Adjusting immigration status through marriage
Learn what's involved in adjustment of status, and how requirements can vary depending on your individual circumstances and immigration status.
USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. As of March 18, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has suspended routine in-person services until at least April 1 to help slow the spread of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). USCIS staff will continue to perform duties that do not involve contact with the public. USCIS domestic field offices will send notices to applicants and petitioners with scheduled appointments and naturalization ceremonies impacted by this closure. USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location for the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments at the field office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center, once field offices reopen to the public. Please check the USCIS Field Offices page to see if your field office has reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center. Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately. USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidance. Learn about the USCIS Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and more about the Department of Homeland Security’s response. USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. However, USCIS will provide emergency services for limited situations. To schedule an emergency appointment contact the USCIS Contact Center. USCIS To send new interview notices!!!!! USCIS asylum offices will send interview cancellation notices and automatically reschedule asylum interviews. When the interview is rescheduled, asylum applicants will receive a new interview notice with the new time, date and location for the interview. When USCIS again resumes normal operations, USCIS will automatically reschedule Application Support Center appointments due to the office closure. You will receive a new appointment letter in the mail. Individuals who had InfoPass or other appointments at the field office must reschedule through the USCIS Contact Center, once field offices reopen to the public. Please check the USCIS Field Offices page to see if your field office has reopened before reaching out to the USCIS Contact Center. . USCIS will provide further updates as the situation develops and will continue to follow CDC guidanc Education and precautions are the strongest tools against infection. Get the latest facts by visiting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 website. Continue to practice good health habits, refrain from handshakes or hugs as greetings, and wash hands and clean surfaces appropriately. Learn about the USCIS Response to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and more about the Department of Homeland Security’s response
What is Form DS-260? Form DS-260 (Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application) is the first step in the application process to become a permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States. Form DS-260 is an online visa application that must be completed and submitted through the National Visa Center’s website. Form DS-260 can be found and completed online at: https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx. What is Form DS-261? Form DS-261 (Online Choice of Address and Agent) is also an online form to be completed and submitted through the National Visa Center. This form tells the United States government how to communicate with you about your visa application. Form DS-261 can be found and completed online at: https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx. What is the National Visa Center? The National Visa Center (NVC) is a branch of the United States Department of State. The NVC is charged with processing all permanent resident (green card) applications submitted by foreign-born individuals applying for immigration through their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The NVC is located in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. What are the Consular Processing Steps? A basic outline of the DS-260 consular processing steps are: Family-based immigration - I-130 Sponsorship Foreign-born nationals who wish to immigrate to the United States through a relative must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder). To start the immigration process, your sponsor must complete and file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), along with all other necessary documentation. USCIS will send your sponsor notice of receipt of Form I-130 in about two to three weeks. This I-130 application will be approved if USCIS can verify your relationship with your sponsor and your sponsor’s citizenship status is legitimate (U.S. citizen or permanent resident). Your sponsor will receive notice of USCIS’s decision in about 7 to 15 months. National Visa Center If your sponsor’s I-130 application is approved, the application and other submitted materials will be sent to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center (NVC) will tell your sponsor when it receives the I-130 application. You and your sponsor must pay close attention to this notification because it will contain three important numbers: a unique NVC identification number, your NVC case number, and an invoice number. You should immediately become familiar with all three numbers because they are essential to continuing your immigration process. Completing Forms DS-260 and DS-261 Once your sponsor is notified that their I-130 application has been received by the National Visa Center, it is time for you to complete Forms DS-260 and DS-261. Both DS-260 and DS-261 are online forms, meaning they must be completed and submitted online through the National Visa Center’s website here: https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx. Complete Form DS-260 first, as it is your visa application. On the NVC website, you will be asked to enter your case number located on the notice received by your sponsor. Only after entering this case number do you have access to the rest of Form DS-260. Then, complete the rest of the form. As with every U.S. government form, it is extremely important that you answer every question completely and honestly. After finishing Form DS-260, print and keep it in a safe place --- you may be required to bring it with you to your immigration interview. After completing and printing Form DS-260, immediately complete and submit Form DS-261. Form DS-261 advises the NVC of how to contact you throughout your immigration application process. In completing this form, you are required to provide a contact agent. Pick your contact agent carefully because this person will represent you during your immigration application process. This person can be anyone you choose: yourself, a trusted friend, a family member, your sponsoring relative, or an immigration attorney. Submit Requested Documentation Once Forms DS-260 and DS-261 are completed and submitted, NVC will notify you of any supporting documents necessary to supply. Any delay in submitting these requested documents will slow the processing of your application. When Processing Begins After Forms DS-260, DS-261, and all supporting documents have been filed, your immigration application is ready to be processed. The time NVC will begin processing your application depends on your sponsor and your family relationship with your sponsor. If you are sponsored by a U.S. citizen and are an “immediate relative” (spouse, child under 21 or parent of a U.S. citizen), NVC will begin processing your application immediately. This is because there is an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. If your sponsor is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), you must wait for a visa to become available for your visa category. After submitting Form DS-260 and DS-261, NVC will tell you (or your agent) that your application is complete but “visas are not currently available for your visa category,” with instructions to check the “Visa Bulletin” page of the U.S. State Department’s website. “Priority date” refers to the date that your visa number becomes available. The State Department’s visa bulletin can be found here: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html. Paying Fees and Additional Filings Once NVC has processed your DS-260 and DS-261 applications, it is time to pay all necessary fees and undergo a host of other steps. As of February 2020, there is a $325 processing fee for Forms DS-260 and DS-261. All immigrants filing Form DS-260 must also file Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). Form I-864 is an affidavit showing support from your sponsoring relative if you are not financially able to support yourself after arriving in the United States. There is a $120 processing fee with Form I-864. All persons seeking permanent resident status (green card status) must undergo a biometric exam. This exam requires you to give fingerprints, photographs and other information that will be given to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) so a background check may be performed. An interview will not be scheduled until your FBI background check is complete. There is an $85 fee for biometric services. Scheduling Immigration Interview After all your applications have been filed, all supporting documentation submitted, and all fees paid, NVC will schedule an immigration interview. This usually takes about one or two months for the interview to be scheduled. Medical Examination Under U.S. immigration law, every foreign national who applies for immigration must undergo a medical examination to decide if they pose a risk to the public health of the United States. In your NVC interview letter, you will be instructed to undergo an immigration exam and complete Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination). Schedule this exam quickly, because the exam and all associated laboratory tests must be completed before your immigration interview date. While there is no fee associated with Form I-693, you are responsible for paying for your I-693 medical exam (these fees vary depending on doctor and location). NVC will instruct you to bring your completed I-693 form with you to your immigration interview. Immigration Interview Your local U.S. Embassy or Consulate will schedule an immigration interview. You will be notified of its date, what you must bring to the interview, and any other relevant information. Approval Within a few weeks of your interview, the USCIS will notify you of the results of your visa application. If approved, USCIS will place a visa stamp in your passport until your actual green card is processed. At this time, you will be required to pay USCIS a fee of $200 for the production and mailing of your actual permanent resident card (green card). What are the Total Fees? There are many fees associated with obtaining your permanent resident card (green card) under Forms DS-260 and DS-261. As of February 2020, these fees include: DS-260 and DS-261 application fees: $325.00 I-864 (Affidavit of Support) application fee: $120.00 Biometric services fee: $85.00 I-693 medical exam: No fee (but you must pay for the examination) If approved, production fee for green card: $200 What is the Processing Time? How long it takes to receive your green card after filing Form DS-260 depends on several factors, including: Which U.S. Embassy or Consulate you are applying through; Whether your relationship with your sponsoring family member falls under the "Immediate Relative" or "Family Preference" category of immigration law; and Whether your sponsoring relative is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident. Depending on these circumstances, you may receive your green card in a few months, or several years. What Documents Do You File? Some of the supporting documents to be filed with Form DS-260: Confirmation that Form DS-260 had been filled online; Copy of your current passport; Birth certificate (with English translation if necessary); Police clearance certificate if over the age of 16 and lived in the country of application for more than six months; Document of current marital status (certificate of marriage, divorce, death, etc.); Military records, including document proving honorable discharge; Certified court or prison record, if you were ever convicted of a crime; Form I-864 Affidavit of Support (including any financial documents supporting affidavit); Form I-864A Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member (including any financial documents supporting affidavit); and/or Any other documents requested by the NVC and/or the USCIS. Filing Tips Forms DS-260 and DS-261 are online forms that must be completed and filed through the United States Department of State’s Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). Answer All Questions The CEAC system will not let you move on to the next page until every required question is answered on the current page. Most of the questions on Form DS-260 are mandatory. If there is a file marked “Optional,” you can leave that field blank. Some fields will not apply to you; in those instances, you can check the box next to the field marked, “Does Not Apply.” All other fields are mandatory and must be answered. If you fail to answer any required mandatory question, CEAC will not allow you to proceed to the next page. Instead, you will receive a message instructing you to correct an answer. Answer All Questions in English You must complete Forms DS-260 and DS-261 in English. CEAC does not recognize foreign characters or symbols. If you attempt to answer a question with a character or symbol that CEAC does not recognize, you will be asked to re-enter your answer. Be sure to translate all answers into English. Save Your Application Often SelfLawyer recommends that you save Forms DS-260 and DS-261 as you complete each page. The CEAC system will “time out” due to inactivity after a set period. If the system times out, you will lose all your answers since the last time you saved your application. Form DS-260 is extensive and difficult to complete in one sitting. If you need to stop and take a break, simply save your work and return later. However, if you fail to complete Form DS-260 (or Form DS-261) within 30 days, CEAC will remove your uncompleted form(s) from the system and you will be required to start anew. Any time you save your work or are timed-out, you can retrieve your saved application by returning to the Consular Electronic Application Center website. Access the Immigrant Visa - Summary Information screen and select View/Edit from the IV and Alien Registration section. You will then be provided with a list of the applications saved in your case, along with their respective statuses: “Not Stated,” “Incomplete,” or “Submitted.” To display and proceed with an incomplete application, select the “Edit” button to the right of the application’s status. Review Your Answers Carefully Before you can electronically sign and submit Form DS-260, the CEAC requires you to check all your answers. This is a good time to look at your immigration application to confirm all the answers are correct. Remember, if you submit incomplete or wrong answers this will hurt your chances of getting a visa. Print Your Completed Application After completing Forms DS-260 and DS-261 be sure to print your records. You may be asked to bring a copy of these forms to your interview. It is a good idea to study your answers before your interview, so the information entered on Form DS-260 will match the information detailed in your interview answers. Submit Your Application Submit your application by clicking the “Sign and Submit Application” button on the “Sign and Submit” page. However, once submitted, you will not be able to access your application again without calling for assistance from the National Visa Center, the Kentucky Consulate Center, or the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are currently located. What You Should Expect in Your Consulate Interview? The last step in the immigration process is the interview. During your consulate interview, you will have to answer a number of questions. Some are general, others very specific. These questions are designed to decide if you qualify for a visa. If you're applying based on marriage, the consular officer may ask personal questions designed to determine if your marriage is genuine or an attempt to evade U.S. immigration law. Your consulate interview can take as little as twenty minutes. For security reasons, you might not be approved on the day of your interview. Instead, you may be asked to return to the Embassy or Consulate to pick up your immigration visa. There will be a time limit on when you are allowed to immigrate to the United States (usually six months). Interview Documents Some of the documents you might be required to bring to your consulate interview: Two U.S. passport-style colored photographs; Original passport (must be current and not expire within six months after the interview); Your completed Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination; Visa fees or receipts showing fee was paid online; and/or Any other document(s) requested by the NVC or U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
