Category Archives: Visa

Schengen Visa for Canadian Permanent residents

Are you a Canadian Permanent Resident? Planning to travel to Europe soon but don’t have a Canadian passport? Here, we will tell you what you need to know about getting a Schengen visa as a Canadian Permanent resident.

What is a Schengen visa?

A Schengen visa is a short stay visa that allows its holder to move around in the Schengen area, that is, in Europe. The Schengen area covers 26 countries (“Schengen States”) without border controls between them.

All non-Canadian citizens who do need a visa to enter the Schengen Area, must have a valid permanent resident card or valid multiple entry visa for Canada with at least three months validity after returning from the Schengen area. If your Canadian visa has expired, you should have it renewed before applying.

Schengen visas can be issued by any country within the Schengen area. Travelers must apply to the embassy or consulate of the country which they intend to visit.

If you wish to visit multiple countries in the Schengen area, you should apply to their main destination’s embassy or consulate. If the main destination cannot be determined, the traveler should apply for the visa at the embassy of the Schengen country of first entry. Often, external service providers are contracted by certain diplomatic missions to process, collect and return visa applications.

Schengen visa applications may not be submitted more than three months prior to the proposed date of entry into the Schengen area. In other words, you can send in your application up to 90 days before your trip. All countries’ embassies may require applicants to provide biometric identifiers (ten fingerprints and a digital photograph) as part of the visa application process to be stored on the Visa Information System (VIS). This doesn’t apply to children under the age of 12. You must apply in person and are subject to an interview by the consular officers.

How long does it take?

Providing that the visa application is admissible and there are no issues with the application, a decision must be given within 15 calendar days of the date on which the application was made.

What countries can I visit in the Schengen area?

Like we said before, the Schengen area covers 26 countries. That is, 22 EU member states and four non-EU countries who are members of EFTA (European Free Trade Association). The countries in the Schengen area are: Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Netherlands, Austria, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden. The other four countries are Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. All of these are covered by the Schengen visa. As a permanent resident you can have access to them all with the visa.

You will generally need the following documentation for a Schengen visa:

  • Entry visa application form which you can access at the official embassy’s website of the country you intend to visit.
  • A recent passport-size photograph;
  • A valid travel document: original of your valid permanent resident card or valid multiple entry visa for Canada.
  • A return ticket (or booking) or evidence that the applicant has their own means of transport;
  • proof of sufficient means to support yourself. If applying to Germany for instance, you need a recent statement of Canadian bank account for the last three months that shows funds of at least 70CAD that are equivalent to 45€ per person per day, or traveler’s cheques.
  • health insurance covering a minimum of €30,000 for emergency hospitalization and repatriation expenses, valid throughout the Schengen area;
  • you must book an appointment to submit your application in person. You may apply three months before the start of your planned trip at the earliest.

The visa office may also request other documentation depending on your case. For instance, the German embassy requires you attach a cover letter explaining the purpose of your visit to Germany. If you are going on a business trip, you will be required to present an Invitation letter from the business partner confirming the business trip and schedule of your visit, including the name and full address of the contact person in the intended country of visit. You should contact the visa office authorized for your area for more specific information.

How much does it cost?

Different countries have different processing fees for their visas, ranging anywhere from €60 – €100.  Confirm with the embassy or consul office of your intended country.

Take note

Some European countries have restrictions for Permanent Residence Card holders who were refugees before. If you had refugee status on gaining entry into Canada, you should note that your movement to some EU member countries may be limited.

However if you have a Canadian travel Document for non-Canadians (also called CRTD Convention refugee travel document) you don’t need a visa to enter Europe.

 

Also, individuals of any nationality who are family members of EU/Schengen nationals and are in possession of a residence permit indicating their status are exempt from having to get a visa when entering the European Union or Schengen Area when they are accompanying their EU/Schengen family member or are seeking to join them.

Lastly

Embassies advise to beware of working with brokers or agencies. The German embassy specifically states “These individuals and organizations are NOT able to secure appointments with us. The only cost involved is the visa fee charged by the Embassy, Consulate General or Consulate. Applications, checklists and appointments are provided free of charge.”

Try to verify information on your intending country’s official embassy website, or contact them via email. For example, for all visa processes for Germany, go to https://canada.diplo.de/ca-en/consular-services/visa

 

 

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Italy visa for us green card holders (US permanent residents)

Are you a permanent resident in the US and want to travel to Italy soon? You are in the right place. Here, you will find all the information you need for an Italian visa for U.S green card holders.

Italy is a beautiful country that attracts a large number of tourists as well as people looking to find employment and live out there long term. It is in the top five most visited countries in the world. But depending on which country you are a citizen of and what your purpose and duration of travel is, you may or may not need to apply for a visa to enter, live and work.

Do I need a visa?                

As a US green card holder, yes you need a visa to gain entry into Italy. U.S citizens with U.S passports do not need a visa to get into Italy. Canadian citizens also do not need a visa to enter Italy for up to 90 days if the purpose of their trip is tourism- or business-related. However, if you plan to stay longer than 90 days, you will need a Schengen Visa, which grants you access to all EU member states.

As a permanent resident (green card holder), you have been officially granted immigration benefits, including permission to reside and take employment in the United States, as a National of another country. This however does not guarantee you the freedom to travel outside the U.S uninhibited without getting the necessary visas.

Where can I get information

http://vistoperitalia.esteri.it is the official website for the Directorate General for Italians Abroad and Migration Policies. Official information about your immigration issues can be accessed there.

To verify if you do need a visa, you will be asked to fill a short questionnaire about your nationality, your country of residence, the length of your stay and the reason for your stay. That combination of answers will determine whether or not you require a visa or if there is one even available for your purpose.

You will need the following documentation for an Italian Schengen visa:

Entry visa application form (which you can access at the site above). A recent passport-size photograph;

  • valid travel document (passport) whose expiry date is three months longer than that of the visa requested ;
  • return ticket (or booking) or evidence that the applicant has their own means of transport;
  • proof that the applicant has sufficient means of subsistence as required by the Directive of the Ministry of the Interior dated 1st March 2000;
  • supporting documentation in relation to the applicant’s social and professional status (for instance letter of no objection from employer ;
  • health insurance covering a minimum of €30,000 for emergency hospitalization and repatriation expenses, valid throughout the Schengen area;
  • a Declaration of hospitality (this is a proof of sponsorship and/or private accommodation. A 3-page form you can download and fill from the website).

The visa office may also request other documentation depending on your case. You should contact the visa office authorized for your area for more specific information.

Italy has a large presence in the U.S. It has an Embassy in Washington D.C, as well as consulate offices in New York, Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco. If you are in the United States and wish to travel to Italy, you may require a visa issued by the Consular office of the Italian Embassy in Washington DC or another Italian Consular Office in the U.S.

How much does it cost?

The visa processing fee is €60. Fees charged are for the administrative costs of processing the visa application.

What happens next?

Once you fill out the Schengen application form, print it out. The printed form contains the 2D Barcode with the data you entered. You can then take the form, with all other documents attached to the embassy or an Italian consulate office, and submit. Your application will be processed and you will be notified about your status subsequently.

How long does it take??

Allow for up to 2 weeks to get your visa. The embassy/consulate may notify you for pick-up before then. You are free to apply up to 90 days before your travel date but it is advised you apply at least 3 weeks before your planned trip, to allow for any unforeseen circumstances.

Again in summary, you will generally need the following for a visa application:

Correct application form duly filled out, a valid passport, a passport-sized photograph, travel insurance with a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000, round-trip flight reservations or a complete travel itinerary, hotel reservation or proof of accommodation, letter of no objection from employer (if applicable), and proof of sufficient funds.

Take note

Please remember that

1) Submitting the required documentation does not automatically guarantee visa issuance, and

2) Even if you have a visa on entering Italy and the Schengen Area, border authorities can once again check the documents required for issuance of the visa, and have the authority to deny you entry.

Also if you are a spouse, child, or parent of an Italian citizen or other European Union Member State, you should contact the competent Italian Embassy/Consulate for further information. Individuals of any nationality who are family members of EU/Schengen nationals and are in possession of a residence permit indicating their status are exempt from having to get a visa when entering the European Union or Schengen Area when they are accompanying their EU/Schengen family member or are seeking to join them.

