US Immigration Information


Immigrant visas are numerically limited by category and by country of chargeability (which is, in most cases, one's country of birth). Click the button below to see the State Department Visa Bulletin showing backlogs in each immigrant visa preference category for the month of August 2024.


You must always appear in court as scheduled, even if you do not have a lawyer. If you appear as scheduled, you have a chance to win. If you do not appear when required, the Immigration Judge may order your removal (deportation) in your absence. It is almost impossible to cancel such an order. You should retain an immigration lawyer before you appear at a deportation hearing. The laws are complicated and as an individual, you are not able to defend yourself. To undo problems after a decision by way of an appeal is much more difficult. The Board of Immigration Appeals, located in Falls Church, VA bases their decisions on appeals only through documentation and not oral arguments.


Civics Test

2008 Civics Test                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

          The 2008 version of the civics test is an oral test, and the USCIS officer will ask you up to 10 questions from the list of 100 civics test questions. You must answer 6 questions correctly to pass the 2008 version of the civics test.
           Applicants who filed their Form N-400 before December 1, 2020, will continue to take the 2008 civics test at initial exam, re-exam, or N-336 hearing. Applicants who file their Form N-400 on or after March 1, 2021 will also take the 2008 civics test at initial exam, re-exam, or N-336 hearing.

2020 Civics Test

           The 2020 version of the civics test is an oral test, and the USCIS officer will ask you 20 questions from the list of 128 civics test questions. You must answer at least 12 of the 20 questions correctly to pass the 2020 version of the civics test.
            Applicants who filed their Form N-400 on or after Dec. 1, 2020, and before March 1, 2021, with an initial examination (interview) before April 19, 2021, will have the option to take either the 2020 civics test, or the 2008 civics test at initial exam, re-exam, or N-336 hearing. There will be a transition period where both tests are being offered. Note: USCIS will administer the 2008 civics test to all applicants whose initial examination (interview) is scheduled to occur on or after April 19, 2021 (regardless of filing date).


Marriage fell apart before green card?

Don't despair.  There are ways to save your Green Card as long as you can prove that the marriage was not fraudulent.

Employer's ability to pay less than required?

You and your immigration lawyer should review the sponsoring business' financial situation first, before the Labor Certification is filed, to avoid surprises later. The sponsoring business must prove it has the financial ability to pay your future salary before the application can be approved.

Marriage fell apart after conditional green card?

You may still get your permanent Green Card by asking for a "waiver" as long as you can prove that you entered the marriage in good faith and it was not your fault that the marriage failed.  If denied, you can renew the application before an Immigration Judge.

Green card defective? Complications on your record?

Fake Green Cards: not produced by the government will not confer any status on the holder.  When caught with a fake, or forged, card the cardholder will be accused of immigration fraud.  There are occasions when the holder was duped to believe the card was real, and might be cleared of the charge of fraud.  If a valid Green Card is lost, you don't  lose your status.  You just need to apply for a replacement Green Card.

Got married but never divorced previous spouse?

This is a situation where you need an experienced Immigration lawyer to devise a strategy to handle this matter so you would not be a bigamist, which could be a criminal offense.  You will need to divorce your previous spouse and remarry your current spouse.

Forgot that old deportation order?

If you never appeared before the Immigration Judge at your deportation or removal hearing or maybe you did not even receive the Notice to Appear, ICE knocks on your door, don't despair.  Maybe you can still apply for a Motion to Reopen if now you have other remedies.  Consult with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer.

Immigrated as an "unmarried" son or daughter - but you were really married?

This is "visa fraud".  The legal result is that the Green Card you have is not valid.  When USCIS finds out, they will issue a Notice to Appear (for a Removal hearing) in Immigration Court for the purpose of deporting the violator.  The immigration law provides a special waiver (pardon) for such a fraud under certain circumstances. Consult an experienced immigration lawyer.

Co-worker called ICE and turned you in?

Only an immigration judge can order your deportation. Maybe a jealous friend, lover or an upset neighbor did it. In most cases ICE is not interested in keeping you in detention until your case in Immigration Court is concluded. Important! If you appear as scheduled in court, you still have a chance to legalize your stay or, at least, to "buy time" to delay your deportation.

Sponsoring employer's business closed before your quota became available?

By the time your quota became available, the sponsoring business closed.  Don't despair. There are other possibilities to salvage your case. If the business closes after the I-140 petition has been approved, you must find a new sponsor, file a new Labor Certification and new I-140 visa petition and use the "old" Priority Date of the previous Labor Certification.

Child denied because he or she is over 21?

