Frequently Asked Questions: Visas, Green Cards & Immigration Law

As a result of assisting hundreds of immigration clients with various visa matters in past years, our immigration lawyers have compiled a list of frequently asked questions. Be sure to check back often as this list is continually updated. Still have a question? Contact us today to speak with an experienced immigration law attorney.

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  • My I-526 Petition Was Approved, Now What?

    Each immigrant investor must file a Form I-526 petition to establish his or her eligibility for classification as an EB-5 immigrant investor. But many EB-5 investors may have questions regarding what to do after their I-526 petition is approved.

    Once your I-526 petition is approved, you and your family members may take either "consular processing" at the United States Embassy located in your country of residence, or, if you are already legally residing in the United States, you may file I-485 adjustment application for conditional green cards

    I-485 Adjustment of Status

    If you are already in the United States when your I-526 petition is approved, you may file Form I-485 to apply to "adjust your status" from non-immigrant status to that of a permanent resident. Unlike other immigrant categories, EB-5 investors may not concurrently file their I-485 with their I-526. 

    Form I-485 is a six-page application that requires payment of a fee of $1,140 (plus an $85 fingerprinting fee). On the form, you will need to disclose certain biographical information so that United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can determine if your are eligible for permanent residency.

    You will need to submit several documents with your Form I-485:

    • a birth certificate,
    • marriage certificate and/or divorce decree (if applicable),
    • two conforming photographs of yourself,
    • and a copy of your passport.

    You will also be required to pass a medical examination conducted by a USCIS approved civil surgeon, as well as a biometrics screening.

    Once your adjustment of status is filed, you can apply for an advance parole travel document and a work authorization. These documents enable you to remain in the United States, travel, and work while your adjustment of status application is pending.

    USCIS processes most I-485 applications in 6 to 12 months. Applications generally result in approval, unless there is a serious reason for denial. Major reasons for denial include criminal convictions, possession of certain communicable diseases, or serious immigration law violations. 

    If your adjustment of status application is approved, you immediately become a conditional permanent resident in the United States. This is your two-year conditional green card granting you legal residence in the United States. Nothing more needs to be done until twenty-one to twenty-four months after the approval. At that time, form I-829 (Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status) must be filed in order to receive the full ten-year unconditional permanent residence.

    Consular Processing In Home Country

    On the other hand, if you are outside the United States when your I-526 petition is approved, you will need to apply to obtain your immigrant visa through a US consulate in your home country. This is referred to as “consular processing.”

    In this case, once your I-526 petition is approved, USCIS will forward your case file to the National Visa Center and you will be contacted. Then, you must pay the application fees and submit the online application form, DS-260, and supporting evidence. Application form DS-260 has two parts.

    Like the adjustment of status application, the DS-260 application collects standard biographical information. You will complete and submit the first part of the application yourself. The second part of the application is completed in the presence of a consular officer at the U.S. consulate or embassy. 

    You will likely be required to bring documentation, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates and passports to your DS-260 interview. The application is completed and signed after the interview has been conducted. Separate DS-260 applications will need to be filed for each family member who will accompany you to the United States to become permanent residents.

    Approval of Consular Process

    Upon approval at your consular processing appointment, you will receive an immigrant visa that is valid for six months. You must enter the United States before that six-month visa expires. When you enter the United States with the immigrant visa, at the port of entry, the immigration officer will stamp your passport, which will immediately grant you conditional permanent residence (the same status you would have achieved if you were to undergo adjustment of status processing). You will immediately become a conditional permanent resident at that time.

    As with adjustment of status, you will need to file a form I-829 petition within the 90-day period immediately preceding the two-year anniversary of your admission to the United States. 

    Our California based Law Office Is Here to Help

    At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you and your family to get all the information necessary to qualify for an EB-5 visa.  Our attorneys have years of experience, have handled hundreds of cases, and would be more than happy to advise on the EB-5 process and requirements.  Get in touch today: call us at 415-969-6834 for more information.

  • What to expect at Your EB-5 Green Card Consulate Interview

    The EB-5 process for investment visa application is has multiple stages. After you file your I-526 petition and it is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the next stage is consular processing if you are not already in the U.S.  Approval of your I-526 petition indicates that you have qualified as an alien entrepreneur. Consular processing is a separate stage providing for your visa and actual admission to the U.S. as a legal permanent resident.

