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The process of becoming a United States (U.S.) citizen is called naturalization. This naturalization comes with a financial obligation. Applicants seeking U.S. citizenship have to pay a naturalization fee. The fees offset the cost of processing applications and the accompanying biometric services.
History of naturalization fees
This upward trend lowered the naturalization uptake by applicants. They felt that the fees were quite prohibitive and could not access loans to pay the fees. As a result, 8.5 million people who were eligible for citizenship chose not to go through the naturalization process.
By 2019, the fee was $725. Under the Trump Administration, the USCIS increased the naturalization fee to $1,160 for online applications and $1,170 for paper applications.
The Government defended this change to application processing costs and fraud protection. The higher fee will also raise the USCIS’s annual revenue and reduce the taxpayer burden.
How much are naturalization fees?
Before October 2020, naturalization fees were $725. These included a $640 charge for application processing and $85 for biometrics services.
Changes in naturalization fees:
- $1,160 for an online application
- $1,170 for a paper application
The full fee is non-refundable. It means that you will not receive a refund if your application is unsuccessful.
Can I get a waiver?
Before October 2, 2020, low-income household earners, the elderly, and those in military services could apply for an exemption or full waiver.
- Applicants over 75 years of age were exempted from biometric service fees.
- Military service personnel were exempt from the application fee and biometric service fees.
- Applicants from low-income households could apply for a fee of $405.
- No more fee waivers for low-income immigrants.
- Asylum seekers will pay $50 if they are not pursuing a deportation process.
- Military service personnel are exempt from the application and biometric fees.
When do I pay the fees?
- Once you file Form N-400, attach a copy of your identity (such as a green card) and passport photos. Pay the filing fee when submitting the form. Wait for a review.
- Once reviewed, await the call for a biometrics appointment.
- Attend the interview appointment and pass the necessary tests.
- Once you pass the test, you’ll attend a swearing-in ceremony. You will get a certificate of naturalization at the ceremony.
How can I pay the naturalization fee?
You can pay via:
- Money order
- Personal check
- Credit card
- Cashier’s check
What to note when making payment
- Consistency in payment methods is key. Use the same method for paying all the fees (filing fee and biometric services). If you are making an application for your family members, use the same payment method for all of their applications.
- Accuracy is vital. Pay the exact amount that is stipulated on the N-400 form. The USCIS can reject your application for incorrect or insufficient payment.
- Pay according to how you file the N-400 form. If you file by mail, then pay via check or money order. If you file online, then choose an online payment method.
Understanding the Requirements and Application Process
Visas are official documents that make the bearer qualified to enter a country. US visas are issued to foreign citizens who want to travel to the United States.
The visas are granted by the U.S. Embassy in your country of nationality or citizenship and only serve as eligibility for entry into the United States. An inspector from the Department of Homeland Security, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) then scrutinizes your visa at the port of entry and can choose to approve or deny you entry into the country.
Once approved, the CBP inspector issues an admission stamp (Form I-94) indicating the last date to leave the country. Keep this document safe because it proves that you have permission to be in the country.
Types of U.S. Visas
There are two visa categories:
1) Nonimmigrant Visa
For temporary travel to the country. There are different categories of visas for non-immigrants depending on their purpose of travel. For instance, business visitor visas are in the B-1 category while diplomat and tourist visas are in categories A and B-2 respectively.
2) Immigrant Visa
For persons who want to immigrate to the US. The purpose of immigration determines the category in which the visa will be awarded.
A major requirement for an immigrant visa is sponsorship by U.S. citizens or employers. The sponsor initiates a petition with the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and obtains approval before the immigrant visa application can begin.
The U.S. Visa Application Process
- Fill in the visa application form (DS-260).
- Pay the non-refundable visa processing fee.
- Submit the application form with the supporting documents. The National Visa Center (NVC) receives and vets all applications and documents for completeness.
- Once qualified, the NVC works with your country’s U.S. consulate office to schedule an appointment for your interview. Applicants can use the Global Support Services (GSS) to reschedule and schedule their appointments.
