Immigration amnesty is the process where persons living in the US are granted legal immigration status subject to meeting some requirements. If you entered the US illegally or you came to the US legally but overstayed your visa, you may qualify for immigration amnesty. But what is important to note is that not all illegals qualify for this amnesty program. It is mostly granted to a particular group of people and to those who have not committed any other illegal activity other than being in the country illegally.
The Congress has occasionally passed legislation that paved way for specific groups of persons to immigration amnesty. Though we cannot come to a conclusion about the exact number of illegals, it can be roughly estimated to be around twelve million. Immigration amnesty has always had opposing viewpoints. Supporters of this are of the view that blanket amnesty should be granted to all illegals if they have not have committed any other crime. Their conception is that if all the persons who are in the US illegally were removed, the United States will be in for some serious economic setbacks.
Coming to the other side of the coin, those who oppose the amnesty program strongly believe that persons who are in the country illegally have already broken the law and therefore should not be granted legal status. They also feel that granting immigration amnesty to illegals will also embarrass immigrants who follow the rules when applying for legal immigration status.
Immigration amnesty process:
Since the laws surrounding immigration amnesty keep changing often, it is highly recommended you check if you qualify before actually applying. Generally, if you have overstayed your visa beyond the time you are allowed to or entered the US without the appropriate visa, you may qualify for immigration amnesty. If you qualify, even your child/ren and spouse will qualify to apply for a change of status in the US.
Since the entire process is very sophisticated, consult a qualified immigration attorney to help you through the process because of the frequent changes in the the legislation regarding amnesty. Though at the outset, the process might look simple and you might get a feeling that you are competent enough to go ahead with the process yourself, consulting an immigration attorney will turn out to be a wise decision.
You have to complete and file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the USCIS. You have to mail the completed form to the designated USCIS office. Along with this application, you will get detailed filing instructions. You will have information about the fees, the supporting documents that you have to include and also the mailing address.
You may apply for a work permit while your case is pending. Applying for a work permit allows you to remain and work legally in the US while you are yet to get a decision on your I-485 application filed. After reviewing your application, the USCIS will inform you about their decision. As you wait for the decision regarding your application, you cannot leave the US without completing certain documentation and forms. If you do not follow or do not give importance to such rules, it might even lead to your application getting rejected.
Generally, marriages that are performed legally and valid abroad are also legally valid in the United States. Should you have inquiries regarding the validity of a marriage abroad, you should direct it to the attorney general of the state in the United States where you live.
Marriages overseas are mostly performed by local, civil or religious officials. It is important to note that American diplomatic and consular officers are not allowed to perform marriages and marriages are not performed on the premises of any American embassy or consulate abroad.
The validity of marriages abroad solely depends on adhering to the laws of the country where the marriage is performed and does not depend on the presence of an American diplomatic or consular officer. However, Consular officers have the right to authenticate foreign marriage documents.
The embassy or tourist information bureau of the country where the marriage is to be held is the best source of information about marriage laws and procedures in that country. You can get some general information on marriage from the Overseas Citizens Services, Washington, DC. You can also get information from the American embassy and consulate abroad about marriage in the country in which they are located.
Marriages abroad are subject to the residency requirements of the country in which the marriage is to be performed. The waiting period is normally a long and winding one to obtain Green Card.
Many countries request for a valid U.S. passport be presented. Apart from this, birth certificates, divorce decrees, and death certificates have to be submitted. In some countries, you should have the documents presented to the marriage registrar first authenticated in the US by a consular official of that country. You can imagine how time consuming and expensive the process can turn out to be.
Though the age of majority for marriage differs from one country to another, as a general rule, persons under the age of 18 are required to present a written statement of consent executed by their parents before a notary public. In some countries, the law requires the parental consent statement be authenticated by a consular official of that foreign country in the US.
You should also get a certification from a competent authority that no impediment exists to the marriage. An affidavit of support eligibility to marry is needed.
Apart from the requirements mentioned above, many countries, like the US, require blood tests. Some countries may ask you to translate the documents presented to the marriage registrar into the native language of that country.
In some countries, getting married to a national of that country will automatically make the spouse a citizen of that country or make them qualify to become naturalized in that country in a quicker process. Such automatic acquisition of another nationality will not affect your American citizenship. But, getting naturalized in a foreign country on one’s own application and eligibility may result in the loss of American citizenship. It is best advised to persons planning to apply for a foreign nationality to contact an American embassy or consulate for any additional information.
