.S. and receive assistance," an unnamed source told the source.

Women come to the United States from Saudi Arabia to study in American universities. As this decision is controversial in the home country, many feel their safety will be compromised if they return home. To protect these women, the United States government allows them to remain in the U.S. and often provides assistance in looking for a job, academic scholarship and money for food and shelter.

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Iranian Athlete Denied “Extraordinary Ability” Visa

Fri, Nov 16 5:09 PM by Romona Paden

The Immigration Act of 1990 created a category of work visas for individuals who show "extraordinary ability" in the field of science, arts, education, athletics or business, and receiving such a visa requires a high level of prestige, like winning a Nobel Prize. However, when Afshin Noroozi, Iran's first table tennis Olympian, applied for an extraordinary ability visa, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services denied his case, according to Jere Longman's recent article in The New York Times.

Noroozi sought the visa based on his status as a top international player, which is usually sufficient for preferential entry of this kind. While Noroozi is the best table tennis player in Iran, he finished 65th at the 2008 Olympic games and is ranked No. 284 in the world. The court's decision has experts questioning what credentials an athlete must hold to be granted a visa.

"Hopefully the government will change its stance and be more liberal in attracting talent," John Assadi, Noroozi's lawyer, told the source. "Even if he is not first or second in the world, he would be able to contribute in the United States. Why they want to keep him out, I don't know."

USCIS cited many reasons for denying Noroozi's application. Officials claim he did not establish himself as a singular talent or demonstrate his leading or critical role in Iranian table tennis, and his achievements were not sufficiently reported by major news publications. In his application, Noroozi was unable to prove how his presence would potentially benefit the United States, the source reported.

If the court does not repeal the decision, Noroozi and Assadi will consider filing an appeal.

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Filipino Woman Earns T-Visa as Human Trafficking Victim

Wed, Nov 14 3:00 PM by Romona Paden

USCIS recently awarded a Filipino woman a T-visa after she was the victim of human trafficking.The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service recently granted a non-immigrant T-visa to a Filipino woman who claims to be a victim of human trafficking, according to GMA News Online.

Jacqueline Aguirre was hired to work for the Best Care Agency in New York, but when her H-1B paperwork was approved, the company did not pay her the $19-an-hour rate they promised. When she questioned why she was not receiving the prevailing wage rate, employers told Aguirre that they would discontinue sponsorship on her visa if she did not agree to the lower wages. Without sponsorship, she faced deportation from the United States.

When Aguierre's green card was denied, she was automatically placed in deportation proceedings. She decided to take legal action against the company, and through her claim, earned a T-visa.

"This is a proof that victories can be achieved if we fight for it," Aguierre told the source. "I spoke up against the injustice done to me, so other people heard and helped me through this ordeal."

Human trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers lure in individuals under false pretenses of a better life and steady employment. Created in 2000 under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, the T-visa was designed to allow human trafficking victims to remain in the United States to assist in the investigation and prosecution of their traffickers, according to USCIS.

The T-visa allows an individual to stay in the U.S. for up to four years, and deems him or her eligible for legal employment. When the period expires, the individual can apply for legal permanent resident status and bring family members to the United States.

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Documentary, Report Shed Light on U.S. International Students

Tue, Nov 13 3:04 PM by Romona Paden

Policymakers are looking for ways to help international students work in the United States upon completion of their higher education degrees.A new documentary entitled "Will Work for Words" premiered at the Virginia Film Festival, and explores the difficulties that international students have while trying to find a job after graduation, according to Inside Higher Education.

The filmmaker, Ayşehan Jülide Etem, is an international student from Turkey who is currently pursuing her third degree in the United States. After noticing problems with the United States' policies toward foreign students, she decided to shed light on the issues to help make a difference.

Leaders in business and higher education have noticed the problems as well. In the past few years, they've begun lobbying for expanded opportunities for students who complete their university degrees in the United States and wish to work here after graduation. They wish to mirror the visa programs that other western nations use to attract graduate students to put their education and talents to work to benefit the national economy, the source reported.

A new Partnership for a New American Economy report called for new categories of green cards for foreign students with STEM degrees and foreign entrepreneurs who wish to start a business in the United States, as well as an increased number of H1B visas for highly-skilled foreign nationals seeking legal entry into the country. A letter accompanying the report was signed by the presidents of 166 American universities, and called on government officials to reform these policies.

