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frequently asked questions (FAQ)

who is impacted?

1. Who is a lawful permanent resident?
2. Why are families being separated?
3. How long is the waiting period?
4. What about families of U.S. citizens?
5. What about non-immigrants [workers (H-1B, L-1), students (F-1), etc.]?
6. Why is the process slanted in favor of non-immigrants?
7. If family unity cannot be achieved in the U.S., why can't the LPR stay with the family abroad while the family immigrant visa applications are pending?
8. Is this a problem only for nationals of certain countries?

how does this impact the U.S.?

1. This proposal calls for allowing more people into the U.S.  Wouldn't they take away jobs from Americans?
2. Is this problem linked to amnesty or earned legalization?
3. Would National Security be compromised?
4. How does the U.S. compare with other industrialized nations in this regard?

solutions

1. What are some possible solutions to the problem?
2. What is an F2A visa?
3. What is an I-130?
4. What is the V visa?
5. Why does the V visa need renewal?
6. Is there pending legislation to remove numerical limits?
7. I am an LPR and I filed an I-130 petition for my spouse after December 21, 2000.  What are my options?
8. Why do you recommend immediate relative reclassification?
9. Why not the V visa?  It seems like an effective solution as well.
10. But the V visa took care of processing delays by allowing applicants to file for one if the I-130 was pending.  Immediate relative reclassification will be plagued by processing delays.

actions

1. How can I help?
2. How do I write to or call my Congressperson and Senators?
3. Do you accept financial contributions?
4. Why don't you allow online submission of letters to Congresspersons and Senators?  Other websites allow me to send letters with a click of a button.
5. Why not have an online petition that I can sign?

miscellaneous

1. Who are you?  Are you affiliated with any lobbying group?
2. How do I contact you?
3. Is there a website with a phone number for National Visa Center (NVC)?
4. What are the steps that happen after the I-130 is approved?
5. How does dealing with the NVC compare with the USCIS?
6. Can my spouse/child visit the US if the I-130 is not yet approved?  What if the I-130 has not been filed?
7. What if my spouse/child already has a visitor/student visa?


who is impacted?

1. Who is a lawful permanent resident?
A Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR, also called green card holder) is a person who has been granted the right to live in the U.S. permanently.  After five years of permanent residency, subject to certain conditions, an LPR can naturalize to a U.S. citizen.
2. Why are families being separated?
An LPR that marries a foreign born person after becoming a permanent resident has to remain separated from his/her spouse and children until immigrant visas are granted for the family members.  There is an annual numerical limit on this category of visas, and demand exceeds supply.  Family members cannot visit the U.S. or study here because those visa categories require proof of non-immigrant intent.  That is, they must prove that they have no intention to stay in the U.S. to be allowed to enter the U.S. on a student or vistor visa.  Since the spouse and children of a permanent resident are applying for premanent residency, they cannot demonstrate non-immigrant intent.
3. How long is the waiting period?
The State Department Visa Bulletin lists the current cutoff date.  The wait period is currently 3-5 years.
4. What about families of U.S. citizens?
Families of U.S. citizens are not subject to annual numerical limits.  They are only subject to processing delays.  Currently, it takes about a year for family members of U.S. citizens to get immigrant visas.  While they are waiting, family members can get K visas to be united with the citizens in the U.S.
5. What about non-immigrants [workers (H-1B, L-1), students (F-1), etc.]?
Family members of non-immigrants are not subject to numerical limits or processing delays.  They can get dependent non-immigrant visas in a month or two.
6. Why is the process slanted in favor of non-immigrants?
Not quite.  Family members of non-immigrants apply for non-immigrant visas.  Family members of permanent residents and U.S. citizens apply for immigrant visas.  Non-immigrant visas are not subject to the same limitations as immigrant visas.  However, family members of certain categories of non-immigrants (H-1B, L-1, etc.) can adjust to permanent resident status.  An H-1B non-immigrant worker who marries prior to becoming a permanent resident is immediately united with his/her family.  However, if the marriage occurs after permanent residency, family unification takes 5 years.
7. If family unity cannot be achieved in the U.S., why can't the LPR stay with the family abroad while the family immigrant visa applications are pending?
An LPR is required to spend most of his/her time residing in the U.S.  An LPR absent from the U.S. for a significant period of time (usually one year or more) risks losing his/her permanent residency status.  Family immigrant visa applications are considered abandoned at that point.  There are significant adverse impacts to employment of an LPR, if he/she stays away for a long period.  The LPR's citizenship residency clock is reset as well.
8. Is this a problem only for nationals of certain countries?
The problem impacts the families of LPRs irrespective of nationality.  However, due to the per-country ceiling of 7%, some nationalities may be more impacted than others.

