What Every Immigrant Should Know
Valid Passport - Every person in the
United States that is not a U.S. Citizen is
required to hold a valid passport from their
country of citizenship. This applies even if the
person is in the United States illegally.
To get a new passport (or renew your current
one) contact your country's embassy in the
United States. The following link will
allow you to find your country's embassy,
Selective Service -
Every male in the United States between the ages
of 18 and 25 must register for the Selective
Service. The Selective Service is the
agency of the United States Government that
manages the military draft, if one is ever
enacted. You must register for the draft
even if you are on a non-immigrant visa or are
in the U.S. illegally. You may register
for the Selective Service even if you do not
have a Social Security Number, however, the
Selective Service should be notified when you
receive one. The Selective Service does
not collect any information which would indicate
whether or not you are undocumented. If
you are called for the draft, if the U.S. ever
institutes a draft again, your immigration
status may be able to be cited as a reason that
you should not be required to serve in the
military. Failure to register for the
draft may prevent you from being able to obtain
U.S. Citizenship in the future. To
register with the Selective Service, pick up a
form at any U.S. Post Office, complete the form
and mail it to the specified address.
Click here for information on the U.S.
Birth Certificates - Jerri L.
Mead, P.C. recommends that all foreign nationals
within the U.S. keep in their possession a
long-form birth certificate, including a
certified English translation if the document is
not in English. The translation must be
certified and appear on its face, the same as
the original document. A long-form birth
certificate is one that contains the names of
both parents. Some countries, such as
Canada, provide a birth certificate
abstract card, however, the USCIS does not
consider these acceptable and will require you
to obtain the full document. Your
country's embassy can usually assist you in
obtaining such a document.
Click here to locate your country's embassy.
Marriage Documents - Jerri L.
Mead, P.C. recommends that all foreign nationals
within the U.S. keep in their possession all
marriage certificates and divorce decrees that
they have. These should be the original
documents or a certified copy. In
addition, the documents should include a
certified English translation if the original
document is not in English. The
translation must be certified and appear on its
face the same as the original document.
Keep Copies of Identity Documents
- Jerri L. Mead, P.C. recommends that all
foreign nationals within the U.S. always
maintain a photocopy of all pages of their
passport, their driver's license, visa
approvals, permanent residence cards
and/or naturalization documents. These
documents should be kept in a fireproof lockbox
or a safe deposit box at a local bank.
Having a copy of these documents will make the
replacement of the original documents much
Keep Track of Residences, Jobs and
Classes - Jerri L. Mead, P.C.
recommends that all foreign nationals within the
U.S. maintain a list of all current and previous
residence addresses and employers. During
the immigration process, the USCIS may require a
detailed accounting of where you lived and
worked while in the United States. It is
much easier to keep this list over time than
attempt to create it at a much later date.
Also, keep track of all classes that you have
taken and the schools that you took them at.
Always Get a Letter of Reference From a
Job - Jerri L. Mead, P.C. recommends
that all foreign nationals within the U.S.
always request a letter of reference when
leaving an employer. This letter should
include the name of the person writing the
reference, an indication that they worked at the
employer at the same time as the foreign
national, an indication of why they were
familiar with both the foreign national and
the foreign national's job, the dates that the
foreign national worked at the employer and a
comprehensive job description for the foreign
Pay Your Federal, State and Local Taxes
- Regardless of your immigration status,
Federal, State and Local Income Taxes should
always be paid. If this is a foreign
national's first time filing taxes within the
U.S., a reputable Certified Public Accountant
(CPA) should be utilized. The United
States maintains treaties with a number of
countries to prevent double taxation (i.e.
taxation of the same income by both the United
States and the foreign national's country of
citizenship), however, certain documents must
generally be filed with both the United States
Internal Revenue Service and the government of
the foreign national's home country to take
advantage of provisions under these treaties.
Please note that all non-immigrant visa holders
and their families are not eligible to receive
Social Security Numbers but must apply for an
Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)
from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) so that
their taxes can be properly filed. For
more information on ITIN Numbers,
click here to go to the website of the
Internal Revenue Service.