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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Immigrant Visa Application Process

Frequently Asked Questions relating to Children and the Immigrant Visa Process

Frequently Asked Questions about Immigrant Visas for Spouses of U.S. Citizens

Frequently Asked Questions about Fiancée Visas (K-1 Visas)

Frequently Asked Questions after the Visa Has Been Issued


Who requires an Immigrant Visa?

Anyone wishing to live and/or work in the U. S. permanently requires an immigrant visa before traveling to the United States.

Where can I get assistance with filling out the visa forms?

While each individual applicant bears the responsibility for all information contained in his/her application form and many applicants opt to complete their form on their own, you may seek assistance in preparing your visa application form.

Sources that may provide such assistance, often for a fee, include: cultural or religious groups, private attorneys and non-government organizations. Organization that has informed the Department of State to perform such services is:

International Organization for Migration (IOM)
Room 904, Yaumatei Carpark Building, 250 Shanghai Street, Kowloon
Telephone: (852) 2332-2441 or 2332-2446

Please note the U.S. Government, including the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or appropriateness of the organizations listed.

Where can I find information about obtaining police certificates and court records?

The information is on the Department of State's website -- click on the first letter of the country, select the country, and look under "Police Record". You must apply for a police certificate from your country of birth if you have resided there for at least six months after your sixteenth birthday. You must also apply for a police certificate from your current place of residence. We also require police certificates from any country that you lived in for more than twelve months after the age of 16. If you have prior criminal or civil convictions, please be prepared to submit court records upon request. Such court records must show the nature of the offense(s) committed, the section(s) of law contravened and the actual penalty imposed and be accompanied by an official English language translation.

I recently moved. How do I notify the Consulate of my new address?

The best way to notify us of any change to your contact information is to send an email through our website. You may also send us a fax or a letter through surface mail - see Contact Us section for details. If your file is still with the National Visa Center, please contact them.

I recently realized that some of the information on my visa petition is incorrect and/or incomplete. What should I do?

If your visa petition is currently at the National Visa Center (NVC), please write to them -- The National Visa Center, Attn: WC 31 Rochester Ave . Suite 200, Portsmouth NH 03801-2915, or by email at NVCINQUIRY@state.gov, or by telephone (603) 334-0700. When contacting NVC, please be sure to always include your case number or your CIS receipt number. If you have been notified that your visa petition was sent to Consulate General Hong Kong, please send us an email through our website. You may also send us a fax or a letter through surface mail - see Contact Us section for details.

Once the immigrant visa is issued, how much time will I have before I have to travel to the United States?

Immigrant and fiancée visas are normally valid for travel to the United States for six months from the date of issuance. However, the length of visa validity is subject to various conditions, such as the validity of medical examination, the validity of passport, or additional processing requirements, whichever is shortest.

What if I cannot travel during the validity period of the immigrant visa?

Under these circumstances, you should return the unused expired visa and visa package to the Immigrant Visa Unit with a letter explaining why you were unable to travel. Depending on the reasons, it may be possible to re-issue the visa upon payment of a new processing fee, and you may be required to retake the medical examination and submit new forms and documents. Requests for re-issuance are evaluated on a case-by-case basis – there is no guarantee that a visa will be re-issued.

My spouse and/or parent immigrated to the U.S. I was included on the petition but opted to remain in Hong Kong. How do I find out if I am eligible to apply for follow-to-join status?

The spouse and children of a person who has previously immigrated to the U.S. may be entitled to obtain an immigrant visa at a later date. If you would like to see whether you are eligible for follow-to-join status, please send us a copy of the principal applicant's permanent resident card or I-551 or a copy of the principal applicant's passport pages indicating admission to the U.S. as an immigrant. Please also submit a copy of your birth certificate and/or marriage certificate. The documents must come with a letter of request clearly indicating the name of the applicant(s) and all relevant contact addresses and telephone numbers. Once the Immigrant Visa Unit has determined you are eligible for follow-to-join status, we will contact you and provide instructions on how to apply for the visas.

My husband/wife/parent has been granted asylum in the U.S. How can I get permission to join him/her?

If your immediate relative has already been granted asylum, he/she may be able to apply for permission for you to join them in the U.S. For details, see Family of Refugees & Asylees of the USCIS website.

I am an American citizen and I would like to adopt a child and bring him/her to the U.S. What do I do?

Please see adoption in Hong Kong for more information.

My daughter/son is over 21 years old. Is there any way that she/he can be issued an immigrant visa?

In most cases, children of visa applicants are eligible to derive status from a petition only while they are under the age of 21. However, some children who are over 21 are eligible to benefit from the Child Status Protection Act of 2002, thereby allowing them to be included in the family's visa applications. Please contact the Immigrant Visa Unit for advice on specific cases.

