Immigration laws are constantly changing and evolving. And these changes are making it increasingly difficult for individuals to understand the immigration process and what steps they need to take in order to apply for particular Visa’s, Green Cards, and U.S. Citizenship.  These new immigration policies have also made it extremely crucial for individuals to stay up to date on these latest trends and policy adjustments, as they can have a significant impact on immigrants’ access to public assistance programs. One of these new immigration developments has been the implementation of the “public charge” rule. To further understand what this rule is and how it affects those applying for a Green Card, continue to read below or contact our team at Immigration Law Group. We understand how critical it is to interpret these new policies, and we are here to help you. Our Portland-based attorneys are up to date on all the latest immigration changes and have helped hundreds of individuals going through the immigration process. Whether you are looking for information on how to obtain your Adjustment of Status, discuss your different Visa options, or need some answers regarding the latest immigration legal changes, contact our office today for more information.

What is the “Public Charge” Rule, and How Does it Affect those Applying for Green Cards?

Under the new “public charge” rule, green card applicants have to show that they will not become a public charge, which means that they won’t need any federal assistance to live in the United States. This rule includes those that are dependent on the government for their subsistence, those that use cash assistance programs, and those that need long-term care at the government’s expense.  Under this new provision, individuals that are applying for a Green Card in the United States could be denied if they become a public charge. This new rule will include two public charge provisions:
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will penalize those individuals that get certain federal benefits.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will use the “totality of circumstances” test to determine who is a public charge. This test will review “heavily weighted negative factors” versus “heavily weighted positive factors.”
    • Heavily Weighted Negative Factors: This would include an application that is unemployed even though they may have employment authorization.
    • Heavily Weighted Positive Factors: This would include those applicants that have a household income at 250% of the federal poverty guidelines.

The “Public Charge” Rule’s Impact On Our Country

The “public charge” rule will come into effect on February 24, 2020, yet it has already created a lot of fear amongst immigrant communities. Many immigrant families in anticipation of this new provision have already begun disenrolling or refusing specific public programs that are necessary for them to thrive and survive. What’s more, the confusion that has resulted from this rule has had a chilling effect on all immigrant families, even those whose immigration status is not affected by this new provision. As this “public charge” rule becomes effective, the potential impacts on immigrants will be severe.  Not only will it prevent many immigrants from seeking Medicaid or other public benefits, which can have disastrous consequences on their family’s well-being, health, and financial security. But by limiting these benefits, it will prevent immigrants from getting and keeping their job, finishing their education, and taking care of their families. As these ramifications continue to grow, they will not only hurt the individual immigrant families and their communities but eventually, this policy will end up hurting our country as a whole.

Why Call Immigration Law Group?

As the precise impact of this policy is still relatively unknown, it comes as no surprise that this new rule brings with it a lot of uncertainty and questions.  With Immigration Law Group, we are here to guide you and help you understand not only how this new policy affects your Green Card status, but we are here to also assist you with any immigration question that you may have. If you would like further information on the “public charge” rule or need to discuss your individual immigration case, contact us today to set up an appointment.

New Public Charge Rule: What Documents do Green Card Applicants need now?

Since 1996, federal laws have stated that aliens must demonstrate self-sufficiency to be granted permanent legal status. The Supreme Court’s Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule, implemented on February 24th, 2020, revised the guidelines of determining whether an alien individual is admissible to the U.S. or eligible to obtain permanent legal status, based upon the likelihood of becoming a public charge. Consequently, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have the discretionary power to deny green cards to migrants with histories of using benefits. To decide whether an individual merits legal permanent resident status, USCIS will consider an alien applicant’s income, employment status, health, age, education, family circumstances, prospective immigration status, and prospective period of admission.

Applications for visas and lawful permanent residency processed at U.S. embassies and consular offices outside of the U.S. will operate under the February 24th regulations. All applicants who are not exempt from a public charge assessment must submit Form 5540 (Public Charge Questionnaire). USCIS officers have been directed to take Form DS-5540 into consideration before denying an alien’s application.

Green card applications, as of February 24th, 2020, must include:

1. Proof of Income of Applicant: this includes the most recent year’s IRS Tax Transcripts of the applicant’s Federal income tax returns (if applicable). If the green card applicant was outside the United States during the most recent tax year, he or she must provide the most recent year’s Foreign Tax Transcripts for income taxes filed with the government of the overseas country. If the green card applicant is not required to file federal taxes, he or she must file a W-2 statement or a Social Security Statement.

If the applicant has any additional non-taxable income (such as child support, unemployment benefits, etc…) not included in tax return, he or she must provide: statements or letters of proof of having received nontaxable income.

2. Proof of Income of Household Members (IF APPLICABLE): if the applicant currently lives with other household members (including a spouse, children, any individual receiving at least 50% of their support from the applicant or on whom an applicant relies for at least 50% support, etc…), then the applicant must provide all of his or her household members’ most recent year’s IRS Tax Transcripts of their Federal income tax returns, or the household members’ most recent year’s Foreign Tax Transcripts for income taxes filed outside the U.S.

Finally, if household members are not required to file federal taxes, the applicant must provide these members’ W-2 Statement or Social Security Statement.

The applicant must also provide evidence of his or her relationship with each household member, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or a signed statement.

3. Evidence of Asset of Household (IF APPLICABLE): Assets include checking and savings account statements, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, educational accounts, net cash value of real estate holdings, and other substantial assets that can be converted into cash within 12 months.

If the applicant or any of their household members own any assets, proof of the applicant’s or households’ assets must be provided, including: the name of the asset holder, description of the asset, proof of ownership, and basis for owner’s claim of its net cash value.

