Categories
Immigration US

40+ Facts About United States Employment Immigration Rules

The United States remains the dream working destination of many professionals from different parts of the world. If you have plans of coming to the US for employment reasons, here are important facts you should know:

  1. Under the 180-day portability rule, your approved I-140 may still remain valid if you change employers during an employment-based green card application process if your I-485 has been pending for at least 180 days. The portability provision enables some nonimmigrant workers to change to a different job without the risk of being “out of status.” (Source: USCIS)
  1. If you have a pending Form I-485 for Adjustment of Status application and you are working with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), even if you are certain that your green card would be ready before your work permit expiration, to be on the safe side, it is advisable to still go ahead and apply for its renewal. (Source: USCIS)
  1. The 180-day rule under the AC21 Act is determined by the receipt date of your petition. The counting usually starts from the date your Form I-485 was received by the USCIS, and not the date when USCIS generated the receipt of notice. The receipt date refers to the date the application was received at the mailroom; NOT the date the application was mailed, and NOT the date the receipt of notice was issued. The portability provision enables some nonimmigrant workers to change to a different job without the risk of being “out of status.”
  1. One of the major requirements for porting (changing) from one employer to another during a green card application is to have the same or similar occupational classification. However, if the jobs are not exactly the same, your green card application may still be processed if the differences are minor.
  1. You may use an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to request for change of employers under AC21 portability rule or let your employer file an H-1B extension on your behalf if you are an H-1B holder. 
  1. You can change jobs multiple times using AC21. For instance, you left Company A that filed your I-140 after your I-485 has been pending for at least 180 days and moved to Company B under the AC21 rule. After working with Company B for some time, you just realized it isn’t the best place for you. You are permitted to move on to Company C under the same rule.  The most important thing is that the job descriptions for each of those companies are the same or similar. 
  1. You may still apply for EB-2 National Interest Waiver even if you have a pending PERM labor certification application. In other words, if you have applied for other subcategories in the Employment-Based Second Preference (EB-2) or Employment-Based Third Preference (EB-3) and your PERM application is pending with Department of Labor (DOL). But thereafter, you decide to give the EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) a try, you can go ahead and file the EB-2 NIW petition despite still having a pending PERM with DOL. 
  1. The Employment-Based First Preference (EB-1) green card has 3 subcategories, namely EB-1A for professionals with extraordinary achievements in their fields, EB-1B for outstanding researchers and professors, and EB-1C for executives and managers. The EB-1 is the most prestigious green card category that offers a wide range of benefits which include faster and flexible application process. This is because it does not require the PERM labor certification process, and also allows applicants who meet the eligibility criteria for EB-1A to sponsor their petitions without the need for a job offer from a U.S. employer. 
  1. To be eligible to act as a petitioning employer for Multinational for executive and manager (EB-1C) subcategory, the sponsor must be a multinational U.S. organization with a subsidiary, branch, or affiliate in a foreign country, and must have been operating a business in the U.S. for at least a year before filing a petition for the foreign employee. 
  1. If you are seeking a PERM-based employment green card, your green card priority date is the date the Department of Labor (DOL) received your labor certification application. 
  1. If you are seeking NIW (National Interest Waiver) or Employment-Based First Preference EB-1 green card, your green card is the date USCIS received your I-140 petition. 
  1. It is permitted for a petitioner to file multiple employment-based green card applications for the same person in different categories, such as (EB-1, EB-2, EB-3) at the same time. This can be with the same employer or with multiple employers. 
  1. In most cases, the priority date for EB-1 applicants remains current, meaning they won’t have to wait in the green card wait line before filing an adjustment of status. 
  1. The Employment-Based First Preference for Extraordinary Ability (EB-1A) green card has 10 eligibility criteria, and an applicant is expected to meet at least 3 out of the 10. 
  1. The Employment-Based First Preference for Outstanding Researchers and Professors (EB-1B) has 6 eligibility requirements, and applicants are expected to meet at least 2 to demonstrate they are an outstanding professor or researcher. 
  1. To qualify for Multinational Executive and Manager (EB-1C), the beneficiary must have worked as a manager or executive in a foreign branch of the U.S. affiliated company sponsoring the petition for at least 3 years leading to their application. 
  1. The H-1B was created in 1990 following the expansion of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). 
  1. U.S. employers are allowed to employ H-1B professionals to work in the U.S. when they cannot find qualified American workers for the job position. 
  1. An H-1B visa holder can only work for the employer that sponsored their visa or the visa will be revoked. In other words, if Employer A sponsored your H-1B visa petition, after receiving the visa, you cannot use it to work for employer B. If you get a job offer from Employer B, Employer B must file a fresh petition for you. 
  2. For an employer to obtain an H-1B visa for a foreign professional, the employer must file a Labor Condition Application (LCA), and submit Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker after the approval of the LCA. If the I-129 is approved, the foreign national will be issued an H-1B visa. 
  3. Establishment of employer-employee relationship is one of the most important aspects of the H-1B visa application. Employer-employee relationship indicates that there is enough proof that the employer will or has the ability to hire, pay, fire, and supervise the H-1B employee. In other words, the employer is in control of the work of the employee. 
  4. The annual H-1B visa quota is 85,000 in total. Out of the 85,0000, 65,000 are issued to foreign professionals with a bachelor’s degree or equivalent while the remaining 20,000 goes to applicants with an advanced degree. 
  5. Dependents (spouse and dependent children) of H-1B visa holders can obtain H-4 visa. An H-4 visa holder may apply for and get a work permit to allow them to work in the U.S. 
  6. You may upgrade or port from one green card category waiting line to another with a shorter waiting time. For example, moving from EB-2 to EB-1 green card queue. This can be possible if after staying in the EB-2 waiting line, you later acquire skills, education, and/or experience that meet the EB-1 requirements and get a new job position that meets the EB-1 requirements. In this case, your employer will only need to file a fresh Form I-140 petition along with the newly acquired supporting evidence, for EB-1 on your behalf. With that, you would be able to expedite your green card process so long the new category has a shorter waiting time. 
  7. To obtain an H-1B visa for their prospective foreign employees, employers must undergo an electronic registration process to register the employees. After the registration, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will select the eligible candidates. After the selection, employers can then proceed to process the H-1B application for only the selected individuals. 
  8. If your H-1B employment is terminated by your employer, you may have a 60-day grace period to remain in the U.S. to find another employer who is willing to offer you a job and sponsor your visa application. If at the end of the grace period, you cannot find employment, you will have to leave the U.S. or risk being flagged for being out of status and unlawful presence. 
  9. The H-1B visa for a specialty occupation requires theoretical and practical expertise in different fields, such as I.T., finance, accounting, medicine, mathematics, and science, etc. The job offer must also meet one of the following requirements to qualify as a specialty occupation: The minimum entry requirement for the position is a Bachelor’s degree or higher degree or its equivalent. The required degree is so common in the industry, or the job is so unique that it can be done only by a degree holder. The employer normally requires at least a degree or its equivalent for the job position. The nature of the job tasks is so specialized that required expertise to carry them out is usually associated with the attainment of a minimum of bachelor’s degree 
  10. If your H-1B status expires and your employer doesn’t file an extension, you will have only 10 days to leave the United States, except you have another qualifying status that allows you to stay. As far as H-1B visa is concerned, one has to be working and earning wages from their employer in order to maintain lawful status. 
  11. The U.S. employers hiring H-1B workers are required by the Department of Labor (DOL) to provide evidence showing their ability and readiness to pay the prevailing wage or actual wage. This is because employers are not allowed to pay below a certain wage, depending on the industry, place of employment, and other related factors. 
  12. In some work visa applications, employers are required to pay their employees the prevailing wage. Prevailing wage, according to the Department of Labor, is the “he average salary paid to similarly employed employees in a specific job in the area of intended employment.” This may be determined by using the collective union contract, which contains wage rate applicable to that profession. In a job not covered by a union contract, the weighted average of salaries paid to other employees in similar employment in the geographic location can be used to determine the prevailing wage. 
  13. In some work visa applications, employers are required to pay their employees the “actual wage”. Actual Wage, according to the U.S. Department of Labor is the wage rate paid by an employer to those with qualifications and experience similar to the H-1B employee’s experience and qualifications for the specific job in question at the place of employment. 
  14. The H-1B petition can only be filed by your prospective employer. H-1B visa beneficiary cannot self-sponsor his or her own petition. However, there is an exception to this, whereby an H-1B petition is filed using a U.S. organization owned by the visa beneficiary. This, however, is usually subjected to much more scrutiny by the USCIS. 
  15. A visa cap is the annual numerical limitation indicating the number of visas that can be granted in a year under that particular category. The H-1B is one of the visas with this regulation. 
  16. The H-1B application process has a timeframe for employers to submit petitions on behalf of their prospective employees. The H-1B annual window opens every first working day in April and will remain open until either when 80,000 petitions have been collected by the USCIS or when 7 days have passed. Whichever one comes first out of the two will be the end of submission for that year. 
  17. H-1B transfer means moving from one employer to another. To be eligible for a transfer, you are required to be physically present in the U.S. Your new employer will need to submit an H-1B transfer petition to the USCIS. Once the new employer has submitted the petition and received a Notice of Action receipt (I-797C), you can start working on your new job. 
  1. The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa is an employment-based classification, which allows U.S-based organizations to transfer a foreign professional employees from related foreign offices to the U.S. For a foreign employee to qualify for this visa, they must have worked in the capacity of executive or manager for the foreign parent, branch, or subsidiary of the U.S. organization for at least one of the last three years. In most cases, an L-1 petition is filed for a single beneficiary. 
  1. The L-1 blanket visa program allows U.S.-based organizations to petition the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to bring many foreign employees to the United States quickly and on short notice. It is a single visa petition that practically eliminates the need to file separate L-1 petitions for each of the qualified employees. Once the L-1 blanket visa petition is approved, each transferring employee may file an application for an L-1 visa directly at the U. S. embassy or consulate. 
  1. To qualify for L-1A for employees holding executive capacity, you must demonstrate that you have the ability to make decisions of wide latitude within the company without much supervision from a higher authority. In other words, your job position allows you to direct the affairs of the company or a component within the company. The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa is an employment-based classification, which allows U.S-based organizations to transfer a foreign professional employees from related foreign offices to the United States. 
  1. To qualify for L-1B for employees holding a managerial capacity, you will need to demonstrate that you are holding a position that affords you the ability to manage the organization by controlling and supervising the works of other professional employees in the organization, or a department, subdivision, function, or component of the company. The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa is an employment-based classification, which allows U.S-based organizations to transfer foreign professional employees from related foreign offices to the United States. 
  1. Every L-1 visa beneficiary is initial 3 years validity even when the validity for the L-1 blanket may expire before end date of the job in the U.S. If you enter on an L-1 blanket visa, and your visa is to expire while you are still in the United States, your organization (petitioner) will need to request for an extension of the L-1 blanket petition or file an individual L-1 petition to support your continued stay in the U.S.  The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa is an employment-based classification, which allows U.S-based organizations to transfer foreign professional employees from related foreign offices to the United States. 
  1. Employers are allowed to transfer their foreign employees from one of their organizations with L-1 blanket approval to another that also has L-1 blanket approval as long as  the employee will be carrying out the same job duties. If the job duties will be different, the employer will have to request a new approval from the USCIS by filing a new I-129s on behalf of the employee.  The L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa is an employment-based visa, which allows U.S-based organizations to transfer foreign professional employees from related foreign offices to the United State 
  1. You can request renewal of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) any time starting from 180 days before the expiration of the current one. You may file and complete your I-765 for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) renewal application online or download the application form and complete it by hand. 
  1. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is not issued on a permanent basis; you will need to renew it after a certain period of time. 
Categories
Immigration US

40+ Facts About United States Immigration Rules For Family Members

Do you have family in the US and you plan to join them? Or you’re a US citizen who wants to bring in your family members from outside the country? If yes, then you should check out these interesting facts about US family immigration rules.

