Q. My friend in Tehran, Iran, won the green card lottery in 2018, but because of travel bans, couldn’t get her immigrant visa. She’s asking about a bill, H.R. 3548, that would allow her to get the visa now.
Amir, North Carolina
A. Congress failed to pass H.R. 3548 in the current Congress, and I doubt in has a chance anytime soon. Your friend should enter again next year.
Winners of the green card (Diversity Visa) lottery must get their immigrant visa in the fiscal year, Oct. 1 to Sept. 31, after they win. Because of various travel bans and consulate closings due to the COVID pandemic, many winners couldn’t get their visas. H.R. 3548 would allow these lottery winners and others impacted by the bans and lockdowns to get their visas now.
No bills benefitting immigrant groups passed Congress this year, even for those in the most sympathetic groups such as Dreamers — undocumented immigrants who came here at young ages. Bills for needed health care workers and highly qualified scientists also failed to pass. With immigration continuing as a controversial issue, I don’t expect much good news for immigrants from the next Congress.
Q. My form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence is pending. I qualify to naturalize after three years under the special rules for the spouse of a U.S. citizen. Can I apply to naturalize now, or must I wait until U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services approves the I-751?
Name withheld, New York
A. You can apply to naturalize now. A conditional permanent resident who qualifies for U.S. citizenship can apply while his or her form I-751 is pending.
You became a conditional resident because USCIS granted you permanent residence within two years of your marriage. A conditional permanent resident has all the rights and benefits of a permanent resident, including qualifying to naturalize under the three-year rule for certain spouses of a U.S. citizens.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service officers can adjudicate pending I-751 applications at naturalization interviews for conditional permanent residents. If the officer approves the I-751, the officer can then consider a naturalization application at the same interview. Include your I-751 filing receipt when you submit your naturalization application.
Allan Wernick is an attorney and Senior Legal Adviser to City University of New York’s Citizenship Now! project. Email questions and comments @allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter: @awernick