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Posts Tagged ‘business visit

Non-Immigrant Visa Applicants Required to Complete new DS-160 Form

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Non-Immigrant visa applicants (such as H-1B, L-1, B-1, etc) will be required to complete the online Form DS-160 prior to appearing at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy for a visa application by April 30, 2010.
Form DS 160, which is a Non-immigrant Visa Electronic Application, can only be used by visa applicants applying at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate which has converted to the new electronic fully online form and process. You can access the DS-160 from the Consular Electronic Application website or from the  link to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate website where you will apply located on the DS-160 informational page to check for current procedures.
While many consular posts have already been requiring DS-160 completion for some time, increasingly more and more consulates are making the DS-160 mandatory as the April 30 deadline approaches.
It should be noted that when completing the online DS-160, the form times out approximately 20 minutes after the application has been idle so it is best to save the application at regular intervals so that the information entered is not lost. Also, it is advisable to save the application on your computer hard drive or CD before submission of the your application for two reasons. First, if rejected by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for being incomplete, you will be able access your saved application data, correct the non-responsive or incomplete answers and submit the corrected application without having to complete an entirely new application. Second, if you are a frequent visa applicant, you can update your saved application the next time you wish to apply for a visa and submit the updated application, in order to save you time.
Also know that when applying for a nonimmigrant visa using the online DS-160, additional forms are not required, with two exceptions. When applying at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate that is using the new DS-160, Online Non-immigrant Visa Application, you will use only one form. For Embassies and Consulates that have converted to this new process, the DS-160 has replaced all of the following forms: DS-156, DS-157, DS-158, and DS-3032, which are no longer necessary.
The two exceptions are:  (1) Fiancée Visas (K-1/2) which still require use of the forms DS-156 and DS-156K, and (2) the Treaty Trader/Treaty Investor visa application. If you are a Treaty Trader (E-1) or an Executive/Manager/Essential Employee you will need to complete the DS-160 and you or your employer will need to complete the paper DS-156E. (Sometime next year a new form, the DS-161, E Visa Business Information form, will be released. This form will allow you or your employer to complete an online form and submit the form electronically to the State Department but until then the paper Form DS 156E is required.)
In addition, it is important to know that embassies, in particular the U.S. Embassy in London, is turning away applicants if the wong visa category is selected on the DS-160. An applicant who is turned away because of an incorrect form could be formally refused a visa, which in turn can affect an applicant’s eligibility to utilize the Visa Waiver program in the future. So, it is important to complete the form accurately and pick the correct visa categories.
For instance on the DS-160, in the “Travel Information Section,” you are asked “Are you the principal applicant?” On answering that question, a drop down list will appear under “Purpose of Travel to U.S.” It is important that you review the information carefully. If your purpose of travel is not covered in the list, click on “Other.” This will offer you a further drop down list of choices. In addition, If you are planning on working in the United States and you are being sponsored for a visa by a U.S. company or if your employer is transferring you to a subsidiary or parent company in the U.S., you should select the appropriate visa category, which is either “Temporary Employee (H1,H2),” “Trainee (H3),” or “Intra-company Transfer (L).” If you select Business/conference visitor (B1) or Business/Personal Travel (B1, B2) this is incorrect as it does not cover your purpose of travel and you will be turned away and required to complete a new DS-160.

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US-VISIT rule Expands Categories of Non-U.S. Citizens Required to Provide Biometrics

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) began the United States Visitor and Immigrant Status Indicator Technology Program (US-VISIT) in 2004 to verify the identities and travel documents of aliens. Aliens subject to US-VISIT may be required to provide finger scans, photographs, or other biometric identification upon arrival at the United States, at sea or air ports of entry, while on a nonimmigrant visa.

The new US-VISIT rule, which became effective only this week on January 18th 2009, expands the categories of non-U.S. citizens required to provide biometrics who will be subject to US-VISIT requirements to nearly all aliens, including lawful permanent residents (LPRs). Exceptions include Canadian citizens seeking short-term admission for business or pleasure under B visas and those especially exempt.

The following additional non-U.S. citizens will now be required to provide biometrics when entering or re-entering the United States:

  • Lawful permanent residents of the United States (LPRs);
  • Persons entering the United States who seek admission on immigrant visas;
  • Persons entering the United States who seek admission as refugees and asylees;
  • Canadian citizens who are currently required to obtain a Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) upon entry or who require a waiver of inadmissibility to enter the United States (this excludes most Canadian citizens entering the United States for purposes of shopping, visiting friends and family, vacation or short business trips);
  • Persons paroled into the United States; and
  • Persons applying for admission under the Guam VWP.

