Hints for Work / Immigration Visa Documentations


There are certain documents you will be required to submit for your permanent visa (work visa and immigration visa), maybe years in the future. In some cases, if you don't secure them now, you may not be able to obtain them later. Following this advice will be of great help to you in your future.

1. Keep every document the immigration authorities issue to you, for the rest of your life. Also, regularly make a copy of every page of every passport including those of your spouse and children. Particularly make sure you have a photocopy of every visa you are issued, and every entry stamp in your passport. Keep a copy of both sides of every I-94 entry document you and your family are issued. 

2. Make a copy of every document you submit to the immigration authorities before you send it to them. Keep a file containing a copy of every page of every form, letter, transcript, financial document --every single thing you ever give to the immigration authorities. Make a copy of every cashier's check or money order you use to pay the immigration authorities, don't just retain the receipt portion. This way if the immigration authorities lose the original of your file, which happens, you can help the government reconstruct it. This has happened to clients of mine, but because I could produce a copy of every page that I had filed for her including proof of the money orders with which we paid the filing fees, that "lost file" was reconstructed from the copy of the client file I had retained, because it had all the signs of authenticity and completeness, and she got her green card.

3. Get good employment history letters from all of your employers, particularly those from overseas. You may need to produce letters proving your employment history, years or decades later. Proof of a minor aspect of a job you had twenty years ago can literally make the difference in whether or not you obtain permanent residency. If you do not get an employment letter now, the people who know your history may not be there in the future when you need them, or the institution that employed you may go out of existence. 

Such letters should: 
Be on your employer's letterhead; be dated; indicate the position of the person signing the letter; state the precise day you started employment, and the precise day you stopped employment; state the number of hours per week you worked, and if this changed at various times, it should be noted; if you were promoted or your job title changed, the date of such changes; state your salary for every position you held; state your specific duties for every position you held; state whether you supervised other people, how many, and what their job titles were; state who your supervisor was, and your supervisor's title; state the locations where you worked.

Most employment letters leave out much of this information. Instead they say that you worked hard, that you were honest, that you were very professional. Such statements are interesting to future employers but they may be useless for immigration purposes. The regulations for labor certification are very strict, and good employment letters are needed to meet the legal requirements. Keep the originals of your employment history letters for the rest of your life; show them, but do not release them, to the immigration authorities.

Proof of your outstanding abilities
Keep a copy of every email or letter you receive requesting you to review someone else's research paper, a copy of every letter thanking you for being a reviewer, a copy of every paper you write, a copy of every conference program on which you are listed as chairman of a session or as a presenter, a copy of every newspaper article about you, a video copy of every TV program you are on, a copy of the student evaluations of your teaching ability, and a photograph of every exhibit you display at a conference, a detailed list of every significant event in your professional life. These are needed for certain kinds of visas such as O-1 and Outstanding Researchers, and National Interest Waivers. 

Obtain originals of Advertising
Successful labor certification applications require submitting the originals of the advertising that was done to fill your position. Obtain and keep an original of every newspaper advertisement and every journal advertisement that advertised the job opening. It is quite important to keep these in proper order, as you will need to send the originals to the Labor Department for your Labor Certificate; they will not accept copies. Do not cut the ad out of the newspaper or the journal; keep the entire page whole (these are called "tear sheets"). Do not mark up, underline, or use highlighter on the ad or on the date. If you use a highlighter, only use pale yellow. It is all right to circle the ad, if the circle does not touch the ad itself. Remember that if the ad ran three times in a newspaper, you will need to submit tear sheets from all three dates. For journals, keep the whole journal. If you have already started work as an H-1B or TN, and don't have the tear sheets, take the time to contact the newspaper or journal and obtain them now. Newspapers regularly purge their archives, and if you ask for an ad a year later, it may be too late, and your application may fail for lack of proof.

The information herein is of a general nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or circumstances, nor should this information be construed as legal advice. For an evaluation about your case, please consult with an immigration attorney.

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