Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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FAQ - General Visa Information

  1. How long does my passport have to be valid in order to apply for a U. S. visa?
  2. Do I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program?
  3. What is the fee for ESTA and who has to pay it?
  4. If I travel to the United States without ESTA, what happens?
  5. If I am a third-country national living in Fiji’s Consular District can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Suva?
  6. Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy for an interview?
  7. I have a nonimmigrant visa that will expire soon and I would like to renew it. Do I need to go through the whole visa application process again?
  8. My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?
  9. I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?
  10. How can I extend my visa?
  11. Must I submit my visa application form electronically?
  12. What is "administrative processing?"
  13. How do I read and understand my visa?
  14. My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?
  15. What will happen when I enter the United States
  16. I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?
  17. I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?
  18. I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?
  19. What information do I need to provide about social media, while filling the DS 160 form?
  20. What if I am traveling to Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands?

Q.1 How long does my passport have to be valid in order to apply for a U. S. visa?

You must possess a passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States (unless country-specific agreements provide exemptions).

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Q.2 Do I qualify for the Visa Waiver Program?

You qualify for the Visa Waiver Program if you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country, possess a machine-readable passport, are traveling for temporary business or a visit of less than 90 days, meet other program requirements, and have obtained an authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

You must be a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program-eligible country in order to use this program. Permanent residents of VWP-eligible countries do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program unless they are also citizens of VWP-eligible countries. We recommend you visit the Visa Waiver Program website before any travel to the U.S. to determine if you are eligible for the VWP.

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Q.3 What is the fee for ESTA and who has to pay it?

ESTA registration is required for all travelers to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program. There is a US$14 fee for ESTA registration. The fee can be paid online using a debit card or any of the following credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover. Third parties (travel agents, family members, etc.) can pay your ESTA fee for you if you do not have the correct type of credit card. If the ESTA registration is denied, the fee is only US$4.

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Q.4 If I travel to the United States without ESTA, what happens?

Visa Waiver Program travelers who have not obtained approval through ESTA should expect to be denied boarding on any air carrier bound for the United States. If you are allowed to board, you can expect to encounter significant delays and possible denial of admission at the U.S. port of entry (i.e., arrival airport). ESTA registration usually only takes a few minutes to complete, authorization often arrives in seconds, and it is valid for two years.

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Q.5 If I am a third-country national living in Fiji’s Consular District can I apply for a nonimmigrant visa in Suva?

Applicants are generally advised to apply in their country of nationality or residence. Any person who is legally present in Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Tonga, Tuvalu, and the French territories in the South Pacific, French Polynesia, New Caledonia, and Wallis and Futuna, may apply for a visa in Fiji. However, applicants should decide where to apply based on more than just convenience or delay in getting an appointment in their home district. One thing to consider, for example, is in which consular district the applicant can demonstrate the strongest ties.

There is no guarantee that a visa will be issued, nor is there a guarantee of processing time. If refused, there is no refund of the application fee.

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Q.6 Do all nonimmigrant visa applicants have to come to the Embassy for an interview?

Yes, for most applicants. There are only a few exceptions to the interview requirement. The following applicants generally do not have to appear in person:

  • Applicants for A1, A2 (official travelers on central government business), C2, C3 (central government officials in transit on central government business) or G1, G2, G3, G4 (central government officials traveling in connection with an international organization, or employees of an international organization)

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Q.7 I have a nonimmigrant visa that will expire soon and I would like to renew it. Do I need to go through the whole visa application process again?

Each nonimmigrant visa application is a separate process. You must apply in the normal manner, even if you had a visa before and even if your current nonimmigrant visa is still valid.

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Q.8 My passport has expired, but the U.S. visa in it is still valid. Do I need to apply for a new visa?

No. If your visa is still valid you can travel to the United States with your two passports (old and new), as long as the visa is valid, not damaged, and is the appropriate type of visa required for your principal purpose of travel. (Example: tourist visa, when your principal purpose of travel is tourism). Also, the name and other personal data should be the same in both passports, (unless the name change was due to marriage). Your nationality, as indicated in the new passport, must be the same as that shown in the passport bearing the visa.

If your name changed due to marriage, you can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate.

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Q.9 I have dual citizenship. Which passport should I use to travel to the United States?

If one of your nationalities is not U.S., you can apply using whichever nationality you prefer, but you must disclose all nationalities to the Embassy on your application form. U.S. citizens, even dual citizens/nationals, must enter and depart the United States using a U.S. passport.

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Q.10 How can I extend my visa?

The validity of a visa cannot be extended regardless of its type. You will need to apply for a new visa.

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Q.11 Must I submit my visa application form electronically?

Yes, you must complete the DS-160 and bring a printed copy of the the DS-160 confirmation page with you when you go for your interview at the U.S. Embassy.

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Q.12 What is "administrative processing?"

Some refused visa applications may require further administrative processing. When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. Except in cases of emergency travel (i.e. serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family), before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants should wait at least 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.This web page on the Consular Affairs website has more information about administrative processing.

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Q.13 How do I read and understand my visa?

As soon as you receive your visa, check to make sure all your personal information printed on the visa is correct. If any of the information on your visa does not match the information in your passport or is otherwise incorrect, please contact the issuing authority (i.e. the U.S. Embassy) immediately.

The expiration date of your visa is the last day you may use the visa to enter the United States. It does not indicate how long you may stay in the United States. Your stay is determined by the Department of Homeland Security at your port of entry. As long as you comply with the Department of Homeland Security decision on the conditions of your stay, you should have no problem.

