- How Can I Become A Permanent Resident Of The US?
In order to become a permanent resident of the US, you must apply through the UCSIS, which includes the following:
(1) File Form 1485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
(2) Pay applicable fees set forth in Supplement A of Form 1485;
(3) File Form G?325A Biographic Data Sheet (between the ages 14 and 79);
(4) File Form I?693 Medical Examination Sheet (not required if applying based on continuous residence since before 1972, or if you have had a medical exam based on a fiance visa;
(5) Provide two color photos taken within 30 days (Form I?485 has instructions);
(6) File Form I?864 Affidavit of Support (completed by sponsor);
(7) File Form I?765 Authorization for Employment (if seeking employment while the case is processed); and
(8) Provide evidence of inspection, admission or parole into the US (Form I?94, Arrival Departure Record).
There may be additional forms and other materials to submit if you were initially admitted as the fiance of a US citizen, if you are a Cuban citizen, if you have been a continuous resident of the US for a certain number of years, or other special circumstances.
- Can I Appeal The Denial Of My Petition Or Application?
Should a petition or application be denied or revoked by the USCIS, in most cases you may appeal that decision to a higher authority. The Administrative Appeals Office (“AAO“) has jurisdiction over 40 petitions and applications.
If you receive a denial notice, it will advise you of your right to appeal, the correct appellate jurisdiction (AAO or BIA), and provide you with the appropriate appeal form and time limit. There are strict deadlines that must be met to properly file an appeal.
The appeal must be filed with the correct fee at the office that made the original decision. You may file a brief (explanation) in support of the appeal.
After review, the appellate authority may agree with you and change the original decision, disagree with you and affirm the original decision, or send the matter back to the original office for further action.
In addition to the right to appeal (in which you ask a higher authority to review a denial), you may file a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider with the office that made the unfavorable decision.
By filing these motions, you may ask the office to reexamine or reconsider its decision.
- How Can I Enter The US?
You can enter the US through over 300 Ports-of-Entry (POE). A POE is any station: land, air or water, through which a person can enter the US.
Immigration officials inspect all persons entering the US at a port-of-entry. At the port of entry, an official must authorize the visitor’s admission to the U.S.
At that time Form I-94, Record of Arrival/Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted, is stamped.
Those visitors who wish to stay beyond the time indicated on Form I-94 must contact the USCIS to request Form I-539, Application to Extend Status.
The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay is made solely by the USCIS.
- What Are The Prerequisites To Obtaining U.S. Citizenship?
Certain guidelines determine whether or not one is eligible to obtain U.S. citizenship. They include:
- Age: Applicant must be at least 18 years old; Residency: applicant must be a permanent resident and have resided in the U.S. continuously for the past three years;
- Good Moral Character: Full disclosure of all facts pertaining to one’s character is necessary, including an applicant’s criminal history;
- Attachment to The Constitution: A demonstrated commitment to upholding the U.S. Constitution’s principles;
- Language: The ability to read, write, and speak some English; U.S.
- Government and History Knowledge: Passage of the Immigration Test; Taking the Oath of Allegiance.
- How Can I Obtain An Immigrant Visa So That I May Live Here Permanently?
There are three basic ways in which someone can obtain an immigrant visa:
1) By having a family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident file a family-based immigrant visa petition on their behalf,
2) Through employment
3) By entering and “winning” an immigrant visa through the annual Diversity Visa lottery.
- What Are Some Of The Responsibilities Of A U.S. Citizen?
Some of the responsibilities of a U.S. citizen include: Participate in jury duty or armed forces if called upon; Pay taxes; Respect the rights of others; Obey the law.
- What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Becoming A U.S. Citizen?
The advantages of becoming a citizen of the United States are many. The following is a list of some of the benefits that clients seek:
- The right to vote;
- The reuniting of families;
- Protection of children’s right to remain in the U.S.;
- Freedom to travel with U.S. passport;
- SSI (Supplemental Security Income), based on certain contingencies
- How Do I Become A Naturalized U.S. Citizen?
If you are not a US citizen by birth or did not acquire citizenship automatically after birth, you may still be eligible to become a citizen through the normal naturalization process.
If you are are 18 years and older, you use the ” Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400) to become naturalized.
If you acquired citizenship from parent(s) while under 18 years of age use the “Application for a Certificate of Citizenship” (Form N-600) to document your naturalization.
If you are an adopted child who acquired citizenship from your parent(s) use the “Application for a Certificate of Citizenship on Behalf of an Adopted Child” (Form N-643) to document your naturalization.
- Who Has Citizenship By Birth?
Persons who are born in the United States are citizens at birth unless they are born to foreign diplomats. A person who is born abroad to TWO US citizens is a US citizen if both parents were US citizens at his or her birth and at least one parent lived in the US at some point in his or her life.
For those born abroad to only ONE US citizen, if you are born outside the United States after November 14, 1986 and only one of your parents was a citizen at the time of your birth you may qualify for citizenship if:
- Your citizen parent lived at least 5 years in the US before you were born,
- 2 out of 5 of these years were after his or her 14th birthday.
If you were born outside the United State before November 14, 1986 and only one of your parents was a citizen at the time of your birth you will qualify for citizenship if:
- Your citizen parent lived in the US for at least 10 years before you were born, and
- 5 out of 10 of these years were after his or her 14th birthday.
