Get a Green Card By Marrying a US Citizen

October 30, 2011 § 1 Comment

US citizens who get married to foreign nationals can petition them to obtain permanent residence in the US. Spouses of US citizens are termed as “immediate relatives” and are exempt from all numerical quota limitations. Getting a green card through marriage to a US citizen is the fastest way to getting a green card. Battered spouses and children of US citizens or green card holders can get special benefits per US immigration laws. A US citizen can also get a temporary visa for his/her fiancé(e) and get married once he/she arrives in the US.

Marriage in the US:

To get started, you, the US citizen have to submit a visa petition through Form I-130. You have to also include Forms G-325 (Biographical forms) for both the husband and wife. In addition, attach proof of your citizenship (US Passport, a Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or a certified copy of the citizen’s birth certificate). Do not forget to include a certified copy of the marriage certificate and certified copies of the documents if previous marriages were terminated (including final divorce decrees, and certificates of annulment or death.)

The foreign national spouse is required to submit an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) with the USCIS. After receiving and reviewing your application, the USCIS will notify to appear for an interview within a few months.

Marriage outside the US:

Per previous laws, the foreign national spouse had to remain in his/her country until he/she obtained a green card. But after August 14, 2001, temporary K-3 and K-4 visas became available and this helped the spouse and children of US citizens to get temporary visas to come to the US and then process the paperwork in the US.

You, the US citizen spouse have to file a visa petition either to the USCIS office which has jurisdiction over your residence or directly to the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where your foreign national spouse resides. As soon as the visa petition is approved, your foreign national spouse will receive a package from the National Visa Center (NVC). This package will have detailed information about the documents that has to be presented at the immigrant visa interview abroad (passport, police clearances, medical examination results, etc.). It will also contain certain documents requesting biographic data that has to be completed, signed and forwarded to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Generally, your foreign national spouse will be interviewed and issued an immigrant visa within three to six months. The State Department charges a fee to issue an immigrant visa.

Conditional Residence:

The conditional resident card that is issued is valid for two years. Both you and your spouse are required to file a joint petition (Form I-751) to remove the two-year condition. Remember to file it within the 90-day period before the end of the two year period. If your marriage was terminated due to divorce, death of the citizen spouse or spousal abuse, the foreign national spouse can qualify for and may apply for a waiver of the joint petition requirement at any time before the end of the two-year period. Once the USCIS approves your petition, they will issue a permanent resident card with a ten year validity.


Public Charge

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Public charge, in immigration terms means a foreign national who has become or is likely to become “dependent on the government for subsistence, as demonstrated by either the receipt of public cash assistance for income maintenance, or institutionalization for long-term care at the expense of the government.”

If you will become a public charge, you are inadmissible and you will not qualify to become a legal permanent resident in the US. You will risk facing deportation if you have become a public charge within five years after your date of entry in to the US. However your deportation will be decided by an immigration judge and he/she will have the final say.

If you are found to be a public charge, it will lead to straight rejection of an application to adjust to Lawful Permanent Resident status by the USCIS, denial of an immigrant visa to enter the US by the US Consulates, or you might also face deportation in certain circumstances. Only receiving any publicly funded services will not make you a public charge, or indicate that you are most likely to become a public charge. There are many benefits that you can receive that will not make you a public charge. The nature of the public program has the final say when deciding if you will become a public charge or not. Attending public schools, school lunch or other supplemental nutrition programs, or getting emergency medical care would not make you a public charge, though they use public funds.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Cash assistance from the TANF program may make you a public charge In addition, state or local cash assistance programs for income maintenance (General Assistance) programs and Public assistance, including Medicaid for foreign nationals who reside in an institution for long-term care, such as a nursing home or mental health institution also will make you a public charge.

Getting such public cash assistance could make you a public charge. It is also important to note that short-term institutionalization for rehabilitation is not subject to public charge. It is important to know that not all cash assistance is provided for purposes of income maintenance. So it is evident that not all forms of cash assistance is relevant for public charge purposes. Some energy assistance programs provide supplemental benefits through cash payments depending on the locality and the type of fuel needed. Similarly, cash payments can also be provided for childcare assistance. Such supplemental cash benefits are not considered as public charge because they are not evidence of main dependence on the government for subsistence.


Immigration Forms

October 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

The USCIS forms are in PDF format. To view, print, or fill out these forms, you should have the latest version of Adobe Reader. Incomplete forms will be rejected. So to submit your application correctly, remember to read any notices, warnings, or explanations on the Forms Entry Page (FEP) before you print (or download) the form itself, fill it out and send it to USCIS. Do not forget to verify the filing location of the forms for the specific benefit you are seeking.

Immigration (“I”) or naturalization (“N”) forms come with detailed instructions which has information regarding where to file and those instructions will differ with specific circumstances. If you do not file the forms with the appropriate office or with the correct fee, your application or petition will be returned to you which will result in further delay in processing.

