Category Archives for Visa

Can I Travel while I Wait for Adjustment of Status?

While it’s possible to travel with a pending adjustment of status application, it is risky. This article goes over the situations in which you can apply for a travel document, how to apply, and the risks involved in travelling with a pending I-485 application.

First, let’s define adjustment of status. If you are applying for a green card from within the United States with Form I-485, then you are applying through the adjustment of status process. In this process, you are not required to leave the country to attend a visa interview. This article refers to these applicants only.

While your I-485 case is pending, you are not yet a resident of the United States. Unless you have a visa that allows re-entry, if you leave the U.S. with a pending application, you risk not being allowed reentry. If you need to travel abroad, you can apply for an Advance Parole Travel Document using the USCIS application I-131. This document gives you permission to leave the country for a specific period of time, for a specific reason.

In general, I don’t recommend travelling while you have a pending I-485 application. No matter the reason for your travel and regardless of whether you have a travel document, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll be allowed to reenter the country. Here’s an example that demonstrates this risk.

A colleague of mine filed for an Advance Parole Travel Document on behalf of his client. They were granted the document and the client left to his home country. While he was abroad, the attorney and the client's address in the U.S. received a Request for Evidence (RFE) regarding his I-485 application. He had two months to respond.

The RFE required that the client submit a different version of his birth certificate with his I-485 application. The client went to obtain this document and found out that it would take six months to get. However, the USCIS required he submit the evidence within two months.

There's the problem. The attorney may be able to save the case. Depending on the situation, they may be able to ask for an extension for the RFE. However, it’s more likely that immigration won’t offer an extension, resulting in a denial of the I-485 application. The client won’t be able to reenter the United States and will be forced to apply for his green card from abroad. In all, this could cause him to spend years outside of the United States while waiting for the new application to process.

Because he travelled abroad, he put his case at risk. Was it worth it? I don't know what the situation was that caused him to travel abroad, but it’s important to be aware of the risks when you make this decision.

It’s also relevant to note that in our current political climate, people are getting denied entry to the U.S. at the port of entry more frequently. Even with a valid Travel Document and nothing happening to your pending I-485 application while you’re abroad, you could still be denied entry into the country. Being admitted into the United States is ultimately at the discretion of the border patrol officer who is inspecting you. If they determine there is a reason you shouldn’t be admitted, then they have the authority to deny you entry into the country. Every time you travel, you take this risk.

If it's not something urgent, I would strongly recommend that you wait until you become a permanent resident before you travel abroad. If it is an emergency, then I recommend you seek the advice of an immigration attorney before making a final decision.

Immigration Help: Travel Documents

If you have any questions about traveling while your I-485 application is pending, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon is an amazing immigration lawyer.

Sharon is an amazing immigration lawyer. I had her help me out with a couple of immigration issues. A couple of friends of mine have been able to establish residency because of her. She is very affordable and offers an incredible service to all of her clients. I'd recommend her to everybody!

Esteban , Los Angeles, CA
Los Angeles Immigration Attorney - Processing Times and Work Permit

U-Visa: Processing Times and Work Permit

As of October 2018, the current processing time for a U Visa, a special visa given to victims of crime, is four years. This article goes over the reason for the long backlog and guides you on how and when to can apply for a work permit while you wait.

What Is the U Visa?

The U Visa is a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa for victims of certain crimes who cooperate with law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity. The U Visa was created in October 2000 with the intention to strengthen the ability of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking of aliens and other crimes, while also protecting the victims of these crimes. Congress allows for the issue of 10,000 U Visas each year.

How Long Is the U Visa Processing Time?

In the first years, the U Visa was not well known and so the processing time was short, only a matter of a few months. However, with time, the visa became better known by law enforcement agencies and within the legal profession, which in turn made it more popular among immigrants. More awareness led to more applicants, causing a backlog.

As the U Visa has become more popular, the number of visas issued every year has remained at 10,000. As of October 2018, they are only reviewing cases from October 2014. That means it's taking almost four years just to review a case.

In general, I don’t recommend travelling while you have a pending I-485 application. No matter the reason for your travel and regardless of whether you have a travel document, there’s no way to guarantee that you’ll be allowed to reenter the country. Here’s an example that demonstrates this risk.

Getting a Work Permit While Your U Visa Application Is Pending

In the time that your case is under review, you do not qualify for a work permit. Only when a decision has been made on your case, when it is approved, do you qualify. At this time, you will get a letter from the USCIS stating that your case was approved. However, because the USCIS only issues 10,000 visas each year, you will likely still have to wait for your visa.

While you wait for your visa to be issued, you will be in an immigration status called “deferred action.” This means that even though you do not technically have a legal immigration status, you are not a priority for deportation. It also means that you qualify for work authorization and can apply for a work permit with USCIS Form I-765.

A work permit allows you to get a social security number and begin a fuller life in the United States. It’s the same social security number you get to keep as a resident and later if you decide to become a citizen. It allows you to start forming your social security credit and is the one you will use on your taxes.

Immigration Help: U Visa Processing & Work Permit

If you have any questions about U Visa processing and work permits, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon was very professional, knowledgeable and very informative...

My husband and I had the best experience working with Sharon. I HIGHLY recommend her. She helped us with our immigration process and made us feel at ease every step of the way. Sharon was very professional, knowledgeable and very informative whenever we needed questions answered she was there from the very beginning until the very end, making sure we were prepared. Words can't explain how grateful my husband and I are. We would definitely not hesitate to contact her for any future services.

