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Immigration Corner | Can an old petition still be used?

Published:Tuesday | April 9, 2019 | 12:10 AM
Dahlia Walker-Hungtington
Dahlia Walker-Hungtington

Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,

My father filed for me and my sibling when we were kids. He submitted all the documents. However, he needed his wife at the time and my late mother to sign some documents to finish the process. That did not happen and so the process was stalled.

I am now 24 years old and my dad recently became a US citizen. He is now divorced and is trying to refile all this on his own. He has already started to get the documents together to submit.

My question is, since he had already submitted documents before I became an adult, is there any chance those documents could aid in speeding up the process as I’m aware that for an adult, it’ll take roughly five years, as opposed to an immediate relative whose takes nine months to a year?

Would those past documents be saved for this specific purpose or would they be thrown out all together and the present documents be seen as a new submission?


Dear M,

When a petition is filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by a father for his children, there are several issues that can arise. One of the most common is whether the petitioner is the biological father of the children for whom he has filed and whether there was a parent-child relationship before the children’s 18th birthday. USCIS will send a Request For Evidence and give a set amount of time for a response. Previously, if documents were missing from a petition USCIS would also issue an RFE. Since 2018, USCIS advised that if a petition is missing documentation, they would no longer issue an RFE, but instead would deny the petition and the petitioner would have to refile.

If the petition is complete and is subsequently approved by USCIS, the file is transferred to The National Visa Center (NVC) where it sits and waits on a visa to become available. Prior to the visa availability and in preparation for the visa interview, NVC will begin processing documentation. Each time NVC contacts the beneficiary or the petitioner, you are given one year to respond. If a year passes and there is no contact with the NVC, the file moves into dormant status and the beneficiary is asked if they wish to continue the petition. The beneficiary also has to repay any filing fees. If there is no response, in another year you are advised that the file was destroyed.

You didn’t indicate at what stage of the filing difficulties developed, but needless to say, because of the time frame you can assume that your file is no longer active. However, your father should contact the last agency that contacted him and confirm the status of the petition. If by some off chance the petition is still open, there are a myriad of actions that would need to be taken.

In the meantime, your father can file a new petition for you as the US citizen of an adult, unmarried son (F1 preference category), to preserve an early filing date while he sorts out the status of the previous petition. It takes approximately seven years for a visa to become available in the F1 category.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq. is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal and international law in Florida. She is a mediator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.