FAQs - Immigration
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
IMMIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES
How do I obtain a “green card”?
To obtain a green card, you must first qualify for an immigrant visa and enter the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident. The Resident Alien ("green card") is issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the U.S. Visit the USCIS website for information about applying for legal permanent residence.
My partner/common-law spouse is a U.S. citizen. Can he/she sponsor me for immigration?
No, U.S. immigration law does not recognize common-law marriages. A U.S. citizen cannot file an immigrant visa petition for a partner in the immediate relative category as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
In general, there are three avenues for immigrating to the United States: family-sponsored, employment-based, and the diversity immigrant visa lottery. The family-sponsored and employment-based categories require a sponsor to initiate the process. For example, to qualify under the family-sponsored category, one must have an U.S. citizen parent, spouse, adult child or sibling, or legal permanent resident spouse or parent who initiates the immigration process. Please review the Immigrating to the U.S. webpage on this site for information regarding the immigration categories and the process for applying for an immigrant visa.
The time it takes to process a visa application varies with each individual case. However, in general, a fiancé(e) visa application may be slightly quicker than an application for an immigrant visa, as immigrant visa petitions are taking longer to be processed and approved by the USCIS in the United States. Follow link to USCIS Check Processing Times for more information. If the time factor is of importance, you should contact the USCIS where you will file the petition to ascertain processing times before deciding on applying for a fiancé(e) or immigrant visa.
My fiancé(e) and I will not marry within 90 days of our arrival. Can he/she still apply for a fiancé(e) visa?
No, if the marriage will not take place within 90 days of the fiancé(e) visa applicant's arrival in the United States, it will not be possible to process an application for a fiancé(e) visa. Visa free travel under the Visa Waiver Program or a nonimmigrant visitor or work visa is not appropriate.
Your fiancé(e) will be required to qualify for a visa either in one of the employment based preference categories, or through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program commonly known as the DV lottery.
We only wish to travel to the United States to marry. We will return to Ireland after marriage. Do we still need a fiancé(e) visa?
A person traveling to the United States to marry a U.S. citizen with the intention of returning 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. Evidence of a residence abroad to which the B-2 visa holder or visa free traveler intends returning should be carried for presentation to an immigration inspector at the port of entry.
Can I enter the United States on a fiancé(e) visa, marry and then leave the United States for my honeymoon?
On marriage, you must contact your nearest U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services for further information. If you leave the United States without first obtaining permission from them 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 up to 12 months or more. Visit the USCIS website for information regarding application for travel documents. Visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection for information regarding Advance Parole to re-enter the U.S. after traveling abroad.
My child is not immigrating with me do I still have to list his or her details on the biographic data form DS-230 (Part 1).
You are required to enter the details of every child under the age of 21, including a stepchild from a marriage that was entered into while the child was under the age of 18.
Information on obtaining a police certificate is available from the Garda Siochana website at http://www.garda.ie/FAQ/Default.aspx?FAQCategory=36
A police certificate is generally considered valid for 12 months from the date of issuance.
If your conviction is for a criminal offense, you will be required to obtain the official court record.
If you have a conviction/court record in the United States you will be required to obtain official court records relating to all charges against you from the court where your case was heard. If you do not know the address of the court, then information is available from the internet at: http://www.uscourts.gov/links.html.
I'm in the U.S. Forces and my spouse is applying for an immigrant visa. Is she required to furnish police certificates to cover her period of residence in every country where I have served, or will you accept a letter from my commander/U.S. Forces?
Your spouse will be required to obtain police certificate/s from each country where she resided for beyond 12 months even if she resided there as your dependent.
An immigrant visa petition has been filed on my behalf. I now have a child. Can s/he be added to my application?
If the baby's mother or father is an American citizen, the baby could have a claim to U.S. citizenship. Please read the information regarding eligibility for U.S. citizenship.
If the baby has no claim to U.S. citizenship, it may be possible for the U.S. citizen mother or father to file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of the child. Please refer to the USCIS website regarding filing an I-130 immigrant visa petition.
If the baby's mother or father is an American citizen, the baby could have claim to U.S. citizenship.
A child born after the issuance of an immigrant visa will not need a visa to accompany the parent provided they both travel within the period of validity of the visa. A copy of the child's long-form birth certificate showing the name of the parent must be carried for presentation to an immigration inspector at the port of entry, together with a valid travel document for the child.