The US-VISIT program’s aim is to further secure the borders of the United States, prevent aliens from assuming other’s identities, and/or illegally enter the United States. Under the US-VISIT program, the arrival and departure of aliens is documented by fingerprint scans, photo identification, or other biometric identification in order to compare identities of the aliens as well as verify their travel documents so that with this information, ports of entry can cross reference government information to determine suspected terrorists, known criminals, or individuals who have violated immigration laws.

Other practical information with respect to procedures and processing:

  • Canadians applying for admission to the United States under a B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant classification for business or pleasure, which represents most Canadian travelers to the United States, are exempt and not required to enroll in US-VISIT at this time.
  • Canadian citizens who must now enroll in US-VISIT are those issued a Form I-94 (Arrival Departure Record), including: Canadians applying for admission in the following nonimmigrant classifications: C, D, F, H, I, J, L, M, O, P, Q 1, Q 3, R, S, T, TN; and Canadians who are granted a waiver of inadmissibility to enter the United States.
  • Canadians requiring issuance of Form I-94 are already referred to secondary inspection. Therefore, no additional wait time will be added.
  • H-1B visa holders will follow existing protocols and will be screened through US-VISIT when applying for a new multiple entry Form I-94 or when referred to secondary inspection for other reasons.
  • At seaports, LPRs returning from a closed loop cruise (cruises that begin and end at the same port in the United States) will be exempt from US-VISIT processing. LPRs returning to the United States from an “open” cruise will be subject to US-VISIT processing.
  • Non-U.S. citizens entering or re-entering the United States at a land border port of entry will be processed differently, at the inspecting officer’s discretion:
    1. LPRs will provide biometrics only if they are referred to secondary inspection.
    2. All other non-U.S. citizens included in this final rule—unless specifically exempt—will experience USVISIT procedures during secondary inspection, just as most non-U.S. citizens already subject to USVISIT procedures currently do (e.g., those who require a Form I-94).
  • Non-U.S. citizens who seek admission with Border Crossing Cards and who do not have a Form I-94 will still go through US-VISIT procedures, at the discretion of the inspecting officers.

If you have been subject to the expanded US-VISIT rule (after January 18th 2009) and would like to share your experience with others please feel free to comment.

US Immigration Requires all International Visitors from the Visa Waiver Program Countries to Pre-register Online at Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) from January 12th 2009

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Begining tomorrow, January 12th, 2009, all nationals and citizens of Visa Waiver Program (VWP) countries who plan to travel to the U.S. for temporary business or pleasure for 90 days or less under the VWP will be required by law to obtain an online travel authorization prior to initiating travel to the United States under the VWP.  For a list of the over 30 VWP countries see our earlier post.

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) is an online system used to determine eligibility for visitors intending to travel to the United States under the VWP. It requires the same information as the I-94W form that VWP visitors fill out en route to the US.  Typically, the traveler must provide biographical data including name, birth date, and passport information, as well as answers to questions regarding eligibility to travel under the VWP.

The authorization is to be obtained online through the ESTA, which is a free Internet application available in 16 languages and administered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The automated system is now accessibile online at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov.

The electronic travel authorization is being implemented to enhance the security of the VWP and to assess whether such travel poses a law enforcement or security risk.

Airlines and border control officials are concerned that many passengers are not aware of the new United States immigration requirements for VWP countries and this could lead to chaos at the airports.  US Customs and Border Protection also confirmed that while there are more than four million visits to the United States each year, just over 240,000 have filled out the online Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) which replaces United States’ green visa waiver entry form. 

Kelly Klundt of the US Customs and Border Protection’s Office of Public Affairs has said that The Department of Homeland Security will take a reasonable approach to those travelers not in compliance with the travel authorisation requirement, but, travelers who do not obtain an ESTA should be aware that they may be refused boarding, or experience delayed processing, or be denied admission upon arrival in the United States.

Written by MithrasLaw

January 12, 2009 at 1:28 am

Hungary President stops short of promulgating Visa Waiver Agreement

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After the announcement of Hungary joining the USA Visa Waiver program, Hungarian President László Sólyom returned the recently adopted law on sharing criminal data with the United States government to the Hungarian Parliament for reconsideration without signing it.  One of the prime conditions for a country to join the USA visa waiver program is for that country to share with the United States government criminal data information about its nationals visiting the USA.  

