Human trafficking is among the most terrible workplace abuses that an individual in the U.S. could encounter. Human trafficking occurs whenever a person is recruited, transported, or kept against his or her will for purposes of exploitation. For a full definition of human trafficking, please visit www.state.gov/g/tip. The following are a few of the warning signs:
• Beatings, physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of such abuse,
• Locking in or restraining a worker,
• Threats of harm to the worker or the worker’s family if the worker tries to leave or complain about treatment,
• Threats of being deported or arrested for trying to leave, complain, or seek help for the worker’s situations,
• Denial of adequate food, sleep, or medical care,
• Preventing or restricting communicating freely with family or other workers,
• False promises about working conditions, living conditions, or pay.
If any of these occur while you or someone you know is working in the United States, get help immediately by calling 911 or the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (1-888-373-7888).
Vizard, our resident immigration wizard, protects readers from the evils of wrong information.
I had my immigrant visa interview yesterday. The Consular Officer told me I had submitted all the documents that I needed but that something in my file needed to be checked with the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). I also received a sheet of paper with a checkmark next to “NBI written explanation.” What does this mean? Do I need to send anything else for the Consular Officer’s review? Thanks for your help.
Dear Mr. Fernandez,
Rest assured that you do not need to submit any other documents to the Consular Officer. Please just wait to hear from the Embassy.
For those applicants with “no criminal record” or “no pending case” on their NBI clearances, the Embassy needs to get a written explanation from NBI about any charges or convictions that the applicants may have had in the past. If this is the case for you, you might need to undergo an interview with NBI personnel. The Embassy will send you a letter with detailed information about the process.
Best of luck!
See our blog post on “NBI Clearances and Other Names Used” for more information on NBI clearances.
The U.S. Embassy will be closed on Monday, January 23, 2012, in observance of Chinese New Year.
All nonimmigrant and immigrant visa applicants scheduled on January 23 are requested to contact the Embassy call center at the following numbers: (02) 982-5555 and (02) 902-8930, Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., or go to http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph to reschedule their appointments.
In many countries, the month of December brings thoughts of delicious holiday food. Here in the Philippines conversations often start with “who makes the best bagoong and kare-kare?” Or remembering eating your mother’s embutido or watching your uncle make the lechon. If you are thinking of bringing food or food products with you to the United States as either presents or to help celebrate the holidays, you should first investigate what is acceptable to bring and what is prohibited.
According to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP): meat, milk, egg, poultry and products made with these ingredients such as dried soup mix or bouillon are not allowed to bring into the U.S. Most fruits and vegetables are not allowed either.
For a list of U.S. Customs allowable food items please visit this website.
Failure to declare food products can result in up to a $10,000 (PHP 430,000) fine!
So think before you bring “a taste of home” to your friends or relatives in the United States, and investigate if it is OK to do so. It may be easier just to bring the recipe and make it once you arrive.
Please be aware that the Embassy will be closed on the following days during the holiday season:
Monday, December 26
Friday, December 30
Monday, January 2
We wish you and your families happy holidays!
THE K PACKET
I only have copies of my petitioner’s Affidavit of Support and income tax return: will you accept these?
A Form I-134 bearing the original signature of the petitioner should be submitted. Photocopies will not be accepted. However, transcripts and photocopies of the Form 1040 and W2 will be accepted.
My mother agreed to be my joint sponsor. I will be submitting a Form I-134 from her.
Please be aware that joint sponsors in K nonimmigrant visa cases are not legally bound to address the financial needs of the applicant. The simple submission of a Form I-134 by a joint sponsor is, therefore, not always sufficiently credible to overcome the public charge provisions of the law. Petitioners in K visa cases should be able to demonstrate their ability to maintain an income at or above the prescribed federal poverty guidelines for their prospective household sizes.
F1 and F3 visa categories are family-sponsored immigrant visa petitions that may be filed by a U.S. Citizen. An F1 visa petition is filed for unmarried sons and daughters, while an F3 petition is for married sons and daughters.
Visa Category Conversion: When Does It Happen?
Visa category conversions happen when there are changes in certain personal circumstances of petitioners or beneficiaries.
F1 – F3 Conversion
When the beneficiary who is being petitioned under the F1 visa category marries, the original F1 petition will be converted to the F3 visa category, also retaining the same priority date. If the beneficiary subsequently terminates that marriage, the petition will be reclassified to the F1 category.
‘Tis the season…to be applying for a Summer Work Travel visa. The Summer Work Travel (SWT) exchange programs are an extremely popular way for foreign college and university students to work in the U.S. during their summer vacations. An estimated two million students have participated in this program since it was created 50 years ago. 120,000 students from around the world participated in 2010.
Who can apply for a SWT (J-1) visa?
- In order to qualify for this program, you must be currently enrolled in and actively pursuing a degree or a full-time course of study at an accredited academic institution.
- You must have completed at least your first year of postsecondary education.
- You must demonstrate that you are actively enrolled in school.
- And unless you are in your final year of school, you must also demonstrate that you will come back and finish your degree after your visa expires (most SWT programs last about three months).
*If you are studying at a vocational school, you are not eligible for participation in the Summer Work Travel program, unless you can demonstrate that study in the vocational school will ultimately lead to a degree from a full-time post-secondary academic institution.
