Vaccination & Medical Examination Requirements

Per United States’ immigration law, all incoming immigrants are required to have updated vaccinations as well as a medical examination. One of the last steps in the immigration process is an interview with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office closest to you. A copy of the medical examination, Form I-693, which will include a list of all previously obtained and administered vaccinations, should be taken with you to the USCIS interview.

Required vaccinations are listed below:

  • Mumps
  • Measles
  • Rubella
  • Polio
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids
  • Pertussis
  • Haemophilus influenzae type B
  • Hepatitis B
  • Any other vaccine-preventable diseases recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization

If you are applying for an Adjustment of Status (AOS) within the United States, currently the time lapse between filing your petition and having an interview with USCIS is around 3-4 months. If you are outside of the U.S. and applying for Consular processing (I-130 IV) the time lapse between filing your petition and the interview will vary country to country and is determined by the following:

  • The demand for and supply of immigrant visas.
  • The per-country visa limitations.
  • The number of visas allocated for your preference category.

Our office can give you an estimate of the number of months you’re looking at based on the country you’re in and time of filing. (https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/processTimesDisplayInit.do) Use this timeline to determine when you should go see an approved civil surgeon for the examination. You can always submit Form I-693 with your petition, however, if there are any unforeseen delays, and your case extends beyond one year, you will have to obtain another one. Form I-693 will expire after one year. Because of this, our office recommends having the medical examination done as close to your interview date as possible.

Medical evaluations should be obtained from a civil surgeon in the United States or, if you’re outside of the U.S., by an approved panel physician designated by the U.S. Department of State. Vaccinations can be obtained from the same civil surgeon that you receive the medical examination from or you may receive them from your primary healthcare provider. You should bear in mind, though, that only approved civil surgeon’s can sign off on Form I-693, meaning that you would then need to return to the approved civil surgeon for signature after all vaccinations have been administered.

Approved civil surgeons can be found by following the link below:

https://my.uscis.gov/findadoctor

There are many variables when it comes to what types of vaccinations you will need. If you decline a vaccination for an unapproved reason, it is likely that your petition may be denied. Please consult one of the approved civil surgeons or the links below if you have any concerns or questions regarding your circumstances.

Links to additional information regarding vaccinations and the medical evaluation are listed below.

http://www.cdc.gov/immigrantrefugeehealth/exams/ti/civil/technical-instructions-civil-surgeons.html

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/

https://www.uscis.gov/news/questions-and-answers/vaccination-requirements

U.S. v Texas Implications

In our previous post we talked about how the Supreme Court has agreed to make a ruling on United States v Texas, the lawsuit brought against the series of executive actions Obama introduced to further alleviate illegal immigration. The weight of the Supreme Court’s decision hinges on whether the Justices agree that the President exercised lawful discretion through use of the executive action in proposing these initiatives. This ruling could affect more than 5 million immigrants currently in the U.S. and what the next three years of their lives will look like.

Included in the initiatives are the expansion of the DACA program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, and the implementation of the newly developed program DAPA, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. For context, DACA is a program designed and implemented by the Obama Administration to grant temporary lawful status and work authorization (currently for 2 years) for individuals who were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday; and/or have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007. DAPA, the second of Obama’s initiatives, is designed to grant deferred action on deportation proceedings and employment authorization to parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents for three years. (USCIS) Neither of these programs were designed as a path to citizenship but as a means for illegal immigrants to have temporary legal status.

If the Supreme Court decides that Obama exercised a lawful use of executive action, then the proposed initiatives could go into effect as early as this year, the last year of Obama’s presidency. Millions of illegal immigrants that fall within the requirements of each program could apply for lawful status and work authorization immediately. As this is not a path to citizenship qualifying applicants would receive three years of lawful status and work authorization, meaning that they would also be paying U.S. taxes during this time. Unfortunately, the decision by the Supreme Court is only on the legalities of the President’s actions, making the immigration programs temporary and susceptible to repeal by the next president.

