How to get green card from outside US?

 

 

Two primary paths are offered by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) for an individual to get permanent resident status popularly called “green card”. By a process  in which an eligible alien already in US and without having to go back to home country can apply and complete the process for permanent resident status and this process is called adjustment of status. Another method called consular processing is the one in which alien who is the receiver of an approved immigrant petition and has an immigrant visa number immediately available may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident.

Consular Processing steps:

1. Basis to Immigrate to be determined:

The specific immigrant category the applicant belongs to should be determined first. Through petition filed for them through a family member or employer most immigrants become eligible for permanent residence. Under other special requirements or after getting refugee or asylum status also aliens become green card holders.

2. Immigrant Petition needs to be filed:

In most cases an immigrant petition would have to be filed once the category is decided on behalf of the alien.

  • Employment Based

The US employer would have to file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker for employment based category. Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur can be filed by the entrepreneurs for themselves and who intend to invest in US significant amounts of capital into a business venture.

  • Family Based

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is required to be filed for applicant by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative.

  • Immigrants under Special Classes

Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er) or Special Immigrants may be filed for alien in some cases or file one on their own behalf.

  • Some Humanitarian Programs

Applicants may be required to meet additional requirements before they can adjust status for most humanitarian programs and they need not file an underlying petition.


Although immigrant petitions are filed with USCIS, in some cases, an I-130 petition may be filed for an immediate relative (spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen) with a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Situations where this may be applicable include:

  •     If the U.S. citizen has been authorized to be continuously residing within the jurisdiction of the consular office for at least the previous 6 months
  •     Members of the military
  •     Emergency situations
  •     Situations involving the health or safety of the petitioner
  •     When in the national interests of the United States


3. Decision on Petition to be awaited

Petitioner will be notified of a decision by USCIS.  The notice will include the reasons for denying the petition and any rights to appeal the decision in case the petition is denied. USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) If the petition is approved and if you are the beneficiary of the petition and living outside the US or living in the US, but choose to apply for your immigrant visa abroad. It will remain with NVC until an immigrant visa number is available.

4. National Visa Center notification to be awaited:

Once the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is about to become available the National Visa Center will notify the petitioner and beneficiary. NVC is the one responsible for the collection of visa application fees and supporting documentation,. They will also notify the petitioner and beneficiary of when they must submit immigrant visa processing fees (commonly referred to as “fee bills”) and when supporting documentation must be submitted.

5. Be present at Appointment

Once a visa is available or a beneficiary’s priority date is current (earlier than the cut-off date listed in the monthly Visa Bulletin),the consular office will schedule the applicant for an interview. The consular office will complete processing of the applicant’s case and decide if the beneficiary is eligible for an immigrant visa.

6. Notify the National Visa Center of Any Changes

If any additional information is required the National Visa Center will contact you about your petition. But if there is a change in your personal situation or if you change your address you should contact the NVC. Your eligibility or visa availability may be affected so it is important to notify the NVC if you reach the age of 21 for a child or have a change in your marital status.

 7. After Your Visa is granted

The consular officer will give you a packet of information if you are granted an immigrant visa.  This packet is known as a “Visa Packet.”  You should not open this packet. Upon your arrival to the US, you should give your Visa Packet to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. You will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer and if found admissible, will be admitted as a permanent resident of the US, which gives you the authority to live and work in the US permanently.

8. Receive Your Green Card

Your green card will be mailed to you.  If you do not receive your green card within 30 days of your arrival, please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center.

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File Form N-300 along application for US citizenship.

 

 

To become a citizen of US a permanent resident should apply for a Declaration of Intention.  In some states if you wish to engage in certain type of livelihood or profession or to obtain licenses of certain types this is required but it’s not needed for naturalization. Any green card holder who is filing the Form N-300,Application to File Declaration of Intention should be in US and also above the age of 18 years.

To carry out business in some states, a Declaration of Intention is required for a new US citizen in that state. So to become a U.S. citizen and are a business person or entrepreneur you may need to submit an application for a Declaration of Intention, if you live in such a state. This is not mandatory to become a US citizen and you do not need this in every state. At the USCIS office with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence this form must be filed.

