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Posts Tagged ‘Tourist Visa

Visa Interview Waiver Program for Non-immigrant Visas

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Most applicants require in-person interviews with a U.S. Consular Officer when applying for a visa.  However, certain applicants may not require in-person interviews for non-immigrant visas and may apply by using the drop box service. This is a result of the Executive Order signed by President Obama in January 2012 to significantly increase legitimate travel and tourism to the United States.

Under a new initiative, in select circumstances, qualified foreign visitors who were interviewed and thoroughly screened in conjunction with a prior visa application may be eligible to renew their visas without undergoing another interview.

This pilot program permits consular officers to waive interviews for qualified non-immigrant applicants worldwide who are renewing their B1/B2 visa within 47 months of the expiration of their previously held visa, and within the same classification as the previous visa.

Embassies and Consulates have begun implementing this pilot program immediately in Russia, Beijing, Mexico,  and now three days ago in Delhi.

This program does not entitle any applicant to a waiver of personal appearance. Consular officers will retain the authority to interview any applicant who they determine requires a personal appearance.

MLG will continue to monitor developments in this area and update our readers as to new posts implementing this program.

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Written by MithrasLaw

March 29, 2012 at 8:20 am

Additional 30 days for Japanese and Foreign nationals from Pacific stranded in US

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The USCIS has issued an advisory for Japanese and other foreign nationals from the Pacific stranded in the United States due to the earthquakes and tsunami devastation in the Pacific.  If you have exceeded or are about to exceed your authorized stay in the U.S. you may be permitted up to an additional 30 days to depart. Visitors traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP): If you are at an airport, contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection office at the airport.  All others, please visit the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. Visitors traveling under a non-immigrant visa: Visit the local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office.   Bring your passport, evidence that you are stranded (such as an itinerary for the cancelled flight), and your I-94 departure record.

Written by MithrasLaw

April 1, 2011 at 10:13 am

Travelling to India this Holiday Season – Know the Tourist Visa Rules and Restrictions

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If you are planning a trip to India this holiday season or in the near future, it is important to keep in the mind the recent rules and restrictions imposed by the Indian Government on Indian tourist visa holders.

Indian tourist visas are granted for the purposes of visiting India to sight-see or to meet with relatives and friends and visitors on a tourist visa are not allowed to study, work, or set up a business in India or for that matter, convert the visa into another type of visa.

The recent change in rules has been imposed by the Indian government with a view to curb abuse and misuse of the tourist visa. The recent regulations require foreign nationals, including US passport holders, with multiple entry visas, to leave a gap of at least two months between each visit to India.  If for whatever reason, a visitor needs to visit India again within a period of 2 months from the last departure, a special permission from the Mission or Post is required before entry into India will be allowed.  The gap of two months applies between two visits to all tourist visa holders.

This visa regulation particularly affects foreign nationals when families are traveling to India for holidays and avail the opportunity to visit other neighboring counties for tourism to popular destinations such as Dubai, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.  and then they re-enter India within less than 2 months from the last departure.  These foreign nationals, after initial entry into India, may be permitted two or three entries provided they have obtained prior permission by the Indian Mission/Post before departure from their home country. If they are already in India and then make plans to travel outside of India then in some circumstances permission can be sought within India. Moreover, the Indian government has clarified that even if a traveler’s passport is not stamped at port of entry and the traveler tries to re-enter within two months the same restrictions are applicable and the traveler will not be allowed to enter India.

The good news is that this re-entry restriction is not applicable to PIO/OCI card holders or to those foreign nationals holding business, employment and other such categories of visas. For those US passport holders that have been contemplating getting a PIO or OCI card,  it is advisable to get the PIO or an OCI card as it can facilitate travel to India.

As India’s immigration laws are constantly changing and while this information is accurate at that the time of writing, readers are advised to check the most up to date rules and regulations before traveling.

Written by MithrasLaw

December 8, 2010 at 10:39 am

U.S. Ambassador to India Announces more Lenient U.S. Visa Application Policy

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In an effort to make the visa application process more convenient for all Indians, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and Consulates General in Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad now accept visa applications from across India at all visa facilities, regardless of the applicant’s home address or city of residence. This is part of Mission India’s ongoing effort to facilitate legitimate travel to the United States.

Following the opening of Consulate General Hyderabad in 2008, the U.S. Mission has looked for ways to best capture the dynamism of India’s growth across the nation.  Consular districts are reorganized as follows: Embassy Delhi: Bihar, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bhutan;Consulate Mumbai: Goa, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Diu and Daman, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli; Consulate Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh, Orissa;Consulate Chennai: Karnataka, Kerala, Puducherry, Lakshadweep, Tamil Nadu, Andaman and Nicobar Islands;Consulate Kolkata: Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland,Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal.

U.S. Ambassador to India Timothy J. Roemer said, “With these changes, we believe our Consulates General and ourEmbassy in New Delhi will be even better positioned to support and serve Indian visa applicants, as well asAmerican citizens and businesses throughout India.”

