Arrived in the U.S.! There are many things you need to do right after getting
off the plane than just grab your luggage, to make sure that your stay is smooth
and your experience exciting and memorable. We, at VisaPro, get queries everyday
on “what, when and how” of Form I-94, medical insurance, SSN, work permit,
driver's license, and travel document fronts. We thought we should give our
readers an insight of what happens once you have landed safely in the U.S.
The following paragraphs would give you an insight into some things which you
ought to be aware of on your arrival in the U.S. and the lack of which could
generally cause a nightmare for many.
You are a nonimmigrant visa holder, when you enter the United States
temporarily for a specific purpose such as business, study or pleasure. Upon
your entry a U.S. immigration inspector should examine your passport and visa
and then give you a Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record). This record should
tell you (in the lower right-hand corner) when you must leave the United States.
You can prove you did not violate U.S. laws by turning in your Form I-94 to the
proper authorities when you leave the country. Also, if you want to extend
your stay in the United States, then you must ask for permission from
the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your authorized
stay expires. If you break immigration laws, you may also become subject to
removal (deportation). It must be noted that if your I-94 is stolen, lost or
mutilated you must get it replaced.
The United States does not offer socialized medical care, hence if
you have no health insurance coverage, you have to pay for health care as and
when required. In the U.S., healthcare is generally very expensive; it may run
into many thousands of dollars for serious illnesses. Health insurance, though
expensive in the US is a must to stay in good health and to ensure that one receives
good health care. Once you have the health insurance, you can protect yourself
and your family. You may be required to pay a monthly or quarterly fee as insurance
for the time once you have enrolled yourself in a health care plan.
You may select from the two main ways in order to obtain health coverage.
You may choose between paying into a group health insurance plan or buying
individual health insurance. Group Insurance is when you get insurance through
your job or are you are covered because a family member has Insurance at
work. If your employer does not offer group health insurance, you can buy
an individual health insurance policy. It has been noted that Individual
health insurance plans may not offer benefits as broad as those in group
health insurance plans. There are various types of health insurance you may
choose from some of them are managed Care ,fee-for-Service plans, Health
Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Point-of-Service plans (POS), Preferred
Provider Organizations (PPOs)
Social Security Number (SSN) is a unique number issued, by the Social
Security Administration (SSA), to US citizens, Permanent Residents, and to certain
foreign nationals who meet the eligibility criteria. In the U.S., SSN is required
to work and all Citizens, Permanent Residents and most residents on specific
temporary visas are required to obtain a SSN before commencing work. If a dependent
is accompanying a temporary work visa holder and wants to work, he/she will
have to apply for a SSN number before commencing his/her job.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) has a new process for non-citizens
to apply for Social Security number (SSN) cards as part of the immigration
process. Now, if you are either 18 years of age and older, you may apply
with the U.S. Department of State for SSN cards at the same time.
A Social Security number is important because you need it to get a job,
collect Social Security benefits and receive some other government services.
Many other businesses, such as banks and credit companies, also ask for
your SSN number. In general, only non-citizens who have permission to work
from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) can apply for a Social Security
number. To prove your U.S. immigration status, you must present the current
U.S. immigration document, I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, issued to you
when you arrived in the United States.
Lawfully admitted non-citizens can get many benefits and services without
having a Social Security number. You do not need a number to purchase
savings bonds, conduct business with a bank, register for school or apply
for educational tests, obtain private health insurance, apply for school
lunch programs or apply for subsidized housing. If you are a US Citizen
you can help your spouse by applying for a SSN card before your spouse
arrives in the United States. You may want to read our article obtaining
a Social Security Number to know more on SSN.
In the United States, the individual states issue the driver licenses
for their residents. Every state in the U.S. has different rules when it comes
to applying for a driver's license. Here, we look at the laws in the States
of California and Washington DC with respect to driver's license.
For the State of California if you are a visitor and over 18 and have a
valid driver license from your home state or country, you may drive in this
state without getting a California driver license as long as your home state
license remains valid. If you take up a job or become a resident in the state,
you must get a California driver license within 10 days. A medical form completed
by a U.S. licensed doctor of medicine must be given with your original application
for a driver license or instruction permit.