"After we have trained and educated these future job creators, our antiquated immigration laws turn them away to work for our competitors in other countries," the latter read. "Low limits on visas leave immigrants with no way to stay or facing untenable delays for a permanent visa."

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Mexican Family Receives Extended Visa for Medical Treatment

Mon, Nov 12 5:38 PM by Romona Paden

A nine-year-old boy from Mexico will receive medical treatment for mixed venous lymphangioma at a U.S hospital.A nine-year-old boy from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, was recently granted an extended visa to obtain medical treatment for a massive tumor growing on his neck. The family was originally given a 45-day visa, but when word of Jose's condition reached New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, she was able to urge federal customs officials to extend their legal stay in the United States. 

Jose and his parents will be able to travel back and forth between Mexico and New Mexico for up to a year so he can undergo a series of surgeries to treat mixed venous lymphangioma. Doctors at the University of New Mexico Hospital will remove the large fluid build-up from Jose's neck, but he will still keep a permanent residence at home in Mexico.

"That way he can come back here for treatment and go back home so he can go to school," said Denise Gutierrez, victim assistance coordinator for Homeland Security Investigations. "I refused to believe there was nothing we could do for this boy."

The University of New Mexico Hospital and First Baptist Church of Rio Rancho have joined together to pay for Jose's medical treatment and the family's stay in the United States.

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Thousands Still Waiting for CW-1 Permits

Fri, Nov 2 3:37 PM by Romona Paden

Residents in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands are anxiously awaiting USCIS approval of their CW-1 visas.Under the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services created a new transitional work visa solely for residents of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. However, 37 percent of the 12,428 workers who petitioned for a visa last year still have not received them, according to the Saipan Tribune.

Residents of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands who have applied for the program are concerned that they will have to apply for an extension of their parole in place because USCIS will not offer an automatic extension for pending CW petitions.

"Without automatic parole extension, everyone with expired or expiring parole have to go over the extension process again when it is not them that caused the delays in the first place," Carlito Marquez, a CNMI citizen, told the source. "If the December 28 deadline is not met again, USCIS will again require them to extend; why not just automatically extend their parole since it's not their fault that their CW petitions have not been granted yet?"

As of October 23, USCIS had granted the CW-1 permits to approximately 7,800 workers, but many others with pending petitions were subjected to a "request for evidence" and are still waiting for responses from their employers. More than 300 petitions have also been denied for various reasons, including an employer withdrawal or abandonment, absence of evidence that the employer meets visa eligibility requirements or insufficient evidence that the beneficiary was in the CNMI when the petition was filed, according to the source.

USCIS hopes to adjudicate all existing petitions by December 28, 2012.

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U Visa Applications Spike in California

Mon, Oct 29 1:40 PM by Romona Paden

The U visa program offers a temporary work permit for undocumented crime victims who are willing to help authorities in the investigation.Across the United States, immigration officials have noticed a significant increase in the number of U visa applications. The Oakland Police Department in Oakland, California, processed 502 applications in 2011, which is a mind-blowing jump from the three applications processed in 2007, according to a recent NBC Bay Area news article.

The U visa, or U nonimmigrant status, was created in 2000 under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act. Designated for non-citizen victims of crime who are willing to assist local law enforcement officials in the prosecution of their case, the U visa strengthens police efforts to solve cases of sexual assault, domestic violence, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, according to USCIS.

When the visa is awarded, the individual receives a work permit and will be eligible to apply for permanent residency after four years. While immigration rights advocates are very happy with the program, authorities say there is still a problem breaking down the barriers of victims who are hesitant to seek help after a crime.

"We offer U visas as a way to assure them that they don't have to have any fear of us trying to get them deported out of the country," Johnny Davis, Oakland police captain, told the source. "We want to help them solve their crimes."

The Oakland Police Department has experienced decreasing staff numbers, but officials here have expanded the resources for the U visa program because they believe it builds crucial trust with the community. If undocumented immigrants do not feel safe coming forward, criminals will walk free and continue to cause problems for local residents, the source reported.

