Visas and Immigration

With President Trump’s executive orders that are in effect March 16, 2017 and uncertainty over immigration laws, my office is here to help with any questions you may have regarding documentation and current laws. Please contact my district office at (425) 252-3188 with any questions you may have.

 

YOU HAVE RIGHTS

1.      You have the right to ask for an attorney before answering any questions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or any other law enforcement.

2.       Make sure you fully understand the question you are answering and any documents you may be signing.

3.      ICE must have a warrant to enter your home. If an ICE agent does not show you a warrant, you may refuse entry. A valid warrant must state your correct name and address on it.

 

HAVE A SAFETY PLAN

1.      If you have a valid work permit or Green Card, always carry it with you for identification purposes.

2.      Make sure you know the phone number of a family member, friend or attorney who can help you.

3.      Keep important documents like your birth certificate, immigration documents and alien registration number somewhere where a family member or friend can access them if necessary.

4.      Make sure your friends and family can find you if you are detained by ICE. They can use ICE’s online detainee locator.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

The information below will answer your questions about visas, deferred action, immigration, and citizenship. If you still have questions, please contact my office.

There are several links to the State DepartmentTravel.State.govU.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that may be helpful to you as well.

 

REQUEST ASSISTANCE FROM MY OFFICE

If you or a family member from the district is having an immigration related problem, please conctact my office. The Privacy Act of 1974 requires Members of Congress and their staff have written authorization before they can obtain information about an individual's case. Therefore, a consent form must be completed before my office proceeds with your issue. You can download that form here.

 

FAQ

 

GENERAL QUESTIONS

Q: Where can I find comprehensive information on immigration policies and procedures?

The best single source of information is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The Bureau of Consular Affairs also provides a wealth of information about overseas immigrant and nonimmigrant visa processing.

Below is a list of of phone numbers of Federal agencies for your convenience.

U.S. State Department

  • American Citizens Services - (202) 647-5225
  • National Visa Center - (603) 334-0700
  • Priority Date Information - (202) 485-7699 
  • Passport Information- (877) 487-2778

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

  • USCIS National Customer Service - (800) 375-5283
  • USCIS Forms Request Line - (800) 870-3676

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

  • U.S. Customs Service (Port of Blaine) - (360) 332-5771

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

  • Seattle Field Office - (206) 835-0650

Q: Can Congressman Larsen help me with my immigration issue?

Congressman Larsen hopes to provide general information and assistance in a number of areas related to immigration, including nonimmigrant visas, permanent residency ("Green Card"), naturalization, work permits, asylum and refugees. Congressman Larsen cannot help expedite applications, with the exception of those that involve medical emergencies or urgent humanitarian cases. Please visit the USCIS webpage for more information on immigration forms and processing.

Q: What does Congressman Larsen’s staff need to be able to review my immigration case?

All that is necessary is for you to contact Congressman Larsen's staff and let them know:

1.      Your alien number and receipt number (if applicable);

2.      What forms you have filed, the dates the forms were filed, and the location at which the forms were filed (if applicable);

3.      Whom you have already contacted to try to resolve the problem;

4.      What responses you have received, and;

5.      A signed Information Release Form. You can download that form here.

In certain cases, copies of receipts, applications, or additional documentation will be required. A staff member will contact you as soon as possible if additional material or information is required.

Q: Are there services for anyone who has a case pending with USCIS, and can I obtain legal advice from Congressman Larsen’s Office?

Congressman Larsen's office cannot to provide legal advice, but USCIS provides a listing of attorneys in Washington state who provide immigration services either for free or for little cost. The American Bar Association also provides information on finding legal services.

 

Immigrant Visas/Permanent Residency

Q: How do I apply for permanent residency (“Green Card”)?

The steps to becoming a Green Card holder (permanent resident) vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States. The main categories are:

Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored

Petitions for alien relatives are only available for relatives of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Your U.S. relative will need to sponsor you and prove he/she has enough income or assets to support you when in the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen and plan on marrying a foreign national fiancé(e), you will need to file an I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Employment-Based Immigrant Visas

Approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are available to qualified applicants under provisions of U.S. immigration law. These visas are divided into five preference categories.

Special Immigrants

Special immigrant visas are available for Iraqi or Afghan translators and others who worked for the U.S. government or U.S. Armed Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are also two categories of visas for which religious workers may apply.

Diversity Visa Lottery Program

Each year, the Department of State holds a Diversity Visa Lottery that offers 55,000 applicants an opportunity to enter a random computer generated lottery drawing. If selected, the applicant must meet certain requirements prior to consideration for an immigrant visa.

More information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

 

Citizenship

Q: How do I become a naturalized citizen?

If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth or did not acquire U.S. citizenship automatically after birth, you may still be eligible to become a citizen through the naturalization process. Permanent residents (Green Card holders) ages 18 and older who meet all eligibility requirements may submit a Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. When applying for a minor child or to obtain a certificate of citizenship, you may submit a Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenships. Please visit the frequently asked questions on USCIS's web site for information on naturalization requirements and procedures.

More information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services:

 

Deferred Action

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

DACA frequently asked questions HERE.

Q: What happens to my DACA status?

You are able to retain your status and work permits until they expire. DACA benefits generally are valid for two years from date of issuance.

Q: What happens when my DACA status expires?

