Dear Attorney Gurfinkel:
I entered the US in 2000 on a visitor’s visa and overstayed. My sister filed a petition for me (F-4) in early 2001 under Clinton’s LIFE ACT. I am now receiving notices from the National Visa Center (NVC), advising me that I need to log onto their website, pay various fees and submit various forms. They further state that if I do not do so within one year, my case will be canceled.
I don’t want to go back to the Philippines for my visa, as I’m afraid of getting stuck there for 10 years under the 3/10-year bar. Why am I getting notices from the NVC when I’m here in the US? What should I do?
Very truly yours,
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You may be receiving notices from the NVC notifying you to start applying for your visa in Manila because the NVC may believe that you are either still in the Philippines or not eligible to adjust status (file for your green card) in the US. (On the I-130 petition, it asks for the beneficiary’s address and/or whether they will apply for their visa outside the US. Sometimes, relatives are scared to disclose the alien is already in the US and list an address outside the US, or the USCIS, in approving the petition, makes the decision the person is not eligible to adjust in the US, when they might actually be eligible.)
If you have been petitioned, are in the US and now receiving notices from the NVC, I would strongly suggest that you consult with an attorney who can evaluate your situation and advise you of your immigration options.
Perhaps you may be eligible/qualified to apply for adjustment of status in the US. If you are required to apply outside the US, an attorney can evaluate your eligibility for a provisional waiver before departing. Otherwise, you could be stuck outside the US for up to 10 years.
In addition, the NVC cannot be ignored. If you do not respond to them, either by advising you will apply for your green card in the US or submitting fees and forms within one year, they could actually terminate your registration (shred your petition), in which case you lose your priority date and the opportunity to pursue your visa, even if you should later decide to apply in the US. I’ve had countless cases where a person did not know what to do and did not respond to the NVC, only to have the NVC shred the case. When they finally came for assistance, in some cases it was too late.
You waited so long for your petition, and given the complexities and ever-changing policies and requirements for immigration benefits, I strongly recommend that you seek the advice and assistance of an attorney.
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