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
US

US F-1 Student Visa: Get All The Info

In this post, we’ll look at the US F-1 Student Visa. It’s an important document for anyone who wants to study in the US.

Investing in your future by going to college in the United States is a fantastic choice. More than a million foreign students come to the US yearly to take advantage of the country’s staunch education system.

To study in the United States, you usually need an F-1 Student Visa.

What is the F1 Student Visa?

F-1 student visas are non-immigrant visas that allow foreign nationals to visit the US to attend a SEVP-approved educational institution.

You can only apply for an F-1 visa after getting acceptance to study at an approved school in the United States. Also, the time you can study as an F-1 student depends on the type of program you enroll in.

The completion date will appear on the I-20 form issued to you by the school you plan to attend. However, to stay in the United States for the full amount of time allowed, you must complete your degree program before the indicated expiration date.

Following your graduation, you may be eligible to apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT). This will permit you to work for up to 12 months in the US in a field related to your studies.

For STEM graduates, you can request two additional years of work in a related field. If you do not have any extensions or additional training, you will need to return to your home country within 60 days after graduating.

Who is eligible for the F1 Student Visa?

You must satisfy the following requirements to be eligible for an F1 Student Visa: 

  • You must be enrolled full-time at a SEVP-approved school in the United States. 
  • You must be fluent in English
  • You must possess a valid passport
  • You must have adequate means to cover your education and living expenses while in the United States.
  • You must also demonstrate that you do not intend to remain in the United States permanently after your studies have concluded. For this, you must show that you have strong ties to your home nation.

An immigration officer will consider factors including your family status and long-term goals in your home country, even if you do not have a job, property, or children there.

How to apply for the F1 Student Visa?

1. Get Acceptance and Get Your I-20

Getting accepted into a school in the United States with authorization by the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) is the first step in obtaining an F-1 student visa.

Certification from the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) demonstrates to the US government that your school is legitimate and has the means to offer you a quality education. 

After admission, you will get an I-20 form from the school. You can use this form to record your study goals and stay details. The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) will contain the following details:

  • Your SEVIS ID number
  • Your program start and end dates
  • Your intended program of study
  • Your funding sources
  • Cost of attendance at your school of choice
  • Other personal information

This information comes from your university and is based on what you say in your application materials.

Immediately after receiving your I-20, double-check that all of your information is correct before signing at the bottom of the first page. If there is a mistake on your I-20, it may take a while to fix it. During this period, you might not be gain entry into the country.

When you visit the US, keep your form I-20. It is neccesacry for entry into the US, employment, and many other purposes, including obtaining a US driver’s license.

2. Pay The SEVIS Fee

Your F-1 student visa will cost you about $510 total, including the cost of the visa itself as well as SEVIS processing and maintenance fees.

  • Requirements: Yours I-20
  • Cost: $350 
  • Where to apply: Payment portal for your SEVIS fee

Make sure to save the I-901 SEVIS fee receipt. You will need it for your visa interview. 

3. Submit Your DS-160 Visa Application

For an F-1 student visa, international students must submit a DS-160 form. What you need for the applicated includes a completed form I-20, international passport, itinerary, and passport photographs.

The application costs  $160. If your DS-160 application receives approval, you will get a printed confirmation with a barcode. Do not lose this document, because you need it for your visa interview.

4. Book Your Visa Interview

Schedule your visa interview at the closest US embassy or consulate. Remember to schedule your appointments as early as you can because wait times might vary by country and last for months. 

You can ask an expert about interview strategies for student visas or how to organize a practice interview if you’re enrolling at a US university. You might feel more at ease with the procedure by practicing for your visa interview beforehand.

Preparing For Interview

The last step in getting a visa is to attend the interview. During the interview, consular officials will evaluate your qualifications for the visa and the accuracy of the information you supplied in your application. Make sure you have the following materials ready before you head out for your interview:

  • A copy of your valid passport
  • A passport-size photograph
  • Receipts proving that you paid the required fees
  • I-120A-B Form
  • Your academic transcript from previously attended institutions
  • Bank statements to prove that you have enough finances to live and study in the US.
  • Standardized test scores from exams testing your knowledge of English, for example from TOEFL or IELTS
  • Proof that you intend to leave the US after you finish your studies.

An immigration officer will look over these items and quiz you about your plans to study in the United States during your interview. There is a chance they will inquire about your academic history and the US university of your choosing. 