I'm filing an immigrant visa petition on behalf of my son or daughter. Can I do this while resident outside of the United States.
You are not required be resident in the U.S in order to file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of an alien relative. However, in addition to filing the petition, Form I-130, you are required to file an I-864. In order to file an I-864 you must be either resident in the U.S. or intend to resume permanent residence in the U.S. at the time your son or daughter immigrates to the U.S. Review information about filing the Affidavit of Support Form I-864 on the USCIS website.
I am the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition filed on my behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the U.S. How can I obtain information regarding the status of the petition?
The Embassy cannot provide information regarding the status of petitions filed in the United States. The USCIS website provides online case status information for petitions filed in the United States. If you have received a receipt number from USCIS, you can access the USCIS website Case Status online and Case status search portals.
I sent in my completed forms to the Immigrant Visa Unit, when will I be scheduled an appointment for my interview?
If you have submitted the completed forms and have had your medical examination you should allow 2-3 weeks for processing. During this period, we regret we cannot provide information on the status of the application or confirm if the forms have been received. On completion of the administrative processing of the application, you will receive notification of the scheduled visa interview.
Can I travel to the United States while my application for an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is being processed?
If you intend taking up permanent residence in the U.S., you are required to wait until the immigrant or fiancé(e) visa is issued. You cannot reside in the U.S. on a tourist visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program while waiting the processing of an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa. However, if you wish to make a temporary visit at the end of which you will return to your permanent residence outside the United States, you may travel on a tourist (B-2) visa, or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, if qualified.
If applying for a B-2 visa, you are required to furnish evidence of your residence outside the United States to which you intend returning at the end of your temporary stay. Although a pending immigrant or fiancé(e) visa application is not necessarily conclusive evidence of intent to abandon a residence abroad, it is a factor considered by consular officers reviewing a visa application. If you are unable to convince the consular officer reviewing the application that you do not intend abandoning your residence, you will not be issued a visa.
When traveling to the U.S. either with a visa or visa free under the Visa Waiver Program, you should be sure to carry with you for presentation to an immigration inspector evidence of your residence outside the U.S. If the immigration inspector is not convinced that you are a bona fide visitor for pleasure, you will be denied entry into the United States.
Follow link to our list of the Embassy panel physicians on this website.
All applicants registered for immigration as the spouse, parent, child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen are required to attend the Embassy in person for a formal visa interview with a U.S. consular officer. Persons under the age of fourteen who are deriving status from an immigrant, or fiancé(e) petition filed on behalf of a parent, and are applying for the visa at the same time as the parent need not attend the interview.
However, if a child under the age of 14 is the principal beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition regardless of age s/he must appear in person.
My spouse, who is a U.S. citizen, has filed the immigrant visa petition on my behalf. Is s/he required to attend the immigrant visa interview with me?
No, there is no requirement that the U.S. citizen attend the immigrant visa interview. There is also no requirement that your spouse remain in Ireland until you are issued with your immigrant visa; he or she may travel to the United States ahead of you.
You should allow approximately two hours for the visa interview.
The current cost of a DV visa is $330. The fee is payable at the time of your interview in the Embassy. You may pay in U.S. dollars, Euros or by credit card. We cannot accept personal checks for payment of visa fees. For other immigrant visa fees please follow this link to the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
If your visa is refused under the provisions of Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act for lack of documentation, you will have twelve months from the date of refusal in which to present the missing documents and enter the United States on the immigrant visa.
What if I do not present the documentation to overcome the immigrant visa refusal and enter the United States within the twelve months?
You will be required to reapply for an immigrant visa paying new visa application and issuance fees, and medical examination fees.
Immigrant visa applicants are required to register with our CSC Call Center contractor for the return of documents. For more information on the process please click here.
Following visa issuance, immigrant visa supporting documents and your passport containing the immigrant visa will be available for collection at the DPD courier hub you choose on registration, at no extra cost. If you wish, you may select home delivery, which may be arranged after the payment of an additional fee. Please visit https://usvisa-info.com for information on registering for courier delivery to a DPD courier hub of your choice or to select home delivery Individual registration is required for each immigrant visa applicant.
Immigrant and fiancé visas are normally valid for travel to the United States for one entry within six months from the date the visa was issued.
You should contact this office at DublinCons@state.gov explaining why you were unable to travel. Depending on the reasons for you not using the visa, it may be possible to re-issue you with a new visa on payment of new visa processing fees.
