Travel and Re-entry to the U.S. for F and J Students and Scholars

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1 Travel and Re-entry to the U.S. for F and J Students and Scholars Elena Gruzdeva, International Student & Scholar Advisor

2 What we will talk about: U.S. visa: application, delays & denials Visa application in Canada Going through U.S. Port of Entry inspection: Form I-515A, Secondary Inspection Automatic Revalidation of Visa Travel while on OPT

3 What is a Non-immigrant Visa? A visa is a permit which allows the foreign national (FN) to present him/herself for inspection at a Port of Entry (POE). It does not guarantee admission to the U.S.! It is valid for one, several, or multiple ( M ) entries. It is valid for a particular period of time to be used to enter the U.S. (does NOT govern period of stay in the U.S.). Validity generally depends on reciprocity (agreement between the U.S. and the FN s country s government). Who is in charge of visa issuance? U.S. Department of State (in charge of U.S. embassies/consulates abroad).

4 Visa vs. Status: Visa permission to apply for entry to the U.S.; status permission to stay in the U.S. for a set period of time. Immigration officer at the U.S. Port of Entry reviews visa and other documents and grants status (written on Port of Entry stamp). Status, not visa, determines what you can or cannot do in the U.S. and how long you can stay. Status can be changed while in the U.S.; new visa can only be obtained outside of the U.S.

5 Who needs a visa? Anyone coming to the U.S. for the first time in F or J status (exception Canadian citizens). Anyone re-entering the U.S. in F or J status with an expired visa (exception automatic revalidation of visa we ll talk about it later). Anyone who entered the U.S. in one status and changed to another (e.g., H-1B to F-1).

6 Getting a Visa In order to get F-1/J-1 visa, applicant must demonstrate several things: General non-immigrant intent: relates to applicant s plans and goals in the U.S., ties to home country, prior compliance with immigration laws while in the U.S., ties/prior lengthy stays in the U.S. Specific qualifications for the visa class sought: includes both specific documents needed to qualify, as well as plans/goals in the U.S. Admissibility to the U.S.

7 What is Admissibility? To be considered admissible, foreign national must have none of the characteristics which U.S. government considers undesirable, such as: Criminal conviction or activity Terrorist activity Prior unlawful presence in the U.S. Intention to immigrate to the U.S. Prior misrepresentation Prior removal or deportation Certain medical conditions (e.g., TB)

8 What makes one qualify for F-1/J-1 visa? Intent to return home after completion of program (must overcome presumption of immigrant intent!) Financial ability Full course of study (for students) Language ability Visa Interview: questions and document review Emphasis placed on documents varies by consular post based on local country conditions (some countries have high incidents of fraudulent documents)

9 Visa Interview: Resources & Tips IC web site ( sa/fj_traveladvis.html): Travel Advisory 10 Points to Remember When Applying for A Non- Immigrant Visa (from Association of International Educators): = Secrets Of Applying For a U.S. Student Visa (from U.S. Consulate in China):

10 Documents to bring to a visa appointment: Electronic application form DS-160 (filled-out and submitted before appt.) I-20 (for F-1 students) or DS-2019 (for J-1 students/scholars) signed for travel Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future) SEVIS Fee Receipt Visa Application Fee (now $160 for F & J visas) and, if applicable, Visa Issuance (Reciprocity) Fee. See: for Visa Reciprocity tables (fee schedules and visa validity) Photos (if can t upload digital photos with DS-160) School Admission/Enrollment/Invitation Documents Proof of Funding Evidence of Ties to Country of Origin Birth and/or Marriage Certificate, if dependents are applying for F-2/J-2 visas

11 Visa Reciprocity Tables

12 Visa appointment tips: Always check individual consular web page for more specifics! Each consulate may have slightly different requirements. Apply as early as possible to give U.S. consulate enough time to issue your visa. For visa appointment wait times at different consulates, see html

13 Visa Wait Times

14 Visa delay due to Security Clearances (a.k.a. Security Advisory Opinions): What are Security Advisory Opinions? Generally reflect concerns about: Terrorism Counter Intelligence Proliferation of Weapons What can trigger special clearances? Personal Info/Characteristics of Applicant (e.g., person with same name known criminal) Country of Birth, Citizenship, or Residence Fields of Study or Research (based on Technology Alert List technologies with dual use applications)

15 Visa delay due to Security Clearances (a.k.a. Security Advisory Opinions): What happens if security clearance is required? Case goes to Washington, D.C. where different government agencies investigate it. Consulate cannot issue a visa if it is waiting for a response on a case. No way to expedite Security Advisory Opinions.

16 What can you do if you are experiencing a visa delay? Fill out Visa Assistance form on IC web site ( on the righthand side). University has advisory role only, cannot tell U.S. government to hurry up because student/scholar needs to be at school. To prepare, have your CV & a letter from advisor explaining your research in simple terms for U.S. consular officer. Best advice: apply for new visa early!

17 Visa Denial: What are the most common reasons? 221(g) documents are lacking, or not enough information to make a decision. More of a delay than a denial. E.g., Security check 214(b) failure to prove eligibility for visa category sought. Most often for F/J visas failure to prove non-immigrant intent. If your visa is denied, you should be given a refusal sheet.

