How long can you stay outside U.S. with Green Card?

January 23, 2014 Leave a comment

I have seen people asking this question quite often that if you’re a Permanent Resident i.e. Greencard holder, how long can you stay outside US.

You can stay for 1 year without the need for a re-entry permit – Ref: Article on USCIS website – Maintaining Permanent Residence.

NOTE: The details below is added on 01/14/2014. Check USCIS website for latest updated information.

You may lose your permanent resident status (green card) if you commit an act that makes you removable from the United States under the law, as described in Section 237 or 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If you commit such an act, you may be brought before an immigration court to determine your right to remain a permanent resident.

Abandoning Permanent Resident Status

You may be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status if you:

- Move to another country intending to live there permanently

- Remain outside of the United States for more than 1 year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa. However, in determining whether your status has been abandoned, any length of absence from the United States may be considered, even if less than 1 year

- Remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa. However, in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the United States may be considered, even if less than 1 year

- Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the United States for any period

- Declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your tax returns

What if my trip abroad will last longer than 1 year?

Reference USCIS website: International Travel with Green card

If you plan on being absent from the United States for longer than a year, it is advisable to first apply for a reentry permit on Form I-131. Obtaining a reentry permit prior to leaving the United States allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.  Please note that it does not guarantee entry into the United States upon your return as you must first be determined to be admissible; however, it will assist you in establishing your intention to permanently reside in the United States.  For more information, see the “Travel Documents” page.

Is your stay abroad more than 2 years?

If you remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years, any reentry permit granted before your departure from the United States will have expired. In this case, it is advisable to consider applying for a returning resident visa (SB-1) at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. An SB-1 applicant will be required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and will need a medical exam.  There is an exception to this process for the spouse or child of either a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad on official orders.  For more information on obtaining a returning resident visa, see the Department of State’s webpage on returning resident visas.

Will it have any effect on my Naturalization (obtaining US Citizenship)?

Additionally, absences from the United States of six months or more may disrupt the continuous residency required for naturalization.  If your absence is one year or longer and you wish to preserve your continuous residency in the United States for naturalization purposes, you may file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes on Form N-470. For more information, please see the “Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements” page.

Please feel free to add a comment below for any questions or sharing your experience.

References:

Tindora (Ivy Gourd) and Aloo Sabji

January 26, 2014 Leave a comment

Tindora (Ivy Gourd) + Aloo Sabji

Tindora (Ivy Gourd) and potato Sabji with tomatoes and coriander garnish.

You can serve this with hot Roti (Indian bread) or rice.

Categories: Food Tags: , , ,

How to renew / reissue Indian passport after 10 years in USA by post – BLS international

October 16, 2013 Leave a comment

Originally posted on In the Line of Fire....Shaunak Pandit:

*** IMP UPDATE: Consulates are getting the passports printed in Delhi and hence it has added on to the processing time considerably. People are able to get Tatkal done within a couple of days though in case of some medical emergencies.

** Check comments for FAQ

 Have woken from my long siesta to share some info on the process of getting an Indian passport renewed while staying in USA.

Thought of writing this post to help others like me, who may want to get their Indian passports renewed while staying in USA and are faced with little or minimal how to on the Indian consulate site.

***As of May 2013   The Consulate General of India  outsourced the handling of Passport and related applications to M/s. BLS International Services Ltd [Earlier it was with Travisa]

Step 1: -  Visit the Indian consulate site at http://www.indianconsulate.com/  [Check if another agency change has…

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Categories: General

Renewing California Driver License

September 26, 2013 3 comments

I would like to share my experience with renewing my California Driver License. Although one might think it’s not really a rocket science to get license renewed but I had some different experience which I might help someone out here.

Initial CA Driver License

Getting the California license for first time was an easy process. I already had DL from another state and so I only had to give written exam. I made an appointment via their online appointment system. I appear for test, cleared it and they gave me 60 days temporary paper license. Within 2-3 weeks I got the physical card.

Points to note:

- Had to pay some fee – don’t remember how much.

- At that time I was on H1 visa that was valid for 1 year. So I got the license that was expiring on the date of my H1 expiration which was about a year.

Renewal – First time

I got my H1 extension approved like 15 days before my DL expiration. So I went to DMV without an appointment waiting like 3 hrs. They took my new picture, copy of new H1 approval and gave me 60 days temporary.