4. Proof of Liabilities/Debt (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has liabilities or debt, he or she must provide documentation (letters or statements) for each liability and debt :
a. Such examples include Mortgages, Car Loans, Credit Card Debt, Education Related Losses, Tax Debts, Liens, Personal Loans, Unpaid Child or Spousal Support, Other Debts

5. Credit Score and Report (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has a Credit Report or Credit Score in the U.S., he or she must provide a Credit Report from Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion (go to: https://www.usa.gov/credit reports ). If the applicant has no Credit Report or Credit Score, he or she must provide evidence of continued payment of bills and provide documentation that he or she has no credit report with a U.S. credit bureau.

If the applicant has Negative History in his or her Credit Report (such as delinquent accounts, debt collections, tax liens, bankruptcy, etc…), he or she must provide a written explanation regarding each negative history item.

If the applicant has filed for bankruptcy, he or she must provide documentation to show every instance, type, place of filing, and date of the bankruptcy. The evidence of the resolution of each bankruptcy must also be filed if applicable.

6. Proof of Health Care Insurance (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has health care insurance, he or she must provide a copy of the Insurance’s Policy Page that articulates the terms and type of coverage OR the applicant must provide a letter on the company letterhead/ evidence from the health insurance and provide the terms and type of coverage OR the applicant must provide the latest Form 1095-B (Health Coverage) and Form 1095-C (Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage) if available, with evidence of renewal of coverage for the current year.

If relevant, the applicant must also provide proof of Premium Tax Credit or Advanced Premium Tax Credit, with a transcript copy of the IRS Form 8963 Report of Health Insurance Provider Information, Form 8962 Premium Tax Credit (PTC), and a copy of Form 1095A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement.

If relevant, the applicant must also provide proof of the deductible or premium amount, with documentation.

If relevant, the applicant must also show documentation of the date of insurance termination or date of renewal.

If the applicant has enrolled in health insurance that has yet to start, he or she must provide proof of enrollment, such as a letter that includes the terms, type of coverage, name of the individual covered, and the date when the coverage begins.

If the applicant has a medical condition that will affect his or her circumstances of work, he or she must provide documentation that can outweigh negative factors related to the medical condition (this includes information provided by a civil surgeon or a panel physician on a medical examination, attestation from your treating physician regarding the prognosis of any medical condition and whether it impacts your ability to work or go to school, or evidence of sufficient assets and resources to pay the costs of any reasonably anticipated medical treatment).

7. Public Benefits Received (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has received any Public Benefits, he or she must include evidence of that public benefit (such as a letter, notice, certification) that include the applicant’s name, the public benefit-granting agency’s name and contact information, type of benefit, date of authorization to receive the benefit, and the date benefit or coverage ended or expires. Such Public Benefits include: any local, state, federal, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance; Supplemental Security Income; Temporary Assistance for Needy Families; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; Public Housing under the Housing Act of 1937; Federally funded Medicaid.

If the applicant has applied for a Public Benefit but been denied or rejected, he or she must provide documentation of denial or rejection.

If the applicant has disenrolled from a Public Benefit, he or she must
provide evidence of disenrollment or request to disenroll.

If the applicant has withdrawn from a Public Benefit, he or she must provide evidence demonstrating that the public benefit granting agency received your request to withdraw the application. The applicant may also provide evidence from a federal, state, local, or tribal agency administering a public benefit that shows that he or she does not qualify or would not qualify for such public benefit based on his or her annual gross household income or prospective immigration status.

8. Immigration Fee Waivers (IF APPLICABLE): IF the applicant has ever applied or received a fee waiver when applying for an immigration benefit AND the circumstances that caused an applicant to apply have changed, he or she must provide documentation to support any explanation of changed circumstances.

9. Education and Skills of the Applicant: IF an applicant is unemployed because he or she is the primary caretaker of a child/disabled individual/elderly, he or she must provide documentation showing that he or she is the primary caretaker (such as a legal guardianship court order), that the individual resides in the applicant’s household, and proof of the individual’s age/medical condition (if relevant).

If the applicant has graduated high school or obtained a tertiary level degree, he or she must provide transcripts, diplomas, degrees, certificates, or written explanation/letter issued from the institution as to why these documents are unavailable. Note that all foreign education should include an evaluation of equivalency to education or degrees acquired at U.S. educational institutions.

If the applicant has any occupational skills, he or she must provide a list of licenses for specific occupations/professions AND certificates documenting mastery or apprenticeships in skilled professions and trades.

If licenses/certificates are unavailable, the applicant must provide a written explanation and letter from the issuing institution to explain why these documents are unavailable.

If the applicant has completed courses and/or received any certifications in English or other languages, he or she must provide proof of language or literacy classes taken or currently being taken, or other proof of proficiency.

If the applicant is a speaker of English or another language, he or she must provide documentation of language proficiency including language certifications (such as high school diplomas and college degrees showing that the native language was studied for credit).

10. Proof of Retirement (IF APPLICABLE): IF an applicant is currently retired, he or she must provide documentation or statements of income from pensions, social security, and other retirement benefits.

Portland Immigration Lawyer

The cost for becoming a United States Citizen might become 83 percent more expensive. The Trump Administration is attempting to raise the application fees from citizenship to legal permanent residency.

Last Thursday, USCIS announced the proposed price hikes, in their statement “current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.”  The citizenship application fee is currently 640 dollars, the proposed price hike would make the fee 1,170 dollars. The legal permanent residency fee is currently 1,220 and USCIS is attempting to raise it to 2,195.

The proposed price hikes would have a major affect on immigration. There are also price hikes for Asylum, Temporary Protected Status Beneficiaries, and DACA recipients. DACA renewals would go from 495 dollars to 765 dollars. The administration is also seeking to transfer $207.6 million of USCIS funding and divert it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Advocacy groups are pressing people who are eligible to apply as soon as possible. USCIS and the Trump Administration must place the proposed price hikes in a comment period, the period ends on December 16th.

These price hikes have very little blocking their way to becoming a reality. Congress is really the only option to prevent the price hikes from becoming implemented.

The time to apply for your green card or citizenship application is now!  Don’t wait until the fees increase a substantial amount more than they already are.  Feel free to contact us with any questions.