 

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H1 Visa Process – How to get the H1 and other Visas

For non-immigrant professionals looking to work in the United States, and US based companies looking to hire non-immigrant professionals, the H1 visa process is no strange concept. The H1 visa is an umbrella of visas that consists of the H-1B, H-1B1, H-1B2, H-1B3 and the H-1C each of which depends on the type of worker it applies to. Ultimately, this category of visas allows US based organizations to employ non-immigrants who have certain skills and proficiencies. Quite simply, it is an all access-pass to the American dream for non-immigrants.

Given its perks, this visa classification is easily one of the most sought after worldwide. However, between its numerous terms, conditions and limitations, the H1 visa process can get quite murky. Here is a detailed run-down of the H1 visa process –

Are You Eligible For a H1 Visa?

In order to fully understand eligibility conditions of the H1 visa, it is important to first note that different H1 visas apply to different people and situations. As such, you cannot simply request any H1 visa without sufficient information. Here are the H1 visa types and the types of workers eligible for them.

  1. H-1B Visa:

Certified professionals, specialists, and Bachelor/higher degree holders employed by US based organizations in a role relevant to their qualifications.

  1. H-1B1 Visa:

Workers from Singapore and Chile who are qualified by the Free Trade agreement and have a specialty occupation; specialty occupations are roles that validate the need for foreign employees.

  1. H-1B2 Visa:

For foreign professionals who are relevant to development schemes, the department of defense and production projects; especially those in specialty occupations.

  1. H-1B3 Visa:

Distinguished fashion models of known merit.

 

  1. H-1B Visa

The H-1B is a temporal, employment based visa which allows US companies employ foreign-born professionals

Eligibility requirement for the H-1B Visa Employee & Job–

The immigration laws of the US consider the prospective employers your visa ‘sponsor’. Thus, in order to be granted a H-1B visa, you may need to be invited by your employer or employers as the case may be.

Surprisingly, it is not enough to be merely invited by just any establishment. The visa screening process will require that you meet the requirements for the role you will be occupying. It will also require that the role validates the need for non-immigrant/citizen employment.

In that light, here are the eligibility requirements for the each of the H-1B visa types

Eligibility Requirements of a H-1B Visa Job

 

  • The job must have a minimum entry requirement of a Bachelor’s degree or higher (or an equivalent)
  • The employer must be capable of justifying the need for a foreign staff – suggesting that alternative employees may either be unqualified or unavailable for the role.
  • The role is unique and somewhat complex that its performance is dependent on someone with the qualification required. That is, the employer must not require any qualification(s) that is not relevant to the role.

 

Eligibility Requirements of a H-1B Visa Applicant/Employee

 

  • Must have the relevant qualifications required to fill the position
  • Should hold a license or certification that allows him to practice in the state of employment.
  • Must hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelors degree or higher (relevant to the position)
  • Should have relevant experience in the field or a recognition of expertise that guarantees his ability to perform in the role

 

The H-1B Visa Process

The H-1B visa process often begins with the popularly known H1B season. The ‘season’ typically begins when USCIS begins accepting applications to meet their new fiscal year quota.

The process often takes off the beginning of April every year. USCIS stops accepting the applications when they are reached their cap for the year, so it is critical that a few parts of your H1B process are completed before the deadline.

Pre-Visa Filing

If you have established your eligibility for the H1B visa, the first step to take to acquire one is to find a H1B sponsor and apply for a job at the company if they meet your criteria and can sponsor your work visa.

A good place to start would be a H1B sponsor’s database which can help you find potential employers by their name, location, and the job roles available in their company.

If you decide to search outside a known database, it is important that you verify the companies’ accreditation from LCA – this will determine whether or not they are capable to invite you to the US.

Documents Required for the H1 Visa Process

Depending on whether or not you are a foreign applicant or already in the US, here are the documents required for the H1 visa process;

  • Letter of sponsorship (job offer) from the US employer
  • A copy of your current resume, passport and passport photographs
  • Degree certificate and transcripts
  • Reference letters from previous employers
  • Professional license or practice permit
  • Other professional certificates

These may not be required but may be requested if you are already resident in the US

  • Copy of prior H1B approval notice (if available)
  • EAD card
  • Copy of the I-94 card (front and back)
  • Social security number (if available)
  • A letter verifying your current employment (if you are trying to revalidate your H1B visa)

 

Visa Filing Procedure

The H1B visa filing process is typically done by the US employers themselves. It is important to note that a visa is only valid for the employer that was instrumental to obtaining it. If you have to work with multiple employers, they must each file for a H1B on your account – and in the event that your employer changes you can transfer your H1B visa to a new employer or job.

H1B can be processed by two methods
  • The H1B regular processing .
  • H1B premium processing.

The major difference between these two processes is that the premium processing services requires a fee of approximately $2300 and will entitle the employer to a 15-day processing service. With the H1B premium processing, said employer is only required to fill and submit the form I-907 and I-129 to get the process started.

The regular H1B processing can take between 1-6 months to be completed, but is significantly more cost effective. Here is an outlined step –

  • Accept H1B employment and the company files the relevant petition on your behalf. Remember that the USCIS requires the employment letter which must contain information concerning the job, employers and beneficiary.
  • As standard practice, your H1B employer is required to pay you remuneration tagged a ‘prevailing wage’. The amount is determined and verified by the State employment Security Agency.
  • Send your relevant documents to the attorney your employer is working with (no need for originals)
  • File for LCA (Labor Certification Application): This should be done through your attorney – actually, everything subsequent to sending your documents is done by the attorney.
  • After the LCA is approved, your sponsoring company will receive a certified copy from the Department of Labor.
  • The sponsor will provide notices of their filing to the bargaining representative of their current employee.
  • The petition including forms, fees, and related documentation is filed with the USCIS office
  • Wait for Processing
  • As verification that the petition is being processed, the employers will receive a receipt from USCIS
  • Petition approval – after which the employee can apply for personal and family visas. But once the beneficiary’s passport is returned with a H1B stamp, he may enter the US.

 

  1. H-1B1 Visa

 

The H-1B1 visa is basically a variant of the H-1B.  These two visas are differentiated by their eligibility criteria. While the H-1B is open to all foreign employees, the H-1B1 is open for nationals of Singapore and Chile.

Besides these variants the process and documentation requirements remain relatively similar.

 

How to Get an H1B1 Visa

There are two ways to get a H1B1 Visa

 

  • If you are already in the US, you can ask your employer to request a H1B1 from the USCIS. Sadly, you cannot begin working until the visa has been granted which is typically 4-6 months from the application date.
  • You may choose to make an appointment and meet with a representative of the U.S. embassy outside USA. Here, you may request that the consular show you the correct documents

 

Relevant Documents for the H1B1

 

  • Letter of sponsorship (job offer) from the US employer
  • A copy of your current resume, passport and passport photographs
  • Degree certificate and transcripts
  • Reference letters from previous employers
  • Professional license or practice permit
  • Other professional certificates
  • Labor condition certification (provided by your employer)
  • Non-immigrant visa (DS-160)

 

Applying for the H1B1

Unlike the H1B, the H1B1 doesn’t necessarily have a ‘season’ because the quota of Chileans and Singaporeans that apply rarely reaches the yearly allowed quota. That said, a H1B1 application can be done at any time of the year – here’s how its done:

 

  • Employer applies for the Labor Condition Certification (LCA)
  • After receiving the LCA, apply for your non immigrant visa (the DS-160)
  • Prepare the relevant documents/ and prep for the consulate interview
  • Go for the interview
  • You’ll be notified of your visa approval right away.

 

Take note that unlike the H1B1, the validity of this visa is often limited to one year.

 

  1. H-1B2 Visa

In a world where most work visas have the lifespan of a banana, the H-1B2 changes the narrative. Not only does this visa have a 10 year validity period, it can also be revalidated for up to 5 years if need be.

The H-1B2 visa is a special variant of the H1 which is given to individuals working on a project and under the supervision of Department of Defense. Much like the H-1B, a beneficiary of the H-1B2 must have sufficient experience/qualification to justify the employment of a foreign staff.