  1. If you apply for a marriage-based green card from outside the U.S., you cannot use the concurrent filing, whether your spouse is a citizen or lawful permanent resident. The Form I-130 filed by your spouse must first receive approval before you can apply for an immigrant (permanent) visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate near to you. You can then travel to the U.S. after a successful visa application process. “Concurrent filing” means submitting both Form I-130 and Form I-485 petitions to USCIS at the same time. (Source: USCIS)
  2. If you live in the United States and your spouse sponsoring your green card application is a U.S. citizen, you may file both your I-130 and I-485 at the same time when applying for a marriage-based green card. (Source: USCIS)
  3. A United States citizen may file the K-1 visa for their foreign fiancé(e) to enter the U.S., get married, and possibly reside permanently in the U.S. after the wedding. If the petition is approved, the foreign fiancée(e) will travel to the U.S., get married to their U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days of arrival. After the wedding, the U.S. citizen may file a marriage-based green card petition on behalf of the foreign fiancé(e) who is now a married spouse. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  4. When processing a U.S. marriage-based green card, if you had previously been married, you must provide proof showing that the previous marriage to your ex-spouse has been terminated by legal means. Examples of such proofs include divorce/annulment documents or death certificates. (Source: People’s Law Library)
  5. If you were married before becoming a permanent resident, and your spouse did not accompany you to the U.S., your spouse may be eligible for following-to-join benefits. Following-to-join is a process that helps you expedite the green card process for your spouse. You will NOT need to file a separate Form I-131 for your spouse. You will only need to notify the concerned U.S. consulate that you are now a permanent resident and would like to bring your spouse to the U.S. via following-to-join option. Its benefits lie in the fact that your spouse will bypass the I-130 process and will not have to wait for a visa number to become available. (Source: OIS)
  6. If you were a permanent resident when you filed a green card application for your spouse, but you have now acquired U.S. citizenship while the green card application for your spouse is still pending, you may upgrade the earlier-filed petition from F2 (family second preference) to immediate relative (I.R.) category to expedite the process. You can do this by sending proofs of your citizenship to the National Visa Center. In general, marriage-based green card filed under the I.R. category is processed much faster than F2 category. (Source: USCIS)
  7. After marrying a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, you don’t have to wait for a particular period before you can apply for a green card. As soon as you become legally married, you can start your green card process, regardless of your location. (Source: USembassy.gov)
  8. If you are applying for a family-based green card, your priority date is the date USCIS received your I-130 petition. The date establishes your position on the green card waiting line. It determines how long you will have to wait before you can be issued a green card. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  9. Merely living together will not qualify as marriage for immigration purposes. In other words, if you are to seek any immigration-related benefits on the basis of your marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you must prove that a bona fide marriage exists and you meet the definition for a spouse in the context of the U.S. immigration law. According to U.S. Department of State, “a spouse is a legally wedded wife or husband. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  10. If your marriage-based permanent residency status is conditional, you may still be eligible to remove conditions on your status after leaving your spouse, if you entered into the marriage in good faith and you or your child experienced extreme hardship or battery at the hands of your spouse. (Source: USCIS)
  11. As a green card petitioner, you must be at least 18 years of age and have a residence in the United States before you can be eligible to sign the Affidavit of Support Form. A green card petitioner is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident seeking to sponsor a green card application for his or her foreign national relative. (Source: USA.gov)
  12. If you are a U.S. citizen and you have a pending I-130 filed on behalf of your spouse living in a foreign country, you may file the K-3 visa to bring your spouse to the U.S. in the interim. If the K-3 visa application is approved, your spouse will be able to travel down and join you in the U.S. while the I-130 is still pending. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  13. If you are in a “common-law” marriage, you may be qualified for a marriage-based visa, depending on the position of the law in the country where the common-law marriage took place. Common-law marriage refers to non-ceremonial marriage, informal marriage, or marriage by repute and habit, in which a couple may be considered legally married, despite not having a formally registered, formalized union based on any civil or religious marriage dictates.  (Source: USCIS)
  14. Approval of the I-130 petition doesn’t make a beneficiary a lawful permanent resident; it only establishes that a qualifying relationship exists between a beneficiary and a petitioner. You are not a permanent resident until you have completed all the green card procedures and are granted permanent resident status by USCIS. (Source: USCIS)
  15. Anyone born in the United States or one of its territories is a citizen. Also, someone who is born to a U.S. citizen parent is a citizen. Caveat: Children born to diplomats and other recognized government officials from foreign countries won’t receive citizenship even if they were born on American soil. (Source: Travel.state.gov).
  16. If you had removed conditions on your and obtained a permanent resident card (sponsored by your divorced spouse) before a divorce happened, the divorce should not in any way affect your lawful permanent resident status, provided the marriage was entered into in good faith. (Source: USCIS)
  17. You may still be eligible to remove conditions on your conditional permanent resident status if your spouse is deceased, provided you entered into the marriage in good faith. (Source: USA.gov)
  18. If you enter the U.S. on a K-3 visa, you may stay in that status for up to 2 years or until I-130 has been approved and you can then apply for green cards. If after that period, USCIS has still not approved the I-130, then you are permitted to file an extension of the K-3 status. (Source: USCIS)
  19. You are permitted to work on a K-3 visa if you apply for and receive an employment authorization document (EAD) visa Form I-765. (Source: USCIS)
  20. In a polygamous marriage, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse eligible for a marriage visa. For instance, if you have more than one spouse, you can only seek immigration-related benefits, such as a green card petition for and/or with the first spouse. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  21. When petitioning for a family-based green card, the petitioner (U.S. citizen or permanent resident) is required to file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support to demonstrate they can support the beneficiary financially with a threshold of at least 125% of HHS poverty guidelines. (Source: USCIS)
  22. The main requirements for K-3 visa eligibility are: you are legally married to a U.S. citizen, you have a pending I-130 petition filed by your spouse on your behalf, and you are residing outside the U.S. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  23. When petitioning for a K-1 visa, the U.S. citizen is required to file Form I-134 Affidavit of Support to demonstrate that they can support the fiancé(e) financially with a threshold of at 100% of the HHS Federal Poverty Guidelines. The K-1 visa is for U.S. citizens who wish to bring their foreign fiancé(e)s to the U.S. so they can get married after the arrival of the foreign fiancé(e). (Source: HHS)
  24. Petitioners of family-based green card applications must have a certain level of income to prove they are financially capable of supporting the beneficiary of the application. As a green card petitioner, if your income is below the required minimum, you may add the cash value of the assets belonging to your household or have a qualified joint sponsor may to help you meet the green card sponsorship income requirements. A joint sponsor is someone who has agreed to join the petitioner and is sharing some of the financial responsibilities required for the application. To qualify for a joint sponsor, the person must be a U.S. citizen, be at least 18 years old, be living in the U.S., and have an annual income of no less than 125% of the federal poverty level. (Source: USCIS)
  25. Petitioners of family-based green card applications must have a certain level of income to prove they are financially capable of supporting the beneficiary of the application. If you live in Hawaii or Alaska, where the cost of living is higher, the required minimum amount for green card sponsorship income requirements will be higher than other U.S. states. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  26. If you received a marriage-based permanent residency when your marriage was less than 2 years old, your permanent resident status is “conditional.” A conditional green card means you have not been granted a full-fledged permanent residency, and your status is subject to review. It is like being under probation. You will have to apply to remove the conditions within 90 days leading to the expiration of the 2-year resident status. Conditions on a permanent resident status will be removed if the applicant can prove they have complied with all the regulations attached to their status during the 2-year period. (Source: USCIS)
  27. If a divorce occurs before the 2-year period of your conditional residence, the foreign-born spouse may file Form I-751 to apply for a “good faith marriage waiver.” Under the general requirements, applicants are to apply for the removal of conditions jointly with their spouse who sponsored their green card application. However, if there has been a divorce within the 2-year period, the applicant can process the removal of conditions alone by filing the waivers. If they can prove that they entered the marriage in good faith and not for immigration benefits, the conditions would be removed, and they would get their permanent resident card with 10-year validity and without conditions. (Source: USCIS)
  28. Some family-based green card categories are quota-based (meaning there is a specific number of visas that can be issued annually under that category. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  29. Family First Preference green card (F1) for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children has an annual numeric limitation of 23,400. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  30. Family Second Preference green card (F2) for minor children, spouses, and unmarried daughters and sons (who are 21 years and above) of lawful permanent residents has annual numeric limitation is 114,200. 77% of the green cards in this category are for the minor children and spouses (F2A), while the remaining quota is allocated to unmarried daughters and sons (F2B). (Source: IAS Services)
  31. If you are a widow or widower of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for a family green card if you were legally married to the deceased citizen and can prove that you entered the marriage in good faith, and not solely to get an immigration benefit. You will need to self-sponsor your green card application by filling Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er). If your spouse had filed an I-130 on your behalf before his or her death, it will be considered as if you had filed Form I-360. (Source: USCIS)
  32. Family Third Preference green card (F3) for married sons and daughters (of any age) of U.S. citizens, and their minor children has an annual numeric limit of 23,400. (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  33. Under the United States federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you may be eligible for a green card if you are a victim of extreme cruelty or battery committed by your parent or spouse who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This will require you to self-petition under VAWA by filing a Form I-369 without your abusive family member’s consent or knowledge. (Source: USCIS)
  34. Family Fourth Preference green card (F4) for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children and spouses, provided the U.S. citizen sponsor is at least 21 years old. It has an annual numeric limit of 65,000 (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  35. The United States immigration law Section 202 prescribes that the per-country limit for preference immigrants is set at 7% of the total annual family-sponsored and employment-based preference limits, i.e., 25,620. This is why applicants from countries with more than the annual quota applications sometimes stay long on the green card queue as a result of backlogs. Examples are green card applicants from India, Philippines, and Mexico. The law also prohibits any single country from getting more than 7% of the total number of visas issued in a single year.  (Source: Travel.state.gov)
  36. If you are a U.S. citizen, you may petition for a green card for your parents, stepparents or adoptive parents. (Source: USCIS)
  37. Petitioners of family-based green card applications must have a certain level of income to prove they are financially capable of supporting the beneficiary of the application. Income requirements for a green card sponsorship are calculated using the number of members of a household. The more household members a petitioner has, the higher is the required minimum amount. (Source: ECFR.gov)
  38. Family reunification has been a key U.S. immigration policy since the 1800s. In the 1920s, the law was changed to require national origins quotas, drastically reducing levels of immigration into the United States. (Source: USA.gov)
  39. In 1965, Congress passed the Immigration and Nationality Act, which brought some changes to the employment-based immigration quotas and national origins quotas and made it more favorable to family reunification immigration. The INA granted 74% of all permanent (immigrant) visas to family reunification categories. (Source: History.com)
  40. In recent years, Mexico, China, the Philippines, India and the Dominican Republic have sent the largest number of immigrants based on family reunification. (Source: Migrationdataportal.org)
  41. Each year, the U.S. government issues 480,000 family-based visas. (ILCM.org)
  42. To ensure that all family-based visas are not given to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, Congress puts a minimum number (usually 226,000) that must be allocated through other family-based preference categories. These family preferences include unmarried adult children of United States citizens, spouses and children under 21 and unmarried adult children of permanent residents, married children of U.S. citizens, as well as brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens. (Source: Travel.state.org)
  43. U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents cannot sponsor extended family members such as grandparents, cousins, or uncles for green card application. (Source: Immigrationforum.org)
  44. Family-based  currently makes up two-thirds of all lawful permanent immigration. Each year, the number of family members requesting lawful permanent resident status exceeds the total number of family visas set by the 1965 (Source: Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)). 
  45. The immigrant visa queue has increased to about 4 million persons who qualify for family-based immigrant visas but who must continue to wait. As of January 2019, some immigrant visa petitions for relatives from the Philippines and Mexico have been waiting for 23-24 years. (Source: FWD.us)
Categories
Canada Immigration

Canada Start-Up Visa: How Can You Get It?

