Filing U.S. Immigration Forms

September 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

You have to file certain immigration forms with the US consulate abroad or with the USCIS (depending on where you currently stay at the time of applying) to get legal immigration status in the US. If you are in the US, all petitions/applications should be filed with the USCIS.

Applications/petitions that are incomplete or erroneous will be denied. Approximately 40% of the applications submitted every year are rejected because of being incomplete or erroneous. So before you send the form to the USCIS, carefully read any notices, warnings, or explanations on the Forms Entry Page (FEP) in the official govt website http://www.uscis.gov. Also verify that you are filing the correct form along with the supporting documents and fee and also verify if you are mailing the form to the appropriate filing location as there are different filing locations across the country.

Detailed instructions will come with all the immigration (“I”) or naturalization (“N”) forms. It will contain information about the necessary supporting documents that you need to submit, the submission fees and the filing location. Instructions are user-specific and will differ with specific circumstances. Always ensure that you follow the instructions carefully as making even a small mistake will result in an application or petition being returned to you. It will also lead to further delay in processing.

Immigration Forms Fee and Fee Waivers:

You have to pay a submission fee for most immigration forms and you have to make a check for the fee and send it along with your application. In case, you do not send the check (submission fee and fingerprinting fee) with your application, your application will be sent back to you. Checks should be made payable to “Department of Homeland Security.” USCIS will inform you about the time and location for your fingerprinting.

If you are unable to pay the fee, you can apply for and be granted a fee waiver while filing certain immigration forms. You have to file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver. Decision making on such applications is a bit tricky and the USCIS adopts a particular methodology to arrive at a decision on waiver requests. The instructions that come with Form I-912 will have detailed information on the whether you should request for a waiver by filing Form I-912 or through a written statement by the applicant.

The USCIS will come to a decision considering many aspects. They will check if you are receiving a means-tested benefit, or will review your household income level and/or recent financial hardship that will make you eligible for the fee waiver.

Downloading Forms:

Some forms can be filed online. Others can be sent through regular mail. You can fill them out on your computer, print them out, and mail it to the USCIS Application Service Center (ASC) in order to file for a benefit. You can download some forms directly to your local computer, instead of filling them out through your web browser. You need to have the latest version of Adobe Reader. You are most likely required to submit photographs while filing an immigration form. You can find the photo specifications in the form instructions page.

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Illegal Immigration

June 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

Illegal immigration means, migration of foreign citizens into a particular country where such people do not meet the legal requirements for immigrating to that country. In simple terms, they violate the immigration laws of that jurisdiction. Illegal immigration, in general consists of people from poor countries pursuing better life opportunities in more developed countries.

The flow of illegal immigration is almost entirely from countries of lower socioeconomic levels to countries of higher socioeconomic levels, and particularly from developing nations to developed nations. While there are many other reasons associated with immigration, the most common motivation for illegal immigrants is the pursuit of greater economic opportunities and quality of life in the destination country.

Potential immigrants believe the probability and benefits of successfully migrating to the destination country are greater than the costs. These costs may include restrictions living as an illegal immigrant, leaving family and ways of life behind, and the probability of being caught and probably resulting in sanctions.

The neoclassical economic model focuses only at the probability of success in immigrating and finding employment, and the increase in real income an illegal immigrant generally expects. Illegal workers in this model are successful in finding employment by being willing to be paid lower wages than native-born workers are, sometimes even below the minimum wage.

A bifurcating labor market in developed countries creates a demand for unskilled immigrant labor to fill undesirable jobs that native-born citizens do not wish to take, regardless of the wages offered. These so-called “underclass” jobs are jobs such as harvesting crops, unskilled labor in landscaping and construction, house-cleaning, and maid and busboy work in hotels and restaurants, all of which have a significant number of illegal workers and such jobs native-born citizens do not take.

Since there is a decline in the middle-class blue-collar jobs in manufacturing and industry, native-born youth have chosen to acquire higher degrees now that there are fewer blue-collar careers that a worker with no formal education can find. The majority of new blue-collar jobs are the “underclass” work as mentioned earlier, and things to highlight are its unreliability (being temporary), subservient roles and a lack of room for advancement.

Whereas, entry-level white-collar and service jobs are much more appealing and encouraging. They offer advancement opportunities for native-born workers to enter the dominant educated class, even if the job pays the same or less than manual labor does. Hence, this theory maintains that, in a developed country like the US, where now only 12% of the labor force has less than a high school education, there is a lack of native-born workers who have no other alternative but to take undesirable manual labor jobs.

Illegal immigrants, on the other hand, have much lower levels of education. They are still willing to take “underclass” jobs due to their much higher relative wages than those in their home country. Since illegal immigrants often anticipate working only temporarily in the destination country, the lack of opportunity for advancement does not pose as a problem for them. This was proved by a Pew Hispanic Center poll of over 3,000 illegal immigrants from Mexico in the US, which stated that 79% would voluntarily join in a temporary work that will allow them to work legally for several years but then required them to leave.