Once again, you must understand that it is not enough to be merely invited by just any establishment. The visa screening process will require that the role being provided is from a reputable organization and justifiably cannot be filled internally:

Eligibility Criteria for the H-1B2 Visa (Position/Job)

  • The project/group or company must be managed by the US department of defense.
  • The position must require a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution.
  • The position is a specialty occupation – one that requires a unique qualification or extensive experience to perform in
  • The employer must be capable of justifying the need for a foreign staff – suggesting that alternative employees may either be unqualified or unavailable for the role.

 

Eligibility Criteria for the H-1B2 Visa (Employee)

  • Your credentials have been evaluated and you have the license or certification to practice in the state
  • Must have the relevant qualifications required to fill the position
  • Should hold a license or certification that allows him to practice in the state of employment.
  • Must hold the equivalent of a U.S. bachelors degree or higher (relevant to the position)
  • Should have relevant experience in the field or a recognition of expertise that guarantees his ability to perform in the role

 

H-1B2 Visa Application Process

Like other variants of the H1 visa, the H1B2 visa application process is similar to that of the H1B application. It often takes 6 months to process, and employers have the option of paying for premium processing to receive results in 15 days or less.

Unlike a few others, this visa type does not require an LCA (Labor Condition Application) and once the I-129 petition is approved two things may be done –

  • If you are already in the U.S. your status will change automatically when you start working as a H-1B2 non-immigrant.
  • If you are outside the U.S. you will be required to interview with the consular before you are granted approval status.

 

Relevant Documents for the H1B2

 

  • Letter of sponsorship (job offer) from the US employer
  • A copy of your current resume, passport and passport photographs
  • Degree certificate and transcripts
  • Reference letters from previous employers
  • Professional license or practice permit
  • Other professional certificates
  • Description of position and proof of its specialty requirement
  • Evidence that the position is concurrent with its requirements.

Not that a Labor condition certification is not necessary.

Applying for the H1B2

 

This application often requires a few less documents than related visas do.  – here’s how its done:

 

  • Obtain your approved I-129 petition
  • Petition for your Prepare the relevant documents/ and prep for the consulate interview
  • Go for the interview
  • You’ll be notified of your visa approval.

 

  1. H-1B3 Visa

The popular saying is that brains and beauty make a great pair, and the latter is better than the former – but the H-1B3 suggests otherwise. This category of H1 visas caters to internationally (or nationally) recognized fashion models. Case in point, it might be easier to get a visa if you’re pretty rather than tech savvy.

 

Eligibility requirements for an H-1B3 Visa:

 

To start with, you must be fashion model coming to the U.S to perform services related to this specialty.

In order to be an eligible organization capable of sponsoring an internationally renowned figure, the employee must be equally reputable and capable of proving to the U.S.C.I.S that the role being played by the model in question cannot be played by anyone else.

 

For a fashion model seeking the visa, you must be recognized by critics and experts alike. You must command a high salary and have a track record of performance for high-profile employers. Your recognition must also be evidenced by critical reviews, news stories and articles

 

Applying for an H-1B3 Visa:

This process is simple and similar to the H-1B3 process. The steps are as follows:

  • Your U.S employer submits an LCA to the Department of Labor and has it approved
  • When it is approved, they file the form I-129 to USCIS – this is along with the LCA certified by DOA.

Take note that this visa type is valid for only three years.

 

 

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Sample compensatory agreement between employer and employee for R1 Visa application

We have covered in previous articles the steps involved in applying for an R1 American visa. The basic requirements include specific documentation from the sponsoring religious body (church or other organization otherwise known as the Petitioner) where the applicant will be employed for the duration of his stay.

On his own end, the applicant himself must provide certain requirements as well. These include filling out a Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form; having a valid travel passport; paying the necessary visa application fees and visa issuance fees where applicable.

The petitioner must provide certain documentation including-

  • A valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that they are a bona fide non-profit religious organization recognized as tax-exempt under a group tax exemption.
  • Where a petitioning organization is not classified under “religious organizations” by the Internal Revenue Service, they may establish that they are affiliated with a religious denomination by completing the Religious Denomination Certification in the revised Form I-129. The religious denomination certification should be signed by an organization other than the petitioning organization, and attest that the petitioning organization is part of the same religious denomination as the attesting organization. For instance, a branch of the Lutheran church must certify that another branch is actually part of the greater body- e.g the Lutheran World Federation. They must also present:

–                 A currently valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that the organization is tax-exempt;

–                 Documents establishing the religious nature and purpose of the organization;

–                 Organizational literature describing the religious purpose and nature of the activities of the organization;

–                 A religious denomination certification stating that the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious denomination.

  • Proof of compensation. Religious workers generally must be compensated. Compensation may include either salaried or non-salaried compensation.

 

The Compensatory Agreement

An agreement is a negotiated and typically legally binding arrangement between parties as to a course of action. There is no hard and fast rule when it comes to drafting agreements. Generally though, all agreements should be appropriately dated, preferably at the top of the page, and anywhere else a date is needed. The names of the parties involved should be clearly stated. Other ancillary descriptions needed to identify the parties in addition to their names, should be included.

It is important to use plain language. In a court of law, a judge will judge the case based on how the contract would be interpreted by the average person. Use concise language. Your language should explain the terms of the agreement clearly and what is expected of each party.

Other things to be included are dispute resolution clauses- how conflicts will be resolved if/when they arise. And termination clauses- how the agreement will come to an end.

A sample compensatory agreement between the Petitioner and Beneficiary (religious worker) could look something like this-

Sample Agreement

This Compensation Agreement, between Lutheran Episcopal Bible Centre (“hereafter referred to as the Petitioner”) and John Doe (“hereafter referred to as the Beneficiary”), is made this 30th day of May, 2018.

WHEREAS, the Petitioner has requested the Beneficiary to serve as the Assistant Minister of the Lutheran Episcopal Bible Centre, Oak Parish;

WHEREAS, the Petitioner’s Board of Directors have approved that, for services, as an Assistant Minister they shall pay to the Beneficiary:

  • $35,000 per annum (salary basic), in addition to the provision of accommodation located on the Centre’s premises (for full details of accommodation, see Annex. II),
  • OR an allowance of $5,000 per annum in lieu of accommodation.

WHEREAS payments shall be made in cash, in equal parts in installments, at the end of every month until the expiration of the Beneficiary’s tenure.

WHEREAS, the Petitioner has accepted the appointment as Assistant Minister and agreed to serve in that capacity for 1 calendar year (12 months) starting from the 1st of January, 2018 to the 31st of December, 2018.

WHEREAS, upon mutual Agreement of the Petitioner and the Beneficiary, the Petitioner agreed to pay, and the Beneficiary agreed to accept, the payments set forth in this Compensation Agreement.

NOW, THEREFORE,

  1. This Agreement shall be governed by, construed and enforced in accordance with the internal laws of the State of New York without regard to principles of conflict of laws.
  2. This Agreement may not be extended, renewed, amended or modified other than by a written agreement executed by the Petitioner and the Beneficiary, and assented to by the Petitioner’s Board.
  3. This Agreement will terminate at the expiration of the Beneficiary’s tenure as stipulated above. Otherwise, either party may terminate this Agreement on thirty (30) calendar days written notice, or if prior to such action, the other party materially breaches any of its representations, warranties or obligations under this Agreement. The defaulting party shall be responsible to reimburse the non-defaulting party for all costs incurred directly as a result of the breach of this Agreement.
  4. In the event of any disputes arising from this agreement, parties should exhaust all amicable means of conflict resolution, including mediation and arbitration, to be facilitated by a qualified arbitrator. If such proceedings fail, parties may resort to a court of competent jurisdiction.
  5. This Agreement may be executed in counterparts, each of which shall be deemed an original, and all of which together shall constitute one and the same original instrument.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, the parties hereto have executed this Agreement.

John Stu
Church Secretary

John Doe
Beneficiary

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Sample Petition cover letter for R1 visa application

We have covered in previous articles the steps involved in applying for an R1 American visa. The basic requirements include specific documentation from the sponsoring religious body (church or other institution) where the applicant will be employed for the duration of his stay.

These include determination letters from the IRS establishing that they are a bona fide non-profit religious organization recognized as tax-exempt; documents showing the religious worker will be compensated for work done in cash or kind; and other ancillary documents where applicable such as tax returns, etc.

