3 pointsBackground: A permanent resident is given the privilege of living and working in the United States permanently. A person's permanent residence status will be conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old on the day they were given permanent residence. A person is also given conditional resident status on the day they are lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa (having been married less than two years and entering on a CR-1 Visa). A person's permanent resident status is conditional, because they must prove that they did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States. When to File: If you are filing jointly, the I-751 form must be filed within the 90 days just preceding the expiration date on your permanent residence card. This is the date that your conditional residence expires. Note that, despite the fact that you may see word "anniversary" used in a confusing way regarding the filing date for removal of conditions, your wedding date is completely irrelevant to determining the window of time during which you may file for removal of conditions. If you and your spouse are outside the United States on orders of the U.S. Government during the period in which the petition must be filed, you may file it within 90 days of your return to the United States. See the USCIS webpage for more specific instructions, and search the forum for stories of several people who have done this successfully. It is very important to file the I-751 within the correct window of time, and be sure not to file it before the 90-day window. If you file it too early, they will send your application back. You may file at any time during the 90 day window, but it is prudent to file fairly early in the window. If you fail to properly file the Form I-751 (Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence) within the 90-day period before your second anniversary as a conditional resident, your conditional resident status will automatically be terminated and the USCIS will order removal proceedings against you. You will receive a notice from the USCIS telling you that you have failed to remove the conditions, and you will also receive a Notice to Appear at a hearing. At the hearing you may review and rebut the evidence against you. You are responsible for proving that you complied with the requirements (the USCIS is not responsible for proving that you did not comply with the requirements). The USCIS may send a reminder to file this petition on time, however you should not rely on this reminder -- postal delivery is never without faults. Not receiving the letter is not an excuse for filing late. The USCIS provides additional information here. Download the Following Forms: 1. I-751 The above form can be filled out on your computer and printed. Make sure you sign and date them as required. Anything you cannot fit by typing, you can handwrite (very neatly) in black ink in the blank instead. You should always verify the current forms at www.uscis.gov. Assembling the I-751 Package: Checklist Forms and Documents (follow these assembly instructions. All supporting documents must be in English or be translated as noted here.): 1. Payment as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Read the Guide to Paying USCIS Immigration Fees. 2. Cover Sheet (example here) 3. Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence (see example form) 4. Copy of the Green Card (Front and Back) for the person filing to remove conditions (and any K2 children) 5. Evidence of Bona fide Relationship (see below) Evidence of Your Bona fide Marital Relationship A crucial part of filing this form is that you present evidence of your bona fide marital relationship, as your removal of conditions is based upon your marriage. There are a variety of documentations that you may submit. While the USCIS instructions for the I-751 say that evidence should cover the entire period from your marriage up to the present date, there is no need to repeat evidence that you already submitted to them earlier. Many couples submit no evidence whatsoever covering the period before their first interview. In any case, it's helpful to concentrate on the evidence that has developed since they last interviewed you. You do not have to have all of the types listed below as proof of the relationship; supply as many as you like. If you are short on the documents that have both of your names listed on them you MAY include affidavits from people who know you as a couple (see examples), confirming your marital relationship -- note that they are not required. If you have very little documentary evidence, you may find affidavits helpful. Additionally, you will need to submit a copy of the green card of the person who is applying for removal of conditions. IF you have K-2 children who will also be filing for removal of conditions at the same time, you may include them and use only one form and only one fee for the form. On the "don't panic" front -- ultimately the burden of proof is on the CIS to show a fraudulent marriage. Even if CIS denies, the application can be renewed in front of an Immigration Judge (IJ) in Removal Proceedings -- and the IJ's tend to APPROVE those cases. ONLY SEND COPIES of evidence. The copies should be clear and all marks pertaining to filings, registration and/or government issuance should be clearly shown. Examples of documents showing a bona fide relationship (Submit COPIES only. Do not send originals): 1. A deed, showing co-ownership of your property or a lease agreement with both of your names on the lease. 