FAQs

  • 1. Family-Based Visas
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  • 1. What happens if USCIS has not decided my I-130 and my work authorization is about to expire?
     

    Applicants for spouse-based adjustment to permanent residence status are eligible to work in the United States while their applications are pending.  Unfortunately, because of Governmental delays in processing these applications, many Employment Authorization Documents (EADs) expire before their holder receives their green card.

    What can these individuals do in order to continue working legally in the United States?

    Fortunately, people placed in this situation are eligible to renew their EADs.  According to Government instructions, when an individual is within 120 days of their EAD expiring, they can submit form I-765 for a renewal of their EAD.

    While there is normally a fee involved in this renewal process, the Government instructions specify that an “adjustment applicant who applied after July 30, 2007” does not have to pay any fee to renew their EAD.

    If you need assistance with renewing your EAD or have questions about the adjustment of status process, please give us a call at 314-961-8200.

    EAD

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  • 2. What is premium processing and is it available in every type of immigration case?
     

    The answer is yes.  A separate I-130 must be filed for your spouse and for each foreign-born minor child.  The only exception would be is if your foreign-born child is actually a U.S. citizen by operation of law.  Those scenarios are complicated and infrequent.  The general rule of thumb, therefore, is that a separate I-130 should be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for each child.

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  • 3. How old do I have to be in order to sponsor a family member for an immigrant visa?
     

    The Immigration & Nationality Act requires a U.S. citizen to be 21 twenty-one years of age in order to be eligible to sponsor a parent or sibling for an immigrant visa.  For parents, the immigrant visa is immediately available.  For siblings, there is a long wait (currently around 11 years).

    For all other immigrant visas - including spouses and children - there is no age requirement.  However, every sponsor for an immigrant visa must be 18 years old in order to execute a valid affidavit of support.  Thus, for all practical purposes, you must be 18 years old to sponsor your spouse or children for an immigrant visa and 21 to sponsor your parents or siblings.

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  • 4. Can I speed up my adult child's overseas visa case?
     

    Last week, I had the pleasure of meeting with a nice mother from Egypt.  She naturalized about seven years ago and lives in St. Louis County, Missouri.  After she became a citizen, she immediately filed an I-130 family based visa for her son who lives in Cairo.  His case has been pending since 2006 and she wanted to know if there was anything that we could do to speed up her son's case.  The reason her son's case is taking so long is that Congress has only alloted a certain number of visas each year and there is currently a backlog of nearly seven years for these types of cases.

    We receive phone calls and emails to the office from time to time, asking if we can do anything to speed up the wait at USCIS and/or the State Department.  While there are certainly ways to speed up naturalization cases that have been delayed at USCIS, there is not that much that can be done in this type of case.  We definitely tell people to keep their mailing address updated with both USCIS and the National Visa Center.  We also recommend getting the help of an immigration attorney who can at least keep track of the case and help make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.  But at the end of the day, there is not really anything else to do.  Asking for Congressional help will not accomplish anything because it is not possible to "jump the line."  Keeping track of the visa bulletin can help, but it does not actually speed things along.

    This particular Egyptian mother was very persistent.  I was struck by how much she cared about her son and how she really wanted to try any and all legal means to get him here.  Although we were not able to assist her with this particular family based visa situation, she greatly appreciated the guidance we gave her and the knowledge that she had done everything possible to help speed up her son's case.

    The good news for this family is that his visa is about 12 months from processing, assuming that the processing rate stays constant (which you can't always assume).

    If you need help with a family or spouse based visa or if you think our firm might be help you with a different type of delay case, please call the Hacking Law Practice at (314) 961-8200.

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  • 5. Can a lawful permanent resident sponsor their brother or sister for an immediate visa?
     

    Unfortunately, the answer to this question is no.  A lawful permanent resident must wait until they become a U.S. citizen before they are eligible to sponsor anyone other than their own spouse or child for a visa.  And even once becoming a citizen, the wait for a visa for the adult (over age 21) sibling of a U.S. citizen ranges from 11 to 20+ years.  Such a delay may not be feasible for most folks.

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  • 6. My US citizen fiancee is filing for a visa for me. Can my minor child accompany me?
     

    US citizens can sponsor their fiancee for a visa to the U.S.  The visa is known as a K1 visa and requires that the couple get married within 90 days of the alien's arrival in the U.S.  The alien can then petition to adjust status to that of lawful permanent residence as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.

    Federal immigration law allows for the minor child of an immigrating fiancee to accompany their parent to the U.S. on a K2 visa.  The minor's ability to remain in the country long term and to obtain LPR status is also dependent upon the fiancee actually marrying the person who filed the K1 visa.  The regulations define a child for K2 purposes as a son or daughter under the age of 21.  If the child is over 21, they cannot accompany their mother or father.

