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What can I do if I cannot travel before my immigrant visa expires?

By February 16, 2023Immigration
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An immigrant visa is the travel document issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy to a noncitizen of the United States, to permit travel to the United States for the purpose of living in the United States as a lawful permeant resident. Typically, an immigrant visa is valid for a period of six months. Therefore, travel into the United States must be completed by the expiration of the immigrant visa. We have discussed the process of obtaining a green card through consular processing here.

If you are not able to travel before the expiration of the immigrant visa, there is a limited process that will allow reissuance of the visa under certain circumstances.

Consular Posts are permitted to issue a replacement immigrant visa if:

The applicant will be or was unable to use the Immigrant Visa during its validity period due to Reasons beyond the applicant’s control and for reasons for which the applicant was not responsible for as long as reissuance occurs within the same fiscal year.

The reissuance process will vary from consulate to consulate, so the first step is to contact the consulate that issued the visa to inquire as to the best method to seek reissuance of the visa and of course explain the circumstances that prevented timely travel.

What if I cannot demonstrate that travel was under circumstances beyond my control?

Unfortunately, the visa beneficiary will likely need to resubmit the DS-260 visa application as long as the immigrant petition had not been revoked. Furthermore, as long as the basis for immigration exists, like for example, the family relationship still exists in a family based petition, the consulate will then be permitted to collect again the appropriate Immigrant Visa application processing fee to then process the visa application for issuance of a new immigrant visa.

Note that in some limited circumstances, the consulate may be willing to waive a second interview if the Immigrant Visa beneficiary had the visa issued on or after August 4, 2019, and can demonstrate that:

(1) he or she is seeking to qualify for an immigrant visa in the same classification and pursuant to the same approved petition as the previously granted immigrant visa,

(2) has no changed circumstances that could affect eligibility for the visa, and

(3) is willing to affirm under penalty of perjury to the information provided on the Form DS-260 or Form DS-230.

Further note that this discretionary waiver authority is effective through December 13, 2023.

If you find yourself in the situation where you may not be able to travel before expiration of the immigrant visa, it is important to seek out the assistance of an immigration attorney to help you through the process of contacting the consulate to explain your case.

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