We also stated that the applicant himself must provide certain requirements as well on his own end. These include filling out a Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form; having a valid travel passport; paying the necessary visa application fees and visa issuance fees where applicable.

Who can File a Petition?

Generally, A U.S. employer (which in this case is a religious organization) may file this form and applicable supplements to classify an alien in any nonimmigrant classification listed (See Part 1. or Part 2 of the Instructions for Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, USCIS Form I-129  https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/files/form/i-129instr.pdf)

Why a Cover Letter?

The purpose of a cover letter is to introduce yourself to an organization. In this case, it is used to introduce the petitioner to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and provide a breakdown of all relevant documents accompanying the letter and petition (Form I-129).

Note: Form I-129 is a separate form from the cover letter, which should be FILLED IN by the petitioner with the necessary information. This form is used by an employer to petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an alien beneficiary to come temporarily to the United States as a nonimmigrant to perform services or labor, or to receive training. Form I-129 consists of the: 1. Basic petition; 2. Individual supplements relating to specific classifications; and 3. H-1B Data Collection and Filing Fee Exemption Supplement (required for H-1B and H-1B1 classifications only)

What Should the Cover Letter Include?

  • The cover letter should be dated.
  • If written by a representing attorney, the letter should be written on the appropriate letterhead.
  • It should be addressed to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and attention the I-129 Division.
  • It should be properly headed RE: PETITION FOR _____
  • The petitioner’s name and Beneficiary’s name (i.e the religious worker) should also be clearly identified.
  • A list of the necessary enclosed documents should be listed: The Form I-129. Evidence of the institution’s tax-exempt status. If the religious worker i.e the Beneficiary, will be working as a minister, a copy of the religious worker’s certificate of ordination or similar documents must be provided. Also needed are documents showing acceptance of the religious worker’s qualification as a minister in the religious denomination, as well as evidence that he or she completed any course of prescribed theological education at an accredited theological institution normally required or recognized by that religious denomination. If the denomination doesn’t require academic qualifications, they must provide their requirements to be ordained as a minister and show a list of duties performed by same. Evidence of payment of necessary fees.

 

An example of a cover letter is as follows:

John Doe, Esq.

John Doe & Co.,

123 Sycamoure Avenue, Townsville, FL.

(555) 3678198; FAX: (555) 0910910

www.johndoe@zmail.com

May 30, 2018

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services California Service Center,

Attention: I-129 Unit,

P.O. Box 123, PA 12345-1234.

RE: PETITION for R-1 NONIMIGRANT RELIGIOUS WORKER

Petitioner: Rev. James Smith, Rev-in-Charge, Latterhouse Ecumenical Bible Centre.

Beneficiary: Mr. Abel Bean.

Dear Sir,

The above subject matter refers. I am the attorney for the petitioner and beneficiary in the above matter. Please find Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney, attached and enter my appearance in this matter.

The following applications and documentation have been enclosed:

  1. Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129), with R Classification Supplement, and a check in the amount of $320.00;
  2. Petitioner’s Letter in support of R-1 visa petition describing Beneficiary’s religious affiliation, qualifications, duties, and remuneration;
  3. Letter from the State of Colorado Franchise Tax Board recognizing tax exempt status of Latterhouse Ecumenical Bible Centre;
  4. Supporting letter from Reverend George Doe of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria, confirming Beneficiary’s ordination as a full-time Minister of the Lutheran Church, and also outlining his duties and remuneration, and relation of the Latterhouse Ecumenical Centre to the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria.
  5. Supporting letter from Reverend George Doe of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria, confirming Beneficiary’s position as Secretary as well prior position of Assistant Secretary of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria, Abuja Diocese,
  6. Ordination Certificate of the Beneficiary as a full-time minister of the Lutheran Episcopal Church of Nigeria.
  7. Copy of Beneficiary’s Certificate from Theological College of Northern Nigeria;
  8. A copy of the Beneficiary’s birth certificate;
  9. Copy of Beneficiary’s Passport Identification page.

We urgently entreat your speedy processing of this petition so as to enable the Beneficiary’s arrival in the United States at the soonest possible time to resume his duties as his presence is urgently needed for the smooth running of the official activities of the Petitioning body’s calendar year, which have already started.

Please contact me immediately if there are omissions or other required information not already included in this conveyance. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and assistance.

Yours faithfully,

John Doe, Esq.

 

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R2 Visa: What it is and how to get it.

A visa is an endorsement made on your passport that allows you to enter or stay in a country for a specific period of time. Generally, foreign nationals wishing to enter the United States of America must obtain a visa. The R2 Visa is just one of many visas available to non-us citizens.

There are different types of visas. There are long-term and short-term stay visas. Visas also come in categories, depending on the kind of traveler you are and your reason for traveling.

Travelers wishing to enter another country must generally apply in advance sometimes in person at a consular office, by mail or over the internet. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Types of Visas for U.S Travel

In the U.S, the visa directory is alphabetized from A to V, with each letter representing a category or type. For instance, A1-3 visas are issued to diplomats and foreign government officials. F-1 visas are most commonly granted to international students to study in the U.S. This type of visa is given to individuals who have been accepted into an accredited university or college in the US to pursue academic studies or English language program.

There are mainly two types of immigration visas: Non-immigrant visas for a temporary stay in the country and Immigrant visas for a permanent stay in the country. There are over 60 types of non-immigrants visas available for international citizens.

What is an R2 Visa?  

We have previously talked about theR1 visa. What it is and how to get it. (insert link to R1 article) Incidental to that is the R2 visa.

An R2 visa is a US temporary visa that authorizes the spouse and unmarried child (below 21 years) of an R1 visa holder to enter into the United States. Also, a person accompanying or joining the R-1 religious worker in the U.S is categorized under R2 status. The R2 status holder(s) can stay in the country as long as the R1 holder remains in legal status. In other words, an individual loses his/her R-2 status once the principal R-1 person loses lawful status.

We’ve said before that the R1 visa is a non-immigrant religious work visa issued to the following types of people-

Members of religious a group or community who have an authentic nonprofit, religious institute in the United States;

Aliens entering the US to work exclusively as the minister of a religious community or group;

US nonprofit religious organizations that recruit alien religious workers in various religious vocations, including religious instructors, liturgical workers, missionaries, catechists, etc.

What can I do on an R2 Visa?     

With an R2 visa, are permitted to study while in the United States, but are not authorized to accept employment. Under any circumstances, people with this visa are not allowed to earn income in the US. If you wish to work in the country, you must obtain a work visa which is a temporary approval to live and work in the country. You may also apply for a Green Card while on R2 status.

Anyone wishing to change the purpose of their visit while resident in the US on an R2 visa has to change or adjust their visa status. For this purpose, the R2 visa holder must file Form I-360 (application for special immigrant) and Form I-485 (application for Adjustment of Status).

How long does the R2 Visa last?

The initial R-2 visa may be granted for a period of up to three years. If the carrier wishes to stay longer, they can apply for an extension in which case, the applicant must submit Form I-129 (petition for a nonimmigrant worker extension) to the USCIS.  USCIS is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services- the federal agency tasked with overseeing the lawful immigration of foreign nationals who are temporarily or permanently settling in the United States.

Generally, a person’s stay may be extended for a period of up to two years. The total period of stay for a person holding R2 dependent visa may not exceed five years.

Who can Sponsor an R2 visa?    

The holder of an R1 visa is able to sponsor family members (a spouse and up to 4 dependent children under 21) or other persons accompanying, by virtue of his status.

How do I apply for an R2 visa?

There are various steps to apply for a visa. The order of these steps and how you complete them may vary at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you apply. Consult the instructions available on the embassy or consulate website where you will apply.

Generally though you need the following.

  • Fill out a Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. You can access it here.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
  • You will upload your photo while completing the online form DS-160. All photos must be in a particular format specified on the website.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$190 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. Check the embassy’s website in your country to find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • The applicant must schedule an appointment for the visa interview at the Embassy/Consulate. While interviews are generally not required for applicants of certain ages, consular officers have the discretion to require an interview of any applicant, regardless of age. 

