What They Don't Tell Foreign Nationals At the Border: Some Important Dos and Don'ts, If You Are Considering a Future In America
1. While in the U.S. you may let your visa expire without penalty; but you must never let your non-immigrant status (as stated on your I-94 card) expire--even for a day. 2. Do not expect to extend or change your visitor status if you enter America on a Visa Waiver. These entries aren't eligible for more than 90 days stay. 3. Do not enter as a visitor and apply to change your status to any other classification within the first 60 days of your visit. 4. Never lie to a Border officer, or on any immigration application. 5. Do not work without written authorization from the Immigration Service (CIS). 6. Do not plan to enter the U.S. as a visitor without being able to prove with objective documentattion that you will leave by a certain date (usually no more than a few months or weeks after you enter). The burden of proof is yours as all aliens are presumed guilty of intending to violate immigration laws. 7. If you are planning to marry another foreign national, ensure that the marriage takes place before, not after, you receive your Green Card. 8. If you are applying for Green Cards for your family, ensure that all children are processed before they turn 21 years of age. Start early; Green Cards applications can take many years. 9. All criminal charges are treated seriously when you are a foreign national. However, certain crimes, such as those dealing with domestic violence, illegal drugs, etc. have unusually draconian and permant consequences under immigration law: if you are ever in trouble, be sure to seek assistance from an immigration attorney immediately, before any plea is entered. 10. If you are an immigrant (i.e. hold a "Green Card") do not ever stay outside the U.S. for more than 1 year without special advance written permission from CIS, known as advance parole. Your Green Card may be taken from you by an immigration officer at your next entry. 11. Foreign nationals who do not have immigration work authorization in the U.S. will not be able to obtain social security cards, and must frequently use their passport, rather than their drivers license, for all official ID purposes. 12. It is a serious crime for any foreign national who lacks U.S. citizenship to vote in state or federal elections.