There are two fundamental ways to apply for green card (permanent resident status). Foreign nationals, who meet certain criteria, may be eligible to apply from within the United States through a process called adjustment of status. But the majority of foreign nationals apply from outside the United States at a U.S. embassy or consulate. This is known as consular processing.
This article provides an overview of the immigrant visa (green card) application process for consular processing. Although other categories take a similar path, this overview discusses the steps to apply for a green card through the family-based immediate relative and family preference categories. Before one can start, you’ll need to know that you have a qualifying relationship to apply for a green card through family.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the
Trump administration to implement its new public
charge rule. The modified rule affects intending immigrants based on
their past use of public assistance and a host of other new financial scores.
Titled “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds,” the rule sparked several legal challenges. The new rule basically reinterprets how the law defines inadmissibility. In other words, it re-defines how the government can keep out certain immigrants that may use or have used certain public benefits. In fact, there has always been a public charge rule. The Trump administration evaluated the law, and decided to interpret it differently.
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.
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.
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 →
An applicant for a family-based green card will need a financial sponsor in the United States before immigrating. Although some new green card holders may be able to find employment immediately and support themselves, the financial sponsor is necessary in case things don’t go as planned.
Every person who immigrates based on a family-based visa petition must have a financial sponsor. Whoever files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of a family member (or Form I-129F on behalf of a fiancé) must also agree to be the financial sponsor and file Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, when the time comes for the person to actually immigrate to the United States.
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 →