This is part of the ongoing question-and-answer series handled by the U.S. Consulate General in Chennai relating to the U.S. visa process. Readers are encouraged to submit their questions on U.S. visas to reporting.thehindu@gmail.com. The answers will be published in The Hindu, on the last Wednesday of every month. For full official information on U.S. visas, click here. Text of questions and answers provided by the U.S. Consulate:

I applied for U.S. visa and went for the interview in October 2008 but they gave me 221(g) blue to get more details from the company and they haven’t come back on it. Now it’s almost a year and the validity is over. My questions are: Do I need to re-apply for the interview with the details? Will they question me on why the documents were given late?

If on the blue 221(g) letter you received you were requested to submit any further documentation, you should submit it within one year. If one year has passed and you have not submitted the requested documents, you may apply again by paying the application fee and scheduling an appointment through the VFS website. If your 221(g) letter indicated that the U.S. Consulate would be directly seeking more details from the company, and you have not heard from us, please contact us directly with additional identifying information so that we may look up your case and take appropriate action.

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My wife and I have valid BI/B2 visa to the U.S. We have been going to the U.S. every year for the past seven years and each time we have stayed for six months with our daughter and her family who are permanent residents of USA. During our last visit the officer at the Immigration desk in Los Angeles raised an objection saying we should not be staying for six months on a visitors visa each time we visit and it is illegal and against the rules. He finally permitted us a stay of 6 months as per our request. Can we stay for a period of six months each time we visit the U.S. until our present 10 year U.S. visa expires?

When you apply for entry to the U.S. with your non-immigrant visa, the maximum length of time you may stay is decided at that time by the port of entry authorities, based on their assessment of your intended purpose of stay. If they grant you a stay of up to six months, you may stay up to six months. The Customs and Border Protection Officer will give you a form I-94 in which it will be stated how long you are authorised to stay in the United States. There is nothing illegal or against the terms of your visa in making several visits to the United States and staying each time up to the duration of stay authorised at the time of entry.

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My niece and her husband live in the U.S. They have been inviting me to visit them. My problem is this: I do not own a property in India, nor do I have a very high bank balance. But I can afford my travel and health insurance etc. My stay in the U.S. will be with my relatives there for about 3 months. Now, I would like to know what type of visa (tourist or regular) I should apply for, and whether my application for visa (whatever type of it) would be rejected straight away?

You should apply for a visitor (B-2) visa by scheduling an appointment through the website www.vfs-usa.co.in and appearing in person. A decision will be made on the day of your interview. Under the U.S. immigration law, all applicants for non-immigrant visas are presumed to be intending immigrants. The essence of this law is that the applicant must intend to return to his or her residence in a foreign country following a temporary stay in the United States. That intent can be demonstrated by showing strong connections including –economic, family, and social ties–to one’s home country. While documentary evidence of ties to India may support an applicant’s case, the consular officer relies most on what an applicant says during the interview to determine eligibility for a visa. To qualify for a visitor visa, you must be able to overcome the statutory presumption of immigrant intent at the time of your interview. Please be assured that there is no legal requirement for you to own a property in India, nor to possess a high bank balance. The basic requirement is that the consular officer must be convinced of your intentions to make a temporary visit. Our consular officers are humane and discerning individuals, and we do not want you to be deterred from applying for a visa by any perception that wealth is a requirement for visa issuance.

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I am aged 77 and my wife 70. Both of us are green-card holders. Our son and his family are in Boston, Massachusetts. We find that the climate in New England is unsuitable for us. The cold during winter is unbearable and too severe. We, therefore, have decided to abandon our green cards and settle down in Chennai. However, we would like to have tourist visa to visit our son and his family, whenever we can (during summer). What is the procedure for abandoning green cards and obtaining simultaneously tourist visa for both of us?

New England does indeed get cold during the winter. You can apply for a tourist visa and abandon your green card at the same time, but the two acts will be separate. You should know before you abandon your green card that doing so does not automatically qualify you to receive a tourist visa. Please schedule an appointment through the website www.vfs-usa.co.in and appear in person for a visitor visa. At that time you may surrender your green cards by completing a Form I-407. You can request this form by emailing chennaiiv@state. gov. We encourage people who do not intend to reside in the U.S. to travel on non-immigrant visas rather than attempt to maintain immigrant status. If you abandon your green cards and then later decide to reside in the U.S., your son may file a new petition for you to immigrate.

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