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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, click here.

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. Selective Service.

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 easier.

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 national.

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.


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