Monday, June 27, 2016

B2 Visa vs B1 Visa?

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 B2 Visa vs B1 Visa? 


I have a regular, full-time job as an architect. In my free-time I train for endurance athletic events, such as triathlons and marathons. I've been thinking about spending a few weeks in the United States to compete in some events there. The races all pay prize money, which ranges from $20 or $30 up to more than a $1,000. I've heard different things about visa requirements. Can I use a tourist visa for these races?


Unfortunately, you cannot travel to the United States on a tourist visa and earn prize money in an athletic competition. Even though it appears that you do not earn a living from your sporting events, the "B-2 Visitor for Pleasure" (tourist visa) does not permit you to earn prize money. The only time an amateur entertainer or athlete may use a B-2 tourist visa is when it's for a social or charitable event or for a talent show, contest, or athletic event, and when the only payment is for reimbursement of incidental expenses.

There is a separate visa category, "B-1 Visitor for Business," that professional athletes and entertainers may use to participate in events in the U.S. and earn prize money. The key difference is that you must be a professional. Therefore, even if you don't earn a living from your hobby, if you can be classified as a professional within the sport or industry, you may qualify for a B-1 visa to participate in events in the U.S. and earn prize money.

Finally, keep in mind that the B-1 and B-2 visa categories are the same categories that apply under the Visa Waiver Program. The Visa Waiver Program allows persons from certain countries to travel to the U.S. as tourists (B-2) or business visitors (B-1) without first obtaining an actual visa stamp from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country. Visa Waiver travelers simply complete an online registration process (known as "ESTA") and then board the plane.

The prize money limitation therefore applies to someone traveling on a Visa Waiver, just as it applies to someone with an actual tourist visa.

You cannot travel to the U.S. on a tourist visa and earn prize money.

Monday, June 20, 2016


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Am I in the U.S. illegally while I await my marriage-based green card interview?
I am Japanese and got married to an American citizen last week. I came to the U.S. with a B-2 visitor visa that expires in three weeks. I will apply for my green card next week. But I am afraid about something: After my visa runs out, will I be staying here illegally until I get the green card?
Worry no more. As soon as you file your application for a green card ("adjustment of status"), your stay in the United States becomes legal -- since you are now married to a U.S. citizen. In fact, you can apply for a work permit at the same time as you turn in your Form I-485 and the rest of the application. (That's what the Form I-765 is for.) Then you'll be able to wait legally in the United States -- and wait, and wait.

It often takes USCIS up to a year to get to your application and call you in for your interview.
That said, there is something you may need to worry about. Did you get that tourist visa just to get married and apply for a green card in the United States? If so, that's a misuse of the tourist visa, and USCIS could deny your green card application because of it. You would probably need an attorney to help you ask for a waiver, or "forgiveness." However, if you met your soon-to-be-husband after you came as a tourist, or if you weren't sure whether you wanted to marry when you came, you should be okay.
We also need to warn readers who aren't married to U.S. citizens: If your spouse is a permanent resident (green card holder), merely having him or her submit an I-130 visa petition for you is not enough to make your stay in the United States legal. The guidance above refers only to people married to U.S. citizens, who are allowed to submit the actual green card (adjustment of status) application, which for you will be the very last stage of a long process. If you're married to a permanent resident, you'll be able to submit the full green card application only after your spouse starts the process for you by submitting an I-130 visa petition, and you spend a few years on a waiting list.
For more information on all of this, contact LEGiTiGO 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Green Card

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I just got my green card and friends have told me that I should keep it in a safe place at home instead of carrying it around with me in my wallet. Is this correct? Or do I have to carry my green card with me everywhere I go?


If you are 18 or older, you do have to carry your green card with you. Section 264(e) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.) requires all lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to have “at all times” official evidence of LPR status.

Failing to have your green card with you is a misdemeanor and if you are found guilty you can be fined up to $100 and put in jail for up to 30 days. (I.N.A. Section 264(e).) A copy is not good enough, because the law does not use the word “copy” or refer to “other evidence” of LPR status.

The official evidence of LPR status that most people eventually receive is an “alien registration receipt card,” also known as Form I-551 or, more commonly, a “green card.” Sometimes, people do not have their green card, but are already LPRs. For example, when somebody first arrives in the U.S. with an immigrant visa, they first receive an “I-551 stamp” in their passport. Weeks later, they receive the actual green card in the mail. In the time before receiving the green card in the mail, the LPR would have to carry his or her passport “at all times” or risk breaking the law.

If you decide to carry a copy of your green card instead of the original because you want to keep the original safe, you will be violating the law. Will you actually be stopped by immigration, prosecuted and fined or jailed for not having your original green card with you? It's unlikely. Like any other government agency, immigration authorities have limited resources and cannot spend precious government time and money on prosecuting people for not carrying their green card “at all times.”

But there have been cases where LPRs are detained or arrested during workplace enforcement actions for not having their green card on them. So to be on the safe side, and obey the law, you should actually carry your green card with you everywhere you go. And it probably goes without saying that if you will be traveling internationally, you should take your original green card with you to board a plane or boat back to the U.S. and to reenter the U.S. as an LPR.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Asylum case pending

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Can I leave the U.S. while my asylum case is pending?

I submitted my asylum application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
(USCIS) five months ago and I was recently invited to my friend’s wedding in
Canada this summer. I am scheduled for my asylum interview next month,
and I know I won’t have a decision before then, but I was wondering if it was
OK to travel outside the U.S. for a brief period of time?


Technically, asylum applicants CAN travel outside the U.S., but it’s usually not a good idea. Even with your pending asylum application you will be subjected to questioning from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) when you attempt to return to the United States. If you have inadmissibility
grounds that could be triggered when you leave (such as unfavorable immigration or criminal history), you may be denied reentry, even if you have the necessary travel documentation. You should consult an immigration attorney who can best advise you to whether it is in your best interest
to leave the United States.

If you decide to travel anyways, you will need to submit Form I-131, Application for Travel Document to USCIS in order to receive “advance parole” (permission to reenter the U.S. before your application is approved). To learn more about this, see “Filling Out Form I-131 for Advance Parole.” Apply for advance parole well in advance of your trip and make sure you do not leave the U.S. without your travel document.

The biggest travel “don’t” for asylum applicants is returning to the country where you have indicated that you fear persecution. If you do so, USCIS will then presume that you have abandoned your asylum application and may even decide that you submitted a fraudulent application – which could have serious consequences such as a permanent bar from reentering the United States.