The American F Visa for International Students

Qualifying for F Visas

F visas can open worlds of opportunity for international students coming to the United States to pursue academic studies and language training. F visas can also be used to keep up status for certain family preference immigrants such as the older children of permanent residents. It should not matter if similar educational opportunities are available in their home countries provided they meet all the requirements.

What is an f-1 student visa or what is F1 status?

The immigration authorities grants an F1 student visa or status to an applicant who meet the following criteria:

1. F visa applicant must seek temporary admission to the United States solely to pursue academic studies at a recognized educational institution or language training program.

While not the same as that for a B visitor, at the time of the application or interview the applicant must be able to show that he intends to leave the United States upon completion of the study. The applicant must be able to prove that he is a good faith student and not a person whose purpose is to work in the United States.

F visa

2. Acceptance at a school/ Payment of SEVIS Fee

The applicant must have an SEVIS Form I-20 “Certificate of Eligibility for Non-immigrant Student Status,” issued in his or her name by a school approved by the Service for attendance by F-1 foreign students. In addition, applicants must pay the SEVIS Fee (I-901 payment). The U.S. Customs and Border Protection has the discretion to admit international students for only 30 days and issue Form I-515A, “Notice to Student or Exchange Visitor” to remedy any defects in their documentation. International students seeking first admission with f visas must attend the school indicated on their visas. Aliens granted F visas to attend private elementary and high schools and who instead attend publicly funded schools will void their f visa status unless they can show they have reimbursed the local educational agency for the full economic cost of attendance and that their presence did not exceed 12 months.

3. Availability of enough funds

The applicant must have documentary evidence of financial support available in the amount indicated on the SEVIS Form I-20. Sometimes the applicant cannot show availability of sufficient funds outside the United States because and foreign currency restrictions may complicate matters. If a US person is sponsoring the student, the US person should sign an I-134 Affidavit of Support with proper supporting financial documentation. The affidavit of support is a legal obligation and not a mere formality to assure the student’s entry into the United States.

4. Minimum preparation for intended course of study.

The student must have sufficient academic credentials to attend the institution.

5. Maintain a full course of study.

The student must pursue a course that will lead to a specific educational or professional goal. In the context of pursuing studies at the undergraduate or college level, the student must keep up at least 12 semester or quarter hours per academic term unless less is necessary to complete the course of study in a current term [8 C.F.R. 214.2(f)(6)].

F2 Visas – Admission of spouse and minor children of students with F visas

The spouse and minor children of an F-1 student are eligible for admission to the United States in F-2 dependent status. The spouse and child must demonstrate that the F-1 student has been admitted and is, or will be within 30 days, enrolled in a full course of study, or engaged in approved practical training following completion of studies. The spouse and minor children of an F-1 student with an SEVIS Form I-20 must present their own original SEVIS Form I-20 issued in the each of their names released by a school authorized by the Service for attendance by F-1 international students. F-2 dependent children are allowed to attend school up to grade 12 without an I-20 and change of status to F-1.

If you are coming to study in the United States, it is crucial that you have all the required documents including, a record of fee payment, payment for SEVIS fees and a valid I-20 signed by the Designated School Officer of the educational institution you will attend. You should consider consulting with a dedicated immigration lawyer to help you through the f1 student visa processes and aid you to maintain your status or change your status as new opportunities present themselves over time.

For more information:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Student Process Steps)

USCIS Premium Processing

USCIS Premium Processing of Non-immigrant employment petitions

Time is money. Nowhere is this truer than in the competitive world of business. Beginning in 2001 USCIS began premium processing of certain employment petitions and applications. Congress approved premium processing to mitigate the effects that serious delays in processing of employment petitions and applications were having on U.S. employers and foreign employees. Those who file using premium processing do not just get faster adjudications but better customer service by way of more access to communicate with service center adjudicators by phone, fax and email about their applications and petitions in ways that are not available to those who file without premium processing.

