Frequently Asked Questions!
All of the questions on this page are for general information and should not be construed as legal advice.  This page is only periodically updated and the questions and answers displayed may no longer be accurate.  Always consult with an Immigration Attorney if you have an issue that may complicate your future plans to visit or to immigrate to the United States.

(see also Frequently Asked Question in Hebrew)

Q:  My application for a visitor visa was denied.  The Consular Officer said I can try again in six months if my situation has changed.  What are my chances of having my visa application approved in six months?

A:  There are many reasons why a visitor visa application might be denied, the most common of which is that the Applicant has not shown strong ties to their country of residence, compelling their return after a temporary visit to the U.S.  There is a rebuttable assumption under U.S. Immigration Law that all Applicants for temporary visas intend to remain in the U.S.  The Applicant shoulders the burden of proving that he or she has strong ties to their country of residence.  Merely reapplying for a visa in six months will generally not help – you should seek assistance and consult with an immigration attorney.

Q:  We are planning a family trip to the U.S. for my son’s Bar-Mitzvah.  My wife and I and our two younger children have been approved for visas but my eldest daughter, who was just recently released from the army and is planning to begin college in the fall, was denied a visa.  Is there anything we can do in order to change the Consul’s Decision so that my daughter can get a visa to travel with us to the U.S.?

A:  There is a presumption under the law that anyone requesting a Temporary Visa intends to remain in the U.S.  In order to rebut this presumption the Applicant must prove strong ties to his home country, compelling his or her return in a timely manner.  The burden of proof is on the Applicant and if he or she is young, unemployed or employed in a non-career low-paying job, there is little likelihood that the Consul will approve the Application.  Consulting an Immigration Attorney before applying for the visa could be helpful.

For more information see Visa Denials

 Q:  I am in the U.S. and wish to change my status.  If my request is approved will I be issued a visa in the new status?

A:  No.  If you request a change of status and it is approved in the U.S. you may remain in the U.S. under the conditions of the new approved status.  However, if you depart the U.S. you will not be allowed to reenter under the new status unless a visa in the respected category has been issued to you.  Visas are issued by U.S. Consular Visa Sections abroad.  There is no guarantee that such a visa will be issued by a Consular Officer abroad.

 Q:  I am in the U.S. and wish to extend my visit.  If I apply for an extension to my I-94 may I remain in the U.S. until I receive a Decision on my Application.

A:  If you do not receive a Decision prior to the departure date specified on your I-94 you should depart the U.S. on or before your approved departure date.  If you choose to remain in the U.S. and your Application is approved after your scheduled departure date you will not be penalized HOWEVER if your Application is denied and you have remained even one day beyond your departure date, the visa in your passport is no longer valid and you will have to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consular Visa Section.

 Q:  I was denied entry to the U.S. and returned to Israel even though my visa shows that it valid for another five years.  An Immigration Officer questioned me and claimed that I overstayed on a previous visit – even though I have entered and departed the U.S. on numerous occasions since that time.  How can this be?

A:  Older departure records may not yet have been recorded in the system at the time of your previous entries subsequent to the Overstay.  However, if you overstayed on a previous visit your visa is no longer valid.  If you remained in the U.S. less than 6 months beyond your departure date and you are otherwise eligible to enter the U.S., you may apply for a new visa at a U.S. Visa Consular Section abroad.  If you overstayed the Departure Date on your I-94 by more than 6 months but less than one year you will be barred from entry to the U.S. for a period of Three Years.  If you overstayed your Departure Date by more than one year you will be barred entry to the U.S. for 10 years.

Q:  I was referred to Secondary Inspection upon my arrival to the U.S. and questioned by an Immigration Officer.  The Immigration Officer claimed that I had overstayed on a previous visit, but I requested and received and extension approval.  What should I do?

A:  You bear the burden of proof that you departed the U.S. in a timely manner on a previous visit.  If you applied for an extension and it was approved you would be prudent to bring the approval notice with you – or at the very least you should tell the inspecting officer your receipt number so he can verify that your departure date was extended.  If you have older passports that show entry stamps to other countries this might also serve to prove that you could not have been in two places at once.  Remember to always request a copy of the Interview from the Immigration Officer before departing the port of entry. 

Q:  I still have the I-94 in my passport even though I have already departed the U.S.  What should I do with it?

A:  You may sent the I-94 to the Office of CBP in London, Kentucky together with with other supporting evidence of your timely departure.

