For the second time, a federal judge has issued an injunction that orders the Trump administration to continue accepting applications for the DACA program. The New York ruling affirms an earlier court injunction in California that saved the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program from certain death. USCIS is now accepting DACA renewal applications.
On September 5, 2017, attorney general Jeff Sessions announced that the Trump administration would phase out DACA. At the time of the announcement, eligible applicants could file a DACA application only until October 5, 2017.
Under the federal court ruling, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will now run the DACA program as it was before the September 5 announcement. However, USCIS says that they will not be accepting applications for initial grants of DACA, only renewal applications. Continue reading
One of the common reasons permanent residents don’t apply for U.S. citizenship – cost. It presently costs $725 to file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. That’s a lot of money. And the cost of citizenship will only get more expensive in the future as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) raises fees.
There are approximately 13 million immigrants in the United States who are lawful permanent residents, otherwise known as green card holders. According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, an estimated 8.7 million of those permanent residents are eligible to naturalize, or become a U.S. citizen. Yet many are trapped in an expensive cycle of green card renewal.
The best way to escape this cycle is to become a U.S. citizen. After naturalizing as a U.S. citizen, you won’t need to pay anymore USCIS fees or file forms. Over a lifetime, that can save you and your family thousands of dollars.
You can save yourself a lot of money by naturalizing now. Here are some of the ways that you can beat the costs of U.S. citizenship:
The cost of citizenship is significantly less that keeping a green card.
It actually costs less to become a U.S. citizen when you take a look at the long term costs. How much? It will probably amaze you.
Did you know that the average 30 year-old permanent resident will pay another $5.313 over his lifetime in green card renewal fees? Check your own costs with the Citizenship Cost Calculator.
Most permanent residents have a green card that must be renewed every 10 years. The current USCIS fee for replacing or renewing a green card is $540. So every 10 years you will pay to renew a green card. Don’t forget, if the green card is lost, stolen or damaged, it will cost another $540 to replace it. And USCIS fees keep increasing for green card renewal also. Over just the last 10 years USCIS fees for green card renewal have increased significantly.
But there is a one-time USCIS fee for the naturalization application. Over a lifetime, U.S. citizenship is much less expensive. After all, you won’t ever have to pay another USCIS fee again!
You can now pay the cost of citizenship with a credit card.
There is only one USCIS form that can be paid with credit card – Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.
If you don’t have the entire filing fee, simply submit Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, with your N-400. If you choose to pay with a credit or gift card, you must pay the entire fee using a single card.
You may use Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover. You may also use gift cards with Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover logos.
Low income families can file a fee waiver.
Because some applicants cannot afford to pay the filing fees, USCIS established a fee waiver process for the citizenship application. USCIS will approve a fee waiver if you clearly demonstrate that you are unable to pay the filing fees.
Total Fee Waiver
USCIS will provide a fee waiver for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, if you provide documentation showing that you qualify based upon one of the following criteria:
- You, your spouse, or the head of household living with you, are currently receiving a means-tested benefit. Examples of means-tested benefits programs include: Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps), Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Your household income is at or below 150 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file. Check the current Federal Poverty Guidelines for this year at Form I-912P, HHS Poverty Guidelines for Fee Waiver Requests. For example, a household of four can’t have household income of more than $37,650 to qualify in 2018 (within the 48 contiguous states).
- You are currently experiencing financial hardship that prevents you from paying the filing fee, including unexpected medical bills or emergencies.
To request a fee waiver, you can submit Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, with your Form N-400. Be sure to include proof that you meet the criteria. Additional instructions and examples of evidence can be found on the USCIS Fee Waiver page.
Reduced Cost of Citizenship
You may request a reduced filing fee for Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, if your documented annual household income is greater than 150 percent but not more than 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines at the time you file.
If you qualify for a reduced filing fee, file Form I-942, Request for Reduced Fee. When filing Form N-400, you must submit the reduce fee ($320) and the biometrics fee ($85) for the N-400 along with your I-942.
Filing N-400 Without a Lawyer
People with straight-forward cases (e.g. no immigration violations or arrests) can generally file Form N-400 without a lawyer. But still, the citizenship application can be a daunting process.
CitizenPath is a low-cost service that was created to make preparing the application easy. Designed by immigration attorneys, it’s a do-it-yourself service that puts you in control. The software helps you avoid common errors that result in N-400 rejections. Alerts will let you know if an answer is problematic.
