What Happens After The Family-Based Immigration Petition Is Submitted? How Long Does It Generally Take Before You Hear Anything?
You’ll get a filing receipt in about a month, but it typically takes six months to a year to get any kind of substantive response. And that’s just the first step in the process. That’s just the I-130. Requests for evidence are unusual on I-130s, but people do sometimes get them. In most cases, even if there’s an issue that could be a problem, they will approve the I-130 as long as your immigration status and the relationship are proven sufficiently. Don’t get too excited—you’ll still have to deal with the issue later in the process. Even if your I-130 gets approved, you still face obstacles.
Once that’s approved, it’ll be transferred to the National Visa Center, which takes at least 30 days. (They’ll even send you a letter saying, “Do not contact National Visa Center for at least 30 days.”) Realistically, it takes more like 60 to 90 days to get transferred, and then, at that point, there’s another form you have to fill out, DS-260, which is like the I-130 on steroids. It’ll ask you a lot of the same questions, and part of that is just to see if you give the same answers to help screen out people who are lying. If, however, something was wrong originally, you can make corrections, and you should make corrections, but you’ll need to explain why you did that. Then, there’s another documentation that needs to be submitted to the National Visa Center, and that goes to the local embassy or consulate, who will set up the interview.
What Should Someone Expect At That Immigration Interview? Do Both The Sponsor And The Applicant Attend Together?
Typically, they will not attend together because the government understands that the sponsor is in the United States so they don’t need to come to the embassy for the interview. They would most likely be allowed to attend if they wanted to, but that would mean a lot of time and expense for something that’s not necessary.
At the interview, they will ask the beneficiary a lot of the same kinds of questions that are on the papers to assess whether they’re being truthful or to answer any lingering questions. Particularly when it’s marriage-based, they may try to test you on how well you know your spouse. They also want to see the beneficiary and make sure they’re actually the person that they claim to be and that they match their passport.
Are We Able To Have Our Immigration Attorney At The Interview?
For enough of an extra fee, you can have your attorney, but that is pretty unusual. It’s more common to have your attorney present for your adjustment of status interview, which is when people who are already in the United States are applying for a green card. I charge an extra fee for that.
Whether it’s necessary for me to be there depends on the case. I do recommend that I be there for most marriage-based cases, unless it’s a really obvious and strong case (such as a couple who has kids together). If there’s no question at all about the marriage, having an attorney there may not be necessary. For new marriages, couples who don’t have kids together, or couples who’ve had cheating in their marriage (or anything that might suggest that it’s not a real marriage), I think it’s better to have an attorney there.
Once The Interview Has Taken Place, How Long Is The Next Waiting Period Of The Process?
If you’re outside the United States, the consulate will make a decision, and if they grant your visa, you can start making your travel arrangements once you have the visa. If they feel that they don’t have enough information, they might ask for additional documentation.
If you’re inside the US and adjusting your status, they might give you a decision that very day, though not always. Again, they may request more information, so the post-interview process is about the same either way.
What Are Some Of The Most Common Reasons That Family-Based Immigration Petitions Are Denied?
Probably the most common reason would be the official not believing it’s a real marriage in a marriage-based petition. I also see a lot of denials based on criminal records or previous immigration history for people who go through the process without an attorney. Those denials are less common for people who hire an attorney for two reasons.
The first reason is a bit negative. Your attorney can help you decide whether to file the petition at all. If it’s a weaker case, you might decide not to waste your time and money on a case that doesn’t have a chance based on your attorney’s advice.
The second reason is that your attorney can guide you through whichever waivers you might need and help you present negative information in a way that is still honest but that doesn’t make you look as bad. Attorneys can make legal arguments about, for example, whether a crime is in the category of crimes that would make you ineligible.
In cases involving less-developed countries, there can be issues with the documents that are difficult to resolve. As I mentioned, some countries only started doing birth certificates within the last few decades, and it can be difficult to deal with that and prove whether someone really is your parent or your child without a birth certificate. People who face that alone often don’t know how to deal with that issue.
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