Good news about my immigration status + questions you probably can’t answer

Today I received a notice of approval (Form I-797) of my petition for permanent residency from the USCIS. What this means is that I am past the first half of the permanent residency process, and my application has been sent to the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC). After it gets to the NVC, I will begin the process of getting my visa (technically my green card), but it will take some time.

I’m surprised that I got this notice so soon, because I submitted my petition in November 2007. The USCIS shows that for my type of petition, they are currently processing cases filed in 2002. Granted, that status page hasn’t been updated since May 31st, but I’m sure there’s no way they processed seven years of petitions in two months. I think I got very lucky.

I called the NVC to see if my information has been sent there yet, but no luck. Hopefully by the beginning of September I’ll be able to access my file there in order to find out what the next step is.

The thing that worries me is that this process concludes with an interview, which has to be conducted at a consulate. This means that I would have to go to Russia, and this also means that my petition would be void because I am out of status and cannot leave the country without receiving a ten year ban. I’m sure my family will have to speak to our lawyer about this. I can’t find any information about it online, which is frustrating.

I’ve also been reading the visa bulletin charts incorrectly. What I thought was the correct priority date for my type of petition turned out to be the wrong one. Look here for the August visa bulletin, then look at the first chart. My preference category is 2B because I’m unmarried and over 21 and my mother is a permanent resident. What I was reading before was 1A, which is for US citizen filers. Actually, if the courts decide to let me keep my original priority date, I would be classified as a 2A, because I was supposed to be a dependent until I aged out.

What this means is that the visa process will take 7.5 years instead of 4 years, unless I somehow get lucky again and bypass a bunch of people who are waiting in line.

Question number one: what do you think of this situation? Did I get really lucky?
Question number two: can I avoid having to do an interview abroad?
Question number three: is there any chance of not having to wait seven years for this visa?

I’m happy that I passed the USCIS background checks and my petition wasn’t denied, at least. I’ve made some progress.

Here are two flowcharts, one for the USCIS process, and one for the NVC process.

Facts

There seems to be some confusion regarding my legal status. Here are some facts:

I’m 25 years old and currently undocumented. If all goes well, I’ll be 30 when I get my green card. I’ve lived in the US since I was 11. There are several ways to expedite the petition process:

The first: I can get married to a US citizen. This is the quickest, as well as the stupidest option, unless I marry someone for love. It is illegal to marry for green cards. Who wants to marry me!?

The second: I can have an employer petition for me, at which point I will work for said employer until I receive a green card. This option is not readily available to me because employers have to prove that they could not hire a qualified US citizen for the same position. Because I only have a BA (two actually), employers can still prove that I’m not better than most American hires.

The third: President Obama can sign the DREAM Act into law, giving me immediate conditional permanent residency because I attended and graduated from a US high school as well as graduated from college.

The fourth: The USCIS (immigration service) can work to speed up the processing of visas available for immigrants, as well as give me back my original dependent petition priority date, which was in 2001 (the date my parents applied for green cards for the whole family). Currently, my priority date is in November 2007, when my independent petition was submitted by my parents. The current priority date set by USCIS is in January 2003. Once the USCIS priority date reaches November 2007, I’ll be eligible to receive a visa, and following that, a green card. The priority date is supposed to move month by month, but sometimes it regresses.

I came to the US legally. I’m undocumented because my visa expired and I aged out (turned 21) before my parents received their green cards. Therefore, I wasn’t eligible for a green card as a dependent. My sister received her green card because she was a dependent at the time their petition was accepted.

I’m ineligible for federal financial aid, government grants, various scholarships, and I’m unable to get any loans because I need a US citizen cosigner. I’m also unable to legally work unless an employer is willing to sponsor my petition for permanent residency.

Hope that settles some confusion.