I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card!

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Note: The Law Office of Larry L. Doan in Los Angeles, CA, provides the following blog article and other information on this site, including our responses to comments, for the purpose of legal information only; it is NOT legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. Any action you take or rely upon after reading the information on this blog is your own responsibility and the Law Office of Larry L. Doan bears no responsibility or connection to such action.

For an analysis of your actual specific question, there is no substitute for a “live” meeting with an attorney. This can only be done during a paid consultation between the Law Office of Larry L. Doan and you. This can be arranged with us through email. Note: While you are welcome to describe your situation or questions in your first email to us, we will not reply to your email by giving an opinion or advice but will contact you with the consultation fee amount. Due to the volume of email received from this blog and our lawyers’ valuable time, please remember again that WE DO NOT PROVIDE FREE ADVICE OR SERVICE. To get started, click here: consult@GuruImmigration.com.

The I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is probably the most common immigration form filed by people in the U.S. immigration system. A lot of people contact us right after the I-130 petition has just been approved. They’ve been waiting for years and happy. They want to know what they can do to claim their green cards right there and then!

Sorry, we have to tell them. The I-130 approval is a necessary first step for immigrants but does not necessarily entitle them to a green card right away, except for “immediate relatives.” The purpose of the I-130 petition is simply to classify the immigrant as a close relative of the person filing the form to put them into one of the recognized categories of U.S. immigration law. So, when U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the I-130, it is simply saying in effect: “OK, we find this immigrant is indeed your spouse/son/daughter/sibling as you claim.” That’s all. They’re not saying the immigrant got the green card. Not yet.

Family-Preference Categories

The five family-preference, or relative, categories are:

F1: unmarried sons and daughters 21 and over of U.S. citizens
F2A: spouses and children under 21 of legal permanent residents (green-card holders)
F2B: unmarried sons and daughters 21 and over of legal permanent residents
F3: married sons and daughters 21 and over of U.S. citizens
F4: brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens

In the above, “F” just stands for “Family.” The U.S. citizen or permanent resident filing the I-130 for his or her relative will be referred to as the “petitioner” and the relative(s) will be referred to as “beneficiary” or “beneficiaries.” From the categories listed above, yes, of course you are probably wondering, “What about spouses and children under 21 of U.S. citizens, shouldn’t they be listed somewhere?” The answer is, yes, but not in the five categories above. They are part of a separate and special category called “immediate relatives” that was mentioned. Whereas, the relatives in the categories above are in the “family-preference categories.” F1 has the highest preference and F4 has the lowest preference. Meaning there are generally more visas allocated each year to the higher preferences although every category has a limited number of visas allocated to it each year. Obviously, the F4 category is the slowest category because it has the lowest priority, i.e., the least number of visas available each year for it. Waits of 10 years or more is normal for F4.

Long Waits for I-130 Approval and for Visa Numbers

The problem is that an I-130 filed for a relative in one of these preference categories usually takes years just to be approved. Let’s call this Stage 1: from the time of filing the I-130 until its approval. For example, as of May 31, 2013 (latest data available), it’s taking about 3 1/2 years until approval for an I-130 in the F1 category at the California Service Center (CSC), and almost 1 1/2 years until approval at Vermont Service Center (VSC). For brothers and sisters (F4 category), it’s taking about 3 1/2 years until I-130 approval at CSC and almost 3 years at VSC. These are average processing times reported on the USCIS website; your own petition may be longer or faster. You’d think it’s normally not too difficult to prove that someone is your child or sibling, and you’d be correct, since usually USCIS only asks to see birth certificates (except for marriage cases because of the prevalence of fraud). Yet, they can take that long to get through Stage 1! It is thus not surprising that when they receive the I-130 approval notice from USCIS, the beneficiary and their petitioner feel such happiness that they believe the beneficiary’s green card has been approved or will be soon.

The truth is that, after getting through Stage 1, most of the times the beneficiary still has to endure another wait, sometimes very long. That wait is for a visa number to become available. Let’s call this Stage 2: from I-130 approval until a visa number is available. As mentioned, there are limited number of visas available each year in each category. It’s first-come first-served, so whoever got the I-130 filed for them first will be in line ahead of another person who was petitioned for at a later date. The date that USCIS receives the I-130 is called the “priority date.” This is the date that determines if there is a visa number in your category.

The U.S. Department of State publishes the Visa Bulletin each month which you can use to check what priority dates are current in your category. Once there, click on the link for the current month (or latest month). For example, the August 2013 Visa Bulletin, under the F1 category, shows the cut-off date of “01SEP06″ for beneficiaries who are citizens of most countries (that is, not India, China, Mexico, or Philippines, who have their own columns in the Visa Bulletin table — Mexico and Philippines are notoriously slow since there is so much demand for visa numbers from those two countries). This means that currently as of mid-August 2013, only I-130 petitions filed for unmarried sons and daughters 21 and over of U.S. citizens before Sept. 1, 2006 have visa numbers available for most countries.

Example: As an example of the Stage 2 wait for visa number after the I-130 has been approved, let’s say you’re a U.S. citizen petitioning now for your unmarried daughter over 21 (F1 category) from Mexico, so the priority date is in August 2013. Currently, for the August 2013 Visa Bulletin, visa numbers are available in the F1 category for those Mexicans with I-130s filed on or before Sept. 1, 1993 (almost 20 years ago). So, even after the I-130 has been approved, which could take 3 1/2 years for F1 as seen above at California Service Center, your daughter still has to wait for about another 16 years before a visa number is available for her to immigrate. Or, let’s say you’re a U.S. citizen petitioning for your brother now from the Philippines. Looking at the same Bulletin, visa numbers are currently available in the F4 category for those Filipinos with I-130s filed on or before Jan. 8, 1990 (more than 23 years ago!). So, even after the I-130 has been approved, which could take about 3 years for F4 at CSC, your brother still has to wait about 20 more years for a visa number, or to get through Stage 2.

Looking up the Visa Bulletin can only give an estimate as to when a visa number will become available. It is impossible to give a precise answer as to how fast each category will move in the future, especially if your priority date is several years behind. For some months, the visa numbers can move very fast, but then they will slow down, barely moving at all. All one can say is, for example, right now, the August 2013 Visa Bulletin shows that in the F3 category (married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens), the priority cut-off date is 08DEC02″ for most countries, which means only those F3 petitions filed prior to Dec. 8, 2002 have visa numbers, for beneficiaries of most countries. If your priority date is in 2007, for example, then it may take five years, more or less, until there is a visa number available for you.

Note: Sometimes, USCIS takes so long to approve the I-130 due to whatever glitches or problems in the particular case that Stage 1 becomes much longer than it should, so that once the I-130 is approved, the Stage 2 wait for a visa number can be relatively short. In even rarer cases, on the date that a visa number becomes available for the beneficiary’s particular priority date, the I-130 is not even approved yet! That is, Stage 2 and Stage 1 are effectively reversed. In that case, the beneficiary still has to wait until the I-130 is finally approved before they could proceed to Stage 3.

Note: Sorry, but we cannot answer for free questions of the type, “I’m in so-and-so category, with I-130 petition filed on so-and-so date. How long do you think I have to wait?” This blog article was originally written to show people how to use the Visa Bulletin to look the information up themselves and to estimate how long the wait might be in their own cases. Hundreds of people have asked this question on the blog or emailed us when they can do this themselves. It is quite easy to do. As mentioned, using the Visa Bulletin will give you only an estimate of the wait. No one can predict precisely how quickly visa numbers will move in the next few years. Not even USCIS or us lawyers can tell you for sure.

No Benefits While Waiting for Visa Numbers to Be Available: During the wait until a visa number is available, or in Stage 2, the fact that a beneficiary has an I-130 filed for them does not mean that they get any immigration benefit because of that I-130. The same thing during Stage 1. If the person is here in the U.S. in unlawful status, they must take care not to be picked up by USCIS and put into removal (deportation) proceedings.

Also, people ask us this all the time but with only an approved I-130, the person does not get a temporary work permit if a visa number is not yet available. Neither will they get a driver’s license since the DMV will not issue a license unless the person has work authorization in the U.S. or proof of legal status. In other words, if you’re here illegally or you’re out-of-status on your visa, the I-130 by itself does not do anything to make you legal. This is just a false hope. It’s amazing how many of our clients were duped by notarios, non-lawyers, and even bad lawyers who told them otherwise about what the I-130 could do for them.

For example, some immigrants are under the mistaken impression (or given bad advice) that despite the long waits for visa numbers above, as soon as they have an I-130 filed for them and received by USCIS, or receive news of the I-130′s approval, that they can start filing for their green card or to be legal at that moment. There is no such thing. Be careful: filing such application or paperwork too early will, at best, leads to rejection of the application and loss of filing fees, and at worst, may result in removal proceedings if the immigrant is out-of-status or illegal in this country. Unless the immigrant is an immediate relative, there is no shortcut or going around Stage 2 before the next step for the green card can be taken.

What Happens Once Visa Numbers Are Available

However, after the wait when the priority date is finally “current,” meaning that a visa number is finally available, the beneficiary at that point can proceed to the final Stage 3: actually applying for permanent residence or green card status. This stage has three different possibilities:

a. If the beneficiary came to the U.S. originally with a visa or was inspected, is still in status and does not have serious grounds of inadmissibility, he or she can file for adjustment of status in this country, similar to the “easy” boyfriend or girlfriend scenario described in “It’s Easy for Me to get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend, Right?”

b. If the beneficiary came illegally or has been out-of-status (and not an immediate relative), then he or she must go back to the home country and apply at the U.S. consulate, with the 3- or 10-year bar being an obstacle (except for those out-of-status/illegal for 180 days or less), a difficult situation just like the boyfriend or girlfriend that was described in “I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?” There is also a category of those who came illegally or who have been out-of-status who can apply for adjustment of status here (and not have to apply in their home country), if they have had certain old petitions filed for them in the past.

c. On the other hand, if the beneficiary is outside the U.S., they will file the immigrant visa package with the U.S. consulate in their country, submit police background and medical checks, among other documents, and then be interviewed at the consulate to receive the immigrant visa (unless if they had spent more than 180 days illegally/out-of-status in the U.S. on a prior stay). With the immigrant visa in hand, they can be admitted to the U.S. as a legal permanent resident.

A very important benefit for these family-preference categories is that the spouse and children under 21 of the main beneficiary are also entitled to immigrate at the same time, and in the same order of priority as him or her when a visa number is available.

Good to Be Immediate Relatives

The exception or shortcut to all the long waiting described above is the category of “immediate relatives” mentioned. This is composed of three subcategories: (1) spouses of U.S. citizens, (2) children under 21 of U.S. citizens, and (3) parents of U.S. citizens when the citizen is at least 21. There are always visa numbers available for these people in unlimited numbers. So, they are highly preferred, or favored, in the U.S. immigration system, much more preferred than those in the five “family-preference categories” above. For an immediate relative, on the date the I-130 is filed, they can skip Stages 1 and 2 and go directly to Stage 3 if they qualify for adjustment of status in the U.S. to green card. If they’re outside the U.S., only Stage 1 (filing of I-130 until approval) has to be waited for, Stage 2 would be zero.

One major advantage for an immediate relative is that both the I-130 petition and the adjustment application are allowed to be filed concurrently, i.e., filed at the same time. Compare that with immigrants in the family-preference categories who must first wait for an I-130 to be approved (go through Stage 1), which could take years as described above, then wait for Stage 2 to complete, and finally proceed to Stage 3 for the adjustment application to green card.

So, to sum it up, if you are someone interested in immigrating to the U.S. and you are not an immediate relative, having a U.S. citizen or legal resident relative file the I-130 for you, despite the long wait for visa numbers, is still good future planning because it reserves your place in the line. We can assist you with filing the I-130 since approval can sometimes be difficult.

Copyright © 2009-2013 Law Office of Larry L. Doan consult@GuruImmigration.com (we will contact you with the consult fee amount). And please remember, WE DO NOT PROVIDE FREE ADVICE OR SERVICE.

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384 Responses to “I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card!”

  1. Hello Guru!

    Thank you so much for the information! However, it isn’t clear if a petitioner is allowed to travel outside the U.S. while an i-130 is processing. I’m filing for my husband of Swedish citizenship and I want to visit him!

    Thank you again :)

    • I just answered another person’s comment posted to this same article:

      The Guru did not describe in details consular processing: the actual process of getting the consulate to do the interview overseas for the immigrant in their home country based on the approved I-130. This blog isn’t the place to do it – otherwise it would literally take an entire book to describe the law regarding family immigration (many such books have been written).

      The same thing can be said with what you want to know about permission to travel: it was not covered in the article. There was nothing to be clear about. The article has a section of its own called “No Benefits While Waiting for Visa Numbers to Be Available.” But that’s not 100% either. If you want the details explained, you’re advised do a paid consultation with my boss, the Guru. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT.”

      John A., Legal Assistant

  2. Sorry if i misunderstood this article. So if I petition for my imidiate relative which is my step daughter,she is out of the country right now but did live here illegaly, but left before the 180 days after she turned 18. After her i130 is accpeted it would go to the visa center. Then when they receive it she will automatically get processed to get an appointment for her visa to return? Or is she gonna have to wait several months after her i130 is approved? Im hoping she only has to wait a couple of weeks or a month the most for her to get her visa after the i130 is approved.

    • No, you didn’t misunderstand anything because the article is obviously only an overview and the Guru did not describe in details consular processing: the actual process of getting the consulate to do the interview overseas for the immigrant in their home country based on the approved I-130. This blog isn’t the place to do it – otherwise it would literally take an entire book to describe the law regarding family immigration (many such books have been written). Nothing in immigration is done automatically, your daughter will have to take certain steps. And no, things never take a couple of weeks in immigration.

      If you want the details explained, you’re advised to do a paid consultation with my boss the Guru. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT.”

      John A., Legal Assistant

  3. I am a US citizen living in Honduras and married to a Honduran man. We were married here in Honduras and have been married now for over 3 years. We also have a 2 year old son with dual citizenship. I am wondering if I should file the petition for my husband here in Honduras or all 3 of us go together to the US with my husband on a regular tourist visa and change everythign once we arrive. The thing that concerns me the most is the I-864 because i do not work. We will be living with my father once we arrive. (He owns his house and is retired making around $4000 monthly.) I am worried because i do not think that that is enough for a household of 4. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks so much!

    • We stated very clearly on our homepage and in front of every blog article that we do not give advice on what to do with individual cases. See “OUR INFO & CONTACT” to learn how to arrange a consultation appointment with the Guru, either by phone or email.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  4. hi guru
    i am wasif and our i130 pettion is approved.i want to know how much more for visa interveiw.

    • You have asked twice before about your I-130 and we told you then and now for the final time (as is also stated in the I-130 article itself, which you keep ignoring), we DO NOT answer questions about how long I-130 processing will take for particular cases. If you want us to answer, make an appointment for a paid consultation. Do not keep asking again on this blog or your comments will be deleted as spam.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  5. Zulema Rosales Says:

    Hello. I am a citizen. I submitted pettions for my 2 brothers back in june 2005 in the california service center. I just checked the time processing frames for both california and vermont. I realized that vermont process is so much faster. In california the time is 110 months, and in vermont 10 months. If I change my address, (since I have relatives in NY), will my cases go to vermont and will they be processed faster?
    Thank you,

    • It won’t matter much in the end. You might be getting through Stage 1 faster but in the end the wait for a visa number during Stage 2 is the same. That’s the whole point of the article. Visa numbers for your brothers will not become available any faster whether it’s at CSC or VSC. The I-130 priority date is what determines when a visa number becomes available, not where it is processed.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  6. i enterend usa on 2005 with H4 visa i went back to on 2007 due to some personal family i didn’t go for extend H4 visa my husband file i-485 in 2007 he got gc on 2009. now am on f1 visa . is there any chance to file GC now
    bcoz after my marriage he got GC . and baby was born in USA.

  7. Once you have received notification of you interveiw date for your I130 (single daughter of a usc) and nvc has closed the case and transferred it to the consulate can you still get married and downgrade the application to married daughter of usc?

    • …can you still get married and downgrade the application to married daughter of usc?

      Quick 30-second answer: it is not a choice as you seem to be implying! It is mandatory (by operation of law) that you will drop down into the 3rd family-preference category, or F3. But then your priority date will most likely not be current so then the case will have to wait a few more years until the priority date is current again in F3 (F3 is obviously running about 3 years behind F1 for most countries).

  8. inchekel Says:

    Dear Larry.

    Thank you for this great article. Very helpful!

    I have an additional question for you please helm me !!!
    My visa became available under F2A, it is the moment of Affidavit of support ( I864), the age of my father ( pettetioner ) more than 70 years old then he(it) do not can work, how he(it) can fill(perform) the affidavit of support?.I have the brother (american citezen) more than 21 years (is not the pettetioner) if he (it) can ;;;;;;;;I864 on its name?
    Please give me the help. thanq you verry much

    • You have posted questions several times previously on this blog expecting free answers to solve your specific case problem, and each time we told you that you need to contact us by email to do a paid consultation with the Guru, especially since you’re in Algeria. We do not have time to give thousands and thousands of people around the world free advice: the Guru is a real lawyer and has real legal work to do and of course, must make profits.

      Please do not comment again on here or it will be treated as spam and deleted. You may contact us by email and we will tell you how to make payment.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  9. My mother is a permenent resident in the u.s and she file an I-130 petition for me under the unmarried children 21 years and older, for which we have received the notice of approval. But what would happen if i get married while waiting for the visa number to become available, does that mean i would not be able to get the green card again because i am married.

    • Quick 30-second answer as per our policy: You would drop down into the slower F3 category and wait for the priority dates in that category to become current.

      Edited: Reading your original question, I see that you said your mother is an LPR, not a citizen as I originally thought! In that case, you cannot obtain the green card because there is no visa category for married sons and daughters over 21 of LPRs.

      John A., Legal Assistant

      • Germaine Says:

        I mean she has already filed for thye visa under the unmarried children 21 years and older of permanent residencts, but what happens during the long waiting period, i guess its 5 – 6 years, what happens if i get married during the waiting period. Do i lose the green card if it becomes available.

        • I can only tell you that you cannot be married at the time you arrive at Stage 3, because the visa is for an unmarried person only.

          If you want a good explanation of how it really works, you need to do a paid consult with the Guru himself, not me. My job is only to provide simple answers here (subject to my boss’s editing or corrections). Contact our office next week for time of consult and payment info.

          John A., Legal Assistant

  10. my husband(green card)file i130 for me after 2 years aproval of it is ok.i want to know how long should i wait for interview?

    • Impossible to say since you don’t say if he’s only got a green card (in which case it’ll be years for a visa number to be available) or already a citizen. In any event, your question has barely any information to even answer anything intelligently. We cannot help you unless you do a paid consult with us.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  11. Hello Larry,

    I checked my status on USCIS site, after my sister (a citizen) submitted I-130 for me, and I reached an interesting page with
    “National Processing Volumes and Trends” (for Jan 2010)

    As for I-130 (pref. only, immediate relatives not included), the numbers are:

    All Other Pending: 4,487

    Pending but unripe
    adjudication deferred: 480,512

    Awaiting customer action: 44,614

    Completions: 66,829

    Receipts: 13,575

    Total ~610,000 applicants with a priority date (I’m not sure I should have included “Awaiting customer action”~45k)

    To the best of my knowledge, as a sibling, my waiting time should be 10-12 years, but these numbers are contradicting, becasue even if, say, 500k out of these 610k are F4 (siblings), and the annutal quota is 65k, it means: 500/65 = 7.7 years to wait in the worst case, not to mention the unreasonableness of 500k in F4 category…so it easily might be 6-7 years.

    So, I probably missing something right? I’d be glad to hear your opinion.

    Thank you in advance!

