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FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I contact the Embassy with my Immigrant Visa or Legal Permanent Resident Status question?

The Embassy will respond to all inquiries that are emailed to ParisConIV@state.gov, generally within two business days.  If you feel that your question cannot be answered by our website or an email, please provide your telephone number to this same email with a brief description of your question.

How do I qualify to petition for an immigrant visa in France?

Most immigrant visa petitions must be filed directly with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) www.uscis.gov in the United States.  The U.S. Embassy in Paris will, exceptionally, accept IR or immediate relative (spouse, parent, unmarried children under 21 years of age) immigrant visa (I-130) petitions from American citizens. Please visit http://france.usembassy.gov/iv-immediate.html for further information. 

Can my relatives petition for me to immigrate?

For family sponsorship, only immediate relatives can file a petition on your behalf. Immediate relatives are parents, U.S. citizen siblings, children and spouses. Depending on the visa applicant’s marital status, it is sometimes required that the immediate relative must be a U.S. citizen. Please visit www.uscis.gov for information.

Are there U.S. visas for same-sex spouses ?

 A same-sex marriage is now valid for immigration purposes, as long as the marriage is recognized in the “place of celebration.” The validity of a marriage will depend on whether it was legally valid in the place of celebration, rather than the place of domicile. 

 A same-sex marriage is valid for immigration purposes even if the couple intends ultimately to reside in one of the 37 states that do not recognize same-sex marriages.  The same-sex marriage is valid even if the applicant is applying in a country in which same-sex marriage is illegal.

Can my U.S. citizen child petition for me to immigrate?

Petitioning children must have reached the age of 21 to be eligible to file a petition. Therefore, a U.S. citizen child must be 21 years or over to file for a parent. Please visit www.uscis.gov for further information. 

What is the difference between a fiancé(e) (K) visa and an immediate relative immigrant visa (IR) for your spouse?

A U.S. citizen files a form I-129F petition for his or her fiancé(e) (or K) visa if the couple plans to marry in the U.S.  This visa will allow the fiancé(e) to enter the U.S. for 90 days to complete a legal marriage and then apply for an adjustment of status to legal permanent residence.  The new foreign citizen spouse generally cannot depart the United States during the adjustment period without permission from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) www.uscis.gov.  The I-129F petition must be filed with USCIS in the United States and cannot be filed with U.S. Embassy Paris.

A married U.S. citizen files a form I-130 petition for an IR (immediate relative) immigrant visa for his or her spouse, unmarried, minor child or parent if the relative currently resides outside of the U.S., and intends to immigrate to the U.S.  A person who enters the U.S. on an immigrant visa has the right to work upon entry to the U.S. and can use the stamped immigrant visa to enter and exit the U.S. during the first year of residency and does not need USCIS permission to leave the U.S.

An immediate relative petition must be filed with USCIS www.uscis.gov in the United States.

I am married to a U.S. citizen.  My attorney says I should file for the K3 visa because I can move to the United States right away. How can I get that done?

You might qualify for the K3 visa, your U.S. citizen spouse must fill out the petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S www.uscis.gov

Do I need a fiancé(e) (K1) visa if I want to travel to the United States to marry and then return to a residence abroad?

In general, no.  If you intend to make a short visit to the United States to marry and then return to a residence abroad you do not need a fiancé(e) visa.  You should apply for a B2 (visitor for pleasure) non-immigrant visa.   When you arrive in the United States under B2 status, you will have to prove to the immigration officer at the port of entry that you intend to make a short visit to the U.S. with the intention to marry, followed by a return to a foreign residence.

My fiancé(e) is petitioning for me, but what about my children – can they go with me?

Any unmarried children under the age of 21 can apply for a “derivative” fiancé(e) visa with you. The children must be under 21 years of age and unmarried at the time of their entry into the U.S. on such a visa.  Please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for further information.

Can I enter the U.S. on my fiancé(e) visa, depart the U.S., and then re-enter on the fiancé(e) visa?

