By Reuben S. Seguritan

Beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions who are abroad process their immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate of their home country.  It is important that they familiarize themselves with the rules and procedures of that particular consulate.

Visa applications must be pursued within one year from the date applicants are given notice to apply.  Failure to act within that period will terminate the visa petition.

Petitioners and beneficiaries should periodically monitor the Visa Bulletin in case information relevant to their petitions becomes available.  They must ensure that their mailing information is accurate so that correspondence is not delayed.

Applicants should also inform the National Visa Center or the Immigrant Visa Branch of any changes in the status of the petitioner or the beneficiary such as the relocation or death of the petitioner or the marriage or aging out of the beneficiary.  Such changes may disqualify the applicant or delay the processing.

If the petitioner has become a citizen the petition filed on behalf of an unmarried son or daughter is converted to first preference (F-1) which means a longer wait in the case of a Filipino applicant.  But this can be avoided by applying to opt-out of the F-1 conversion and retain the F2B classification.

If the petitioner has moved out of the U.S. the visa application will be denied because of the requirement that the petitioner who is required to submit an Affidavit of Support must be domiciled in the U.S.

The death of the petitioner revokes the petition but it may be reinstated for humanitarian reasons.  A law that was passed last October which allows surviving relatives to continue their green card applications does not apply to those who did not reside in the U.S. at the time of the death of the petitioner and did not continue to reside in the U.S. thereafter.

The marriage of the beneficiary of an F-1 petition converts the petition to F-3 which translates to a longer wait.  The marriage of an F2B beneficiary cancels the petition.

The applicant should be careful in preparing all relevant documents before he/she is given an appointment by the consulate or risk refusal of a visa.  The most common reasons for denial are incomplete or improperly completed Affidavit of Support; insufficient secondary evidence to prove relationship or identity; and outdated police or medical clearance.

An applicant should be truthful and not conceal relevant facts in the visa application and at the interview.  Fraud or misrepresentation may result in the visa denial and may permanently bar the applicant from entering the U.S.

If the applicant follows all directions, submits all the requirements, and provides all the necessary documents the likelihood of visa denial is minimal.  So it is in the applicant’s best interest to be prepared.