What is Form I-864 Form I-864, also known as the Affidavit of Support Form, is required by the law for most intending immigrants. The purpose of the Form I-864 is to prove that an immigrant has adequate means of financial support and is unlikely to become a public charge. Form I-864 is a legal contract between a sponsor or petitioner, intending immigrant, and the U.S. government. This shows that, as an immigrant, you will be financially supported if you find it difficult to cope on your own. In other words, it is a back-up plan in the likelihood of financial difficulty. The affidavit represents the sponsor's promise to either support the immigrant financially or pay back any government agencies from which the immigrant does claim financial assistance. It also shows the sponsor's capacity to provide the promised support, by proving income and assets that are at least 125% of the amount at which someone would be considered to be living in poverty, according to the U.S. government's Poverty Guidelines. Who can become a sponsor? As Form I-864 must be completed by a sponsor, the following are the eligibility requirements of an intending sponsor: Must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident Must be age 18 years or older Must have an income of 125% above the Poverty Guidelines. If you are on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines or Coast Guard, and you are sponsoring your spouse or minor child, you only need to have an income of 100 percent of the Federal poverty line for your household size. Must prove that the United States is his or her country of domicile. Country of domicile A country of domicile is the country where you make your permanent home. If, as a sponsor, you live and work in the United States, your country of domicile is the United States. If, as a sponsor, you live outside the United States due to temporary employment, but you have maintained a home in the U.S. and you intend to return to that home, your country of domicile is the United States. If, as a sponsor, you live outside the United States but you intend in good faith to reestablish domicile in the United States no later than the date of the intending immigrant’s admission or adjustment of status, you may claim U.S. domicile. You cannot be a sponsor if you live permanently outside the United States and do not intend to return to the U.S. Who needs to submit Form I-864? The following immigrants are required by law to submit Form I-864 completed by the petitioner to obtain an immigrant visa overseas or to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident in the United States: All immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, unmarried children under 21 years of age, and parents of U.S. citizens 21 years of age and older) All family-based preference immigrants (unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents, married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens 21 years of age and older). Employment-based preference immigrants in cases only when a U.S. citizen, lawful permanent resident, or U.S. national relative filed the immigrant visa petition or such relative has a significant ownership interest (five percent or more) in the entity that filed the petition. Who is exempt from submitting Form I-864 Affidavit of Support? The purpose of the Affidavit of Support is to assure the U.S. government that the immigrant is not inadmissible as someone likely to become a public charge. Some categories of applicants, however, are exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement and do not need to submit a Form I-864 at all. Exemption Based on Social Security Work Credits If the immigrant, the U.S. spouse, or a combination of the two have earned at least 40 Social Security quarters or credits, a simpler version of the Affidavit of Support can be used, called Form I-864W. Exemption Based on the Child Citizenship Act Under the Child Citizenship Act (CCA), certain immigrant children will become U.S. citizens automatically, as soon as they become U.S. permanent residents. This is called the “derivation” of citizenship. Such applicants do not need an I-864 Affidavit of Support to be filed for them. Exemption Based on Self-Petition by Widow(er) of U.S. Citizen Widows and widowers of U.S. citizens may, regardless of the duration of their marriage, self-petition for or continue with their application for U.S. residence, so long as they do so within the two years of the U.S. citizen's death and do not remarry. They will not need to submit an I-864 Affidavit of Support. Their approved Form I-360 will be enough proof of their exemption. If the deceased U.S. citizen filed an I-130 petition before the death, it converts to an I-360 automatically, though the immigrant will need to advise USCIS of the death first. Exemption Based on VAWA Self-Petition Abused or battered spouses or children self-petitioning for U.S. green card under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) are also exempt from the I-864 Affidavit of Support requirement. Their approved Form I-360 will be enough proof of their exemption. How to prove exemption from Form I-864 You cannot just leave Form I-864 out of your application packet and expect the immigration authorities to figure out the reason. You will instead need to include a form called an I-864W, explaining the grounds for the exemption. Joint sponsors Unless you qualify for one of the exemptions described above, you must submit Form I-864 even if your income is NOT sufficient to sponsor the immigrant. In that situation, however, one of your options is to make sure the immigrant's green card application is successful is to look for a joint sponsor, living in the U.S., whose income and/or assets equal at least 125% of the Poverty Guidelines, taking into account both the number of people in the joint sponsor's household and the number of incoming immigrants. The joint sponsor would also sign a Form I-864, thereby promising to provide any financial support necessary to assist you in supporting the immigrant(s). More about joint sponsorship will be discussed later in this article. Other Financial Support Forms There are four forms associated with the process, of which you'll have to fill out at least one: Form I-864: Affidavit of Support Form I-864EZ: Affidavit of Support Form I-864A: Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member Form I-864W: Intending Immigrant's Affidavit of Support Exemption Who Should Use Form I-864EZ? Some petitioners can use a simpler form of the I-864 Affidavit of Support, called the I-864EZ. To be eligible, you must: be the person who filed the original Form I-130 on behalf of the immigrant has listed only one immigrant on Form I-130 (without any derivative spouses or children) be able to show sufficient income to support the immigrant based solely on your salary and pension, which amount is shown on the W-2 Form(s) provided by your employer or former employer. Following categories of sponsors cannot use Form I-864EZ: Joint sponsors Petitioners who filed Form I-140 "Substitute sponsors" filing on behalf of a deceased petitioner, or Petitioners sponsoring more than one immigrant on the same I-130 Who Should Use Form I-864A? If your income is not at least 125% of the Poverty Guidelines for your family size, you will not be able to sponsor an immigrant unless you can meet the income requirement in some other way. This might include using income from relatives or dependents living in your household or listed on your most recent federal tax return. If these people in your household are willing to help sponsor the immigrant, they must sign Form I-864A: Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member. In doing so, they promise to provide any financial support necessary to assist you in supporting the immigrant. Who Should Use Form I-864W? The following people do not need to file a Form I-864 when they petition for an immigrant or in connection with their application for U.S. permanent residence. Instead, they must file Form I-864W, showing their exemption from the I-864 requirement: Anyone petitioning an immigrant who can him- or herself be credited with 40 qualifying quarters (credits) of work (about ten years) in the United States. In some cases, in addition to their work, intending immigrants may get credit for hours of work performed by a spouse or by a parent (for immigrants under 18). The Social Security Administration (SSA) can assist you in counting quarters of work and in providing that evidence of the work. Anyone petitioning an immigrant who, upon admission into the U.S., will acquire U.S. citizenship under Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (I.N.A.), as amended by the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA). Self-petitioning widow/ers and self-petitioning battered spouses and children who have received approval from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Checklist of required documents to file with Form I-864 You will be required to provide photocopies of the following documents with your Form I-864: For U.S. citizens or nationals: Birth certificate Certificate of naturalization Certificate of citizenship Photo (biographic page) of U.S. passport. For lawful permanent residents: Both sides of your Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551; “green card”) Tax records. You are required to provide documentation of your most recent year’s Federal income tax returns. You are not required to provide returns for the additional two preceding years, but it is generally best practice to do so. There are two options for how to document your returns. Photocopies of returns. You are permitted to provide a photocopy of your federal income tax returns. Ideally, this should be a photocopy of the signed form that you submitted to the IRS, including all attachments. Tax transcript. Alternatively, you can request something called a tax transcript directly from the IRS. This is the definitive record of your tax filing history. The transcript can be requested by filing a paper copy of Form 4506-T with the IRS. Other supporting documents (if applicable) A separate Form I-864A for each household member using assets other than for the intending immigrant Proof that the intending immigrant's current employment will continue from the same source if his or her income is being used If you are using the income of persons in your household or dependents to qualify, a separate Form I-864A for each person whose income you will use. However, an intending immigrant whose income is being used needs to complete Form I-864A only if his or her spouse and/or children are immigrating with him or her. If you are the petitioning sponsor and on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces or U.S. Coast Guard and are sponsoring your spouse or child using 100 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, proof of your active military status. If you are sponsoring more than one intending immigrant listed on the same affidavit of support, photocopies of the original affidavit of support may be submitted for any additional intending immigrants listed. Copies of supporting documentation are not required for these family members. If you are a joint sponsor, substitute sponsor, or the relative of an employment-based immigrant requiring an affidavit of support, proof of your citizenship status, lawful permanent resident status, or U.S. national status. If you are currently self-employed, a copy of your Schedule C, D, E, or F from your most recent Federal income tax return which establishes your income from your business. If you use your assets or the assets of a household member to qualify, documentation of assets establishing location, ownership, date of acquisition, and value. Evidence of any liens or liabilities against these assets. When Can I file Form I-864? Form I-864 must be submitted within one year of the sponsor's signature. If it is submitted after one year, a new I-864 will be required. After the Form I-864 has been submitted and accepted, it does not expire. However, if the supporting documents are more than 12 months old, USCIS will ask for new supporting documents, such as the most recent federal income tax returns (1040) and a current employment letter. How much does it cost to file the I-864 Form? There is no fee if the sponsored immigrant files this form with USCIS or abroad with the Department of State (DOS), however, DOS does charge a fee if they file in the U.S. There is a $120 fee per case for reviewing the Affidavit of Support (Forms I-864, I-864A, I-864W and/or I-864EZ) when the form is filed in the United States. However, there is only one fee charged, even if there are multiple financial sponsors associated with a single case. This fee is paid online at ceac.state.gov. You will need the National Visa Center (NVC) case number and Invoice Identification Number to log onto this site. What are the income requirements for 2020? The following are the poverty guidelines effective beginning Mar. 1, 2020: https://self-lawyer.com/financial-sponsorship-form-i-864-affidavit-of-support/ What if sponsor doesn't meet the income requirements? If sponsor cannot meet the minimum income requirements using earned income, sponsor can add the cash value of his/her assets. This includes money in savings accounts, stocks, bonds, and property. To determine the amount of assets required to qualify, subtract your household income from the minimum income requirement (125% of the poverty level for your family size). You must prove the cash value of your assets is worth five times this difference (the amount leftover). Exceptions: If the person being sponsored is a spouse or son/daughter (who is 18 years or older) of a U.S. citizen: The minimum cash value of assets must be three times the difference between the sponsor's household income and 125% of the federal poverty guideline for the household. If the person being sponsored is an orphan coming to the United States for adoption: The adoptive parents’ assets need to equal or exceed the difference between the household income and 125% of the federal poverty line for the household size. You can count the income and assets of members of your household who are related to you by birth, marriage, or adoption. To use their income, you must have listed them as dependents on your most recent federal tax return or they must have lived with you for the last 6 months. They must also complete a Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member. If the relative you are sponsoring meets these criteria you can include the value of their income and assets, but the immigrant does not need to complete Form I-864A unless he or she has accompanying family members. You may count the assets of the relatives you are sponsoring. How do I calculate my household size? The Form I-864 asks for the financial sponsor’s household size. When calculating their household size, sponsors must include: Their spouse Any unmarried children under 21 (unless these children have reached majority under the law of their place of domicile) Anyone else claimed as a dependent on the sponsor's tax return The principal applicant being sponsored Any derivative applicants who plan to immigrate within six months, and Any other people in the United States whom the sponsor is supporting on a different Form I-864. A sponsor does not have to include people on other I-864s who have not yet immigrated to the United States. Liabilities of financial sponsor The Form I-864 Affidavit of Support is a legally enforceable contract, meaning that either the government