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What You Need to Know Before Traveling to the United States

If you are traveling to the United States for the first time, especially under immigrant status, there are many things you need to know about what traveling will look like for you. If you have a visa or were granted citizenship, you have completed the hardest part. Traveling with your immigrant status is not difficult, it just presents several duties that you must take care of and tend to. If you were granted a visa, you should have been given a packet that has documentation regarding your immigration file, which is to be used when you travel internationally. This is one of many things you will need to take care of during your travels. We provide a quick rundown of what to expect that way you stay aware of what the process will look like. 

 

Check the Expiration Date on Your Passport 

 

Although you might feel sure of the validity of your passport, you can never be too sure. The validity of your passport can depend on several factors. For most travelers heading to the United States, you must have at least six months remaining on your passport for it to be valid. Anything less may not pass, even if you have not approached the expiration date on it. Citizens from certain countries may only need a passport that is valid for the length of their stay. You should check the government website for your country of residence to see which rules apply to you. 

 

Know The Rules of Your Visa

 

Since there are different visas issued to immigrants, there may be different regulations and rules to follow. There is a program that travelers can apply for called the Visa Waiver Program, which allows them to travel without a visa if they are there for traveling or tourism purposes for up to ninety days. If you want to travel under this program, you can apply for authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA). Any travel that goes past ninety days will require a visa. 

 

For Traveling via Airplane

 

Familiarize Yourself with the Rules of International Travel 

 

If you are traveling by plane, you must be cleared by U.S. Customs to board your flight. This means they will also check your visa status to ensure that you fulfill it. Your first port of entry into the United States, even if it is not your final destination, is where they will ask for your visa and where you will have to go through customs and immigration. With that being said, it is best that you book a flight that provides you with enough time between planes that way you can get checked with no rush. Customs will also be going through your luggage during the process. 

 

Primary Inspection

 

The first inspection is done at the first port of entry into the United States, even if it not your final destination. Once you enter the United States, you will find a line that says “Permanent Residents” unless there is a specific line that says otherwise, but is for you. There, an officer will meet you and verify your identity. This part of the inspection does not typically take long. Once your identity has been verified, the officer will lead you to where a second inspection will be done. 

 

Secondary Inspection 

 

The secondary inspection is where an officer will open your packet (the documentation we previously mentioned) and review all of your documents. If you have a medical condition, the packet might include a clinic you can visit when you move into your new town of residence. This process, just like previous steps, can take time, sometimes several hours, so you must be mindful of this when booking flights. Some people may be denied entry to the United States, so if you see this happening during this inspection it doesn’t mean it will happen to you. Everyone’s case is different and it typically happens to those who violated their immigration status or due to a criminal conviction. 

 

Entry to the United States

 

After your inspections are completed, your passport will be stamped to indicate that your status as a lawful resident has been verified and you can enter and reside in the United States. 

 

Choose Fong Ilagan to Help You During Your Transition to the United States 

 

The lawyers at Fong Ilagan are not only here to help you achieve the immigration status you’re working towards, we are also here to help you make the most out of your travel when you have achieved status. Should you need any more information regarding your anticipated travel and your status to do so, do not hesitate to contact us

Department of State Visa Bulletin for June 2021 and Adjustment of Status Filing Charts from the Visa Bulletin

The U.S. Department of State earlier this month published their updated monthly Visa Bulletin for June 2021. The Bulletin, which can be seen in full here, details the availability of immigrant visa numbers during June 2021 for: “Final Action Dates” and “Dates for Filing Applications” and provides useful reference information for applicants, immigration attorneys and paralegals alike. For those who will consular process their immigrant visas at U.S. Embassies/Consulates abroad, the “Dates for Filing” chart indicates when the National Visa Center should notify immigrant visa applicants to assemble and submit their required documentation online. For further clarification of the information contained within this bulletin, please contact Fong Ilagan for assistance.

 

Department of State and USCIS Visa Bulletin Information

For those foreign nationals who are physically in the United States, USCIS dictates which Visa Bulletin chart to use for filing adjustment of status applications with USCIS. Here is the USCIS webpage for determining eligibility to file for adjustment of status: https://www.uscis.gov/visabulletininfo.