Immigration Lawyer Las Vegas | USCIS premium processing

How long does USCIS premium processing take?

Premium processing of employment petitions and applications must be requested by the petitioner (not beneficiary) with Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service and the premium processing filing fee (currently $1225). E-filing also exists for form I-907. USCIS guarantees to action within 15 calendar days of receipt of a request for premium processing. However if USCIS needs further evidence or issues a notice of intent to deny then 15 calendar days is measured from the date of receipt of the response.

What non-immigrant employment classifications are eligible?

Whether you can request premium processing will depend on the type of classification being sought. H-1b premium processing is common but expedited processing is available for several employment petitions even including I-140 immigrant petitions which are not discussed here. Currently, the premium processing service is only available to the following categories of nonimmigrants whose employers file for them using Form I-129:

1. E-1 treaty trader;

 

2. E-2 treaty investor;

 

3. H-1B premium processing of petitions for alien in a specialty occupation;

 

4. H-2B Temporary Worker performing nonagricultural services;

 

5. H-3 Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor;

 

6. L-1 intra-company transferee (executive and managerial capacity and specialized knowledge professional) and LZ blanket L-1 petition;

 

7. O-1 and O-2 aliens of extraordinary ability or achievement;

 

8. P-1, P-2, and P-3 athletes and entertainers; and

 

9. Q-1 international cultural exchange aliens.

 

10. R-1 religious worker (available only after site inspection); and

 

11. TN NAFTA professional.

 

Can I request premium processing after a petition is filed?

Yes. Premium processing can be requested by including the request with the application to be expedited.  Expedited processing however may also be requested after submission of the application. The Form I-797 receipt notice should accompany the I-907, Request for premium processing.

Gary Goodin, Immigration Attorney Las Vegas (702) 423-271

 

H1B Filing and Visa Waiver Entry

H1b filing

If you are a US employer intending to employ a foreign specialty worker such as an engineer temporarily, H-1B visas may be the way to go. Under the H-1B program companies in the United States can temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. An occupation will qualify if it requires the theoretical and practical application of highly specialized knowledge and at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in the specific specialty.

In the first step in the H1B visa process, your company files a Labor Condition Application, LCA with the Department of Labor. If the Labor Department approves the application, you can then submit an h1b petition on form I-129 for the foreign worker1. It is important to note that there is a total cap of 85,000 on the number of new H-1B petitions that the USCIS can approve each year. The cap is made up of the regular cap of 65000 and 20,00 for those with a Master’s Degree from a United States University.

I-797 Approval Notice

When the h1b petition is approved United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will mail an original I-797 Receipt to the applicant or petitioner’s attorney. The form will indicate that the USCIS has approved the employer’s petition to have the alien apply for classification in h1b status.

H1B endorsement on I-94 Record

If the applicant is from a visa waiver program country the applicant will present the original form I-797 at the U.S. port of entry and does not have to make a h1b visa application at a US consular office2. Upon inspection and admission to the United States a DHS inspector will issue the applicant an I-94 indicating that the employee has been admitted in h1b status for the duration of the approved petition.

Passport validity

It is important to have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the duration of the petition otherwise the CBP inspector may issue an I-94 until the expiration date of the passport if it falls before the expiration of the petition.

Conclusion

If you are interested in working in the United States, we can help. Contact our H1b visa lawyer for a confidential consultation. Call 702-423-2721 for a speedy evaluation of your h1b or other US work visa options.

 

  1. 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(15)(H)(i)(b);  8 USCS § 1182 (n)(1).
  2. 8 CFR 212.1(i).
  3. 8 U.S.C. 1182 (a)(7)(B) (i).
  4. Legacy INS Operations Instruction (OI) 214.2(h)(9).

The Visa Waiver Program

Visa Waiver for Tourism or Business

The visa waiver program allows visa free travel to the United States for citizens of certain countries, if the person meets certain requirements. A visitor coming to the United States as a business visitor or a tourism from a list of countries designated by the Attorney General for inclusion in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), may not need a visa (B visa) if he or she intends to come to the United States for 90 days or less to transact business (WB status) or for tourism (WT status).

