For immigrants arriving to the United States, the American tax system can be a very new and confusing concept. In fact, the U.S. tax system is so complex that most natural-born Americans have difficulty filing each year. As a general rule, U.S. tax law applies to you if you live in the United States or spend a significant amount of time here.
In the United States everyone with income above certain levels is expected to file a tax return. That’s not true in all countries around the world. In many countries, the government withholds taxes from paychecks, and the individual never has to directly file an income tax return. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the U.S. agency responsible for collecting taxes.
Whether you are a lawful permanent resident or an undocumented immigrant, it’s important that you get a basic understanding of your tax filing obligations. Continue reading
Immigration law (INA §245) allows certain foreign nationals who are physically present in the United States to adjust status to permanent resident (green card holder). A foreign national may not be eligible to file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, if one or more bars to adjustment applies. Bars to adjustment of status are rules that exclude certain individuals that have committed a particular act or violation. They are factors that can disqualify an applicant. Many applicants get a Form I-485 denial as a result of bars they didn’t realize existed.
Some of the most common statutory bars to adjustment that result in I-485 denials include:
- Unlawful status
- Failure to maintain status
- Unauthorized employment
Affordable health insurance options are available for immigrant families. Whether you’ve recently arrived in the United States or are a long-term permanent resident, the U.S. health insurance market has options for you. In fact, the choices are largely the same as for U.S.-born insured. Unfortunately, 17% of lawfully present, non-citizen immigrants are uninsured according to a recent study. That’s almost twice the rate of uninsured U.S. citizens.
The United States offers some of the highest quality healthcare in the world, but that quality comes at a price. Health insurance is a way to manage the cost of healthcare, keeping it more affordable. Health insurance companies collect premiums and pay out eligible benefits. They help families pay for preventive care like routine check-ups and treatment for illness and injury. Continue reading
Although it isn’t a military secret per se, MAVNI is a small and very exclusive program that benefits immigrants and the U.S. military. Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest (MAVNI) is a special recruiting program that has been available to certain immigrants interested in joining the U.S. military. Generally, immigrants must be permanent residents to join the military (see Military Enlistment Requirements); once enlisted these green card soldiers can take advantage of expedited citizenship. However, MAVNI allows certain non-citizens in the United States to join the military and thereby gain eligibility for U.S. citizenship without first having to go through the lengthy process of obtaining a green card. Continue reading
Many people want to come to the United States to work, but not everyone can. Foreign nationals must have employment authorization before accepting work in the United States. In fact, both employees and employers may be subject to fines or imprisonment for illegal employment arrangements.
To work in the United States, a foreign national must have one of the following:
- A Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card)
- An Employment Authorization Document (U.S. work permit) or
- An employment-related visa which allows you to work for a particular employer.
Many people are carrying an expired green card right now. Because you don’t use your card everyday, it’s easy for an expired card to go unnoticed. By law, permanent residents must carry a valid green card at all times. But in practice, this rarely happens and is rarely enforced by the U.S. government.
When a green card expires, it’s natural to procrastinate before renewing it. After all, the USCIS fee to renew or replace a green card is currently $540. That’s a lot of money for anyone. But an expired green card does have consequences that can be even more costly. Continue reading
It’s probably the first U.S.-government issued identification that you’ve ever had. So losing a work permit from your Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) grant can be an exasperating experience. Don’t despair; you can replace a lost DACA card.
It’s important to understand that losing the DACA card, officially known as an employment authorization card, does not mean that you’ve lost your grant of DACA. It’s only a card that proves your deferred action status and authorization to work in the United States.
However, not having the work permit in your possession can create at least two serious problems: Continue reading
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses a “30/60 day rule” to evaluate a person’s nonimmigrant intent when certain events occur.
For the purposes of an adjustment of status application that’s filed soon after a person enters the United States, USCIS may apply the 30/60 day rule to help determine if the applicant violated the terms of a nonimmigrant visa.
Therefore, if you enter the U.S. in certain nonimmigrant (temporary) visa categories with the blatant intention of applying for permanent residence (green card), USCIS could potentially your deny application.
Meeting the requirements to adjust status isn’t enough. Before you attempt to file an adjustment of status application, be aware of how USCIS will evaluate your intentions. 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-797C, Notice of Action, within approximately 1-3 weeks. (It may take longer to receive the I-797C for some other forms like Form I-751.) The I-797C, 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.
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