B-1 VISA for Business Visitors
What is the B-1 visa category ?
The B-1 visa category allows foreign business persons to enter the U.S. for temporary periods of time to “conduct business” on behalf of their foreign employer.
? What activities are authorized on the B-1 visa
The B-1 visa does not provide the right to work in the U.S. The applicant can attend meetings, set up business entities, open bank accounts, attend seminars and conduct other temporary business in the U.S. The visa holder should remain on the payroll of the foreign employer and receive no compensation from a U.S. source.
?How long can you stay in the U.S. in B-1 status
Upon arrival at the port of entry a customs officer will determine the amount of time you may remain in the U.S. Generally the period of authorized stay in B-1 status is 6 months. If you receive authorization to remain less than 6 months, it may be an indication that there is an issue with your file. It is recommended you speak with your immigration attorney.
Individuals with Extraordinary Ability
?What is an O-1A visa
The O-1A nonimmigrant visa is for an individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics (not including the arts, motion pictures or television industry). To qualify for an O-1A visa, you must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim. Extraordinary ability in the fields of science, education, business or athletics means a level of expertise indicating that the person is one of the small percentage who has risen to the very top of their field.
What is an O-1B Visa ?
The O-1B nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion pictures or the television industry. For O-1B purposes, the definition of “arts” is broad and includes any field of creative activity or endeavor such as fine arts, visual arts, culinary arts, and performing arts. “Extraordinary ability” in the field means “distinction” a high level of achievement in the field of the arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above the ordinary. To qualify for an O-1B visa in the motion picture or television industry, you must demonstrate extraordinary achievement evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered.
Does O-1 status require a U.S. based sponsor ?
The O-1 can be sponsored by a U.S.–based company or agent. It is important to note that O-1 applicants cannot self-petition.
How long can I remain in the US in O-1 status ?
The period of stay in O-1 status is tied to the duration of the event or the activity for which you were admitted to the U.S. up to a maximum of three years. There is no limit for extensions as long as the offered employment is ongoing. Extensions after the initial 3 year period are given for one year.
What are the advantages of an O-1 visa ?
You can apply for premium processing with an additional filing fee of $2500 and USCIS will adjudicate the file within 15 days. Assistants can qualify for O-2 visas. The spouse and minor children can qualify for O-3 visas, they cannot seek employment but they may go to school. The O-1 visa is issued for three years and allows for unlimited extensions as long as your work continues.
P-1 Visa for Individual or Team, Athlete or Member of an Entertainment Group
What is a P-1 visa ?
The P visa category is appropriate for a group of artists, athletes and culturally unique artists entering the U.S.
Who can qualify for a P-1B visa for entertainers?
The P-1B visa is for members of an internationally recognized entertainment group who wish to enter the U.S. to perform. The category includes musical groups, dance troupes, and acting companies.
What are the requirements for a P-1B visa for entertainers?
The group must be internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a “sustained and substantial period of time”. The group also must have been established for a minimum of one year.
Who can enter the U.S. on a P-1 visa for athletes ?
A P-1 visa is for athletes who are coming to the U.S. to participate in an athletic competition that has a distinguished reputation.
What are the requirements for the P-1 visa for athletes ?
The P-1 category includes all athletes who perform at an internationally recognized level of performance either as individual athletes or athletes who are members of certain professional leagues. The P-1 also .includes athletes and coaches who participate in certain amateur leagues
?How long can I stay in the US on a P-1 visa
The P-1 visa is tied to the duration of a specific event, competition or performance up to five years with extensions not to exceed a total stay of ten years.
Can my family join me ?
Yes, your spouse and minor children (i.e. unmarried children under the age of 21) may accompany or visit (under a P-4 visa). Note that dependents on a P-4 visa may not work in the U.S.
What is P-2 Visa?
The P-2 visa is reserved for artists and entertainers who perform individually or as part of a group. The performance must be pursuant to a reciprocal exchange program between one or more U.S. organizations and one or more such organizations in other countries that provides for the temporary exchange of artists and entertainers.
What is P-3 Visa ?
The P-3 visa is granted to culturally unique artists and entertainers, individually or as a group, coming to the United States to develop, interpret, represent, coach, or teach their particular art or discipline.
What are the advantages of the P1 Visa ?