    Consular Processing for EB-5 Visa

    Consular processing begins when the USCIS sends your approved I-526 petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then provide you with instructions, an appointment package, and request the necessary documents and information. Typically, such documentation includes birth and marriage certificates, biographic data, police records and an affidavit of support. There will be a complete checklist of all the documents that you must provide and the applicable immigrant visa fees. You will also be instructed to have your fingerprints taken, submit to a medical examination and to report for a consular interview

    The consular interview typically takes place at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country of citizenship. The purpose of the interview is to make sure the applicant is not subject to any grounds of inadmissibility. Therefore, the consular officer will concentrate on the remaining basic admissibility issues of the applicant.

    Preparing for the EB-5 Green Card Consulate Interview

    If you have gotten this far, you have overcome the most difficult portion of the process, the I-526 petition. Nevertheless, it is vital that you prepare for your interview. You should begin by reviewing all of your paperwork prior to the interview. Consider the questions, as well as your responses on the forms and documents that you have submitted and be prepared to answer similar questions at your interview. You should also be familiar with the dates of your travel, the financial figures and the nature of your EB-5 investment, and your immigration history. 

    During the EB-5 Interview

    Plan to arrive early for your EB-5 consulate interview.  There are often long lines at the place of interview, and you may experience a long wait prior to your interview. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait beyond your scheduled appointment time.  

    Once in the embassy or consulate, a clerk will likely verify that you have brought the required documents. When you are called for your appointment, a consular officer will meet with you, place you under oath, and review the contents of your application.

    After the officer has reviewed your forms and documents, you can expect the officer to ask questions similar or identical to those on the forms and documents you have already submitted.  The officer may also ask questions pertaining to the results of your medical exam, any past criminal activities including drug violations, and any connections you may have to subversive organizations or communist parties.

    The interview process itself is generally quick and simple. While the officer is free to ask as many questions as necessary, don’t be surprised if you are only asked a few questions. Answering all questions honestly is very important.

    The entire interview can be as short as 20 minutes. If everything is in order, the officer may ask you to return on another day to pick up your visa. It is a rare case that an application is denied on the spot. If you have problems with your application that can be corrected, the officer will usually ask you to provide additional materials to rectify the problems. The same is true if you are inadmissible, but eligible for a waiver. 

    After the EB-5 Interview

    When you receive your visa, it is important that you do not open it. You will need to present your unopened visa envelope to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer upon your arrival in the U.S.

    At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you and your family to have the most up-to-date information on the green card process.  Our immigration attorneys can advise you about process. Contact us for more information.

  • Do I Need a Reentry Permit to Travel and Will it Affect my Status?

    Foreign nationals who have successfully been approved for a green card may sometimes find that they must leave the U.S. for an extended period of time for a variety of legitimate reasons.  In those circumstances, foreign nationals may want to consider applying for a reentry permit which will allow them reentry into the U.S. after a prolonged stay outside the U.S.

    When is a reentry permit needed?

    As a U.S. green card holder or lawful permanent resident (LPR), you are generally free to travel out of the country and reenter multiple times, as long as you do not intend to stay abroad for periods exceeding six months. If you are absent from the United States or reside abroad for such a prolonged period of time, you may be considered to have abandoned your permanent resident status.

    One of the responsibilities of having a green card is to maintain your permanent resident status.  When you need to travel or reside outside of the U.S. for longer than six months, the reentry permits helps to preserve your “maintaining permanent resident status” while you are outside the U.S. A reentry permit will demonstrate your intention to maintain your permanent residence and normally will allow you to travel abroad for up to two years.  For EB-5 investors who have a conditional (2-year) green card, reentry permits are typically only issued for as long as the validity of the conditional (2-year) green card.

    Basic Filing Procedures

    A Form I-131 is typically used to request a reentry permit.  When filing the form to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the applicant should be physically present in the U.S. at that time.  Additionally, a re-entry permit applicant must appear in person at a USCIS Application Support Center to provide his/her photograph and fingerprints to be captured electronically and the applicant’s identity to be verified.  There is no requirement that the applicant be in the U.S. at the time the reentry permit is approved since the Embassy, Consulate or USCIS can mail the document abroad.

    What qualifies as a justifiable reason for an extended absence?  

    Lawful permanent residents may need to travel or stay abroad for extended periods for a variety of reasons, including family, school, business or employment.  Every reentry permit application should include an explanation and supporting documentation highlighting the reasons and/or need for temporarily residing abroad, as well as your intent to resume residency in the U.S. after the absence.

