Fires and Visas: More in Common than You Think (Or the Importance of the DS-160 Visa Application)

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It is fire season here in California, and inevitably talk turns to what could have been done to prevent the latest big fire, that the fire could have been prevented if only…. The lessons learned are so applicable to visas that I even have a painting of firemen and a firetruck in my office.  Clients come to me with a “five-alarm fire,” and often my first thought is what could have been done to prevent the fire.  Sometimes, the problem is as simple as correctly and properly filling in the DS-160 visa application form or even having a copy of the visa application form. In many of these consultations, inevitably the topic turns to what was indicated in the visa application form.  I ask for a copy of the DS-160 visa application form and the client does not have one. The client attempts to reconstruct the application or tries to…

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Green Card Holder Stranded Outside the US Due to COVID-19

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As more and more individuals have found themselves stranded outside the US due to COVID-19, the question for permanent residents is more than mere inconvenience.  A US legal permanent resident is bound by fixed time frames. Specifically, an absence from the US of more than six months consecutively may lead to a presumption of an abandonment of US residence. An absence from the US of more than 1 year may impact the validity of the I-551 green card. In the latter situation, US law provides for a special visa: SB-1 Returning Resident Visa.  The SB-1 process actually involves two steps: at the nearest US consulate, the permanent resident submits 1) a DS-117 application to determine whether he or she meets the SB-1 criteria, and if approved 2) an immigrant visa application to determine whether the individual is admissible to the United States.  For the SB-1 part of the process, the…

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FAQ on New Public Charge Rules – Part 1: Trouble ahead for Older Immigrants, Diversity Lottery Winners, and Immigrants without Job Offers, English Skills, or University Education

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What are the new Public Charge Rules? Section 212(a)(4) of the Immigration and Nationality Act makes inadmissible immigrants who are “likely at any time to become a public charge”.  Practically speaking, in the past, if the sponsor in the United States had sufficient income (more than the poverty level) or assets, then the immigrant successfully received the visa or adjusted status. Now, the focus will be on the immigrant him or herself. The examiner will consider the personal circumstances of the immigrant: is it likely that he or she will become a public charge at any time in the future?  The circumstances to be reviewed include age, health, family size, financial resources, education and skills, and sponsor.  In short, this rule will adversely impact the elderly or soon-to-be-retired; those with medical conditions; the less educated; those with large families; those with few job prospects in the United States; those who…

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