If the Supreme Court rules against Obama or throws out the case, then the DACA program would continue to exist granting status to those who entered before their 16th birthday and lasting for only two years. Illegal immigrants, much like they are now, would be subject to deportation based upon lawful status and entry and the DAPA program will remain an idea for immigration reform in the United States.

Tags: Immigration Action, Executive Action, US v Texas, DACA, DAPA

http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

http://www.scotusblog.com/case-files/cases/united-states-v-texas/

SCOTUS To Rule On Obama’s Immigration Initiatives

Today the Supreme Court of the United States said they will rule on the constitutionality of immigration initiatives proposed by Obama back in 2015. News sources say this ruling could affect around 5 million undocumented immigrants potentially granting them lawful status and access to employment authorization.

Programs of note under the ruling include Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA), which is a similar program to the already implemented DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), and DACA itself. The initiative would grant expansion to the DACA program, allowing for status holders to stay for three years instead of the current two. It would also expand the eligibility requirements of the program to include more undocumented immigrants. 

SCOTUS will present their decision this summer.

For further reading on the history of these initiatives and the implications of SCOTUS’ ruling, follow the links below.

http://www.uscis.gov/immigrationaction

https://www.ice.gov/daca

http://www.dhs.gov/immigration-action

http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4562013/pres-obama-asks-supreme-court-rule-immigration

 

TN-1 Visas – Don’t forget about this option for Canadian & Mexican citizens.

The TN-1 visa is a really great option particularly for Canadians. It also applies for Mexican citizens, however, the processing of TN-1’s for Mexicans is somewhat more difficult. The visa category “Professionals Under the North American Free Trade Agreement” (also known as a TN Visa) is available only to citizens of Canada and Mexico, under the terms of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). For the purpose of this blog, I will discuss the TN-1 for Canadians.

What you need to know:
1) You MUST have a job offer
2) Your job title must fit within these categories (http://canada.usembassy.gov/visas/doing-business-in-america/professions-covered-by-nafta.html)
3) In most cases you need to have a degree or diploma applicable to the job title and job being offered.
4) You must in fact work for the US employer.

When applying for the TN-1, it is really important that you present all of your documents in order and in a straight forward way. I typically create a book with all of the applicable documents (support letters, copy of degrees/diploma’s/job offer letter/proof of experience etc) to make for a smooth border crossing.

This is the type of application that you do want to get overly creative with how you present the information requested.

The TN-1 is a great option for Canadians. Its renewable, and in a lot of cases is a great pathway to a Greencard if you decide that is a route you would like to take.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables nationals of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for stays of 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. VWP eligible travelers may apply for a visa, if they prefer to do so. Not all countries participate in the VWP, and not all travelers from VWP countries are eligible to use the program.

Effective Jan. 12, 2009, citizens or nationals from all VWP countries will be required to obtain an approved travel authorization via ESTA to be eligible to travel to the United States under the VWP.

WT/WB Status
Upon entry into the U.S., visitors are given either a WT (waiver-tourist) or a WB (waiver- business) status that will be indicated on the I-94 Arrival Departure Record. There are two restrictions on visa waiver status that potential users should be aware of:

The 90-day stay in the U.S. cannot, in any circumstances, be extended. It is never possible to change from the visa waiver status to any other non-immigrant status without departing from the U.S. However, in some circumstances, an individual may adjust status to that of a permanent resident via Family Based immigrant petitions.

Which countries participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP)?
Participating countries are subject to change, so it’s best to check with the U.S. Department of State for the most current information http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/visit/visa-waiver-program.html.

When can you become a Citizen?

Every year before a Presidential Election, I get calls from clients asking when & how they can become citizens.  Assuming that you do not have a parent who is a US Citizen, the following applies with regards to “when” you can file.

1) If you gained permanent residency (your Greencard) through marriage to a US Citizen (filed an I-130), you can file for your Citizenship by filing an N-400. Technically you can file after you have been a permanent resident for 2 years and 9 months since you receive Permanent Resident status (Remember, in almost all marriage based petitions, you are required to remove the conditions, and this must be approved prior receiving Citizenship).

2) If you gained Permanent Residency any other way, you can file after being a permanent resident for five (5) years.

