USCIS Proposed Changes to Affidavit of Support  

 

USCIS has recently proposed significant changes to the Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) and other related forms I-864A and I0864EZ. The first proposed change is for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who are sponsoring a foreign spouse or relative for green cards to disclose detailed bank account information to the federal government. This includes the banking institution’s name, the account number, routing number, and account holder names. Note that U.S. legislation does not authorize USCIS to collect such information.

 

As a reminder, the Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) is required for most immigrants seeking a green card in the U.S. based on marriage and family petitions in order to demonstrate that they will be financially supported and not become a public charge. This form is also sometimes required for immigrants seeking green cards based on employer sponsorship. Normally, sponsors must provide evidence of their income by submitting copies of their recent federal tax transcript or return, as well as any other financial statements or evidence of future outcome. The new USCIS proposal would change this process.

 

Almost a year ago on May 23rd, 2019, President Trump issued the Memorandum on Enforcing the Legal Responsibilities of Sponsors of Aliens. In the presidential memo, President Trump emphasized that individuals financially sponsoring alien green card applicants must completely fulfill their commitments under the law. In response to this memo, USCIS focused on better informing sponsors and household members on the implications of their financial obligations. For instance, language in these forms has been modified to ensure clarity regarding sponsor obligations and consequences if the sponsor’s responsibilities are not met. These are included in an extended “Sponsor’s Certification” section as well as a “Household Member’s Contract, Statement, and Certification.” Moreover, the draft of this new form informs sponsors of a civil penalty imposed by the USCIS if the sponsor does not inform the USCIS within 30 days of moving. Additionally, this new Affidavit of Support also asks sponsors to list people who not actively living with the sponsor (such as college students that are not living at home), which will consequently increase the income requirement as the household size increases.

 

Forms I-864 will also allow sponsors to provide information about previously submitted Affidavits and an optional submission of a credit report as evidence. USCIS is also proposing to require U.S. citizens and permanent legal resident sponsors to notarize forms I-864, I-864A, and I-864EZ by a notary public prior to submission to USCIS. These proposed changes will create a burden for sponsors. This may deter them from accepting to be sponsors, which will likely impede some individuals from immigrating.

Finally, the new form requires that the sponsor agree to allow the Social Security Administration (SSA) and other agencies to share information with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State. If the alien applicant applies for means-tested public benefits, the sponsor’s privacy can be waived to a greater extent. The new form is stricter in its warning that improperly completed forms, or forms missing proper evidence, may be denied.

 

No effective date has been published, and this will come with the final rule. USCIS accepted public comments for these revisions during a thirty-day period that ended on May 11, 2020. Because the comment period for the rule is closed, the state will now review public comments and publish a final rule within the coming months. Note that if passed, this proposal will only impact applications filed on or after the effective date of the rule.

Immigration Lawyer Portland Oregon Marriage Green Card

Can I still sponsor my Spouse, Parent, or Child for a Green Card during Covid-19?

As COVID-19 disrupts immigration services and proceedings in the U.S., many citizens wonder if they can still petition their relatives. Yes!—if you are a U.S. citizen of at least 21 years of age, you can still sponsor your spouse, parent, or child for a Green Card during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Steps to take to sponsor an alien immediate relative

U.S. Green Cards allow foreign nationals to permanently reside and work in the United States.

While all USCIS in-person activities, including in-person interviews, have been temporarily suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic until June 4th, measures U.S. citizens must take to sponsor a relative for a Green Card are not be impacted by the USCIS office closures. While green card applicants and petitioners can wait until the response to COVID-19 is over, this is certainly not necessary and does not mean that the processing time will be any quicker.

First, the petitioner (the U.S. citizen sponsoring the foreign immediate relative) must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the family relationship between the petitioner(s) and the applicant relative (the beneficiary).

Once Form I-130 is approved, an immigrant visa will be immediately available for the beneficiary. If the immediate relative is already in the United States, he or she can submit an Adjustment of Status applications to obtain permanent legal residency if he or she successfully passed an interview with a local USCIS field office. Note that these USCIS interviews thus far have been canceled and rescheduled. USCIS offices will send notices with instructions to applicants and petitioners with scheduled interview appointments impacted by this closure. Once normal operations are able to be resumed, they will automatically be rescheduled. Through this process, the beneficiary will not need to return to his or her home country.

