Can a family petition affect a tourist visa?

In this week's Consulta Migratoria® column I answer a question from a reader who fears losing his tourist visa if his U.S. citizen father applies for it.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on each person's immigration history.

Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before starting any procedure.

This is the column:

I am singleI am 26 years old and have had a tourist visa for over 15 years. My U.S. citizen father has lived in the U.S. for 23 years and wants to petition me. He tells me that I have to travel to the U.S. with my tourist visa in order to apply for it. Would I lose my tourist visa if I do what my father tells me to do? -José S.

Jose, your father can file a family petition on your behalf whether you are inside or outside the United States. You should not lose your tourist visa.

To apply, your father must submit several documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), including evidence of his U.S. citizenship and your birth certificate.

It is of utmost importance that your parent asks you as soon as possible if you both meet all the requirements. There is a long wait to immigrate through the F1 family category, unmarried children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens. For example, if you are Mexican you will have to wait approximately 22 years. If you are a citizen of another Latin American country, the waiting time is approximately nine years.

While you are awaiting the processing of the family petition that your father will file on your behalf, you may continue to temporarily visit the United States on your tourist visa as long as you demonstrate to a customs officer that you are admissible to the country and that you do not intend to stay and live or work in the United States, among other requirements.

Please consult with an immigration attorney before beginning any immigration proceedings.