Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holiday Travel Planning for Foreign Nationals

As the holidays approach, many foreign nationals are planning international travel. Now is the right time to make sure you are prepared, from an immigration perspective, to depart and reenter the United States. Understanding your immigration obligations can help minimize the possibility of delays. 


If you are planning international travel this holiday season, make sure to do the following: 

Check your passport to make sure it is valid. In general, your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the expiration of your period of admission to the United States, to ensure that you will be able to leave the United States at the end of your stay and proceed to your home country or another country. There are some exceptions to this rule. Under international treaties, many countries have an agreement with the United States under which a passport is deemed valid for an additional six months past its expiration date so that the passport holder can return to his or her country of citizenship. If you have questions about whether your passport is valid for reentry, contact your designated Faculty & Researcher Immigration Specialist.  

Check your visa to make sure it is valid for reentry to the United States. When you come back to the United States after international travel, the visa stamp in your passport must reflect your current nonimmigrant visa status, it must be unexpired, and, if the visa has a limited number of entries, it must have a remaining valid entry available on the intended date of reentry to the United States. 

Under certain circumstances, if you are making a short trip of 30 days or less to Canada or Mexico and have a valid I-94, you can reenter on a previously issued visa, even if it has expired. The visa is deemed automatically revalidated upon reentry. However, if you have applied for a new visa while in Canada or Mexico or if you are a citizen or national of Cuba, Iran, Sudan or Syria, you must wait to obtain the new visa in order to reenter the United States. Canadian citizens are not generally required to have a valid visa to enter the United States. ,

If you are an adjustment applicant, find out whether you need advance permission to travel before you leave the United States. If you are an applicant for adjustment of status to permanent residence, you must, in some cases, obtain advance permission to travel – known as advance parole – in order to leave the United States while your adjustment application is pending. 

If you already have a valid H-1B, H-4, L-1A, L-1B or L-2 visa, you may reenter the United States on that visa, without the need for advance parole. Note, however, that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) policies are unresolved when it comes to H and L nonimmigrant family members who have been granted employment authorization as adjustment applicants and have used the authorization to work. H and L family members who have worked in the United States should be cautious when traveling, and obtain and use an advance parole for reentry to the United States. 

Is a change or extension of your status pending with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services? Traveling abroad while your extension application is pending should not jeopardize your application. But if you have a change of status application pending, you should avoid international travel until it is adjudicated. USCIS will consider the change of status request to be abandoned if you depart the United States while it is pending. Though the underlying nonimmigrant petition could still be approved, you would need to depart the United States, apply for and obtain a new visa, and reenter to take up the new status. Find out additional information 

If you’re planning business or tourist travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, make sure you comply with program requirements. The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens and nationals of designated countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days of business or tourist travel without a visa, provided that they meet specific registration and passport requirements. If you’re planning to travel under the VWP, you will need to have a valid registration in the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) at least 72 hours before your departure for the United States. Find out more about VWP passport and ESTA requirements 


Plan for the possibility of visa delays at U.S. consulates.
 During the holiday travel season, U.S. consulates overseas are busier than ever processing visa applications and may have reduced hours around the holidays. If you will be applying for a new visa while abroad, check the relevant consulate or embassy for specific information about application procedures and processing times. Detailed information about visa application procedures is available 

Plan for possible security clearance delays during the visa application process. The U.S. consulate may require your visa application to undergo additional security checks based on your country of nationality, whether your name is similar to an individual listed in a U.S. government security database, if your job or degree is in a high-technology field, or for other reasons. If a security clearance is required, your visa cannot be issued until the clearance has been completed. Because this process is confidential, the consulate will not confirm that a security clearance is underway but may indicate that “administrative processing” is required. Security clearances can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks or more. In general, the government will not expedite a security clearance. 

At the U.S. port of entry, be prepared for security screening procedures. When you return to the United States, you will need to go through the Biometric Data Collection System (formerly known as US-VISIT), a check-in process where your fingerprints, photograph and travel documents are scanned against U.S. national security and police databases. You may also be subject to intensive questioning about your immigration status, travel history, the purpose of your visit, background, employment and other issues. 

It is important to remain patient during these procedures and answer all questions clearly. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.

Arrival-departure record. Once you have been cleared by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at an air or sea port of entry, you will be issued an electronic I-94 (arrival record) and a passport admission stamp that shows the date and class of admission, and an admitted-until date. The expiration date on the I-94 marks the expiration of your eligibility to remain in valid legal status in the U.S. 

It is important that you obtain a printout of your electronic I-94 
here; you should send a copy to your immigration@ohr.gatech.edu and retain one for your records. Notify your Global Human Resources if you note any errors on your I-94 record. 

Source Fragomen.com, 11/18/2013

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

December 2013 Visa Bulletin

From Fragomen.com, 11/11/2013

December 2013 Visa Bulletin: EB-3 Cut-Off Dates Advance Significantly for Most Countries; Significant Retrogression for EB-2 India

December 2013 Visa Bulletin, Employment Based Categories

According to the State Department’s December Visa Bulletin, the EB-3 subcategory for professionals and skilled workers will advance by one year, to October 1, 2011, for China and most countries, though EB-3 India will retrogress by three weeks, to September 1, 2003. 

The EB-3 other worker subcategory will also advance by twelve months, to October 1, 2011, for most countries, with the exception of the Philippines to January 8, 2007, but EB-3 India will retrogress to September 1, 2003. 

As expected, EB-2 India will retrogress by more than three and a half years, to November 15, 2004, due to greater demand prompted by priority date advancements since August. EB-2 China will advance by one month, to November 8, 2008. 
In the family-based F-2A category for the spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents, the cutoff date will remain at September 8, 2013 for all countries except for Mexico, which will remain at September 1, 2013. The category was current for two months earlier this year but had a cut-off date imposed as of October 1. 

December 2013 Priority Date Cut-Offs 

In December 2013, EB immigrant visa priority date cut-offs will be: 

Current for all countries. 

China: November 8, 2008 
India: November 15, 2004 
All other countries: Current 

EB-3 Professionals and Skilled Workers 
China: October 1, 2011 
India: September 1, 2003 
Philippines: January 8, 2007 
All other countries: October 1, 2011 

EB-3 Other Workers 
China: October 1, 2011 
India: September 1, 2003 
Philippines: January 8, 2007 
All other countries: October 1, 2011 

Current for all countries and subcategories. 

Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Availability in the Coming Months 

The State Department projects that the priority date cut-off for EB-2 China will advance by three to five weeks per month over the next several months, but EB-2 India is not expected to advance in the near term. 

For EB-3, the State Department suggests that priority dates for China and most other countries could continue to advance for the next few months, through February 2014. However, retrogression could occur if demand increases significantly. No advancement in cut-off dates is expected for EB-3 India. 

The family-based F2A category is likely to remain at September 8, 2013 for most countries in the near future, though there could be some retrogression for Mexico.