What is a K1 VISA?

What is a K1 VISA?

A K1 visa is a non-immigrant visa designed to speed up the immigration to the US of the fiancé (e) of a U.S. Citizen and his or her unmarried children under 21 years of age. The K1 visa is different from the K3 visa which is a non-immigrant visa designed to expedite the immigration of the spouse of a U.S. Citizen and his or her unmarried children under 21 years of age.

K1 visa status permits the fiancé (e), the K1 visa beneficiary, to enter the US for a period of 90 days to marry the US Citizen Petitioner and apply to adjust status to permanent residence (green card status).

K1 Visa - Marriage engagement

K1 visa requirements

The K1 visa process starts with a Form I-129F visa petition executed by the US Citizen. The US Citizen Petitioner must file an I-129F with the designated USCIS facility showing that;

– The US Citizen and fiancé(e) must have met within the previous 2 years

-You have a bona fide intent to be married

-You are legally able and willing to conclude a valid marriage in the United States within 90 days of the fiancé (e) arrival.

The Petition should be accompanied by proof of US Citizenship, certified copies of all court and police records if the petitioner has been convicted of certain crimes (e.g. child abuse, sexual assault), the marital history of the fiancé(e) and other documentation. A petitioner who is not in the United States may execute the petition before a United States consular or immigration officer for forwarding to the Stateside Service office having jurisdiction for adjudication.

Attorney Gary D. Goodin, for Immigration Navigator

Copyright © 2011, the Immigration Navigator

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U Visas, Application Information (Part 2 of 2)

Purpose of U Visa

A U Visa is designed to assist US investigators and prosecutors of certain criminal activity such as domestic violence, trafficking in persons and sexual exploitation while assisting the alien victims of these qualifying crimes. Through this Visa Aida, a 23-year-old who was brought to the United States from Kyrgyzstan to work as a sex worker may be able to acquire a non-immigrant status that will allow her to live and work freely in the United States and adjust to permanent residence later. The maximum number of aliens who may be issued U Visas each year is set by Congress at 10,000 persons.

U Visa eligibility requirements

To obtain a U Visa an applicant, in this case Aida must show that:

1.      She has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity;

2.     She possesses information about that criminal activity;

3.      She has been, is being, or is likely to be helpful to Federal, State, or local investigators or prosecutors

4.      The criminal activity violated the laws of the United States or occurred in the United States or in U.S. territories (including Indian reservations).

By being forced to work as a commercial sex worker Aida has been a victim of a qualifying crime. She has information because she has experienced how this commercial sex trade operation works and is likely to be of help to investigators and prosecutors here in the US in seeking to charge and convict the operators who have violated the laws of the United States.

U Visa Certification

 To qualify for a U visa, Aida must complete USCIS Form I-918 and provide supporting paperwork. Aida must also obtain a completed certification of helpfulness from a Certifying Offi­cial from a Certifying Agency (USCIS Form I-918, Supplement B) verifying that she has been helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime perpetrated against her.

How do I find a Certifying Official?

The first step in finding a certifying official begins with finding a certifying agency.

1.      Certifying Agency

A Certifying Agency is a Federal, State, or local law enforcement agency, prosecutor, judge, or other authority, that is responsible for the investigation or prosecution of a qualifying crime or criminal activity. This definition includes agencies that have criminal investigative authority in their own area of expertise. It includes, but is not limited to, child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor.

2.      Certifying Official

A Certifying official is:

1)       The head of the certifying agency, or

2)       Any person in a supervisory role who has been specifically designated by the head of the certifying agency to issue U nonimmigrant status certifications on behalf of that agency; or

3)       A Federal, State or local judge

Procedure

1.      File a completed Form I-918 making sure to check that she wants an Employment Authorization Document

2.      File Form I-918 Supplement B (completed by Certifying Official) together with supporting documents and in the same mailing as I-918.

3.      Submit any trial transcripts, court documents, police reports, orders of protection and, affidavits of other witness such as medical personnel

4.      Include a detailed personal statement setting out the substantial physical or mental suffering arising from qualifying crime (the forced commercial and sexual exploitation she suffered).

5.      File Form I-912 Request for Waiver of application fees if she is indigent

 Later after receiving a notice of action on her petition Aida may later follow-up her initial petition by filing Form I-918 Supplement A to petition for derivative U Visa status for her alien spouse, child and other qualifying family members.

If you have questions about U Visas, consult an immigration attorney who can advise you based on your unique facts.

Attorney Gary D. Goodin, for Immigration Navigator

Copyright © 2011, the Immigration Navigator

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U Visas, Application Information (Part 1 of 2)

What is a U Visa?

A U Visa is a non-immigrant visa available to non-citizens who are victims of certain qualifying criminal activity including domestic violence in the United States.They must have been helpful or are likely to be helpful to investigators or prosecutors of criminal activity. It is not enough to be a helpful witness the applicant must be the victim of certain qualifying criminal activity.

What are the benefits of U Visas?

U Visa holders are granted Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) allowing them to work legally in the United States.

For those green card holders who find themselves in removal proceedings, a U visa may allow them to remain in the United States. This potential benefit is a very important one that may be overlooked.

U Visas are normally issued for four years. The spouse (at the time of application) and children of the principal applicant (even unborn at the time of application) may be eligible for derivative U visa status.

Who qualifies for a U visa?