    • We CLEARLY stated in this I-130 article that we do NOT respond to this kind of inquiry on I-130 waiting times on this blog. If you want to do a paid consult with the Guru, then contact us to do so, and he will easily give you his opinion on this relatively simple question.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  12. 5 years my dad who is US citizen applyied for a i30 form and on june 2009 we received a letter from the uscis saying that the original visa pertition was sent to the
    NVC centerin NH.
    I went and check my case status on the uscis website and base on the website say that my particular was approved and is on a section that say
    the thing is that came to this country illegally without being inspected or anithing like that, i would like to know what are my chances of becoming
    a legall allien or at least get a work permint?
    i’m still living on the us and right now i have daugther who i got to raise
    beside 3 years ago i was convted with DUI but i pay the fine and whatever the court stipulate. so far i clean
    thanks and have a good day

    • As per our policy clearly stated on the home page, we do NOT provide specific case advice for something like this or do problem solving. Even so, we have extensively covered the situation of people who came to this country illegally in our other article “I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?” Even though that article focused more on marriage cases, the law is the same when a parent is trying to immigrate an adult child: the child who came here illegally MUST leave the US to get their papers with the risks involved and the 10-year bar.

      See OUR INFO & CONTACT for how to contact us for a paid consultation. Become our client, even if only a consultation, and then we will give you everything you ever want to know about your situation.

  13. Hi. . .
    How are you ? Dear GURU immigration i am hear your famously comment’s replying dear i am very confused acctually we were apply I-130 Catagory F3 Married Son or Dougther we filed in 2006 April so Before 2 day’s ago i was Received E-Mail From USCIS is in it

    On March 8, 2010, we transferred this case to our NATIONAL BENEFITS CENTER location for additional processing. You will be notified by mail when a decision is made, or if the office needs something from you. If you move while this case is pending, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283

    But Today when i was Checking My Mail Box so i was Receive a new email from USCIS but i am confusing now time . wht’s happening for our case

    and 2nd E-Mail Was Pattren from USCIS

    The I130 IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE(E), OR ORPHAN was transferred and is now being processed at a USCIS office. You will be notified by mail when a decision is made, or if the office needs something from you. If you move while this case is pending, please use our Change of Address online tool to update your case with your new address or call our customer service center at 1-800-375-5283.

    can you tell me wht happen for my case ?

    • can you tell me wht happen for my case ?

      Sorry but we cannot. You would have to do a paid consultation with the Guru. WE ARE NOT A FREE SERVICE HERE! You even posted two comments but I deleted the 2nd one.

      For those who read this, you can choose to spend 30 minutes typing out your long comments and hoping for an answer but we will not answer it, unless you pay us. You’re wasting your time. We have clearly asked people in “Please Read Before Posting Comments or Questions” to refrain from posting these long comments asking us to analyze your situation for free. What law firm in the world will do work for you for free?? If they want to offer a free consultation, then that’s their policy and they will tell you that up front. But that’s not our policy here at GuruImmigration because we believe we are offering a lot of valuable information already on this blog for free.

      This comment section here is for us to clarify certain quick points that a reader may have in reading our articles. If the Guru can clarify it in about 30 seconds, then he will do so. But if the reader wants an analysis of his or her immigration situation, we have written in the disclaimer at the beginning of every article that he or she should contact us at our telephone number, +1 310.289.2155, or at consult@GuruImmigration.com for a paid consultation.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  14. I filed I-!30 for my father. Received a RFE from USCIS. I am confused about one of the documents they are asking for. USCIS is asking for a copy of a document (such as divorce Degree) that terminated the prior marriages between my father and mother. My parents got divorced back in 1993 and remarried again to someone else. Is USCIS asking for a divorce degree for my parents? I initially provided them with a copy of non-availability letter from the Family court. Or they are referring to something prior to their marriage. However, the marriage between my parents was their first marriage. I am confused as to what else can I send them besides the letter from family court. Any help will be appreciated.


    • This requires a consultation with a lawyer. You’re also dealing with a family-law matter and that’s super confusing enough. That’s why lawyers exist. The Guru is a great lawyer.

      Please contact our office for a consultation and help. Our contact info is all over this blog, at beginning and end of every article.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  15. In regards to my previous post, I re-read your blog and I see where you say how since he’s an immediate relative, he can be out of status since he came here legally. But the other concerns remain.

    • I see where you say how since he’s an immediate relative, he can be out of status since he came here legally.

      That’s not what the Guru meant!! That is an unfortunate misinterpretation of his meaning.

      What was meant is that IF and only IF adjustment of status is filed, then being out of status and being an immediate relative (who entered with a visa), will not be a bar to adjustment. BUT, if the alien does not file for adjustment here for whatever reason, then being out of status in this country means he is subjected to removal (deportation) at any time, if ICE ever decides to begin removal proceedings against him. The article is not saying that being out of status by itself is OK or somehow an alien is protected when he is out of status just because he is an immediate relative!

      John A., Legal Assistant

  16. Hello,

    I’ve read through your website and the questions and responses that you’ve posted. I am a citizen of the US…my husband is a Canadian Citizen, we were married 2 days into his visitor visa on 8/20/09. We filed the G325-A and the I-130 on Aug 30th, 2008. We received the NOA-1 I-797C on Sept 14th, 2009. We were told 5-6 months was the average and to contact them if it went any longer.
    We have contacted USCIS customer service (1-800-375-5283) several times and they have given us the same answer. They are telling us that since my husband entered legally and has an I-130 pending, he doesn’t have to leave until we’re given a decision (even if it’s after his visitor visa of 6 months is up). They’ve also told us that once that’s approved, we can also have him start looking for a job. This seems to be different from what you’re saying in the blog above. Also, you said that he can’t get a driver’s license…We spoke with the immigration law at the US Attorney’s office (impossible to get a hold of them now or we’d be contacting them with this) and he said that in Washington state, he can get a driver’s license now, before approval of his I-130 (one of the few states that offers this). It seems difficult to get good information, someone is always saying something different.
    How can the USCIS be giving out mis-information? (We realize bad customer service happens, but we’ve spoken to them multiple times and we get the same response all the time). I’d love to file the I-485, but I don’t want to spend the money if we’re denied on the I-130. Also, if USCIS is wrong, when can we file the I-765 for employment? The US Attorney’s office stated that the stamp on the I-130 would be good enough for employment.
    Finally, an actual question…do they look at credit history on this background check? I work at a bank, I passed the background history for that…What are they checking on exactly?
    Thank you for your response and your time,
    Kind Regards,

    • Jenna, I am puzzled why you chose to compose some very long and factually intensive questions when we clearly state in our disclaimer in front of every article on this blog that we do not provide free advice or get into very specific facts of each case. I only scanned through your fact pattern but if I had read it carefully, it would have taken 10 minutes for me to just even read and understand and mentally process what you are writing about. I’m only an employee but the Guru’s time is obviously not free.

      It is well known that USCIS customer service reps on the 800 number line know very little about the law and are not empowered nor authorized to give legal advice. They follow a script, why would you trust them??

      Our contact info is all over this blog. You may call the office or email us at consult@GuruImmigration.com for a paid consultation with the Guru. All I can tell you is that the Guru just cleared up last week this same exact and common question by phone to people in a couple of other states and they all commented on how pleased they were with how the Guru on the phone cleared things up instantly, rather than waiting for cumbersome emails and lack of instant communication.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  17. Erkut Aksoy Says:


    I filed an I-130 through my brother. It is at the initial review period at the California Service Center. Does this mean I got a visa number? How long does it usually take at the “initial review” period. I am from Turkey, if that makes a difference.


    • All this is clearly covered in the article so read it again and look it up yourself. The article explained how only the Visa Bulletin can tell you which priority date currently has a visa number. The article also explained how to look up how long it takes for I-130s to be approved. No one should be asking this kind of question here as the article clearly states ahead of time.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  18. Richard Says:

    This is the best explanation of the petition process. Thank you very much!! This is like a free consulatation with a in immigration lawyer.

    I do have a question. I have a friend that is a USC with a great job, her spouse and kid is abroad and never been in the US. They are legally married. Is there anything they can do to expedite the process of getting the family together here in US?

    Thank you.

    • We appreciate that you find our article helpful. It’s only a general explanation of the process and we take pride in helping people understand how it works in an general way.

      As far as your friend, do you know how many people ask for expedites every day? Millions of people all over the world try to do so, even when there’s no reason. There is no expedite unless it’s a matter of life-or-death, and even then, you can’t just bring someone over without an approved I-130 or I-140 petition or some other petition. Your friend’s family has to go through the petitioning process just like anyone else. However, we can help your friend. She should contact us, and our contact info is at the beginning and end of every article on this blog.


  19. I came to the U.S. illegaly when I was 2years old.I turned 18 in October 13, 2009. My step mother is a U.S. citizen and filed an I-130 in December 2009 for me but not my father since I still have a chane to not be punished by the 180 days rule.I know my days are limited until I have to go back to Mexico.However, I became pregnant and I really don’t know any one in Mexico,all my support system is here in the U.S. We received the receipt letter in December 2009 but have not been approved yet.I’m now 5 months pregnant I’m scared to leave and not be approved or have too stay over there too long and have my baby alone. My biggest fear is not being able to return at all. I’ve lived in the U.S. almost all my life and my baby’s father has to work and go to school. So he cannot live with me over there. Where does my case stand? Am I an immediate relative? My baby’s father really thinks that I should just stay until the baby is born. However, I don’t want to risk it and over stay and have to lose my only chance to be able to live here legally,like I’ve always wanted.Is there any way I can stay until July and and be excused because of my pregnancy? I have a history of miscarrige so that is another problem.I’ve done a lot of research online and seen that it might just take 5 months for the whole entire process. It’s been 3 months and I am losing hope since I have to leave next month without any news. What should I do? Should I just stay and pass the 180 days? Or would I be able to come back before july if i leave?

    • We understand your situation. However, you should consult with us because there is too much at stake. You’ve done well understanding the 180 day rule, and you are correct that time is of the essence. You should consult with us so we can get all the facts. Based only on what you have written, waiting 180 days would be disastrous because the 3-year bar would be against you. Yes, at that point you could apply for a hardship waiver but that is an uncertain thing and also sometimes depends on luck with the Juarez consulate. You should contact the Guru at 310.289.2155 or by email, consult@GuruImmigration.com. We could give you some valuable advice regarding your situation at a very reasonable consultation fee.

      • Thank you for your reply. At this moment I really can not afford for a consultation, but as soon as I can get money for the fee I will contact you. However, I did not see why people might get rejected in the article. I have some questions that I hope you can answer about that. I had to apply for medicate in order to be able to get my prenantal care and all the lab work I am getting. So, does getting any financial help like medicate/insureance, medical assistance, WIC program affect my case and how? Is there anything I can do do avoid it affecting me, since I am pregnant and need the help in order to get my all my pregnatal care and make sure my baby is healthy? Once again, thank you for your time. I am leaving the first week of April so I want to take care of everything or anything that might affect my case. I want to be back as soon as possible and give birth here.

  20. Camila Sainz Says:

    Hello Guru, well my father who is a u.s citizen filed an i-130 form for me in may 2009, I am in the F1 category..well my status shows up as post decision activity..My lawyer who helped us file the form told me and my parents that i had to leave the unites states for at least 6 months to a year..well i want to know if being in this stage means that i am in the process of receiving my date interview to juarez in mexico..i am really worried that this could take months…what should i do …or even think????
    p.s i was 18 when my father filed the i-130 now im 19

    • My lawyer who helped us file the form told me and my parents that i had to leave the unites states for at least 6 months to a year

      Well, if you have a lawyer, why not ask that lawyer first instead of us? Did he/she even tell you and your parents about the risk of going to Juarez that you will encounter because of the 10-year bar and that you might not be allowed to come back to the U.S. for 10 years?

      If not, then that lawyer is doing a disservice to you and your family, and we highly highly recommend you consult with us to understand the risks of the course of action you are embarking on. You may even decide to not go to Juarez once you understand what is at stake. We just hate to see sincere immigrants not being told the complete truth by lawyers or other sources.

      Consult with us and get real advice on what the possible consequences are to you and how long the wait is. The consultation fee is what lawyers usually charge for their time, but it really is reasonable. Our contact info is at the beginning and end of every article on this blog.

  21. Sir, i will highly appriciate if you could inform me is it a good news, im US citizen, i applied for my husband I130, it was pending from 3 months on second stage “initial review” and i was so worried but now today i just got this emailthat it is on 2nd last stage, is it really a good news, or do i have to be preapre for still wait for years??? i pasted current status below: kind regards, Sasha

    Post-Decision Activity

    On February 26, 2010, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I130 IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE(E), OR ORPHAN. Please follow any instructions on the notice.

    • As the Guru wrote in the article, the good news is that your husband is an immediate relative because you’re a citizen so after the I-130 is approved there is no Stage 2 wait! He is eligible now to do Stage 3. It looks like he’s in Pakistan, so he will get his immigrant visa with the US consulate there. According to the Guru, you and he should wait for paperwork from the National Visa Center in the US for instructions on what to do next before and while the case file is forwarded to Pakistan.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  22. I found this blog extremely useful and informative. Great job! My question is I am a US citizen and my mom came here on Jan 7. I submitted I-130 for her since at a time her medical was not available to submit I-485 concurrently. I have yet to receive a notice that I-130 was received by USCIS. Is it best for me to wait for the receipt notice (since she is my immediate relative i assume it will be approved) and then file I-485 or to go ahead and file it now. Also if I need to wait for USCIS approval notice and don’t get it before her 6 mo. of stay are up will she be considered overstaying illegally? Thank you for your help.

    • Is it best for me to wait for the receipt notice (since she is my immediate relative i assume it will be approved)…

      No you cannot assume something will be approved just like that in immigration! How do I know she is your mother? What if you can’t prove your relationship with competent evidence? What if there’s fraud going on? This sort of thing goes on all the time and USCIS does not assume anything.

      Please contact our office during the work week during business hours (West Coast time) for detailed answers to your questions in a fee consultation with the Guru. He cannot answer them here.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  23. Ismail Fife Says:

    Hi, I have read and fully understand your comments above and Yes my I130 has also been approved February 26. However my question is of concern for my eldest son who will be 21 on August 10, 2011. Not certain of the time it will take for a Visa number to be issued, would it be safe to say that he might not make the cut seeing that it takes so long to process a Visa number or is there an alternative.

    • There is a possible solution, depending on what category your son is being petitioned under (with the very brief amount of info you wrote, it’s impossible for us to know the category and other important info), but you would have to do a paid consult with the Guru and give him all the relevant info about the situation. Our contact info is all over this blog, especially at the beginning and end of each article.

      John A., Legal Assistant

      • Ismail Fife Says:

        Hi and thanks for the reply, the application category was F4 as I am the brother of the Petioner. I have two sons one of which as mentioned will be 21 2011.
        Sorry just realised I left that bit out.

  24. Hello,I just wanted to know when receive an approval letter of the I130 what will the next process be,will I receive an other notice from the USCIS,how long this might take to file for permanent resident if the person is outside the US.What form will be needed and the price of the form.

    • As the article clearly explained, unless the beneficiary is an immediate relative, I-130 approval is really not a big deal and not really much to get too excited about. That’s only Stage 1. Depending on the category of the beneficiary, there still could be years and years of waiting in Stage 2 before the next step is possible.

      If you still don’t understand all this after reviewing the article and want to know the nitty-gritty details of things like forms, where, how, etc. then the Guru will only do so during a paid consult, not here. Our contact info is all over this blog, especially at the beginning and end of each article.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  25. hi, my dad s a permanent resident and he filled an I130 for me when i was under 21 .. in 2006 my case was accepted by the USCIS ,in july 2009 i got a letter for the NVC .. my question is how long would i get an answer ? what the next step??

    • Didn’t you read the article above where we stated and emphasized that we don’t answer this type of questions about I-130s?

      We’d be happy to do it for a fee. You may call or email us, as found in the disclaimer at the top of every page of this blog.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  26. Hello,

    I have a question. My mom entered USA on January 15 2009. Her stay expired on July 15 2009. She applied to extend stay but it was denied. She did not receive the notice of denial for her application till October 2-d 2009. Can she still apply for an adjustment of status while still in USA. Does that 180 days unlawful stay apply to her? From what I read on your blog, it does not apply to her since she is the immediate relative of a US citizen. And if it does when does the count for 180 begin, on October 2 when she received the notice of denial to extend her stay or when her original stay July 15-th expired.
    Thank you for your help!

    • Without knowing her prior immigration history, then it would seem as an immediate relative that your mom could still adjust, that is correct. However, this is the problem with answering comments on this blog: what if your mom overstayed by more than six months in the US on previous trips? She could have, we don’t know. Then, she would NOT be eligible to adjust now for 3 or 10 years since the last departure. This is the danger of giving any type of so-called “advice” over this blog without you becoming our client and provide full info in a consultation.

  27. Hi there
    My I-130 is approved (F2B). I’m outside of US, and now I plan to apply for tourist visa, just to visit my parents there. Do you think that the approval of the I-130 (even applying for green card) would be advantage or disadvantage to gain touristic visa?! I have already been in US, as tourist and never been out-of status or illegally there. Thanks in advance!

  28. Hello,

    I am a LPR. I married to F1 who is out of status. If I file the I-130 for her. What is the chance that will be denied due to her illegal stay in the US? Should I file the I-130 now or just wait until I become USC? What is your recommendation?

  29. Dear there…Thanks a lot for your efforts and may god bless you..
    I live outside tha US and never enter it, but I have an I-130 application filled by my sister since feb, 2008 under the F4 category which means that I have to wait at least 8 years to pass through stage 3.
    my question here; if there are threats to reject my application and in general what are the main causes to deny such appliacations if any?
    Thanks a lot

    • Of course, there are numerous possible reasons to deny an I-130, but we cannot discuss such a broad and general topic on here. You are advised to seek a paid consultation by email with the Guru.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  30. Abdul Rahim Says:

    my recipit number WAC 03-xxx-xxx how take year my case will be post decision my sister who my sponser received notice JULY 22-2009 – The above petition has been approved ,we sent the origianl visa petition to the Department of state National visa Center-NVC- ,32 Rochester Avenue,Portsmouth,NH03801-2909- But sir my case status show on initail review And case is pending — Tell me about please—- My Email Adress— khammaar@hotmail.com

    • It’s a terrible idea like you did to post actual case number on here, and that’s why it was blacked out.

      We have been as clear as we can be on this blog, that the Guru runs a law firm and is in the business of honestly representing clients in immigration matters in a fair manner with fair and reasonable attorney’s fees. This blog is not a place to just “dump” your data and expect us to give free advice on what to do, as you are expecting us to do. We’d be happy to advise you as part of a paid consultation.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  31. Hi

    why nebreska service center says approved file until 2004.But there are many whose file is i 130 filed in 2001,2002,2003— and waiting to be approved?
    what is going on?

    Is lawyer can help to expedite those file or wait until decision come then contact you?
    Thank you

    • You shouldn’t get hung up on what USCIS says. They are, after all, part of the U.S. government. And when does the government ever do anything 100% correct?

      The Service Center may say publicly that they have approved 2004-filed cases but there are always still-pending problem cases filed long before. There are an infinite number of reasons why cases have problems and take forever to resolve. Those are the ones where people probably did not hire a lawyer and so remain problematic for a long time. And yes, of course, a lawyer could and should be retained now to find out what is happening with such a case.

  32. Dear Guru, here is the deal: my mum submitted I-130 on me and my husband in 2002. I was under F-3 category “Married daughter of US citizen…”. Now I’m getting divorced. If I’m not mistaken once divorced I’ll be able to be transferred from F-3 to F-1. My case is already in NVC and I’ve got an NVC number. My question is as follows: will I be transferred from F-3 to F-1 automatically or should my mum re-submit all the required docs i.e. I-130 for F-1?

    Thank you in advance

    • You will be converted automatically to F1 only if NVC is informed of your divorce so that if the priority date for F1 is coming up fast, they can send you the materials for the final step to immigrate. If you don’t inform them, they will continue to assume you’re F3 and that category is at least 3 years behind F1.

  33. Hello i have one question i married abroad I am us citizen my husband and me we will apply for the I-130 the country is Algeria and here process in consulate us citizens residing in algeria 6 months for familiar petition. them said is approved or denied same day and we have one resppnse…how much will delay the case and my husband can obatin one CR1 visa? Thanks

    • “them said is approved or denied same day and we have one resppnse…how much will delay the case and my husband can obatin one CR1 visa?”

      Your question is hard to understand because of misspellings and grammar. If it’s denied, fix the problem and try to apply again.

