Use your widget sidebars in the admin Design tab to change this little blurb here. Add the text widget to the Blurb Sidebar!

Do I Need a Passport for a “Closed Loop” Cruise?

Posted: April 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment »

Most cruises beginning and ending in the U.S. are considered “Closed Loop,” meaning they begin and end at the same port in the U.S. For instance, if you board a cruise ship at Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and after visiting at least one foreign port of call, such as Bermuda, or Cancun, return back to Fort Lauderdale, you have taken a closed loop cruise.

If, on the other hand, you board a cruise ship in San Diego, California, sail through the Panama Canal (stopping at a foreign port during the cruise), and end the cruise in Miami, Florida, you have not taken a closed loop cruise and the following information does not apply to you. As of June 1, 2009 you need a passport (including infants).

U.S. Citizens on closed-loop cruises will be able to enter or depart the country on the cruise with proof of citizenship, such as an original or copy of his or her birth certificate (issued by the Vital Records Department in the state where he or she was born) and, if 16 or older, a government issued photo ID.  If the child is a newborn and the actual birth certificate has not arrived from the Vital Records Department, we will accept a Hospital issued birth certificate.  The United States does not require you to have a passport. (A Consular report of Birth Abroad issued by the Department of State or a Certificate of Naturalization is also acceptable.)

HOWEVER, it is possible that one or more of the Caribbean Islands on your itinerary, does require you to have a passport to enter their country. In that case, it is very possible that the cruise line will require you to have a passport to board, even if it is not a U.S. requirement. You should always check with your cruise ship, travel agent and or destination country to confirm the requirements for entry into the foreign countries you will be visiting.

If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the U.S., the U.S. government does not require you to have a passport for any travel, including air, land or sea travel, however, you are even more likely to be required by your destination country to have one. A Caribbean island that does not require a U.S. Citizen to have a passport may require a U.S. LPR to have one, and a visa as well.

If you are not a U.S. citizen or a U.S. LPR, you will need a passport for any type of cruise, closed loop or not. If you are traveling under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), your I-94W (immigration stamp) that you were issued when you first entered the U.S. can be used for reentering the U.S. at the end of your cruise – as long as the cruise ends before your 90 day admission period has expired and you did not travel beyond adjacent islands or contiguous territory, and you were not outside the U.S. for more than 30 days. If the cruise takes you beyond that 90 day admission period, you will have to apply for a new admission, and you will have to convince the CBP Officer that you were not just taking the cruise in an attempt to circumvent the 90 day limit for VWP travelers.

Finally, if you are a VWP traveler who entered the U.S. by land from either Canada or Mexico, an ESTA is not required for re-entering the U.S. as a cruise ship passenger. ESTA is only required for travelers upon their initial arrival in the U.S. by air or sea.

Note: Beginning September 8, 2010, there is a ESTA application fee required by the Travel Promotion Act of 2009. The fee is comprised of two parts:

  • Processing Charge — All applicants requesting an electronic travel authorization are charged for the processing of the application. The fee is $4.00.
  • Authorization charge — If your application is approved and you receive authorization to travel to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program, an additional $10.00 will be charged to your credit card. If your electronic travel authorization is denied, you are only charged for the processing of your application. CBP is not responsible for any third party fees for the transaction. CBP is not responsible for any third party fees for the transaction.

Can I be admitted into the U.S. if I have either a misdemeanor or criminal record (for example a DUI)?

Posted: April 19th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

The U.S. does not deny entry to persons with a “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI) conviction, although if there are multiple convictions for this and or other misdemeanors, you could be denied entry.

Generally, any convictions for drug possession can result in denial of entry. If the conviction was long ago, you might contact the U.S. Embassy, Office of Consular Affairs in your country to obtain a waiver. Other misdemeanors may result in denial if they were recent.

A crime of moral turpide (CIMT) may be grounds to deny entry to the U.S.  For a list of crimes;  please click here.

More Brazilian Visa Applicants Good for Sarasota-Bradenton

Posted: April 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

The United States Diplomatic Mission to Brazil processed 115,269 visa applications in March 2012, a 62% increase over the same month last year.

Why is this good for Sarasota-Bradenton?

Reports from local realtors and the press give the impression that many of the Brazilian visa recipients are visiting the Sarasota-Bradenton area.  With the booming Brazilian economy, many people from that country are looking for places to invest their wealth.  Brazilians are largely credited with turning the Miami condominium market around.  The same could happen on the Gulf Coast.

