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Green Card Application

Attorney Sarjo Barrow discusses the process of green card application and eligibility requirements for obtaining a green card.

Are you admitted into United States as:

  • A refugee
  • A qualifying family member of an asylee, or
  • Granted asylum in the United States; and
  • You are physically present in the United States one year after the grant of asylum or your entry

Then you may eligible to apply for Permanent residency (fondly called a green card) in the United States.

Refugees must apply for a green card if they:

  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being admitted as a refugee
  • Have not had your refugee admission terminated
  • Have not already acquired permanent resident (Green Card) status

Asylee may apply for green card if they:

  • Have been physically present in the United States for at least 1 year after being granted asylum
  • Continue to meet the definition of a asylee (or continue to be the spouse or child of such asylee)
  • Have not abandoned your asylee status
  • Are not firmly resettled in any foreign country
  • Continue to be admissible to the United States (A waiver may be available to you if you are now inadmissible)

PLEASE NOTE:

As a refugee, you are required by law to apply for permanent resident status one year after being admitted to the United States.  This means that you MUST apply for green card one year after entry. As an asylee, you are not required to apply for permanent resident status after being granted asylum for one year, although we strongly recommend that you do because it may be in your best interest.

Fiancé(e) Visas

Eligibility Requirements

United States citizens may file an immigration petition on behalf of their fiancé(e) to come to the USA and get married.  To file such petition, the US citizen must show that:

  • He/she (the petitioner) is a U.S. citizen.
  • He/she intends to marry within 90 days of his/her fiancé(e) entering the United States.
  • Him/her and fiancé(e) are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment.
  • He/she met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition. There are two exceptions that require a waiver:
    1. If the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice.
    2. If you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you.

The fiancé(e) must attend his/her interview and the consular issues the Fiancé(e) Visa

After the interview, and the US consular issues a fiancée visa, (or K-1 nonimmigrant visa if you are not yet married) your fiancé(e) will be allowed to enter the United States for 90 days so that your marriage ceremony can take place. Once you marry, your spouse may apply for permanent residence (green card) and remain in the United States while USCIS processes the application.

What happened if your fiancé(e) is denied a visa and the subsequent treatment of I-129F petitions and the returns of the expired petition to USCIS.

When your fiancée is denied a visa, the US embassy will send the petition back to National Visa Center (NVC). Once USCIS receives a consular returned I-129F for K-1 classification from DOS (NVC specifically) and the petition has expired in accordance with 8 CFR214.2(k)(5), USCIS will allow the petition to remain expired and will not reaffirm or reopen the petition. However, this will not preclude the petitioner from filing another petition.

Children of Fiancé(e)s

If your fiancé(e) has a child (under 21 and unmarried), a K-2 nonimmigrant visa may be available to him or her. Be sure to include the names of your fiancé(e)’s children on your Form I-129F petition.

Permission to Work

After admission, your fiancé(e) may immediately apply for permission to work in USA with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over your place of residence. Any work authorization based on a nonimmigrant fiancé (e) visa would be valid for only 90 days after entry. However, your fiancé (e) would also be eligible to apply for an extended work authorization at the same time when he or she files for permanent residence. In this instance, the work permit application must be file concurrently with the green card application.

What happens if we do not marry within 90 days?

Fiancé(e) status automatically expires after 90 days. It cannot be extended. Your fiancé(e) should leave the United States at the end of the 90 days if you do not marry. If your fiancé(e) does not depart, he or she will be in violation of U.S. immigration law. This may result in removal (deportation) and/or could affect future eligibility for U.S. immigration benefits. Not to mention, if you enter the US through a K-1 visa and did not marry the original petitioner, you cannot adjust your status to permanent resident in USA even if you married another US citizen. You must leave the country.

Hardship Waivers

There are many types of waivers available under immigration law. The most common types are:

  1. Provisional unlawful presence waiver, I-601A
  2. Waiver of grounds of inadmissibility, I-601

Traditionally, people who entered the USA without inspection and admission (cross the broader illegally or enter without visa) are not eligible to adjust their status in USA. These people must leave the country and consular process. The risk is if you have entered illegally and lived in USA for a period of 180 days but less than a year and leave, your automatically trigger the 3 years’ unlawful presence bar. If you leave here unlawfully for more than a year and then leave, you will face the 10-year bar. Before March 4, 2013, family members of immigrant must appear for your interview and have DOS consular officer determined that they are inadmissible before applying for the waiver. With coming of the I-601A, you can apply for the waiver before leaving for your consular interview.

If you need more information about waivers, criminal or otherwise, please contact our office.

To be eligible for a provisional unlawful presence waiver, you must fulfill ALL of the following conditions:

  • Be physically present in the United States to file your application and provide biometrics.
  • Be 17 years of age or older.
  • Be in the process of obtaining your immigrant visa  and have an immigrant visa case pending with Department of State (DOS) because you:
    • Are the principal beneficiary of an approved Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative; an approved Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker; or an approved Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant who has paid the immigrant visa processing fee;
    • Have been selected by DOS to participate in the Diversity Visa (DV) Program (that is, you are a DV Program selectee); or
    • Are the:
      • spouse or child of a principal beneficiary of an approved immigrant visa petition who has paid the immigrant visa processing fee to DOS, or
      • spouse or child of a DV Program selectee (that is, you are a DV Program derivative)
  • Be able to demonstrate that refusal of your admission to the United States will cause extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident spouse or parent.
  • Believe you are or will be inadmissible only because of a period of unlawful presence in the United States that was:
    • More than 180 days, but less than 1 year, during a single stay (INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(I)); or
    • 1 year or more during a single stay (INA section 212(a)(9)(B)(i)(II)).
  • Meet all other requirements for the provisional unlawful presence waiver, as detailed in 8 CFR 212.7(e) and the Form I-601A and its instructions.

You are not eligible for a provisional unlawful presence waiver if any of the following conditions apply to you:

  • You do not meet all of the conditions listed under eligibility mentioned above.
  • You are in removal proceedings that have not been administratively closed.
  • At the time of filing, you are in removal proceedings that have been administratively closed but have been placed back on the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) calendar to continue your removal proceedings.
  • You have a final order of removal, exclusion, or deportation (including an in absentia order of removal under INA 240(b)(5)). If you have a final order of removal, exclusion, or deportation, you can only seek a provisional unlawful. presence waiver if you have applied for, and USCIS has already approved Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal at the time you file the Form I-601A.
  • You do not meet one or more of the requirements outlined in the Form I-601A and its instructions.

Citizenship and Naturalization

If you are lawful permanent resident of the United States, you may qualify to become a US citizen. There are benefits of being a US citizen. Amon them are:

  1. One practical benefit is certainty. You are not subjected to immigration law
  2. Secondly, currently, the fee for naturalization is $725. It’s only going to go up
  3. Third, you are given priority when traveling abroad. You have traveled outside USA lately and come back. The lines are crazy busy. Nonetheless, USA citizen are given VIP status. Additionally, when you want to bring immediate family members to USA through visa petition, you are not subjected to preference category.
  4. Last but not the least, you can vote. If you do not want president Trump or other Trumps from becoming president, become a US citizen and vote. Also, some federal jobs require USA citizenship.

You May Qualify for Naturalization if:

  • You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, please visit our Path to Citizenship page for more information.
  • You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, please visit our Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens page for more information.
  • You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. Visit the Military section of our website.
  • Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met. Visit our Citizenship Through Parents page for more information.
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