Immigration FAQ

2. How do I fill a temporary need for foreign workers?

H-2B VISA

The H-2B visa is for individuals who will be performing temporary, non-agricultural services or labor. Temporary services or labor refers to any job in which the need for the duties to be performed is temporary. The employer’s need for the services or labor should be a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peakload need or an intermittent need. While only a few H-2B Visas (66,000 per year) are issued each year, the visa is nonetheless useful. The H-2B visa enables U.S. businesses and agents to fill temporary needs for nonimmigrant workers. Many individuals unable to obtain an O or P Visa may apply for this visa.

The visa is not self-petitioned, which means you will need an employer to sponsor you. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work, unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

STEPS

The first step is to apply for a Temporary Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). You must meet all requirements of the DOL, and you must prove that there are no U.S. workers available for the proposed position. The employer must then attempt to recruit eligible U.S. individuals for the proposed positions. Once this recruitment process is over, the DOL will send the employer labor certification. The employer can then petition the USCIS for your H-2B Visa. After approval of this petition, you may apply at the consulate in your home country.

DOCUMENTS

  • An approved temporary labor certification.
  • Proof of your qualifications for the position.
  • A letter detailing the nature of the position.
  • Proof of the temporary nature of the position.
  • A letter detailing the nature of the temporary need for foreign workers.
3. How can I enter the U.S. to work in a specialty occupation?

M1-Visa

The M-1 visa offers a great opportunity for students to train in a positive U.S. environment and strengthen their technical and non-academic skills. The M-1 visa is offered to students who wish to pursue full-time study at an USCIS-approved vocational or non-academic school in the United States.

These schools are usually community and junior colleges that offer vocational and technical training or vocational high schools. The schools must prove their international students program will reach certain educational objectives and will not be used to make students work.

Under M-2 status, your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S. A prospective student’s Form I-20M-N may be used to request an M-2 visa.

If your spouse and/or dependant children are joining you later, they will need to submit Form I-20M-N, endorsed from the school you are attending. M-2 visa holders can not work while in the U.S. nor engage in full time study. An M-2 child can attend primary or secondary school.

STEPS

You must first apply and be accepted to an USCIS-approved school in the US.

If admitted, the school will issue you an USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID (Certificate of Eligibility).

You must submit your visa application form, Form I-20 M-N/ID and other required documents at the U.S. Consulate, Consular Office or U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over your permanent residence.

PROCEDURE TO APPLY FOR THE M-1 VISA

The following documents must be submitted at the U.S. Consulate, Consular Office or U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over your permanent residence:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • A letter of admission from the school you plan to attend.
  • A signed Form I-20M-N.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to partake in study in the U.S.
  • Intention to depart the U.S.
4. Where can I get more information about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)?

TN VISA

Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), certain citizens of Canada and Mexico are eligible to enter the US under the nonimmigrant TN status. The TN Visa enables Canadian and Mexican citizens to temporarily work in U.S. in a NAFTA-approved professional occupation.

The following are the requirements to be eligible for the TN Visa:

  • The profession be on the NAFTA list.
  • The foreign national must possess the necessary training for that profession.
  • The proposed position must be classified as a professional position.
  • The foreign national must work for a US employer.

Canadian Citizens may apply for the TN-1 Visa, and Mexican citizens may apply for the TN-2 Visa. Spouses and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible to enter the U.S. under the derivative TD-1 and TD-2 visas. Family members are not required to be Canadian or Mexican citizens, and are eligible to remain in the U.S. for the duration of the TN Visa holder’s stay. They may either accompany the TN Visa holder to the U.S. or come at a later time.

TN-1 VISA

Canadian citizens applying for the TN-1 Visa must provide the following information at a US port of entry:

  • Proof of Canadian citizenship.
  • A offer of employment letter from the sponsoring employer detailing the duties to be performed.
  • Copies of all relevant college degrees and employment records. This data should prove the applicant is sufficiently qualified for the proposed position.
  • A processing fee of $50.

TN-2 VISA

Mexican citizens are eligible to apply for the TN-2 Visa. Interested applicants must present the following at the Consulate:

  • A valid passport
  • Visa Application form
  • Letter of employment from a U.S. employer detailing the duties to be performed
  • Evidence that the applicant is a professional
5. How can I transfer employees to a U.S. operation?

L-1 VISA

Businesses that function both in the United States and in their home country gain the benefits of the best of both areas. The L-1 visa is open to international organizations with offices in the U.S., and who transfer employees to the U.S office for temporary periods of time. This visa is sometimes referred to as the ‘intra-company transferee’ visa.

To obtain an L-1 visa, you must be able to prove that you have worked for the non-U.S. company for at least one full year within the last three years as an executive, manager or employee with specialized knowledge. The L-1 visa enables the transfer of managers, executives and specialized knowledge personnel to a U.S. office, subsidiary or affiliated company. This visa comes in the following categories:

L-1A visas – for executives and managers
L-1B visas – for personnel with specialized knowledge.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S., under L-2 status. The L-2 spouse is allowed to work provided that s/he first obtains employment authorization from the USCIS. L-2 spouse as well as L-2 children can attend school or college. Servants may be eligible for a B-1 visa with work authorization.

STEPS

The employer must file a petition with the USCIS Regional Service Center with jurisdiction over the location of the position. These documents should be photocopies of the originals. The L-1 petition can be premium processed which means that if an additional fee of $ 1000 is paid on top of the filing fee of $190 and the fraud prevention and detection fee of $500, the petition will be adjudicated within 15 days of being filed with the USCIS.

The USCIS may request additional documents prior to either approving or denying the case. If it is a premium processing case, the request for additonal documents or information must come within the 15 days. You will then have 12 weeks to respond.