The Canada Start-up visa is an entrepreneur route that seeks to attract foreign-born business owners. In particular, business owners with the expertise to launch new businesses in the country. These businesses must be capable of producing local job opportunities and be globally competitive.

Does it sound like a good idea to you? If so, read on to know more about the visa and how you can get it.

Canada Start-Up Visa Eligibility

To participate in the Start-up Visa Program, applicants must satisfy the following criteria:

  • Have an innovative business idea
  • Have a letter of support from a designated organization
  • Be fluent in English or French
  • Have sufficient funds with which to settle in the country.

Qualifying Business Requirement

You have a qualified business if it satisfies the requirements listed below:

  • You own 10% or more of the voting rights linked to all shares of the company. The shares must be issued at the time you receive a commitment from a designated body.
  • Together, you and the sponsoring organization control more than half of the company’s voting power.
  • You actively and continuously run this company from inside Canada at the time you get permanent residency. 
  • Canada plays a critical role in the company’s activities. 
  • This company was formed in Canada.

Letter Of Support Requirement

You need a support letter from an authorized designated body willing to invest in and help fund potential new ventures. 

You must get in touch with the appropriate body to learn how to solicit aid. Next, convince the group that your business plan is worthwhile. Finally, you’ll get a letter of endorsement from them.

To propose a concept to a company, you must research what steps are required. The needs of a given business will vary. You could, for instance, need to deliver a formal presentation of your company idea or submit a comprehensive business plan. 

A letter of support will be sent to you if you reach an agreement with the group. You must attach this letter with your visa application. This is the evidence required to show that your company plan has merit. 

The sponsoring organization will send a certificate of commitment directly to Canadian immigration. Your letter of recommendation and the organization’s commitment certificate will determine your application’s final score.

A final judgment on your application cannot be made without more information about your company, so you should prepare to provide it if necessary.

If you don’t send the letter of support or meet all requirements, Canadian immigration will not consider your application.

Language Requirements

It will be to your advantage to be able to communicate and operate in English, French, or both in Canada.  Canadian immigration will not consider your start-up visa application without the results of a language test taken from a recognized testing center. 

You need at least a CLB 5 in either English or French in speaking, writing, reading, and listening. Your Canadian start-up visa will be void if you do not possess the required level of language proficiency.

Funds Requirement

No new immigrant to Canada on a start-up visa will get financial assistance from the government. Therefore, you must demonstrate that you and your dependents can financially sustain yourself after you arrive in Canada.

You must have the money in your account. You can’t borrow from other people. How much you’ll need will depend on how many dependents you bring along.

It ranges from  $13,310 for one person to as high as $35,224 for seven people. An additional dependent after seven will ccost$3,586.

Application Procedure

Follow the below steps to apply for a Canadian Start-up Visa:

Get the application package

Included in the startup visa application package are a detailed how-to manual and a list of required documents. You must complete Canada’s Standard Application Form IMM 0008 online.

You should print a copy of the approved application after validation. In addition, complete the application form by printing all pages, including the barcode page. Your completed form must have a barcode. Also, be sure to put your signature and the date where required.

Complete the document checklist

In the application package, you’ll find a checklist with documents you have to submit. Cross-check the document checklist and provide all documents as required.

You should place your documents in an envelope and seal them with the signed checklist. All paperwork, attachments, signatures, language test results, and proof of payment must also be included.

Without these, Canadian immigration won’t process your application, and it’ll be returned. Also, you must provide accurate and thorough responses.

If you omitted or provided misleading information on your application, immigration will decline your start-up visa application. In addition, they may place you on a five-year ban on future applications to enter Canada.

Pay your application Fees

Right of Permanent Residence Fee (RPRF), biometrics, third-party fees, and application processing fees are typical Canada startup visa fees.

When submitting an application, you will likely be required to pay a biometrics cost. If you don’t, you may have to wait. With the biometrics charge, you may have your fingerprints taken and a digital picture taken. 

Canadian immigration will send you a letter reminding you to submit your biometrics and instructing you on where to do so. You’ll need to show this letter when you eventually submit your biometrics.

Biometric information is required and may only be provided in person. If this is a service that is provided, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment. Seek a nearby drop-off location.

Depending on your situation, you may need help from a third party, like a doctor or hospital, which may cost money.

Submit your application

If multiple business partners are applying at a time, Canadian Immigration will only begin processing after receiving all applications. However, a separate application is required from each potential business partner. You shouldn’t pack your application materials into a single envelope. 

Complete applications include responses to all questions on the application. Hence, you must complete and sign all applications and paperwork. Also, submit your application with the required supporting materials and a copy of your payment receipt. 

Canadian immigration will return your application if any necessary information is missing. If there are any mistakes, please correct them and resubmit. 

You must send your completed application to the address in the application packet you reveive. Don’t send it to any other visa office or processing center. It may get lost.

Submit your biometrics

You must submit biometrics if you’re 14 to 79 and seeking permanent residence via the start-up visa route. Even if you’ve already provided your biometrics and they’re still OK. 

You’ll also need to pay the biometrics charge when submitting, and you must do this immediately after getting the letter from Canadian Immigration. In particular, you will have 30 days to respond once you get this letter.

Canadian Start-up Visa Processing time

The Canadian start-up visa can take up to 32 months to process. Therefore, you must begin your application as soon as you can.

Your application will be delayed if there are concerns about crime or security or if more background checks are needed.

For example, if your family status is unclear because of a pending divorce, an unfinished adoption, or unresolved child custody issues. Canadian Immigration will need to verify the information you gave them with other immigration offices in Canada or abroad. 

Once the visa office has begun processing your application, you can track its progress from your application portal.

Canada Start-up Visa Medical Examination

Before entering Canada, you will need to undergo a medical examination. Everyone in your immediate family, including those who aren’t traveling with you, must have their own. 

Your application will be denied if your health threatens public health or safety in Canada. Likewise, if you would put too much stress on Canada’s health and social services. 

After you send your application to the visa office, you will get a letter informing you how to schedule the required medical exam.

Canada Start-up Visa Police Clearance

A criminal record might prevent you from entering Canada. Also, anyone who could compromise national security is not allowed to come to Canada.

Therefore, when applying for Canadian immigration, you and any family members aged 18 or older will be required to produce police certifications to the visa office.

When you turn 18, you’ll need to receive a police certificate from every nation or territory you’ve resided for at least six months straight. To avoid delays, you should get the police certifications you need as soon as possible.

Canada Startup Visa Verdict

Your application will likely be successful if you are eligible and have enough money to sustain yourself and your family upon arrival in Canada. Also, you should pass the medical test and police clearance. 

Canadian Immigration will get in touch with you if more information is necessary. Perhaps they need a supplementary interview or more documents.

If your application is accepted, you will be asked to submit your passport to the visa office so that your permanent residence visa may be issued.

Getting Permanent Residence

If your application is accepted, you’ll get a green card, allowing you to stay in the country permanently. Your Certificate of Permanent Residence (COPR) and entrance visa are included in the Canadian Start-up visa. 

Information about you, including a picture, will be included in your COPR. Make sure you check and confirm that it is accurate. The information on your ID card and passport should match exactly. If otherwise, you must inform Candian Immigration via your account if there is an error on your COPR. 

Both your COPR and your visa are required upon entry into Canada. Remember to put in some time before your COPR runs out since we won’t be extending it.

Entering Canada

To enter Canada, you must use ArriveCAN to submit the needed travel documentation if you’re outside the country. An agent from the Canada Border Services Agency will be waiting to welcome you when you arrive in the country. 

You should bring the following with you when you arrive: 

  • Legal identification for international travel, such as a passport
  • Proof of permanent residence and a valid visa (COPR). The customs official will verify that your Canadian visa is valid upon entry and that you are entering the country before or on the expiration date.
  • Proof of funds that you can sustain yourself and your family in Canada. 

If you provide the Canadian border patrol with incorrect information or cannot prove you satisfy the requirements to enter Canada, you will be denied entry. On the other hand, the official will let you into Canada as a permanent resident if you match the criteria.

The process also includes verifying your Canadian postal address, where Immigration will send your permanent residence card. You must inform them of any address changes you make within 180 days of your arrival in Canada.

Categories
Immigration US

US Green Card Lottery 2022: Everything You Should Know

A lot of people want to move to the US. However, it’s not always easy, as getting a US visa can be challenging. You must have a valid reason to enter the country in the first place before you begin your journey to reside permanently. Nevertheless, applying for and meriting a visa isn’t the only way to get into the United States. You can partake in the US Green Card lottery, which is more of luck than merit. Does it interest you? If yes, read on to know all about this lottery and if you can apply.

What is the US Green Card Lottery?

The US Green Card Lottery is officially called the Diversity Visa (DV) Program. Submitting an application for a US Green Card via the Diversity Visa (DV) Program is similar to joining a lottery. Applicants have no idea whether they will be approved. 

Participants in the DV Program must be citizens of countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. All six continents are welcome to apply for the program, as it’s not region or country-specific.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines how many US Green Card Lottery visas will be granted per year, so the amount is limited. The USCIS is required to distribute them evenly, with no country receiving more than 7% of the total.

Those who are granted a DV visa can settle permanently in the US. If you are granted the visa, you will be categorized as an LPR (Lawful Permanent Resident) of the United States.

When you have a green card, you’re free to move around the country, work in any state, receive a driver’s license, get married, and have a family. You can petition for US citizenship after living in the country for a specific amount of time.

Who Can Apply for the US Green Card Lottery?

To be eligible for the Green Card Lottery, you must be a native of one of the countries with fewer than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the past five years. 

The United States generally does not accept citizens of high-immigration countries like Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines. Individuals from non-eligible nations may submit an application, but only if they meet the following criteria:

  • The applicant’s spouse is from an eligible country. In such a case, they may submit an application together.
  • Neither of the applicant’s parents was lawfully residing in the applicant’s country of birth. In such a case, the applicant may select either their mother’s or father’s country of origin.

Applicants for the US Green Card Lottery must not only be from a qualifying nation but also meet the educational threshold. If selected through the diversity visa lottery scheme, the applicant must meet one of the following requirements to be granted a green card:

  • Having completed at least high school or its equivalent in their home country. Completion of any formal program of study equivalent to a 12-year course in the United States constitutes the equivalent of a high school education. The General Education Diploma (GED) and similar equivalency documents will not be accepted. 
  • At least two years’ worth of professional experience. The U.S. Department of Labor has established rules and guidelines that stipulate the job experience must be within the last 5 years and in a field that needs a minimum of 2 years of training.

Additionally, to be eligible for a green card through the Diversity Visa Lottery, winners and their accompanying family members must satisfy the Immigration and Nationality Act’s minimum standards for lawful permanent residence. 

In particular, you shouldn’t be barred from participation because of significant arrests or criminal convictions on your background. Additionally, you must pass a medical assessment to prove you’re in good health to enter the US.

