Monday, August 29, 2016



I overstayed my visa and have been living in the U.S. without authorization.
My partner has recently been charged with domestic violence-related offenses
against me. I recently heard that there might be a way for me to get my green
card or a visa to stay in the U.S. legally. How do I go about applying for legal status?
There are many great organizations out there that provide free or low-cost advice
and services to victims of domestic violence. Generally, these organizations do
NOT require proof of citizenship or legal immigration status and may be able to
help you with a number of helpful resources. Check the Internet, Yellow Pages,
reference librarians, or with local social services workers to find nonprofits or
charities that serve women or immigrants.
In addition, you may be eligible to apply for a green card under the
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) or for a U visa as a victim of a serious crime
in order to obtain legal status in the United States.
If you were legally married to your U.S. citizen or permanent resident partner and
you were abused during the marriage, your best bet will be to apply for
permanent residence (or a “green card”) under VAWA. VAWA will allow you to apply
for permanent residence without the cooperation of your spouse. You do NOT have to
be a woman to benefit from VAWA; men who were abused by their wives may also
benefit from this law.
Unfortunately, if you were not married to your partner at some point
(or if it is or was a same-sex marriage) or your partner is (or was) not a U.S. citizen
or permanent resident, you are not eligible to apply for a green card under VAWA.
You may be able to apply for a U visa, however, if you can show that you have suffered
serious mental or physical injury and are helping law enforcement to prosecute
the crimes against you. U visas are valid for up to four years and may be extended if
circumstances warrant it.
For a more detailed discussion of whether it is best to apply for a green card under
VAWA or a U visa.... Contact LEGiTiGO

Monday, August 22, 2016

K-1 Visa single entry


Can a fiance on a K-1 visa make a quick trip to Canada or Mexico?          

I’m in the U.S. on a K-1 fiance visa, which I’ve read is good for only one entry into the United States. But to get ready for the wedding, a friend of mine wants to take me shopping in Toronto, Canada. Someone told me that that’s okay, that I can come back again based on my fiance visa. Is that true?


For once, the rumors are true: Although the K-1 visa is single entry, its holder can take advantage of a concept called “automatic revalidation.” That means that you can take a short trip – of up to 30 days -- to either Canada or Mexico, without having to give up your I-94 when you leave.
But you’ll definitely need to take a copy of your Form I-94, as well as your passport. (For extra safety, make copies of both and leave them with a friend in the U.S.) So long as you are within the time limit on the I-94 when you ask to come back, and haven’t become inadmissible to the U.S., you should be allowed reentry for the balance of the time remaining on your I-94.

This possibility comes from the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations.
Any time you leave the U.S., however, you are taking a risk. A U.S. border official could be unfamiliar with this provision of the law, or not believe that you’re still planning to get married, or could decide that you have become inadmissible. Consult an experienced immigration attorney for a personal analysis. Also, you didn’t mention which country you are from, but if it’s among those that the U.S. considers to be “state sponsors of terrorism,” you will be ineligible for automatic visa revalidation. As of early 2015, that list included Iran, Syria, and Sudan.
For more information visit LEGiTiGO.

Monday, August 15, 2016


I just got asylum, but don't have a passport -- how do I travel?


A judge granted me asylum because I received death threats while working
as a journalist in my country. Now I want to continue work as a journalist
internationally, but my country's embassy refuses to renew my passport.
Is there still a way I can travel outside the United States?


Yes, you can apply for what's called a "refugee travel document," allowing you to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad. Instructions for submitting the application can be found in LEGiTiGO's site.

You did not mention what country you are from, but that's the one country to which you should not travel. If you do, the U. S. government may decide that you no longer fear persecution there after all. If that happens, it may take away your asylum status.

If you want to travel abroad, you will need a passport. A refugee travel document is basically the equivalent of a passport for asylees and refugees who need to travel outside the U.S. temporarily. If you are a U.S. asylee or refugee, and you want to preserve your right to stay in the U.S. after traveling temporarily abroad, you must apply for a refugee travel document before you leave the United States. You can also obtain a refugee travel document if you are a lawful permanent resident (LPR) (you have a green card) as a result of having been an asylee or a refugee.

