Archive for the ‘Visas’ Category

Pregnant Woman Shackled During Labor Receives Settlement and May Receive Visa

November 20, 2013

HandcuffedAccording to the New York Times, “[a] five-year legal battle that began when [a] woman … was arrested in July 2008 after a traffic stop in a Nashville suburb” has ended in a $490,000 settlement in favor of the woman, Ms. Juana Villegas, and a possible new legal basis for a visa created for crime victims, known as the U visa. In 2008, Ms. Villegas, who was nine months pregnant at the time, was arrested and held for six days because sheriff’s officers discovered she did not have legal immigration status.  During the six days, Ms. Villegas gave birth to a son. However, during labor and recovery, Ms. Villegas was cuffed to her hospital bed and later developed a painful breast infection because she was not permitted to have a breast pump or to have her child with in the jail to nurse.

As a result, in 2011, a federal judge, ruling in her favor, found that Davidson County officers showed “deliberate indifference” to Ms. Villegas’ medical needs.  This year, rather than continue with an appeal, officials chose to settle.  In addition to the settlement, and perhaps more importantly, in an uncommon move, the presiding judge “urged immigration authorities to give Ms. Villegas” a U visa, reserved for victims of crime, because the jail officers’ actions violated Ms. Villegas civil rights. If Ms. Villegas is granted a U visa, it would represent a significant expansion of the use of the visa.

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Citizenship Basics and Immigration Visas: Traveling to and From the Virgin Islands

August 29, 2012

Although the U.S. Virgin Islands are a territory of the United States, U.S. citizens need to be wary of travel requirements to make travel to and from the U.S. Virgin Islands as smooth as possible.

Travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands for U.S. citizens is like traveling to any domestic location. For citizens arriving from the mainland or Puerto Rico, a passport is not required for entry. For non-U.S. citizens, requirements for entry into the U.S. Virgin Islands parallel those for non-citizens entering the United States from any foreign destination.

Although U.S. citizen travelers are not required to present a passport for entry into the U.S. Virgin Islands, it is a good idea to bring one. Because the U.S. Virgin Islands are considered a port of entry, U.S. citizens are required to prove their citizenship before returning to the United States. This can be done with a passport, certified birth certificate and photo identification, or certificate of naturalization.

U.S. citizens may return with $1,600 of duty-free imports. Citizens traveling with family members who live within their household may make a joint declaration (i.e. a husband and wife traveling to the U.S. Virgin Islands from the United States may return with $3,200 of duty-free imports).

For non-U.S. citizens traveling from the U.S. Virgin Islands to the mainland or Puerto Rico, the requirements for exit depend on whether the traveler’s country of citizenship participates in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program. If the traveler is a citizen of a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, he must have a Green I-94W, or a valid non-immigrant visa and white I-94. If the traveler is a citizen of a country that does not participate in the Visa Waiver Pilot Program, he needs a valid, non-immigrant visa with the white I-94.

Traveling to the United States Virgin Islands Without a Visa – The Visa Waiver Pilot Program

August 13, 2012

Every day, hundreds of foreigners legally travel to the United States Virgin Islands without a visa. This travel is made possible through the Visa Waiver Pilot Program (VWPP).

Citizens of thirty-six authorized countries – listed here – are permitted to travel into the U.S. Virgin Islands without a first obtaining a visa through the VWPP. These travelers must arrive on a signatory carrier. Due to this requirement, those who travel to the U.S. Virgin Islands privately do not qualify for the VWPP. These travelers still require a regular visa.

Vessels and aircrafts become signatory carriers through signing an agreement with the United States Immigration and Naturalization service. Through this agreement, the carrier guarantees that they will transport any person back to their original destination should they be found inadmissible or deportable under applicable immigration laws. A list of Signatory Vessels is available through the U.S. Department of State and Foreign Affairs, here.

Travelers arriving on a Signatory Carrier must also be visiting for business or tourism purposes. Business purposes may include participation in business transactions, conventions, conferences, seminars, or research activities. Business visitors may not conduct activities for which they receive salary from a source within the United States. Tourism purposes include visiting, vacationing, seeking medical treatment, and social events. The traveler may be in the United States for a maximum of 90 days.

Utilizing the VWPP is advantageous when travelers wish to make spontaneous travel plans that do not allow time for obtaining a visa. However, travelers taking advantage of this program must ensure that their admission is proper – once a traveler has violated the terms of his admission, he may never again use the VWPP.

How to Obtain a Temporary Visa to Work in the U.S. Virgin Islands

July 15, 2012

For non-U.S. citizens who wish to work temporarily within the U.S. Virgin Islands, there are various classifications of non-immigrant visas available. The regulations applicable to non-immigrant work visas within the U.S. Virgin Islands mirror those in effect for non-U.S. citizen workers on the mainland.

The type of visa necessary for a non-immigrant worker is dependent on the type of work the applicant will perform within the U.S. Virgin Islands. The many categories of work visas include H-2A Seasonal Agricultural Workers, and O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement.  Certain labor classifications also require a labor certification, meaning that the applicant’s perspective employer must obtain approval from the Department of Labor to hire the visa applicant.

Temporary worker applicants should apply at the U.S. Embassy within the country where they permanently reside. At the embassy, the consular officer will determine whether the applicant qualifies for the visa they applied for. Applicants should be sure to apply well in advance of their anticipated arrival date to allow for delays in the review process. For applicants age 14-79, the review process includes an interview by a consular officer. Applicants should allow ample time for delays in scheduling this interview. Applicants must provide a Form DS-160 (online non-immigrant visa electronic application), a passport, and a 2×2 photograph.

Depending on the type of visa requested, additional requirements and exceptions may apply. If an applicant is denied a visa, they will receive a reason for the denial.  Denied applicants may re-apply only if they can provide evidence to overcome the basis for the original refusal. Applications may be denied if the applicant did not provide all necessary documentation, or denial may be based on an applicant’s past behavior such as criminal activity.