Archive for the ‘Green Card’ Category

Lost Your Green Card?

Monday, September 26th, 2011

If your permanent resident card (green card) is lost or stolen, you should file Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident card with the USCIS to get a replacement.

If you meet all the requirements needed to qualify for citizenship, but your green card was lost/stolen, you have to apply for a replacement for the lost green card before applying for citizenship as it is mandatory to submit your green card while getting naturalized. However, in such instances, you need not wait to receive the new card for filing for naturalization. As soon as you get the I-797 Receipt Notice for having filed Form I-90, you can proceed further with filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

After you submit the I-90 application package with the submission fees and supporting documents, they will acknowledge receiving the package by sending an application receipt notice with a receipt number. As stated above, you can start filing the Naturalization application as soon as you receive the Receipt Notice for the Form I-90. You are required to include a copy of the Receipt Notice with the N-400 application.

The Application Process

After you complete and mail your application with the supporting documents and submission fees, the USCIS will acknowledge receiving the package by sending you a Receipt Notice through Form I-797. With this receipt notice, you can make an “Info Pass” appointment with your local USCIS office to get an I-551 stamp on your passport. This stamp serves as a temporary proof that you are a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) of the US. You can use this for all practical purposes that you would normally do with your original green card (employment, travel, and evidence of status). This stamp is valid for one year from the date it is issued.

Expired Green Card

A green card comes with a validity of ten years and has to be renewed on its expiration. Even if your green card expired, the replacement process is the same where you have to file Form I-90. It is always safe to apply for your new green card well before you take any trip abroad. Ensure that you bring with you on any trip the temporary evidence for having applied for a replacement you received from the USCIS. If you are outside the US and try to reenter the US with an expired green card, you may face unnecessary problems that will cause long delay during the inspection process at the port-of-entry. It is always advised you travel after you file the I-90 application.

Even US employers will not accept an expired Green Card while verifying employment authorization for new recruits. Per immigration laws, if your green card will expire within six months, you have to renew your green card before filing the application for naturalization. It is mandatory that you submit a copy your green card when you apply to become a citizen.

Want to Renew Your Green Card or Apply for Naturalization?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Permanent resident cards (green cards) come with a ten year validity period and has to be renewed on its expiry. Per the USCIS, if your green card has less than six months of validity, you are required to renew it before filing an application for naturalization (Form N-400). It is mandatory that you submit a photocopy of your unexpired green card when you apply to become a citizen.

Your green card can be renewed/replaced by filing Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card with the USCIS. If the card will not expire for at least another six months and you fulfill all the eligibility requirements to apply for citizenship, then you can directly apply for citizenship rather than renewing your Green Card.

Lost Your Green Card?

If your green card was lost or stolen, and even if it is not expired, you have to apply for a replacement card by filing Form I-90. But in such instances, you need not to wait to receive the new card before filing for naturalization. You can file the citizenship form as soon as you get the I-797 Receipt Notice for Form I-90 that you filed.

After you submit the I-90 application with the appropriate fee and supporting documents (if any) to the USCIS, they will send you an Application Receipt Notice with a 13-character receipt number. Once you receive the Receipt Notice for the Form I-90, you can go ahead and file your N-400 application. Make sure you include a copy of the Receipt Notice with the N-400 application.

Once they receive your application with the supporting documents and fees, USCIS will take up your case for initial processing, verifying your application for completeness. After you get the Notice of Action, you can make an “Info Pass” appointment with your local USCIS office to get an I-551 stamp on your passport. This I-551 stamp can be used as a temporary proof that you are a lawful permanent resident of the US.

With this stamp, you can use it for all practical purposes that you would be able to use your “Green Card” for – employment, travel, and evidence of status. This stamp is valid for one year from the date it was issued.

Renew Your Green Card Before Travel

Re-entry into the United States from abroad: Always make sure you apply for your new green card well before you travel. During the trip, bring with you the temporary documentation you received. If you are abroad and try re-entering the US with an expired Green Card, you have to face unnecessary delay during the inspection process at the port-of-entry. So it is always safer to travel after you file the I-90 application to get a replacement of your green card.

