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  Finance | Financial advice | Immigration | Special Needs | Accounting | Business | Labor Law | Asset Protection

IMMIGRATION

GETTING A VISITOR VISA TO ENTER THE UNITED STATES


Gail S. Seeram
By GAIL S. SEERAM

Most of us have friends and/or family abroad that would like the opportunity to visit the United States. Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.

The visitor visa is a nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure or medical treatment (B-2). Persons planning to travel to the U.S. for a different purpose, such as students, temporary workers, crewmen, journalists, etc., must apply for a different visa in the appropriate category. Travelers from certain eligible countries also may be able to visit the U.S. without a visa, through the Visa Waiver Program.

Visa Waiver Program

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) enables citizens of certain countries to travel to the United States for tourism or business for 90 days or less without obtaining a visa. The 27 countries that participate in the VWP are: Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom.

Qualifying for a Visa

Applicants for visitor visas must show that they qualify under provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The presumption in the law is that every visitor visa applicant is an intending immigrant. Therefore, applicants for visitor visas must overcome this presumption by demonstrating that:

" The purpose of their trip is to enter the U.S. for business, pleasure or medical treatment;

" They plan to remain for a specific, limited period; and

" They have a residence outside the U.S. as well as other binding ties which will insure their return abroad at the end of the visit.

Passing through a U.S. Port of Entry

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. Immigration authorities have the authority to deny admission, and determine the period for which the bearer of a visitor visa is authorized to remain in the United States.

At the port of entry, an Immigration official must authorize the traveler's admission to the U.S. At that time the Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is stamped. Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on their Form I-94 must contact the USCIS to request an extension of stay. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS.

Gail S. Seeram, an immigration attorney, handles cases involving family petitions, business/investors visas, citizenship, deportation, asylum, work authorization and extension of status. Call her office toll- free at 1-877-GAIL-LAW (1-877-424-5529), send an email at gail@go2lawyer.com or visit www.go2lawyer.com



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