    For example, overseas employment is the most common reason stated by lawful permanent residents for extended absences from the U.S. In such a case, documentation indicating your intent to resume U.S. residency could include a written statement from your employer, or an employment contract identifying the length and term of your overseas job.  Applicants should also show that they maintain some indicator of permanent residence in the U.S., such as the filing of annual tax returns as a resident of the U.S., maintenance of a residence in the U.S., and bank accounts in the U.S.

    How will a reentry permit affect my permanent green card status when I return?

    Green card holder who fail to renew their reentry permits and remain outside of the U.S. for more than 2 years after its issuance may need to obtain a returning resident visa or risk having an officer determine legal permanent residence status was abandoned and not being able to enter the U.S.  Note that even with a valid reentry permit, if an Immigration officer at the port of entry believes that you have abandoned your home in the U.S., your green card can be confiscated.

    The reentry permit simply instructs the officer that relying solely on the duration of your absence as a basis to determine abandonment of LPR status is not sufficient.  It is always recommended for green card holders to maintain a permanent home in the U.S.

    If you plan to be out of the U.S. for an extended period, consult Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C. Our California based immigration attorneys can advise you on how to protect your green card status.

  • How Sensitive Areas of Study Might Impact Your EB-5 Visa?

    Foreign students entering the U.S. to study may face delays in obtaining their student visas based on several factors, including their country of origin and their academic major.  An open question remains whether foreign nationals who apply for an EB-5 visa after graduation can expect delays based on their areas of study.  Most of the information used by federal agencies to decide these matters is not released to the public but here are some helpful tips. 

    Question: What is the “Technology Alert List” (TAL)?

    The TAL is a U.S. State Department document that defines major fields of controlled goods and technologies of security concern, and a list of designated state sponsors of terrorism.  The list of technology concern, known as the “Critical Fields List,” applies to areas of study at universities.  This list is broad and includes most hard sciences such as nuclear technology, physics, engineering, chemistry, and aviation, and others like architecture and urban planning.  These categories contain items or methods that could have a dual-use purpose (civilian and military) and thus are protected to prevent the transfer of sensitive information in these fields through studies, research, employment, or business.

    Does Studying Subject on the TAL Prevent Me From Qualifying for An EB-5 Visa?

    The use of the TAL is intended for any visa application or petition. While it is possible to study a subject in school that is listed on the TAL, there are many factors to consider.  If a consular post determines, after a review of many sources including the TAL, that your application requires a Security Advisory Opinion (SAO), your application will be sent to the State Department.  Several federal agencies will then review your application and make a recommendation for your visa approval.  This process could delay your application for an unknown amount of time.  Unfortunately, statistics on the wait times for security clearances are not available to the general public but reports of a range from two months to two years have been indicated by many foreign applicants who have endured a SAO.

    What Is the Likelihood of Getting Flagged or Denied Based on My Area of Study?

    The criteria used to determine how likely a foreign applicant will be denied or flagged based on his or her area of study is close guarded information.  The State Department has indicated, in the context of student visas, undergraduate majors are of less concern because that information is widely available and available to the public.  On the other hand, post-graduate, doctoral, and post-doctoral researchers are scrutinized more closely because that subject matter is much more specialized and advanced.  In the context of EB-5 visas, EB-5 business activities or a foreign investor’s nationality could be factors that might trigger additional security review.

    A foreign investor’s area of study could affect his/her EB-5 petition, particularly if the graduate work or post-doctoral work was in a subject listed on the TAL.  The nature of the EB-5 business, and whether it falls under the TAL, will also likely increase or decrease the importance of your area of study.  Other factors may include who funded the education and how the foreign investor intended to use the goods or knowledge acquired.

    Unfortunately, many foreign applicants who have experienced a security delay have come to prepare for such long delays.  Are you concerned about potential delays in your EB-5 visa process based on your area of study?

    At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you to get all the information necessary to qualify for an EB-5 visa.  Our attorneys can advise you based on your current status and qualifications, allowing you peace of mind.  Contact us for more information.

  • Will Communist Party Ties Affect My EB-5 Eligibility?

    The United States has strict regulations regarding the admission of foreigners with Communist Party affiliations or membership. Green Card applicants will be asked to disclose any past and present affiliations or membership with a Communist Party. Nevertheless, Communist Parties remain politically important in a number of countries, including China, Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. If you are an EB-5 applicant from one of these countries, you may be uncertain how to answer this question. 