- Complete all requirements for the interview, such as a medical examination by a Panel Physician.
- Attend the interview in person. Carry a copy of your NVC appointment letter and the required documentation.
- For approved visas, the Embassy will give instructions on when and how you can collect the passport and visa.
You can make group appointments if you are traveling as a group of 5 or more people sharing the same itinerary.
Ensure that you check the interview rules and guidelines provided by your country’s U.S. consulate office. In some countries, applicants cannot carry the following items to their appointment:
- Battery-operated devices or electronic devices such as cameras and computer tablets
- Oversized handbags, shoulder bags, purses, backpacks, suitcases, or travel bags
- Food items
- Sealed packages
- Cigarettes, lighters, or cigars.
- Sharp objects, explosive materials, or weapons
Can My Visa Application be Rejected?
Yes, the U.S. embassy or consulate can reject your visa application under Section 214(b). You can reapply for the visa if you wish. However, you will not receive a refund of the application fee.
How Do I Verify My Nonimmigrant Visa?
The information on your passport and visa must match. Confirm the following visa details:
- The passport number on the visa matches with your passport
- Correct spelling of your name
- Correct spelling of the issuing country
- The correct date of birth
- Visa type and class match the category of visa in which you applied
The additional information you may verify includes:
- Entries: ‘M’ implies multiple entries into the U.S.
- Annotation: Gives more information about the visa
- Expiration date: This is the validity period for the visa.
Can My Visa Be Waived?
Tourist or business travelers with e-passports who want to enter the U.S. without a visa for a 90-day stay or less (visitor B visa category) can apply for a waiver under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). Check your country of nationality or citizenship to see if you qualify.
The CBP retains the right to grant or deny entry into the country even with a waiver.
What If My Visa Is Denied?
The consular officer will explain the reasons for your disqualification. In some cases, you can apply for an ineligibility waiver and the consular officer can advise you further.
The requirements and application process for U.S. visas may seem strenuous, but following all the steps and providing the necessary documentation increases your chances of success. Once you receive your visa, ensure you travel before the printed expiration date.
For all those who want to acquire residency and authorization to work in the U.S., you must know that there are five major ways to do so. The five main ways are listed here in this article for your understanding and reference.
- Being sponsored by the employer
- Being sponsored by any close family member who stays in the States
- Via the Diversity Visa Lottery Program
- Via the asylum and refugee status
What are the Requirements for an H1-B Specialty Occupation Visa?
There are a couple of things that you must know if you are moving to the U.S. to work for a U.S. based employer. You must fulfill a few requirements to acquire the H1-B Specialty Occupation Visa.
- First of all, the candidate must be able to furnish the proof of being offered a job at the States.
- The candidate must have completed a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or must hold a degree equivalent to the Bachelor’s degree of the States.
- The candidate must also hold a license that authorizes the person to work in the specific domain and be employed in the same.
- The candidate must also be able to furnish the proof of experience in the domain that he/she/they have been offered the job in.
The Requirements for an L-1 Intra Company Transfer Visa:
In this section of the article, we shall look into the requirements for acquiring an L-1 Intra company transfer visa.
- The employee must have worked for the employer outside the States for at least a year, in the last three years.
- Managers or executives must be travelling to the States to manage a subdivision of the company’s branch in the U.S.
- The candidate must also have special and in-depth knowledge in the respective field that he/she/they shall be working in.
Can the Dependants of the Candidate Immigrating to the U.S. Work in the States As Well?
The dependants of the candidates cannot work in the States through one common employment visa. It is necessary that the family members find their own source of acquiring the visa if they are to work and make their own in the States. The process is usually the same, and it shall be wrong to assume that the dependant shall get any edge in the process, only because they have someone who acquired the employment immigration visa.
The process of immigrating to the States for work can be quite hectic and challenging. The prospects of working abroad sound fun and full of possibilities. But the task is equally daunting. All you can do is make use of the opportunities presented to you and wait patiently till you get your hands on the visa.