New regulations in effect for 2012:
There are four major changes to regulations on the Summer Work Travel program. These changes are designed to minimize risk that program participants will be abused or have less than satisfactory program experiences.
1) Filipino students must have SWT job offers before they apply for their J-1 visas.
2) The U.S.-based sponsors, who are designated by the U.S. Department of State, are required to fully investigate third party companies (both U.S. and foreign) that work with host employers to ensure the third parties meet Department of State requirements for the SWT program.
3) The U.S.-based sponsors are required to fully investigate all job offers, regardless of who arranges the job placements.
4) The U.S.-based sponsors are required to contact program participants on a monthly basis to monitor both their welfare and their whereabouts while in the U.S.
Sponsors are required to provide the following orientation materials to all participants (in addition to the currently required information) prior to departing for the United States:
1) A copy of the State Department’s Summer Work Travel Participation Letter
2) A copy of the Department’s Summer Work Travel Brochure
3) Telephone number for the Department’s 24/7 toll-free help line
4) Telephone numbers for the sponsors’ 24/7 immediate contact line
How do I apply?
Most colleges and universities in the Philippines work with U.S. job sponsors or third parties that have been scrutinized by U.S. sponsors and can advise you on available SWT programs. Or, you can look at the Department of State’s SWT website at http://j1visa.state.gov/programs/summer-work-travel/.
When looking for programs, we strongly encourage you to research and comparison shop for the best program to fit your individual needs. Talk to classmates and alumni who have worked at the same job location and company where you will be working. Ask them about their experience. What did they like/dislike about the job and the work environment? You should know in advance of traveling to the U.S. what is expected of you, how much you will be paid, where you will live in the U.S. and what your housing conditions will be. Researching available programs and knowing as much as possible in advance of traveling goes a long way towards creating the most pleasurable and memorable experience possible.
Here are a few comments from previous SWT participants:
“It was an awesome adventure.”
“It really helped me develop culturally and professionally.”
Expand your cultural horizon. Start researching your SWT opportunity today!
THE ADVENTURES OF BONG VOYAGE
Bong Voyage, our perpetual immigrant visa applicant, is being interviewed by Consul Jimmy Murdochs. Bong just handed over the financial documents and other forms that were sent by his brother, the petitioner.
Consul Jimmy Murdochs: Sir, these are bank statements from your brother. Do you have your brother’s Affidavit of Support (AOS) or Form I-864, together with his latest U.S. federal income tax return and W-2?
Bong Voyage: I have these financial documents and some forms signed by my brother and his wife. They are just copies, though. I think the original signed forms were submitted to the National Visa Center (NVC) by my brother.
Consul: Thank you. Your brother’s original I-864 form is in your file. I need to see his latest tax returns and W-2s.
Bong Voyage: I see. Is that really required?
Consul: Yes, sir. An original signed Form I-864, income tax returns, and W-2s are required for most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants to show that the intending immigrants have adequate means of financial support, so they are not likely to become a public charge.
Bong Voyage: I am curious: how do you determine if the petitioner’s income is enough to support the intending immigrant?
Consul: Immigration regulations require that the petitioner must show that he has enough income and/or assets to maintain the intending immigrant(s) and the rest of his household at 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You can find a copy of the Guidelines here. If the petitioner cannot meet the income requirements, a “joint sponsor,” who can meet the requirements, may submit a Form I-864 to sponsor all or some of the family members. A joint sponsor can be any U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or lawful permanent resident who is at least 18 years old, domiciled in the United States or its territories or possessions, and willing to be held jointly liable with the petitioner for the support of the intending immigrant(s). A joint sponsor does not have to be related to the petitioner or the intending immigrant(s).
Going back to your case, your brother and his spouse’s combined income seems to meet the guidelines. However, since your brother’s spouse is a member of his household, she should submit an original signed Form I-864A, which is a Contract Between the Sponsor and the Household Member.
Bong Voyage: I see, so the Form I-864 from my brother’s wife is not acceptable?
Consul: Your brother’s wife cannot use Form I-864. According to USCIS, if you are using the income of persons in your household or dependents to qualify as a sponsor, you must submit a separate Form I-864A for each person whose income you will use.
Bong Voyage: Thank you very much for the information and advice, sir. I will contact my brother in the U.S. for them to prepare the remaining documents.
Consul: Not a problem, sir. To obtain related forms and for more information about Forms I-864 and I-864A, you may advise your brother to check the USCIS website or contact the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) by telephone at 1-800-375-5283.
Nonimmigrant visa applicants must pay the machine-readable visa application fee (MRV fee) shown below. The fee is based the type of visa you are applying for.
The fees are as follows:
$140 – B1/B2, C1/D, F, J, and all other NIV categories not listed below (Visitor/Transit/Student)
$150 – H, L, O, P, Q, and R (Temporary Worker)
$350 – K (Fiancée)
$390 – E (Investor/Trader)
To pay the fee, the applicant must have his or her passport number available. The applicant’s passport number will be tied to the MRV fee paid at the bank.
There are three ways to pay the MRV fee:
1. Pay in cash at any branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI).
2. Pay through online bill payment option provided by BPI for their customers.
3. Online payment through Bancnet Visa application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable.
No exceptions will be made to this rule. The fee is valid for one year after the date of actual payment; your interview must take place within that one year.