Additionally, a person applying for an R2 visa must have the following documents-

  • All documents required for the R-1 visa they want to attach to. (Read How to get R1 visa)
  • Original birth certificates for each dependent child. Note: children must be below 21 years old and unmarried.
  • Marriage registration certificate of the spouse.
  • Proof of a marital relationship, such as wedding ceremony photos, etc.
  • A fine quality photocopy (all 36 pages) or the original of the spouse’s passport.
  • Evidence of financial support. This is very important as an R1 holder must demonstrate that they will be able to financially support their family in the United States. Remember, R2 holders are allowed to study while in the United States, but are not authorized to accept employment.
  • The copy of the contract between the employer and the R1 religious worker in the US.

When the visa is approved you, will be informed how your passport with visa will be returned to you. Review the visa processing time, to learn how soon your passport with visa will generally be ready for pick-up.

This entry was posted in Visa on by .

R1 Visa: What it is and how to get it.

Generally, foreign nationals wishing to enter the United States of America must obtain a visa. A visa is an endorsement made on your passport that allows you to enter or stay in a country for a specific period of time. An R1 Visa is just one of many US Visa types.

There are different types of visas. There are long-term and short-term stay visas. Visas also come in categories, depending on the kind of traveler you are and your reason for traveling.

Travelers wishing to enter another country must generally apply in advance sometimes in person at a consular office, by mail or over the internet. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying.

Types of Visas for U.S Travel

In the U.S, the visa directory is alphabetized from A to V, with each letter representing a category or type. For instance, A1-3 visas are issued to diplomats and foreign government officials. F-1 visas are most commonly granted to international students to study in the U.S. This type of visa is given to individuals who have been accepted into an accredited university or college in the US to pursue academic studies or English language program.

There are mainly two types of immigration visas: Non-immigrant visas for a temporary stay in the country and Immigrant visas for a permanent stay in the country. There are over 60 types of non-immigrants visas available for international citizens.

What is an R1 Visa?      

An R1 visa is the non-immigrant visa for religious workers and clergy. You have to be sponsored by a non -profit entity of your religion, along with documents showing your credentials for the position. This visa allows religious workers, that is, persons working in the religious vocation or occupation to work in the U.S. for a period up to 5 years.

An R-1 candidate is a foreign national who is coming to the United States temporarily to work as a minister or in another religious vocation or occupation at least part time,- which is an average of at least 20 hours per week.

Bodies that can sponsor such visas are:

  • A non-profit religious organization in the United States;
  • A religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or
  • A non-profit religious organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.

What can I do on an R1 Visa?  

You can engage in full time study, get paid for services rendered, apply for a green card or an R2 dependent visa for a spouse or for children under 21 years of age, and travel in and out of the U.S. There are no travel restrictions on the R1 visa.

How long does it last?

An R-1 visa is issued for an initial period of up to 30 months. This can be extended for an additional 30 months. Your total period of stay in the United States in R-1 classification as a religious worker cannot exceed five years (60 months).

Who can Sponsor an R1 visa?    

Churches and organizations can be sponsors. In order to sponsor an R-1 visa, the body must be a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the U.S, which is exempt from taxation as described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 or a religious organization that has never sought such exemptions, but would otherwise be eligible for such status.

This visa program is intended for religious workers whose lives are dedicated to religious practices and functions, as distinguished from secular members of the religion.

How do I apply for an R1 visa?

An R-1 visa petition must first be submitted in the United States by the petitioning organization regardless of whether or not the individual being sponsored is inside or outside the United States.

If you are already in the United States in a valid non-immigrant status, you may apply to “change status” as part of the petition.

If you are outside of the US, you will have to apply for an R-1 visa stamp at a United States Consulate abroad after the R-1 petition has been approved.

To qualify, the foreign national must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before the filing of the petition.

A prospective or existing U.S. employer (petitioner) must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of foreign nationals (beneficiary) seeking to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant minister, or a religious worker in a religious vocation or occupation.

An R-1 visa cannot be issued at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad without prior USCIS approval of Form I-129. This process allows USCIS to review the petition to determine whether the petitioning organization and the beneficiary have met their respective eligibility requirements for this nonimmigrant classification (R1).

* USCIS is the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services- the federal agency tasked with overseeing the lawful immigration of foreign nationals who are temporarily or permanently settling in the United States.

On approval of the petition, the embassy/consulate will then determine whether the foreign national is eligible to receive the R-1 nonimmigrant visa.

What documents are needed?

The petitioner must provide other documentation including-

  • A valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that they are a bona fide non-profit religious organization recognized as tax-exempt under a group tax exemption.
  • Where a petitioning organization is not classified under “religious organizations” by the Internal Revenue Service, they may establish that they are affiliated with a religious denomination by completing the Religious Denomination Certification in the revised Form I-129. The religious denomination certification should be signed by an organization other than the petitioning organization, and attest that the petitioning organization is part of the same religious denomination as the attesting organization. For instance, a branch of the Lutheran church must certify that another branch is actually part of the greater body- e.g the Lutheran World Federation.

They must also present, like in the first example-

  • A currently valid determination letter from the IRS establishing that the organization is tax-exempt, in addition to
  • documents establishing the religious nature and purpose of the organization,
  • organizational literature describing the religious purpose and nature of the activities of the organization, and
  • A religious denomination certification stating that the petitioning organization is affiliated with the religious denomination.
  • Proof of compensation. Religious workers generally must be compensated. Compensation may include either salaried or non-salaried compensation. Evidence showing how the organization will compensate the religious worker may include:
  • Past evidence of compensation for similar positions;
  • Budgets showing money set aside for salaries, leases, etc.;
  • Evidence that room and board will be provided to the religious worker.
  • If available, IRS documents such as the religious worker’s Form W-2 or certified tax returns must be provided. *A W-2 form is the form that an employer must send an employee and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) at the end of the year showing an employee’s annual wages and the amount of taxes withheld from his or her paycheck. If the documents are not available, an explanation is required and comparable, verifiable documentation must be provided.

The foreign national or beneficiary must also provide the following-

  • Fill out a Nonimmigrant Visa Electronic Application (DS-160) Form. You can access it at www.travel.state.gov.
  • A passport valid for travel to the United States with a validity date at least six months beyond your intended period of stay in the United States.
  • You will upload your photo while completing the online form DS-160. All photos must be in a particular format specified on the website.
  • A receipt showing payment of your US$190 non-refundable nonimmigrant visa application processing fee, paid in local currency. If a visa is issued, there may be an additional visa issuance reciprocity fee, depending on your nationality. The US Department of State’s website can help you find out if you must pay a visa issuance reciprocity fee and what the fee amount is.
  • The receipt number printed on your approved I-129 petition.
  • Proof of membership of a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the U.S for at least two years immediately before filing for the visa.
  • If the religious worker will be working as a minister, a copy of the religious worker’s certificate of ordination or similar documents must be provided. Also needed are documents showing acceptance of the religious worker’s qualification as a minister in the religious denomination, as well as evidence that he or she completed any course of prescribed theological education at an accredited theological institution normally required or recognized by that religious denomination. If the denomination doesn’t require academic qualifications, they must provide their requirements to be ordained as a minister and show a list of duties performed by same.
  • The applicant must schedule an appointment for the visa interview at the Embassy/Consulate. A non-refundable visa application fee of $160 must be paid before the interview, and an issuance fee may be paid upon approval of the visa.

Who is a Minister?

You can be classified as a minister of religion if you are authorized by a religious denomination and fully trained according to the denomination’s standards to conduct religious worship and to perform other duties usually performed by authorized members of the clergy of that denomination. Ministers include pastors, reverends, priests, etc. People with religious vocations or occupations also qualify for R1 status such as nuns, monks. Other examples of religious occupations are liturgical workers, religious instructors, religious counselors, cantors, catechists, workers in religious hospital or religious health care facilities, missionaries, religious translators or broadcasters.  The applicant must be able to show their relevant status within the religious organization.

Caution: Working within a religious facility does not, in itself, qualify a lay person for R-1 classification. Your duties must be related to a traditional religious function. Such duties do not include positions that are mainly administrative or support staff. Examples of occupations that would NOT qualify are janitors, maintenance workers, clerks, and fund raisers. The job must have a “religious significance”. However, limited administrative duties that are incidental to the religious workers’ functions are permissible.