What To Include in the Diversity Visa Lottery Application

Applying for the Diversity Visa lottery is easy. To get the best results, each candidate should fill it out individually. A visa agency or consultant can also help applicants fill out the form. However, the applicant must be present throughout the filling out process to verify the accuracy of the information provided.

Once the form has been submitted, you will see a confirmation page and be given a confirmation number. You should preserve this data for future reference.

If you’re filling out the form on your own, you must answer all questions honestly, or you risk being disqualified. When filling out the form, please also consider the following.

  • “Country of Birth” refers to the nation in which you were born (even if you no longer live there). Use the nation’s current name if the name has changed. 
  • “Country of Eligibility” refers to the country eligible for the DV lottery via which you’re applying. It could be your country of birth, the country of your spouse, or the country of one of your parents if any of those countries are eligible.
  • You must still include the name of your spouse even if you are estranged, separated, or have no plans for your spouse to immigrate with you.
  • Your children, whether born to you or adopted, must be included on this list. Stepchildren under the age of 21 must also be included.

How To Partake in the US Green Card Lottery

To partake in the green card lottery, you should submit an application to the Department of State during the annual registration period. Usually, this takes place in the transitional months of October and November. 

There is no entry fee, but participants are limited to one entry each fiscal year. Anyone found trying to game the system by submitting multiple entries will be rejected.

All applications for the lottery must be submitted through the Electronic Diversity Visa (E-DV) website. Entries sent later or on paper won’t be accepted. Each candidate will see a confirmation screen with their name and confirmation number after submitting the online form.

This confirmation paper should be printed off and stored safely for future use. The confirmation number will be needed later to determine the entry’s status and if the applicant was granted a visa.

This confirmation number, should it be chosen, will also be required at a later stage of the visa application procedure, such as when arranging a visa interview.

How To Confirm Your Selection

If you submit your application in the application period (October–November), you will receive notification of your status in May of the following year. As a result, you’ll need to give the State Department a couple of months to review your application and announce the results online. 

If you entered the DV lottery, you can see your results by visiting the website and entering your confirmation number. If you lose your number, there will be no way to find out if you made the cut for U.S. immigration.

Note that you shouldn’t immediately begin making plans to travel if you’re selected for the lottery. Winning the lottery isn’t a guarantee that you’ll get the visa. You must apply for a US immigrant visa afterward, as the lottery is only a draw.

The below steps explain how to apply for a US immigrant visa via Form DS-260:

Submit the visa application form

Fill out and submit a DS-260, Application for a U.S. Immigrant Visa online. You should use your confirmation number to gain access to this form. 

If your confirmation number looks something like 2018AF0000012345, for example, you should use “2018AF12345” instead. Once you have submitted the form, you will be directed to a confirmation page that you should print off and keep for your records.

Compile the supporting documents

You may need to attend an interview, so you should compile all necessary documents. Ensure to bring them all with you. Usually, you will need to first send the original versions of all required documents, which must be written in English.

You must have a professional translator review your paperwork to ensure accuracy if it’s in a different language. Even though the US Embassy will need to see the originals, you should nevertheless bring along copies, just in case. The following items are part of this paperwork:

  • Valid international passport 
  • Form DS-260 confirmation page 
  • Approved Form I-130
  • Medical examination certificate 
  • Vaccination documents (if applicable) 
  • Passport photographs according to US visa requirements  
  • Court, criminal records, or police certificate 
  • Military records, if the applicant has ever served in the military

Complete a medical examination

The United States requires anybody applying for an immigrant visa to submit to a full medical examination. Hence, you must fill out the appropriate medical paperwork and receive the required vaccinations.

A medical professional should complete these documents following medical exams. Afterward, you’ll submit it to the embassy along with the other required documents.

Attend the interview

You will be contacted by the US Embassy to set up the interview. You have to appear for the interview at the appointed time and day. Notably, you have to bring the following along:

  • The Appointment Letter that you will get from the Diversity Visa website when you check your status and find that you have been selected
  • Your Form DS-260 confirmation letter
  • Your passport and photographs
  • Your medical examination forms
  • Your supporting documents

The consular officer will ask you various questions during the interview to assess if you qualify for a DV visa. They’ll decide after the interview or notify you in a few weeks.

US Green Card Lottery Application Fees

It is free to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery, but if you are shortlisted, you’ll have to pay a fee. It costs $330 to apply for a Diversity Visa. If you do not pay this fee, your immigrant visa application will be denied. In addition, there may be additional costs associated with acquiring and translating the necessary paperwork.

After the Visa Approval

Your plans to relocate to the United States can begin once you have your Diversity Visa stamped on your passport. You can purchase your flight tickets, but most importantly, you must pay the USCIS fee. You can only pay the $220 USCIS fee once you’ve received your visa. 

US immigration officials will review your paperwork when you enter the country for the first time. You should bring all the required paperwork with you. If US immigration officials have reason to believe you are not traveling legally or that your documents are otherwise inadequate, they can refuse entrance into the country. 

Once you’ve settled in the United States, you can adjust your immigration status by submitting Form I-485 to USCIS. You’ll spend $1,140 to complete this form. After submitting this form and making the necessary payment to USCIS, your Green Card will be sent to your new address.

Bottom Line

As explained in the article, getting shortlisted for the US Green Card Lottery is more luck than merit. However, after the shortlisting, everything depends on you. You must apply for the visa and ensure you are cleared to travel to the United States.

Categories
Immigration UK

Which Countries Can UK Nationals Enter Without Visa? Find out the top 15

Are you a UK national? Do you own a valid UK passport? If yes, you’ll agree that traveling around the world is seamless. The UK passport commands visa-free entries in many countries – from Europe to North America, South America, and Africa.

Hence, if you’re wondering where to spend your next vacation as a UK national, you have many options. However, having many options can make decision-making difficult. In that regard, we’ve done the homework to list the top countries UK nationals can visit without a visa.

Check them out below:

  1. United States

Over $14 billion is spent annually by the over 4.5 million UK nationals who travel to the US. British nationals can fill out an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) application to visit the United States without a visa.

They can visit the United States for leisure, business, transit, medical, and short-term study purposes for up to 90 days each time, thanks to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

Back in 1988, the United Kingdom joined the Visa Waiver Program. However, pre-arrival screening of visitors is necessary due to security measures designed to handle terrorism risks.

  1. Belgium

Travelers from the United Kingdom do not need a visa to enter Belgium for stays of 90 days or less. Any passport issued within the last 10 years will suffice, so long as it is valid for at least 6 months after the entry date in Belgium. 

With the advent of the ETIAS, these criteria for entering the EU may change. The ETIAS visa waiver and a passport that is still valid three months after the date of entrance into Belgium are requirements for all British tourists.

Brits can use their ETIAS to stay in Belgium for up to 90 of every 180 days. Visitors, students, and business travelers who are just in Belgium temporarily or in transit will be able to use their ETIAS without any problems.

  1. Canada

Canada and the United Kingdom can claim to be among the world’s earliest parliamentary democracies, thanks to their shared monarch. There is a long history of strategic engagement between the two countries.

There are a few nations whose nationals do not need a visa to visit Canada for stays of less than six months, and the United Kingdom (UK) is one of them. British people can only stay for up to 90 days without a visa. 

In 2015, Canadian immigration implemented eTA as a more streamlined process for evaluating prospective tourists and assessing their legal status to enter the country.

UK Citizens can use the eTA to Canada to avoid the visa application procedure. One only fills out a short online form to gain access. The eTA is issued through email and typically processed within a few hours. 

  1. Denmark

Visitors from the United Kingdom can stay in Denmark and other Schengen countries without a visa for up to 90 days in 180 days.

The same holds true for those in Denmark for other reasons, such as business meetings, cultural or sporting events, or even just short-term study or training. Visits to other Schengen countries within the previous 180 days will count toward your 90-day maximum, so plan accordingly. 

Citizens of the United Kingdom may be required to use distinct lanes at the Danish border check from those of the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Switzerland. There is a possibility that you will get a stamp on your passport when you enter and leave a country.

  1. France

Due to the massive emigration of Britons to France, the country now has one of the highest communities of foreign-born UK nationals. From the 1990s onward, the number of Britons migrating to France rose sharply. The number of British citizens living in France is estimated to be 170,000 to 400,000.

As a result of Brexit, the United Kingdom is no longer a member of the European Union. Citizens of the United Kingdom who are not from a Schengen member state must sign up with ETIAS before traveling to France. 

British citizens can still visit France without a visa at the moment. Once the ETIAS becomes mandatory, British citizens will be unable to enter France without a valid ETIAS.

  1. Germany

Germany, the EU’s most populated country, has one of the world’s most prominent economies and has become increasingly influential on the global stage in the years following reunification.

As mentioned before, if a British citizen stays in one of the Schengen Member States for less than 90 days in 180 days, they don’t need a visa. This applies to Germany.

Short-term visitors to Germany who don’t need a visa usually can’t work in any way. But some professional activities, like standard business travel and a wide range of cultural, academic, and sports activities, don’t count as economic activities and don’t require a visa or residence permit.

  1. Israel

As a British tourist, you can enter Israel and its Palestinian territories without a visa. You are welcome to stay in the country for up to three months.

Passports are routinely stamped upon entry at some airports and seaports. Keep your passport and entrance card together until you depart the country. This document serves as proof of your lawful entry into Israel and may be requested at checkpoints.

Your passport may be stamped with an admission stamp and two red lines if you are denied entry into Israel.

  1. Italy

Despite Britain’s exit from the EU in 2020 and the end of temporary arrangements, U.K. citizens staying in Italy for less than 90 days do not require a visa.

The reason is that the United Kingdom and the European Union have an agreement that allows citizens of both to travel freely between each other without a visa, as a stopover on a long journey.

Starting at the end of 2022, the ETIAS system will be required for people seeking a visa-free visit to Italy and the rest of the Schengen Area. Your passport is all that is required at this point.

  1. Mexico

For vacation or business trips of less than 90 days, citizens of the United Kingdom do not need a visa to enter Mexico. 

British nationals do not need a visa to enter Mexico, but they will still need a Tourist Card. Although this is not a Mexico visa, it does grant entry to the country and is required for British citizens.

If you are a UK passport holder and intend to stay in Mexico for more than 6 months, you will need a visa to enter the country. Visa is also mandatory for visitors under certain categories.

  1. New Zealand

Visitors from the United Kingdom can enter New Zealand without a visa. British nationals, however, are required to apply for and get a New Zealand electronic travel authorization (eTA) before visiting the country. 

An electronic travel authorization (eTA) from New Zealand to the United Kingdom is good for two years or until your passport expires, whichever comes first. During this validity time, you may travel to New Zealand as often as you like. If you have an NZeTA, your total time in New Zealand must be under 6 months.

  1. Qatar

The United Kingdom and Qatar cooperate on many political, commercial, security, and economic concerns. Among these are addressing climate change, bolstering regional economic and security, and facilitating the growth of successful British businesses in Qatar.

You can acquire a free 30-day tourist visa waiver on arrival in Qatar if you are a full British citizen and hold a valid passport. Your passport’s validity period must be at least six months after your planned departure from Qatar.

You need a visa to enter the country if you are not a tourist or are traveling on a business or diplomatic passport from the United Kingdom. Stays beyond 30 days require an extension of your visa waiver through the Ministry of the Interior. You must pay any overstay fines before leaving Qatar if you receive them. 

  1. Senegal

Despite being nearly 95% Muslim, Senegal has managed to avoid the Islamic radicalism and terrorism typical in other parts of West Africa.

Travelers from the United Kingdom visiting Senegal for tourist or business purposes do not need a visa to enter the country. The maximum length of stay for British passport holders in Senegal is 90 days. 