Once approved, the USCIS will forward the petition to the U.S. Consulate nearest your place of residence for review. If you are not in the U.S. when your petition is approved, you must get your visa stamped at the U.S. Consulate before being allowed to enter the U.S. Your employer will receive Form I-797, notice of approval. After receipt of the I-797, you must then file-in Form DS-156 at the Consulate.

If approved, your visa will be valid for 3 years. Blanket Petition: A blanket petition eases the process of gettign the L-1 visa. If a company has been defined as a blanket petition entity by USCIS, the company can directly authorize L-1 visas to eligible employees.

DOCUMENTS

To apply for an L-1 Visa, you must supply the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • The employee copy of Form I-797. The Notice of Action, this petition is filed-in to the USCIS by your employer.
  • Copy of USCIS Form I-129, and the L Supplement.
  • Your petition should show that both the U.S. and foreign-based company meet USCIS requirements for L-1 status. The U.S. entity should be a branch office, subsidiary or affiliate of the foreign enterprise, and both companies should be actively engaged in business.

The following documents may also be required:

  • A letter from your prospective U.S. employer on company letterhead detailing your position and the U.S. operation’s status.
  • Letters proving that the U.S. and foreign entities are engaged in business. These can be from attornies, bankers or accountants.
  • Proof of the size and status of the U.S. and foreign entities.
  • Documents that detail the value of the applicant’s skills in regards to the U.S. entity.

You, the employee, should provide the following documents:

  • A resume or curriculum vitae.
  • Copies of passports for family members joining you.
  • Proof of education: degrees, transcripts, etc.
  • Reference letters from former employers.
  • Professional licenses, if applicable.

If you are coming to the U.S. to start a new office, you should also provide the following documents:

  • Proof of a building or location for the new office. A lease will work for this.
  • Proof of your relationship with the foreign entity.
  • Proof of financial resoluteness. You must show that you can pay your U.S. employees and handle any other business costs.
6. How can a religious worker enter the U.S.?

R1-VISA

After 2007 you can only apply for an R-1 filing form I-129 with USCIS, not directly with the US Embassy or Consulate, which was previously permitted. Also, USCIS may conduct on-site inspections of organizations seeking to employ religious workers. The religious worker is permitted to stay for an initial period of 30 months. Once the visa is approved by USCIS it will be sent to the U.S. Consulate where the religious worker can apply for their visa. You do not have to maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of abandoning, but must intend to leave the U.S. at the end of your R-l status.

STEPS

You should apply for an R-1 Visa at the US Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. While you may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, this method is more difficult. You do not have to maintain a residence abroad which you have no intention of abandoning, but must intend to leave the U.S. at the end of your R-l status.

DOCUMENTS

The following documents are required for the R-1 Visa:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

You will also need to provide the following documents:

  • Proof of tax-exempt status or eligibility for tax-exempt status for the employing organization
  • A letter from an authorized official of employing organization certifying your position in your organization, and the nature of the organization.
7. How can I receive training in the U.S.?

H-3 VISA

The H-3 Visa is specifically designed to enable you to train in the U.S. in almost any discipline. The USCIS calls this loose classification, ‘any field of endeavor’. This includes agriculture, technology, communications and governmental leadership. This loose classification does not include people seeking graduate medical training. Nurses and medical students on vacation, however, may be eligible for the H-3 Visa.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S. under the H-4 status. Family members are not permitted to work while in the U.S.

STEPS

The H-3 Visa is not self-petitioned. An employer must petition on behalf of you, the trainee. The employer must provide certain evidence about the training, including a description of the training program, your compensation (if any) and reasons why you need the training. The employer must then submit a petition on Form I-129 with the regional USCIS center that has jurisdiction over the place where the training will be offered.

DOCUMENTS

Along with the requisite nonimmigrant application documents, the H-3 Visa requires your employer provide the following:

  • Proof that this training is not available in your home country.
  • Prrof that this training will aid you in your career outside the U.S.
  • Proof that you will not engage in willful employment while in the U.S.
  • Proof that the training is formal in nature.
8. What is the process underlying the hiring of foreign agricultural workers?

H-2A VISA

The H-2A Visa is the most functional of visa categories. It fills a specific need for the U.S. and for foreign nationals. The visa allows foreign workers entry to the U.S. to work in agriculture. Truthfully, the visa hasn’t garnered much support in the community. Growers don’t like the limits of the visa and advocates don’t believe the laws give enough support to workers.

The H-2A visa is not self-petitioned. Employers must apply on behalf of their employees. The employer can be self-employed, a partnership, corporation or agricultural association. An agent may also apply on behalf of the employer. Workers’ spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join them in the US under the H-4 status. Dependents are not permitted to work, unless they personally qualify for a work visa.

STEPS

The first step is for the employer to apply for a Temporary Labor Certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL). The employer must meet all requirements of the DOL, and must prove that there are no U.S. workers available for the proposed position(s).

After approval of the application, the employer must attempt to recruit eligible US individuals for the proposed positions. After the recruitment process is complete, the DOL will subtract the number of accepted US workers from the requested amount of H-2A workers. If no U.S. workers were able to be recruited,the employer will be eligible to apply for his/her requested amount of visas.

The employer will then petition for the agreed amount of H-2A Visas with USCIS . After approval of this petition, foreign workers may apply to the consulate in their home nations.

DOCUMENTS

The documents required for the petition process are:

  • Form I-129/I-129H (Petition for non-immigrant worker) along with a fraud prevention fee of $150
  • A copy of the approved Temporary Labor Certificate.
  • A statement detailing the number of workers required.
  • An application including the workers’ names and qualifications.