Further information about interpreting your visa can be found at the Department of State's Consular Affairs website.

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Q.14 My visa will expire while I am in the United States. Is there a problem with that?

No. You may stay in the U.S. for the period of time and conditions authorized by the Department of Homeland Security officer when you arrived in the U.S., which will be noted on the I-94, even if your visa expires during your stay. You can find more information here.

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Q.15 What will happen when I enter the United States

Your airline should give you a blank Customs Declaration form 6059B. Only one Customs Declaration is required for a family traveling together.

A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States, but allows a foreign citizen coming from abroad to travel to a U.S. port of entry and request permission to enter the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to permit or deny admission to the United States, and determine how long a traveler may stay. At the port of entry, upon granting entry to the United States, the Customs and Border Protection officer will determine the length of stay permitted. Previously, travelers received a paper I-94 (record of admission) with this information. This process is now automated, with some exceptions. The traveler will be provided with a CBP admission stamp on their travel document that shows the date of admission, class of admission, and admitted-until date. Learn more on the CBP Website. If a traveler needs a copy of their I-94 for verification of alien registration, immigration status or employment authorization, it can be obtained from www.cbp.gov/I94. You can review information about admission on the CBP Website. 

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Q.16 I did not turn in my I-94 when I left the United States. What should I do?

Previously, foreign travelers granted entry by CBP officials received a paper Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record). This process is now automated, with some exceptions. If you received a paper Form I-94 or I-94W and failed to turn in your paper Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to the commercial airline or CBP when you departed the U.S., see the CBP Website for instructions. Do not send your paper Form I-94 or I-94W to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate General.

If you received an admissions stamp in your passport instead of a paper Form I-94 when granted entry, the I-94 record was created electronically, and a paper copy was not provided to you. CBP will record your departure from the U.S. electronically. Learn more on the CBP Website.

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Q.17 I have questions on submitting my DS-160 and printing the confirmation page. Where can I go for more information?

Our call center is unable to provide assistance on the application form. Any inquiries on completing the DS-160 can be addressed on this website.


 

Q.18 I changed my name. Is my U.S. visa with my old name still valid?

If your name has legally changed through marriage, divorce, or a court ordered name change, you will need to obtain a new passport. Once you have a new passport, the Department of State recommends that you apply for a new U.S. visa to make it easier for you to travel to and from the United States.

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Q.19 What information do I need to provide about social media, while filling the DS 160 form?

On May 31 2019, the Department of State updated its immigrant and non-immigrant visa application forms to request additional information, including social media identifiers, from most U.S. visa applicants worldwide. For more details please click here.

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Q.20 What if I am traveling to Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands?

Citizens of Australia, Brunei, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan and the United Kingdom do not need a visa or ESTA to visit both Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands because of the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, though they must complete Form I-736 prior to travel. Chinese citizens also do not need a visa if they complete Form I-736 for temporary admission into the Northern Mariana Islands. For more information on the Guam-CNMI Visa Waiver Program, click here.

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FAQ - COVID19 Testing

  1. Is the Department of State going to start requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or test for visa applicants?
  2. Given the CDC has begun requiring negative tests to enter the United States, will foreign nationals with a negative test or vaccine be able to get a visa/enter the United States even if they would normally be restricted by one of the Presidential Proclamations? If a foreign national obtains a National Interest Exception, will they be exempt from the negative testing requirement?
  3. There are reports of foreign nationals traveling to Florida to receive vaccines. Is that permitted under the law?
  4. What will happen to U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who present forged or otherwise illegitimate negative COVID test results in order to try to enter the United States?
  5. Will travelers be able to request CDC waivers (exemptions) from the testing requirement for emergency or humanitarian reasons at Embassies and Consulates?
  6. If I'm vaccinated, do I have to present a negative COVID test to fly to the United States? Why?

 

Q.1 Is the Department of State going to start requiring proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or test for visa applicants?

We have no changes to visa requirements to announce at this time. Information regarding required vaccinations for immigrant visa applicants may be found on this website.

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Q.2 Given the CDC has begun requiring negative tests to enter the United States, will foreign nationals with a negative test or vaccine be able to get a visa/enter the United States even if they would normally be restricted by one of the Presidential Proclamations? If a foreign national obtains a National Interest Exception, will they be exempt from the negative testing requirement?

All Presidential Proclamations restricting travel due to COVID-19 remain in place, and continue to apply to subject potential travelers regardless of their test results or vaccination status. Travelers holding a National Interest Exception also remain subject to all applicable pre-departure testing requirements. For more information regarding testing requirements, we refer you to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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Q.3 There are reports of foreign nationals traveling to Florida to receive vaccines. Is that permitted under the law?

Seeking medical treatment in the United States is a permissible purpose of travel for individuals holding a valid visitor visa; you may find more information here. For questions regarding entering the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, we refer you to the Department of Homeland Security.

For questions regarding individuals' eligibility to receive the vaccine in the United States as part of a priority group, we refer you to local health authorities. 

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Q.4 What will happen to U.S. citizens or foreign nationals who present forged or otherwise illegitimate negative COVID test results in order to try to enter the United States?

Per the CDC’s order, travelers must present a verifiable, documented test result to their airline in order to travel. Individuals found to have provided forged or otherwise illegitimate test results may be denied boarding and/or entry into the United States. We refer you to CDC, DHS, and DOT for information on implementation.

