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  1. 2 points
    Note: When filing for Adjustment of Status K1 and K3 Visa holders are now required to submit their paperwork to the National Address (Chicago Lockbox) instead of at their local CIS office. This procedure became effective for all applicants in April 2005. After the National office completes initial processing your case will be referred to your local CIS office where you will be interviewed for your permanent residency or be transferred to CSC. Prior to this the national office will send you communications requesting biometrics be taken and schedule an interview with you for this. To determine the amount of time it will take your local office to schedule your interview appointment refer to Processing Times page and click on USCIS District Processing Times link Download the Following Forms: 1. I-485 2. I-944 (no longer required as of March 9, 2021) 3. I-864 4. I-765 (optional) 5. I-131 (optional) 6. 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 handwrite (very neatly) in black ink in the blank instead. You should always verify the current forms at www.uscis.gov. 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 includes 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). 2. Cover Page. This should include the applicants contact information, a description of the benefit being filed for ("Immediate Relative (Spouse) Family Based Adjustment of Status Application") and a table of contents listing the major items in the packet. If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet and list the attachment on the cover sheet. Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet. 3. Form I-485: Petition for Alien Relative (note: use the non US Citizen spouse's married name on this form and list previous name/names) 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). 5a. Copy of the non US Citizen Spouses K-1 or K-3 Visa from Passport 6. K-1 Visa Holders: Submit Copy of NOA2 "Approval" for I-129F ** K-3 Visa Holders: Submit Copy of NOA2 "Approval" for I-130 7. 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) 8. A copy of the intending immigrant's birth certificate along with English translation. (If in any language other than English) 9. A copy of your marriage certificate. Note: While a regular copy is allowed, submitting a certified copy is preferred as some members have received an RFE asking for this (so if one is available use that instead). 10. Two passport-type photos (see specification) of the Non US Citizen Spouse. Write the full name and A# on the back using a soft felt tipped pen or pencil. 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 I-485. 11. I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status.I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status. If you are a K-1, K-2, K-3 or K-4 visa holder the I-693 instructions state that you are not required to have another medical examination as long as your Form I-485 is filed within one year of your overseas medical examination. If you are missing any shots from your overseas medical a I-693 vaccination transcription is required to be completed by seeing a Civil Surgeon to have certain portions of the I-693 completed and have the Civil Surgeon certify the form (sealing the original in an envelope and giving you a copy). 12. I-864, Affidavit of Support (see poverty limits here) >> Include any additional required supporting documentation 13. 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 as noted here. 14. 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 as noted here. * Fingerprint fee not needed for applicants under 14 ** Should this document be misplaced/lost/never received you can file an I-824 to receive a duplicate copy via mail. "Cover Page" Information: In the checklist above it is recommended that you include a Cover Page with your application. While this is optional, filing a cover page will help the USCIS understand what benefit your are applying for and specifically what items you have included in your package. Again, make sure the cover page includes: -- the applicants contact information (name, address, phone number) -- A description of the benefit you are applying for, (Immediate Relative (Spouse) Family Based Adjustment of Status Application) -- A table of contents listing the major items in your package (i.e. I-485 and evidence, I-765, I-131, etc) -- A line with the applicants signature and date 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: Applicants are required to mail applications to a national mailbox (Chicago) as stated on the form (not your local USCIS office). Be sure to 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 Happens? I-485's can take anywhere from several months to several years to be approved depending on where you live (every local office has a different waiting period). This delay 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 petition. In the mean time make sure your EAD for working is valid (renew when needed) and that you have an AP for any neccesary travel you have planned. Listed below are the main items that will happen while the beneficiary's I-485 is being processed. Employment Authorization and Advance Parole Processing If you filed for Employment Authorization and/or Advance Parole petitions are generally processed within 90 days of filing. During that wait the beneficiary (non-US Citizen Spouse) will be sent a notice in the mail to schedule an appointment at the nearest USCIS biometrics office to have their fingerprints and photos taken. It is important follow the instructions in this notice and to schedule the biometrics appointment in a timely fashion. Below are estimated waiting times for these benefits: Estimated EAD Processing Times Estimated AP Processing Times As a note, in an emergency where travel outside of the United States is needed (while a beneficiary's I-485 in still being processed) an Advance Parole can be obtained quickly by scheduling an Info-Pass appointment at your local USCIS office. You must show proof (doctors note, etc) that the travel is a true emergency (such as to see a critically ill