No.  The fiancé(e) visa is a single entry visa. You are required to marry within 90 days of your arrival and to apply immediately thereafter for an adjustment of status with USCIS. You may not depart the U.S. until after you have adjusted your status and have been granted lawful permanent resident status. Please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website for further information

Can I buy a one-way ticket if I have a fiancé(e) or immigrant visa?

Yes.

How long does each type of visa take to process? 

Apply early!  The entire process from initial petitioning with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in the United States www.uscis.gov to visa issuance can take up to one year or more.  Applicants are advised not make any major life changes (e.g. selling of a home, ticket purchases, leaving employment) until after delivery of the actual visa.  Once issued, a fiancé(e) or immigrant visa is generally valid for six months before travel to the United States is required.

Note: Currently, visas for spouses, parents, and children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens are not numerically limited and are subject to the above-listed processing times.  All other visa types are subject to annual numerical limitations set by law.  It can take several years for beneficiaries of these types to receive their visas.  Please visit www.uscis.gov  for more information.

If I am required to file with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, where will my family member beneficiary’s interview take place?

The interview will take place at U.S. Embassy Paris if your relative is resident in metropolitan France (including Corsica) or Monaco.  Petitions are entered with a USCIS service center in the U.S.  They are then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for initial processing.  Cases are then forwarded to the appropriate U.S. Embassy abroad based on the family member beneficiary’s address listed in his or her petition.  

Visa types that are subject to annual numerical limitations (all types except visas for spouses, parents and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens) are held at the NVC until a visa is available for family member beneficiary. 

Can I receive a refund if my visa petition for an alien relative or fiancé(e) is not accepted?

Neither USCIS nor U.S. Embassy Paris can refund or reimburse funds if your petition is not accepted.

My U.S. citizen spouse has to start a new job in the U.S. We can’t wait to go through the immigrant visa process. What else can we do?

If it is your intention to move permanently to the U.S., you are advised to apply for an immigrant visa in advance of traveling to the United States.  Attempting to enter on a non-immigrant visa or the Visa Waiver Program is not advisable and could result in your involuntary return to France and prolong any future application for an immigrant visa.

My lawyer in the U.S. has told me to apply for a tourist visa, and then apply for immigration or adjust my status after I arrive. Can I do that?

Generally not.  Many categories of immigrant visas involve long waiting periods before the visa can be issued. It is generally not possible to spend this period in the U.S.

If you intend to remain permanently in the U.S., attempting to enter on a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program is not advisable and could result in your involuntary return to France. In order to be granted admission on a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program, you must prove that you have a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return, at least temporarily. It is at the discretion of USCIS at the port of entry whether to admit a traveler in that case.

If you are granted entry you can make an application to USCIS for an adjustment of status. If your application is approved, USCIS will give you permission to remain in the U.S. whilst you conclude processing your adjustment of status application. If they reject your application, you will be required to depart the U.S. and apply for an immigrant visa through at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

Can I enter the U.S. and wait while the visa is being processed?

Generally not. Many categories of immigrant visas involve long waiting periods before the visa can be issued. It is generally not possible to spend this period in the U.S.

If you intend to remain permanently in the U.S., attempting to enter on a non-immigrant visa or under the visa waiver program is not advisable and could result in your involuntary return to France. In order to be granted admission on a nonimmigrant visa or under the visa waiver program, you must prove that you have a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return, at least temporarily. It is at the discretion of USCIS at the port of entry whether to admit a traveler in that case.

If you are granted entry you can make an application to USCIS for an adjustment of status. If your application is approved, USCIS will give you permission to remain in the U.S. whilst you conclude processing your adjustment of status application. If they reject your application, you will be required to depart the U.S. and apply for an immigrant visa through at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence.

Can I visit the U.S. during my immigrant visa applicant process?