The documents required for the H-2A Visa are:

  • An approved temporary labor certification.
  • Application for Alien Employment Certification
  • Agricultural and Food Processing Clearance Order (Form ETA 790). Documents that support the required forms.
9. How can an individual with extraordinary abilities enter the U.S.?

O-1 VISA

The O-1 Visa is for outstanding individuals. The visa enables people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, athletics, motion picture or television industry to enter the US for temporary periods of time. USCIS loosly defines this category, and the spectrum of eligible individuals also includes chefs, carpenters and lecturers. To be considered an outstanding individual, you should be highly regarded in your field, and can only work in the U.S. in that area of expertise.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may join you in the US under O-3 status. While they may not work while in the U.S., family members are allowed to attend school.

STEPS

The O-1 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your petitioner should file the Form I-129 with the USCIS having jurisdiction over the state in which you intend to work. The form should be filed at least six months before you plan to begin working. The petition must include a printed article or statement from either a person or group proficient in your field. This person/group should support your status as a respected member of your field.

DOCUMENTS

Applicants must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

Your petitioner must also include the following documents:

  • Your resume/CV and educational history. Proof of your eligibility. Evidence that proves you have received recognition or awards in your field.
  • Printed documents by previous employers or experts in your field that show your level of achievement in your field.
  • Employer financial information.
  • A letter from your employer detailing the work you intend to perform while in the US
10. How can support personnel of people with extraordinary abilities enter the U.S.?

O-2 VISA

O-2 visas are offered to support personnel of O-1 Visa holders in the fields of athletics, entertainment, motion picture and television production. This status is not applicable to personnel in the sciences, business or education.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under an O-3 status. The petitioner should file a petition on their behalf. Your dependents must prove immediate relation to you. Though they are not allowed to work while in the U.S., dependants may attend school or college.

STEPS

The O-2 Visa must be petitioned by a U.S. employer, U.S. agent or foreign employer through a U.S. agent. Your petitioner should file a Form I-129 with the USCIS having jurisdiction over the state in which you intend to work. The form should be filed at least six months before you plan to begin working. More than one O-2 application may be included on the same petition, if all parties are helping the same O-1 applicant for the same events or performances, during the same period of time and at the same location.

DOCUMENTS

Applicants must provide the following documents at the U.S. Consulate when applying for the O-2 Visa:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Establishment of the demonstration of nonimmigrant intent. You must prove that you will return to your home country.
  • An official agreement between you and the petitioner detailing the terms and conditions of the services.
  • An agreement between you and the O-1 visa holder that proves your professional relationship.
  • Proof of a previous professional relationship with the O-1 visa holder.
  • Proof that you are capable of assisting the O-1 visa holder.
11. How can entertainers, artists or athletes enter the U.S.?

P-1 VISA

Artists and athletes are an essential portion of healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-1 visas are issued to entertainers, circus artists, and athletes who wish to work in the U.S. Outstanding athletes may apply for this visa in order to compete in the U.S., either as individuals or as members of an internationally recognized athletic team.

Entertainment groups with an outstanding international reputation can be granted P-1 classification as a unit; however individual entertainers within these groups cannot apply for separate visas. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under a P-4 status. P-4 visa holders are not allowed to work, but may attend schools or colleges. Servants of a P-1 visa holder may receive a B-1 visa with work authorization.

STEPS

Your employer must forward all necessary documents and evidence along with Form I-129 to the USCIS branch with jurisdiction over the area where you plan to perform. A U.S. agent may also file a petition for workers who are self-employed, use agents to book short-term engagements with many different employers or in situations where foreign employer(s) authorize the use of an agent to act on their behalf. This agent may be the employer of the performer, a representative of the employer or a person authorized to act on behalf of the employer.

DOCUMENTS

For the P-1 Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Proof that you are recognized in your field. This may include awards, citations and certificates.
  • Athletes and entertainment groups may be asked to provide further documentation.
12. How can artists or entertainers involved in an exchange program enter the U.S.?

P-2 VISA

Artists and athletes are an essential portion of healthy cultural exchange. The global community benefits greatly from the work of each country’s greatest thinkers and performers. P-2 Visas are issued to troupes or bands entering the U.S. as a part of an exchange program. There should be two organizations involved in this exchange program: one in the US and one abroad. Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany you to the United States, under a P-4 status. P-4 visa holders are not allowed to work without being granted permission.

STEPS

Either the U.S. labor group that negotiated the exchange agreement, the sponsoring organization or the U.S. employer must file the petition. The petition should be filed to the U.S Consular office or U.S. Embassy, or to the branch of the USCIS with jurisdiction over the location where the troupe/band plans to perform. The application forms and relevant documents may be mailed or submitted in person.

A U.S. agent may also file a petition for workers who are self-employed, use agents to book short-term engagements with many different employers or in situations where foreign employer(s) authorize the use of an agent to act on their behalf. This agent may be the employer of the performer, a representative of the employer or a person authorized to act on behalf of the employer.

DOCUMENTS

For the P-2 Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

 

The petitioner must also provide documents that prove that the troupe/band are eligible for the visa. These documents include:

  • Proof that all people involved in the program are artists or entertainers with talent.
  • An official letter from the sponsor(s) noting the details of the exchange program.
  • Proof that a labor organization mediated over the program.
  • An official affidavit that confirms the existence of the exchange program between the US and a foreign country.
13. How can art educators enter the U.S.?

P-3 Visa

The P-3 visa is for artists or entertainers, individually or as a group, who are coming to the U.S. for developing, interpreting, representing, coaching or teaching a unique or traditional ethinic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical ar artistic performance or presentation.

The spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are permitted to accompany the P-3 to the United States, under a P-4 status. P-4 visa holders are not allowed to work, but may attend schools or colleges.

STEPS

The sponsor must forward all necessary documents along with Form I-129 to the USCIS branch with jurisdiction over the area where you plan to perform. A U.S. agent may file a petition for workers who are self-employed, use agents to book short-term engagements with many different employers or in situations where foreign employer(s) authorize the use of an agent to act on their behalf. This agent may be the employer of the performer, a representative of the employer or a person authorized to act on behalf of the employer.

DOCUMENTS

For the P-3 Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

The following are also required:

  • Affidavits, testimonials or letters from recognized experts attesting to the applicant’s skills as well as the basis of the expert’s knowledge of the applicant’s skill;
  • Documentation that the performance is culturally unique;
  • Consultation from an organization with expertise in the individual’s or group’s skills;
  • Copy of the written contract between the performer(s) and the employer
14. What is the visa classification for ‘treaty investors’?

E1-Visa

U.S. immigration policy supports investors and foreign commerce in a variety of ways. The E-1 visa is one method for ensuring healthy commerce with the world. The E-1 Visa is issued to individuals known as ‘treaty traders’. A treaty trader is defined as a national of a country with which the United States maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation.

You should be coming to the U.S. to carry on substantial trade, or to develop and direct the operations of a business in which you have invested or will soon invest a substantial amount of capital. You must also be a national of a treaty country and you must be involved in international trade. Your spouse and children may join you under the same status. Your employees, or the employees of your treaty company, may also receive E-1 visas.

STEPS

You may apply for an E-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate in your country. We recommend you do not apply at a U.S. Consular Office outside of your permanent residence, since that process is more difficult.

DOCUMENTS

To apply for an E-1 Visa, you must supply the following documents: A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering. A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit. Documents that establish that at least 50% of the stock of the company is owned by nationals of the treaty country. A letter from your employer detailing your position and stating that you possess highly specialized skills essential to the efficient operation of the firm. You may also be asked to prove that: Your company meets the requirements of the law. The trade is substantial; there should be a continuous flow of trade between the U.S. and the treaty country. You intend to leave the U.S. after the validity date of the E-1 Visa.

15. What is the best way to enter the U.S. to engage in a business venture?

B1-Visa

Everybody knows the U.S. is the best place to engage in business. And the best way to temporarily visit the U.S. to deal with your business venture is under B-1 status. This merit-based visa allows access to a variety of business and economic ventures in the U.S. Individuals eligible for this visa range from board members and athletes to musicians, entertainers and servants of non-immigrants.

STEPS

You may apply for a B-1 visa at the American Embassy or Consulate in your region or nation. We recommend you do not apply at a U.S. Consular Office outside of your permanent residence, since that process is more difficult. You can apply at the Consular Office of the Embassy or Consulate General nearest your residence, or use one of the following options:

  • Authorized travel agencies: Travel agencies approved by the U.S. Embassy in your region or nation may submit visa applications for you.
  • The VIP Business Program: Your enterprise can register with the VIP Business Program if it repeatedly sends employees to the U.S. Your appearance may be waived, if your application was submitted by an approved business.

You may still need to apply in person. Further, there may be delays in this process due to cross-checking information at the Washington, D.C. database.

DOCUMENTS

To apply for a B-1 Visa, you must provide the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are required.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Two recent photographs 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.

You may also be asked to provide the following documents:

  • Evidence backing up the purpose of your trip. You may show a letter sent by the company explaining the purpose and length of the trip.
  • Specific and realistic plans describing why you wish to visit the U.S. A copy of a tour itinerary is usually acceptable.
  • Information about the company, like a company brochure or catalog.
  • Demonstration of non-immigrant intent. A good example of this is round-trip air tickets.
  • A letter which states that either the firm intends to pay for all cost, or that you have other funds for this trip.
16. I am an exchange visitor. What visa should I apply for?

J1-Visa

The J-1 visa is designed to provide educational and cultural exchange programs, and to promote the sharing of individuals, knowledge and skills in education, arts and sciences. This visa enables people to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States. Participants in this visa include students, trainees involved in on-the-job training, teachers engaged in research and teaching and international visitors interested in traveling, researching, consulting and demonstrating specific knowledge. Your spouse and/or unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for entry under J-2 status.

STEPS

You should apply for a J-1 Visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. While you may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it is advisable to apply within your jurisdiction. Participants in the J exchange program should present a Form IAP-66, prepared by a designated sponsoring organization.

DOCUMENTS

The following documents are required for the J-1 Visa:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • A completed form, IAP-66, prepared by a designated sponsoring organization.
  • A completed form, IAP-66, prepared by a designated sponsoring organization.
  • You must also demonstrate that you have binding ties in your home country which you have no intention of abandoning, and that you are coming to the United States for a temporary period of time.
17. I am an exchange visitor interested in receiving training in the U.S. What visa should I apply for?

Q1-Visa

The Q-1 international cultural exchange program provides practical training, employment and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the participant’s home country in the United States. This visa enables individuals to participate in exchange visitor programs in the United States.

STEPS

You should apply for a Q-1 Visa at the US Embassy or Consulate with jurisdiction over your place of permanent residence. While you may apply at any U.S. consular office abroad, it is advised you apply within your jurisdiction. Participants in the Q exchange program must have the designated sponsoring organization file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with the USCIS. The USCIS will then inform the sponsor on Form I-797 when the petition is approved.