How to become a United States Citizen:

You have been a permanent resident green card holder for the last five years, or a permanent resident green card holder for the last three years if you are filing as the spouse of a US citizen. Now you want to enjoy the benefits of being a United States citizen, maybe you want to vote, maybe you want to have the chance of working federal jobs, or maybe you just don’t want to worry about renewing your green card every 10 years and have the peace of mind that comes with being a United States citizen. Below are the steps and requirements that are necessary to become a United States citizen.

Phase one: Eligibility

The applicant must be at least eighteen years old at the time of filing N-400 form. You also must be a permanent resident green card holder of at least five years OR a permanent resident green card holder of at least three years if you are filing as the spouse of a person who is a United States citizen.

There is a ninety-day filing exception. You may submit your N-400 to USCIS as early as
ninety days before reaching your three- or five-year wait period as a green card holder —
as long as you’ve satisfied all other eligibility requirements. You must still wait the full three or five years, however, to become a U.S. citizen. Filing early just lets you get ahead in the application process. (Our guide to citizenship has the full details.)

You can apply if you are married to, and living with, a US citizen. You also must have been married to that US citizen for at least the past three years. The US citizen spouse must have been a US citizen for at least the past three years.

Also during the past three years, you must not have been out of the country for eighteen months or more. You are eligible to apply based on five-year residency if during the last five years you have NOT been out of the United States for thirty months or more.

There are exceptions to the thirty-month rule. If you are a person who has served on board a vessel operated by or registered in the United States OR are an employee or an individual under contract to the US Government OR a person who performs ministerial or priestly functions for a religious denomination or an interdenominational organization with a valid presence in the United States.

To qualify for citizenship eligibility you must have not gone a trip outside the United
States for one year or more without an approved “Application to Preserve Residence for
Naturalization Purposes.”

You must reside in the state or district in which you applied for citizenship for at least the last three months.

Next Step – Biometrics Appointment

The next step is to set up your biometrics appointment — basically, getting your
fingerprints taken — at your local USCIS field office. As with the marriage-based green
card process, USCIS will take your fingerprints during naturalization in order to conduct
a background check. The fingerprinting appointment usually takes place about a month
after USCIS receives your U.S. citizenship application.

You must have “good moral character,” broadly defined as a character that measures up to
the standards of average citizens in your community. More specifically, however, it
means you did not have certain types of crimes — such as murder, illegal gambling, or intentionally lying to the U.S. government in order to gain immigration benefits — on
your record at any time before filing, and you did not lie during your naturalization
interview.

Phase Two: Exam and Oath

You must pass a two-part naturalization test: the first is an English language test
(covering reading, writing, and speaking skills) and the second a civics test (covering
knowledge of U.S. history and government).

You must be able to read, write and speak basic English. There are some exceptions to
this requirement. If you are over the age of fifty years old and have lived in the United
States for at least the last twenty years since becoming a Permanent resident OR you are over the age of fifty-five years old and have lived in the United States for at least fifteen
years since becoming a Permanent Resident OR you have a disability that prevents you from fulfilling this requirement and you will file a “Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions” (Form N-648) completed a signed by a doctor with your application.

You must know the fundamentals of US History and the form and principles of the US
Government. Must be willing to serve in the U.S. military or perform civilian service for the
The United States if called upon to do so. You must register with the Selective Service System if you are male and have lived in the United States between the ages of 18 and 25. You must be willing to defend the U.S. Constitution.

If you are able to pass through the two phases of requirements then you can become a United States citizen. If you want to determine your citizenship eligibility, please give us a call at (866)-691-9894 for a consultation to begin your path to becoming a United States citizen.

How to Sponsor my Parents for an Immigrant Visa/Green Card | Immigration Law group, LLC

How to Sponsor my Parents for an Immigrant Visa/Green Card

Do you want to reunite with your parents overseas and let them see their grandchildren in the U.S.? If they are currently in the U.S. visiting, did you know they may be eligible to stay and apply for adjustment of status? So long as you are a U.S. citizen, and at least 21 years old, you can sponsor your parents by filing form I-130 with USCIS to receive their Immigrant Visa/Green Card. However, permanent U.S. citizen son/daughter residents – green card holders – may not submit form I-130 petition to bring their parents to live permanently in the U.S. If you are a green card holder, your best option is to file form N-400 to naturalize to become a U.S. citizen. Then, you will be able to file for your parents.

Many immigrants who live in the United States are always seeking advice and guidance on how to bring their parents to the U.S. either to visit or live permanently. They want to petition for a green card, which also refers to sponsoring them. While it is advisable to consult with an experienced lawyer about your specific situation, this article will give you some vital insights about the entire process of bringing your parent to the U.S.

Steps a U.S. Citizen Son/Daughter Should Take to Get Their Foreign National Parents to The U.S:

If you’re a U.S. citizen son/daughter of at least 21 years of age, there are several steps you need to take to get your foreign national parents to the U.S. Here is a breakdown describing the steps and the required documents you should submit, depending on your parents’ location.

1. Your father lives outside the U.S. and Needs an Immigrant Visa/Green Card

• Form I-130
• A birth certificate copy that shows your name and the names of both your parents.
• A marriage certificate that proves your parents are legally married.
• A Certificate of Naturalization, or U.S. passport, if you were not born in the U.S. or Certificate of Citizenship.

2. Your mother lives outside the U.S. and Needs an Immigrant Visa/Green Card

• Form I-130
• A birth certificate that has your name and that of your mother.
• A Certificate of Naturalization, or U.S. passport, if you were not born in the U.S.

3. Your father lives outside the U.S., you were born out of wedlock and your father didn’t legitimize you before your 18th birthday.

• Form I-130
• A birth certificate that has your name and that of your father.
• Evidence to prove that there existed a financial or emotional bond between you and your father before you reached the age of 21 or get married, whichever came first.
• A Certificate of Naturalization, or U.S. passport, if you were not born in the U.S. or Citizenship.