  34. you are indeed a genius, you should get paid for the blogs. I have my own dilemma too but much of what you have responded to made a difference

  35. I just wanted to say THANK YOU!

  36. hi larry…i’m atom from the philippines…

    my mom, a legal permanent resident filed a petition for me, and had just received the approval last week (jan. 19, 2010) the priority date is sept 2009 (which i believe was when she sent the petition?)…i am unmarried over 21 yrs. (F2b)…does this mean i would have to wait til around 2014/15 before the visa is approved? could the process be shortened?

    it is quite frustrating coz i aged out when my parents and 2 brothers (under 21) migrated to the US (my dad was petitioned by my aunt in 1981)… i was 22 when their visa was approved..they left for the US in 2005… in fact they already even paid for my visa coz my name was included in a letter sent by the embassy…it turned out my aunt included my name in the petition in 1981 when i was an infant (was born july ’81)…after the visa was paid, the embassy sent a letter informing me that i was disqualified for being overage and that i would have to wait a little bit longer, which now seem to be eons…grrr

    • You’re not the first to ask this question on here in the past 2 weeks. And so we say the same thing: this is governed by the Child Status Protection Act, which is complicated, and we can only explain how it could perhaps help you within the context of a paid consultation.

      Since you’re overseas, contact us by email for arrangements: consult@GuruImmigration.com. Thank you.

  37. Ana Paula Andrade Says:

    In 2005 I filled up the petition for my son. He was a 19 years age, and I was permanent resident.
    On august 2009 his process was approved, but he could not get the papers done because he was over 22 years age, and I was a citizen.
    Now I am a citizen and he is 23 years age. His process will become due in few months ahead, and he is going to be 24 or 25 unmarried child. acoording your experience, do you think he is going to get his green card?

    • We answered your comment on October 15th to consult with us and you have not. Why not? As stated in the disclaimer, we simply cannot analyze your question on here in any meaningful way since we don’t have enough information from you. We have been saying over and over on this blog that, if over 21, even out of status for one day will prevent a son or daughter from adjusting to permanent residence here. Is he out of status or in status? If in status then what visa is he in and how is he maintaining status? If out of status, then how long? Do you see these are the kinds of questions that this law firm need to have from you in order to answer your question? If your son is out of status, there is no way he can get his paper here. He would have to go back to his country and apply and risk the 10-year bar. That’s the way the law is — there is no other way — no exception! Unless the CSPA helps to keep him under 21 (which we also talked about in our reply to your previous comment). Again, telephone 310.289.2155 or email: consult@GuruImmigration for a paid consultation on the CSPA. It’s worth the small fee.

  38. chaconia bryd Says:

    hey i have a visa interview in the US emabassy in trinidad. But i currently live in the US. do u think they can reshedule the interview and give it to me in the US instaed?. I really cannot go to trinidad because i overstayed my visa by 10 yrs. but when i was under 18 my mom filed an I-130 which was approved and she was an LPR now she a usc and im over 21 and i entered legally. anything i can do right here?

    • We answered your comment a couple weeks ago to consult with us and you have not. Why not? As stated in the disclaimer, we simply cannot analyze your question on here in any meaningful way since we don’t have enough information from you. We have been saying over and over on this blog that, if over 21, even out of status for one day will prevent a son or daughter from adjusting to permanent residence here, you’re out of status for 10 years! That’s the way the law is — there is no other way — no exception! Unless the CSPA helps to keep you under 21 (which we also talked about in our reply to your previous comment). Again, and for the final time: telephone 310.289.2155 or email: consult@GuruImmigration for a paid consultation on the CSPA. It’s worth the small fee.

  39. Guru,
    Your explanations are extremely self-explanatory, terse, abrupt, concise, succinct, and coherent. Thank you.
    My question is after I-130 Has been approved can the derivative of a beneficiary apply for ” adjustment of status” if the Priority date is current?
    In other words, If the priority date is current/visa number is available can the derivative of the beneficiary apply for adjustment of status before the beneficiary applies for a visa in his homeland. Right now, the derivative is in US, however the beneficiary is in his homeland, So if the visa number becomes available does the derivative have to go back to his homeland and then join the beneficiary? btw, if the derivative applies for a visa here how should he let the authorities know that his CSPA age is under 21 despite the present age being 25 or 26. It is ironic that answers to such questions are not available even on the uscis website. Wondering if you had a similar case such as this one before.

    • Abdul, thanks for the nice words, and for that we will answer your questions here :) Actually, they’re very fast to answer and somewhat unusual and interesting questions. The answer to the first is yes, the derivative can file for adjustment here, although the application will probably be placed on hold until the principal beneficiary immigrates to the U.S. since USCIS wants to interview the principal, too, to verify relationship. The benefit to the derivative is actually referred to in the law as “accompanying or following to join,” so if they cannot accompany then they can follow to join.

      As for the CSPA, the applicant is responsible to bring up that point to USCIS and to prove that he or she is protected and considered still under 21. You can be sure that if the applicant does not, USCIS itself will bring up the argument that they’re over 21 and try to deny the application.

  40. I voluntarily left the United States 6 years ago so I would not get deported. I do not know if I did the right thing? Also, I do not know if I was charged for somethng when I was in the US, for example, I can not enter the US for 5 years or something like that? The question is why hasn’t my I-130 3rd prefernce been approved and it has been 6 years since i filed that petition. On the other hand my I-130 4th prefernce has been approved only after 2months of filing the petiion?

    • Sometimes it’s just luck that USCIS approves one I-130 petition faster than another. It does not matter, however, if it is approved if the priority date for that petition is still way behind and you’re still waiting in Stage 2.

      Also, the article refers to the 3-year or 10-year bar. There is no 5-year bar (unless you were removed as what they call an “arriving alien”). If you were placed into removal proceedings because you were living out of status in the U.S. before for a year or more, then the bar is 10 years. Your situation is similar to what we wrote about in “Is the 10-Year Bar for Real and Could It Stop Me from Getting My Green Card?“.

  41. i just what to ask wht type of visa they going to give if im already approve of i 130..and what kind of interview they going to ask me coz i only seen a sample for k3 visa interview pls kindly rply thanks

    • Our policy is to reply to comments with a quick 30 seconds or so answer. We already answered you one time already and cannot do a follow-up. Since the process can be complicated, we can only give you more information and advice during a paid consultation. Since you’re in the Philippines, we realize it may not be convenient to telephone us from overseas but you should do a paid email consultation with us at consult@GuruImmigration.com.

      Thank you.

      John A., Legal Assistant

  42. hello good day i just want to ask my application on i !-30 is approved by USCIS already..i just want to ask what type of visa im going to get is still k3 visa or another type? and i just want to ask how long its takes before the NVC transfer my paper to US emabssy here in philippines of visa im here in philippines and my husband is US Citizen his working in army..thank you pls kindly rply..GOD BLESS

    • You don’t really have to do anything if the I-130 is already approved and you’re the wife of a U.S citizen. They should be forwarding soon the file to the Embassy in Manila. The K-3 visa is optional and it’s usually applied for prior to the I-130 approval so that the beneficiary spouse can come to the U.S. and wait with the petitioner for I-30 approval. But here the I-130 has already been approved and your petitioner (husband) is in Philippines anyway.

  43. kalinchekel Says:

    you are very clear when you explain,thank you for the work you do. please can you say me what is the deferent steps after visa current for F2A. how long time it take to get a visa if more than 6 month or less.
    thankyou .

    • Thank you. We strive to be clear. It appears that you’re living currently in Algeria. We covered this already as option c. in this article you just read, under “What Happens When Visa Numbers Are Available.” Of course, with F2A, you have to be careful if you’re already over 21 and not protected by the Child Status Protection Act. But, assuming you’re still under 21 or protected, if your priority date is current and a visa number is already available for you, as you stated, then you would apply at the U.S. consulate in Algeria. Do a google search for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Algiers and they should have instructions on their website on how to file for the immigrant visa. Good luck.

  44. My sister is a US citizen. October 2008 she filed a I 130 for me. We are still waiting for approval. However, I am in the USA since 2005 and have my international student status form I 20. After approval of I 130 do i still have to wait for a visa number to be available or i can apply for adjustment of status right away?

    • The answer to your own question is in the article you just read because you would know then how to look up your priority date in the Visa Bulletin and compare – it’s extremely easy to do (we have tried to explain it in the simplest possible way we could and probably cannot do it any better).

      “After approval of I 130 do i still have to wait for a visa number to be available…?”

      Isn’t that what this article was about?

      You also have to worry about maintaining your nonimmigrant status before you could even adjust your status in the far future. See “Nonimmigrant Visas and Why Maintaining Status in the U.S. Is Important.”

  45. Daniel Aaron Says:

    I am US Citizen, and my brother is Thai nationality.

    He(My brother) came to US as Tourist VISA on 2005, and he overstayed his VISA(Tourist VISA expired June 2005) for more than 2 years.

    Until he was caught by Immigration Officer(Immigration and police officer came to our house) in Oct 2007.

    He went to Immigration court in early of 2008. He informed judge that he voluntary leave the country, and judge gave him the permission to leave the country. He went back to Thailand mid of 2008.

    As far as I know he will have 10 years bar from mid of 2008.

    My question are

    1. Can I petition (I-130) my brother for Immigrant to US now?(I know that it will take about 9.5 years).
    2. From#1, Will my petition(I-130) be denied because of my brother history of immigration proceedings above?
    3. On form I-130 #16, was my brother considered as Removal Proceedings? even he voluntary leaved?
    4. If I can petition my brother now, then after it has been approved(9.5 yrs) and VISA# is available, will he have problems apply Immigration Visa(DS-230) because of the his bad record? (It should be after 10 years bar)
    5. For all processes, could you please email me the estimate fees, for your services.

    I’m appreciating your time to help me on thiese questions.

    • Since you yourself are correct and realizing this is a 10-year process at least for your brother, we can only file an I-130 for him at this point. We will send you our I-130 rate for something like this by private email.

  46. My Husband is a US Citizen that filed an I-130 petition for me. I am a filipina and currently living here in the Philippines. After my petition got approved and case number was assigned, I got pregnant and gave birth here. My husband has already filed an Affidavit of Support (AOS) and paid the necessary payment for the said petition. Does my husband need to file for a separate petition for our child? Or do we just need to get her an american passport so she could travel with me to the US after my visa approval?I hope you could help me with my query. Thank you!

    • Mae, this is a common question. We stated in the article you just read “A very important benefit for these family-preference categories is that the spouse and children under 21 of the main beneficiary are also entitled to immigrate at the same time, and in the same order of priority as him or her when a visa number is available (this is not the case if the main beneficiary is an immediate relative, however).” (italics added).

      Since you are the main beneficiary and an immediate relative, if your baby is not your husband’s child (his stepchild) then a separate petition is needed before the baby can immigrate. If it’s his child, then the baby may already be a U.S. citizen at birth but you would have to contact us to be sure. You can email us at consult@GuruImmigration.com to arrange for a paid consultation.

  47. Hello,

    Awesome site!

    My husband is an american citizen by birth, Iam a Canadian citizen. We have a 2 year old daughter toghether who has dual citizenship. Iam in Canada and my husband is in the US. He is about to send off the I-130 next week. Iam a little confused on what happens next. When i receive my visa number, can i go to the US right away with my daughter and then apply for permanent residence I-485? or do i have to apply for the I-485 while in Canada after i receive my visa number?
    2.Will i be informed on what i need to send off after my I-130 has been approved by the US officials?
    3.Also, Does my husband have to file a seperate I-130 for our daughter even though she has dual citizenship?
    We will be married 2 years in April 2010.
    Thank you very much.

    • “He is about to send off the I-130 next week. Iam a little confused on what happens next. When i receive my visa number, can i go to the US right away with my daughter and then apply for permanent residence I-485?”

      April, you are a little confused. There is no such thing as adjustment of status (the I-485) for someone physically present outside the U.S. You go through consular processing instead. Read the article again under “What Happens Once Visa Numbers Are Available,” where we stated, “c. On the other hand, if the beneficiary is outside the U.S., that person will file the immigrant visa package with the U.S. consulate in their country.…” A discussion of consular processing can be found on the USCIS website.

      Also, as stated in the article you just read, there is no such thing as waiting for a visa number when a person is an immediate relative who is overseas such as yourself. Instead, you and your spouse wait for the I-130 to be approved by USCIS, which will take 6 months or so. The heading “What Happens Once Visa Numbers Are Available” in our article was really more for immigrants not petitioned for as immediate relatives but as family-preference relatives which, as discussed, are categories with limited visa numbers, unlike immediate relatives.

      If your daughter has dual citizenship then she is already a U.S. citizen and there’s no need for an I-130 for her.

  48. Dhirendra Shrestha Says:

    I am a US citizen. My daughter, who is over 21 years of age, came to the US with F-1 Visa, in 2003. But, later she discontinued her education. In 2007 I filed I-130 for her. The petition has recently been approved. However, at the time of filing I-130, I was a Resident Alien. Now I have become a US Citizen and I have advised the USCIS, accordingly. The approval letter states that my daughter is not eligible to adjust in the US and that she has to wait for the National Visa Center’s issuance of Visa. Does it mean that my daughter has to leave US in order to get the Immigrant Visa?

    • The answer to your question is already found in the article you just read. We stated there that:

      If they came illegally (whether an immediate relative or not) or have been out-of-status in the U.S. (and not an immediate relative), then they must go back to their country and apply, with the 3- or 10-year bar being an obstacle (except for those out-of-status/illegal for 180 days or less, or those who have an old petition filed by April 30, 2001), a difficult situation just like the boyfriend or girlfriend that was described in “I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?

      Your daughter is not an immediate relative and is out-of-status for probably over a year. So, the National Visa Center is most likely correct that she cannot adjust her status. It was not wise for your daughter to continue to stay in the United States after discontinuing her education. It appears she will have to go back to her country to apply when a visa number is available, which is obviously not available yet with an I-130 filed only recently in 2007. The 10-year bar will apply to her when she departs the U.S. as stated in the passage quoted above. You should do a paid consultation with us to learn about a solution. Please call our office at 310.289.2155 or email: consult@guruimmigration.com.

      • Are you saying that THERE is a way of a non-immediate relative AND out-of-status + 180days, but not illegal, get the GC (when the visa is current)? I thought that was impossible… without getting the 10y bar!

        • Oh, the extreme hardship waiver…
          Man, there is so many immigrants that don’t understand how serious it is to overstay!! Good job helping people!

          • Ezra, yes, you are absolutely right that it is a very serious matter to overstay. Yet a lot of people still don’t believe us and think lightly of overstaying because they assume or hope that some “trick” or obscure provision in the immigration law s going to save them regardless.

            It’s gratifying to see someone out there like yourself who seems to be knowledgeable about what we blog about. Glad we can be of help to people.

  49. I have a I130 aproved, I’m in the USA with Visa B2, I arrived, december 26, what next step?, when I applied, I was outside, but right now I came for Visit my parents, and I received aproval, december 30, can I apply with Visa B2. or I must go outside for apply?

    • Cannot advise you of anything on this blog because you’re not our client yet as we explained in the article you’ve just read. The entire point of the article is that approval of the I-130 does not necessarily mean a green card because your priority date may not be current yet (so a visa number is not available). Have no idea what category your parents petitioned for you under. If your priority date is current, you may be able to do the next step here. If not, you may or may not have to apply back home. Only a paid consultation can tell you. Please phone 310.289.2155 or email: consult@GuruImmigration.com.

  50. Hi, thanks for the answer for my question. I read some answers that you put at the blog but i still dont know if my girlfriend who i want get married could wait here in the USA after her visa expire. I will be able to apply for citizenship and I am a LPR now. I would like to know if my girlfriend could get married with me and stay out-of-status until i get my citizenship. Is it a problem ?

    Thank you!

    • We’ve already gave you an answer previously to read the other article “Student visa holder married green card holder, what can she do?“, which has the information, but if you cannot figure it out you should consult with us. How can anyone legally stay in the U.S. after their visa expire? No one, of course. Everyone knows that. BUT: there are certain situations where there are exceptions for some immigrants and only a professional lawyer could tell you. Spend the small amount for the consultation. It’s worth it, rather than spinning your wheel and wasting your time surfing the net and blogs for this kind of information when a lawyer can lay all your doubts to rest in 30 minutes. Phone 310.289.2155 or email: consult@GuruImmigration.com.

  51. HI Dear,
    My sister applied for me in jul 2005 through an I 130 application. My case is under process and i have forwarded the additional evidence asked by USCIS. They say in 60 days time they will let me know about the decision. Do you think after the acceptance i will be given visa somewhere in 2015 because the visa bulletin says the current dates for F4 category are october 1999. please advise.

    • “Do you think after the acceptance i will be given visa somewhere in 2015 because the visa bulletin says the current dates for F4 category are october 1999. please advise.” Cannot advise you of anything on this blog because you’re not our client yet as we explained in the article you’ve just read, unless you do a paid consultation with us. You’ve looked up the information on your own priority date, and as stated in the article only an estimate can be made of a waiting time, and you can determine the answer yourself.

  52. HI, I am a LPR and I am planning to get married here in the USA with a girl who has a visa only for a year, I am gonna apply for her using the I -130. But her visa is gonna expire in 6 months. Could she stay out-of-status until get the approval or until get the visa number available. Can she get a green card after that even know that she had been out-of-status because her visa expired? what would be the best thing to do ?

  53. Hi Guru:

    I’m an U.S citizen over 21 , and I have a brother over 21, married and has been here in the U.S since 14 years old(He is now 30) . I will be his sponsor . I have a question on the form I-130 on question 15c , Should I answer his currently employer name and address , even though he is working here illegaly? Or should I just live it blank,N/A, NONE? I don’t want to lie but at the same time, I don’t want him to get fired from his job. Will USCIS contact his employer?

    Thanks a lot!

    • Most likely not. However, you should understand we cannot provide a definite answer and any action you take regarding this is your own decision. We are not liable for anything that may happen to your brother such as if he is placed into removal proceedings (since he is out-of-status most likely). You’d be surprised how many immigration lawyers have been sued by people who were not really their clients for suggesting the most seemingly “safe” course of action that turned out bad later not because of the lawyer’s fault.

  54. pls i was filled for under 2a category (and was approved2007) but was converted recently to 2b because i am over 21yrs.by next month my mum will be filling her citizenship. when she get it will i be automatically be converted to the first category (Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Citizens).and will i still to use the same prioity date to check the visa bulletin…waiting for ur swift response

    • We cannot answer a question like this for free here since it involves knowledge of some more detailed background information from you. Except for very simple questions that can be answered instantly within 30 secs or so more or less (see policy here, Please Read Before Posting Questions or Comments), the Guru (and his lawyers) will not fall into the possibility of being liable for giving you the wrong answer based on incomplete information over an internet blog like this. Sorry but that’s a reality. Please contact us by phone: +1 310 289 2155 for a consultation after the New Year. If you hesitate because you don’t want to call overseas from the UK, then contact us by email: consult@GuruImmigration.com. Thank you.

  55. i would love to know about my case please

    this is whats it says on the USCIS website
    Post-Decision Activity
    On December 17, 2009, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I130 IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE(E), OR ORPHAN. Please follow any instructions on the notice. If you move before you receive the notice, call customer service at 1-800-375-5283.

    For approved applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include USCIS sending notification of the approved application/petition to the National Visa Center or the Department of State. For denied applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include the processing of an appeal and/or motions to reopen or reconsider and revocations.

    and this is what my notice says
    the above petition has been approved .we have sent the original visa petition to deparmentof state nantional visa center nvc rochester NH 03801-2909 nvc processes all aproved imigrant visa petiitions thet need to consular action its also determines which post iss apropriate consulate to complete procesing

    please allow us 90 days before calling to nvc if you not recive corospondace from nvc the tell number is ….

    please help me

    • If you read the disclaimer all over this blog, you should understand we don’t answer this type of question of “Help, please explain this notice to me” because it’s analyzing your specific situation, without a paid consultation. Also, you didn’t state what type of category of relative this I-130 is for so not a whole lot can be said. That’s why a consultation is necessary. We’d be glad to help you starting Monday if you contact our office. Phone: +1 310.289.2155, or email: consult@GuruImmigration.com.