You must prove to a U.S. immigration officer that you intend to return to your residence abroad to complete your immigrant visa process after a short visit to the United States if you decide to visit the U.S. during your visa application process.  There is no guarantee of entry.  Refused entry to the U.S. could result in your involuntary return to France and prolong your application for an immigrant visa.

Can I enter the U.S. under the Visa Waiver Program while I’m waiting for my visa interview?

You can travel to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program, however, your entry into and length of stay in the U.S. will be determined at your first U.S. port-of-entry. No one can be guaranteed, prior to their arrival at a U.S. port-of-entry, whether or not they would be granted permission to enter the U.S. Please bear in mind that in order to be admitted, you must still demonstrate that you have a residence outside the U.S. to which you intend to return, if even for a short time.

I need an interview urgently because: I’ve booked airline tickets; or I can’t be separated from my spouse/fiancé(e)/children; or I’ve sold my home/business; or I’m pregnant; or I’ve booked my wedding in the us; or Other.

Each application is important to us, so we schedule interviews on a “first come, first served” basis depending on when we receive notification of applicant readiness for an interview.  Appointments are scheduled on the earliest possible date. 

I need to change my appointment date. What do I do?

Should you need to change your final visa interview appointment date, please e-mail us at ParisConIV@state.gov or fax 01 43 12 22 29 (from the U.S., dial 011 33 1 43 12 22 29) advising us of the reasons you are unable to attend the scheduled appointment. Upon receipt of your notice, we will respond with a new appointment for the earliest possible date.

I live a long way from Paris. Why do I have to go there for an interview?  Can I be interviewed at another U.S. consulate or American Presence Post (APP)?

The U.S. Embassy in Paris is the only U.S. immigrant visa processing post for France, Corsica, Monaco, Portugal and the Azores.  You cannot be interviewed at another U.S. consulate or APP in France or Portugal.  If you do not reside in the countries listed above, please contact the National Visa Center.

Does the U.S. citizen petitioner have to attend the interview?

No.  While the petitioner is welcome to attend the interview, they are not required to attend.

Do my children have to attend the interview?

Yes, unless your children are already U.S. citizens. Children, regardless of age, who are applying for immigrant or derivative fiancé(e) visas, must attend the interview.

How long does the interview take?

The interview will be scheduled for the afternoon.  Waiting times vary according to our caseload.  In general, you should be available to spend up to three hours or more at the Embassy.

How long after the interview will the visa be issued?

On the day of your interview, if you are found to be fully documented and eligible to receive a fiancé(e) or immigrant visa, the visa will be issued and posted to you within ten days.

Can I collect my visa in person?

No.  Each applicant is required to provide a Chronopost envelope (2 kg) 25x36cm for the delivery of his or her visa by mail.  Those resident in Portugal must purchase a Chrono Express European Union (2kg).  Envelopes can be purchased at La Poste in France.

Can I work after entering the U.S. on my immigrant visa?

Bearers of immigrant visas can work upon entry into the U.S.  Fiancé(e)s must first obtain permission to work from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.  Please visit www.uscis.gov for further information.

How soon can I travel once the visa is issued? How long is my visa valid?

You can travel as soon as you receive your visa.  Immigrant and fiancé(e) visas are valid for 6 months. Therefore, you must enter the U.S. with your visa within 6 months of its issuance.  In some cases, visas can be limited to expire before the 6-month period.  In this instance, you are required to enter the U.S. before the expiry date of your visa.

What if I don’t use the visa within the six months? Can it be extended?

Immigrant and fiancé(e) visas cannot be extended.  If the visa is not used within its period of validity, you must return it to this office for cancellation, along with a note explaining the reasons why the visa was not used. Upon return of the visa and explanation, we will inform you of the requirements for issuance of a new visa.  This involves the repayment of visa fees.

How long must I remain in the U.S. after I have entered on the immigrant visa?