Getting Employment: US Employers will not accept an expired green card while verifying employment authorization for new hires. In such instances, you can use other documents listed on the Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification Form such as a social security card and driver’s license, or provide “temporary” evidence of status, such as an I-551 stamp, or even the receipt notice for your Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card can be handy.


Benefits of Being a Green Card Holder

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

As a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) of the US, you can live and work in the US permanently. You can get a green card through many ways. Your family member who is a US citizen or a green card holder can sponsor you for a green card. You can also get a green card through a job offer and also through the DV lottery program.

Benefits

You can enjoy many benefits as a green card holder. You do qualify for government sponsored financial aid for educational purposes. Universities and colleges accept less tuition fee, also known as “in-state” tuition or “resident” tuition. Savings is significant as in most cases they pay three to four times lower than what other foreign nationals pay. Apart from these, you can work in any company located in US territory regardless of job function, hours/week, etc (except for certain companies that hire only US citizens). Employer sponsorship does not come in to the picture either. There are certain jobs in the US that require security clearance and only green card holders and US citizens can get those. Therefore, there are plenty of job opportunities for green card holders.

You are allowed to start your own business and create your own corporation. Social security is one of the benefits you will get when you retire. To qualify for this you should have worked for 10 years (40 quarters to be precise) before your retirement. Getting your loved ones to be with you in the US is another significant factor. You can apply for permanent resident status for your spouse and unmarried minor children under 21. Under such circumstances, the green card that you got for your family will still be valid even if you lose your job or die.

If you have a work permit, though your spouse and minor unmarried children under 21 can stay in the US as dependent, your kids have to get student visas to study and work visas if they intend to work. But after becoming green card holders, they are permitted to stay in the US even after turning 21 and even if they get married.

The benefits do not end with these. You will have access to security clearances and become eligible for government grants and be exempted from export restrictions. Though you have the privilege of most legal rights under US law, you do not have voting rights which is only for US citizens. But, as a green card holder, you can qualify to apply for American citizenship in future, once you fulfill the eligibility requirements needed while applying for Naturalization. You can remain a green holder forever and it is not mandatory that you apply for citizenship. If your current country permits dual citizenship,you can get U.S. citizenship without giving up your current nationality.

Reasons Why Your AoS Application Can Be Rejected

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Adjustment of Status (AoS) applicants should be aware that certain actions taken while their application is pending might result in the USCIS believe that they have abandoned their applications.  If you abandon your an application, you can still apply for a visa at a US consulate abroad or apply for change of status again if your original status has not expired. For AoS applications, once the application is abandoned for any reason, the foreign national’s application will be denied. Important reasons to to keep in mind:

Traveling out of the US

You should know that during Adjustment of Status (AoS) process, you will be considered to have abandoned your application if you leave the US. It is advised that you remain in the US while your Adjustment of Status application is pending.

Failure to Respond

You should also be aware that inaction may also lead to abandonment of your AoS application. For AoS applications, there is a list of situations where the inaction of the applicant leads to USCIS’ denial of AoS.

Failure to Appear for a Fingerprint/Biometrics Appointment

You, the AoS applicant should either appear for fingerprinting or submit fingerprints within 120 days from the date of your scheduled fingerprint appointment. If you fail to appear for the scheduled fingerprint or do not submit fingerprints within the allotted time and you did not request that you be rescheduled for a fingerprint appointment, your AoS application will be denied for abandonment. If your failure to appear for the scheduled fingerprint is due to a change of address, the AoS application will be denied for abandonment if you have not informed the USCIS of your change of address through Form AR-11.

Not Responding to a Request for Evidence

If you do not respond within the days specified by the USCIS, your application is considered abandoned and will be denied.

Not Paying the Fee for Fingerprinting

When you do not submit the fingerprint fee, your application will be considered abandoned and will be denied.

Failure to Appear for a Scheduled Interview

If you do not appear for a scheduled interview and USCIS does not receive a request from you for rescheduling by the date of interview, your application will be considered abandoned. Similarly, if you did not file notification of a change of address and you did not appear for the interview because of change of address, your application will be considered abandoned and will be denied.


Getting a Green Card through Employment

Tuesday, July 19th, 2011

You can become a permanent resident through a job or offer of employment. For certain categories, it requires a certification from the US Department of Labor that shows that there are not enough US workers who can or able, willing, qualified and available in that particular geographic area where the immigrant seeking a green card is to be employed.