Q:  I overstayed on a previous visit to the U.S., but my visa shows that it is still valid for another eight years.  What can I expect if I try to reenter the U.S. during that period after my overstay?

A:  If you overstayed by even one day your visa is no longer valid.  This fact may escape an Immigration Officer once or twice, but eventually you will be denied entry and returned home.  If the inconvenience and/or humiliation do not deter you, you might consider the considerable expense involved, before you attempt to reenter the U.S. without a valid visa.

Q:  I was denied entry to the U.S. on a previous visit and my visa was cancelled.  The Immigration Officer told me I would need a Waiver of Ineligibility in order to reenter the U.S.  How can I get a new visa to enter the U.S.?

A:  You will have to apply for a new visa at a U.S. Consular Visa Section in your country – When you do so you should tell the Consular Officer that you were told you would need a Waiver before reentering the U.S. and you should provide all of the evidence pertaining to your ineligibility and the reason you are requesting a Waiver.  If the Consular Officer is convinced that a Waiver should apply in the instant case then he or she will recommend that a Waiver be granted.  This process can be time-consuming.  Don’t wait until the last minute and you should consult with an Immigration Attorney before you attempt to request a Waiver.

Q:  I have a B1/B2 visa in my passport.  Can I work while I am visiting the U.S.

A:  A B1/B2 visa is not a work permit.  If you are traveling to the U.S. on business you should declare that purpose upon entering the U.S.  There are many kinds of business that can be conducted on a B/1 visa.  An Immigration Attorney can advise you what business transactions are permissible under this type of visa.  If you are caught working in the U.S. without an appropriate visa you will be deported and you will be ineligible to reenter the U.S. unless a Waiver category is available to you and your application for a Waiver is approved.

Q:  I am a U.S. Citizen living abroad.  Are my children born abroad entitled to U.S. Citizenship?

A:  Children of U.S. Citizens may acquire U.S. Citizenship in one of three ways, depending on their eligibility under the law:  By Application showing the qualifying residency of their USC Parent, by Application showing the qualifying residency of a USC Grandparent, or upon entering the U.S. as a Legal Permanent Resident together with the USC Parent.

Q:  I entered Israel as a foreign worker 10 years ago.  Two years ago I gave birth to a son.  Is my son entitled to Israeli Citizenship?

A:  No.  The Israel Law of Return and the Israel Citizenship Act determine who is entitled to Israeli Citizenship or Naturalization.

For more information see Citizenship by Birth or Status in Israel

Q:  While I was in the United States I gave birth to a child.  Is my child entitled to U.S. Citizenship?

A:  Yes, under U.S. law, every child born in the U.S. automatically acquires U.S. Citizenship.

Q:  My son is a U.S. Citizen.  Can he apply for citizenship on my behalf?

A:  If your son is a USC, over the age of 21, and otherwise fulfills the statute, he may apply for an Immigrant Visa on your behalf.

See also Family Based Visas

Q:  I have a Green Card but I have been outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time.  I am afraid that on my next visit, the immigration officer will not let me enter the U.S. and claim that I do not really live there.  How can I protect my Green Card (Legal Permanent Resident) status under such circumstances?

A:  If you are a Green Card holder, you are deemed to be a Legal Permanent Resident.   If you remain outside of the U.S. for prolonged periods of time you should be prepared to produce evidence (if questioned) that you have not abandoned your permanent residency in the U.S. and that your sojourn outside of the U.S. is temporary in nature.

The immigration officer at the Port of Entry has the discretion to decide if you have a valid visa that coincides with your intent – if he/she remains unconvinced of your intent to be a permanent resident you can refuse to surrender your green card and request a Hearing before an Immigration Judge.  You may not want to do so however, even if you have a good chance of winning, since the inconvenience and emotional turmoil might be great.  For that reason you should prepare something “in the event that…”.  The burden of proof is on the U.S. government to show that you do not intend to reside in the U.S. – prolonged absences from the U.S. for no apparent or good reason may succeed in raising that burden of proof if you do not have in your possession strong evidence to the contrary.

See also Green Cards

Q:  I applied for a visa but did not mention that I had overstayed my entry permit on a previous visit to the U.S.  My visa was approved in Tel Aviv but when I arrived at JFK I was denied entry due to the previous overstay, questioned, and removed from the U.S.  How is it that the Consulate issued me a visa and U.S. Immigration cancelled it and denied my entry?