U.S. law does not specify how long one must remain in the U.S. after first entering.  Immigration officials, at the time of your return to the U.S., will look very closely at the amount of time spent away from the U.S.  If they determine that you have been spending more time out of the U.S. than in the U.S., they are empowered to revoke your lawful permanent resident status.  You would then have to re-qualify for permanent resident status.

I have a family-based petition pending. I’ve changed my address. What should I do?

If your file is currently with us, you should fax us the details of any changes to your application, including your mailing address. Our fax number is 01 43 12 22 29.  You may also send us an e-mail message.  If your application is being retained by the National Visa Center (NVC), you should write directly to NVC to advise them of any changes including your full name, date & place of birth, current address, full name of your petitioning relative, date & place of birth of your petitioning relative, his/her current address, his/her relationship to you, and the date of filing of your petition.

Can I apply for a Social Security number at the time of my visa application?

Immigrant visa applicants as well as K visa applicants cannot and may apply for a social security number in the United States.

I have sent form DS-2001 (Applicant readiness for interview) and form DS-230I (biographic data) – when will I be notified of the interview date?

An interview will be scheduled for all fiancé(e) and a few immediate relative applicants (spouses, parents & unmarried children under 21 years of age) within 1-2 months of receiving your form DS-2001.  Depending on the availability of visa numbers, all other family and employment based applications will be scheduled within 2-3 months.

What sort of police check do I need?

You must provide a police record for France and each country where you have resided for one year and more since age 16 (with the exception of the United States).  Information on how to obtain your French police record (casier judiciaire) is available online at:  https://www.cjn.justice.gouv.fr/cjn/b3/eje20.  Information on other police records is available at this site http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3272.html.  Police records cannot be older than one year on your interview date.

Do I need a medical exam?  Can my doctor complete the exam?

Each applicant requires a medical exam.  We will send you medical instructions with your appointment notice.  Please do not apply for these until we send you the instructions. Medical exams can only be completed by an approved panel physician.

Why can’t I have the medical done by my own doctor?

The panel physicians must comply with U.S. health regulations to perform medical examinations for our visa applicants. These panel physicians, when accepted and approved to provide this service, are issued with U.S. medical handbooks. Each country can only have a limited amount of qualified and approved physicians to provide this service for the U.S. government.

I’m pregnant and need X-rays, what should I do?

Women who are both pregnant and required to have a medical examinination in connection with the issuance of a visa must have a chest x-ray examination conducted.  Panel physicians and laboratories provide abdominal and pelvic protection with double-layer, wrap-around shields for pregnant women receiving chest radiographs.

I don’t want to have the inoculations/vaccinations. Does that mean I can’t have a visa?

If you do not have the required vaccinations and they are medically appropriate, you will be found ineligible to receive an immigrant visa. You may apply for a waiver of that ineligibility, but must establish that compliance with the vaccination requirements would be contrary to your religious beliefs or moral convictions.

To qualify for a waiver you must show that:

  • You are opposed to vaccinations in any form;
  • The objection is based on religious beliefs or moral convictions (whether or not as a member of a recognized religion); and
  • The religious belief or moral conviction (whether or not as part of a recognized religion) is sincere.

A fee is applicable for a vaccination waiver and will be advised at the time of application. The waiver will be sent to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office for their consideration. These waiver applications can take several months to process.

I haven’t been required to file tax returns in the U.S.; can’t I use my French tax returns?

U.S. Immigration laws and regulations require that the petitioning relative or joint sponsor submit the most recent U.S. Federal Income Tax returns – not foreign tax returns. The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires Americans and lawful permanent residents who are working abroad to file a return even if most or all of their overseas income is excluded from U.S. taxes.  Please visit the U.S. Embassy’s IRS Attaché office for more information.

I don’t understand the concept of domicile.

Domicile is a complex concept and must be evaluated on a case by case basis. To qualify as a sponsor, a petitioner residing abroad must have a principal residence in the U.S. and intend to maintain it indefinitely. Lawful permanent resident (LPR) sponsors must show they are maintaining their LPR status.