Support documents for Form N-300

Along with a copy of your Form I-551, permanent resident card the completed 3- page application to File Declaration of Intention should be filed when submitting application for US citizen. Also two identical color photographs taken 30 days before filing application should be submitted along. Taken in white or off white background photos should be printed on glossy finish thin paper which are un-retouched and un-mounted. Size of the passport-style photos should be 2”x2” and the frontal view of applicant’s full face. Digital photos must have been taken using a camera with at least 3.5 mega pixel resolution. Using a felt pen or pencil on the back of the photos name and alien registration number should be printed.

Where and how to file application?

Along with the support documents the completely filled Form N-300 should be mailed to the following address of USCIS lockbox facility if required when you file N400 application for naturalization:

USCIS

PO Box 650809

Dallas, Texas. 75265

Use the following address for couriers or express mails:

USCIS

Attn: Form N-300

2501 S. State Hwy 121 business

Suite 400

Lewisville, TX  75067

Filing fee and processing information

When filing Form N-300 it should be accompanied with filing fee $250 as check or money order on a US bank or financial institution and payable in US currency. It should be payable to US Department of Homeland Security, not using initials like USDHS or DHS. Make sure the application is signed and correct fee is sent along else it could be rejected. Also if biometrics service fee is supposed to be paid it should be also accompanied. After USCIS accepts the application once completeness of the form is checked along with evidences submitted, if you are eligible for the requested benefit the application will be accepted. In writing the decision on application will be sent to applicant.

Important points to remember

In case any address change USCIS should be kept informed by updating it online or at 1-800-375-5283 you can contact National Customer Service center. If USCIS rejects application because of missing pages or incomplete information, initial evidences required are not included the form and fee will be returned and reason for rejection will be informed. Re-filing the form is permitted after rectifying the deficiency and cannot be considered complete until USCIS accepts it. Checks sent will be converted to electronic funds transfer (EFT) and so debited from your account within 24 hours, hence make sure sufficient balance is available.

Overview on Green Card for a Family Member of a U.S. Citizen.

File a Form I-130 if U.S. citizens want their relatives to immigrate to the United States. You can Petition for Alien Relative, for spouse, children and if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old, their parents and brothers or sisters can be petitioned for.

You may be in what is called a “family preference category” if your relationship does not qualify you as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. Then Eligible relatives include:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21
  • Married child(ren) of any age
  • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is over the age of 21)

Under these categories congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate each year so before an immigrant visa number becomes available there is usually a waiting period.

The steps required to get a green card (permanent residence) for relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category is discussed below:

If applicant is Inside the US how to get a Green Card?

You may be able get family based green card to become a permanent resident in two steps if you are currently in the United States and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category:

Step One –Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative must be filed by U.S. citizen family member (sponsor) for you and it must be approved. You must wait for your priority date in your immigrant visa category to become current. Your priority date is the date when the Form I-130 is properly filed (with correct fee and signature) on your behalf by your U.S. citizen relative.

Step Two – You may file for Adjustment of Status with Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence once the priority date in your visa category is current. Adjustment of Status is the process you go through to become a Permanent Resident.

If applicant is Outside the US how to get a Green Card?

You can become a permanent resident through consular processing if you are currently outside the US and are one of the specified categories of relatives of a U.S. citizen in a preference category. Consular processing is when we work with the U.S. Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-130 petition when a visa is available. The Department of State will issue you a visa in this process. If approved, you may then travel on the visa and when admitted at a U.S. port of entry you will officially become a permanent resident.

Points to ponder:

The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). In certain cases, the CSPA may allow you to retain the classification of “child” even if you have reached age 21. Generally, your age is “frozen” as of the date your U.S. citizen parent files Form I-130 for you.

If going to get Married: You must notify USCIS of any change in your marital status after Form I-130 has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, then you no longer qualify as an “Unmarried Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen” and will convert to the category of “Married Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen.” This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available.

Apply to get exception from citizenship test after filing application for US citizenship!

