Miscellaneous

1) When can I receive a Social Security Number?

If you do not already have a social security number, you can apply for one at the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) office. If you hold nonimmigrant visa status that allows you to work in the U.S. (e.g., H-1B), the SSA will issue a social security card which indicates that you are authorized to work with USCIS authorization only. Your dependents will not be issued SSNs, but they can apply for a federal identification number at a local IRS office.
When can I receive a Social Security Number?
If you do not already have a social security number, you can apply for one at the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) office. If you hold nonimmigrant visa status that allows you to work in the U.S. (e.g., H-1B), the SSA will issue a social security card which indicates that you are authorized to work with USCIS authorization only. Your dependents will not be issued SSNs, but they can apply for a federal identification number at a local IRS office.
For more information about applying for a social security number and office locations, you can visit the SSA website at www.ssa.gov .

2) What is the "green card lottery?"

For the past several years, the Department of State has conducted a "diversity lottery" for nationals of certain countries who wish to become permanent residents. 50,000 immigrant visas are available annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The application process occurs in October. The Department of State website will contain information about the process.

3) When can I apply for U.S. citizenship?

Individuals who satisfy the residence, physical presence and other requirements are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after they have been permanent residents (green card holders) for five years. If you are married to a U.S. citizen, you are eligible to apply for citizenship after three years of marriage as long as residence, physical presence and other requirements are met. An applicant for U.S. citizenship must demonstrate good moral character, English literacy, and knowledge of U.S. history. In addition, there are U.S. residence and physical presence requirements which must be met. In brief, the applicant for naturalization must have been physically present in the U.S. for at least half of the qualifying period (5 or 3 years as described above) and must have maintained his or her primary place of abode in the U.S. for the entire qualifying period (e.g. extended absences from the U.S. may interrupt the qualifying period).

4) If I choose to leave my current employer, will this affect my visa status in process?

The E, H, L, TN and O nonimmigrant visas are employer-specific. Therefore, if you leave your current employer and wish to remain in the U.S., you will need to immediately find another U.S. employer who will sponsor you. The permanent residence process requires that you intend to work with the petitioning employer on a permanent at-will basis. Nonetheless, a permanent resident application can become "portable" to another employer six months after filing the adjustment of status application if any new employment is substantially similar to the labor certification/visa petition employment.

5) What if I am not married but I have a partner or "significant other?"

Although not entitled to a derivative nonimmigrant visa, your significant other may be able to obtain a B-2 ("tourist") visa to accompany you during a temporary stay in the U.S. if you can show that he/she is your dependent. For the permanent resident process, only spouses are eligible for derivative immigrant visas.

6) After I receive U.S. permanent residence, what happens if I am transferred abroad?

In order to maintain your U.S. permanent residence, you must continuously hold an intent to make your primary residence in the U.S. USCIS examines a number of criteria as evidence of your intention to maintain U.S. permanent residence. To demonstrate the requisite continued maintenance of ties to the U.S., you are strongly advised to maintain a U.S. address (even if it is the home of a relative or friend); property (i.e., a person assigned abroad should consider renting out their U.S. property, rather than selling it); U.S. bank accounts; U.S. credit cards; a current U.S. driver's license, among others. In addition, you must continue to file U.S. tax returns as a U.S. resident and claim your worldwide income (even if not required to pay income tax based on tax treaties and foreign tax credits); failure to follow this rule can lead to loss of permanent resident status.

7) What if my spouse/children would like to work in the United States?

Nonimmigrant Visa Holders
All nonimmigrant visa categories will allow your spouse and children (under 21) to enter the United States and to live here lawfully as dependents (derivatives) to your status. For example, an L-1 visa holder may bring his wife and children under L-2 status. An H-1 visa holder may bring her husband and children on H-4 status.
Spouses of L-1 and E nonimmigrant workers are eligible for employment during their valid stay in the U.S. They can apply for Employment Authorization Document (EAD) with USCIS. The process takes about 90 days.
However, other nonimmigrant visa categories do not allow your spouse or children to work in the United States while they are here as dependents. Only the principal visa holder is eligible to work in the U.S. This is true for the most common visa classifications such as H, O, P, and TN.
Your dependents may be eligible to work if they qualify for a nonimmigrant visa category (most typically H-1B), and can locate a U.S. employer willing to act as a sponsor. In this case, the employer can file the appropriate petition with the USCIS to grant your family member the proper nonimmigrant visa category. Upon approval of a change of status, your family member will be authorized to work.
Immigrant Visa Applicants
If you and your family process your permanent residence application through consular processing abroad rather than adjustment of status in the U.S., your spouse and children will not have work authorization until the permanent resident visa is issued by the U.S. consulate and your family members enter the U.S.

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