how does this impact the U.S.?

1. This proposal calls for allowing more people into the U.S.  Wouldn't they take away jobs from Americans?
Not quite.  Not allowing family unification in the U.S. negatively impacts the country.
2. Is this problem linked to amnesty or earned legalization?
No.  We are only addressing the issue of family unification.  Amnesty and earned legalization are independent issues.
3. Would National Security be compromised?
Applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas are subject to rigorous security checks.  National Security will not be compromised by allowing family unification in the U.S.
4. How does the U.S. compare with other industrialized nations in this regard?
Other countries compare favorably with the U.S. in this regard.  For example, Canada gives priority to applications for immigrant visas for the immediate family members of a Canadian citizen/permanent resident.  Processing is usually completed in about six months.  Canada grants visitor visas to immediate family members to achieve family unity in Canada while the immigrant visa petitions are being processed. 

solutions

1. What are some possible solutions to the problem?
There are several solutions to this problem.  In our opinion, eliminating the numerical limits (immediate relative reclassification) is the best alternative.  This and other alternatives can be found by visiting the Solutions page.
2. What is an F2A visa?
The F2A visa is an immigrant visa issued to the spouse and minor children of LPRs.  About 88,000 F2A visas are available each fiscal year.  The U.S. Government's fiscal year runs from October 1 through September 30.
3. What is an I-130?
The I-130 is an immigrant visa petition filed for by a U.S. citizen or LPR for a family member.
4. What is the V visa?
The V visa was created by the Legal Immigration Family Equity Act of 2000.  The visa was issued to the spouse and minor children of LPRs so that they could be united in the U.S. while they awaited their family immigrant visa petitions to be approved.  The following conditions had to be satisfied:
  • The immigrant visa petition had to have been filed on or before December 21, 2000.
  • The petition must have been pending for 3 or more years.
5. Why does the V visa need renewal?
The V visa, as enacted b y the LIFE Act sunset on the date of enactment — December 21, 2000.  Anyone who filed an I-130 after that date is not eligible for a V visa.
6. Is there pending legislation to remove numerical limits?
Not at the moment.  A new session of Congress convened in January 2007 and all pending bills from the previous session lapsed.  A new bill has to be introduced before we can get any relief.
7. I am an LPR and I filed an I-130 petition for my spouse after December 21, 2000.  What are my options?
This is the situation that we are trying to address.  The alternatives available to you are unsatisfactory:
  • Wait until an F2A visa becomes available.  This can take several years.
  • Wait until you become a U.S. citizen.  This can take several years as well.  Your spouse will qualify for immediate relative of U.S. citizen status.  There is no numerical limit for this category.  Your spouse can join you by getting a K visa.
  • You can leave the U.S. to be united with your spouse.  Being absent from the U.S. for an extended period of time will cause Immigration officers to assume that your intent is to abandon LPR status.  This may also disrupt your work.
  • Your spouse can come to the U.S. on a dual intent visa such as H-1B or L-1.  The H-1B visa is subject to an annual cap that has been reached for the fiscal year 2008.  The L-1 (intracompany transferee) visa requires that your spouse work for a U.S. company abroad for a year, and that company sponsor an L-1 and transfer the job to the U.S.  In either case, if your spouse is terminated from employment, he/she cannot derive any status from you.
8. Why do you recommend immediate relative reclassification?
Immediate relative reclassification eliminates the numerical limits imposed under current law.  It is a permanent and effective solution to the problem.  We have been advised that this is the solution we should advocate.
9. Why not the V visa?  It seems like an effective solution as well.
The V visa is considered a workaround since every bill (H.R. 3701 in the 108th Congress, H.R. 1823 in the 109th) has imposed a sunset date.  Further, the V visa process starts with filing an I-129 with the USCIS.  This adds further processing burden and delays that exacerbate the situation.
10. But the V visa took care of processing delays by allowing applicants to file for one if the I-130 was pending.  Immediate relative reclassification will be plagued by processing delays.
It is true that I-130s for spouses/children of permanent residents have been pending for a while.  But the USCIS has postponed processing of these forms citing lack of 2A immigrant visa availability.  Processing times for I-130s for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens is considerably faster.  Immediate relative reclassification will reduce I-130 processing times to months.  If Comprehensive Immigration Reform is enacted, processing delay issues will have to be addressed.  The sheer volume of applications and categories that this legislation introduces would require a comprehensive examination of processing as well.

