Q: I have completed my bachelor’s degree and am currently on myACtill March 2007. I plan to travel to India in December 2006. What do I need to do so that I can return to the United States in January 2007 using my OPT?

A: You need a valid stamp on your Student SEVIS Record issued by the college or university you received your F-1 status from. You should also carry your optional practical card with you. If you did work somewhere on your OPT, then it’s also a good idea to have copies of a couple of pay stubs handy when re-entering.

Q: I am a U.S. green card holder, and filed a petition for permanent residence for my wife and 1-year-old son, who live in India, in May 2005. While it is being processed is there a way for them to visit me in California? I am told that a tourist visa is not granted to those for whom a green card petition has been filed.

A: If you are a green card holder then it takes these types of petitions a long time to adjudicate (up to four or five years). In the meantime your family is considered intending immigrants and therefore will not receive a tourist visa to the United States to visit you. If you are eligible for U.S. citizenship you can speed up the process and upgrade your I-130 immigrant petition that you have filed on behalf of your family. In general, if you received your green card based on employment or lottery, you need to be a permanent resident for 4½ years before you are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

Q: My son is being sponsored for a green card by my wife who is a U.S. citizen (and his stepmother). His application was filed one-and-a-half years ago. Meanwhile, I got my green card because I was living in the United States. We have not received any correspondence in his case. I have written several letters to the USCIS with no response. When I finally reached an immigration officer on the USCIS phone number, she told me that his application was sitting in the wrong service center and asked me to write to them again. Please help.

A: I need to know your son’s age in order to advise you, and I also need to see copies of what was filed or at least a receipt notice and G-28 form. Basically, you need an attorney to follow up on the case.

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.

James E. Root, Esq., manages an exclusive immigration law practice with two offices in L.A. and Orange counties. (888) ROOT-LAW.