Questions concerning your plans for finding work to help fund your studies and other expenses while in the United States are also to be expected. You’ll also need to show that you’re committed to finishing your education in your own country. 

Can F1 Student Visa be denied?

A denial of your F1 Student Visa application is possible, as it is with any US visa. If that happens, USCIS will send you a letter explaining why your application was denied and citing the specific statute that was broken. 

One of the most common causes of F1 visa denial is incomplete applications. Denials can also occur if an applicant has a history of visa violations, has lied on their application, or does not plan to return home after their program is complete. 

Get in touch with our immigration attorneys to double-check that you have submitted a full application with all required documentation. They’ll review your visa application and fill in the blanks with you. 

A good immigration attorney can help you figure out what to do next if your F1 Student Visa application is rejected.

Does the F1 Student Visa Permit Work?

As you must be accepted into a full-time study program to qualify for the F1 Student Visa, you may not have much time to work. However, if you have an F1 student visa, you will be eligible to work in the United States. 

There are, however, two major guidelines you must adhere to: 

  1. You are restricted to working no more than 20 hours a week and must find your employment off-campus. 
  2. You can apply for permission to work off campus from the university if you are having financial difficulties.

You may be eligible for it if one of the following exceptional circumstances applies to you:

  • You lost your on-campus job
  • You incurred unexpected costs for necessities like medical care
  • Your financial aid was decreased
  • The cost of attending school increased

Your school might let you work full-time during academic breaks. However, remember that your time in the United States should mostly be spent learning rather than working.

Work visas, such as the H2B, allow foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily to do services that would generate cash. The H3 Visa is for people who do not want to go to school full time but want to come to the United States for training.

How Can You Maintain Your F-1 Visa Status

If you are an international student studying in the United States temporarily, you must take affirmative steps to keep your F1 status to remain in the country legally.

Your success will depend on your compliance with both the regulations of the school and the terms of your F1 Student Visa. 

These are what you should avoid:

  • Performing any kind of illicit employment, whether on or off campus 
  • Extending your stay in the United States beyond the F1 visa’s expiration date. 
  • Changing your academic program without obtaining a new Form I-120A-B 
  • Skipping school frequently 
  • Changing your schedule or withdrawing from a class without permission. 

A student’s right to remain in the United States and pursue further education might be revoked if they fail to keep their F1 status valid.

F1 Student Visa Extension

In a short time after your program ends, your F1 Student Visa will expire. You will typically have 60 days from the end of your program to depart the United States.

However, if you find that you need additional time to finish your studies, you can submit an application to have your F1 Student Visa extended.

To be eligible for the renewal, you must write a letter to a designated school official (DSO) detailing the reasons you need to remain in the United States for an additional period. Your DSO will check to see if you’ve been keeping your F1 status and whether or not you need the visa extension for academic or medical grounds. Illness, changing your major, or encountering difficulties in your research are all examples of situations that could qualify you for an F1 Visa extension.

You’ll need to fill out and send in Form DS-160 if you want to stay on as a student for longer.

If you need the extension for school or health reasons, you should have little trouble getting it approved. Simply show that you have enough money to cover your living costs during the extension time.

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may refuse to let you stay in the country if you want to do things like retaking a class after failing the first time. 

Bottom Line

Getting an F-1 Student Visa can set you on a journey of living in the United States. Although it’s a non-immigrant visa, you can explore possibilities that could allow you to stay in the US permanently. It’s possible if you do very well in class.

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 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
US

US Marriage-Based Green Card

Are you a US citizen or permanent resident married to a foreign spouse? You may be eligible to sponsor your spouse’s marriage-based green card application to allow them to stay in the US permanently. This article will extensively talk about the marriage-based green card, what it is, what its requirements are, how to apply for it, and other relevant details.

What is a Marriage-Based Green Card?

A Marriage-Based Green Card allows a person from a foreign country who is married to a U.S. citizen or Green card holder to move to the United States, live and work anywhere in the United States. The green card holder will have “permanent resident” status until they decide, if they wish, to apply for U.S. citizenship, for which they will be eligible after three years.

After a certain period, and if the foreign spouse fulfills all the conditions of the Green Card, they can also apply for U.S. citizenship. Also, if the couple has a child, that child will automatically be a U.S. citizen.