The United Kingdom is one of 57 nations whose citizens do not need visas to enter. An additional 69 countries’ citizens can obtain visas upon arrival. You must register with the local authorities and get a “Carte d’Etranger” if your stay in Senegal will last more than three months.

  1. Spain

Many UK citizens can visit Spain without obtaining a visa. Visits by British nationals are still permitted without a visa for stays of up to three months, providing ample time for both vacation and business. 

After its release, the new ETIAS travel authorization will be required of all citizens of other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States. 

Those from the United Kingdom can still stay in Spain and the rest of the Schengen Area for up to three months. However, they must have a current ETIAS Authorization before they enter the country.

This is done to guarantee the safety of Schengen’s borders and the screening of all non-EU travelers entering the zone.

  1. South Africa

The United Kingdom’s top trading partner in Africa is South Africa. While the United Kingdom is now just South Africa’s seventh largest export market, it is still the country’s largest source of foreign direct investment.

Currently, a visa is not required for British nationals who intend to visit South Africa for less than 90 days for tourism or business. More than 400 thousand UK residents take advantage of the visa-free program yearly to visit South Africa. 

You don’t need a visa to visit South Africa if you’re a citizen of the United Kingdom or any of the other nearly 50 nations on that list. Visitors from these countries can enter South Africa at any port of entry and stay for up to 90 days with a valid national passport. 

However, British nationals must apply for a South African visa at the South African embassy or consulate in the UK to stay in the country for more than 90 days.

  1. Turkey

For decades, British tourists have flocked to Turkey, and that trend shows no signs of slowing down. Much of this is thanks to the country’s allure of gorgeous beaches, vibrant culture, and rich history. 

The introduction of the Turkey e-Visa for UK citizens substantially decreased the long lines at immigration. After March 2, 2020, British nationals will not need an e-visa to visit Turkey.

British citizens no longer need a visa to visit Turkey for leisure or commercial purposes or to transit to another country. They are permitted to stay in Turkey visa-free for up to 90 days each 180 days.

A visa for Turkey is required for longer stays by nationals of the United Kingdom and can be obtained from the nearest Turkish embassy or consulate well in advance of the trip. 

Moreover, British nationals planning to work or study in Türkiye for any period require an appropriate visa or residence permit.

Bottom Line

The British passport is one of the most powerful passports in the world. With it, you can visit many countries for short periods without a visa. The above list contains just the top 15 countries preferred by UK travelers, but there are many more.

Categories
Immigration US

US Family Green Card, Become A Permanent Resident

A US green card makes you a permanent resident in the country. This means you can live, work, and study in the United States forever. There are different types of green card routes, but one of the most popular is the US Family Green Card.

In this post, you’ll find all you need to know about the green card route.

What is a US Family Green Card?

The US Family Green Card, as the name implies, is a route that allows families of US residents to join their relatives in the country. Through the Family Green Card route, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can immigrate to the United States and gain permanent residency. 

Unlike permanent residents, U.S. citizens have more leeway in bringing in extended family members for a visit. Similarly, family members of US citizens have a faster path to obtaining a Green Card and immigrating to the United States. 

Green Cards for family members are obtainable through either the “Immediate Relatives” or “Family Preference” categories. Applicants in each category can select from many different visas based on their relationship to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsoring their application. 

Your U.S. relative, who will act as your sponsor, must file a petition with USCIS on your behalf if you want to apply for a Family-Based Green Card.

Immediate Relative Category

You can apply as an immediate relative if one of these things is true:

  • You and a U.S. citizen are legally married.
  • You are the unmarried minor child of an American citizen. 
  • You are the parent of a citizen of the United States who is more than 21.

You may apply for one of the following visas if you meet any of the above criteria:

  • IR1 Visa: for people who are married to U.S. citizens
  • The IR2 Visa: for children of U.S. citizens who are under 21 and are not married. 
  • IR3 Visa: for U.S. citizen parents who adopt a child from another country. 
  • IR4 Visa: for US citizens who adopt children in the U.S.
  • IR5 Visa: for parents of 21-year-old or older U.S. citizens.

There is no annual cap on the number of visas issued under the Immediate Relative category. A short waiting time is typical since visas in this category are readily available.

Family Preference Category

You can apply as a preference relative if one of these things is true: 

  • You are an adult child of a U.S. citizen who has not married and is over 21 years old. 
  • You are the spouse or unmarried child of a U.S. permanent resident under 21. 
  • You are 21 or older, have never been married, and one of your parents is a permanent resident of the U.S.
  • You are the married child of a U.S. citizen, no matter how old you are.
  • You have a brother or sister who is an American citizen. 

You may apply for one of the following visas if you meet any of the above criteria:

  • F1 Visa: for unmarried adult children (21 years and older) of US citizens. It’s the first preference of the category.
  • F2A Visa: for unmarried children not up to 21 and spouses of US permanent residents. It’s the second preference of the category.
  • F2B Visa: for unmarried adult children (21 years and older) of US permanent residents. It’s also the second preference of the category.
  • F3 Visa: for married children of US citizens. It’s the third preference of the category.
  • F4 Visa: for brothers and sisters of US citizens up to 21 years and older. It’s the fourth preference of the category.

These visas are subject to quotas, in contrast to visas under the Immediate Relative category. As a result, many applicants must wait several years to receive their Green Cards if they take the preference route.

In addition to the Immediate Relative and Family Preference categories, there’s also the less popular accompanying relative category.

Accompanying Relative Category

In some cases, the primary applicant’s spouse and unmarried minor children may also be able to apply for and receive US Green Cards as accompanying relatives – officially known as derivative beneficiaries. 

All eligible family members must be listed in the visa application of a Family Preference applicant. After that, they must file their own application to become lawful permanent residents and continue living in the United States. 

All visa petitions based on a preference category may contain derivative beneficiaries. However, accompanying family members of U.S. citizens are not eligible to apply for Green Cards.

How To Apply for the US Family Green Card

The procedure for applying for a Family-Based Green Card is the same regardless of whether you apply as an immediate or preferred relative. 

To begin the process, your US relative will fill and submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, to the USCIS. There will be a waiting period for the USCIS to process the visa if they approve the petition. 

In such a case, you will need to undergo consular processing if you’re outside the US. Afterward, the USCIS will send your authorized Form I-130 to the appropriate United States Embassy or Consulate in your country. Next, you’ll need to submit a completed Form DS-261. There is also a $325 application fee. 

If the USCIS approves your Form DS-261, you can apply for an immigrant visa by submitting Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Application. You will submit your visa application form with the appropriate supporting materials. You’ll likely need to go to the embassy for a visa interview.

If you’re already in the United States on another type of visa, you can apply for a visa switch instead. To do this, you must fill and submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Family Green Cards Supporting Documents

You must submit the necessary documents to apply for a Green Card based on family ties. Depending on your category – Family Preference or Immediate Relative – and circumstances, the USCIS will demand the following documents:

  • Valid international passport. The passport must be valid for at least six months after you enter the US.
  • Two passport photographs, according to US visa requirements.
  • Birth certificate for children of US citizens or permanent residents.
  • Certificate of marriage or another recognized document for spouses and partners of US citizens or permanent residents.
  • Proof of divorce from any previous marriages.
  • Medical examination report if required.

Note that most of the documents you’ll provide will be unique to your circumstance. Hence, the USCIS will demand more documents than in the above list. Documents written in a language other than English will require translation.

US Family Green Card Application Fee

The amount you will have to pay to obtain a Green Card based on family ties will vary based on the type of visa you are applying for and the country you apply. However, the following fees are mandatory for all applicants: 

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, has a $535 filing fee. 
  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Change Status, has a $1,140 application fee. 
  • The Immigration visa application (Form DS-261), which you must submit to become a permanent resident of the United States, has a $325 filing fee.
  • USCIS immigrant fee: $220. 

If your documents are not in English, you may need to pay translation fees if the embassy is doing the translation. In addition, you may need to pay for biometrics.

Family Green Cards Processing Time

When applying for a Green Card based on a family relationship, the processing period can vary widely depending on the visa category. Getting a Green Card is much faster for people in the immediate relative category than the preference category. That’s because visas under the Immediate Relative Route are perpetually open and have no quota. 

Many people applying for family preference visas have to wait for years. Here is the annual visa cap for various visas under the preference category:

  • 24,000 for F1 visas.
  • 114,200 for F2 visas, which includes 79,940 F2A visas and 34,260 F2B Visas.
  • 23,400 for F3 visas.
  • 65,000 for F4 visas.

After the annual quota is complete, no more applications will be accepted, and candidates will have to wait until the following year to reapply.

When You Enter the US

You’ll usually receive your Family Green Card as soon as you enter the US. The USCIS will mail it to the address included in your application. You should alert the agency within 30 days if there’s any error on your Green Card.

In rare cases, you may get a Green Card with conditions. In other words, you don’t become a US permanent resident but a US conditional permanent resident. You should apply to remove the conditions after residing in the US for two years if you were of good conduct.

The conditional permanent residence status is not renewable. The USCIS will grant you a permanent residence card if you are of good conduct. Otherwise, you may need to leave the country.

With your US family green card, you can travel in and out of the country without restrictions. You only need to present your green card at the port of entry every time you return to the country.

However, you shouldn’t plan a trip that’ll keep you outside the US for more than a year. If you must, you must first apply for a reentry permit on Form I-131.

You can apply for a reissue if you misplace your green card in the US. However, if you misplace it outside the US, you’ll need to apply for carrier documentation.

Family Green Card Denial, What Can You Do?

What you do if the USCIS or a U.S. consulate rejects your application depends on the nature of the application. It’ll also depend on where you apply – within or outside the US.

Generally, if you’ve had trouble getting your green card, you may want to consult an immigration attorney. This is especially crucial if the USCIS denies your application for reasons other than a paperwork mistake or lack of supporting documents. Furthermore, removal proceedings and motions to reopen or reconsider are relatively complex and require a lawyer.

If USCIS rejects the initial petition by the US citizen or permanent resident, the best course of action is to file a new petition. Although an appeals process is available, it’ll only delay time and cost you. Hence, you’ll save time and money if you start over.

If the USCIS denies your US Family Green Card application, they will send you a mail explaining why. Most green card denials are due to an incomplete application. Hence, the consulate or embassy you apply to may demand more documents before they give a final verdict.

Therefore, the denial is not final; you will have a year to submit evidence that could lead to a reversal of the decision. If you haven’t provided the visa officer with the requested evidence within a year, your application will be closed, and you’ll have to start again. The decision to deny or close is final and irreversible.

Bottom Line

Getting a US Family green card is the best way to become a US permanent resident if you have a family member who is a permanent resident or citizen.

You can use the information in the post as a guide to apply for and subsequently obtain your green card. If you have any questions, please let us know in the comments section.

Categories
Immigration UK

High Potential Individual Visa: How To Apply

Are you a graduate from any of the world’s most prestigious universities? If your answer is yes, you could have a future in the UK with the High Potential Individual Visa.

The High Potential Individual Visa is one of the most recent UK visas, which means the route is relatively untapped. In this post, you’ll find all the info you need to know about the HPI Visa.

What is the High Potential Individual Visa?

The UK government announced the High Potential Individual Visa in May 2022 as part of its effort to recruit top-tier talent to the country. The visa permits graduates of top global universities to enter and reside in the UK for a duration of 2-3 years to explore professional prospects.

A bachelor’s degree or higher from an institution that is listed on the list of the best global universities for the applicant’s graduation year within the last five years is a requirement for this visa.

Contrary to other UK visas, the HPI visa does not require applicants to have already secured a work offer from a UK firm.

