I751 Joint Filing Waiver

This guide is intended for immigrants with conditional residency who are looking to remove the conditions of their residency.Generally

An individual’s permanent residence status is conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than 2 years old on the day you were given permanent residence.

Eligibility
Generally, you may apply to remove your conditions on permanent residence if you:
Are still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after 2 years. You may include your children in your application if they received their conditional-resident status either at the same time or within 90 days as you did;

Are a child and, for a valid reason, cannot be included in your parents’ application;

Are a widow or widower who entered into your marriage in good faith;

Entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment; or

Entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S.-citizen or permanent-resident spouse.

Filing Form I751

Your status is conditional, because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States. To remove these conditions you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on your residence by filing Form I-751. You should apply during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. The expiration date on your green card is also the date of your second anniversary as a conditional resident. If you do not apply to remove the conditions in time, you could lose your conditional resident status.

Joint Filing Waiver 

If you are unable to apply with your spouse to remove the conditions on your residence, you may request a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

You may request a waiver of the joint petitioning requirements in the following instances:

Your deportation or removal would result in extreme hardship

You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but the marriage ended by annulment or divorce, and you were not at fault in failing to file a timely petition

You entered into your marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but during the marriage you or your child were battered by, or subjected to extreme cruelty committed by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, and you were not at fault in failing to file a joint petition.

Preparing for Citizenship Interview

Check in at CeremonyAfter you arrive at the ceremony, check in the officer, who will then review your responses to Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony.

Return your Permanent Residency Card

You must return your Permanent Resident Card to USCIS when you check in for your naturalization ceremony. If your card was lost or stolen and you have established this with USCIS prior to the ceremony, you will not be required to return the card. You will no longer need your Permanent Resident Card because you will receive your Certificate of Naturalization after you take the Oath of Allegiance.

Take the Oath of Allegiance

You will take the Oath of Allegiance at a naturalization ceremony, which will officially complete the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. You will receive your Certificate of Naturalization after taking the Oath of Allegiance.

Receive the Naturalization Certificate

You should review your Certificate of Naturalization and notify USCIS of any errors before leaving the ceremony. At this point, you may use your Certificate as proof of your citizenship.

Completing Immigration Forms

The U.S. immigration system can be overwhelming to navigate and understand due to the sheer complexity of the field. To assist with this, Agarwal Law Offices has compiled a list of important tips to keep in mind when completing immigration forms.Read the Instructions

Every USCIS form has a corresponding instruction manual. Be sure to read this entire manual before beginning the application process as it will give you a general overview of what to expect.

Use the Correct Form

Depending on the benefit you are attempting to acquire, it is most important to use the appropriate form and all supplemental forms. Be sure that these are the most updated versions of the forms as USCIS releases new forms often.
Complete All Sections

Do not leave any part of the application blank. If the answer doesn’t apply to you, simply indicate N/A or “Not Applicable.” This will ensure that USCIS does not return your application for failure to complete the application properly.
Do Not Forget to Sign

It appears like an obvious item, but too often people forget to sign their forms where indicated. Be sure to use black ink and sign and date all forms where requested.

Send the Appropriate Fee
Check the appropriate fees as these often change. Further, if applicable to your case, ensure that the base fee and any biometric fee are properly added. Make sure the check is written out to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”

Make a Copy

Do not send your application without a copy for your records — whether by scan or physical copy. This will ensure that you are aware of what you submitted when it comes time for review and interview of your case.

Contact USCIS or Schedule an Infopass Appointment

If you have any questions, USCIS customer service is available to assist or you can schedule an Infopass appointment at your local USCIS service center to speak with an officer in person.

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

I539 Change of Status

Generally, you may apply to change to a new nonimmigrant status or extend your current status if you lawfully traveled to the United States on a temporary visa and were lawfully admitted, your temporary visa status remains valid, and you have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible to change your status.
Application Process

File Form I539, Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status with all accompanying filing fees and evidence. The form is specifically intended for the following applicants: Certain nonimmigrants to extend their stay or change to another nonimmigrant status; CNMI residents applying for an initial grant of status; F and M nonimmigrants to apply for reinstatement; and, Persons seeking V nonimmigrant status or an extension of stay as a V nonimmigrant.