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Q.5 Will travelers be able to request CDC waivers (exemptions) from the testing requirement for emergency or humanitarian reasons at Embassies and Consulates?

Waivers to the testing requirement may be granted by the CDC on an extremely limited case-by-case basis when extraordinary emergency travel, such as emergency medical evacuation, must occur to preserve someone’s health or safety, and testing cannot be completed before travel. Individuals who believe they meet the criteria will find information on how to request an emergency waiver on the website of the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. There are no waivers available through this process for individuals who test positive for COVID-19.

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Q.6 If I'm vaccinated, do I have to present a negative COVID test to fly to the United States? Why?

All passengers age two and older are subject to the order, even those who have received a COVID-19 vaccine. For questions regarding the testing requirements, we refer you to the CDC, which has information on Requirement for Proof of Negative COVID-19 Test or Recovery from COVID-19 for All Air Passengers Arriving in the United States and Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Vaccination.

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FAQ - Visa Refusals

  1. What is Section 214(b)?
  2. How can an applicant prove "strong ties?"
  3. Is a denial under Section 214(B) permanent?
  4. Who can influence the consular officer to reverse a decision?

The United States is an open society. Unlike many other countries, the United States does not impose internal controls on most visitors, such as registration with local authorities. Our immigration law requires consular officers to view every visa applicant as an intending immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise. In order to enjoy the privilege of unencumbered travel in the United States, you have a responsibility to prove you are going to return abroad before a visitor or student visa is issued.

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Q.1 What Is Section 214(b)?

Section 214(b) is part of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). It states:

Every alien shall be presumed to be an immigrant until he establishes to the satisfaction of the consular officer, at the time of application for admission, that he is entitled to a nonimmigrant status...

Our consular officers have a difficult job. They must decide in a very short time if someone is qualified to receive a temporary visa. Most cases are decided after a brief interview and review of whatever evidence of ties an applicant presents. To qualify for a visitor or student visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of sections 101(a)(15)(B) or (F) of the INA respectively. Failure to do so will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most frequent basis for such a refusal concerns the requirement that the prospective visitor or student possess a residence abroad he/she has no intention of abandoning. Applicants prove the existence of such residence by demonstrating that they have ties abroad that would compel them to leave the U.S. at the end of the temporary stay. The law places this burden of proof on the applicant.

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Q.2 How can an applicant prove "strong ties?"

Strong ties differ from country to country, city to city, and individual to individual. Some examples of ties can be a job, a house, a family, a bank account. "Ties" are the various aspects of your life that bind you to your country of residence: your possessions, employment, social and family relationships.

Imagine your own ties in the country where you live. Would a consular office of another country consider that you have a residence there that you do not intend to abandon? It is likely that the answer would be "yes" if you have a job, a family, if you own or rent a house or apartment, or if you have other commitments that would require you to return to your country at the conclusion of a visit abroad. Each person's situation is different.

U.S. consular officers are aware of this diversity. During the visa interview they look at each application individually and consider professional, social, cultural and other factors. In cases of younger applicants who may not have had an opportunity to form many ties, consular officers may look at the applicants specific intentions, family situations, and long-range plans and prospects within his or her country of residence. Each case is examined individually and is accorded every consideration under the law.

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Q.3 Is a denial under Section 214(B) permanent?

No. The consular officer will reconsider a case if an applicant can show further convincing evidence of ties outside the United States. Unfortunately, some applicants will not qualify for a nonimmigrant visa, regardless of how many times they reapply, until their personal, professional, and financial circumstances change considerably.

An applicant refused under Section 214(b) should review carefully their situation and realistically evaluate their ties. They may write down on paper what qualifying ties they think they have which may not have been evaluated at the time of their interview with the consular officer. Also, if they have been refused, they should review what documents were submitted for the consul to consider. Applicants refused visas under section 214(b) may reapply for a visa. When they do, they will have to show further evidence of their ties or how their circumstances have changed since the time of the original application. It may help to answer the following questions before reapplying: (1) Did I explain my situation accurately? (2) Did the consular officer overlook something? (3) Is there any additional information I can present to establish my residence and strong ties abroad?

Applicants should also bear in mind that they will be charged a nonrefundable application fee each time they apply for a visa, regardless of whether a visa is issued.

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Q.4 Who can influence the consular officer to reverse a decision?

Immigration law delegates the responsibility for issuance or refusal of visas to consular officers overseas. They have the final say on all visa cases. By regulation, the U.S. Department of State has authority to review consular decisions, but this authority is limited to the interpretation of law, as contrasted to determinations of facts. The question at issue in such denials, whether an applicant possesses the required residence abroad, is a factual one. Therefore, it falls exclusively within the authority of consular officers at our Foreign Service posts to resolve. An applicant can influence the post to change a prior visa denial only through the presentation of new convincing evidence of strong ties.

For information about visa ineligibilities other than 214(b), please visit the Department of State's Consular Affairs website.

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FAQ - Business/Tourist Visa

  1. How long can I stay in the United States on a tourist or business visa?
  2. My visitor visa (B-1/B-2) expires after my intended date of arrival in the United States. Do I need to get a new visa before departure?
  3. My U.S. visa will expire in the next 6 months. Do I need to apply for a new visa after my current visa expires or can I apply in advance?
  4. I currently hold a valid B-1/B-2 visa, which is in my maiden name, in my old passport. I wish to transfer this visa to my new passport, which is in my married name. What is the procedure?
  5. My current U.S. visa was issued to me when I was working in my previous job. Now I have changed to a new job at a new company and my new employer wants me to attend a conference in the United States, scheduled for next month. Can I use the same visa or do I have to apply for a new visa?
  6. My child is studying in the United States. Can I go live with him/her?