With a US Marriage Green Card, the foreign spouse will be able to:

  • Open a bank account
  • Live in the United States
  • Travel freely within and outside of the United States
  • Study freely in a university institution
  • Work anywhere without needing to apply for Employment Authorization
  • Obtain a driving license
  • Sponsor their eligible family members to become a permanent residents of the United State

What are the different categories of US Marriage Green Cards?

Since many people want to move permanently to the United States to work, some marriages happen only to dubiously obtain immigration status within the country. Such an act is not permitted and is discouraged by the U.S. government. However, to prevent couples from marrying only for one person to get a green card, the U.S. government has offered two types of US marriage-based green cards:

  1. Conditional Resident Visa (CR1)
  2. Immediate Relative Visa (IR1)

CR1 Visa

Foreign spouses who recently married their partners are eligible for the conditional residence visa known as the CR1. This visa enables the foreign spouse to enter the country on immigration status with a green card. This visa is approved on the condition that the couple must stay married for at least two years, after which the foreign spouse can switch to an IR1 visa.

IR1 Visa

The IR1 visa gives the foreign spouse a more permanent status, valid for ten years and renewable indefinitely until they decide to apply for U.S. citizenship. If the couple divorces or separates before two years of the CR1 visa, the foreign spouse may have to leave the US and return and their country of origin because their status will no longer be valid.

The Immediate Relative (IR1) visa and Conditional Resident (CR1) visa are immigrant visas specifically designed for foreign nationals legally married to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. They are explicitly designed for foreign spouses who wish to become permanent residents of the United States. In contrast to other family visas, the IR1/CR1 visa offers the foreign spouse permanent resident status through marriage.

What are the primary requirements for obtaining an IR1 visa?

There are several requirements the couple will need to meet for a spouse to be eligible for the IR1 visa/spouse green card. In general, the main requirements are:

  1. The couple is legally married

The most important factor is that the couple must be legally married and can present a valid marriage certificate. It is necessary because many people tend to fake marriages to obtain a green card. Also, if the couple only lives together but not legally married, it is not considered a marriage under U.S. laws and regulations.

  1. Have U.S. citizenship or Permanent Residence (Green Card)

The other requirement is that one of the spouses must also be a United States citizen or green card holder with a valid U.S. address and can support the foreign spouse as long as both have the financial means to support themselves.

Documents Required to Apply for a Green Card through Marriage

Foreign spouses must provide several supporting documents as part of the visa application process. The supporting documents must be submitted to the National Visa Center (NVC), and the supporting documents may include the following:

  • A signed Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, from the petitioner in the United States Marriage documents. Ideally, this will be an actual marriage certificate, but wedding albums, receipts from their party, and proof of honeymoon destinations might be enough.
  • Two photographs per individual per the U.S. visa photo requirements
  • Confirmation page of DS-260 application
  • Court and criminal record and police certificate
  • If you were a military member, you must provide your records.
  • Medical examination and vaccination documents
  • A passport with a minimum six-month validity period months beyond your intended entry into the United States.

What is the procedure for applying for a US marriage-based green card?

There are two types of visas possible under this category – CR1 and IR1. The type that the foreign spouse will receive will depend on how long the couple has been married. If a couple is less than two years into their marriage, the foreign spouse will obtain a CR1 visa, but spouses who have been married for more than two years will receive an IR1 visa.

In general, the visa procedure is as follows:

  1. Petition Stage

The petition can be filed by completing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This petition must be filled by the U.S. citizen or green card holder all the required sections and then submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). There is also a fee that the petitioner (also known as sponsor) must pay to process the petition.

The Department of Homeland Security will process the petition, which will take a few months. The U.S. sponsor will be notified of the status once processing is complete. If the petition is denied, USCIS will notify you of the reasons for the denial. If the petition is approved, it will go to the National Visa Center (NVC).

The foreign applicant will receive a packet with information and instructions from the NVC after accepting the petition. The packet contains important information, including the Case Number and Invoice ID Number, which will be used to start the application from the U.S. Embassy or consulate in the foreign country.

  1. Visa application process

There is no limit to the number of people who can receive a CR1 or IR1 visa in a year, which means immediately after your petition has been accepted by the USCIS and approved, your US Marriage green card application can start. This is carried out in a U.S. embassy or consulate.

  1. Submit Form DS-260

All immigrant visa applicants must complete and submit Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, to NVC. The application can be accessed using the NVC case number, which links it to your case and the approved petition.