DOCUMENTS

The following documents are required for the Q-1 Visa:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • A completed form, I-797.
  • You must also demonstrate the that you have binding ties to your home country which you have no intention of abandoning, and that you are coming to the United States for a temporary period of time.
18. How can I enter the U.S. as a vocational student?

M1-Visa

The M-1 visa offers a great opportunity for students to train in a positive U.S. environment and strengthen their technical and non-academic skills. The M-1 visa is offered to students who wish to pursue full-time study at an USCIS approved vocational or non-academic school in the United States.

These schools are usually community and junior colleges that offer vocational and technical training or vocational high schools. The schools must prove their international students program will reach certain educational objectives and will not be used to make students work.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S., under M-2 status. A prospective student’s Form I-20M-N may be used to request an M-2 visa.

If your spouse and/or dependant children are joining you later, they will need to submit Form I-20M-N, endorsed from the school you are attending. M-2 visa holders can not work while in the U.S. nor engage in full time study. An M-2 child can attend primary or secondary school.

STEPS

You must first apply and be accepted to an USCIS approved school in the US

If admitted, the school will issue you an USCIS Form I-20 M-N/ID (Certificate of Eligibility).

You must submit your visa application form, Form I-20 M-N/ID and other required documents at the U.S. Consulate, Consular Office or U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over your permanent residence.

PROCEDURE TO APPLY FOR THE M-1 VISA

The following documents must be submitted at the U.S. Consulate, Consular Office or U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over your permanent residence:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • A letter of admission from the school you plan to attend.
  • A signed Form I-20M-N.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to partake in study in the U.S.
  • Intention to depart the U.S.
19. How can I enter the U.S. as an academic student?

F-1 Visa

The wide variety of educational facilities in the United States offer great opportunities for students wishing to further their education and training. The intellectual stimulation and social experiences of studying in the U.S. will be vital parts of a student’s growth and development.

Foreign national students who want to study in the U.S. usually apply for the F-1 visa. Although the J-1 and M-1 Visas (for vocational students) are sometimes used, most foreign students enter in F-1 status.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 are allowed to join you in the U.S., under F-2 status. A prospective student’s Form I-20A-B may be used to request an F-2 visa.

If your spouse and/or dependant children are joining you later, they will need to submit Form I-20A-B, endorsed from the school you are attending. F-2 visa holders can not work while in the US nor attend school without changing their status to F-1. An F-2 child may attend school-elementary through 12th grade.

STEPS

You must first apply and be accepted to an USCIS approved school in the U.S. If admitted, the school will issue you an USCIS Form I-20 A-B/ID (Certificate of Eligibility).

You must submit your visa application form, Form I-20A-B and other required documents at the U.S. Consulate, Consular Office or U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over your permanent residence.

PROCEDURE TO APPLY FOR THE F-1 VISA

The following documents must be submitted at the U.S. Consulate, Consular Office or U.S. Embassy with jurisdiction over your permanent residence

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • A letter of admission from the school you plan to attend.
  • A signed Form I-20A-B.
  • Proof of sufficient funds to partake in study in the U.S.
  • Proficiency in English or that s/he will receive training to become proficient
  • Intention to depart the U.S.
20. Can I enter the U.S. for a brief period of time without obtaining a visa?

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) offers an easy, effective method to travel to the US for business or pleasure. The program enables citizens of participating countries to travel to the US for pleasure or business for 90 days or less without officially obtaining a U.S. visa.

STEPS

There are presently 27 participating countries in the VWP: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

While most interested parties do not need to apply for a visa, certain exceptions do apply. Some travelers still need to apply for a visa, including people who plan to work or study in the U.S., stay more than 90 days, or people who might otherwise be ineligible for a visa. Travelers who have previously been denied visas, who have criminal records or who may be ineligible to enter the U.S. on the VWP, should contact the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate before attempting to use the VWP to enter the U.S.

DOCUMENTS

If you are entering the U.S. on the VWP, you must:

  • Have a valid passport issued by your participating country and be a citizen of that country.
  • Propose to enter the US for 90 days or less as a temporary visitor.
  • If entering the US by plane or ship, you must have a round-trip ticket issued on a carrier that has signed an agreement with the US government to participate in the VWP. You must arrive in the US on that carrier.
  • Have proof of financial capability and a signed visa waiver arrival/departure form (I-94W Form), on which you have waived the right to a hearing of exclusion or deportation.

Land entry from Canada or Mexico is allowed under the VWP. You are not required to present round-trip transportation tickets or arrive at the border entry point aboard a carrier who has signed an agreement with the U.S. to participate in the VWP.

21. I am traveling through the U.S. Can I visit family/friends while waiting for my departing flight?

C1-Visa

Travelers passing through the United States don’t need to be trapped in the airport. The C-1 Visa, also known as the transit visa, enables traveling nonimmigrants to leave the airport and visit family or friends or partake in tourist or shopping ventures. While you are required to leave the U.S. on your departing flight, you are able to spend your waiting time enjoying your surroundings. Each family member should apply for a separate C-1 visa, which will enable the entire family eligible to travel through the U.S.

STEPS

You may petition for the C visas in person or by mail. Please contact the USCIS Branch, U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consular office that has jurisdiction over the location of your home.

DOCUMENTS:

To apply for a C Visa, you must supply the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are required.
  • Two recent photographs 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

You must also prove the following:

  • You are entering the U.S. only to pass through in transit
  • You have enough funds to reach your proposed destination.
  • You have a ticket or other means to reach your proposed destination.
  • You have permission to enter the country of your final destination, if necessary.
  • Your stay cannot exceed 29 days
22. How can foreign media representatives enter the U.S.?

