Category Government visitors

Preparing Your visa application

Your application should consist of the items on the checklist below.

Checklist for Student Visa Application □ SEVIS I-20, filled out by your school and signed by you. □ Receipt for having paid the SEVIS fee, (currently $100). □ Form DS-156, Nonimmigrant Visa Application. □ Form DS-158, Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant. □ Form DS-157, Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application, if you're either a male applicant between 16 and 45 years of age or you come from a state that the U.S. believes sponsors terrorism and you are age 16 or older, whether male or female. □ Visa application fee (currently $100). □ Visa issuance reciprocity fee (the amount varies by country). □ Your passport, valid for at least six months. □ One passport-type photo of you and one of each of your spouse and children, 2 inches x 2 inches. □ Long-form birth certificate for you and each accompanying relative. □ Marriage certificate if you are married and bringing your spouse. □ If either you or your spouse has ever been married before, copies of divorce and death certificates showing termination of all previous marriages. □ Transcripts, diplomas, and results of any standardized tests required by the school you'll be attending, showing your previous education and your qualifications to pursue your chosen course of study. □ Documents showing reasons that you'll return to your home country, such as own-ership of real estate, relationships with close family members staying behind, or proof that a job will be waiting for you on your return. □ If you're entering a flight training program, additional required documents, as dis-cussed below. □ Proof of sufficient funds, such as: □ USCIS Form I-134, Affidavit of Support from a U.S. friend or relative, or letter from a friend or relative promising support. □ Bank statements. □ Personal financial statements. □ Evidence of your current sources of income.

A few of the items on this checklist require additional explanation.

Evidence of academic qualifica­tions. If you will be attending a u. s. col­lege or university, some consular officers will require you to prove that you are academically qualified to pursue the pro­gram, even though the school itself has already accepted you. Therefore, you should present evidence of all of your previous education, in the form of official transcripts and diplomas from schools you attended. Also, submit standardized test results, if your school required such tests. If these documents are not avail­able, submit detailed letters by officials of the schools you previously attended, describing the extent and nature of your education.

Evidence of intent to return. You

will need documents establishing your intent to leave the u. s. when your stud­ies are completed. The consulate will want to see evidence of ties to some other country so strong that you will be highly motivated to return there. Proof of such ties can include deeds verify­ing ownership of a house or other real property, written statements from you explaining that close relatives live there, or letters from a company showing that you have a job waiting when you return from the united states.

Evidence of sufficient funds. Most important, you must submit documents showing that you presently have suffi­cient funds available to cover all tuition and living costs for your first year of study. The Certificate of Eligibility, Form sEVIs I-20, gives the school’s estimate of what your total annual expenses will be. specifically, you must show you have that much money presently available.

You must also document that you have a source of funds to cover your expenses in future years without having to work.

The best evidence of your ability to pay educational expenses is a letter from a bank, or a bank statement, either in the U. S. or abroad, showing an account in your name with a balance of at least the amount of money it will take to pay for your first year of education.

Alternatively, you can submit a writ­ten guarantee of support signed by an immediate relative, preferably a parent, together with your relative’s bank state­ments. unless your relative can show enough assets to prove he or she can support you without additional income, you should also show that your relative is presently employed. You can docu­ment this by submitting a letter from the employer verifying your relative’s work situation.

Although the guarantee of support may be in the form of a simple written statement in your relative’s own words, we suggest you use Form I-134, called an Affidavit of support. A copy of this form is on the USCIS website at www. us – cis. gov. The questions on Form I-134 are self-explanatory. Be aware that the form was designed to be filled out by some­one living in the United States. Since it is quite likely that the person who will support you is living outside the u. s., any questions that apply to u. s. residents should be answered “N/A.”

Additional documents for flight trainees. If you’re applying for an F or M visa for U. S. flight training, you will be required to submit written information and documents specifying the following:

• your reason for the training (be specific)

• current employer and your position

• who is paying for the training (name and relationship)

• your most recent flight certifications and ratings

• information on what kind of aircraft the training is for (document must be signed by a school official in the United States)

• certified take-off weight of the air­craft type (document must be signed by a school official in the U. S.), and

• current rank or title if you are pres­ently working as an active pilot.

O-3 visas: accompanying relatives of Those With o-1 and o-2 visas

o-3 visas are available to accompanying spouses and unmarried children under age 21 of o-1 or o-2 visa holders. o-3 visas allow relatives to remain in the u. s., but they may not work. They may seek permanent residence while in o-3 status.

Although people on 0-1 visas and their spouses and children on 0-3 visas are permitted to apply for permanent residence (a green card) while in nonim­migrant o status, this is not true of o-2s (support staff). They must have the intent to depart the U. S. and they must maintain a residence abroad during their U. S. stay.

Mailing the Change of Status Application

After assembling the change of status application, you must mail it to the usCIs regional service center having jurisdiction over the area where you’re currently living. usCIs regional service centers are not the same as usCIs local offices—for one thing, you cannot visit regional service centers in person. There are four usCIs regional service centers spread across the United States. See the USCIS website at www. uscis. gov for the regional service centers’ addresses and P. O. box numbers.

2. awaiting a decision on the change of Status application

Within a few weeks after mailing in the petition, you should get back a written confirmation that the papers are being processed, together with a receipt for the fee. This notice will also contain your immigration file number. If USCIS wants further information before acting on your case, all petition papers, forms, and documents will be returned to you with a form known as a Request for Evi­dence. You should supply the extra data requested and mail the whole package back to the service center.

Until recently, foreign students could submit applications for student status but begin school before receiving the USCIS’s okay. Under the new rule, USCIS prom­ises to issue its approvals (or denials) within approximately 30 days—in return for which it requires applicants to wait for its decision before starting school.