Q.1 How long can I stay in the United States on a tourist or business visa?

A U.S. nonimmigrant visa grants you permission to travel to a Port of Entry (airport/seaport) in the United States. When you arrive at your destination Port of Entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer who processes your entry will determine the length of time that you may remain in the country. You may travel to the Port of Entry during the validity of your nonimmigrant visa up to and including the last day the visa is valid. The visa duration does not determine the length of time that you may legally remain in the United States; only the Customs and Border Protection officer can decide this upon your arrival in the United States.

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Q.2 My visitor visa (B-1/B-2) expires after my intended date of arrival in the United States. Do I need to get a new visa before departure?

You can arrive in the U.S. right up to the last date of validity indicated on the visa. The Customs and Border Protection officer on arrival determines the duration of your stay in the U.S. Your visa can expire while you are still in the U.S. – just be sure that you do not overstay the period of time the officer grants.

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Q.3 My U.S. visa will expire in the next 6 months. Do I need to apply for a new visa after my current visa expires or can I apply in advance?

You do not have to wait until your current visa expires. You can apply for a new visa even if your current visa is valid.

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Q.4 I currently hold a valid B-1/B-2 visa, which is in my maiden name, in my old passport. I wish to transfer this visa to my new passport, which is in my married name. What is the procedure?

U.S. visas cannot be transferred from one passport to another. You can travel to the United States with both passports as well as your marriage certificate, or you can apply for a new visa.

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Q.5 My current U.S. visa was issued to me when I was working in my previous job. Now I have changed to a new job at a new company and my new employer wants me to attend a conference in the United States, scheduled for next month. Can I use the same visa or do I have to apply for a new visa?

You can travel to the United States on the same visa as long as your visa is valid for business or pleasure.

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Q.6 My child is studying in the United States. Can I go live with him/her?

While you can use your own B-1/B-2 visa (or travel under the Visa Waiver Program, if eligible) to visit your child, you may not live with your child unless you have your own immigrant, work, or student visa.

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FAQ - Work Visa

  1. What is a petition?
  2. Can I get a visa to do casual work?
  3. Is there an age limit for applying for a temporary work visa?
  4. Can my U.S.-based relative sponsor me for a work visa?
  5. When can I enter the United States?
  6. Who pays the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee and when do they pay it?

Q.1 What is a petition?

Before applying for a temporary worker visa at the U.S. Embassy, you must have an approved Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, from USCIS. This petition must be submitted by your prospective employer no earlier than 6 months prior to your proposed employment start date. Your employer should file the petition as soon as possible within the 6-month period to allow adequate time for processing. Once approved, your employer will be sent Form I-797, Notice of Action. For more information, visit the USCIS Temporary Workers webpage.

Note: The Form I-797 is no longer required for your interview. However, to verify your petition's approval the Embassy will need your I-129 petition receipt number. Please bring this to your interview.

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Q.2 Can I get a visa to do casual work?

No. There is no visa that covers casual work. All applicants who plan to work in the United States must have an approved petition prior to their visa appointment.

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Q.3 Is there an age limit for applying for a temporary work visa?

No.

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Q.4 Can my U.S.-based relative sponsor me for a work visa?

No. Only your employer can sponsor you.

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Q.5 When can I enter the United States?

You may not enter the United States until 10 days prior to your employment start date, as noted on your Form I-797 or on your offer of employment letter.

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Q.6 Who pays the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee and when do they pay it?

An applicant for an L-1 visa traveling on a blanket petition must pay the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee. On individual L, H-1B and H-2B petitions, the U.S. petitioner pays the Fraud Prevention and Detection fee to USCIS when the petition is filed.

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FAQ - Student Visa

  1. What is an I-20 and how do I get it?
  2. How early should I apply for my student visa?
  3. I received my visa, when should I travel?
  4. Can a person on a visitor visa change his/her status to student while in the United States if he/she gains admission to a school and gets a Form I-20?
  5. What if I receive an I-20 to a different school?
  6. I was working as an H-1B and have now been admitted to a university as an F-1. Do I need to return to my country to apply for a student visa?
  7. Can an F-1 student work in the United States?
  8. What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

Q.1 What is an I-20 and how do I get it?

The Form I-20 is an official U.S. Government form, issued by a certified school, which a prospective nonimmigrant student must have in order to get an F-1 or M-1 visa. Form I-20 acts as proof-of-acceptance and contains the information necessary to pay the SEVIS I-901 fee, apply for a visa or change visa status, and be admitted into the United States. The Form I-20 has the student's SEVIS identification number, which starts with the letter N and is followed by nine digits, on the upper right side directly above the barcode.

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Q.2 How early should I apply for my student visa?

You are encouraged to apply for your nonimmigrant student visa as soon as you have your I-20. To ensure you get an early and timely date you may apply at any time. Student (F and M) visas for new students can be issued up to 120 days in advance of the start date for a course of study.

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Q.3 I received my visa, when should I travel?

For your initial entry, you may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the course of study stated on your I-20, regardless of when your visa was issued.

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Q.4 Can a person on a visitor visa change his/her status to student while in the United States if he/she gains admission to a school and gets a Form I-20?