US citizens are not the only ones who have to file tax returns. Certain US immigrants and residents may also have to file, depending on their immigration status in the US.
To figure out if you have to file a tax return in the US, you have to check whether or not you are classified as a tax resident. Per immigration laws, tax residents have to report their entire income, even if only a part of the income was earned in the US to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). If part or the entire income was earned internationally, the income will be subject to international tax treaties. Income earned in the US will be taxed by the US government.
Green card holders:
All lawful permanent residents (green card holders) are considered as tax residents in the US. Some immigrants are considered as tax residents based on how much time they spend in the US. But it is important to remember that this applies only to visa holders and not immigrants who have already obtained permanent residency.
Green card holders who spend too much time outside of the US should note that traveling too much can be taken as abandoning a green card and could result in removal proceedings. If you are a green card holder and do not file taxes in the US, it could hamper your chances of obtaining US citizenship as submitting tax returns during your time as a green card holder is mandatory when filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. Not filing taxes at all can also result in the deportation process.
Most immigrant visa holders are required to file US tax. Even if an immigrant visa holder has not been in the US a full year or has not made all of their income in the US, it establishes the fact that they are adapting to residency in the US. Tax returns are submitted as proof when immigrants file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Non immigrant visa holders only become tax residents if they spend at least 183 days of the year within the borders of the US. However, per the IRS, non immigrants who have been in the US for a total of at least 183 “weighted days” during the prior three years are also classified as tax residents. All the days in the current year count as one day, all days in the previous year are taken as one-third of a day, and all days in the year before that are taken as one-sixth of a day. If the total comes out to 183 days, the non immigrant is required to file a tax return. But this system does not apply to student visa holders and some foreign nationals who work for the government.
Non immigrants who have not been in the US for 183 weighted or non-weighted days and who can prove that they have a tax home abroad can be exempted as tax residents.
Undocumented immigrants do not pay taxes, as they want to avoid government inquiries into their undocumented status. But tens of thousands of undocumented residents file US tax returns every year. The IRS does not ask any information about immigration status on the tax forms. The IRS is not allowed to disclose taxpayer information to other US government agencies. Many people who do not have a legal immigration status hope that filing their taxes will somehow lead them to American citizenship some time later.
Adjustment of status is the last step in the green card or (LPR) process (that of becoming a legal permanent resident). You, the foreign national have to file an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status, most likely based on a pre-existing and approved or approvable Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). I-485 applications and I-130 or I-140 petitions can be filed concurrently depending on the immediate availability of an immigrant visa number. You are required to file the adjustment of status application along with an I-693 Medical Examination of Alien issued by a licensed Civil Surgeon and also a G-325A, Biographic Information form. These serve as documents to a complete medical and immunological history as well as a record of your places of employment and residence during the past five years.
The USCIS will schedule a date for you to have your fingerprints, picture and signature recorded for their FBI background check and entry in the USCIS records. Normally, an interview with a USCIS official is required in a majority of cases.
You are allowed to work and travel with a pending adjustment of status application. The application will be considered abandoned if you do not attend a biometrics appointment or interview. Applications may also be rejected if
- The underlying immigrant petition is denied/withdrawn
- You are found to have entered or resided in the US illegally (this may be waived if you originally entered with a valid visa and are an immediate relative of the US citizen-petitioner)
- You are judged as undesirable on the grounds of previous criminal convictions, affiliation with unsuitable political parties/organizations (former members of the Communist Party) and poor character or have weakening health problems, as well as other inadmissible grounds.
Once your Form I-485 is approved, a permanent residency card (green card) valid for ten years will be issued to you. After five years, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization. If you are an LPR who got your green card through marriage, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization after only three years if you are still living with the same spouse who originally filed the petition for you.
If you are a green card holder, you have certain restrictions on your rights. If you marry a foreign born spouse, you may have to remain separated for years from your spouse or family while the paper work needed to get immigration authorization wades through the system. As mentioned earlier, permanent resident cards come with a validity of ten years and you have to renew it on its expiration. You have to file Form I-90, Application to replace green card to get your green card replaced.
Persons who have held asylee or refugee status for one year or more will also qualify to file the application to adjust status to a permanent resident.
However, note that if you are outside the US, you are not eligible to file an application to adjust status to Permanent Resident. Eligible applicants outside the US may get a green card by applying for an Immigrant Visa at a US consulate abroad.