Note: religious study or training for religious work does not constitute a religious occupation for purposes of seeking R1 status, but a religious worker may pursue study or training incident to status.

 

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K3 VISA process

K3 Visa Process

The importance of family cannot be overemphasized. However, most people do not realize or admit it until they are stuck on the other part of the world and have to pay the much-needed price of the K3 visa process in order to see their ‘other-half’

But this article is hardly about the melancholic realization that you under-value your family; it will  provide you with valuable insights to waddle through the K3 visa process.

What is a K3 Visa?

A K3 visa is a US spouse visa that allows visa applicants to enter and reside in the U.S. as non-immigrants until they obtain their immigrant visa. Rather than waiting abroad for the immigrant processing, and entering the U.S as an immigrant, the K3 visa entitles spouses of U.S citizen or immigrants to enter as a non-immigrant.

The purpose of this visa is to lessen likely-hood of an elongated separation between a US citizen/ or permanent resident and their foreign based spouse.

What Kind of ‘Spouse’ is Eligible for the K3?

Only spouses recognized by American law are considered eligible for a K3 visa. According to US immigration laws, same-sex spouses of U.S citizens and lawful permanent residents are now eligible for the immigration benefits that the K3 visa entitles.

While common law spouses may be considered recognized, merely living together does not qualify a marriage for immigration, and in the case of polygamy, only the first spouse is considered eligible.

Quite simply, the K3 visa is for the foreign based spouse of a United States citizen, or a green card holding resident and immigrant. To be granted this visa, the foreign citizen who marries a U.S citizen outside the U.S. must apply for the K3 visa in the country where the marriage took place.

Requirements to Commence the K3 Visa Process

For the most part, the significant part of the K3 visa process is documentation. So besides having a one-half of your ‘couple’ a US citizen or legal permanent resident, you need a few documents and forms with which to begin the K3 visa process. They include –

  • Civil documents, including – Birth certificate, Marriage certificate (to your current spouse), divorce or death certificate, and police certificates.
  • Valid passport
  • Medical examination report.
  • A completed nonimmigrant visa application – otherwise called a Form DS-160.
  • Evidence of relationship with the U.S. citizen spouse
  • Two 2×2 photographs
  • Proof of financial solvency
  • Evidence of payment of visa fees.

The K3 Visa Process

In order to proceed, take some time to study the international marriage broker regulation act of 2005 (IMBRA) and learn its requirements,

Step one:

The K3 visa process often begins with filing the petitions required. To begin with, the U.S citizen spouse must file a Form 1-130 on behalf of their non-citizen spouse. Submit the form with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Step two:

In exchange for the Form 1-130, the petitioning spouse would receive a form I-797, which indicates that the USCIS (U.S. citizenship and Immigration Services)  has received the petition.

Step three:

Next, proceed to file a Form I-129F , known as the petition for Alien fiancé(e) for the foreign spouse and children (where applies).

After reviewing the petitions, they will be sent to the National Visa Processing Center (NVC) by the USCIS.

If both petitions are approved by the USCIS and sent to the NVC, or if the I-I30 is approved before being sent to the NVC, then the petitioning couple automatically has no need for a K3 visa. On the other hand, if the NVC receives the approved I-I29F (which is often the case) then step four commences

Step four:

The NVC sends your I-129F form to the U.S embassy or consulate in the country where the marriage was held, or to a consulate that normally processes visas for that country – in countries where there are no US embassies.

Step Five

Some embassies will provide additional instructions on medical examinations, and requirements for the visa interview. This may include where to go for the required medical examination and whether or not your application requires additional administrative processing after your scheduled visa interview with the consular officer.

K3 Visa Process Timing

While the time taken to complete the K3 visa process varies, the I-I29F is valid for four months, in which time, the processing may either be completed or the validity of the petition extended by the consular officer.

Ultimately, the length of time varies from case to case, according to circumstances.

Wading Through the K3 Visa Process Stress-Free

The major challenge experienced by k3 visa applicants is delayed, often because of not obeying instructions, or supplying incomplete information – or even lying to the consulate officer, in the hopes that it would improve your chances at obtaining a visa. All of these are quite contrary to the reality.

Serious about getting that K3? Well, here are a few foolproof tips –

  • Gather Necessary Documentation

This should include copies of filed documents and other original documents requested in your interview appointment letter.

  1. Official Documents

  • An Affidavit of support form is required an accompanying documentation to obtain a US visa – this is otherwise known as the US visa sponsor form and can be downloaded on the US immigration website.
  • A Letter of Invitation  to the family member(s); this should include the length of the visit as well as its purpose
  • A Letter to US Consulate is also required and this should request that visa be granted to the family member.
  1. Financial Documents ( Which are meant to demonstrate your financial ability to host said family member)
  • Bank statements: At least your latest two bank statements.
  • Bank account verification letter:  This would prove the state of your bank account and bank balance.
  • A copy of a few recent income tax returns

 

  • Evidence of Your Residency Status In USA
  • A Copy of passport.
  • Your letter of employment (if the sponsor is an employee in USA).
  • If you are a Visa holder; Copies of your – Visa and approval Form. (If visa has expired but has a renewed petition, a photocopy of the renewed petition would be necessary as well)
  • If you are a Green Card Holder; A Copy of Green Card front and back.
  • If you are a USA citizen; A Copy of certificate of citizenship.

 

Review your questions with your partner if necessary. There may be no need to memorize your answers, but you certainly need to be familiar with them.

  • Be Honest

Nothing ruins your chances at getting your K3 visa like providing untruthful information. False information may even go further and ruin any future chances . Not to mention, the throng of legal actions that often follows will be quite frustrating to handle.

Benefits of the K3 Visa

There are many benefits of a K3 visa. For instance, after admission into the United States, K-3 non-immigrants may choose to apply to adjust their status to a permanent resident at any time. They may also choose to obtain employment authorization. To obtain evidence of eligibility to work legally in the United States they only need to file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. After filing an application for adjustment of status, K-3 nonimmigrant visa holders may also apply for employment authorization based on that pending application even if the K-3 nonimmigrant status expires.

 Limitations of the K3 Visa

When the K-3’s I-130 reaches the Department of State; an immigrant visa is immediately available to him or her such that he or she and his or her children are no longer eligible for K-3/K-4 nonimmigrant status; but rather must immigrate as lawful permanent residents.  If the K-4 does not have an approved I-130 at the Department of State at that time; he or she will be ineligible to immigrate with the spouse of the USC.

The Department of Homeland Security only admits K-3 nonimmigrant visas holders for a 2-year period.  Afterwards, K-3 nonimmigrant visa holders may apply to USCIS for an extension of status in 2-year increments; as long as the marriage-based petition or a corresponding application  is still pending.

 

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Partner Visa (How To Bring My Spouse To Live With Me In Australia)

Every year, thousands of people join the throng of already existing hopefuls that wish to reunite with their spouse in various parts of the world. For Australia, it is no different – in fact, it seems as though their unofficial ‘planning level’ that often restricts the number of applications processed per year makes the number of hopefuls at the beginning of each year even more than they were in the previous year. They all have the same struggle – obtain a partner visa.

Processing an Australian partner visa can be a daunting task. From the complexities of the paperwork to costs and lengthy processing times, there is no end to what you are bound to face when in pursuit of an Australian partner visa.

Your best bet? Equip yourself with all you need to make the visa happen – one of which is the knowledge of how things operate.

What is a Partner Visa?

A partner visa is a document that allows a partner or spouse of an Australian citizen, permanent citizen or eligible New Zealand citizen to migrate to, and live in Australia indefinitely.

Thus, to be eligible for an Australian partner visa, you must at least 17 years of age (or 16 in the states that apply) and you must either be married to or be in a de facto relationship with an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand citizen.

(Take note that the de facto relationship must be at least 12 months old.)

Partner Visa Categories (Which Partner Visa is Right for Me?)

The case is not ‘one-size-fits-all’ with Australian partner visas; the available partner visa options may vary depending on your circumstances.

There are three main visa options available; but ultimately, their processing and requirements are quite similar. They include;

Option 1: Temporary Partner Visa (Subclass 820) and Permanent Visa (Subclass 801)

This visa applies to those who are applying WITHIN Australia and have a spouse or de facto partner who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand resident.