relative or other true emergency) and file an I-131 (AP) in person. If approved the AP is likely be issued the same day. Do not attempt to leave the country without an AP as this can result in the beneficiary's I-485 being considered "abandoned" and will require a new Visa to enter the US (and refiling of the I-485). Biometrics Your beneficiary (non-US Citizen Spouse) will be required to have their biometrics taken as part of the I-485 processing (fingerprints and photos). The beneficiary will be sent a notice in the mail to schedule an appointment at the nearest USCIS biometrics office to have their fingerprints and photos taken. It is important follow the instructions in this notice and to schedule the biometrics appointment in a timely fashion. This can typically precede the interview date by up to 15 months, however it is usually much closer. Interview (in person) for Adjustment of Status Eventually most people (see exception below) will receive a letter from the CIS informing you of your interview date. It will include instructions on what to bring to the interview and any required items you may need to complete before hand. One of the most critical items requested will be "evidence of the relationship" which proves that your marriage is true and faithful (i.e. photos, joint checking account, joint lease, joint mortgage, and birth certificates of children if any, etc.). Also, it is important to bring the current passport of the beneficiary to the interview. The interview is fairly painless and may be video recorded and lasts between 15-30 minutes. If approved you will be mailed your "green-card" shortly after the interview date (weeks). Interview Exception. In some cases a beneficiary's Adjustment of Status case may be transfered to the California Service Center (possibly another location) where the CIS will attempt to complete processing without requirinig an "in person" interview. There is no particular way to know if this will happen to your case however if this does happen then you will not be required to attend an interview in person. If the I-485 is approved the beneficiary's green card will simply be mailed to them. NOTES: (1) It is possible that at your interview a tardy namecheck or FBI clearance may hold up a final "approval" of the I-485 after the interview. Permanent Resident status does not start until the case is *actually* approved, which may be a later date than the interview. The final issued green card will show the validity date. (2) If the beneficiary and petitioner have been married less than two years at the time the I-485 is approved then the beneficiary will receive what is called a "conditional" legal permanent residence. This simply means that the beneficiary will have to renew his/her greencard 2 years from the date it was originally "issued" by filing an I-751 to remove conditional status. When filing this form you will need to again show proof of your valid and ongoing marriage.
  2. 2 points
    Background: 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.
  3. 2 points
    Preparation: 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.
  4. 1 point
    Each year tens of thousands of visas are issued to a spouse or fiance of an American Citizen so that they may move to the US and be with their loved ones. For a non US Citizen Fiancé(e) the most common way of bringing them to the US is a K-1 (fiance) Visa. For a non-US Citizen spouse there are several common ways to bring them to the US, each with their own Pro's and Con's. Listed below are the common ways to bring a non-US Citizen Fiancé(e) or spouse to the US as well as a few Pro's and Con's for each option. Marriage Based Visa Comparison Table Visa Type K-1 K-3 IR-1 / CR-1 DCF Marital Status Engaged Married Married Married Time for Visa (Months) 13.5 16 18.5 3 Requires AOS Yes Yes No No Requires EAD Yes Yes No No Req. Travel Doc Yes No No No Time to Greencard (Months) 22.5 20.5 18.5 3 Total Cost $1650 $1705 $903 $945 Extra Notes Must be married within 90 days of entry. AOS must be filed in order to gain Legal Permanent Resident status. Failure to file AOS before I-94 expires accrues out-of-status days. After entering the US, may file for AOS within two years or instead wait for I-130 to be approved and pursue IR-1 / CR-1 Visa. Visa holder automatically becomes a Legal Permanent Resident after entering the US. Can work and travel freely. US consulates typically only do this for US citizens who live overseas. DCF results in a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa. Fiancé(e) Visa (K1) In General A K-1 Visa allows a Non-US Citizen Fiancé(e) to a US Citizen to legally enter the US and Adjust Status to become a Legal Permanent Resident. The process of obtaining a K-1 Visa starts by the U.S. citizen filing a form "I-129F: Petition for Alien Fiancé(e)" with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). The USCIS is responsible for processing this petition and if approved will forward (via the National Visa Center) the petition to the consulate serving the location of the Non-US Citizen Fiancé(e). Upon receiving the approved I-129F petition, the US Consulate will contact the Non-US Citizen Fiancé(e) and request certain information be gathered and provided to the US Consulate. Additionally there will be an actual "visa interview" in person (at the consulate) for the K-1 Visa. If the embassy approves the K-1 Visa, they will issue the visa typically within two to three days after the interview. Once the Non-US Citizen Fiancé(e) receives the K-1 Visa they may enter the US any time within six months of the visa being issued. Arriving in the US it is important to note that they must get married to the US Citizen who petitioned their K-1 Visa within 90 days and file for Adjustment of Status (AOS) to become a Legal Permanent Resident. If they fail to do this within 90 days of entry into the US they may accrue unlawful status inside the US as defined by the USCIS. This may potentially affect future immigration benefits they file for. You may view the K-1 current and historical processing time trends to get a better idea of the time the process may take at various