Holders of an HPI visa have the option to change to a different long-term employment visa at a later time.

Who Is Eligible for the HPI Visa?

You must satisfy the following conditions in order to be eligible for an HPI Visa: 

  • You must be up to eighteen years.
  • Within the last five years, you must have gotten a degree from a top-tier international university.
  • You must have obtained a degree from a reputable institution that is comparable to a UK Bachelor’s degree, a UK Ph.D., a UK postgraduate (Master’s) degree or other doctoral-level degrees. 
  • You must be able to speak English well enough to qualify. Persons from countries native English-speaking countries, such as the United States, automatically meet this requirement.
  • You must have the funds and resources necessary to support yourself while in the United Kingdom.
  • You must not have received a Graduate Visa or entrance into the UK via the Student Doctorate Extension Scheme in the past.

To confirm that your academic credentials are legitimate and meet the requirements for the HPI Visa, you must submit an application to Ecctis.

Notably, the High Potential Individual route does not accept graduates from British universities within the last five years. However, if you choose to stay in the UK and are currently in the country on a student visa, you may be allowed to apply for a graduate visa.

What Universities Are on the Top-Rated Global Universities List?

As previously stated, you must have graduated from a top-ranked university within the last five years to qualify for a High Potential Individual Visa. On the gov.uk website, you can get lists of qualified universities organized by academic year.

These universities were selected based on the requirement that they had at least two appearances as top 50 educational institutions in the below rankings lists:

High Potential Individual Visa Required Documents

The following documentation is mandatory when you apply for a High Potential Individual Visa: 

  • A current passport or other travel document
  • Proof of your English language proficiency
  • A declaration from Ecctis confirming the eligibility of your qualification 

You must also submit an “Academic Qualification Level Statement and English Language Proficiency Statement” if you requested Ecctis to confirm that your degree was taught in English. 

Depending on your situation, you could additionally be required to submit the following documents:

  • If you’re switching from a different visa to this one, your biometric residence permit (BRP) or online evidence of your immigration status 
  • If you are applying with your partner or children, you must provide evidence of your relationship with them. 
  • Your tuberculosis test results, if you come from one of the countries that is required. 

Notably, documents that aren’t in Welsh or English must come with a certified translation.

How to Apply If You’re Outside the UK

Application for the High Potential Individual visa is online. You’ll have to provide identification documentation as part of the application procedure. In particular, will be required to either: 

  • Take your picture and fingerprints at a visa application center, and subsequently receive a biometric residence permit, or;
  • Scan your identification document using the “UK Immigration: ID Check” application. 

If you require an appointment, the visa embassy might need to retain your passport and supporting documentation while they process your application. 

How to Apply If You’re Inside the UK

If you are already in the UK on another visa, you might be able to change to a High Potential Individual visa.

Suppose your current visa has dependents. In that case they also need to switch their visa, and your spouse or kids must also submit a separate application. 

Not all UK visas support switching to the High Potential Individual Visa. You can switch if you’re on any of the below visas:

  • Visit visa
  • Short-term student visa
  • Graduate visa
  • Parent of a Child Student visa
  • Seasonal worker visa
  • Domestic worker in a private household visa

Furthermore, if you are in the UK, you cannot apply for a High Potential Individual visa on immigration bail. Also, you can’t apply if you were granted permission to remain outside of immigration laws, such as on humanitarian grounds. You must first exit the UK and apply from a foreign country.

High Potential Individual Visa Application Fees

The High Potential Individual visa application fee is £715. However, you must also pay the Ecctis qualification verification fee. The verification fee costs £210 if you’re applying from outside and £252 if applying from inside the UK.

Furthermore, you must pay the immigration health surcharge annually while you are a UK resident. 

You must also make sure you meet the financial criteria of having £1,270 in your account to maintain yourself while you are in the UK. Otherwise, you can’t get the HPI visa. 

In order to qualify for a visa, you must have had the money on hand for a minimum of 28 days straight, with 28 of those days falling within the previous 31 days.

If your partner and children are traveling with you, they must demonstrate that they may be able to support themselves while in the UK.

Only applicants who are switching visas, and have been in the UK for a minimum of 12 months can skip this financial requirement.

HPI Visa Processing Time

Usually, if you are applying from outside the UK, you will get a verdict from the embassy in three weeks. 

Meanwhile, you will get a verdict within eight weeks if you submit your application from within the UK. 

Should the embassy contact you, your application may take longer. The embassy will typically contact you if they require verification of your supporting documentation or you must appear at the interview. 

Other reasons could be individual circumstances, such as if you have a criminal record.

You will receive an email or letter with the verdict of your application after the embassy finishes processing it.

If your application is accepted, you’ll get one of the following: 

  • a vignette – sticker – that is placed on your passport if you submitted your biometric information at the start of your application.
  • Online access to the verdict of your application if you scanned your identification document with the smartphone app.

After arriving in the UK, you must also obtain a biometric residence permit if you have a vignette in your passport. This must be done within 10 days of your arrival in the UK or before the vignette sticker expires. 

If your application is rejected, you’ll receive a letter or email outlining the reasons why, along with the return of your passport.

You could either request an administrative review or immigration decision appeal, depending on which is specified in the email you receive.

How Long Is the HPI Visa Valid?

Your High Potential Individual Visa may be valid for two or three years, depending on your academic qualification.

If you have a Bachelor’s or Post-Graduate degree, you will get a HPI Visa valid for 2 years. On the other hand, if you have a Ph. D., you will get an HPI valid for 3 years.

When your visa expires, you may be able to switch to a different visa if you’re eligible. In particular, you can switch to the Skilled Worker visa. However, you can’t extend your HPI visa.

In other words, if your visa expires and you can’t change status, you’ll have to leave the UK.

What Can I Do With a High Potential Individual Visa?

You can find jobs and work in most jobs in the UK, as a High Potential Individual Visa holder. In addition, you can be self-employed, and live in the country with your partner and children, if they’re eligible.

The HPI Visa also lets you undertake voluntary work, and if you leave the UK, you can always return if your visa is still valid.

However, the High Potential Individual Visa also has its limitations. Notably, you can’t access public funds and you can’t work as a professional sportsperson.

You also cannot extend your visa, as mentioned earlier, which means you can’t settle in the UK, unless you switch visas.

High Potential Individual Visa Dependents

If your family members fit any of the following criteria, they may accompany you to the UK on a dependent visa:

  • Unmarried “de facto” partner, civil partner, or spouse 
  • Children less than 18 years of age
  • Children over 18 who are not married and are now residing in the UK as your dependents 

Family members who wish to apply for a dependent visa must provide proof of their relationship with you. Birth certificates, marriage certificates, adoption certificates, and other similar documents will be crucial.

Studying on High Potential Individual Visa

The High Potential Individual visa permits holders to study in the UK. However, you can only study a course that’s not supported by the standard UK Student Visa. Otherwise, you must apply for a Student Visa.

You can check the list of courses supported by the Student Visa on the official UK GOV website.

Furthermore, you may need to first acquire an Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) certificate before you can study on a HPI visa. In particular, an ATAS certificate is necessary for studying sensitive courses.

However, not everyone has to apply for an ATAS certificate. Students and researchers who are citizens of EU countries, the EE), Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Switzerland or the United States of America do not need to.

If you need an ATAS certificate, you should apply before you even apply for the HPI visa. You can apply anytime after you receive the admission confirmation from your school.

Suppose you’re in the UK on a HPI visa and then decide to study. In that case, you can still apply but it shouldn’t be less than four months before your visa expires.

Your ATAS certificate is valid for no more than six months from the date it’s issued. Therefore, ensure you begin your course before then, else you’ll need to apply for a new certificate.

Bottom Line

The High Potential Individual Visa ranks among the easiest visa routes to the UK currently. You’d agree that it has high demands regarding eligibility, but if you meet the requirements, you’re about 90% sure of getting the visa.

Drop your comments below of you have any questions regarding this UK visa.

Categories
Immigration UK

UK Start-Up Visa: Begin A Business In The UK

As part of efforts to ensure the UK remains one of the best locations for innovators, the UK government launched the UK Start-Up visa. The visa, along with the Innovator visa, is currently among the most sought-after visas for investors looking to establish in the UK.

Applying for a Start-Up visa involves many intricate processes, most of which involve finance. As a result, it requires a comprehensive understanding from anyone who wants to apply.

You are on the right page if you intend to get a UK Start-Up visa. This post has all the details you should know about the application process.

What is a UK Start-Up Visa?

The United Kingdom encourages and supports new ideas and is a welcoming place for creative entrepreneurs. The government issues start-up visas to persons with bold ideas so that they can set up businesses in the country and contribute to its economic development. 

Endorsing bodies in the UK will look at your company plan and give you the green light if they think it has potential. If you want your visa application accepted, you will need to receive a letter of support from one of these organizations.

Your company plan needs to be specific, original, and ground-breaking to achieve this. You can get endorsements from the following official institutions: 

  • An established group with a history of helping UK business owners 
  • Any UK University or College 

Getting your visa application accepted will be easier if you have endorsements from the appropriate UK bodies.

Eligibility Requirements to Apply for Start-Up Visa UK

The UK Visa and Immigration has set some mandatory criteria for the start-up visa application. It is crucial to meet the below-mentioned eligibility requirements for foreign individuals to grow business in the UK:

  • You should be at least 18 years old
  • You should meet the required level of English language proficiency
  • You should have a valid endorsement letter from any authorized endorsing body in the UK
  • You should have financial proof for supporting yourself in the UK

To sustain yourself in the country, you must have at least £1270 in your bank account for the last 28 consecutive days before the date of your visa application.

Endorsement Criteria for UK Start-Up Visa

As stated before, an endorsement letter is crucial to the success of a business proposal. Here, you will need to demonstrate that your business idea fits the standards set forth by a recognized endorsing body. 

Startup visas are intended to encourage and facilitate the development of novel, ground-up commercial initiatives that either fill an unmet market demand or provide a sustainable competitive advantage. 

You need to have or acquire the information, skills, and experience, as well as an understanding of the market, to manage a business in the United Kingdom successfully. 

Your business plan should be capable of expanding to meet the needs of the national market and creating jobs. 

The endorsing organization will also want assurances that you plan to base yourself in the UK while building your business there.

The Home Office’s website features a list of all endorsing organizations for startup visa applications. In addition to links to each organization’s website and information about the application process, the list provides the names of all currently recognized start-up visa endorsing bodies.

Documents You Need for Start-Up Visa Application

You will need to present the following documents for your UK Start-Up Visa application.

  • Valid international passport. You can also present any other document proving your nationality and identity.
  • Proof that you are proficient in the English language
  • A valid letter of support for your business concept from the UK endorsing organization.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to support your stay in the country. Usually, you should have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply.
  • Tuberculosis test results, if it is mandatory for your home country.

Your documents must be original and in English or Welsh. If it is in any other language, you must provide a certified translation.

UK Start-UP Visa Application Fees

The application fee you will pay depends on if you are applying from outside the UK or you are in the UK and you want to switch visas.

If you are in the UK, you will pay £508. Your dependents coming with you will also pay the same. On the other hand, if you are applying from outside the UK, you will pay £378, which is cheaper.

The UK Start-Up Visa attracts a healthcare surcharge, in addition to the processing fee. You must pay a yearly fee to receive medical care in the United Kingdom. How long you intend to remain in the United Kingdom is a factor.

When applying for a multiple-year visa like the Start-Up Visa, the application fee is £624. You will be prompted to pay a healthcare surcharge for yourself and your dependents during the online application process.

The UK Home Office will email you if you have not paid your healthcare surcharge within 7-10 business days. Your visa application will be denied if you do not make the payment.