A side note: If you’ve had any criminal issues, or have previously claimed to be a US Citizen, it is very important that you discuss this with a competent Immigration Lawyer BEFORE filing.

EB-5 Investor Visa

I have seen an increase in requests regarding EB-5’s and there is some real confusion out there. Lets start with the most frequently asked questions.

1) Can I buy 500,000 of stock in a company and qualify… No
2) My uncle is going to loan me the money to invest, will that work?.. No
3) I want to buy rental houses.. No

One thing to keep in mind is that the USCIS want to see that the investment is not “static”. This means that it is an active invest with no less than 10 staff and growing. A good example of this is a hotel, assisted living center or a restaurant.

The EB-5’s are much more difficult than they look and take plenty of planning, and involve risking a lot of money on an investment. But a great option for those with substantial funds that want to set up a business in the USA!!

The O-1 Visa

The O-1 Visa is a great option for people who work in the Arts (Music, Acting, Painting, Motivational Speakers etc) or University Professors/researchers.

In essence, when filing an O-1, we need to prove that you are at the top of your field. But its not always as hard as you may think. If you read through the categories of the O-1 Petition, in a lot of cases, if you are a somewhat accomplished musician, model etc, you should be able to prove some of those categories with just a little work. For example, look at the first category of the O-1B category (• Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements). This may look a little daunting, but its not too hard if you have played shows, or acted in a stage show. For example, for Christian Australian bands, most have played at either EasterFest or one of the other festivals. A letter from the festival and a copy of some festival literature helps you get a long way to filling this category.

The O-1 is a complicated process, but it certainly is possible for a lot of people with just a little work preparing documents. I hope this helps.  Check out this link at the USCIS for some more technical information:  https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/o-1-visa-individuals-extraordinary-ability-or-achievement

Marriage to US Citizen

So, you fall in love, but uh oh, your new love is “not from here”. Whatever can you do. Try to not think of the movies “The Proposal” or “Greencard”, as in many cases it is not that complicated, and of all the green card options out there, this is typically the easiest and fastest provided that you are actually married and living together etc. There are certainly some hoops to jump through and LOTS of paperwork, but quite straight forward for an experience immigration attorney.

You have several options once you are married. If your foreign spouse is already in the USA you can file an Adjustment of Status. If your fiance’ is outside of the USA and you wish to marry in the USA, a K-1 fiance’ visa would likely be the way to go. If you wish to marry abroad, you will need to file for permanent residency through consular processing. Note: Adjustment of Status is in my opinion the most straight forward, cheapest and least stressful way to go if you have it as an option.

A couple of misconceptions I often hear.

1) “When we get married, he automatically becomes a citizen” – FALSE Once you get married, in most cases your spouse will be entitled to Permanent Residency (Green Card).

2) “It doesn’t matter how I came to America, if I marry a US citizen, I can get a Greencard” – FALSE If you didn’t enter the country lawfully (undocumented), you are going to have some difficulty adjusting status.

3) If you enter on a Visa Waiver, you can get married and get a green card no problem. DEPENDS. This is a complicated question, as it brings in a concept of “Dual Intent”. In essence, you can’t enter the USA as a “Non-Immigrant” with the intent to become an “Immigrant”. As it is an intent issue, it can often be overcome quite easily, but you need to be ready to prove that when you entered the country on a Visa Waiver or tourist visa that you did not intend to stay. As you may imagine, this could be tricky to prove if you got married one week after you entered the country on a visitors visa.

You can read more about this at www.uscis.gov

Employment Authorization for certain H-4

Some great news for H-4 (family members of H-1B).

Eligible individuals include certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants who:

Are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker; or
Have been granted H-1B status under sections 106(a) and (b) of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-first Century Act of 2000 as amended by the 21st Century Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act. The Act permits H-1B nonimmigrants seeking lawful permanent residence to work and remain in the United States beyond the six-year limit on their H-1B status.

If you have nay questions, please don’t hesitate to call or email our office.

USCIS Press Release

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The above information is general in nature and is not intended to be considered or relied upon as legal advice. You should always consult an attorney before acting upon any of this information.