A:  First of all it you should never lie on a visa application.  If you do not tell the truth or if you misrepresent your case you will be deemed to have attempted to obtain a visa or gain entry to the U.S. by fraudulent means.  Misrepresentation or fraud can result in your permanent ineligibility to enter the U.S.   The DS-160 visa application is generated and submitted online.  This document is accessible to the immigration officers at Ports of Entry to the U.S.  The immigration officers have access to additional information that is not necessarily readily accessible to the U.S. Consulates abroad.  If you have previously overstayed or if you have some other impediment to entering the U.S. you should consult with an Immigration Attorney before you apply for a visa.

Q:  I am an Israeli living abroad.  I want to return to live in Israel and I want to bring my Non-Jewish Spouse/Partner and our children. What will their status be in Israel?

A:  You can bring your spouse and children, however, if you and your spouse are not married you will be required to take a court ordered Paternity test and provide the Ministry of Interior with a Court Order stating Paternity before you can be registered as the father and the children can be registered as Israeli Citizens.  Your Spouse will be given conditional residency and you will be required to periodically appear for interviews for the extension of your Spouse’s residency for the duration of the conditional residency process.

Q:  I am a 21 year old female, born to Israeli parents, and I want to come and study in Israel.  Will I be drafted into the army when I arrive in Israel?

A:  If you were born and resided abroad up until the age of 17 without ever having visited Israel for a continuous period of over 120 days you are exempt from Compulsory Military Service.  (See also Useful Information for Israelis Residing Abroad)

Q:  I am a 28 year old male who emigrated from Israel to Canada with my family at the of 15.  If I come to Israel will I be detained or arrested for not having reported for the Draft and performing Compulsory Military Service? 

A:  If you permanently reside abroad and emigrated from Israel before your were required to register for the Draft (prior to the age of 17 and/or prior to receiving a Draft notice) you are not considered a Draft Dodger and your are essentially exempt from the Draft as long as you consider to reside permanently abroad and you have requested Exemption from Duty.  For the sake of good order, upon reaching the age of the Draft you should apply for Exemption at an Israeli Consulate abroad to clarify your legal status and to prevent any inconveniences when visiting Israel.  The Draft Law pertaining to Israeli women permanently residing abroad is slightly different.

Q:  I was denied a visa because the consul did not see strong circumstances showing my intent not to leave Israel.  I did not bring salary stubs because I do not work, the house is registered in my husband’s name and nothing is in my name.  Half a year later I got a German Passport.  I am planning to travel to the U.S. and applied for an ESTA.  One of the questions on the form is whether I had been denied a visa in the past.  I thought the question was connected to my German Passport and answered no – and the formal request for the ESTA was approved.  Now I am afraid that I will arrive in the U.S. and will not be permitted to enter because I made a mistake on the ESTA form.  Also I understood that as soon as I received a denial in Israel I must request a visa even though I have a European passport and even though I have the ESTA approval.  Can you help me?

A:  If you made a mistake but enter the U.S on the ESTA that you received it is likely that you will be denied entry to the U.S. at the Port of Entry (that you will be turned around at the border after an exhausting interrogation regarding your intent to obtain entry to the U.S. by fraud or willful misrepresentation).  Under those circumstances it is likely that you will not obtain a visa in the future unless you are granted a waiver of inadmissibility.

Once you have been denied a visa, you must admit as much on the ESTA application form.  Under the circumstances described, it is likely you will be denied the ESTA and instructed to apply for a visa at a U.S. Consulate.

With regard to the evidence demonstrating strong ties to Israel compelling your return after a short visit to the United States, it should be noted that the Consul as absolute discretion with regard to visa issuance based on his/her belief that the Applicant’s intent to return to his or her home country after a short visit to the U.S. or whether the Applicant intends to comply with or violate the terms of a visa, if issued.  Generally, young people after high school or army, even those who have registered for college, have a hard time proving their intent [to return to Israel] to the Consul.  Furthermore, not just young people have  difficulty proving their intent to return to Israel; other applicants who have particularly low incomes, are out of work, have criminal record, previous overstays in the U.S., or other similar circumstances, have difficulty obtaining visas.  The burden is on the Applicant to prove intent and admissibility to the satisfaction of the Consul before a visa can be approved.

For more information or to schedule a Consultation contact us