Yes. In general, you may apply to change your nonimmigrant visa status if you were lawfully admitted to the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, if your nonimmigrant status remains valid, if you have not violated the conditions of your status, and you have not committed any actions that would make you ineligible. For more details, please visit the USCIS website.

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Q.5 What if I receive an I-20 to a different school?

If you received an I-20 after scheduling your appointment, then you can inform the U.S. consular officer of the new I-20 at the time of the interview.

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Q.6 I was working as an H-1B and have now been admitted to a university as an F-1. Do I need to return to my country to apply for a student visa?

No. Once you are in the United States, you do not need to apply for a new visa because the visa is only for entry into the United States. Check with USCIS to determine if you need to adjust status. If you leave the country, however, you'll need to apply for the student visa in order to re-enter the United States.

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Q.7 Can an F-1 student work in the United States?

Full-time students on F visas may seek on-campus employment not to exceed 20 hours per week. After the first year in student status, an applicant may apply for employment off campus with authorization from USCIS. Please contact your student advisor for further information.

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Q.8 What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrollment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Student visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. The SEVIS website has more details.

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FAQ - Exchange Visitor Visa

  1. I received my visa, when should I travel?
  2. What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?
  3. What is the "two-year rule?"
  4. Can the two-year rule be waived?

Q.1 I received my visa, when should I travel?

Exchange visitors may only enter the United States within 30 days of the beginning of the program, as stated on your Form DS-2019, regardless of when your visa was issued.

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Q.2 What is the SEVIS system and how does it affect me?

The Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) program requires schools and exchange programs to verify the enrollment status of all new and continuing foreign students and exchange visitors. Exchange visitor visa applicants are required to pay a SEVIS fee before a visa can be issued. Applicants are required to provide the SEVIS I-901 fee receipt as proof of payment. The SEVISwebsite has more details.

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Q.3 What is the "two-year rule?"

The "two-year rule" is the common term used for a section of U.S. immigration law which requires many exchange visitors to return to their home countries and be physically present there for at least two years after the conclusion of their exchange visit before they can return to the U.S. under certain types of visas, specifically H-1, L-1, K-1 and immigrant visas. It is important to note that only a preliminary finding of whether the two-year rule applies to you is made on your DS-2019 when your J-1 visa is issued. The final decision will be made only if you later choose to apply for an H-1, L-1, K-1, or immigrant visa.

J-1 visa holders subject to the two-year rule are not permitted to remain in the United States and apply for an adjustment/change of status to a prohibited nonimmigrant status (for example, from a J-1 visa to an H-1 visa) or to apply for legal permanent resident status (Green Card) without first returning home for two years or obtaining an approved waiver. Whether you are subject to the two-year rule is determined by a number of factors, including your source of funding and your country's "Skills List." It is not determined by the amount of time you spend in the United States.

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Q.4 Can the two-year rule be waived?

Possibly. Only the Department of State's Visa Office can grant waivers of the two-year rule. The Visa Office is also the final authority on whether you are subject to the rule, regardless of what is annotated in your passport. If you are subject to the two-year rule, you may be able to obtain a waiver. Even if you are subject to the two-year rule, you may still qualify for a tourist visa or any other nonimmigrant visa except those noted above.

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FAQ - Transit/Ship Crew Visa

  1. I plan to stop in the United States for a day and take a flight to another country on the next day. Do I need to apply for C-1 visa or a B-1/B-2 visa?

Q.1 I plan to stop in the United States for a day and take a flight to another country on the next day. Do I need to apply for C-1 visa or a B-1/B-2 visa?

If you seek layover privileges for purposes other than transiting through the United States, such as to visit friends or for sightseeing, then you must qualify for and obtain the type of visa required for that purpose, such as a B-2 visa.

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FAQ - Religious Worker Visa

  1. I am applying for a religious worker visa, but do not have an approved petition. I have been to the United States previously with an R-1 visa and was not required to have the petition. Can I apply for an R-1 visa without the petition since I had an R-1 visa in the past?

Q.1 I am applying for a religious worker visa, but do not have an approved petition. I have been to the United States previously with an R-1 visa and was not required to have the petition. Can I apply for an R-1 visa without the petition since I had an R-1 visa in the past?

The requirement for an approved petition went into effect November 28, 2008. All applicants applying for an R-1 nonimmigrant visa are required to have an approved petition from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For more information, please visit the USCISwebsite.

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FAQ - Track My Passport

  1. How will I get my passport back after the interview?
  2. What do I need to show to pick up the passport at U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji?
  3. What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?
  4. Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?
  5. When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?
  6. How and where can I check my passport status?
  7. What if I need my passport back for urgent travel?
  8. What do I need to do to receive my passport back for travelling to another country?

Q.1 How will I get my passport back after the interview?

  1. The applicant may pick up his/her passport/document at the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji, from Mondays to Thursday (except U.S. & Fiji public holidays) between 3.00 pm and 4.00 pm. Please check here for holidays and closure dates;
  2. The applicant provides a pre-paid self-addressed courier bag when he/she attends his/her interview at the U.S. Embassy OR if an applicant is applying for his/her U.S. visa via interview waiver, please include a pre-paid self-addressed envelope in the interview waiver package; or
  3. The applicant provides freight forward self-addressed courier bag when he/she attends his/her interview at the U.S. Embassy OR if an applicant is applying for his/her U.S. visa via interview waiver, please include the self-addressed envelope in the interview waiver package.

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Q.2 What do I need to show to pick up the passport at U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji?