 

 

 

Aspirants who apply for US citizenship through naturalization must establish an understanding of English language and also ability to speak, write and read words in regular usage. Knowledge and understanding of fundamentals of the history, principles and form of US governments is a must. Both together are called the English and civics requirements for naturalization.

Applicants seeking an exception from the English and US civics test requirements after filing N400
application for naturalization
based on physical or age-linked disability or mental deficiency which lasted for more than a year must submit the Form N-648 according to USCIS regulations. A licensed medical doctor or licensed clinical psychologist must complete this medical certification for disability exceptions and be submitted along application for US citizenship, Form N-400. The USCIS will determine if applicant is entitled for concession to the requirements using this Form N-648.

Who cannot use Form N-648?

Under the Rehabilitation act of 1973 reasonable adjustments are provided and applicants who can satisfy them need not submit the form. Among other factors the reasonable adjustments include sign language interpreters, time extension for testing and off site testing. Illiteracy is not a valid reason to request for exception from civics and English requirement of naturalization using Form N-648. The applicant should indicate the adjustment he/she is requesting for in the Part3 of the INS N 400 Form while applying for US Citizenship.

Certification of Form N-648

Authority to certify the Form N-648 is only for medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, or clinical psychologists licensed to practice in US including territories like Guam, Puerto Rico, territories of CNMI and the Virgin Islands. Assistance for form completion can be provided by the staff of the medical practice but the accuracy of form’s content is the medical professional’s responsibility.

The licensed medical professional must certify all parts of the Form N-648 except for the applicant attestation and interpreter’s certification after an in-person examination of the applicant. USCIS doesn’t accept incomplete forms so all the items or questions must be fully and accurately answered. Common terminology and not abbreviation should be used to fill in the form easily understood by a person without medical training. For legibility purposes it’s always recommended to use the electronic form available online. As required on the form the detailed assessment of the applicant’s physical and developmental disability or mental impairment should be provided by the medical professional and also attach medical diagnostic report or records as support documents.

Implication of false representations

Under the penalty of perjury the medical professional and the applicant both are required to attest the Form N-648, with no filing fee, submitted along N400 application form. The United States Code provides that whoever knowingly makes under oath or as permitted under section 1746 of Title 28 of United States code under the penalty of perjury knowingly subscribes as true any false statement with respect to a material fact in any application, affidavit or other documents required by the immigration law or regulations prescribed or knowingly presents any such document will be fined or imprisoned for not more than 10 years or both. Also under the Title 18 of the US code Section 247 C of the Immigration and Nationality Act and title 8 of US code section 1324c provides for penalty if any false information is included in the information provided by either the applicant or the medical professional.

Holiday Travel Tips from US Consular Officers!

 

 

The holiday season is peak travel time is what we all know. You don’t have to ruin your holiday travel experience since airports will be crowded, Hope you will take advantage of the following tips to help make your holiday travels safe, smooth, and stress-free while you are packing your bags for the sunny beaches of the Caribbean or headed to the snowy slopes of Switzerland.

Holiday Travel Tips:

1. Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that your family and the State Department can contact you in an emergency.

2. Make sure to apply early for your US passport: For land and sea travel to Mexico and the Caribbean did you know that a US passport book or passport card is now required?  If you do not have a passport and you plan to travel outside of the United States this holiday season, apply for your passport now.  Our current commitment for passport processing time is four to six weeks for routine service and two to three weeks for expedited service.  There are 26 passport agencies and more than 8,800 passport acceptance facilities across the United States.  Passport application forms are available on our website. Sign the passport and fill in the emergency information once you receive your passport.

3. Leave copies of schedule, passport data page, and credit card with any trusted friend. Leave a copy of your credit card too; in an emergency, the credit card company can help your family locate you.

4. Check your overseas medical insurance coverage.

5. Familiarize yourself with local conditions and laws. You are subject to its laws while in a foreign country. Useful safety and other information about the countries you will visit.  You can also download the Smart Traveler iPhone app to have the country information at your fingertips.