I-Visa

The I-Visa is a vital tool in a global system, where news and cultures are shared and dispatched across national lines. The I Visa is available to media employees including reporters, freelance journalists and film crew members; mainstream filmmakers are not eligible for this status. I visas are available to persons only to work for a foreign media outlet, or a U.S.-based subsidiary of a foreign media company.

Your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may be eligible for a derivative I status. Your employer must offer a letter detailing your position. I visas, however, are not available to fiancees. If your spouse or children wish to visit you in the U.S., they may choose to apply for a B-2 visa. They may also be eligible to travel under the Visa Waiver Program.

STEPS

Just submit your visa application to the American Consulate or Embassy in your home country.

DOCUMENTS

The Embassy or consulate will ask to see the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156.
  • One recent photograph 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • A letter from your employer detailing your position and expected stay in the U.S.
23. I am a foreign government official. How can I visit family/friends while waiting for my departing flight?

C-3 Visa

Government officials traveling through the U.S. to a foreign destination may apply for the C-3 Visa. This visa will enable you to leave the airport and enjoy your surroundings. Your family members and personal employees may also apply for the C-3 Visa.

STEPS

You may petition for the C visas in person or by mail. Please contact the USCIS Branch, U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consular office that has jurisdiction over the location of your home.

DOCUMENTS

To apply for a C Visa, you must supply the following documents:

A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are required. Two recent photographs 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering. A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

You must also prove the following:

  • You are entering the U.S. only to pass through in transit.
  • You have enough funds to reach your proposed destination.
  • You have a ticket or other means to reach your proposed destination.
  • You have permission to enter the country of your final destination, if necessary.
24. What visa can I use to travel to the UN?

C-2 Visa

Individuals involved in the United Nations may use the C-2 Visa to travel to the U.N.

STEPS

You may petition for the C visas in person or by mail. Please contact the USCIS Branch, U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consular office that has jurisdiction over the location of your home.

DOCUMENTS

To apply for a C Visa, you must supply the following documents:

  • A filled-in visa application Form DS-156. Separate applications for each person are required.
  • Two recent photographs 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.

You must also prove the following:

  • You are entering the U.S. as a U.N. transit
  • You have enough funds to reach your proposed destination.
  • You have a ticket or other means to reach your proposed destination.
  • You have permission to enter the country of your final destination, if necessary.
25. What is the visa process for crewmen?

D-2 Visa

Crewmen serving in good faith for normal operations aboard vessels may apply for the D Visa. This classification includes musicians, stewards, technicians and chefs. This visa is specifically issued to a crewperson who serves aboard a fishing vessel with a home port or base of operation in the U.S. You should plan to land in and depart from Guam as a part of your crew duties.

STEPS

Application for the visa must be filed at the U.S. consulate abroad. While applying for landing privileges, you should submit your application in person, offer all necessary documents, be photographed and fingerprinted, establish that you are admissable under all relevant immigration laws and prove that you are entitled to landing privileges in the U.S.

DOCUMENTS

During inspection, you will need to show copies of empoyer work records to the immigration officer. If there is a strike or lockout, you will need to prove the following:

  • You have worked for your employer for at least one year longer than the beginning of the strike/lockout.
  • During this one-year period, you have worked as a crewman for your employer at least once in three different months.
  • You expect to continue working for your employer at this level.
26. Where can I find out more information about employment-based immigration?

Employment Based Immigration

Permanent immigration in the US comes with a variety of rights and privileges. One of the most widely used methods to obtain permanent immigration is through employment. There are five classifications for employment-based immigration. Please click on the category that best suits your situation.

EB-1 Priority workers

  1. Individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics.
  2. Outstanding profesors or researchers
  3. Managers and executives transfered to the US

EB-2 Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability

  1. Individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business
  2. Professionals with advanced degrees
  3. Physicians intending to practice medicine in underserved areas

EB-3 Skilled or professional workers

  1. Professionals with bachelor’s or equivalent degrees
  2. Skilled workers with at least two years experience
  3. Unskilled workers

EB-4 Special Immigrants

  1. Religious workers
  2. Employees and former employees of the US Government abroad

EB-5 Immigrant Investors

  1. Engaging/starting in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S.
  2. Showing that the new enterprise will either directly or indirectly create 10 or more jobs
27. Where can I get more information about the Diversity Lottery?

Diversity VISA “Green Card” Lottery

The Diversity Lottery Program allocates 55,000 new immigrant visas each year for individuals from underrepresented nations. A nation is considered underrepresented if less than 50,000 people from that nation immigrated to the US in the past five years.

ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for the Diversity Lottery Program, the applicant should have either a high school education, its equivalent or two years work experience within the last five years in a job which requires two years training.

The applicant or spouse must be a native of a nation eligible for the Diversity Lottery Program. The applicant may be eligible if his/her parent was born in a country eligible to participate in the lottery.

The Diversity Lottery Program randomly picks the 55,000 visa candidates. Individuals are chosen to receive the visa by chance, not by merit.

Spouse and children are eligible including spouses and children acquired after the entry submission.

STEPS

Each year, the Department of State publishes specific instructions on how to apply for the Diversity Visa. These instructions are typically made available in August, and the registration period usually begins in early October.

DOCUMENTS

Typically,the applicant only needs to submit a letter detailing personal information. However,directions must be followed exactly when writing this letter. Any deviation may result in disqualification.

While careful attention to instructions should be followed when completing the application, it is generally designed to be accessible to every qualified applicant without an attorney’s assistance. For more information on the diversity visa program, please click here to review the US State Department’s official instructions and news updates.