An immigrant visa petition has been filed on my behalf. I now have a child. Can my child be added to my application? What if I am expecting to have a baby after the immigrant visa is issued?

If your child's mother or father is an American citizen, the child may have a claim to U.S. citizenship. Please see the American Citizen Services page for additional information. If your child has no claim to U.S. citizenship, it may be possible for the child to derive status from the immigrant visa petition filed. You should notify the Immigrant Visa Unit in writing of the birth of your child.

A child born after the issuance of an immigrant visa may not need a visa to accompany the parent to the U.S. To travel on the visa holder's document, the child has no claim to U.S. citizenship and both visa holder and child travel together within the period of validity of the visa. You must be prepared to present your child's full birth certificate showing parents' full names (along with an English translation) to an immigration inspector at the port of entry. You must also have a valid travel document for the child.

I'm divorced and applying for an immigrant visa. Do I require permission from my ex-spouse to take my child out of the country?

If both parents listed on the child's birth certificate are not immigrating to the United States, you will be required to present proof that you have been awarded sole custody of the child by a court or that your former spouse has given written notarized permission for the child to immigrate to the United States. If the divorce proceedings are completed in Hong Kong and the child now is under 18 years of age, both the child custody order and notarized written permission from the former spouse together with a copy of your former spouse’s Hong Kong or Macau identity card are necessary.

If one of the child's parents is deceased, please present his/her death certificate at the time of the interview.

I'm a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States. I've recently given birth to a child. What type of visa does he/she require to return with me to the United States?

You will not require a visa for your child if: the child is under two years of age; it is the child's first entry into the United States since birth; and the child is being accompanied by the parent who is applying for readmission as a permanent resident upon the parent's first return to the United States after the child's birth. Your child will require his or her own passport and his/her long form birth certificate (with English translation), listing both parents' names. In the event that one parent is a citizen of the United States, you must first seek to determine whether the child has a claim to U.S. citizenship.

I am an American citizen resident in Hong Kong and I have no intention of moving back to the U.S. anytime soon. Should I file a petition for my foreign born spouse anyway?

Americans and legal permanent residents based in Hong Kong or Macau should file an immigrant visa petition for spouses and children if they are planning to permanently relocate to the U.S. in the near future. If you have no immediate plans of moving back to the U.S., it is probably advisable to hold off filing a petition because as the petitioner, you will have to demonstrate that you are in the process of transferring your domicile back to the U.S. during the visa interview. Your spouse can always apply for a tourist visas for short trips to the U.S. or travel visa waiver (if qualified).

Can I transmit citizenship to my spouse?

No, a U.S. citizen cannot transmit citizenship to a spouse. If your spouse wishes to relocate with you to the United States, he/she will require an immigrant visa. Once he/she has become a Lawful Permanent Resident, he/she may be eligible to apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

My spouse was granted conditional resident status; what do we do to have the status removed?

You and your spouse are required to file paperwork with USCIS to have the conditional resident (CR) status removed. The petition must be filed 90 days before the second anniversary of your spouse's admission into the U.S. on an immigrant visa, or adjustment of status if he/she entered on a fiancée (K-1) visa.

Can I travel to the U. S. while my application for an immigrant visa is being processed?

If you intend to take up permanent residence in the U.S., you are required to wait until the immigrant or fiancée visa is issued. You cannot reside in the U.S. on a tourist visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program while waiting for the issuance of an immigrant or fiancée visa. However, if you wish to make a temporary visit at the end of which you will return to your permanent residence outside the U. S., you may travel on a tourist (B-2) visa, or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, if qualified. If applying for a tourist visa, please be prepared to furnish evidence of your residence outside the U. S. to which you intend to return at the end of your temporary stay. Although a pending immigrant or fiancée visa application is not necessarily conclusive evidence of intent to abandon your residence in Hong Kong or Macau, it is a factor considered by consular officers reviewing a visa application. When traveling to the U.S. either with a visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, you should be sure to carry along evidence of your residence outside the U.S. If the immigration inspector at the port of entry is not convinced that you are a bona fide visitor for pleasure, you may be denied entry into the United States.

Should I use my married name for I-130 petition?

If you would like to use your married name in the U.S., you may use your married name on the I-130. Please make sure to amend your passport to your married name before your immigrant visa interview. We cannot put your married name on your visa unless you have amended your passport.

I am a U.S. citizen; do I need to attend the immigrant visa interview?

No. Please make sure to give all your documents (affidavit of support, tax returns, evidence of assets, and proof of employment) to your spouse, so that he/she can present them along with other required documents at the final interview.