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Afghan Allies Protection Act Has Yet To Keep Promise of US Visas For Interpreters

Thu, Oct 25 3:24 PM by Romona Paden

Afghan interpreters who aid the U.S. army are eligible for U.S. visas under the Afghan Allies Protection Act.In 2009, the Afghan Allies Protection Act allocated 7,500 visas for citizens of Afghanistan who served as military interpreters for the U.S. government. As they had sided with the United States during the war, many of these individuals will be targeted by the Taliban after U.S. troops withdraw from Afghanistan, according to Kevin Sieff's recent Washington Post article.

When the Afghan Allies program was created, Congress noted the urgency that fueled the legislation. However, although more than 5,700 Afghans have applied for the U.S. visa, only 32 have been approved to date. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul's visa office is severely understaffed, which has led to some interpreters having to wait years before hearing anything from the State Department about their visa status.

"We didn't plan for an increase in staffing or resources … and there was a pent up demand," an anonymous U.S. embassy official told Sieff. "It's absolutely a top priority for us now."

Many interpreters use American names as aliases when working in the field, and are still optimistic about someday having the opportunity to move to the United States.

Even so, U.S. military officials are frustrated that these courageous individuals have not received consideration at a faster pace. According to the source, the program was implemented when the U.S. began withdrawing troops from Iraq in 2010, and officials hope that interpreters will not have to wait until 2014, when all troops are expected to withdraw, to get their promised visas.

Approximately 400 Afghan interpreters have obtained visas through different immigration programs, but that option may no longer be available. When the Afghan Allies legislation was implemented in 2010, many of the other programs stopped offering their services, the source reported.

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Foreign Investors Turn To US Charter Schools for EB-5 Visa

Thu, Oct 18 2:37 PM by Romona Paden

Wealthy foreign families are investing in American charters schools to obtain EB-5 visas.Financial analysts have raised concerns about the stability of U.S. charter schools, with many being shut down by regulators for poor performance. This volatility has made it difficult for startup schools to find funding, which has led to an influx of foreign investors stepping in to fill the gap, according to a recent article from Reuters.

Wealthy families in China, Nigeria, Russia and Australia are offering millions of dollars to United States charter schools to help build classrooms, libraries, laboratories and sports venues. Investing the money allows foreign nationals to qualify for an EB-5 temporary work visa and bring themselves and their families to the United States. If the venture is successful in creating 10 jobs in the first two years, the family will become eligible for permanent residency, reported Reuters.

“The demand is massive – massive – on the school side,” said Greg Wing, an investment advisor and founder of the Education Fund of America told the source. “On the investor side, it’s massive too. It’s going to be explosive.”

The visa is becoming more controversial, as critics, led by teachers' unions, believe it diverts essential funding away from local public schools that do not have sufficient resources at their disposal.  The recent issues with U.S. charter schools make the investment a dangerous endeavor, as in the past, immigrant investors have lost their money and potential U.S. citizenship when their American partner failed to reach standards or expectations, reported the source.

Despite the risk, interest in the investment is rapidly increasing. The Department of Homeland Security reported that United States government approved petitions from 3,000 foreigners in the first nine months of 2012, which is nearly double the number of petitions for 2011 as a whole, according to Reuters.

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Cuba Modifies Long-Standing Travel Regulations

Tue, Oct 16 4:49 PM by Romona Paden

The Cuban government recently modified travel regulations for the island's citizens.After decades of strict entry and exit rules, the Cuban government recently announced that it will modify immigration regulations. Citizens were previously required to obtain a letter of invitation from a destination country and an exit visa to leave Cuba before being allowed to travel for business or pleasure.

This marks a huge step for the communist-ruled country, as most Cubans will now simply have to show their passport, national identity card and travel visa to visit countries abroad. However, many may still find it difficult to obtain tourist visas in the United States and other countries. Several governments around the world believe Cuban citizens will use the visa to flee the island and not return home.

“The changes also mean that Cuba now gives its citizens more freedom to travel to the United States than the U.S. gives its citizens to travel to Cuba,” said John McAuliff of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development.

The United States currently accepts approximately 20,000 Cuban immigrants each year, most of whom come to the United States to reunite with family members. U.S. officials have an arrangement nicknamed the “wet foot, dry foot” policy for Cuban nationals arriving by water. The policy works under the idea that individuals who manage to reach the United States without being intercepted at sea will be granted proper paperwork, but those found on the water before touching U.S. soil will be picked up and returned back to the island.

Cuba's new policy will begin on January 14, 2013.