In addition, it should also have proof that no American workers are displaced by such foreign workers. In specific cases, highly skilled workers with extraordinary ability in certain professions, and investors/entrepreneurs are given permission to immigrate through various immigrant categories. Whichever the case is, the path to a green card is a long and winding one.

Employer Sponsorship

In most cases, this classification needs an employer to get labor certification and the employer has to file form I-140, Immigrant petition for Alien worker.

After getting approved of Labor Certification, domestic employees and unskilled workers have to wait for a quite a period before they can apply for a green card based on employment. This is because only a limited number of visas are available under this classification every year. After this petition is approved, the USCIS (formerly the INS) will send a notice of approval to the petitioner and send the approval to the National Visa Center. This petition will be in the visa center until an immigration visa number becomes available.

Once you get an immigrant visa number, you have to get permission to live and work permanently in the U.S through conditional permanent residence. If you are in the US, you can apply to adjust your status to a lawful permanent resident by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the USCIS. If you are outside the US when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you will complete the process and get a visa number at US Consulate.

You will be required to submit certain supporting documents and fees. Furthermore, before you get the visa, you have to undergo a medical examination. This examination will be done by a doctor designated by the consular officer and if you are in the US, it will be designated by the USCIS. In addition to the visa fees, you should bear the entire costs involved in the examination process.

If there are more qualified applicants under this category than the prescribed numbers, the category will be considered oversubscribed. In such cases, visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed till the prescribed numerical limit for the category is reached. Immigrant visas will not be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. The applicant’s priority date is the filing date of a petition.

Gift a Green Card?

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

There are a few who spread a rumor that there is a green card gift visa. If anyone tells that they can arrange one for your friend without your friend knowing, don’t trust them!

Even if an application wins the lottery, the applicant is required to undergo lot of checks and interviews before the actual card is issued. No one can surprise you with a green card gift, neither can you. It is impossible and it is important to know that green cards are not transferable. If you win in a DV lottery program, you will not be able to give away your right to immigrate to the United States as it is not allowed and there is no process in place where the ownership of the application can be transferred to some one else.

Do not try organizing a visa gift to your friends or any one for that matter. If you apply in your friend’s name, no matter how correct and proper, your friend might lose his chances to get the visa if he has already applied or plans to apply. Multiple submissions are not allowed in the Diversity Visa Lottery Program. Do not, under any circumstance, attempt to organize visa gifts or take advice from anyone who says so.

A green card gives you a key to the doorway to your own dreams of the United States. United States is called the land of opportunity where the American freedom offers you an excellent opportunity and it is entirely up to you how you grab and choose to use it. The green card is indeed an opportunity and, if you are looking for a path to become an American, make sure you do not miss this.

America, a relatively young country is the most thriving, most developing and richest nation. Life in the United States is a mix of both hard work and great pleasure. The lifestyle is very dynamic and challenging. It is hard because that is what exactly happens when you are in a foreign soil.

The United States comprises of people of different origins and ethnicities where many languages are spoken by people of varying cultures and religions. The United States has its arms wide open to legal immigration and that’s exactly the reason why the Diversity Visa immigration program exists in first place.

As a green card holder, you have the privilege of most legal rights under US law, except for the voting right which only US citizens enjoy. Further more, you might qualify to apply for American citizenship at a later stage, once you fulfill the eligibility requirements needed while applying for citizenship. It is not mandatory that you take US citizenship. You can be a green card holder forever. If your current country allows dual citizenship with the US, you can get US citizenship without giving up your current nationality.

If you have a US permanent resident card, your spouse and minor unmarried children under 21 are permitted to stay with you in the US as dependents.

Green Card for Family Members of US Citizens

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

You, as a US citizen can petition for certain family members to receive either a green card, a fiance(e) visa or a K-3/K-4 visa based on your relationship with them.

Application Process: Green Card (Permanent Residence)

To petition for a family member to receive a green card (permanent residence), you are required to submit the following:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
  • Proof of your US citizenship
  • Proof for the qualifying relationship (birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree, etc.)
  • Proof of any legal name change for you or the beneficiary.

Also note that spouses of deceased US permanent residents (widows and widowers) may also be eligible to become permanent residents.