Monday, August 8, 2016

P-1, P-2, or P-3 Visa



P-1, P-2, or P-3 Visa to the U.S.: Who Qualifies?

A short-term U.S. work visa known as the P visa is available to outstanding athletes, athletic teams, and entertainment companies (including circuses) with a job offer from a U.S. employer.

Key Features of the P Visa

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of the P visa include:
  • The P visa holder can work legally in the U.S. for the P visa sponsor. If, however, the person wants to change jobs, getting a new visa will be necessary.
  • P visas can be issued relatively quickly.
  • P visas will be granted for the length of time needed to complete a particular event, tour, or season, up to a maximum of one year. However, P-1 athletes may be admitted for a period of up to five years with one extension of up to five years. P visa holders may also be allowed some extra time for vacation, as well as for promotional appearances and stopovers incidental and/or related to the event.
  • A P visa holder may travel in and out of the U.S. or stay continuously for as long as the P visa stamp and status are valid.
  • A spouse and unmarried children under age 21 may receive P-4 visas to accompany the main P visa holder, but they may not accept employment in the United States.

Qualification Criteria for a P-1 Visa

P-1 visas are available to athletes or athletic teams that have been internationally recognized as outstanding for a long and continuous period of time. Entertainment companies that have been nationally recognized as outstanding for a long time also qualify. P-1 visas can be issued based on the expertise of a group.
In the case of an entertainment company, each performer who wishes to qualify for a P-1 visa must have been an integral part of the group for at least one year, although up to 25% of them can be excused from this one-year requirement, if need be. This requirement may also be waived in exceptional situations, where due to illness or other unanticipated circumstances, a critical performer is unable to travel.
The one-year requirement is for performers only. It does not apply to support personnel. It also does not apply to anyone at all who works for a circus, including performers.

Definition of an “Athlete”

To qualify as a P-1 athlete, the person or team must have an internationally recognized reputation in the sport. Applicants will need to demonstrate this to the immigration authorities by showing a contract with a major U.S. sports league, team, or international sporting event, and at least two of the following:
  • proof of the applicant's or team’s previous significant participation with a major U.S. sports league
  • proof of participation in an international competition with a national team
  • proof of previous significant participation with a U.S. college in intercollegiate competition
  • a written statement from an official of a major U.S. sports league or the governing body of the sport, explaining exactly how the person or team is internationally recognized
  • a written statement from the sports media or a recognized expert regarding the person's or team's international recognition
  • evidence that the person or team is internationally ranked, or
  • proof that the person or team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.

Definition of an “Entertainer”

P-1 visas are not available to individual entertainers, but only to members of groups that have an international reputation. The group must have been performing regularly for at least one year, and 75% of its members must have been performing with that group for at least a year.
When the U.S. employer files a petition on the applicant's behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer will have to supply proof of the group’s sustained international recognition, as shown by either its nomination for, or receipt of, significant international awards or prizes, or at least three of the following:
  • proof that the group has or will star or take a leading role in productions or events with distinguished reputations
  • reviews or other published material showing that the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in the field
  • proof that the group has and will star or take a leading role in productions or events for organizations with distinguished reputations
  • proof of large box office receipts or ratings showing the group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes
  • proof that the group has received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other recognized experts, or
  • proof that the group commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration.


Circus performers and essential personnel need not have been part of the organization for one year to get a P-1 visa, provided the particular circus has a nationally recognized, outstanding reputation.

Waiver for Nationally Known Entertainment Groups

USCIS may waive the international recognition requirement for groups that have only outstanding national reputations, if special circumstances would make it difficult for the group to prove its international reputation. Such circumstances could include the group having only limited access to news media or problems based on geographical location.

Waiver of One-Year Group Membership

USCIS may waive the one-year group membership requirement for an applicant who will be replacing an ill or otherwise unexpectedly absent but essential member of a P-1 entertainment group. This requirement may also be waived if the applicant will be performing in any critical role of the group’s operation.