6. Make sure you are safe and take precautions to avoid being a target of crime. In any unfamiliar place practice the some safety tips like not wear clothing or jewelry that would attract attention and do not carry excessive amounts of money; do not leave unattended luggage in public areas; do not accept packages from strangers; and do not travel with anything you’d hate to lose.

7. Contact US embassy or consulate in an emergency. Consular personnel atU.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad and in the United States are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to provide emergency assistance to U.S. citizens.  Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates appears on website, or you can call the Office of Overseas Citizen Services for assistance with emergencies at 1-888-407-4747 (if calling from the U.S. or Canada), or 202-501-4444 (if calling from overseas).

We wish you good cheer this holiday season and safe travels!

Certificate of Citizenship is required to become a US citizen

 

Children born to U.S. citizen outside US can apply for citizenship. So proof of their US citizenship or nationality can be got by applying for certificate of citizenship. The fact that application for US citizenship takes a lot of time to be processed and may be main reason to make it difficult to get certificate of citizenship. To make it easy it might be even better to first get the passport to prove citizenship. If a parent is naturalized it’s easy to apply for certificate of citizenship since it’s easy and obvious to prove applicant’s claim to citizenship.

Who can file Form N-600?

Children born to or adopted by a US citizen automatically becomes a U.S. citizen if:

  • One of the parents is a U.S. citizen
  • Both you and your US citizen parent stay in US
  • As a adopted child if you have entered US as an IR-3 – child adopted outside the US and IR-4 if coming to US to be adopted, after adoption you can apply for certificate.
  • If you are below 18 years of age. Children above 18 years of age need to file INS N 400 Form.
  • A US citizen has the legal custody of you as his/her biological child not yet 16 years of age or born out of wedlock and have not been legitimated and through naturalization process mother is a US citizen.
  • In the US you have stayed consistently after becoming a permanent resident lawfully
  • The parent awarded legal and physical custody of you, both your parents or the only surviving parent is a U.S. citizen by naturalization.

Being the biological child of a U.S. citizen, born outside the U.S. and claiming citizenship by having been born to U.S. citizen parent(s), you automatically become a U.S. citizen at birth if:

  • Both the parents are U.S. Citizens and one of them resided in the U.S. Prior to your birth they should be residing; or
  • Even if one of your parents is a foreign national and other is an U.S. citizen who had physically been in the U.S. before your birth for a period or periods totaling not less than five years, of which at least two of those were after the parent’s age of 14 years.

To summarize Form N-600 can be filed if any one of the following conditions exists:

  • Individuals born outside the U.S., claiming to have U.S. citizenship by birth to a U.S. citizen parent.
  • Individuals born to a U.S. Citizen outside the U.S or who met all the requirements for becoming a U.S. Citizen prior to their 18th birthday.
  • Adopted or biological children under the age of 18 who meet the requirements for citizenship, the form N-600 application must be filed by the U.S. citizen parent or legal guardian who has been given legal and physical custody of the child.

How to apply?

Along with the Form N-600 and other documents, two identical US passport photographs need to be provided. The photos taken within past six months should show current appearance and be 2 x 2 inches in size. Photos should be front view of full face with an off-white or plain white background. You should remember that from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head it should measure between 1 inch and 1 3/8 inches. Normal street attire is the dress code and not any uniform. A hat or headgear that conceals the hair or hairline should not be worn.  If normally you wear a wig, hearing device or prescription glasses for the picture you should have worn it.

Except for parents who are US citizens and requesting a Certificate of Citizenship for an adopted child the fee for Form N-600 is $600.  For U.S. citizen parents filing on behalf of an adopted minor child under Section 320 of the INA, the fee is $550.

A member or veteran of any branch of the United States Armed Forces need not pay fee for Form N-600 but must attach proof of service; otherwise USCIS will charge a fee to file the Form N-600. Money or checks should be made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security. All the documents, photos and Form N-600 need to be submitted at the USCIS district or field office in the U.S. which caters your residence area.

 

Know the process of filing US Form N400 application for naturalization?

