Newsletter – Winter 2017
Please contact us regarding any of the topics below.
USCIS Immigration Fees Increased Significantly
Fees for filing employment-based petitions and family-based applications increased 20 – 50%. Please make sure you are submitting a correct fee with any application sent to the USCIS. When in doubt, check with the Visa Office.
Please review the current fee schedule before sending out your application packet.
Introducing the Kid Zone and Toy library!
Introducing the Kid Zone and Toy library! Kid Zone is equipped with toys for a variety of ages and is a fun and welcoming place for kids to play in the User Center. The Kid’s Zone and Toy Library is an effort to create an atmosphere that is welcoming to families of all varieties. It expands the opportunities the User Center already has for after work community between Fermilab employees, users and visitors by providing a safe and fun place for the children to play. At the Festive Holiday Party with Santa, children brought gently used toys to donate to the Toy Library. Toys may also be checked out from the Toy Library.
Notify Us of Any Changes in Status
Please remember that the GSO needs to know if your visa status changes; this includes but it not limited to a change in the type of visa you have or a change in citizenship. If you are an employee, you can contact the Visa Office and if you are a user/visitor, you can contact the Users Office.
Sudden Increase in B-1 Visa Denials
Anecdotal evidence suggests tougher, and sometimes erroneous, adjudication of B-1 visa applications.
To qualify for a B-1 Visa, you must demonstrate the following:
- The purpose of your trip is to enter the United States for business of a legitimate nature
- You plan to remain for a specific limited period of time
- You have the funds to cover the expenses of the trip and your stay in the United States
- You have a residence outside the United States in which you have no intention of abandoning, as well as other binding ties which will ensure your return abroad at the end of the visit
- You are otherwise admissible to the United States
When Fermilab invitation letters are issued, the appropriate visa category is suggested in the letter. However, we have noticed an uptick of B-1 visa denials. B-1 visa applicants are being denied visas and advised to apply for J1 visas. We believe this is in error due to several factors:
- Visa applicants not articulating that they “are not” being paid by Fermilab. (per diem is not pay)
- Visa applicants taking anything other than the invitation letters issued by the Directorate to their Consular interview.
- Award letters, Fellowship letters and the like should not be taken to visa interviews.
- Visa applicants not articulating their activities accurately for the proposed visit.
- Activities should be described as attending meetings, consulting and collaborating with colleagues on research, and/or attending conferences.
- The lack of understanding/knowledge Consuls have of Fermilab and the activities taking place here. As a result, the burden of proof shifts onto the visa applicant.
- Current global immigration climate, of which we have no control
If your B1 visa is denied and it is suggested you apply for a J1 visa, please be advised that you do not have a choice and that your arrival to Fermilab will be delayed, as a new J-1 visa packet will need to be prepared and mailed to you.
The Visa Office will do the best that we can to help in these situations, but also request your patience and understanding.
Protecting Your Personally Identifiable Information (PII)
Personally identifiable information (PII) is also sometimes referred to as sensitive personal information (SPI). This sensitive information, when obtained by someone who should not have it, could harm an individual. It is any sensitive personal information, that when combined can reasonably identify an individual. For example, your birthdate alone would not identify you personally because there are many people with that same date of birth, however, your birth date in conjunction with your name, social security number, mother’s maiden name, place of birth, or another piece of personal information would identify you personally.
There are an estimated 15 million victims of identity theft each year so if your PII/SPI were to fall into the wrong hands, it could be very harmful to you. The good news is that you can take steps to protect yourself; the number one thing that you can do is be careful about sharing your information with people. We have seen an increasing number of emails with attachments that contain passports and visa documents; NEVER email documents containing PII/SPI unless it is encrypted because doing so could compromise your information. If you need to email a document and aren’t sure if it contains PII/SPI, please call first and we will be happy to discuss it with you.
Questions? Comments? Contact the Visa Office!