- Who Is Eligible For Asylum And How Might I Apply?
Asylum may be granted to people who are arriving in or already physically present in the United States. To apply for asylum in the United States, you may ask for asylum at a port-of-entry (airport, seaport, or border crossing), or file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, at the appropriate Service Center within one year of your arrival in the United States.
You may apply for asylum regardless of your immigration status, whether you are in the United States legally or illegally. You must apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the United States, but you may apply for asylum later than one year if there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year.
- How Do I Obtain Refugee Status?
U.S. immigration law provides for giving refugee status and asylum status to persons who have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, nationality, religion, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
If you are outside the United States and wish to apply for refugee status through the United States Resettlement Program (USRP), you must first get a referral from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or, in rare instances, the U.S. Embassy in your country.
A referral is not the same thing as being registered with the UNHCR. If you are already registered with the UNHCR, but wish to apply for resettlement in a third country under P1, you need to make a formal application through the UNHCR.
This means that the person must go to the UNHCR and request to be considered for a Priority-1 interview with the US Resettlement Program. Without this referral, a person cannot be considered under Priority-1 processing.
- What Is The Benefit Of Being A Permanent Resident?
As a lawful permanent resident you receive a permanent resident card, commonly known as a Green Card.
This card is evidence of your status as a lawful permanent resident and of your registration in accordance with United States immigration laws.
The benefit of the becoming a permanent resident is that you obtain a right to live and work permanently in the United States.
- What Is A Green Card?
A green card is, technically, a United States Permanent Resident Card. This card serves as identification for one who is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. Holders of this card may conditionally reside and work in the U.S. This card was previously referred to as the Alien Registration Receipt Card and still may be called form I-551. Although the green card has not been green since 1978, the term remains commonly used.
- How Long Can I Stay In The U.S. As A Student?
You are allowed to stay in the United States for as long as you are enrolled as a full-time student in an educational program and making normal progress toward completing your course of study.
If approved, you also will be allowed to stay in the country up to twelve additional months beyond the completion of your studies to pursue practical training.
At the end of your studies or practical training, you will be given sixty days to prepare to leave the country.
- How Do I Apply To Study In The U.S.?
You first must apply to study at a USCIS-approved school in the United States. When you contact a school that you are interested in attending, you should be told immediately if the school accepts foreign national students.
If you are accepted, the school should give you USCIS Form I-20 A-B/ID (Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant (F-1) Student Status – for Academic and Language Students).
If you require a visa, then you should take the USCIS Form I-20 to the nearest U.S. consulate to obtain a student visa. Only bring the USCIS Form I-20 from the school you plan on attending for visa processing at the U.S. consulate.
You must also prove to the consulate that you have the financial resources required for your education and stay in the United States.
- I am in love. I want to bring my Fiance / Fiancee to the United States. Can I?
Yes, you can. There is a procedure whereby the petitioner (the US citizen individual) petitions for the foreign-born Fiance / Fiancee to come to the United States.
After the Fiance / Fiancee is issued a visa, he or she can come to the United States. However, he or she must marry the petitioner within 90 days after entry to the United States otherwise the visa is dead.
- How Do I Know What Government Agency I Am Dealing With?
The answer depends on whether the problem involves a visa, a petition requesting permission to enter the United States, or labor certification.
If the problem involves a visa, it probably involves the Department of State, which is the only federal agency than can issue a visa. There are two types of visas:
1. Non-immigrant Visa: A multicolored stamp placed in the passport, allowing the bearer to enter the United States temporarily for a specific purpose, identifies this visa.
2. Immigrant Visa: Not stamped in a passport, but is a packet of documents surrendered to an immigration officer at the port of entry.
The packet includes an approved petition filed by an individual, a business or an organization (such as a religious group) seeking to sponsor an immigrant’s entry into this country.
If the problem involves a petition requesting permission to enter the United States as an immigrant, or under certain circumstances, as a non-immigrant, such as for employment or as a fiance, the situation involves USCIS. If the problem involves labor certification, it involves the Department of Labor.
- What If I Would Like To Live And Work In The U.S. And I Have Family Already Living There?
A lawful permanent resident is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States.
If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States, or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, you must go through a multi-step process.
The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, for you. This petition is filed by your relative (sponsor) and must be accompanied by proof of your relationship to the requesting relative.
The Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, the foreign national, even if you are already in the United States.
When an immigrant visa number is available, it means you can apply to have one of the immigrant visa numbers assigned to you. You can check the status of a visa number in the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin.
If you are already in the United States, you may apply to change your status to that of a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available to you. This is one way you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number.
If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you must then go to the U.S. consulate servicing the area in which you reside to complete your processing. This is the other way to secure an immigrant visa number.
- How Do I Apply For Immigrant Status Based On Employment?
An immigrant is a foreign national who is authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant based on employment:
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USICS) must approve an immigrant petition (application) that was filed for you, usually by an employer.
In most employment, a U.S. employer must complete a labor certification request (ETA 750) for you from the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration.
The State Department must give you an immigrant visa number, even if you are already in the United States.
If you are already in the United States, you must apply to adjust to permanent resident status when a visa number becomes available.