If you want to become a citizen of another country, apart from the one you were born in and are a citizen of by birth right, you need to go through the naturalization process. Depending on that country the procedure and eligibility criteria differs to apply for naturalization. To become an American citizen the eligibility criteria includes firstly the applicant should be 18 years or above of age and secondly must be a green card holder. Also the applicant should have minimum 5 years of continuous residence in US prior to applying for naturalization. Having good moral character is also very important.

Applicant also should have resided in the state he/she is applying from for minimum 3 months prior to applying. In case the applicant is serving in US armed forces and serving nation from outside US the continuous residence requirement is waved off. So the applicant can file INS N 400 Form once he is assured that he is fully eligible and thus avoid the situation where the application is rejected. Depending on the center where you file N400 application for naturalization the processing time varies.

Following are the steps through which each applicant goes through in order to become a US citizen:

1. Get ready to apply: It’s important to first read and understand the whole naturalization process first and foremost. Next you should fill the worksheet available to check your eligibility for naturalization. The next thing you should do is get the N 400 form.

2. Application completion: Completely filling the N400 application is most important to avoid the USCIS from requesting for additional information later. Important to be honest while filling the naturalization form also since same information would be asked during interview later on. Also applicant should make sure to retain a copy of the N400 application form
for his/her records. Two passport style color photographs should be included with your application. Along with the naturalization form copies of the green card Form I-551front and back if any document is not in English language applicant should also attach a translation copy of that form in English.

3. USCIS lockbox facility: Next step is to send the application for US citizenship to respective USCIS lockbox facility that serves the area where the applicant resides. The correct fee for the application should also be attached. Under Sections 328 and 329 of the INA if military applicants are filing for citizenship they do not require a fee.

4. Fingerprinting appointment: Once USCIS receive your application intimation about where and when applicant should have the fingerprints taken will be sent. Applicant must take along with him/her the green card, notice letter and another photo identity proof along while going for the fingerprint appointment. At the said site electronically the finger printing is done. This will be sent to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for a back ground check. Once the file is checked and while FBI finishes with the checking the USCIS will send to applicant an interview schedule with the details of when, with date and time information, and where the interview will take place.

5. USCIS interview: Once applicant receives the schedule for interview it’s important to attend as per schedule since USCIS sends only once. At least 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled time applicant should report at the specified location. Question about background and N400 Form application information would be asked. A test on your English read, write and speaking skills will be conducted and also a civics test based on US history will be conducted. Based on your performance USCIS will inform the results.

6. Oath taking: Lastly once all the naturalization formalities are complete the applicant would be asked to come for the oath taking ceremony. Form N-445 would be sent where in the place, time and date information of the ceremony will be mentioned. Also if there the time period between interview and the oath is long question about what applicant did during that period printed on the back of the Form N-445 must be answered by the applicant and brought along for the ceremony. After handing over your green card applicant will speak publicly the oath of allegiance in front of a USCIS official and then be issued the naturalization certificate as proof for her/his US citizenship.

Get to know US Green Card and visa 2011 figures!

 

From the US government’s Department of Homeland Security the latest figures show that 1,062,040 people obtained their ‘green cards’ popularly known as lawful permanent residence in the USA last year, 2011.

Of these, 90,712 came from Europe. 13,443 came from the UK with a further 1,533 coming from the Republic of Ireland. The UK was the European country with the most new green card holders. Twice as many came from the UK than from Germany, which came second out of the European Countries.

32,728 Australians and 12,495 New Zealanders as well as 19,506 Canadians also gained permanent residence status. 438,580 Asian citizens also gained US permanent resident status in 2011. Of these, 66,331 came from India. More Indians gained green cards than citizens of any other Asian country apart from China.

California was the most popular state for those who gained green cards. About 210,000 of the new permanent residents reside there. 150,000 live in New York and around 110,000 in Florida. 95,000 are settled in Texas.

Nearly 700,000 of the new permanent residents qualified as family members of US citizens while 140,000 (about 13%) qualified based on employment based immigration.