One of the many advantages of being a US citizen is that you can sponsor your loved ones for a green card to come and live with you in the US. As a US citizen, you may petition your spouse, parents and children for the green card status. Whereas, if you a legal permanent resident (green card holder), you will be able to sponsor only your spouse and unmarried children.
Green Card For Child Application Process
The first step is the “Immigrant Petition” that will establish a qualifying relationship between you, the sponsor and your child abroad followed by the green card application. If your child is in the US, you can file the immigrant petition and green card for child application at the same time. But, if you are a lawful permanent resident, your child must wait for the immigrant petition to be approved before they can file the the green card application.
While sponsoring a green card for child, the first step is to submit Form I-130, the immigrant petition. If your child lives outside the US, the application for an immigrant visa has to be filed at a US consulate which has jurisdiction over your child’s place of residence.
If your child/children live in the US, then you file form I-485 through which you can adjust status. If your child lives in the US and is both unmarried and under the age of 21, then you can submit Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time. This is generally the fastest way to apply for a green card. As a legal permanent resident, if your child is married or over 21 or lives outside the US, then you must wait for the Form I-130 to be approved before moving to the next step in the process.
If you are a US citizen, you can also sponsor your married child for a green card. Married sons and daughters of US citizens fall in the third-preference category which means that they must wait for a visa number to become available before they can apply for a visa. In simple terms, married sons and daughters must wait longer than unmarried sons and daughters to apply for a green card. However, note that legal permanent residents may not sponsor their married sons and daughters for a green card.
As a US citizen parent, you can sponsor your unmarried children below the age of 21 as “immediate relatives”. They can directly apply for a green card without having to wait for a priority date to become current. Though, as a US citizen, you can sponsor your children who are married or over the age of 21, these children will not qualify as immediate relatives. These applicants will need to wait for their priority date to be current before they are eligible to apply for a green card.
A monthly visa bulletin published by the Department of State tells applicants when their priority date is current. Before applying for a green card, applicants must wait for their priority date to become current.
It is important to remember that if you are bringing a relative to live permanently in the US, you must accept legal responsibility for financially supporting this family member. You accept this responsibility and become your relative’s sponsor by completing and signing a document called an affidavit of support. This legally enforceable responsibility lasts until your relative becomes a US citizen or can be credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years.)
The immigration process to the US differs depending on your current place of stay. If you are outside the US, you have to go through consular processing at the embassy in your country. If you are already in the US and eligible to apply for a green card (through sponsorship by an employer or family member or based on holding asylee or refugee status), you can file an Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident through Form I 485.
If you are in the US and have an approved immigrant petition, you will be eligible to file an application to adjust status to a permanent resident (green card holder) of the US. In a layman’s words, adjustment of status is the process by which a foreign national applies for a green card while being in the US. It is important that you have a “current” priority date in order to qualify, unless you are applying in a category for which visa numbers are always available. Priority date is the date you filed the immigrant petition. If you are applying based on being married to a US citizen spouse, the parent or child may qualify to file the application to adjust status to a permanent resident at the same time your immigrant petition is submitted.
Are you an individual who held asylee or refugee status for one year or more? If so, you may also be eligible to file to adjust status to a permanent resident. However, if you are outside the US, you cannot file to adjust status. Under such circumstances, you can apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate in your country. Cuban nationals requesting a change in the date their permanent residence began in the US may also file Form I 485.
Form I 485 Process
You really need to know the ropes when it comes to filing immigration petitions/applications as it might be sophisticated at times. You have to file Form I 485 with the needed supporting documents and fees with the local USCIS office. If you are 79 years of age or older or under 14 years, you will not be charged a biometric fee. If you are filing this form based on being admitted to the US as a refugee, then you need not pay any fee.
Once you have submitted your application with the required supporting documents and fee, the USCIS will start the processing. After processing, if your application is approved, you have to make an appointment to get your passport stamped through INFOPASS. You can use this stamp as temporary proof that you are a permanent resident until your physical card (the green card) arrives. You can use this to travel outside of the US.
If your application is rejected, USCIS will send you a letter that will have the details as to why the application was denied. If you are not in a legal status in the US, the process to remove you from the country will begin as soon as your application is denied.
In such a case, you can have an immigration judge review the denial of your Form I 485 during removal proceedings. During this review, immigration officials have to prove that the information on your application was untruthful and that your application was rightly denied. Even after this, if the judge decides to remove you from the country, you can still appeal this decision. You can appeal within 33 days after the immigration judge passed the judgment. The appeal will then be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals once your appeal form and the required fees are processed.
