Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Malta added to Visa Waiver Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) now allows Maltese nationals to make use of the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), as of December 30, 2008. Travellers will be able to enter the US for 90 days or less for tourism or business purposes without a visa, provided they have an e-passport and an approved authorization via the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA).

To travel to the United States under the VWP, an alien must be from a participating country and must (1) be seeking entry as a tourist for a period of 90 days or less; (2) be a national of a VWP participant country; (3) present an electronic passport or a machine readable passport issued by a designated VWP participant country to the air or vessel carrier before departure; (4) execute the required immigration forms; (5) if arriving by air or sea, arrive on an authorized carrier; (6) not represent a threat to the welfare, health, safety or security of the United States; (7) have not violated U.S. immigration law during a previous admission under the visa waiver program; (8) possess a round trip ticket; and (9) waive the right to review or appeal a decision regarding admissibility or to contest other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any action for removal.

For more information about the Visa Waiver program and ESTA, please see our blog post dated 11/17/08:

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Can my spouse or children work when they accompany me to the US?

Foreign nationals usually want to know if their spouse and/or children can work when the family moves to the US because of the principal's job. Unfortunately, the answer is "No' in most cases, which can be very difficult for spouses who are used to having their own career and income in their home country.

The spouse will be eligible for work authorization if s/he is in dependent L-2 or E status. Spouses of people working in the US in status other than L-1 or E are not eligible to work in their dependent status (with limited exceptions for J-2 spouses). They may be eligible for another status, independent of the principal, that would allow them to work. Children in dependent status, except at the final stage of the green card process, cannot get work authorization.

The spouse can get work authorization by filing a Form I-765 with the USCIS. This can be done once s/he has entered the US in E/L status, and takes about 3-4 months for approval. Until the I-765 is approved, the spouse cannot work.