Visa waiver program eligibility

To be eligible for the visa program the visitor coming for 90 days or less must present

  1. A valid unexpired Machine Readable Passport (MRP) from a visa waiver program country
  2. A non-transferable round-trip ticket
  3. Arrive in the United States by a carrier with an agreement with the Attorney General of the United States to electronically transmit passenger data before the carrier arrives in the United States, and
  4. Execute immigration I-94W (front and back) and customs forms before entry into the United States. 8 USCS § 1187.

The visitor must still be able to show that they can financially support themselves while in the United States and are not a safety threat to the United States.

What countries take part in the Visa Waiver Program?

The countries that the attorney General has designated for inclusion in the Visa Waiver program are those nations that present little law enforcement challenges to the United States (e.g. low rates of fraud, high counter-terrorism co0peration) and have low rates of disqualification for non-immigrant entry into the United States. At present the visa waiver program is applicable to the following 38 countries:

Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Chile Liechtenstein Slovenia
Denmark Lithuania South Korea
Estonia Luxembourg Spain
Finland Malta Sweden
France Monaco Switzerland
Germany the Netherlands Taiwan
Greece  United Kingdom

The visa waiver program does not apply to British overseas citizens, British defendant territories’ citizens, or citizens of British Commonwealth countries.

If I entered the US under the Visa Waiver program am I eligible to extend my stay, change to another visa class or adjust status?

No. Persons in WB or WT status are not eligible to apply to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an extension of status, change of status or adjustment of status. Adjustment of status (getting US green cards) is only permitted based upon a petition by an immediate relative such as a spouse. But if the visitor seeks to adjust status while in removal because he has violated his status, he is barred from adjusting status.

What rights do I waive by participating in the Visa Waiver program?

If a visitor from a visa waiver country who is inadmissible or deportable after admission, the person waives the right to a removal hearing except for an asylum-only hearing (if the visitor expresses a fear of returning to her country). Generally asylum is the only relief to which a visa waiver entrant is eligible once in removal and detention is mandatory (no immigration bond or voluntary departure) until removal. A person who fraudulently enters under the Visa Waiver program (e.g. an Algerian using a fake French passport) is bound by the terms of the visa waiver program and asylum is the only relief available.

I came in on the visa waiver program, can I file a visa waiver program adjustment of status?

Yes, but only if you are not in removal and based upon an immediate relative petition. If you are married to a US citizen, you can adjust status, i.e. get a green card without leaving the United States.

Conclusion

US immigration law issues can be complex and confusing. Put the matter into the hands of an experienced immigration professional. If you have any questions about your immigration options under the US visa waiver program call us at 702-423-2721 or email us to schedule legal consultation.

Gary Goodin, Las Vegas Immigration Lawyer

Sample Certificate of Translation

What is a certified translation?

Any foreign language birth certificate, marriage certificate other document of evidentiary value that is submitted to USCIS or an immigration court in connection with an application or petition, must be accompanied by a Certified English Translation.

The Certified English Translation is a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English. 8 CFR 103.2(b)(3).

While a translation by a certified translation service or certified translator, the translation may also be done by anyone who is competent in both English and the foreign language in which the document is expressed.  The regulations do not require that the document be notarized.

Sample Certificate of Translation

An example of the certificate of translation follows.

CERTIFICATE OF TRANSLATION

I, [name of translator] declare that I am fluent in the English and [foreign e.g. Spanish] languages, and that the attached translation of [type of document e.g. birth certificate], related to [applicant’s or beneficiary’s full name], the original of which is in the [foreign] language, is a complete and correct translation from the [foreign] language to English to the best of my knowledge and ability.

