What is a Transportation Letter or Boarding Foil?

 

We have previously written about what lawful permanent residents can do if their Form I-551 “Green Card” has been lost, stolen, or destroyed and they are outside of the United States. In these articles, we have mentioned obtaining a travel letter or “Boarding Foil” so they may return to the United States.  One of our regular readers recently asked: “What is a transportation letter or boarding foil?”

If your Green Card is lost, stolen, or destroyed, you can only obtain a replacement from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) in the United States. A U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad cannot issue a replacement Green Card.  Therefore, if you no longer have your Green Card to reenter the U.S., you may need to apply for a travel document using the Form I-131A Application for a Travel Document.

Upon approval of the application, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate will issue you a travel document that will allow you to board the airline to return to the United States.  The travel document is called a variety of names, such as a Boarding Foil, Transportation Letter, Transportation Boarding Letter, etc.   Generally, these are issued in two forms.

A Transportation Letter is just like it sounds; an official letter issued by a U.S. Consulate that will allow you to board the airline to return to the United States.

A Boarding Foil is sometimes an actual visa that is affixed into your passport. It looks like other U.S. visas.   The term “foil” is a holdover term from when U.S. visas had a texture that was similar to foil (e.g, aluminum foil).

What else you should know about a Transportation Letter/Boarding Foil:

  • To be issued a Boarding Foil, the Immigrant Visa unit of a U.S. Consulate must interview you and confirm you have maintained permanent resident status.
  • They are usually issued within a few days.
  • They are usually valid for only 30 days and for a single entry.
  • Boarding Foils may be issued only to permanent residents who are returning to the United States after an absence of less than one year.
  • If your Green Card had a 10-year validity but has expired, you might not need a Boarding Foil. An airline may board you with the expired card, providing you meet all their other conditions for travel.  However, if you have been outside the U.S. for over one year, you may be questioned at the port of entry. We advise you seek legal advice before traveling.
  • Conditional Permanent Residents who have an expired Green Card with a 2-year expiration date and a Form I-797, Notice of Action, showing that they have filed a Form I-751 or Form I-829 to remove the conditions on their permanent resident status should also be able to apply for a Boarding Foil.
  • The Boarding Foil does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security is the final authority for entry.  It only exempts an airline from fines and penalties of boarding an undocumented person flying to the United States.

If you have any questions about the a travel letter or “Boarding Foil”, contact us at  info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney based in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

DOS Announces New Visa Bond Pilot Program for Certain B-1 B-2 Visa Applicant

 

The United States Department of State (“DOS”) has announced the creation of a six-month pilot program under which certain B-1/B-2 visa applicants may be required to post a bond as a condition of visa issuance. The pilot (test) program was published in the Federal Register on November 24, 2020 and will become effective on December 24, 2020.

Formally named the Visa Bond Pilot Program, the pilot program will apply only to B-1/ B-2 visa applicants who are citizens of countries that have overstay rates of over 10% and who have received approval of an inadmissibility waiver from the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”). Under the pilot program, bonds will be posted with DHS Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (“ICE”) and ICE will retain all bonds posted in the instance that the bond is breached.

During the program’s initial six month test, interviewing consular officers may require B-1/B-2 visa applicants who fall within the scope of the program to post a bond in the amount of $5,000, $10,000 or $15,000 depending on the visa applicant’s individual circumstances.  We emphasis that this is an option and might not be required by every applicant.

The Pilot Program will help the DOS assess the operational feasibility of posting, processing, and discharging visa bonds in coordination with DHS, to help decide whether it is useful to use visa bonds to reduce overstays.

For more information on the Visa Bond Pilot Program and how it may affect B-1/ B-2 visa applicants in Asia, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2021. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

What do I need to show to reenter the U.S. after being outside for a long time because of COVID-19?

 

We have covered several issues in our series on how to protect your lawful permanent resident status and green card if you have been outside the United States and have been unable to return because of COVID-19.  [COVID Resources Guide]

If you are able to reenter within 1 year of your last date of departure and have an unexpired green card (or a receipt notice extending conditional resident status), or you are able to reenter within 2 years of your last departure and you have an unexpired reentry permit, you will still want to have with you evidence of your permanent residence and ties to the United States.  Such evidence can include your job in the U.S, your physical residence, enrolment in school, home, auto or medical insurance that you continue to pay, your immediate family members that are in the U.S., and other significant contacts with the United States.  You will also want to bring with you evidence showing why you were prevented from returning to the United States because of COVID-19.  Such evidence may include written notification regarding canceled flights, inability to book flights, travel restrictions by the U.S. and/or the foreign country, etc.

