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 immigration privileges. They benefit from certain provisions in the law that are favorable in cases where the intending immigrant has overstayed a visa. But it’s important Continue reading
United States immigration laws provide a variety of ways to apply for a green card (permanent resident status). The different paths come through family relationships, employment, refugee/asylum status, diversity lottery, and several special immigrant classes .
However, the vast majority of immigrants apply for a green card through a family relationship. For example, 66% of the 1.1 million people who obtained a green card in 2017 were in a family-based category according to USCIS statistics. Continue reading
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
The K-1 fiancé visa is one of the most requested U.S. visas. The U.S. Department of State issues the K-1 to the foreign national fiancés of U.S. citizens for the purpose of entering the United States for marriage. Once married, the foreign national may adjustment status to permanent resident (green card holder). However, mistakes in the K-1 visa process can ruin those plans. Minor oversights may only delay the process, but other mistakes can create long-term immigration problems.
Although most visa requests are granted, it’s good to know the common pitfalls that caused problems for others. We’ve outlined five of the biggest mistakes in the K-1 visa process. Before preparing Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé, review these avoidable problems. Continue reading
A foreign national spouse of a U.S. citizen who is also inside the United States can generally apply for a green card without leaving the U.S. This process, known as adjustment of status, concludes with an interview. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) interviews virtually every applicant for a marriage-based green card. Upon completion of a successful marriage-based adjustment of status interview, the applicant will generally become a permanent resident (green card holder). Every couple should prepare for this interview. Knowing what to expect, what items to take, and how to respond to questions will improve your chances of a quick approval. Continue reading
U.S. immigration law (INA §213A) requires intending immigrants in family-based visa categories to show that they have financial support in the United States. The U.S. citizen or permanent resident that petitions a family member for a green card also must file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The affidavit of support is a legal contract between the petitioner and the U.S. government. On Form I-864, petitioners must prove that they have the ability to financially support the visa applicant(s) if necessary. Additionally, the petitioner must provide proof of domicile in the United States.
In fact, there are three fundamental requirements for acting as the sponsor on the affidavit of support. The sponsor must: Continue reading
Marriage green card is a common phrase used to describe a permanent resident card obtained through marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Permanent residence is an immigration status that allows a foreign national to live and work in the United States permanently. Of course, the permanent resident may choose to naturalize as a U.S. citizen once eligible.
A marriage-based green card can be one of the quickest ways to obtain permanent residence. The marriage alone doesn’t provide any immigration status to a foreign national. But marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is a qualifying relationship for a foreign national to apply for immigration benefits. Continue reading
Since September 2017 the Trump Administration has had a policy to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Although the decision to wind down DACA has been stopped in the courts for now, the future of the program is uncertain. This has put a renewed emphasis for many DACA recipients to find other paths to legal status. Obtaining a DACA green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen is one of the most common ways to gain legal status.
The DACA program does not provide a direct path to permanent residence (green card). However, certain individuals with DACA can apply for permanent residence in the United States. In other words, under current immigration law, no individual can apply for a green card on the basis of having DACA. There must be some other factor that makes a DACA recipient eligible for a green card. These factors may include marriage to a U.S. citizen, certain employment, and others. The most common scenario, and the focus of this article, is a DACA recipient who marries a U.S. citizen and then wants to adjust status to permanent resident. Continue reading
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
Which is the Best Way to Get a Marriage-Based Green Card?
When 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.
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).
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