After the final interview, how long does he/she need to wait for the visa?

Passport and Immigrant Visa (IV) packet delivery is done through SF Express. Applicants must sign on to Apply for a U.S. Visa to register and select a delivery address before the visa interview. Passports and IV packets can only be delivered to Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, Lantau, Chek Lap Kok and Ma Wan.

For other locations (namely Macau, outlying islands and Military or Justice Department locations), applicants must collect their immigrant visa packets from the SF Express office in Macau, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kwun Tong or Wanchai.

Please call the Consulate General Call Center (+852 5808 4666) if you are unsure if delivery is available to your home.

Return delivery of immigrant visas is included in the application fee; no additional payment is required for this service. Applicants will need to complete a delivery slip for each packet at the Consulate.

It usually takes ten business days to process, print and delivery of the visa. Please allow an extra four business days for delivery to SF Macau.

My American citizen fiancée is sponsoring me for immigration, does it matter where we get married?

If you wish to marry in the U.S. and live there after marriage, you need a fiancée visa. If you wish to marry outside the United States and travel to the United States to take up residence, you will require an immigrant visa.

My fiancée and I will not marry within 90 days of our arrival. Can he/she still apply for a fiancée visa?

If the marriage will not take place within 90 days of the fiancée visa applicant's arrival in the U.S., it will not be possible to process an application for a fiancée visa.

Can we apply for the fiancée visa while my fiancée is in the United States.

You must apply for the visa at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate outside the U.S. as your fiancée is required to enter the United States on the visa.

Can my fiancée work in the U.S. before we marry?

USCIS may grant permission for your fiancée to take up employment in the U.S. before the marriage takes place. To obtain employment authorization, your fiancée will need to file form I-765 with the USCIS Service Center which covers his/her place of residence in the U.S. Questions concerning employment should be directed to USCIS.

My fiancée is still married. Can we apply for a fiancée visa?

The fiancée visa petition cannot be filed until you are both legally free to marry. You will be required to wait until all prior marriages are terminated before you are eligible to file a fiancée's visa petition.

We only wish to travel to the U. S. for our wedding. We will return to Hong Kong or Macau after marriage. Do we still need a fiancée visa?

A person who plans to travel to the U.S. to get married and then return to his/her place of permanent residence abroad may apply for a visitor (B-2) visa, or if eligible, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program. It is advisable to carry evidence of a residence abroad to which you intend to return for presentation to an immigration inspector at the port of entry.

Can I enter on a fiancée visa, marry and then leave the U. S. for our honeymoon?

You should contact USCIS for further information. If you leave the U.S. without first obtaining permission to re-enter the country, you will be required to apply for an immigrant visa in order to return. This could delay your return by many months.

Can I travel to the U. S. while my application for a fiancée visa is being processed?

If you intend to take up permanent residence in the U.S., you are required to wait until the immigrant or fiancée visa is issued. You cannot reside in the U.S. on a tourist visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program while waiting for the issuance of an immigrant or fiancée visa. However, if you wish to make a temporary visit at the end of which you will return to your permanent residence outside the U. S., you may travel on a tourist (B-2) visa, or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, if qualified. If applying for a tourist visa, please be prepared to furnish evidence of your residence outside the U. S. to which you intend to return at the end of your temporary stay. Although a pending immigrant or fiancée visa application is not necessarily conclusive evidence of intent to abandon your residence in Hong Kong or Macau, it is a factor considered by consular officers reviewing a visa application. When traveling to the U.S. either with a visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, you should be sure to carry along evidence of your residence outside the U.S. If the immigration inspector at the port of entry is not convinced that you are a bona fide visitor for pleasure, you may be denied entry into the United States.

I am a U.S. citizen, do I need to attend the fiancée visa interview?

No. Please make sure to give all your documents (affidavit of support, tax returns, evidence of assets, and proof of employment) to your fiancée, so that he/she can present them along with other required documents at the final interview.

After the final interview, how long does he/she need to wait for the visa?

Passport and visa packet delivery is done through SF Express.  Applicants must sign on to Apply for a U.S. Visa to register and select a delivery address before the visa interview. Passports and visa packets can only be delivered to Hong Kong Island, Kowloon, New Territories, Lantau, Chek Lap Kok and Ma Wan.

For other locations (namely Macau, outlying islands and Military or Justice Department locations), applicants must collect their visa packets from the SF Express office in Macau, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kwun Tong or Wanchai.

Please call the Consulate General Call Center (+852 5808 4666) if you are unsure if delivery is available to your home.