If the immediate relative is abroad, the beneficiary will have an immigrant visa interview overseas at a U.S. Department of State consulate or embassy through Consular Processing. Again, if a beneficiary’s home country is impacted by COVID-19 closures, he or she must wait for their local interviews to be rescheduled.

While some marriage-based green card applicants have also been approved without interviews in the previous weeks, it is most likely that the interview process will not be waived, as it is important to screen cases for fraud.

Sometimes, a petitioner can file the I-130 with an application for permanent residence (Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) if they are sponsoring a spouse, an immediate relative parent, or an unmarried child under 21 years of age. After the I-485 is filed, beneficiaries may also apply for an I-765 work permit or a I-131 travel permit.

Note that non-immediate family relationships that qualify for sponsorship may also include Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, spouses and children (F1), and Unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents, Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents (F2A), Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents (F2B), Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens (F3), and Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens (F4).

In these family cases, an immigrant visa will not be immediately available upon approval of form I-130, and depends upon the Visa Bulletin issued monthly by the Department of State. The Visa Bulletin indicates which green card applications can move forward based upon when Form I-130 was originally filed. The bulletin also offers an estimate for how long it will take to obtain a green card, based on how quickly “line” is moving at that time.

General Documents Needed for Sponsorship

The following documents are needed for a U.S. citizen to foreign national sponsor a spouse, child, or parent:

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship (Certificate of Naturalization, the Biographic page of an American passport, or a copy of a green card).
  • Birth Certificate,
  • I-94 arrival-departure record (this can now be obtained online)
  • A marriage certificate for marriage-based green cards

Financial Sponsorship 

Petitioners who have filed the form I-130 must be financial sponsors to the beneficiary, meaning that they accept financial responsibility for the beneficiary. This also means that the petitioner must reimburse, or be reimbursed by, the government if the green card holder applies for certain public benefits. For the petitioner to qualify as a financial sponsor, he or she must submit a Form I-864 and list: the past three years of income, current income, proof of tax returns from the previous 3 years, W-2 statements, current pay-stubs, and an employment verification letter. The sponsor’s household size will be taken into account in light of his or her income, to ensure that they earn above the minimum income requirements.

Impacts of Covid-19 on Public Charge Rule for Green Cards

The Public Charge Rule continues to apply for Green Card applications. This rule has discouraged green card applicants from accessing healthcare in the past, but USCIS emphasizes that treatment or preventive services for the COVID-19 will not negatively affect any alien as part of a future Public Charge analysis. The USCIS stresses that it encourages all aliens with symptoms that resemble COVID-19’s to seek necessary medical attention. Here is a list of government benefits that are considered during the Public Charge assessment.

Important things to keep in mind for Green Card applications during COVID-19…

  • While many facilities are still closed, the State Department has this tool to crop a photograph of yourself that will satisfy the passport photo requirement. There are many websites online (such as this one) that also mail your photographs to your home address.
  • While normally, work and travel permits cannot be processed without a biometrics notice, USCIS has been reusing biometrics (i.e. the required submission of fingerprints and a digital photo) collected during previous applications.
  • USCIS has announced that it will temporarily accept filings with electronically-reproduced copies of original signatures instead of normally required “wet” signatures for all benefit forms and documents dated March 21 and beyond from both attorneys and applicants. So long as an original document contains an original handwritten signature, it can be scanned, faxed, photocopied or similarly reproduced.

Impact of Travel Proclamations on Immediate Relative Applicants Abroad? 

Keep in mind President Trump’s four COVID-19 Travel Proclamations (China Travel Proclamation; Iran Travel Proclamation; European Schengen Area Proclamation; Ireland and United Kingdom Proclamation). However, these do not apply to spouses of U.S. citizens, parents or legal guardians of U.S. citizens, and the children of U.S. citizens.

 

Immigration Lawyer Portland

USCIS Relaxed Immigration Policies during Covid-19 Coronavirus Pandemic

On March 18th, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services temporarily suspended in-person services in h­opes to slow the spread of COVID-19. USCIS plans to reopen offices on or after June 4th, 2020, unless there is an extension in public closures. USCIS continues to process green cards, work permits, asylum applications, and other paper-based requests. To adapt to new limited circumstances informed by COVID-19, USCIS has recently been flexible in certain immigration policies in order to avoid service delays and disruptions for the benefit of applicants and petitioners. Listed below are new relaxed policies and immigration flexibilities implemented by USCIS to accommodate for constraints caused by the pandemic.

