Disclaimer: All advice given here are strictly as is without any guarantees and reliability. The advice below is solely from personal experiences in filing such applications and process. The best and most reliable advice is always from a good immigration lawyer. 

Q: After applying for Adjustment of Status (AOS) for green card, I got a different alien number than my previously received F-1 OPT EAD card, will it affect my OPT and job status? Is my OPT EAD card still valid?

A: When you applied for AOS, you should have also submitted I-765 to get ANOTHER EAD card for you to work in America while your AOS application is pending. The reason for this is not only because it is free to get another EAD card, but once you apply for AOS, or any other immigration status, your current visa/immigration status is revoked. That means your previous F-1 visa is now invalid, your OPT EAD card is also invalid, because you are adjusting out of that status. Therefore, once you apply for AOS, you must stop working under your original EAD card from your OPT authorization and begin working on the AOS EAD card. Continue working on the OPT EAD card and associated alien number is not technically legal however I believe they do give a little bit of grace period until you get your AOS EAD card and permanent alien number.

Q: My wife originally came to the US on a J-1 visa. After completing it, she went home for three months and returned to the US on an F-1 visa for her PhD. She has accumulated the two years outside the US since she gave up her J-1 through summers at home and currently 1.5 years of time abroad conducting dissertation research. We want to apply for the green card through concurrent filing of I-485 and I-130. The question is: will we need to prove that she has fulfilled the two year home residency requirement? if so (and I assume we will), how should we prove it? are passport stamps and flight itineraries enough? is there a special form to do so, or questions asked about it on the I-485 form? or will the immigration officers contact us or figure it out themselves?

A: Yes, she has to prove that she has fulfilled the 2 year foreign residency requirement. You have to provide things you mentioned like passport stamps, flights records, even that study abroad evidence. There isn’t a special form to fill out, you just have to document the times in a concise statement and attach that with your application. Chances are if you don’t add this clarification with your application, they will simply request for evidence of the fulfillment of the 2 year requirement and then you can do so again.

Q: I was involved in helping a rebel group in my country against a brutal political regime that resorted to military action against peaceful civilians protest. My help involved only helping rebels but without direct engaging in the armed conflict. Will this render me inadmissible since Homeland Security could very likely categorize that as an act of terrorism?

A: Make sure you fully disclose what was your involvement and provide a thorough explanation on what you did and why. If you stand for democracy and oppose tyranny and you tried to help your country rather than bring it down, chances are the USCIS won’t immediately declare you inadmissible. They will likely look at your file closely to understand and make a decision. DO NOT HIDE ANY INFORMATION. This is the most important piece; just be honest about it if you have nothing to hide.

Q: If someone is currently applying for a student (F-1) visa, upon completion of studies would the individual be able to live and work in the U.S? What would be there options if they were able to do so.

A: After F-1, you should apply for OPT to begin working in the US. However this only gives you 1 year of work and possibly another 17 month extension if you are in a  Science, Technology, Engineering, or Mathematics (STEM) field of study. While working on OPT, you should be working for an employer that will first sponsor you for a H-1B visa and eventually a green card to permanently immigrate to America. Check out my guide here on applying for OPT, getting a job on OPT after you graduate.

Q: I’m currently in the situation where I received an offer for a traineeship of 12 months with a Fortune 500-company. They want me to work with one of their staffing agencies for all admin, I would need to submit the J-1 Visa request with that staffing agency as the host company, as that will also be the company that pays my stipend.  Does anybody have experience with staffing agencies as the host company of J-1 trainees? 

A: It doesn’t sound like you are being employed by a staffing agency. The law regarding exchange visitors state that companies may NOT use staffing agencies to recruit trainees. However in your case, it looks like you are being employed by the Fortune 500 company to work in one of their staffing agencies to help recruitment for other companies. Therefore it should be perfectly fine and you shouldn’t have the staffing agency as the host company but rather the Fortune 500 company.

 Q: On my I-20, page 1, section 7 and section 8 regarding my financial information to attend school is completely missing, what should I do?

A: Section 7 and 8 of the I-20 is meant for the school to fill out exactly how you will pay for your first year’s education, as well as any scholarships or fellowships awarded to you by the school. You should not be filling this out because the school should have taken a look at your financial statements and filled this out for you. If this is blank, the school did something wrong. Please contact the school’s International Student Center or the DSO and ask them to send you a new I-20 with the sections filled out correctly. Without these sections, you will not receive a F-1 visa from the US consulate, because USCIS immigration officer wouldn’t know if you have any money to support your studies and also pay the tuition.

Q: I am a student on F-1 visa . Currently I am on OPT after completing a one year professional certificate from a college in Seattle. I also just completed my online – part time MBA from a university in India. Now I would like to know if my employer can apply H1B visa for me. Am I eligible for the same.

A: H-1B is a non-immigrant visa intended on allowing skilled workers who are not US residents or citizens to work in America legally. It can be granted to anyone who has the skills necessary to fill a job in which there are no other US resident or citizen that can perform that particular job. Because most people go from F-1 to OPT to H-1B, it is easy to be mistaken that you must complete a undergraduate or graduate degree in America before you can get H-1B. In reality, H-1B can be awarded to anyone, even someone who has never been to America. As long as you have the skills and got a job in America that absolutely only you can perform, and there are still H-1B visas available (capped each year at 65,000), you can receive a H-1B visa.

 Q: My daughter has a valid F-1 Student visa until August 2015. She also has a valid Visitors B1/B2 visa until 2017. She is taking a year off from her studies, and intends to return home shortly. International Office at her school says she has to leave USA within one month. If you are not attending classes, they have told her that she must leave within 4 weeks of classes having started for the new semester. She is trying to get stuff sold etc, and would like to stay longer. Bearing in mind that her visitors visa is still valid, can she stay until then, or does she have to leave by the said date ?

A: It sounds like school has filed for her leave of absence and her F-1 visa is now is a temporary hold status, which means the USCIS DHS has been informed that her F-1 status is now on hold. The school is right that she must now leave before the school starts. Technically she can stay until the 1st day of classes but not beyond, because otherwise she would be in America but not studying, which is a violation of the F-1 visa. The school is playing it safe to ask her to leave as soon as possible. She must have entered America on her F-1 visa, which means although she has a valid B1/B2 stamp, it does not mean anything because she did not enter in that status.

Q: I had visa stamped and valid for 5 years but my school forced me to defer to the next year. They told me they will issue me an I-20 with the same SEVIS number on my visa. Do I have to reappear for visa interview again ? This question came to my mind as there is a law saying that this is a must in case of breaking studies for more than 5 months. I have doubts regarding this situation since this case is not a breaking of study as I didn’t start it in the first place. 

A: Your F-1 visa status does not start officially until you report to school on the first day. Seeing that they are deferring you, I believe your visa is still valid but just not activated. The school also needs to activate your SEVIS record when you start school and since you never started, it is likely that it isn’t even activated. Therefore, it is fine and wait for the new I-20 to arrive and I think with the I-20 and the visa stamp you already received, you can be admitted into America without issues.

Q: I would like to help my brother-in-law come over to US to study at the local community college or wherever (as long as it meets the requirements). However, as a young guy (21, single, etc, etc) he doesn’t really have strong ties. He has some college, he lives with his mom (who rents), not much money to speak of. (I will help or pay for the Uni). So, how strong of ties does a young college student need to show? The rest of his family (brother and other sister and mother) is still in Costa Rica, is that enough?

A: Actually, the fact that his immediately family is still in Costa Rica really is enough to demonstrate strong ties. Money isn’t actually an indicator of strong ties but rather if he would have enough money to support himself while studying. Other things that can be demonstrated as strong ties are any church or local organization that he belongs to and is an active participant. He can also document his plans upon graduation, his intended career field in Costa Rica and how the US education will help him be competitive. Most of all, he must tell the USCIS immigration officer that he plans on returning to Costa Rica upon graduation. Remember, they don’t just deny your application without interviewing you. The interview is your (your brother-in-law) opportunity to show the USCIS immigration officer strong ties based on his plans post-graduation.

Q: My cousin will be getting married next year May/ June . She was looking at doing MS from a US univ . The issue is that she will most probably be joining class in August . Her husband too would be pursuing MS degree from US . Will there be an issue in getting the student Visa for both or either of them ?? It is a Catch 22 for us, as  her father will not let her go to US without marrying , and postponing the marriage might not be a choice.

A: It is a possibility that your cousin may get the F-1 visa and her husband does not, or her husband got the visa and your cousin got denied. This is completely up to the USCIS immigration officer conducting the interviews, and how much your cousin and her husband can demonstrate that they should receive the F-1 visa. Check out my 10 tips on the F-1 visa interview to help her. Either way, because they both want to study in America, both have to get separate F-1 visas. The dependent F-2 visa for spouse of F-1 visa holder does not permit the spouse to study.

Q: I am an F-1 visa holder on OPT. My OPT began Jan 25th, and it gives me 3 months to find a job. I have been with my US-citizen girlfriend for a long time and we are planning to get married. ‘When’ is not a problem – we can get married tomorrow if need be. But I am worried about gaining permanent residence status – specifically, I worry that I have left it too late, and that I may have to leave the country, even if we get married (under the assumption that I am unable to find employment). Can anyone tell me the process here? If my OPT expires April 25th, and I were to get married, say, tomorrow, what forms would I need to file? Would I be able to stay in the country until these forms are processed, even beyond April 25th?

A: There is nothing to worry about. As long as you file the I-485 for Adjustment of Status (along with all other necessary forms), and this was received by the USCIS and is under review, you can technically be in a limbo status where even if your OPT has expired or F-1 visa has expired, it is legal to remain in America while your AOS is pending. Therefore, file the AOS application and just wait. Keep in mind though, once you file, you are no longer in F-1 visa status and therefore your OPT is invalid. You have to wait until you get the EAD card with your AOS application to work.

Q: I am currently on a F-1 visa on OPT.  My husband whom I got married to while on this F-1 visa is an american citizen and we live in the US. As such we are looking at getting me residency so I do not have to leave the states after my OPT is up. I am a Trinidad and Tobago resident and citizen currently. Is there a timeline I should be considering? Are the forms to file the I130, I485, I765 and I864, or is there more? Should I do my medical exam before I file these forms, or should I wait until they request that I do one.

A: Timeline varies between individual applications. It can be as fast as 3 months or as slow as 10 months. Getting married to US Citizen is the still the fastest way to get a green card but it also depends on your particular situation and application. Check out my complete guide on applying for AOS to green card.

 Q: For I485  ’copy of passport with non-immingrant visa” and it says if the visa obtained within last year. My visa is obtained 7 years ago and it’s in my old passport, then I got another passport, and I’m here with my last (3rd one) passport, what should I do??

A: Just copy the the most recent visa stamp. There is no need to copy expired passports unless it has your most recent visa stamp and is the one you used to enter America.

Q: 1) I sent original IRS Return Transcripts along with my original packet, do I need to reorder and bring those again?

2) Do I need to bring my joint sponsors original W-2s?

3) Where can I find a comprehensive list of all the the documentation to bring? I know I have the checklist on the I-797 but I want to make sure I cover all the bases.

A: 1) No, because they are originals. You only need to bring originals if you sent in copies. Keep in mind they will keep the ones you sent in, in this case the originals

2) Yes

3) see my guide on preparing for the AOS green card interview

Q: I just got a notice that USPS left me a notice coz they did not meet me at home to deliver my EAD. I won’t b back until Monday. I just want to know if usps won’t return the package. Pls your response are needed. Thanks 

A: USPS holds mail for 15 days. Just go to your local post office that has your package and you can get it. Make sure you have an ID such as passport or drivers license.

Q: My fiancee/wife, a US citizen, and I were legally married last week and we are in the process of filing the I-130 and I-485 on our own.

1) Should we file for the I-130 and I-485 together, or do we have to file the I-130 first and wait for this to be approved before submitting the I-485?

2) Bona fide marriage – I moved in with my wife beginning of the year and we have lived together since, but all the utility bills are under her name and the she owns the apartment. We do not have joint bank accounts or car/insurance policies. We do have plenty of emails exchanges over the year, phone conversations on bill payment, text messages on the cell phone, photos of trips/dinner/parties together, and marriage photos with family, engagement ring for her and wedding band for me (receipts). Will these suffice?

3) Is the average wait time for the approved green card 5-6 months from filing/receipt of our application? Are there other forms besides I-130, I-485, I-765, I-131?

4) I have to apply for work permit and advance parole/travel abroad (I-765, I-131) immediately. What is the wait time to get these visas approved while my adjustment of status remains pending?

A: 1) File them together, concurrently. Saves time and postage. There is no need to wait for I-130 to be approved for AOS to green card via marriage to US citizen.

2) Yes, just bring all those and they should be fine. There is no need to have joint bank accounts if you do not have it. Most important are the photos and evidence of relationship. Remember that the USCIS has reviewed millions of cases, they can spot fake ones even if the fake ones have joint bank accounts or utilities.

3) Average is 6 months but it can be as fast as 3 months or longer than 6 months

4) EAD card which will also serve as your advance parole document will usually come within 2 months of application; of course this still varies dependent on your particular application.

Q: A couple years ago I applied for a tourist visa but was denied because of my father who is in America illegally. I now want to go to Dallas to study on a student visa. I’ve already received my I-20 and will now start the visa process. Will I be denied my student visa because of my father too?? I don’t even speak to him and I’m trying to study in Dallas which is a few states away from him in Florida. Any advice?? 

A: Yes, you will not likely get a visa due to your father. Unfortunately because he is still your father, you are still linked to him even though you don’t keep in contact. You can use the interview to try to tell them that you have no relationship with your father and that you won’t try to contact him while in America. You should attach some kind of statement to your application as well to explain that. Good Luck.

Q: My wife has graduated, got OPT approved, EAD in hand, but no job offer yet. She has until February to find a job. She has a couple of no-pay internship opportunities at the moment. But we’d like to go visit my family in Canada for the holidays. Will she have issues on reentry?

A: In this case, she must take one of those unpaid internship opportunities as long as they satisfy the requirements listed here. If she leaves the country with OPT approved but without any employment, she will be denied entry because her departure is considered termination of the F-1 visa and OPT status. Bring the offer letters for the unpaid internships with you and make sure to notify her DSO at the school of the unpaid internship that she is taking up, so the DSO can update her record.

