The ABCs of visa application under President Trump
The new and current Director of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has released recent agency directives to tighten and restrict H-1B visa issuance pursuant to President Donald Trump's policy to "Buy American. Hire American."
It is worth noting that the current USCIS Ombudsman - the person in charge of "improving the quality of citizenship and immigration services delivered to the public by providing individual case assistance, as well as making recommendations to improve the administration of immigration benefits" is Ms. Julie Kirchner who served for 10 years as Executive Director of the Federation for Immigration Reform (FAIR). The organization's main objective is to "fight for a stronger America with controlled borders, reduce immigration, and better enforcement" in support of President Trump's campaign pledge "America First."
The following steps would still help you get the visa and immigration status you need - or want under the new regulations.
- Application process – If the visa you wish to apply for requires filing a petition first with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the petitioning family member or employer must submit the completed application form (I-130 Petition for Alien Relative for Family-sponsored; I-129 for petitioning a Nonimmigrant Worker or I-140 for Employment based immigrant petition) with the specific U.S. CIS office or Lock Box. If you can apply for a visa directly at the U.S. Embassy, then follow the procedures provided in the consular post’s website. Visa applications are now available and completed online.
- Billing or Payment Options – For nonmmigrants, the first thing is to go online, access the visa payment procedures and print the invoice from the authorized bank. In the Philippines, it is the Bank of Philippine Islands. Bring the printed form to the bank branch with your current and valid passport. Generally, you can complete the form (DS-160) and obtain the interview date a day after receipt issuance. For immigrant visa applicants, the form (DS 260) is available on the State Department’s National Visa Center processing webpage. However, the affidavit of support fee and visa fee must be paid before you can start with the DS 260 and Affidavit of Support Form (I-864 or I-864A).
- Completion of visa application forms – Before completing either form, be sure you have the documents with the information being requested as you complete the form. Unless you provide an answer, the system will not let you go forward. This includes dates of issuance and validity of your passport, email, contact phone numbers, name and address of the petitioner, dates of previous travels to other countries and when you were refused or issued a U.S. visa.
- Documents required – As the visa applicant that the consul would be seeing and interviewing for the first time, you would have to provide official, current and valid evidence of identity and nationality or citizenship. While the consul may not even look at the documents you have brought to the nonimmigrant visa interview, it is essential to bring documents showing evidence of your permanent ties – family, financial, community or professional affiliation. For immigrant visa applicants – in addition to evidence of identity and nationality, the most important documents are the petitioner’s immigration status in the U.S., your relationship, NBI and/or police clearance as the case maybe, proof of civil or marital status and relationship with visa beneficiaries (spouse and/or minor children) and medical examination results from the authorized medical facility.
- Entry after visa issuance – After the interview, you will be asked to pay for the visa delivery fee. Visas arrived anywhere from 5 to 10 days. When you travel to the U.S. with the issued visa, take note of the visa duration and validity date. You shall present the visa to a US. Immigration officer at the port of entry. Remember you present the visa to be allowed entry or be admitted in a status as the visa category allows. For temporary visitors, the visa may be a B-1 and B-2 visa. This means you may be admitted into the U.S. on either for the purpose of business or pleasure. The immigration officer will indicate the length of your initial authorized stay in the U.S. For immigrants, you are supposed to stay in the U.S. permanently, get a job, residence, and start building your immigrant roots. Your green card will be mailed to the address you indicated in your DS 260 visa form.
- Further stay – In case you are not able to complete the purpose of your temporary visit within the initial period allowed, you may apply for an extension of stay on Form I-539. Be sure to have the application submitted and received at the specific USCIS office while your initial period of authorized stay is authorized The USCIS recommends submitting the form at least 45 days fefore your stay expires or as soon as you determine the need to stay longer. Most visitors for pleasure are granted six (6) months of stay. When applying for further stay you must provide valid reasons for requesting an extension. You must also have sufficient funds for the requested extended period.
- Get a change of status – A nonimmigrant may apply for change of status to another nonimmigrant category as long as you can establish eligibility for the status you wish to change to. For example, wishing to change status from visitor to student requires that you been accepted into an authorized school listed under the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS). Complete and official information is available through this link - https://www.ice.gov/sevis. For immigrants, the only change of status generally desired or looked forward to is becoming eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship. A green card holder, however, may be forced to change his or her status involuntarily by being absent from the U.S. physically for extended periods of time, usually, 180 days. After that period of absence, a green card holder may be considered an applicant seeking admission instead of resuming residency.
- Have family members join you. Unlike immigrant visa applicants whose family members – spouse, minor children may be issued immigrant visas as derivative beneficiaries of the person being petitioned (principal applicant) each family member intending to visit the U.S. temporarily must apply individually for a visa. Nonimmigrant visa applicants may use their visa individually and separately without the main family member (parent) with the visa validity period. The spouse or minor children of an immigrant visa applicant cannot use the visa to enter the U.S. ahead of the principal applicant. Either way, each family member must pay the corresponding visa fee. After the principal applicant has been admitted into the U.S., the spouse and/or minor children may follow at a later date as long as the relationship remains.
- Interview essentials. It is highly recommended based on our more than 40 years of immigrant advocacy and successfully helping applicants with their visa applications that you look and sound the part. For example, if you are applying to pursue a business-related purpose in the U.S. you should possess the basic and intermediate information about your business or occupation: when you start working or doing business; how much your annual or weekly income or salary is, evidence of business registration, tax documents, assets or properties purchased and other documents showing progressive proof of income. Be sure to answer the consul in a friendly manner, concise, brief and to the point You may elaborate if you wish. Bring these essential documents but know the information on the documents by heart. Remember the consul is interviewing you, not the stacks of paper you brought. For immigrant visa applicants, relationship between the sponsor is critical, as well as evidence of the continuing eligibility of the petitioner to sponsor, whether the petitioner has the capacity to support you or maintained domicile in the U.S.
The purpose of your intended travel and other facts will determine what type of visa is required under U.S. immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. When you apply at a U.S embassy or consulate, a consular officer will determine based on laws, whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate.