Thursday, September 20, 2012

Get a Green Card for Your Family Member

Nearly everyone wants to come to the United States. And they seek out various ways in which they can achieve this goal of theirs. So they choose to enter the country with a non-immigrant visa, using which they can stay in the country temporarily; or they come with the immigrant visa - better known as the green card. The green card allows them to stay permanently in the United States. It is also their ticket to work here permanently.

Being a lawful permanent resident guarantees a lot of benefits, and we will look at those benefits in detail later. We will however discuss how being a green card holder benefits your family.

When you talk about coming to the US because it is a land of opportunities, you are looking to secure your future. And definitely for a majority of the people the future includes their family. As a green card holder yourself, you can sponsor a green card for your family. You can sponsor your spouse and your unmarried children who are below the age of 21.

Since you are a permanent resident only, you will be able to sponsor only your spouse and unmarried children below 21 years of age. Though you can sponsor them, they will not get the visas immediately. There is a wait list for the immigrant visa and your family will have to wait until visas are available for them.

If you are really keen on family unity and want your family with you in the United States at the earliest, your best bet yet may be to become a US citizen yourself. The rights of a US citizen are more than that of a lawful permanent resident. As a citizen you can sponsor your family for green cards and there is no wait time associated with the process for immediate members of your family.

Who are these immediate family members? Your spouse, unmarried children below the age of 21, and your parents. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that if you are a US citizen and want to sponsor a parent, you need to be above the age of 21. Simple isn't it. You don't have to wait for ages to get a visa.

The green card sponsoring process goes like this - you file a form to establish the relationship between you and the family member(s) you want to sponsor. While you are filing that petition you also need to establish that you can support them when they come to the United States and that they will not become dependent on the government for support/benefits.

Once this petition is approved a visa is made available for your family member(s). They will be called for an interview at the US consulate closest to where they reside. They will need to have had a medical examination by then and take the results along with the other requested documents. Once your relatives pass the interview successfully, they will be granted immigration visas and they can immediately come to the United States.

If you have been in the United States for 5 years as a permanent resident, you can apply for citizenship through the naturalization process. If you are in the US as a permanent resident, have been married to a US citizen for 3 years, you can apply for naturalization.

For permanent residents to sponsor their relatives, they will have to wait for a long time for visas to become available. For US citizens, the wait time is only as long as your initial petition is approved. Analyze your situation and see which route suits you best.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Business Immigration

People come to the United States all the time. The reason for entering the country are different. There are instances where a person comes to America for one thing and decides to do something else. There is also the problem of people who enter the country without any documents - what is commonly referred to as illegal immigration.

To make things easier for all concerned, the US government through the Department of State (DoS) and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) constantly tries to streamline processes and procedures. They have different categories of visas in place. Visas for short term visits, visas to allow people to work in the United States, visas that allow people to invest in the country, visas for refugees and asylees, visas for people from certain countries, trade visas, the list goes on.

America is known as the melting pot and the land of opportunities. A place where people think all their dreams will be fulfilled. America is indeed an amalgamation of various cultures and traditions. Except for the Native Americans, nearly everyone else can be called an immigrant because all their ancestors came and settled in the country at some period in history!

While a lot of people want to come to the United States to settle permanently, get a green card and then graduate to citizenship, there are those who come for temporary purposes. One of the many temporary purposes is business. There are people who do not want to live permanently in the United States but would like to come here just for the sake of business - maybe to start a business, expand an existing business, form a joint-venture, etc. So, these people too need visas which will prove that they are in the United States legally.

The USCIS has visas that are specifically meant for business persons:

B-1 Business Visa - This visa allows a person to enter the US for business purposes. It is generally a multi-entry visa, which means the visa is valid for multiple entries. The visa may be given for a period ranging from 6 months to 10 years.

WB Temporary Business Visitor - This visa is issued under the Visa Waiver Program to citizens of eligible countries.

GB Temporary Business Visitor - The GB temporary visitor visa is issued only to those persons who are visiting Guam for a short period.

Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program - The Guam-CNMI visa waiver program offers visas to visitors to Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.

Each visa comes with its own applications, procedures, processes, fees, and visa validity. We will look at each business visa category separately in the next few blog posts over the coming weeks.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Filing Tips for Deferred Action

There is a lot of excitement over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. And it is not surprising considering that it means youngsters can continue to live in the land they consider their own.

In all the excitement about getting deferred action, it is very important to make sure that you file your application properly. That you don't end the process even before it begins. To do this you need to keep a few things in mind.

Before we look at the tips, you first need to make sure that you are eligible for the benefit. Make sure you are between 15 and 31 years of age. If you are 31 as on June 15, 2012 you cannot file for deferred action.

  1. Deferred action is requested by filing three forms together - I-821D, Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, I-765, Employment Authorization Document and I-765WS, Worksheet. Remember that you need to establish an economic need for employment. Only then your application for work authorization will be considered.
  2. Complete all three applications fully. Do not leave any field blank unless the form requests that it left blank (usually sections that are meant for the USCIS to update while reviewing your forms). For questions that are not applicable to you, or if for any question your answer is 'none', then you can leave the space for the answer blank. Common information that goes into these forms, like name, age, address, should be identical. For example, if on one form you enter your name as Mary E Deer, make sure that's exactly how you enter it on all applications. If you use the initial for your middle name in one form and expand it in another form, your application process can be delayed.
  3. Make sure that you follow all the instruction for all three forms. When you have completed the forms, remember to sign them.
  4. Check the edition of the forms and make sure you are using the correct edition. Also, don't get confused between I-821 and I-821D. Remember you have to file I-821D.
  5. Include the $465 fees and all the supporting documents with your applications. Your applications cannot be e-filed, that is, they cannot be filed online on the government website. You will have to mail your application packet to the correct USCIS Lockbox address, which you can find on the form instructions.
  6. Make a copy of all that you send to the USCIS and keep them for your records. Also, remember that you need not send an original document with your application. Photocopies of supporting documents are enough. The USCIS will ask you for the originals if they do require them.

These are very important things that you need to keep in mind. Please go through your application after  you have completed them. In case you made a mistake on any form, USCIS recommends that you start afresh with a new form. Don't worry, the forms are free!