  56. Thank you very much for your help.

  57. Dear Larry’

    First i would like to appreciate all your answers for everyone. I am 19 years old just turned them in september.My Husband is a US Citizen and he applied for me and applied for the I-130 in ocover 31 and receved the receipt. I am an illegal and origionaly from mexico and came to the united states illegal, I have not received an approval and was wondering if i had to leave overseace and for how long. I have no family in mexico is their a way i can do anythinng so i can compleate everything here in the United States. I am aware i have 180 days to do all the process here because i just turned 19 but the process is taking longer than i thought is their anything i can do about it.

    • No, most likely you have no chance to do anything here after I-130 approval. You should read if you haven’t already, “I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?” Any child who came illegally but did not leave the U.S. by the time they’re 19 will have the 10-year bar against them if they set foot outside the U.S. The approved I-130 will just sit at the National Visa Center because you will not be permitted to do the next step in this country but must go to Juarez to have a chance. However, leaving will trigger the 10-year bar against you.

      Some children have pending genuine asylum applications through their parents and if that’s the case, they will not accumulate unlawful presence during that time. However, being from Mexico, it is doubtful if your parents filed for asylum. If they did, contact our office for a consultation.

  58. I am US citizen filed I-130 for my married son (in India) In Nov. 2005. As of today the priority date is May 22, 2001. It looks like it will still take him about 2 and half more years before he will get his visa. As I said he is married, he also has a 6-year-old daughter. My question is that is he and his wife want to adopt his cousin’s Son who is 5 years old. He has been helping his cousin with kids time to time since she don’t have any job. His cousin has two kids including the 5 years old he wants to adopt. Question is that if he adopts his kid will he be able to bring him here to the states with him when he and his wife get their visa. If yes if yes what is the process means what do I need to do to add his adopted child to his file


    • Yes, the adopted child can eventually immigrate with your son if he has been adopted by him for at least 2 years. Get an Indian lawyer to do the adoption, we have no idea how that’s done in India since we are U.S. immigration attorneys.

  59. Good afternoon Guru Larry,

    I am very confused. I was informed by an immigration service called Simply Done Immigration(SDI) that I am only required to file an I-130 for my wife. They told me my stepson, who just turned 3 in October, would be covered under her application because he is so young. I just filed the I-130 for my wife in the first week of November. Is that accurate or do I need to file a separate I-130 for my stepson too? I don’t want to find out that my wife can come to the US but my stepson cannot. I have researched this and it appears that, aside from SDI, I am required to do so. They insist I do not. Can you clarify this for me?

    Thank you,

    Dave in Buffalo

    • This question is instructive to readers of this blog so it will be answered a little bit more than normal.

      You did not state whether you’re a U.S. citizen or merely an LPR, so a definitive answer cannot be given! We cannot assume from what you’ve written that you’re a citizen. If you’re a citizen, then this “immigration service” is totally wrong: this is as basic as it gets under U.S. immigration law, when a U.S. citizen is petitioning for a spouse and a stepchild under 21, each beneficiary is classified as an immediate relative and MUST have a separate I-130 for each of them. Any immigration lawyer or even paralegal who works in this field knows this cold.

      If, on the other hand, you’re only an LPR, then this outfit is correct. The child’s mother is then not classified as an immediate relative but merely an F2A immigrant, and so the child is included in the petition of his mother without the need for a separate petition.

      This is a common confusion and it arises over the fact that when the main beneficiary is not an immediate relative, but is in one of the five preference categories discussed in the blog article (such as F2A in this case), that person’s child under 21 (not just merely being “so young,” a 20-year old is not so young) is also included in the petition for him or her; that is, the child receives derivative benefits. In other words, the parent is the “principal beneficiary” of the I-130 and the child is the “derivative beneficiary.” So, only one I-130 is needed there.

      Without needing to cite the particular sections of law and regulation, look at page 1 of the Instructions to the I-130 Form itself (latest 5/27/08 version). Under “Who May File Form I-130?”, you will see that it states generally that “If you are a U.S. citizen you must file a separate Form I-130 for each eligible relative” (italics added). But then, “If your relative qualifies under paragraph 1(C), 1(D), or 1(E) above” and “2(B) or 2(C) above,” “separate petitions are not required for his or her unmarried children under 21 years of age” (italics added). A spouse of a U.S. citizen falls under paragraph 1(A) of the I-130 Instructions and so that spouse’s child under 21 would require a separate petition.

      This is why you should be careful with non-lawyers who may not know the law well or at all.

      • Guru,

        Thank you for such a complete answer. I am a US citizen by birth. I will file an additional I-130 right away and reference my wife’s pending form. I thought that was the case.

        Thanks again.

        • Great! We’re glad you still have a chance to rectify the situation. That would have been a costly mistake to follow that non-lawyer organization’s advice and be duped by them.

  60. Hi
    well, im 24 years old , i got the i 130 approved last july , my mother is a US resident so she enter my papers 3 years ago , i was 21 years old , but i came here when i was 14 years old..so basicly im out of status since i was 15 because my mother asked for a extention of my visa…. so my question is should i wait here till a visa is available for me …( but as it is now i dont have anychance do i ?) or should i go back to my coutry or my born country because i dont have nothing there and nothing here….all i do now is study and sometimes work in a friends carwash … i havent done anything but stay here without papers … do i have any hope here in this country at all

    • You came with a visa. However, since you’re not an immediate relative because you’re over 21 already and your mother is not a citizen, it appears you would have to go back to your country to get anything done but that would subject you to the 10-year bar, as discussed in other articles on this blog.

  61. sandra smith Says:

    good day sir,
    i want to please make an enquiry from you….my mum applied for green card for

    me when i was 20yrs under category 2a(unmarried son and daughter under 21)

    and it was approved before i was 21yrs.and my priority date is april 2006.i want

    to know if am still eligible under that category or i will automatically be converted

    to 2b. but if am not eligible can i apply under the Child Status Protection Act to be

    eligible if no again, my mum will get her citiznship next year dec can she notify nvc

    that she is now a citizen and want to convert or category to f1.
    please i will be waiting for an urgent reply….am a nigerian and will wait

    desperately for u swift response

    • Sandra, sorry but we can only provide an urgent reply through a paid consultation by phone or email. It is simply not possible to do an analysis under the CSPA on this blog since it’s very complicated.

  62. my wife, us citizen, filed I 130 for my kids, 1 son, 2 daughters in August 2009. my wife was requested to send additional documents. she sent 3 sets of the documents. uscis stamped “received” the documents the same day for the 3 sets. a week later my daughters were approved. my wife just received a denial notice for my son. uscis said we did not response timely. it was not our mistake. the document was stamped received. i do not know why uscis said we did not response timely……please tell me what we have to do next.

    • We would have to represent you on something like this. Unfortunately, “telling” you what to do next, you will not have the expertise to reverse USCIS denial without the help of a lawyer. Please contact our office for arrangements. Please call +1 310 289 2155, or email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  63. hi

    how r u sir i m indian citizen and my sister has file my I-130 petition as for F4. my petition was file in 17 oct 2006 and my wac no. was 07015***** my approvel came in 13-oct 2009 and my bmb number also came but in that there was writtten that it may take many years so how long it should take can u help me if i got my bmb number than how many years i have to wait.

    • Have no idea what you mean by a “bmb number,” but even if we did, everything needed for YOU yourself to estimate how long the approximate wait for a visa number was already given in the article you just read. We don’t answer that kind of question on this blog, as the article clearly states.

  64. Hi,

    Great site! I would love your help with something please. I am Irish and went to the US in 2000 to live, I got a green card with my dad(Irish too). I came back to ireland and I guess lost my green card, but dad is still there. Is there anyway I can somehow reactivate my card or use this I-130 form to get another one? Any advice would be great.


    • You didn’t say how long you have not resided in the U.S. so it’s assumed that you’ve done your own research and so know you’ve lost your green card status (only lose green-card status if more than a year outside the U.S.). Your dad can petition for you again but of course, in the F2A or F2B category it will take many years for the process from the beginning again before you could get the green card.

  65. Hi, I am an indian citizen. My mom is american green card holder. she filed for my I130 when i was in canada on a student permit. I have become a permanent resident of canada now and i recently got my I130 approved. Do i fall under the indian category or will i be treated as a canadian category immigrant?

    • You are still an Indian national or citizen even though you have Canadian permanent residency. However, as of right now, the Visa Bulletin’s priority dates for India are identical with the rest of the world (except for Mexico and Philippines), and that includes Canada, so it does not really matter as far as the waiting time for Indian visa numbers.

  66. Dear Gury,

    I am a daughter of a U.S citizen and an F1 category,recently i received DS-3032 Form from The National Visa Center ,i married in 2001,i already sent a letter to the office in NVC informing them of my present status together with my authenticated marriage contract,my question is,can i still have a chance for my visa application to be approved under category F1 if ever visa numbers are now available?Thank you.

  67. Hello, my dad is an american citizen and he filed the I130 for me in october 2009. i should be in the category of an immediate relative because i am only 20 years old, not married. anyway i plan on visiting my boyfriend in the states (currently i am in my home country germany) while pending I130 under a VWP. i read plenty this was ok but i would like to make sure++ is it true that if the I130 gets aprooved in the states it will take much longer for me to get permanent residency since i have to adjust status sending the I485 where as aproval of the I130 in Germany leady into getting an immigrant visa after one interview?? if this is true i will enter the states as a permanent resident already instead of having the I130 aprooved in the states while visiting having to wait correct? what happens if i am visiting with a vwp, i am within my 90days still and then the I130 gets aprooved while i am there? do i need to go back still??

    • Only a brief answer can be given here, and that is, once the I-130 is approved, the file will be sent overseas if the beneficiary is overseas, so you can do the entire immigrant visa interview process at the U.S. consulate in Germany and receive an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. Even if you are visiting the U.S. on a visa waiver, you can elect to not adjust your status here but go back to Germany and do the immigrant visa interview there. If you would like further guidance and strategy, contact us for a consultation.

  68. i would like to know ,if my husband was granted asylum last year and i just came to visit him my i-94 expires by March although we will be married by Jan ,is there any way he can petition for me…or rather which is the most appropriate way to handle this situation before i loose my status.

    • You speak as though he is your husband already but he is not so you don’t qualify for asylum as a family member (the husband-wife relationship must have existed at the time he was granted asylum). If you came with a tourist visa and it’s expiring in March, you must find a way independently to extend the tourist visa but you cannot depend on your boyfriend.

      However, he should contact us to help him file for his green card soon since he qualifies or will qualify soon for that. In the future, you may be able to immigrate through him. Please call at +1 310 2892155 or email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  69. You misunderstood me when I say “how much would to charge to do what ever he needed to get done so his son can be here sooner” I know he has to wait for his trun no matter what .What I meant was that if my Uncle decieded to request NVC to reopen his son’s F2b file and Convert it to F3. would that faster since he orignaly filed in F2b.VS F3 new case which he filed in 2005
    As I said in before, we don’t want to do any thing that’s not legal. That is the reason he told NVC that his son got married back in 2002


    • “You misunderstood me…”

      And that’s why it was replied to you that you or your uncle should consult with us. It is not possible to give meaningful advice here on this blog since it is pure legal information. Please understand we would be doing a disservice to people by doing so and incur possible liabilities when we have not been even retained (yes, some people here in the U.S. have sued lawyers who only provided free info claiming that an attorney-client relationship was established!). We are waiting to hear from you or your uncle next week.

  70. Do an LPR spouse qualify as an immediate relative as fas avalaibility of visa number is concerned?

    • The definition of “immediate relative” is fixed in the law and cannot be changed. Spouse of an LPR is in a less favorable priority (must wait a few years for a visa number) and that’s the way the system is set up.

  71. OK how much would it be just to know the answer to my question and than if my umcle decieded to go for it how much would to charge to do what ever he needed to get done so his son can be here sooner.

    • Our consultation is $100 for half an hour, which is well worth it. As far as a “charge to do what ever he needed to get done so his son can be here sooner,” the article you read clearly stated that when it comes to certain things, such as waiting for a visa number, there is no shortcut or go around to make the wait faster. If there were a shortcut, millions of people would try the same thing and then the wait for a visa number would become meaningless. If we can help your uncle with the actual work, we will discuss that privately, not on this blog.

  72. Dear Guru,

    First of all thanks for all your time and helpful info you provide people. 2nd please excuse me for any spelling/grammar errors.
    My uncle filed I-130 petition for his son (in INDIA) under F2b (unmarried daughter over 21)category in 2000 My uncle was on permanent resident that time. He received the approval of our I-130 few months later within the same year.

    Here are some changes since my uncle filed his petition

    ** His son got got married in 2002 and has a baby a years later,
    **My uncle got his citizenship in Nov 2005 and
    ** Refiled I-130(Married son/daughter over 21) and got a approval letter in March 2006.
    **Right after he refiled I-130(F3) and got approval letter, his son got a interview letter for (F2b). but my uncle wrote NVC letter informing them that his son got married back in 2000 and also stated that he has already refiled I-130(F3) for his son. they waiting for there turn now.

    Now This is what i want to ask. I last week I met someone(also from India) who had the same situation as my Uncle, this person I met said that he said that he converted his daughter’s case from being F2b to F3 last year Dec. 08. and they just got a letter asking for original Docs ( which usually happens right before a interview date).

    Is this something that could be true or not
    if it is.

    Is it possible for my Uncle to request NVC to reopen his son’s F2b file and Convert it to F3.

    If yes, then would his priority date be 2000 for would it still be 2005.

    Your advise appreciated,


  73. I have an I 130 approved, my brother filed for me back in 2001, I,m here in the country on an out of status and I’m also married to a us citizen, should I wait for the Visa to become available or should I file to adjust my status based on my marriage with my us citizen wife?
    Thanks for your information,

    • When you say you’re here “on an out of status,” that is a little bit vague because it could mean you came illegally, or with a visa that is now expired. It makes a huge difference. If you actually meant you came with a visa originally, well, then going by the marriage route as an immediate relative is certainly a faster road, as explained in the article.

  74. I filed I-130 in nov 2009 for my father who resides outside of USA. I am a us citizen. How long does it take for parents petition to get approved by uscis before transfered to nvc. Also what other steps after the approval. I am trying to understand the whole start to finish process. Also I am currently unemployed and can I use a joint sponsor and since I am the petitioner and unemployed at this time would it have a negative impact on my case. Thnx

    • The only possible category this is in is a petition by a U.S. citizen over 21 for her father, or for an immediate relative. You can look the processing time up yourself, as shown in the article, by visiting USCIS’s website and choose either California Service Center or Vermont Service Center.

      For the rest of your questions, we are available for a consultation. Call us at 310.289.2155 or email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  75. Dear Larry:

    First of all thanks for all your time and help you provide us. I know it should be very time consuming, I have read your entire blog and have a better understanding about my current situation and a married son over 21 of a US Citizen.

    I just had one question? I still have lots ot time left before approval but I currently have a non-immigration visa as does my wife and 2 kids, is this the visa we are waiting for or is it a different one?

    OK, second question sorry, what if we were to go legaly into the US with our current visas and apply for change of legal status in order to support my mom since she does not live with my dad any more?

    Sorry for the silly questions but living in Mexico, their are no places to get well informed.

    Once again many thanks for your help and time.

    • I still have lots ot time left before approval but I currently have a non-immigration visa as does my wife and 2 kids, is this the visa we are waiting for or is it a different one?

      A “non-immigration visa.” You must mean a “nonimmigrant visa” like a tourist or student visa or a type of work visa – you should have just stated the specific type to make it easier. Those are covered elsewhere on this blog in “Nonimmigrant Visas and Why Maintaining Status in the U.S. Is Important,” and are not for immigrants because they’re for nonimmigrants, or temporary visas. That is not what your parent is petitioning for you under the F3 category, which is a permanent immigrant visa.

      You can always travel to the U.S. on your still valid nonimmigrant visa. But you have to abide by the terms of that visa. You must leave when indicated. As far as “change of status,” you can only change while in the U.S. to another type of nonimmigrant visa which, of course, has limited duration. You cannot “adjust status” to permanent green-card status until an F3 visa number is available and in the meantime, you guys MUST maintain legal status in the U.S. on the nonimmigrant visa, as described in that blog article.

  76. hi. i have a conditional permanent resident status. i came in the US as a k-2 nonimmigrant. i just got my green card last month. can i visit my home country for like 2-3 months and not risk my conditional status? i’m afraid that when i get back here in the US i might lose my permanent resident status..
    happy thanksgiving

  77. Hi,
    My wife holding greencard had filed I-130 for me. She just passed her citizenship exam and will take oath tomorrow. Meanwhile, the I-130 got approved but it says “he or she is not eligible to file an AOS application”. Now I am here in US legally so I am just curious why it says that? Is it just a coincidence that I-130 got approved?
    Do I need to upgrade I-130 based on her citizenship and then file I-485 with the proof of citizenship or should I do anything else?

    • “he or she is not eligible to file an AOS application”

      As shown in the article, if your priority date (for F2A) was not current at the time of the I-130 approval then, as far as USCIS knew at the time, you were not eligible to file an AOS application. That was correct.

      For more detailed real advice that is not possible to give here on this blog, contact us for a paid consultation, Telephone: (310)289-2155. Email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  78. I was just reading thru ur blog,u have answered my question which I have tried to get from USCIS for a while,you are very clear when you explain,thank you for the work you do,you just made my day (ooops!!! night)May God bless you

  79. hello Larry,
    i have 2 questions about green card

    my mother has green card since last 1-1/2 year, she cant live in usa permenantly so she wants to visit her home country ,
    how long she can be absent from usa? if she wants 1 year absence or 2 years absence what should she do?
    if she is outside usa for 6 months,will this time count as stay in usa ? (when she will complete her 5 years on green card she can get usa citizenship)

    my mother wants to apply green card for her unmarried son under 21 years,
    i think this is F2A category, i want to know how long it will take?

    • 1. Your mother should consult with us to see how to protect herself because she will lose her green card by staying out of the U.S. for a year or more. Our fee is $100 for a half hour consultation, which can be waived when she retains us for her case to do the necessary protection document. Email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com. Telephone: (310)289-2155.

      2. If you’ve read the article, there’s no need to ask this question because the answer is there. You can get an estimate by looking up in the Visa Bulletin and see how backed up the F2A category is right now. But in your case, she has not even petitioned for you yet! We can’t have a conversation until she petitions for you so that you have a priority date. For example, if she files the I-130 for you today and USCIS receives it 2 days from now, your priority date will be 25NOV09. Look up the Visa Bulletin and see how 25NOV09 compares with the current cut-off date for F2A for your country (whatever that date is in the current Bulletin).

      • Job Garand Says:

        1. my dad filed me a petition category F2 in 1995. My case number is now available but i cannot go to US due that i got married in 1997. i wrote NVC that i got married in 1997 they asked me to send the marriage certificate and i have done it so. i know my petition will be now dead.

        2. Is there any way that my priority date shall be used. even when my dad just got his greencard last 1998

        • As shown in the article, F2B is only for unmarried sons/daughters over 21, so you can’t do anything while you are still married. If your father becomes a citizen, perhaps the petition he filed for you will be converted to F3 and then you could immigrate when a visa number for F3 becomes available for a 1995 priority date.

  80. Hey my name is Jose and my mom,dad, and i got the I-130 Approved which my aunt was helping us get a green card since she is a citizen and this is what they send me a long time ago nad i was wondering how long would it take to get a green card or anything so we can be legal in the united states?

    Post-Decision Activity
    On June 15, 2005, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I130 IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE(E), OR ORPHAN. Please follow any instructions on the notice. If you move before you receive the notice, call customer service at 1-800-375-5283.

    For approved applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include USCIS sending notification of the approved application/petition to the National Visa Center or the Department of State. For denied applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include the processing of an appeal and/or motions to reopen or reconsider and revocations.

    • We have already explained in the article you just read that approval may still mean a long wait for your parents depending on what their priority date is on the petition, what country they’re from, and their category (which is obviously F4). Without you giving these additional two pieces of information, it’s impossible for anyone else to give an intelligent answer, as was clearly stated in that article. Now, you obviously know what their priority date is and where they’re from so with that additional info you can look it up yourself in the Visa Bulletin, as was shown in the article, to see if there is even a visa number yet. If there is a visa number available for them, then it will be just a matter of months for them to undertake activities for the final step. But if there is no visa number yet, again, it could be a one year wait, 5 years, or a 10-year wait, etc. You can look this up yourself, please do not post a follow-up comment except by email or phone for a paid consultation. Email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com. Telephone: (310)289-2155.