    Whether your Green Card application will be denied due to past or present Communist Party affiliation or membership depends on your level of involvement with the party. 

    An applicant for immigration and naturalization to the United States must show support for the U.S. Constitution and a willingness to accept the principles of the Constitution. Current or previous membership in the Communist Party may indicate an opposition to the Constitution and generally any immigrant who is or has been a member of or affiliated with the Communist Party is inadmissible.  

    There are, however, several exceptions that allow an applicant to show that his or her Communist Party membership or affiliation was involuntary or limited. An applicant may meet an exception if he or she establishes that: 

    • His or her membership or affiliation was involuntary; 
    • His or her membership or affiliation ended before turning 16 years old;
    • Membership or affiliation was necessary for to obtain employment, food rations, or other essentials of living; or 
    • His or her membership or affiliation ended at least 2 years before the date of applying for a Green Card, or 5 years before the date of such application, in the case of an foreigner whose membership or affiliation was with the party controlling the government of a foreign state that is a Communist state, and the foreign is not a threat to the security of the United States.

    Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court created an exception for non-meaningful associations in Rowoldt v. Perfetto, 355 U.S. 115 (U.S. 1957). These are associations where the applicant demonstrates a lack of commitment to the political and ideological convictions of communism. The Supreme Court has consistently held that Communist Party membership is not present if the individual is unaware of the political nature of the group or the individual is without a political reason for joining. For example, if an individual joined a communist group merely to attend meetings or social events, particularly while young, his or her participation is less likely to be considered meaningful than one who is actively pursuing the group’s goals and taking leadership roles.

    Moreover, simply having an intellectual interest in or sympathy for the ideologies of the Communist Party does not constitute affiliation with the organization unless such interest or sympathy is accompanied by a voluntary action that provides support, money, or other value.

    If none of the above exceptions fit you, you may still be eligible for an exception available to close family members of U.S. citizen or a lawfully admitted permanent residence, in the form of a waiver for humanitarian purposes, family unity, or in the public interest of the United States.

    At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you to get all the information necessary to qualify for your Green Card.  If you are concerned that Communist Party affiliations may disqualify you, our attorneys can advise you based on your current status and eligibility for an exception, allowing you peace of mind.  Contact us for more information. 

  • Iranian Citizens and the EB-5 Program- Are They Compatible?

    While many think of the U.S. as a land that welcomes foreigners, this may not be the case for certain types of individuals.  The U.S. Department of Homeland Security is in charge of protecting our country from domestic and foreign threats (such as terrorists and narcotics traffickers) by working with many different agencies.  The Office of Foreign Assets Controls (OFAC), part of the Department of Treasury, is such agency in charge of administering and enforce economic and trade sanctions against certain foreign countries and their nationals based on foreign policies that the U.S. has enacted or is obligated to follow, such as United Nations or other international treaties.

    On a practical level, this means that nationals of countries currently faced with trade or other economic sanctions by the U.S. will be unlikely to successfully emigrate to the U.S. without first getting special permission, such as general or special licenses from OFAC.  OFAC restricts the ability of U.S. organizations and individuals to conduct trade or conduct other financial transactions with individuals and/or groups on the Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list.  Violations can lead to criminal and civil penalties for U.S. individuals and organizations.  Thus, foreign investors who are nationals of embargoed countries find it difficult to overcome the OFAC hurdle to qualify for an EB-5 visa.

    Up until recently, Iranian citizens wishing to make an EB-5 investment were required to obtain a special license from OFAC prior to applying for an EB-5 petition.  In October 2012, OFAC decided to revise its special licensing requirement for Iranian nationals.  In revisions to the Iranian Transactions Regulations, OFAC announced that Iranian individuals could now qualify for certain immigration visa categories, including EB-5 visas, without having to obtain special licensing from OFAC on condition that any financing was not obtained and did not involve individuals or groups on the SDN list.  If an EB-5 investor has obtained funds from a company or individual on the SDN list, the Investor would then need a special license from OFAC in order to successfully transfer the qualifying EB-5 funds to the U.S.

    The good news is that Iranian nationals now have the option to evaluate whether an EB-5 visa might be the right visa for them.  With that said, Iranian foreign investors should still be cautioned to conduct their due diligence.  It is important to assure the Department of Homeland Security that everything has been done to ensure the foreign investor is not on any watch list or other security database compiled by the U.S. government.