When your application has been approved, the USCIS service center will notify you using a Form I-797 Notice of Action. A new I-94 card will be attached to the bottom of the form. You will also be issued an I-20 Student ID.

G. Step Three: You Enter the U. S With Your Student visa

When you arrive in the U. S. with your new F-1 or M-1 visa, the border officer will examine your paperwork, ask you some questions, and if all is in order, approve you for entry. You will be given a small I-94 card. This will be stamped showing you have been admitted either until a specific date or for the duration of your student status (D/S). Also shown will be the name of the school you have been authorized to attend.

Each time you exit and reenter the U. S., you will get a new I-94 card autho­rizing your stay and indicating the time limit. When you have stayed in the U. S. on an M-1 visa for a year (or whatever time you were given) and you wish to

Watch Out for Summary

The law empowers a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) inspector at the U. S. airport or border to summar­ily (without allowing judicial review) bar entry to someone requesting admission to the U. S. if either of the following are true:

• The inspector thinks you are lying about practically anything connected with entering the U. S., including your purpose

in coming, intent to return, and prior immigration history. This includes the use or suspected use of false documents.

• You do not have the proper doc­umentation to support your entry to the U. S. in the category you are requesting.

If the inspector excludes you, you cannot be readmitted to the U. S. for five years, unless USCIS grants a special waiver. For this reason it is extremely important to understand the terms of your requested status, and to not make any misrepresentations.

If you are found to be inadmissible, you may ask the CBP inspector to withdraw your application to enter the U. S. in order to prevent having the five-year deportation order on your record. The CBP may allow this in some exceptional cases.

remain longer, you may apply for one two-year extension of your I-20 to your designated school official. F-1 students may apply for extensions of stay indefi­nitely, as long as they continue to main­tain their eligibility for the status and their Dso grants an extension to com­plete studies.

H. Extending Your Student Stay

student visas and student statuses can be extended to allow necessary continuation of your studies. F-1 students can extend their permitted stay up to the revised estimated completion date of their aca­demic program. M-1 students can, after one year, extend their permitted stay for a maximum of two more years.

Your authorized stay as indicated on your Form I-20 may last longer than the expiration date of the entry visa stamped in your passport, or it may expire before your visa expires. Therefore, depend­ing on your situation, you may need to extend your I-20 date, your visa, or both. statuses as written on the Forms I-20 can be extended only by your Dso in the united states. student visas can be extended only at consulates (but you can wait until your next trip outside the u. s.).

Extensions are not automatic. Your Dso or the consular officers have the right to reconsider your qualifications based on any changes in the facts or law. If you seem not to be making progress

P-1 visas: Outstanding Athletes, Athletic Teams, and Entertainment companies

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. unlike o visas, which always rest on the capabilities of individuals, P-1 visas can be issued based on the expertise of a group. However, don’t be surprised to find a lot of overlap between uses and qualifications for О and P visas.

In the case of entertainment com­panies, 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 the one-year require­ment, if necessary. 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.

Like О-1 visas, P-1 visas are issued only for the time needed to complete a particular event, tour, or season. You may also be allowed some extra time for vacation, as well as promotional appear­ances and stopovers incidental and/or related to the event. Individual athletes, however, may remain in the U. S. for up to ten years.

a. Athletes

To qualify as a P-1 athlete, you or your team must have an internationally recog­nized reputation in the sport. Evidence of this must include a contract with a major u. s. sports league, team, or international sporting event, and at least two of the following:

• proof of your, or your team’s, previ­ous significant participation with a major U. S. sports league

• proof of your participation in an international competition with a national team

• proof of your previous significant participation with a U. S. college in intercollegiate competition

• written statement from an official of a major U. S. sports league or the governing body of the sport, detail­ing how you or your team is inter­nationally recognized

• written statement from the sports media or a recognized expert regard­ing your international recognition

• evidence that you or your team is internationally ranked, or

• proof that you or your team has received a significant honor or award in the sport.

b. Entertainers

P-1 visas are not available to individual entertainers, but only to members of groups with international reputa­tions. Your group must have been performing regularly for at least one year, and 75% of the members of your group must have been performing with that group for at least a year. When your employer files a petition on your behalf, the employer will have to supply proof of your 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 your group has or will star or take a leading role in pro­ductions or events with distin­guished reputations

• reviews or other published mate­rial showing that your group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achieve­ment in the field

• proof that your 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 your group has a record of major commercial or criti­cally acclaimed successes

• proof that your group has received significant recognition for achieve­ments from organizations, critics, government agencies, or other rec­ognized experts, or

• proof that your group commands a high salary or other substantial remuneration.

c. circuses

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

d. 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 your group to prove its inter­national reputation. such circumstances could include your group having only limited access to news media, or prob­lems based on your group’s geographical location.

e. Waiver of One-Year Group membership

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

Government visitors

Visitors may be invited by the U. S. gov­ernment to participate in exchanges that strengthen professional and personal ties between key foreign nationals and the United States and U. S. institutions. They may be issued J-1 visas for the length of time necessary to complete the program, but no more than 18 months.

8. Camp Counselors

Youth workers over the age of 18 com­ing to serve as counselors in u. s. sum­mer camps may be issued J-1 visas for no more than four months.

9. Summer Work Travel

Postsecondary students may use a j-1 visa to work and travel in the united states for a four-month period during their summer vacations, through pro­grams conducted by Department of state – designated sponsors.

10. Short-Term Scholars

Professors and other academics partici­pating in short-term activities such as seminars, workshops, conferences, study tours, or professional meetings may be granted up to six months on a j-1 visa.