2. Utility bills, credit card bills, and other types of bills which have both of your names on them. Since many utilities will only put a bill in one person's name, some bills in one name and other bills at the same address but in the other spouse's name serve the same purpose: showing your financial & social lives intermingled. 3. Copies of actual credit cards, health insurance cards, or other "joint" cards that you have together, showing same account number. 4. Car, health, or life insurance that has both of your names on the policy or the other spouse listed as the beneficiary. 5. 401K or other retirement plan with spouse listed as beneficiary (right to survivorship is the technical term) 6. Bank or stock accounts with both of your names on them. 7. A copy of your joint federal and state tax returns (including W-2's and other applicable Schedules and attachments). Sending an official tax transcript from the IRS (for Federal) is beneficial and often preferred as it reflects what was actually filed. 8. A car title or other titles to property showing joint ownership with your spouse. 9. Birth certificate of any children that have been born to your marriage. 10. Documentation of any vacations that you have taken, including flight itineraries, hotel bills, pictures of you together on vacation. 11. Other family pictures of you together. 12. Documentary proof showing evidence of your children together (Copy of Birth Certificate, photos, etc) 13. Copies of Christmas cards and other holiday cards addressed to you both Mailing the Packet & What to do While You Wait The I-751 form and accompanying documents are mailed to either the USCIS California or Vermont Service Centers (click here to see the filing location for your state) depending on your state of residence. (Use certified mail or priority mail with delivery confirmation, and write "Attention: I-751 petition to remove conditions of status" on the envelope under the address.) You will receive a notice of receipt for the form stating that "Your alien card is extended one year - employment and travel authorized". Keep the receipt with your green card. If by some chance you are not approved within a year you will want to make an InfoPass appointment to go to your Local Office to request an I-551 stamp in your passport. This does happen as it sometimes it takes over a year to be approved. After your NOA extension expires, this is your only evidence of legal status which you are required to have, by law. This happens occasionally, that a case takes over a year, but it's rare. Local Offices will not give an I-551 stamp if you have another type of evidence of status (ie, expired Green Card + extension letter). You may or may not be called for an interview after you submit this form. Procedures have been in flux for the past year or so regarding biometrics collections (fingerprints, and photo) and you may get a letter sending you to your DO or ASC for this service--this is not an interview. Simply follow the instructions that YOU receive from USCIS and don't worry too much about other people's situations. Yours is the one that counts for you. If you are selected for an interview, it will be at your local USCIS office, not at the service center. Most typically, you have already had a biometrics appointment before your notice of approval, and your new Green Card will be mailed to you. However, you should follow all directions received from USCIS. I-751 cases are generally completed in 6-12 months, currently. Once you receive the 10-year green card, it should be renewed every 10 years, if you do not become a U.S. citizen in the interim. Instructions for renewing your card are here: How Do I Renew My Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)? Note on Case #'s: The case number on the NOA1 is not linked to the USCIS case update site - you have to wait for the case number that comes with the biometrics letter.
1 pointPreparation: Download the Following Forms: 1. Application for a Social Security Card (SS-5) 2. I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (K-2, K-3, and K-4 Visa Holders Only) The above forms can be filled out on your computer and printed. Make sure you sign and date it as required. Anything you cannot fit by typing, you can handwrite after you print it (very neatly) in black ink instead. Print the following webpage out (K-1 Visa Holder Only😞 >> RM 10211.530 Find your local Social Security Agency (SSA) Office: Click here to Find your SSA Office Reminder: On the visa application Form DS-230, you saw the following offer: "Do you want the Social Security Administration to assign you an SSN (and issue a card) or issue you a new card (if you have an SSN)? You must answer "Yes" to question 43b ("Consent To Disclosure") to receive an SSN and/or card." Please note that this program is ONLY for Immigrant Visa holders (CR-1, etc). If you checked this box, a Social Security number will NOT be generated for you if you are a K-visa holder. As a K-visa holder, use the following guide to get your first, or replacement, Social Security number/card. If you have ever had a Social Security number, that is your number for life; you will need to visit your SSA office to get new card with the same number. The Application Process: :: For K1 Visa Holders :: As a K-1 Visa Holder you are eligible to receive a SSN upon producing a valid I-94 (unexpired). Do not wait until you only have a few weeks left until your I-94 expires to file for a SSN. Many SSA offices will not allow you to file for a SSN if your I-94 is about to expire (generally 14 days prior to the expiration on your I-94). On the other hand, you should also not file for a SSN too soon either. You should wait 2 weeks after you arrived in the US before applying for a SSN. If you go too soon your record of arrival will not be in