The P-1 category is available to a wide variety of athletes who may qualify under its provisions. There is no national cap on the number of nonimmigrants who may enter the U.S. on a P-1 visa. P-1 holders may perform for payment and/or for prize money. They may undertake part-time study while in the U.S. and travel freely both inside and outside the U.S. while the visa remains valid.
Student and Exchange Visitor visas
What is the difference between an F-1 and M-1 visa ?
The F-1 (academic student) visa is used by students for academic and language training courses. The F-1 visa allows entry to the U.S. as a full-time student at an accredited college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, elementary school, or other academic institution or in a language training program. The M-1 visa (vocational student) category includes students in vocational or other nonacademic programs other than language training.
Can I legally work while on an F-1 or M-1 visa ?
F-1 students may not work off campus during the first year of studies, but may work on campus for up to 20 hours per week. After the first academic year, F-1 students may engage in three types of off campus employment:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is a program offered by sponsoring employers through cooperative agreements with the school. CPT is available only prior to the completion of the degree program and must be a required course.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows certain international students to work off-campus for 12 months upon completion of the degree to gain practical training in an area directly related to the degree program.
- STEM - Certain F-1 students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees may apply for a 24-month extension of their post-completion optional practical training (OPT).
Do I need a job offer to apply for OPT or CPT ?
You do not need to have a job offer to apply for OPT which can take place anywhere in the U.S. CPT does
.require a job offer at the time of application
How long can I stay in the U.S. on a student visa ?
The period of stay in the U.S. is determined by the duration of the school’s program. A student is admitted for the “duration of status” which refers to the period a student is pursuing a full course of study, plus any authorized practical training following completion. A student can be admitted to the U.S. up to 30 days prior to the report date and may remain 60 days after completion of the program or practical training.
What is a J-1 visa ?
The J-1 visa is also known as the exchange visitor visa. It is a temporary visa for the purpose of study and/or employment for foreign visitors. The visa applicant must be sponsored by an organization enrolled in an exchange program approved by the U.S. Department of State.
What are the various Exchange Visitor visa programs ?
There are several categories of exchange visitor programs which include: Au pair and EduCare; Camp Counselor; Government Visitor; Business Intern; International Visitor (used by the Dept. of State); Physician; Professor and Research Scholar; Short-term Scholar; Specialist; Secondary school and college students; Summer Work & Travel; Teachers and Trainees. Each of these programs has a list of sponsors that are authorized by the U.S. Department of State. Only the designated sponsors are allowed to sponsor a candidate for a J-1 exchange visitor visa.
How can my company become a sponsor for the J-1 visa ?
Any organization wishing to become a sponsor has to send an application to the Department of State. To be eligible for designation as a program sponsor, the organization must demonstrate its ability to comply with and remain in continual compliance with all provisions of the exchange visitor program regulations.
How long can I stay on a J-1 visa?
The duration of stay is dependent upon the program, which will have its own set of rules. Your stay will be sponsored for the duration of the program plus 30 days.
What is the two year residency requirement for a J-1 visa ?
The two-year home residency requirement (known as 212(e)), applies to certain J-1 visa holders. It requires you to return home for at least two years after the end of the exchange visitor program.
How do I know if I am subject to the two year residency requirement ?
Program sponsors should inform exchange visitors about this requirement. It will also be brought up at the time of the visa interview. If you are unsure whether this requirement applies to you, you can request that the Department of State, Waiver Review Division provide an advisory opinion. The two year residency requirement primarily applies to government funded exchange programs and graduate medical education/training.
What is a J-1 waiver ?
If a J-1 visitor who is subject to a two year home residency requirement and is unable to fulfill it, he/she may apply for a waiver. A waiver must first be approved by the Department of State, Waiver Review Division which then recommends that USCIS grant the final waiver.
FAMILY BASED IMMIGRATION
U.S. immigration law allows certain family members to become lawful permanent residents (get a Green Card) based on specific family relationships. There are two major categories of family-based immigrants: immediate relatives and family preference. The priority that the immigrant will receive in obtaining a green card depends on the category you qualify for.
Immediate family based permanent residence
U.S. immigration law allows certain noncitizens who are family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to become lawful permanent residents (get a Green Card) based on specific family relationships. There are two major categories of family-based immigrants: immediate relatives and family preference. The priority that the immigrant will receive in obtaining a green card depends on which category you qualify for.
