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.)
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.
Of the many visas granted in the United States, visas for visiting the United States comes to you with a time line and you must leave the country or face the risk of being deported. However, there are instances where a person may wish to stay longer in the United States before returning to his or her home country. If that is the case, it is important to file for a visa extension, or change of status, so that you as an applicant are not forcibly removed and also to prevent from being barred from entering the United States in the future.
Lets check some of the eligibility criteria that apply for a US visa extension.
Extending the US visas is not that easy as it might seem on paper. Several different requirments are to be met for your US visas to be extended. An extension can only be applied if:
- You have entered into the US lawfully with a valid non-immigrant visa.
- Your immigrant visa is still valid
- Your passport is still valid and will remain so even during your extended stay in the United States.
- You have not committed any crimes that might invalidate your visa.
- You have not violated any conditions of your admission to the U.S.
If you have met these restrictions, your US visas may be extended by filing the application to extend your stay in the US. One interesting fact is that you can use the same application to either extend or change your status with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS.
You can use the Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Your Nonimmigrant status.
Some US visas are not eligible for an extension. You cannot file to lengthen your stay if you were admitted to the US as:
- A fiance(e) of a US Citizen or child of that fiance(e)
- Being part of the Visa Waiver Program.
- Crew member (D nonimmigrant visa).
- A traveler through the US on a C nonimmigrant visa.
- A traveler through the U.S. without a valid visa.
- An informant of organized crime or terrorism.
Broadly the US visas are categorized into two. They are:
- Immigrant visas: The immigrant visa are for those immigrants who intend to reside permanently in the United States (whether or not they intend to take up work). To qualify for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a US citizen or relative(s) or by a prospective employer. In all these cases an Affidavit of Support Form is required for family-based and employment based immigrants, to prove that there is adequate means of financial support in the United States, by the petitioner or the sponsor(s) for the immigrants.
- Non-Immigrant visas: This is the second type of US visas and is intended for people with permanent residence outside the United States but who wish to be in the United States for a short duration only. In short, their visa is for visiting the United States temporarily. This visa is mainly for persons who are entering for tourism, studies, business, medical treatment, as professional journalists, as representatives of any Government, etc.
The INA (Immigration and Nationality Act) defines a K-1 visa as a non-immigrant visa classification for aliens coming to the United States to marry an American citizen and to set up residence in the United States.
Procedure and requirements for K-1 visa:
To be eligible to file for a K-1 visa the applicant should be :
- A US citizen.
- Must have met his fiancé in person within the previous two years or at least once.
- Should have a serious intention to marry within 90 days of the fiancé’s arrival in the United States.
- Should have a minimum income requirement to qualify for the Affidavit of Support so that the fiancé does not become a public charge.
To get started with the K-1 visa process the American citizen must file a petition on behalf of his alien fiancée with the Form I-129F, Petition for Relative or Fiancée, with the (USCIS) having jurisdiction over the place of the petitioner’s residence in the United States. Such petitions are not generally adjudicated abroad.
Once the petition is approved it will be forwarded by the USCIS to the American consular office where the alien fiancée will apply for his or her visa. This petition is valid only for a period of four months from the date of USCIS action and may be revalidated by the consular officer.
On receipt of an approved petition, the American consular officer will intimate the beneficiary and provide the necessary forms and instructions to apply for a K-1 visa.
As the fiancée visa applicant is an intending immigrant, he or she must meet most of the documentary requirements of an immigrant visa applicant.
The following documents are generally required in addition to the prescribed application forms.
- A valid passport
- Birth certificate
- Divorce or death certificate of any previous spouse
- Police certificate from all places lived since age 16
- Medical examination
- Evidence of support
- Evidence of valid relationship with the petitioner
- As soon as the processing of the case is completed the consular officer will interview the fiancée.
- If found eligible then a visa will be issued which will be valid for one entry during a period of six months.
K-1 Fiancé Visa and U.S. PORT OF ENTRY:
On entry into the US the marriage should take place within 90 days of admission. Following the marriage the spouse must apply to the USCIS for conditional permanent residence status. After two years the alien may apply to the USCIS for removal of the conditions.
K-1 Fiancé Visa Additional Details:
Unmarried minor children who are under 21 years of age of the K-1 visa holder will derive “K-2” non-immigrant visa status from the parent as long as they are mentioned in the petition. A separate petition though is not required if the children accompany or follow the alien fiancée within one year from the date of issuance of the K-1visa. From thereon a separate immigrant visa (I-130) petition is required.
Bringing your loved ones to the United States can be an exciting time. However, one must be prepared and patient, but eventually one can enjoy life together with his/her fiancé.
Immigrants who are applying to obtain a Green Card through a family member must submit an I-864, Affidavit of Support form. The Affidavit of Support form is used to show the USCIS that a Green Card applicant has a financial sponsor and has enough financial support to live without concern of becoming dependent on U.S. government welfare.
Form I-864 is legally required for many family-based and some employment based immigrants to show that, when they plan to immigrate to the US, they have adequate means of support. Generally, the following immigrants need an Affidavit of Support namely:
- Family based immigrant visa applicants, including certain orphans, and
- Employment based immigrant visa applicants whose relative filed the visa petition or has at least 5 percent or more ownership interest in the business that filed the petition.
So who qualifies as a sponsor in the I-864, affidavit of support case?
A sponsor must be at least 18 years old and either an American citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR). The sponsor should also have a domicile (residence) in the United States. The petitioner who is residing abroad should have a principal residence in the U.S. and intend to maintain that residence in the future. Lawful permanent resident sponsors should show they are maintaining their permanent resident status.
Many U.S. citizens and permanent residents reside outside the United States on a temporary basis, usually for work or due to family situations. This “Temporary” status will cover an extended period of residence abroad. Certain conditions need to be fulfilled by the sponsor living abroad to be considered domiciled in the United States.
An American citizen or permanent resident spouse or his /her dependent who has maintained a residence in the U.S. and/or whose spouse/parent works would also qualify as a sponsor related to the I-864, Affidavit of Support form.
Often, applicants get confused with the Form I-864 and Form I-134. The I-134 (affidavit of support) is not a legally binding affidavit, it is used for non-immigrant visas. Until you marry (and subsequently file for Adjustment of status), the non US Citizen fiancé(e) will hold a non immigrant visa. This allows them to get into the US before having a legal relationship with the US Citizen fiancé(e).
Whereas the I-864 (Affidavit of Support) is a legally binding contract proving that the sponsor will be financially responsible for the immigrant in the event the immigrant attempts to benefit from certain federal aid programs. This form is filed at the Adjustment of Status part of the journey (after the Non US Citizen has traveled to the States and got married). This form is several pages long, demands detailed financial information, and is legally binding.
Although USCIS does not charge a fee for this I-864 form, a $70 fee is charged by the Department of State when the Affidavit of Support form is reviewed domestically. Whereas it does not apply when the Affidavit of Support is filed abroad.
The National Visa Center processes the immigrant visa petitions after the USCIS approves them. A bill will be sent to the petitioner by the National Visa Center asking him/her to pay an AoS processing fee when the immigrant visa case is current or about to become current, Instructions on where and how to pay the bill will be sent along with the bill.