Monday, December 2, 2013

Validity Period of Immigrant Visas

When a U.S. Embassy or Consulate issues an immigrant visa, that visa is usually valid for 6 months. The Foreign Affairs Manual, which contains the regulations of the U.S. Department of State, actually states that the validity period must not exceed 6 months. In a recent webchat, however, the U.S. Embassy London has stated that it will issue immigrant visas with a validity period which expires 6 months from the date of the medical examination, rather than 6 months from the date of the immigrant visa interview. Applicants who do not plan to immediately move to the U.S. after the issuance of their immigrant visas must take this into consideration and not schedule their medical exams with the Embassy's panel physician too far in advance.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Voting - False Claims to U.S. Citizenship

On this Election Day, I thought it would be wise to remind readers that, unless you are a U.S. citizen, it is unlawful for you to vote.  Voting in an election in the U.S. is considered a false claim to U.S. citizenship, which is a ground of inadmissibility and a ground of deportability.  Thus, even if you have already been granted U.S. permanent residence, if you vote in an election in the U.S., you could be placed in removal (i.e., deportation) proceedings and actually removed from the U.S.  Voting in an election in the U.S. if you are not a U.S. citizen could also lead to criminal charges.

A false claim to U.S. citizenship also arises in the context of checking the "A citizen of the United States" box on a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.  The use of a fraudulent U.S. birth certificate or a fraudulent U.S. passport is also considered a false claim to U.S. citizenship.

Although a waiver of inadmissiblity is available to a nonimmigrant visa applicant, who made a false claim to U.S. citizenship, there is no waiver of inadmissiblity to an immigrant visa applicant or an applicant for adjustment of status in the U.S.  Thus, the consequences can be very harsh.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Entering the U.S. Under the Visa Waiver Program

In the past, when a person entered the U.S. as a visitor under the Visa Waiver Program ("VWP"), a little green card called an I-94W was issued to the traveler. The I-94W would show when and where the person entered the U.S. It would also show when that person's visitor status would expire (90 days after entry).

Recently, however, the practice of issuing I-94W cards was eliminated. Now, the Immigration Inspector at the port of entry will stamp just the passport and only write either "WB" or "WT" (Waiver Business or Waiver Tourist). There is no policy or requirement to write at the bottom of the stamp the expiration date of the person's visitor status. The Immigration Inspector is also not required to advise the visitor when his or her status expires.

This could be very problematical and could cause people to overstay. Once a person overstays under the VWP, that person can never again legally enter the U.S. under the VWP. That person must always have a valid visa in order to enter the U.S.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Filing Joint Tax Return When Spouse is Unlawfully Present

If you are a U.S. citizen who is married to a foreign national and plan to file an I-130 petition on behalf of your spouse, you should file a joint income tax return. When you file the I-130 petition, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will want to see evidence that you and your spouse have a bona fide relationship. One of the key documents in showing a bona fide relationship is a joint income tax return. If your spouse is without legal immigration status in the United States, you can still file a joint return. Although your spouse may not have a valid Social Security Number, your spouse can request an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number ("ITIN") by filing a Form W-7 with the tax return. Foreign nationals who have federal tax reporting or filing requirements, but do not qualify for Social Security Numbers, can obtain ITINs. For more information, please see the Internal Revenue Service's website at,,id=222209,00.html.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Change of Status vs. Adjustment of Status

The world of immigration law is full of jargon, and it is very important to use that jargon correctly. One of the most common mistakes I see is the misuse of the term "change of status". A change of status has nothing to with U.S. permanent residence or a "green card". The term refers to a change from one nonimmigrant status to another. For example, someone who enters the U.S. as a B-2 visitor may later decide to attend school in the U.S. That person would need to apply for a change of status from B-2 visitor to F-1 student.

The term "adjustment of status", on the other hand, refers to the process for obtaining U.S. permanent residence (i.e., a "green card") while in the U.S. The person applies to adjust his or her nonimmigrant status to U.S. permanent residence. For example, someone who enters the U.S. as a B-2 visitor may later marry a U.S. citizen and apply for adjustment of status based on that marriage.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Just Say "No"

Prior to the visa interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy for an immigrant visa or for a K-1, fiance visa, the applicant must undergo a medical examination with the consular post's panel physician. As part of that medical exam, the applicant will be asked about prior drug and alcohol use, and a blood sample will be taken to test for drugs in the system. If the drug test comes back positive, the visa will be denied, and the applicant will need to wait 3 years before applying again. Thus, it is very important that the applicant have a clean system at the time of the medical exam.

If, after 3 years, the applicant wishes to apply for the visa again, he or she will also need to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. If the visa application is based on a relationship with a U.S. citizen, either as the spouse or the fiance, the applicant will need to show extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen if the U.S. citizen must (1) live in the applicant's home country in order to be with the applicant; and (2) live in the U.S. without the applicant.

Friday, October 30, 2009

President Obama Signs Bill and Extends Programs

On Wednesday, October 28, 2009, President Obama signed into law the FY10 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill (P.L. 111-83). The law extends through September 30, 2012 the following programs: "Conrad 30" for J-1 waivers for physicians, the EB-5 Pilot Program for Regional Centers and E-Verify. It also extends the ability of non-minister religious workers to file Special Immigrant Religious Worker Petitions in order to obtain U.S. permanent residence.