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.
The K-3 visa process was designed to help shorten the physical separation between a foreign citizen and his or her U.S. citizen spouse. In theory, it’s the perfect solution for many couples that want to move to the United States together without an extended separation associated with the immigration process. In practice, the K-3 visa process is rarely used. While it remains a component of immigration law, most couples have a tough time obtaining one.
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. Generally, the permanent resident may also 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.
The requirements for petitioning a foreign citizen spouse for permanent residence (green card) are more exhaustive than any other relationship. When filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, the petitioner must also submit other supporting documents to evidence the relationship. We’ve developed an I-130 checklist for spouses to help you through this process.
Immigration officials, from the U.S. Department of State and also U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), have an additional layer of scrutiny for spousal relationships. After all, sham marriages are one of the most common ways to commit green card fraud. Immigration officials want to be sure that your spouse is obtaining a green card based on a genuine relationship.
When filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of a spouse, it’s necessary to submit evidence that you have a genuine, bona fide marriage. This can be challenging for a couple that hasn’t had time to join financial accounts or have children. This I-130 affidavit sample can help provide evidence in lieu of other documents.
Several years ago, CitizenPath launched an an innovative, online service to help our customers prepare Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. The online service includes a calculator that helps make Form I-864 easy for anyone to prepare. This article explains how the service works and includes an Affidavit of Support sample created from the CitizenPath software.
Many immigration attorneys consider the Affidavit of Support to be one of the most difficult U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) forms to prepare. USCIS routinely rejects Form I-864 or issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) as a result of incorrectly prepared Affidavits of Support. This is significant. That’s because the intending immigrant’s green card application will be denied if the I-864 does not meet the requirements.
Although 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.
How U.S. Citizens Abroad Prove Domicile in U.S. for I-864 Affidavit
U.S. citizens who are living abroad and want to repatriate to the United States with a foreign family member will face the challenge of reestablishing domicile in the U.S. Basically, to help a relative immigrant, you must prove that you already live in the United States.
In the most common scenario, a U.S. citizen living abroad marries a foreign citizen spouse. They may (or may not) live in the foreign country for a few years before deciding to immigrate to the United States. The U.S. citizen petitions the American government (Form I-130) so that his/her foreign spouse can apply for a green card. In theory, this is simple. The spouse of a U.S. citizen is eligible for a green card. The challenge comes when filing a related form known as Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
Common reasons why a family-based application for permanent residence may be denied by USCIS
Each year the U.S. government allows thousands of people to enter the United States with permanent resident status. Permanent residence is symbolized with a card, most commonly referred to as a green card. But the government also denies thousands of green card applications. There are several possible factors for a green card application denial. The reasons vary from no basis for eligibility to grounds of inadmissibility to failure to properly deal with the application requirements. What’s more, a new policy broadens the powers of immigration officials to deny applications without first issuing a warning. Continue reading →
Even many immigration lawyers consider Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to be one of the most confusing immigration forms. It’s a little like combining the financials of a tax return with the complexity of an immigration form. In fact, that’s basically what it is. The stakes are high. If the sponsor does not qualify, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not issue the intending immigrant permanent residence (green card).
When a foreign national applies for permanent residence in the United States, immigration officials are obligated in most cases to make sure that the intending immigrant has adequate means of financial support and is not likely to become a public charge. USCIS requires Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, for most family-based applications and some employment-based applications. It’s a contract between a sponsor and the U.S. government, in which the sponsor promises to support the intending immigrant if he or she is unable to do so on their own. It’s a back-up plan in case the immigrant has financial problems. Continue reading →