As an immigration attorney, I receive many questions daily regarding the immigration process. Below are ten questions I hear often. I have provided short answers for each question as well. I hope they help!
1. I want to file a petition for my sister/my brother, and I heard it takes a long time. Is this true?
Yes, a sibling petition for permanent residency (green card) can take 10-12 years. If your sister or brother is interested in immigrating to the United States more immediately, she or he should explore student, work, or investment visa options.
2. I have a green card; can I invite my parents to visit?
Yes, you definitely can. Your parents need to show sufficient ties to their home country to convince USCIS that they intend only to come temporarily and that they will return to their country once their visa expires.
3. My fiancé is overseas, and I want to bring her to the United States ASAP, should we try to apply for a tourist visa first because the processing time is shorter?
As attorneys, we highly caution against applying for a tourist visa, if your fiancé is intending to live in the United States. In fact, USCIS assumes visa fraud if an applicant changes status while on a tourist visa. The timing of a possible adjustment of status is critical for arguing against the presumption of visa fraud. With a tourist visa, you are not supposed to have the "intent" to stay in the United States. Therefore, if USCIS finds out or feels as if your fiancé entered with the intent to stay in the U.S. and marry you, your fiancé will face major immigration issues.
4. I filed for asylum. What is my status?
You currently are an “asylum applicant,” which is not a legal status. However, as an asylum applicant, you have the right to stay and work in the United States until USCIS makes a decision regarding your application. The processing times varies depending on the asylum office involved.
5. I am a DACA recipient, can I ever become a lawful permanent resident or become a citizen?
There are options. It is not as straightforward as a "regular" case, but there are options. Depending on the application, there are ways to "cure" the unlawful presence. Best to speak with an immigration attorney to go over the details of your immigration history and discuss your options for the future.
6. I had my immigration interview, and the Immigration Officer said that everything looked good, but then he said that they will follow-up with their decision. It has been weeks, and I have not heard back. Should I be worried?
At this stage, it is a waiting game. You have to wait to see whether they request additional evidence via a Request For Evidence (RFE) or provide an approval notice, etc. If you do not hear anything within 90 days, call the USCIS customer service line and ask to speak with an immigration officer (one level up from the customer service representative). They can look in your file and make a service request about your case from the local office.
You can also make an InfoPass appointment with your local office to speak with someone in person.
7. I obtained my conditional green card through marriage with my U.S. Citizen spouse. Things are not working out now, and I want to get a divorce. If we get divorced, will I lose my green card?
Whether the relationship is not working out due to mutual disagreement or spousal abuse, rest assured, you do NOT have to stay in the relationship to maintain your green card and lawful permanent residence in the United States. The Petition to Remove Condition on Residence (Form I-751) provides a waiver of the joint filing requirement. If you are in this situation, it is important to keep reminding yourself about the deadline to file the I-751. If the petition is not filed on time, USCIS will terminate your legal residency status and there are deportation consequences.
8. Can my spouse sponsor me for a green card if he is currently unemployed?
He can petition for you, but he needs to have a joint sponsor. In other words, you need to find another person who will file an additional Affidavit of Support and who independently has sufficient income required by USCIS.
9. I am on TPS right now, can I apply for a visa?
As a TPS recipient, you are unable to "adjust status,” which means changing status while in the United States. You will have to apply for a visa abroad via consular processing.
10. I have a green card application pending, and I need to travel back home. What do I need to do to travel and not risk my green card application?
You need to apply for advance parole. Advance parole will allow you to travel abroad while your green card application is pending. Otherwise, USCIS may assume your green card application has been abandoned, which is a risk if you travel without advanced parole.
However, if you are possibly inadmissible under other grounds (criminal record, immigration history, etc.), you might not be able to return to the United States. There are a lot of factors that determine whether a person is inadmissible or not. Thus, it is best to sit down with an attorney for a consultation to discuss the pro's and con's of leaving the country while an application is pending. It would be well worth the time and effort to do so and not risk your status or application.
NOTE: The answers provided above are for general information purposes only. These answers do not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please consult with an immigration attorney to talk about the specific details of your case and to obtain the best and the most customized response. For additional questions and answers, please visit ImmigraTrust Law’s Avvo question and answer page and ImmigraTrust lead attorney Najmeh Mahmoudjafari's Avvo profile.
If you have any further questions, please contact us today! We look forward to hearing from you.
--Najmeh Mahmoudjafari, J.D.
Najmeh is the Founder and Lead Immigration Attorney at ImmigraTrust Law, an immigration law practice in Orange County, California, representing individual and corporate clients in all 50 U.S. States and internationally. Najmeh can be reached at Najmeh@ImmigraTrust.com.
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