Similarly, for Washington DC , you may obtain a driver's license once you
take and pass the eye test, the knowledge test, and the skills road test. You
may not obtain a DC driver's license while maintaining a valid license from
another jurisdiction. A driver's license is valid for up to five years for
US citizens and may vary for non-US citizens (according to the U.S. immigration
expiration date). Further, if you want to know the rules and laws in your stares,
we suggest you visit the specific websites for driver's license. You may visit
the site http://www.usa.gov/Topics/Motor_Vehicles.shtml to
learn more on your states and the laws for attaining a driver's license in
If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply
for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to prove you may work in the
Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) has been divided into the following
You will also need two identical color photographs as per the specifications,
copy of your current passport, copy of the USCIS Form I-94 issued to you when
you entered the U.S., copies of documents which indicate your current status.
- EAD: This
document proves you are allowed to work in the U.S.
- Renewal EAD: You should apply for a renewal
EAD six months before your original EAD expires.
- Replacement EAD: This document replaces a
lost, stolen, or mutilated EAD. A replacement EAD also replaces an EAD that
was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.
- Interim EAD: If USCIS does not approve
or deny your EAD application within 90 days (within 30 days for an asylum
applicant; note: asylum applicants are eligible to file for EADs only after
waiting 150 days from the date they filed their properly completed original
asylum applications), you may request an interim EAD document.
Some dependants of personnel with work visas in the US are not generally
allowed to work e.g. a spouse on an H-4 visa, unless they qualify for a work
visa on their own. Also dependants of student visas holders, for example
F-2, M-2, are also not allowed to work. However, spouses of J-1, L-1, E-1
and E-2 visa holders and those of U.S. citizens can apply for EAD and can
start working when their EAD is approved.
Before leaving the U.S. on an emergency, you should determine if you require
a travel document to re-enter the country. There are several types of travel
documents that you (including legal permanent residents) must obtain if they
wish to re-enter the country after travel outside of the U.S. The following
sections examine re-entry permits, advance parole, and refugee travel documents.
To apply for any of these benefits, you may use Form
I-131 . Being a dependent
on an F-2, H-4, J-2, L-2, E-1 and E-2 you do not need to have a travel document
until the time you maintain your valid status. While you are present in the
United States in a K-3 or K-4 nonimmigrant visa status can travel outside of
the United States and return using their K-3/K-4 visa. If the spouses of a
US citizen on a K-3 have filed for Adjustment
of Status in the U.S. prior to
departure, USCIS will not presume that the departure constitutes abandonment
of an adjustment application.
We at VisaPro hope that we have successfully attended to the daily arising queries for many of our clients. Please feel free to contact
us to discuss the immigration needs for you and your family. We will help you effectively with needs and queries. Our experienced Immigration Attorneys could help you devise an appropriate strategy right after your arrival in the U.S. to your departure outside for a temporary visit.
- Re-Entry Permit:Lawful Permanent Residents (green
card holders or LPRs) use re-entry
permits to re-enter the U.S. after travel of one year or more. For LPRs
returning to the U.S., re-entry permits are generally valid for two years
from the date of issuance of the re-entry permit. If you are a LPR, then
you should apply for this benefit before leaving the U.S.
Conditional residents use re-entry permits to re-enter the U.S. after travel
of one year or more. For conditional residents returning to the U.S., re-entry
permits are generally valid for two years from the date of issuance of the
re-entry permit or until the date the conditional resident must apply for
the removal of conditions, whichever comes first. If you are a conditional
resident, then you should apply for this benefit before leaving the U.S.
A re-entry permit does not guarantee you an admission into the U.S. If
you are entering the US with re-entry permit, you are still subject to
the inspection process at the port of entry. It is also important to note
that if you travel outside of the U.S. for more than one year will under
most circumstances break the continuous residence requirement for your
naturalization purposes. Travel for over 6 months may break the continuous
- Advance Parole: Most of the people on non- immigrant Visas who have pending applications for immigration benefits or for changes in nonimmigrant status need Advance
Parole to re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad. If you are applying for advance parole on the basis of a pending application for adjustment of status must be approved for advance parole prior to leaving the U.S. in order to avoid the termination of their pending application for adjustment.
While you are in the United States, you should, prior to departure, obtain Advance Parole in order to re-enter the United States after travel abroad. You should have:
- Filed an application for adjustment of status but have not received a decision from the USCIS;
- Hold refugee or asylee status and intend to depart temporarily to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa in Canada; and/or
- An emergent personal or bona fide reason to travel temporarily
- Refugee travel document: A refugee travel document allows ones
who are or once were refugees or asylees to return to the U.S. after travel
abroad. You should apply for this benefit before leaving the U.S. In some cases,
immigration officials may issue travel documents to refugees or asylees who
are physically outside of the U.S.