Waiving Green Card Interviews
While family and employment-based green card applicants typically attend in-person interviews at USCIS field offices before their green cards are approved, these interviews have been canceled until at least June 3rd. However, there are wide reports that USCIS has relaxed this green card interview requirement for employment-based green card applicants during this pandemic as a means of avoiding dense delays in the future.

Note that no formal policy has been released by USCIS confirming that the interview requirement will be waived, but this appears to have been occurring as many employment-based green card applicants with canceled interviews have had their green card statuses approved. Because no formal statement has been released yet by USCIS, as of May 7th, there is no guarantee that this will be the case for all employment-based green card applicants, however, it seems that as long as all other documentation is present, USCIS will adjudicate permanent residence applications.

While some marriage-based green card applicants have also been approved without interviews, it is likely that the interview process will not be waived, because of the importance in screening cases for fraud. Note that this waiving of appointments does not apply to citizenship applications.

Reusing Previous Biometrics 

For extensions of benefits like work permits, USCIS will reuse biometrics (that is, required submission of fingerprints and a digital photo) collected during previous applications. Often, however, USCIS will issue original work permits without any new collection of biometrics, reusing previously-collected biometrics collected on other occasions, such as upon entry to the United States.

EAD Renewal Application Flexibilities 

In resonance with other biometric-related measures taken by USCIS to reduce delays in adjudication, USCIS announced flexibility for Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) renewal applications by reusing prior biometrics for renewal applicants.

Relaxed “Wet” Signature Requirement  

USCIS has announced that it will temporarily accept filings with electronically-reproduced copies of original signatures instead of normally required “wet” signatures for all benefit forms and documents dated March 21 and beyond from both attorneys and applicants. USCIS has stated that it is safer for clients and attorneys to avoid in-person meetings. So long as an original document contains an original handwritten signature, it can be scanned, faxed, photocopied or similarly reproduced. USCIS may request copies of such original documents in the future, so employers are advised to retain copies. Note that USCIS does not allow any electronic signatures on its forms or petitions, so the petitioner or applicant must have access to a printer and a scanner to reproduce a signed paper form for USCIS filing. USCIS forms are protected from alteration, so even if the petitioner or applicant attempts to do so, they cannot be electronically signed.

Extensions of Certain Deadlines

USCIS has also extended the time by which applicants are able to respond to an RFE, NOID, NOIR, and NOIT if the notice was issued between March 1st and May 1st by a period of 60 days following the date of issuance.

Flexibility in the Visa Waiver Program
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, many foreign nationals who were in the U.S. have been stranded and unable to leave. Normally, most individuals can visit the U.S. for a 90-day period without a visa according to the Visa Waiver Program. However, many of these foreign national travelers in the U.S. have overstayed their 90-day stays due to flight cancellations and the recent Presidential Proclamations that restrict entry from the Schengen Area countries, the U.K, and Ireland. CBP and USCIS are assisting travelers to obtain a supplementary 30-day extension called “Satisfactory Departure.” These foreign national individuals may request this extension from the USCIS by contacting the USCIS Contact Center.

Otherwise, such foreign nationals may request “Satisfactory Departure” by contacting the Deferred Inspection unit of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the international airport where they entered the country or the international airport closest to their current location. These extension processes are crucial for visitors who have overstayed their 90-day periods, because an overstay of this period completely will prevent visitors from utilizing the Visa Waiver Program in the future.

Proclamation of April 22nd, 2020: The Suspension of Entry of Immigrants Who Present a Risk to the United States Labor Market during the Economic Recovery Following the 2019 Novel Coronavirus Outbreak  

On Wednesday, April 22nd, President Trump signed an executive order to suspend the issuance of new green cards to prevent immigration into the United States for at least 60 days. These immigration changes will affect thousands of immigrant applicants seeking to permanently move to the United States. The notoriously slow process of gaining permanent residency will be further slowed for individuals seeking to remain in the country.

The order explicitly articulates that its purpose is to ensure that unemployed American citizens, of all backgrounds, will be the first in line for jobs as the economy reopens. President Trump noted that it will, “preserve our healthcare resources for American patients” afflicted by COVID-19.

