Immigration and Visas

If you have experienced difficulties with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL), or a U.S. Embassy abroad, my staff may be able to help. Please contact my state office at (301) 545-1500. To reach USCIS directly, please call the USCIS Customer Service Line at 1 (800) 375-5283.

According to the Privacy Act of 1974, in order for me to assist you with an immigration matter, written authorization is needed.  Please complete the Privacy Release Form and return it to me at the following address:

111 Rockville Pike, Suite 960
Rockville, MD 20850

FAX: (301) 545-1512

Advance travel planning and early visa application are important. If you plan to apply for a nonimmigrant visa to come to the United States as a temporary visitor, please visit the State Department website for visa appointment and processing wait times. If you require assistance with respect to a nonimmigrant visa issue, please send the applicant’s full name, date of birth, passport number and the time, date and location of the scheduled interview to me at the address above. 

While U.S. Embassies have complete discretion to deny applications as they deem appropriate, I may be able to assist you if the applicant is submitting a new nonimmigrant visa application. Please send me the applicant’s information along with a list of ties to his or her home country.

NOTE: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has launched a redesigned USCIS website available in English and Spanish.  Among other features, the new USCIS website boasts a service called My Case Status, which allows immigration applicants to receive alerts regarding the status of their applications and petitions via text message and e-mail.   

Please be sure to visit the new sites at www.uscis.gov and www.uscis.gov/espanol.

How can I get help expediting the processing of my immigration case?
If you believe that your case meets one or more of the seven available expedite criteria that have been established by USCIS, my staff may be able to help you request expedited processing. Please be prepared to provide supporting documents for this request.

Some visa applications require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the visa applicant’s interview by a consular officer. Please visit the State Department website for more information. The USCIS webpage has information on your case’s anticipated processing time.

USCIS conducts an investigation of an applicant upon filing for an immigration benefit. The investigation consists of certain criminal background and security checks, which apply to most applicants and must be conducted and completed before the applicant is scheduled for an interviewYou may find out more information on background checks on the USCIS webpage.

Where can I access multilingual information about immigration and citizenship issues? 
Visit the Multilingual Resources Page to access information in twenty-five languages.

How can I adjust legal status in the United States? 
There are only 2 ways immigrants may adjust their legal status:

  • Family-Based: U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents may apply for an immediate family relative such as a spouse, child under 21 years old, unmarried child over 21 years old, parent, brother, or sister. To start this process, applicants must file an I-130 petition with USCIS. For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov.
  • Employment-Based: U.S. employers may file for prospective employees who are foreign-born. For more information the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website contains information related to hiring people who live outside of the U.S.  Please refer to the USCIS webpage on how to immigrate through a job.  You may also refer to the U.S. Department of Labor website at www.dol.gov.

How do I renew my green card?
If your card has not expired, you need to complete Form I-90 and take the completed form along with two pictures and the applicable filing fee to a local USCIS Application Support Center. You will need a valid photo ID.

If your card has expired or was lost or stolen, you need to schedule an appointment, called an "Info Pass," through the USCIS website. Visit http://www.my.uscis.gov/appointment to schedule an appointment. You should try to schedule an appointment well in advance of when you need to have your card. 

How do I let USCIS know if I have moved?
If you have an application or petition pending with USCIS, you should complete Form AR-11 and attach a copy of your USCIS receipt notice. You may also notify USCIS of a change of address online.

I recently filed for naturalization or a green card with USCIS. How long will that take? 
Information on processing times is available at www.uscis.gov. Click on Processing Times.

If your immigration case is outside of normal USCIS processing times and you would like my staff to inquire about the status of your case, please complete a Privacy Release.

USCIS will only allow me and my staff to check the status of your application/petition if you provide your consent on the privacy form.

I am waiting for an immigrant visa to become available. How will I know when a visa is available to me?
Information of visa availability is at www.travel.state.gov. Click on Visa Bulletin.

How do I get a USCIS form?
Forms may be downloaded from the USCIS website.  You can also request on this website that forms be mailed to you, or by calling 1-800-870-FORM (3676).

I've tried calling USCIS to ask a simple question, but can't get through. How do I call USCIS?
You can also try the USCIS toll-free number for general questions:1-800-375-5283.

How do I become a U.S. citizen?
Visit the USCIS website for information on U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services -Naturalization. Also, you can download a "Guide to Naturalizations". This 45-page booklet answers common questions you may have regarding citizenship. 

I am a member of the U.S. Armed Forces. Who do I contact to find out the status of my case?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website has immigration-related information and links to resources geared specifically for members of the military and their families 

USCIS is working with the Department of Defense to ensure that the military community has accurate and up-to-date information about immigration services and benefits.

Military Help Line:

USCIS has established a toll-free military help line, 1-877-CIS-4MIL(1-877-247-4645), exclusively for members of the military and their families.  USCIS customer service specialists are available to answer calls Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. (EST), excluding federal holidays.  After-hours callers will receive an email address that they can use to contact USCIS for assistance.  Callers can obtain assistance on:

  • Tracking their application for naturalization (Form N-400);
  • Notifying USCIS of a new mailing address or duty station;
  • Checking the status of an application or petition;
  • Bringing a spouse, fiancé(e) or adopted child to the United States;
  • Obtaining posthumous citizenship for a deceased member of the Armed Services; and
  • Submitting an application for expedited processing.

