My Immigrant Visa Validity Is Shortened!

By Nikita St. Amour, Immigration Paralegal

Congratulations, it's the moment you've been waiting for--your immigrant visa has been approved! But wait, the immigrant visa validity is less than six months?! What gives? Per the U.S. Department of State, "An immigrant visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for less than six months." [emphasis added]

Once you receive your approved immigrant visa, you should plan to enter the U.S. before it expires. Obtaining an extension is not easy, may not even be feasible, and usually involves obtaining another medical exam, which can be pricey. Not fully ready to make the transition to the U.S. because you thought you'd have more time to wrap things up? You may be able to enter the U.S. before your immigrant visa validity expires and then temporarily return to your home country abroad to conclude your affairs, before returning to the U.S. on a permanent basis.

When you arrive to the U.S., the officer at the port of entry will stamp your passport to indicate that you have entered as a permanent resident. You should then be able to use that stamp along with your immigrant visa to travel internationally and return to the U.S. for up to a year while you're waiting to receive the green card in the mail. Make sure to carefully check the entry stamp, and confer with an immigration attorney before making plans if in doubt.

While it may be possible to leave the U.S. temporarily and return, keep in mind that if you are outside the U.S. for an extended period of time, the CBP officer may question whether you are maintaining U.S. residence. While there are some clear rules (if you are outside the U.S. for more than a year and you have not filed for a re-entry permit, your permanent residence is presumed to be abandoned), the question of whether you have abandoned your permanent residence status is discretionary. It is insufficient to visit the U.S. periodically in an attempt to maintain permanent residence.

So no need to fret if your immigrant visa is valid for less than 6 months. Be sure to check your visa expiration date, enter the U.S. before it expires, and rejoice in the fact you've gotten this far on your U.S. immigration journey!

As always, the above information is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Please speak with a qualified immigration lawyer before taking action. If you need help navigating the immigration process with confidence, please contact us today to get the process underway! We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. You can call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email at We look forward to hearing from you!