Other General Immigration: FAQs
1. If I have a child who is a U.S. citizen, can I obtain legal status in the U.S.?
2. How can I obtain a U.S. social security number?
3. How can I obtain work authorization?
To obtain work authorization, you must first be eligible for it. In order to be eligible for work authorization, you must have entered the U.S. with a visa that allows work authorization. For example, K-1, U Visa, Optional Practical Training (OPT), derivative beneficiaries of E, H, & L visas, etc., or you if you have a residency application pending and you are eligible to adjust status and there is a visa immediately available, you may be eligible to obtain work authorization. (The specific point in time at which you are eligible depends on the specific circumstances of your entry into the U.S.). You should consult your attorney to identify if you are eligible. You are not eligible to obtain work authorization with a visitor or tourist visa.To obtain work authorization you must file an I-765 application with the Immigration Service at either a local office or at a service center. Upon approval of the application you will receive the authorization in the mail.
4. Who is eligible for asylum and what are its benefits?
Aliens who have remained in the U.S. for less than one year and are part of an eligible “asylum class” (i.e. persecuted due to political party, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation group, social group, etc.).Immediate family members may be eligible for asylum status with all its benefits such as work authorization and being able to legally remain in the U.S., as long as they have been named in the alien’s asylum application, even if any of the named family members are not present in the U.S. at the time the application is filed.
5. What is an Individual Tax ID Number (ITIN), what are its benefits, and how do I get one?
6. Can my employer use my Tax ID number to pay my wages?
7. What is government aid and can receiving it affect my immigration status?
8. What are some of the most common problems with taxes that can affect my immigration status? Why is declaring taxes correctly important for my immigration status?
9. Do I need to have my visa stamped on my passport for it to be valid?
10. What happens if my case or documentation is misplaced or transferred to another city by the Immigration Service?
11. What happens if my green card expires and I have not received a new one in the mail? Am I out of status?
No. You are not out of status. However, you must appear before an immigration officer to obtain an I-551 stamp in your valid passport. To try to prevent this, you should apply to renew your residency/green card at least 6 months before it expires.Note: This does not apply to those having conditional residency (or 2 year resident cards). If you have a conditional residency you must apply for a removal of conditions with the Immigration Service.
12. Can I get permission to travel (or advanced parole) while my case is being processed by the Immigration Service? What do I need to get permission to travel?
If you apply for a non-immigrant visa (i.e. H-1B, O, P, L, E, etc.), there is no permission to travel available while your application is pending, and your application will be denied if you travel outside of the U.S.If you apply for residency through family or employment, you must request “advanced parole” or permission to travel from the Immigration Service, before traveling outside of the U.S. However, not everyone is eligible for this, and the Immigration Service may grant or deny your request at their discretion.
Eligibility for advanced parole or permission to travel:
- You must have been in lawful status at the time you filed your residency adjustment of status petition.
- You filed your application for residency/adjustment of status on or before September 17, 1998.
- If you are out of status at the time that you filed for residency/adjustment of status, you may be able to travel if the Immigration Service grants you a waiver of inadmissibility. (Note: This is extremely difficult to obtain.)
If you are eligible to obtain advanced parole or permission to travel while your residency application is pending, you must submit the following:
- Application I-131.
- 2 passport style photos (showing your right ear).
- The filing fee for the I-131 application (these fees change periodically, so check it at the USCIS website)
- Supporting documentation to demonstrate the purpose of your travel (ie: letter from your employer stating you must travel for business, an invitation to attend a wedding, medical records of an ill immediate family member, etc.).
13. Why is my case taking longer than anticipated to be processed by the Immigration Service? What does this mean?
14. Is there a way to pressure the Immigration Service to work faster on my case?
15. What happens if I move, while the Immigration Service is still processing my case?
16. What is adjustment of status?
17. Who is 245(i) eligible to adjust status?
245(i) eligible means that you qualify under the 245(i) provision of the immigration act, for eligibility to adjust your legal status by paying a penalty fee, if you meet the following conditions:
- You must have been present in the U.S. before December 18, 2000, and
- You must have filed a family or employment based residency petition on or before April 30, 2001, or you must have been the derivative beneficiary of such a petition.