In order to ensure that your passport and visa are not given to an unauthorized person, you must present a government-issued photo ID for identification when you collect your passport.

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Q.3 What types of ID are acceptable as proof-of-identity?

You must present an original government-issued photo ID.

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Q.4 Can someone besides me pick up or receive delivery of my passport?

Yes. However, your representative - even in case of family members - must present the following in order to collect your passport:

If a representative is collecting your passport from the document collection office on your behalf - even in case of family members - the representative must present:

  • His / Her own original government-issued photo ID for identification
  • A photocopy of your government-issued photo ID
  • A letter of authority, signed by you, authorizing your representative to collect your passport. The letter of authority must contain the following information:
    • Your representative's full name as shown on his / her government-issued photo ID
    • Your name

If the applicant is under the age of 16, the following documents are required:

  • An original, signed letter of authority from either of the applicant's parents
  • A clear photocopy of the government-issued photo ID belonging to the parent who signed the applicant's letter of authority
  • The representative's original government-issued photo ID
    Note: In case of a group/family, a single letter of authority with the required information for each of the applicants will be accepted.

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Q.5 When will I receive my passport after visa is processed?

Although visa processing time is typically three to four business days, processing time for specific cases may vary due to an individual's circumstances and other special requirements, and may take longer. 

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Q.6 How and where can I check my passport status?

You can check the status of your application at any time online on this page.

To track your passport/document, please send an email to support-fiji@ustraveldocs.com using the email address that you have registered in your profile when you created the profile in our system wherein your visa application is linked to. In your email, please indicate that you are tracking the status of your visa application and provide the following information:

  • Applicant's name;
  • Applicant's passport number;
  • Applicant's date of birth; and
  • Date of interview, OR, if you have applied via interview waiver, an indication of the date of submission.

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Q.7 What if I need my passport back for urgent travel?

If you are planning urgent travel to the United States, please send an email with details of your name, passport number and date of birth to support-fiji@ustraveldocs.com informing that you have urgent need for your passport and request for an update of your visa application. You will have to wait for the response from the Embassy/Consulate. 

Please be advised that visa processing cannot be expedited. We understand this delay may affect your ability to initiate travel plans to the United States. However, our procedures are based on regulatory requirements.

An applicant is advised not pay for travel arrangements such as airfare without having a U.S. visa in your possession. The Embassy/Consulate bears no responsibility if you do so. The Embassy/Consulate is unable to guarantee the issuance of a visa before any fixed travel date.

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Q.8 What do I need to do to receive my passport back for travelling to another country?

If you want to receive your passport back, please send an email with details of your name, passport number and date of birth to support-fiji@ustraveldocs.com with a request for temporary return of your passport. If the temporary return of your passport is approved by the Embassy/Consulate, you may receive an email advising that the return of your passport has been approved. 

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FAQ - Immigrant Visas

  1. What is the difference between a "fiance(e) visa" and a visa for your spouse?
  2. How long does each type of visa take to process?
  3. My attorney says I should file for the K-3 visa because I can move to the U.S. right away. How can I do this?
  4. My fiance(e) is petitioning for me but what about my children - can they go to the U.S. with me?
  5. Can I enter the U.S. on my fiance(e) visa, depart the U.S. and then re-enter on the fiance(e) visa?
  6. My lawyer in the U.S. has told me to apply for a tourist visa, and then apply for immigration or adjust my status after I arrive in the U.S. Can I do that?
  7. Can I enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program while I'm waiting for my visa interview?
  8. How long will it be before I'll be given an immigrant visa interview date?
  9. Do my children need to attend the visa interview?
  10. I need to change my visa appointment date. What do I do?
  11. How soon can I travel once the visa is issued?
  12. What if I don't use the visa within six months? Can it be extended?
  13. Can a third country national (not a resident of Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, or French Polynesia) apply for an immigrant visa in Fiji?
  14. I have a family-based petition pending. I've changed my address. What should I do?
  15. I don't want to have the inoculations/vaccinations. Does that mean I can't have a visa?
  16. I don't understand the I-864. Where can I get help?
  17. I haven't been required to file tax returns in the U.S. Can't I use my Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, or French Polynesia tax returns?
  18. I don't understand the concept of 'domicile'. Where can I get help?
  19. I need a joint sponsor. What are a joint sponsor's responsibilities?
  20. Can my relatives petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?
  21. Can my U.S. citizen child petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?
  22. How else can I immigrate to the U.S. to join my U.S. citizen child?
  23. We have been advised that USCIS has approved the I-130 immediate relative petition. What happens next?
  24. I am a U.S. permanent resident. I have been, or will be, out of the U.S. for more than 12 months. How can I extend my Green Card?
  25. I have lost my Green Card and need to return to the U.S. very soon. What do I do?

Q.1 What is the difference between a "fiance(e) visa" and a visa for your spouse?

An American citizen files a petition (I-129F) for a fiance(e) visa if the couple plans to marry in the U.S. This visa will allow you to enter the U.S. for 90 days to marry there and apply for legal permanent residence after your marriage. An American citizen files an I-130 petition for a visa for their spouse if the couple is already married, the spouse currently resides outside of the U.S., and wishes to immigrate to the U.S. Lawful permanent residents (green card holders) may file immigrant visa petitions (but not fiance(e) petitions) for their spouses too.

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Q.2 How long does each type of visa take to process?

The I-130 must be filed with USCIS in the United States, and adjudication may take many months. The cases are then processed at the National Visa Center, and finally an appointment will be scheduled for the alien to apply for the actual immigrant visa at the Post abroad having jurisdiction over your place of residence. The whole process could take between nine and 18 months.