The visa applicant or someone assisting you must complete all the required sections, which will contain questions about the applicant’s information, background, and reasons for wanting to immigrate to the United States.

After submitting the DS-260 form, a confirmation page and a number will be displayed. This information should be printed out and included in the portfolio of evidence that you will need to submit to the NVC.

Once this online form is completed, the visa applicant must schedule and attend a visa interview at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate (if overseas) or a local USCIS office in the United States.

  1. Medical examination and vaccination

The United States has certain medical and vaccination requirements that citizens and immigrants must meet. Those who want to immigrate to the U.S. must undergo the required medical examinations and vaccinations. Immigrants Visa applicants who fail to do so will be rejected.

The NVC package the applicant receives after the petition is approved will specify the medical procedures the applicant must undergo and the vaccinations he must receive.

It is necessary to obtain the medical result signed by a qualified doctor certifying that you have undergone the required medical examination and received the vaccines. The doctor will be one of the recommended physicians by USCIS or the embassy/consulate. During your application, you will be notified of the list of designated physicians for this medical exam. You can choose the one closest to you. The exam results will be part of the required documents for supporting evidence submitted at the visa interview.

  1. Attend the interview

The interview is a mandatory part of the US Marriage Green card application. All applicants for immigration to the United States must attend an interview at the United States Embassy or Consulate where they apply. NVC will first ensure that all necessary documents have been submitted and then schedule the interview.

You’ll be asked a series of questions by the interviewer regarding your situation and your application. If the interviewer is satisfied, your passport and the passports of any accompanying family members will be stamped with the necessary visas.

  1. Receive your NVC packet and travel to the United States

If the visa is approved, the foreign spouse can travel freely to the United States. You will receive an information package to the United States, and the visa will be stamped on your passport. You should not, under any circumstances, open this package.

The U.S. immigration officers at the port of entry must receive this package when they arrive in the country. They will open it and check the contents to ensure the visa is valid. Entry into the United States may be denied if the package is opened before it reaches the immigration border official.

Frequently Questions and Answers

  • How much does it cost to get a US Marriage Green Card?

An applicant must consider several fees when completing a CR1/IR1 visa application. Rates may vary depending on the country from which the request is made.

The main visa application fees include:

Fee                                            Amount

Form I-130 (petition for alien relatives):                         $535

Form DS-260:                                     $445

Biometric Services Fee:                                 $85

Fees for medical examinations and vaccinations:                 fees vary

USCIS Immigrant Fee (paid before traveling to the United States):         $220

Fees for supporting documents and translation fees:                 fees vary

  • When can I expect to receive my IR1 visa?

There are no limitations on how many individuals can be granted an IR1/CR1 visa in a given year. This means the wait time for a US marriage green card will be much shorter than for other family based green cards such as the F2A and F2B relative preference visas.

Applications for an IR1/CR1 visa are typically handled between eight and ten months, depending on the individual circumstances.

  • How are the IR1 and CR1 visas different from one another?

Both visas are for foreigners married to U.S. citizens who wish to enter the county as permanent residents.

The IR1 stands for Immediate Relative. This applies to married couples who have been together for more than two years. If you and your spouse have been married for less than two years, you can apply for a CR1 (conditional resident) visa.

  • What distinguishes the IR1 visa from the K3 spouse visa?

The K3 visa and the IR1 visa offer various advantages to their holders, although both are meant for family visas. The K3 visa is a nonimmigrant temporary visa. In other words, it guarantees only a limited authorized stay in the United States. You must apply for adjustment of status to spend more time in the country and get a green card.

As long as you have a K3 visa, you can travel freely outside the United States. However, if your marriage crumbles before you are granted a green card, you have 30 days to depart the country. Also, you will only be able to work in the United States after applying for a work permit.

On the other hand, the IR1 visa category and the CRI1 visa process have an immigration intent. You will receive permanent legal status along with the visa. You can apply for jobs in the U.S. if you have a CR1 or IR1 visa without applying for a work permit.

It should be noted that both visa application procedures start when your U.S. sponsor submits a Form I-130. Additionally, you may be required to submit an Affidavit of Support for both visas to show that you do not intend to rely on public financial support from the United States.

  • Is Premium Processing available to me?

Sadly, only those who apply for a green card or visa using forms I-129 or I-140 are eligible for the premium processing option. Therefore, you cannot reduce the US Marriage-based green card processing time with this service.

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.