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
As 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
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
An immigration medical exam is a necessary part of immigrating to the United States and becoming a permanent resident (green card holder). Sometimes called a green card medical exam, the appointment is a routine part of the process to ensure public safety and remove the grounds for inadmissibility for intending immigrants.
Certain diseases of public health significance make an individual inadmissible to the United States. The exam is the process to remove these grounds of inadmissibility. Continue reading
A dual intent visa allows foreign nationals to be temporarily present in the United States with the known intention of possibly immigrating to the U.S. permanently. That’s significant because most temporary visas require that the visitor intend to return home. Thus, attempting to adjust status to permanent resident with other nonimmigrant visas can potentially trigger severe, long-term immigration problems.
Most people will find it difficult to qualify for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa, such as a visitor visa, if there is any evidence of immigrant intent—a past intent, an intent to seek to immigrate during this trip to the U.S., an intent to immigrate to the U.S. in the future, or even a hope to immigrate in the future. The applicant must establish nonimmigrant intent. Continue reading
The steps to obtain a family-based green card — officially known as a permanent resident card — vary based on the qualifying family relationship and where you live (inside the United States or outside).
If you would like to petition (sponsor) a family member for a green card or you are a foreign national that wants to permanently move to the United States, this article provides a basic overview of the eligibility categories and family-based green card process. Continue reading
If you previously filed an I-130 petition for your spouse and/or minor children when you were a permanent resident, you can upgrade the petition if you’ve now become a U.S. citizen. For the spouse and/or children of a lawful permanent resident, the wait for an immigrant visa (green card) can be lengthy. After the filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, spouse and children of a lawful permanent resident will wait several months to years. In some situations the wait can be very long. If you upgrade an I-130 petition after naturalization, your petition gets expedited because there is no numerical limit.
In many cases, one family member is able to obtain permanent resident status in the United States, but must leave behind a spouse and/or children in the home country. Upon arriving in the U.S. and becoming a permanent resident (green card holder), he or she may petition those family members to immigrate with Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. However, the wait time can take several years. If that permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen, he or she may upgrade the I-130 petition and speed up the immigration process. 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