Ask the US Consul

Want to visit the US? Or has your application been turned down? Our monthly column ‘Ask the Consul” conducted with the US Embassy in Colombo provides answers to questions regarding obtaining an American visa.

Next month’s column will focus on the Diversity Visa Lottery (“Green Card Lottery”) and readers are invited to submit questions related to the Lottery. The Diversity Visa Lottery allows randomly selected applicants to immigrate to the United States on an expedited basis, provided they meet the necessary requirements.

This year’s DV-2011 lottery entry period is expected to be announced between October and December 2009. Once the entry period opens, you can enter for free via the official U.S. government website: Questions on other Consular topics are also welcome.
To submit your question, simply email The Sunday Times at: or post your query to: Ask the Consul, c/o The Sunday Times, No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2.

Dear Consul,

I’m an undergraduate at a US university and will graduate with a computer science degree in May 2010. I have an F1(student) visa. After graduation I’m planning to do my Optional Practical Training (OPT).

While on OPT, I plan to get married to a Sri Lankan. Will it be possible to bring my wife to US as a dependent while I am on OPT? After completing OPT, we will return to Sri Lanka as we both have strong social and economic ties to our home country.

Your kind co-operation in this regard is greatly appreciated. Thank you.


Dear A.J.,

Congratulations on your upcoming graduation and marriage. If you get married while you are on OPT, you will first need to ask your university to issue a new I-20 for your spouse. Once your wife has the I-20, she can apply for an F2 visa at the U.S. Embassy in Colombo.

The interviewing officer will take into consideration her ties to Sri Lanka in determining whether she is qualified for a visa. A F2 visa holder is not allowed to work while in the U.S., so you will also need to demonstrate sufficient finances to support her during her stay in the U.S.


Dear Consul,

My sister filed an Immigrant Visa petition for my family many years ago. In 2002, we received the Immigrant Visa and went to the U.S., where we received our Legal Permanent Resident (green card) status.

In 2003, I came down to Sri Lanka for a family visit. Due to illness and family issues, I did not return to the U.S. until 2006.

When I arrived at the Los Angeles airport in 2006, they told me that my green card was expired and that I could not enter the U.S. In 2008, I applied to have my green card reinstated in Colombo but was refused.
My wife and children are still in the U.S., and they are now U.S. citizens. How can I go back to the U.S. to join them?


Dear D.M.,

Legal Permanent Residents (green card holders) are considered to have abandoned their status if they remain outside the USA for more than one year. However, in some cases they can be re-classified as a Returning Resident immigrant if they had Legal Permanent Resident status when they left the USA, they departed from the USA with the intention of returning and their visit abroad was temporary but was delayed for reasons outside the person’s control and influence.

Given that your application to have your green card reinstated was refused, you will need to ask your wife to file a new Immigrant Visa petition on your behalf. More information about how to file an Immigrant Visa petition is available on the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which


Dear Consul,

I heard that a television star got arrested for presenting fraudulent documents at the Embassy. Don’t you give special consideration for famous people?


Dear J.W.,

It is important for every visa applicant to be aware of the consequences of committing fraud, as the rules are applied evenly to all applicants.

Committing fraud is a serious offense with grave consequences. Presenting false or misleading information during the interview can cast doubt on the validity of your entire application. If you commit fraud, you may be found permanently ineligible for a visa to enter the United States. In some instances, fraudulent cases may be referred to the local authorities for investigation.

We recommend that you educate yourself about the visa categories and requirements for each at:

If you know that you are not qualified for a visa at this time, you should not apply. It is possible that you could qualify in the future. A poor attempt at fraud now could destroy any legitimate chance you have of traveling to the United States in the future.


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