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H-1B Visa Quotas Negatively Affect U.S. Foreign Work Force

Fri, Oct 12 2:04 PM by Romona Paden

H-1B visa quotas are limiting the number of international skilled workers that can come to the United States.The United States is experiencing a shortage of skilled workers in the science, medicine and computer technology fields. Many companies and organizations wish to hire qualified international workers to fill these positions but are halted by the difficulty in maintaining proper paperwork and permission to bring foreign nationals into the United States.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services created the H-1B visa for foreign-born individuals who wish to work in a specialty occupation in the United States. To meet the criteria, a job must be so complex or unique that it can only be held by an individual with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the USCIS website explained. However, strict regulations often hinder qualified individuals from obtaining H-1B visas and making important contributions to the U.S. economy.

The U.S. government caps the number of H-1B visas issued annually at 65,000, as well as another 20,000 for foreign students who earned a master's degree at an American university. In 2012, the government exhausted the quota by June, making U.S. companies unable to sponsor individuals for international work visas for the rest of the fiscal year, the Buffalo Law Journal reported.

“No matter who you talk to in the employment immigration field, they will tell you the main challenge in the employment immigration field is the H-1B quota,” Frank Novak, an immigration expert, told the Journal. “I consider the H-1B to really be the backbone when we think about how to bring people into the United States to work. But the quota has made it challenging for many foreign nationals to work here.”

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Hong Kong Angered over Taiwan?s New U.S. Visa-Waiver Status

Wed, Oct 10 9:04 AM by Romona Paden

After the United States added Taiwan to the visa-waiver program, residents of Hong Kong were left wondering why they had not been chosen for consideration.After the United States added Taiwan to the list of countries whose residents can travel to the United States without a visitor visa, many citizens of Hong Kong were angered for not also being chosen for the visa-waiver program.

“It’s disappointing, because we’ve been asking for it for quite some time, and they still won’t give it to us,” Joseph Tung Yao-Chung, executive director of the Travel Industry Council, told the South China Morning Post. “We behave well, never cause trouble and spend handsomely, so why do they give it to Taiwan and not Hong Kong?”

Although the American Chamber of Commerce has been lobbying the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for consideration in the program for more than five years, the decision was made to continue the United States’ commitment to maintaining relations with Taiwan, according to NBC News. United States officials did not meet with Hong Kong officials before making the controversial announcement.

Immigration experts like Richard Vuylsteke, the Chamber’s president, said they believe Hong Kong’s problem lies in mainland China.

“It’s not for lack of trying,” Vuylsteke told the Post. “All of the reasons Taiwan was approved … Hong Kong is also very strong in. My private speculation is they don’t know how to handle mainland Chinese with Hong Kong resident status. Of course, Taiwan is not one-on-one equivalent. It has a different kind of status.”

The U.S. consulate in Hong Kong continues to lobby for approval, but cannot estimate when they will be able to meet all of the requirements of the program.

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Preparing For The K-1 Visa Application Process

Mon, Oct 8 4:17 PM by Romona Paden

Before applying for a fiancee visa, it is important to understand the most common mistakes couples make during the process.In the United States, the K-1 visa allows foreign nationals to move to the United States to marry his or her U.S. citizen fiancée. Also known as the fiancée visa, the process for getting approved is very in-depth and can be sidetracked by the slightest mistake. Staying informed throughout the application process and understanding the major pitfalls couples face will provide the greatest chance of receiving approval, according to U.S. Politics Today.

The most common reason that fiancée visa petitions are rejected is that they are submitted incomplete. With many strict eligibility requirements, including intention to marry within 90 days of acceptance and proof that the couple has met in person at least once in the two-year period surrounding the petition, many couples do not supply sufficient documentation to create a legitimate case, as outlined on the USCIS website. When applying for a K-1 visa, make sure to carefully look at the USCIS website to understand what information is required for approval.

After an initial application is reviewed, the next step, an interview with the U.S. consulate, is considered the most important part of the process. The couple meets with immigration officers who ask about the partnership to look for inconsistencies and sham marriages. Questions cover the nature of the relationship and knowledge about the partner’s life history to ensure that there is a legitimate romantic relationship, according to immigration experts. To avoid a rejection, U.S. Politics Today suggests meeting with an immigration lawyer who can help deconstruct and explain the interview process and ensure that the couple feels comfortable when being questioned.