There’s no sign up or credit card required to get started. Upon completion, you’ll receive a neatly prepared application that’s ready to sign and file. You’ll also get simple instructions that tell you exactly what to do. Customer support is also standing by to help. Try it now.
5 Green Card Travel Tips to Avoid Re-Entry Problems
and Permanent Residence Abandonment
As a lawful permanent resident of the United States, your obligations for maintaining your immigration status in the United States are fairly simple. You need to notify USCIS within 10 days of moving by using Form AR-11 and renew your green card every 10 years with Form I-90. International green card travel can introduce some new hazards.
Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary travel generally does not affect your permanent resident status. As the term “resident” suggests, your status comes with the expectation that you will live (make your home) in the U.S. If you spend too much time abroad, you could lose your right to a green card.
Here are five tips to understand before traveling abroad: Continue reading
What to expect at your Adjustment of Status Interview
First of all, don’t get anxious just because USCIS sent you an appointment notice for an I-485 interview. Almost everyone must go through an interview during the adjustment of status process. In fact, there’s reason to get excited. The I-485 interview is likely the last step in your application process. If all goes well, you’ll be a permanent resident (green card holder) at the end of the interview. Continue reading
If you’ve obtained a 2-year green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen or through a financial investment, you are a conditional resident of the United States. While the rights and privileges of a conditional resident are very similar to a lawful permanent resident (10-year green card holder), the statuses are very different. Renewing green card after 2 years requires careful consideration. In fact, you won’t be a renewing your green card — the process for conditional residents is completely different. Continue reading
How the new 90-day rule (and elimination of the 30/60 day rule) may affect your adjustment of status to permanent resident
In September 2017, the U.S. Department of State made a significant change to its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM). This had a dramatic effect on the way immigration officers evaluate inadmissibility in certain cases. And it may affect future applications for adjustment of status. The change essentially eliminated the 30/60 day rule and established a stricter standard now known as the 90-day rule.
Any nonimmigrant visa holder should be aware of this amendment because it may affect how immigration officials perceive attempts to change status. Although U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has not declared an intent to use the 90-day rule also, they previously used the 30/60 day rule as a guideline. Therefore, nonimmigrant visa holders attempting to obtain a green card through adjustment of status should be aware of the 90-day rule. Continue reading
Resources for permanent residents to overcome barriers like money, age, language, and civics knowledge.
If you’ve put off naturalization because you think it’s too difficult or too expensive, think again. Provisions in the law and numerous free resources are making it easier than ever to become a U.S. citizen.
CitizenPath published a free guide for permanent residents that want to become U.S. citizens through the naturalization process. The free guide includes 44 pages of tips and valuable information about the naturalization process. It even includes 100 sample test questions and a necessary vocabulary list. Continue reading
You are outside the United States. Perhaps you’re visiting family or traveling on business, and you realize that your green card is expiring, already expired or even missing. You already know that having valid, unexpired proof of permanent resident status is critical for reentry at a U.S. port of entry. What to do? First, it’s important to understand that green card renewal from outside the U.S. is not an option. You’ll need to be physically inside the United States to renew a green card.
However, there are solutions to get you home. Although green card renewal from outside the U.S. is not possible, there are various ways to return to the United States after temporary travel abroad. Each depends on your specific situation. Continue reading
How to prepare for your test and interview after filing Form N-400
The naturalization interview is the final obstacle for permanent residents that have filed Form N-400 to become U.S. citizens. Near the end of the N-400 processing time line, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will mail you an appointment notice for the naturalization interview. If everything goes well, you will most likely know if USCIS will grant you U.S. citizenship by the end of the appointment.
A USCIS officer will conduct your naturalization interview in a private office or cubicle. The officer begins the interview by asking you to raise your right hand and swear to tell the truth during the interview. Continue reading
When filing Form I-751 to remove the conditions on residence, the conditional permanent resident also needs to submit evidence that the relationship was entered in “good faith.” USCIS wants to confirm that the marriage was not entered into for the purposes of evading immigration laws. Much confusion surrounds the need to submit I-751 affidavits.
These “letters of support” are letters written by people that know the couple and have first-hand knowledge of the relationship. The I-751 affidavit helps support other evidence that the couple submits to demonstrate that the marriage was entered in good faith and is a not a “sham” marriage. Continue reading