28. I am an asylee/refugee. How can I change status to permanent residency?

Asylum or Refugee Immigration

The U.S. immigration allows people who have well-founded fear of persecution to seek asylum or refugee status that will allow them to obtain permanent residency (green card). However, to qualify the applicant need to belong to one or more of the 5 categories of people who have well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her:

 

  1. race,
  2. nationality,
  3. religion,
  4. membership of a particular social group or because he or she is identified with a particular social group,
  5. political opinion that will subject him to persecution.

Also,the law requires that an applicant must apply within 1 year of arriving in the U.S. otherwise, applicant must show either extraordinary circumstances or changed circumstances in his or her home country.

Steps

You should apply for lawful permanent residency on Asylee Form I-485, application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status. You must have been in the US under asylee status for at least one year.

Documents

In addition to Form I-485, the following documents and forms are also required:

  1. Fingerprint fee (if you are between the ages of 14 and 79)
  2. Form I-485 filing fee
  3. Form G-28 (if applicable), signed by both you and your attorney/representative
  4. 2 photos in an envelope stapled to lower left corner of Form I-485. Please write your name and A-number (if you know it) in light pencil on the back of each photo.
  5. Signed Form G-325, if you are age 14 or older.
  6. Form I-693 Medical with Vaccination Supplement. An USCIS authorized civil surgeon must conduct this medical examination and complete the form.
  7. Evidence of Asylee Status. This may include a copy of your Form I-94 and a legible copy of the letter granting you asylum.
  8. Form IRS-9003, optional.
  9. Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver on Grounds of Excludability, if applicable.
  10. Evidence that you have been in the US for at least one year.
  11. Proof of any absences from the US since you have been granted asylum.
  12. A birth certificate or other birth record.
  13. Proof of any legal name changes made since you were granted asylum status.
29. What is the process for sponsoring a spouse?

Diversity VISA “Green Card” Lottery

The Diversity Lottery Program allocates 55,000 new immigrant visas each year for individuals from underrepresented nations. A nation is considered underrepresented if less than 50,000 people from that nation immigrated to the US in the past five years.

ELIGIBILITY

To be eligible for the Diversity Lottery Program, the applicant should have either a high school education, its equivalent or two years work experience within the last five years in a job which requires two years training.

The applicant or spouse must be a native of a nation eligible for the Diversity Lottery Program. The applicant may be eligible if his/her parent was born in a country eligible to participate in the lottery.

The Diversity Lottery Program randomly picks the 55,000 visa candidates. Individuals are chosen to receive the visa by chance, not by merit.

Spouse and children are eligible including spouses and children acquired after the entry submission.

STEPS

Each year, the Department of State publishes specific instructions on how to apply for the Diversity Visa. These instructions are typically made available in August, and the registration period usually begins in early October.

DOCUMENTS

Typically,the applicant only needs to submit a letter detailing personal information. However,directions must be followed exactly when writing this letter. Any deviation may result in disqualification.

While careful attention to instructions should be followed when completing the application, it is generally designed to be accessible to every qualified applicant without an attorney’s assistance. For more information on the diversity visa program, please click here to review the US State Department’s official instructions and news updates.

30. I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Can I sponsor my family for immigration to the U.S.?

Family Based Immigration

Permanent immigration in the US comes with a variety of rights and privileges. One method to obtaining lawful permanent residency is through a relative who is either a citizen of the US or a lawful permanent resident.

Steps

There are two categories for unlimited family-based immigration:

  1. mmediate Relatives of US Citizens (IR): A spouse, widow or unmarried child under the age or 21 of a US citizen.This category also includes parents of adult US citizens
  2. Returning Residents (SB): Immigrants who previously lived inthe US under lawful permanent resident status. These individuals should be returning to live in the US after being abroad for more than one year.

There are four preference categories for limited family-based immigration:

  1. First Preference : Unmarried children over the age of 21 of US citizens.
  2. Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under the age of 21, and unmarried children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents.
  3. Third Preference : Married children of US citizens.
  4. Fourth Preference : Siblings of adult US citizens.

Your relative should first submit an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This form should be accompanied by proof of your relationship to your relative.

Upon approval of this petition, the Department of State will determine if an immigrant visa number is available for you. When a number becomes available, you may apply for assignment of that number.

Documents

In order to sponsor a relative for lawful permanent residency, you must prove the following:

  1. You are a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the US.
  2. You can support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.

You must also show proof of your relationship with your relative.

Immigrant Visas Through Adoption

International adoption is a big issue to Americans of varying backgrounds. However, the process can be cumbersome, long, tedious and costly. Good and early planning before getting into it is what anyone planning adoption needs to undertake. We can advise you on the various requirements for international adoption if you reside in the State of Illinois beginning from whether you are ligible to adopt a child overseas, Illinois foster parent licensing, steps for planning for home study in Illinois, steps for locating the child overseas or if you have an identifiable child and how do you know whether the child is considered an orphan or not under the U.S. immigration law, and on how to file necessary documents that will allow you to bring the child into the U.S. One simple advice, do your homework to avoid legal, emotional and financisal stresses!

31. Where can I find out more information about the LIFE Act and Amendments?

Life Act and Amendments

On December 21, 2000 the President signed into law significant new immigration legislation, effective April 1, 2001. The Legal Immigration and Family Equity (LIFE) Act and amendments have effectively created new categories of nonimmigrant visas, including three V Visas, the K-3 Visa and the K-4 Visa. Extremely helpful for second preference beneficiaries and spouses of U.S. citizens, these visas will help ease the immigration process for thousands of individuals, and reunite families separated for long periods of time during the process of immigration.

