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Frequently Asked Questions

I was issued a 10-year multiple-entry tourist visa by the U.S. Embassy. I arrived in the United States yesterday, how long am I allowed to stay?

The tourist visa on your passport means you may visit the U.S. any time over a period of 10 years. It does not say how long you are allowed to stay in the U.S. For each visit, your authorized stay is indicated on the ink entry stamp on your passport when you are inspected upon arrival at a port-of-entry. Your entry date and authorized period of stay is also found on this Customs and Border Protection link.

The I-130 petition I filed for my brother was approved years ago. Why is it taking so long for him to join me in the United States?

Getting your siblings to join you in the U.S. is a relatively long process. Once you get the petition for your sibling approved, s/he would need to apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate of your country. The immigrant visa application, however, can begin only when the priority date of the case is current. Due to annual visa quotas and the volume of immigration from certain countries, it could take a long time (sometimes years) for a priority date to be current.

Can the undocumented spouse of a U.S. citizen apply for a green card?

Not all undocumented persons can automatically apply for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. The foreign spouse’s immigration history need to be reviewed thoroughly to determine whether there are grounds of inadmissibility, such as unlawful entry, overstaying or fraud that could result in the denial of the green card application, and possibly, deportation of the foreign spouse.

Can the same-sex domestic partner of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident apply for a green card?

The rules for marriage-based visas or green cards apply equally to opposite-sex as well as to same-sex couples. This means you will go through the same demanding procedure that ensures the marriage is genuine and not entered for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card.

Can a foreign Registered Nurse obtain an H-1B specialty worker visa?

Yes, an RN may qualify for an H-1B visa if it can be established that the offered H-1B position requires at least a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. This entails a thorough analysis of the employer’s business, industry practices, detailed job duties, certification or specialized training requirements and wages relative to others within the nursing occupation.

Who are subject to the VisaScreen Certificate requirement?

Not all healthcare workers are subject to the VisaScreen Certificate requirement. Physicians are specifically exempted. The occupations covered by this requirement are: Nurses (including Registered Nurses and Licensed Vocational/Practical Nurses), Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, Medical Technologists (Clinical Laboratory Scientists), Medical Technicians (Clinical Laboratory Technicians), Speech Language Pathologists and Audiologists and Physician Assistants.

Is it harder to get an EB-1 extraordinary ability green card if I am currently on H-1B professional worker visa?

Not necessarily. You will qualify for EB-1 classification if you could prove that you are an individual of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim by satisfying at least three of the 10 legal criteria for this category. You will also need to show that you have maintained your H-1B status in the US.

Cristina A. Godinez
Immigration Attorney

Immigration is a complicated process. Any person who decides to go through it could use the steady hand of an attorney who has undergone the experience and has acquired the technical expertise in a variety of law firm settings.

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Member, American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA)

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