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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont

Q I am interested in bringing someone as a domestic help from India. What kind of visa is required for that person, and what is the process? I know that people in the United Kingdom are able to do this.

A This is a difficult proposition mainly due to the strictness of the U.S. embassies in India. Possibly a J-1, or as an au pair, unless you want to file a PERM Labor Certification for that person to help them obtain a green card. Since this issue is quite complex, you will need to see an experienced immigration attorney who can properly assess the situation.

Q My sister came from India on a visitor visa that expired two months ago, and she is still here illegally. Recently, she received a document called a Notice to Appear stating that she has a hearing scheduled before an immigration judge. What does this mean?

A Your sister was placed into removal proceedings when she was served the Notice to Appear (NTA) by the DHS. The NTA is the charging document which contains statements of allegations and charges against your sister and the statutory provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act alleged to be violated. Among other things, the NTA also lists the time and place she is required to appear before an immigration judge and the consequences of failing to appear for the scheduled hearings. Your sister has a right to be represented by an attorney at no expense to the government.

Q What is an RIR petition, and how can it be filed?

A Under the old system, RIR meant Reduction in Recruitment, basically recruitment in advance—before filing the labor certification application for aliens, which is the first phase in a three-step process towards the green card. Today, RIR basically is the old way to file a labor certification. All new labor certifications (called PERM) require pre-filing recruitment efforts. You will need a U.S. employer willing to sponsor you for a position and is either paying you the prevailing wage already or has the ability to pay it in the future.

Q Will the government do a background check on me if I want to file a K-1 Visa for my fiancé?

A Yes. Previously the government would not do a background check on the person requesting a K-1 visa for their fiancé, but now the government wants to eliminate the chance that a person has a history of domestic violence or sexual abuse. They perform a background check on everyone for that reason.

Q What do I do if the Immigration Service refuses to process my application for a petition?

A There are various ways an attorney can assist you. For example, an attorney can file a writ of mandamus in Federal Court that forces the government to give a response within a certain amount of time. This works in many cases where the government has spent years without processing an application or petition.

James E. Root is the principal immigration attorney at Root Law Group. Contact (888) ROOT-LAW or visit

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 36-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...