The Social Security Act requires that every new immigrant, regardless of age, be issued a Social Security number (SSN) at the time of admission to the United States for lawful permanent residence (LPR). Non-citizens applying to enter the United States may apply for their SSN on Form DS-230, Part II, Questions 33a and 33b (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration). Those who do so can expect to receive their SSN card at their new U.S. address within three weeks of arriving.
Those who do not apply for their SSN cards on their visa application must visit their local Social Security office to apply once they have a permanent address in the United States. Applicants must bring their passport with their MRIV or Form I-551 if they have it; and their birth certificate and a birth certificate for each member of their family applying for a Social Security number. For further information please visit the social security website at www.ssa.gov/ssnvisa
You and your spouse are required to file a petition, Form I-751, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have the conditional resident status removed. The petition must be filed 90 days before the second anniversary of your husband/wife being admitted into the United States on an immigrant visa, or adjustment of status, if he or she entered on a fiancé(e) visa. The I-751 form can only be filed with USCIS. Follow link to How Do I Remove The Conditions On Permanent Residence Based On Marriage?
I was granted conditional resident status, but never filed to have the status removed. I've been outside the United States for longer than 12 months, how can I return?
Conditional residents of the United States who failed to file an application to have their conditional resident status removed are required to re-qualify for immigrant status by having their U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident relative file an immigrant visa petition, Form I-130, on their behalf. Please refer to the USCIS website for information regarding filing the I-130 petition.
I'm a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States and I've recently given birth to a child. What type of visa does my baby require to return with me to the United States?
You will not require a visa for your child if: he/she is under two years of age; it is his/her first entry into the United States since birth; and he/she 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, if not included on the accompanying parent's passport, and his/her long form birth certificate, listing both parents' names. In the event that one parent is a citizen of the United States, the foregoing information should be disregarded and an application must be made for a U.S. passport. Follow link to Eligibility for U.S. Citizenship on this site.
If you are in possession of a valid re-entry permit issued by the USCIS, you must return to the United States before the permit expires. You may contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service for information.
Please visit the USCIS website for further information.
If you were a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder) and you have been outside the United States for longer than twelve months, or two years, if holding a re-entry permit, you will be required to either apply for a visitor visa, or if eligible, travel visa free under the Visa Waiver Program.
I have a Permanent Resident Card (green card) and I no longer wish to live in the United States; what do I do?
If you no longer wish to reside in the United States you may formally abandon your status by completing the form I-407 (Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Residence) with an officer of U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a U.S. port of entry.
You will maintain status provided you do not remain outside the United States for longer than one year and you maintain a bona fide domicile in the United States. Failure to return to the United States within one year may jeopardize permanent resident status. If you are in possession of a valid re-entry permit issued by the USCIS, you must return to the United States before the permit expires. You should be aware, however, that the final determination on your eligibility for admission into the United States rests with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the port of entry. If you have been outside the United States for less than twelve months and you require further information please follow this link to the USCIS website and also visit the U.S. Customs and Border Protection website for information regarding - Can a U.S. lawful permanent resident of the U.S. leave multiple times and return?.
If you are not in possession of a valid re-entry permit, 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.
Please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for information on maintaining permanent resident status.
No, a United States 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. A Lawful Permanent Resident who is married to a U.S. citizen may apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen after three years residence in the United States.
An immigrant can become an American citizen by 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. However, there is no requirement that an immigrant become a citizen and s/he is free to live in the United States as long as s/he wishes regardless of his citizenship, so long as s/he abides by the laws of the land, which are applicable to citizens and aliens alike. Follow link to the USCIS website for more information regarding Citizenship Through Naturalization.
Please review the information on classes of aliens ineligible to receive visas from the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Can Diversity Visa (immigrant visa) applicants receive waivers of any grounds of visa ineligibility or receive special processing for a waiver application?
Applicants are subject to all grounds of ineligibility for immigrant visas specified in the INA. There are no special provisions for the waiver of any ground of visa ineligibility aside from those ordinarily provided in the INA, nor is there special processing for waiver requests. Some general waiver provisions for people with close relatives who are U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Resident aliens may be available to DV applicants as well, but the time constraints in the DV program will make it difficult for applicants to benefit from such provisions. For more information visit the Diversity Visa Lottery Program webpage.
All downloadable documents on this page are provided in PDF format. To view PDFs you must have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have Adobe Reader, download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader here.