This executive provision is directed specifically towards foreign nationals seeking to obtain legal permanent statuses who are outside of the U.S. at the time of the order. Those who will be impacted by the suspension of entry include: aliens outside of the U.S. on April 22nd, 2020; aliens without an immigration visa that is valid on April 22nd, 2020; and aliens without an official travel document other than a visa (such as a transportation letter, advance parole document, etc…) that would permit them to travel to the U.S. for legal entry and admission. It is likely that the most-impacted category of aliens will be those seeking green cards through their employers or on account of their professional value.

Notably, the ban exempts aliens who enter the U.S. on an immigrant visa and who identify as physicians, nurses, or healthcare professionals. Aliens entering the U.S. to perform medical research or other research related to COVID-19 are also exempt from the provision. Any spouse or unmarried child under 21 of such an alien is also permitted to join him or her. This legislature will not apply to individuals coming into the U.S. temporarily, such as students or agricultural workers. It will not apply to individuals who obtained visas before April 22nd, 2020. U.S. refugees and asylum seekers will not be impacted by the executive order. The proclamation details a comprehensive list of aliens to whom this proclamation does not apply.

As of now, guest worker programs are not impacted by this provision, so technology workers, farm laborers, and workers in the food industry will continue to be able to apply and receive visas. In a statement, President Trump noted that he would ask his Administration to review guest-worker programs to assess if any further steps need to be taken to protect citizen workers.

After the 60-day period established by the executive order, the President will decide whether the order will be renewed or adapted. If the American economy struggles to recover from the current shutdown, according to the President, another order may be enacted to extend the ban or add supplemental restrictions to further deter immigration. The implementation of such provisions will likely make companies less likely to hire foreign workers or vulnerable noncitizens, because such a commitment may be undercut by the Administrations’ future orders.

Since the start of the pandemic, the Trump Administration has made over a dozen changes to the U.S. immigration system, using the coronavirus as justification for aggressive immigration restrictions. Previously, the Administration expanded travel restrictions and slowed visa processing. Immigration agencies and embassies have already stopped processing visas and citizenship ceremonies have been halted. Since March 19th, refugee resettlements have also been suspended, as both the U.N. and the International Organizations for Migration temporarily paused refugee travel. This order, however, is the broadest expansion of restrictions on immigration since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.

If you have questions about how this order may affect your case, please contact us on our website, by email at info@immigrationlawgroupllc.com or give us a call at (866) 691-9894.

 

New Public Charge Rule’s Impact on Green Card Applicants

Since February 24th, 2020, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has implemented the Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds Final Rule nationwide. This public charge rule expands the grounds on which immigration enforcement officials can deny the acquisition of a green card or other legal status to noncitizen applicants, to ensure that individuals will not rely upon government benefits and services. Until February 24th, the use of most public benefits did not impede legal status in the United States. The new rules allow USCIS officials to penalize noncitizen recipients of housing, health, and nutrition welfare programs that are applying to change their legal status. However, because few benefit programs are open to noncitizens without legal permanent residence, few green card applicants are likely to be denied based on their benefit use. Notably, certain classes of individuals, such as refugees and asylum seekers, are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility.

Note that Public Benefits that will not be considered by officers in determining an alien applicant’s inadmissibility on grounds of public charge are: emergency medical assistance, disaster relief, national school lunch programs, energy assistance, food pantries and homeless shelters, Head Start, government-subsidized student and mortgage loans, subsidies for foster care and adoption, Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

This final rule applies to applicants for admission, aliens seeking to adjust their legal status from within the U.S., and aliens within the U.S. who have a nonimmigrant visa and would like to extend their stay in the same or different legal classification. This rule indicates that the Department of Homeland and Security (DHS) will not consider the receipt of public benefits received by an alien who is enlisted in the U.S. armed forces or is serving in active duty. Furthermore, DHS will not consider the public benefits received by children. Likewise, DHS will not consider Medicaid benefits received for the treatment of an emergency medical condition, services provided in connection to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, schools-based benefits provided to individuals who are below or at the oldest age eligible for secondary education, aliens under 21 years of age, and pregnant individuals or individuals within the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy.