The new categories will allow the issuance of nonimmigrant visas to spouses, children and, in some cases, grandchildren of both lawful permanent resident aliens and spouses of U.S. citizens. Beneficiaries may apply for admission to the U.S. as nonimmigrants and then remain in the U.S. until the visa petition is approved or denied. If the petition is approved, beneficiaries may continue to remain in the U.S. until the application for adjustment of status is approved or denied, or may seek an immigrant visa at a consular office abroad.

These new categories specifically relate to spouses and children for whom an immigrant visa or adjustment of status is not available even though the petition has been filed. This unavailability may be due to lengthy processing delays or the absence of available visa numbers due to annual visa limitations.

V VISAS

The new V category is open to spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of legal permanent residents (LPRs) who have filed petitions for second preference (F2A) status with the USCIS on their behalf. These petitions must have been filed on or before December 21, 2000. Unmarried children under the age of 21 of those beneficiaries may also be eligible for this classification.

Spouses who qualify for this status will be classified as V1; children will be classified as V2; and derivative children of either spouses or children will be classified as V3. In order to be classified as V3, applicants must show that they are the children of V1 or V2 status individuals. All applicants must be eligible for visa issuance under all other applicable immigration laws. Because V Visas are only available for petitions filed on or before December 21, 2000, the category will eventually fade either in three years or when there are no more eligible candidates.

STEPS

Applicants must show that they have been waiting at least three years for action by the USCIS on their petition. If the USCIS has approved the petition, applicants must demonstrate they have not received a visa number due to worldwide numerical limitations, or that their adjustment of status or immigrant visa is still pending.

The National Visa Center will send a special notice to all applicants who filed petitions on or before December 21, 2000 when the priority date is at least three years old (as long as the USCIS has a petition record in its files at the National Visa Center). The informative letter will outline the required documents and will instruct applicants to contact a visa issuing post. The letter will also contain relevant contact information. V Visas will only be processed at current IV-issuing posts. Applicants must apply at the consular post designated in their I-130 petition. Posts will only process applicants who are residents of their consular districts or who are residents of their IV centralized region.

DOCUMENTS

Because the V Visa functions as a substitute for an immigrant visa, much of the process is similar to that of obtaining an immigrant visa. Applicants may be asked to provide local documents establishing family relations and, in some cases, testimonials to establish the truth of these relationships. Applicants may also be asked to present evidence to establish that their health and criminal backgrounds meet standards sufficient to protect the American public.

K-3 AND K-4 VISAS

The new K visas are open to spouses of U.S. citizens who are the beneficiaries of an immigrant visa petition (I-130). The spouses’ unmarried children under the age of 21 are also eligible. Unlike the V category, there are no laws enabling visa issuance for grandchildren of the spouse or the petitioner.

STEPS

Spouses who qualify for this status will be classified as K3. In order to obtain K3 classification, the nonimmigrant visa petition must have been filed in the U.S. by the U.S. citizen spouse. Applicants must demonstrate that their marriage to a U.S. citizen is valid, that they are the beneficiaries of an I-130 immigrant visa petition filed with the USCIS , and that they wish to enter the U.S. to await approval of the I-130 petition or the availability of an immigrant visa.

If the petition has been approved, beneficiaries may wish to process their immigrant visas rather than the K3 visa. When the beneficiary applies for the nonimmigrant K3 visa the consular officer will ask whether they wish to find out if the approved petition has been received from USCIS . If so, the applicant may then have the petition forwarded to the processing consular so that the applicant may file an immigrant visa application. The application should be filed at the consular post designated by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services to process immigrant visa applications for nationals of the country in which the K3 processing post is located.

Children of spouses who qualify for this status will be classified as K4. In order to obtain K4 classification, the candidate must establish that he/she is the child of an alien entitled to K3 classification. If the marriage of the beneficiary to the U.S. citizen took place abroad, the visa must be issued in the country where the marriage took place. If the country does not have a consular post, the beneficiary must apply at the consular post designated by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services to accept immigrant visa applications from nationals of that country. If the marriage took place in the U.S. the applications must be filed in the country of residence of the alien spouse.

DOCUMENTS

Because the K3 and K4 Visas function as substitutes for immigrant visas, much of the process is similar to that of obtaining an immigrant visa. Applicants may be asked to provide local documents establishing family relations and, in some cases, testimonials to establish the truth of these relationships. Applicants may also be asked to present evidence to establish that their health and criminal backgrounds meet standards sufficient to protect the American public.

32. Is there a temporary visa classification for fiancees?

K-1 VISA

A fiance(e) of an American citizen who will be entering the U.S. solely to marry that American citizen should apply for a K-1 Visa. The marriage should take place within 90 days of enrtering the U.S. Minor children of the fiancees can apply for a K-2 status and enter the U.S. The K-1 Visa enables one to apply for conditional permanent resident status.

STEPS

The American citizen should first file a petition, Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance(e), with the USCIS having jurisdiction over the place of the his/her residence in the U.S. The approved petition will then be forwarded by USCIS to the American consular office where the benecifiary will apply for his/her visa.

A petition for K-1 status is valid for four months from the date of USCIS action, and may be revalidated by the consular officer. The consular officer will then notify the beneficiary when the approved petition is received and provide you with the necessary forms and instructions to apply for a K-1 Visa. Because you are an intending immigrant, you must meet certain requirements similar to the requirements of an immigrant visa applicant.

DOCUMENTS:

The following documents are required for the K-1 Visa:

  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for a duration more than the intended period of stay by at least six months.
  • A birth certificate.
  • A divorce or death certificate of any previous spouse.
  • Police certification of all the places you have lived since the age of 16.
  • A medical examination.
  • Evidence of support.
  • Evidence of a valid relationship with your fiance(e).
  • Two recent photographs 1 & 1/2 inches square (37mm x 37mm) , with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
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