Thus, both the Subclass 820 and 801 perform the same function, but on the 820, you can live in Australia temporarily until a decision is made on your permanent visa 801.

Option 2: Partner Provisional Visa (Subclass 309) and Permanent Visa (Subclass 100)

The option two category is suitable for those who are applying OUTSIDE Australia and have a spouse or de facto partner who is an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand resident, or they intend to marry before a decision is made on the partner visa application.

Again, both the Subclass 309 and 100 perform the same function, but on the 309, you can live in Australia temporarily until a decision is made on your permanent visa 100.

Option 3: Prospective Marriage Visa (Subclass 300)

This visa is for those applying outside Australia, who will travel to Australia to marry an Australian citizen, permanent resident or eligible New Zealand resident with the visa.

How to Bring My Spouse to Live With Me in Australia

If your concern is bringing your spouse into Australia to reside with you, then clearly your concern should be for option 2; the Partner provisional visa and permanent visa subclasses 309 and 100. This article will focus on exactly that.

What You Should Know About Bringing Your Spouse into Australia

Obtaining a permanent visa for your spouse to live in Australia with you is a two step process. The visa of interest, in this case, is a Permanent Migrant visa (subclass 100), but to obtain it, you will first be granted a temporary Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309).

All you need do is to apply for both visas at the same time, and when you are granted the temporary Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309), you will automatically be eligible for the Permanent Migrant visa (subclass 100).

If you have been in a long term relationship, however, your permanent Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100) will be granted immediately after the temporary Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309).

Applying for a Partner Visa (Subclass 309 &100) In Steps –

Step 1: Gather Documents

The following documents are required to process your application for the temporary Partner (Provisional) visa (subclass 309) and permanent Partner (Migrant) visa (subclass 100).

Documents from the Applicant

  1. Identity documents including:

  • A birth certificate showing the names of both parents
  • Identification pages of a family book showing the names of both parents
  • The identification pages of an identification document issued by the government, identification pages of a court-issued document that proves your identity,
  • Identification pages of a family census register,
  • The page of your current passport showing your photo, personal details and passport issue and expiry dates,
  • Two recent passport photographs (45 mm x 35 mm)
  • A national identity card, if you have one
  • And Proof of change of name, if applicable.

    2. Documents that prove your relationship with your spouse including

  • Two Forms 888 completed by two separate witnesses. (A form 888 is a Statutory declaration by a supporting witness about a Partner or a visa application)
  • A written statement about your relationship that describes details about where you met, how the relationship developed and the plans you have together
  • Documents that show that you share financial responsibilities with your spouse – eg mortgage documents or loan documents, including joint bank accounts and household bills
  • Records that indicate that others know your relationship, including joint invitations and proof of joint travel
  • Documents that demonstrate that you are committed to each other in the long run – eg. Terms of your will, letters to each other when you are apart,
  • Proof that you have been in the relationship 12 months before application or your marriage certificates, as well as evidence of registration of your relationship with relevant Australian authority (for de facto relationships)
  • If your relationship is not 12 months old, then provide compelling and compassionate reasons for applying for the visa before being in the relationship for 12 months.

 

  1. Documents about other relationships including

Former marriage certificates and separation documents that apply – including death certificates or statutory declarations.

 

  1. Health documents.

These will be provided by your doctor and sent directly to relevant authorities

 

  1. Character Documents including;

  • A completed form 80; a character assessment, completed by you.
  • Police certificates: if requested by the embassy.

Documents from the Australian based spouse/Partner:

  1. Form 40SP – if you are applying by paper instead of online;
  2. Identity Documents including Proof of your citizenship and eligibility as a New Zealand citizen which may be either: a birth certificate showing the names of both parents or the pages of your current passport showing your photo, personal details and passport issue and expiry dates. And also, A national identity card, if you have one. Include Provide proof of change of name, if applicable.
  3. Character Documents including police certificates and military service records/ discharge papers (if you have served in the army)

 

Step 2: Prepare Documents for Paper or Online Application

If you are applying online:

  • Translate all documents to English language
  • Scan and attach all documents to the online application
  • Send each document once, after ensuring that they are all certified.

 

If you are applying on paper:

  • Translate all documents to English language
  • Send original police certificates and English translations.
  • Send certified copies of all other documents (including non-English) – do not send the originals.

 

Step 3: Apply for the Visa online/on Paper

If you are applying online:

  • Create an online system ImmiAccount or log in if you already have one; When you are in ImmiAccount, select the New application and then select Family, then Stage 1 – Partner or Prospective Marriage Visa, then follow the prompt.
  • Pay for the online application via Paypal or credit card
  • Attach the documents required (only 60 documents allowed at 5mb each. If you surpass this limit, attach the rest to the spouse/partner application) – attach only when the ImmiAccount tells you to
  • Lodge the form online using the transaction number received from your Australian based spouse/partner

If you are applying on paper:

  • Download and complete the application for migration; form 47SP
  • Send the form along with the 40SP along with the 47SP and your documents, your sponsor’s documents and the correct application fee to your closest immigration office.

Step 4: Wait for your Temporary visa (309) & Provide additional documents

You may need to provide biometrics or get health checks in addition to the other documents.

Make sure to inform authorities if there are changes in address or telephone number, if you made a mistake on your application,  you need to provide more information, or you want to withdraw your application; and also if you would like to include children, etc.

Step 5: Travel Into Australia on Your Temporary Visa

With the temporary visa (309), you will  travel into Austrailia and live with your spouse temporarily before you get the permanent visa . Do well to inform authorities if the relationship with your partner has not continued; you might still be eligible for a permanent visa. Contact them for writing, and all information provided will remain confidential.

Step 6: Send additional documents for the permanent visa(100)

Your permanent Partner visa cannot be granted until two years have passed from the day you applied for that visa. We will begin assessing your application after that date.

You will need to provide evidence to show that you and your sponsor continue to be in a spouse or de facto partner relationship since you got the temporary Partner visa. The evidence you provide must show that you continue to have a genuine and continuing relationship, live together or not live separately and apart on a permanent basis and have a mutual commitment to a shared life to the exclusion of all others.

Additional documents required after two years of residing in Australia include

  • A National Police Certificate (NPC) from the Australian Federal Police (AFP)
  • An overseas penal certificate for any country which you have lived cumulatively for 12 months or  more since the grant of the temporary partner visa (UK820 )
  • A copy of personal details pages (include page with signature) of your most recent passport

held for each applicant included in the application

  • A copy of personal details pages (include page with signature) of the sponsor’s most recent passport held or an Australian driver’s license from any State or Territory of Australia
  • statutory Declarations
  • Two Statutory Declarations by a supporting witness relating to a partner visa application
  • Evidence to demonstrate that your relationship is genuine and continuing since the grant of your temporary partner visa
  • Acknowledgement letter – completed with your name and address

 

Take note that these are requirements from both the applicant and the Australian based spouse. Download the checklist here

 

Subsequently, you may either send the documents online or by post.

Partner Visa Australia Cost

Cost of partner visa is from AUD 7,000 upwards. They are the most expensive in the world and known as  ‘love tax,’; because it is a fee that people are willing to pay to stay with their partner.

Besides this fee, you also have to factor in health examinations, police checks are migration agent or lawyer’s fees, which would be about $3,000 to $5,000 for a partner visa application.

Partner Visa Processing Time

Temporary visa – between 18 to 21 months

Permanent visa – from 19 to 24 months.

Between both the time spent and money required; it is important that you try as much as you can to do it right the first time around. Because even minor mistakes can become very costly down the track; so feel free to read and re-read this guide. Because you never know what you might catch on to the second or third time around.

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UK Spouse Visa

So, you need a UK spouse visa and you’ve have even attempted navigating the UK government website. If this is your current situation, then you will probably agree that getting around to finding the information you need to suit your specific circumstance can be a bit of a hassle. The challenge isn’t restricted to information on UK spouse visa alone, and you certainly aren’t alone in your confusion.