………………………………………

Signature of translator

 

Vladimir Kotlya

(typed/printed name of translator)

75 East Harmon Avenue Las Vegas Nevada 89109 USA

(full street address of translator)

702-777-7777

(telephone number of translator)

If you have questions about the right evidence for an immigration application speak to an experienced immigration attorney. Call us at 702-423-2721 to schedule a free immigration consultation on your case.

 

Information for Marriage visa and K visa holders

Green card marriage issues

As Las Vegas immigration attorney who has handled many marriage immigration cases, I often see cases where the foreign nationals worry that their immigration status in the United States depends on someone else and the US citizens worry that the foreign national will divorce them after receiving a green card.

Abusive cases

One of the most shocking things to happen to potential immigrants to the United States is for them to suffer abuse or domestic violence at the hand of their US citizen or permanent resident spouse. Many people come to the United States for a better life but wind up living a nightmare of silent abuse and domestic violence because they “do not understand the system” and lack legal representation. One immigrant victim of spousal abuse was so embarrassed she could not mention her abuse to family and friends until things took a dramatic turn for the worst. Her US citizen spouse, who would not speak to her for weeks at a time, became violent and threatened to kill her.

There are protections in immigration law for abuse victims

The most important thing that immigrants who are victim of domestic violence need to know is that they do not have to live with an abusive spouse to remain legally in the United States. They should consult an immigration attorney as soon as possible. For those who cannot afford an attorney, free or law cost legal counsel is available. The immigration law protect victims of domestic abuse. The burden however is on the victim to prove the abuse (mental or physical) using documents such as medical records, testimony by social workers, the affidavits from persons with personal knowledge of the abuse and police reports.

Know your rights as a green card spouse or K1 visa holder.

VAWA petitions

The USCIS recently issued a pamphlet titled “Information on the Legal Rights Available to Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in the United States and Facts about Immigrating on a Marriage-Based Visa.” The brochure tells holders of marriage visas and k visas about their legal rights in the United States and where they can get help. It also informs them about US immigration options that are available without the sponsorship of an abusive spouse.

Get legal advice before you act.

Oftentimes trying to leave an abuser may provoke a violent reaction. For this reason it, is normally highly recommended that abuse victims consult an immigration attorney and a domestic violence counselor. The two will collaborate to devise a plan to help protect the immigration applicant. The immigration attorney will also help by gathering supporting evidence for a self-petition, interviewing the abuse victim and helping with preparation of the applicant’s declaration. Put the matter into the hands of a competent professional. If you have any questions call us at 702-423-2721 to schedule a consultation to find your immigration options.

Read the USCIS brochure here.

Goodin Law P.A. | Las Vegas Immigration Attorneys 702-423-2721.

How to obtain a B1 B2 Visa

The B1B2 visa for tourists and business travelers

As a US immigration attorney I sometimes get asked about how to obtain a visitor visa to come to America for a short period. The b1 b2 visa or visitor visa is by far one of the most common way to get to the United States. But the visa has requirements and conditions.

The b1 b2 visa is a non-immigrant visitor visa to seek entry to the US for a limited time for business (b1 visa) and pleasure (b-2 visa) . Applicants for this visa must complete visa application Form DS-160 online, pay the visa application processing fee and schedule an interview at a U.S. consulate.

B1 B2 Visa Requirements

The requirements that the U.S. consular official will look at in determining your eligibility for a b1 b2 visa are:

1.       You must live in a foreign country which you do not intend to abandon.

This means residence in any foreign country. If you are a Korean national but live in Canada as a landed immigrant that is fine provided you can show that you do not intend to abandon residence in Canada.

To show that you do not intend to abandon residency in a foreign country you may use supporting documents that show;

a.       permanent employment,

b.      business and financial ties ( e.g. title to land and ownership of a local business),

c.       close family ties (e.g. marriage certificate, copies of your children’s birth certificates, school records showing that the children live with you), and,

d.      your involvement in social and cultural activities in the foreign country where you live.

The fact that you would leave dependent children, spouse or family behind in coming to the United States is not enough by itself to show a strong reason to return.