Consular Workload Brasilia Sao Paolo Rio de Janeiro Recife Total
Average Applicants per Day 757 2522 1563 476 5489
% Change from March 2011 61% 38% 84% 14% 54%
Visas Processed this Month 15,892 55,477 34,379 9,521 115,269
% Change from March 2011 69% 52% 103% 14% 62%
Visas Processed Year to Date 41,459 136,078 93,841 25,259 269,637
% Change from March 2011 42% 47% 106% 7% 56%
Current Wait Time for Visa Appointment


35 7 15 N/A


New Business Profile: Londoner Finds Paradise

Posted: April 18th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Today Shaf Patel, Operations Director of Greenscapes, is a happy man.  “Running my own business, working in the sun every day, living in Paradise, what more can I ask for?”

Shaf was born in West Yorkshire and brought up in London, England.  He and his wife, Nas, both worked in central London, he as a Property Maintenance Manager and she as a Marketing Manager for a charity.  His dream was to own his own business and, “Be the master of my destiny”.

Opportunity arose when Shaf’s friend, Tony, a Finance Director, told him he was considering buying a business and invited him to become his business partner.  Shaf’s skills were an excellent match to the demands of the business which was up for sale.  Shaf’s years of experience of managing property management services were directly relevant to Greenscapes which is a full service horticultural company.  Shaf’s background combined with Tony’s financial skills seemed a recipe for success.

“The only issue was the business was in Sarasota, nearly 5,000 miles away”, laughs Shaf.  Shaf and Nas visited Sarasota and immediately felt at home.  “We love the bright, fresh feel of the town and, of course, the beautiful beaches.  There is so much to do.  Sarasota has big city facilities with a small town, community vibe”.  Shaf and Nas decided to leap into a new life.

Shaf approached Chris Jaensch to help.  “Chris had a great reputation and he was so friendly and helpful.  He explained the complexities of the visa process and guided me though the application”. Although the application process took many months and some of Shaf’s friends and relatives thought he was mad, Shaf was determined.

Finally Shaf and Nas received their passports back from the London embassy and inside was their E2 visa stamp.  “It was a thrilling moment’.  They flew out from Gatwick on February 26, 2012 and on March 1, 2012 the sale of Greenscapes was finalized.

Shaf now spends his days managing teams of horticultural workers, from irrigation specialists to fertilization experts, to maintain green spaces across Sarasota, Bradenton and Venice.  “Whether we are working with commercial customers or homeowners, people are entrusting us to make and keep their landscapes beautiful.  I take that responsibility really seriously”, says Shaf.  “Excellent landscaping can promote the right image of a business and increase the value of a home, as well as bring great pleasure to people.  I cannot imagine a better job’.

So was it worth it?  “Absolutely.  It was tough waiting to hear about our visas, but Chris made it as painless as possible and now I spend my days making Sarasota even more beautiful and my evenings enjoying the sunsets”.

Greenscapes is a full service horticultural company.  Their services include grounds management, irrigation maintenance and installation, professional lawn care and landscape design and installation.  Their office is located at 8000 Fruitville Rd their phone number is (941) 379-8320.  The company has been in operation for over 20 years.  Their clients range from individual residences to large companies.  To learn more visit their website:

Chris Jaensch Speaking at Sarasota Association of Realtors

Posted: April 13th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Big News!

Chris Jaensch will be speaking at the Sarasota Association of Realtors’ International 101 Seminar.  The event is being held next Thursday, April 19, from 2 to 4, with an opportunity to network over some refreshments from 4 to 5.  The address of the Sarasota Association of Realtors is 3590 S. Tuttle Ave., Sarasota FL 34239.

The topic of the discussions is “How to Become an International Realtor.”  We are very excited about this opportunity and look forward to sharing ideas and insights with other professionals in the field.

Entry is free for SAR members and $10 for everyone else.

To read more click on the link to the pdf here: SRQAssociationofRealtors

2012 H1-B Visas Cap Table

Posted: April 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Employer & Student Visas, National News | No Comments »

This table displays the number of H1-B Visas applied for by the date shown.  As we receive updates we will be adding more information to the table.  Stay tuned.