This article will provide you with sufficient information on the subject. From the documents required for processing to financial requirements and processing time. And considering the UK authorities do not provide phone support to answer any of your questions – you’ll find the information revealed in the article quite valuable. For this, you would not need an invitation letter

First –

What is a UK Spouse Visa

Otherwise known as the Settlement Visa, a UK spouse visa is a type of visa suitable for a spouse or legally recognized civil partner of a citizen or legal permanent resident of the UK. Thus, individuals are only eligible to apply for a UK spouse visa if their UK based spouse is either a citizen or is permanently resident in the UK, such that they have no time limit on their Visa

Spouse Visa UK requirements 2017

Although there are rarely dramatic changes in the requirements for a UK spouse visa; a few tweaks are made every now and then. So, it is important that you look for the most updated list of requirements and make a checklist of sorts with them. You certainly don’t want to get denied a visa on the basis of something you didn’t even know was a requirement.

In this light, there are a few requirement categories to consider; they include those listed below; bear in mind however, that a few of the requirements are subjective and require proof to demonstrate that your suitability for the visa

  • Relationship Requirements

In order to be considered for a UK spouse visa you must be married to, or in a civil relationship with a citizen or legal permanent resident of the UK. And the union must be recognized according to UK laws. You must also intend to live as husband/wife or partners subsequent to your arrival in the UK.

Overall, the couple must each be at least 18 years old and must have substantiated evidence of the genuineness of the relationship.

UK Spouse Visa Application Form

uk spouse visaTo access a UK spouse visa application form, you have two options –

Go to the UK government site, and on this page select from the list of UK visa, immigration and citizenship application forms the form that applies to your situation.

The UK spouse visa application form (as well as other forms related to processing) can be found under Forms for a visa to come to the UK and Forms for application to settle. However this option is most suitable for people who cannot apply online and want to go to the UK

A second option would be to apply online via the new UK visas & Immigration website. This would require that you sign up to the Visa4UK system and online application forms. It will also enable you to view previous applications. At the time of writing this however, the new UK application website was still

 

  • UK Spouse Visa Document Checklist

The documents listed below are the main documents for UK spouse visa processing. However, the requirements may vary depending on circumstance or nationality of the applicant.

  • The complete visa application – either the VAF4A form or online submission
  • Travel passports – with at least one blank page, and 6 months before expiry
  • A passport sized photograph
  • Evidence that the applicants meets the English-language requirements
  • Documentation that validates the spouse residency status in the UK – including their visa or citizenship status.
  • Information about your finances – including stamped bank statements, pay slips, tax returns etc. (see spouse visa UK financial requirements
  • Details of the UK accommodation where you will both be living and its suitability for more than one.
  • Full-health examination results. These may also include results for specific tests for diseases local to your country.

 Spouse Visa UK Financial Requirements

Take note that the spouse visa UK financial requirements are subject to alteration, and are often revised. Nonetheless, this should provide insight to what the expectations would be –

More often, it is the UK spouse whose savings and/or employment is under scrutiny, because it is most relevant to UK spouse visa applications. However there are instances where the sponsor’s income abroad can be relied upon, especially if the applicant is also in employment in the UK or if the applicant has access to savings in excess of £16,000 which can be combined with the eligible earnings to meet the financial requirement. In this case applicant’s finances may also be considered

 

  • According to immigration rules, the minimum income that must be met by the UK based spouse, sufficient to cater for the needs of the incoming partner is a gross annual salary of at least £18,600. The income may be the result of salary or self employment, pension of either the applicant or the UK based spouse, benefits or other specified income sources of either of the spouse. In the absence of a salary-employment that totals £18,600 in earnings per year, they must present Cash savings of at least £16,000 held for six months combined with the income from salary employment, and a cash savings of £62,500 where there is no income at all.

 

  • If you are applying from within the UK,

    You may be able to obtain Spouse/Marriage visa without having to meet the financial requirement. You will, however, need demonstrate that there are insurmountable obstacles to your return to your country of origin with your partner. If successful, you will be put on a ten (10) year route to settlement requiring an extension of stay every two and a half (2.5) years. The amounts required to meet the financial requirement are;

    Applicant alone £18,600
    1 child in addition to applicant £22,400
    2 children in addition to applicant £24,800
    3 children in addition to applicant £27,200
    An increase of £2,400 for each additional child.

On the occasion that the applicant wants to relocate with children

The financial requirements are of course influenced greatly. The amounts required are thus –take note that for the applicant alone financial requirement is £18,600
1 child in addition to applicant £22,400
2 children in addition to applicant £24,800
3 children in addition to applicant £27,200
An increase of £2,400 for each additional child

 

  • In addition to monetary requirements, the applicant also must demonstrate that the UK based spouse  can provide adequate accommodation without resulting to public funds, taking into consideration that the said accommodation must not breach health regulations and will not result in overcrowding if the applicant is granted the visa. One room will be sufficient for use of both the applicant and UK based spouse, that is – given that there are no children involved. If there are however, the children will also need to be accommodated adequately in compliance with the applicable regulations. Notwithstanding, even a living room will suffice for applicant and their UK based spouse.

 

Exemption from Financial Requirements

If the applicant or UK based is receiving a disability allowance, or a specific severe disablement allowance, Industrial injury benefit, Attendance allowance, Carer’s allowance, Police Injury Pension; then the financial requirement may be waived. The couple, however, will have to provide specified evidence that the settled partner is able to maintain and accommodate themselves. 

  • Spouse Visa UK Fees

Currently, family and spouse visas cost £1,195 and the fee for Adult Dependant Relatives is up to £2,676. The fee for a settlement application within the UK  is also £1,875

Spouse Visa UK Processing Time

The average processing time for a spouse visa application is 2 – 12 weeks from the date the submission is made. Processing times vary depending on the country where the application is made

 

Apply To Join Family Living Permanently In The UK

If you want to relocate to live with your family in the United Kingdom you can apply to ‘Join Family Living Permanently in the UK.  Applicants can apply to Join Family Living Permanently in the UK if their family member is a British citizen, settled in the United Kingdom permanently or has humanitarian protection or asylum in the United Kingdom.  If their family member meets the aforementioned requirements, applicants need to meet the following eligibility requirements to secure a Join Family Living Permanently in the UK:

  • Age 18 and over, unless they are a child
  • The relationship to the family member should be recognized in the country such as a legal marriage license from their country
  • They want to live with partner or family member in the UK after they apply, unless they are a parent who has contact with their child
  • Their family member can offer them with adequate accommodation to reside in the UK
  • They can speak, write, and understand English, unless they are an adult dependent family member or under 18:

To be eligible for a “family of a settled person” visa, applicants must live outside of the European Economic Area or Switzerland. Furthermore, the Home Office may reject an applicant’s application based on a criminal record in either the United Kingdom or another nation and incorrect or incomplete information.

Applicants will need to submit the following documents:

  • Valid passport or travel documentation
  • Old passports
  • Evidence of relationship status with the person they will be joining in the UK
  • Evidence they can meet the maintenance or financial requirement
  • Proof they can understand, speak, and read English, if they are 18 or older, unless they are an adult dependent family member
  • Tuberculosis test results if they belong to a country where taking the test is mandatory

Finally

it is often advised that you seek the counsel of a legal adviser or at least their or initial assessment to determine your eligibility. They are best positioned to look into your matter in detail and explore all the possible options so that you can avoid repeated disappointments.

One of the most frequently made assumptions for instance is that provided you have a spouse in the US you are eligible for a ‘spouse visa’; in reality however – the visa obtainable is dependent on the spouse circumstances in the UK

Thus, if your spouse in the UK is  either British or naturalized, a ‘settled person’ in the UK with indefinite leave to remain or you both were married in the UK and intend to live there; the appropriate visa is considered a ‘Family of a settled person’ visa.

If however, the spouse is a EEA national living in the UK and you aren’t from the EEA then the visa is required is an ‘EEA family permit’

On the other hand, if the spouse has refugee status or humanitarian protection the a Family Renuion visa is appropriate

And if the spouse has a Tier 2 visa then you are supposed to apply as the dependant of a Tier 2 (General) visa holder.

And if the spouse has a Tier 4 student visa then you should apply as a dependant of a Tier 4 visa holder.

Ultimately, a wrong choice or misinterpretation might be the difference between getting a visa or being denied one.

Truth is, there are no assurances. Provided you’re willing to try and try again you will certainly achieve success – even in the longer run. And if all else fails – well, at least home is where the heart is.

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