2. You must intend to enter the US for a limited time

To show your intention to enter the US for a limited time, you must have a very specific purpose for your trip (e.g. medical treatment, a trip to Disney World, buying equipment for a business, a business conference etc.) and a realistic plan.

The purpose of your trip must match length of your stay in the United States and you should show that you have the money to carry out the purpose of your trip (pay slips, bank statements).

3. You must also show that your sole purpose in visiting the US is for lawful business or pleasure.

While the B1 B2 visa allows a visitor to make business deals related to employment and business in a foreign country, it does not allow employment in the United States for US employers.

The US Consular officer will deny your B1 B2 application if you fail to show any of these US visa requirements. Security checks and alerts may also result in denial or delay of a US tourist visa or denial of admission into the United States at a port of entry.

The B1 B2 Visa does not guarantee admission

Visa issuance alone does not guarantee admission into the United States.  Customs and Border Patrol agents will inspect you and decide whether to admit you upon your arrival at a port of entry. The longest time that you may stay in the United States depends on the date stamped on your I-94 Arrival Departure record which you can retrieve online from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website. Please be advised that a 10 year B1/B2 visa does not allow you to stay in the United States for 10 years! An unexpired visa merely allows you to come to a port of entry and seek admission.

The Visa Waiver program

Some nationals of countries that take part in the Visa Waiver Program, VWP do not need a B1B2 visa to enter the United States for business and pleasure. They may enter the United States for up to 90 days for business or tourism without any extension of stay or change of non-immigrant status.

Currently, 38 countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program, as shown below:

Andorra

Hungary

New Zealand

Australia

Iceland

Norway

Austria

Ireland

Portugal

Belgium

Italy

San Marino

Brunei

Japan

Singapore

Chile

Latvia

Slovakia

Czech Republic

Liechtenstein

Slovenia

Denmark

Lithuania

South Korea

Estonia

Luxembourg

Spain

Finland

Malta

Sweden

France

Monaco

Switzerland

Germany

the Netherlands

Taiwan

 Greece

 

United Kingdom

Applicants for a b1 b2 visa should visit the US Embassy or Consulate website where they will apply for more country-specific instructions and b1 b2 visa requirements.

Gary Goodin, Las Vegas US Immigration Lawyer

Birth certificate not available for green card

No birth certificate for green card?

Sometimes clients do not have certain civil documents such as birth or marriage certificates, to prove that they are eligible for visas or green cards. These types of case need more care and skill. Here is a brief discussion of the issue using a birth certificate as an example.

A visa applicant is responsible for bringing the original or certified copies of required civil documents to a visa interview to prove his or her eligibility for a visa. The USCIS may need a petitioner or beneficiary to send photocopies of the original or certified copies with a petition or application. Sometimes however birth or marriage certificates or other required documents (e.g. court documents, police records) are non-existent or cannot be obtained from a government agency in certain countries.

Reasons for non-availability

Sometimes a marriage or a birth is never registered. Registration of births was voluntary in India before 1970. War and civil unrest may destroy government archives (e.g. Liberia). In countries such as Cambodia, some birth and marriage records for certain periods are simply unavailable.

Proving birth and marriage by certificate of non-availability and affidavits

The US Consulate or USCIS will presume that an applicant who fails to produce or send required documents is ineligible for a visa or other benefit (e.g. a green card). The good news however is that the applicant can still prove eligibility using secondary evidence.

Certificate of non-availability

If a birth or marriage certificate is unavailable, an applicant must offer proof by obtaining a certificate of unavailability from the government agency where such documents originate unless the State Department recognizes that documents of that type are generally unavailable. The State Department Country Reciprocity Schedule indicates what type of required country documents are unavailable for particular countries. 

 

Non availability of birth certificate
Baptismal Record – Unavailable Birth Certificate
Secondary evidence of birth when birth certificate unavailable for green card

In addition to obtaining a certificate of non-availability (also called certificate of unavailability) the applicant must also bring or send secondary evidence of the event such as;

  • a passport ,
  • church records,
  • baptismal records,
  • adoption decrees,
  • hospital records,
  • school records, and
  • affidavits.