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Q.3 My attorney says I should file for the K-3 visa because I can move to the U.S. right away. How can I do this?

Your U.S. citizen spouse must file the I-129F Petition to qualify you for a K-3 visa. This a two step process, requiring the U.S. citizen spouse to file an I-130 and then an I-129F once he receives the Receipt I-797 for the I-130 filing. However, the I-129F (K3 Petition) will still take several months to adjudicate, and be forwarded to the overseas Consular Post via the National Visa Center. This a two step process, requiring the U.S. citizen spouse to file an I-130 and then Form I-129F. For further instructions, please see the I-129F form.

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Q.4 My fiance(e) is petitioning for me but what about my children - can they go to the U.S. with me?

Any unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for a "derivative" fiance(e) visa with you. The children must be under 21 years of age and unmarried at the time of their entry into the U.S. on such a visa.

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Q.5 Can I enter the U.S. on my fiance(e) visa, depart the U.S. and then re-enter on the fiance(e) visa?

The fiance(e) visa is a one-entry visa. You are required to marry within 90 days of your arrival and to apply immediately thereafter to U.S.C.I.S. for an adjustment of status using Form I-485. You should not depart the U.S. until after you have adjusted your status and have been granted lawful permanent resident status. If you leave the U S before completing the adjustment of status, you will have difficulty in re-entering the U.S. and may have to remain abroad until you qualify for an Immediate Relative Visa, by your spouse filing an I-130 Petition for you.

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Q.6 My lawyer in the U.S. has told me to apply for a tourist visa, and then apply for immigration or adjust my status after I arrive in the U.S. Can I do that?

No. If you are intending to move permanently to the U.S. you do not qualify for a nonimmigrant (tourist) visa. Also, many categories of immigrant visas involve long waiting periods before the visa can be issued. It is not possible to spend this period in the U.S.

If you intend to remain permanently in the U.S., attempting to enter on a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program is not advisable and could result in your involuntary return to Fiji or country of residence. In order to be granted admission on a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program, you must prove that you have a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return. It is always at the discretion of the Immigration Inspector, CBP/DHS at the port of entry whether to admit a traveler.

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Q.7 Can I enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program while I'm waiting for my visa interview?

You can travel to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program, however, the maximum period of admission under the VWP is 90 days, and this period cannot be extended. No one can be guaranteed, prior to their arrival at a U.S. port-of-entry, whether or not they would be granted permission to enter the U.S. Please bear in mind that in order to be admitted, you must still demonstrate that you have a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return, if even for a short time.

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Q.8 How long will it be before I'll be given an immigrant visa interview date?

To be scheduled for the final fiance(e) or immigrant visa interview, the consulate must have received the applicant's approved I-129F (fiance(e) petition), I-130 (family-based petition) or I-140 (employment based petition) from the National Visa Center (NVC), completed biographic data (forms DS-260/261 Part 1) and the checklists (>orm DSL-1076 for fiance(e) visa applicants and form DS-2001 for immigrant visa applicants).

As soon as the Consulate receives the DS-2001 or DSL-1076 signed to indicate the person is ready for the interview we will mail you an appointment letter, and in the case of immigrants, the medical instructions will included in that letter.

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Q.9 Do my children need to attend the visa interview?

Yes, unless your children are already U.S. citizens. Children, regardless of age, who are applying for immigrant or derivative fiance(e) visas, must attend the interview.

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Q.10 I need to change my visa appointment date. What do I do?

Should you need to change your appointment date, please call the Consulate directly on the phone number listed on your appointment letter. We will endeavor to reschedule an appointment for you.

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Q.11 How soon can I travel once the visa is issued?

In most cases the immigrant and fiance(e) visas are valid only for 6 months. Therefore, you must enter the U.S. with your visa within 6 months of its issuance. In some cases, visas can be limited to expire before the 6-month period. In this instance, you are required to enter the U.S. before the expiry date of your visa.

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Q.12 What if I don't use the visa within six months? Can it be extended?

Immigrant and fiance(e) visas cannot be extended. If the visa is not used within its period of validity, you must return it to this office for cancellation, along with a note explaining the reasons why the visa was not used. Upon return of the visa and explanation, we will inform you as to the requirements needed to have a new visa issued. Usually at least the visa fee is required to be paid, and you may need a new Fiji Police clearance, and possibly a new medical examination.

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Q.13 Can a third country national (not a resident of Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, or French Polynesia) apply for an immigrant visa in Fiji?

In some cases. First, that person must show that they have permission from the  Fiji Immigration Department to remain in  Fiji for 6 months or longer i.e. NOT just on a tourist visa. Depending on the immigrant visa category involved, it is possible that we would accept that person's immigrant visa application. In general, however, the person must have some ties to Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu Nauru, or French Polynesia; that is, some reason for being here beyond applying for the visa. Alien applicant needs to provide the Embassy with evidence of visa status in  Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, or French Polynesia, also case number, name and date and place of birth and current  Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, Tuvalu, or French Polynesia address and phone number. The Embassy can then request the case file from another post or directly from the National Visa Centre.

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Q.14 I have a family-based petition pending. I've changed my address. What should I do?

If your file is currently with us, you should email us at SuvaIV@state.gov, giving the details of any changes to your application, including your new mailing address, your full name, date & place of birth, current address, and your case number. If your file is not at the Embassy in Suva, you or the petitioning relative will need to contact the National Visa Centre to advise them of the change of address.