  81. Angela Eumana Says:


    I have read the article above as well as the post of others and I am still unclear about my situation.

    I am a US Citizen and I am married to an Illegal Mexican that has been in the states for over 14 years. We have been married 6 of those years. I was getting ready to file the I-130 petition with all of the requirements as well as the G-325A Biographic Information worksheet. (I was told that these should be filed together). But I am still unclear as to whether my husband may or may not be deported after these forms are filed. Should he go back to his native country before they are filed or can he stay in our home? Your response is greatly apprectiated.


    • It seems this question comes up all the time despite our efforts at explaining in these articles as clearly as we can — maybe we have more work to do. It is very simple: The I-130, as the article above shows, is a first and necessary step but it does not make the person legal ultimately (hence the title, “I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card!”). If he came illegally, he cannot become legalized here. See our other article “I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?” Most illegal people are relying on something brand new from their relative (such as an I-130 from yourself filed in the year 2009) and don’t have anything filed on or prior to April 30, 2001 which would enable them to be legalized here. As an illegal, if your husband leaves the U.S. to do the green card interview, he might not be able to return for 10 years due to the 10-year bar. This is the typical case where hiring a good lawyer to prepare for the hardship waiver in Juarez comes in to minimize the risk and maximize the odds of success.

  82. Dear Larry,

    I am a US citizan. I applied for Green Card for my sister who lives in Iran in November of 2004. I checked the web site of Nebrasks processing center. The site is showing that the immigration currently is processing Oct 2004 for those who applied for their brothers and sisters. This means that I should expect them to process my application in the next few months. How long do you think that it would take them to finalize my case? I know that the processing starts in a few months. However, I don’t know what happens after they say that the file is in process. How long should I wait for the interview, approval, final approval and oath ceremony. Is it going to take another 5 years?

    Kind Regards,

    • Approval of the I-130 is only the 1st step. The 2nd step is waiting for a visa number to be available. You have to look it up in the Visa Bulletin to see when a visa number might be available. We will not be answering this kind of question, “How long will it take?” when we’ve already showed folks how to do it in this article. Just look it up and see what priority dates currently have visa numbers.

  83. kalinchekel Says:

    hello MR GURU LARRY.

    Thank you for this best answer ,I am under F2A categorie, I am algerian citezen , i want know :
    1/ when a visa become avaible how long time it take to get a visa ?
    2/ when a will receved the choice of agent ?

    • You did not even state your priority date so it’s impossible to answer! But, this type of questions will not be answered on this blog: all those who read the above article are equipped with the knowledge necessary to look up this information and estimate the wait themselves.

  84. Dear Larry,

    My Parents are US citizen.My 3 sisters are also in US.My Parents filed for me (F1 category)in Apr ’04.I was above 21 yrs and was left behind in India, when my parents moved to US on basis of relative immigration.

    I recently received NVC case number.


    Currently ,priority data is …22 Jan’04.
    So when i will receive the visa call?
    If i marry now can i apply for my spouse at the time of visa call ?
    If yes what has to be done


  85. Hello Guru Larry,

    I have a couple of questions for I-130/I-485 concurrent filing for my widowed Mother. I got my US Citizenship a couple of months ago and we live in Texas.
    My Mother (who is a Citizen of India) has a 10-yr multiple entry Visitor Visa. She has visited us several times and has never overstayed.

    Her last entry to US was on June 8th 2009 and her VISA stamping on I-90 shows that she is admitted until 9th Dec 2009. She is currently with us and her return ticket is booked for the 6th of Dec, 2009.
    Now, I am thinking of concurrently filing I-130/I-485 in the next week after getting the medical examinations, etc..

    My questions are:
    1. If I mail-in the completed forms sometime next week, is it enough time for her to stay with us until we hear from USCIS regarding the approval? Is the “effective receipt date” the same as the mailing date?

    2. If the application is not valid until we get an official notice of receipt from USCIS and if we do not get that notice of receipt by Dec first week and if my Mother leaves the country, are the applications (for I130 and I485) considered abandoned?

    I appreciate your help.

    If this is best answered over a paid appointment, please let us know and I will contact you directly.


    • Whether the “effective receipt date” is the same as the mailing date (which it’s not – how can receipt be the same as putting it in the mail?) is not really the issue at all. Also, all we’re going to say here is that departure without authorization during the adjustment of status process abandons the application.

      We highly recommend that you do not file the adjustment for your mother by yourself in Texas there — most people make a lot of mistakes which end up costing them months if not years (yes, years!) in a case good attorneys handle smoothly within a few months. Your mother’s immigration status is too important of a matter to risk playing around with. Contact our office by calling 310.289.2155 or email at Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com to see our rates in representing you for the entire case.

  86. It is extremely interesting for me to read that article. Thanx for it. I like such themes and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more on that blog soon.

  87. hello mr GURU LARRY, thanks for your best answer for the peopole , me i am in categorie F4 , i want know when a visa number become avaible if my spous and the childrens come whith me or my spous is eligible for the one other procedure. thank you .
    The best regard .

    • Thanks for asking this question because we are going to add this important point to the article you just read. Yes, if you are the main beneficiary under F4, your spouse and children still under 21 at the time of the interview will immigrate under the same petition as you!

  88. Hello Guru Larry,

    I filled my i-130 petition when I was in the US ( I was under 21 years old orphan of permanent resident), and it was approved and I stayed there longer after that “illegaly”, now I’m in Brazil, and now I’m over 23…I just sent the form “choice of agent” and then I’ll send the affidavit of support, The questions is, with your experience, at this point of the process does it mean it is advanced or there are still many steps ahead? And also, am I still eligible for the visa being that now I’m over 21? And what is the 3- or 10- year bar? is that going to apply for me? I heard that there is a letter öf forgiveness” for staying illegaly in the country is that true?

    Thank you so much!

  89. Hi Larry,
    I’m 36yo and live in Mexico. My U.S. citizen brother submitted an I-130 visa for me in Jun2006 in CSC. The company where I work for wants me to get an L-1 visa for business travels to US.

    Will I have problem to get the L-1 visa?
    Will my I-130 petition be “damage” in any way?


    • You have it backward: getting an L-1 visa can never “damage” or affect the I-130, it’s that having an I-130 filed for you may cause the consulate to deny you the L-1. But, since there are still many more years before your priority date will become current as an F4 (terrible category, the slowest), the consulate may grant you the L-1. You can only try and see what happens.

  90. Great post as for me. I’d like to read a bit more about that matter.

  91. What is the current visa availability for F2B? my minor son’s I130 approval was just received by me on Oct 28 this year. PD is June 2006. How long is the wait before he can apply for visa in the Philippines?

    • It has been stated over and over on this blog and in the article itself that this type of question will not be answered when the whole point of the article was to show people how to look it up themselves in the Visa Bulletin and it’s very easy to do.

  92. Dear Larry,

    Thank you for all the information you provide on your site. It is great to get the facts about the I-130 process as opposed to a bunch of fake promises!

    I am under the F2B category (27 years old unmarried son of a U.S. green card holder). My mother and I were both born in Argentina. My mother is a U.S. green-card holder for the past four years. She requested my petition on February, 2007 and it was approved on October, 2009. I am at the Post-Decision Activity Status. I studied in U.S. under the F1 visa for five years and, upon graduation, changed to an H-1B visa (since October, 2007). I’ve never been an illegal alien and I am currently under my H-1B visa until 2010.

    My mother and father have a company in U.S. which does not generate much income. Both reported income of 11K last year. Will the fact that my parents don’t make a lot of money affect the request for a green card or even delay the process further? You mentioned the Department of State Visa Bulletin on your post. I checked both the October and November bulletins and its apparently moving by 1 ½ months in a month of real time. Based on my calculations, I would have to wait approximately three and half years if the rate of processing is maintained at the same level. Is there anything we can do to expedite the process? Do you have any further advice for people in the same situation? Should I be applying for the green card lottery? Is there anything I need to do with my H1-B visa given the approval of the I-130?

    Really great work with your blog.

    Thank you your help!


    • There is nothing one can do to expedite the process at the stage of waiting until a visa number is available, unlike that which could be done in certain situations at the stage of actually applying for a benefit (for example, one can request premium processing with the Form I-129 to get the H-1B petition approved within 15 days, something you yourself might be familiar with). If it can be done for you, millions of other people waiting for visa numbers would try for expedites, too, and the system would break down.

      To get real answers to your other questions, contact us at 310.289.2155 or Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com for a paid consultation.

  93. Hi Guru Larry

    I found this blog to be more helpful than most of the resources available. Thank you so much for sharing this useful information.

    I have a question that currently Tx service centre is showing i-130 approval date to be April 2009 whereas all others are still showing dates from year 2005.

    Why is this huge difference? and does it mean that applying from Tx would make the process of getting greencard faster?

    Thank you

    • It’s great that you brought this to our attention. However, the Texas Service Center does not normally process the I-130. Only the California Service Center and the Vermont Service Center are normally designated to process I-130s, depending on which half of the U.S. the petitioner resides in. USCIS will route I-130s initially filed in either lockboxes in Chicago to either of these two service centers. We are aware of certain I-130s that are being transferred in late stages (after they’ve been pending for many years) to the Nebraska Service Center, but that’s probably because the two main service centers are overwhelmed so USCIS routed some I-130s to Nebraska to relieve the burden (all four service centers used to process I-130s up until only a few years ago). That could well be the same situation with the I-130s at Texas Service Center, although we’re not entirely sure of this.

  94. Your blog is filled with a lot of useful information. Thank you!

    My husband currently a GC holder ( he is applying for citizenship next month) received the I-130 approval notice in my behalf. But it says that the beneficiary is not eligible for adjustment of status at this time and they we have to contact our local USCIS office.

    I have been in the US for ten years, entered with J1 status, changed to F-1 and still holding that student status to this day.

    I am worried about the next step and confused about what might happen. Thank you for reading this post.

  95. Larry,

    First, THANK YOU for helping so many people.

    I have a question for you. I am a US citizen and recently submitted a I-130 application for my son (unmarried, under 21).

    I just received an automated email notification about “Post-Decision Activity” (see below). Fortunately, processing went very fast, it only took 10 days for I-130 approval! My 18-year old son lives in Cuba. His mother (my ex-wife) recently died in a tragic car accident. I am very concerned with his well being and time is of essence.


    Thank you.

    Post-Decision Activity
    On November 4, 2009, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I130 IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE(E), OR ORPHAN. Please follow any instructions on the notice. If you move before you receive the notice, call customer service at 1-800-375-5283.

    For approved applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include USCIS sending notification of the approved application/petition to the National Visa Center or the Department of State. For denied applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include the processing of an appeal and/or motions to reopen or reconsider and revocations.

  96. Hello, I found this blog while I was searching for information about the I-130 petition and I have a few questions. My dad filed an I-130 petition for my mother and me on April 30, 2001. My dad said that he filed the petition under a law that former President Bush introduced(I-45? I’m not sure) I was 10 yrs-old at that time so I never understood what that law meant. Could you please explain what was the purpose of that law. Also, I know that once we become U.S. permanent residents, we cannot receive public benefits. Does this include receiving government scholarships?

    • That was the 245i law, and basically, it allows those who are illegal or living unlawfully in the U.S. to get their green cards without having to leave the U.S. and go back to their countries and get the 10-year bar against them. So, it’s like a grace or saving provision. Is your father a green-card holder or already a citizen, and what country are you from? It appears that you and your mother qualify to get your green cards now and we could help you, but we have to know for sure.

  97. hi
    on decmber 22 2003 we submitted the pettion i130 for brother and sister and on 27febury 2008 the case is swoing status initial review.I wanna Know how much take time for approvel.

    • You’ve read this article and we showed that getting the I-130 approved is only the first step. We showed how you can go to the USCIS website to see what the average processing time to approval for an I-130 in the F4 category is. Then, your siblings have to wait until a visa number is available before they can take the final step to green cards (another few years), and we also showed you how to look up the Visa Bulletin to see what priority dates right now in the F4 category have visa numbers. We cannot do it for you unless you contact us for a paid consultation, 310.289.2155, or email Lawyer@GuruImmigration.

  98. Hello Guru Larry, first of i want to say that there’s useful information on this site. : )

    i recently receive an approve i-130. However, it states in there:

    The above petition has been approved. The petition indicates that the person for whom you are petitioning is in the US and will apply for adjustment of status. The information submitted with the petition shows that the person for whom you are petitioning is not eligible to file an adjustment of status application at this time.

    additional information about eligibility for adjustment of status may be obtained from the local USCIS office serving the area where the person for whom you are petitioning lives.

    Until the person for whom you are petitioning files and adjustment application, or applies for an immigrant visa, this approved petition will be stored in this office. if the person whom you are petitioning become eligible to adjust status based on this petition, he or she should submit a copy of this notice with form i-485, Application for permanent residence.

    my question is what is next? do i file i-485? how do i become eligible?

    My mother, with green card is the petitioner for me. we apply it in June’06. We receive this document in Aug’09. which i was out of the country. I was here in the US with F-1 visa and returned to my home country on Dec’07 because i didn’t want to over stay after school. I just return to the US in Sep’09 with B1/B2 visa for my brother’s wedding.

    Also, now i have 2 cases open
    1st – i applied through my brother US citizen in Feb’02. we recently receive a letter from USCIS that they need more information and to follow the instruction on i-797 but it was sent to the old address, so i do not know what document they need. We already contact CS and change the address which i hope to receive the letter soon.

    2nd – Through my mother, in Jun’06, she has a green card through my brother. She is going to apply for US Citizenship soon, will this have positive, if any impact to the petition that i have filed with her?

    Best regards,

    • Mario, yours are the type of questions that would need a consultation. There is too much information and questions/answers to go back-and-forth that we would need in order to understand your situation and recommend anything. Clearly, they said you are not eligible to file for adjustment, so why would you want to go ahead and do that and waste at least $1,010? Please call our office at 310.289.2155, or email Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com and make an appointment for a paid consultation.

  99. Cell blocker Says:

    Great post you got here. I’d like to read a bit more concerning that topic.

  100. Andrew De Freitas Says:

    Hello,I visited the U.S in 1998 and overstayed my visit until the year 2003 when I returned to my home country.While in the U.S I never worked,my brother took care of me at his home during the time and applied for my greencard in January 2001.On my return home in 2003 I surrenderd my card the Immigration officer gave me with the time allowed in the U.S.My petition was approved in 2008 and I am currently waiting on a visa number to become avaiable.My question is that my brother wants to come back to my home country Trinidad and Tobago to live.Will this affect me atol? He assured me that he is not giving up his U.S citizenship.Thanks.

    • ….applied for my greencard in January 2001.On my return home in 2003 I surrenderd my card the Immigration officer gave me with the time allowed in the U.S.My petition was approved in 2008 and I am currently waiting on a visa number to become avaiable.

      Your post is very confusing. You applied for green card in 2001 but didn’t say if it was approved. What “card” was surrendered in 2003, the green card, or work permit card? So you had a green card before and it was approved but you voluntarily relinquished it? You’re saying you got petitioned again and that was approved in 2008. By whom? Then why did you give up the green card the first time? Your brother is a U.S. citizen and can live anywhere he wants. Not sure what “effects” you are concerned with if he were to live with you in Trinidad.

      • Andrew De Freitas Says:

        Hi,the card that I mentioned in my post was the white card the Immigration Officer gives you upon your arrival in the U.S that states the amount of time you are allowed to stay in the U.S.The petition for my greencard was approved in 2008,the greencard application was submitted in the U.S while I was living there in 2001 by my U.S citizen brother.Right now I am in Trinidad and awaiting a visa number to become avaiable to me.Hopes this clears my point.Thanks.

        • OK, now that you clarified that it was just the I-94, your question becomes very easy to answer and it’s clear that it’s a hard case. That document you surrendered was just the simple I-94 that any nonimmigrant gets upon arrival which shows what the authorized period of stay is. It’s not a “card” because it’s just a soft piece of paper that they tear off and you staple it in your passport. Since you overstayed 5 years in the U.S. until 2003, you have a 10-year bar against you until 2013, so even if there is a visa number available tomorrow and you apply at the U.S. consulate in Port of Spain, you will not be granted the immigrant visa (permanent residence) until 2013. Unless you manage to convince them you deserve the extreme hardship waiver. Of course, by the time a visa number is available for you in the F4 category, it may well be long after 2013 anyway.

          • Andrew De Freitas Says:

            I’ve been told by 2012 it will happen for me but I’ve gotten a bit depressed after reading this.

          • If you left in 2003 then the 10-year period will not be until 2013. That’s why it’s a harsh law. And that’s why people have been warned since 1997 to not overstay their visas or this 10-year bar could happen.

          • Andrew De Freitas Says:

            Hi again,my application in 2001 as I remember was done under Section 245I which was in law at the time.Does this change anything on my case?

          • That’s unfortunate. 245i could have helped you if you had remained in the U.S. and filed for adjustment of status when a visa number would be available (and risk living here out-of-status from 2003 until that time). But since you left the U.S., the moment you set foot outside you got the 10-year bar against you. 245i has nothing to do with the consular processing method of getting a green card, which is what you have to do now.

  101. Hi,

    Mr. Guru Larry thank you so much for all the information you have provided here. My question is How and where can I obtain a duplicate copy of my I-130 approval ? Thank you.

    • Francia, go to the USCIS website (see Useful Links to the right), go to the Forms section, and download the I-824 form. That will allow you to apply for a duplicate approval notice.

  102. hello MR, Guru Larry
    thank you for your best answers for the deferent peopole, I want know how long time it take the I-130 (F2A) to get a green card after the current visa (visa will be avaible) ? thanks

    • Thanks for your compliment. As for your question, we’re not quite sure what you’re trying to ask. When a visa number becomes available in your category, since apparently you are currently not in the U.S., at that time you would have to apply for the immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate in your country. That will take a few months, depending on how fast you can obtain all the required documents the consulate asks for and how the interview goes.

  103. sorry i forgot to tell you i’m canadian, and my mom canadian with us green card
    thank you

    • As explained in the article, even though the decision on your I-130 is “approved,” it will probably be a few more years before your priority date in the F2B category is current (you neglected to state what your priority date is but it’s assumed that it is not current yet). When that time gets real close, the National Visa Center will send instructions to the beneficiary about how to start the green card process. That’s all that’s meant by “post-decision activity.” On the average, every month in real time moves one month of priority dates in the Visa Bulletin, and lately it’s been moving faster, but sometimes it’s slower. Hard to predict.

  104. this is what i have could you please tell me how long it will be after this notice what is mean post-decision activity, my mom filed for me and i’m single over 21 years
    thank you

    Post-Decision Activity
    On June 23, 2009, we mailed you a notice that we have approved this I130 IMMIGRANT PETITION FOR RELATIVE, FIANCE(E), OR ORPHAN. Please follow any instructions on the notice. If you move before you receive the notice, call customer service at 1-800-375-5283.

    For approved applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include USCIS sending notification of the approved application/petition to the National Visa Center or the Department of State. For denied applications/petitions, post-decision activity may include the processing of an appeal and/or motions to reopen or reconsider and revocations

  105. My grandmother is US-citizen. She applied for green card for my mom (her married daughter)at oct 2002 . At that time I was 19 and my brother was 15. after 8 years while I am 27 and my brother is 23, we received our approval 4 months ago(Jun 2009).
    I know we should wait at least one year more. My questions are :
    1)Do my brother and I considered for greencard? because at applying time we were both under 21 and we are both single now.
    2)what if we get a lawyer?
    3) Now I am under F1 visa and studying in US. Does it have any effect on being considered for the mentioned greencard program?

    • I know we should wait at least one year more.

      In the F3 category for your mom, only priority dates prior to March 1, 2001 right now have visa numbers available for most countries, so with a priority date of Oct. 2002, you all still have to wait, could be a year or more or less. Hard to predict. But in any event, you and your brother may or may not be able to immigrate with your mom because you’re both over 21 (so no longer considered a “child”). It depends on a complicated age analysis under the Child Status Protection Act, which we could help you with if you call us at 310.289.2155 for a paid consultation, or email: Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

  106. Hi,

    My Father applied I130 Immigrant visa for our married son over 21, my case is approved but now it is showing innitial review can you pls let us know how much time it will take to get the US visa can anyone let us know the exact time frame

    • For this type of questions on how long priority dates move, please consult the Visa Bulletin in the “Useful Links” section to the right of the blog. It would take too much time back and forth for use to ask and you to answer regarding when the I-130 was filed, what country, what category, etc. In this case, you must have meant that your father filed for you and your son was included in the petition (since grandfathers cannot petition directly for grandsons). Your petition is approved but that does not necessarily mean you can immigrate (get green card) now. See I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card!

