The questions vary from, “Can I stay in the U.S. after a visa overstay and marriage to a U.S. citizen?” to “What happens if my visa expires and I’m married?” These questions are concerned with obtaining a legal status in the United States despite a period of unlawful presence.
Spouses of U.S. citizens do have special privileges in immigration and benefit from certain provisions in the law that are beneficial in cases where the intending immigrant has overstayed a visa. But it’s important to get a picture of the entire landscape.
By itself, marriage after a visa overstay does not solve the immigration problem. It can put the immigrant in a position to return to a lawful immigration status. As the spouse of a U.S. citizen, the immigrant can generally become a permanent resident (green card holder). Continue reading
When applying for U.S. citizenship via naturalization, English and civics tests get much of the attention. But permanent residents often do not understand how travel abroad can affect their eligibility for naturalization.
Two related but separate requirements, continuous residence and physical presence, must be satisfied for one to be eligible to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Excessive travel abroad can adversely affect eligibility. Excessive travel can include one long trip or the accumulation of several trips over the period that precedes your admission as a U.S. citizen. Continue reading
After you’ve filed almost any application or petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they will respond by mailing you a Form I-797, Notice of Action, within approximately 1-2 weeks. The I-797, Notice of Action, is commonly known as a receipt letter.
For applicants that have incorrectly filed or included the wrong payment, this receipt letter will indicate that the case has been rejected. The applicant will need to refile. If you’ve prepared the form correctly and followed the USCIS directions carefully, this receipt letter will indicated that your case has been accepted. Once the form has been accepted, USCIS will begin reviewing your case.
The receipt letter contains a unique 13-digit receipt number. Also known as a case number, it’s a very important number to help you track the progress of your case or identify a particular immigration filing.
An applicant for a family-based green card will need a financial sponsor in the United States before immigrating. Although some new green card holders may be able to find employment immediately and support themselves, the financial sponsor is necessary in case things don’t go as planned.
In fact, every person who immigrates based on a relative petition must have a financial sponsor. So whoever files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of a family member (or Form I-129F on behalf of a fiancé) must also agree to be the financial sponsor and file an affidavit of support when the time comes for the person to actually immigrate to the United States. Continue reading
Form G-1450 has come to the rescue of permanent residents that want to pay their naturalization fees with a credit card. Generally, filers of immigration forms must pay their fees with a check or money order. But when the USCIS fees are large, this pre-payment of services can be burdensome. More recently, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began allowing naturalization applicants to pay their fees with a credit card. The application for U.S. citizenship comes with a one-time fee that must be paid in full at the time of filing. By submitting Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, an applicant can now pay this fee with a credit card.
USCIS fees have been a barrier to U.S. citizenship for many permanent residents. Form G-1450 makes U.S. citizenship more affordable for permanent residents. By paying the one-time fee with a credit card, applicants are able to pay it off as they are able. Continue reading
It is possible to avoid the dreaded I-751 interview. No couple wants to visit USCIS to be prodded with personal questions about their marriage. What’s more, the stakes are high. If U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) isn’t convinced that you have a bona fide marriage, the conditional resident’s status may be in jeopardy.
As a matter of law (INA §216) a couple must appear for a personal interview in order for the conditions of residence to be removed. But if USCIS is satisfied that the marriage was not for the purpose of evading the immigration laws, they may waive the interview and approve the I-751 petition. Let’s help you avoid the I-751 interview all together. Continue reading
With 20 pages of questions (and another 18 pages of instructions), filling out the application for U.S. citizenship can be intimidating for many applicants.
Officially known as Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, the majority of applicants can prepare the application without extensive help from an attorney. If you have a straight forward case, you can probably do it yourself.
If you’re ready to tackle the application for U.S. citizenship by yourself, go to the website for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at www.uscis.gov/n-400/ to download Form N-400 and the filing instructions.
If you want some extra support and the reassurance that you’re doing everything correctly, CitizenPath.com provides a low-cost, online service to help you fill out the application for U.S. citizenship. It’s free to try, and costs hundreds less than a lawyer. You’ll get simple, step-by-step instructions for the application. When you complete the Form N-400, you’ll receive the neatly prepared official Form N-400 that’s ready to sign. You’ll also get some simplified filing instructions so you know what to include with your application and where to mail it. Try it now. Continue reading
Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, is used by permanent residents to apply for the replacement or renewal of an existing Permanent Resident Card (green card).
Failing to keep an up-to-date green card can make it difficult to travel internationally or to prove your eligibility for employment in the United States. In fact, an expired green card creates four urgent problems.
Here are some of the most common questions and answers related to Form I-90 for green card renewal and replacement: Continue reading
Last month U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it would be increasing the fee on the green card renewal process by an additional $90. Each and every time you need to renew or replace a green card, you’ll soon pay $540 in USCIS filing fees. However, you have until December 23, 2016, to file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, and beat the fee increase.
The permanent resident card, best known as a green card, is your tangible proof that you are a lawful permanent resident in the United States with unique rights and privileges. If you’re stuck without a valid, unexpired green card, you could run into serious problems. But maintaining it incurs a cost. There is a better way. Continue reading
Effective December 23, 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will increase the fees that must be submitted with the majority of its immigration forms. The USCIS fee increases, which were finalized in an announcement yesterday, can be found in a final rule published in the Federal Register. Applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016, must include these new fees or USCIS will reject your submission.
During the early summer of 2016, USCIS announced fee increases would be coming. The USCIS fee increases became official yesterday. Fees increased by a weighted average of 21 percent for many forms. While fees for some forms increased only modestly, fees for other forms such as Form N-600 ballooned by 95 percent. Continue reading