Can a Mexican university student obtain a work permit in the U.S.?

In my column this week in La Opinión I answer readers' questions. Here I provide general answers to readers' questions. Each case is different, so you should consult an attorney for personalized legal advice.

I am Mexican and have been living in Los Angeles since last month. I am an actuary with a degree from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, and I have a 16 year old daughter who was born in the U.S. Can I get a work permit?

You may be eligible for a TN visa if you meet all the requirements. This nonimmigrant visa is available to persons of Mexican and Canadian origin who have a letter from a U.S. employer offering them a job in a professional position, such as an actuary. You will have to prove that you are a Mexican citizen, that you have a college degree as an actuary, and that you do not intend to stay permanently in the country.

The TN visa can be granted for a period of up to three years and can be renewed.

If you are approved for this visa, you may bring your spouse and unmarried minor children, if you have them.

If you entered the country legally, you may be able to apply for a change of status to a TN visa. You could also apply for permanent residency through your daughter. But that does not offer you an immediate solution, because you would have to wait five years, since she can only apply for you when she turns 21.

If you wait to apply for permanent residence through your daughter you will have to meet several requirements, including proving the relationship, that she can support you and that you are admissible to the country.

Please consult with an immigration attorney before beginning any proceedings.

My U.S. citizen sister filed an I-130 petition for me in January 2001 and we were approved. I am from Guatemala and have always lived here, when will a visa be available for me?

The application your sister filed for you is under category 4 which benefits siblings of citizens. According to the February 2012 Visa Bulletin, the State Department is processing cases of Guatemalans in that category with priority dates up to September 8, 2000. These dates sometimes change. I recommend monitoring the Visa Bulletin to see how your case is going.