Q: I’m currently doing an intern as a pre-completion OPT so I’m only eligible for 20 hours of work per week. But I accidentally turned in my timesheet as 21 hours, so I have been paid for an extra hour of work. I’m usually very careful about this, but made a mistake. Is it possible that the extra hour can be reversed by my employer? Thank you!

A: That is so insignificant it is likely not a problem. As long as you are aware of the rules fully and don’t consistently break the rules, I don’t see how USCIS can view that as a egregious violation. USCIS likely won’t even really ask for the timesheets anyway.

Q: I applied for a master’s degree in San Diego ,CA. I will take 1 class per week,and I’m paying my degree, do I need a student visa? Right now i’m living in Tijuana, Mexico (next to SD).

A: Yes and also you should make sure 1 class per week counts as full-time. I don’t know the specifics of your school and how does a class only last 1 week at a time, but just make sure whatever it is you are doing that it is a full time course of study, until the last semester which you can do part-time. Paying for your degree is expected and has nothing to do with your question.

Q: I have OPT which started on Feb 1st, 2013 (according to the date on my EAD card) and is set to end on Jan 31st, 2014. Now, my actual F1 visa in my passport is set to expire on April 15th, 2013. My I-20 is up to date and indicative that I am under OPT etc. What bothers me is that I am seemingly not able to fly in and out of the country once my F1 visa is expires. I am not really planning to leave the country unless there is an emergency back in France and was curious to know if I’d be able to renew my visa a few months expiration (let’s say June 2013 for example) or if it was an absolute necessity to renew before. What I am trying to avoid is leaving the country for the only purpose of renewing my visa, and rather killing two birds with one stone and using a scheduled trip this summer to take care of it.

A: You can renew your F-1 visa if you are on OPT. The process is similar to the initial application for F-1 visa that you have to demonstrate that you intend on returning to your home country after the completion of OPT. Also, as you are aware, you must do this in your home country and not in America. It seems that chances of denial is higher because it makes no sense that you need to extend the F-1 visa for OPT only since OPT is for work and F-1 visa is for studying. However it would make sense if you have a good case, such as necessary family and religious appointments in your home country that requires you to travel back and forth during OPT. The safest bet, as you have pointed out, is to just stay in America until you finish your OPT. Also if you are in a job where they will sponsor you for H-1B later, just return home AFTER you received your H-1B, in which case it would be perfectly fine.

Q: I am a Chinese citizen and I am here in the U.S. working on my masters degree. I came here with an F1 Visa in January. I just married my boyfriend who is a U.S. citizen. We are filling the I-130 and the I-485 concurrently. I do have a concern. I knew my boy friend before I came to this country to study. He had visited me in China a year before I came here. We did NOT have intentions of getting married until recently. Let me rephrase that, “I” did not have intentions of marrying him before I came here to the U.S. to get my masters degree. He may have had other desires. But now I want to marry him. My question is, will/could our relationship before I received my F1 Visa, cause us a problem in me getting a green card?

A: No, this is absolutely fine and in fact many people have already received green cards this way. Remember that this is America and even the government, USCIS, understands people change their minds and all that. What you described is exactly what you should tell the USCIS. There was no formal commitment when you came here to study and therefore it is absolutely fine that after a while you decided to marry your boyfriend. There will be no problems if this is your only concern.

Q: I got accepted into community college in SoCal about 3 weeks ago for English and Literature studies, which I always dreamed of studying. My friend sponsored me, though, because my minimum wealth job hasn’t provided me the chance to save enough for the college. He’s a very responsible person, with a great stable job, and out of pure good and willing to help, he decided to invest in my education in the U.S. Both him and his girlfriend wholeheartedly meant to just simply help me. My school could not be sponsored by any of my family members, since they’re not wealthy people; I still have to support them every now and then when they need money and I’m always willing to do that. My F1 visa interview took place yesterday and got denied under section 214(b), where I did not present ties strong enough to both origin and residence countries. The fact that I think had the strongest impact on the decision, though, was that my friend sponsors me for the large amount of money, is an unmarried young man, also willing to host me at his home during the time of my education. I think the consular office automatically assumed that I want to marry him and stay in the U.S. He didn’t say it straight, but I could clearly read between the lines. Now, he said that based on current circumstances, he cannot grant me a visa.

A: Your situation presents a suspicion to the immigration officer regarding being a single female in your mid 20s going to America to study at a community college. Generally immigration officers look more closely at single females going to America to study in very entry level colleges, such as community colleges. It is pretty risky to apply on that fact alone. On top of that, your sponsor is a random American male. That goes to show that you are attempting to get to the USA and use him to get a green card. That is what immigration officers don’t like the most, using a visa that does not fit your intention. I think though, your best chance to just get to America via F-1 visa would be to apply for short-term language school. Language school is usually a 5-6 week course and immigration officers grant that easily. Once you get to America, then apply to other schools and transfer. Transfer does not require you to be interviewed again. F-1 visas are a minimum of 2 years (not sure for Polish citizens) but you don’t need it to be valid if you are enrolled in a course of study with an active I-20.

Q: I was in the USA this year from the 1st January to the 6th July on a F-1. I am under the impression I am not allowed to reenter the country (on a tourist visa) until the next calendar year begins – that being the 1st Jan ’14.

A: I personally never heard of this restriction. As long as you did not violate your F-1 visa status and departed the US on time after your course of study has completed or at the end of your OPT, you should be able to re-enter America on a tourist visa any time after, even July 7th (assuming you have a valid tourist visa already).

Q: I have a problem at my current OPT status. I have accumulated 89 unemployment days. My current job started at Aug 12th and I found new one will start on Nov 4th. For the end date of my current job, may I choose Nov 3rd? (The problem about Nov 3rd is Sunday) However I have only one legal unemployment day. Under this circumstance, what should I do? Hope anyone can help me, many thanks!

A: Because you are so close to the maximum allowed days of unemployment on OPT, you absolutely cannot have a gap between employment. Yes, start the new job immediately after the current job. Not all jobs are M-F only, so I think it would be fine to start on a Sunday.

Q: Hi, Im currently in the United States. Been here for a month now. Can somebody tell me if i want to study a degree program in College, How can i get my visa converted to F1? Is it possible? What documents do i need to have?

A: Yes it is called Adjustment of Status. You need to first apply and be accepted at a school, provide financial documentation that you can support yourself during you studies, pay the SEVIS fee and the school will issue you an I-20. Once you have that, file I-539 http://www.uscis.gov/i-539 and explain why you changed your mind. Remember, USCIS really does not like people changing minds, especially on B-2 visas to F-1 or vice versa. It really all depends on how you can convince the USCIS that you did not intentionally enter the country on a different visa than your original intention. Keep in mind if you apply for this change within 60 days of arrival to America, it is likely to be rejected as it looks like you never intended on just coming to America for tourism.

Q: I am a 21 year old Mexican citizen and have been in the US for over 2 years now. I first came to the country under a J1 visa, and after a year and a half decided to change my status to F1. I received the F1 status on march, 2013, and haven’t visited Mexico since December, 2012; therefore, I don’t have nor ever had the F1 visa on my passport. I’m pursuing a Psychology major, and am currently attending my first semester at a community college. I really want to visit my family, but before I ask my question I want to explain my situation.

 Like I mentioned, I don’t have the F1 visa on my passport, I just have the status. For what I understand, I can legally keep studying in the US without the visa on my passport as long as I don’t exit the country. I know that if I want to visit my home country I need to go to the US embassy in Mexico and go through an interview. Currently, my sponsor is a US citizen, a 28 year old male that is also my boyfriend of 1 year. He offered to sign as my sponsor since neither my family nor I can afford to pay for education here.

 My question is, if I go to the interview in Mexico, am I in risk of getting the visa denied?

A: Yes, it is pretty high risk despite the fact that you have been studying already. I think its very dangerous to try since you have 1. a sponsor who is a USC and also related to you by a romantic relationship, meaning you are just extending your stay in America for him and the lifestyle, not really to study. 2. you are studying at a community college when you are already 21 years old. It only works if you transfer while in America, if you were to apply for the visa from overseas with a community college admission, it probably would be rejected. You never know until you try, so just make sure you know the possible consequences of being denied the visa and unable to return to America.

Q: I am a student on F1 . I have a 3 year bachelor degree from India and 1.5 years of work experience. Currently I am on OPT after completing a one year professional certificate from a college in Seattle. I also just completed my online – part time MBA from a university in India. Now I would like to know if my employer can apply H1B visa for me. Am I eligible for the same.

A: Yes, this is fine. As long as you have a undergraduate degree you can get H-1B skilled migrant worker visa. It all depends on your employer and the cap

Q: I’ve been in the U.S. for approximately 10 years on three different visas (A-2, F-2, and F-1).  My OPT will be expiring soon and I’ll have to return to my home country.  My mother has her green card, my brother is a U.S. citizen, and we plan to apply for my father’s green card soon. If I apply for a new visa for a US master’s program while I’m in my home country, would the USCIS deny my application because my visa history and family background indicates that I have “intentions to immigrate” based on the Immigration and Nationality Act?  Would they grant me the visa if I apply before my OPT expires?

A: Yes it is likely to be denied. You have a few options:

  • wait until your mother has citizenship and bring you over.
  • you can apply for the master’s program while in America as long as your F-1 visa is still valid and just continue your studies here. However you can never leave America after the visa has expired.
  • get a job that sponsors H-1B
  • marriage to US citizen (see guide here)

Q: Hello everybody I have a J-1 visa that ends Dec. 15th but I want to know if I can change my students visa to a work visa without leaving USA, I wants to stay there… I am thinking to leave USA and enter with a tourist visa at the beginning of next year and then change tourist visa to a work visa but I don’t know what to do

A: Don’t leave. Just attempt to apply for a job that will sponsor you for H-1B work visa. You can also try marriage to US citizen if you don’t have a 2 year foreign residency requirement. You can also try to do a AOS to F-1 visa.

Q: Suppose a person has 7 months left until existing F-1 expires.  They can travel back and forth from USA to home country. Now what if, when the person is on such a trip in their home country, they submit all documents to apply for a new F-1 for a new program in USA such as a PhD.  The F-1 for PhD is usually given for 5 years. The USCIS deny the new F-1 . What happens to the valid existing F-1 pasted in the passport that is still good for 7 months? Do they put a cancellation stamp on it or some such – - – or can the person travel back to the USA on this existing, unexpired F-1 ?

A: The existing F-1 visa will not be cancelled and will still be valid for another 7 months. If you are rejected for a visa, they would not take your passport and therefore would not have the chance to pt any type of cancellation stamp, if there is such a thing, into your passport. The person can definitely, assuming he has valid I-20 and has been maintaining status in America, travel back to America on the existing F-1 visa and enter without any problems.

Q: I am currently working using my OPT which will expire in December 2013. I can renew it for another 17 months (STEM extension). The problem is that my F1 visa expires in December as well, so I wont be able to fly overseas after that. The company will apply for the H1B visa in Spring 2014 so I can have it in October 2014. I am also engaged to a US citizen and we are planning to get married soon. The question is if there is a way to travel overseas for a few weeks during the summer 2014 and return without any problem. I would appreciate any help.

A: The only way is for you to be married to your US citizen partner ASAP and begin the Adjustment of Status process to green card right away. You should not even worry about the H-1B because as you have noted you won’t even receive it until October 2014. Also with a green card you wouldn’t need the H-1B visa anyway so I don’t know why you are counting on that. Just get married legally and start the AOS process. During your application, you would definitely be filing the I-131 Advanced Parole application would would add a note on your EAD card that you are approved for travel while your AOS application is pending. Getting approved on the I-131 is pretty easy as well, just write that you are looking to travel during the AOS application.

Q: I have plans to study in abroad, I have select two colleges  i.e Asia Pacific International College Pty Ltd and Carnegie Mellon University. In these colleges which one is the best and which college offer early student visa?

A: There is no such thing as early student visa. Carnegie Mellon is the higher ranked of the two.

Q: I am in states for more then a month now and wish to change my status from b1 to f1. Now I just want to know once my status is changed will I be able to visit my home country? or do I require a visa for that? if yes can I get it from the states after my status is changed? My b1/b2 is valid until 2020.

A: If you successfully change your status, and leave the country, you must apply for a F-1 visa at your home country’s consulate/embassy to re-enter as a F-1 student. Without the F-1 visa stamp, you cannot re-enter as a student and only as a tourist on the B1/B2.

Q: Can a visit visa  converted in to student visa? What documentation is required?

A: Yes, you need to be accepted to a school that offers F-1 visa. After they issue a I-20 for you, you can then file for Adjustment of Status using I-539 provided you have a good and compelling reason why you are changing status and all your required proof of finances as well as able to demonstrate strong ties to your home country.

Q: I am a grad assistant, but my hours are about to become very little (softball season nearly over in Montana). And I have agreed an internship, on campus with the IT department. The only question I have, as I will not be getting paid for this, and my hours will only be noted for the purposes of the internship, will I be restricted to 20 hours per week, or can I work more than that. My hours for softball from next week will be 3.5 hours a week, just supervising study tables, so I was hoping to be able to work at least 30 hours a week (class internship) to accelerate my knowledge so I can get a good reference , and also be used for future work.

A: No, unfortunately you will not be able to work beyond 20 hours a week even though it is unpaid. The only exception is economic hardship which would allow 40 hours a week during school, however it wouldn’t make sense you are working on unpaid internship to support yourself.

Q: Currently I have done a MBA in Finance. MBA is equivalent to 16 years of education in Pakistan. Could you please help me out about the following queries: MBA from Pakistan is considered to which grade in US.? As a MBA , Am I eligible to apply for an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management in a community college in US.?What is the grade level of this degree in US. ? Is this an Undergraduate degree? Is it better to obtain a 2 year Associate in Applied Science degree after a MBA? Should I apply for this degree ?

A: MBA is an advanced graduate degree in America, typically after 4 years of undergraduate studies. If you were to apply for an Associates degree from a community college, you would be admitted but USCIS probably won’t grant you the F-1 visa. Reason? You already completed very advanced degree in your home country, it looks very suspicious that you are going to America to study in a community college (which is even lower than 4 year undergraduate degree). If I was the USCIS officer interviewing you, I would definitely not give you the visa unless you have a very good reason why you are going to USA to study with 17,18 year old students.