The pandemic has changed the ways we perceive the world and function in the same. Our lives have undergone seismic shifts ever since the virus entered our lives. Rules are being bent, new regulations are being made, and protocols are changing so that we can adjust to the changing world. Speaking of which, plans of students to move abroad and job seekers to settle overseas have also come to a halt. And though we are no longer in a technical lockdown, and are free to travel to most of the places, there are some restrictions and changes in the regulations. These regulations have become quite stringent when it comes to settling abroad or acquiring a foreign visa. In this article, we shall answer some of the most asked questions about travelling to America and acquiring a U.S. visa.
Is Travelling to the United States Allowed Right Now?
Foreign nationals from Brazil, 26 countries of The Republic of Ireland and The Islamic Republic of Iran, who were physically present prior to their entry into the U.S., have been suspended by the Presidential Proclamations and another subsequent proclamation issued on May 24, 2020. These Presidential Proclamations that we are talking about here are 9984, 9992, 9993 and 9996.
What Must You Do If You Have a Question about an Existing Visa Application?
The only thing that you must and can do right at this point is to wait until normal operations resume. It is normal to have various questions about your existing visa applications. Operations on the applications have been halted due to the pandemic and, therefore, do not feel nervous if you have not been followed up on the application. Once the operations resume, you can check on the government sites for updates.
Is It Advisable to Travel to the U.S. through a Country that is Not Covered by the Presidential Proclamation?
The prospect of travelling to the U.S. through a country not mentioned in the proclamation sounds doable, but it is advised against. This is because the country through which you plan on entering the States might have imposed travel bans and restrictions of its own. It is, therefore, advised that you check up on these important details before you make arrangements for travelling. And if you are patient enough, it is advised to wait until normal operations resume.
What Must You Do While Visiting the Embassy for Your Visa Interview during the Pandemic?
If you have been given a date to appear for your Visa interview during this crisis, there are a few things that you must do. Wear a mask- make or buy your own. Do not remove your mask at any time during or before the interview. Also, remember that you are not allowed to carry any laptop or other bags into the interview.
And if you find yourself exhibiting symptoms of the virus, you must reschedule your interview and wait for the infection to run its course.
The panacea for living your American dream is to become a citizen in the United States. The green card ensures you your permanent getaway to the US. It is only a green card holder who is conferred the benefit of residing and working in the US in the absence of restrictions.
At the same time, the immigration process is not a cakewalk, rather a daunting task. Yet you have your magic bullet when it comes to acquiring a green card.
A family-based green card
If one of your parents or spouse is an American, then you have unfurled your nostrum for actualising your American reverie. A family member can be your benefactor in receiving a green card. A US citizen above 21 years can make an appeal regarding their spouse, children, siblings, or parents. A green card holder can also finance their children or spouse.
The process entails the US sponsor to finish the 1-130 form, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, and then has to collect all the mandatory documents. This is followed by application and registration fees being forwarded to USCIS. Your sponsor obtains a receipt, and after the application is processed, they will receive an apprising concerning the resolve.
An employment-based green card
The United States provides up to 140,000 employment-based green cards annually. However, there are diverse priority categories. For instance, people with prowess in the field of science, arts, athletics, business, and education, exceptional professors and researchers, and talented executives and managers.
At the same time, entrepreneurs with job offers from a US company and those working in particular areas such as religious workers are also bestowed with permits for a green card. But be wary of the exhaustive waiting time.
During this process, your US employer must furnish a completed 1-140 form, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, and submit all the mandatory documents. The payment and process method are in tandem with the family-based green card. However, the only variation is that, if the request is approved, the National Visa Centre will inform you about the following immigrant visa application process.
Winning the green card lottery
The most popular way to procure your green card. The United States permits 50,000 immigrants to secure a green card through the Diversity Visa Lottery annually. The eligibility is based on countries whose immigration rates to the US are minimal. This means that the list is not a fixed one and keeps changing every year.