stages. Unless an engaged couple decides to get married, this is their main visa option. If they decide to get married they will need to file for a K-3 or IR-1 / CR-1 Visa instead. Pluses "Relatively" fast process. As fast or quicker than K-3 and/or IR1 / CR-1 Visas (which are only available to married couples). Once in the US and married, the K-1 Visa Holder may obtain a social security card, Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and seek employment legally within the US. As a note, typically an EAD is applied for at the same time as the K-1 Visa Holder files for AOS (after marriage). Generally an EAD is issued within 90 days of the application being received. The K-1 Visa allows time for an engaged couple to be together in the US before marriage since the visa is good for 90 days. The Non-US Citizen Fiancé(e) must marry the US Citizen and apply for AOS to remain in the US. If they do not marry there are no other methods to remain in the US and they must return home. Minuses The K-1 Visa Holder will need to apply for Advance Parole (AP) if they wish to travel outside of the US while their AOS application is being processed and not yet approved. Leaving without an approved (and in hand) AP will result in abandoning the pending AOS application and require filing for a new visa (either K-3 or IR-1/CR-1) to re-enter the US. In nearly all cases, if the marriage fails prior to the K-1 Visa Holder's AOS application being approved there are no other options for legally remaining inside the United States; the K-1 Visa Holder will be required to leave the US. A K-1 Visa Holder only has "valid status" for 90 days after they enter the US (and must be married and apply for AOS by that time to not accrue "unlawful status". This 90 day window may not be extended. Only U.S. citizens can file for a fiance visa. Spousal Visa (K3) In General A K-3 Visa allows a Non-US Citizen (spouse) married to a US Citizen to legally enter the US and adjust status to become a Legal Permanent Resident. If a couple wishes to pursue this visa they must be legally married (or get married before starting the process). The couple may have previously been married either outside or within the US (the location does not matter as long as the marriage was officially recognized in the location in which it occurred). The process of obtaining a K-3 Visa starts by the U.S. citizen filing a form "I-130: Petition for Alien Relative" with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). This form is also filed to petition for an IR1 / CR1 Visa (see next section). What makes the K-3 Visa special is that instead of waiting for the I-130 to be approved, the US Citizen may, upon receipt of the I-130 being accepted by the USCIS, file an I-129F petition with the USCIS indicating the desire to obtain a K-3 Visa. This option has the benefit that the I-129F for a K-3 Visa will often be processed faster than the "underlying" I-130. This means that the time waiting for the Non-US Citizen Spouse to enter the US may be less. The USCIS is responsible for processing the I-129F and if approved will forward (via the National Visa Center) the petition to the consulate serving the location of the Non-US Citizen Spouse. The remainder of the process at the embassy is similar to the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa process. After the K-3 Visa is approved byt he US Consulate, the Non-US Citizen Spouse can enter the US with their status as a "K-3 Visa Holder" valid for two years. They may freely travel in and out of the US as the K-3 Visa is a multiple entry visa. At any time within these two years they may file for and initiate an Adjustment of Status (AOS) process with the USCIS (to become a Legal Permanent Resident). If so they will be deciding to Adjust Status within the US (just like a K-1 Visa Holder would) and will follow the normal AOS process which may take six months or even longer in some regions of the US. Alternately, if prior to filing for AOS the K-3 Visa Holder has their underlying I-130 petition approved by the USCIS they may instead (of filing for AOS) choose to return to their consulate abroad to interview and obtain an IR-1 / CR-1 Visa. In this case they would abandon their status as a K-3 Visa Holder and re-enter the US as a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa Holder. Entry into the US as a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa Holder results in the immediate conversion to becoming a Legal Permanent Resident (your green card is mailed out shortly after arrival in the US). You may view the K-3 current and historical processing time trends to get a better idea of the time the process may take at various stages. A married couple may also file solely for a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa instead of a K-3 Visa. See the next section for details. Pluses Once in the US, may apply for a social security card and an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Employment may be freely obatined while the K-3 Visa and EAD are valid. NO Advance Parole (AP) (unlike a K-1 Visa Holder needs) is required for travel to and from the US while the K-3 Visa is Valid. K3 and K4 visa recipients are in valid status for 2 years and the visa is a multiple re-entry visa. K-3/K-4 visa holders may extend status by showing strong intent to eventually adjust status. The K-3 Visa Holder may apply for Adjustment of Status within the US BEFORE the underlying I-130 petition is approved. Generally allows applicant to enter the US faster then waiting for the I-130 to be approved and the IR-1 / CR-1 visa to be issued. Minuses will have to file Adjustment of Status after entry to the US or once their I-130 petition is approved (while their K-3 Visa is valid) return to their home country to be interviewed for an IR-1 / CR-1 Visa. May only adjust status based on marriage to original US Citizen petitioner. If the marriage fails before Adjustment of Status is complete, the K-3 Visa Holder will have to leave the US. K-3 and K-4 visa holders cannot change to another visa status and stay in the US if the marriage fails. An Employment Authorization Document (EAD) must be obtained and there will be some waiting time before the K-3 Visa Holder can work. The exact amount of time for for an EAD to be approved is roughly 90 days. Spousal Visa (IR1 / CR1) In General A IR-1 / CR-1 Visa allows a Non-US Citizen (spouse) married to a US Citizen (see note at end) to legally enter the US, immediately becoming a Legal Permanent Resident upon entry. This option may take longer than obtaining a K-3 Visa. If a couple wishes to pursue this visa they must be legally married (or get married before starting the process). The couple may have previously been married either outside or within the US (the location does not matter as long as the marriage was officially recognized in the location in which it occurred). The process of obtaining a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa starts by the U.S. citizen filing a form "I-130: Petition for Alien Relative" with the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). This form is also filed if a couple intends to obtain a K-3 Visa (see above section). The USCIS is responsible for processing the I-130 and if approved will forward the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC may request certain information be provided to them (initial case processing) prior to forwarding the completed package to the consulate serving the location of the Non-US Citizen Spouse. The visa processing at the US Consulate is similar to other family visas such as the K-1 and K-3 however the IR-1 / CR-1 Visa is an "Immigrant Visa", which means the Non-US Citizen Spouse will upon receiving their visa and entering the US immediately become a Legal Permanent Resident. Their "green card" will be mailed to them shortly after their arrival. As a Legal Permanent Resident they may work and travel to and from the US freely using their "green card" and status as a Legal Permanent Resident. You may view the IR-1 / CR-1 Visa current and historical processing time trends to get a better idea of the time the process may take at various stages. A married couple may also file for a K-3 Visa while waiting for their I-130 to be approved. This is done by filing an I-129F after the I-130 has been received by the USCIS. See the above section for details. Note: Technically, a US Legal Permanent Resident can apply for this visa for their Non-US Citizen Spouse however the waiting time is up to five years. They can file and wait for a visa number to become available (again up to five years) or wait until they themselves become a US Citizen -- whichever comes first will allow the visa process to move forward immediately. Pluses This is an "Immigrant" Visa and will as such allow the applicant to arrive in the US as a Legal Permanent Resident. After entry into the US, as a Permanent Resident they may seek employment without restrictions. No Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is required. After entry into the US, as a Permanent Resident they will not require special permission to leave the US for travel. No Advance Parole (AP) document is required. IR1/CR1 Visas often do not take much longer than the K-3 Visa option. The benefit of entering the US and immediately becoming a US Legal Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder) to many people is worth the additional small wait in time. Minuses Separation from family may be longer than if filing for a K-3 Visa (or K-1 visa for a non-married fiance). The applicant will most likely not be able to enter the US while their IR1-CR-1 Visa is being processed. Direct Consular Filing In General Direct Consular Filing (DCF) allows a US Consulate to process a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa (for a Non-US Citizen (spouse) married to a US Citizen) without having to wait for the USCIS in the US to process the required paperwork. Instead all paperwork is filed and processed AT THE CONSULATE. This is often a much faster way to get a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa however there is one requirement that must typically be met: To Qualify: U.S. consulates will typically only do this for US citizens who are Legal Residents of the country (typically for at least six months) in which the US Consulate sits (overseas). You will be required to show proof. This can be any country with a US Consulate (that the US Citizen is a resident) and need not be the country in which the Non-US Citizen Spouse lives. If the US Citizen qualifies to file using DCF, in most cases it is the quickest route to obtaining a IR-1 / CR-1 Visa. Be sure to contact your respective Consulate to determine if this option is possible. Do not assume it will be. Once the IR-1 / CR-1 Visa is approved their rights of the IR-1 / CR-1 Visa Holder are the same as if they had gone through the USCIS in the US initially. The Non-US Citizen Spouse will upon receiving their visa and entering the US immediately become a Legal Permanent Resident. Their "green card" will be mailed to them shortly after their arrival. As a Legal Permanent Resident they may work and travel to and from the US freely using their "green card" and status as a Legal Permanent Resident. Pluses Potentially (if qualified) the quickest route to admission to the US and to Legal Permanent Resident in the US, based on marriage. The process usually takes less than 3 months The IR-1 / CR-1 Visa Holder has the same rights as if they had gone through the USCIS in the US initially. Wait times for the visa interview can be one week to three months, which is still faster than other marriage based visa options! Minuses Consular policies can change over time, and one should always confirm with the consulate that they will do this process. US Citizen must show proof of US domicile/intent to reestablish domicile to qualify as a Sponsor for the I-864. Additional Notes on DCF Notes about DCF: To find out whether you can file a petition at a specific post abroad, you must ask that post. For information on how to contact the post, please visit their specific U.S. Embassy or Consulate website.
  5. 1 point
    BE 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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