the SAVE-ASVI system yet, and it will require manual verification from the USCIS. As this will add weeks to the period it takes to process the SSN, it is advisable to attempt to wait the two weeks to be safe. If you have waited the 2 weeks and they tell you they can not verify you arrival record via the SAVE database, you may allow them to to process it (but remember the potential delay for manual verifications). You can ask if they will check the computer again for you in a few days or return personally to have them look again -- thus eliminating the manual verification. The manual verification will require the SSA office to file a G-845 with the USCIS. To apply for a SSN you will need to go to your local SSA office and bring the documents below. These documents are proof of your eligibility to file for a SSN: 1. The SS-5 form you downloaded and filled out (they have some at the office if you forget). 2. your Passport (with the K-1 Visa in it) 3. your valid I-94: Electronic I-94 Copy; or (for older entries) an original (and bring a front/backside copy) of a valid paper I-94 4. another form of valid ID (as defined in the SS-5 instructions) 5. You should also bring the document RM 10211.530 that you printed out Make sure to bring all the documents above because some offices have staff that are not aware that a K-1 Visa Holder is eligible to file for a SSN. A friendly reminder is a nice thing to have -- if not you could be turned away incorrectly. Once you have successfully applied for your SSN, the SSN card will come in the mail in about 2 weeks. You can check on the status of the SSN application and/or often get the SSN in advance by returning in person (try calling) to the SSA office. If you need your SSN before it arrives in the mail you may ask them for an SSA-7028, Notice to Third Party of Social Security Number Assignments, to be sent to your employer or other interested third party once a SSN has been assigned. Your card, when you receive it, will be marked with the words "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION" indicating to an employer that you must also have an unexpired EAD to be eligible to work. :: For K2, K3, K4 Visa Holders :: As a holder of a K2, K3 or K4 visa you must first have an EAD from the USCIS. You will be required to show this to the SSA agency to be eligible to receive a SSN. To apply for a SSN you will need to go to your local SSA office and bring: 1. The SS-5 form you downloaded and filled out (they have some at the office if you forget). 2. Passport (with the K-2, K-3, or K-4 Visa in it) 3. your valid I-94: Electronic I-94 Copy; or (for older entries) an original (and bring a front/backside copy) of a valid paper I-94 4. another form of valid ID (as defined in the SS-5 instructions) 5. A valid EAD Only persons age 12 and older must apply in person. A derivitive visa beneficiary (K2 for example) may elect to have their parent (the K1 for example) apply on their behalf (they will still need all the required documents). The SSA will most likely need to verify the validity of the EAD and will make a copy to send to the USCIS as part of the SSN processing. Once they verify the EAD you will receive your SSN card in the mail. You can check on the status of your SSN application and/or often get the SSN in advance by returning in person to the SSA office. If you need your SSN before it arrives in the mail you may ask them for an SSA-7028, Notice to Third Party of Social Security Number Assignments, to be sent to your employer or other interested third party once a SSN has been assigned. Your card, when you receive it, will be marked with the words "VALID FOR WORK ONLY WITH INS AUTHORIZATION" indicating to an employer that you must also have an unexpired EAD to be eligible to work.
1 pointBE WARNED: You must qualify to file for an I-130 in the US. Not everyone does, and in some cases doing so can be considered fraud and result in being deported and banned from re-entry into the US for a period of time. If you attempt to file and you do not qualify your legal status in the US can be placed in jeopardy. J1 Visa holders will almost always require a waiver and should consult with an immigration lawyer or the USCIS for more information. If you have any doubt, consult an immigration attorney. If your fiance/fiancee came to the US on a tourist visa with the intent of immigration and marriage, and you are not yet married, then he/she should return to his/her home abroad, and the K-1 visa should be filed (using an I-129f) instead of the I-130 to avoid a denial, deportation, or even being banned from re-entry to the US. If you are already married, and your spouse came to the US on a tourist visa with the intent of immigration and marriage, then he/she should return to his/her home abroad, and the I-130 (or along with an I-129f for a K-3 Visa) should be filed with the relative outside of the U.S. to avoid denial, deportation, or even being banned from re-entry to the US. The above conditions are serious and can result in the separation of families for many years if not taken seriously. Download the Following Forms: 1. I-130 2. I-130A 3. I-864 4. I-485 5. I-765 (optional) 6. I-131 (optional) 7. G-1145 (optional) The above forms can be filled out on your computer and printed. Make sure you sign and date them as required. Anything you cannot fit by typing, you can hand-write (very neatly) in black ink in the blank instead. You should always verify the current forms at www.uscis.gov. Assembling the I-130 Package: Checklist Forms and Documents (follow these assembly instructions. All supporting documents must be in English or be translated as noted here.): 1. Payment as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Read the Guide to Paying USCIS Immigration Fees. 2. Cover Letter. Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-130), a table of contents (list everything in the packet). If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet (list the attachment on the cover sheet). Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet. 3. Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative 4. Copy of the Full Birth certificate (front and back) for the US Citizen or a copy of ALL pages of the US Citizen's passport. This is used to establish citizenship. 5. A copy of petitioner's proof of naturalization. (If applicable) 6. A copy of petitioner's proof of permanent residency. (If applicable) 7. A copy of the intending immigrant's birth certificate and/or passport along with English translation. (If in any language other than English) 8. A certified copy of your certified marriage certificate (again, translated if not in Engligh) 9. A certified official copy of the petitioner's and/or intending immigrant's divorce documents. (If one or both of you have been divorced before) 10. A copy of a prior spouse's death certificate. (If filing for a spouse, and one or both have you were married before, and the prior spouse died) 11. Two passport-type photos (see specification) of the US Citizen. Write the full name on the back of each photo. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of <Insert Name>". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding I-130. 12. Two passport-type photos (see specification) of the foreign spouse. Write the full name of the beneficiary on the back of each photo. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of (insert name) ". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding I-130. 13. Evidence of a bonafide marriage (see note below for what to include) 14. Form I-130A: Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary Evidence of a Bonifide Marriage The USCIS now requires that when filing an I-130 for a spouse that you include evidence of a bonifide marriage. They list examples of acceptable evidence as: 1. Documentation showing joint ownership or property; or 2. A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence; or 3. Documentation showing co-mingling of financial resources; or 4. Birth certificate(s) of child(ren) born to you, the petitioner, and your spouse together; or 5. Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the marital relationship (Each affidavit must contain the full nameand address, date and place of birth of the person making the affidavit, his or her relationship to the petitioner of beneficiary, if any, and complete information and details explaining how the person acquired his or her knowledge of your marriage); or 6. Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union. Assembling the I-485 Package: Checklist Forms and Documents (follow these assembly instructions. All supporting documents must be in English or be translated as noted here.): 1. Payment as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Read the Guide to Paying USCIS Immigration Fees. Be sure to include the payment for both the I-485 and the biometrics fee*. >> The fee for I-485 applications filed on or after July 30th 2007 inlcudes the cost of the I-131 and I-765 (no need to pay for them if filed with or while your I-485 application is pending adjudication -- as long as you paid the "new" rate for the I-485 effective July 30th 2007). 2. Cover Letter. Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-485), a table of contents (list everything in the packet). If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet (list the attachment on the cover sheet). Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet. 3. Form I-485: Petition for Alien Relative 4. Form I-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency with applicable supporting documents) (no longer required as of March 9, 2021) 5. Copy of the non US Citizen Spouses Passport (biographical page as well as entry stamps). 6. Electronic I-94 Copy or (for older entries) a copy of the non US Citizen Spouses valid paper I-94 (front and back of form) 7. A copy of the intending immigrant's birth certificate along with English translation. (If in any language other than English) 8. A certified copy of your marriage certificate. (If filing for your spouse) 9. A copy of the petitioner's and/or intending immigrant's divorce documents. (If filing for a spouse, and one or both of you have been divorced before) 10. A copy of a prior spouse's death certificate. (If filing for a spouse, and one or both have you were married before, and the prior spouse died) 11. Two passport-type photos (see specification) of the Non US Citizen Spouse. Write the full name on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of <Insert Name>". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding I-485. 12. I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status 13. I-864, Affidavit of Support (see poverty limits here) >> Include any additional required supporting documentation 14. I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if you want to work while your application is processed (optional) >> Include any additional required supporting documentation or photos as well as payment per USCIS instructions. 15. I-131, Application for Travel Document, if you need to travel outside the United States while your application is processed (optional) >> Include any additional required supporting documentation or photos as well as payment per USCIS instructions. 