  • Why Limited Partnerships Are So Common in EB-5 Regional Centers

    Many EB-5 investors who are ready to make an investment will likely find that investing in the vast majority Regional Center means purchasing an ownership interest in a Limited Partnership. What exactly does this mean and how does that affect an EB-5 investor’s ability to manage their investment?

    Definition of a Limited Partnership

    Limited Partnerships are businesses that have two different types of owners, the General Partner, and the Limited Partners.

    The General Partners will typically take on a greater role in the buisness by being responsible for the day-to-day management of the business.  They also have a majority of the decision-making responsibilities but also take on the liability for the business.  This means that they are personally liable for any business debts in the event of failure or legal problems.

    On the other hand, Limited Partners have less decision-making power but also less liability.  Limited Partners do not play an active role in the business. For instance, Limited Partners cannot make any business deals on behalf of the limited partnership.  This limitation also protects Limited Partners from exposure from liability.  They are only liable up to the amount they invested in the business and cannot be forced to pay for business debts with their own assets.

    Regional Center Operations

    Limited Partnerships in general have distinct advantages, including simpler taxation, limited regulation and more flexibility. However, the core reason why the majority of Regional Centers are formed specifically as Limited Partnerships is that the role of a Limited Partner is ideal for most EB-5 investors because of their goals.

    EB-5 investors want to qualify for a green card for themselves and/or for their family members and make a sound investment that will hopefully provide a return of their principal investment at the end of the required period. Most EB-5 investors are not interested in starting or managing a business in the U.S. for the long term and prefer a more “passive” investment strategy while still satisfying the “active management” requirement outlined in the EB-5 program. 

    Although Limited Partners do not retain control over how their investment funds are allocated, the role of Limited Partner entails significantly less work and less responsibility than for the General Partners while also providing invaluable liability protection. EB-5 investors can rest easy, knowing that their personal assets beyond the $800,000 investment are not at stake under any circumstances. The most they can lose is the amount they invested in the business.

    In addition, limited partnerships allow EB-5 investors to withdraw their capital without jeopardizing the legal status of the partnership. Once the required investment period is over, and the investor has received an unconditional Green Card, the investor can leave the partnership—which is usually the ultimate goal for most EB-5 applicants.

    Want to learn more about the EB-5 program?  At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we’ve worked with many EB-5 investors to prepare them for their EB-5 petitions. Our attorneys have years of experience processing hundreds of cases. Contact us for more information.

  • Should I Marry Before or After I Apply for My EB-5 Visa?

    The timelines for preparing an EB-5 investment visa requires a lot of thought and planning for the petition itself. As it happens, life events also can change the timelines of planning for an EB-5 visa. In our case study today, we had a reader pose this question:

    I’m currently researching the EB-5 entrepreneur visa and am interested in the EB-program. I plan on marrying my fiancée in the near future but I’m wondering if I should marry her before I apply for the EB-5 visa or after I am approved for the EB-5 visa and am in the process of applying for my green card. Obviously, I would like my future wife to be able to get a green card as well but not sure how the timing of when I file my EB-5 visa might impact how long she waits to get a green card.  Your assistance is much appreciated.

    -Wondering Fiancé

    In this case study, it’s a good thing that Wondering Fiancé did a bit of research and asked about his situation.  His primary concern is that the current wait times for spouses of green card holders is especially long. He’s correct to be concerned.

    The way U.S. immigration laws are currently structured, a green card holder interested in sponsoring his/her spouse for a green card must first file a petition for an immediate relative (Form I-130) and then wait for the petition to be approved by USCIS.  After the petition is approved, the spouse can then apply for his/her green card but may wait for years before the application is even reviewed, due to current visa backlogs.  What’s worse is that nationals from China, India, the Philippines or Mexico may have to wait even longer according to the visa bulletins that the Department of State issues every month.

    Many have complained that forcing immediate relatives (i.e.: spouses and children) of green card holders to wait years to be reunited with their family in the U.S. makes no sense when it comes to family unity.  The good news is that last year, U.S. Senators passed a bill, S.744, that would eliminate this long wait time and treat spouses and children of green card holders the same as spouses and children of U.S. citizens (meaning no waiting time).  Unfortunately, the bill has languished in the House of Representatives with no advancement.  Until Congress decides to finally pass a law to change our broken immigration system, immediate relatives of green card holders must endure the long wait before they can be reunited with the family.

