Estimating Green Card Holders During Different Periods

November 3, 2011 § 2 Comments

LPR Entrants before 1980

Earlier, it was considered that all non-citizen residents of the US in 2010 who entered prior to 1980 were legal permanent residents (LPRs). Per certain provisions in the immigration law, foreign nationals of good moral character who are eligible for Naturalization are not removable on terrorism grounds and have lived in the US continuously since January 1, 1972 are eligible for green card status. In addition to this, some persons living in the US before 1982 as unauthorized residents were allowed to adjust their status to LPR. DHS estimates of the unauthorized immigrant population assume that the foreign-born population entering the US before 1980 is legally resident. Estimates of the LPR population in 2010 that entered before 1980 were from data from the 2009 American Community Survey (ACS) of the US Census Bureau on non-citizen residents with a year of entry before 1980.

LPR Entrants from 1980 through 2009

Estimates on LPRs who entered the US between January 1980 and December 2009 were got from application case tracking systems of USCIS. Information on persons obtaining LPR status is through two applications. Foreign nationals living outside the US use the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration of the U.S. Department of State. Such applicants who subsequently become LPRs are known as “new arrivals.” Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Residence is filed by foreign nationals already living in the US. Any information about the naturalization of LPRs if obtained from the Application for Naturalization (N-400). The citizenship form, N-400 is used by applicants aged 18 years and over. The general information maintained in the USCIS case tracking systems are alien identification number (A-number), date of birth, country of birth, gender, US address, date, LPR status or naturalization was obtained, and class of admission for LPR status.

Estimates were done in such a way that records for LPR entrants from January 1980 through December 2009 were matched by the Alien Registration Number (A number) with naturalization records for the same time period to exclude LPRs who later got naturalized. Then, many adjustments were then made to reduce the total of 1980-2009 LPRs to a 2010 LPR population of 1980-2009 entrants. The methods for adjustments and mortality are the same as those used in DHS unauthorized immigrant population estimates. An adjustment for derivative citizenship is unique to the LPR population calculation. LPRs who entered the US before 1980 were excluded from the estimates as such persons were counted in the pre-1980 entrant population from the ACS.

Remember that the date of entry for “new arrival” LPRs is the date of approval for permanent resident status. However, for “adjustment of status”, the entry date is usually not recorded directly so the year of last entry prior to adjustment of status is generally taken as an approximation. Year of last entry was imputed where missing (approximately 40 percent of adjustment of status records during 1998-2005) using category of admission, year of LPR adjustment, and known last entry date. Additional adjustments were made for LPR children who had derived citizenship, mortality, and emigration.


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.

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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