This method requires you to register online at their authentic website; while doing this, bear in mind to effectuate the necessary research; beware of a plethora of scams. This is also restricted to a particular period. Keep the confirmation number safe and secure, and once selected, you have the opportunity to apply for an immigrant visa.
The United States may be famous for many things like Hollywood, Grand Canyon, Legendary Music, Technological Innovation, and Hot Dogs! What you don’t know about the U.S. is that the country is one of the best-rated countries to live and visit as it has some abundant career opportunities. The country is famous for its workforce and its productivity. There are a lot of people who migrate each year to this wonderful land to settle or find a job there. The largest Homeland Security of the country has mentioned in a report that the country noticed a lot of illegal border crossings every year. Having said that, we should also mention various ways to enter legally. In the below-given article, we will see some of the most suitable and favored ways of getting inside the US legally. Without much ado, let us dive right into the article.
Without any doubt, we can say that the most embraced and the biggest cluster of residents in the U.S. is migrating through family-based visas. The main point of this immigration visa is that the residents or the non-U.S nationalities can bring their family comprising of spouses, fiancés, and their unmarried children. The residents also have the right to bring their sibling and their elderly parents too.
The next way to legally enter the United States is by the means of having a student visa. Having mentioned the student visas, if you wish to enter the United States by this means of legalized order, you must know something about the student visa. There are two types of visas exclusively for students. They are F visas and M visas. The former is for the students who would like to pursue their academic education from the United States. The latter one is for the students who opt for non-academic studies and programs. Later, if you like to continue or make the stay permanent in the United States, you may have to face some legal procedures and restrictions.
What if you are disowned from your land due to differences and have nowhere to go? Don’t worry, instead get an Asylum Seekers visa and head towards the United States. The country offers camps for refugees who have been disowned by their nation due to many disagreements. Not only that but if you have entered the US illegally, don’t worry, you still can apply for the Asylum visa.
The last one on the list is none other than entering the United States by Working Visa. The employer can suggest an immigrant employee if that particular person can’t find the right candidate anywhere within the United States province. Another thing you must know about the work visa is that they are many types of the crux. Each such visa has something to do with the time of stay and various terms and regulations of a long stay.
Immigrating to a different country might sound like a fun thing to do, but it is equally challenging and more often than not, harrowing. There is a bunch of rules and regulations, and complicated protocols that every person immigrating need to go through. And the immigration process becomes all the more difficult when you are moving abroad with your entire family. In this article, we aim to discuss all the protocols and intricacies related to acquiring the U.S. family visa. This can come handy to those who plan to move to the U.S. with their entire family. Understanding the basics can help navigate the process quickly.
Steps Involved in Acquiring the Family Visa:
In this section of the article, we shall look into all the steps that are usually involved in the process of acquiring a U.S. family visa.
- You must first be approved the petition for an immigrant visa by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The citizen of the relative who stays in the States must fill in the application and furnish the proof of relationship for the family immigration process to begin.
- The Department of State must then look into the application and check if any immigrant visa number can be allotted to the foreign national.
- The third step in the entire process is usually the most important step and has a couple of sub-steps involved. In case the foreign relative is already in the States, he/she/they must file an application seeking to change the status to that of a lawful permanent resident once the immigrant visa number becomes available. To do so, you need to submit a form, I-485, along with the other documents like medical proof, police certificates and others. You must also remember that the principal applicants are required to submit the immigration visa petition, I-130 and I-485 together.
- One final thing to remember over here is that it might so happen that you are outside the United States when the visa number becomes available. In that case, you need to go to the U.S. consulate to complete the procedure. If the relative, whose immigration is being processed, stays outside the U.S., the concerned documents are first sent to the National Visa Center before they are forwarded to the U.S. consulate. Once all the documents are verified and checked, the final process for immigration can start.
Therefore, as you can see, the process of acquiring a visa for family is quite hectic. There might be complications, and you must be ready to face those. The final thing that we would like you to understand here is that patience is the key. You must be patient enough to wait and not rush through anything. It might not end well for the application and give rise to further complications.