 Q: I am looking to get some information about student visa for my brother. I would like him to come here for summer to visit me, improve his English and travel locally a little bit. I was thinking about some Summer ESL Program that he would enroll in and will probably need a student visa. He is 19 years old and currently enrolled in University back in Europe. He will have to go back to continue his studies after summer. What are the requirements in such situation? Do I need to find school for him and have the school fill out I-20? Please advise.

A: You just need to apply to be accepted to a ESL (or language school program) program, which will then issue an I-20 for him to apply for a F-1 visa to enter America as a student. Keep in mind he also needs to document his finances to support himself for the program; using you as a sponsor might not be too wise if you are a student as well since USCIS will probably think you can’t afford it. It would be best if he brings his own money. Also remember that he can attend English classes on a B1/B2 visa, which is the tourist visa, and this requires alot less documented finances if he really just wants to come here to visit and study English.

Q: I was a J1-Student, applied with I-539 for a change of status within my legal period, went on a raodtrip, flew back to Germany while my application was still pending, then it was denied due to me being stupid and not reacting on their request for mor evidence of financial funds… But I was not illegal during my stay! So far so good but my question is Can I still enter the USA even though my application was denied?

A: You cannot enter on the J-1 visa since it probably ended as your program ended. You can re-apply for F-1, J-1 visa or even B1/B2 visa. It shouldn’t be a problem that you previously had a denial on AOS. The next application you submit should still be looked at as independent of the AOS. Good Luck.

Q: Can some one please clarify if a green card holder can sponsor her sister as a student ? If so, does she need to file form affidavit of support I-134 or I-864 ? I strongly believe its not I-864 because its used for family based application, Please correct me if I am wrong? If it is I-134, I cant find any thing mention about F1, Is this the form?

A: When the student (your sister) applies for the F-1 visa, the school likely, after admission, require her to show proof of financial resources to support herself during her first year of study. On there, you can put that you are providing some financial help for her studies, and simply put the amount and relationship (which should be sister). There isn’t a need to file I-134 or I-864. In fact, the I-20 will clearly state which portion of her finances will be coming from you, the green card holder. Keep in mind, green card holder makes no difference. Anyone can help a student come study in America.

Q: I’m a US citizen with a wife from the Philippines. We’ve been married for over 2 years. We would like to know if it is possible to sponsor my wife’s sister to come here for school? Both my wife and I work, and we have a very good income. Can our income be used to satisfy the financial requirements for my wife’s sister to get an F1 visa?

A: As long as your income and savings are enough to cover your wife’s sister’s financial requirements during the first year of study, you and your wife can be sponsors for her education. You just need to tell the school of your intended support and relationship. The I-20 will reflect the portion of the financial assistance you and your wife are providing.

Q: I used to live and work as a postdoc in the US for 4 years under a J1 with the 2 year rule attached. I’m currently looking into getting the 2 year rule waived since my boyfriend and I are planning to get married and really don’t want to spend two years apart from each other. The German embassy lists a favorable recommendation of my J1 sponsor (the NIH, a US government agency) on their website as one of the requirements for a letter of no objection, but NIH only grants those if I would get an offer for a job in biomedical research. My questions are:

 1. Is my only chance finding a job for which I would get an O visa, or are other non-immigration work visas possible as well?

2. Is there any way to obtain a letter of no objection/waiver without the favorable recommendation from my J1 sponsor?

A: I don’t believe there are “easy” non-immigrant work visas available. The easiest one, H-1B, is not allowed under the 2 year foreign residency requirement. However, as you stated O-1 is ok, so are A-1 (reps of foreign government travelling to America), G-1 (Principal resident representative of recognized foreign member government to international organization, staff, and immediate family), T (victims of human trafficking), U (victims of crimes), E-1 (treaty traders). I don’t believe they are easy to get so you are really out of luck. You can’t get the waiver based on no-objection because as you stated, NIH won’t grant it to you unless you fulfill that requirement (which you don’t seem to want to do). There are other ways to get the waiver, check out my guide on waivers here.

Q: Please help me with answering this question . If a USC sponsor a family member as student and that family member/student for any reason overstays something out of USC’s control. Would this have any negative impact when the same USC try to sponsor another person since there is a question ”who did you sponsor before”. Or is this revoke the right from USC to sponsor another person since he/she (the USC) has history of a beneficiary being overstayed?

A: I don’t believe there is such a question as to who you have sponsored before. However I am sure the USCIS database has that information readily available. I don’t really know if they will deny your future sponsorships based on that situation, however it might hurt your chances. The only way is to apply.

 Q: I applied for advisory opinion a week ago. I sent request form and everything needed via overnight express mail. But check my statues on-line with my case number still shows “Currently, there is no information regarding the status of your case.” Is it normal?  How long did it take for you to see any “status” on-line? And, how long did it take to get the reply from the time you sent the application for advisory opinion?

A: It takes roughly 4 weeks to get a confirmation status on the case and some more to receive a decision. The process is a long one so prepare ample time for you to get the opinion and then apply for the waiver based on your own situation. If you are pretty certain you will get the 2 year foreign residency requirement, you should just go ahead and get the waiver process started while you wait for the advisory opinion. The waiver application fee is $200 dollars but this saves you the time of waiting for the opinion.

Q: I am a Canadian citizen who is studying in the USA under a F1 visa. I have been in the United States for about four months now. I am 20 years old, and school is getting pricey; with my motive to want to transition between being a full-time student and a legal citizen who can live and work, I am already considering other options for myself in how to go about that. So, what are my options to legally stay and/or work in the USA besides an F1 through a US college?

A: Honestly, if you don’t have a college degree, you probably cannot get the H-1B visa and then subsequently immigrate to America via your employer. Judging from what your financial situation sounds like, you probably cannot do investors EB-5 visa and also Canada is always one of the countries that do not qualify for the diversity visa program. IMO your only option is to get married to a US Citizen and apply for green card that way. Check out my guide on that here.

Q: I am currently pursuing a 4 year BA from a state university. I recently started my 3rd year. I am on an F -1 visa. Me and my girlfriend ( who is a US citizen ) are planning to marry soon . What is the process that needs to be done ? ( in terms of paperwork etc …) The goal is to become a permanent resident of the US so I could live with my girlfriend ( future wife ) …Will I need to leave the USA or will I  still be able to continue my studies ? 

A: Check out my most comprehensive guide on the application requirements to file an Adjustment of Status (AOS) from F-1 visa to Permanent Resident (green card holder). You can stay in the US the whole time during the application process. Expect it to take anywhere from 3 months to 9 months. Try not to move during this time as change of address is sometimes risky. If you need to leave the US during the application, you will also need to file I-131 Advanced Parole so that you can return from travelling abroad. If you do not do this in advance, you will be considered as abandoning the AOS application once you leave the country.

Q: I am writing in regards to my wife’s J1 visa waiver. The entire application packet was received by the DOS on August 23, 2013 and a favorable recommendation (on the basis of No Objection) was recorded as “sent” on September 23. However, we haven’t received the waiver yet (or receipt of the recommendation being sent to USCIS). We have been waiting for over a month now, which seems unusual based on what I’m reading in forums. Should I be concerned about this delay? Also, is there any way I can verify the status or expedite the process?

A: After approval, it is usual that you receive the waiver and the recommendation being sent to USCIS fairly quickly. All you can do is continue calling the Dept of State J-1 waiver hotline at 202-663-1225, ask them for an update and let them know that you still haven’t received the proper paperwork. Did you move during this time? If you did, you may already be screwed as USPS do not forward mails from USCIS or DOS.

Q: I have few questions. I am from India and I am a doctor(mbbs) here. I like to come to USA and like to get my USMLE done their and get my H1 visa. My plan is to get in to some college with some type of degree in medical line on student visa that I will follow and take USMLE on side with it.  Some of my friends are doing this currently in USA.  Do you know if this is legal? Would I get in any trouble if i do this or someone finds out? Do you think that it is possible to get your H1 like this?  Any help is greatly appreciated.

A: If you come here to study and take the USMLE, it is absolutely legal and fine. Just follow the process to get a F-1 visa and study in America. However, do not declare your intentions on the internet as USCIS can see it and see that you did not intend on studying and leaving, and that you are using the F-1 visa as a gateway to enter America. After you take the USMLE and do get a employment offer from a hospital that sponsors immigration visas, I don’t why they wouldn’t sponsor your H-1 visa. Good Luck.

Q: I have taken admissions at a college in LA for a 4 months english language course and have been granted a 1 year student visa. I have stayed and studied in corpus christi for a similar course and came back to thailand before my visa expired in april 2013. I am flying to usa again tomorrow and i will be landing at Dallas international airport and travelling to corpus christi straight away as my course starts only after a month and I want to meet my friends in texas. I am worried if I will be interrogated or deported because my college is in LA and I am landing at dallas. anyone advice please

A: It is ok to travel to America 30 days prior to the start of your classes. There is also no restriction on where you enter the country, so it is absolutely fine what you are doing. The immigration officer at the airport probably won’t even ask you twice since you may have a flight directly to LA after landing in Dallas. Everything is ok for you.

Q: I applied at Lincoln university in Oakland, CA for MBA program, Information Systems Management…. a 3 year program and (internship) means I work 40 hours/week but work must be in my field of study (called CPT program), I am working at Telecom Egypt, 31 years old , my IELTS score is 6.5 I am waiting for my I-20 as I payed the tuition do I have to get a promising letter from my company ? I mean it doesn’t make sense, no position will wait for me 3 years, I need to get the degree first then look for opportunity that fits my qualifications right ? I have my personal bank statement, but I am really really worried of the embassy stage !!!! I need advises on what to do

A: What do you mean the CPT internship with 40 hour/week? If it is during the school year, your CPT cannot exceed 20 hours a week. Now your main question seems to be about how to demonstrate strong ties to your home country. While it makes sense that no job will wait for you for 3 years, what you can do is ask your employer to issue a letter saying that they will be interested in hiring you upon return, that you were a good employee and such. For other methods, check out my guide on how to show strong ties.

Q: I am a full time student (not on OPT) and am planning to start a LLC. I know that I can’t work for my company. So I asked a friend (a US citizen) to join with me and he agreed. So here are my questions:

1. How much share can I own? Can I own 90′% and my friend own 10%? Is there a limitation?
2. Are there any problems with hiring employers if I own 90%?
3. Can I be the chairman or the president (only to oversee and will not be paid)?
4. My friend will be the CEO, the managing member. He don’t want to be paid. But that is not legal, right? So what is the lowest possible wage for him? Can I pay him only by some shares of the company? He is a member. Is it considered as a self-employment and no need to pay?

A: I believe you CAN be self-employed for OPT, but not too sure about if you are still in school since you cannot work over 20 hours a week and usually no off-campus work, unless doing CPT or economic hardship exception. I am not sure what you are trying to do here so be careful. If you want to start a company, you should do it after graduation since it may violate your status. Now, with the remaining questions, everything is possible. There are no rules in America to prohibit immigrants or foreigners are making a Fortune 500 and a billion dollars.

Q: Hello, I am wondering about this: My husband is on military training right now in another state, he cannot come back home for my Green Card Interview. I called the Military Help Line,and one of the ladies told me to submit my husband’s orders, a letter explaining why my husband couldn’t come, asking for a new date for the interview and a copy of the request to appear for initial interview. I sent all that info last week, as soon as I got the interview paper through mail. And I’ve been waiting for an answer, but I haven’t heard back from USCIS yet. I tracked the package and it got there safely (I sent it to USCIS Santa Clara, where my interview is supposed to be). Now, I’m wondering, The interview is on NOVEMBER 14, next week. Should I go by myself even if my husband is not with me? This is a little bit stressful right now. I would like to hear if other military spouses have attended the interview alone, without their husband/wife.

A: This is a tough situation. Bring the military order and hope the USCIS immigration officer will let you change the time of interview. No one can really offer you any advice here; you just have to try. Good Luck.

Q: I used to be a student at Arizona State University for two semesters but I got disqualified from fall 2013 semester (which starts on August 2013) and they terminate my SEVIS records. Than, I went back to my home country in June 2013 and it’s been almost 5 months since I left the US. However, I believe that I have been out of student status for only 3 months (since August 2013). So, my question is can I re-enter the US with the same unexpired VISA but with a new I-20 + new activated SEVIS number? or do I have to apply for a new F-1 Visa? or do I have to do reinstatement for my current VISA?

A: You need a new F-1 visa. Once you left the country in June 2013, the F-1 visa is also terminated. You need a new visa with a new I-20.

Q: Hi everyone, I have F-1 visa and my college is in Seattle. I have my family friends in Alabama. I am traveling from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Can I land Alabama first and then travel to Seattle before my course start? Will I be questioned at PoE I mean. Any advice.

A: Any Port of Entry is fine. There isn’t a restriction that you must arrive exactly at the location of your school. In fact, sometimes during transit, you enter America in another city first, go through immigration, then take another flight to your destination.

Q: I have been living in Philadelphia for three months with an american family working with them as an au pair. I’m not very comfortable with them and I’d really like to know if I have any other choices to work or study here. I want to know how my J1 visa works and what I can and I can’t do. I’m a graphic designer and I’d love to work as a graphic designer but I guess it’s complicated. And about studies I’d like to have more information too. And about the H visa, It’s easy to get it? How is the process?

A: First you must determine if you have the 2 year foreign residency requirement on your J-1 visa. If you do, your only other option is to adjust status to F-1. If you do not have the 2 year foreign residency requirement, then you can go either into F-1 or H-1B as a skilled worker. Keep in mind graphic design typically is NOT a skilled job, but if you know computer programming and can code computer graphics, then you may be able to find a job to sponsor you for a H-1B visa. Adjusting to F-1 is the easiest way but it also requires you to have money for tuition and living expenses.

Q: I am in a dilemma and would really appreciate your thoughts. I am an Indian national living in England. I am due to apply for a British passport in early 2014 and understand it can take up to 6 months. I am however going to the US for higher studies in June 2014 for 2 years. As such, I will need to get the US student visa on my current Indian passport and then visit UK to collect my British passport when it is ready. My questions are: 

1. Will I be able to transfer the US student visa onto my British passport? Note that since India does not allow dual citizenship, I will have to give up the passport. As such, I will either have to apply for a new student visa or transfer the one on my Indian passport. Does anyone know how it works? 