  107. Just to add to my previous question. I entered the country legally on a H1-B visa on June 2, 2009. I hope I still have a 2 month window to file my adjustment of status. Although, I wouldn’t risk waiting for that long, as I am ready to send out my package as soon as I confirm that I can honestly write my “Current Status” as ‘Out of status H1-B’ or anything that you might suggest and still be ok. Thanks again.

  108. Dear Guru,

    My wife is a US citizen. I am an out of status H1-B. My H1-B visa expired when I was laid off from my job on 26 june 09. Its been 4 months since then. We got married in Nov, 08. My wife became a naturalized citizen in Sept 09. I am filing my I-130 concurrent with I-485 Adjustment of status, I-765 Employment Auth., I-864 Affidavit of Support, I-693 Medical, I-131 Advance Parole. I need your help to know what can I fill in line 15 of I-130 “Name and Address of the Current Employer”. Since I am not employed anymore, do I incur a risk by declaring that I am out of status?

  109. Dear Guru,
    I have been married and living in US for last 6 years. This is my second marriage. I become US Citizen last month. I have an unmarried 13 year old daughter, from previous marriage, back home living with my parents. I have sole custody of my daughter. I am now filing for her I-30. I have 2 questions:

    1) How long will it roughly take for my daughter to come here?

    2) Once I-30 petition is filed, and is pending, can I file Form I-129F so that my daughter can apply for a non-immigrant K-4 visa. Will that help her to come to US more quickly?

    3)Under the child citizenship act can she apply for her US passport once she get here?


  110. dear Guru,i m us citizen, I ve just filed for my wife i-130 ,and i have a sister of 14 years old,i ve been told that i should add her in my previous i-130 cause she is under 18 .that s true ?

    • NO! What you’re told is totally absurd and wrong. She’s your sister, you can’t “add” her to your wife’s petition (that’s for your wife’s child under 21). She needs a separate petition.

  111. Hi Larry.
    Thank you for helping. Quick question. Does having I-130 approved applies any limitations to beneficiary’s ability to use already issued tourist visa.

  112. Dear Guru Larry
    I have a question that my uncle has applied I-130 for us in October 2000. finally he received an approval letter in October 2009 from NVC, at the time he applied for my mother (we are in f4 category) i was 19 year old, could you please tell me or have you got any idea that how long will my parents still have to wait for Visa number and am i still eligible for visa number because now i am over 21 years ?could you please reply me i will be very grateful to you.

    • As you have confirmed, it took 9 years for the I-130 your uncle filed for your mother in the F4 category to be approved, just as we mentioned in the article you just read. As far as how long the wait is until a visa number is available, you can look this up yourself by going to the Visa Bulletin and look it up, as was explained how to do in the article. It’s quite easy. As far as yourself, there is a complicated analysis under the law that may preserve your status as a child under 21 but we would have to explain that to you in a paid consultation, which you can do by calling our office at 310.289.2155, or email, Lawyer@Guruimmigration.com.

      Guru Larry

  113. Hello I have been living in the US since 2000, both my parents came in 1998. We overstayed our visas and stayed here illegally, my grandma a US citizen just recently filed an I 130 for my dad on Nov. 24, 2008. Is there any chance of us becoming legal here. I am 17 right now, will we get deported?

    • No, you and your parents will not be able to get legalized here. If you read our article “Who Can Adjust Their Status to Green Card Here?”, you will understand that your dad is not an “immediate relative child” of your grandma and so, he cannot adjust his status here (and by extension his wife and child), because he overstayed his visa. When a visa number is available years from now for your dad in the F3 category, the three of you could get green cards by going back to the home country and apply but will be subject to the 10-year bar and might not be able to come back for 10 years. And yes, while living here out-of-status, all of you may be subjected to removal (deportation) proceedings at any time if you’re “caught.”

  114. Since, I do not have possession of an I-797 approval notice for my F2B petition which is currently being used as the basis for processing my adjustment of status here in the US, does the National Visa Center normally provide duplicates or copies of this document if requested by the beneficiary? I already emailed them the request but have yet to get any response other than the automated letter that the computers normally send.

    • I don’t know if NVC will provide a duplicate. But, in case they don’t and your wait will be fruitless, you can file Form I-824 with USCIS to request a duplicate approval notice (since USCIS was the one who approved it in the first place, not NVC). USCIS Calif. Service Center is currently taking about 3 months to process the I-824.

  115. hi guru our case i130 at initial review for brother and sister iwanna know how much take time initial review plz plz tell me

  116. Dear Gury,

    I am an U.S. citizen petitioning for my spouse in China. I have received my I-797 approval notice with a priority date of June 8, 2009. My receipt date is June 12, 2009. I would like to know what’s my next step and how long will that take? Please advise. Thank you!

    • You should go to USCIS’s website. They have a good discussion of the Consular Processing topic for someone like your husband to immigrate from overseas now (if your I-130 for him has indeed been approved).

      If after reading the information there, you still would like help, call our office at 310.289.2155, or email Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com and we can do a paid consultation, which will answer all your questions quickly and remove all doubts.

  117. sonali2009 Says:

    I send I-130 for my husband. If it has been approved, how long the I-130 valid for? Thanks.

    • Your question is incomplete because you didn’t say first, if you’re a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Second, you didn’t state if your husband is here or overseas, and third, if he’s here, what immigration status does he have (in-status, illegal, or out-of-status).

      • Sonali2009 Says:

        Sorry for incomplete question. I am a US citizen and my husband is working legally here in the States.

        • If your husband is here on a legal visa, then with an approved I-130 from you he is immediately eligible to file for adjustment to green card! Please call our office at 310.289.2155, or email Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com, and we can represent both of you on the case, even if you are outside California.

  118. Dear Guru,

    My dad filed I-130 petition under F2b (unmarried daughter over 21)category in 2003. My dad was on permenant resident that time. Now we have received the approval of our I-130. Here’s the change since my dad filed my petition.
    1. My dad has become citizen
    2. I got married and have a 2 year old son.

    Should we downgrade our application to F3, if yes then how much longer we might need to wait?

    Can I just go for my green card and then file for my husband and son?

    Your advise appreciated,

    • Should we downgrade our application to F3, if yes then how much longer we might need to wait?

      You have no choice but to be in the F3 category now, so it’s not something optional that you can “downgrade” to. You are automatically converted to F3 if you are married and your father became a USC (because there is no immigration possible for married sons/daughters of a permanent resident). Your husband and son can immigrate at the same time as you.

      As for how long you should wait, check the current Visa Bulletin.

      Guru Larry

  119. I married a us citizen whilst i was under the vwp. Can i adjust my status and what about my 3 yr old son? Could he also stay here whilst i adjust his, he is not my husbands son.

    • Yes, you and your son can both adjust your status. My office can represent you in the adjustment proceedings even if you’re on the East Coast. Please call us at 310.289.2155.

  120. Hello Guru! Thank you for very useful article about I130. Could you please answer this: the Approval Notice wrongfully states my category as “Unmarried Child (age 21 or older) of US Citizen” although my Mom applied for me as Married Child which I was then and am now. My priority date is July 11, 2001. So if I’m a 2B my date is already current, but if I’m a 3rd it is still not. Do I have to act and notify them about their mistake? We still did not hear from the NVC. Thanks again.

    • Married children of permanent residents cannot be petitioned for so it’s not possible for you to be in the F2B category. You are in the F3 category. Yes, you should notify NVC of the mistake if the I-130 approval is over there now. You can’t hide your true marital status from Immigration as that would be fraud.

      Guru Larry

  121. Patricia Andrade Says:

    Dear Gury,

    Petitioned my 19-year old unmarried son under Second Preference (F2b) category four years ago. Now I am a naturalized citizen and his petition is due. And the attorney told us that his not illegible because I became a citizen and my status changed. Is that true?


    • Not necessarily that he is ineligible. Probably what the lawyer meant was that he has to wait longer because now he’s in a new category, F1. By the way, it’s not clear how old your son is: 19 now or 23? If he was 15 when you petitioned for him then the petition was in the F2A category, not F2B as you stated (F2B is for sons and daughters 21 and over of permanent residents) If your son is 19 now, he is eligible for green card at the present time if you’re a citizen, unless he came illegally. If 23, he may still be able to file for green card now depending on the complicated Child Status Protection Act, which I can explain to you on a paid consultation.

      Guru Larry

  122. Larry,

    I just wanted to congratulate you because I have not seen such a great article on this topic in all the years that I have been searching for one. I must admit that when I first received my I-130 approval I thought I was very near to being able to apply for change in status, but learned that in reality I still had a long wait ahead of me (which is now close to being over). Reading this article back then would’ve been very helpful. Thank you.

  123. HI,

    Please send me email, I need to discuss the consultation with you,

    Thank you

  124. Hi,

    And yes you are right, the doc. we recieved just to say that my daughter I130 is approved.

    My question is regarding my son, they received his I-130 when he was 19 years old, in Aug. 2008,as F2A, soon he will trun 21, will they treat him as F2B or he will stay under category F2A?

    Thank you

    • By the way he is still in step 2, which means not approved yet.

    • Well, there’s no magic with the process: if you have to wait for a visa number, you have to wait. Nobody gets to take a shortcut because there are millions of people trying to immigrate to the U.S. at the same time. And yes, your son will be automatically converted to F2B when he turns 21, which will slow him down by quite a lot, unless the Child Status Protection Act applies to him, which I am not going to explain here because it is too complicated unless a consultation is done.

  125. Harjeet Singh Says:

    I am LPR. I have green card. I know the kids can with wife only problem I have is that when I filled petition for my I did not have kid so they are not in that petition how should i add them to wife’s petition so once she gets visa my three year old son can come with her. Because if I filled separte petition for my son he will be 4 years behind my wife.

    • You don’t have to worry too much about this since for all principal beneficiaries in preference categories like F2A, their spouses and minor children can immigrate at the same time as them on the same I-130 petition, so when the National Visa Center sends Packet 3 near the time the priority date is current, your wife can add the child on Form OF-169.

      • Harjeet Singh Says:

        thanks so form OF-169 will come with packet 3 because i dont see that form any where on immigration website

  126. Harjeet Singh Says:

    I was married in June 2006. I filled petition for wife in July 2006. In 2007 we had son. My question is once the visa is aviable for my what happens to my son. What do I need to do so he comes with my wife because I have green card so what I hear I dont need to do seperate petition, but he was born after filling the petition so what should about him?

  127. Wilmer E. Espinoza Says:

    Hello Larry,
    Thank you for the article. It was really good.
    I got some questions for you.

    I came to the U.S. in August 13, 2003 with a RV2 visa three months before turning 21. I turned 21 in November 9, 2003. My father, who is a permanent resident immigrated me under the 2(a) category. In 2005, I applied for my resident card, but it was rejected. According to the DHS, at the moment I submitted the application there was not visa number available for my priority date. How could that have happened if my priority date is May 18, 1999. In addition, I would like to know if I can submit my I-485 again and if I need to pay again. Another question is, if my 2(a) category is the same or it has changed. Finally, I would like to know if there is visa number available for a priority date February 9, 2001. (This is a different case)
    Thank you for your help

    • My father, who is a permanent resident immigrated me under the 2(a) category.

      It’s more precise to say that he petitioned for you under the F2A category. To say that he immigrated you under that category would mean you already got your green card under F2A. But you have not gotten your green card yet and yes, you automatically converted to F2B when you turned 21. That’s probably why there was no visa number available for you in 2005 since F2B was and is a lot slower than F2A. Also, it depends if you’re from Mexico or Philippines since those countries are much slower than other countries as far as priority dates (no visa number yet for Mexican or Filipino F2Bs right now for 18MAY99 priority date but yes for other countries.) In some cases, the Child Status Protection Act may be able to help because it treats some people as continuing to be a “child” (under 21), so they would still be in the F2A category even if they’re actually over 21.

      As far as your question on eligibility for adjusting again, my article “Who Can Adjust Their Status to Green Card Here?” covers that.
      As for the question of whether visa number is available for a Feb. 9, 2001 priority date, I have shown people how to look it up themselves in the current Visa Bulletin.

      Guru Larry

  128. Hi Larry,

    How are you? Wish all is well with you.

    I have a F4 immigration qeustion. At the time when I obtained my U.S. citizenship, I submitted three family based immigration I-130 forms for all three of my brothers, and all these forms were approved at the time.

    Two days ago I received NVC letters for all three of my brothers regarding processing their visa. My question is that only one of my brothers will be allowed to immigration to U.S.at this time, or all three of my brothers will be allowed to immigration to U.S (Since they all received letters for processing visa at this time)?

    Thank you for your help.


    • Each person is separate. Each is entitled to immigrate when his priority date is current. They may or may not have the same date (of course I would have no idea what those dates are). Look at the notice of approval of the I-130 for each again and see what each person’s priority date is and compare it to what the current priority cut-off date is in the Visa Bulletin.

      Guru Larry

  129. I have green card, I filled for my un married daughter when she was 21 and 3 months on sep 2007, I checked the status online, it is not clear to me what does it mean, it says

    “This step applies to applications that result in an applicant receiving a card (such as a green card) or other document (such as a naturalization certificate, refugee travel documents or advance parole. Applications will be in this step from the time the order to produce the card/document is given until the card/document is produced and mailed to the applicant. You can expect to receive your card/document within 30 days of the approval of your application.”

    she is engaged and will get marry from american man after 1 year, what is your advice, will it be faster if her fiance apply for her after getting marry?

    Thank you

    • San, you need to consult a lawyer because you’re very confused. The step you quoted has to do with after a person has gone through a green card interview (either adjustment of status here or overseas at the U.S. consulate) and has been approved a green card, and now they’re just waiting for a green card to be produced. You’re checking the wrong thing that does not even apply to your daughter yet.

      As my article that you have just read explains, your daughter is in the F2B category (unmarried sons or daughters 21 and over of legal permanent residents). You filed for her in Sept. 2007. Right now there are only visas number for beneficiaries like your daughter in the F2B category (assuming she’s not from Mexico or the Philippines) for I-130 petitions filed prior to 22AUG2001! Check the Visa Bulletin. So, there’s about a 6 year wait, maybe less, before a visa number is available for your daughter. If she’s from Mexico or the Philippines, the wait will be even longer as shown in the Visa Bulletin. As my article explains, even if your I-130 for her is approved before then, she cannot apply for the green card until her visa number is available. See Who Can Adjust Their Status to Green Card Here? Please feel fee to call my office at 310.289.2155 and I can explain to you about the consultation.

      Guru Larry

      • Thank you Mr Larry

        When I signed in to my account to checked the case status by using her case number WA***** number , it showed me that my daughter case is in step 7 (green circle), which has the quote I sent you.

        And that is why I asked you about the age, her DOB 1985, by the way she is not in the States, she lives back home and none of the countries you mentioned.

        And yes I am realy confused I thought we have to wait for longer time.

        What do you think

        Thanks again, you are great, you are the first and only one who answered me back and that quick.

        I also applied for me son when he was 19, in 2008, he is in F1 visa a college student, needs another 2 years to finish and planning for higher degree.

        • This is my website and blog, so yes, I respond quickly for simple questions. The USCIS site is wrong if they show her case is already at step 7. As you wrote, step 7 is for: “Applications will be in this step from the time the order to produce the card/document is given until the card/document is produced and mailed to the applicant.” If your daughter has not been interviewed yet at the U.S. consulate in her country, how can the order to produce her card (green card) be given? It does not make sense. So, you can see USCIS is wrong. There are only two possibilities right now: either the I-130 is pending or it has been approved. Approval does not mean green card as explained in my article above since your daughter’s priority date is in Sept. 2007, and only those with priority dates in the F2B category prior to Aug. 2001 currently have visa numbers. Having an I-130 approved but then failing to take the next step and actually applying for the green card (which happens to some people) will mean the person will never ever get a green card to immigrate to the U.S.

          As for your son, he is in category 2A since he is now 20, and the priority cut-off date right now is 01JUN05 (June 1, 2005), which is still before his priority date of 2008.

          Guru Larry

          • Hi,

            Yes it is approved in Aug 09.

            On site they said there is mail for us sent on Oct. 5th. we are waiting for that.


          • Yes, no doubt the mail will tell you that the approved petition will go to the National Visa Center and wait until a time closer to when a visa number is available for your daughter. You should look at what U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services itself says on their website in regard to how the process work, click here. Look under step 3, “3. Wait for a Decision on Your Petition,” where it does say exactly what I say here:

            If the petition is approved and if you are the beneficiary of the petition and living outside the United States or living in the United States, but choose to apply for your immigrant visa abroad, USCIS will then send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. See the ‘Visa Availability & Priority Dates’ link to the left, for more information on if you have a visa immediately available to you.

            (emphasis added).

            So, you can see that the next step now is to wait for a visa number to be available for your daughter, which as mentioned previously, appears to be 3 to 5 years from now.

  130. Hello

    Please tell me what 21 and above means, is 21 and 1 month consider as up 21.

    Thank you

  131. Dear Larry,

    My sister had petitioned for me under Immigration petition for relative (I-130) and the priority date is August 23 2007. I have received my I-797 form (Notice of Approval)on October 2, 2009 and it states that my petition has been approved and forwarded to National Visa Center for visa issuance process. It also tell me to contact the NVC within 90 days if my sister (petitioner) is not contacted by them regarding visa processing steps. I would appreciate if you could tell me whether my visa will be issued soon as in after 90 days or is this going to take long?

    Thanks alot,


    • my petition has been approved and forwarded to National Visa Center for visa issuance process. It also tell me to contact the NVC within 90 days if my sister (petitioner) is not contacted by them regarding visa processing steps.

      I must admit I get very upset at this language issued by NVC because it is extremely misleading. They don’t explain, as I explained in the article you’ve just read, that all this means is that the I-130 petition filed for you will just sit on the shelf at NVC until your priority date becomes current. There will be no “visa issuance process” on your case until years from now because your priority date is way way too recent (Aug. 23, 2007). You should be able to check the Visa Bulletin for yourself, as I described in the article, and see that the F4 category is way way too behind right now: only I-130s filed before April 15, 1999 have visa numbers (for most countries such as Pakistan). Visa numbers are only issued in accordance with the priority cut-off dates shown in the Visa Bulletin: one cannot get them earlier. So, you will not have a visa number until 7 or 8 more years, more or less. You cannot immigrate to the U.S. until then. They will be contacting your sister, the petitioner, or you, only with an explanation letter saying that the final immigrant visa paperworks will be sent when your priority date is current (meaning a visa number is available).

      Guru Larry

      • I really appreciate your response and am more certain where my case stands in the immigration process.

        Thanks alot and keep up the good work!


        • Thanks, Samina!

          • I have a similar scenario as Samina discussed. I also got a similar I797 form just a week back. As my sister has 2 years of visitor visa can she comes to US, stay and wait till her priority date becomes current.


          • Your sister cannot just wait in the U.S. as a tourist to get her green card because she will be out-of-status. Also, no, no: a tourist visa does not allow a tourist to stay in the U.S. for 2 years – the United States does not allow a tourist to stay that long. The visa is valid for 2 years (or even 10 years) means simply that the person can use that visa document to apply at the port-of-entry (airport) without using a new document, but the immigration inspector at the port will only give a tourist a 6-month stay maximum (by law they cannot give a longer stay). An extension of up to 1 year maximum can be obtained once inside the U.S. but that is done with USCIS. After that, the tourist will be out-of-status if they remain here. If your sister is not being petitioned for as an immediate relative (siblings are not), she will not be permitted to adjust her status here. See Who Can Adjust Their Status to Green Card Here? She will not fall into one of the categories of exceptions, and must go back home to do so.

            Guru Larry

          • Thanks..

          • Hi Guru Larry

            I had one more question. I had filled my petition at California Center. So do I need to follow USCIS Processing Time Information for CALIFORNIA SERVICE CENTER or Priority Time issued in the Visa Bulletin.