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Q.15 I don't want to have the inoculations/vaccinations. Does that mean I can't have a visa?

Should you not wish to receive any of the required vaccinations, you will be found ineligible to receive an immigrant visa. You may apply for a waiver of that ineligibility, but must establish that compliance with the vaccination requirements would be contrary to your religious beliefs or moral convictions. To qualify for a waiver you must show that:

  • You are opposed to vaccinations in any form;
  • The objection is based on religious beliefs or moral convictions (whether or not as a member of a recognized religion); and
  • The religious belief or moral conviction (whether or not as part of a recognized religion) is sincere.

Applications for vaccination waivers must be sent to our regional U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service office for their consideration. These waiver applications can take several months to process and there is NO guarantee a waiver will be granted.

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Q.16 I don't understand the I-864. Where can I get help?

Please contact the U.S. Visa Information Service on 0900 87 847 with any questions you might have in regard to the I-864 Affidavit of Support.

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Q.17 I haven't been required to file tax returns in the U.S. Can't I use my Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Nauru, or French Polynesia tax returns?

U.S. Immigration laws and regulations require that the petitioning relative or joint sponsor submit the most recent U.S. Federal Income Tax returns - not foreign tax returns. IRS requires Americans and lawful permanent residents who are working abroad to file a return even if most or all of their overseas income is excluded from U.S. taxes. For information on filing U.S. federal tax returns and declaring foreign income check the IRS website's Frequently Asked Questions.

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Q.18 I don't understand the concept of 'domicile'. Where can I get help?

Domicile is a complex issue and must be determined on a case by case basis. To qualify as a sponsor, a petitioner who is residing abroad must have a principal residence in the U.S. and intend to maintain that residence for the foreseeable future. Lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsors must show they are maintaining their LPR status.

Many U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents reside outside the United States on a temporary basis, usually for work or family considerations. "Temporary" may cover an extended period of residence abroad.

The sponsor living abroad must establish the following in order to be considered domiciled in the United States:

  • He/she left the United States for a limited and not indefinite period of time;
  • He/she intended to maintain a domicile in the United States, and;
  • He/she has evidence of continued ties to the United States.

An American citizen or LPR spouse or dependent who has maintained a residence in the U.S. and/or whose spouse/parent works in one of the categories listed below would also qualify as a sponsor. Please see the I-864 information page for further information.

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Q.19 I need a joint sponsor. What are a joint sponsor's responsibilities?

The joint sponsor's responsibilities are the same as that of a petitioning relative. The affidavit of support is a legally binding agreement to provide financial support to the person(s) immigrating to the U.S.

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Q.20 Can my relatives petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?

For family sponsorship, only immediate relatives can file a petition on your behalf. Immediate relatives who may petition for a relative are U.S. citizen parents, adult U.S. citizen children, U.S. citizen brothers and sisters, and spouses.

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Q.21 Can my U.S. citizen child petition for me to immigrate to the U.S.?

Petitioning children must have reached the age of 21 to be eligible to file a petition. Therefore, a U.S. citizen child must be 21 years or over to file for a parent.

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Q.22 How else can I immigrate to the U.S. to join my U.S. citizen child?

You must qualify for an immigrant visa in your own right. There are only three ways in which to qualify:

  • through family sponsorship
  • employment and/or investment
  • the Diversity Visa Lottery program

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Q.23 We have been advised that USCIS has approved the I-130 immediate relative petition. What happens next?

The Petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. NVC will contact you with further instructions on how to pursue your immigrant visa application.

Immigrants to the United States guides you through the process including the documents you will require in support of the immigrant visa application. Learn more about the National Visa Center (NVC) and processing at the NVC.

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Q.24 I am a U.S. permanent resident. I have been, or will be, out of the U.S. for more than 12 months. How can I extend my Green Card?

Unfortunately, it is not possible to extend the 12-month limit. You must return to the U.S. within 12 months of your last U.S. departure. If you don't, you will be deemed to have abandoned your U.S. resident status. It is possible to apply to have your residency reinstated, though this process is costly and requires showing that the absence was due to compelling reasons beyond your control. Statistically, very few cases succeed. For more information, please email us at SuvaIV@state.gov.

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Q.25 I have lost my Green Card and need to return to the U.S. very soon. What do I do?

If you have not been out of the U.S. for 12 months or longer, please contact us at SuvaIV@state.gov to obtain a boarding foils application form.

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FAQ - Application Profile

  1. How do I reset my password?
  2. What should I do if I move to another country after I have registered my profile on www.ustraveldocs.com and did not apply yet for my visa, or if I want to submit a new visa application in another country than my previous application?

Q.1 How do I reset my password?

Click the Forgot Your Password? link at the bottom of no-reply@ustraveldocs.com. Some email applications have rules which filter unknown senders into a spam or junk mail folder. If you have not received your email notification, please look for the message in your junk and spam email folders.

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Q.2 What should I do if I move to another country after I have registered my profile on www.ustraveldocs.com and did not apply yet for my visa, or if I want to submit a new visa application in another country than my previous application?

You do not need to create another profile if it is also serviced by CGI. You can simply contact us through the Contact Us section on this link and share your passport number, UID or email address so we can retrieve and update your profile with the new country where you plan to apply for your US Visa. If you are applying in a country that is not covered by CGI, you will be invited to create a new profile. As a reminder, MRV fee receipts paid in one country are non-transferable to the other country.

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