USCIS has indicated to use the following charts during the month of June 2021:

Family-Sponsored Preferences:

First; (F1), Second (F2B only), Third; (F3), Fourth; (F4)

    • DATES FOR FILING FAMILY-SPONSORED VISA APPLICATIONS

Second (F2A only):

    • FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES

Employment Sponsored Preferences:

First, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth,

    • FINAL ACTION DATES FOR EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCE CASES

To stay posted on immigrant visa number availability under the various family-based and employment-based immigrant visa categories, you can receive a notification of each monthly Visa Bulletin published. You can subscribe to the Department of State’s email list by emailing: listserv@calist.state.gov and in the message body include “Subscribe Visa-Bulletin.”

 

To understand more about these categorizations please see the full Visa Bulletin for full descriptions of each preference category. If you have any questions about the dates published in the Charts, please speak to one of our specialized immigration attorneys at Fong Ilagan by calling us at 713.772.2300 or reach out to us by filling out our online contact form.

 

You can also find more information about Fong Ilagan’s specialist immigration services in each practice area on the following pages of our website:

 

 

Everything You Need to Know About U.S Immigration Status

Passport of USA (United states of America) next to a Guide for new Immigrants - Welcome to the United states and American Flag. Wooden Background.

Applying for residency or for citizenship in the United States is typically a long process. There’s so much to know about applying for residency and citizenship that you might not know exactly where to start. There are four different categories of citizenship status in the United States, so whatever category it is that you fall into, certain circumstances may affect you differently. 

 

Taking in all the information and doing your own research can be overwhelming, but with experienced immigration lawyers by your side, we can help you familiarize yourself with the process. Let’s discuss the different kinds of status in the U.S. and look into some questions surrounding the categories. 

 

U.S. Citizens

 

You are granted U.S. citizenship if you were born within the country. You may also have U.S. citizenship if you were naturalized through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Those who are naturalized must live in the United States for a number of years before being granted U.S. citizenship. You are able to work and exercise any rights you have as a U.S. citizen.

 

Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs)

 

LPRs are granted green cards, which authorize them to legally reside in the United States. Through a green card, they are also able to legally work in addition to living in the country. There are also conditional residents. Conditional residents can change to permanent status by filing Form I-751, with supporting evidence before their conditional residency expires. 

 

Temporary Visitor 

 

Temporary visitors, much like LPRs, are in the country legally, but they are here on a limited-time basis. Most temporary visitors come into the United States to enroll in college, for business or work, with their fiancees, or through temporary protected status. Those who apply for temporary visitorship typically are not seeking immigration to the United States. 

 

Undocumented

 

Those who are living and/or working in the country illegally are undocumented. This ultimately means that they were not given permission to reside or work in the United States and be deported back to their home country. If they are undocumented, they have no access to public benefits and do not have the rights that a U.S. citizen has. 

 

FAQs 

 

How can I apply for U.S citizenship if I am a lawful permanent resident?

 

Eligibility for citizenship depends on a number of things. USCIS requires that LPRs lived in the United States for anywhere from 3-5 years before applying for citizenship. It may be different if you are married to a United States citizen. 

 

What can I do if I would like to sponsor my spouse who is a foreign national?

 

It is best if you have your spouse with you in the United States under permanent residency so that they can apply for citizenship or simply change their status. Additionally, you must be in a solid financial standing that shows you can support you and your spouse should they be sponsored into the country. 

 

What can I do if I would like to sponsor a family member to come to the United States?

 

Similar to how spouses are sponsored, family members can be here either on permanent residency or temporary visitation in order to change their citizenship status in the United States. Oftentimes, the process works best for relatives who are close to the citizen, “immediate relatives” they are known as. It is important to be aware that being granted a visa can take several months and even years. 

 

If I am afraid to return to my country of nationality, what are my options here in the United States?

 

It is best to consult with an immigration lawyer so that they can determine the best path to take for relief. You may also be eligible to apply for asylum by providing substantial evidence that you are in danger if you go back to your home country. 

