Visas

Immigrant Visas for Foreign Spouses

How do I apply for an immigrant visa for my foreign spouse to enter the United States? Spouses of U.S. citizens or permanent residents may also become a permanent resident by applying for an Immigrant Visa at a U.S. Consulate.  An Immigrant Visa allows the holder to become a permanent resident upon arrival in the United States.  The advantage of this process is that the spouse authorized to work immediately and there is no waiting period to travel abroad again. There are three steps to obtaining an Immigrant Visa.  First, a petition is filed with the U.S. immigration service seeking recognition of the marriage.  This process usually takes about five months, although the wait time can vary. Immigrant Visas for Spouses Second, after the petition is approved, the case file is sent to the Department of State for processing.  Before an interview is scheduled at the U.S. Consulate, the case files must fully prepared.  The spouse must complete a detailed online form, the visa fees must be paid, and a number of documents must be submitted to the State Department. Third, when the file is complete, it is sent to the U.S. Consulate where the spouse lives for the interview.  Before attending the interview, the spouse must undergo a medical examination by a local physician designated by the Consulate.  Usually, the U.S. citizen or permanent resident can accompany the spouse to the interview.  In fact, the Consulates often appreciate this.  After the interview, the visa is usually approved and issued a few days later. Contact Merrick Immigration Law to speak with an experienced immigration professional and learn more about immigrant visas for foreign spouses.

Adjustment of Status based on Marriage

Adjustment of status based on marriage

How can my spouse apply for lawful permanent residency (green card) based on our marriage? Of the three methods, adjustment of status often can be the most efficient procedure.  The process is available to most foreign-national spouses who have already entered the United States lawfully.  This generally means that he or she entered the U.S. with a visa, although others may qualify in certain circumstances. Adjustment of status based on marriage The time-line for this process varies from six months to a year. Many of our clients find this process attractive because the couple can remain living together in the U.S. throughout it.  Also, within just a few months of filing, the spouse is eligible to work as the case proceeds. An additional advantage for spouses of U.S. citizens is that, if the spouse’s lawful status in the U.S. has expired, he or she remains eligible to adjust status.  This is not the case for spouses of permanent residents. An important point to remember is that the foreign-national spouse cannot travel outside the U.S. while the application is pending, without first obtaining permission.  Otherwise, the application is considered abandoned, resulting in loss of the filing fees. In some cases, the spouse will be unable to re-enter the U.S. for many months, if not years. Contact Merrick Immigration Law to speak with an experienced immigration professional and learn more about adjustment of status based on marriage.

Investment Visas

How can I get a U.S. work visa by opening a business? There are a number of ways that foreign nationals can obtain U.S. work visas by starting a business.  Under U.S. immigration rules, these four methods are commonly used: 1) E-2 Investment Visa 2) E-1 Trader Visa 3) L-1 Intercompany Transfer Visa 4) EB-5 Investor Visa for Employment Creation E-2 Investment Visas The E-2 investor visa allows foreign nationals from 80 countries to start businesses in the U.S.  The purpose of the E-2 visa is to enhance economic and commercial interaction between the two countries.  A key element of this visa is that the visa applicant be a citizen of one of the 80 countries with which the U.S. has a reciprocal treaty.  The U.S. Department of State maintains a list of these 80 countries.  The U.S. business must be at least fifty percent owned by citizens of the same nationality as visa applicant. The E-2 visa applicant must show demonstrate a prior investment or he or she is actively “in the process of investing” in a U.S. business.   Thus, an E-2 visa may be obtained before actually starting business activities.  At Merrick Immigration Law, we assist our clients develop unique strategies to lay sufficient groundwork for the business investment, while still retaining some flexibility before the visa is issued. Opening a small business in the U.S. can make you eligible for a visa. Investment Must Be “Substantial” The E-2 visa applicant must also demonstrate that the investment is “substantial.”  There is no specific minimum amount for an investment to be “substantial.”  We assist our clients in evaluating whether their business idea is likely to meet this requirement. A related requirement is that the E-2 business has the capacity to be more than just marginal enterprise. That is, it must be large enough to support others beyond just the investor

U.S. Visa-Free Travel Limited

Some travelers now must obtain a visa to enter the U.S

New Restrictions on Visa-Free Travel to the U.S. In 2015, the Congress passed a law barring certain people from entering the U.S. without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program.  Under the new law,  if during the last 5 years a person has visited one of seven specified Middle Eastern countries, he or she must apply for a visa to enter the United States.   The seven countries currently include Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.  Countries are placed on the list when the U.S. determines that terrorism may be supported there. List of Countries that participate in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. Visa-tree travel to the U.S. is generally available to 38 mostly Western countries under the Visa Waiver Program.  This program is also known as ESTA (“Electronic System for Travel Authorization”).   The new law restricts the program in the following way.  For example, most citizens of France can enter the United States for up to 90 days without a visa.  However, under the new rule, if a French citizen has traveled to Libya within the last 5 years, he or she must first obtain a visa to visit the United States. The new law also applies to people who are dual nationals of one of the 7 countries.   Therefore, if a French citizen is simultaneously a citizen of one of the 7 countries on the list, he or she must get a visa to enter the U.S.  One thing to keep in mind is that nationality typically depends on the laws of a particular country.  Therefore, people can be a citizens of a country, even if they have never resided there or held a passport from that country. The bar exempts those who traveled to the designated countries for military service or government work. The U.S. can also waive the bar in specific instances. New Conditions on VWP Countries The