Steps to Apply for the UK Start-Up Visa

People who want to launch a business in the UK must submit an online start-up visa application. All required documentation must be included with the application form. 

After that, you must also send your biometrics through official visa centers. Depending on your passport type, there are two ways to do this.

After logging into your UKVI account, you can scan your documents using the UK Immigration ID Check app. Alternatively, you can have your fingerprints and photograph taken in person at a visa application center.

Make sure you fill out your application form correctly and meet all of the requirements listed on it. Most mistakes happen on the application form or in the documents sent with it.

Your application may be rejected as a result of this. Therefore, please review your application well before sending it.

It takes around eight weeks for the UKVI to process your Start-Up Visa application if you are in the UK. On the other hand, if you are outside the UK, you can get a decision within three weeks, which is faster.

Like many other UK visas, the Start-Up visa is eligible for priority and super-priority processing if you pay the fee. Paying for priority or super-priority service means you get a faster decision on your application – a few days, to be specific.

Duration and Extension of the Start-Up Visa UK

A UK Start-Up visa permits you to stay in the country for two years. The duration is also two years if you switch to the Start-Up visa from a different visa.

Notably, you cannot extend the Start-Up visa when it expires after two years. Instead, you are to switch to an innovator visa. An Innovator Visa lets you stay in the UK for longer and is extensible when it expires.

However, you may not need to extend your Innovator Visa as you can apply for indefinite leave to remain after three years. In order words, you can move from a visa holder to a permanent resident in the UK.

However, the UK Innovator Visa is just as intricate as the Start-Up Visa. You can find out more about the visa in this WorldTravelPride post.

Start-Up Visa UK Dependents

As a Start-up Visa applicant, you can bring close family members with you to the UK. Family members who are eligible will need to fill out their individual visa applications and pay the processing fee.

You can bring your:

  • Spouse or civil partner, or a long-term partner who is not married
  • Children younger than 18
  • Child over 18 who is living with you in the UK as a dependent – if you’re switching visas.

If your family joins you in the UK, you will have to show that you have more money. You will need an extra £285 for your partner, £315 for one child, and £200 for your other children.

UK Start-Up Visa Application Refusal: What Can You Do?

Undoubtedly, you must have an amazing business idea to apply for a Start-Up visa, which is what the UK government needs. However, your startup business visa can be refused or rejected due to many reasons, including:

  • Errors in your application form
  • Incorrect information or documents submitted
  • Not responding to the follow-up requests made by the UKVI

Any reason out of these or all of these combined can lead to your visa application refusal.

Now, if this happens to you, here is what you can do. You can proceed with an administrative application record if you are outside the UK. Secondly, make sure that you initiate this within 28 days of getting your visa refused or rejected

You can also seek the intervention of judicial authorities and appeal against the immigration decision. Lastly, you can opt to resubmit your application and begin the entire process again.

In addition, you also need to keep some patience. Dealing with visa refusals can be time-consuming and overwhelming at times. Hence, check on your follow-up process with legal authorities to know if you should start your application again.

Frequently Asked Questions About The Start-Up Visa UK

Here are some commonly asked questions by people who want to apply for a Start-Up visa:

What Happens After 2 Years of Start-Up Visa?

You and your family members are permitted to remain in the UK for two years. After this time, you will not be able to extend your startup visa, but you can change to an innovator visa to extend your stay in the UK and grow your firm. When the innovator visa is about to expire, there are options to renew it for another three years.

What You Can and Cannot Do on a Startup Visa?

Your loved ones can join you in your new home country if you have a startup. Changing visa categories and moving from a startup visa to another type of visa is possible.

The government will not provide you with any money, though. You also can not practice medicine or play a professional sport while in the UK on a startup visa, nor can you permanently reside there.

Does the Start-up Visa lead to permanent residency in the UK?

Since you cannot extend the Start-Up visa, you cannot use the duration to apply for permanent residency in the UK. However, as mentioned in this article, you can easily switch from the UK Start-Up to the Innovator Visa.

Time spent on the innovator visa counts as residency, which means you can apply for indefinite leave to remain – permanent residency. In other words, you can get permanent residence from your Start-Up visa by first switching to the Innovator Visa.

You might be able to apply for British citizenship after having indefinite leave to remain for a year. However, you must meet many requirements before getting indefinite leave to remain if you have a Start-Up or Innovator Visa.

These include staying in touch with the group that backed you and showing proof that your business venture is moving forward.

Bottom Line

The Start-Up Visa was launched to help talented people from other countries build their business ideas in the UK.

Compared to the Innovator visa, you do not have to be a college graduate or have excess money in the bank to apply for this visa. As a result, it is a more affordable option for investors. 

The visa is for businesses that are just starting but show a lot of promise. You can follow up on the application process with the information in this post. If you have any questions, let us know in the comment section.

Categories
Immigration US

H-1B VISA GUIDE: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE H-1B VISA

An H-1B visa is a great option for foreign nationals who want to work in the United States with a valid job offer. Every year, American companies employ thousands of foreign workers to come to the United States on H-1B visas.

If you want to learn more about the H-1B visa or if you have recently been granted an H-1B visa, this guide is for you. Read on to learn all about the H-1B visa!

What is the H-1B visa?

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa for professionals that temporarily allows U.S. organizations to hire foreign workers with highly specialized experience in a certain occupation. H-1B specialized profession requires specialized knowledge and a degree or equivalent work experience in fields such as finance, information technology (I.T.), accounting, engineering, mathematics, sciences, medicine, etc.

This is a cap-based classification with an annual limit of 85,000 visas distributed among two main categories of applicants. 20,000 visas go to the master’s cap applicants, and the remaining 65,000 visas go to regular cap applicants. Master’s applicants are individuals with an advanced degree (master’s degree or above) from U.S. colleges or universities.

Due to the high number of applications each year, which usually exceed the stipulated numeric limit, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses a lottery system to randomly select from the registration pool.

The first lottery randomly selects 65,000 applications, and the second selects another 20,000 with an advanced degree.

What are the H-1B visa requirements?

Generally, H-1B visa applicants must possess certain academic qualifications and skills to work in specialized positions. To qualify for an H-1B visa, one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Hold a foreign degree that is equivalent to a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher, required by the specialty profession from an accredited college or university.
  • Holds a U.S. bachelor’s degree or higher in the same field as your specialty occupation from an accredited college or university in the United States.
  • Hold an unrestricted state license certification or license that authorizes you to practice in the specialty occupation fully and be immediately engaged in that specialty in the intended state of employment.
  • Have proven and recognized education, experience, or training in the specialty equivalent to a bachelor’s degree or higher.

H-1B Visa Electronic Registration Process

Employers must first complete the H-1B Electronic Registration Process if they want to obtain an H-1B visa for their prospective employees. USCIS implemented this process in 2020.

Employers are required to register on a USCIS website. They will provide all the relevant details regarding themselves and any prospective employees for whom they wish to obtain an H-1B visa. A $10 registration fee will also be paid for each prospective employee. Only those with selected registrations can apply for an H-1B visa.

H-1B visa Application process

There are four steps to applying for an H-1B visa, they include:

  1. The applicant must find an H-1B sponsor
  2. The Employer must submit a Labor Conditions Approval (LCA)
  3. The Employer must submit Form I-129
  4. The applicant completes the H-1B visa application

We’ll take a look at each of these steps in more detail.

Step 1: Find an H-1B sponsor.

The H-1B visa is a type of visa that requires the applicant to be sponsored by a U.S. employer to apply. Therefore, a person who wishes to enter the United States on an H-1B visa must first obtain employment from a U.S. employer who agrees to sponsor them into the United States.

When you are hired for a job in the United States, you must ensure the Employer is willing to sponsor you. To do this, make it clear from the start of the job application process that you will need sponsorship to enter the United States. Many employers ask this question when the candidate completes the job application, but if not, you should raise the question yourself.

Step 2: Employer Must Submit a Labor Conditions Approval (LCA)

After hiring you, a U.S. business will start the application process by electronically submitting an LCA to the Department of Labor (DOL) through the iCERT portal system. This application must be submitted six months before the employment start date.

The LCA provides the DOL with information about the job, such as salary, location, and working conditions.

The DOL will review the application within 7 business days. Employers with certified LCAs can then file H-1B petitions for their prospective workers. The purpose of the LCA is to certify that employers and employees meet the requirements of the H-1B visa.

Step 3: H-1B Petition Filing Process

The Employer will submit a Form I-129 petition to USCIS for a non-immigrant worker after the LCA has been approved. The Form I-129 petition must be submitted together with the DOL-certified LCA.

The processing time for the petition varies by the service center, and the wait can take up to 3 or 4 months.

Step 4: The applicant completes the H-1B visa application

The next step will depend on whether the employee is inside or outside of the United States after the petition has been approved.

  • If you are outside the United States

Prospective workers from outside the United States will need to apply for a visa at the United States Embassy or Consulate in their country of residence. This is called consular processing. You will complete the Nonimmigrant Form DS-160 online for a fee. When you arrive at the U.S. port of entry, you will apply for admission in the H-1B visa status through the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

  •  If you are in the United States

When the petition is approved, and you are in the United States, you must take the-approved I-129 to CBP at a U.S. port of entry. You will then need to complete the Form I-94 Arrival/Departure record and legally enter the country as an H-1B visa holder.

What are the H-1B visa application fees, and who should pay?

The U.S. Immigration National Act (INA) specifies that all USCIS fees associated with an H-1B filing must be paid by petitioning employers and cannot be paid by employees. This makes obtaining an H-1B visa difficult because the Employer must cover most of the application fees.

This makes the cost of bringing in a foreigner on an H-1B visa relatively high, so the Employer must be highly motivated to do this and go through the process. The following below describes the various fees involved and their amount:

Fee                                                           Amount                      Party Responsible

Basic Filing Fee                                               $460                                      Employer

Visa Stamping Fees                                        Varies                                     Employee

Public Law 114-113 Fee                                  $4,000                                    Employer

Registration Fee                                              $10                                         Employer

Anti-Fraud Fee                                                $500                                       Employer

Attorney Fee (Optional)                                   Varies                   Employer or Employee

Premium Processing Fee (Optional)               $2,500                  Employer or Employee

Consular Processing (Form DS-160)              $190                                       Employee

 ACWIA Training and Education Fee              $750 or $1,500                     Employer

NOTE: Some important explanations about the h-1b visa bills:

ACWIA or American Workforce Competitiveness and Improvement Act of 1998 Fee

The ACWIA Act of 1998 imposed a quota on companies for hiring and training foreigners rather than American workers.

The ACWIA Act fee varies depending on the Employer’s number of employees.

For employers with 1 – 25 full-time employees, the fee is $750. For those with over 26 full-time employees, the rate is $1,500.

Some organizations are exempt from this fee. Examples are non-profit organizations affiliated with government research organizations and educational institutions.

Anti-Fraud Fee

This $500 fee is applicable when a prospective H-1B visa holder is filling a new application or changing employers; if the applicant is renewing their H-1B with the same Employer, this fee is not required.

The fee provides USCIS with the resources to track applicants and prevent fraudulent processing of applications.

Premium Processing Fee

The processing time for an H-1B visa can be long, which often causes problems for applicants who need documentation quickly. The premium processing fee allows applicants to skip this long waiting time.

This premium processing fee is an optional service available to anyone who wishes to speed up their visa application procedure. Employers must file Form I-907 and Form I-129 petitions to use the service. In addition, it guarantees a 15-day processing period for an extra $2,500.

Consular Visa Application Fee

Consular processing is required for prospective H-1B employees outside the United States. The online application fee for Form DS-160 non-immigrants is $190. There may be additional fees, which vary widely from embassy to embassy. The employee is usually responsible, although some employers may choose to pay it.