When your status expires, you will no longer be under the protections from deportation that DACA grants. When your work permit expires, you will no longer be lawfully employed.

Q: Can I travel abroad?

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will no longer approve DACA applications for advance parole which allows you to travel abroad without losing your DACA authorizations.

DHS will honor DACA recipients’ previously approved advance parole applications.

Q: Can I apply to renew my DACA status or work permit if they expire?

If your authorizations expire between September 5, 2017 and March 5, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security will accept DACA renewal applications filed through October 5, 2017. DHS will reject all renewal applications filed after that date. 

Recipients whose DACA authorizations expire on or after Mar. 6, 2018 may not renew their authorizations

The renewal application can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-process/renew-your-daca   

Q: Can I apply for DACA status if I think I am eligible?

DHS will no longer accept first-time DACA applications filed after September 5, 2017.

What if I applied for DACA before September 5th, but have not heard back?

DHS will continue to process and render decisions on first-time DACA applications received through September 5, 2017. These applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

If you have more questions regarding your DACA status, please visit the Department Of Homeland Security’s Frequently Ask Questions on DACA HERE.

Deferred Action for Parent Arrivals (DAPA)

The DAPA program was never formally implemented. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “on June 15, Department of Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly, after consulting with the Attorney General, signed a memorandum rescinding the November 20, 2014 memorandum that created the program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (“DAPA”) because there is no credible path forward to litigate the currently enjoined policy.”

More info can be found HERE: https://www.dhs.gov/publication/deferred-action-parents-americans-and-lawful-permanent-residents-recession-memo-dapa

DACA Employers

Q: What do I do if I employ DACA recipients?

When a DACA recipient’s work permit expires, they are no longer lawfully employed in the U.S. However, if a DACA recipient is on your payroll, it is illegal to fire that person prematurely in anticipation of their permits expiring. DACA recipients are still entitled to protections against workplace discrimination.

As an employer, you cannot ask DACA recipients for more or different work-authorization documents than what is permitted for the Form I-9. You cannot reject valid work-authorization documents because of a DACA recipient’s citizenship status or national origin.

Nonimmigrant Visitor Visas

Q: Where can I find information about student visas?

Please visit the academic section on USCIS' website for information on student visa requirements and procedures.

Q: I want someone from a foreign country to visit me. What does this person need to do in order to obtain a tourist visa?

Have this person visit the United States Consulate Office in their home country and apply for a B-2 tourist visa. Some countries may require an interview. To qualify for a tourist visa, an applicant must show that he or she has a permanent residence and other ties that would compel his or her return home upon the end of his or her temporary stay in the United States. The law places this burden of proof upon the applicant. Evidence of strong ties includes family, home or property ownership, a letter of employment, and bank account.

Q: I know someone who was denied a tourist visa. Can tourist visa denials be appealed?

Unfortunately, tourist visa denials can't be appealed. Consular offices have sole authority to approve or deny tourist visas. The decision cannot be appealed to a higher authority, and it can be reviewed only for factual error within the Nonimmigrant Visa Section. The U.S. Department of State does not review, nor provide individual responses to, overseas visa decisions. There is nothing in U.S. immigration law that allows for an American relative to guarantee a visitor’s return home.

Tourist visas can always be reapplied for.

Q: What can someone who was denied a tourist visa do in order to enter the United States?

Every person who is denied a tourist visa can reapply unless the Embassy or Consulate overseas puts a stamp in their passport barring the person from coming back for a period of time. Someone should reapply only if there have been changes to the person's family or economic circumstances, or new evidence is presented that was not considered in the first visa interview.

Q: Where can I go for more information on tourist visas?

Please visit the Department of State's Visa Information website.

Q: I know someone who has been, or is going to be deported. Is there anything that Congressman Larsen can do to help?

U.S. Congress activity is restricted by the House Ethics Rules which prohibit Congressman Larsen from intervening in any civil or criminal matter. Deportation cases are prohibited House casework activity. Congressman Larsen's office can only request more information from ICE about an individual’s case and what options exist for the individual.

 

International Adoption

Q: How can I adopt a child from another country?

According to the U.S. Department of State, international (or intercountry) adoption is the process by which you adopt a child from a different country than your own through permanent legal means and bring that child to your home country to live with you permanently. Through international adoption, the legal transfer of parental rights from birth parent(s) to another parent(s) takes place.

The international adoption processes are:

The Hague Process

The Hague Convention adoption process generally involves six primary steps. You must complete these steps in the following order in order to meet all legal requirements for Hague Convention adoptions.

1.      Choose an accredited adoption service provider.

2.      Apply to be found eligible to adopt by submitting an I-800A (Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

3.      Be referred for a child.

4.      Apply for the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United States by submitting an I-800 (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative) with the USCIS.

5.      Adopt the child.

6.      Obtain an Immigrant Visa for the child at the U.S. embassy or consulate general abroad.

The Orphan Process

The process for non-Hague countries also generally involves six primary steps:

1.      Choosing a licensed adoption service provider.

2.      Applying to be found eligible to adopt by submitting an I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) with the USCIS.

3.      Being referred for a child.

4.      Adopting the child.

5.      Applying for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States by submitting an I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative).

6.      Obtaining an Immigrant Visa for the child at the U.S. embassy or consulate general abroad.

For more information please visit the State Department’s Intercountry Adoption website.