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Traveling on an Expired Immigrant Visa

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Can I travel on an expired immigrant visa? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. This video question comes from Florence. She’s one of our YouTube subscribers. Hello, Florence.

Would you believe it if I had told you in making this video that I’m not entirely sure the answer to your question? I think it would be very risky to try to enter on an immigrant visa that had expired. You’re probably going to have to contact the Embassy and ask them best how to proceed.

The first thing I want to say in considering this issue is that you want to make sure that this never happens. Usually when you get an immigrant visa to come to the United States, you have at least four months to come, and there’s really no reason why you shouldn’t come. I’m sure people have life situations and work situations and school situations where they don’t want to come right away, but you need to be paying attention to that even before the immigrant visa is issued.

And so what do I mean by that? Well, if you have a window where you’re not going to be able to travel, you should slow walk your case to get it approved at the time that you are going to be able to come. The greatest way to prevent the problem that Florence is outlining in her question is to make sure that you’re going to be able to travel during that four month window.

You don’t want them to approve it at a time where you’re not going to be able to come, and you can even say to the officer or you can ask the Embassy to please slow down the case or halt the case so that the visa isn’t issued right after your interview or right after you have your meeting with the consular officials.

And so you really want to make sure that you handle this correctly and, in my honest opinion, you don’t want to really do what I just outlined. You don’t really want to slow down your case. You want to get that visa in hand. You need to get to the United States. Wait for your green card to arrive after you pay the ELIS fee, and you can then go back to your home country. You really don’t want to do what Florence is saying.

So Florence, while I don’t know the answer to your question, I’ll tell you this: don’t do what you outlined in your question. But if you have, and it sounds like you have, Florence, then what I think you need to do is go back to the Embassy to contact them, maybe the National Visa Center, explain to them the situation, and ask them what best to do.

And so it’s interesting, I’ve never had this situation occur because I would never let my clients not come. I would stand on their head and make them come. So I haven’t had a situation where somebody got an immigrant visa. Usually people are champing at the bit to get to the United States, and usually they come about 30 days after the visa is issued.

I know people have to live their lives, but for the most part, you don’t want to get in a situation like this where you have your immigrant visa hanging out there and you don’t take advantage of it. The State Department doesn’t like that. They sort of look down on that, and it’s just going to make your case a whole lot more complicated. I could see them even really taking a long time on giving you a new updated visa.

So you could always try to enter on it. As you point out, it does say that it’s valid for a purpose of the I-551, which is proof of lawful permanent residence status. You could try it after, but I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I could see a customs official missing it and you getting right through, or I could also see them catching it, maybe trying to revoke it, and sending you back to your home country, and that’s what you don’t want to happen. So check with the State Department if that’s what you’ve done, but for the most part, try not to let that happen.

This has been Jim Hacking. I enjoyed being with you today. If you liked this video, please be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel so you get updates whenever we make videos just like this one. Join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home, and you can always call us at 314-961-8200 or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks a lot. Have a great day.

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