Significance for Green Card applicants:

The State Department’s revised public charge guidelines increase the difficulty in securing a green card or other form of visa. If a green card applicant is filing immigration paperwork from abroad he or she should expect significant scrutiny of past and present financial circumstances. While receiving cash benefits in the past can be a factor in the government’s decision, no single factor will dictate whether USCIS deems an individual a “public charge”. Immigration enforcement officers use their discretion to decide whether an applicant can receive legal permanent residence, using the following factors to determine whether an individual is likely to rely on public funds:

– Age: The final Supreme Court rule indicates that USCIS will consider whether an applicant’s age impacts his or her ability to physically work, and is therefore relevant to determining self-sufficiency. USCS has indicated that it is important that the applicant is between 18 and 62 years of age. This age range is based on the age at which individuals are generally able to begin working full-time and the age at which individuals typically retire with social security retirement benefits under federal law. Moreover, minors under 18 years of age are more likely to qualify for public benefits, and thus may be relevant to public charge inadmissibility. The regulation also acknowledges that applicants under 18 years of age or over 61 years of age may work or have other means of support. For minors under 18 years of age, USCIS will consider the availability of outside support form a parent and other resources and assets available to the minor applicant. USCIS says that it will be heavily negatively weighted if the applicant is authorized to work, not a full-time student, and does not demonstrate current employment, recent employment history, or any prospect of future employment.

– Health: USCIS will consider whether an applicant has a medical condition that will require extensive future treatment that will likely impede the applicant’s ability to work and provide for himself or herself. However, the presence of a medical condition does not automatically render an alien applicant inadmissible. USCIS officials will likely defer to Form 1-693 (civil surgeon’s medical report) that must be filed as a part of the application process. Officials will consider the medical condition through the lens of whether the medical condition will impede an alien’s ability to attend school and work. Applicants with a health condition should have evidence that they have or will obtain private health insurance to cover all associated foreseeable medical costs.

– Family Status: The final Supreme Court’s rule indicates that the larger the family’s size, the more income an applicant needs to establish. Thus, it is considered whether an alien applicant has a household to support, or whether the applicant is supported by another household, in order to determine whether the alien would be more or less of a public charge. Certainly, household size does not automatically dictate the outcome of a public charge admissibility determination, and officers look at other factors such as financial status.

– Financial status (including income, employment, assets, and resources): Perceived negative factors such as unemployment may contribute to additional questioning. Applicants must submit Form 1-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency) to provide evidence of an annual gross income at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. If an applicant cannot provide adequate evidence of sufficient income, his or her assets can be considered. These assets may pertain to the applicant or to any family member in the household. USCIS officers will also consider an applicant’s credit history and civil liabilities, including mortgages, spousal support, unpaid taxes, etc… The final rule provides that a household income, assets, and resources of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines is a heavily weighed positive factor.

– Education and Skills: USCIS will consider whether an applicant has sufficient education and skills to obtain and maintain a lawful employment. Skills include English proficiency. Generally, aliens with educational credentials, certificates, and skills are more employable and thus less likely to become a public charge. Considering market demand, DHS may regard an applicant’s proficiency in other languages, along with English, when reviewing the education and skills factor.

– Affidavit of Support: Because an affidavit of support does not guarantee that an alien applicant will receive public benefits in the future, officers only consider the affidavit of support as one factor among all others. However, an applicant’s failure to submit a required affidavit of support will result in a determination of inadmissibility without review of other factors. USCIS considers whether a sponsor will genuinely provide the required amount of financial support to the alien applicant.

DHS notes that the following are positively weighed by USCIS: significant income, resources, and assets; or an annual income of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines.
Furthermore, DHS lists some heavily weighed negative factors that indicate an alien applicant’s likelihood of being a future public charge, which include: lack of employment, lack of financial means to pay for medical costs, current receipt of one or more public benefits, receipt of public benefits within 36 months of filing an application for legal permanent residency, and previous determination of inadmissibility or deportability based on public charge.

marriage-based visa

The pathway to United States citizenship involves many complex options and, at times, confusing criteria. Immigration law in the United States is continually evolving and changing and can cause a lot of tension for immigrants trying to figure out how it all works. Applying for a green card based on a marriage can seem like an easy procedure. However, there’s a lot to understand to this process of marriage-based visas, and it can be the difference between an approval and a denial.

What is a Marriage-Based Visa?