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New Hampshire High School to Offer Student Visas

Mon, Oct 8 11:36 AM by Romona Paden

Bow High School will offer student visas to foreign students to increase diversity and revenue.Bow High School in Bow, New Hampshire, received federal government approval to issue visas to foreign national students, according to the Concord Monitor. BHS joins other private institutions in the United States that offer student visas to increase diversity and revenue.

Under the program, the school will have prospective international students apply directly to the school district for acceptance, the source reported. In the past, Bow High School would usually take in three international students per year through for-profit programs, but these students would not pay tuition. The new visa allowance opens up the school to more international students who will pay tuition and room-and-board fees.

“It really piqued our interest,” said John House-Myers, principal of Bow High School, told the source. “Because the idea of having tuition-paying students come in and also paying a home-stay fee to bring revenue into this community from outside of this community is really a big deal, especially in light of the current economy.”

The State Department of Education does not have public data on how many public schools offer student visas, but an official in the private school department stated that Bow High School may be the first in New Hampshire, according to the Concord Monitor.

Bow High School has hosted many international students, but because of short nature of a one-year visit, these students often lack language skills and academic focus. The current federal law only allows public schools to issue single year visas, but a bill in the U.S. Senate could give public schools the freedom to offer multi-year agreements to international families,according to the source.

“We certainly would like to have a multiple-year commitment as well because then the students are really invested, engaged with the community,” House-Myers said. “They develop relationships with our students that could last a lifetime.”

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Napolitano Broadens ?Family Relationships? Definition

Fri, Sep 28 1:26 PM by Romona Paden

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Janet Napolitano recently announced that the agency has broadened the definition of “family relationships” in immigration proceedings to now include same-sex couples.

On July 31, 2012, 84 members of Congress signed a letter sent to Napolitano asking her to take legal action to prevent foreign-born partners in a same-sex relationship with an American from being separated and/or deported.

“In an effort to make clear the definition of the phrase ‘family relationships,’ I have directed ICE to disseminate written guidance to the field that the interpretation of the phrase ‘family relationships’ includes long-term, same-sex partners,” Napolitano wrote in a letter to Congress.

The announcement marks an important victory in immigration reform, as fewer families will be torn apart due to strict fiancée visa and work permit restrictions in the United States. Same-sex couples have been fighting for immigration equality since the passing of 1996’s Defense of Marriage Act, which banned federal recognition of same-sex marriages and the immigration benefits it holds.

“Until now, LGBT families and their lawyers had nothing to rely on but an oral promise that prosecutorial discretion would include all families,” Rachel Tiven, executive director of Immigration Equality, said in a statement. “Today, DHS has responded to Congress and made that promise real. The Administration’s written guidance will help families facing separation and the field officers who are reviewing their cases.”

There are approximately 36,000 binational same-sex couples in the United States who could potentially benefit from the news. Immigration applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

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Special Immigrant Juvenile Status In Question With Deferred Action

Mon, Aug 27 4:03 PM by Romona Paden

With the implementation of deferred action for childhood arrivals, immigration experts wonder how the Special Immigrant Juvenile Status will be affected.In 1990, the government passed a little-known program giving certain individuals a SL6 legal status, which is code for special immigrant juvenile status. SL6 helps hundreds of immigrant youth each year become legal permanent residents, according to The Associated Press.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, or SIJS, is a complicated federal immigration law which was created for dependents of the state who ended up in the foster care system after being abused, abandoned or neglected by relatives. Once an individual receives SIJS, they can never petition for their parents to get green cards and can only petition for their siblings to get green cards after they themselves have become a U.S. citizen.

“The program has quietly helped 10,000 young illegal immigrants become legal permanent residents since 1997,” according to The Associated Press. “It has long been overshadowed by fiery debates over illegal immigration and strict crackdowns passed in Arizona, Utah, Georgia and Alabama.”

Immigration experts have voiced speculation about how deferred action for childhood arrivals will affect the special immigrant juvenile status.

The largest difference between the two programs is that SIJS has been a permanent federal immigration law for over 20 years, and the deferred action for childhood arrivals lacks the same foundation. Political experts note that if Mitt Romney beats President Barack Obama in the 2012 presidential election, Romney may overturn the deferred action for childhood arrivals program immediately.

Advocates believe the deferred action policy will not affect the juvenile visa program, but many believe it is too soon to fully understand the potential rewards or repercussions.

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