Even American Citizens can have trouble entering the United States.

Sometimes American Citizens are denied entry into the United States. How can that happen?

This news article is a fantastic example of how convoluted US Immigration Laws can be. This woman is a citizen by derivative citizenship, the same way that former Presidential Candidate and current United States Senator John McCain gained his citizenship. She can prove it, but she does not have the government issued document acknowledging it. 

However, the form to file for proof of citizenship can only be filed in the US, and we won't let her in to file the form. Again, it's not to request citizenship, it's a request to get proof of her existing citizenship. Requesting or applying for citizenship is completely different. That is an eligible alien applying to become a citizen. That requires a different application with subjective judgments of the alien's character. This is a citizen requesting a government document saying she is already a citizen. 

The reason the government won't let her in? Because the custom's agent thinks she will stay in the United States once she has proof of her citizenship. And we can't have American Citizens doing things like that, can we? Why not come in on a tourist visa?

The problem has to do with immigratory intent. When you apply for a non-immigrant visa like a tourist visa, you are stating that you do not intend to permanently stay in the United States. It is in the custom agent's discretion to determine whether or not that is true. 

Often individuals are not allowed to visit on a tourist visa if they have an immigrant visa pending. This is because the government believes the immigrant would not go back and wait for their visa. In this case, the government is not granting parole for a one time visit to file this citizenship form, because the government thinks once obtaining proof of citizenship, the citizen will not leave. Which would be fine if the citizen already had proof of being a citizen. To be fair, the customs agent does not know that she is a citizen. The agent is not allowed to make that judgment without the proper required documentation. That documentation in this situation is unattainable outside the United States.    

To summarize:

US citizen needs proof of citizenship ---> can only get proof by entering the United States --> so she can file a form to get the proof --> is denied entry because the United States government thinks she will stay in the United States --> which would be fine if she had the proof already--> but she does not have it so go back to the beginning. 

The simple solution is to allow the application for the document to occur at a US Consulate abroad, then the citizen could prove her citizenship before entry into the United States. 

Click on this link to go to the news article at Big Bend Now: Home of Big Bend Sentinel, Presidio International, and all things Far West Texas. 

Visa Bulletin Part 1: Basics

The visa bulletin can be confusing not only to would be immigrants, but also to attorneys that do not practice immigration law. The main concept is fairly simple, but there are some strange things that can occur. In this post, we are going to look at some of the main points of the visa bulletin and why it is important.

  • What is it?

The visa bulletin is published by the State Department. It shows which visas are presently eligible for processing. It contains two charts for employment and family based visas. Those charts also show the dates for countries that considered by Congress to presently have a larger presence in the United States. These dates are longer, so that other countries citizens may be processed first.

The visa bulletin also shows the Diversity Immigrant Category Chart. This is divided into 5 regions: Africa, Asia, Europe, North America (Bahamas), Oceania, and South America combined with the Caribbean. This is for the visa lottery, which will be covered in it's own blog.

  • Where is it?

You can find it on the state department's website here.

  • How often is it updated?

It is updated monthly. The next month's visa bulletin is usually available for preview. This can help immigrants and their attorneys plan for preparing applications before the visas officially become available.

  • What is a priority date?

A priority date is when a particular visa petition's visa will become available. A priority date is listed on the approved I-130 or I-140 notice sent by USCIS. You will see a receipt date, a notice date, and a priority date. The priority date is the only one that is used for the visa bulletin.

  • Will I be notified when my priority date has arrived?

No. The government will not. It is the responsibility of the petitioner and beneficiary to watch and wait. Depending on your attorney, they may inform you when it is available. Otherwise, the only way is to check every month. Sometimes a visa priority date will actually move back and no longer be available, so it is important to make sure that you do not miss your opportunity.  

  • What are the visa preference categories?

There are four preference categories for the family based section of the bulletin and there are five preference categories for employment based section. Our next blog on the visa bulletin will go through them.

Keep an eye on the blog for more posts concerning the visa bulletin.