Karem S. , Los Angeles, CA
Immigration Attorney - Green Card Application

The Fastest Way to File Your Green Card Application

It’s no secret that the green card process is long. Many applicants spend years waiting to file their adjustment of status (I-485) application. However, there is a faster way to file that many applicants don’t know about. It can give you a work permit and a social security number while you wait for your green card.

This process is only for applicants who are eligible to file from within the United States through the “adjustment of status” process (Form I-485). Applicants who are required to leave the U.S. to attend a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, unfortunately, do not qualify.

Why Filing Earlier Matters

When you file for residency, by virtue of having a pending I-485 application, you automatically qualify to have a work permit. A work permit gives you a social security number. With both of these documents, you can really start a life in the United States.

How To File Your I-485 Early

The trick to this process is all about when to file your I-485. It is for applicants who have already filed the immigration petition (Form I-130) and are waiting in line for their visa to become current.

Knowing when your visa is current requires you to check the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. Below is the visa bulletin for October 2018. Note that there are two separate charts. Chart-A is the “Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases” and Chart-B is the “Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications.” Most people only look at Chart-A, but if you can file according to Chart-B’s dates, you will get the benefits of a pending I-485 application sooner. 

The USCIS determines every month which chart you are allowed to file under, depending on the number of visas that are available for that filing year. While Chart-A indicates the actual date your visa is current, Chart-B often indicates an earlier date on which you are allowed to file. Find out if you can file under Chart-B by checking the USCIS website

Here’s an example. Let's pretend that I'm a U.S. permanent resident married to someone from Mexico, and I petitioned for him today. First, I would look under the visa category “F2A,” because I'm a resident married and I'm petitioning for my spouse. Second, I would look under “Mexico.” Looking at the first chart, the date is August 1, 2016. Going by this chart, we’d have to wait about two years before we could file the I-485 application. But, if you look at the second chart, the date is December 1, 2017. That’s only a 14 month wait until we can file the I-485. That’s a lot sooner and after we file my husband will be able to legally work in the United States and get a social security number.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

     A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

     B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents:  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

A.  FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES

Family-
Sponsored
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed

CHINA-mainland
born

INDIA
MEXICO
​PHILIPPINES
F1

01JUN11

01JUN11

01JUN11

01AUG97

22DEC06

F2A

22AUG16

22AUG16

22AUG16

01AUG16

22AUG16

F2B

22NOV11

22NOV11

22NOV11

15MAY97

15MAY07

F3

15JUN06

15JUN06

15JUN06

22DEC95

08JUN95

F4

15FEB05

15FEB05

01MAY04

22JAN98

08JUN95

B.  DATES FOR FILING FAMILY-SPONSORED VISA APPLICATIONS

Family-
Sponsored
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed

CHINA-mainland
born

INDIA
MEXICO
​PHILIPPINES
F1

08MAR12

08MAR12

08MAR12

08OCT98

15FEB08

F2A

01DEC17

01DEC17

01DEC17

01DEC17

01DEC17

F2B

22MAR14

22MAR14

22MAR14

22JUN97

22JUN97

F3

08JAN07

08JAN07

08JAN07

22DEC98

01JUN97

F4

01JUN05

01JUN05

01MAY04

22JUN98

08APR96

Immigration Help: When to File Your I-485 Adjustment of Status Application

If you have any questions about when to file your adjustment of status application, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon is the best lawyer I've had the pleasure to work with!

Sharon is the best lawyer I've had the pleasure to work with. She was very professional, but also offered emotional support during sometimes tough episodes and harsh deadlines. Indeed, I would definitely recommend her. Thanks Sharon! Mallory, the kiddos and I appreciate all your hard work!

Eloy F. , Los Angeles, CA
Immigration Attorney - Tourist Visa Application - Travel to USA

Can I Travel to the U.S. while Waiting for a Green Card?

Family-based green card applications can take years to be processed. While your I-130 application is pending, is it possible to travel to the United States? The straight answer is yes, but it’s important to understand what’s expected of you when you take these trips.. 

Visiting the U.S. on a Tourist Visa (B-1/ B-2)

Every time you enter the United States on a tourist visa, the B-1/B-2 visa, you are promising the United States that you intend to go back to your home country to live and that you have no intention of living in the United States. But, a pending I-130 petition contradicts this. A pending green card application shows that you do have the intention, at least eventually, to live permanently in the United States. It may cause the immigration officer to ask you questions about your visit and your intent to return to your home country. In some cases, people are even turned away. Here are some tips to prepare for this and avoid getting denied entry.

Come prepared. Bring evidence, documents, to the border that prove your intent to stay in your home country. If you're in college, bring proof of enrollment. If you own a home, bring the mortgage. If you have a good, stable job, bring pay stubs and a letter from your employer. Show proof that you have purchased a return ticket. You want to show that you have a steady reason to return to your home country. The more proof, the better. If the documents are in a foreign language, bring translations.

Many people think that by having an approved tourist visa they will avoid this problem. But, every time you go to a U.S. port of entry, you are inspected. The border patrol officer has the ultimate power to allow you entry into the United States or deny you. Every time you arrive, immigration's checking you out again, and if since your last arrival you now have a pending I-130, they may ask you questions at the border and they can turn you away. 

Immigration Help: Travelling with a Pending I-130

If you have any questions about travelling with a pending I-130 application, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the greater Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon is an amazing immigration lawyer.

Sharon is an amazing immigration lawyer. I had her help me out with a couple of immigration issues. A couple of friends of mine have been able to establish residency because of her. She is very affordable and offers an incredible service to all of her clients. I'd recommend her to everybody!

Esteban , Los Angeles, CA
>