What Immigrants Working in America Need to Know About Renewing Their Visas
Visas and permanent resident cards are important in the lives of many expatriates and immigrants to the United States. In today’s political climate, it is especially important that expatriates and immigrants take care that their documents are up-to-date and legally obtained. The visa and permanent residency procedures can be complex, and it is wise to have a general understanding of these procedures before attempting to receive a visa or permanent resident card.
Jean Danhong Chen, an immigration attorney based in San Jose, California, explains how to get permanent residency cards and visas. There are many differences between these certifications, and the directions as to how to renew them must be adhered to. Permanent residency cards and visas have different expiration dates and different methods for renewal.
Permanent Residency Cards
Permanent residency cards, otherwise known as Green Cards, enable a foreign national to stay in the United States indefinitely without the need for a visa. To obtain a permanent residency card, applicants need to meet certain criteria. Having a spouse, son or daughter, or unmarried child who is a United States citizen is one of the most clear-cut cases for a Green Card. Immigrant workers are also eligible under a number of circumstances, with preference given to workers with extraordinary ability and performance in a prominent field.
People with asylee and refugee status are also able to apply for a Green Card. These conditions are closely monitored for accuracy and demonstrated need.
When Does a Green Card Expire?
Green Cards are good for 10 years before they expire. When a Green Card expires, the permanent resident must fill out an I-90 form. The form must be completely filled out, and the permanent resident will need to upload a copy of their current identification card. This online process is simpler than in years past, and most people renewing Green Cards do not need any assistance.
The situation becomes more complex if you are outside the United States when your Green Card expires. You will need to renew within 6 months of your return to the United States. If you did not apply to renew the card before leaving the United States, you must contact the local U.S. Consulate or the local international USCIS field office. Alternatively, you can also apply through a U.S. port of entry.
How Do I Replace a Lost or Stolen Green Card?
To replace a lost or stolen Green Card, you must also fill out an I-90 form. Since it is vital to carry this identification, you should notify the USCIS as soon as possible if your card is lost or stolen.
Types of Visas
There are many different types of visas, each intended for different groups of travelers. Work, tourist, and education visas are the main categories.
Work visas are vital if the applicant plans to work for pay in the United States. Working on a student visa, for example, would be considered as breaking the rules of the visa program and could result in deportation.
For work visas, the main category is the E program. These visas are ranked in importance by the essential nature of the holder’s work. Persons with extraordinary ability are considered E1 applicants. People holding advanced degrees or having exceptional ability are eligible for E2 visas. E3 visa holders are skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers. E4 visas are for special immigrants like religious workers, broadcasters, and Iraqi and Afghan translators. E5 is reserved for immigrant investors who will be investing a significant amount of money and creating jobs in the United States.
The most common individual work visa is the H-1B. The H-1B is the subject of intense scrutiny due to its widespread application but is generally intended for workers with specialized expertise in an in-demand field as well as a bachelor’s degree or comparable work experience. These visas last for 3 years but can be extended for up to 6. There are a set number of these visas issued each year, and a “lottery” is often used to determine each year’s recipients.
Most other work visas are good for one year, though they may be extended on a case-by-case basis. If you need to renew your work visa, make sure that you do so before it expires. You will need to fill out an I-539 form and/or an I-765 form to renew your visa.
Tourist visas are intended for people who will not be working or going to school while they are in the United States. There are three main types of nonimmigrant tourist visas: B1 visas for business, B2 visas for tourism or medical treatment, and combination B1/B2 visas.
B1 visas are reserved for those who are consulting with business contacts, attending conferences, and negotiating contracts. B2 visas are available for vacationers, those visiting family or friends, and people who wish to receive medical treatment. The holder may not undertake any paid work, including musical or artistic performances.
Tourist visas are generally good for a 6-month maximum stay. If you need to renew your tourist visa, you will need to fill out an I-539 form with the USCIS.
The three types of educational visas are F, J, and M. Before applying for an F-type student visa, a student must be accepted by an accredited college or university and have financial provisions in place. A J-type visa is required for high school and college students on exchange programs. An M-type visa is for vocational or non-academic training in the United States.
Again, the student must not do any work for pay while they are studying on a student visa. This could be considered cause to terminate the visa.
Student visas are generally good for the full length of the academic program. They expire 60 days after the educational program has ended.
What Do I Do if My Visa is Lost or Stolen?
Lost or stolen U.S. visas cannot be renewed in the United States. They need to be renewed in the country of origin, and they should be immediately reported to the respective country’s State Department or embassy.
Managing Green Cards and Visas
There are many complicated legal requirements around visas and Green Cards. You may need help navigating these requirements and complying with all relevant laws. Immigration attorneys like Jean Danhong Chen are able to make the system easier to understand and will help you succeed in your future endeavors.
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