18 Visa Denial: What to do? Find out why as much as possible. You should have received a written notice from the consulate. No appeal process, but you may reapply if there is additional evidence or situation has changed. You must be prepared to address specific reasons given in the initial refusal.

19 Can you apply for a new visa in Canada (instead of your home country)? Normally, U.S. Department of State recommends visa application in home country because consulates there have knowledge of country conditions, documents, etc. But consulates in Canada & Mexico accept visa applications from Third Country Nationals (TCNs).

20 What do you need to know, if you are considering applying for new F-1/J-1 visa in Canada? Getting into Canada Depending on your country of nationality, you may need a visa to enter Canada. Check If you need a visa applications online or by mail only (Canadian consulate in Detroit closed). Per Canadian government web site, apply 3 months in advance! Starting fall 2013, citizens of some countries will need to have their biometrics taken before they can get Canadian visas. See for more info on Canadian visa application.

21 What do you need to know, if you are considering applying for new F-1/J-1 visa in Canada? U.S. Visa Appointments in Canada Visa appointments in Canada go fast, especially during busy travel times (summer, winter holidays). Book your appointment well in advance! See Plan on unexpected delays or visa denial. You may get stuck in Canada or have to go to your home country from Canada, if your visa is denied.

22 Entering the U.S: What is Port of Entry? A Port of Entry (POE) is a place designated by the Department of Homeland Security to examine, inspect, and admit persons applying for admission to the U.S. A POE can be a seaport, land border, airport, pre-flight Inspection Point outside U.S. (e.g., Montreal, Quebec) strictly speaking, not POEs but function like them. Who is in charge at POE? - Customs and Border Protection (CBP) part of the Department of Homeland Security

23 Admissibility (again!): The consular officer (U.S. Department of State), at the time of visa issuance, determines admissibility. CBP, at the time of inspection and admission to the U.S., determines admissibility again (the consular decision is examined completely afresh).

24 What should you get after POE inspection? Now I-94 card (Arrival/Departure Record). Starting end of April 2013 stamp in passport - proof of your non-immigrant status and how long you may stay in U.S. No more I-94 cards! When leaving U.S., don t forget to give I- 94 (if you still have one) to airline official. When returning, check your new passport stamp to make sure it says F-1 or J-1 and D/S. You will be able to get paper I-94 card at (for different gov. agencies).

25 What documents do you need to have for POE inspection? Form I-20 (for Fs) or DS-2019 (for Js), signed within last 12 months (if on OPT within last 6 months) Passport (valid for at least 6 months into the future) Valid F-1 or J-1 visa (exception Canadian citizens) SEVIS Fee Receipt (especially for Canadians) If on OPT EAD card & proof of employment Note: Make sure that you have all the above documents even if you are only driving to Canada or going on a cruise!

26 What if your travel signature is expired? Will you be denied entry? Most likely CBP officer will let you enter the U.S., but for a limited time 30 days. Your new I-94 (yes, you ll get I-94 in this case) will have end date of 30 days from entry date. You ll get Form I-515A with instructions to send documents (I-20/DS-2019 with new signature and I-94) to Washington, D.C. You must follow these instructions & send the documents within 30 days, or you ll be unlawfully present in the U.S. (very bad!).

27 Front line CBP officers only have a few minutes to determine admissibility. If there is an issue that needs to be explored, the FN will be sent to secondary. Allows the officer to: Question FN further; Examine luggage and personal effects (additional issues may arise from this search); Do more extensive database checks; Secondary Inspection: What is it and what can one expect? Confirm FN s status and verify intent. May result in missing connecting flight (have plenty of time between flights, just in case!), or getting sent home or detained. What if you are sent to secondary every time you enter U.S.? You can try DHS TRIP (The Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program).

28 Is it ever possible to re-enter the U.S. with expired visa? Yes, it is called Automatic Revalidation of Visa F-1/J-1 student/scholar can return to U.S. even with expired visa if the following conditions are met: Trip of 30 days or less to Canada, Mexico, or Caribbean islands (except Cuba); Has all evidence of eligibility for F-1/J-1 category: signed I-20/DS- 2019, original I-94 card*, valid passport; Not national of Sudan, Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria; Didn t apply for new F-1/J-1 visa while outside U.S. Note: it is helpful to have copy of the regulation when travelling with expired visa. * Not clear at this time how this will be handled after I-94 card is eliminated.

29 Can I travel while I m on OPT? Yes, students on OPT can travel outside the U.S. and return to resume employment. This means that you must have a job to return to! Have the following documents with you: Passport (valid for six months after you plan to re-enter the U.S) Valid F-1 visa in passport I-20 (with a travel signature no older than six months) OPT application receipt notice (if OPT is still pending) or OPT EAD card (if OPT is approved) Evidence that you already have a job in the U.S. or that you have a job offer (if OPT has started) Note: Having a pending or approved H-1B may make a big difference! Discuss your travel plans with your H-1B employer!

30 Questions? Thank you for attending this workshop!

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