Documentation Required to Maintain Legal Status in the United States
The U.S. immigration process is fraught with red tape, convoluted procedures, and scores of information and paperwork. Whether you are a U.S. citizen filing a petition for a foreign national, a business, a family, or an individual in need of navigating any immigration process, you must be aware that there are a variety of specific documents you may need to complete the process and maintain legal status in the United States. Well-versed in immigration law and highly familiar with the intricacies, requirements, and procedures of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), our Dallas immigration attorneys make it a point to fully inform our clients about what they need to complete their unique immigration action.
Every application, procedure, and process related to U.S. immigration will require documentation. Although each process and application may require different documents, there are several general required documents immigrants and petitioners will need to supply the USCIS and other government officials when entering or leaving the country and during the course of their stay. As part of our focus on ensuring that local residents have the information and support they need to achieve their objectives, we have provided the following information about the most important documents you may need.
Although each immigration action may differ, most immigrants who wish to enter the United States will be required to supply a government official with a certified passport from their home country. Passports are also considered primary documents, which means that they can be used to establish identity when filing applications or applying for other official documents. If a foreign national does not have a passport, applications may be filed to petition for a waiver.
Whether entering the country on a temporary or permanent status, immigrants must obtain a valid visa prior to entering the United States. Foreign nationals will be required to apply for a specific visa that explains their purpose for entering the country, including business work visas,
student visas, and
family visas. At a U.S. port of entry, these visas will be reviewed and stamped by a government official. Visa holders must also be granted permission to enter the country by U.S. customs. Qualifying foreign nationals of certain countries may be eligible to obtain visa waivers.
I-94 / I-95
I-94 or I-95 forms will be given to visa holders when they have been granted permission to enter the country. The I-94 / I-95 document is legal proof of admission into the United States. It will include information about arrival and departure dates and about the expiration of the visa. Immigrants and non-immigrants must carry these forms with them at all times when in the country. Other people looking to apply for changes of status and green cards must also have the I-94 or I-95 form.
The I-551 form is the official name for a green card, which provides proof that a foreign national has been lawfully admitted into the United States on a permanent basis. Certain officials, employers, and government agencies may also require the I-551 form as evidence that a green card holder has the right to live and work in country.
Border Crossing Cards
Border crossing cards (BCC) are issued only to Mexican citizens. It lawfully permits foreign nationals who have ties to the U.S. and Mexico to legally enter and exit the country for temporary stays. BCCs are often used for family purposes to travel back and forth from Texas to Mexico. Typically, a BCC will be valid for 10 years, with exceptions in cases involving children.
Advance Parole Travel Documents
Any foreign nation with a pending application with the USCIS for immigrant benefits or for changes in status must have an advance parole travel document when leaving and returning to the United States. Some exceptions may apply for certain visa categories. Refugee and asylum seekers must apply for a refugee travel documents.
Permanent residents (green card holders), must have a re-entry permit when they plan to travel outside of the United States for up to two years. Re-entry permits allow permanent residents to maintain their residency status when out of the country for extended stays.
Learn More About Required Documents from a Dallas Immigration Attorney
While these documents are often the most important, each immigration application and action may require additional forms of documentation, such as marriage certificates. As the Mathur Law Offices, P.C., delivers individualized service to each client, we are prepared to personally guide you through your process and help you understand exactly which documents you will need. Request a case evaluation or
contact the Mathur Law Offices, P.C. to learn more.