or the sponsored immigrant can take the sponsor to court if the sponsor fails to provide adequate support to the immigrant. When the government sues the sponsor, it can collect enough money to reimburse any public agencies that have given public benefits to the immigrant. The sponsor’s responsibility lasts until sponsored immigrant: Becomes a U.S. citizen Has earned 40 work quarters credited toward Social Security (a work quarter is about three months, so this means about ten years of work) Dies, or Permanently leaves the United States. If the immigrant has already been living in the U.S. and earned work credits before applying for the green card, those count toward the 40. Before you agree to financially sponsor an immigrant, consider the following potential liabilities: Sponsoring an immigrant spouse cannot end with a divorce – when you agree to financially sponsor a fiancé or spouse, keep in mind that if you eventually get divorced, your sponsorship liability doesn’t go away with the divorce decree. Even after the divorce, you will still be financially responsible for your former spouse. The immigrant may sue you for financial support – while you aren’t liable for the immigrant’s personal debts and bills, you are generally responsible for ensuring they have financial means to meet the US poverty line. The US Government may sue you to recover benefit program costs – if the immigrant receives benefits from certain means-tested assistance programs and you are unwilling to voluntarily repay the debt, you may find yourself in court. Civil suits are rare, but the option is always on the table. USCIS may fine you for failing to update your address when you move – to prevent sponsors from running from their financial responsibility to the immigrant, a sponsor is required to file a change of address every time they move. Failure to do so may result in fines of up to $10,000 (though they’re usually more in the range of $2,500 – $5,000) You may have a limited ability to sponsor other immigrants in the future – if you choose to sponsor another immigrant in the future, you will need to count any immigrants that you are currently sponsoring when calculating your household size. This will increase the level of income that you will need to be eligible to sponsor a new immigrant. Your liability may not be relieved by bankruptcy – if you are forced to file for bankruptcy due to financial insolvency, you cannot discharge your financial sponsorship obligation like you can with credit card bills and other debts. The liability for the immigrant will continue until the contract expires when they become a U.S. citizen, work for 40 quarters, or leave the United States. What does "joint sponsor" mean on the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support? If the petitioning sponsor does not meet the income requirements, a joint sponsor who can meet the requirements may submit a Form I-864 to sponsor all or some of the family members of the intending immigrant. The original sponsor still needs to file Form I-864. In other words, the joint sponsor is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting your family member with you. A joint sponsor must be a person and may not be a corporation, organization, or other entity. If a petitioner or sponsor meets the minimum income requirements, there cannot be a joint sponsor, unless the consular officer or the DHS immigration officer specifically requires it. Just like the sponsor, the joint sponsor must be: A citizen or national of the United States or an alien lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence At least 18 years of age and Domiciled in the United States or its territories and possessions. However, the joint sponsor does not have to be related to the petitioning sponsor or the intending immigrant. If the first joint sponsor completes Form I-864 only for a few of the family members of the intending immigrant, a second qualifying joint sponsor can sponsor the remaining family members. There can be a maximum of two joint sponsors. Each joint sponsor is responsible only for the intending immigrant listed on his/her Form I-864. Each joint sponsor must individually meet the income requirements, according to Federal poverty guidelines, for his/her household size, without combining resources with the petitioning sponsor or a second joint sponsor. Any dependents applying for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status more than six months after the immigration of the intending immigrants must be sponsored by the petitioning sponsor but may be sponsored by an original joint sponsor or a different joint sponsor. Even if one or more joint sponsors submit their I-864, the petitioning sponsor remains legally accountable for the financial support of the sponsored alien along with the joint sponsor. What documents does a joint sponsor need to include with Form I-864? The documents required for a joint sponsor are the same as those required of the primary sponsor. They include the following: Proof of income (and assets, if any) Proof of U.S. citizenship or green card holder status If relevant, Form I-864A completed by each individual who will combine their income and/or assets with the joint sponsors to meet the minimum annual income requirement What are the obligations of a joint sponsor? Providing financial support: As a joint sponsor, you are equally responsible as the sponsoring primary sponsor for financially supporting the alien. You must maintain a minimum annual income of 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size until your obligations end. Reimbursing the government for the use of public benefits: The purpose of having a financial co-sponsor is to prevent the alien from becoming a public charge. If the green card holder receives public charge benefits from a federal, state, or local government agency before the joint sponsor's obligations end, the joint sponsor and the sponsoring spouse may need to repay the amount of those benefits to the agency. Updating your address: Until the joint sponsor’s obligations end, they must notify USCIS every time they move. They must provide their new address on Form I-865 (officially called the “Sponsor’s Notice of Change of Address”) within 30 days after relocating. When will those obligations end? A joint sponsor’s responsibilities terminate when the green card holder experiences any of the following: Becomes a U.S. citizen Has worked 40 quarters (10 years) in the United States Is no longer a green card holder and has left the United States (known officially as “abandonment of permanent residence”) Is deceased Is approved for a new green card after being placed in removal (deportation) proceedings The joint sponsor's death also ends their obligations. If they owed any support to the green cardholder before the joint sponsor died, however, the joint sponsor's estate, if any, may be required to pay those debts. What happens if the joint sponsor does not fulfill their obligations? Failure to provide financial support: the green card holder may file a lawsuit against the sponsors to collect the support they need. Failure to reimburse the government for use of public benefits: the agency that provided these benefits may sue the sponsors to the collection of that money, including collection costs and legal fees. Failure to update their address: they may be fined between $250 and more than $5,000, depending on whether they simply neglected to update the government or had knowledge that the marriage-based green card holder received public benefits that would need to be repaid to the government. The New Public Charge and Filing Form I-864 The immigration officer will use the totality of the circumstances while deciding if an immigrant is to become a public charge in the future. The USCIS officer, while determining the inadmissibility of the public charge grounds, must consider the applicant's age, health, family status, assets, resources, and financial status, education and skills, prospective immigration status, expected period of admission and sufficiency of the affidavit of support (Form I-864). The rules identify the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support as one of the "minimum factors to consider" in relation to public charge inadmissibility. In addition to the evidence already considered in connection to the Form I-864, DHS will now consider the sponsor's relationship to the applicant and the "likelihood that the sponsor would provide the statutorily-required amount of financial support." In addition to the Form I-864, the applicant will have to file a new form, the Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, designed to assess her ability to become financially self-sufficient. Is a sufficient Form I-864 the only consideration for meeting any public charge issues at the time of the visa interview? No, consular officers also look at other public charge factors affecting the financial situation of both the financial sponsor(s) and the applicant. Age, health, education, skills, financial resources and family status of the applicant and the sponsor are factors. Consular officers will verify to the extent possible that applicants have adequate financial support to prevent them from becoming a public charge in the United States. Public charge means that someone is primarily dependent on the U.S. government for subsistence.
What is An Alien Registration Number (A-Number)? Alien Registration Numbers is an eight- or nine-digit number USCIS assigns to foreign-born persons who seek immigration benefits. Alien Registration Numbers are also called “A-Numbers” or “USCIS Numbers.” The purpose of an A-Number is to track all forms and documents related to you through the U.S. immigration system under the USCIS. Your Alien Registration Number will be assigned when you file your first immigration application with the USCIS. Every A-Number is unique, and no two people have the same number. You will use this same USCIS A-Number for the rest of your life. It is important that you place your A-Number on every form and document you submit to the USCIS, and verify the A-Number is on every document you receive from USCIS – make sure this is the number assigned to you. Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) A green card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, is the document issued by the USCIS to immigrants under the Immigration and Naturalization Act to prove you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Employment Authorization Card Every U.S. employer must verify that a prospective employee is authorized to work in the United States. Your Employment Authorization Card (EAD) is proof that you have USCIS permission to work in the U.S. Immigration Visa If you have obtained an immigrant visa to enter the U.S., your visa also has a Registration Number (A number) assigned by the USCIS. Immigration Court notices If you have ever been in immigration court, you can find your DHS assigned A number in immigration court notices. Make Sure Your Correct Registration Number is on Everything The bottom line is to make sure your proper USCIS Alien Registration Number is on every document you file and on every document you receive.
What is Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency? The Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, or Form I-944, is a new US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form that will be used by the adjustment of status (green card) applicants to provide information about their financial situation. This is a new form introduced as part of the new public charge rule and must be submitted by all Adjustment of Status applicants after February 24, 2020. The purpose of Form I-944 is to screen out applicants who are likely to become a public charge under the new rule. The public charge rule allows the government to deny green cards to legal immigrants who are likely to become a public charge. Who needs to submit Form I-944? If you are a green card applicant using the adjustment of status process to apply from within the United States, you must submit Form I-944 under the new public charge rule. Form I-944 will be accompanied by Form I-485, which is used to apply for lawful permanent resident status. If you are a foreign-born person submitting an adjustment of status application to USCIS and you are not among the applicants who are exempt from proving that they're not inadmissible to the U.S. as a likely public charge, then you must fill out Form I-944. As an example, if you are applying for lawful permanent or conditional residence based on a spousal or other family relationship, you will be required to fill out Form I-944. If, however, you are applying from outside the United States through consular processing, you will not be required to file Form I-944. Who is not required to submit Form I-944? The following groups of people are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, and are therefore not required to submit Form I-944: Refugee applicants and refugees who are applying for adjustment of status Asylum applicants and asylees who are applying for adjustment of status Applicants for initial or re-registration of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Applicants for initial or renewal of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status Cubans who are applying for adjustment of status under the Cuban Adjustment Act Amerasians who are applying for adjustment of status Afghan and Iraqi interpreters and translators who are applying for special immigrant visas (SIV) Applicants for Special Immigrant Juveniles Status (SIJS) Victims of certain crimes who are applying for a U nonimmigrant visa or U visa holders applying for adjustment of status Victims of trafficking who are applying for a T nonimmigrant visa; T visa recipients who are applying for adjustment of status no longer have to seek a waiver of public charge inadmissibility Victims of domestic violence who are applying for relief under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), including approved self-petitioner who are applying for adjustment of status Applicants for “registry” based on their having resided in the United States since before January 1, 1972 Applicants for benefits under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) Applicants for benefits under the Haitian Relief and Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA) Lautenberg parolees who are applying for adjustment of status. What information do I need to provide? The following information will be asked for on the Form I-944: Name, address, date of birth, citizenship, alien registration number, and place of birth Names, date of birth, and relationship to you for every member of the household Information for the entire household income including name, the status of tax filing, tax year, total income from tax return Household assets information like checking and savings account balances, cash, stocks, and retirement accounts, etc. Appraisal and cash value of the real estate holdings Household liabilities like mortgages, car loans, or personal loans Credit score report Bankruptcy details (if applicable) Public benefits used in the past or currently in use Education and skills Occupational skills and professional licenses Certification of English and other language skills Retirement details (if necessary) Interpreter details (if necessary) Authorization for USCIS to verify with the credit reporting agency and government entities like Social Security Administration, U.S. Department of Health, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, etc. A declaration that all documents are copies from the originals Applicant’s signature You can attach any additional information not specified to your Form I-944. You must file your I-944 Form along with your I-485 Form Adjustment of Status application. You could receive requests for additional information, or be asked questions relating to your I-944 Form when you have your in-person interview. How to fill out Form I-944? Even though the information that is required in Form I-944 is self-explanatory, this article will help you to correctly complete Form I-944. You'll also want to use the latest edition of Form I-944 and carefully read the instructions that USCIS provides on its website. Part 1: Information about you Questions 1-2: Enter your legal name and address, making sure to use the same ones as on your other application forms. Question 