While the Hungarian parliament can effectively bypass Mr. Sólyom’s veto by repassing the law, the delay in the law being promulgated can cause a delay in Hungary’s formal entry into the Visa Waiver program.

Some interesting perspectives on this can be found here and here.

Written by MithrasLaw

October 24, 2008 at 8:36 pm

Seven new countries are to be admitted to the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

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President Bush announced that the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea — have met the requirements to be admitted to the United States Visa Waiver Program, bringing the total to 34 countries that have been accorded this special privilege of visa-free entry to the United States. The citizens of the above mentioned countries, in a month’s time, will be eligible to travel to the United States on business or tourism for 90 days or less without requiring a US visa.

The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea have agreed to share information about threats to the United States and also agreed that their citizens will have to register online ahead of their visits for screening purposes as well as obtain tamper-proof biometric passports (or E-passport) in order to travel to the United States.

Other countries, including Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, Poland and Romania, are on the “visa waiver road map” that is helping them qualify for the VWP.

The Visa Waiver Participating countries are:

 

Andorra

Iceland

Norway

Australia

Ireland

Portugal

Austria

Italy

San Marino

Belgium

Japan

Singapore

Brunei

Liechtenstein

Slovenia

Denmark

Luxembourg

Spain

Finland

Monaco

Sweden

France

the Netherlands

Switzerland

Germany

New Zealand

United Kingdom

 

For a VWP Traveler’s Guide by the Department of Homeland Security that outlines important changes in passport and e-passport requirements see:

http://www.cbp.gov/linkhandler/cgov/travel/id_visa/business_pleasure/vwp/vwp_timeline.ctt/vwp_timeline.pdf

GOING TO INDIA FOR A VISIT OR ON BUSINESS?

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If you are a U.S. citizen you require a valid passport and valid Indian visa to enter and exit India for any purpose.  Visitors, including those on official U.S. Government business, must obtain visas at an Indian Embassy or Consulate abroad prior to entering the country, as there are no provisions for visas upon arrival.Note that the U.S. Embassy and Consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without proper documentation and those that arrive without valid passport documentation are subject to immediate deportation.

It is recommended that when travelling to India you should carry photocopies of the bio-data page of the traveler’s U.S. passport and the page containing the Indian visa in order to facilitate obtaining an exit visa from the Indian government in the event of theft or loss of the passport.  Replacing a lost visa in order to exit the country can take upto three business days.

Americans wishing to visit India are responsible for requesting the correct type of visa from the Indian Embassy or Consulate, as there generally are no provisions for changing one’s immigration category (e.g., from tourist to work visa) once admitted.  As of October 1, 2007, the Indian Embassy and Consulates in the U.S. outsourced the visa application process to Travisa Visa

Outsourcing: http://indiavisa.travisaoutsourcing.com.  Diplomatic and Official visa applications, however, are still accepted directly at the Indian Embassy and Consulates.  Foreign citizens whose primary purpose of travel is to participate in religious activities should obtain a missionary visa rather than a tourist visa.  Indian immigration authorities have deported American citizens who entered India with a tourist visa and conducted religious activities.

American travelers to India who work in “designated institutes and technology areas” will be subject to a two week waiting period in the visa application process and will be required to submit supplemental information with their visa application.  Scholars planning to conduct research in India often need research clearances in addition to their visas.

Foreign citizens who visit India to study, do research, work or act as missionaries, as well as all travelers planning to stay more than 180 days are required to register, generally within 14 days of arrival, with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) closest to where they will be staying.  The FRRO maintains offices in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai (known as the “Chennai Immigration Office”), Kolkata and Amritsar.  In smaller cities and towns, the local police headquarters will normally perform this function.  General information regarding Indian visa and immigration rules, including the addresses and telephone numbers for the FRRO offices, can be found at the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs web site for its Bureau of Immigration at http://www.immigrationindia.nic.in.

If a visitor overstays his or her Indian visa, or otherwise violates Indian visa regulations, the visitor can be required a clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs in order to leave the country and/or may be fined or jailed until their deportation can be arranged

Written by MithrasLaw

September 28, 2008 at 7:37 pm

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