FAQs

 

FREQUENTLY ASK QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ON

  • Immigration Status
  • Form I-94
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD)/Work Permit
  • Drivers License and I.D Cards
  • Affordable Health Care/Obama Care
  • Federal Students Aid (FSA)

What is our immigration status in the United States?

Under the Compact of Free Association between the United States and Palau, citizens of Palau are classified as Non-Immigrant Aliens in the U.S.  With this status, Palauans can legally enter, reside, work or attend schools in the U.S. and its territories and possessions without visa requirement.


 If I have a valid passport, why do I still need I-94?

You need I-94 in order to apply for and obtain your Social Security Card, driver’s license and Employment Authorization Document (EAD) a.k.a. Work Permit.  While U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection (CBP) no longer issues paper I-94, you can obtain your I-94 by going online at www.cbp.gov/i94 and look for instructions to get your I-94.  Make sure to input your information correctly.


  I have tried to retrieve my I-94 and I keep getting the message “Not Found”, what information must I provide?

The following information is required to retrieve your I-94 information.  Enter the information as it appears on your passport that you used to enter the United States.

  • a)  Last/Surname – Enter your family name as it appears in the Last Name or Surname field on your passport you used to enter the U.S.  If there is any concern about the name to use – refer to the Machine Readable Zone on the passport.  That is in most cases the name that will be used.
  • b)  First (Given) Name – Enter your first (given) name as it appears in the First or Given name field on your passport you used to enter the U.S.  If you have a middle name, do not include it unless it shows in the Machine Readable Zone on your passport.
  • c)  Birth Date – Enter the date of your birth.  You can use the drop down menu for you’re the month and year of your birth.d)  Passport Number – Enter your passport number as it appears on your passport biographic page.  Your passport number contains letters and numbers.  Some commonly confused characters are letter “O” and the number zero “0” and number “1” and the letter “I”.
  • e)  Country of Issuance – The passport country of issuance is Palau, which you will find in the drop down menu.

 What should I do if I cannot retrieve my I-94 and my passport was properly stamped at the Port of Entry?

If for one reason or another, you cannot retrieve your I-94 the chances are you were admitted incorrectly to the U.S.  In this case you should visit a local CBP Deferred Inspection Site or Port of Entry to have your admission corrected.  A list of Deferred Inspection Site and Port of Entries can be found on CBP’s website at http://www.cbp.gov, under the “Ports” link at the bottom of the page.


  What should I do if I have recently renewed my passport, but I have not used it to enter the U.S. and therefore not stamped?

When your new passport is not swiped and stamped by CBP, you do not have records of entry so you information do not show in the CBP systems.  If that is your case, you can try to do two things:  Visit the local CBP Deferred Inspection Site or Port of Entry, explain your situation and ask if they can properly process your passport, if that does not work, you only option is to leave and re-enter the U.S. to be processed and properly admitted.


 

  As a citizen of Palau legally permitted to enter, reside, work or attend schools in the U.S., why am I required to have Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or work permit?

While some employers are flexible and less stringent on EAD/work permit, it is a policy of the United States Government to require non U.S. citizens and non U.S. permanent residents to hold EAD/work permits in order to work in the U.S.  Unlike other foreigners, who pay handsome fees for their EADs, citizens of the Freely Associated States (FAS) do not pay fees to obtain their EADs.  In addition, EADs for citizens of FAS is now valid for five years before they are to be renewed.  We continue to work with appropriate agencies of the Department of Homeland Security for EAD exemption for our citizens or the at least lengthen their validity.


 What is going to happen if I work, but do not have an EAD?

It is possible that you will continue to work, but sooner or later, you will be asked to show your EAD, and when that time comes, you will wish you have an EAD.  One other benefit of having an EAD is that in the event you get laid off, for some reasons, you will be able to receive unemployment benefit verses not having one.  The odds are in your favor if you have an EAD.


  How do I get an EAD?

You have to apply for it by filling out Form I-765.  You can download the Form I-765, including instructions at www.uscis.gov.  Once you fill out the application form, you will mail it along with a copy of your passport and I-94 to an address identified in the instruction sheet, which is designated for the state where you reside.   Once they receive and review your application, you will be notified as to whether it is complete or you need to provide additional information.  If you follow the instructions and provide legible copies of your passport and I-94, you will most likely receive a receipt identifying your Personal Identification Number (PIN) and a notice that your EAD is being processed.  Once you get that notice, you will receive your EAD between one to three months.  The EAD will be valid for five years on the date of issuance and must be renewed at least three months prior to its expiration.  Please do not wait until it expires to renew it.


 

Why can’t I get a regular driver’s license or Identification card instead of just one year?

