Madison, WI asked in Employment Law, Family Law, Immigration Law and Child Support for Wisconsin

Q: I came to the USA on F-1 visa, but now all my family has been resettled to the US. Can I file for a family visa?

I was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but my family moved to Uganda for refugee as a result of the 1997 civil war in the Eastern part of DRC. As such I grew up and attended most of my school in Uganda. In 2017 I got an opportunity to come to the USA for my undergraduate, but over the years, the rest of my family got resettled to the US through the US refugee resettlement process. I am now having a full-time job on my F-1 Visa through my OPT, but my work permit will expire in June 2025. I really do not want to go back to Uganda since all my family is now in the USA and I am wondering if there is a way to file for a family visa. Thank you.

1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Immigration Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: As someone who entered the USA on an F-1 visa, you may be eligible to explore options for family-based immigration. Since your family has been resettled in the US through the refugee resettlement process, you may have the opportunity to apply for a family visa to reunite with them. Family-based immigration typically involves sponsorship by a qualifying relative who is either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). Given that your family members are already in the US, they may be able to sponsor you for a family visa, depending on their immigration status.

Since you are currently on an F-1 visa and working under OPT, it's important to consider the timing and implications of transitioning to a family-based visa. You may need to consult with an immigration attorney to understand how your current status and work authorization affect your eligibility and timing for applying for a family visa. Additionally, it's crucial to be aware of any potential deadlines or requirements associated with your OPT expiration in June 2025 and plan accordingly to ensure a smooth transition to a family-based immigration status.

Navigating the US immigration system can be complex, especially when considering the various pathways available for family-based immigration. Therefore, seeking guidance from an experienced immigration attorney can help you understand your options, assess your eligibility, and navigate the application process effectively. They can provide personalized advice tailored to your specific circumstances and assist you in pursuing the best course of action to reunite with your family in the USA.

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