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
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
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
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
The K-1 visa is for the fiancé of a U.S. citizen to come to the United States for the purpose of marriage. If you entered the U.S. on a K-1 visa, you have 90 days to marry the U.S. citizen from the date of entry. A K-1 visa does not allow the foreign national to stay in the United States for more than 90 days – it can’t be extended. Once married, the foreign national has the option of staying in the United States if he or she files an application for adjustment of status through a K-1 visa entry.
Adjustment of status to permanent resident is an exclusive process to apply for a green card reserved for certain intending immigrants that are physically present in the United States. A K-1 visa holder who has married his or her U.S. citizen fiancé is generally eligible. Continue reading
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
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