Note: Even if your initial petition was not successful, but was filed on or before April 30, 2001, you may still be 245(i) eligible under certain circumstances, and may apply again for residency through another family or employment petition (consult an attorney to make this determination).
18. What is a derivative beneficiary?
A derivative beneficiary is a spouse or child of an individual who was named as the primary or main beneficiary of a visa application or residency petition, if the type of petition allows family members to be included. For example:
- My aunt who is a U.S. citizen filed a residency petition for my mother when I was under the age of 21; this means my mother’s spouse and I are derivative beneficiaries of that application.
- My father’s employer started a petition for my father when I was under the age of 21; this means my father’s wife and I are derivative beneficiaries of that petition.
- My mother married a U.S. citizen when I was under the age of 21 and I was named as her child in the petition, however, this type of residency petition does not allow me to be a derivative beneficiary. In this case, my stepfather is required to file a separate residency petition for me, if he wants to petition for my residency.
19. Do I have to notify immigration if I change my address?
20. How do I renew my work authorization card? How many months before it expires should I renew it?
21. How can I declare taxes if I am getting paid in cash?
22. How can I check the status of my application with the Immigration Service?
23. What is the priority date of my application and how can I find out if it is current?
24. How does the government determine my priority date?
25. How can I schedule an appointment with the USCIS to ask a question about my case?
26. If I had an interview with the USCIS and/or filed my application a very long time ago, but have not received a decision on my case, can I do anything to expedite the process?
27. Can a J1 Visa be transferred to an O Visa?
28. If I represented that I am a U.S. citizen on an application for purposes other than immigration, is that representation an impediment to applying for status as a U.S. resident or citizen?
29. Can I apply for an extension on my tourist visa?
30. If I entered the United States under a visa waiver, can I apply for an extension?
31. If I have been in the U.S. for a long time can I obtain a green card or residency?
32. How can US residency be lost?
33. I am under OPT (Optional Practical Training) status. Can my employer apply for my Green Card without applying (or before they apply) for my H-1b visa?
There are alternatives to obtain permission to remain in lawful status and eligible to work in the U.S. apart from an H-1B visa, which is important due to the limitations on the number of individuals who can access an H-1B visa each year.
One of the major alternatives may be an Employment-Based Residency Petition. OPT periods generally range between 1 to 3 years, which often times allows the critical 1st step of an Employment-Based Residency Petition to be completed.
Employment-Based Residency Petitions generally involve 3 separate stages: an LCA (Labor Condition Application), an I-140 (Immigrant Visa Petition), and an I-485/DS-260 (Residency Petition). The LCA will usually take between 9-14 months to be completed and once it is approved, if the beneficiary (the individual being sponsored) is in the U.S. with OPT and the Visa Bulletin Filing Date is current for the petition’s category, then an I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) may be filed by the employer and an I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) may be filed by the beneficiary.
Filing of an I-485 allows the beneficiary to obtain a permit to work and travel, independent of their prior visa, and it allows those permits to be renewed annually until the Residency Petition process is complete which generally takes approximately 2 years.
The Employment-Based Residency option is often overlooked because of the belief that an individual must first obtain an H-1B visa before being considered for residency. This it is not the case and if an employer is willing to sponsor the employee there are many benefits to this alternative.
34. What options do I have if my OPT (Optional Practical Training) status is expiring soon?
IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT THIS DOCUMENT
The information contained in this document is general in nature and subject to change at any point in time. As such, it may not necessarily apply to all situations. Therefore, under no circumstance it should be construed as legal advice. Please ensure that you consult with an attorney regarding your specific situation before starting a legal process.