3: The Alien Registration Number (A number) is an eight- or nine-digit number following a letter “A”. USCIS would have assigned an A number to you if you previously applied for permanent (or, in some cases, temporary) residence or been in deportation/removal proceedings. This is the number that you’re assigned when you begin your immigration process. Question 4: You may have no USCIS online account number, in which case leave this blank. Question 5: Enter the date of birth, use the standard U.S. format mm/dd/yyyy ((month, followed by day, followed by year). Part 2: Family Status (Your Household) In this section, you’ll list all the people who are members of your household. Question 1: List and provide basic biographical information for yourself and all other members of your household. Assuming you are an adult applicant, it includes: You Your spouse, if he or she physically lives with you Any children under the age of 21 and unmarried who physically live with you Any other children under the age of 21 and unmarried who don't physically live with you but for whom you provide or are required to provide at least 50% of financial support under either child support or custody order or agreement or any other such order or agreement specifying how much support money you must provide Anyone else, such as a husband or wife who doesn't physically live with you, to whom you provide, or are required to provide, at least 50% of financial support, or who is listed as a dependent on your federal income tax return Anyone who gives you at least 50% of your financial support, or who lists you as a dependent on a federal income tax return. Child applicants must provide a similar list with details about themselves and their parents or guardians, and any other members of their parents’ or guardians’ household. It is important to provide a full name, date of birth and basic information for each person you list. You should also provide their alien registration number (A number) if they have one. You should also indicate if any of your household members is receiving any public benefit. You must get this section right because it is the foundation of I-944 Form’s purpose: whether you will be self-supporting in the United States. Part 3: Your and Your Household Members' Assets, Resources, and Financial Status Question 1: Enter information on your and your household members' total gross income (without subtracting taxes and expenses), and on whether you and the others filed a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). It's possible, if your income wasn't high enough, that you weren't required to file taxes at all. This won't help your ability to prove that your household is self-supporting, however. You will be expected to show a total household income at 125% of the U.S. Poverty Guidelines for the area in which you live (which is the same as the U.S. sponsor of a family member must show in filling out USCIS Form I-864, Affidavit of Support). To see 2020 Minimum Annual Income Requirements for green card applicants click this link: https://self-lawyer.com/form-i-944-declaration-of-self-sufficiency-form-2 Having enough income and assets is a regular positive factor and having total household income or assets of at least 250% of the federal positive guidelines is a heavily positive factor. Having work authorization and a job with an annual income of 250% of the federal positive guidelines is also considered a heavily positive factor. If you underreported your income, it might be best to file an amended return, pay the tax you owe, and then complete your immigration paperwork. Questions 2-3: Amounts earned from any illegal activity will not help show your self-sufficiency. Questions 4-5: Now we come to one of the central issues explored in this form: whether you or any members of your family have received need-based cash benefits from government sources. As explained in the USCIS regulations, this includes: Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Federal, state or local cash benefit programs (commonly called “general assistance”), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Section 8 Housing Assistance, Medicaid, and so on. These amounts will ultimately not be counted in your household income. With the receipt of benefits in your recent history plus a low income, you might be found inadmissible. Questions 6-8: List and give details about any sources of income that aren't reflected on your tax return, such as child support. Again, you'll need to explain whether any of that money came from illegal activity. Question 9: List household assets, such as real estate, an extra car, or investment accounts. These can help raise household income levels, though at a percentage of their full value. Also, they need to be convertible to cash within a 12-month period. You must list the values of your assets in U.S. dollars. Be sure to include proof of value or ownership, where possible. Such assets include: Bank accounts Retirement savings Other stocks or investments Houses and real estate, minus the value of any outstanding mortgages or loans Cars, but only if you have an additional vehicle that you don’t list as an asset It is also important that you provide copies of any loans or mortgages still outstanding on the listed assets. Home mortgage, student loans, or credit card debt Question 10: Here, you'll need to disclose how much debt you have, such as a home mortgage, student loans, or credit card debt. You'll also need to attach copies of documents backing up the information. Having no debts or liabilities is a positive factor while having debts or liabilities is a negative factor. Credit report and score Questions 11-14: Provide information about your credit report and score, including whether you've ever been in bankruptcy. You can get a copy of your credit report from any of the three main U.S. credit agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) which you can then submit with your I-944. If you arrived in the United States recently and have not used credit cards, you might not have a credit report or a credit score. Form I-944 requires applicants who do not have a credit report or score to submit a statement from one of the three credit agencies verifying that they do not have one. You will also be required to indicate if you ever filed for bankruptcy. If you have, you will need to provide details and evidence that the bankruptcy has since been resolved. If you have any negative items on your credit report, then you can include a written statement explaining what happened. A credit report shows your bill payment history, current debt and other financial information. Your credit score is a single number that goes up and down depending on how you use credit and repay debts. Having a good credit report and mid-to-high credit score is a positive factor, and having bad credit is a negative factor. A good credit score is 670 to 739 with a higher score being very good or excellent. Health insurance Question 15: Give information about, and documentation proving, your health insurance in the U.S. if any. If you do, you’ll need to provide additional information, including the amount of your premium and whether you received any Affordable Care Act subsidies to help you pay for your coverage. Because the U.S. has no nationalized form of health insurance, this can be a significant barrier for immigrants, particularly if their U.S. petitioner/sponsor doesn't have employer-covered health insurance. Again, receiving Medicaid is problematic, because it's only for low-income people, and can result in you being found inadmissible as a likely public charge. You are also required to include documentation of your policy or a letter from your insurer. It is important to keep in mind that a health insurance card is only enough if it clearly shows the start and end dates for your coverage. If you don’t currently have health insurance it is important that you either provide evidence that you’ve enrolled in coverage that’s yet to take effect, or evidence how you are planning to pay for any healthcare treatment you might need. Having private, unsubsidized health insurance is considered a heavily positive factor. The lack of health insurance is a negative factor. Your lack of any insurance could become a heavily negative factor if you have ongoing health issues that could require costly treatment. Receiving public benefits Questions 16-18: Give details on any public benefits you have received. If you have used any public benefits, you are required to list the agency that extended the benefit, the dates during which you received the benefit, and the amount of the benefit that you received. An applicant’s past use or likely future use of any listed benefits for more than 12 months in aggregate over a 36-month period would lead to a denial on public charge grounds. These benefits include: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) State or local general relief or general assistance Institutionalization for long-term care Medicaid Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance Public Housing The following are NOT considered as public benefits: The receipt of Medicaid for the treatment of an emergency medical condition. Services or benefits funded by Medicaid but provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. School-based services or benefits provided to individuals who are at or below the oldest age-eligible for secondary education as determined under state or local law. Medicaid benefits received by an alien under 21 years of age Medicaid benefits received by a woman during pregnancy and during the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy. Unemployment compensation Job training programs Emergency disaster relief Foster care and adoption assistance Cash payments that have been earned, such as Title II Social Security benefits, government pensions, and veterans’ benefits, and other forms of earned benefits Other questions of the Form I-944 Questions 19-21: Look at these questions carefully. Answering "yes" to one of them could save your application because it might mean you're all or partly exempt from the public charge rules Questions 22-25: Even if you haven't received public benefits, USCIS wants to know whether you applied for it. If you have used benefits, or if you’re claiming an exemption from the public charge rule, you’ll need to provide full documentation to support your application Question 26: Past requests to USCIS for a waiver of an application fee will also be considered in deciding whether you are a likely public charge. Such waivers are based on a low income or other financial hardship. If that applies to you, you'll have to explain in writing why you received a waiver, and whether your situation has since changed. Part 4: Your Education and Skills You now have a chance to prove that you are employable or will be employed in the United States. Question 1: Only applicants coming to the U.S. on an employment-based immigrant visa can answer “yes” to this. If you are applying for an employment green card and have an approved Form I-140, you can enter the receipt number from your Form I-140. Under the new public charge rule, seeking an employment-based green card is a regular positive factor. You can list high schools and colleges you’ve attended and submit diplomas and transcripts as supporting evidence, or provide a statement explaining why such documents are not available. You are also required to submit evidence of your language skills — both English and any other languages that you speak. This could include evidence of language courses you’re currently taking, or certification you’ve acquired in the past. You are also required to indicate whether you're currently retired and whether you are the primary caregiver of any children, elderly, or sick people in your household. The implication is that having a high school education, a college education, vocational qualifications, and English or other language skills are all positive factors, while the absence of such skills and qualifications are negative factors. On the other hand, if you have a work history or you are a primary caregiver is a positive factor. Lack of employment history or immediate job prospects is a negative factor, unless you are a caregiver or a student. Filling in the Form I-944 Part 5. Declarant's Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature You must affirm that you understand and swear to the information in this form, provide contact information, state whether someone else filled it out for you, and sign here. Part 6. Interpreter's Contact Information, Certification, and Signature If you had help from a foreign-language interpreter in filling out the form, that person needs to fill in this section and sign it. Part 7. Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of Person Preparing This Declaration, if Other Than the Declarant If you fill out this form unassisted, write N/A here. If you were assisted by a preparer to fill out these forms, they are required to sign here. Part 9. Additional Information In part 9, you can write in any additional information you need to that didn’t fit elsewhere on the form. To submit extra pages, you should make extra copies of Part 9, and use those to fill out any additional information. Once you're done filling out the form, go through the USCIS instructions carefully, to determine the implications of the information you provided, and to make sure you're attaching all relevant documents. What supporting documents will you need for Form I-944? While filing Form I-944, will need to provide proof of the following: Income (such as tax returns) Proof of assets (such as property deeds or bank statements) You are also required to provide evidence of every information you list in the form. You should show proof of your education, education, job offers, and health insurance. If the supporting documents are not available, you must write a statement explaining why. Is there a filing fee? There is no filing fee for Form I-944. However, you will still need to pay all the other fees associated with your green card application (such as Form I-485 fees and biometrics fee). Where do I file Form I-944? You are required to send your Form I-944 as well as Form I-485 and all the supporting documents as part of your green card application to USCIS. What is Form I-944 processing time? Since Form I-944 is new, USCIS is yet to provide an estimate of the processing time. For Form I-484, which is submitted alongside Form I-944, it takes between 10 and 13 months from the date you submitted it to process. Form I-944 could take a similar timeline, but this article will be updated when this information becomes available. What happens after filing Form I-944? After you have filed your Form I-944, a USCIS officer will begin to review your application and weigh all the various positive and negative factors. The USCIS officer does this to determine if you can support yourself without requesting public benefits assistance. You could either receive requests for additional information or be asked to attend your in-person interview. If the USCIS officer determines that you can support yourself and meet all the other requirements, you can typically receive your green card 10-13 months after you filed your I-944 and I-485 forms. Preparing Form I-944 can be complicated, it’s important to get the proper support as you go through the process of filing the form and supporting documents. Partner with SelfLawyer Now to start filing your Form I-944: https://self-lawyer.com/