Immediate Relatives

In immigration terms, “immediate relative” is used to define certain immigrant relatives of US citizens. Immediate relatives are:

  • Spouses of US citizens
  • Children (unmarried and under 21) of US citizens
  • Parents of US citizens (The petitioning citizen must be 21 years or older.)

Visas are always available for immediate relatives of US citizens, which means that your family member does not need to wait in line for a visa. Immediate relatives who are in the US can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status at the same time as Form I-130.

Preference Categories

Family members who are not immediate relatives fall under the preference category. The visas allotted for these categories are subject to numerical limits annually. A visa under the preference category becomes available based on the priority date (the date the Form I-130 was filed).

Preference categories are grouped as follows:

  • First preference: Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of US citizens (adult means 21 or older.)
  • Second Preference (2A): Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of US permanent residents
  • Second Preference (2B): Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters (regardless of age) of US citizens
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult US citizens

The Next Step

If your relative is already in the US, he/she may apply to adjust status to become a green card holder (permanent resident) after a visa number becomes available. You have to file Form I-485.

In case your relative is outside the US, your petition will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then forward your petition to the appropriate US consulate when a visa becomes available. Your relatives will then be notified about how to proceed. This process is called, “Consular Processing”.

Your family member’s preference category will determine how long he/she will have to wait for an immigrant visa number. For information related to visa availability, see the “Visa Bulletin” page on the US Department of State website.

It is important to note that a visa petition (Form I-130 or Form I-129F) is only used to demonstrate a qualifying relationship. An approved petition does not grant any benefit and it just creates a place in line for visa processing. If you or a member of your family is in the US military, special conditions may apply.

When and How to Replace Green Card

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

A green card gives you a legally accepted permanent resident status and a permanent work permit in US. In addition to this, it also qualifies you to apply for US citizenship, because having a green card is the foremost eligibility criteria for citizenship. However, if it is lost or damaged, you can only get a green card replacement from USCIS if you apply for it following certain rules.

Application for Green Card Replacement

A green card or a permanent resident card is normally valid for 10 years, after which you have to file Form I-90, Application for Replacement of Permanent Resident Card, at USCIS, for its renewal. You may also need a green card replacement due to change of any information on your card, like post-marriage name change, or change of other biographic information. You will also need a green card replacement if your card is lost, stolen, damaged or mutilated and you need a new one. In case of a renewal, your application must be submitted to USCIS when there are 6 months or less left for your card to expire. There are two ways of applying for green card replacement:

  • Mailing a paper Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card at Phoenix, Arizona Lockbox Facility.
  • Online E-Filing of Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.

Though the validity might be different for permanent residents and the conditional permanent residents, the form for replacement of their cards is same in both cases. A permanent resident enjoys his status for 10 years, whereas a conditional resident enjoys it only for 2 years. Conditional residents cannot renew their cards. They can only use the I-90 form to get a replacement.

In case of lost or stolen cards for green card holders living abroad, they may contact the nearest US consulate, port of entry or USCIS office, before filling Form I-90 for green card replacement.

Grounds on Which You Need to Replace Your Green Card

The following are the reasons for which you can apply for your green card replacement:

  • Your earlier card is stolen, lost, damaged or ruined.
  • If your card was issued prior to your 14th birthday and it does not expire before your 16th birthday, and you have reached 14.
  • Your card states wrong information.
  • Your name or general information has changed lawfully since you got your previous card.
  • You have not received your card issued by USCIS.
  • You were a commuter, who has now taken up a residence in the US permanently.
  • You are a permanent resident of US; who wants to change to commuter status.
  • You own a former version of Form AR-3, Form I-151 or, Form AR-103, USCIS Alien Registration Form, which are invalid now and have to be replaced with a latest green card.
  • You have automatically changed to permanent resident status like Special Agricultural Worker.

The Process Involved In Green Card Replacement

A submission fee of $365 and a $85 biometric fee has to be submitted along with the I-90 form at USCIS. Within 30 days of submission you will receive a 13-character Application Receipt Number, which proves your application is under processing at USCIS. With this number you can check the status of your form. You will be notified of your appointment for fingerprinting and ensuing interview, coupled with guidelines for which you have to bring supporting documents. This entire process of replacement takes about 90 days approximately.


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