Note that just claiming you were unable to return because of COVID-19, by itself, may not be considered a strong reason for not returning to your country of permanent residence – the United States of America.

If you are unable to reenter within 1 year (or 2 years if you have a reentry permit) of your last departure because of COVID-19, you may need to apply for the SB-1 visa at a U.S. Consulate.  The Consulate will review your application and your resident intent, and reason you were unable to return to the U.S. and determine if you qualify for the SB-1 visa.  You will need to prepare similar documentation as mentioned above.

If you have questions about your status you can contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney based in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

The November 2020 Visa Bulletin Priority Date shows slight movement forward for Vietnamese EB-5 immigrant investors

 

The “Final Action Date” priority date for Vietnamese EB-5 investors moved forward slightly in the Department of State November 2020 visa bulletin from August 15, 2017 to September 1, 2017. The priority date indicates that any investors who filed their I-526 Petitions on or before September 1, 2017 now have visas available. If you are such an investor, you should be sure to contact the National Visa Center to begin your visa application process (if you have not already done so because of current Dates for Filing). https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2021/visa-bulletin-for-december-2020.html

The Dates for Filing (Table B) remains current as has been the norm for Vietnam investors who will be classified under “All Chargeability Areas except those listed”.

Moreover, the USCIS has announced that it will allow those applicants who are in the U.S. and eligible to use the Dates for Filing table, which is current, to file adjustment of status applications in the United States. Contact us if you think you may be eligible to do so.

What do the Final Action Date and Dates for Filing Applications mean?

If you have any questions about the visa bulletin, priority dates, the EB-5 visa or other U.S. visas, contact us at   info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney based in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

What is an I-131A visa and will it allow me to reenter the United States?

 

An I-131A visa is for lawful permanent residents (“LPR”) whose Form I-551 “green card” was lost, stolen or destroyed while traveling outside the United States, or whose green card has expired, and who have been outside the U.S. for less than one year.  Such LPRs can apply at a U.S. Consulate for the I-131A visa.

Commonly referred to as a boarding foil, this visa should allow LPRs to board an aircraft and request entry into the United States.   Note the boarding foil does not guarantee you will be admitted.

Upon arrival at the Port of Entry (“POE”), a Customs and Boarder Protection (“CBP”) officer will review your request for entry.  CBP officers have the authority to determine your admissibility and are not obligated to admit you based on the boarding foil.  However, LPRs do have the right to request to be admitted temporarily and be scheduled for a hearing before an immigration judge to determine eligibility. (See HERE) Returning LPRs are permanent residents until that status is revoked or voluntarily relinquished.

Contact us for the publication: “Know your rights when returning to the US as a lawful permanent resident”

There may be other conditions that apply for filing an I-131A Application for Travel Document. Contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

Persons from Hong Kong Not Yet Subject to China Visa Allocation

 

At a recent IIUSA EB-5 Forum, Charles Oppenheim, the Chief of the Visa Control and Reporting Division at the U.S. Department of State (“DOS”) – the man who decides the DOS Visa Bulletin every month – responded to a question regarding visa allocation for persons from Hong Kong.

The question was “are EB-5 applicants from Hong Kong now considered in the same category as mainland-born Chinese?”   Oppenheim answered that at this time Hong Kong is still treated as a separate foreign state for immigrant visa purposes.  This is good news for EB-5 investors and all other persons from Hong Kong who are eligible for immigrant visas because based on average processing times, Hong Kong applicants can expect to obtain their EB-5 visas in 24 to 30 months.

Not so for Chinese EB-5 investors who will continue to be subjected to prolonged waiting periods.  The EB-5 visa category has an annual quota of approximately 10,000 visas.  Once the annual quota is reached, each country may only take 7% of the visas from the EB-5 visa category.  Because of high demand from China for many U.S. immigrant visa categories, Oppenheim estimated that if a Chinese investor files an I-526 Petition (as of November 19th, 2020), he or she may need to wait 17.2 years for the visa to become available.

On June 30, 2020, the People’s Republic of China passed the Law of the People’s Republic of China on Safeguarding National Security in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, more commonly known as the Hong Kong National Security Law, as a direct response to ongoing protests in Hong Kong.  In response, on July 14, 2020, President Trump signed the Hong Kong Autonomy Act of 2020 (“Act”) and at the same time signed The President’s Executive Order on Hong Kong Normalization. The intent of the Executive Order (“EO”) was to suspend or eliminate different and preferential treatment for Hong Kong, including the treatment of Hong Kong persons as separate from China nationals under the U.S. immigration laws.    Later review of the Act and the EO raised questions whether the President’s Act and the EO altered U.S. immigration law in this manner.