Permanent residents have the authorization to live and work permanently in the United States. United States allows US citizens and permanent residents to help their immediate relatives to immigrate to United States on a permanent basis. Family based immigration is an immigrant visa classification which allows a foreign individual to become a permanent resident through a family member in the United States who is either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may then petition for your immediate relatives for a green card. Obtaining a Green Card for your family is a two step process. The first step is filing the Family Immigration Petition. This is filed to establish a qualifying relationship between yourself and your immediate relative. The second step involves applying for a green card. If the family member is inside the United States, then the applicant may qualify to adjust status to permanent resident without returning to their home country. Or if the family member is outside the United States, then the applicant must file the petition at the United States consulate or through an US Embassy that has jurisdiction over their foreign place of residence.
Green Card for Your Father:
Although the immigration law has given the privilege to both US citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for their family members, only US citizens are allowed to petition for their parents. If you are looking out to obtain green card for your father, then you need to satisfy the following requirements.
1. To be eligible to petition for your father:
- you must be a US citizen
- you must be at least 21 years of age.
2. Your father must fall into one of these categories.
- Must be your natural father
- if step father, then he must have married your mother before you turned 18
- if adopted father, then you must have been adopted before you turned 16.
3. You must then file Form I 130 to petition your father. This form is used to request an immigrant visa for your father. You need to file your petition with USCIS along with supporting documents such as naturalization certificate or a US. passport. Submit your petition to the appropriate USCIS address.
4. When you send your petition to USCIS you must ensure you include the required supporting documents. The list of the supporting documents is given below.
- Birth Certificate showing he is your natural father
- Provide name change proof if your father has changed his name
- Natural parent’s marriage certificate. (If stepfather, provide marriage certificate to your biological mother)
- If you were adopted, then adoption decree before you turned 16 and a statement which mentions the places and time you lived with your adoptive parents
5. Once the I 130 petition to obtain a green card for your father has been approved, your father can apply for a green card. If your father is outside US he has to apply at a US consulate. If he is inside US, he should apply for adjustment of states with USCIS.
Most people who wish to help their fiance(e) immigrate to US have a doubt on what form to file, whether K1 visa or Form I 130. It depends on the the length of the relationship, the supporting evidence, the number of times the sponsor or the petitioner has physically met their fiance(e), are few of the considerations to file the appropriate form.
Only the citizens of the US may file a K1 visa for a fiance(e). If you are a legal permanent resident you may then have to file Form I 130 to petition your spouse. A K1 visa is issued to the fiance(e) of a United States citizen to enter the US and marry the United Citizen within 90 days after the entry of the fiance(e) into US. A K3 visa is used by a US citizen to bring his or her spouse to the US. Form I 130 is used by a US Citizen or a legal permanent resident to petition his or her spouse for a green card.
The average waiting time for K1 visa is approximately 7-9 months, K-3 petitions take approximately 8-10 months and Form I 130 petitions take approximately 8-12 months to be processed.
What Form Must I File?
If you are a US Citizen and you wish to bring your fiance(e) to US to get married you must file K1 visa application. On approval of the petition by the US Citizen, the fiance(e) may travel to United States for a period of 90 days. A K-1 visa requires a fiance(e) to marry his or her US citizen sponsor within 90 days of entry into the United States. The fiance(e) may then obtain work permit to work in the United States. It is mandatory that the US Citizen and the fiance(e) must be married within the 90 days period , so that the fiance(e) will be eligible to apply to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident.
If you are a US Citizen and you wish to bring your spouse to US then you must file K3 visa application. You can apply for a K-3 visa for your spouse only after you have filed the I-130 petition. Your spouse can enter the US on a K3 visa while the I-130 is pending and must apply to adjust status to a permanent resident with the USCIS upon approval of the petition.
Form I 130 is used by either by a US Citizen or a Legal Permanent Resident to petition their spouse to immigrate to United States. This process is a lengthy process when compared to that of K1 and other processes.
A K1 visa holder will not be able work or leave the country until they apply for adjustment of status. When they file for adjustment of status, applications for employment and travel will also have to be filed. After 90 days of filing the petition, the spouse may be able to travel and work.
A K-3 visa is a multiple-entry visa and the spouse may travel out of the country. The K 3 visa holder must apply for an EAD/work permit and it has to be filed along with the adjustment of status application.
Once the adjustment of status application is approved, the applicant acquires legal permanent resident status. They may then obtain employment immediately and also travel outside the country.