2. If I am able to transfer the visa, do you know how long it will take? I ask as I will be missing important classes during the time the transition happens 

A: Regarding the transfer question, no, you cannot transfer visas between passports even if you are the same person. Visas are stamped for a specific passport only. You must re-apply for F-1 visa on the British passport after you receive it. This is a tricky situation. What you have to do is this: begin your studies on the Indian F-1 visa, notify your DSO at the school of your situation. Fly back to England and get the British passport and at the same time apply for F-1 visa on the British passport, taking documentation from your DSO that you technically already begun studies and that you are simply continuing your education on a different passport. Because of the time constraint, you may not get your F-1 visa in England in time, and may have to take a 1 semester break which is allowed on F-1 visa.

Q:  I am candidate for an F1 visa,  there is information that is incorrect and specified wrong sponsor name on my I-20. I am afraid that Embassy Officer will reject my visa because of that confusion; Is there anyone else that also suffered from this problem and what happened when you entered to the Embassy?  

A: Chances are the immigration officer at the embassy may not catch whatever mistake you are seeing. If they do, simply explain to them the truth and that the information is wrong because the school typed in the wrong information. As long as you do not falsify information and be honest, the immigration officer usually wouldn’t deny you for other people’s mistakes.

Q: hi! just want to ask if im good if my j1 visa is not subject to 2 year homerule? both of my ds 2019 and j1 visa said so. but i heard that Am i still subject to stay here for 2 years? whats the truth? im goin’ to take my k1 interview soon. 

A: If both DS-2019 and your J-1 visa stamp says you are subject to the foreign residency requirements, you are most likely subject to it. The surest way to find out is to get an advisory opinion which is free. Take a look at my guide to get advisory opinion from the Dept of State. Keep in mind your K-1 will be REJECTED if you are subject to the 2 year foreign residency requirement and have not yet waived or fulfilled it.

Q: Hello, my nephew wants to come here to study because the university here is much better and his parents can afford it. But 5 years ago, I petition my sister to come here on Green card, and on the application she lists her husband and my nephew as her child (they are not here yet). Now that my nephew wants to come here to study, will that cause any issues? Can we check that box that ask “have someone petition you..? ” as yes?

A: Absolutely no issues for your nephew to come to the US on a F-1 visa for study. While they may see that he intends on immigrating to America eventually since there is an outstanding petition for permanent residency, it is also done via relative petitioning which is ok. Generally the USCIS like to deny those that have no ties to America and wants to just live and work here without any sponsorship and cause financial burdens for the US government. In your case, since you are likely sponsoring his parents and also his parents as you said have good financial situation, they would not be against such immigration.

Q: I am on OPT and my OPT is going to expire on dec 12-2013. My employer filed for my H1b in normal processing on april -01-13 . and my case is still under processing. I want to know can i continue to work if my case is under processing and my opt expires?. 

A: No, because H-1B won’t kick in until April 2013 which means you have no legal work status from Dec 12 until April. You must stop working and also return to your home country and then return to America for work on the H-1B visa after approval in April. You are confusing adjustment of status pending applications, which is different from your current situation.

Q: I am asking for a friend. She and her bf are on J1 visas in new york, and she would love to stay longer. But since this visa requires them to go back after the year has passed and stay for 2 years, is there any way to extend their stay? 

A: Yes, she has a few options. First is to transfer to a F-1 visa to study in America. This requires her to adjust her status to F-1 and also have money for tuition and living expenses. This is also a good way to begin a modern immigration to America. The second option is to transfer to B1/B2 tourist visa. However this will only allow her to stay 6 more months. The last option is to apply for J-1 foreign residency requirement waiver, see my complete guide here. After applying for the waiver, immediately apply for visas such as H-1B (skilled worker) or green card (through lottery or marriage). Keep in mind the last option requires her to have the H-1B job offer or the lottery/marriage green card process ready, otherwise she cannot stay beyond the J-1 visa duration anyway even if the waiver is approved.

Q: I attended school in the US, graduated and started my opt. During the second year of my OPT my student visa expired, however I did not go home to re-new it. While I was still on OPT, I applied for school and got accepted. So i terminated my opt, and re-enrolled in school as a full time student, but with the expired visa. Now I want to go home in December and re-new the visa, however I am wondering if the visa will get revoked because I started school with an expired visa.

A: The visa is already expired/revoked. After you go home in December, you MUST apply for a new F-1 visa to re-enter America. It is ok that you were attending school on an expired F-1 visa as long as you did not violate your status by working illegally, not going to school full time, etc.


Q: Next Monday I’ve got the interview at the Embassy because I’ll be traveling to New York on the Work and Travel program. I met this guy 3 years ago online and I’ll be staying at his apt during my trip there (4 months). What if the consular officer asks me where ill be staying? Should I tell them the truth or should I make up something? If so, what should I say?

A: Are you a female? If so, then why don’t you say a hotel or something similar? The reason is you don’t want to give any reasons for doubts that you may be attempting to immigrate to America by marriage, real or fake. America is a free country, so you can even say something like ‘I plan on booking a hotel in NY’ and then later stay at your friend’s place because you changed your mind. Remember, it is ok to change your mind.

Q: I have been an LPR since last August. I got my social security card a year ago when I started working on campus as an F-1 student, and I haven’t removed the “work authorization only” statement from the card. My question is, does it cost money to remove the statement? If so, how much? (I live in NY state) Also, can I order a new card without the “work authorization only statement” online, by mail,or by phone? I don’t have a car, so I was wondering if I could avoid going all the way to the social security center.

A: Contact the SSN office near you for information. Chances are they can issue you a new card (still the same number) but has the verbiage removed.

Q: I need some urgent advice regarding a Chinese friend who is currently visiting here in the U.S. and is applying for a student visa. Her lawyer is telling her that she needs to show $50,000 in a U.S. bank account. As a former engineer, she has this money but it’s all in her Chinese bank account, so there is no way she could transfer it to a U.S. Bank that quickly. 

 Is this lawyer correct in stating that the money needs to be in a U.S. bank? Would the visa be rejected if the proof of funds was a bank statement from her Chinese bank account? She is freaking out about this and I’m trying to figure out the truth for her. Thank you in advance for your help and insight. 

A: No, the lawyer is wrong. The money can still be held in a foreign bank. All your friend needs to have is an English proof-of-funds from the Chinese bank where she is keeping the money. That document would be sufficient for the USCIS to process and review her application.

Q: I’m a F-1 visa holder and working on OPT currently. I am applying for a dependent visa (F2) for my wife. My college generated a new I-20 for me and added an additional amount of 3000 $ as expenses for the dependent. So, the total amount shown in my I-20 is 33000. So, when applying for a dependent visa ,

1. Do I have to show financial statements showing that I can cover expenses for the whole amount shown in my I-20 or only for the additional amount (3000$)?

2. I have taken statements from a bank as proof of financial ability while applying for my F1 visa. Now, can I show my paystubs as proof of financial capability ?

3. If I am required to show proof of financial ability for the whole 33000 $, can I submit a statement that my dad would sponsor this amount? Though my pay stubs would cover this whole amount, I do not have sufficient amount in my bank account now.

A: The issue here is that the visa officer will need to see the full amount of money that you have to sponsor your wife. Because of that, I don’t think your pay stubs would work because it seems that for F-1 and F-2 visa applications, the money has to be already “earned” and cannot be an income stream where you are getting it per paycheck. You may lose your job at any time which will make you a financial burden to the American society. The best way is for you to produce current documents of all the money you have, and if this does not total $33,000, then ask your dad to also provide his bank statements demonstrating that you have the entire $33,000 ready to spend.

Q: My friend was in the US for 3 years and she got into legal trouble. All the charges were dropped in court after evidences was shown proving else wise, except a criminal destruction of property charge. I think it was a misdemeanor, she pled guilty after the court offered to lower the charge to a Civil forfeiture charge, which is a non criminal charge in Wisconsin and results in only a fine. She left the country since then and applied to school to finish her degree. She received  her I-20 and went to the embassy for an interview. She gave them the court documents, a letter from her attorney and everything that was needed. The embassy told her she was ineligible to apply for an visa of any kind ever again and would need to apply for waivers every time. What is the reason for this? She has no criminal record. Is there anything that can be done?

A: Unfortunately what she did by accepting the plea bargain to reduce the charge to a civil penalty, she is considered “guilty” in terms of accepting a pre-trial diversion offer by the WI DA. Was her charge completely dismissed or replaced with the civil penalty? Because if it was completely dismissed, then technically she is “not guilty” and should be eligible for any visas. However, it seems that her charge was instead replaced by the civil penalty which means that she was guilty she just took an offer to reduce her punishment (probably because she is not a real criminal and was 1st time offense). There is nothing that can be done except to try to apply to expunge the charge from her record, which is a difficult process to do overseas.

Q: I am getting married in San Diego CA on August 16th 2014. I have family and friends coming over for it. and my cousin’s J-1 visa expires in June. Is it possible for my cousin to extend his J1 visa date so that he can stay until after the wedding, avoiding going home and then having to pay for another flight in August to come back on the visa waiver. His course finishes in May, and he was going to come and stay with me for a month after until hi visa expires. Would be great if he didn’t have to go back until after the wedding though. Will save him a lot of money! 

A: No, there is no such thing unless he applies for adjustment of status (AOS) to another visa. He cannot extend the J-1 visa due to the program ending in May. But you are over-thinking this, J-1 visa gives the holder an opportunity to participate in academic training which is similar to OPT for F-1 visas. All your cousin has to do is to apply for the academic training through his ISO and then find a job related to his field of study. The academic training can be a maximum of 18 months.

Q: Is my daughter suppose to renew the student visa which expired a few months ago? She has been continuously in college and the college said that it does not matter the visa expired as she is still a full time student. They told her she can renew it when she leaves the country over a break. Is this really true? Or does she have to leave as soon as possible to extend her student visa? She will in May ask for OPT and I don’t want her to have any troubles because of the expired visa.

A: The visa expiration does not matter as long as she stays in America and stay in status. The visa document/stamp is mainly used to enter America. Yes, exactly as her college ISO said, she can leave America, re-apply for F-1 visa as she did before, get a new F-1 visa stamp on her passport and she can then enter America with the new F-1 visa. Applying for OPT does not matter either way because you don’t need an unexpired F-1 visa stamp to apply for OPT. If she never leaves America, she can still apply for OPT with the expired visa stamp. If she leaves America, the only way to re-enter is with an active unexpired F-1 visa stamp.

Q: I came to United States last month on a tourist visa. So its been a month i am here. Now i am arranging all my documents for change of status to F1 Student. So i need to know some important information before I start the procedure.

1. Are community colleges good enough for change of status? I mean they are cheaper than the uni’s and other colleges so i want to study in community college. Is it a right choice? 

2. If i choose 2 years study than what will be the duration of my F1 student permit? Do i get the work permit after my studies?

A: Yes, any school that can accept international students can issue an I-20 for you to do an adjustment of status to F-1 visa, community colleges included. The program study length does not always determine the length of your F-1 visa. This is actually dependent on your country. For some countries, Dept of State gives out a 5 year F-1 visa even for a 6 week program. For some other countries, they give you less, sometimes 2 years, sometimes exactly as long as the program.

Q: I need some advice regarding student and work visa in US. This is for my friend who wants to pursue master degree in US. Is there any way she can work while continue to study in US and work after finish her degree?

A: Yes, during the school she can work on-campus for maximum of 20 hours per week. If she demonstrates extreme economical difficulties, she may be able to work off-campus and for more hours. Keep in mind it has to be extreme and I have not hears of anyone successfully getting this, because technically when you apply for F-1 visa, you should have sufficient funds to fund your study without any income. Upon finishing school, she has 1 year to work on OPT which most employers will agree to but it is up to her to find an employer that will sponsor her a H-1B visa after her OPT expires to continue to live and work in America.

Q: I am a student in US holding a J1 visa. I have applied for DV lottery. Afterwards, I heard that applying for DV lottery is very negative for my situation; because it prevents me from visiting my country till I finish my study which takes 4 more years. I have read from the web that I will be denied if I visit my country because they will know that I may have immigration intent. I just applied for 2015 and I am still waiting nothing has happened to my application. Please any one has info to answer my following questions:

1. Is it danger to visit my country because of applying for DV lottery?

2. If yes, is there any way to cancel my application?

3. Is there any example like mine with J1 who has applied for DV lottery and visited his country with no problem? or with a problem?

4. does the interviewer consultant have info that I have applied for Dv lottery? is there any evidence?

A: You are completely over-stressing and analyzing this situation. It is absolutely ok to have applied for the DV lottery program because it does not necessarily demonstrate intent on immigration. In fact, all you have to say to the visa officer is that you thought it was fun to submit a free entry and you like entering lotteries. You can absolutely go home and apply for a J-1 visa (assuming your current one has expired) and then come back to America. There is no way to cancel your DV entry but why would you want to? Again, the chances of winning is incredibly small and for the visa officer to say that you want to immigrate solely because you applied would not be justified. The visa officer *could* potentially get your DV entry information but they likely would not waste the time.

Q: I came to the US for a Masters degree and I worked on OPT till Jul 2013, left the job and returned to my home country. My employer applied for H1(in April 2013) and it got approved. My sevis is completed as my H1 is approved. No H1 stamping yet. I have F1 visa stamping for 5 years, expiring in Nov 2015. I am planning to do PhD in US this year. Do I need to go for F1 stamping again or is COS to F1 sufficient ? Please suggest.

A: I don’t understand, why do you have  H-1B if you have already returned to your home country? I think you mean that you went to your home country and came back to America on H-1B. If the latter is the case, then yes you can do an AOS (not COS) to F-1 status however this requires you to stay in America for the duration of your study. If you choose to leave America and visit your home country even for 1 day, then you would need to apply for a new F-1 visa stamp and get it approved, as you have done in the past.

Q: Hi all, I really need help here. If I’m on a student visa, can I apply for a SSN? And if yes what do I do?

A: If you have a job (has to be legal and also does not violate your status, check out my guide on F-1 employment), then yes you can (actually must) get a SSN to start working. You just take your job offer letter and I-20 to the nearest SSN office and apply for one.

Q: My F1 Visa technically ends on Jan. 14. Me and my boyfriend are getting married on Friday (1/10). Would I still be able to apply for AOS and actually have a chance at getting approved or should we get married and then I go back to Canada and he petitions for me after. We are both students, he is in his last semester of university and then he’d be entering the software engineering companies… Would it be better for us to not get married at all or get married and petition after or get married and file for AOS? At the time he also has no income because he is a student, and we are aware that we need a co-signer. What do you guys suggest would be the best option? We have the AOS paperwork ready and filed as well as the actual medical exam, all we have to do is send it out. What do we do?