It was like 45 weeks and I didn’t receive the physical card. So I called their customer support and they gave me another number to call. That is some Driver License Problem Resolution department(Phone: 916-657-7445). That phone comes engage lot many times without any pre-recorded wait message. So after several times, I got hold of a rep and she gave me a fax number and asked me to fax my new H1 approval document.  I had to write her name, my phone number and DL# on each photocopy. When I said I already submitted the docs in person, she said there is a backlog due to their DL format change.

I faxed the document to the given fax number (Fax: 916-657-6419). Fax is many times unreliable. So I called them several times to confirm if they received my fax. It took 5 days for someone to confirm they haven’t received it. I faxed it again. In the mean while I also booked an DMV appointment that was 2 days before my temporary DL expiration. I went to DMV and they gave me another 60 days temporary license. This time some manager had to approve it and gave me a small slip kind of temp license. After that I called that other department and finally the lady there confirmed the documents faxed were received and she also sent me a temporary license.

In couple weeks I got the physical DL card. Though I couldn’t forget how painful the entire process was. Mainly the fax part.

Points to note:

- I did not pay any fees this time.

- I got license for 3 years i.e. equivalent to my H1 validity and expiring on the same date as my H1.

Renewal – Second time (Extension)

I received a letter 60 days before my DL expiration. The letter said Driver License – Extension, asking me to send my legal presence documents. It had some confusing instructions which said – “Send applicable fees”, but no fees amount was mentioned in the document.

So I called the helpline number. Good thing this time, the message said, there was a 2 hour wait but I can leave my number and they would call me back when it was my turn. I received a call in about an hour. The guy said since it is an “Extension” and not actual renewal I don’t need to pay any fees. First time I came to know there was something called Extension. So I mailed a copy of my green card (front and back) and also a copy of my passport along with the Extension letter. I think passport copy was not necessary but the instructions were confusing, so I mailed it to be on safe side. I think the passport copy would apply for someone who may have acquired US Citizenship. The guy told me it would take like 3 weeks. Due to my previous experience, I had my doubts and so I booked a DMV appointment like 3 weeks before my DL expiration.

It was like 30 days and I didn’t receive my card. So I called the help line and they gave me the same DL Problem Resolution department number to call(Phone: 916-657-7445). I called that number and the lady there told they are having backlog and asked me to fax the documents. She told me that way she can prioritize my application. She also suggested to go to DMV and get a temporary license. This was on Thursday and I had DMV appointment on following Monday. So I fax the documents and also went to DMV and got temporary DL. At DMV they did take my new picture and finger print.

I received my physical card in about 10 days after that. Not sure if my process was prioritized or it came under normal process. But all was fine. It had my new picture on it taken at DMV.

Points to note:

- I did not pay any fees

- Although my green card is valid for 10 years, they gave me DL expiring next year on my birthday. So I take CA license being 5 years validity, I got first 1 year, then 3 year and now again 1 year. That is what I believe Extension means.

- Before mailing the extension letter, I made a photocopy of the letter. It came handy when I went to DMV. They actually kept my photocopy.

Experience / Process At DMV

At DMV branch it wasn’t too bad. If you don’t have an appointment the wait time is in hours. If you have an appointment it is very less. I had an 8:00 am appointment during my last visit. I went there at 7:40am. There was a single long line of about 40+ people. I joined them but at like 7:55am, one employee came out asking for people with appointments. I raised my hand and he asked me to go in front and form second line. I was the first one in that new line. Doors opened at 8:00. Got my ticket and waited until my number was called. At 8:10am I went to the said window, gave my document, fingerprints,etc. I was asked to go another window for picture and then come back. Got my picture taken and went back. The lady gave me temporary license and I was out in like 20 mins.

Resources

- CA DMV website

- CA Driver License Problem Resolution (Phone/Fax listed above)

Note: The above phone and fax numbers were what I was given to me by DMV customer representative. Use those numbers at your own risk.

Comparison of Form 8938 and FBAR requirements

June 4, 2013 2 comments

If you are confused about FBAR and Form 8938 IRS has a great comparison table.

The new Form 8938 filing requirement does not replace or otherwise affect a taxpayer’s obligation to file Form TD F 90-22.1 (Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts). Individuals must file each form for which they meet the relevant reporting threshold.

Check the comparison here.