    If Wondering Fiancé married his fiancée after his EB-5 visa was approved and after he had already applied for and was approved for his green card, then his new wife would be waiting quite a long time (current wait times as of this article are approximately one year four months under the F2A preference category).

    If Wondering Fiancé married his fiancée before he applied for his green card, and preferably before he applied for his EB-5 visa petition, he would be able to include her as his spouse on his green card application. That way, she would only be waiting the same amount of time he would be to get their green cards together.

  • How FDNS Impact the EB-5 Program

    In May 2013, USCIS issued, for the first time, a policy memorandum for its internal officers, on the EB-5 Program and how to approach adjudication of EB-5 visas from foreign investors.  In that memo, USCIS indicated it would be working with the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate to ensure the EB-5 program’s integrity when it comes to cases relating to fraud, national security, and public safety.

    It is critical to our mission to ensure that we administer the EB-5 program with utmost vigilance to program integrity. Our operational teams work in collaboration with the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate and cases presenting issues relating to fraud, national security, or public safety should be referred as appropriate to law enforcement and regulatory authorities. 

    What exactly is the Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate (FDNS)? 

    The directorate’s mission is to:

    Enhance the integrity of the legal immigration system by identifying threats to national security and public safety, detecting and combating immigration benefit fraud, and removing systemic and other vulnerabilities.

    The FDNS works similarly to an investigation unit in any large corporation by auditing petitions and applications, making site visits, and generally making sure that whatever factual information that has been submitted to USCIS is, in fact, correct and true.  When an investigation leads to contradictory information, FDNS can pass that information to USCIS to initiate a reopening of a previously approved case, for further review or potential revocation of a prior approval.

    Officers within the FDNS also resolve background check information from foreign national applicants with law enforcement agencies using an internal database (FDNS-DS).

    No Exceptions to a Detailed Background Check

    In general, all EB-5 investors are subjected to a detailed background check when a petition is submitted to USCIS.  There are no exceptions.  For EB-5 investors who have a relatively stable and clean criminal record, there should be little to be concerned.  However, EB-5 Investors who have a long or complex political history, or have blemishes related to criminal conduct in the past should consult with an experienced immigration attorney prior to committing any funds to an EB-5 project in the U.S.  Your past political or criminal history may subject you to a legal bar from getting approved for a green card.  While some legal bars allow for a waiver, others may not.  Therefore, it is critical that EB-5 investors inquire regarding their eligibility.

    At the Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you to get all the information necessary to qualify for an EB-5 visa.  Contact us today for more information.

  • How Does International Travel Impact My Visa Status in the U.S.?

    With the holidays upon us, you may be tempted to leave the U.S. for a few weeks to visit family or friends in your home country.  Before you purchase your plane tickets though, it may be wise to check that your current visa status will allow you to reenter the U.S. after your holiday travels.  Here are our top 3 items to check before you embark on your journey outside the U.S.:

    1. Do you have a valid visa stamp in your passport?  The visa stamp in your passport will be checked by a Customs Officer when you arrive back into the U.S. at a land port of entry or at an airport.  If your stamp is going to expire while you are abroad, you may need to renew the visa.  Or, if you originally entered the U.S. in one status and then changed your status (example: F-1 status changed to H-1B status), then you may need to apply for a new visa stamp in order to come back into the U.S.  For certain immigrants, a visa stamp may not be necessary at all.
    2. Do you have a pending petition or application with USCIS?  Currently, the U.S. government’s general rule is that once a petition or application has been filed with the U.S., you should remain in the U.S. and not travel internationally, otherwise your petition or application may be deemed “abandoned.” For example, if you are currently applying for your EB-5 visa and you are already in the U.S., you may need special permission to travel while your visa petition is pending with the government.  
    3. Did you overstay your visa? Did you enter the country in one status but stayed in the U.S. even after your status expired?  Depending on how long you overstayed your visa, if you leave the U.S., you may be barred from reentering the U.S.

    How can you tell if any of the three issues above might affect your international travel plans?

    At Jatoi & de Kirby, A.P.C., we know how important it is for you and your family to maintain your valid immigration status while still being able to visit family and friends overseas. Our immigration attorneys can advise you on how best to travel, allowing you peace of mind during the holidays.  Contact us for more information.