    One important thing to keep in mind is that then the fiancee and her child go to the embassy for the visa interview, the parent will have to demonstrate that the child's other parent consents to the child moving to the U.S.

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  • 7. If I sponsor my brother or sister for an immigrant visa, can they bring their spouse and/or their children?
     

    Callers to our office and visitors to our website always have questions regarding whether their sibling will be able to bring a spouse and/or children with them when they come to the U.S. on the sibling of a US citizen visa application.

    We understand why there are so many questions - it is because it really is confusing !!

    The short answer is YES.  Your sibling does not have to be single to come to the U.S. through your petition.

    When you file an I-130 for your brother or your sister, they can bring their spouse and minor children with them.  Minor children are children under the age of 21. 

    USCIS and the State Department refer to the spouse and minor children as "derivatives."  Separate petitions are not required.

    A related question is - if I am a US citizen and I sponsor my brother or sister and their spouse and minor children, what happens if the children reach the age of 21 before a visa becomes available. 

    In typical lawyer-like language - it depends !  USCIS uses a complicated formula to figure out if the provisions of the Child Status Protection Act apply to allow the child to continue to be considered a minor under the original petition.  One thing to keep in mind is that if the minor child ages out, but they are protected by the CSPA - that protection disappears if the child marries.

    The long delays in sibling-based immigration visas cause lots of real world headaches.  If you have questions or concerns about a particular application or simply want more information about how you might sponsor a brother or sister and their family to come to the U.S. on a permanent basis, please give us a call at (314) 961-8200.

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  • 8. How can we prove our marriage is valid when we live apart and one spouse is overseas?
     

    Newly married couples sometimes have difficulty in proving the validity of their marriage.  After all, how much evidence can you actually have when you are just getting started on your life together. 

    This is especially true if one spouse is in the U.S. and the other spouse is overseas.  Here are some tips on how you can strengthen your case when you and your spouse live far apart:

    1.  Document the communications.  If you use phone cards, keep them.  If you use Skype, keep track of chats.  You can keep a log of time spent talking each day.  Letters, cards and hard copies of correspondence are helpful.  We may also submit sample emails over a period of time to demonstrate the ongoing nature of the relationship.

    2.  Document all time spent in each others presence.  If you are going overseas to be with your wife or husband, keep copies of everything related to the travel.  This includes airfare receipts, hotel receipts, visa stamps, ticket stubs and any other evidence showing that you did things together.

    3.  Document the relationship with photos.  Be sure to take lots of pictures while the two of you are together.  One or two photos will not cut it.  With many people having access to digital cameras, this should be relatively easy.  Photos of you and your spouse in various locations and with different people are also persuasive evidence of the validity of the marriage.  Engagement and wedding photos are certainly helpful, but everyday photos are also good at establishing the validity of the marriage.

    4.  Letters or affidavits from people familiar with the wedding and the relationship.  Many times, we supplement our spouse visa applications with affidavits or letters from family members or friends who have personal knowledge of the wedding and the marriage.  These are very helpful.

    These are just some of the things that you can do to boost your chance of success at USCIS before your case is decided and sent to the National Visa Center.

    Give us a call (314-961-8200) or visit our website (www.hackinglawpractice.com) if you have questions.

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  • 9. Should I believe everything that I read on the internet about spouse visa interviews?
     

    If you haven't already been looking around the internet to find out information regarding spouse visa interviews, it is my strong recommendation that you not do that.  There is a huge amount of misinformation floating around cyberspace regarding green card interviews and you will do yourself no good by visiting chat boards dedicated to discussing this important topic.

    This is true for several reasons.

    First, many, many immigration cases are extremely straightforward and approvable.  The stories of these cases rarely make their way onto the internet, except for our website.  This results in a skewed number of stories regarding how a spouse visa interview went.

    Second, you have no idea if the stories are true or false.  For all you know, the horror story that you just found on the internet regarding an interview that went poorly is entirely false.  Do you have any way of checking?

    Third, every case is different.  This means that different USCIS officers ask different questions and handle each case differently.  You cannot assume that because a certain question was asked a certain way in one case means that the same question will be asked of you.

    Each immigration office handles these interviews differently - what may be true in Portland, Oregon, may not be true in Atlanta, Georgia or St. Louis, Missouri.  Even within the same office, different officers handle their interviews differently.

    But the main reason that you should not waste your time reading about other peoples' cases is that it will only stress you out, make you anxious and cause you headaches from all of the worry.  Whatever may or may not have happened in another case has little to no bearing on your case.

    So give yourself a break.  If you have a question, ask your immigration lawyer.  Don't ask the uneducated masses on the internet.  Trust me on this one.

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