Categories: FBAR, Foreign Accounts, Tax Tags: ,

Oh My God (2012) Movie Review

September 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Oh-My-God-1Oh-My-God-3

OH MY GOD is a Bollywood movie released in September 2012. As it says in the posters above it is really ‘A Divine Comedy’. It is a very nice movie  taking a dig at religion in the society in a funny manner. It is based on a Gujrati play called Kanji virudh(vs) Kanji.

Kanjibhai (Paresh Rawal) is an atheist and he files a case against God when his shop is destroyed in an earthquake. I am sure that is enough to say that the movie is funny.

Paresh Rawal is too good and has done a really great job. His natural acting, timing and dialogue delivery is superb. Akshay Kumar is also cool as Krishna Vasudev Yadav (Lord Krishna himself). Mithun’s character as so called godman is funny.

The movie isn’t just good because it is funny but it does has a social message against superstitiously believing in God. Mithun says at some point in the film ‘These people are not God loving people but God fearing people’.

Dialogue: Nark ka menucard, aapko kaanto ka bistar pe sulaenge, aag ke dariya mein zonka jayega, grama garam tel mein fry kiya jayega…Aare Aadmi hun ki pakoda hun?

I would give it a 4/5 ratings. So watch it and I am sure you will surely appreciate it.

Buying on Craigslist – Negotiating the Price

September 7, 2012 Leave a comment

This is the 4th post in the series Buying on Craigslist. In this post I will share my experience and tips on negotiating the price. Yes, that’s the beauty; when buying on craigslist you can negotiate.

Shopping on craigslist can indeed save you money but you need to be little careful as there’s some risk involved as well.

Note: My main focus will be from buyer’s perspective and that too “product buying” since that’s what I have done more on craigslist but I will also share my selling experience in a separate post.

How do I negotiate?

I first survey the prices finding the minimum and maximum the item is sold for (new and used) on craigslist, eBay and other sites. Say I am ready to spend $250 for Samsung Galaxy S2. I see that brand new is going for about $350 and lowest one for used is $225(phone and charger only). Now say I like item in on listing that’s going for $250(phone+charger+screen protector+case). The pictures and description (e.g. 2 months old, like new condition) looks good to me.

So I call the seller and confirm the condition and other questions and finally my last question would be ‘Are you willing to sell it for $225’? The chances are the person might be willing to sell it. Note: Suppose the guy says he won’t sell it for less than $235. I know that $235 is still a good deal with the given condition. If he says no, price is firm,  still I would say ok but I will have to check the condition of the item. So you see I have kept the room for negotiation open.

My experience: A guy was selling phone for $120(phone + charger) and while talking to him he mentioned about a case he had on it.  I asked him if he would go for $100 but he said no. I was waiting for a response from another guy and so I said I will call back. After few hours I called him back and told that I am willing to buy and asked him to consider my offer of $100. He agreed to that. I asked him that includes case as well and after some hesitation he agreed to chip in the case too. And above all he agreed to meet me at Starbucks close to my work. I liked the phone and bought it. I did buy him his favorite Starbucks coffee for driving. It’s been like 10 months but still today I haven’t seen that phone going for less than $125. I had almost similar experience in buying one other phone for a friend.

One another time a guy was selling a router for $40 and I had to drive like 25 miles. That was the only router I liked and wanted urgently plus was a good deal. So I asked if he would take $30 since he is too far. He agreed. Even today that model (new) is going for $80.

Do I always negotiate?

No. It all depends on various factors like item, price, need, time, urgency, etc. Once I waited for about a month until I was able to get a phone for $100. Yes, the same phone I mentioned above. One other time I paid the full price $350 for a phone. I didn’t have time and wanted to buy it for someone. If I had time of a week or two I am sure I wouldn’t have paid more than $300.

Also I do not negotiate, when I feel the item is really fair priced and I don’t want to let it go. E.g. I drove 30 miles(one way) and bought a computer for $200 and didn’t negotiate at all. It was a steal deal and I didn’t want to let it go.

Caution

I do get skeptical when someone is selling item really under cost and still agrees to my negotiation. I become extra cautious when dealing with that person. Ask more questions to make sure item isn’t stolen and meet at a busy public place in broad daylight.

Conclusion

Don’t hesitate to ask i.e. negotiate. The seller isn’t going to kill you. At the most he/she will say no. Some people think negotiating makes you sound cheap but I don’t think negotiating on right terms makes your cheap. Everyone negotiates, consciously or unconsciously, be it money or something else.

Again be careful because you are dealing with the stranger(s). Hope this is helpful.

Resources

Posts in this series

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