Many U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents reside outside the United States on a temporary basis. "Temporary" may cover an extended period of residence abroad. The sponsor living abroad must establish the following in order to be considered domiciled in the United States:

  • He/she left the United States for a limited and not indefinite period of time,
  • He/she intended to maintain a domicile in the United States, and
  • He/she has evidence of continued ties to the United States.

FAQs: Domicile

Can a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) petitioner who is not domiciled (living) in the United States be a sponsor?

No, the law requires that sponsors be domiciled (live) in any of the United States, the District of Columbia, or any territory or possession of the United States.

If the petitioner does not have a domicile in the United States, can a joint sponsor file an I-864?

No, the petitioner must meet all the requirements to be a sponsor (age, domicile and citizenship), except those related to income, before there can be a joint sponsor.

 What kinds of employment abroad can be counted as U.S. domicile

  • Employment temporarily stationed abroad with the U.S. government
  • Employment temporarily stationed abroad with an American institution of research recognized by the Attorney General
  • Employment temporarily stationed abroad with an American firm or corporation or its subsidiary engaged in whole or in part in the development of foreign trade and commerce with the United States
  • Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a public international organization in which the United States participates by treaty or statute
  • Employment temporarily stationed abroad with a religious denomination/group having a genuine organization within the United States.
  • Employment temporarily stationed abroad as a missionary by a religious denomination/group or by an interdenominational mission organization within the United States

There may be other circumstances in which a sponsor can show that his or her presence abroad is of a temporary nature, and the sponsor has a domicile in the United States. The sponsor must satisfy the consular officer that he/she has not given up his/her domicile in the United States and established his/her domicile abroad.

How can a petitioner establish a domicile?

When a sponsor has clearly not maintained a domicile in the United States, he/she must re-establish a U.S. domicile to be a sponsor. The aspiring sponsor may take steps, including the examples given below, to show that the United States is his/her principal place of residence

  • Find employment in the United States
  • Secure a residence in the United States
  • Register children in U.S. schools
  • Relinquish residence abroad
  • Other evidence of a U.S. residence

If the sponsor establishes U.S. domicile, it is not necessary for the sponsor to go to the United States before the sponsored family members. However, the sponsor must return to the United States to live before the sponsored immigrant may enter the United States. The sponsored immigrant must enter the U.S. with or after the sponsor.

How do I calculate the number of people domiciled in the household?

The Sponsor’s Household Size on form I-864 http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_3183.html#15  clearly breaks down how you should calculate household size.

I need a joint sponsor. What are a joint sponsor’s responsibilities?
The joint sponsor’s responsibilities are the same as that of a petitioning relative. The affidavit of support is a legally binding agreement to provide financial support to the person(s) immigrating to the U.S.

When must I pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee?

You must pay the fee prior to departing for the United States.
USCIS will not issue your green card until USCIS receives
payment.  However, even if you have not paid the fee, U.S.
Customs and Border Protection officers will admit you, as long
as you are otherwise eligible to enter.

Who has to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee?

All applicants issued immigrant visas (including Diversity
Visas), except children adopted under the Orphan (IR-3/IR-4)
or Hague Processes (IH-3/IH-4), Iraqi and Afghan special
immigrants who were employed by the U.S. Government, returning
residents (SB-1s), and K visas, will pay the new fee.

How do I pay the new fee?

You will pay the fee by going to www.USCIS.gov/ImmigrantFee,
clicking on the link to the USCIS intake page on Pay.gov,
answering the questions on the USCIS intake page, and
providing your checking account, debit, or credit card
information.  Because checking payments must be drawn on a
U.S. bank, someone else may pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee on
your behalf.

How else can I immigrate to the U.S.?

You must qualify for an immigrant visa in your own right. There are four ways to qualify – through family sponsorship, employment, investment, and the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Further information can be found at  http://travel.state.gov/visa/visa_1750.html or on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.