The one year temporary driver’s licenses and identification cards is a direct result of the Real ID Act passed by the U.S. Congress in 2005.  When Congress passed this Act, no reference was made to citizens of the Freely Associated States of the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia and the Republic of the Marshall Islands in the definition of “State”.  Instead, reference was made in the definition of “State” to include the “Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands”, an entity that has not existed since 1994   While that reference served no operative purpose it did show Congressional intent to include FAS citizens under the Act.  Numerous attempts by FAS embassies to have this oversight reversed or modified through administrative procedure have not been successful.  Accordingly, a technical amendment to the Real ID Act proposed by the FAS embassies was introduced in the U.S. Senate in 2013 and again in 2015 as part of the Omnibus Territories Bill.  The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources has held hearing on the bill and the amendment and we are hopeful that this time it can pass.

There are a few U.S. States that do not follow or comply with the Real ID Act and therefore issue regular full-term State driver’s licenses and ID cards to our citizens.  So far only the State of Oregon has passed their own state law to authorize issuance of full-term ID cards and driver’s licenses to FAS citizens.  Unfortunately, many U.S. States are in compliance with the Real ID Act and therefore continue to issue one year temporary ID cards and driver’s licenses to our citizens.  We will continue to work with Members and Staff of Congress to seek their support in amending the Real ID Act.


 

  Are citizens of Palau eligible to enroll in the Affordable Health Care/Obama Care?

Yes, Palauan citizens are considered “lawfully present” and thus are eligible to join so long as they reside within the 50 states, not enrolled in Medicaid, not enrolled or offered enrollment by their employers, unless that employer coverage is unaffordable (over 9.56% of income for “self only” coverage).  Palauan citizens and other COFA citizens are not eligible for federal Medicaid funding, except possibly through Children’s Health Insurance Program.  However, when you apply for health care coverage through Health Insurance Marketplaces and your income is below 133% of Federal Poverty Level (FPL), you might be told to apply for Medicaid.  Go ahead and apply for Medicaid, once you get the denial letter, use that to qualify for Marketplace enrollment.  In addition to the Medicaid denial letter, you must prove your “lawful presence” by showing your I-94 or passport noted as “CFA/PAL, Employment Authorization Document (I-766) and possible other proof of citizenship, i.e. birth certificate.  If you are qualified, it is strongly recommended that you enroll and obtain coverage to avoid tax penalty.


 Is there financial help available to citizens of Palau who join the Marketplace?

Yes, there are two kinds of assistance available:

a)  Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC)

·       This helps pay premiums if your income is less than 400% of FPL

·       Citizens of Palau have access to APTC even at income which would normally qualify a consumer for Medicaid (0-400% FPL).

b)  Cost Sharing Reductions (CSR)

·       This lowers out-of-pocket costs (copayments and deductibles).

·       You must enroll in a “silver” level plan to get CSR.

·       CSR is offered in 3 tiers for household income below 250% of FPL.

When you get APTC you must agree to file a tax return for that year (even if you would not otherwise be required) or you will not get APTC the following year.


  Are Palauan citizens and other COFA citizens eligible for Medicare?

Yes, citizens residing in the 50 states, Guam and CNMI are eligible for Medicare.  To qualify for Medicare, you must be:

Sixty five (65) years old or determined disabled by the Social Security Administration.

Medicare Fee for other class:

 Part A (Inpatient Service): Premium free if you have worked 40 quarters and paid U.S.   Employment taxes

  •  If you have no U.S. work history, the premium is $407/month in 2015
  •   If you have worked, but less than 40 quarters, the premium may be less

 Part B (Outpatient Services):  Everyone pays a premium.  Currently it is $104.90/month

 Part D (Drugs):  Plan premiums vary, ranging from $20 to $50/month

Medicare also has copays and deductibles.  For more information visit www.medicare.gov or visit your local State Health Insurance Program (SHIP) office.


 Are there other health programs that Palauan citizens may be eligible?

Yes, there are Community Health Centers and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) across the country, which are parts of the “health care safety net” that are often overlooked.  A wide variety of clinics and health centers are available and most exist to serve the uninsured or medically underserved.  Visit www.findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov to see what is available in your area.

To apply, enroll, get coverage and learn more about the Health Insurance Marketplaces, visit www.healthcare.gov.

The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Pacific Health (Region 9), San Francisco and Hawaii can assist various groups upon request.  There may be groups in your area that provide assistance on a voluntary basis.  Search online and get enrolled.  Please feel free to contact the Embassy of Palau at telephone number (202)349-8598 or send your email to hkyota@palauembassy.com or HKyota@palauembassy.org and we will try to assist your group.


 Are Palauan students eligible to recieve Federal Student Aid (FSA)? 

Yes, Click on this link for information 

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)