Into five categories these can be broken down
1. First are the priority workers 25,251 in number
2. Advanced degrees or exceptional ability professionals with 66,831 workers
3. Third are skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers 37,216 in number
4. 6,701 as’ Special immigrants’
5. Like EB-5 Employment creation investors 3,340 in number

There were also 55,000 who were granted permanent residency through the Green Card Lottery. The rest were largely refugees and asylum seekers.

With regards to US visas, according to the statistics recently released by United States Department of Homeland Security, a remarkable story of the rise of India as a business power in the US and in the world at large is evident. It shows Indian citizens gaining more visas in certain categories than the citizens of any other nation on earth. Only seven years ago, the story was rather different.

665,202 Indians were granted visas to visit the US in 2005. Of these, 376,156 visited on B1/B2 visas. B1 visas are granted for business travelers while B2 visas are granted for the purpose of tourism. B1 visa holders are entitled to take part in business meetings but not to undertake paid work. It is usual practice for US consulates to grant a combined B1/B2 visa valid for both business and pleasure. They are generally valid for six months though they can be extended.

According to US Department of Homeland Security as of 2005 US had granted to Indian citizens 376,156 B1/B2 and 194,611 temporary worker visas and it totals to 665,202. Comparatively in 2011, 762,575 B1/B2 and 318,955 temporary worker visas, total of 1,222,902 visas were issued.

In addition, in 2005, 61,408 Indian students were granted visas to study in US educational institutions. Almost all of the temporary visas were either H-1B ‘specialty occupation’ visas or L1 intra company transfer visas. In 2011, 96,828 Indian students went to US educational establishments.

147,920 Indians were granted H-1B visas in 2011. H-1B visas are granted to foreign graduates working in specialty occupations’ that require specialized knowledge. H-1B visas normally last, initially for three years.

There is a cap on the number of H-1B visas granted annually of about 65,000. However, H-1B visa holders can also bring their immediate families with them. This explains why the number of visas granted exceeds the cap. The citizens of no other country in the world were granted so many H-1B visas. Canada came in second place with 88,000. Chinese citizens received only 23,700 and UK citizens only 19,300.

Indian citizens also received more L1 intra- company transfer visas than any other nation’s citizens. It received 64,482 in 2011 compared to Mexicans who received 62,000 and the 45,400 granted to Japanese citizens.

L1 visas allow firms with offices both in the US and elsewhere to bring senior managers (with an L1-A visa) or staff with ‘specialized knowledge’ (L1-B visa) to work in the US.

However, this success has come at a price. Last year, figures show, Indian citizens also now suffer the highest visa refusal rates. Last year, 26.8% of applications from Indian citizens for B category visas were refused. There have also been a growing number of refusals for Indians applying in other, temporary work visa categories.

Green Card Lottery 2012 may be the last?

 

 

Under the Green Card Lottery 55,000 US immigrant visas are available. You only have two more weeks to apply. The entry period ends will close at noon, EDT, Saturday, November 3, 2012. Selection is made randomly by computer under the Green Card Lottery. If you are one of the lucky winners this is a relatively easy way of gaining immigration to the US. The Kentucky Consular Center (KCC),it is important to remember that the results are announced by the KCC only and no other organization or company is authorized to declare the results.

But, this could be the last ever Green Card Lottery IF the Republicans win the US elections held on 6th November 2012. A legislation that would abolish it is what the Republicans are planning. People around the world with accredited degrees in science and math should “get a green card stapled to their diploma,” Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said in his Tuesday night debate with President Barack Obama, who has made similar appeals to retain skilled foreign students.

A United States Permanent Resident Card is better known as a ‘green card’. Green card holders can live and work in the US for the rest of their lives. After five years of permanent residence in the US, a green card holder can apply for US citizenship by filing N400 application for naturalization.

The Green Card Lottery was established by Act of Congress in 1990 and the first one took place in 1995 to encourage diversity in the United States. Every year, 50,000 permanent resident visas are distributed by lottery to natives of countries with low rates of immigration to the US.

This year’s Green Card Lottery began on October 2nd 2012 and applications will not be accepted after 12.00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time on November 3rd 2012.

