Articles Posted in Visitors

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Indian nationals currently living in India who wish to receive an immigrant or non-immigrant visa to travel to the United States typically must attend an interview at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. These interviews are conducted in order to determine applicant’s eligibility to receive a visa prior to traveling to the United States. As such, being prepared to answer whatever questions are posed by the Immigration Officer in addition to presenting documentation to support any answers provided by the applicant are the keys to a successful interview.

Immigration Officers have indicated that they are typically more interested in what the applicants say over what is reported on the documents that are submitted in support of their applications. Despite this emphasis on applicant responses during the interview, it is essential that the applicant has documentation to support what is said during the interview to corroborate the statements made. Applicants should be completely prepared to answer any questions posed by an Immigration Officer in a clear and articulate manner and be able to put forth evidence to substantiate a claim.

General Interviewing Tips

In general, applicants must be able to confidently answer questions about why they are traveling to the United States, their intent to abide by the terms of the visa and their overall plans while in the United States. For nonimmigrant visas, Immigration Officers will likely ask questions that will evoke from the applicant any intent to permanently reside in the United States. If the Immigration Officer believes you intend to permanently remain in the United States, the nonimmigrant visa will be denied. For immigrant visa applicants, Immigration Officers will ask questions to verify the truthfulness of applicant statements.

Some questions asked by the Immigration Officer might be: “What are your ties to India” (social, economic, family)?”; “Why did you choose the particular university?”; and “How did you and your spouse meet?” In addition, Immigration Officers may pose hypothetical “what if” questions, such as: “What would you do if you won the lottery in the United States?” or even “What if a U.S. citizen proposes marriage to you?” Finally, applicants for work visas should be able to talk about the specifics of job duties in the United States. The applicant’s ability to clearly, confidently and consistently answer these types of questions will be the ultimate deciding factor in the approval or denial of a visa.

Although these questions might begin to feel uncomfortable and accusatorial, the U.S. Embassy and consular offices in India have indicated that they are working on making the interview process less adversarial in nature.
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254399_travelling_with_suitcase.jpgThe H1B portability provisions allow foreign nationals to travel abroad while in between employers so long as the H1B petition with their previous employer is still valid, and they can reenter under another valid status. Let’s say you have an H1B visa status to work for Company A. Then while your H1B status is still valid, your employment with Company A ends, and then you leave the United States. You return to the United States a few months later on a B2 visitor visa. While you are in the United States, you want to begin employment with Company B. How soon can you begin working?

You can port even when you are not in H1B status. If your H1B visa for Company A is still valid, once Company B files an H1B petition on your behalf, you can begin working for the company immediately under the H1B portability provisions. You can still take advantage of portability even if you are not in H1B status, so long as you are in the United States in an authorized period of stay. You do not have to be in H1B status, you have to have a valid H1B petition.
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844824_globe_usa.jpgUnder certain circumstances, a foreign national with an expired nonimmigrant visa may travel outside of the United States and reenter without first obtaining a new visa stamp from the consulate abroad. Normally, foreign nationals are not permitted to enter the US with expired nonimmigrant visas. However, many non-immigrants who are in valid visa status do not have a current visa stamp in their passport because a visa stamp is not necessary unless one seeks to travel abroad and reenter the US.

This provision of the immigration law is known as automatic revalidation, which presumes a visa to be automatically revalidated on that date the foreign national crossed the US border provided that the person’s non-immigrant status is still valid. Foreign national visitors holding non-immigrant visas that have expired may travel abroad and return to the US under the automatic revalidation provision if they meet certain criteria.
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382px-Flag_map_of_Indiana.svg.pngThe ink is still drying on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision regarding SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial immigration law, where the Court invalidated several parts of the law while upholding one of the challenged provisions. The decision is already having an impact around the country. An immigration law passed in Indiana in 2011, and modeled on Arizona’s law, is currently the subject of federal litigation. The Indiana branch of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued on behalf of three immigrants challenging the law’s constitutionality. Much like in Arizona, a judge enjoined enforcement of parts of the law last year.

The decision in Arizona v. United States struck down three of the four challenged provisions in Arizona’s law. It affirmed the constitutionality of the provision requiring police to inquire into a person’s immigration status during a legal stop if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is undocumented. The Court put limitations on how the state may enforce the provision, holding, for example, that police cannot engage in racial profiling or otherwise violate the equal protection provisions of the Constitution. Whether the state will abide by that part of the ruling remains to be seen.
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flickr-3430916640-original_mod.jpgIn what both major sides of the national immigration debate are calling a victory, the Supreme Court ruled on the case challenging Arizona’s controversial immigration law. The court struck down three of the four challenged provisions, but affirmed the constitutionality of the provision requiring state and local law enforcement to investigate a person’s immigration status if, during a legal stop, the officer has probable to cause to suspect that the person lacks legal status. This provision, along with the other three, raised questions about whether the state was infringing on areas of federal government authority. In striking down three of the questionable provisions of the law, the Supreme Court has mostly affirmed that the federal government has authority over matters pertaining to immigration law and policy. The provision that they upheld may cause problems for immigrants, immigration attorneys, and law enforcement for some time.