4. Your father lives outside the U.S., you were born out of wedlock and your father legitimated you before your 18th birthday.

• Form I-130
• A birth certificate that has your name and that of your father.
• Evidence to prove that your father legitimated you before your 18th birthday through the laws of your country/state, the marriage of natural parents, or the laws of your father’s country/state.
• A Certificate of Naturalization, or U.S. passport, if you were not born in the U.S. or Citizenship.

5. Filing a petition to bring your step-parent to live in the U.S.

• Form I-130
• A birth certificate that has your name and those of your birth parents.
• A civil marriage certificate that proves your birth parent was legally married to your step-parent, and that they got married before your 18th birthday.
• Copies of documents such as death certificates, annulment decrees or divorce decrees to prove that any marriage entered into by your birth parent or step-parent ended legally.

6. Filing a petition to bring your adoptive parent to live in the U.S.

• Form I-130
• Birth certificate
• A certified adoption certificate that proves the adoption occurred before your 16th birthday.
• A statement that clearly shows the places and dates you lived together with your adoptive parent.
• A Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship if you were not born in the U.S.

Note: If you or your foreign national parent’s name has ever been changed, in the past, it is important to include proof of the legal name change in documents such as divorce decrees, court judgment of the name change, and marriage certificate. All these documents should be submitted as photocopies and not originals.

To successfully file a petition to bring your parents to the United States, the immigrant visa must be available based on the date the application for the immigrant visa was filed (“priority date”). This is possible because visas in this category are usually processed much faster and thus are immediately available. Remember, if you have been adopted legally, you can’t petition for your birth parent to come to the United States. This excludes your adoptive parent or step-parent.

How to Sponsor my Parents for an Immigrant Visa/Green Card? File the Form I-130 Petition

After about 8-9 months from filing, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will notify you whether your filed petition was approved or denied. Your parent will be notified to visit the Local U.S. consulate for visa processing if he/she is outside the U.S. when the petition gets approved.  You will also be required to submit form I-864 as a financial sponsor.  Your parent will need to submit documents to the National Visa Center prior to the scheduled immigrant visa interview.

Your parent may be eligible to file Form-I-485 in order to adjust status or apply to register for permanent residence if he/she is currently in the U.S. as you file Form I-130.  This is known as the “one-step” concurrent filing where you may file the Form I-130 together with Form I-485 for your parent’s adjustment of status application.

Employment Authorization

Once your parents have been admitted as immigrants with their immigrant visas, they don’t need to apply for work permit also referred to as employment authorization. Upon arrival in the U.S., your parents will receive a passport stamp to prove that they’re allowed to work until their Permanent Resident Cards have been received.

If your parents are currently in the U.S., they are allowed to apply for travel and work authorization while the permanent resident status adjustment filing, through Form I-485, is pending.

Ensure your parents use Form I-131 to apply for travel authorization and Form I-765 to apply for employment by filing them together with the concurrent filing of Form I-130 and Form I-485.

Note: The fee to adjust status for Form I-485 will cover Form I-131 and Form I-765 until a decision is reached concerning the application for travel and work authorization, respectively.

It is important to remember that if you have siblings overseas, they’ll not be sponsored in the Family-based green card petition to bring your parents in the U.S.  Your parent can file a new petition to bring your siblings once they become permanent residents.  The wait time for that process can take many years based on current processing times.

What If Your Petition Is Denied?

If your petition to bring your parents to the United States has been denied by the USCIS, you can still appeal the decision. Your denial letter will have details on how you can appeal. It will also tell you how much time you have to file the appeal. Your appeal will be forwarded to the Board of Immigration Appeals once your appeal form and required fee have been fully processed.

The Process of Getting Family-Based Immigrant Visa/Green Card

Under American immigration laws, your parents are considered immediate relatives’. This means that the application process doesn’t have a long waiting list. However, you need to be a financial sponsor for your parents.  This means that at 125% of the United States poverty guidelines, you need to show proof, through assets or income that you are capable of supporting your parents and your family.

This is to make sure your parents are not admissible as people who are likely to receive government assistance or as likely “public charges”. Form I-864P has all the details you need to know about the current U.S. poverty guidelines.

Additionally, your parents can also be denied green cards if they’re inadmissible based on other factors such as having a record of immigration violations, having a dangerous mental or physical disorder, carrying a disease that may pose a risk to the general public or criminal convictions.

The Visa Application Process For A Immigrant Visa/Green Card

For your parents to receive permanent residence, it is mandatory that you go through the application process as required by law to receive an Immigrant Visa/Green Card.  The application process involves two main steps: First, you must get approval from the USCIS for your immigrant visa petition for your parents. This is the Form I-130 petition that must be completed in order to start the process.  Second, if your parent lives outside the U.S., they will be notified by the local U.S. consulate to submit an online DS-260 application, submit documents, and undergo an interview before the immigrant visa is processed.  But, if your parent is currently living in the U.S. legally, he/she must fill out Form I-485 to adjust his/her status. The following basic requirements must be met for the status adjustment to be completed:

• Your parent must have entered the U.S. legally
• Your parent must be physically present in the U.S.
• Your parent’s immigration petition must have been fully approved
• No change in circumstances such as the death of the sponsor

Filling out the Petition for Alien Relative form also called Form I-130 is required to prove that there exists a child-parent relationship between you and your parent and that you’re a U.S. citizen son/daughter. Therefore, when filing the petition to bring your parents to the U.S., you have to include all the necessary documents depending on your situation (as mentioned above).

You will be required to file separate I-130 petitions if you intend to bring both foreign national parents. At this stage, after the U.S. consulate has communicated to your parents to submit their application to come to the U.S., you’re required to submit an Affidavit of Support Form I-864. The consulate will schedule an interview with your parents and the immigrant visa to enter the U.S. and become permanent residents should be approved and they will receive an Immigrant Visa/Green Card.

