Tips For U.S. Citizens And Permanent Residents Traveling Internationally.

U.S. Customs And Border Protection (Cbp) Today Launched A Traveler Awareness Campaign To Inform The Millions Of Americans And U.S. Residents Who Will Travel Abroad This Holiday Season.

&Quot;U.S. Customs And Border Protection Is Committed To Making Sure That Your Vacation And Business Travel Is As Safe And Stress Free As Possible,” Stated Commissioner Robert C. Bonner. “U.S. Citizens Vacationing Abroad Can Make Their Own Travel Easier By Taking A Few Extra Minutes To 'Know Before You Go.&Quot;

&Quot;Travelers Should Also Be Aware,&Quot; Commissioner Bonner Continued, &Quot;That The United States And Its Citizens Are Targets For Terrorists. While Cbp Is Taking Every Necessary Step To Protect Our Country, Employing A Highly Trained Work Force With The Latest Technology, We Need An Alert And Vigilant Citizenry To Report To Enforcement Authorities Any Unusual Or Suspicious Activity. We Ask You To Be Our Partners In Ensuring A Safe, Secure And Enjoyable Holiday Season.&Quot;

To Learn About The Rules For Bringing Back Purchases Made And Gifts Received Abroad, Travelers Should Read Know Before You Go, Available At Www.Cbp.Gov/Xp/Cgov/Travel.

Here Is A Brief Overview Of U.S. Customs And Border Protection Requirements.
  • If You Are A U.S. Citizen Returning To The United States From Outside Of The Western Hemisphere, E.G., Europe, Asia, Africa, Or Australia, You Must Present A Valid Passport. If You Are A U.S. Citizen Traveling Inside The Western Hemisphere, E.G., North, Central Or South America, It Is Highly Recommended That You Carry Any Proof Of Citizenship That Clearly Establishes Identity And Nationality, Such As A Passport (Valid Or Expired), A Certificate Of Citizenship Or Certificate Of Naturalization, Or A Birth Certificate Or Baptismal Certificate And A Photo I.D.

  • If You Are A Non-Citizen Who Is A Lawful Permanent Resident Of The United States, You Must Present A Permanent Resident Card (&Quot;Green Card,&Quot; Form I-551), A Reentry Permit, Or A Refugee Travel Document Endorsed To Reflect Permanent Resident Status.

  • If You Are In The Process Of Applying For Lawful Permanent Residence In The United States, You Must File Form I-131, Application For Travel Document, And Receive Permission To Travel Outside The United States, Before Leaving The United States (Advance Parole).

  • You Must Declare The Total Value Of All Articles Acquired Abroad And In Your Possession At The Time You Return. This Includes Articles You Bought; Gifts You Received; Repairs, Or Alterations Made While You Were Out Of The United States; And Any Items You Brought Home For Someone Else.

  • If You Have Food Items Or Souvenirs Made Of Straw Or Other Plant-Derived Materials Or Seeds, You Must Declare Them On The Cbp Declaration Form. Here's Why: Certain Items Brought Into This Country From Foreign Countries May Harbor Foreign Animal And Plant Pests And Diseases That Could Seriously Damage America's Crops, Livestock, Pets, And The Environment. All Meats, Fruits, Vegetables, Plants, Animals, And Plant And Animal Products, Soup Or Soup Products In Your Possession Must Be Declared And Presented For Inspection. This Declaration Must Cover All Items Carried In Checked Baggage And Carry-On Luggage. If The Items Are Found To Have Pests Or Be Diseased, Or Are From An Area Where Certain Diseases Are Occurring, They Will Be Seized And Destroyed Under Government Supervision. Travelers Who Fail To Declare Plant And Animal Products Can Be Fined Up To $1,000 Or More And Have Their Items Confiscated. You Should Also Declare If You Have Been On A Farm Or In Close Proximity To Livestock. If You Have, We Will Want To Examine Your Shoes For Dirt Or Animal Matter That Could Harbor Foot-And-Mouth Disease Or Other Dangers To U.S. Livestock.

  • Your Duty-Free Exemption Is $800 If You Are A Returning U.S. Resident And The Items You Acquired Abroad Accompany You. The Duty-Free Exemption Is $600 If You Are Returning Directly From A Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act Country. The Exemption Is $1,200 If You Are Returning From American Samoa, Guam, Or The U.S. Virgin Islands.