What is an Advance Parole Document? An Advance Parole document (Form I-512L) is a form of temporary travel authorization that allows someone living in the U.S. to travel abroad while awaiting their green card. Nonimmigrants in the United States such as adjustment of status applicants must obtain Advance Parole to obtain permission to reenter the United States after traveling abroad without jeopardizing their status. Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is used by a person in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status. Adjustment of status applicants must be granted Advance Parole before leaving the United States. If they have not obtained Advance Parole prior to traveling abroad, they cannot be permitted to re-enter the United States upon their return from abroad. An Advance Parole serves the following functions: It enables an alien to come back to the U.S. after traveling abroad without having to obtain a visa to enter the U.S. It preserves the pending Adjustment of Status application that the alien has filed Attention: If you are an adjustment of status applicant and travel outside the United States without an Advance Parole Document while Form I-485 is pending, your case will be presumed abandoned and denied. If you apply for an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) and then enter the U.S. on a visa instead of an Advance Parole document, your pending I-485 petition can be considered to have been abandoned (except in the situations that you come back with valid H-1 and L-1 visas). For example, if you are an applicant for Adjustment of Status, then leave the U.S. and re-enter on a non-immigrant visa such as an F-1 visa, you will be considered to have abandoned your adjustment of status application. What is a Reentry Permit? If you are a lawful permanent resident and you expect to spend significant time outside the United States but intend to return to the U.S, you will need a Reentry Permit. Form I-131 can be used by green card holders to apply for a reentry permit. Normally, if you are a permanent resident, you can use a green card to reenter the United States after traveling abroad. However, your green card will be assumed to be abandoned if the absence is one year or more. A Reentry Permit can help prevent this problem. Lawful permanent residents or conditional permanent residents who plan to travel outside the United States for more than one year, but less than two years, can apply for a Reentry Permit. Reentry Permit can serve as a passport for a U.S. permanent resident if he/she has no passport and cannot obtain it from the country of his/her nationality. If you are a permanent resident and you are outside the country for more than a year without a Reentry Permit, you will most likely be denied reentry into the U.S. on the ground that you have abandoned your permanent resident status. What is a Refugee Travel Document? If you have a refugee or asylum status and you wish to travel outside the United States, and you wish to return later to the U.S, you can apply for a Refugee Travel Document. You can use your Refugee Travel Document to travel in place of a passport. If you do not obtain a Refugee Travel Document before you leave the U.S., you can be unable to re-enter the United States, or you can be placed in removal proceedings before an immigration judge. To apply for a Refugee Travel Document, file Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. You should file a Form I-131 before you leave the United States and expect processing times of approximately 3 to 5 months. However, it can take longer. A Refugee Travel Document is valid for up to one year. During this time, you can use the document multiple times. What is the difference between an Advance Parole and a Reentry Permit? Advance Parole is issued to you if you do not have permanent resident status. A Reentry Permit is issued to you if you are a permanent resident of the U.S. The two documents are dissimilar in physical appearance: Advance Parole is a single piece of paper bearing your photo, whereas a Re-entry Permit looks like a passport. An Advance Parole functions much like a visa to the United States while a Reentry Permit functions like a passport. If you have an Advance Parole document, you still need a foreign passport to enter into the United States. If you are a permanent resident with a Reentry Permit you do not need a foreign passport to enter the United States. Another difference is the duration: Advance Parole is valid for one year, whereas a Reentry Permit is valid for two years. Who is eligible to apply for Advance Parole Document? If you are in the United States, you can apply for Advance Parole if you have: An application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) pending. Been granted benefits under the Family Unity Program. A pending application for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) Form I-821 or been granted Temporary Protected Status. Have been granted T or U nonimmigrant status If you have an application pending with USCIS, and you leave the United States on advance parole, you can miss important notices from USCIS regarding your application, including requests for additional evidence. If you do not respond timely to these notices, USCIS can deem your application abandoned and you will not receive the benefit you seek. It is very important that you make appropriate arrangements to ensure you do not miss any such important notices from USCIS. What are the benefits of Advance Parole? Applying for Advance Parole comes with the following benefits: It will enable you to return to the U.S. after traveling abroad without the necessity of obtaining a visa. It preserves whatever Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) applications that you have pending with the USCIS. What documents and information do I need to apply for Advance Parole? If you are applying for Advance Parole, you will need to submit the following: An accurately completed Application for Travel Document, Form I-131 A receipt notice for Form I-485 Two passport photos Your biographical information Phone number and current address Form I-131 fees How much does it cost to apply for a Travel Document (“Advance Parole”)? The filing fee for an Advance Parole Document for an individual who is currently in the United States is $575. The biometrics services fee is not required. The filing fee can be waived based upon a demonstrated inability to pay. In this case, applicants should file Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver when filing Form I-131. However, there is no additional fee if you submit your travel document application (Form I-131) at the same time as your initial application for a green card, Form I-485, filed anytime after July 30, 2007. If you have already submitted your green card application, you can still get a travel document that allows you to leave the United States without paying an additional fee. In this case, when you file Form I-131 with USCIS, you must include a copy of the receipt notice showing that USCIS previously received Form I-485 application including the full application fee. How long does it take to receive a Travel Document? USCIS takes approximately 3-5 months to process your Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. However, if you are experiencing an extremely urgent situation, you can visit your local USCIS office to request an Advance Parole Document on an emergency basis. You can’t leave the country until you have your approved travel document in hand, so you should expect to spend the 3–5 months after submitting your green card application in the United States. How long will my Advance Parole document be valid? An Advance Parole Document is valid for one year after it was issued. How can I renew my Advance Parole document? If you are yet to receive your green card and you plan to travel after that year has elapsed, it is advisable to renew your travel document. You can file a renewal application as early as 100 days before your current Advance Parole document expires. It is important to submit the renewal as early as possible. The renewal Advance Parole document will usually be processed within the same timeframe as that for the initial application, which is 5 months or longer. It’s important to plan early to avoid gaps in your ability to travel. To renew your Advance Parole document, submit Form I-131 with a copy of your current Advance Parole document, a copy of the receipt notice from your green card application, and two passport-sized photos. Can I request for expedited processing of a travel document? It takes at least 90 days or more for USCIS to process your Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. You may, however, be able to get expedited processing of a travel document in certain situations. Such situations include: Severe financial loss to company or person Emergency situations Humanitarian reasons A nonprofit organization whose request is in furtherance of the cultural and social interests of the United States Department of Defense or National Interest Situation Compelling interest of USCIS. How can I request an Expedited Processing on Form I-131? Since it takes up to 90 days to obtain a travel document, it is always advisable to apply for one as early as possible. However, when there is an emergency that needs your attention abroad, there are steps you can take as an applicant to apply for one on an expedited basis. The tips are discussed below: Write a cover letter requesting expedited processing. In the cover letter, outline the reasons for your expedited request. If the criteria outline above is met, USCIS can expedite your application for Advance Parole. To prove that one of the criteria has been met, you can submit evidence. Such evidence can include a medical report if the situation involves someone who is sick. Gather the necessary evidence that proves your urgent need. It is important that you gather the required documentation that supports your reason for expedited processing. As discussed above, you can provide proof of fatality, hospital records or a letter from the doctor. Keep in mind that the kind of evidence you will submit will determine if your request for the expedited processing of the travel document will be successful. Prepare your application for the Travel Document. Complete Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. It is important that you prepare the application accurately. Include the cover letter, filing fee, and all the supporting documentation according to the filing instructions. You can also use an overnight method to mail your expedited request. Contact USCIS. It is advisable that you contact USCIS one week after filing to follow up on your request. Can I apply for Advance Parole from abroad? If you are outside the United States, you can apply for an Advance Parole Document if you: Need to visit the United States temporarily for an urgent humanitarian reason or for significant public benefit Unable to obtain the necessary visa and any required waiver of inadmissibility or consent to reapply for admission. Under these conditions, an Advance Parole Document is granted on a case-by-case basis for a temporary period, according to any conditions that can be placed on parole. Someone in the United States can also file the application for you. Returning to the United States without a travel document Before departing the United States, you need to understand the risks associated with traveling abroad while your Adjustment of Status application is pending. You should obtain your travel document before leaving the United States. If you depart from the United States before the Advance Parole Document is issued, your application for an Advance Parole Document will be considered abandoned. Returning to the United States with a travel document Even if you have an Advance Parole Document and you leave the United States, it can impact your ability to return to the United States. An Advance Parole Document does not entitle you to parole or guarantee that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will parole you into the United States upon your return. If you are using an Advance Parole Document to leave and return to a port of entry in the United States, you are considered an applicant for admission upon your return. You will be subject to inspection at a port of entry and you cannot be admitted if you are found to be inadmissible under any applicable provision of immigration law. If the Department of Homeland Security determines that you are inadmissible, you can be subject to expedited removal proceedings or to removal proceedings before an immigration judge. In conclusion, it is important to apply for an Advance Parole Document if you are an adjustment of status applicant and you intend to travel abroad. This can seem confusing, but Self Lawyer is here to help you NOW: https://self-lawyer.com/
Green Card Application Process In a nutshell, the green card application process consists of the following steps: Have a Sponsor Petition for You The first step to apply for green card is to have your sponsor – either a family member or employer – petition on your behalf. For family-sponsored petitions, use Form I-130, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative; or For employment-based petitions, use Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker). Your sponsor must file a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay the application fee. Who Can Apply for Green Card? Family based categories of applicants who are eligible to apply for US green card include: Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens: A spouse of a US citizen; A minor child (under 21) of a US citizen; or A parent of a US citizen over the age of 21. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are eligible for the fastest green card process (typically 8-14 months after filing). “Preference immigrants” Other family members are also eligible for Green Card permanent resident status under the "preference immigrant" group, which (in order of preference) includes: Unmarried children of US citizens over the age of 21; Spouses and unmarried minor (under 21) sons and daughters of lawful permanent US residents; Married children of US citizens; and Siblings of US citizens, if that citizen is over the age of 21. The process for “preference immigrants” will take longer than for the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. The wait time for these categories may vary from years to decades. See the current Visa Bulletins issued by the U.S. Department of State for more information. After your petition is approved, there are two ways to apply for a green card: From within the U.S.; and From abroad. Applying for a Green Card If You Are Outside the U.S. A non-citizen can apply for an immigrant visa from their local U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their native country. The process is formally known as consular processing. Consular processing consists of the following steps: Get Your NVC Package If your petition is approved and you are outside the U.S., the National Visa Center (NVC) will send you a package to your country of residence. The NVC package will contain all required forms that must be filled out for your green card application. 2. Apply for a Visa The next step is to visit the U.S. embassy in your country of residence to apply for a visa. Typically, the NVC package includes detailed instructions on how to apply. Non-citizens applying for a family-based green card from outside the U.S. need to file the DS-260 and DS-261 online forms. The DS-260 is also known as an “immigrant visa application.” The DS-261, or Online Choice of Address and Agent, is an online form that informs the State Department on how to communicate with you during the application process. During this step, you will also be expected to have your visa interview with an embassy official and submit supporting documents. 