WHAT WE DOWhen faced with a legal problem, consulting with an attorney sooner rather than later will often save you time, trouble, and money in the end.

How long does it take if my brother petitions for me?

Only an American citizen can petition for his/her brother and it takes 15 years. A mother or a son older than 21 years old and who are citizens can petition for their immediate families, parents and children younger than 21 years old. This process takes approximately one year. A permanent resident can petition for his/her spouse and children younger than 21 years old, but this process takes between 6 and 8 years. (See “The Anthology of family based petitions”.)  

As a resident, can I petition for my 21 year-old son/daughter?

Yes, but it takes 8 years, if he/she is unmarried.

If it’s possible to petition him/her, can they wait for their residence in the United States?

Yes, if he/she has a valid non-immigrant visa and I-94 during all of  this time.

When can a resident become an American citizen?

Anytime but not before being a resident and physically present in the United States for at least 5 years. Except if you are married to an American Citizen, in this case, it only requires 3 years of physical presence.

How long can a Resident stay outside of the USA?

You become a resident to reside in the United States. If you don’t live here you loose your residency. If you are in another country 6 months of the year then you live in 2 countries, not in the United States. If you believe that you have lost your resident status you should speak with a lawyer.

What do I do if I spend over eight months abroad?

There isn’t “a time limit” per se to reside in another country. If you don’t reside in the United States then you are considered to have abandoned your residency. Generally speaking, if you desire to be abroad for only 1 to 2 years, you can apply for a re-entry permit, which retains your resident status.

What’s the purpose of an Affidavit of support?

An affidavit of support is a document that states that you are responsible for the individual or family for whom you are petitioning. It is a legal contract that frees the United States government from covering medical and personal expenses. There are two types: employment based (I-134) and family based (I-864).

What’s a CU-6?

CU-6 refers to a beneficiary of the Cuban Adjustment Act. This law allows any national from Cuba to adjust his/her status to permanent residence after 1 year and 1 day after arriving in the United States. Their spouse is a CU-7 and doesn’t have to be Cuban.

Is an I-140 the same as a labor certificate?

No, the I-140 is the employment-based application for permanent residency and has an independent base. It can be based on a Labor Certificate.

What exactly are the steps to follow in order to get residency? What do I have to do first?

You should call a lawyer and request an appointment.

What Happens When I Get A Visa?

How do I apply for a Social Security number?

With a working visa, political asylum or permanent residency, you can apply for a social security number. You ave to go to the social security office and request one in person, by mail, or check on www.usa.gov. The beneficiary’s dependents will not always receive a social security number

How long does it take to apply for a Social Security number?

Two or three weeks, sometimes more. If you have one already, it will change to allow you to work, but it will be the same number.

What do I do, once they give me a visa?

A working visa allows you to work. Once you apply for social security number you can be on payroll. If your visa is stamped in your passport or you have a new I-94 reflecting the change of status to your work visa you can begin to work. If you do not have either of these then you MUST go back to your home country and obtain a stamped visa at the consulate.

Do I necessarily have to leave the country in order to change a visa?

As long as you have a change of status , with a valid I-94, in the visa category you need to work, you can stay in the U.S. fr the duration of the I-94. However, if the non-immigrant visa, like an H-1B, has not been stamped in your passport you need to go to an American Consulate abroad before re-entering in the United States. There is no rush if you do not need to travel.

How do I change status from a tourist visa to student visa?

Educational institutions process the student visa. If you are going to study the school will offer you an I-20 and will apply with INS for a change of status with a form I-539. But you cannot request change of status prior to staying in the United States at least 45 days.