Adjusting Status for Parents in The United States So They Can Receive An Immigrant Visa/Green Card

If your parents entered the United States legally with a visa, they can adjust their status as your immediate relatives. Meaning, they can apply for a green card, if they’re currently in the United States, without leaving the U.S.  The process of getting a green card in this situation is called “adjustment of status.” Moreover, you can concurrently submit your Form I-130 with Form I-485 without waiting for the approval of the former. If your Form I-130 was already previously filed and been approved, however, you can simply submit your Form 1-797 approval notice along with the adjustment of a status packet.

What If Your Parents Don’t Want to Live In The U.S. Year-Round?

Contrary to a common misconception, there is no minimum amount of time for your parents to live in the U.S. in order to avoid “abandonment of residence” issues. The immigration officials at the border can revoke your parents’ green cards and deny them entry even if they left the U.S. for a short time.

Furthermore, longer trips of more than six outside the United States are likely to raise questions. And, a longer trip of more than a year will raise a presumption that your parents decided to abandon their residence.  Prior to leaving the U.S., they should be applying for a re-entry permit if they know they will need to be outside the U.S. for over a year.

Therefore, it is wrong to assume that obtaining a Family-based green card for your parents facilitates long visits and easy travel. The United States immigration laws require that green card holders make their permanent home in the U.S.

Paying the USCIS Immigration Fee

You must pay the immigration fee for your foreign national parent to come to the U.S. The immigrant fee is $220 and recovers the USCIS costs of immigrant visas issued by the Department of State at U.S. Consulates and Embassies.

The fee covers the cost of processing, filing, and maintaining of the immigrant visa packets. It also covers the cost of producing Permanent Resident Cards. In order to receive an immigrant visa, foreign nationals are encouraged to pay their immigrant fee online before they depart for the United States.

If you have additional questions or would like to find out more about the process to bring your parents to the U.S. contact our firm for a consultation by contacting Immigration Law Group, LLC or by calling 866 691 9894

How to Bring My Fiancee to the U.S. | Immigration Law Group, LLC

How to Bring My Fiancé(e) to the U.S — A Comprehensive Couple’s Guide to U.S Immigration

Are you planning to permanently live together with your foreign fiancé(e) is the United States? Well, congratulations! But, before your spouse is allowed to enter the USA, you’ll need to help him or her to secure a K-1 visa.

Navigating through this bureaucratic process, however, is undeniably a daunting task, as it involves a lot of steps with plenty of paperwork to demonstrate whether your application is “bona fide”.  If you want to increase your chances of winning approval for a K-1 visa, it’s recommended to work with a reputable and trusted Immigration law firm.

In this our couple’s guide to U.S immigration, we’ve simplified the process by covering every facet in a step-by-step manner. There’s everything you need to know to secure permanent resident status and citizenship for your fiancé(e).

What is K-1 Visa?

Also known as a fiancée visa, a K-1 visa is basically a temporary visa, which is issued by the U.S Department of State (DOS) consular officer to the fiancé(e) of a U.S citizen for one reason — getting married within 90 days of admission to the U.S  This K-1 nonimmigrant visa is not issued to a fiancé(e) of a U.S Green Card holder. There’s the CR1 visa option, though. However, it takes time to process, typically two years or longer.

To qualify for a K-1 visa, you as the petitioner (U.S citizen) must convince the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agents of your intentions to establish a life together with your spouse. An application perceived as a strategy to obtain an immigration benefit will surely not win approval.

Without further ado, here are the steps you’ll need to follow to bring your fiancée to the U.S:

Step One: Assembling documents to demonstrate your application is “bona fide”

•  Schedule for an in-person meeting with your spouse

Before you start the K-1 visa application process, you should be able to prove that both of you have actually met in person outside the U.S at least within the last 2 years.

This rule does not only apply to couples who met over the internet and fell in love with each without making contact, but also those who have been apart for the last 2 years. And as part of the documentation, you can provide photos, hotel receipts, airline receipts, etc.

There’s an exception to this requirement if you can prove that traveling to meet your fiancé (e) oversees will simply lead to extreme hardship to you. Or, the in-person meeting will be a violation of certain strict well-known customs or religious traditions of your spouse.

•  Confirm you are both legally allowed to marry

Once you have met the in-person meeting requirement, you’ll need to have documents that prove both of you are free to get married in the U.S. If you have been in any previous marriages, a divorce decree, annulment, or death certificate can serve as a proof.

If your spouse already has kids, they may be allowed to come to the U.S only if they are under 21 and unmarried. Also, of course, if they want to come. And if that’s the case, their names should be included in the K-1 visa. But, kids will need a K-2 nonimmigrant visa in order to qualify for admission.

While your fiancé(e) and the kids may be eligible, you should be informed that the kids are not allowed to travel to the U.S before your spouse. Make sure the children travel with your spouse or they can follow to join at a later date. If they will travel later, then it should be within the validity of their K-2 visas.

•  Meet the visa income requirement

As a petitioner, you need to meet a certain minimum income requirement, depending on the state you live in and the number of aliens you are planning on sponsoring. This is a requirement by the government to reduce the likelihood that your fiancé(e) will become a ward of the state. You are required to sign an affidavit pledging your support to your fiancée, and then promise that for at least 10 years you won’t apply for public aid in order to help him or her.

Step two: Filing a K-1 visa petition

The paperwork process to bring your fiancée in the United States starts with filing a K-1 visa petition. But first, it’s imperative that you familiarize yourself with all the branches involved in the immigration process. There’s the USCIS, the U.S Department of State (DOS), and the Customs and Border Protection.

There are different stages involved, and their nature typically includes thoroughly verifying background and security checks on a couple. Fingerprints, biographic, or biometric data may be required to obtain the criminal history or any other information deemed necessary for visa approval.

When applying for a fiancé(e) visa, your Form 1-129F should be submitted to the USCIS center that serves the area where you live. Your form may be declined if filed at the U.S Consulate, Embassy, or USCIS office abroad.