A: Since your application for AOS is already filed out and ready, just send it out. Does your husband have a written job offer from software engineering companies or is he still looking? This is your only problem, the sponsor needs to have money to sponsor your green card. If he has a job lined up, then at the interview you can demonstrate that he has a steady income and you should be approved. Also by filing the application before 1/14, you enter a pending AOS application status which lets you stay in America legally while your application is pending.

Q: I just graduated this fall with my associate degree and I am not planning to continue to study. In my I-20, it says that the last day of school is 12/23/2013, which means that +60 days from that date I need to leave USA. Now here is the thing, I need to find a way to extend my legal time here as my apartment contract is until the end of May. I was wondering if anyone can give me a tip of what to do in order to delay my last “legal” day here in the USA to May. My F-1 Visa is good until the end of 2014 + I have a valid tourist visa.

I was thinking of the following options:
1. Go to my international advisor, explain her the situation, and hope that she will print a new I-20 with a delayed end date.
2. Fly out from the USA and enter using my tourist visa (I’m not sure it’s the smartest thing to do as they might reject my entrance for some reason and then I’m screwed?).
3. Take the risk and stay more than the 60 day grace time and hope they won’t find it out when I leave? (I don’t want to do that)

A: Option 1 is impossible, if your DSO actually gives you an I-20 for not studying, he/she would be committing immigration fraud and is breaking the law. Option 2 is your best bet. Leave the country on time, and come back as a tourist. Option 3 is bad because they KNOW when you leave the country, they WILL find out. They use the airline passenger manifest to determine who left and on what date. If you do option 3, you will risk your chances of ever immigrating to America. The only legal option for you is option 2. Also, what is the big deal of losing the rent for 5 months? Just forget about it. Why are you staying in America anyway? Just to play and smoke? Don’t waste your time, this is your life, ending one minute at a time. Go home, do something productive.

Q: I recently applied for my OPT as I am graduating in January. My OPT application was received by USCIS on 14th Nov and on 18th Nov, I got an email confirmation which said that my case has been accepted and routed the USCIS Vermont centre for processing. I also have my receipt number in the email confirmation and was told to expect the official receipt notice within 7-10 days. While I can check my status on the uscis website using the receipt number I got in the email, I did not receive the notice by post. When I called up USCIS, the representative said that the notice was sent via post and I just never received it and that they do not send duplicates. While he said that I’m fine as long as I have my receipt number, I am still a little worried. Is this going to be a problem? I also gave january 13th as my OPT start dat, will I get my EAD card by then? My status is in the “Initial Review” stage.

A: It is fine to not have the notice of action as long as you are not leaving the US to visit another country. It is only useful for travel as the custom immigration officer needs to see that you have an application pending otherwise you are abandoning your F-1 visa (since your study program has ended). Regarding time lines, OPT application takes about 3 months. Nobody can tell you for sure if you can get it by 1/13, just pray. Good Luck.

Q: So my SATs weren’t the best scores, and I will not be going to a good uni, rather some average (or under). I plan to do my masters degree in a lot better college. My GPA is good however. Would they deny me for going to a bad college?

A: Yes and no. If the school is really bad and not accredited, you would be denied. If the school is accredited and has USCIS approval to receive international students, and also the school isn’t known for visa fraud, then it would be ok. It depends on the school if the school follows USCIS regulations well and is at least accredited, otherwise it would look like you are just coming to the US on a F-1 but with other intentions.

Q: I recently came back from my home country. I was trying to retrieve my I-94 but could not for two weeks after my arrival.I visited the CBP deferred inspection and they informed me that for some reason my I-94 was not generated at the port of entry. They immediately generated an I-94 for me but it has the date of my most recent entry as the day i visited CBP deferred inspection.Now I plan to apply for my OPT extension and the form I-765 asks me to enter my most recent entry into the US. And i also need to submit a copy of I-94 with my OPT extension package. Will I have any problem or should I be having any chances for an RFE due to this date mismatch on passport stamp and I-94?

A: This is an interesting case. I think you should write your most recent entry that was not documented by the I-94. The reason being this is really your initial entry date and can be verified by the CBP stamp in your passport when you arrived. I am sure the newly generated I-94 shows deferred inspection so don’t use that date. Be prepared with documentation evidence in case they question it.

Q: I came to US with J1 scholar subject to two years home residency. When the first program was finished, I was granted for another J1 student visa for Ph.D program fully funded by US university as research assistant. On that Visa, it also indicated the bearer subject to two years home residency. After the second J1 was terminated, I went back to my home country to fulfill the two years requirement. My question here is when the clock started since I travelled back several month after my first J1. The end of the first J1 or the second J1? In addition, I’m assuming I only need to stay two years in total even two back-to back J1 are subject to “two years residency”.

A: Each J-1 vias carries its individual 2 year foreign residency requirement. In your case, assuming you really are subjected to it (you may not be, they usually put the restriction on all J-1 visa stamps for some reason), you have only fulfilled the first J-1 foreign residency requirement. You have 2 more years to go. Try the guide to getting a waiver and maybe you can get the 2nd one waived.

Q: I have filed my OPT package and got the receipt for 3 weeks. The receipt did not show anything wrong with my forms. But I indeed used the old 2011 year form for the I765. I am a little worried about this. But I search online and find out that the USCIS website said the previous I765 forms after 05/27/2008 are accepted. So I want to confirm this. Is it true that I can use that old form and I won’t get a RFE relating to the outdated form? Thank you very much.

A: The old form is fine, as you said after 2008 are accepted. There are probably very minuscule changes on the new form and yours.

Q: I drop out of status on Jan. 14. because I cannot afford the tuition any more, how man days after can I stay? Is it still 60?

A: If you drop out of status, I believe you have a 15 day grace period to leave IF you have prior approval to drop out of status from your school’s DSO. If you did not inform your DSO, then you must leave immediately.

Q: I have an approved OPT with the status showing Card Production and I also received a notice I-797C action that says my OPT application is in the stage of Post Decision Activity. However, I am currently in my home country and cannot get the EAD card before I return to America. Will I have a problem during re-entry?

A: This is a very tricky situation. On one hand, you were free to leave and come back if you had a pending OPT application without a final decision. On the other, you usually cannot enter America on an approved OPT unless you have a job offer. This is really poor timing on your part. You should have timed about 3 months for getting your EAD and be back in the US before that time. I suggest bringing your latest I-20 endorsed for travel, the I-797C showing pending OPT application, and simply say that you did not realize the OPT has been approved. Chances are the CBP officer won’t track down your OPT status and will assume you are still under a pending OPT application. One thing to note, if you have a job offer already in hand, then simply bring that job offer letter with you as it will demonstrate that you are coming to America to begin employment, which is absolutely fine. In fact, if you have a job offer already, then there are no problems to worry about as it is OK to travel on approved OPT with a job.

Q: There are two forms for J1 Waiver. One which is available online on the DoS website with a processing fee of $215. https://j1visawaiver…tion.state.gov/. The other one is a PDF form on USCIS website and the processing fee is $ 585 : http://www.uscis.gov…/form/i-612.pdf

Which one of the forms do I need to fill in for J waiver? 

A: The DoS form and fee is for all J-1 waivers of the 2 year foreign residency requirement. The USCIS form is for you to fill out IF you are filing under persecution or extreme hardship on a US citizen. You should realize that the USCIS process is more challenging and most people use the No Object statement as the reason for J-1 waiver, since USCIS will look at your case carefully if you really are persecuted or will cause extreme hardship on a US citizen if you leave America. Remember, extreme hardship means that if you leave, the US citizen could potentially die or something serious like that, not because you guys miss each other alot. Check out my comprehensive guide here to get a step-by-step process on how to get your J-1 waiver.

Q: What are the common mistakes on f1 interview in U.S embassy, and requirement, and steps. 

A: The most common by far is problems with your financial documents. You have to make sure you have sufficient funds and as indicated with reputable banks and solid financial statements. The next most common problem is not showing strong ties to your home country. You need to demonstrate that you, at the time of the interview, is determined on returning to your home country upon finishing your studies. For all steps and process, check out my guide on student immigration.

Q: I have got  SSN  which says only valid for work  with DHS authorization. I already went out of school. Now I am planning to file adjustment of status through marriage. Can I assume I don’t have SSN or I have SSN ? For tax purposes reasons.

A: The SSN that issued to you is for life. This means that you will retain that number and that number is assigned to you forever. If you are trying to not pay taxes or work illegally, please, do not do it. They WILL find out because SSN is a de-facto US national identification number. Pay your taxes, work legally, otherwise you may be barred from immigrating to America forever.

Q: So I work online, I make pretty decent money, I am independent , so I don’t rely on an employee, self-employed basically. Money comes from online work. Am I able to be a student + Work online? It won’t affect the US in any negative way, since I am jus tan affiliate? What type of visa is that?

A: Student visa is F-1 visa. This does not allow you to legally work in the USA unless you have authorization and it has to be within the same field of study that you are currently enrolled in. The only way you can continue working online and go to school in America is that the money goes directly to your foreign bank accounts and the company/affiliate program that you are working for is completely non-US, meaning the people who pay you are based completely in other countries. In this case, I don’t see how the US government has any jurisdiction on why you can’t do certain online activities.

Q: I’m applying for uni, and they want my sponsor (mother/father) to have at least $30,000 in bank. My father has a great job, but doesn’t have a lot of money in bank , it goes up and down, one day he may have a lot, one day little, due to the investments he makes. However, my mother does not work, but can have $50k+ easily , I can send her from my bank of what I have saved up. Would it be ok for the visa, if my mom sponsors me even though she does not work? or MUST it be my dad who DOES Work?

A: This is absolutely fine. Just show your mom’s bank statement showing sufficient funds and you should be fine. There is no requirement that your sponsor must be actively employed. You do not even have to mention your father’s business and financial situations.

Q: I’ve been offered an internship and I need to apply for the J-1 Visa, but I’m not too sure on how I can get the DS-2019 form. I don’t think my employer is a ‘designated program sponsor’. This is the first time they’ve hosted someone from the UK, so I don’t think they’ve set anything like that up. Is it possible to find a sponsor to set everything up between my employer and me? Most of the designated sponsors listed say they deal with things that are in different fields to my internship, such as agriculture. Can these sponsors only offer an internship within their own company?

A: The DS-2019 form is issued from your designated program sponsor. In your case, you need to find a Dept of State approved company to sponsor you. Here is a full list http://j1visa.state.gov/participants/how-to-apply/sponsor-search/?program=Intern. Contact one of them and explain your situation. They all require a fee to sponsor you so they will gladly help you since you are their business. Once they issue you the DS-2019 then you must go through the process to apply for a J-1 visa.

Q: My visa was terminated and I have 10 days to leave the country. I have now left the country before my timer ran out. Do I just cross over to the border or was I supposed to notify someone that I left the country. And by someone, I mean officer. When I first came into the country I had to go through some office, was I supposed to go into another office notifying them that I was leaving or does it get notified when they scan my passport?

A: As long as you exit the country, either through plane or driving into Canada/Mexico, you have left the country. There is no need to contact someone or to notify the USCIS that you have left. The US is a country where there is no exit process for leaving the country. Keep in mind they still know when you left, so don’t think you can fool them.

Q: I’m applying for graduate school in FL and if I am accepted plan to apply for an F-1 visa. The only problem is that I plan to live with my American SO for the duration of my degree program, and I am concerned that this could be a reason to deny my visa application. I have no intent to stay in the US after my program is finished, and after both of us are finished school we are planning to get married and to have him come to Canada. How can I prove to the immigration officer that I have no intent to immigrate?

A: The answer is simple: just don’t tell the visa officer about your American significant other! Make sure all your papers and documents do not reference him in any way. When asked where you will be staying, simply reply that you will find an apartment or dorm to live through the International Student Office.

Q: I just recently found out that for 2 years I mistakenly filed taxes through turbotax when I wasnt supposed to. A school accountant told me to but she was obviously not aware of the difference between residents and non-residents. I also won the green card lottery and in a couple months I will start the process to adjust status. I’m afraid that me filing taxes as a resident could mess up my background check. What do I do now?

A: Don’t worry too much; tax laws are complicated and the IRS knows this. As long as you filed, you can plead that you had good intentions on paying your taxes. Also, if you were living here for more than a few months typically you are taxed as a US resident despite your status. Therefore it is ok and just go ahead and begin your diversity visa lottery selection and congratulations.

Q: I came to U.S with J-1 with work and travel program back in 2007. I changed my status while here to F-1 and started school in January of 2008. I graduated from college and I am in grad school now. I haven’t been home because I was told that if I go back I am not going to be able to return to U.S despite my F-1 legal status. My J-1 visa and paper work indicated(it marked) I am not a subject to the “Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement”. I haven’t been illegal even for a day while here. My passport expired and I got a brand new and of course doesn’t have any visa on it since I just changed my status. All my paper work is indicating that I changed my status in 2007. So my question can I go home or I won’t able to come back to the U.S to finish my grad school? My country is part of the European Union- not that this really matters, I guess. Hope you can help me with some answers. I really want to go back and visit.

A: First of all, even if you are subject to the 2 year foreign residency requirement under the J-1, you can absolutely be on a F-1 visa legally. F-1 is a non-immigrant visa and the 2 year foreign residency requirement only applies against immigration visas. Now, with your new passport, you can definitely go home and then in your home country apply for the F-1 visa at the US embassy/consulate in your home country. You must apply for the visa because otherwise you cannot be admitted to study in America when you return. Make sure you have all the necessary paperwork, mainly the I-20 and financial resources and let them know that you are currently an active student.

Q: I recently got employed on campus. I am getting minimum wage and I can have only up to 20 hours per week as long as i am a full time student. I was wondering what dangers there would be if i were to apply for a job off campus with the SSN i received for my job. and also, I know/think i wouldnt be allowed to do a second job, but what if i do? I really need to work. I see all my f1 friends working off campus without ssn or anything for years. so I wanted to know what complications that might bring. I mean at least I have a job on campus and a ssn so i can apply legally for a job off campus, right?