We help individuals understand the requirements, costs, and timeline of the family based immigration process.
Who may qualify as an immediate relative?
If you are the spouse, minor child or parent of a U.S. citizen (who is over 21), you qualify as an “Immediate Relative”.
What is the benefit of the immediate relative (IR) classification?
The immediate relative category has a special priority. The immigrants in this category do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate. In addition, certain bars to adjustment do not apply to the IR category. This is a significant benefit for an intending immigrant who overstays a visa or works in the U.S. without authorization.
What is the process for applying for the IR green card?
The family-based immigration process generally begins with the U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The I-130 petition establishes a qualifying relationship and is a request for a visa number. The intending immigrant must also apply for a green card via consular processing or adjustment of status.
What is the family preference category?
The family preference category includes: unmarried, adult sons and daughters (age 21 or over) of U.S. citizens. Spouses and unmarried children (under age 21) of permanent residents. Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents. Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens. The number of immigrants in these categories is limited each fiscal year.
Why is the processing of the family preference longer than that of immediate relatives?
There is a numerical limit on the number of visas issued each year for people in the family preference category. For limited categories, the availability of immigrant visa numbers depends on your “priority date”, which is the date your petition was filed. It is important to understand that even if USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for you, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately. For many people, it can take several years before the priority date is current.
What is the difference between consular processing and adjustment of status?
Consular processing is the process of obtaining an immigrant visa (green card) from outside the United States at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Adjustment of status is the process that someone holding a non-immigrant visa (i.e. B-1, L-1, H-1B, E-1 and E-2) uses to change status to a permanent resident while inside the U.S.
K-1 Fiance visa
What is a K-1 visa ?
The K-1 visa permits the foreign-citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival.
Are there any conditions to the fiance' visa ?
Yes. There are two main conditions: 1. The couple has to get married no more than 90 days after the K-1 visa holder enters the U.S. 2. Have met each other in person within the two years immediately before filing the petition, unless the U.S. citizen petitioner establishes one of the exceptions: the requirement to meet in person would violate strict and long-established customs or social practice or the requirement to meet in person would result in extreme hardship to the U.S. citizen.
Can the K-1 holder apply for permanent residency?
Assuming the marriage has taken place within 90 days of arrival, the K-1 visa holder will then apply for adjustment of status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
What happens if I’m not married within 90 days ?
The K-1 visa requirements stipulate that you marry within 90 days of the K-1 entry. If the couple does not marry within this time frame, the foreign national must depart the U.S. Failing to depart the U.S. is considered a violation of the terms of the visa. Once the foreign national has overstayed a visa, he or she is potentially removable (deportable).
If I am a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. can I bring my fiance’ to the U.S. ?
No. Only a U.S. citizen can sponsor the fiancé’ visa. However after you are married you are eligible to sponsor your wife for permanent residency status via consular processing.
What are the advantages of a K1 visa ?
A K-1 visa has a dual intent. The visa holder is allowed to apply for a green card. If you are engaged to a U.S. citizen it is not advisable to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa. The purpose of a B-2 visa is temporary visits for pleasure, not permanent immigration. By entering the U.S. with the preconceived intent to apply for permanent residence in the U.S., a foreign national has violated the terms of the visa. If the foreign national fiancé has minor children (unmarried and under age 21), they can generally immigrate as well with no additional cost. If your main goal is to get to the U.S. as quickly as possible, then the fiancé(e) visa is likely the fastest option for you.
I-130 Emergency/Expedited filing
?Where can I file an Emergency Immigrant Petition
While most immigrant visa petitions are filed directly with USCIS, there are limited situations where you can file the immigrant petition with the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem
Who is eligible to file an Emergency/Expedited immigrant petition ?
The U.S. citizen spouse must first present his/her reason for the expedite request in writing to the consular post. If accepted, the petitioner must then file the Form I-130 with the Jerusalem Embassy.
What exceptional circumstances are considered as qualifying for Emergency- Expedited processing?
Examples of exceptional circumstances include military emergencies, medical emergencies, threats to personal safety, and adoption of a child. One of the more common requests involves short notice of position relocation where a U.S. citizen petitioner, living and working abroad, has received a job offer in or reassignment to the United States with little notice for the required start date.
Removal of Conditional of Permanent Residency
What is a Removal of Condition ?