A green card confers on you the leverage of living and working in the US for a permanent period. This card is furnished by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). While there exist multifarious methods to obtain a green card, for instance, through family, employment, your position as a fugitive, however, the fact remains resolute – not everyone qualifies.
If you have Lady Luck beside you and you qualify, another mammoth impediment is the waiting time associated under specific family or employment status which can take up to a prolonged 20 years. In case you do not qualify, you need not be disheartened; instead, gather your wits and roll the dice by deploying the Diversity Immigration Visa (DV) Programme popularly termed as the green card lottery.
What are your Chances?
The green card lottery issues 50,000 immigrant visas every year, based on random drawing. But cannot be that random, right? Therefore, these visas are allocated among countries with historically reduced rates of immigration to the US. In 2017, 22.4 million people had applied to the DV programme, and only the first 50,000 who registered became blessed with a fortune that year.
Who is Green Card Eligible?
Diversity visas are permitted for natives in six geographic regions that include Africa, North America, Europe, the Caribbean, South America, Central America, Asia, and Oceania. These lists of countries are subject to alter and can be traced to the Diversity Visa entry instructions. Even if you are not born in an eligible country, you may be deemed eligible, depending on the birthplace of your spouse.
- Work Experience
Other than entitlement based on your country of birth, it is also required of you to meet specific educational or employment requirements. You are required to have a high school education or two years’ experience in a qualifying occupation.
- Increasing your DV Odds
Definitely, you need Lady Luck to caress you, yet there are a few things you can indulge in to augment your probability of winning. The first point to remember is that if you are married, you and your spouse should apply if both are eligible; this increases your edge because it confers you two chances instead of just one.
If you have children who have met the required educational or work qualification, you should ensure that they apply as there is no limit on the number of eligible members of the same family.
- Winning a Diversity Visa
Winning the green card lottery does not signify you instantly get the green card. It merely means that you have won an opportunity to apply for a green card.
Since this process incurs zero cost, even if you have fortified other avenues, it is always best if you could apply for the lottery because you never know how robust these other avenues are.
You might be looking for migrating to the United States, and getting your student visa might be a tiresome and time-consuming job. Thanks to the country for letting the students of other nationalities enter the United States. If you are a foreign student who wishes to enter the United States, the one thing to carry mandatory is nothing other than the Student Visa. Even though the idea of getting the visa sanctioned can get very confusing, there are a lot of people who travel to the United States to study every year despite this. If you are new to this policy and law, you may need to read this article to keep you updated. In the following post, we will share point by point how to plan to get the student visa. Without further ado, let us dive right into the article.
The first tip to keep in mind is to plan efficiently. Update the appointment stage with the embassy to know whether you are on the right path. You must keep in mind to give the appointment before and after the winter and summer breaks as the time is very crucial and hectic for the embassy. It is your duty to know whether your appointment is right on the schedule. If not, enquire about the delay whatsoever.
Certificates, Documents, and all Other Paper Works in Hand
The next stage is to keep in-hand of all the paperwork related to the United States application form. The important papers comprise of the visa application forms, the fee receipts, the SEVIS fee payment, and other related documents. Apart from those, it is a must to keep the updated and valid passport. You should need the school acceptance paperwork and other scripts.
Return Home No Matter What
There are some regulations and restrictions when it comes to the end of the student visa, the expiry date. You must show the United States government that you have no intention of staying back in the United States and intend to head back to your nation. The United States government is doubtful when it comes to student visas as they may think that you only need access to the United States and wish to stay back forever. If that is the case, you have to face severe charges and laws.
Be Well Spoken Regarding Your Ambition
LSRW and Communication Skills
The last one to point out in the list or the tip to keep in mind is to practice and sharpen your communication skills. English is the language spoken by the natives of America therefore it is a must to know the language as you will be mingling with a lot of Americans daily. How fluent you are in your English skills will help your application to move forward with the law to apply for the student visa.