Return delivery of visas is included in the application fee; no additional payment is required for this service. Applicants will need to complete a delivery slip for each packet at the Consulate.

It usually takes ten business days to process, print and delivery of the visa. Please allow an extra four business days for delivery to SF Macau.

Can I conduct medical examination prior to receiving the appointment packet?

You should not take medical examination until you received the appointment packet. Moreover, you should present the appointment letter to the panel physician clinic when conducting medical examination.

Will I be eligible to work on entering the United States on an immigrant visa?

If you have entered the U.S. on an immigrant visa, you will require no further authorization from the Department of Homeland Security to take up employment. If you are seeking to immigrate on the basis of an offer of employment, you will require a U.S. based employer who will file an immigrant visa petition on your behalf with USCIS. Please note that if you hold a fiancée visa, you must apply for work authorization through the USCIS Service Center which covers your place of residence in the U.S.

After I immigrate to the U.S., how do I become an American citizen?

An immigrant can become an American citizen through naturalization by living in the United States for a specified period, usually five years (three years if married to a citizen) and passing a naturalization examination. There is no requirement that an immigrant become a citizen. Legal permanent residents are free to live in the United States as long as they wish regardless of their citizenship, so long as they abide by the laws of the land, which are applicable to citizens and aliens alike.

How do I get a Social Security number?

By law, each immigrant or refugee admitted to the United States must obtain a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are required to work in the U.S., to open a bank account, to pay taxes and for many other purposes. You can indicate your desire to obtain a social security number during the immigrant visa interview. An application for a Social Security number can also be made to the local Social Security Office in the United States.

How long can I remain outside the United States with my Permanent Resident Card (green card)? What if I have been outside the United States for longer than twelve months?

Legal Permanent Residents are usually allowed to remain outside the United States for no longer than one year and must maintain a bona fide domicile in the United States. If you are in possession of a valid re-entry permit (PDF 1.2 MB) issued by the USCIS , you must return to the U.S. before the permit expires. You should be aware, however, that the final determination on your eligibility for admission into the U.S. rests with the Homeland Security officials at the port of entry. If you are not in possession of a valid re-entry permit and you have been outside the U.S. for more than 12 months or your re-entry permit has expired, you will require a new immigrant visa to re-enter the United States to resume your residence there.

Can I bring my pet to the U.S.?

A health certificate is required to bring a dog or cat from Hong Kong into the U.S. Such a certificate is usually required by the airlines and the airlines should be contacted concerning any time limitations or other details. Hong Kong is a rabies-free area, so the pet will not be quarantined and will not need a rabies vaccination unless required by the state or local authorities at your final destination. Please see Pets and Wildlife - Licensing and Health Requirements (PDF 104 KB) for more information.

How much money can I bring into the U.S.?

There is no limit on the amount of money which may be taken in or out of the United States. However, any amount in excess of $10,000 in currency, travelers checks or negotiable instruments, must be declared at the time of arrival in or departure from the United States. Please see the Customs and Border Patrol website (PDF 42 KB) for specific details.

Where can I find information on schools in America?

Education is compulsory and free for children between the ages of 6 and 16 (18 in some states). Kindergartens are usually available and free of charge. Children will ordinarily be accepted for immediate enrollment in the local school system of the community in which an immigrant family settles. Private schools, both day and boarding, are available in many larger communities and usually charge tuition to enroll. There are many universities and colleges, some private and some government-supported. Further information may be obtained by writing to the Superintendent of Education of the community in which you intend to reside or from the educationUSA website. Students who are interested in selecting a college or university may wish to visit the Hong Kong EducationUSA Advising Center website.

Will I owe customs duty on my household effects when I move to the U.S.?

Household effects owned by immigrants for one year or more, as well as personal effects intended for their own use and not containing any prohibited items, such as firearms and drugs, are admitted free of duty. Only very limited quantities of tobacco, spirits and wines can be taken into the United States duty free. Please see Determining Duty for more information.

Has HIV infection been removed from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance?

The Final Rule in the Federal Register removing references to HIV from the list of communicable diseases of public health significance went into effect January 4, 2010. HIV infection is no longer an inadmissible condition, and HIV testing will no longer be required for medical examinations for visa purposes. Further, applicants who are HIV-positive will no longer require waiver processing by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The DS-160 Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application and DS-260 Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application contain the following question: "Do you have a communicable disease of public health significance?" Effective January 4, 2010, HIV- positive visa applicants will no longer have to answer "Yes" to this question based solely on their HIV status. Applicants who are HIV-positive, and can otherwise answer "No" to the question, should answer "No" beginning on January 4, 2010.

 

Last modified: November 25, 2013

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