P-2 Visas: Participants in Reciprocal Exchange Programs

P-2 visas are available to artists or entertainers, either individually or as part of a group, who come to the U.S. to perform under a reciprocal exchange program between the U.S. and one or more other countries. All essential support personnel are included. The applicant will need to prove the legitimacy of the program by presenting a formal, written exchange agreement. In addition, a labor union in the U.S. must have either been involved in the negotiation of the exchange or have agreed to it.
The U.S. individual or group being exchanged must have skills and terms of employment comparable to the person or group coming to the United States.

P-3 Visas: Culturally Unique Groups

P-3 visas are available to artists or entertainers who come to the U.S., either individually or as part of a group, to develop, interpret, represent, teach, or coach in a program that is considered culturally unique. The program may be of either a commercial or noncommercial nature.
The P-3 applicant must be coming to the U.S. to participate in a cultural event or events that will further the understanding or development of an art form. In addition, the employer will have to submit on the applicant's behalf:
  • statements from recognized experts showing the authenticity of the person or group’s skills in performing, presenting, coaching, or teaching the unique or traditional art form and showing the basis of knowledge of the person or group’s skill, or
  • evidence that the person or group’s art form is culturally unique, as shown by reviews in newspapers, journals, or other published materials, and that the performance will be culturally unique.
Essential support personnel of P‑3 aliens should also request classification under the P-3 category. The documentation for P-3 support personnel should include:
  • a consultation from a labor organization with expertise in the area of the applicant’s skill
  • a statement describing why the support person has been essential in the past, critical skills, and experience with the principal applicant, and
  • a copy of the written contract or a summary of the terms of the oral agreement between the applicant and the employer.

Support Personnel for P-1, P-2, and P-3 Visa Holders

Highly skilled, essential persons who are an integral part of the performance of a P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder may also be granted P visas (with the same visa designation as the primary visa holder). These persons must perform support services that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and that are essential to the successful performance of services by the P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder.
The support person must have appropriate qualifications to perform the services, critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed, and experience in providing such support to the P-1, P-2, or P-3 visa holder.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Green Card Holder


Can my wife stay in the U.S. while she awaits her green card?



I've been a green card holder for two years. I just married my girlfriend from Romania. She was in the U.S. on a visitor's visa, which expired after we got married. I sent an I-130 visa petition to the immigration service for her, but got a letter saying it will take 180 to 760 days for them to process it. Is her stay in the U.S. legal while she waits for this?


We've got some bad news, and then more bad news on top of that. That 180- to 760-day time estimate isn't the length of time it will take for your wife to get a green card -- it's the length of time that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS (formerly called INS) Service Center will take to approve the visa petition. That visa petition serves only to put your wife on a green card waiting list in category "2A" -- and the average wait for a green card as a 2A is usually about five years.

It's nothing personal, the government is simply swamped with applications. These delays are a normal but horrible part of the immigration process.

In the meantime, your wife's entire stay in the U.S. is illegal now that her visa has run out. Now, she might be thinking, "Okay, I'm willing to take a chance and stay illegally during the long wait," but here's the problem.

Unless you become a U.S. citizen at some point before (or soon after) her wait is over (when it's time for her to put in her portion of the application for her green card), she won't be allowed to stay in the U.S. for the rest of the green card application process -- she'll have to go to a U.S. consulate overseas. But once she's outside the U.S., a particularly harsh law kicks in -- this law says that once the consulate discovers that she has lived in the U.S. for more than a year illegally, she'll be barred from returning to the U.S. for another ten years. (And believe us, they'll make her prove exactly where she was for the last several years.) There's a waiver she can apply for (based on showing hardship to you), but it's extremely unlikely to be approved.

As you can see, this is highly complicated stuff. It will get much easier if you become a U.S. citizen, so be sure to see LEGiTiGO's articles on how to become one

Still, there's much more to know about than we can tell you here, including the risks of being accused of fraud if you use a tourist visa to enter the U.S. and then get married. For much more detailed information, submit your questions at LEGiTiGO.