Fees and Fee Waiver Information :

A submission fee is required for most immigration forms and the fee has to be mailed along with the completed application. Make sure you include your payment of all required fees, including any fingerprint fees, while submitting your application. Checks should be payable to “Department of Homeland Security.” USCIS will then inform you of the time and place where your fingerprints will be taken.

If you cannot afford to pay the fee, you may apply for and be granted a fee waiver while filing certain immigration forms. Under such instances, you have to file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, for requesting a fee waiver. The instructions page that come with Form I-912 has information on the methodology that USCIS uses to make a decision on a fee waiver request, whether the request is submitted on Form I-912 or through a written statement by the applicant requesting a fee waiver. The USCIS will determine whether you are receiving a means-tested benefit, or reviewing whether your household income level and/or recent financial hardship makes you eligible for the fee waiver.

Photographic Requirements:

Most immigration forms require photographs to be submitted with the application package and the photo specifications are given in the form instructions.

“Fillable” Immigration Forms :

Forms are provided in a format that allows you to fill them out on your computer, print them out, and mail it to the appropriate USCIS office. Some of the forms are rather large files. To use them easily, you can download them directly to your local computer, instead of filling them out through your web browser. As mentioned earlier, you should use the latest version of Adobe Reader, which can be downloaded free.




Adjusting Status in the US

October 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

If you are outside the US and planning to immigrate to the US, you have to go through consular processing at the US Consulate your country. If you are already in the US legally and eligible to apply for a green card based on being sponsored by an employer or family member or based on holding asylee or refugee status, you have to file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident with the USCIS.

Who can apply?

You will qualify to file this form if you are in the US and have an approved immigrant petition. In plain terms, adjustment of status is the process where a foreign national applies for a green card while being in the US. Unless you are applying in a classification for which visa numbers are always available, you must have a “current” Priority Date in order to be eligible to file. Priority date refers to the date you filed the immigrant petition. If you are applying based on being married to a US citizen, the parent or child may also qualify file the application to adjust status to a green card holder at the same time the immigrant petition is filed.

You may also file to adjust status to a green card holder if you are an individual who held asylee or refugee status for one year or more. It is important to note that if you are outside the US, you will not be eligible to file to adjust status to a permanent resident. In such cases, you have to apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate in your country. Cuban nationals requesting a change in the date their permanent residence began in the US can also file Form I- 485.

The process:

You need to file Forms I 485 with the necessary supporting documents and the submission fees with the USCIS service center that serves your area. If you are 79 years of age or older, you need not pay the biometric fee. If you are filing this form based on being admitted to the US as a refugee, then you need not pay any fee. After reviewing and processing, if your I-485 for green card application is rejected, the USCIS will notify you through a letter that will tell you why the application was denied.

If you are not in a legal status in the US, the process to remove you from the country will begin as soon as your application is rejected. Under such instances, you can have an immigration judge review the denial of your application during removal proceedings. During this review, immigration officials are required to justify and prove that the information on your I 485 application were false and that your application was rightly denied. After this review, if the judge decides to remove you from the country, you can still appeal this decision. You can appeal within 33 days after the immigration judge passed the judgment to get you removed from the country. The appeal will then be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals after your appeal form and the required fee are processed.

Travel Document

October 10, 2011 § 3 Comments

Form I-131 is used to apply for a re-entry permit, refugee travel document or advance parole travel document, to include parole into the US for humanitarian reasons.

Advance Parole is for applicants who have a pending Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), and who want to travel before the application is approved. A Refugee Travel Document is for applicants who hold Refugee or Asylee status and who want to travel outside the US. Re-entry Permit is for green card holders who will be outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, generally one year or more.

If you are filing Form I-131 based on your pending or approved Form I-821, you are required to file the form with the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility. In addition, you must include a copy of the I-797, Notice of Action that shows that your application was accepted or approved. If you are applying to get your advance parole document renewed, the USCIS will accept and adjudicate Form I-131 filed up to 120 days before the date your current Advance Parole document expires.

Applicants have to complete biometrics at an Application Support Center (ASC). If you are applying for a Refugee Travel Document while outside of the US, you have to get fingerprinted at an overseas USCIS facility. Applicants between 14 and 79 years of age applying for a Refugee Travel Document or Re-entry Permit are also required to get fingerprinted as part of USCIS biometric service requirements. After you have filed this application, USCIS will review it and will inform you in writing of the time/location of your biometrics appointment. If you fail to appear for biometrics, it might result in a possible rejection of your application. Applicants for Re-entry Permit and/or Refugee Travel Documents aged between 14 and 79 have to pay an additional $85 fee for biometrics.

The submission fee for advance parole or re-entry permit is $360 and for a Refugee Travel Document for an applicant age 16 or older is $135. For a child under the age of 16 years, it is $105. For applicants aged between 14 and 79, a biometric fee of $85 is required for a Reentry Permit and a Refugee Travel Document , unless the applicant resides outside of the U.S at the time of filing their form. However, biometric fee is not required for advance parole applicants.

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