Is a family petition cancelled if the person leaves the United States to live in another country?

In my Consulta Migratoria® column this week I answer the question of a U.S. citizen who is petitioning for his daughter.

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 a U.S. citizen. In November 2014 I petitioned for my 29 year old unmarried daughter. She entered the U.S. on a tourist visa in 2006 and stayed to live illegally. The government sent me an approval letter where it says that we have to wait for an immigrant visa to continue with the process.

My daughter now wants to return to Guatemala, where she was born. Does the residency process continue when she leaves the U.S. or does it end? -José M.

Jose, your daughter's proceedings will go forward if she returns to live in Guatemala. But you should keep in mind that if she returns to Guatemala, she will be subject to the penalty law when she leaves the United States because she has been living in the country illegally for the last 12 years.

The punishment law will not allow her to return to the U.S. for 10 years unless she can get a waiver for living in the U.S. illegally. Your daughter will only be granted a waiver if she can show that you, as a U.S. citizen parent, would suffer extreme hardship if she cannot return to the United States.

The petition you filed on behalf of your daughter is under the first preference family category which is for unmarried children of citizens, over 21 years of age.

According to the Visa Bulletin of June 2018The U.S. Department of State is issuing immigrant visas for Guatemalans in the first preference who filed cases before April 8, 2011. Since you filed your daughter's petition in November 2014, there is still no immigrant visa available for her. They will have to continue to wait several more years.

Your daughter needs to carefully analyze her situation and think very carefully about what she is going to do, understanding what the consequences of staying or leaving the country are. I recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney before your daughter travels abroad to determine her immigration options.