actions

1. How can I help?
The key is to raise awareness among Congresspersons and Senators that there is a pressing problem that needs legislative action.  This can be achieved through various means:
  • Writing to them or calling them.
  • Encouraging others to write to them or call them.
  • Writing to local media.
  • Joining our discussion group to show your support.
  • Making a financial contribution.
Visit our Take Action page for more details.
2. How do I write to or call my Congressperson and Senators?
Writing to your Congressperson and Senators: follow the steps on our Write to Congress page.  Calling your Congressperson and Senators: follow the steps on our Call Congress page.
3. Do you accept financial contributions?
We accept financial contributions.  Since we are not registered as a 501(c)(3) organization, contributions are not tax deductible.  You can contribute by PayPal or check.
4. Why don't you allow online submission of letters to Congresspersons and Senators?  Other websites allow me to send letters with a click of a button.
Online submission of letters to legislators requires us to lease a contact information database.  The leasing cost is of the order of hundreds of dollars each month.  As an organization whose expenses are borne by volunteers, we cannot afford to lease this database.  Consequently, we are unable to provide this service.
5. Why not have an online petition that I can sign?
The online petition is available in English and Spanish.  A paper petition is also available.  Sign the petition.

miscellaneous

1. Who are you?  Are you affiliated with any lobbying group?
Visit the About Us page for a quick introduction.  We are not affiliated with any group or party.
2. How do I contact you?
You can contact us by filling in the Contact Us page.  You can also send us postal mail at:

UniteFamilies.org
P.O. Box 404
Elmore, OH 43416-0404
U.S.A.

Submissions are governed by our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.
3. Is there a website with a phone number for National Visa Center (NVC)?
http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1309.html
4. What are the steps that happen after the I-130 is approved?
The answer to this depends on several factors: check the NVC site.  The packets sent out depend on your region of origin.  It also depends on whether you have engaged a lawyer to represent you.
5. How does dealing with the NVC compare with the USCIS?
Dealing with the NVC is quite painless.  They provide you with the information you need.  It is far easier to get hold of a human being.  When you call the USCIS, they can only provide general information and not much that is case specific.
6. Can my spouse/child visit the US if the I-130 is not yet approved?  What if the I-130 has not been filed?
Probably not in either case.  Being married to a permanent resident or having a permanent resident parent automatically indicates immigrant intent.  This disqualifies one from getting a visitor or student visa.
7. What if my spouse/child already has a visitor/student visa?
The risk is yours to take.  It is possible that your spouse/child may be admitted or may be turned back at the point of entry.  If detained, your spouse/child will likely be deported.  The visa will be canceled and getting another visa in the future will be very difficult.  Even if the spouse/child never leaves the U.S., they may face difficulty during the naturalization process.


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