          • This isalready very clear in the article on I-130 approval. We cannot give follow-up information like this without a paid consultation. Call our office at 310.289.2155, or email, Lawyer@GuruImmigration.com.

          • Thanks.

  132. Dear Guru Larry,

    Thank you for the article, it’s so helpful, I would appreciated if you help me a little …about my situation, My brother and I gor the I-130 approved on Feb 09, but by petitioner died on August 08. What should we do? My mom is a permanent green card and she is applying the citizenship test on Dec.
    Should I call the USCIS?
    We are here in the USA…my visa expired ..



    • Something quick like this, I can answer. No, unfortunately, if the petitioner has died (who was that?), that I-130 is not valid anymore (obviously, USCIS does not know yet he or she died because you have not informed them). You’re going to have to be petitioned by someone else now. Your mom could petition for you now or when she’s a citizen, but the categories will be slow if you guys are over 21, unless you benefit from the Child Status Protection Act, which protects certain children from aging out, i.e., maintaining their “age” as under 21.

      Guru Larry

      • Thank you for your answer…the petitioner was my dad.. But should i noticed USCIS.. if my mom file for us again, it will appear 2 petitions? does it matter?>
        Should we wait until my mom become citizen..and file the I-130??
        Yes we are over 21 unmarried.

        Thanks you so much.

  133. qaiser Mansoor Says:

    Hi Guru Lary,

    I communicated with you last week. Just need some basic info b/c of some pregress.

    I asked you few qs about F4 category. I applied for my 2 brotheres with reciept # July 14, 2003. One of my freind in Teaneck NJ, got his 5 brother approval letter ,with reciept date og July 200, on Sept 02.Both of our I 130 papers were transfered to Nebraska from Vrmont center in July 2009. I was expecting to get aprooval lettes of my brothers ( from receipt date of july 2003) about 2 years from npw ( since my friend got it in Sept, 2009) . ANY HOW, SINCE I COMMUNUCATED WITH YOU LAST WEEK, SURPRIZINGLY I DID RECEIVE 2 DAYS AGO , THE APPROVAL LETTERS OF MY 2 BROTHERS , WITH RECEPT DATE OF jULY, 2003 Obviouly I am happy.

    I do understand that pproval letters meant just approval and I still have to wait for cyrrent visa number availabaility.

    My qs are 1) why / how this happened that I recived approval leters 2 yeras earlier than my expectations, does it mean a good sign that I might get visa number avialable.

    2) was it due to trnasfering I 130 form to Nebraska center from Vermont .

    3) is true that Preident Obama has adviced INS to imrove and speed up services. Will that affect visa number availbality or it dependes on annual qouta.

    Thanks allot .

    • Qaiser, I already told you before that I cannot analyze your case for free on this blog, and already told you before how to contact my office (310.289.2155). If you find my information valuable and keep following this blog, then pay for my advice. I worked hard for my knowledge.


      Guru Larry

  134. Dear Guru Larry, first of all your website is very good, you have no idea how you help with your topics. However, I’ve been trying to find enough information about my problem and couldn’t seem to find it anywhere online. My question is, I’m a green card holder and will be a citizen in three years. I am married to a US citizen and have my younger daughter with me here, who already has her green card. This summer, my older daughter (she is 22) came to visit and we talked about petitioning for her green card, since she is unmarried and 22 and she has the right to have a green card. Well, her tourist visa expires in December, so she’s still here visiting legally, but we already sent her forms to the immigration and paid the first fee and they sent us back a receipt number, showing the process has started already. My daughter wants to study here, and according to the college, she is allowed to stay and study while she waits for her visa number. They said she could do it, but my husband called the immigration and they sad she needed to go back to our country in December (since her tourist visa expires) and stay there for at least 6 months. I am confused because the immigration says she needs to go back, and the school says she can be enrolled because the receipt is what they need to enroll her for Spring classes. The woman at the college she wants to go to, said she’ll be here legally, but we’re still not sure. Could you tell me if she’ll be here legally since she’s 22 or does she have to wait outside US for her visa number? She stays with me and I would support her financially, so she wouldn’t work illegal or anything. But we just want to make sure she can stay legally before we enroll her in school.

    Thanks for your help and your amazing work.

    • Thanks for your comment. However, your description of the situation is confusing. You said: “Well, her tourist visa expires in December, so she’s still here visiting legally, but we already sent her forms to the immigration and paid the first fee and they sent us back a receipt number, showing the process has started already.” What application(s) did you file for her, the I-130 or adjustment of status (why applications in the plural)? If you read my article above, then you should be able to tell me what category of relative you filed for her under. Who filed for her (i.e., the petitioner): you or your husband? If he filed for her, is he even the proper stepfather as that term is defined in the immigration law: you must have been married to him while your daughter was under 18?

      If she wants to study here, that is completely a different story. She must maintain her status on the tourist visa and cannot fall out of status if she wants to be able to switch to the F-1 student visa. She must be very careful to not be out of status and remain in this country. I have a feeling the other application you filed for her will not be the right type that you’re counting on to allow her to stay in this country without negative consequences. That could subject her to not be allowed to get her papers in this country at all and be subjected to the 10-year bar, as I illustrated with the other lady in my other article.

      As you can see, there are many answers I would need to know to see what is going on. My policy on this blog, as you can see, is that for something more than a quick answer, I would need to have you call my office at 310.289.2155 and consult (for a consultation fee) and suggest a strategy. Finally, please take what immigration representatives or people at college foreign admissions offices tell you with a grain of salt. They’re not lawyers.

      Guru Larry

      • Guru Larry, thanks for your reply. We filled the I-130 for her, under the F2B: unmarried sons and daughters 21 and over of legal permanent residents. I petitioned for her, since my husband couldn’t due to the fact she was older than 18 when we got married.

        At first we wanted to ask for a student visa, but we were informed that, if she applied for this, her I-130 form wouldn’t be considered anymore. And about the tourist visa since she came to visit in the beginning, according to I-94 she can stay till December – that’s what I was trying to explain. We consulted other lawyers and one said her I-94 should be ignored since we filled the I-130 form. The other asked us to fill the Adjustment of Status since she is already here with us, this way she could stay here and wait for her resident visa. As I said before, I am confused as well, because every person seems to say something different, and I don’t know who I should listen to. I just want do do everything legally, so she can have her green card correctly and live here with me.

        • Another thing, how much is the consultation fee? I spent a lot of money with lawyers already and they didn’t seem to help. Thanks.

          • I feel compelled to respond here that I cannot believe some lawyers are so worthless! Like the one who told you for your daughter to do adjustment of status. Are they even immigration lawyers? I doubt it — they’re probably generalists hungry for business, dabbling in this field. This is a no-brainer and any real immigration lawyer would have to say the same thing: no, no, no, she cannot file for adjustment until years from now! It’s suicide to file for adjustment now. Your daughter’s case is almost like the lady from Malaysia which I blogged about. You probably already know, for F2B, right now only priority dates filed earlier than August 2001 have visa numbers available (see current Visa Bulletin). Your daughter’s priority date is in the year 2009!! No visa numbers are available for eight years or so. It’s a slow category. One absolutely can NEVER file for adjustment of status before a visa number is available. If she does not maintain her status after December but unwittingly files for adjustment, she’ll be denied and put into removal (deportation) proceedings like the Malaysian lady because they’ll discover that she’s out of status. I’ve explained in my article that no benefits are available for the beneficiary until a visa number is available and the beneficiary must try to maintain lawful immigration status in the meantime. Perhaps my other article on green-card holders, such as yourself, petitioning for a relative, might help.

            You really should talk to me for a solution because your case is already messy and complicated. The fee is $100 for a half hour. You can ask me any questions and it’s much easier than this medium, obviously. There may be a solution.

            Guru Larry

  135. Dear Larry,
    I have received my second e-mail telling me that my process is now at the National Visa Center. My 2 daughters were born in the US and I also have a Brazilian son. What steps are going to be taken now? Do I wait for further contact? Does my sister who applied for me have to send them any form telling them I now live in Brazil. Will the fact that I have my American kids make my process faster. I don’t really want to go to the U.S.A right now, I’m doing pretty good here in Brazil, but I for sure wanna be a green card holder, in case my daughter want to live in the U.S. I also know that they will apply for me. When will that be possible? Is that faster than the 1-130 through my sister? My oldest is 8.
    Thanks a million for you reply.

    • Please read my policy regarding asking questions. I’d like to, but cannot answer so many of your questions like this on this site. I will only answer the most important question by asking you to clarify your question as it is not clear at all: who is petitioning for you, your sister? And what is the priority date on her petition for you?

  136. qaiser Mansoor Says:


    1) Why recently Vermont center cases moved to Nebraska, there is noe web info about Nebraska center dealing I 130 cases at ll ??
    2) I have filed my 2 brothers F4, in July 2003 for Pakitan. Can you estimate approval date and Visa number avilalbilty dates.

    3) Pakistan number is late than Indai or Bangaldesh ??. Why only INda and China info is in Visa bulliten section why not Paksitan.

    • USCIS transferred I-130 cases from NSC to other service centers, that’s all, nothing mysterious. Probably for more efficient administration.

      Why isn’t Vietnam or El Salvador on the list? They’re also in my top 10 list just like Pakistan. India and China, Mexico and Philippines are on the list because they have higher demands for visa numbers than other countries. Their priority dates move slower than other countries. Pakistan is grouped in the Visa Bulletin under “Other Countries” and for F4, the current priority date is 15APR99. So give and take 4 more years for your brothers’ numbers to be current, could be faster or slower.

  137. My i-130 was approved about 3 months ago. I just received a letter for biometrics and an adjustment of status appointment. The letter says to come with my wife. Any idea what this is about. I am a little confused since we have already been approved for the i130.

    • “Any idea what this is about. I am a little confused since we have already been approved for the i130.”

      It’s quite simple. You or whoever did your paperwork (Lawyer? Many lawyers just don’t communicate well with their clients, do they?) filed the application for adjustment of status to permanent residence (green card). Now you’re simply getting interviewed with your wife on that application (they can’t just grant that, you know, without interviewing you on the bona fides of the marriage). So, cheer up. You’re almost done!

      Biometrics is a fancy government made-up term for fingerprints and your photos.

      Guru Larry

      • So does it mean anything that the i-130 has already been approved? It was approved after the initial interview. I thought that first interview was to establish that our marriage is bona fide.

        • Supposed to be, but nothing prevents them from interviewing over some of the same issues regarding a bona fide marriage. They use the adjustment interview as that opportunity to interview the couple again to make sure before granting LPR status. The I-130 only classifies you as a spouse of a citizen. It does NOTHING to say whether you are admissible or not to the United States. That’s what adjustment of status is: adjusting the status of the alien to a permanent resident by making sure the alien has no grounds of inadmissibilities against him or her. What are grounds of inadmissibilities? See my most recent blog post.

          I don’t know who did your paperwork but unless USCIS out there in Ohio is quite different than LA or New York (which would be strange), it seems like it was done for you the hard way: a two-step process. For an applicant who came in with a visa married to a citizen, the easy and typical way is concurrent filing where the I-130 is filed together with the adjustment (I-485) and there is no separate I-130 interview. The only time we have that with our clients is when the client is in deportation proceedings and the I-130 must be approved first by USCIS separately, before the Judge could grant the adjustment on the I-485. But otherwise, there’s no need to file the I-130 by itself first and wait for that to be approved. That’s the slow way. Oh well…

          Guru Larry

          • Thanks very much for the reply. So is the second interview going to look anything like the first one…are the same questions going to be asked. How do you prepare for this second interview. Is it of any benefit or advantage to us that the i-130 was approved?

          • Now is the time to get more answers from me, call my office at 310.289.2155. I will give you a phone consultation at a fee. Thanks.

            Guru Larry

  138. Guru Larry,
    Thanks for the article. Its nice to hear from someone on the “inside” willing to help out a little.
    My question is, how many i-130′s are filed per month?? I follow a page on the website visajourney.com called IGOR’S LIST that tells you where you are in line to get approved. I filed for my husband in July, and I see that people who filed in August and even now in september have already been approved.
    How does the approval system work? Why do some people get approved before others? Its kinda frustrating!

    Any enlightenment on how the process works on the inside would be amazing.


    • Krista, I don’t necessarily have the inside info other than I know how it works pretty well because I’ve had 12 years of experience in immigration law. Still, there are things that us lawyers cannot control such as the workload USCIS has, how bureaucratic and full of red tapes they are, etc. Those are primarily the things that slow down the process. The way the priority dates move under the Visa Bulletin and become current is simply first come first-served. As for how quickly an individual case moves after you’ve filed with with USCIS is sometimes difficult to predict because each case has unique circumstances. A long-forgotten fact in an applicant’s past could be the one piece of information that derails an entire case that is smooth otherwise. Even in my own cases, while there are certain consistencies such as five or six months from filing until approval in standard marriage cases (applicant entered with visa), there are always the 10 to 15% that are delayed even without anything unusual.

      I’ve checked out Igor’s List but it has mostly discussions of people’s individual cases. I would have to know what you filed for your husband in July that you expect to be approved of by now. People filing in August and September (2009?) and approved already — what kind of cases? I would love for you to point out the discussions on Igor’s List so I can see and give my opinion.

      Guru Larry

      • Guru Larry,

        I am impressed in the promptness of your replies. Thank you for your professionalism.

        Here is the website I follow: http://www.visajourney.com/timeline/monthly_filers.php?visa=3&form=2&scenter=1&option=2&sortby=2

        It’s a list from the California Service Center of everyone who filed an I-130 for a foreign spouse (CR-1 visa). I am number 99 on the list, having filed in July. As you can see at the very top it lists the last 15 approved filers, many of who just recently sent in the paperwork in August, and are already approved by september.

        I guess I understand it’s on a case-by-case. But, how can some filers get approved in one month, and others take 5-6 months if it’s first come first serve? I just need more patience. :)

        Thanks again!

        • Well, yes, this is my blog and I’m constantly updated by it. OK, we have a semantics problem here. When I said first come first served before, I was referring more to visa numbers available for people in the family-preference categories who have limited visa numbers available each year, as explained in my article. For example, right now, only those who got an I-130 petition filed for them prior to June 1, 2005, will have a visa number available in the F2A category (let’s say you are an LPR, not a citizen, filing for your husband). Those who filed after June 1, 2005, will not have visa numbers available. Whoever filed first has higher priority when it comes to the limited number of visas when they become available.

          You and the people on Igor’s chart in the link you provided, on the other hand, are filing in the immediate relative category and there are no such visa number limitations. There are always visas available for your beneficiary (your husband here). Yes, they pull the I-130 cases off the shelf at California Service Center on a first come first-served basis but after it gets on the officer’s desk, the issue then becomes the quality of the I-130, the supporting documents and evidence, and the individual circumstances of each case. Then, it truly becomes a case-by-case basis. Igor’s list is merely the processing time. But the average processing time for I-130s for IR-1/CR-1 at the California Service Center (CSC) is 5 months right now. By the way, it appears that people’s names and case status on his list are taken from people who follow his site and who voluntarily disclosed to him their information. No way on earth did USCIS disclose this information because it’s confidential! So, this is only a tiny subset of the I-130 petitions pending at CSC. Unless Igor is a USCIS employee but this information is supposed to be confidential.

          Question: Why or who advised you to file the I-130 standalone with CSC like this if you are a citizen? Why hasn’t the I-485 been filed? This is the slow way.

          • Hi again!
            Yes, the information provided on Igors List is volunteered by people who follow the site. But they still are updating their information as it gets approved by the USCIS. And the USCIS is approving applications from august and september.

            Thank you for explaining to me how the paperwork gets looked at and processed. That’s what I was mostly curious about. I must have got the officer on vacation or maternity leave or something! haha. just kidding.

            And to answer your question, I understood from the USCIS website that you HAVE to file the 1-130, get it approved, and then move on to the NVC, which after submitting I-864, then forwards the paperwork to the consulate of his residence (in our case, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) to then be interviewed and granted a conditional resident visa. He has to have a visa to enter the country, even if I am a US citizen.
            Isn’t the I-485 an adjustment of status? My husband isn’t even in the country yet so I don’t think it applies. Or am I way wrong here??? What’s the fast way?

          • No, I merely assumed, wrongly, for some reason, that he was already here (the “easy” case described in my other article). Yes, adjustment of status is only if he’s already in the U.S. If he’s in Brazil, then you have to get the I-130 approved first just like what you’re doing now.

            “But they still are updating their information as it gets approved by the USCIS. And the USCIS is approving applications from august and september.”
            Yes, but it’s still only a handful of cases out of the large total number of I-130 cases pending at the Service Center. I am unconvinced that you could expect good statistics out of such a small sample size.

            Guru Larry

          • Thank you for your help and insight. I appreciate your willingness to share you knowledge through your blog and personal responses to questions.

            Good luck with your business, and thank you again.


  139. does buying property buy a green card?

  140. Thank you Larry for the great article!

    I would like to ask some questions. Im a US citizen. Im going to file I-130 for my mother and my sister who is married and have 2 kids. They live in Belarus.
    My questions are:
    1. Will my sister and her family have any problems with getting a regular tourist visa to come here to visit me while they are waiting for I-130 decision?
    2. Is it possible they are going to wait for 10 years or so, and at the end their visa will be declined? If its possible, what can we do to avoid it?
    3. I understand it takes much less for my mother to get a green card. Are the any requirements on how long my mom should stay in the US for once she receives a green card? Can she, for example, stay here for 6 months and then go to Belarus and stay there for 6 months or so, and then come back to the US and so on. Due to some family circumstances, I dont think she will be able to stay here for a long time for some period of time, but it would be more convenient if she has a green card and can enter the US any time without wasting time trying to get a tourist visa.

    Thank you very much for your answers.


    • Olga,

      Thank you for following my blog and for asking questions. I have recently made some changes in regard to answering questions here, please read. I will give you a quick freebee to number 1. Typically, the tourist visa requires proof that the applicant has a residence in the home country that they will not abandon. So having an I-130 is generally not good because it shows the consulate the applicant has an intent to immigrate permanently. However, since the F4 category for siblings is so slow, with a 10 year wait or so before a visa number is available, the consulate may issue your sister the tourist visa anyway since it will be a long time before she could immigrate. The only thing is to apply and see what happens.

      Please call my office at (310)289-2155 on Monday and I will be happy to consult for a small consultation fee since the rest of your questions are quite involved, and I can see I would need to ask you questions to understand the situation better.

      Guru Larry

  141. thanks for being prompt…
    Larry can the process go quicker by using the legal services of a lawyer such as yourself?

    • Daisy, I always recommend using a lawyer since so many self-prepared applications have delays and problems because laypersons usually make mistakes. The immigration law is very complex. However, in your case, there is nothing I can do when your dad just barely started your I-130 petition in April. You have to wait for a visa number, please check the Visa Bulletin if you haven’t done so in the F1 category. There is no speeding up the visa number priority dates (unless the U.S. Congress decides to add millions more numbers every year!). Yes, you could hire me to do a request for humanitarian parole for you, which is separate and has nothing to do with the I-130 petition, but that’s not going to allow you to stay for more than six months to a year, not much better than you can get on a tourist visa from Canada. I don’t think you want to spend the attorney’s fee of a couple of thousand to do that.

      Guru Larry

  142. hey Guru Larry:
    i live in Canada toronto. canadian citizen.
    my dad – US citizen – has just petitioned an i-130 for me, child over 21, unmarried, in april 2009, it was received and accepted.
    how can i speed up the waiting time?
    would the INS consider humanitarian reasons?
    my dad had a heart attack in 2001 and lives alone in the US, NC….
    thanks in advance for reading my post.

    • No, unfortunately there is no expedited when there’s not going to be a visa number for about 5 or 6 years in your category. If it were that easy, millions of people with I-130s waiting times would be requesting it.

      The best you can do take care of a sick parent is to come and visit him, which is easy anyway since you’re Canadian. In some cases, USCIS will grant humanitarian parole to a sick alien to get treatment in the U.S. I don’t know the facts of your particular situation but your story is different, you’re coming to take care of a sick father, which is less than if you were sick, and besides, he had a heart attack 8 years ago and presumably has carried on OK since, which is not compelling as someone who’s in a grave life-or-death situation now.