Any non-citizen of the United States – Green card holders, those with non-immigrant status, in or out of status, and undocumented persons may apply for a U Visa provided they are victims of qualifying criminal activity and meet other qualifying requirements. The applicant need not be present in the United States at the time he or she applies. But the non-citizen must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of qualifying criminal activity.

What is qualifying criminal activity?

  1. rape;
  2. torture;
  3. trafficking;
  4. incest;
  5. domestic violence;
  6. sexual assault;
  7. abusive sexual contact;
  8. prostitution;
  9. sexual exploitation;

10.  female genital mutilation;

11.  being held hostage;

12.  peonage;

13.  involuntary servitude;

14.  slave trade; kidnapping;

15.  abduction;

16.  unlawful criminal restraint;

17.  false imprisonment;

18.  blackmail;

19.  extortion;

20.  manslaughter;

21.  murder;

22.  felonious assault;

23.  witness tampering;

24.  obstruction of justice;

25.  perjury;

26.  attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of the above mentioned crimes, or

27.  any similar criminal activity.

There is no requirement that the criminal activity of which the non-citizen is a victim be the same one as that being investigated by law enforcement. In the midst of an investigation into embezzlement (a non-qualifying criminal activity), for example, the non-citizen witness may become the victim of threats intended to force her not to cooperate with investigators – obstruction of justice (a qualifying criminal activity).

What should I do if I suspect I qualify for a U Visa?

Any non-citizen who suspects that he qualifies for a U visa should consult an Immigration Attorney for legal advice based on his specific circumstances.

A non-citizen  with a pending removal proceeding who suspects that she qualifies for a U visa based on being a victim of qualifying criminal activity should bring this information to her immigration attorney at once.

U Visas, Application Information (Part 2 of 2) will deal with the Certification Requirement and the application procedure for a U-Visa.

Attorney Gary Goodin, for Immigration Navigator ™

Copyright © 2011, the Immigration Navigator

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How to obtain a B1 B2 Visa

The B1 B2 Visa is a non-immigrant or visitor visa to enter the US for a limited time for business (b1 visa) and pleasure (b-2 visa) . Applicants for this visa must complete visa application Form DS-160 online, pay the visa application processing fee and schedule an interview appointment.

The B1 B2 Visa Requirements

The requirements that the US Consular official will assess in determining your eligibility for a B1 B2 visa are:

1.       You must live in a foreign country which you do not intend to abandon.

This means residence in any foreign country. If you are an Indian national but live in Canada as a landed immigrant that is fine provided you can show that you do not intend to abandon residence in Canada.

To show that you do not intend to abandon residency in a foreign country you may use supporting documents that show;

a.       permanent employment (or on-going education for students),

b.      business and financial ties ( e.g. title to land and ownership of a local business),

c.       close family ties (e.g. marriage certificate, copies of your children’s birth certificates, school records showing that the children live with you), and,

d.      your involvement in social and cultural activities in the foreign country where you live.

The fact that you would leave dependent children, spouse or family behind in coming to the United States is not enough by itself to show a strong reason to return. Previous good use of a U.S. visa is important evidence of an intention to return to your residence outside the United States.

2.       You must intend to enter the US for a limited time

To show your intention to enter the US for a limited time, you must have a very specific purpose for your trip (e.g. medical treatment, a trip to Disney World, buying equipment for a business, a business conference etc.) and a realistic plan.

The purpose of your trip must match length of your stay in the United States and you should show that you have the money to carry out the purpose of your trip (pay slips, bank statements).

3.       You must also show that your sole purpose in visiting the US is for lawful business or pleasure.

While the B1 B2 visa allows a visitor to make business deals related to employment and business in a foreign country, it does not allow employment in the United States for U.S. employers.

The US Consular officer will deny your B1 B2 application if you fail to show any of these US visa requirements. Security checks and alerts may also result in denial or delay of a U.S. tourist visa or denial of admission into the United States at a port of entry.

The B1 B2 Visa does not guarantee admission

Visa issuance alone does not guarantee admission into the United States.  Customs and Border Patrol agents will inspect the B1 B2 visa holder and decide whether to admit him upon his arrival at a port of entry. The longest time the visa holder must stay in the United States depends on the date stamped on the I-94 Arrival Departure record received upon admission. An immigration officer may grant admission to any B-1 visitor for business or B-2 visitor for pleasure for not more than one year and grant extensions of temporary stay in increments of not more than six months each.

The Visa Waiver program

Nationals of countries that take part in the Visa Waiver Program, VWP do not need a b1b2 visa to enter the United States for business and pleasure. They may enter the United States for up to 90 days for business or tourism without any extension of stay or change of non-immigrant status.

International visitors to the United States from visa waiver countries must get travel approval through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Visit the ESTA web page on the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection website for more information. 

Currently, there are 36 Visa Waiver countries, as shown below:

Andorra Hungary New Zealand
Australia Iceland Norway
Austria Ireland Portugal
Belgium Italy San Marino
Brunei Japan Singapore
Czech Republic Latvia Slovakia
Denmark Liechtenstein Slovenia
Estonia Lithuania South Korea
Finland Luxembourg Spain
France Malta Sweden
Germany Monaco Switzerland
Greece the Netherlands United Kingdom

Applicants for a b1 b2 visa should visit the US Embassy or Consulate website where they will apply for more country-specific instructions and b1 b2 visa requirements.

Attorney Gary D. Goodin, for Immigration Navigator

Copyright © 2011, The Immigration Navigator

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