The immigration law recognizes a family unit as consisting of parents (or a parent) and children under age 21. In 2002, Congress provided a remedy and passed the "Child Status Protection Act" (CSPA) which "freezes" the age of certain children at certain points, so that even after they reach 21, they are still treated as "children" for purposes of immigration.

Petitioner passed away?

The general rule is that when a petitioner dies - the petition dies, too. However, in 2009 Congress allowed some exceptions to the rule: (a) beneficiaries of family-based petitions residing in the U.S. on the date the petitioner passed away can apply for Adjustment of Status as if the petitioner was still alive; (b) widows or widowers, even if they were not in the U.S. on the date petitioner died and even if the American spouse never filed the required petition, can file a self-petition (not later than two (2) years from the date that the American spouse passed away).

Political asylum denied? Or too late to file?

Asylum must be based on a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.  You have only one year from date of entry to file for asylum.  An application for Political Asylum is difficult and risky: a denial may lead to deportation. An experienced lawyer should review and evaluate your ability to win

Denied naturalization? To appeal or to reapply?

A denial of an Application for Naturalization (Form N-400) in most cases does not mean an end to the applicant's desire to become an American citizen.  Some reasons for denial are: (a) the period for "physical presence" has not been completed; (b) lack of truthfulness at interview; (c) not registering for Selective Service between ages 18 and 26; (d) the way the applicant had obtained the immigrant visa or Green Card; (e) failing the English or Civics test; (f) none payment of child support; (g) owing taxes to the government; or (h) not responding to requests for documents.  Don't despair - applications can be reapplied.

Consultant arranged marriage with non-existing American citizen?

The most dangerous "advisers" an undocumented alien may encounter in the U.S. are those calling themselves "consultants".  These are non-lawyers who promise you salvation in the form of Green Cards, employment permits or travel documents. 

One of the worst scams practiced by consultants is the "phantom marriage".  The alien pays a consultant to get him/her an Employment Authorization Card.  The consultant prepares and files an application for a Green Card with a fake marriage certificate, The alien gets the work permit but at the time of the interview, the consultant disappears and the application is denied.   USCIS will accuse the alien of fraudulent marriage.

Past convictions come back to bite you?

The government wants to know about arrests in the past or any criminal charges brought against the alien.  When an alien applies for citizenship, the government still wants to know about possible criminal activities or arrests since the applicant obtained the Green Card.  Don't assume the government will not find out.  Be truthful.  There are different waivers that can be applied for and the alien can still obtain his or her citizenship.

Problems with a K-1 Visa?

K-1 (Fiance'(e) visa is for an unmarried alien, man or woman, to come to the U.S. to marry the American citizen petitioner.  The marriage must take place not later than 90 days from the date of arrival in the U.S.  If the alien and petitioner do not marry within the 90 days period, the law forbids the alien from getting a Green Card in the U.S. even if the alien marries another U.S. citizen and even if they have children born in the U.S.

Entered with assumed name? Other immigration fraud?

The most common deception is committed by people who have been denied a visitor's visa (B-1/B-2) and try to enter by using an "assumed name", or another person's passport.  These efforts make them guilty of "visa fraud" or "misrepresentation".  A person who committed visa fraud or misrepresentation is "inadmissible" to the U.S.  Some may qualify for a "waiver", a forgiveness of their offense of lying.

Application pending… pending… pending… pending?

When an application or a petition is "pending", it means that it is at the USCIS waiting a decision  Sometimes, the waiting time is more - even much more -than the normal, expected waiting time.  Some delays could be because: (a) the Priority Date is not "current" - a visa number is not available for this individual immigrant; or (b) a "security check" or an overseas investigation.

Don't remember what was written on your application many years ago?

If many years have passed since the time of your immigration or adjustment of status, and if you do not remember the details, be candid with your immigration lawyer about what you don't remember.  You should delay filing your Application for Naturalization or other applications until your lawyer obtains a complete copy of your file from the USCIS.  It is safer to check your old file.

Visa denied by embassy?

When a Consular interview ends with a denial of an immigrant visa, it is advisable that the applicant write down - as soon as possible - a detailed description of the interview.  This should be done in the form of a Q and A trying to recreate the interview as a series of questions and answers.  A Consul's denial is usually not subject to administrative appeal.  Still, a review of the denial by an immigration lawyer in the U.S. is worthwhile.

Loved-one in ICE custody?

Your immigration lawyer needs to know the circumstances of the arrest  as soon as possible to determine what can be done for the detained person and what are the chances to keep him or her legally in the U.S. or to arrange to post bond to get the person out of custody while waiting for a hearing date. Sometimes, the relative calling the lawyer knows so little that the lawyer should advise the caller:  "Tell your relative to call me collect - ICE permits such calls".  The lawyer can then come up with a plan of action after such a conversation.