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Frequently Asked Immigration Questions

"I want to come to the United States on a temporary visa. What kind of visa can I qualify for: visitor, work, student, etc?"

You may be eligible for one of several nonimmigrant visas issued by the Department of State and administered by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Click on the following link for a list of United States Embassy and Consulates and what types of visas they issue. Not every consulate issues all visas.

See Nonimmigrant Visa Categories.

"I am outside the United States, where do I find the closest United States Consulate to process a visa for me?"

Click on the following link for a list of United States Embassy and Consulates and what types of visas they issue. Not every consulate issues all visas.

See United States Visa Issuing Posts and Types of Visas Issued.

In certain cases you may have to go to the United States Embassy in your country.

"I want to bring a relative (brother, sister, mother, father, etc.) to live permanently in the United States. How long will it take once I file the papers?"

Depending on the type of status you have in the United States (Citizen or Permanent Resident), check the chart by clicking on the link below:

Green Card Processing Times from the United States Visa Bulletin.

Read the instructions to determine if you fall into one of the preference categories.

"I want to bring a (friend, relative, fiance, etc.) to the United States permanently. Should I try to get a tourist visa first and then try to get them into a another visa category once I get them here?"

No. Generally, if you attempt to obtain a tourist visa for purposes other than tourism or a business visit, you will be denied. If, however, you should succeeed in obtaining a tourist visa in any event, and then attempt to change visa categories after arriving, you may be denied a change of status to another visa category because you fraudulently obtained the tourist visa in the first instance.

"I have received a 'Notice to Appear' from Immigration Court. I am here illegally, but have married a United States citizen and have several children. Will this be sufficient to stop my removal from the United States?"

Generally no. You should consult an experienced, licensed immigration attorney. There may be several options open to you depending on the nature and length of the marriage and the age of any marital children, however, marriage alone will not protect you from removal from the United States.

"I am here on H-1B, but the company I worked for is about to go out of business due to a downturn in the technology sector. I have heard that if the company lays me off, I will still have ten days to find a new job and maintain my status"

This is incorrect. The misconception that there is a so-called "ten day rule" for H-1B employees arises theoretically from the ability of an BCIS officer to issue a new I-94 Departure Record ten days after the employee is discharged. According the BCIS interpretation, however, once the employee is discharged, he/she is out of status and the employer is obligated to make travel arrangements for the employee to leave the country.

In practice, the BCIS has allowed a discharged employee thirty (30) days in which to secure new employment and refile a new H-1B Petition. If you believe that your company is in financial danger and may discharge you, you should contact an experienced, licensed immigration attorney to determine what options may be avaialable to you.

"I want to bring my fiance to live with me in the United States. We have not married yet, but intend to. Should I marry her before she comes to the United States or can we get married after she arrives?"

Either way. In August, 2001, the BCIS provided for a new K-3 and K-4 Visa Categories. The K-1 has traditionally been the category used to bring foreign national fiances to the United States who thereupon must marry their United States citizen fiance within 90 days of arrival in the United States. The K-3 visa category was created for foreign national spouses of United States citizens. This visa allows the foriegn national to join his or her spouse in the United States immediately following the processing of a petition and visa issuance through a consulate. The steps for receiving both approval of a petition and processing of the appropriate visa can be complex, so consultation with an experienced, licenced immigration attorney in recommended.

See Fiance and Spouse Visas.

"How do I know if I am subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement under INA s. 212(e)?"

Your J-1 visa contained in your passport will usually contain language indicating whether you are subject to the requirement.

See Exchange Program Visas .


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