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Posts Tagged ‘Visa Waiver Program

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

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.

Two Recent Changes in US Immigration Law

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 Two major changes  that have taken place in January 2009 with respect to non-US citizens and International Tourists from Visa Waiver Program (VWP) Countries arriving to or departing from the United States are:

(1) International visitors from VWP countries like United Kingdom now require to obtain a “pre-clearance” prior to initiating travel to the United States; and

(2) Expansion of the US-Visit program, which requires all non-US Citizens to provide biometrics upon arrival in, or departure from, the United States at air or sea ports of entry.  

For more details,  see our attorney, Hanishi Ali’s article published here: http://www.lokvani.com/lokvani/article.php?article_id=5499

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

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