  • Gifts You Mailed From Abroad To People In The United States Can Be Received By Them Free Of Duty If The Value Of The Gift Does Not Exceed $100.

  • The Articles You Purchased In “Duty-Free” Shops, Or On A Plane Or Ship, Are Subject To Duty And Other Restrictions. Articles You Bought In American Duty-Free Shops Are Subject To Duty And Irs Tax If Reentered Into The United States.

  • There Is No Limitation On The Amount Of Monetary Instruments That May Be Brought Into Or Taken Out Of The United States. If You Take Out Or Bring In More Than $10,000 In Currency Or Negotiable Instruments You Must File A Report (Fincen 105) With Cbp.
This Is Only A Brief Overview Of U.S. Customs And Border Protection Requirements. The Brochure, Know Before You Go, Describes The Rules In Detail. A Copy Of This Brochure Can Be Ordered On Cbp's Web Site At Http://Www.Cbp.Gov/Xp/Cgov/Toolbox/Publications/Order/. You May Also Call And Request A Copy From U.S. Customs And Border Protection In Washington, D.C., At 1-877-Cbp-5511 Or 202-354-1000.
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Dos Announces Changes In Fee Structure
In A Recent Announcement In The Federal Register, The U.S. Department Of State Announced A Number Of Changes In Their Fee Structure, Effective March 8. The Changes Include Increase In The Surcharge For Dv Lottery Winners From $100 To $375 And The Introduction Of The New $500 Antifraud Fee For Principals In L Blanket Visa Cases.

New Section Added To Immigration To Australia Website - Specifically For Greek Immigration To Australia
Australian Immigration News New Section Added To Immigration To Australia Website - Specifically For Greek Immigration To Australia Immigration 2 Australia Has Been Launched As An Essential Guide To Help The Increasing Number Of People Thinking Of Australian Immigration. The Web Site Provides Information On Australian Visas, Information On Finding Australian Jobs, Somewhere To Live And The [...]

Two New Bills Propose H-1B Hike
Though He Tried And Failed Last Year, Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates&Rsquo; Plea For H1b Quota Hike Seems To Have Appealed To The Politicians In The Pre-Election Mode This Year. Two Bills Have Been Introduced, One By U.S. House Of Representatives Democrat On The Science And Technology Committee Which Gates Had Addressed And Another By A House Republican. Both Bills Propose To Raise The H1b Quota By 2008.

H1b Is A Visa Category That Allows Us Employers To Bring In Aliens With At Least A Bachelors Degree And Specialized Skills To Work In Special Occupations (Programmers, Scientists Etc). As Of Now, The H1b Cap Is At 65,000, And In Addition There Exists A H1b Masters Quota For Aliens With Advanced Degrees From U.S. Schools, Which Stands At 20000. So, Altogether 85,000 Visas.

The First Bill, The Innovation Employment Act, Proposes To Hike The Quota To 130,000 For 2008 And Take It Up To 180,000 If Necessary In The Preceding Year. Sponsored By Democrat Gabrielle Giffords (Az) The Bill Also Proposes Exemption For All Foreigners Who Has A Master's Or Doctorate From A U.S. University In Math, Science, Engineering, And Other Technology Fields. In Addition, Another 20,000 Visas Are Being Proposed For Foreigners Who Have Similar Degrees From Institutions Outside The United States.

The Second Bill Was Proposed By Lamar Smith, A Ranking Member Of House Judiciary Committee From Texas. The Bill, Called The Strengthening United States Technology And Innovation Now (Or Sustain) Act, Proposes To Raise The Visa Cap To 195,000.

Why The Hike?

Both Bills Follow Bill Gates&Rsquo; Plea, Which Is Echoed By Many Other Technology Companies, Which Pointed To A Visa Shortage Crisis. These Companies Argue That They Are Facing Severe Shortage Of Specialized Workers As There Aren&Rsquo;T Many Qualified Americans. Countering Some Of The Usual Criticism Faced By H1b, Gates Stated In His Addresses That By Hiring H-1B Workers Microsoft Is Actually Preventing Jobs From Being Moved Offshore And Also Creating More Jobs For American Programmers And Engineers&Rsquo; Junior Level.

