ImmigrationTALK: Questions & Answers
By: Attorney Gail S. Seeram
Through this “Question & Answer” column, our goal is to answer your immigration questions. Many of you have questions on backlog time and eligibility – we seek to clarify these issues and more. We appreciate your comments and questions. If you have a question that you would like answered in this column, please email: Gail@GailLaw.com.
Question #1: I’ve been a lawful permanent resident for 20 years and just filed a sponsorship petition for my 9 year-old daughter in January 2012. How long will it take before she gets to the United States?
Answer #1: Your filing is considered a family preference 2A category, child under age 21 of a lawful permanent resident. Currently, visas are being issued for petitions filed on or before October 8, 2009. So, since you filed in January 2012, you have about a two-year wait before your daughter will be issued an immigrant visa to the United States.
Question #2: My U.S. citizen sister filed for me about 25 years ago. I don’t remember completing the paperwork or process. I would now like to emigrate to the U.S. Does my sister have to re-file or can I restart the process from the prior filing?
Answer #2: I would advise you to contact the U.S. Department of State-National Visa Center at 603-334-0700 and give them your receipt number or case number and they can tell you whether the prior petition is still active. Generally, if the visa is available but there is no response from the beneficiary within a year then the case is considered abandoned. In limited circumstances, the visa process can be reinstated. Otherwise, if you are told the prior process was abandoned and cannot be reinstated then your sister will have to re-file a family sponsorship petition.
Question #3: My husband is a US citizen by naturalization. He has filed a petition for me. It has been three months since our case is at the initial review stage. Can you tell me how long this stage takes and which stage takes the longest time?
Answer #3: For a U.S. citizen filing for a spouse living abroad, the processing time is about 9 months to 1 year. Initially, the petition is reviewed by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services then it goes to the National Visa Center and last to the U.S. Embassy. The initial (or first stage) can take about 3-6 months before it is sent to the National Visa Center.
Question #4: My husband and I got married March 1, 2012. He is a U.S. citizen. He would like to file a sponsorship petition for me but has excessive credit card debts of $8000. Does he need to clear his debts and liabilities before filing for me?
Answer #4: No. He will have to show he is working and has enough income or assets to support you and his current household. Note, if his income is not enough then he can get a joint sponsor who can submit tax returns and proof of employment to support your petition.