Written by MithrasLaw

November 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm

Non-immigrant Visa Application Processing Fees to Increase on June 4th

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On May 20, 2010, the Department of State published an interim final rule in the Federal Register to increase non-immigrant visa application processing fees, also called the Machine-Readable Visa (MRV) fee, and Border Crossing Card (BCC) fees.
The interim final rule also establishes a tiered structure with separate fees for different non-immigrant visa categories. The new fees are scheduled to go into effect on June 4, 2010.
The Department is increasing fees to ensure sufficient resources to cover the rising cost of processing non-immigrant visas. This increase applies both to non-immigrant visas placed in passports and to border crossing cards issued to certain applicants in Mexico.
The new, tiered fee structure was created to cover the higher unit costs for processing certain categories of non-immigrant visas that are more complicated and require more in-depth consideration than most other categories of non-immigrant visas. The Department is required to recover, as far as possible, the cost of processing non-immigrant visas through the collection of the application fees. For a number of reasons, including new security enhancements, the $131 fee set on January 1, 2008 no longer covers the current, actual cost of processing non-immigrant visas.
Under the new schedule of fees, applicants for all visas that are not petition-based, including B1/B2 tourist and business visitor visas and all student and exchange visitor (F, M and J) visas, will pay a fee of $140.
Applicants for petition-based visas will pay an application fee of $150. These categories include:
· H visa for temporary workers and trainees
· L visa for intracompany transferees
· O visa for aliens with extraordinary ability
· P visa for athletes, artists and entertainers
· Q visa for international cultural exchange visitors
· R visa for religious occupations
The application fee for K visas for fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens will be $350. The fee for E visas for treaty-traders and treaty-investors will be $390.
Concurrent with the publication of the interim final rule, the Department will also release additional cost of service data and re-open the public comment period for an additional 60 days.
Only the fees for non-immigrant visas will change on June 4. Proposed fee changes related to U.S. passports, immigrant visas, and other consular services are still under review.

Written by MithrasLaw

May 26, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Worried About Being Laid Off – Know Your Visa Options!

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The current economy is giving sleepless nights to many.  More precariously placed are the H-1 or L1 employees for whom an involuntary situation, like a layoff, may mean their world turning topsy turvy all of a sudden.

I have received several calls from concerned clients who are laid off or afraid of being laid off and wanting to explore their different options.  This article explores the different options H-1 and L-1 employees have to preserve their legal immigration status and continue staying in the United States legally, but this article should not be construed as legal advice and cannot replace the value of an individual consult with an experienced immigration attorney who is able conduct a complete analysis based on an individual’s circumstances.

A layoff or “benching” is a period of non-productive status for which an employer is responsible. In general, a H-1 or L-1 employee who is laid off is considered immediately out of status and there is NO grace period, not even a single day. However, in certain limited circumstances, such as where an employee continues to be paid a salary, an employee who is laid off may be considered to be maintaining status with the same employer.

Termination on the other hand, differs from lay-off, and means a clean break in the employer-employee status, thereby resulting in immediate loss of a H-1 or L-1 visa status.

Being out of status does not by itself immediately mean unlawful presence or impose drastic penalties, but being out of status for 180 days or more bars you from entering USA for 3 years and an unlawful presence of one year raises that bar to 10 years.   Instances of unlawful presence include expiration of your I-94 or revocation of your H-1 status by your employer.

Options to consider if you intend to maintain your status in the US:

Derivative Visa (Spouse Visa):

If you have a spouse on a valid non-immigrant visa, such as a H-1, L-1, F-1 visa, you can apply for the relevant dependant visa. Although, you may not be able to work on a dependant visa, it will give you the opportunity to look for another job while continuing to maintaining your legal status in the US.

Apply for a B-1/B-2 visa (Business/Visitors visa):

This is a catch all visa status for those wanting to stay in the US. You can apply for a 6 month change of status to a B1/B-2 visa so that you are either able to find another job or then wind up your affairs in the US, if intending to return to your home country. It should be noted that you are not authorized to work on a B1/B-2 visa and that to apply for a B1/B-2 visa you will have to show that you have the means to support yourself.

Therefore, even during these trying and difficult times, it is of essence that you keep your immigration status legal and file a change of status right away, if necessary, so as not to be adversely impacted in your future immigration applications.

Further, most recent processing times released by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (on July 16, 2009) indicate that an application for Change of Status is taking approximately 2.5 months to process by the Vermont Service Center, which means you have at least 2.5 months to look for another job, and possibly more (if you change of status is approved).

Once again, I cannot stress enough that maintaining a legal immigration status is crucial and should not be neglected.

Reproduced from the Indian Society of Worcester’s newsletter where the article written by our attorney , Hanishi T. Ali, was orignally published: http://iswonline.org/eSandesh/CommunityOrgs.htm

Written by MithrasLaw

August 6, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Adjustment of Consular Exchange Rate for US Consulates in India

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The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, India, announced an adjustment of the consular exchange rate for rupee to dollar conversions at all U.S. consulates in India.

Effective Friday, March 6, 2009, all United States Consular Sections in India will adjust the consular exchange rate from Rs. 52 to the dollar to Rs. 55 to the dollar.

The new application fee for nonimmigrant visas is Rs. 7,205 (equivalent to USD $131).

Receipts issued by HDFC Bank prior to March 6, 2009 that reflect a payment of Rs. 6,812 will remain valid.

For a full listing of specific fee changes visit the Embassy website at http://newdelhi.usembassy.gov

Written by MithrasLaw

March 10, 2009 at 5:18 pm

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