The Demand For H1b Has Also Far Exceeded The Quota In The Last Few Years, Culminating In A Unprecedented 150,000 Applications Received By Uscis On The Very First Day In 2007.

Us Programmers Highly Critical Of Bill

The H-1B Program Has Always Received Lots Of Criticism From Americans Programmers, Who Believe That There Is No Actual Shortage Of Workers In Us And The Technology Companies Are Misusing The H1b Program To Hire Low Paid Workers. Us Workers Also Feel That The H1b Program Depress The Wages And Are Displacing Qualified Domestic Workers. With Us Facing Probable Recession And The Recent Job Cuts Are Also Lending Credentials To These Fears.

Additionally, As A Large Chunk Of H1bs Are Grabbed By The Indian Firms Lately, Many Us Workers Believe The Current H-1B Program Does Not Support U.S. Businesses. Microsoft And Intel Are The Two Us Based Companies That Largely Apply For H1bs.

New H-1B Bills Can Reform Current Program?

It Has Been Alleged That Many Consultancy Firms Are Acting As Recruitment Agencies, Hiring H-1B Workers And Them Allowing Them To Find Job With Other Foreign Companies.

The Innovation Employment Act, If Passed Will Put A Stop To This Practice. The Bill Proposes To Enforce That Clause That H1bs Workers Are Employed Directly By A Company I.E. H-1B Visa Holders Cannot Do Third Party Consulting.

In Addition, This Bill Also Proposes To Stop Employers From Bringing Foreign Workers Here To Just To Train And Then Sending Them Back To The Offshore Branches.
But Let&Rsquo;S Not Forget, These Bills Have Been Just Introduced And Not Even Passed The Committee Level. The H1b Application Start Date For 2008-2009 Is April 1St. It's Highly Unlikely That Either Bill Will Be Passed Before That.

Joint Announcement From The Dos And Dhs On Passport Card Production
The U.S. Department Of State (Dos) And The U.S. Department Of Homeland Security (Dhs) Announced Today That The New U.S. Passport Card Is In Full Production And Is Now Being Distributed. The Passport Card Is A Convenient, Walletsized Document For Land And Sea Travel Between The United States And Mexico, Canada, The Caribbean, And Bermuda. It Is Not Valid For International Travel By Air.

Sevis Ramps Up For Fall Semester; 220,000 Students Expected
(Cbp) Commissioner (Dhs) Today Marked The Start Of The Second Year Of The Student And Exchange Visitor Information System (Sevis), A Nationwide Registration Program For International Visitors, With A Welcoming Event Today At Dulles International Airport For Some Of The 220,000 Foreign Students And Exchange Visitors Expected To Arrive In The United States This Fall.

Uscis Redesigned The Naturalization Test
In The Interest Of Creating A More Standardized, Fair, And Meaningful Naturalization Process, U.S. Citizenship And Immigration Services (Uscis) Recently Completed A Multi-Year Redesign Of The Naturalization Test. The Revised Test, With An Emphasis On The Fundamental Concepts Of American Democracy And The Rights And Responsibilities Of Us Citizenship, Will Help Encourage Citizenship Applicants To Learn And Identify With The Basic Values We All Share As Americans.

Cbp Officers Directed To Enforce Law With Common Sense On Visa Waiver Overstayers
U.S. Customs And Border Protection (Cbp) Commissioner Robert C. Bonner Announced Today New Discretion For Cbp Officers To Grant Norisk Travelers Who Overstayed Under The Visa Waiver Program (Vwp) On A Prior Visit A Onetime Parole. The Use Of Discretion By Cbp Supervisors Will Avoid The Detention And Handcuffing Which Commissioner Bonner Said Was "Inappropriate" For Minor Violations Of The Visa Waiver Program.

Uscis Naturalization Test Redesign
U.S. Citizenship And Immigration Services (Uscis) Is Revising The Naturalization Test To Create A Test And Testing Process That Is Standardized, Fair And Meaningful In Order To Maintain Consistency Between Offices.