3. Travel to the U.S. If your immigrant visa is approved, you will receive your arrival package, the so-called visa packet, from the U.S. Embassy. At this point, you must travel to the U.S. and carry your arrival package unopened. Only a U.S. immigration official at a port-of-entry is allowed to open it and decide whether you are allowed to enter the country or not. Note: Just because you have an immigrant visa is no guarantee that you will be allowed to enter the U.S. The immigration official will have the authority to decide if you can enter the country. Applying for Green Card from Within the U.S. Eligible non-citizens who arrived in the U.S. through a lawful entry (see below) may be able to apply for a green card through the so-called Adjustment of Status (“AOS”) process. Lawful entry means that a non-citizen entered the U.S. with valid documentation and met face-to-face with a U.S. immigration officer at an inspection point. In other words, your entry must be acknowledged and authorized by a U.S. immigration officer. When adjusting status to that of a lawful permanent resident, the applicant must have an immigrant visa immediately available to them. Applying for a green card within the U.S. is done through submitting Form I-485 to USCIS. File Form I-485 (If You Are in the U.S.) If you are in the United States and you are eligible to adjust your status within the U.S., you must submit Form I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status) to the USCIS office. The form is basically the permanent resident application that will get you the permanent residence card. Then, the final step is to get your green card in the mail. Immediate family members of U.S. citizens (spouses, unmarried children under 21 and parents) who are physically present in the U.S. can file Forms I-485 (Application for Adjustment of Status) and I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) concurrently. You will need the following forms to file for Adjustment of Status: Application to Adjust Status Form (I-485) Affidavit of Support Form (I-864) Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record Form (I-693) (Optional) Application for Employment Authorization Form (I-765) (Optional) Application for Travel Document Form (I-131) Note: I-765 and I-131 fees are waived if you are submitting these forms concurrently with your I-485 form. Supporting Documents for Adjustment of Status (“AOS”) These are the supporting documents that you most likely need to submit along with the Form I-485: Proof of eligibility for a green card (e.g., Form I-130 and marriage certificate for marriage-based applications, or petition approval notice and marriage certificate if you entered the U.S. as a fiancé). Evidence of any criminal convictions (certain crimes may make your application “inadmissible”). If you have any criminal history, consult an immigration attorney before submitting your green card application. Two color photographs U.S. passport-style (taken within the last 30 days). Birth certificate along with a word-for-word English translation if it is in a foreign language. Photocopy of the non-immigrant visa page of your passport. Other documents. Note: Never submit original documents unless requested by the USCIS with your green card application. The agency would not return the original documents submitted with your application. If you have been lawfully admitted to the U.S., both the adjustment of status and consular processing may be available to you. Note: There may be exceptions. For example, if you overstayed your visa and then leave the U.S. for consular processing in your native country, a three or ten year ban may apply to you. In such cases, please consult an immigration attorney before submitting your I-485 Form. Who Cannot File for Adjustment of Status in the U.S.? The following categories of people are not eligible to file an I-485 application (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) if they are in the U.S.: Those who entered the U.S. as a crewman via the D and C1/D Crewmember Visa Those who entered the country for transit purposes on their way to another country Those who entered the U.S. without inspection (unlawfully) Those who entered the U.S. as a witness or informant Those who face deportation because they were involved with a terrorist group or terrorist activity “Inadmissibility” Grounds There are also “inadmissibility” grounds that prevent immigrants from filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). You cannot apply for a green card if you meet any of these disqualifying grounds: Health-related grounds (you have a specific infectious disease or mental health condition) Criminal grounds (you were found guilty of certain specific crimes) Security grounds (you are deemed a threat to the national security of the U.S.) Prior violations of U.S. immigration laws or procedures Public charge grounds that make you likely to become dependent on public benefits Other grounds such as being an international child abductor, voting unlawfully, entering the U.S. to practice polygamy, and others. To remedy some of these inadmissibility grounds, you will need to submit a waiver. Green Card Application Fees The current fee for adjusting status through Form I-485 is $1,140. If biometrics is required, an $85 service fee will be added. Please check the current immigration application fees on the USCIS website as they are subject to change. For consular processing, subsequent application fees depend on the type of visa. In 2020, the fee for family-based visas is $325. See Fees for Visa Services from the State Department for current fees. Note: All green card application fees are paid to the immigration authorities at the time of filing your application. Failure to pay the appropriate filing fee may result in denial of your application. How Long Will It Take to Receive a Green Card? Expect these seven stages after filing the Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status): Receipt of Application (2-3 weeks) Appointment Notice for Biometrics (3-5 weeks) Biometrics Appointment (4-6 weeks) Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (3-6 months) Travel Document (5-7 months) Notice of Interview (7-10 months) Adjustment of Status Interview (7-12 months) Granted Permanent Residence (8-14 months) Let’s review each stage separately to estimate how long it would take the USCIS to issue a green card. 1. Receipt of Application Approximately 2 to 3 weeks after filing. As long as there were no errors with your adjustment of status package and all forms have been properly filed, the USCIS will respond by sending you a letter that confirms its receipt of your application. If the Form-485 and other related forms in your AOS package were not properly filed, the USCIS would send you a Notice of Action or Request for Evidence. In the former cases, your application will be rejected. In the latter, the agency will request additional information or evidence. 2. Appointment Notice for Biometrics Approximately 3 to 5 weeks after filing. After the successful receipt of your application, the USCIS will provide you with a notice that assigns your biometrics appointment date and specifies the exact time and location. Generally, such appointments are held at the nearest USCIS Application Support Center. Note: Failure to appear at the biometrics appointment may negatively affect your application (unless there is a good cause for missing the appointment). You can request to reschedule your biometrics appointment (follow the instructions provided in the biometrics appointment letter). 3. Biometrics Appointment Approximately 4 to 6 weeks after filing. Applicants ages 14-78 need to appear at their biometrics appointment. This appointment, which is also called a biometrics screening, is usually 30 minutes long. During the biometrics appointment, the USCIS will collect your fingerprints, signature, and photograph. 4. Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Approximately 3 to 6 months after filing. If your adjustment of status package included Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), you would also receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). 5. Travel Document Approximately 5 to 7 months after filing. If you adjustment of status package included Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document), you will receive a travel document that will allow you to travel outside the U.S. while your green card application is pending. 6. Notice of Interview Approximately 7 to 10 months after filing. In many cases, the USCIS sends a notice to attend an adjustment of status interview to both the immigrant and the petitioner. 7. Adjustment of Status Interview Approximately 7 to 12 months after filing. Interviews are a normal part of the green card application process. Get prepared in advance when the USCIS invites you for an adjustment of status interview. The USCIS will provide a basic checklist of documents required for the AOS interview in your interview notice letter. 7. Granted Permanent Residence Approximately 8 to 14 months after filing. In some cases, immigrants are granted permanent residence immediately after the interview. Thus, typically, adjustment of status applicants receive their green card within 8 to 14 months after filing. However, if your application for a permanent resident is denied, the USCIS will provide you with a notice detailing the reasons for the denial. Note: In some cases, the USCIS can place a green card applicant into removal proceedings after his or her green card application was denied. You should carefully prepare your green card application and be aware of all the risks associated with the denial of your green card application. When you finally get your green card, you no longer need the work permit card (EAD). Your status as a permanent resident gives you the right to travel outside the U.S. and return with a valid green card. The green card can also be used as proof of your right to work in the U.S. File your immigration forms with SelfLawyer File your immigration forms online with SelfLawyer: https://self-lawyer.com/pricing/ Affordable fees, online filing and immigration attorney review included. Starts from $295/per form. SelfLawyer - We Make Immigration Easy.
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative Form I-130 of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is used to prove your relationship with an eligible relative who wishes to enter the United States permanently. Officially called "Petition for Alien Relative," Form I-130 is the first step in a family member's immigration process. It is the first of many steps to obtaining a Permanent Residency Card (also known as a green card). Form I-130 should only be filed by a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident. A separate form must be filed for each eligible family member you wish to sponsor. I-130 Eligibility Only certain close family members can be sponsored through Form I-130. If you're a U.S. citizen, you may sponsor: Spouse; Unmarried children under 21 years of age; Unmarried children over 21; Married children of any age; Brothers or sisters (if the sponsoring citizen is over 21); and Parent (if the sponsoring citizen over 21). If you're a lawful permanent resident, you may sponsor: Spouse; Unmarried children under 21; and Unmarried sons or daughters (if the permanent resident is over 21). How Long Does It Take for Approval? How long it takes USCIS to approve an I-130 petition depends on the following factors: Whether your sponsored relative fits into the Immediate Relative Category or Family Preference Category, as defined by the USCIS; Whether your sponsored relative is currently living inside the United States or abroad; and Which USCIS office is processing your application. It usually takes between five and 12 months for approval for applications sponsoring family members that fit into the Immediate Relative Category who currently live in the United States. It may take several years for approval for applications sponsoring family members that fit into the Family Preference Category who currently live outside the United States. What Happens After I-130 is Approved? Once USCIS approves your I-130 application, your application will be sent to the U.S. Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. If your family member's case is not subject to immediate processing, your I-130 application will remain with NVC until processing begins. You and your sponsored family member will be sent a notice of how to check the status and manage your case through the NVC's Consumer Electronics Application Center (CEAC). How your case is processed depends upon: Whether you fit within the Immediate Relative Category or Family Preference Category; and Whether you are currently in the United States or abroad. Immediate Relative or Family Preference Category The U.S. immigration system divides persons seeking family-based immigration into two categories: Immediate Relative and Family Preference. These categories define the relationship between you and your family member and sets the priority in issuing green cards. Individuals in the Immediate Relative Category do not have to wait for a visa to become available, because there is an unlimited number of visas available to this group. However, there are only a limited number of visas available for individuals in the Family Preference Category. Individuals in this category often wait from 6 months to 20 years for a visa to become available. You will be placed in the Immediate Relative Category if you are: A spouse of a U.S. citizen; An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen under 21 years of age; An orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen; An orphan adopted in the United States by a U.S. citizen; or A parent of a U.S. citizen over 21. You will be placed in the Family Preference Category if you are: An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen over 21; A spouse of a lawful permanent resident; An unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident under 21; An unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident over 21; A married child of a U.S. citizen any age; or A brother or sister if a U.S. citizen (if the citizen is over 21). Based on your category and location, your visa application will proceed by Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing. Adjustment of Status Adjustment of status is reserved for persons currently in the United States. Thus, you would not have to return to your home country to complete the visa process. Form I-485 To adjust your status, you must file USCIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residents or Adjust Status). Each beneficiary of an I-130 petition must submit their own I-485 form. I-485 Fees - February 2020 As of February 2020, the fees required under Form I-485 are dependent upon your age, whether you are required to undergo biometric identification, and the basis of your application: If under 14 years old and filing with at least one parent, the total fee is $750; If under 14 and not filing with at least one parent, the total fee is $1,140; If between 14 and 78, the total fee is $1,225; and If over 78, the total fee is $1,140. These fees are nonrefundable regardless of the outcome of your I-485 application and are subject to change. After I-130 is Approved, How Long Does it Take? After your sponsor's I-130 application is approved, the time it takes to approve your I-485 application is influenced by several factors: Whether your application is based on the Immediate Relative or Family Preference Category; Whether your sponsored relative lives in the U.S. or abroad; Whether you mailed or hand-delivered your application to a USCIS office, U.S. Embassy or Consultant, or file online with SelfLawyer; and Whether there are errors in the application itself. Usually, an I-485 application gets approved or denied within 8 to 14 months. Steps of an I-485 Application The steps and timeframe for an I-485 application generally occur as the following order: Notice that an I-485 application was received (2 to 3 weeks); Notice of biometrics appointment (3 to 5 weeks); Biometrics appointment (5 to 8 weeks); Notice that USCIS interview has been scheduled (4 to 10 months); USCIS interview (6 to 12 months); Notice of final decision (8 to 14 months). When to File I-485 Application In most cases, you must wait until I-130 approval before filing an I-485 application. However, there are two exceptions to this rule: Current filing is allowed for all immediate relatives of U.S. citizens because there is an unlimited number of visas for this group; and Concurrent filing is allowed if a visa number is available for an I-485 applicant during the filing time of the sponsored I-130 petition. Medical Examination and Vaccination - Form I-693 Medical examination and vaccination are common for anyone who seeks permanent resident status through Form I-485. These exams are referred to as immigration exams or I-693 exams. If the USCIS instructs you to undergo an immigration medical examination it is your responsibility to find a USCIS certified doctor (called a "civil surgeon" by USCIS). The USCIS does not regulate fees for medical exams and fees vary depending on your location. You can find a USCIS doctor in your area through the USCIS website here: https://my.uscis.gov/findadoctor. Any medical exam USCIS orders are valid for 60 days. To assure your exam is valid, be sure to schedule your appointment as close as possible to the date you file your underlying I-485 application, USCIS's Request for Evidence, or your USCIS interview (whichever is applicable). Be sure to allow enough time for the completion of all lab work or additional testing ordered by the doctor. The purpose of an I-693 exam is to verify your mental and