16. I-485 Supplement A, and penalty fee if applicable. See 8 CFR 245.10 17. I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability**, if applicable * Fingerprint fee not needed for applicants under 14 ** an I-601 is NO FEE, if, and ONLY if filed WITH an I-485. Later filing DOES require a fee. Whether to file an I-601 is an important decision -- like the J-1, consulation with an attorney is recommended. Add an overall cover page: It is useful to add an overall cover sheet with the description of the package and pertinent information such as the applicants name and address. Make sure the cover sheet indicates the package is an Immediate Relative (Spouse) Family Based Adjustment of Status Application with a concurrent I-130 filing. List the major contents of the package (i.e. I-485 and evidence, I-130 and evidence, I-765, I-131,etc). I-944 (Declaration of Self-Sufficiency) Information: This form is required to be submitted with your I-485 for all applicants, and is in addition to the required I-864 (Affidavit of Support). The supporting documents list is lengthy and includes a tax transcript (not actual tax return) of the U.S. citizen, last foreign tax return filed by the fiancé, asset statements, certificates for any English courses taken, higher education verification, if applicable (including diplomas and equivalency evaluations), and several other onerous requirements. The most troublesome item is the requirement for a U.S. credit bureau credit report, or a letter from a credit bureau stating that no credit report is available. Since most recent immigrants will not have a credit record in the U.S., no credit report will be available, and the 3 credit bureaus have not been issuing letters stating no report is available. Our best advice at this point is to write a letter explaining why no credit report is available. You can find an example of this letter and an example filled out I-944 here. Attach "E-Notification" Form (Optional) Clip a completed G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, to the first page of your application (on top of the cover page). By completing this form and attaching it, USCIS will send you an email and/or text message to alert you when your application was received. Where to File Everything: You should mail the completed form(s) to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox (Note the PO Box address for your filing type: Form I-130 with Form I-485). Mail the package with return receipt requested / delivery confirmation. Send via USPS. IMPORTANT! Make TWO copies of the entire package before you send it in. This includes the money orders too. You want to have a perfect replica of the package you are sending in. All Forms that you submit must be originals with original signatures. Supporting Evidence that you submit may be photocopies. Retain ALL original supporting Evidence since the USCIS has the right to check them by issuing an RFE (Request For Evidence). If you receive an RFE, follow the direction exactly, and make two copies of what you sent back. During any future interviews the USCIS may also want to examine the original supporting evidence. After Filing: What to do? Now starts the waiting game. If you filed for an EAD, your spouse will get their Employment Authorization Document approved in 30 to 90 days and will be scheduled to have their picture taken and to have their EAD card issued. After your spouse has received their EAD, the real wait begins. I-485's can take several months to couple years for approval, and often leaves the petitioner feeling completely hopeless of ever receiving approval. DO NOT GIVE UP! Though it seems like forever, the CIS will eventually get to your petitions! Your spouse may also be required to have a medical sometime during the AOS process. The medical must be done by a CIS accredited doctor. Your CIS office should give you a list of CIS accredited doctors in your area, if not check with your local office to get one. The medical exam can cost anywhere from $100-200 dollars, many physicians will not take a check, but only accept cash. Be prepared of the cost before your spouse gets this done. It would be wise to collect their vaccination information before going to the appointment as the doctor will need to have record of them. At the appointment your spouse will be tested for TB, AIDS and Syphilis. If they do the skin test for TB, they will be required to return to the CIS doctors office to have the site checked before they finish the exam paperwork. Note: Some CIS Offices allow you to schedule your appointment when you want, as long as it is done before the AOS appointment, check with your CIS office to see how they handle CIS medical exams before filing your AOS paperwork. Your spouse will be required to have biometrics taken at some point including fingerprints and photo's. This can typically precede the interview date by up to 15 months, however is ussually much closer. Eventually you will receive a letter from the CIS informing you of your interview date. You and your spouse will need to bring supporting evidence of the relationship... i.e. photos, joint checking account, joint lease, joint mortgage, and birth certificates of children if any etc. Also, it is very important to bring the current passport of the applicant, as the CIS will stamp his/her passport with the I-551 stamp if they are approved. This stamp is proof of permanent residency that can be used until they receive their greencard. This normally can take up to six months. The interview is fairly painless and may be video recorded and lasts between 15-30 minutes. NOTE: If you are married less than 2 years, your spouse will have to renew his/her greencard 2 years from issuance by filing the I-751 to remove conditional status.
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