 

How can a criminal charge or conviction affect my immigration status? 

 

A criminal charge can be detrimental to your immigration status. Some people may even face the risk of being deported, depending on their status. If you are facing charges and are at risk of benign deported, contact a lawyer right away. 

 

Learn More with the Attorneys at Fong Ilagan 

 

We’re here to help those who are seeking immigration into the United States. Whether you are applying for citizenship or aim to sponsor your family, we want to be there to support you through the process. Contact us today to learn more about how you can get started with Fong Ilagan.

US Certificate of Citizenship, declaration of intention, fingerpirnt card, social security card, application for naturalization and port of arrival manifest with red, white and blue ribbon

Immigration Law Predictions for 2021 and Beyond

The new Biden administration has promised many things, one of them being reform for immigration laws. Immigration has been a rising subject with the government, especially in the last couple of years.

 

Late last year, Biden promised to tackle issues regarding immigration, in several aspects. The ability to deliver these promises may not come so easily, since the new administration is facing a number of factors.

 

There might be many roadblocks, but people all over the country are staying on top of these very possible changes. We look at the predictions for this year. 

 

Reestablishing DACA 

 

In 2020, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival was placed on a halt, but with a new administration, that halt won’t last for long. The new administration has announced their commitment to giving these children a path to citizenship that way they can work and attend school in the United States without fear that this could be revoked. This will have to go under legislative action to enforce reforms. This reform could also help provide migrants with more financial stability if it does go through. 

 

Making the Citizenship Test Easier 

 

Most people who apply for citizenship fear the test. They think it’ll be too difficult for them to pass or to apply for immigration into the U.S. Immigrant visa approvals averaged at 17% between 2016 and 2019. It goes to show that they weren’t as easily accessible. People were denied visas more than they were granted them. The new administration has pledged to work on this, to change the way green cards and visas work. Similar to DACA, this would require congressional approval, which can take plenty of time. 

 

Defunding the Wall 

 

The wall that the Trump administration funded may no longer be getting the money it was once receiving. In fact, the new administration wants to do away with the wall. This could end up saving the United States approximately $2.6 billion. Although, this could end up charging fees in terms of demolition, approximating to $700 million, so either way, some kind of money is going to have to be spent towards these efforts. 

 

Reinvesting in Refugee Programs 

 

Refugees and asylum seekers were barred from coming into the country for a while, mainly when the COVID-19 pandemic started to jump from one country to another. The new administration aims to find a way to help refugees and asylum seekers come in while also being able to follow safety guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. There are thousands of cases waiting to be heard, mainly from Mexico, which the new administration says that they will be working on shortly. 

 

No Longer Separating Children and Parents at the Border 

 

In previous years, several sources and large heaps of money were going into ICE facilities. With the new administration, this isn’t totally the case. The new administration has spoken about creating a task force for several efforts, one of them being, reuniting children with their parents. The zero-tolerance policy that was responsible for separating families could possibly be revoked sometime this year. No matter how long it takes, we can expect to see this soon. 

 

An End to Visa Suspensions 

 

In June of last year, non-immigrant visas were suspended, meaning specific immigrants were not permitted to cross United States borders. Visa processing should start operating as it was before this June sometime in 2021. The suspension applied to those under H-1B, L-1, H-2B, and J-I visas, including dependents. 

 

Speeding Up Processing Times 

 

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is infamous for taking up plenty of time when it comes to processing applications and providing them with entry if they do end up being permitted. In fact, the system in the United States, compared to other countries, is rather slow. For the new year, there is talk that processing times will be sped up to help all visa applicants. Since 2020 was a slow year for immigration, people are expecting major changes in 2021. 

 

Choose Fong Ilagan to Support You Through the Process 

 

If you’ve been thinking about applying for permanent residency or want to become a U.S. citizen, there is no better place than Fong Ilagan to get started. Full of reliable and hard-working attorneys, we can get you where you need to be. Contact us today to learn more about how we can initiate the process. 

 

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