Here is what you’ll need to do when filing for 1-129F:

•  Download the petition from the USCIS website: Be sure to carefully go through the form instructions before you start filling it out. If anything is not clear or have any questions, don’t hesitate to consult with an immigration attorney.

•  Submit the necessary list of documents to support your petition: In addition to the documents we discussed in step one above; you’ll need to provide documentary proof of your U.S citizenship. Your copies of U.S. passport or U.S. birth certificate are sufficient. Another important piece of documents are the passport-style color photographs for both you and your fiancée. However, these photos must have been taken within the 30 days before filing the petition.

Keep in mind USCIS agents may require that some documents be submitted in their original copies, especially original signed forms or letters. But don’t send originals if you are not requested to, otherwise, you risk losing your important documents.

•  Confirm the filing fee: When you’ve completed your petition, you should ensure that your check or money order is the exact amount of the required fee. 

•  Mail your documents: Assemble all the documents and be sure to double check before submitting. When satisfied, you can mail your package to USCIS.

After a petition is submitted, USCIS may mail you a notice acknowledging receipt or requesting additional evidence and information to supplement your petition.

If the documents are convincing enough to establish eligibility, the agents will approve your application. If unfortunately, your form is rejected, then you’ll receive a notification with the reasons for rejection

An approved Form 1-129F will be forwarded to the DOS National Visa Center (NVC), which is responsible for transferring the file to the U.S Embassy or Consulate in your foreign-born fiancée place of residence. You, the U.S citizen, will also receive a case number from NVC.

Step three: Applying for a visa

As soon as you receive a mail from NVC upon approval, you should inform your fiancé(e) to proceed with the K-1 nonimmigrant visa application process and follow the additional instructions such as completing the online application and sending additional required documents. You’ll also be notified of the exact date when your fiancé(e) will be required for the visa interview.

During the scheduled interview with a DOS consular officer, your spouse overseas applying for K-1 visa will need to present the following forms and documents:

•  A valid travel passport: The passport to the United States must be valid for not less than 6 months beyond the anticipated period your spouse will stay in the U.S.

•  Death, divorce, or birth certificates: Include copies of the U.S citizen petitioner as well as the fiancé(e).

•  Medical examinations: The medical examinations are mandatory, regardless of age. Such tests are performed only by panel physician authorized by the U.S Embassy or Consulate.

•  Proof of relationship: Although you had provided this in the first step of the K-1 visa application, your fiancée will also need to do the same to prove that your relationship is indeed genuine.

•  Police reports or certificates: The certificates needed must be from your fiancée’s country of residence. Police reports or certificate from the other countries where she has lived for at least 6 months can also count. This requirement is also applicable to children at least 16 years old.

•  A duly completed Form DS-160: The under 21 children of a K-1 visa applicant may be eligible to apply for K-2 visas. Both your fiancée and the kids will be required to complete Form DS-160. What they’ll need to present during the interview is a printed DS-160 confirmation page.

•  Proof of financial support: Evidence to prove that your spouse will be able to support herself/himself and not become a public charge in the U.S.

It is important to note that these are not all the requirements. The consular officer may require additional information and evidence to make a decision whether your spouse and children qualify for the K-1 and K-2 visa.

Step four: Lawful entry into the U.S (Inspection at a Port of Entry)

While a valid visa issued by DOS consular officer will enable your fiancée to travel to the US port of entry, it’s not a guarantee that they’ll be permitted to enter into the U.S. Your spouse will be required to comply with the U.S Customs and Border Protection rules and regulations.

When he or she arrives at the port of entry, they should provide the documents as asked by the CBP officers. The nature of the process typically involves presenting a traveling passport with visa. If your fiancé(e) has a sealed packet containing documents, the officers have a right to check it and make the ultimate decision.

To avoid surprises at a port of entry, it’s generally recommended for all travelers planning to enter the U.S to visit the official CBP website under travel to check out the key information in regards to admission and entry requirements.  

Step five: Getting Married

After your spouse is admitted to the US, you’ll have a 90 day period to plan and fully legalize your relationship by getting married. It’s best to make this happen as soon as possible because the marriage certificate you receive will be required when applying for a Green Card. Unfortunately, though, this specific period cannot be extended for any reason.

If by the end of this period you have not yet been married, then the temporary K-1 and K-2 visa will automatically expire. This could mean your foreign spouse together with the kids will need to depart from the United States. Failure to do this will be treated as a violation of immigration law, which could affect future eligibility.

Step six: Adjusting of Status (AOS)

With a marriage visa, your spouse is considered eligible to apply for a Green Card. They’ll need to file Form 1-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

The children admitted as K-2 immigrants can also apply for a Green Card. Although, they are required to remain unmarried, otherwise, they’ll lose their eligibility.

After filling the application, your wife or husband should check their email regularly. It is because USCIS may mail them a request for additional information or an appointment notification requiring a couple to attend an interview. The interviews will not take much of your time, as they last for about 30 – 45 minutes.

USCIS usually schedules for interviews during the adjustment of status, because they want to fully confirm the documents and information that a couple had submitted on the application.

Interviews also provide the officers in charge of the application an opportunity to see whether circumstances have changed, rendering you ineligible for an adjustment of status.

While each case is different, the AOS process may take 6-8 months. And if at the time of approval the length of your marriage is less than 2 years, your spouse will receive a Green Card with a conditional permanent resident status for 2 years which must be renewed in 90-day window prior to 2 year anniversary of green card issuance.  In all cases, notifications of these immigration benefits are made in writing.

To secure permanent resident status as a conditional resident, your spouse must file Form 1-751 within the last 90 days before their Green Card becomes invalid.

If you have been married to your spouse over 2 years at the time of green card issuance, your spouse will obtain a 10-year unconditional green card.

There you have it! Contact us today or please call us with any fiancee visa questions at (866)691-9894.

