Employment or School Abroad as a Green Card Holder

Working Abroad as a Green Card HolderAs the name suggests, permanent residence implies that the green card holder will live permanently in the United States. But what if a unique opportunity arises to work or study outside the United States? Generally, a permanent resident is free to travel outside the United States, provided that the absence is temporary in nature. But employment and study opportunities abroad can be problematic. Studying or working abroad as a green card holder can lead to immigration problems.

When a permanent resident remains outside the United States for an extended period, it can lead to suspicion that he or she has abandoned residence in the U.S. But time abroad isn’t the only factor to consider. Continue reading

Green Card Renewal Application Overview

green card renewal application from start to finishIn the current environment, individuals who appear foreign-born are increasingly being asked for proof of status. Even U.S. citizens and permanent residents are at risk of detention if they don’t have identification. In fact, permanent residents are required by law to carry valid, unexpired proof of permanent resident status. Permanent residents with an expired (or expiring within six months) card, should generally submit a green card renewal application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as soon as possible.

If you’ve been a permanent resident for at least five years (or a permanent resident while married to a U.S. citizen for the last three years), you may be able to skip the green card renewal application Continue reading

USCIS Receipt Number Explained

USCIS Receipt Number ExplanationAfter 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 who have incorrectly filed or included the wrong payment, the receipt letter will indicate that USCIS has rejected your case. You will need to refile. If you’ve prepared the form correctly and followed the USCIS directions carefully, the receipt letter will indicate that USCIS has accepted your case. 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.
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Adjusting Status After Unauthorized Employment in the U.S.

Unauthorized employment and filing Form I-485You may be wondering if you can get a green card if you’ve worked in the United States without permission. Perhaps you learned that you may be eligible to adjust status to permanent resident but also know that unauthorized employment in the United States is generally a bar from adjustment. This means that unauthorized employment can make many people ineligible to apply for a green card. Employment without permission from the U.S. government before filing Form I-485, Application to Adjust of Status, and after applying can have a negative impact.

Generally, unlawful employment is a violation of your nonimmigrant status and can result in a denial of your application. Fortunately, there’s an exception for certain individuals like immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Continue reading

Apply for Citizenship with an Expired Green Card

us citizenship with an expired green cardYou’ve decided that it may be time to apply for U.S. citizenship, but you also realize that your green card is expired. You’ve heard that you can’t apply for citizenship with an expired green card. Worse yet, the cost to renew your card and then apply for citizenship is too much.

Currently, the USCIS fees to renew a green card are $540. Then, the USCIS fees to apply for naturalization are currently $725. That’s $1,265 in fees to do both.

For most people, this cost is a barrier to applying for U.S. citizenship with an expired green card. But it’s not mandatory to renew an expired green card before applying for citizenship. Continue reading

Prove a Good Faith Marriage When Filing I-751

prove a good faith marriageWhen filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, a conditional permanent resident (and spouse when filing jointly) must document their good faith marriage.

Even if you are filing with a waiver for the joint filing requirement (rather than jointly with your spouse), you will need to prove that your marriage was genuine and not created to circumvent immigration laws.

If you or your spouse recently became a conditional permanent resident through marriage, now is the time to begin documenting your life together. Don’t wait until it is time to file Form I-751 to prove you have a good faith marriage. Continue reading

How To Transfer Your Credit History to the U.S. from Abroad

credit passport by nova to transfer credit history“You can’t take it with you,” is an American saying that means money and worldly possessions are left behind when you pass on — they don’t follow you into death. Sadly, the same often applies to your credit history when you move to the United States.

For decades, newcomers to America have learned this the hard way. Arriving with virtually no American financial history, it can be next to impossible to get credit. No credit or poor credit can make it extremely difficult to get a:

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Certificate of Naturalization Replacement Process

certificate of naturalization replacement processUpon naturalizing as a U.S. citizen at an oath ceremony, new citizens are presented with a Certificate of Naturalization. This is your proof of U.S. citizenship for the purpose of obtaining a U.S. passport and other benefits. If your certificate has been lost, stolen, destroyed, or misprinted with an error, you may need to replace it. Additionally, if you’ve had a legal change in your name or gender, you may need to start the Certificate of Naturalization replacement process.

Although replacing a Certificate of Naturalization is a fairly straight forward process, minor mistakes of oversights can easily derail an application.

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Form I-130 Instructions and Preparing the Immigrant Petition

I-130 Instructions onlineAlthough step-by-step guides through Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, can be helpful, they rarely cover the important topics. And you can find the official set of I-130 instructions on the USCIS.gov website. This overview introduces some of the broader — and critically important —
issues you won’t find in the I-130 instructions. Everybody’s case is unique – there is no simple set of filing instructions for Form I-130.

The relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary (intending immigrant) affects the instructions. As do many other factors such as adoption, step relationships and previous marriages, and immigration history.

Before you blindly fill out an I-130 petition, get to know these issues and how they can affect your relative’s immigration case. Continue reading

Overview of the H-1B Green Card Process

H-1b green card processBy itself, the H-1B visa does not provide a direct path to permanent resident status (green card) in the United States. In other words, something else has to happen in order for an H-1B foreign national to become eligible for a green card. While generally we think of the employment-based path for H-1B visa holders, there are various ways through the H-1B green card process.

The H-1B is a nonimmigrant visa. Essentially, that means it’s temporary. A foreign national working in the United States on an H-1B visa may Continue reading