Living in the US after marrying can be boring if the spouse or family is not with you. Such people by all means try to bring their family as well to the US . True enough, uniting with the family and living in the US is a pleasant experience. In order to bring the spouse to the US there are certain procedures and guidelines to be followed which are laid down by the US government.
Spouse refers to the legally wedded husband or wife. Spouse immigration is the process where a non U.S citizen living abroad marries a US citizen and later becomes a lawful permanent resident of the US. By applying for the non immigrant K3 visa the spouse can join the US citizen. The K3 is almost similar to the K1 visa but has its own limitations. Under the US immigration laws, the K3 visa should be applied for by the US citizen spouse at the USCIS office where the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is pending. K3 visa holders can later on apply for adjustment of status with the Department of Homeland Security after the petition is approved.
Filing the K3 Petition:
One of the mistakes that some couples commit is marrying within the foreign country, and then following the K1 visa process to bring their spouse into the US. It is always a well known fact that K 1 visa is only for a fiance, whom he/she is going to marry and not a spouse. Background checking is conducted thoroughly by the Homeland Security and in cases where they find a record of the fiance already married to the U.S. citizen, the whole process will come to a standstill thereby leading to many complications. It is always fair enough to follow the rules and regulations to have a successful entry with a K3 visa .
As a first step, the US citizen sponsor should file a Petition for Alien Relative with form I-130 with the USCIS. After the notice of action is received, Form I-129F is filed which is the Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), for the foreign spouse and children of the spouse. After the USCIS approves the I-129F, the petition will be sent to the National Visa center which after processing will send it to the US embassy or the consulate. Instructions on how to proceed will be given at the US consulate or the embassy.
Required documents as evidence:
When applying for K3 visa there are certain supporting documents required as evidence and need to be shown at the time of the interview. The supporting documents include birth certificates, marriage certificates, evidence of financial support or Affidavit of support, evidence of relationship with the spouse, proof of income, bank account, medical examinations and vaccination requirements, etc . Certain acts like drug trafficking, overstaying on a previous visa and submitting falsified documents will make the applicant ineligible for a visa. The K3 visa generally holds good for the people who have married a US citizen abroad and who live aboard.
If you are one among those who wish to work in the US permanently, then here we go. Not many know the fact that they can be sponsored a green card by an employer. The form I-140 is a petition filed by the US employer for a foreign national to work in the US on a permanent basis. Form I140 can also be used to self petition by some highly qualified foreign professionals.
Documents that Accompany Form I-140:
Generally Form I-140 is filed by the US employer and is usually the second step in the green card process. For most cases the labor certification must be approved. The labor certificate should certify that there are no US workers qualified to do the job where the alien is presently working and if qualified that the wages of the employed US workers will not be affected .
The employer should prove that he is in good financial position and can provide enough salary as advertised for the job. The following documents should be provided along with the completed form I-140 application.
- Labor certification that is approved
- A financial statement proving that the employer’s financial position
- Employee’s experience letters at the previous employments from the concerned employers
- Degree certificates, qualification certificates and other documents proving the educational qualification.
- The required fees along with the filled form I 140
The visa petition when submitted to the USCIS should always include details of whether the petition from the beneficiary is being filed at an American Consulate for an immigrant visa or whether the beneficiary will apply for an adjustment of status with the USCIS.
Once the application is completed it has to be mailed along with the necessary supporting documents to the USCIS. After the USCIS receives the form I-140 petition, an Application Receipt Notice will be sent which will have a file number to the case. This receipt is proof or an acknowledgment that the USCIS has received your petition. On approval of the petition by the USCIS an Approval Notice will be issued which is an assurance that the petition is approved by the USCIS and then comes the green card process.
Though the application is approved, it does not change the non immigrant status of the applicant. The status will remain the same as before the petition was approved. The petition’s approval relies on the applicant’s job and if there is a change in the job a new form I140 is required. The beneficiary of this approved petition will then have to apply to adjust status or for an immigrant visa.
Further, a major advantage is that Form I-485 can be concurrently filed with form I-140. If the form I 140 is filed already with the application notice, form I-485 can be filed along with Employment authorization and Advance parole. The option of E filing is also available while filing the form I-140 in which case it will automatically be sent to appropriate Service Center. Once the from I 140 is accepted, it will be checked for completeness and in case of any incomplete information there is a possibility of denial of the application.
Getting a petition approved is not a big task, but the follow up tasks are much more important for which a proper guidance is essential. With proper direction the process can indeed be more faster and easier as well.