If you want to enter the country on a Russian immigrant visa in Chicago or elsewhere, you may have a lot of questions about the green card process and how it works.
The following are some frequently asked questions about Russian immigrant visas and what you can expect when applying for a green card. You’ll also learn how immigration attorneys may be able to assist you with your visa application and other immigration issues.
What Is USCIS?
This acronym is short for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency responsible for processing immigrants in the U.S. It’s a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and will be the agency you go through when applying for a green card. Additionally, this agency handles the processing of other documents, including travel and work permits for immigrants. It also processes naturalization applications for immigrants who wish to become American citizens.
How Long Is the Green Card Process?
Generally, it takes up to two years before you’ll be able to obtain a green card, but the entire process will vary depending on several key factors. For instance, it could take more time to go through the Russian immigration process if you’re entering on a visa type that takes a longer time to become available, such as a marriage-based or spousal visa. The number of immigrants from your country of origin applying for a green card could also affect the length of the process.
However, properly preparing for the immigration process and Russian visa interview questions can help make the process quicker.
How Much Does a Green Card Cost?
Just like the time it takes to process your green card, the cost of your green card will vary based on case-specific factors. Specifically, the cost will depend on the type of green card you seek.
For example, if your spouse lives outside the U.S. when applying for a marriage-based visa, the visa could cost around $1,200 or more. On the other hand, if the spouse seeking the visa is an American resident or citizen, these visas tend to cost around $1,760.
Also, you may need to pay additional fees for medical examinations and other elements of your green card application.
What Is the Visa Bulletin?
The U.S. Department of State publishes a Visa Bulletin that details the green card applications that are able to proceed. The bulletin updates according to the number of immigrants who have submitted an I-130 petition to begin the green card process. You can regularly check the Visa Bulletin to find out whether the green card you want to apply for is available.
How Does Permanent Residency Work?
Immigrants coming to the U.S. may obtain either conditional permanent residency or lawful permanent residency, depending on their status. Conditional green cards remain valid for two years after approval. Typically, individuals who have been in a marriage for less than two years when obtaining a green card will be able to receive a conditional permanent resident green card.
Immigrants may also obtain a lawful permanent resident green card under certain circumstances. Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) can live and work in the U.S., petition for family members to immigrate to the U.S., and potentially undergo naturalization to become American citizens.
Why Are Visas No Longer Available in Moscow?
At this time, the Russian government is preventing the U.S. government from hiring, contracting, and retaining any third-country or Russian workers to help issue visas in Moscow. As a result, the U.S. government is unable to provide consular services in this city, requiring immigrants to obtain visas in Warsaw instead.
The American government chose Warsaw because of its close geographical proximity to Russia, physical space allowing for plenty of staff and applicants, and the overall cost-effectiveness of the location. Warsaw also contains many individuals who speak the Russian language to communicate with applicants.
Why Might a Green Card Application Be Denied?
There are multiple reasons why USCIS may deny a green card.
If you’re wondering why H-1B applications get denied or why any other visa could see a denial, the following are some main reasons for denials:
- Mistakes on the green card application
- Insufficient finances
- Submitting insufficient documentation
- Ineligibility to apply for a green card in the U.S.
- Failure to establish an authentic, valid marriage
How Can an Attorney Help Russian Immigrants?
When looking to apply for a green card or in need of help with other aspects of immigration, a Chicago immigration legal services lawyer can assist Russian immigrants.
The right attorney can help you apply for your green card by helping prepare all necessary documentation. An immigration lawyer can also help you collect certain U.S. immigration benefits, such as Temporary Protected Status (TPS), which allows immigrants to enter the U.S. to escape conditions like armed conflicts, natural disasters, and other dangerous situations.
If immigrants are involved in administrative hearings, lawyers may also be able to provide representation in these settings, such as when facing deportation. An attorney may provide defense that helps protect the immigrant from removal.
An Attorney Can Help Employers and Russian Nationals With Work Visas
Another way an immigration lawyer may be able to help Russian immigrants is by helping them obtain work permits. These permits would allow immigrants to gain employment inside the U.S.
Reuniting Families in Chicago
Many Russian and Ukrainian immigrants have attempted to reunite with their families in the U.S., including Chicago, in an attempt to get away from the recent war. With the right approach to the green card process, you can also reunite with family in the Chicagoland area.
Tackling Language and Cultural Barriers
Russian immigrants may struggle to communicate and acclimate to American culture, but there are many resources to help them successfully integrate into the U.S. For instance, immigrants can take English classes online or through various programs.
Another critical resource is the Immigrant Learning Center, which is an online source that allows immigrants to learn more about American culture and the English language. Over time, it can become easier to learn English and become familiar with the customs and traditions in the U.S.
Be Prepared to Provide Documentation
When you apply for a green card to immigrate to the U.S., you will need plenty of documentation to support your application. If you don’t prepare the necessary documents, government officials may deny you entry into the U.S. Even if they don’t deny your application, they may request additional documentation during the application process, which can make it take longer to obtain a green card.
To increase your chances of success when applying for a green card, make sure you have the following documents:
- Birth certificate
- Court records
- Financial records
- Expired or current visas
- Proof of a bona fide marriage
The documents you need to enter the U.S. will depend on the type of visa you wish to obtain. For instance, you will need documents showing that your marriage is valid when entering the country on a marriage-based visa.
Questions to Ask an Immigration Lawyer
If you want to get the help of an immigration attorney as a Russian immigrant, you can make the right choice by asking key questions during an initial consultation. Knowing what to ask an immigration lawyer is critical for helping you select the ideal representation in your case.
The following are some questions to ask your prospective immigration lawyer:
Do You Have a Focus on Immigration Law and Visas?
Some immigration lawyers may not have a specific focus on immigration law. Instead, they may include it in a range of legal services. Ideally, you should work with an attorney who’s used to immigration cases and can help you obtain visas, work permits, and other immigrant benefits.
What Kinds of Cases Have You Handled?
You should also find out what types of cases the lawyer has handled in the past. Has he or she worked with immigrants like you? What kind of success rate does the attorney have with those cases?
A good lawyer will be able to reassure you by discussing past cases related to yours and revealing his or her success.
What Strategy Would You Use for My Case?
When discussing your case and its unique nature, you should also find out what type of strategy the attorney would use to handle it. What approach would the lawyer take to achieve the best outcome for you? The attorney should give you some idea of what to expect from the start.