Per the structural demand theory, just the willingness to work undesirable jobs, rather than for unusually low wages, is what gives illegal immigrants, an employment. The theory also states that cases like this prove that there is no direct competition between unskilled illegal immigrants and native-born workers. It is just that illegal immigrants “take jobs that no one else wants”.

What Does the INS Do?

March 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (formerly the INS) is the government agency that takes care of the entire immigration process in the US.

If you are applying to legally stay in the US, certain immigration forms/petitions have to be filed either at the American Consulate in your home country or with the USCIS (formerly the INS) if you are in the US. These applications are available on the INS website. The help of attorneys and other private websites is sought regularly as the forms can be sophisticated at times. All immigration related applications filed in the US will be processed by the USCIS

The Application Process:

After you select the appropriate forms, you have to complete it and mail it to the designated USCIS (formerly the INS) office along with the fee and supporting documents. As a confirmation for having received your application, the USCIS will send an Application Receipt Notice within thirty days that will have a 13-character Application Receipt number. This number normally starts with EAC, WAC, LIN, or SRC. You can have this notice as proof that you have applied. Furthermore, you can monitor the progress of your application with this number.

If you received this receipt number and wish to check the status of your case, you may visit http://www.uscis.gov and enter this number under the link “Case Status Online”. If you do not have a receipt number, you can find out how long USCIS takes to process such type of applications by clicking “Processing Times” that is listed on the USCIS “Case Status Online” page. But in this case, you can only know how long USCIS takes to process such applications and it may not be specific to your case. Application Processing times are categorized according to the type of application you filed and also related to the USCIS Application Service Center (ASC) where your application was filed. At times you will not receive any notification from the USCIS (formerly the INS) even after thirty days of having submitted your application. In such a case, you can contact them at their toll-free telephone line and talk to their customer service representatives who will guide you further.

Another facility related to checking status is also available for applicants and their representatives (such as lawyers, charitable groups, or corporations). Such persons who are in need of regular access to information about their multiple cases can create an account to get this information easily. The services provided by USCIS (formerly the INS) to both account types are similar except that applicants’ representatives can enter their own internal office tracking number with each receipt number to deal with multiple cases.

Moreover, there is a new program that provides the option where you can receive a text message notification to your US mobile phone number whenever an update to a case status happens. Applicants and their representatives can avail this facility to receive such text message notification. However, note that Standard Messaging Rates or other charges related to these notifications may apply for such text messages. Applicants and their representatives can also receive automatic case status updates through e-mail as well. These options prove handy to applicants as the processing time for applications differ.

How to Immigrate to the US

February 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

Why immigrate to the US?

Immigration can be defined as entering and staying in a country to which you are not a native. The United States of America, the land of immigrants and opportunities enjoys the benefit as no other country does in terms of immigration. Immigration plays an important role in the economy of the US.

Through immigration, one gets the opportunity to live and work in the US, whereas from the country’s point of view, the financial benefits out of immigration are remarkable. It is indeed a win-win situation for both the immigrant and for the country.

Getting a visa, sponsored by relatives for a green card or obtaining a green card through one’s own eligibility are commonly used immigration procedures. One can enter the United States through an immigrant visa or a non-immigrant visa. Non-immigrant visas are meant for temporary visits to the U.S. (tourism, study, or work). Immigrant visas are for Permanent Residence in the U.S.

Once you enter the US through a visa, you can adjust your status to that of a green card holder (permanent resident) depending on a few conditions for visa holders who come under certain categories. After becoming a green card holder, you become eligible for citizenship.

Being a permanent resident or a citizen of the US has its own advantages. Green card is a proof of lawful permanent residence status in the United States. Green card holders can live and work permanently in the US. A US citizen, on the other hand can enter and exit the US at any time and also becomes eligible to vote. There are other benefits as well.

The US immigration process becomes easier if the authorities are fully satisfied with the intention of your visit to the US. An important aspect is to ensure you enter the US legally. It means if you entered the US with the permission of the US authorities, you have entered legally and it will certainly help in a trouble-free stay in the US. Those who did not get permission to enter the US are the ones who have entered illegally. This surely will cause problems in their work and stay in the US. The US immigration laws make things very difficult for such illegals to get a green card. So it is always recommended to enter the US legally.

There are many ways through which one can get a green card. One such way is through family sponsorship where a family member of yours who is a US citizen or a green card holder sponsors you. You can also get a green card through employment where a qualified US employer sponsors you. The diversity visa lottery (DV lottery program) is another way to get a green card. In this program, approximately 55,000 immigration applicants will be selected randomly to get a green card. Additionally, a person granted Refugee Status or Asylum may also apply for a Green Card but is subject to US immigration laws that differ accordingly.

After you become a green card holder, you can bring your family members come to the US. It also brings you closer to citizenship as being a green card holder is the main eligibility criteria for citizenship.

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