Visa Stamping Fees

Upon entering the country, H-1B visa holders must stamp their passport with the H-1B stamp to indicate that their application has been accepted and the visa has been granted. The cost of this stamp depends on the visa holder’s country of origin. The conditions for receiving the stamp are as follows:

  • A 600 x 600 photograph of the visa holder
  • Completed application payment
  • Completed Form DS-160                        
  • An interview at the American consulate

How can these payments be made?

As mentioned above, most fees incurred in the visa application process are the responsibility of the Employer or sponsor. For the fees that the applicants must pay, the I-29 immigration Form indicates that there are only two valid methods of payment: money order or checks. Each new visa fee requires a separate payment in this form.

Can my H-1B visa fees be reimbursed?

USCIS generally withholds the fee whether or not the request is successful. However, if an entry was entered into the annual lottery and was not selected, USCIS will refund the fee. Applicants may receive a refund even if:

  • USCIS incidentally requested an unnecessary document and charged a fee
  • USCIS charged the wrong amount
  • An H-1B petition takes more than 15 calendar days after payment for Premium processing.

Frequently Questions and Answers

  1. Can my spouse and children travel to the United States with me on an H-1B visa?

Yes. When you qualify for an H-1B visa, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 can apply for an H-4 visa by providing proof of their family relationship with you.

  1. Can the H-1B visa holder’s spouse and children study in the United States?

Yes. With an H-4 visa, they can study in the United States.

  1.  Can the H-1B visa holder’s spouse and children work in the United States?

No. They are not permitted to work in the United States as H-4 visa holders.

  1. How long can I stay in the United States on an H-1B visa?

As an H-1B visa holder, your visa is valid for three years and can be extended for up to six years. After this period, you must remain outside the United States for one year before another H-1B visa application can be approved.

However, suppose you have a Labor Certification (PERM) or I-140 Petition for an Immigrant Worker pending for more than 365 days. In that case, you may be eligible for a one-year extension beyond the six-year limit until a decision is made on your PERM or I-140 petition.

Additionally, if your I-140 petition has already been approved but your priority date is not yet updated (the immigrant visa is unavailable), you can apply for a three-year extension of your H-1B status.

Can an H-1B visa holder apply for a green card?

Yes, an H-1B visa holder can apply for a green card. Although it is a non-immigrant visa, the H-1B is a “dual intent” visa. This means the visa holder can have legal immigration intent (apply for and obtain a green card) without affecting their H-1B status. A green card may be obtained by employer sponsorship or family.

  1. When can I register electronically for the H-1B lottery, and when will I know the results?

Dates vary each year, but in 2021 USCIS announced that people can apply for the H-1B lottery in March and will notify them if they have been selected to apply for an H-1B visa by the end of March 2021.

  1. Is your previous H-1B visa (temporary occupation, temporary worker, or trainee) still valid?

Yes. Only if the visa is still valid.

  1. How can I check the H-1B lottery results?

To find out if you are eligible to apply for an H-1B visa, check your USCIS online account. The account will display the status of your request.

Categories
Immigration UK

UK Innovator Visa: Best Route For Investors and Entrepreneurs

Doing business in the UK has its many benefits. As a foreign, you can apply and start doing business in the UK if you have enough funds. For such a venture, there are different visa types you can apply for, and one of them is the UK Innovator Visa.

The UK Innovator Visa is relatively new but is now popular due to its many benefits. You will find all you need to know about this ingenious visa in this WorldTravelPride post. Read on.

What Is the UK Innovator Visa?

The UK Innovator Visa replaced the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa in 2019. Entrepreneurs with extensive business experience who wish to launch a company in the UK may qualify for immigration under the Innovator Visa route. Applicants must have a minimum of £50,000 in available capital, and an endorsing body must approve their business plan. 

An Endorsing body is a group recognized by the UK Home Office as competent to evaluate business plans submitted under the UK Innovator Visa Programme. The business plan needs to be creative while also being practical and scalable.

The Endorsing body’s endorsement letter is necessary at all relevant application stages: original application, visa extension application, or indefinite leave to remain application. Notably, one of the best benefits of the innovator visa is that it’s an easy route to getting permanent residency in the UK.

To apply, you must be at least 18 years old, a citizen or permanent resident of a country outside the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In addition, you must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language. Applicants are welcome to include their spouses/partners and children under 18 in their applications.

Eligibility Requirements for the Innovator Visa

You must meet basic requirements to be eligible for the UK Innovator Visa. These requirements include:

  • You must be at least 18 years old
  • You must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the English language
  • You must be able to prove that you have enough funds to support your stay in the country

While the above are basic requirements, the UK Home Office has other specific eligibility requirements for Innovator Visa applicants. These requirements depend on what you plan to do in the UK.

If you want to launch a business in the country, you must have at least £50,000 in investment funds. Notably, you must prove how you got the money.

It’s mandatory that you provide the investment funds all by yourself. You may be part of a business team with two, three, or more members. Each member must have a minimum of £50,000 investment funds to apply for the UK Innovator Visa.

You will not need to have the investment funds if you already have a business in the UK or you have previously been endorsed for a similar visa.

To support yourself in the UK, the UK Home Office demands that you have at least £1,270 in personal savings. Even if you don’t need to present the investment funds, you must have the personal savings amount in any Innovator Visa application circumstance.

Innovator Visa Required Documents

The UK Home Office pointedly lists documents that Innovator Visa applicants must provide. These documents include:

  • Valid international passport. You can also present any other document proving your nationality and identity.
  • Proof that you are proficient in the English language.
  • Proof that you have the funds to invest or start up a business in the UK.
  • Proof that you have sufficient funds to support your stay in the country. Usually, you should have at least £1,270 in your bank account for 28 consecutive days before you apply.
  • Tuberculosis test results, if it is mandatory for your home country.

While these are the primary documents, the UK Home Office may still request additional documents. Nevertheless, ultimately, the main requirement you need to meet is to have the funds to invest in the country.

UK Innovator Visa Application Fees

The UK Innovator visa attracts a processing fee, and the cost depends on where you’re applying from. If you’re applying from outside the UK, you pay £1,036. On the other hand, if you’re applying from within the UK, you pay £1,292.

The cost is the same for anyone – dependents typically – who wants to join you in the UK.

Note that the processing fee is independent of the amount you need to invest and the one you need to prove you can support your stay. It’s a nonrefundable fee that you must pay as you submit your application.

Aside from the processing fee, the Innovator Visa also attracts a healthcare surcharge. The healthcare surcharge is an annual fee you must pay to access healthcare in the UK. It varies depending on how long you plan to stay in the UK.

Innovator visa applications usually pay £624 per year since the visa lasts multiple years. Your dependents must also pay a healthcare surcharge, and you’ll get the prompt to pay during your online application.

If you don’t pay your healthcare surcharge, the UK Home Office will send you an email, after which you must pay the fee within 7 to 10 working days. Failure to do so makes your visa application automatically invalid.

How To Apply for UK Innovator Visa

If you’re outside the UK, you can begin your application for the Innovator Visa online. If you’re applying from inside the UK, you also need to apply online, but you’ll be applying for a visa switch instead.

You might experience processing delays during the early application stages as you have to submit documents and prove your identity. As a result, it’s in your best interest to provide all the essential documents and leave nothing out.

After your online application, you will get a decision from the UK Home Office within three weeks if you are outside the UK. It takes longer to process a visa switch if you are inside the UK. Hence, you’ll get a decision within eight weeks.

In some cases, especially if you need to go for an appointment, you could pay to get a faster decision. Such fast decisions take only a few days with the priority or super-priority service.

How Long Does an Innovator Visa Last?

If your UK innovation visa is successful and you enter the country, you can stay for up to three years. The duration is also three years if you apply from inside the country.

During this period, you should focus on doing what the visa demands, including setting up a business and employing staff. Notably, the UK Home Office will give you a comprehensive list of what you can and cannot do during your three-year stay.

UK Innovator Visa Extension

You can extend your Innovator Visa when it expires after three years. For that, however, you need to meet the eligibility requirements and have a running business. The UK Home Office will examine your extension application just like the initial visa application.

Extending your UK innovator visa attracts a processing fee, and since you’re already in the UK, you’ll pay £1,292. Similarly, you may have to wait up to eight weeks to get a decision on your application for an extension.

Dependents Of UK Innovator Visa Holders

Since the UK Innovator Visa lets you stay in the country for more than a year, it also enables you to bring dependents. Your dependents can apply for visas at the same time as you or later. Likewise, they can travel to the UK or join you later.

When bringing dependents, one of the most important things to note is that you will need extra funds. You won’t only need money to support yourself in the UK, but you will also need money to support each person that joins you in the country.

Benefits of Investing in the UK

When it comes to investing, the United Kingdom (UK) is among the world’s most sought-after locations due to its high level of connectivity. The city of London serves as its hub, and as a business and cultural hub, it attracts individuals from all over the world. 

Due to its unrivaled financial and economic reach and favorable tax laws for citizens and non-domiciled individuals, the UK has earned a reputation as a secure place to invest.

There is no reason to expect a decline in the United Kingdom’s global impact despite its departure from the European Union after more than four decades of membership.

Undoubtedly, the nation’s enterprising character and high educational and governmental standards will remain as the country pursues a diverse array of international partnerships.

With numerous daily flights to New York, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro, and Buenos Aires, the UK has long been a vital link between Europe and the Americas. Additionally, it has good connections to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. It is perfect for international travel and business because it is in the time zone halfway between the US and Asia.

How To Get Permanent Residence

As mentioned earlier, one of the best advantages of the Innovator visa is that it is an easy route to reside permanently in the UK. You can apply for indefinite leave to remain after just three years.

However, it requires that you meet some detailed requirements, notably different from the regular.

To obtain permanent residency status, the applicant must focus only on growing his business and is not allowed to hold any other jobs.

The application must provide evidence that they have worked continuously in the UK, and more crucially, the applicant must provide evidence that the firm has met at least two of the seven conditions listed below:

1. No less than £50,000 has been invested and spent to further the business strategy described in the applicant’s previous endorsement. 

2. The company’s client base has grown by at least 100% over the past three years, and it now has more customers than the average company in the UK that provides its product or service type. 

3. The company has filed for intellectual property (IP) protection in the United Kingdom after extensive research and development.

4. The company’s most recent full fiscal year, covered by its accounts, saw a minimum annual sales of £1 million. 

5. The company made at least £500,000 in yearly sales in the most recent accounting period, with at least £100,000 coming from exports. 

6. The company has established at least ten full-time equivalent employment for local people that have been in place for at least a year. 

7. The company has created the equivalent of five full-time positions for local employees that have existed for at least a year and have an annual wage of at least £25,000.

Residential Requirement

In terms of physical presence, a person who wants to become a permanent resident must not have spent more than 180 days outside the UK in any of the 12 calendar months before applying. 

Aside from being in the UK physically, the applicant must also show that they know enough about the language and way of life there. This is checked by taking an exam called “Life in the UK” and an English language test. 

Once you get permanent residency, you can apply to become a British citizen. Before applying, you must have been a permanent resident for at least a year.

Only those who have spent less than 450 days outside the UK in the preceding five years can get citizenship. Also, you must not have spent more than 90 days outside the UK in the preceding year before applying.

Bottom Line

The UK is a welcoming location if you can afford up to £50,000 in investment funds and plan to invest in a foreign country. The UK Innovator Visa makes it super easy for you to start a business in the UK and easily leads to permanent residency. With the information in this post, you should be able to apply for an Innovator Visa without problems.