The marriage-based visa is one option for an immigrant to apply for a green card. It is based on their marriage to a U.S. lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. There are some common misconceptions when it comes to marriage-based visas. Most individuals tend to think that it’s an automatic ticket to U.S. citizenship, and it just involves filing some paperwork. However, the overall application is still a long and tedious process with an intense petition undertaking.

What are the Requirements to Obtain a Marriage-Based Visa?

The process of filing for a marriage-based visa is pretty straightforward. However, the overall operation comes with its hurdles and requires applicants to prove that their marriage is real and valid. To qualify for this specific visa, you will need to show the following:

  • You are legally married to a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. lawful permanent resident.
  • Your marriage is real and not fraudulent. Specifically, you are proving that your marriage is not just done for a green card.
  • Documentation of your spouse’s lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship.
  • Proof that neither of you is married to someone else.

The Process:

To prove that you qualify for this visa, you will need to submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the required Form I-130, along with proof that your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, and that you have a bona fide marriage. Once USCIS approves the I-130, you will be required to pay specific fees and fill out additional paperwork that the National Visa Center (NVC) will need. Once the NVC receives all your documentation, your case will be sent to a U.S. consulate located in your home country, where you will be required to obtain a medical exam by an approved doctor and attend an interview.

If everything is complete, you will receive your immigrant visa and will be able to present it at the U.S. border to receive a stamp in your passport indicating your green card status. This whole process can be tedious and stressful, that’s why if at any point you have questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call experienced professionals that can walk you through it and answer any questions that you may have.

Does a Criminal Record Affect this Process?

During your application process for your marriage-based visa, you will encounter questions that involve your specific criminal history. The government wants to know any interactions that you have had with law enforcement and will want you to provide detailed information. You should to indicate any charges or arrests that you had, even if they have been dismissed. Having a criminal history may complicate your overall process, but they will not automatically cause your case to be denied. Although, there are three significant crimes that most likely cause inadmissibility and should be discussed with an attorney before proceeding with your filing. They are:

  1. Crimes involving an Aggravated Felony
  2. “Moral Turpitude” Crimes
  3. Illegal Drug Crimes

How Do Marriage-Based Visa’s Affect Immigrants and the Country?

There have been countless discussions on marriage-based visas, and their impact on the United States. However, the common theme in these discussions is how beneficial this visa is to overall economic U.S. growth and the country’s diversity. It’s an opportunity to expand the U.S. borders and bring in immigrants with skills that will be valuable to the people of the United States and U.S. economy.

Contact Immigration Law Group!

Obtaining a marriage-based visa can be a daunting process that can cause a lot of headaches for a couple. But, with Immigration Law Group, our knowledgeable and experienced staff can make this process a lot easier and less stressful. We will answer any question and help you prepare your submission. If you need any further information or would like to schedule a meeting, contact us today.

Immigration News Update on Visa Applicants Portland, Oregon

The Trump administration will deny visas to immigrants who cannot prove they will have health insurance or the ability to pay for medical costs once they become permanent residents of the United States, the White House announced Friday in the latest move by President Trump to undermine legal immigration.

The proclamation has been in the works for many months according to New York Times Reporters Michael Shear and Miriam Jordan. The new policy will not affect refugees, asylum seekers or students seeking to attend college in the United States.

According to Shear and Jordan “ Once the policy is in place, people seeking those visas would be asked by consular officers to show how they intend to be covered by health insurance within 30 days of arriving in the United States. That could include proof that they will have health care through a job or will be covered under a relative’s insurance. If they cannot show that to the satisfaction of the consular office, their visa will be denied”

The recently announced policy has caused a stir, “Thousands of people annually would be denied green cards if the executive order takes effect” said Steve Yale-Loehr, an immigration scholar at Cornell Law School.

“Most people who are receiving green cards already have a job waiting or have a spouse that is employed,” Ms. Jamae said. “When you apply for a green card you already have to meet certain financial requirements.”

Other criticisms include “Most people who are receiving green cards already have a job waiting or have a spouse that is employed,” Ms. Jamae said. “When you apply for a green card you already have to meet certain financial requirements.”

Shear and Jordan also talked with, Doug Rand, a former White House official who worked on immigration in the Obama administration. Rand predicts that the president’s proclamation would be met by legal challenges.

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.