A: If you were to work under the SSN for off-campus employment WITHOUT previous authorization from your DSO, you will be violating you F-1 visa status. You can work off campus during school if it is an approved CPT or economic hardship. Your friends who are working illegally are risking their chances for immigration in the future if USCIS ever finds out. Yes it is possible to work in USA illegally and many are doing so, but that does not mean you should break the law too. If you violate your status and get caught, not only will your F-1 visa be terminated and you must leave the country, future immigration and non immigration visas may be denied.

Q: I should work at Disneyland Orlando the next spring and I think I will have a J-1 visa. My question is, if I will dismiss or I will be fired, I know that I will have to return to my country. But if I want to do a journey in the USA, Can I return with an ESTA? Can I do that now before the J-1? Is it possible or I will have some problems?

A: Yes, if you are terminated, your J-1 will also be terminated but that does not preclude you from re-entering America on a tourist visa to visit. You can enter the country up to 30 days before your program start date, you should use that to travel around the country.
Q: F1 OPT about to expire (June, 2014), I-130 approved, PD 4 Nov 2013 (rest of the world). I can’t extend my OPT, can I be a F1 student again? ( can’t find a job either). Will they approve F1 visa after I filed I-130? 
A: Usually they will not approve the F-1 visa after you have already filed I-130 since you have intentions on becoming an immigrant. I don’t get it, this could be lack of knowledge on my part, but why didn’t you file a I-485 with the I-130? Or can you file I-485 now do do an AOS which will then give you a pending application status and therefore you can legally stay in America.
Q: I had a J-1 visa in 2012. I’m currently going through the K1 fiancé visa process and have my interview soon. My visa has no stamp regarding if 212(e) applies (which is I must reside in my home country for 2 years afterwards).. I’ve lived in Germany, not the UK for the last year. I’m trying to obtain the DS2019, but it was privately funded, not an exchange skill area, and I’m not a medic so I hope to god I’m not.  But would I have got this far if rule 212(e) does apply to me? Would USCIS or the NVC have detected this earlier in the process?
A: Well, if your J-1 visa had no indications that you are subjected to the 2 year foreign residency requirement, then you are fine. You should not have issues continuing with your K-1 visa process. If you feel that you want to be 100% certain, you can always file for an advisory opinion to the Dept of State. Check my guide on this here.
Q: My husband and I are both Canadian citizens and are living in the US with F-1/F-2 visas. If our baby is born in the US during our stay, would the baby be granted American Citizenship by birth? Also, can the parents obtain green card if we decide to raise the baby in the States?
A: Yes the baby will have US Citizenship, but you won’t be able to get green cards through your baby until he turns 21 and he has a source of income to support and sponsor you.
Q: I have a niece ,10 years old ,me and my wife want to bring her from Italy  to continue her studies, she will be in the middle school next year. If anyone has information about this subject,replies will be very welcome.
A: She can come to US on a F-1 visa to attend any private school. She cannot attend US public schools because she has no US citizenship or permanent residence status.
Q: I am Brazilian. I was denied a student visa on November 1st (3 months ago) for the I-20 having the wrong dates. I received a new I-20 from a different college to go study English for just two months. I want to try again this month with my new I-20. Is it too soon to try again or is it ok to go ahead and try? A: Yes there are no time limits on when you can try again although constant repeated attempts are viewed negatively and you should wait a while before trying again. Usually having wrong dates won’t cause your visa to be denied. Typically it is because you cannot convince the visa officer you have strong ties to return to your home country after the program or your finances are suspicious.Q: I have gone through the visa application process and also logged in for making an appointment. Then I was asked to pay the visa fee and I decided to pay it by Online Banking transfer. It worked out successfully, after one day I got an email that I can now make my appointment. The receipt number was automatically filled in and I could make my appointment. After that I could print an appointment confirmation. There I can find my appointment date and time, the DS 160 receipt number and also the MRV receipt number and a barcode. Now my question: Is this appointment confirmation with the receipt number my visa fee payment receipt? Because by internet I found sample visa fee receipts which looked very different and I am worrying that I missed something. I’ve heard you have problems at the embassy if you don’t have that receipt. I would be glad if one can help me!A: Just bring the appointment confirmation, as you have stated it already has your receipt number indicating you have paid the fee.Q: My girlfriend has an unexpired F-1 Visa on her Chinese passport. She is a student in California and I would like to take her on a cruise. I am wondering if she needs to apply for any Mexican visa??? Or can she just go onto the cruise with her current passport, f-1 visa, and I-20 and able to enter the US with no problems??A: She needs a Mexican visa if she is visiting Mexico. However, usually Mexican authorities do not have custom border check points at Tijuana or Ensenada where tourists are frequently entering and leaving the Mexican border. There would be a separate checkpoint if you are going deeper into Mexico. Therefore, if your gf has an unexpired F-1 visa, a valid I-20 endorsed for travel by her school’s DSO and does not venture too deep into Mexican territory (staying in the tourist areas of Ensenada), she would be fine.Q: I have recently sponsored an in-law to study here with F1 status. I signed the I-134 Affidavit of support for this individual. My question is, how long is this binding for and under what terms would it become invalid?A: It is binding until they are no longer in F-1 status. Because you signed that paper, you are held responsible if the person becomes a public charge (gets money for any type of public assistance). The government agency that gave your in-law assistance has the right to sue you for the funds they have provided. On the form I-134 it clearly states that if the person you are sponsoring becomes a public charge, the agency that provides assistance may be able to sue you to recover the cost of assistance.Q: I have a girlfriend visiting me in the US on a tourist visa. She has decided to stay to study and I have a few questions.  First, I’m assuming that she should avoid telling anybody that she has a boyfriend here. The thing is, I want her to live with me because it will be MUCH less expensive for her. Is there any way that she can put down my residence as the place she plans to live, or would that make people suspicious? Also, my family would be more than happy to help in any way they can. Is there any way that they can sponsor her or something like that? Finally, I know that on a tourism visa, it would be considered fraudulent if we were to get engaged. Is it the same case with a student visa? I ask because it’s possible that in the years she spends studying here we could get engaged. A: Yes she shouldn’t make it known that you guys are in a committed relationship because then her F-1 visa could be denied since there is the potential of her using F-1 to stay in the US so that you guys can be together and eventually apply for green card, instead of the original purpose of studying in the US. However, whatever address she puts down, there is no reason why it has to be known that it is YOUR apartment. All she has to say is that its a place she is renting, simple as that. Now, if your family decides to sponsor her, that would raise suspicions because it is documented in her I-20 that money is coming from your family and they can question this relationship. I wouldn’t recommend sponsoring her tuition officially. Your last question about engagement, there is actually no laws against engagement since engagement is not even a legal status (like married or single). You can definitely get engaged while she is studying and there is absolutely no restriction on this. However, if you were to get married and then apply for her green card, you should not do it earlier than 90 days as that would raise suspicions to the USCIS that she had intentions of immigrating to America on her tourist visa.Q: Hello, I’m 30 years old, I have been accepted to a college in Miami in a Bachelors Program. I have been working for my family company the last 8 years. Can my father be my sponsor? I don’t have the required amount to sponsor myself, so I showed his US bank accounts to the University when I applied. My concern to this point has to do with my tourist visa, I want to know that if they deny my F1 visa they might revoke my B1 visa. Is that possible? I have this visa since 2012 and have traveled around 5 times, always coming back to my country. A: First of all at 30 years old entering a bachelor’s program is definitely going to raise some concerns to the visa officer because it is way too late to do a study abroad at that age. However your main questions regarding your father being your sponsor that is OK and perfectly acceptable. About your tourist visa, since you have it already and when you used it you did not violate status, I don’t think they would revoke it if your F-1 visa was denied. If they deny you the visa at the interview, you wouldn’t give them your passport and so I don’t think they would revoke the visa.Q: A student can apply for, and usually easily get, OPT authorization for a year or so of work authorization in USA after completing some program of study for which you previously got F-1 visa with I-20 supporting. BUT – - – typically your F-1 visa will expire on or about the time you finish your course of study AND you are desperate to go back home to visit your family. So you get the OPT, but you can’t get back into USA because your F-1 has expired. So how can this OPT actually work for the normal student in the normal situation???A: Firstly, most of the time the F-1 visa is valid AFTER you finish your program and is on OPT. Most people are given 5 year visas and you shouldn’t need 5 years unless you are in a PhD program which you would need a new F-1 visa anyway and you would not be on OPT. Now the situation you describe, yes it is a problem that if your visa expired but you have applied and received your EAD card for OPT, you will need a new visa to return to the US if you leave. Most people, who are in this situation, does go back to their home country AFTER they secured employment for their OPT (with an offer letter and endorsed I-20) and apply for a new F-1 visa. Most times if the cases are normal, they are granted the F-1 visa again to return to the US to complete their OPT.Q: I want to study in America. I will be taking funding from my father but I also want to draft an affidavit of support, can I use form I-134 for this? I am a bit confused at the moment because one resource stated that non-US citizens can use it, but the form seems tailored for use by US-citizens. And if I were to use some other form/draft my own document, would this have to be notarized? Thanks very much for reading.A: No, you don’t need to file I-134. All you need is to provide your father’s bank statements and note that he is supporting your studies. Your I-20 will reflect that there is a source of funds from your father which then combined with your own money, if any, will be enough to study in America for 1 year, tuition plus living expenses.Q: I am a Filipino 25 years old working in maldives. I am planning to get a short course program in one of the university of Alaska. Probably in Fairbanks. Please anyone help me, and tell me how to start with this idea. How will I choose a university that is available and how is the visa processing.how long does it takes. And how much will be the budget. Thank you in advance.       

A: First you need to get accepted to the university. It sounds like you already chose Univ of Alaska at Fairbanks so I am not sure why you are asking about how will you choose a university that is available. First read the admission requirements for Univ of Alaska, prepare the necessary documents and standardize tests. After this, if you are accepted, you will then be asked to provide financial evidence that you can support yourself while going to school there. This is also dependent on the school you choose. Some schools require less money because they charge less tuition and is in a low cost of living location where as if you try to attend Harvard, it will easily cost you 80k USD for the first year. The entire process won’t take long, most of the time is waiting for the school giving you the admission. Also I hear the US Embassies do not like foreigners to interview for visas from a country that they are not a citizen of. For example, you should apply for the F-1 visa from Philippines instead of Maldives. My comprehensive guide for student immigration is here.

 Q: I became a US citizen this February. My brother wanted to come to the US to pursue  his education in the US. Let me give you a little background about my brother. He applied for a visitors visa but he got denied when he was under 18. They told him you dont have enough ties to Tunisia. My father asked the consular about the meaning of the ties, they told him he didn’t travel outside of my home country, if he does we will give him the visa. My brother traveled to France and he came back. He applied again they denied him again and they told him you don’t have enough ties. My father asked again, he has been told that my brother has to have a car, a house or a piece of land there. Now the question is how the heck will an 18 year old  guy own a car, a house or a land in a country where 40 years old men can’t find jobs? and he still didn’t even finish school. He applied this time for an F1 visa, he has been denied again. Now this is where it gets weird. They ask him if he is married, of course not. They tell him you are denied. My father goes and asks again and they tell him maybe because his brother became a citizen. If anybody can help me figure out what I am missing, or suggest something that we didn’t do I would really appreciate it. 

A: Your brother, without even finishing school in Tunisia wants to go to school in America? How can the visa officer believe this? You understand that going to school in America, requires determination and also the motive to study hard and get good grades. Bad grades can force you out of F-1 visa status and since you are an international student, you would need to leave the country. I think your brother should not even attempt to use F-1 visa UNTIL he has finished school in Tunisia, to show that he is serious about his education. About the car, job and house, why doesn’t he try to get a car? If he is so low on funding, which is not his fault it seems since you said 40 year old men are just getting by too, how can a visa officer give your bother a visa? He is at high risk to not be able to pay for his education and living expenses and undergo illegal employment. There is just so much he must do in preparation in Tunisia before he can even think about coming to America. Taking a vacation to France and returning does not really make any difference. The visa officer needs to see that your brother is serious about education (so finish school in Tunisia and get good grades and get good GRE scores) and have sufficient funding ( get a job, start a business, buy a car, etc). If this is all too difficult, I suggest that he apply for GC through you, and wait 12 years.

 Q: I am a US Citizen. My boyfriend is coming to the US from Ireland on a J-1 twelve-month internship exchange program–He is NOT bound by the two-year residency requirement upon return. We met two and a half years ago while studying in Germany, and have been together since except for a break of a few months. My question is, if we decide to marry during his stay here, would we be suspected of dual intent? I’d be petrified to lose him because they think we’re committing visa fraud. What do you recommend our options are? Should we say that we only met after he moved here? Should we say that yes, we did already know each other, but withhold details of the relationship? This gets even more confusing when considering where he’ll live.

A: If your bf applies for the AOS within 90 days of his entry into America, then yes that is considered intent to immigrate and your application could be denied. The best way is to wait 90 days or more if you can, get married, then apply for AOS. You can be honest about the whole situation as long as you start the application process after 90 days of his entry in America. Check this article for more information about this, it also applies to J-1 visas and other non-immigrant visas. The bottom line, don’t do anything until after 90 days in America!

Q: First a little about my background. I am a UK citizen, husband to a US citizen. A lot time ago (July) we start the process of obtaining an I-130 VISA. After what seemed like an eternity we actually got an approval in February. Now during the process I have been applying for Post-Doctoral research positions the next step in my career. Last week we celebrated as I received the offer for a position at Florida University. Yesterday I found out that the university wants to bring me to the USA on the J-1 VISA, which in some regards is great because it is much quicker than the I-130. However, I now found out about the 212 e rule, which is deeply concerning for me. I am not currently sure whether I am under this rule, technically I am paid by the University of Florida, but the money for lab funding may have come through other sources (I am trying to contact people about this). My question is though, how difficult is it to waiver this rule if it does apply to me? Can you simply get a no objection rule? Does this even apply to me? I seem to be able to find the reasons for the waiver, but not the specifics how to make sure you are approved for the waiver. Can anyone help me please.

A: I would NOT go for the J-1 visa in your case simply because your funding is coming from sources you do not even know and they might not grant you the no-objection statement if you do not return to your home country after your post-doc. Many other options to apply for J-1 waivers are even more difficult than no-objection statement and sometimes simply does not even apply to your situation. I would continue the I-130 application that has ALREADY been approved and get your conditional GC. It should not take much longer since spouse of US Citizen gets first preference and is routinely granted and approved. Just wait for the GC application, you really don’t want to be impatient and take the J-1 visa which gets you in America but you might be forced to return to your home country for 2 years before becoming a GC holder. More trouble than its worth, IMO.