Uscis To Issue Regulation On Multiple H1b Filings
The U.S. Citizenship And Immigration Services (Uscis) Will Soon Issue An Interim Final Regulation That Will Prohibit Employers From Filing More Than One H1b Petition On Behalf Of A Single Foreign National. The Regulation Is Now Being Reviewed By Federal Authorities And Is Expected To Be Made Public In Time For The Start Of The Fiscal Year 2009 Filing Season On April 1.

Can I File For I-130/Aos While On B-2/B-1 Visa
Hi! I Have Gone Through So Many Websites, With So Many Different Answers To My Question. Is It Legal To Apply For An I-130/I-485 If You Are In The Us And And Recently Married To A Usc, With No Fraudulent Intent? If So, Do I Just File And Let Fate Take Its Course At The Interview? Is There Anybody...

When I Am Supposed To Apply For Advanced Parole?
I Filled The I-130 The G-325 And 230. Gave Marriage Certificate; Copies Of Passport And Etc. I Am Waiting For The Interview Date. When I Am Supposed To Apply For The Advanced Parole Form? Norma

Image Program Launched By Ice In Puerto Rico
The U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (Ice), In Cooperation With Several Local Businesses, This Morning Launched The Ice Mutual Agreement Between Government Employers (Image) For Puerto Rico And The U.S. Virgin Islands.

A Rendezvous With India: Immigration Seminar In New Delhi
This Is The First Of The Series Of Articles On Our Recent Seminars And Workshops In Various Cities Of India. This Article Contains Excerpts From Our Attorney's Diaries Regarding His Travel Experiences During His Visit To New Delhi, The Capital Of India.

Dhs Signs Visa Waiver Program Interim Declaration With Bulgaria
U.S. Department Of Homeland Security (Dhs) Secretary Michael Chertoff Signed Today A Visa Waiver Program (Vwp) Interim Declaration With Bulgarian Foreign Minister Ivailo Kalfin. The Security Enhancements Outlined In The Declaration Continues Bulgaria's Progress On The Path Toward Visafree Travel To The U.S., And Possible Designation As A Vwp Member.

Enter Us Without A Visa
The Visa Waiver Program Allows Foreign Nationals From Certain Designated Countries To Enter The U.S. For A Period Of Up To 90 Days As A Visitor For Business Or Pleasure Without Obtaining A Visa.

Iraqi Refugees Can Now Seek Asylum In The U.S.
The U.S. Department Of Homeland Security (Dhs) And The U.S. Department Of State (Dos) Have Been Committed To Streamlining The Process For Admitting Iraqi Refugees To The U.S. While At The Same Time Ensuring The Highest Level Of Security. Starting In May 2007, Dhs And Dos Have Worked Cooperatively To Administer The Overseas Component Of The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (Usrap).

Samenfink Heads Cbp&Cedil;S Modernization Office
U.S. Customs And Border Protection (Cbp) Has Announced The Appointment Of 26Year Cbp Veteran Louis Samenfink As Executive Director Of The Agency's Modernization Office.

Ice Means Business; Reports Record Alien Removals
U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (Ice) Has Announced That The Removal Of Criminal And Other Illegal Aliens From The United States Reached Record Levels, With 157,281 Aliens Removed In Fiscal Year 2004. In Addition, Ice Recorded A Sizable Increase In Apprehensions Under A New Program Specifically Targeting Fugitive Aliens.

Ice Arrests 59 At Northern Virginia Resort After I9 Inspection
As Part Of Ongoing Efforts To Secure Our Nation's Borders Through The Discharge Of Interior Law Enforcement Missions, U.S. Immigration And Customs Enforcement (Ice) Agents Executed An Enforcement Action At The Luxurious Northern Virginia Resort.

Uscis Salutes America&Cedil;S Newest Citizens
The Uscis Hosted Two Special Naturalization Ceremonies In Iraq And Kuwait This Week Under Which 235 Military Service Members From 54 Countries Became The Newest Citizens Of The United States. Uscis Immigration Officials Volunteer To Travel To Combat Theaters To Conduct Naturalization Interviews And Hold Citizenship Ceremonies For Members Of The U.S. Military. Their Tireless Work, In Several Cases Up Until The Last Possible Moment, Ensured That 192 Service Members Recited The Oath Of Allegiance During A Ceremony At Camp Victory In Baghdad, Iraq. Later In The Week, Uscis Officials Also Naturalized 20 Service Members At Camp Arifjan In Kuwait.