Date Master Cap Regular Cap Total
4/9/12 8,200 17,400 25,600
4/13/12 9,700 20,600  30,300 
4/25/12 10,900 25,000 35,900


Cinco de Mayo: Hosted by Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce

Posted: April 12th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »

Great News!  The Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce is hosting an inaugural Cinco de Mayo festival this year.  It will be held on Saturday, May 5 (por supuesto) from 5pm to 1130pm.  Here’s a message from the GCLCC:

Join us for live entertainment that includes Sizzling Salsa, Spicy Latin Jazz, and Spanish Guitar.  Enjoy dancers, delicious food, raffle drawings and so much more.  Enjoy the best of Latin America right here in Sarasota… Dance the night away, Enjoy the music, food, and culture.  Admission is free, the food will be delicious, and you need to be there. 


For more information, or call the Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce at 941-358-7065.  

If you would like to be a sponsor, visit the Gulf Coast Latin Chamber of Commerce’s website:

The Brandon ASC Office is Moving!

Posted: April 11th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | No Comments »

The ASC Office in Brandon will be taking its final appointments on April 25th.  After that date, the office will be consolidated with the new USCIS Ofice at 5629 Hoover Boulevard, Tampa, FL  33634.  It will resume biometrics service on April 30.


For those of you who live in the Sarasota area, we foresee more of you going to Fort Myers for your biometrics tests.

Important: The Tampa Immigration Office is Moving

Posted: April 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , | No Comments »

The new address will be:

5629 Hoover Boulevard

Tampa, FL  33634


ALSO, please note the following schedule changes:

Friday, April 12 through Tuesday, April 17th – No INFOPASS appointments are scheduled. The Tampa Field Office will be open for walk-in emergencies only.

Wednesday, April 18th – the Tampa Field Office will resume its normal INFOPASS schedule.

No interviews will take place between April 16th through April 18th. A normal interview schedule resumes on Thursday, April 19th.

Important note: Customers should report to the new building on Hoover Boulevard as of Monday, April 16th – even if an appointment notice or INFOPASS appointment indicates our old address on West Cypress.

In order to visit this office or to speak with an Immigration Information Officer, you must have an appointment scheduled by USCIS, or you must schedule an INFOPASS appointment, on the USCIS website.

If you have an inquiry and you live near Ft. Myers, you may schedule an INFOPASS appointment online to speak to an Immigration Information Officer at the USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) in Ft. Myers. No mail is accepted at the Ft. Myers ASC.

For more information go to the USCIS Website.

How Does an Immigrant Get a Driver License?

Posted: April 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Many foreigners have a difficult time getting a driver’s license here in the United States.  Unlike other countries, the US does not have a robust system of public transportation, one needs a car to get around.  I am attaching a link here that tells foreigners what documents they need to use the GatherGoGet website.

GatherGoGet is Florida’s DMV site:

Many people ask us if they need a social security number.  The answer is no.  Unless a foreigner has work-authorized status in the United States they will not have a social security number and the DMV does not require it.  If a person has already been issued one, then they do need it.

We hope this helps.  Please post any questions or concerns in the comments section below.  They will be answered promptly.

Important: New Visa Processing Fees

Posted: April 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Effective April 13, 2012 the Department of State will change some of the visa processing fees.

The fee for nonimmigrant visas H, L, O, P, Q and R will increase from $150 to $190.  The fee for B, F, J, and I visas will increase from $140 to $160.

The fee for E-2 fee (investor) visas will decrease from $390 to $270 per person and the fee for F-1 visas fees will decrease from $350 to $240.

Also, the fees for ALL of the immigrant (permanent residence) visas  will decrease,  some significantly.  The fee for an employment based immigrant visa will decrease from $720 to $405.  In contrast, the government fee to do an equivalent background check in the U.S. (adjustment of status) is $1,070 per person.

Check out the New Visa Processing Fees table to find out more.

USCIS Changes Look and Feel of Notice of Action Forms (Form I-797C)

Posted: April 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  is changing the look of its receipt and approval notices (form I-797C).  These forms do not carry any immigration benefit or status.  As such, they will now be printed on plain bond paper to reduce the perception that they signify a change in immigration status.  In addition, by changing to bond paper, USCIS has estimated that it will save $1.1 million per year.

The change went into effect on Monday April 2, 2012.

New Look of USCIS Form I-797C

Click here to read more about the change in the look of Form I-797C on the USCIS website.