Bringing partner to America Visa

How do I remove conditions (I-751) on my 2-year conditional Green Card?

First, check the expiration date on your 2-year conditional green card. You may not file Form I-751 to remove conditions until you are within 90 days of the green card’s expiration date. Both you and your spouse are Joint Petitioners of the application this time around. What this means is that both of you must sign and certify in the Form I-751 that you have still been living together in a genuine marital relationship since you first received the initial 2-year marriage-based green card.  You will need to remember where you lived together for the past 2 years, the application will also allow you to include any new members of the family such as your new-born baby!

What info do I need to complete Form I-751?

You must complete Form I-751 which will ask for your biographic information and your residence history since you last applied.  You will also be asked for your petitioning spouse’s biographic information as well as listing any children you have together.  If you have many addresses to list, there is an addendum to the form where you can list the complete addresses and dates of the additional addresses.  The form is relatively straight-forward to complete.  However, an attorney who can review the form or prepare it on your behalf will ensure you check the correct eligibility category and make sure the application is done right the first time around.

What other documents do I need to prepare for the I-751?

The documents needed are similar to the joint documents you included in your I-485 application a few years ago.  You will need to prove you and your spouse was living together for the past two years since you received your green card.  These documents can include your lease agreement, jointly filed tax returns, joint bank statements, joint billing statements, joint insurance policies, photos together spanning the past 2 years.  When including photos, it is a good idea to also include a caption for each photo that lists the date, event, and location.  For example, 02/14/2019, Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Portland City Grill, in Portland, Oregon.  Also, when including monthly statements, each statement should be provided from the time you received your initial green card to present time.  You can also request letters of support from family or friends who can attest to their knowledge that you and your spouse have been in a legitimate marital relationship for the past two years.

What is the expected wait time for me to receive my 10-year unconditional green card?

Currently, the wait time for your green card to arrive can be 18 months time. In fact, after mailing out your initial I-751, the receipt notice will indicate that you have received an 18-month extension.  During this time, you will be able to continue to work and travel as you would when you had your unexpired initial green card. However, the receipt notice for the I-751 acts as a substitute for your green card. The receipt notice automatically extends your permanent resident status as you await a final decision on the pending I-751. Therefore, you can show this original receipt notice to any prospective employer, or agency that needs to verify your lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.

Can I apply for U.S. citizenship if my I-751 is still pending?

Yes, you can! If your I-751 has been pending for a year, and you are still living together with your petitioning spouse, more likely than not, you will be eligible to apply for U.S. citizen based on marriage for at least three years as a permanent resident. However, you can apply even sooner through the 90-day rule which allows you to apply as soon as 2 years and 9 months from the date your green card was issued. This means that often times, while the I-751 is pending, you can prepare to file the form N-400 for citizenship. Once you are able to attend the citizenship interview, the officer will see that the I-751 is still pending and be able to adjudicate both applications at the same time. This will allow you to continue to process your applications despite the increased delays in I-751 petition processing.

If you have any questions regarding the I-751 application process, call us today at  866 691 9894 to set up a consultation.

Couple near ocean getting married overseas

How to get a Marriage Visa for my Spouse?

You made the leap and married your spouse overseas! Now you are back in the U.S. and want to get your spouse into the U.S. on a marriage visa so she can reunite with you. How do you sponsor your husband/wife and bring them into the U.S.? How long will the process take? What requirements are there and do you earn enough to sponsor your spouse? This post will answer these questions for you.

How do I sponsor my husband/wife to come to the U.S.?

How to get a Marriage Visa for my Spouse? First, you need to be either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident “Green card” holder and already married to your foreign beneficiary spouse. If you married abroad, immigration law recognizes marriages from outside the U.S. so long as you have proof it was registered with the appropriate civil authority. You will need to provide a copy of the marriage certificate and include a certified translation of the certificate before filing your paperwork to USCIS. You will then need to file with the USCIS, form I-130 petition along with the required I-130A for a spouse beneficiary. If it is difficult for your spouse to sign the forms, they are not required to sign I-130A if currently living overseas. However, they will need to provide you two passport-sized photos of themselves that will need to be submitted with the I-130 petition.  Your spouse overseas should also provide a copy of their birth certificate (with certified English translation) and copy of the biographic page of their passport, as well as visa, stamped pages.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you would need to include proof of your citizenship which would be a copy of your U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship. If you are a permanent resident, you would need to provide a copy of your green card. As a permanent resident sponsoring your spouse, the process can take about a year and a half long because you would need to wait until the priority date is current (the date you filed your initial I-130 petition vs. the current date the petitions are being processed listed on the Department of State monthly bulletin).  The filing fee for the petition is currently $535. This petition is sent to USCIS for processing. Thereafter, the immigrant visa processing fee of $325 and the affidavit of support fee of $120 is due online prior to scheduling the interview. After approval, there is another $220 green card production fee.

How Long will the process take to bring my spouse to the U.S.?

Sponsoring your wife or husband from overseas generally can take about a year to complete. After filing the initial I-130 petition at USCIS, expect a wait time of around 8 to 10 months for the decision. Upon approval, the petition is then transferred to the National Visa Center which takes a month. Thereafter, you will need to submit the required immigrant visa processing fee, affidavit of support fee, and submit additional documents and forms such as the I-864 affidavit of support and the DS-260 immigrant visa online application. Your spouse will also be required to take a medical examination testing for any communicable diseases or illnesses. This process can take several months until the interview is scheduled.

What other requirements are there and do I earn enough to sponsor my spouse?

In addition to the required identity documents and marriage certificate, you will also need to provide documents proving you have been in a marital relationship with your spouse even if they are overseas.  These documents can include photos together, travel itinerary, letters of support from family and friends, and even screenshots of chat messages between you and your spouse. If your spouse had any previous immigration violations or criminal history, that can play a major role in determining their chances of getting a green card at the time of interview. Often times, the officer after the interview will request a waiver to overcome certain grounds of inadmissibility. Having a consultation with an Immigration Lawyer near you in Portland, OR will help you determine if any ineligibilities could risk your spouse beneficiary’s chance of approval.

