Saturday, May 12, 2007

Permanent Residency & The Green Card

Permanent Residency & The Green Card
by: Maury D. Beaulier

Permanent Residency. Permanent residency is often referred to as having a Green Card. There are two primary categories of immigration: Immigrant status and Non-immigrant status. Immigrant status allows permanent residency in the United States. Non-immigrant status provides an authorization to aliens for temporary residency that expires upon the occurrence of a specific event.

A Permanent Resident is commonly referred to as a "Green Card" holder. Permanent residents have many rights which include the following:

The right to live in the United States permanently;

The right to reenter the United States after traveling out of the country abroad;

The right to apply for U.S. Citizenship after continuously living as a Permanent Resident in the United States for five (5) years

The right to employment in any work that is legal;

There are four main categories for green card permanent residency and even more subcategories under each main category. The main green card categories include Family Sponsored Immigration, Employment Immigration, DV Lottery, and Asylum and Refugee status.

Family Sponsored Immigration Green Card. Foreign family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents may qualify for an immigrant visa. However, the United States sets strict limitations on the number of immigrant visas allowed each year. The closer the relative is the higher that person falls on the priority scale for obtaining an immigrant visa. Immediate family members of U.S. citizens are given the highest priority. Foreign parents, children under the age of 18, and spouses fall outside of the quota system and usually qualify quickly for an immigrant visa. Extended family members of United States citizens and family members of permanent residents may also qualify. However, the waiting period may be much longer. In some cases, the wait for a visa may exceed 10 years. The priority list for family sponsored immigration is as follows: (1) F-1 - Unmarried Sons or Daughters of U.S. Citizens over the age of 21; (2) F2-A -Spouses and unmarried Children of Permanent Residents under the age of 21; (3) F2-B -Unmarried Sons or Daughters of Permanent Residents over the age of 21; (4) F-3 -Married Sons or Daughters of U.S. Citizens over the age of 21; (5) F-4 - Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens.

The relationship is only one criteria in determining preference. A second criteria includes the country of the relative’s origin. Economically poor countries such as China and India tend to have the longest waiting periods.

Employment Immigration Green Card. Aliens seeking permanent residency in the United States for employment purposes must fit into one of five categories. The first category is "Priority Workers" which includes Intra-Company Transferees of Managers and Executives, Outstanding Professors and Researchers and Aliens of Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business and Athletics. The second employment category is "Aliens of Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business" which includes Professionals with advanced degrees. The third category includes "Professionals with Bachelors Degrees not qualifying in the 2nd Preference, skilled workers, and unskilled workers in special needs professions. The fourth category is very narrow encompassing "Religious Workers" who are here to carrying out their religious mission. Finally, the last category is based on economic development and includes individuals who invest one million dollars ($1,000,000.00)in a new "commercial enterprise" or in a "troubled business" or those who invest Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00) in a "new commercial enterprise" or "troubled business" in a "targeted employment area."

DV Lottery Green Card. 55,000 immigrant visas each year are available to those winning a Visa Lottery. The number of lottery visas are apportioned to countries that have fewer visa applicants. To apply, an immigrant must fill out a number of forms detailing their background with the INS. Each year lottery contestants are drawn and notified if they have won. A winning alien may make application for an immigrant visa.

Refugee/Asylum Status. Refugee and Asylum status allows foreigners fearing persecution to seek refugee status in this country. Foreigners outside of the United States may seek refugee status. Foreigners already in the United States may seek asylum to prevent deportation. After approval of Refugee or asylum status, the alien is allowed to enter or remain in the United States and may seek an adjustment of their status to one of permanent residency after one year.

For legal assistance Call (952) 746-2153.

About The Author

Maury D. Beaulier is part of a 29 attorney immigration law firm handling cases for clients across the United States and abroad. The firm and its members are recognized leaders in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization process including asylum cases, work visas, investor visas and family based immigration. You may reach Mr. Beaulier at (952) 746-2153 or thorugh his immigration website located at Work Visa Lawyers.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Why Was My Travel Visa Denied?

Why Was My Travel Visa Denied?
by: Maury D. Beaulier

Why was my Travel Visa denied and what can I do now?

Hearing a consular officer say, “Your application for a temporary travel visa is denied. You are not qualified under Section 214(b) of the Immigration and Nationality Act,” can cause great disappointment and sometimes embarrassment. Here is what a 214(b) visa refusal means and what applicants and friends can do to prepare for a visa reapplication.

What is Section 214(b)?

Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (“INA”). It states:

Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status . .

To qualify for a visitor or student visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of sections 101(a)(15)(B) or (F) of the INA respectively. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the United States at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant.

Consular officers must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence of ties an applicant presents.

What constitutes strong ties?

Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, a bank account. “Ties” are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence, your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

Consular officers are aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicants specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is supposed to be accorded every consideration under the law.

Is a denial under Section 214(B) permanent?

No. The consular officer will reconsider a case, if an applicant can show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States. However, due to a person’s particular situation, some applicants will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply, until their personal, professional and financial circumstances change considerably.

Invitation Letter

A letter of invitation or support from a United States citizen may help. However, this does not guarantee visa issuance. Visa applicants must qualify for the visa according to their own circumstances, not on the basis of an American sponsor’s assurance.

Practical Tips

Review your situation and evaluate your ties. Make a note to yourself about what qualifying ties you think you have which may not have been evaluated at the time of the interview with the consular officer. You should review the documents that were submitted for the consul to consider. Although applicants may reapply for a visa, they will have to show further evidence of their ties or how their circumstances have changed since the time of the original application. It may help to answer the following questions before reapplying: 1) Did I explain my situation accurately; 2) Did the consular officer overlook something; and 3) Is there any additional information I can present to establish my residence and strong ties abroad?

Keep in mind that you will be charged a nonrefundable application fee each time you apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued.

Can anybody influence the Consular Officer to reverse a decision?

Immigration law delegates the responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas to consular officers overseas. They have the final say on all visa cases. By regulation, the United States Department of State has authority to review consular decisions, but this authority is limited to the interpretation of law as contrasted to determinations of facts. The question at issue in such denials, whether an applicant possesses the required residence abroad, is a factual one. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at the Foreign Service posts to resolve. An applicant can influence the post to change a prior visa denial only through the presentation of new, convincing evidence of strong ties. Nevertheless, an Immigration Lawyer may be able to help you present your case in the best possible light.

About The Author

Maury D. Beaulier is part of a 29 attorney immigration law firm handling cases for clients across the United States and abroad. The firm and its members are recognized leaders in the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization process including asylum cases, work visas, investor visas and family based immigration. You may reach Mr. Beaulier at (952) 746-2153 or through his immigration website located at Work Visa Lawyers.