Q: So I have about $100,000 saved (No bank loans or such) in my bank account throughout the years which should be a deciding factor, it’s enough for 2-3 years alone even if my father does not fund me. My father has a company and is a bank statement from his company allowed for the I-20 and the US Embassy? Do they accept it? Do I have to provide proof that he owns the company?

A: Why do you need your father’s bank statement? Your own bank statement will be more than enough assuming you are saying you have $100,000 USD and not your local currency. I don’t know of any educational institution that has more than 100k of living and tuition expenses for the 1st year. Just use your own money, you have more than enough.

Q: I was in the USA under F-1 visa but I got into alot of legal trouble with marijuana, drugs and some other happenings. All my charges were dropped after I completed a pre-trial diversion program. I left the country due to some other reasons and did not finish my degree. Now I feel like I am mature enough and am ready to go back to school. I would like to finish my schooling in USA and get another F-1 visa but I am worried about my criminal record. 

A: Your criminal record is certainly going to be an issue because your application is not clean cut. In addition to the regular paperwork on applying for F-1 visa, I would suggest that you also include detailed description on how you made mistakes in the past and that you have been actively working toward a drug-free, normal stable life in your home country. Evidence of going to treatment, religious activities, etc would probably help. However, your chances of getting denied could be high too so just be prepared.

Q: My relative came here on a tourist B1/B2 visa. Is there anyway he can change from B1/B2 visit to another visa since indeed he has six months of authorized stay in the USA? Also, what visa would you prefer if we decide to follow such path? 

A: He can change to the F-1 visa by applying and getting admitted to a school. This also requires him to have enough funding to support himself for 1 year (tuition + living expenses). You can be his sponsor if he does not have enough money. He can also apply for B1/B2 extension which would give him another 6 months of stay. It all depends on what he wants to do.

Q: I am in a precarious situation. I am currently in the 12-month OPT status, which expires by the end of June. Also my current employer terminates my job on that date (it was an year appointment coinciding with my 12-month OPT period). In most likelihood I will have a new job offer in a month or so. I need to apply for the 17-month OPT STEM extension. The issue is with the field “e-verify number” of employer in the form I-765:
- Since my appointment with my current employer ends before my 17-month OPT STEM extension will start, my current employer is refusing to give me their e-verify number for the purpose of filing my STEM extension application. Can they refuse on this ground?
- On the other hand, my degree university (one that issues my I-20) informed me that I cannot mention a future employer’s e-verify number in the application for STEM extension, even if I have the job offer by the time I submit my application. Is that correct?

So here is my question: Suppose I have the new job offer in about a month (April, that is), and I immediately apply for the 17-month OPT STEM extension (the new employer being registered with e-verify). Whose e-verify number should I mention in the form I-765? My current employer refuses to give it (although they are registered with e-verify). And apparently I cannot mention the e-verify number of my “future employer” (who I will start working with beginning of July). What should I do?

A: I think your current employer is worried that you will use their e-verify number for false applications and I think since you do have a termination date of employment, it makes perfect sense that they do not want to help you in your 17 month STEM extension application. Why should they? They will NOT be your employer after your OPT expires. What you should do is as you are kind of leading to, which is to find a new job ASAP. Get the new job offer, and then simply apply for the 17 month STEM extension with the new job offer and new employer’s e-verify number. In fact, since your current employer is set to be over anyway, I would even get a new job that starts NOW and then simply let the school know you changed jobs and have the current OPT on the new employer’s information as well. Why bother with the current job knowing that it is ending and you want to stay in America?

Q: I was in the US on F-1, but my status got terminated (“failure to enroll”) as I left school, then I immediately left the US, and have been outside of US for more than 5 months now. So I understand my SEVIS is now invalid or whatever you call it… (= would have to apply for new SEVIS #) I don’t plan to be a student any longer. Can I enter US on ESTA just to make a flight transit to another country? I haven’t applied for ESTA yet, but I should be approved if I applied, right? (I’m from a tourist-visa-exempt country.) Even after being approved, would I have problems at the port of entry, as I imagine the officer would probably want me to explain why I have an un-expired F-1 visa on my passport and am entering as a tourist?

A: You are over-analyzing the whole thing. Both are non-immigrant visas (ESTA and F-1, actually ESTA is not even a visa but definitely non-immigrant) and have nothing to do with each other. You absolutely can have an expired SEVIS/F-1 and still return to America as a tourist to visit. You F-1 visa stamp is actually not valid anymore even if it shows an expiration date in the future. The reason being that F-1 visa was used to enter the country to attend school, which you decided to stop pursuing.

Q: Me and my husband applied for F1 visa because his H1B visa was going to expire in December, 2013. So we both applied for different F1 visas in the early December. Now his F1 application got denied because of a wrong date on the I20. I checked mine today and they are asking RFE Form I130, Immigrant Petition for relative, fiancee, or orphan. I have no idea what this is so I don’t know what to do now. I did not enlist him as a F2 because he was applying for F1 however I sent them all of the past immigration documents of my husband such as H1B petitions, passport copies etc. Do you have any idea why they are asking about it? What this for is for? And I am also wondering if it is a bad sign for my visa? 

A: This does not make sense; did you use the right forms? I-130 is for a US Citizen or PR to petition for relatives to immigrate to America. You are neither and applying for a F-1 non-immigrant visa. Something is wrong here. You should check to make sure you applied for F-1 with the right forms because neither you nor your husband can use the I-130.

Q: If a person enters the USA on student visa is it possible to get permanent status, is the student allowed to work? If their spouse comes with them, is the spouse allowed to work? Also would this person be allowed to enter the US military? Can you guys answer these questions for me please. Thank You 

A: If you enter on the student visa, you can do adjustment of status to permanent residency status. However this requires you to have either a relative that can sponsor you (and get approved while you are studying, which is not possible unless the relative is your parents or your spouse who has status, because any other kind of relative would take 10+ years to get approved), or you win the green card lottery. If the spouse of a student visa holder comes to America, they have the F-2 visa and is subjected to the same restrictions as the student visa holder in terms of work authorization. It is not possible for someone who is not a US Citizen or permanent resident to enter the US military.

Q: Im currently having F1 visa which will expire this summer (I-20 valid for 2 more years). I applied for F2A visa bulletin and I received my priority date two months ago. Can I go back to my country for vacation and renew my f1 visa there or US embassy will deny my F1? I understand that F1 can be denied for any reason, but I am particularly worried about my f2a situation, can this two immigration (f2a) and non-immigration (f1) standings comply ?

A: If you go back to your country, you will not likely get your F-1 renewed because you have already applied for a green card under the F-2A category. F-1 is intended for people who are here strictly to study and will return to their home country after the studies are over. You should not travel at this time to avoid issues with your green card application. You may not be able to return unless you have already applied for Advanced Parole with your green card application.

Q: I have submitted form DS 3035 and all required documents to the state department. It is required  that you have to submit two self-addressed, stamped legal-size envelopes. I sent the envelopes but I did not stamp them. I though you need only to put the address labels. Is this a problem and do I need to mail new envelopes ?

A: Yes this is a problem. They will probably notify you about it. If you want, you can try sending another package to them just reference your application number (or better yet, just attach a copy of the application), with a cover letter explaining that you forgot to include self-addressed stamped envelopes.

Q: I’m a tunisian citizen  , i graduated from high school in june 2013 , got b1/b2 visa to the U.S , went with my brother to the U.S in september and stayed with him , he wanted me to stay with him more so he suggested me to apply for a college and study in the U.S , my father encouraged me to do that too , I applied for the college for fall 2014 (this fall) and have been accepted and got all the paperwork with me  (my brother and my father will sponsor me) , I returned back home 1 month and a half ago , and now i’ll apply for the student visa.

1) I want to know what kind of questions they ask ?
2)what’s the percentage of getting the visa ?
3)do I will face any problem getting my visa approved ?

A: Because you have immediate relatives in the US who are US Citizens, it is very suspicious that you do NOT intend on immigrating to America and is coming solely to study and then return home after your program has completed. You need to show you have significant strong ties to Tunisia, and be prepared that you might get denied. You should tell them that Tunisia benefits more for you and that you want to return home after your education to do something in Tunisia. If you do get denied, you can check out my article on other ways of getting a F-1 visa.

Q: I have a question about using my father’s bank account.

1) How old can the bank statement be?

2) How many months of history should it show?

3) Does he need the history + letter from bank manager, or the history (bank transfers ,receiving funds etc) alone enough?

 4) How many months before my college starts, can I apply for a visa (attend visa interview)?

A: The statement should be within 6 months. Don’t show old statements that does not mean anything. Also do not show one-time large deposits. Show that it is always consistently around the same balance to avoid suspicion. He does not need a letter from the bank manager. Just the statement detailing the account activity and balance would be enough. Your question 4 does not make sense. You apply for a visa as soon as get the I-20 from the school that accepted you. Read my series on student immigration to America for more details.

Q: My boyfriend violated his F-1 visa and he applied for reinstatement and was denied. All this being said, he is filing a I-290b.  What else needs to be sent with this form?  And to which address?  The USCIS website’s listing for where to send the form is very confusing.  Also, since we have additional evidence verifying his full time status, can we send that with the form?  What are the chances that the form will be accepted?

Lastly, since this has been such a headache for both of us, we have discussed getting married (we always have, as we have been together for five years…this just really pushes us to!  I am a citizen); would this Denial Notice regarding his F-1 reinstatement in any  way cause for his green card application to be denied?

A: Unfortunately your boyfriend cannot file a I-290B. The reason why you cannot find the appropriate address to send the I-290B is because you cannot appeal a denial decision for F-1 reinstatement. As you have concluded, the only other option is marriage immigration. The denial and the out-of-status on F-1 will not be an issue if he is marrying a US citizen. The USCIS tends to forgive immigration violations that are not egregious for people marrying US citizens and staying in America through a spouse. You better get started on the marriage immigration process. Follow my guide on marriage immigration and save yourself some lawyer fees.

Q: I’m asking this question on behalf of someone. Does one need to bring a parent/guardian during F-1 visa interview if he/she is 17 years old?

A: No, they will need to go to the interview on their own. They are not considered any different from other students who are over 18 years old. The only issues are if the student is under 14 years old, then the parents will have to process the visa applications for them.

Q: I’m posting this on behalf of a friend who is a Serbian national, studied in the US on an F-1 visa and then worked with an OPT visa. Problem is, he worked as a bartender for 2 months while on OPT, and it’s possible that this was flagged somehow. Obviously, OPT is intended for use only in the field you studied but I have zero doubt he was just looking for a way to support himself, and not do something illegal. He now lives and works in Mexico, and has been there for 6 years. He wanted to come to the US for some work training but got denied a visa (not sure which visa he applied for, but even if it was just a tourist visa he still got denied). Now, my question is – what can he do to get that flag removed? Whom does he speak to? 

A: There really isn’t any way to remove his record; it is in the database permanently. The only real way for him to come to America is possibly wait 10 years and try again. Unless you have contacts in political offices like senators or congressmen, there really isn’t any way for the USCIS to hear your case and grant you special conditions. Working illegally and violating status is a big problem and USCIS does not like to give second chances.

Q: My ISO is not letting me apply for opt till I graduate. I may be getting a job offer, which would mean I need to be able to work ASAP. I am wondering if anyone has had any similar issues, and what they did/ how did they deal with the ISO? Also is there any legal actions I can take if need be? 

A: Your ISO is not following the rules. You are able to start OPT as early as 90 days before the program end date, with the first day of OPT as the last day of your program. You should tell them that they are violating USCIS rules and your rights as a F-1 student. Tell them that you will file a complaint with USCIS if they do not let you apply for OPT in anticipation of a job offer starting as soon as after you graduate.

Q: A friend was an au pair a few years ago. She was an au pair for two years (she extended back then). She then went to her come country and stayed there for two years. Can she again apply for a j-1 au pair visa??

A: Yes, as long as she is still under 26 years old she should be able to apply to come back as an Au Pair again.

Q: I need some urgent help. This is my information: My application for OPT was received on March 10, 2014 and it is still on the initial review stage because it hasn’t been 3 months yet.

- I already have a job offer 

- My 1-20 program end date is May 10, 2014

- My OPT start date is July 8, 2014

I want to leave the USA this Tuesday, May 13th. I can’t work until July, so while I wait I want to go home. My problem is that my OPT has not been approved and I haven’t received my EAD card yet and my I-20 program date will finish in two days.

1.) Can I leave the country and have someone mail me the EAD card when it arrives?

2.) Will my OPT be denied because I left the country without it being approved first?

I really need to know because I already have my plane ticket and I don’t know if I should wait for my OPT to be approved and then leave or just leave and have someone mail it to me? Has anyone experienced my same situation or do you have any advice? Thank you!

A: Yes, as long as you have applied and have the I-797C Notice of Action indicating that you have an OPT application pending, I-20 with signed travel signature AND changes to reflect that you applied for OPT, you should be able to travel in and out of the country. Bring your letter of employment just in case as well. Your OPT application will continue while you are at home and will complete in its normal course. Don’t have someone mail it to you because it may just give you more problems, just come back in time to start your new job.

Q:I am an f-1 student who is married and will soon be submitting my AOS for a green card. My f-1 will expire in about a month which is fine I will have everything in process soon however my problem is that my summer will be spent on the road and my drivers license expires the same time my f-1 does. My license is based on my status so does anyone know of a way that I could get it renewed or know of a way that I could get the f-1 extended for an extra 60 days approximately.

A: This varies by state so you have to check with your state’s DMV on their rules on how to renew licenses for your situation.

Q: I have a student visa, F1 which starts in August, 2014. But I want to visit U.S. before this August. In this case, I wonder the following is a lawful action.

“Entering U.S. with ESTA -> Going to other country like Canada or Mexico -> Returning to U.S. with F1 visa”

A: You don’t need to do such complicated steps; you can enter the country 30 days before your program start date.