If you are a two-person household, meaning just you living by yourself and your spouse to join you is a household of two. Current federal poverty guidelines indicate that a 2 person household needs to earn at least $20,575. If you do not earn enough income you can ask a co-sponsor to help so long as they independently meet the minimum salary and are a U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident and they would also need to provide the proof of legal status as well as three years tax return and w2 statements.

Our firm has helped reunite hundreds of long-distance international couples. For questions about marriage, visas feel free to contact us online or call us at (866)691-9894.

How to apply for Marriage Green Card in the U.S. | Immigration Law Group, LLC

Your Complete Guide to Marriage Green Card in the U.S.

How to apply for Marriage Green Card in the U.S.? When deciding to apply for marriage green card in the U.S., also known as “adjustment of status”, if your husband/wife is a U.S. citizen, and you entered the U.S. legally (generally on a visa), you should be able to file both the I-130 petition and I-485 application at the same time. This post will be your comprehensive guide to applying for a marriage-based green card while you are in the U.S.

Collect Certificates:

You will need to submit copies of your marriage certificate, your birth certificate (with certified English translation), your passport biographic page and all visa stamped pages, your husband/wife’s proof of U.S. citizenship (U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport biographic page, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship).  If you were a student on an F-1 visa, include your I-20 received from your designated school official.  If you were approved by USCIS for a change of status or extension of status since you were in the U.S., you should also provide copies of those documents as well.  You will also be required to provide your I-94 arrival/departure record which will either be retrieved online if you came into the U.S. recently, or you may have a paper I-94 from a long time ago attached to your passport, or one recently issued by USCIS based on a change of status or extension of status approval.

If you or your spouse were previously divorced, you will also want to include certified copies of the divorce decrees, and if the divorce happened outside the U.S., you will also need to include a certified English translation. If your spouse’s previous marriage ended by spouse’s former spouse passing away, they will also need to provide the death certificate.

Collect Joint Documents:

You and your spouse should include all documents that have both your names and same address on it including joint bank statements, billing statements, insurance statements, car payments, utility bills, lease agreement, and copies of your state ID cards/licenses. You can also ask your family and friends to write letters of support that affirm your legitimate marital relationship together.  Include photos together with you, your spouse, and family and friends. This is because of the more people in your photos, the more proof that more people know about your relationship.

Medical Examination (Form I-693):

You must also complete a medical examination and have your certified civil surgeon (doctor designated in your area to administer these USCIS required exams), sign the form I-693. They will seal the results in an envelope marked specifically for USCIS and you will attach this to your application before submitting to USCIS. One tip is you can submit the application without the medical exam results initially and wait until you get your interview scheduled about 6-8 months after filing and obtain it prior to the interview then bring the results on the day of the interview.

Collect Financial Support Documents:

Your spouse is required to sign a financial sponsorship form known as the I-864. They must show that their current annual income is more than the Federal Poverty guidelines for the current year 2019.  Currently, if it is just you and your spouse living together in a 2-person household, your spouse would need to earn at least $20,575 per year to be considered earning enough to sponsor you. You will need to provide your spouse’s most recent tax return including W-2 statement as well as reference the total income from the previous two years before that to list on the Form I-864.

Complete the I-130 Petition & I-485 Application Forms and Mail to USCIS:

Once you have all the documents ready, it is time to complete all the application forms.  The two required application forms are the Form I-130 and Form I-485. Form I-130 is the petition for you that your spouse signs as the U.S. Citizen Petitioner, and you are the Beneficiary. However, as a Spouse Beneficiary, you will be required to complete and sign Form I-130A. This step is typically done first, but in a green card application based on marriage, you can also file the I-485 concurrently (at the same time) as the I-130 petition, cutting your wait time in half. Once you complete the I-485, you can also complete optional form I-765 (work authorization request) and form I-131 (advance parole request) which will allow you to get a temporary work/travel combo card in the mail in about 5 months after filing your application.

As mentioned above, you will also need to have your spouse complete and sign the Form I-864 which will detail his/her past three years income earned and current income including employer information. Once all forms are completed you can put them together attaching them with the copies of documents you collected and include a cover letter describing all the documents that are included in the packet. You must also attach the required filing fees of $535 for I-130 fee, and $1,225 for I-485 fee. You must also provide 2 passport-sized photos of you and your spouse.  Include the form I-693 medical exam results in a sealed envelope. You will then mail it to the required USCIS mailing address that is listed on the government site at uscis.gov. Location may vary based on where you currently reside.

Receive Receipt Notices, Biometrics Appointment and Respond to any RFE:

After mailing out the application, you should receive receipt notices in the mail in a few weeks. Then a few weeks after that, you will get biometrics (fingerprint) appointment notice which schedules you to go to your local USCIS field office to take your electronic fingerprints and photo. This is to get a background check on you prior to the application continuing to process. If your application is missing any required information or the application was not all completed, you may get a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) in the mail asking you to submit the required documents in order for the application to resume processing. If you fail to respond or respond with insufficient evidence, then the application will be denied.

Attend Interview, then wait for the decision:

If you are able to process the application successfully, you should be getting your work permit/advance parole combo card in about 5 months time. Thereafter, it is currently taking USCIS about 6-7 months to schedule interviews for married couples to attend. Once you receive your interview notice, you should then prepare for the documents listed on the notice, such as your IDs, original birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports, divorce decrees (if applicable), along with updated joint documents such as jointly filed tax returns, copies of joint banking and billing statements, and photos together since wedding date to current time. Your interviewing officer will ask you questions on your form I-130 and form I-485 and both you and your spouse will be asked about how you met, how you proposed, how you married, and about your marital relationship. For more information see our article about preparing for the marriage-based interview.

If you have any additional questions about this process, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with our Portland immigration lawyer.