There have been several attempts to abolish the Lottery over the years. In 2005, Republicans attempted to end it after it was revealed that an Egyptian terrorist gained a US green card through the lottery. There are also allegations that the Lottery is open to fraud.

This year, Republican Representative Lamarr Smith, introduced the STEM Jobs Act in the House of Representative, one house of the US Congress. This Act proposed taking the visas allocated under the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, the proper name of the Green Card Lottery, and allocating them instead to graduates in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, (the so called STEM subjects).

Democrats in Congress opposed the STEM Jobs Act because it would abolish the Green Card Lottery. They accepted that America needs to attract more STEM graduates; they said that the Green Card Lottery is important because it fosters diversity in the US.

So the Democrats proposed their own Attracting the Brightest and the Best Act. This act would leave the Green Card Lottery in place and grant 2 year visas to STEM graduates enabling them to work in US industry.

However, neither party was able to make their respective proposals become law. There are two chambers in the US Congress; The Senate and The House of Representatives. The Democrats control the Senate and the Republicans control the House of Representatives. In order to become law, a bill must be passed by both chambers. This is impossible at present. This situation is known as ‘gridlock’.

Congress is now in nook waiting for the election of the new president on November 6th. On that day, there are also elections for 468 Congressional seats; 33 seats of the 100 Senate seats are up for election. If the Republicans win 14 of these, they will take control of the Senate.

At the same time, elections will be held for all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. This means that the Republicans could take control of the Presidency and both Houses of Congress.

Therefore, control of the Washington government may fall totally into the hands of the Republicans in the November 2012 election. If it does then the Stem Jobs Act may very well be passed by Congress.

However, that does not mean that it would become law. The President has a right of vote. If the Republicans control Congress but President Obama is re-elected, it seems likely that he would vote the STEM Jobs Act, even if it got through Congress.

However, if Mr Romney becomes president, then, it could be that 2012 is your last chance to take part in the Green Card Lottery. At present, the results of the elections are far from certain but this could be your last chance to apply.

NeXXt Scholars initiative for women to Pursue STEM Careers

 

 

 

Inaugural group of 24 NeXXt Scholars, 12 international women and 12 American women were welcome and the U.S. Department of State was pleased. These scholars began their undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) studies at 8 women’s colleges in the US.

An increase in opportunities for young women around the world to advance in STEM careers is what the NeXXt Scholars Initiative seeks. In partnership with 38 U.S. women’s colleges, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), EducationUSA, and the New York Academy of Sciences, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton launched the initiative in December 2011

Increasing opportunities for women from countries with a Muslim-majority population is what the NeXXt Scholars initiative focuses  on by partnering with women’s colleges. It helps women to access a hands-on, inquiry-based STEM undergraduate education in the United States. This is in response to Secretary Clinton’s center mission of educating and advancing women worldwide. Barnard College, Bryn Mawr College, Columbia College, Douglass Residential College at Rutgers University, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Wellesley College, and Wilson College are where the NeXXt Scholars are attending.

Through State Department-supported EducationUSA advising centers the international students in the inaugural class were nominated. EducationUSA advising centers will provide educational advising and support to international students interested in studying in the US. Young women from Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories (Gaza and West Bank), Tunisia, and Turkey represented the first class. In addition, each college matriculating an international NeXXt Scholar has selected an American peer to partner with her. Together, these STEM-Sisters will receive career support services from the New York Academy of Sciences. A five-year Academy membership, a personal STEM mentor from the Academy, and opportunities for participation in network building and soft-skills development workshops are included in this STEM-enrichment program.

By providing a strong background in STEM education, offering leadership training while fostering mutual respect and understanding across cultures, and building a strong network of women scientists, engineers, and innovators to together solve tomorrow’s global challenges this initiative seeks to encourage and empower young women. Outreach to the second cohort of NeXXt Scholars is currently underway for college matriculation in the fall of 2013.

For more information, interested parties should contact their local EducationUSA adviser.

Secretary Clinton’s NeXXt Scholars Launch remarks are available online.

For more information about the NeXXt Scholars Initiative, please email NeXXtScholars@state.gov or visit: http://goo.gl/unQHJ.