The applicant should offer two separate affidavits to prove a birth or marriage.  The affiant should be a person who was alive at the time of the birth or marriage and has personal knowledge of the event. The affiant may also be someone who can testify to family history.

The contents of affidavit of birth

The affidavit of birth or marriage should state

  1.  The full name of the affiant
  2. The date and place of birth of the affiant
  3. The affiant’s relationship to the applicant
  4. Full information about the event – when and where it took place
  5. How the affiant is familiar with the event (e.g. birth or marriage).

Additionally the affiant must sign the affidavit before a notary. For foreign language documents submitted to USCIS a certified translation into English must also be submitted.

Conclusion

In some family based cases involving non availability of birth certificates, the USCIS or the State Department may require a blood test to prove the claimed relationship. If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. If you need help with an immigration application call us at (702) 423-2721 to schedule a lawyer immigration consultation to discuss your individual needs.

What is K3 Visa?

The K3 Visa

As a Las Vegas immigration lawyer I often see cases where a US citizen is petitioning for a spouse living abroad and become concerned about the time it will take to bring the spouse to the United States. The k3 visa might be one option that the US citizen might consider. K3 visa waiting times can be shorter than waiting times for I-130 Petitions. However in practice K3 waiting times can be shorter or longer than posted USCIS processing times; and there is no guarantee. The processing times for some I-130 Petitions can also be shorter than posted processing times. Tactically though a K3 visa petition is something to consider if a married couple is very concerned about long waiting times.

Las Vegas Immigration LawyerPurpose of K3 visa

The LIFE Act of 2000, allows an alien who

  1. has a valid marriage to a U.S. citizen (husband or wife) and who is
  2. the beneficiary on Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, and
  3. the beneficiary of an approved petition on Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e),

admission into the United States as a K3 non-immigrant to adjust to immigrant status (get a green card) while inside the United States. The K3 visa is different from the K1 visa in that the K1 alien is merely engaged to marry a U.S. Citizen and is seeking admission as a non-immigrant K1 to get married in the United States and adjust to immigrant status (green card).

Benefit of K3 Visa

  •  Avoids long wait abroad. Prior to the passage of the LIFE Act the spouse of a U.S. citizen who resides abroad had to wait for the length of time it took to process an immigrant visa which could be a year or more in some cases.
  • Derivative  K 4 status for children. The dependent children of the spouse of a U.S. citizen with an approved I-129F petition, who are accompanying or following to join their K 3 parent get admission on K 4 derivative status.
  • Admission for 2 years.  K 3 non-immigrants are initially admitted for a 2 year period. Extensions of stay are available for K3’s whose adjustment of status is not complete.
  • Employment in the United States. K-3/K-4 aliens must apply to USCIS for a document evidencing employment authorization using Form I-765.

End of K3 visa status

Termination of K3/K4 status. K3/K4 status automatically terminates 30 days after

  1. The denial or revocation of the Form I-130 petition;
  2. The denial or revocation of the immigrant visa application (Forms DS-230) filed by the alien;
  3. The denial or revocation of the alien’s application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) to that of lawful permanent residence;
  4. The K-3 spouse’s divorce from the U.S. citizen (final judgment);
  5. The marriage of an alien in K-4 status.

The K-4 status also ends with the denial of any of these petitions or applications for a K-3 parent. Nevertheless, a denial or revocation of a petition or application is not effective unless you have exhausted the administrative appeal applicable to your application or petition.

Conclusion

K3 visa applications can take unexpected twists and turns. Put the matter into the hands of a knowledgeable and experienced immigration lawyer. If you have any questions call us at 702-423-2721 to schedule a consultation to determine potential eligibility for the K3 visa.

Gary Goodin, Las Vegas Immigration Lawyer at Goodin Law P.A. 702-423-2721.