Q: Hello everyone. I studied on a J1 visa and I am curious about the J1 waiver. I read about the waiver, the no-objection statement, and speaking to my consulate or a ministry. The reason I want it is simply to free me from the 2 year home requirement to be with my fiancee. Is it unlikely I can qualify for this since i don’t have many motives (not returning to study, no job offers) since I only want it for my fiancee? Also, is this waiver even within reach if I have already left the US?

A: The no-object statement is issued from your embassy, based on your J-1 program sponsor’s recommendations. Generally if you have absolutely no obligations to repay for the money used to fund your J-1 studies, your sponsoring organization should recommend that you can be removed of the 2 year foreign residency requirement. If, however, your sponsoring program wants you to stay in your home country to “repay” the money they gave you to study in America, then you will not get a no-object statement and cannot apply with this method. Also, physical separation from a loved one is useless in trying to get a waiver. Waiver based on hardships are for life-and-death situations, not emotional stress. To apply for the waiver based on the no-object statement, follow my detailed guide on getting a J-1 2 year foreign residency waiver.

Q: If I am currently dealing with the 2 year HRR, will traveling back to the USA on a B tourist visa expand my time?

A: No, it will simply “freeze” the counting of the 2 year time. Let’s say you stayed at your home country for 1 year and then came back to America for a 3 month vacation on a B-2 tourist visa. When you return home, you still have 1 full year to complete before you can apply for immigration visas.

Q: I am a syrian citizen living in Germany since 8 years. I completed my master and PhD in Germany as well. I received a fellowship from a German organisation to pursue a post doctoral in Chemistry for one year at UC Berkeley. Now I want to apply for J1 visa with the DS-2019.  I wanted to come back to Germany and start my own research career. As binding ties to Germany, I have a bank account in Germany with relatively good amount of money at it. My brother is also in Germany. All my other family members are in Syria and no one of them is in USA or have been there. Do you think that will be enough as binding ties? is it also acceptable, if I will mention that I want to come back to Germany? and my home country will be my second choice. I have only temporary residence permit in Germany, which will be expired soon. But I am able to extend it.

A: Sounds like you have a good case to get the J-1 visa. If the sponsoring organization requires you to return to Germany, that would really help you since the USCIS will see that you will have a 2 year foreign residency requirement on your J-1 visa so that pretty much restricts you from attempting to stay permanently in America. You have solid ties to your home country and Germany and I don’t see USCIS denying you based on attempting to immigrate.

Q: I am currently in the us on a student visa- OPT(associate degree). I have found a job that is willing to sponsor me for a working visa. I have a few questions: 

1) Do i have to apply for the working visa in the US or would i apply for it out of my embassy?

2) Can i still go to school part time and stay in the us on a working visa?

3) If i file for a working visa in the US what forms do i need to file? 

3.1) How long does this process take?

3.2) How long will the working visa be issued for?

A: Your company should be the one who handles the ENTIRE visa application process and fees. If they ask you to pay the fees, that is against the law and they must be reported. Your company should apply the visa for you while in the US. You cannot continue going to school on a work visa as that is not a visa to study. You should not be filing any forms yourself; only your company can do so. The process and time line depends on what kind of work visa you are getting. I don’t think this is a H-1B since you don’t have a bachelors degree.

Q: My f-1 visa was terminated today and I’m leaving the country on the 5th of June which is in 7 days. I already bought my flight ticket back to Sweden ( my country) in January when I received my visa. What I had been told by my school was that I could stay in the US 60 days after school was done so I wasn’t prepared for my visa to be terminated. What I wanna know now is what I should expect. Will I be questioned and stopped at the airport or will they let me leave as I planned. And how hard will it be to get a tourist visa in the future. 

A: If your F-1 visa is terminated because your program of study has ended, then yes you do have a 60 day grace period to leave the country. What you are doing is fine and I don’t think you will have any issues in the future, coming to America to visa or study or work. You are following the rules correctly.

Q: I just arrived to the US (San Jose, California) 2 weeks ago, doing an internship on a J-1 exchange Visa. Unfortunately, before I had the chance to apply for a social security number, I lost my passport. I am about to go through the long painful process of getting a new passport, which could take up to 3 months. So I was wondering if there is any way I can apply for an SSN and a California ID card or driver’s license without my passport. I still have my I-94 and DS-2019 forms as well as photocopies of my passport. I also have a Canadian Driver’s License as a photo ID.

A: Highly unlikely, because according to the SSA website, for non-citizens, you are required to bring your DS-2019 and unexpired passport with the visa stamp or unexpired passport with I-94 to establish your identity. I don’t even know how you got the Driver’s license without a passport as the DMV generally requires that as well.

More Q&A continued on Part 2

25 thoughts on “F-1, J-1, Adjustment of Status common questions and answers

  1. Shoaib Khan

    I am a Post-doc on OPT. My wife will be travelling to India for some family reason. We also have two little daughters, both of them are born USA citizens. She wants to apply for the new visa to get back in the country. I am in the early stages of filling a green card application. I would like to know, if she will be denied because i have filled for green card or these two situation have no implication on each other. Thanks and looking forward to your reply.

    1. admin Post author

      Why doesn’t your wife just use F-2 visa to come to USA?

  2. Maryna

    I had J-1 Visa for the Program “Work & Travel” in 2006 and 2007. In summer 2006 I met my future husband, we were dating, at the end of the program I returned home. I came to US in Jun 2007 on J-1 as well for the same program, I was trying to apply to school and find a program, but then I was not accepted to schools, and we got married in Aug 2007 and we filed I-485 AOS in Sept 2007. At the end of the year 2007 I received authorisation to work and authorisation to travel. My ex-husband had B-1 visa, so we were filing I-485 together. Then in 2009 we were divorced because of the issues that were between us, mostly it was the religion issues. In Jul 2009 the Immigration asked for more documents to prove that our marriage bone fide. Because I was in my home country, I couldn’t to send the documents and my ex-husband was hiding this documents from me. When I got back to US I sent the documents (pictures, bank statements, and other doc), my husband was not helping in gathering any documents because he wanted a divorce and I guess he did not want me to get a GC. After in Aug 2009 we divorced and in Sep 2009 I received a letter from Immigration about the denial of my I-485. I was already in the University for my MBA and stayed there to finish school. After the denial I hired a lawyer and we applied for I-130 against my ex-husband. It was denied in Oct 2011 and left the country after that.
    Recently, I was applied to B-2 visa but was denied under the 214(b), the officer told me that I was illegally in US when my J-1 finishes. I told him that I was married and we were waiting for the AOS. He said why I did not apply to F-1, but that time I fell in love and I got married. He did not give me a visa
    Please advise whether I can apply for F-1 visa. I want to get a CPA, for this I want to get to Community College to finish all required courses for the CPA. Also how can I show my strong ties to the country? Will it be enough to show bank statement with the money for tuition, my career goals and, may be, job offer to the position after getting CPA in my country?

    Also I thought maybe it is better to get F-1 for the English courses? Please advice.

    1. admin Post author


      Thanks for your post. Because of your past, it will be challenging for you to study in America since you tried immigrating before. In fact, coming here for English classes or even community college classes will be very difficult because you demonstrated that you applied for a GC before. You can try it again with a job offer in your home country that is contingent on you finishing your studies. You can also try to work for an international employer and have them send you to America to work. Other than that, your best bet is still GC through marriage.

      Good luck.

  3. Louise

    I am on a J1 au pair visa and considering applying for a masters program and change of status to a F1 Visa. My J1 visa is up at the beginning of December (2014) and the masters programme that I have found and is the best choice for my career intended doesn’t start until The fall of the following year (2015). Will they let me stay in the country and change my status with such a large gap between my visa ending and class beginning? I don’t want to leave to obtain a new visa as I have worked at a summer camp previously and they already grilled me at the embassy when I got this visa.

    Any help is greatly appreciated!

    1. admin Post author


      I don’t think it is possible to stay on F-1 visa after Dec since your school does not start until Sept of the following year. What you should do is attempt to get into a F-1 study program, like language school, from Jan until Sept and then transfer the F-1 to the school you intend on studying at. Of course this will cost you money.

  4. Nikol


    I entered the US on 2012 with an F1 visa and have not traveled since. After one year I got married with a lawful permanent resident and filed the I-130 Petition. This is still pending, I have not received an answer. I graduated this month and my application for OPT has been approved so my F1 visa expires on 2015. I have been offered a job which calls for me to travel for a short time back to my country and then back to US to continue under the same employer. Can I travel and reenter the country without creating any conflict with my pending application and without the fear that I will be denied the entrance?

    Thank you so much for your time.

    1. admin Post author

      You need to apply for advanced parole in order to leave the country even for a short period of time during a pending application. If you leave during a pending application and you did not apply for advanced parole, you would be considered as abandoning your AOS application.

  5. Krish

    Hi everyone, Please help
    I came US in 2009 in F1 visa for MS program. I completed and started Doctorate program. My F1 visa ended on Dec 2013. but was maintaining F1 status by doing PhD and my I-20 is valid till 2016. I got DV lottery for 2014 and did AOS but unfortunately my country limit was over and I was denied. Though I was maintaining my F1 status the denial letter says that my F1 visa has expired and prepare to depart as soon as possible. I consulted with immigration officer and she told me that I need to go back and renew my visa. I am about to graduate next year after spending 3 years on my PhD research and I am totally funded from university. After I received that letter i don’t know what to do. Please advice me. Should I just go back to my country and reapply visa? What is the risk level? What documents should I make from university? Please guide me.
    Thank you.

    1. admin Post author

      Interesting case. You don’t need an active F-1 visa to continue studying in the US. So it is up to you if you want to renew the visa. The only reason to renew is that you want to travel in and out of the USA while you are studying. If you can stay in the US during your studies and complete your studies, you don’t have to risk applying for F-1 visa again.

  6. gopal

    Hello author,

    I am a PhD student and will complete my PhD by dec 2015. I got married in May 2, 2014 and my wife got an admission and I-20 from US univ to do her MS. Now she want to attend f1 visa..Which is good to mention about her married status in DS-160. If she mentioned married then will she get any trouble with Visa Officer. If she mentioned married, can My father-in-law and me show funds to support her education. Please suggest us to proper way to get f1 visa. Really my wife and me don’t want to lie on our married status to get f1 visa but want to finish hour studies by being together in US.

    1. admin Post author

      Don’t lie on the application; just be truthful that she is married to you and that you are also in the US studying. Make sure she has a good reason why she would return after you both finish school. Perhaps mention that you will definitely return because you want to use your PhD in some ways in your home country. She can be sponsored by her father it is not a problem.

  7. madhav

    I got my F1 Visa approved for Spring 2015 and I went to US for enrolling but due to some emergency i came back to India without enrolling and therefore I want to deferr my admission for spring. University will send me a new i-20 in the month of april. My F1 Visa was issued on Dec 2012 and it is valid for 5 years. Now the Question is “Do I have to apply for a NEW VISA? or Can I use the old one for summer semester which is going to start in May 2015?”

    1. admin Post author

      You need to inform your school that you already entered the US once with the F-1 visa, and they can update your SEVIS record that you deferred your studies until May 2015. Use the new I-20 to re-enter USA and you should be ok.

  8. Apple

    Hi. I participated Summer Work and Travel Program under the J1 visa in one of the hotels in US wayback 2012 for 3 months. I graduated from College as a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Management on 2013.
    Now, I would like to ask if I am still eligible to apply for a J1 visa for internship/traineeship/career training program, even if it’s been 2 years since I graduated. So, I am not a student now and haven’t take any postgrad. degree yet. I am now working in a different industry. But I really want to work in the US under the J1 visa, in order for me to pursue and advance my career in hospitality industry to the next level.
    Hope you can help me,. Because I have an agency now, already asked about this matter and said that I am still qualified. But I am confused, coz I know J1 visa fits only for students. Thank you so much, looking forward to your response.

    1. admin Post author

      J1 is not just for students. However in your case you can definitely do the J1 optional practical training which allows you to work in a field related to your studies.

  9. Maria

    I have an F1 student visa and am graduating on May 23. My F1 visa actually expires on May 25 but I already have a plane ticket to leave on May 31. Would I get penalized for overstaying my visa if I take my already scheduled flight back home and possibly not be allowed to return as a tourist? I am also submitting the OPT application this week but I am worried that I will not get the approval before my visa expires or my plane leaves. I have already applied to numerous jobs but haven’t heard anything and I know my OPT status is making the job search even harder. If I do not receive the OPT EAD before my visa expires (May 25) would it be better for me to stay here to keep looking for work or go back to Ecuador on my scheduled flight? If I stay, would I be penalized for overstaying my visa or would I be alright since she would be continuing my F1 status using OPT? I read that I has 90 unemployment days to keep looking after issuance of OPT but also that if I leave and try to come back without a job offer letter that I might not be granted my visa extension. Is it better to try to get my visa extended now (before I have the OPT EAD issued, if this is even possible), to overstay my visa waiting for the OPT and hopefully find a job, or to return to Ecuador on my scheduled flight whether or not my OPT is approved by then?

  10. rebecca

    my friend is currently back in her home country on an approved ead card but her f1 visa stamp expired in her passport. She has valid job offer letter from her current employment and 1-20 documentation as well. She is working in a school within the field of her study i.e. science. she interviewed at the embassy but they required supplemental documents, in which she provided. she has parents in her home country which shows ties to her home nation? her employer intends to sponsor her on h1b, which she also mentioned as a possible plan. what does she need to do next? her chances of approval? if she’s rejected, what can she do?

    1. admin Post author

      she sounds like she has a good chance of being approved based on what you describe. if rejected there is nothing she can do.

  11. Keisha


    I have sort of complicated case.
    I lived in the US for 3 1/2 years on an F1 visa after my OPT I left for my home country( did not over stay) I am about to return on a k1 visa ( because my then boyfriend proposed all our paperwork is approved and we have the visa in hand) My question is : Since I already had a social security number, would I have to apply for a new social security number or can I just change my name after we are married?

    1. admin Post author

      you won’t have to apply for a new SSN. Even if you change your name after marriage you retain your issued SSN.

  12. Vito

    to apply for a J1 Waiver it is required that I submit two self-addressed, stamped legal-size envelopes.
    Can I provide stamp of my own country, or I need to provide US stamps?

    Thank you,

    1. admin Post author

      US Stamps, because it is mailed out of the US.

  13. Kumar

    Is this a two years home residency requirement or two years foreign residency requirement? I have heard that two years must be spend in a home country, how exactly the 2 years home residency rule works?

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