Until now, DOS has not issued further guidance on the reallocation of Hong Kong persons to mainland China.   Other comments from Department of State officials suggest that this is not forthcoming.  With a new presidential administration coming into power in just a few months, it seems unlikely that this proposed change will take effect.

If you have questions about the status of Hong Kong persons and allocation of immigrant visas, contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

DOS Announces Plans to Resume Routine Visa Services

 

The United States Department of State (“DOS”) has announced that routine visa processing at Embassies and Consulates will resume on a post-by-post basis consistent with DOS’s guidance for safely returning to the full services. As on the ground conditions improve, DOS will begin providing services leading to the eventual full resumption of immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing.

The DOS reports that the agency is unable to provide a specific date for when each post will resume full operational services or when each post will return to pre-pandemic processing workloads.

Currently, all posts are providing emergency and mission critical visa services and a limited number of services for American citizens. As post conditions improve after meeting the demands of American citizens, DOS will begin to gradually increase routine immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing prioritizing immediate relatives of U.S. citizen petitioners, fiancé’s and fiancée’s of U.S. citizens and special immigrant visa applications. Nonimmigrant visa applications will continue to prioritize travelers with urgent travel needs, foreign diplomats, and certain mission critical categories of travelers such as those traveling to the United States to assist with the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This will be followed by students (F-1, M-1 and certain J-1 applicants) and temporary employment visa applicants consistent with the current Presidential Proclamation restricting certain non-immigrant visas through December 31, 2020.

For more information on routine visa processing in Asia, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

What Happens to an LPR if They Have Been Outside the United States for More than One Year Because of COVID-19 Travel Restrictions?

 

Due to significant travel and movement restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Lawful Permanent Residents (“LPR”’) have found themselves stranded abroad and thus unable to travel to the United States despite not having the intention of abandoning their LPR status.   All permanent residents receive an identification called a Form I-551 but colloquially known as a “green card”.  A green card serves as an immigrant visa if the LPR has been outside the United States for less than one year. If the LPR has been outside the United States for more than one year, there is a presumption that the LPR has abandoned his or her immigrant status and his or her green card may no longer be considered valid for entry into the United States.

While the green card’s expiration date may still be valid and the LPR may be able to board the plane despite remaining outside the United States for more than one year, an LPR’s admission to the United States will be determined by an interviewing U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency (“CBP”) officer upon arrival at the Port of Entry (“POE”).  An LPR who is concerned about having issues with CBP at an air, land or sea POE because of a one year or longer absence from the United States should consider filing an application for an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. An SB-1 Returning Resident Visa is issued to an LPR who has remained outside the United States for more than one year and his or her absence is considered “protracted beyond their control.” Examples of an LPR’s protracted stay outside the United States may include medical emergencies, important family and financial issues, and most recently, COVID-19 travel and movement restrictions preventing the LPR from being able to return to the United States.

An LPR who is who is currently in Asia and is seeking an SB-1 Returning Resident Visa on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic is strongly encouraged to contact us at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration attorney based in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei. Our immigration attorneys have over three decades of experience assisting clients at the U.S. Consulates thorough Asia.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

U.S. Court of Appeals Allows Public Charge Rule to Continue

 

In what appears to be a judicial game of tennis, the United States Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit overturned a lower federal judge’s decision to stop the United States Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) public charge rule and is allowing DHS to continue to implement the rule.

On November 2, Judge Gary Feinerman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued a nationwide injunction preventing DHS from implementing the public charge rule  on the grounds that it violated the Administrative Procedures Act. The following day, the higher Court of Appeals granted DHS’s motion for administrative stay which allows the rule to continue.

Confused?  We understand.  For more information on how the public charge rule may affect both immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants in Asia, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.

Public Charge Rule is now stopped – again – in latest round of litigation

 

A federal judge has stopped the United States Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) public charge rule which was recently allowed to proceed after an injunction was lifted by the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit.

Judge Gary Feinerman of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois vacated the rule after determining that it violated the Administrative Procedures Act which makes federal agencies such as DHS accountable to the public by following a detailed process in enacting regulations.

Judge Feinerman’s ruling is the latest round of litigation that has been ongoing since late 2019 shortly after DHS announced that the agency would be defining public charge for immigration purposes.  The rule requires completion of a special form and exhaustive documentation of an immigrant visa applicant’s assets, debt, receipt of public benefits and other information.  The rule has been involved in a consistent battle between immigrant advocacy groups and the Trump Administration.

For more information the latest public charge ruling and how it may affect immigrant and nonimmigrant visa applicants in Asia, contact us today at info@enterimmi.com and speak with a U.S. immigration lawyer in Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Taipei.

 

Copyright 2020. This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This article may be changed with or without notice. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the Enterline Immigration only.