Where the U.S. citizen and his/her spouse have been married for less that 2 years at the time of immigrant visa processing, a temporary or conditional green card will be issued. A Form I-751 is submitted by the conditional permanent resident in order to receive a permanent green card issued for 10 years.
When do you have to file for Removal of Condition ?
The conditional green card expires after two years. You must file Form I-751 90 days prior to the date of expiration.
What is the purpose of the two years conditional green card ?
The purpose of the conditional green card is to ensure the marriage is bona fide, in good faith. This lets U.S. immigration authorities ensure that the marriage was not based on immigration fraud.
What happens If your marriage has ended?
If your marriage has ended in divorce or from other circumstances out of your control, such as domestic violence or death, but you entered your marriage in good faith, you are still able to file Form I-751 to receive lawful permanent residency. It is recommended you contact an immigration attorney in such circumstances.
What happens If you are separated but not divorced?
You might also be able to petition to remove conditions if you are separated and still married, although the process can become complicated. It is recommended you contact an immigration attorney in these circumstances.
Preserving Legal Status
Extension and Change of Status
What is an extension of status?
Foreign visitors present in the U.S. admitted for a specified period of time may request an extension of the period of stay inside the U.S. without returning to their home country, in order to continue their stay and lawful activities in the U.S.
When should you file an extension of status?
The USCIS must receive your application no later than the day your authorized stay expires. In most cases, it is best to apply at least 45 days before the expiration date of your stay.
What is a change of status?
It’s an application designed for someone who wishes to change the purpose of his/her visit while in the U.S. In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, your nonimmigrant status remains valid, you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any crimes that would make you ineligible.
Can I stay in the U.S. while my application to change of status is pending?
You must not travel outside of the U.S. while the petition is pending. Leaving the country while USCIS is reviewing your petition will cause USCIS to consider your petition for a change of status to be abandoned. Once USCIS approves your change of status petition, you may travel internationally.
When is a re-entry permit required?
Your Permanent Resident Card technically becomes2 invalid for reentry into the United States if you are absent from the United States for 1 year or more. In addition your U.S. permanent residence may be considered as abandoned for absences shorter than 1 year if you take up residence in another country. One of the ways to retain your status and re-enter the U.S. is by filing a reentry permit.
What is the significance of having the re-entry permit?
A reentry permit establishes that you did not intend to abandon status, and it allows you to apply for admission to the United States after traveling abroad for up to 2 years. Reentry permits are normally valid for 2 years from the date of issuance. You must apply for the reentry permit before you depart the United States.
Visa Denials and Waivers
The discretion of a Consular Officer is almost absolute and there is no option to appeal a decision. In some cases, there is a way to overcome the denial which is based on past conviction, past U.S. immigration violation or a mistake of law. We help our client understand the reason for the denial and their options for a possible solution.
What are the reasons for a denial of a Visa application ?
The final step of a visa application is the issuance of the visa by the Embassy. The Consular Officer has complete authority to approve or deny a visa application. Factual determinations, such as finding the applicant lied or that the applicant intends to immigrate to the U.S. are not subject to any kind of appeal process.
The main reasons for a visa denial are due to:
- A finding based upon Sec. 214 (b) Failure to comply with the conditions of the requested visa or/ and inability. to refute the assumption of immigrant intent.
- A finding based upon section 221 (g) - Administrative processing.
- Past violation of U.S. immigration laws such as work with no authorization or overstay.
- Criminal offense.
- Prior DUI or finding of the possession of narcotics.
- Misrepresentation of information to any immigration officer.
- Prior deportation.
- Security concerns.
What can I do if my application is denied ?
It depends on the reason for the denial. In some cases you might have an option to amend the application and reapply for the same type of visa or consider other visa options. If there was a mistake of law and not fact, there are formal processes by which to ask for supervisory review. In any case you must first be certain of the reason for the denial.
What is the Waiver of Inadmissibility ?
In cases where a visa application has been denied due to non-eligibility for a visa, submitting a special waiver application will be the primary way to overcome a denial. A waiver is a special process of pardon filed with the immigration authorities. There are different types of waivers. The main division is between waivers following a temporary visa application, and waivers submitted with an application for a Green Card. The requirements and the considerations in each of these types of waiver are different. Also each request for a waiver is unique to the circumstances of the case.