Service members and their families stationed in the United States or overseas may access the Help Line using the toll-free number, through their base telephone operator or using the Defense Switched Network (DSN).  Operators will ask members of the general public to call their main customer service line: 1-800-375-5283.

How can I adopt a child outside of the United States?
You may adopt a child from a Hague country or a Non-Hague country. The Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-Country Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. Concluded on May 29, 1993 in The Hague, the Netherlands, the Convention establishes international standards of practices for intercountry adoptions. The United States signed the Convention in 1994, and the Convention entered into force for the United States in April 2008.

The Hague Adoption Convention applies to all adoptions between the United States and the other counties that have joined it (Convention countries). Adopting a child from a Convention country is similar in many ways to adopting a child from a country not party to the Convention.   However, there are some key differences. In particular, those seeking to adopt receive greater protections if they adopt from a Convention country. To begin this process, please visit the Intercountry Adoption, Office of Children’s Issues website at www.adoptions.state.gov You may also visit the Adoptions section on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov.

If I am a victim of domestic violence, can I adjust permanent residency in the U.S.?
Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) enacted in 1994, the spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPR) may self-petition to obtain lawful permanent residency. Applicants must file Form I-360 and provide the appropriate fee and documentation.

The immigration provisions of VAWA allow certain battered immigrants to file for immigration relief without the abuser's assistance or knowledge, in order to seek safety and independence from the abuser. Victims of domestic violence should know that help is available to them through the National Domestic Violence Hotline on 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 [TDD] for information about shelters, mental health care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about self-petitioning for immigration status. For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov.

If I am a victim of human trafficking or a crime, can I adjust permanent residency in the U.S.?
Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 (VTVPA) in order to provide individuals who have been victimized in the most severe fashion with the ability to remain in the U.S. (temporarily and in some cases longer) and receive federal and state assistance; protections for certain crime victims including victims of crimes against women; and law enforcement agencies with a comprehensive law that will enable them to pursue the prosecution and conviction of traffickers.

Under this provision, applicants may qualify for a T visa (Victims of Trafficking) or U visa (Victims of Criminal Activity). For U visa applicants, immediate family members may also qualify as a derivative. For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov.

What is Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?
TPS is a temporary immigration status granted to eligible nationals of designated countries (or parts thereof). In 1990, as part of the  Immigration Act of 1990 (“IMMACT”), P.L. 101-649, Congress established a procedure by which the Attorney General may provide TPS to immigrants in the United States who are temporarily unable to safely return to their home country because of ongoing armed conflict, an environmental disaster, or other extraordinary and temporary conditions.

During the period for which a country has been designated for TPS, TPS beneficiaries may remain in the United States and may obtain work authorization. However, TPS does not lead to permanent resident status. When the Secretary terminates a TPS designation, beneficiaries revert to the same immigration status they maintained before TPS (unless that status had since expired or been terminated) or to any other status they may have acquired while registered for TPS. Accordingly, if an individual had unlawful status prior to receiving TPS and did not obtain any status during the TPS designation, the individual reverts to unlawful status upon the termination of that TPS designation.

Participating Countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Somalia, Haiti and South Sudan. For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov

I am afraid to return to my home country. Can I claim asylum? How does asylum differ from refugee status? 
Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals in the United States who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Individuals who meet this definition of a refugee and who are already in the United States or who are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry may qualify for a grant of asylum and be permitted to remain in the United States as long as they are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum. Individuals who are granted asylum are eligible to apply to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Unlike the U.S. Refugee Program, which provides protection to refugees by bringing them to the United States for resettlement, the U.S. Asylum Program provides protection to qualified applicants who are already in the United States or are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. Asylum-seekers may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of their countries of origin and regardless of their current immigration status. There are no quotas on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum each year. For more information, please visit www.uscis.gov.

Refugees are individuals displaced by war, famine, and civil and political unrest. Others are forced to flee their countries in order to escape the risk of death and torture at the hands of persecutors. The U.S. works with other governmental, international, and private organizations to provide food, health care, and shelter to millions of refugees throughout the world. In addition, the United States considers persons for resettlement to the U.S. as refugees. Those admitted must be of special humanitarian concern and demonstrate that they were persecuted, or have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.

If my loved one is detained by immigration, what do I do?
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requires a signed DHS privacy release from the individual who is detained. Please include the full name, date of birth, and an alien registration number to locate your loved one For more information, please visit ICE’s Detainee Locator System.

What do I need to do to obtain a driver's license or ID card?
Customers presenting foreign documentation without valid accompanying United States Citizenship and Immigration Services documentation are required to schedule an appointment online at https://mvascheduling.mdot.state.md.us/default.aspx to apply for a Maryland Driver’s License (DL) or Identification Card (ID). For more information on how to prepare for the driver’s test, please visit the MVA website