Step-by-Step Form I-485 Instructions

Intending immigrants who want to prepare Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, face a challenge. The Form I-485 instructions can be extraordinarily intimidating. After all, there are 42 pages of instructions for the green card application. What’s more, other forms are typically filed concurrently as a part of the adjustment of status package. In some cases, an innocent mistake can result in significant delays, long-term immigration problems, or even an I-485 denial.

The consequences of deviating from the I-485 instructions can be significant. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently published a policy memo that provides guidance to USCIS officers who make decisions about your adjustment of status application. Continue reading

Green Card Identity Theft

Green Card Identity TheftIf your green card is lost or stolen, you may also be wondering about green card identity theft. Identity theft is a crime in which an impostor obtains personal information, such as a green card or Social Security card, in order to impersonate someone else. By using someone else’s information, the impostor may obtain new credit cards or make unauthorized purchases. What’s worse, the thief may provide false identification to police, creating a criminal record or leaving outstanding arrest warrants for you, the victim of the green card identity theft. Continue reading

Fiancé Visa or Marriage Visa: Which is Better?

Which is the Best Way to Get a Marriage-Based Green Card?

k-1 fiancé visa or marriage visa for green cardWhen a U.S. citizen marries a foreign citizen, there are fundamentally two different ways for the foreign citizen to immigrate to the United States and obtain a green card. The choice — a fiancé visa or marriage visa — can cause confusion for many couples. Each has its own benefits. So what’s best for one couple may not be ideal for another couple’s situation. In making your decision, you’ll need to consider speed of the process, cost, as well as other factors.

Fiancé Visa

The fiancé visa (aka K-1 visa) is a nonimmigrant visa obtained by the foreign fiancé to travel to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married in the U.S. and then adjusting status to a permanent resident (green card holder).

Marriage Visa

The marriage visa (aka CR-1 or IR-1 visa) is an immigrant visa obtained by the foreign spouse while in the foreign country after marriage for the purpose of immigrating to the U.S. to live permanently with the spouse.

Deciding on the fiancé visa or marriage visa is a personal decision. So, the best path for you depends on your specific situation. However, for many couples, the speed of the immigration process is an important factor. Continue reading

Adjustment of Status for Visa Waiver Program Entrants

Adjustment of Status for Visa Waiver Program EntrantsAs a general rule, foreign nationals who enter the United States through the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) may not adjust status to permanent resident (green card holder). Specifically, a foreign national admitted as a nonimmigrant without a visa under a Visa Waiver Program is barred from adjustment of status. But there is an exception for immediate relatives and VAWA-based applicants. Adjustment of status for Visa Waiver Program entrants is possible for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. These bars also do not apply to those applying under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Immediate relatives have tremendous privileges and allowances under U.S. immigration law. As such, adjustment of status for visa waiver program entrants is special benefit available to immediate relatives. Continue reading

Lost Green Card Abroad and Returning to the U.S.

lost green card abroad with travelingYour lost green card abroad can be a travel headache. But if you’ve lost your green card or reentry permit while outside the United States, there’s a process to help you obtain travel documentation.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation), a form that allows permanent residents to apply for a travel document (carrier documentation) if they:

  • Are returning from temporary overseas travel of less than one year, and their green card has been lost, stolen or destroyed, or
  • Are returning from temporary overseas travel of less than two years, and their reentry permit has been lost, stolen or destroyed.

U.S. laws require transportation carriers such as airlines to check passengers for passports and visa before bringing them to the United States. In fact, these laws impose penalties if passengers are not in possession of the required documents. Continue reading

33 Great Documents for Proving a Bona Fide Marriage on an I-751 Petition

Proving a Bona Fide MarriageWhen filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, a conditional resident and spouse must provide evidence that they have a bona fide marriage. There are numerous documents that can used to establish that you entered a genuine marriage and deserve a 10-year green card.

Even if you are filing with a waiver to the joint filing requirement (due to a terminated marriage), you will need to prove that your marriage was genuine and not created to circumvent immigration laws. Thus, proving a bona fide marriage on an I-751 petition is extremely important to it’s success. Continue reading

Form I-485 Denial from Bars to Adjustment

Form I-485 DenialImmigration 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

Continue reading

Reentry Permit for Permanent Residents

CBP inspects reentry permit for permanent residentA permanent resident can generally travel outside the United States and return by simply showing a permanent resident card (green card) upon reentry at a U.S. port of entry.

But there are situations that a reentry permit is needed in addition to the permanent resident card.

A reentry permit can help avoid two types of problems:

  • Your permanent resident card becomes technically invalid for reentry into the United States if you are absent from the U.S. for one year or more.
  • Your permanent resident status may be considered as abandoned for absences shorter than one year if you take up residence in another country.

After traveling abroad, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at your U.S. port of entry will need to determine if your travel was “temporary” in nature. To be temporary, you must have the intention to return to the United States at the time of departure and throughout the entire trip. Employment, family, filing of taxes, involvement in the community all demonstrate ties to the U.S. To determine your intentions, some of the questions that a CBP officer may ask cover topics such as: Continue reading

How to Find an Immigration Lawyer

find an immigration lawyerThe U.S. immigration system can be overwhelming. CitizenPath is the leading online service for helping you prepare USCIS forms. Our service was created by lawyers, but we are not a legal service. For individuals with more complicated cases, including applicants with a criminal history or immigration violations, we recommend the help of an immigration lawyer. And we want to help you find an immigration lawyer.

You deserve a good lawyer. While the most experienced lawyers tend to be more expensive, there are plenty of skilled immigration lawyers if you know how to find them. Regardless if you’re working with a lawyer in private practice or non-profit, it’s important to find an immigration lawyer that is experienced and can help you navigate the complexity of your case. Continue reading

Adjustment of Status Through a K-1 Visa Entry

Adjustment of Status through a K-1 Visa EntryThe K-1 visa is for the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to come to the United States for the purpose of marriage. If you entered the U.S. on a K-1 visa, you have 90 days to marry the U.S. citizen from the date of entry. A K-1 visa does not allow the foreign national to stay in the United States for more than 90 days – it can’t be extended. Once married, the foreign national has the option of staying in the United States if he or she files an application for adjustment of status through a K-1 visa entry.

Adjustment of status to permanent resident is an exclusive process to apply for a green card reserved for certain intending immigrants that are physically present in the United States. A K-1 visa holder who has married his or her U.S. citizen fiancé is generally eligible. Continue reading