physical health to determine if you are cleared to stay in the United States. During this examination, the doctor will take a detailed history from you, perform a physical examination, draw blood, or order other tests. Prior to your medical appointment print a copy of Form I-693 from the USCIS's website and follow the instructions carefully. Form I-693 and instructions can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-693. The USCIS Interview Under federal regulation, all adjustment of status applicants must be interviewed unless waived by a USCIS officer. This waiver is made on a case-by-case basis. An interview may (but not necessarily) be waived if: An applicant us clearly ineligible; Unmarried children (under 21) if they filed their application on their own; Parents of U.S. citizens; Asylees and refugees if they underwent a precious USCIS interview; and Unmarried children (under 14) if they filed their application of their own. If USCIS requires you to be interviewed, USCIS will instruct you on what to bring, be prepared to bring the following: Government-issued photo ID (state drivers license, passport, etc.); Notice of I-485 interview issued by USCIS on Form I-797C (Notice of Action); I-485 packet (I-485 application and any other form or filed document); Current, non-expired passport; All travel documents (only if you have traveled abroad after filing your I-485 application); Doctor's report of medical examination on Form I-693 (if you haven’t submitted it earlier); and If your application is based on marriage, originals and copies of documents showing a shared life (joint bank statements, joint lease or mortgage, joint credit card statements, child's birth certificate, etc.). A typical interview lasts about 30 minutes. During the interview, the USCIS officer will look for information regarding any life-changing events (new child, new employer, new address, anything that would change any answer submitted in the I-485 application). For the most part, the officer will ask questions about the application and ask for verification of certain answers. Notice of Approval, What Now? When you receive notice that your I-485 application has been approved, it means you are officially a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Congratulations! Until your green card arrives in the mail, your passport may be stamped by USCIS to indicate your new status. This stamp has the same authority as a green card. You can use this stamp to: Apply for an unrestricted social security card; Apply for a state drivers license; and Travel abroad for less than one year. Consular Processing If you're living outside the United States, once you become the beneficiary of a sponsored I-130 petition you can apply for lawful permanent resident status (a green card) through the process called consular processing. Form DS-260 To obtain a green card through consular processing, you must file Form DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) with the NVC through NVC's online Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). In most cases, you will also have to file Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). Form I-864 is a legal contract between you and your I-130 sponsor in which your sponsor promises to support you after you immigrate if it is necessary. Submitting Form DS-260 does not start the visa application. Your visa application officially starts when you are interviewed by a U.S. consular officer. DS-260 Fees - February 2020 As of February 2020, the fees associated with consular processing are: Form DS-260, Immigration Visa Application Fee -- $325; Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Feel -- $120; and USCIS Immigration Feel -- $220. These fees are subject to change. Consular Processing Steps The steps associated with obtaining a visa through consular processing occur in the following order: File Form DS-260 and Form I-864 to NVC for processing; Pay all applicable fees; Submit all supporting documents; Be interviewed by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate officer; then Be granted (or denied) a green card. U.S. Embassy or Consulate Interview On a scheduled date, you will be called to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate for an interview. During this interview, a consular officer will determine whether or not an immigration visa will be issued to you. You, and all immediate family beneficiaries immigrating with you, must attend the interview. Be prepared to bring the following: The interview appointment received from NVC; For each individual immigrating with you, a passport valid for six months past the expected immigration date; Two identical color photographs for each individual immigrating; The DS-260 cover page; and The original and two copies of all documents uploaded to CEAC. Notice of Approval, What Now If your visa is approved, you will receive notice of when and how your passport will be returned to you. Your immigration visa will be stamped on a page in your passport. You will have six months to immigrate to the United States. Family Preference Outside the United States The two main categories of family-based immigration described above (Immediate Relative and Family Preference) define the type of relationship between you and your family sponsor and set the priority of all available green cards. Family Preference Priorities As opposed to Immediate Relative Category where visas are unlimited, federal law sets limits on visas awarded to individuals grouped in the Family Preference Category. This Family Preference Category includes relatives with a more distinctive relationship to the sponsored family member. The Family Preference Category includes and is ranked in immigration priority as follows: First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children (23,400 visas allowed); Second Preference: Spouses and unmarried children under 21 and unmarried adult children over 21 of permanent residents (114,200 visas allowed with 70% or more going to spouses with children under 21); Third Preference: Married children regardless of age, as well as spouses with minor children of U.S. citizens (23,400 visas allowed); and Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters, their spouses, and minor children of adult U.S. citizens (65,000 visas allowed). Absent from this Family Preference Category are grandparents, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws. These family members cannot be directly petitioned for family-based immigration. For these family members to immigrate through the Family Preference Category, the family member must meet the same requirements as immigrating through the Immediate Relatives Category, but must document a qualifying Family Preference relationship, instead of an Immediate Relative relationship. Checking Waiting Times Using Visa Bulletin Visa Bulletin is a web-based publication that provides an updated waiting list (also known as Priority Date) for immigrants awaiting visas who are subject to the U.S. visas quota system. Visa Bulletin is published on the Internet by the United States State Department and updated the second or third week of every month. In the Bulletin, immigrants are categorized as on a waiting list (Family Preference) and not requiring a waiting list (Immediate Relative). For those immigrants on a waiting list, a certain number of visas become available every month. If the number of applicants in a given year exceeds the number of available visas, visa applicants are placed in a queue and receive a priority date. Basically, this estimates when an applicant would receive a visa based on the number of previous applicants in the queue. The Visa Bulletin is a monthly publication that provides updated monthly numbers of the list of applicants and the "current" priority date for those applicants. You can find the Visa Bulletin on the State Department's website at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html. START YOUR FAMILY MEMBER'S IMMIGRATION PROCESS NOW Let SelfLawyer help with all your immigration needs. 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What is Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status)? United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-485 is for people who are living in the U.S. and want to apply for lawful permanent residence - a green card. USCIS refers to this process as “Adjustment of Status.” If USCIS approves your Form I-485, you can become a legal permanent resident. This immigration status allows you to permanently live and work in the U.S. After you have a green card for three or five years, you can apply for naturalization, which means that you can become a U.S. citizen. When you submit Form I-485, you are providing USCIS with basic identifying information and documentation of your legal grounds for applying for a green card. USCIS also will check to see if you are inadmissible for any reason. Who Can File Form I-485? You can apply for adjustment of status using Form I-485 if you entered the U.S. lawfully and meet some requirements. For example, if you are in the U.S. in a lawful nonimmigrant status (such as a student or tourist visa), you might be able to apply for adjustment of status. You must be physically present in the U.S. when you file Form I-485. If you are eligible, you can get a green card without going back to your native country. You must meet all the requirements of a particular immigrant category to qualify for Adjustment of Status. These categories include: Marriage-based green card Family based green card Employment based green card Asylum or refugee status Victim of abuse, crime, or human trafficking You also might qualify to apply for adjustment of status if you meet the requirements in a few other categories, such as if you are a Cuban native or citizen or have special immigrant status as a religious worker. Who Cannot File Form I-485? Some people do not qualify to file Form I-485. These people include: Foreign immigrant applicants who are not present in the U.S. Those who entered the U.S. on their way to another country (stowaways) Those whom the U.S. admitted as witnesses or informants Persons who are deportable due to involvement in terrorist groups or activities Some people also are inadmissible, which means that they cannot get a green card, even if they meet the other requirements. Some situations that might disqualify you from getting a green card are: You have a communicable disease or mental health condition You have been convicted of certain crimes You are a threat to U.S. national security You have broken U.S. immigration laws in the past You are likely to become a public charge, or dependent on U.S. benefits A few other situations also can bar you from getting a green card. In some cases, you might be able to get a waiver that still allows you to get a green card. Required Documents for Filing Form I-485 Attention: All applicants are required to submit a new Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency in addition to their Form I-485 Adjustment of Status package filed after February 24, 2020. The documents that USCIS requires you to submit depend on the immigrant category that you are using to file your I-485. However, some documents are required for all applicants filing Form I-485, such as: Two recent identical color passport-style pictures of yourself A picture ID issued by a government to confirm your identity, like a passport, driver’s license, or military ID card Birth certificate, or if one is not available, other records that confirm your date and place of birth, such as church, school, or hospital records, or written statements from relatives Copies of documents showing that you were lawfully admitted to the U.S., such as a passport page with stamp or an arrival-departure record I-94 Documents showing that you qualify for the immigrant category that you are using to file your petition, such as your immigrant petition that you are filing at the same time as your Form I-485 or your approval notice for a previously filed petition There are some exceptions to these requirements if you are applying through some immigrant categories. Specific categories also require additional documents. Some immigrant categories, such as the foreign spouse of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident require you to provide a copy of marriage certificate. Immediate Family Members of U.S. citizens Immediate family members of U.S. citizens who are lawfully in the U.S. can apply for adjustment of status using Form I-485. These family members include spouses, unmarried children under age 21, children adopted by U.S. citizens abroad or in the U.S., and parents of U.S. citizens who are age 21 or older. To qualify for this category of Adjustment of Status applicant, you must also have an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, which you can file before or at the same time as Form I-485. Along with Form I-485, you also must submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, completed by your U.S. citizen relative, and Form I-693, Record of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. You also will need certified copies of all criminal records, including criminal charges, arrests, and convictions (if you have any). Other forms also may be necessary, based on your situation. Employment based green cards In some cases, employers may sponsor certain highly qualified natives of other countries to remain in the U.S. as their employees. Employers must submit Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, along with approved labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, either before or at the same time as Form I-485. In addition to the documents that all green card applicants must submit, employment-based applicants also must provide USCIS with: Evidence of continuous lawful status while in the U.S. Written confirmation of their job offers If self-petitioning, signed statements of intent to work in the specified occupational field Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Certified copies of all criminal records In some cases, applicants seeking green cards through their employment may need to submit additional forms. K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa Applicants One basis for seeking a green card is marriage to a U.S. citizen. The foreign fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens can come to the U.S. on K-1 visas after the U.S. citizens have filed a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e). These visas allow you to lawfully enter the U.S. if you marry your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within 90 days after your arrival. K-1 visa holders who want to apply for a green card must submit Form I-485 like everyone else. However, they also must submit the following documents: Form I-864, Affidavit of Support from the U.S. citizen sponsor Form I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency (This is a new form that is required effective February 24, 2020.) Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record Other optional documents may include Form I-131, Application for Travel Document and Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. Asylee or Refugee Status If you have been living in the U.S. for at least one year after receiving asylum, you can seek a green card if you have maintained your status and still qualify as an asylee. The only additional document that you must submit with your Form I-485 is a document showing that you were granted asylum, such as a USCIS approval notice or an immigration judge order. Likewise, if you were admitted to the U.S. as a refugee, you can apply for a green card one year after receiving refugee status, if you have maintained your status. You must submit documents showing that you were granted refugee status, such as a Form I-94 or Form I-571, Refugee Travel Document. Victims of Human Trafficking If you are a victim of human trafficking, you must have T nonimmigrant status and documentation that you have resided in the U.S. for at least three years or throughout the investigation and prosecution of the human trafficking crimes. You also must provide proof that adjustment of status is warranted as a matter of discretion and that you have good moral character. Finally, you must have documents showing that either you assisted in the investigation or prosecution of human traffickers, were under the age of 18 at the time the crimes occurred, or would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm if removed from the U.S. Crime and Abuse Victims If you are a victim of some crimes or abusive situations and hold U nonimmigrant status, you can apply for a green card if you have documentation that you have been living in the U.S. consistently for at least three years. Like victims of human trafficking, you also must show proof that you assisted law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of these crimes. Finally, you also must prove that adjustment of status is warranted as a matter of discretion in your cases. How Much Does It Cost to File Form I-485? Form I-485 application fee is $1,140 (as of February 2020). If you are between the ages of 14 and 79, you must also pay a $85 biometrics fee. Total fees: $1225. There are some exemptions to paying this fee for some categories of immigrants. For example, the fee for a child under age 14 to file a Form I-485 with his or her parent’s form is $750 total. How Long Does It Take to Process Form I-485? You can expect the total I-485 processing time to be at least 8 to 14 months. It may take two or three weeks for USCIS to accept your application and send you a confirmation receipt. You then will receive notice of your biometrics appointment, which you must attend. If you applied for a work permit and a travel document, it takes about 5-7 months to receive them after filing the application. Next, you will have an interview at a local USCIS office. The length of time that it takes for you to have an adjustment of status interview scheduled depends on several factors, including: The type of category in which you are applying, What dates and times are available for interviews, and How busy the office is at that point in time. In many cases, it can take at least 7-12 months to get an interview scheduled, but you may have a longer wait depending on your situation. Adjusting Status After Visa Overstay If you stay in the U.S. past the time that you are legally authorized to do so (“visa overstay”), you might still be able to seek an adjustment of status. Various factors determine whether a visa overstay can negatively affect your ability to get a green card. Overstaying your visa by 180 days or more can result in you being unable to reenter the U.S. for three years. Overstaying your visa by one year or more can stop you from reentering the U.S. for ten years. These situations can make it extremely difficult for you to get a green card. If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you are more likely to get a green card after an overstay if you have committed no other criminal or immigration violations. Your U.S. citizen relative can file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf even if you overstayed your visa. As an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you may have the best chance of getting your green card if you have: No previous visa overstays No visa overstays of 180 days or longer A current visa overstay, but you have not left the U.S. since your arrival Other relatives, however, who fall within the family preference instead of the immediate relative category and who have overstayed their visas are likely to have a hard time getting green cards. These people include non-immediate relatives, such as children over the age of 21 and siblings of U.S. citizens. Adjusting Status After Unauthorized Employment in the U.S. If you are legally present in the U.S. as a nonimmigrant, you generally cannot lawfully work while in the U.S. (with some exceptions). Engaging in unauthorized employment can cause difficulties for you if you later want to get a green card and remain in the U.S. Even if you have work authorization while in the U.S., if you perform different work or work longer than your work permit allowed, you can have a harder time getting a green card. Fortunately, there are some exceptions to these general rules. These bars to getting a green card do not apply to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and some other immigrant categories. You still may be able to get a green card if you are a member of any of the following categories: Applicants under the Violence Against Women Act Some doctors or other advanced-degree holders, as well as their spouses and children Some G-4 and NATO-6 employees, along with their family members Special immigrant juveniles Nationals of Afghanistan or Iraq who worked as translators with the U.S. Armed Forces of for the federal government Section 245(k) also allows some people to get green cards, even after unauthorized U.S. employment. If you fall within some specific categories, lawfully entered the U.S., and did not engage in unauthorized employment for a total of 180 days or more, you could qualify for a green card. These categories of people who may be eligible for adjustment of status under Section 245(k) include religious workers and those who qualify as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3 workers. You must meet several criteria to qualify as a religious worker, including being a member of a religion that has had a non-profit religious organization in the U.S. for at least two years and coming to work with such an organization in a full-time, compensated position. You also must have been working in a similar position with that religion for at least two years before applying. EB-1 workers include aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and some multinational managers and executives. EB-2 workers are those who work in professions that require advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability. Finally, EB-3 workers include skilled workers, professionals, and some other workers. The New Public Charge Rule: How Does It Affect Form I-485 Applicants? As of February 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that USCIS could begin implementing the new public charge rule everywhere in the U.S. (except Illinois). This rule allows USCIS to deny admission to some applicants for adjustment of status. More specifically, as of February 24, 2020, you will have to report some information about your use of public benefits to USCIS when applying for adjustment of status. If you file an application for adjustment of status after February 24, 2020, you must prove to USCIS that you are not likely to receive any of nine public benefits for a total of 12 months within a 36-month period. You also must file a new form, I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency, along with Form I-485. The previous version of the public charge rule required USCIS to consider an applicant’s receipt of SSI, TANF, and state-provided cash assistance. The new public charge rule adds five new programs for consideration: Medicaid Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Programs (SNAP) Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program, and Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and Public Housing. Current Form I-485 Applicants and the New Public Charge Rule If you are a current applicant for adjustment of status, you do not need to report your application for or usage of non-cash public benefits, such as food stamps or SNAP, Medicaid, and public housing that occurred before February 24, 2020. USCIS also will not consider your prior use of cash benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF). Some classes of applicants for adjustment of status are not subject to the public charge rule. These classes include refugees and asylees, people with U and T nonimmigrant status, and some petitioners under Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Start the Process of Filing Form I-485 to Get Your Green Card SelfLawyer can help you get started with the process of applying for a green card right away. Prepare your immigration forms online today for review by an immigration lawyer and filing with USCIS.
Who Files Form I-130? Form I-130 can only be filed by a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident. And you must file a separate form for each eligible family member you seek to sponsor. Who Qualifies as an Eligible Family Member? If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor: Spouse; Unmarried children under 21 years of age; Unmarried children over 21; Married children of any age; Brothers or sisters (if the sponsoring citizen is over 21); and Parent (if the sponsoring citizen over 21). If you are a lawful permanent resident, you can sponsor: Spouse; Unmarried children under 21; and Unmarried sons or daughters of any age. No other relatives may be included in an I-130 petition. Applications with grandparents, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, etc. will be denied. Filing Form I-130 in the U.S. and Abroad Regardless of where one is living --- in the United States or abroad --- Form I-130 can always be filed online with the help of SelfLawyer. Get help with Form I-130 from SelfLawyer here: https://self-lawyer.com/family-sponsorship-form-i-130/ I-130 Application Fee For each I-130 form submitted, a $535 filing fee is charged (as of February 2020). This fee is nonrefundable regardless of the outcome of your petition. This fee is subject to change. How the USCIS Processes I-130 Applications The USCIS processes all I-130 petitions in the order they are filed. Once an I-130 application is filed, USCIS will mail you Form I-797C (Notice of Action). Keep this I-797C notice in a safe place because it will: Contain your case number; State if your application was approved or rejected; and Advise if other information needs to be provided. How Long Does It Take? Now long it takes USCIS to approve an I-130 petition depends on many factors: How close or distinct your family relationship is under USCIS's classification; Whether the relative is currently inside the United States or abroad; and Which USCIS office is processing the application. For applications from U.S. citizens sponsoring an immediate relative currently living in the United States, it usually takes between 7 and 13 months for approval. For applications sponsoring other family relatives living outside the United States, the U.S. limits the number of visas available. When the allotted number of visas are depleted, visa applicants are placed on a list until a visa becomes available. This, for family relatives living abroad, it may take months to several years for approval. Checklist of Required Initial Evidence Be sure to give USCIS the following documents. Evidence of the sponsor's U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent residence, or U.S. national status: A copy of a birth certificate showing birth in the United States; A copy of naturalization citizenship certification issued by the USCIS or the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); A copy of Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate; A copy of an unexpired U.S. passport; An original statement from a U.S. consular official stating U.S. citizen with a valid passport; or A copy of the front and back of a Permanent Residence Card (also known as a green card or a Form I-551). Evidence of family relationship with one or more of the following: Spouse: A copy of the marriage certificate: Evidence that spouse terminated any earlier marriage (if applicable); Child: A copy of the child's birth certificate; Parent: A copy of your birth certificate confirming the identity of your parent; or Brother or sister: A copy of your birth certificate and a copy of your sibling's birth certificate. If petitioning for a spouse, evidence of a lawful marriage: Document showing dual ownership of property; A lease showing joint residency; A document showing joint financial assets; A birth certificate showing the birth of a child together; An affidavit from someone swearing to legal marriage; Any other document showing a lawful marriage; or Other evidence establishing marriage (wedding photographs, gift receipts, vacation receipts, emails, text messages, phone calls, etc.). After I-130 Application Has Been Approved Receiving news that your I-130 application has been approved is good news. But it's only the first of the many I-130 process steps. U.S. immigration law places family-based immigrants into two categories. These categories directly impact the process you use, and how long it will take for your family member to get a visa. Immediate Relative Category Your sponsored family member will be placed in the “Immediate Relative Category” if they are: A spouse of a U.S. citizen; An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen under 21 years of age; An orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen; An orphan adopted in the United States by a U.S. citizen; or A parent of a U.S. citizen over 21. Family Preference Category Unlike the Immediate Relative Category, the “Family Preference Category” is available for families seeking to reunite who have a more distinct relational link. Applicants falling into this Category do not have a visa available immediately upon I-130 approval but must wait until a visa becomes available. Your sponsored family member will be placed in the Family Preference Category if they are: An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen over 21; A spouse of a lawful permanent resident; An unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident under 21; An unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident over 21; A married child of a U.S. citizen any age; or A brother or sister if a U.S. citizen (if the citizen is over 21). When you receive USCIS approval of your I-130 petition, the next step depends on: The category your family member falls into; and Whether the sponsored family member is inside or outside the United States. Immediate Family Inside the United States Generally, persons falling into the Immediate Relative Category living in the United States have the option to "adjust status" to a permanent resident by filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residents or Adjust Status). The question that often arises is, "When to file I-485 after I-130?" For persons in the Immediate Relative Category, there is no waiting for I-130 approval. They can file Form I-485 with the sponsoring I-130 application (concurrently), while the application is pending, or after the application has been approved. For persons in this Immediate Family Category, a visa is always immediately available to them so they don't have to wait, once your I-130 application is approved, their visa is available. Immediate Family Outside the United States For a family member in the Immediate Relative Category who lives outside the United States, after USCIS approves the I-130 application, your I-130 file will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. Before the NVC, the steps you will follow are: Choose a Representative --- The agent is the person that will receive information about your sponsored family member (it could be you, another family member, or a trusted friend); Pay Fees --- Your sponsored family member will be required to pay the Immigration Visa Application Fee and Affidavit in Support Fee; Submit Immigration Visa Application --- Your sponsored family member will be required to complete and send Form DS-260 (Immigration Visa & Alien Registration Application) to the National Visa Center; and Send Documents to the NVC --- Your sponsored family member will be required to send various financial and supporting documents to the National Visa Center. You can expect this process to take six to ten weeks or more. Once NVC is satisfied that all documents have been submitted and all fees have been paid, your sponsored family member will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Family Preference Outside the United States In most cases, individuals in the Family Preference Category use consular processing to apply for their green card. In consular processing, the visa applicant is processed and interviewed through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate instead of a USCIS office. Due to the limited number of visas available in this category, the wait for a visa can take several years. The approved I-130 file will stay with the NVC until your sponsored family member's case begins the review process. START YOUR FAMILY MEMBER'S IMMIGRATION PROCESS NOW Let SelfLawyer help with all your immigration needs. Get same-day filing, an immigration attorney review of all documents, and online filing with USCIS. 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