The Obama administration’s lawsuit challenged the constitutionality of Arizona’s SB 1070, the comprehensive immigration law it passed in the summer of 2010. The provisions of the law reviewed by the Supreme Court have never gone into effect because of various court orders. The four challenged provisions would:
– Make it a state crime for an undocumented immigrant to seek employment;
– Make it a state crime for any immigrant to not carry immigration documents;
– Allow police to arrest, without a warrant, someone they believe to have committed an offense that would render them deportable under federal immigration law; and – Require police to investigate suspects’ immigration status.
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320px-Border_Mexico_USA.jpgA complaint filed in May with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) demands investigations of alleged abuse by officials along the U.S.-Mexico border. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) references eleven cases involving allegations that agents of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) abused individuals seeking to enter the United States at various points of entry (POE’s), with acts of abuse ranging from unwarranted searches and detention to outright assault.

Most of the individuals in the reported cases are citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States. The complaint, which is an informal request rather than a lawsuit, requests investigations of the eleven individual cases and general investigations into the training and conduct of CBP officers. This issue affects more than just undocumented immigrants, as the alleged conduct includes people with legal immigration status nevertheless subjected to alleged abuse at the border.
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1375670_54250678.jpgThe United States Department of Justice (DOJ), through its Civil Rights Division, filed a federal lawsuit against the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) in Arizona and its sheriff, Joe Arpaio. Sheriff Arpaio and the MCSO have been the subject of controversy for years, with numerous allegations of blatant racial profiling against Latinos, mistreatment Latinos in MCSO custody, harassment of the office’s critics, and more.

This is far from the first legal action against Arpaio and the MCSO, but it is the first large-scale civil rights lawsuit brought by the federal government. The alleged tactics of the MCSO have a profound impact on immigrant communities in Arizona, regardless of whether they have documented immigration status, which affects immigrants around the nation.
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320px-Facebook_by_countriespng2.pngTwo United States senators, Democrats Charles Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, have introduced a bill that addresses the increasingly common issue of U.S. citizens who renounce their citizenship, sometimes in order to avoid tax obligations. The bill, known as the Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy Act, or “Ex-PATRIOT Act,” would create a presumption of intent to evade taxes for certain individuals who renounce their citizenship. The two senators specifically cited the case of Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of the popular social networking site Facebook, as a motivation for the bill.

The 30 year-old Saverin, who was born in Brazil, moved to the U.S. in 1992 and became a naturalized citizen in 1998. He was one of the original founders of Facebook and was prominently featured in the 2010 film The Social Network, which presented a somewhat-fictionalized account of the company’s origins. Saverin moved to Singapore in 2009, where he has invested heavily in various businesses in Brazil, Asia, and the United States. He reportedly began the process of renouncing his U.S. citizenship in September 2011, and the Federal Register published a notice of his renunciation on April 30, 2012.
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Klezmer_crop_05212012.jpgU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), through it Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) issued a binding precedent decision recently that affects P-3 nonimmigrant visas. P-3 visas allow artists or entertainers to enter the United States to perform works that are “culturally unique.” The AAO examined what may qualify as “culturally unique,” as required by statute. The statute does not actually identify the term “culturally unique,” however.

Artists and entertainers may temporarily visit the United States on a P-3 visa to perform, coach, or teach, but their program must be “culturally unique.” USCIS has generally interpreted this to mean that the performer’s program must be unique or traditional in the performer’s ethnic or cultural background, and the intent of the performance should be to promote education and understanding of the art form. A sponsoring organization or employer files a petition for a P-3 visa that includes a description and schedule of the event or events, a copy of the contract between the petitioner and the performer, and evidence supporting the claim of cultural uniqueness. Such evidence may include affidavits, testimonials from experts, or published reviews demonstrating the uniqueness of the performer’s skills.
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Dayton-ohio-skyline_05212012.jpgThe City of Dayton, Ohio made headlines last year when the City Commission voted unanimously to make the city “immigrant-friendly.” This includes supporting immigrant communities both in business and community involvement. The policy has now met with some success in boosting the city’s economy. Of particular note is how the city has called on its immigrant community to draw in more immigrants. The policy has drawn both positive and negative reactions, both from within Dayton and from around the country.

The city’s “Welcome Dayton” plan began with a review by Dayton’s Human Relations Council of alleged housing discrimination affecting Latino residents. This occurred amid the national debate over immigration sparked by tough new state-level immigration laws passed in Arizona, Alabama, and elsewhere. Certain city officials recognized the benefits that immigrants can bring to a new community. With a dwindling population and a local economy that has been stagnant at best, supporting immigrant-friendly policies made political sense. The City Commission unanimously approved the Welcome Dayton plan on October 5, 2011. It features support for immigrant-owned business start-ups, encouragement of immigrant involvement in city government, language services, and immigrant access to public health and other services.
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