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Beyond Arrival…
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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.

Form I-94:

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.

Medical Insurance:

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)

SSN Number:

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.

Driver's License:

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 the U.S.

Employment Authorization:

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 U.S.

Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) has been divided into the following categories:

  • 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.
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.

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.

Travel Document:

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.
  • 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 residence requirement.

  • 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 abroad.

  • 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.
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.

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