  143. approval notice sent for i130 On August 25, 2009 what is next and how long we have to wait for next process or how long will take for complete process

    • Well, if you’ve read my article above, then you would know it could take years depending on what category you are in. The State Department publishes each month the Visa Bulletin, which you can use every month (click on ‘Current Bulletin’) to check how backed up your category is.

  144. Larry,
    My 26 year old fell in love with an Italian and now he came to United States. They married three months ago, after a two year courtship. After going to an immigration attorney he did all the necessary filings and was recently fingerprinted/photo. Now he is awaiting for his interview which will take as they stated up to 60 days.

    Here is my question…once he gets the interview and approved, can he work in United States and what is the status that they will give him to work H1? How long does it take to work in United States. He has a degree in Information technology and Electrical Engineering. My concern is that he cannot work for some time. Also his attorney stated that he should get his permanent residency or green card by June 2010.

    Please I need guidance.

    Thank You,

    • Sounds like your daughter is petitioning for him to get a green card. An H-1B is something entirely different and does not involve a spouse whatsoever: it’s when a U.S. company specifically petitions the alien to work for them (and only for them) with a job offer. If that were the case, you would already know what company is petitioning for him. So, it’s most likely your daughter is petitioning for him in conjunction with him filing the permanent residency application (for green card). You’re in Kansas, but even there, they only take about 5 months after case is filed to have an adjustment interview for the two of them (to make sure the marriage is real), so the interview should happen soon if he’s already gone for biometrics. It sounds strange that their lawyer said he should get the green card by June 2010. Seems like it should be sooner than that. Approval at the interview gives him the green card right away with a passport stamp. But your son-in-law should also have already received or receiving soon the work permit while case is pending, which will allow him to work for anyone. You should ask your lawyer.

  145. Hi,

    Can you get a Working permit, EAD while your form I-130 case is still pending?



    • I discussed the answer in this blog post with some explanation, which you can read.

      • I cant see it here on the blogspot. But thanks anyway for the reply


        • It is right above you in this blog post/article that you commented to, “I-130 Approval Is Not Green Card!” Since I always get asked this question, I will copy the answer here:

          “Also, people ask me this all the time but with only an approved I-130, the person does not get a temporary work permit if a visa number is not yet available. In other words, if you’re here illegally, the I-130 does not do anything for you to make you legal. This is just a false hope. It’s amazing how many of my clients were duped by notarios and non-lawyers who told them otherwise about what the I-130 could do for them.”

          But my site is not just about giving answers because without explanations and understanding, answers are nothing. This site is also about educating the public about the immigration law so that people can be well-informed and not fall prey to con artists and unscrupulous workers in this field. If you read that entire particular post, then you’ll get an understanding of the reason why just filing or having an approved I-130 will not get you the work permit until a visa number is available.

          • Hi,

            thank you so much for the reply. Yeah im here legally. When i came here ive got my tourist visa to visit my girlfriend. I had given 1 year visa (expires Jan. 08). But before my visa expires last 2008 i got married to my girl friend last 2007 and we filed the Form I-130 to USCIS then we received a notice that they got my I-130 last Feb of 08. Does this consider me as illegal now cause my Visa expires last Jan of 08?


          • You’re out-of-status and accumulating unlawful presence so almost like illegal. However, you should have said previously that you came in with a visa because it could make a HUGE difference. You may qualify for a work permit if you had filed the I-130 with the I-485 and with the I-765 when your wife is a U.S. citizen so I don’t understand why you guys only filed the I-130 by itself, which is the long and hard way to do it and a waste of time, unless she is only a green-card holder, in which case, she could only file the 130 by itself, and you cannot get a work permit and you are here accumulating unlawful presence.

            This commenting back and forth is very inefficient. I suggest you consult with me for a consultation fee over the phone. I do accept Paypal and credit cards. You may call my office at (310)289-2155 and ask for Larry. I won’t be able to comment further on this thread.

  146. Hello !!
    My wife is a beneficiary of a F4 visa ( sister of a us citizen).
    We had our immigrant interview on september 10/09, the visa was issued for her and for my doughter(16years old),
    But I have my visa denied.under 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II) –illegal entry(10 years bar)
    My question is, when she goes U.S and have her green card she wiil be turned lawfully permanent resident, can she apply for waiver to my self using the same approved visa number of her sister petition? .

    • “My question is, when she goes U.S and have her green card she wiil be turned lawfully permanent resident, can she apply for waiver to my self using the same approved visa number of her sister petition?”

      I don’t understand what you’re trying to say, the waiver has nothing to do with your wife except that when she becomes an LPR she goes into the calculus of what extreme hardship to you is. She cannot “apply” for the waiver for you. Only you can apply for your own waiver again, hopefully, with better luck next time. What I think you’re asking is if your wife can file a petition for you in the F2A category. Yes, she can, but the priority date will be now with the new I-130 petition, not the old priority date from her sister’s petition. When the priority date on your wife’s I-130 becomes current in the future, and it still will not be 10 years from the date of your last departure from the U.S. (assuming the same law today has not changed by then!), you will have to apply for the extreme hardship waiver again but now extreme hardship to your wife will be considered because she’s an LPR.

      Guru Larry

      • thank you very much for your attention.
        okay,can I apply for waiver now?
        can the extreme hadship waiver be considered to my wife, after she get her green card?
        the visa number available for me wiil expire?
        thank you again.

        • Sorry, I think we have a language problem here and I don’t speak Portuguese since you’re in Brazil. I already answered that your wife is the one whose extreme hardship is considered. You need to get a lawyer’s help.

  147. hi sir i hav a been here in US last year for 4 months on J1 visa and now i back here this year on same visa but on my visa it says that two year ruke doesnot applies and i had a gf here from last year and now whn i m here this year she don’t want me to go back and me too don’t wanna leave here so we got married and now applied for greencard but as ur saying that its difficult to get a greencard is thr any other way like can i apply for any other visa by staying here and then after i stay here for longer period i wil apply for green card plz suggest me the very eazy way by which i can stay here with my wife plz

    • I said it was hard for J-1s because of the two-year residency rule. If you are not subjected to it, which is indeed lucky, then you can file for green card through your wife. Please contact my office for details on how I can represent you even if you’re in New York state.

      Guru Larry

  148. Hello, my mother, a US citizen, filled an I-130 under F3 category in july 2007, married son, it was approved about 3 months after we sent it, but the visa for this category is back in 2000, now, does this mean that we have at least a 7 years wait time for the visa to become avaiable ??? What is the average wait time for this type of case ?

    Thanks in advance for the response.

    • Yes, it’s that long, except the category is backed up to Jan. 15, 2001 currently, not 2000. So, about 6 or 7 years behind your priority date of July 2007. It moves, more or less, one month of priority dates per one month of real time, sometimes faster, sometimes slower, it’s impossible to predict. There is no “average” time, just whatever the demand worldwide for visas are. F3 and F4 are just really slow categories due to their low priorities, unfortunately.


  149. I just feel sad that I have to wait for a I-130 Visa through my Mum. Me and my long-term girlfriend have been considering moving in together – she’s American, and I’m English.

    But the U.S doesn’t view Gay Marriage as lawful.

    • Ollie, yes, that’s the process right now, until more states recognize gay marriage, immigration law, which is federal, will not recognize it. Hopefully, your mom, if she is only an LPR now, will naturalize so that your priority date will move somewhat faster, depending on what category you are.


  150. Dear Guru,
    My husband and I have been living here since 2003 we are residents since 2005 but on last August my husband and I went to a cruise for 3 days and when we arrived the inmigration department sent my husband to a deffered inspection and at the end of november he was deported for fraudalent documents . I became us citizens on july 2009, and I already submitted the I-130 (received notification July 31).
    My questions is how long it will take to get the approval for the I-130? do you think is going to be so difficult to get the waiver? he has a company here and our life is here he is the only persona that i have here please let me knoow what is you recomendation

    • Maria,

      The I-130 for a spouse of a U.S. citizen takes about 5 months right now. However, you’re right that the I-130 is the easy part. After that, when your husband applies for the immigrant visa at the consulate in his country, the hard part is the “consent to reapply for admission” on Form I-212 that he would have to apply for and get approved. If he had a green card and was stopped on the way back, and put through removal proceedings, he would be subjected to a 5-year or 10-year bar after removal from the U.S., depending on whether he was charged in the removal proceedings as an arriving alien or not. In any case, since he was ordered removed (deported) only in August 2008, it will be difficult to get the I-212 approved since it was so recent. Other factors such as hardship to you, children, other family and friends in the U.S., ties to the community will be taken into account, but overall it will be hard. The statistics are not good: about 80% or so were denied last year. The only thing is to try and apply. Good luck!

      Guru Larry

  151. Dear Larry.

    Thank you for this great article. Very helpful!

    I have an additional question for you.

    My girlfriend is a US citizen and I have been in the US for about 4 years under an F1 to get my Ph.D. I am now working under the OPT status (with an Employment Authorization Card). We are planning to get married next May but my OPT is also ending next May. So, we were thinking about getting married before to make sure there is no period during which I cannot work!

    So, once we are married, she fills an I-130 for me. As a Immediate relative, I should not have any problem to get my I-130 approved. At the same time I fill the I-130, I should also apply for a green card. I read I should fill forms I-485 (don’t really understand what it is doing!), I-765 (get a working permit), and I-131 (Travel). Are all those forms needed? Obviously, if I do not plan on traveling outside of the US, I do not need the I 131. So is filling a I-765 similar to filing for a green card or there is another form?

    To summarize, once she fills an I-130, what else do I need to fill to get a working permit/green card? Also, can those be filled at the same time?

    thank you very much for your help!


    • Benoit, thanks for your comment. The I-130 is merely a petition to classify you as a legitimate spouse. That’s exactly what my post described. It does not deal with issues that must be examined before making you a green-card holder, such as do you have criminal records? Are you a public charge or not? Do you have other problems such as a prior deportation? Unlawful presence in the U.S. before?

      The main green card application is needed. That’s the I-485. The I-765 is necessary to apply for employment authorization. Each form has its own separate function even though, yes, sometimes some of the information requested may seem duplicative.

      I recommend you hire an immigration lawyer to file the case for you to make sure everything go smoothly. Most people don’t understand that the forms are only 50 to 60% of a case, in my opinion. The quality of the supporting documents that are required to accompany the applications make up the rest of the 40 to 50%, and could make or break a case.

      Guru Larry

      • Thank you larry! Very helpful!


        • Larry,

          I have another small question.

          Given that I use an Immigration lawyer and that I have none of the conditions you mentioned:

          such as do you have criminal records? Are you a public charge or not? Do you have other problems such as a prior deportation? Unlawful presence in the U.S. before?

          How long does it usually takes to go through the process and get a working permit. I am not talking about Green card, just something that would allow me to work (through the I-765 maybe).

          Thank you,


          • Usually, my clients whom we file for here at USCIS in Los Angeles get their work permits in about 2 to 2 and half months after the I-485 is properly filed. In Pittsburgh where you’re at, it may be similar — assuming everything is properly filed so that they don’t return with requests for evidence or to correct some deficiencies.

          • Thank you Larry!


  152. Hi Larry

    My brother filed a I-130 for me in Jan 08 (in process since March 08). At that time I was on a H1-B. I currently reside and work outside of the U.S. As I am considering to apply for further graduate training, I am looking at applying for a F-1 student visa. Here are my questions:
    Can I do so while the I-130 is in process or do I need to abandon the I-130?
    In case I abandon the I-130 will there be ramifications at a later point in time?
    Relatedly, after graduating can I obtain an H1-B visa while the I-130 is pending?
    Thanks, Anne

    • Anne, I don’t think the I-130 will hurt your F-1 application that much because F4 is such a backed up category that you won’t be immigrating for at least 10 years or so. However, I don’t know for sure. You just have to apply and tell the truth on the F-1 nonimmigrant application since it asks if any immigrant petition has been filed for the applicant. On the other hand, the H (and L) visas are different in that a person getting one of those visas can have immigrant intent and that’s allowed. As far as abandoning the I-130, there are no ramifications except that a new I-130 will simply get a later priority date, which is bad enough since the wait is so long.


      Guru Larry

      • Dear Larry

        Thank you for your reply which is helpful. As a follow up questions, if I apply for an F-1 and it gets denied based on the I-130 that has been filed, will I have to indicate upon entering the U.S. that I was denied a visa? The green resp. white form one needs to fill out to go through immigration specifically asks this question and states that if a visa was denied at one point, one should contact the embassy prior to traveling to the U.S. Thanks again for your time and assitance which are greatly appreciated.

        Best regards

  153. Hi Larry
    my dad filed for i-130 and hes a perminent card holder and im also 18 now it just got approved in August. Im here in the states legally. is there anything we can do next or wait from the NVC.

    • Daniel, I think you’re the perfect example of the slowness of the I-130 process I was trying to show in this post. You probably have waited about 3 or 4 years for the I-130 to have just been approved, so your priority date was probably in late 2005 or early 2006. Unfortunately, the F2A category (child of permanent resident) is backed up to Sept. 22, 2001 for most countries, with Mexico even worse at Aug. 15, 1998. So, you will have to wait for another 4 or 5 years at least until a visa number is available. Meanwhile, as I mentioned in the article, please take care to maintain your legal status while you’re here as much as you possibly can.


      • how can I mantain legal status? Its they a way to even get a social can i file form i-485? what can i do to get a ssn while waiting for my visa #.
        Anyways my home country is Ghana
        and thanks Larry

        • Daniel, you said in your first comment, “Im here in the states legally”. I don’t know what type of visa that is but all I’m saying is you have to maintain status in that same type of visa, or change to another type of visa, if you qualify. When I say “visa” here I’m talking about nonimmigrant visas, which you can read up about in my previous post Nonimmigrant Visas and Why Maintaining Status in the U.S. Is Important, which you may have seen. Currently, you cannot file Form I-485 unless you continue to maintain your immigration status while staying in the U.S. and only when an immigrant visa number through your dad’s petition is available in 4 or 5 years.

          If you don’t maintain your legal status, and will be out-of-status in the U.S. for more than a year in the future, even when an immigrant visa number is available in 4 or 5 years, you will not be able to get your green card here by filing Form I-485 but will have to go back to Ghana and apply, and the 10-year bar will apply to you, a situation just like the boyfriend or girlfriend that was described in my other post I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend? Unless your father becomes a citizen before you turn 21. If maintaining status in the U.S. for several years in the future is not possible, or if he does not become a citizen before your turn 21, you should consider going back to Ghana and wait. You don’t want to be out-of-status in the U.S. as it will affect your ability to get a green card and rejoin your father in the future.

          • we entered legally as visitors visa and never went back so i know my i-94 and visa has expired long time ago.

          • Daniel, thanks for all your comments but my final words on this will be that if your tourist visa expired long ago, then you’re probably more than a year out-of-status and will not be able to file for green card in the U.S. in the future unless the law changes or your father becomes a U.S. citizen. This is because you are in the F2A category as described in my post, not an immediate relative. However, if your father applies for citizenship, the date on which he becomes a citizen will be the date to look at your age. If on that date, you will not yet be 21, you are still considered a “child” of a U.S. citizen and will be considered an immediate relatie, which would be fortunate for you since at that point, you will be able to adjust your status to green card here without going back to Ghana. But, if 21 or over on that date, you will have to go back to Ghana and apply, with the 10-year bar being applicable to you, as shown in “I’m Illegal, I Can Still Get a Green Card by Marrying My U.S. Citizen Boyfriend or Girlfriend?”

            Guru Larry

        • can I file form I-102 to get my i-94 renew to get a social? Is there any way to get a social in my case even a non-working social security number?

  154. i am in F1 visa now and i just get married to us citizen can i apply for green card ? If yes what is the process? i am not allowed to wrok outside but i worked offf campus for 2 months but i m not working now does that create any difficulty?

    • Yes, you can apply for your green card through having your spouse file the I-130 petition at the same time as you file Form I-485, adjustment of status, with all required supporting documents and other auxiliary forms. It’s quite a package when finished that you have to submit to USCIS. I recommend you retain an experienced immigration lawyer to help you with this to make the process goes smoothly. If it does, you will get a work permit within 2 months and an interview within 6 months. The off-campus work for 2 months is not going to be a problem.


      • Thank u larry for answering my question, what will be the total cost to apply till i get card?

        • ankiraj, the filing fee for U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will be $1,365, which includes the work permit and your spouse’s petition for you. As for my lawyer fees, please contact me by email if you’re interested. Thanks!

  155. Hi Larry thank you for answering questions….
    I am F-1 language school student.And 4 months old pregnant now.Asking my US citizen boyfreind get married before babys birth..But he wants to take it slow.cause he worries if i apply for green card i am not able to get it.. cause he hasn,t been paying tax for long time( i am talking about more than 6 years)…so lets say we get married and leave applying green card on hold what is my status going to be?
    Thank you

    • Teljee,

      Thanks for commenting! You can marry your boyfriend any time you want, of course, here in the U.S. But if you don’t file for green-card status, your status will simply remain with whatever it is now, which is F-1. In other words, marriage by itself does not affect immigration status.

      In the future, though, when your F-1 status expires, you will be out-of-status, unless you file to adjust your status to green card. There is nothing to worry about with your boyfriend’s tax situation as far as immigration (as far as the IRS, yes, he’ll have to take care of that!). He can still show he has the sufficient level of income to support the three of you with his W-2s or 1099 forms. But even if he cannot show enough income for a family of three, a joint sponsor can be used such as a family member or a friend, as long as they are a U.S. citizen or legal resident. That person just has to promise to reimburse the government if you ever go on welfare or get public benefits until you become a citizen or has worked for 10 years. So, I can definitely help you file for permanent residence now. I can help you no matter what state you’re in.


      • thank you very much for fast reply..so if we get married not filing green card eventhough if i dont go to school my status going to be a f-1 till it expires? i found your website really helpful i .ll recommend it to a people who having immigration problems..

        • Teljee, I’m sure when you applied for the F-1 visa they explained to you or you understood that you have to continue going to school and maintain your educational program as shown on your I-20 to remain in F-1 status. If you don’t maintain your courseload you are considered out of status. I recommend you continue going to school if your husband does not want to petition for your green card!

          And, thanks for spreading the word about my blog!

          • Oh i see thank you Larry..I wasnt sure about this .Some people told me that i could get married and wait to apply green card wont effect my status..So now i know cant do that.Really appreciate thank you.

  156. ‘i m in US right now and i m marring my girlfriend who is US citizen so will i get the greencard easily i m here now on a J1 visa’

    • hemant,

      It is difficult for a J-1 to receive permanent residence in the U.S. since most J-1s are subject to the two-year residency requirement, which means you have to return and live in your home country for at least two years before you could apply. This is a complicated topic, but you have to look on your J-1 paperwork. Usually those who receive fundings from their government to be an exchange visitor or have valuable skills needed in their country will be subject to this two-year requirement. This determination may also be stamped or written next to the visa the passport. However, looking at the visa and the J-1 paperwork s only preliminary and you should not necessarily rely on that without carefully reviewing with an immigration attorney.

      If you are subject to the two-year residency requirement, then even marriage to a US citizen will not qualify you for the green card unless you receive a waiver. There are four different ways of getting a waiver but I will not go into them all here. The easiest is if your country indicates no objection to your remaining in the US (doesn’t require you to come back home for two years). The other way of getting a waiver is to prove that the requirement would result in exceptional hardship to your citizenspouse or child of yours. Without the waiver being approved, you would most likely have to go home or risk staying in the U.S. unlawfully as an overstayer. But, remember, the two-year requirement will still stick with you in the future.

      If you are subjected to the requirement, then I’d be happy to represent you on a waiver.

      Guru Larry

      • Dear Gury,

        I am holding J-1 visa with the two-year residency requirement and I am married from a US citizen. You mentioned that there are four ways to get a waiver. It looks like getting a no objection letter from my government will take a very long time and by the time they give me the no objection letter I will be illegal.
        I am just wondering what is my chance to get a waiver with the other three ways. Is there a grantee or it is very risky and the chance is very low. I was thinking about filling out I-130 form right now and once I get an approval, I can try to think about a way to get a waiver for my J-1 visa.


        • “I am just wondering what is my chance to get a waiver with the other three ways.”

          Please call my office at 310.289.2155 and I will be happy to do a paid consultation with you. I cannot write a fair answer to this complicated question on a blog comment here.

          Guru Larry

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