Filing Deadline

your application for an extension of stay about 45 – 60 days before your authorized stay expires. If filing a late change/extension of stay, the following must be proven: Your delay in filing was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control; The length of the delay was reasonable; You have not done anything else to violate your status such as working without authorization; You intend to remain in the United States temporarily (there are some exceptions to this rule); and You are not in removal proceedings

Categories Not Eligible for Change of Status

to change your nonimmigrant status if you were admitted to the United States in the following categories: Visa Waiver Program (VWP), Crew member (D nonimmigrant), In transit through the United States without a visa (TWOV), Certain spouses of U.S. citizens or dependent children (K-3 or K-4 nonimmigrant), Fiance of a U.S. citizen or dependent of a fiance (K-1 or K-2 nonimmigrant), or Informant (and accompanying family) on terrorism or organized crime (S nonimmigrant)

Pending Decision

Until you receive approval from USCIS, do not assume your request for a change in nonimmigrant status has been approved, and do not change your activity in the United States.

VAWA Eligibility

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent resident status, without the abuser’s help or knowledge.
To self-petition for permanent residency under VAWA, an individual must:

Show that s/he lived with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse;

Show that s/he was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage;

Show that s/he entered the marriage in good faith;

Show s/he is otherwise qualified for admission; and
Show that s/he has good moral character.

For more information about these services, please schedule a consultation at 978-905- 9992.

Conditional Residency

Persons married for less than two years to their U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse on the day they were granted permanent residency are conditional residents. Conditional residents have the same rights as permanent residents, including the right to work in the United States and the right to petition on behalf of certain family members.
Filing Deadline

Petitions to remove conditions must be filed within 90 days before the two year anniversary of when the green card was issued. Failure to file within the required 90-day window automatically results in loss of immigration status, which may lead to removal from the United States. Certain exceptions to this filing deadline apply.

Eligibility

Generally, you may apply to remove your conditions on permanent residence if you: 

Are still married to the same U.S. citizen or permanent resident after 2 years. You may include your children in your application if they received their conditional-resident status either at the same time or within 90 days as you did; 

Are a child and, for a valid reason, cannot be included in your parents’ application; 

Are a widow or widower who entered into your marriage in good faith; 

Entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment; or 

Entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S.-citizen or permanent-resident spouse.

If you are no longer married to your spouse

You can apply to waive the joint filing requirement if you are no longer married to your spouse, or if you have been battered or abused by your U.S.-citizen or lawful permanent-resident spouse or parent. You may apply to remove the conditions on your permanent residence at any time after you become a conditional resident, but before you are removed from the country. You must provide evidence that removal from the United States would cause you extreme hardship.

Denials

If your case is denied, USCIS will begin removal proceedings against you 

You will receive a notice from us telling you that you have failed to remove the conditions.
You will receive a Notice to Appear at a hearing. At the hearing you may review and rebut the evidence against you. You are responsible for proving that you complied with the requirements.

What to do if you have abandoned your Permanent Residency

As a brief overview, a lawful permanent resident who has remained outside the United States for longer than one year will require a new immigrant visa to enter the United States and resume permanent residence. A provision exists under U.S. visa law for the issuance of a returning resident special immigrant visa to an LPR who remained outside the United States due to circumstances beyond his/her control. Under provisions of immigration law, to qualify for returning resident status, the following must be established:
• The LPR had the status of a lawful permanent resident at the time of departure from the United States;

• The LPR departed from the United States with the intention of returning and have not abandoned this intention; and

• The LPR is returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay abroad was protracted, this was caused by reasons beyond your control and for which you were not responsible.

Further, the Applicant must provide their local Embassy or Consulate with the following evidence:

• A completed Application to Determine Returning Resident Status, Form DS-117

• A copy of the Applicant’s Permanent Resident Card, Form I-551

• Dates of travel outside of the United States

• Proof of ties to the United States and intention to return through family, social, and economic ties to the United States

• Proof that the protracted stay outside of the United States was for reasons beyond the Applicant’s control.

If you or your family member is in need of such services, contact us today at 978-905-9992.

Naturalization Interview Tips

This post outlines helpful tips in preparing and attending a naturalization interview.
1. Attend Biometric Appointment

Go to your local USCIS field office at the specified date and time for your background check. Await follow-up notice of interview date.

2. Receive Interview Notice

Be sure to note the date and time of your naturalization interview. At this point, begin preparing for the Civics portion of the exam.

3. Study USCIS Materials

As part of the naturalization interview, you will be required to test proficiently in English & Civics. The English test has three components: reading, writing, and speaking. There are 100 civics questions, of which you will be asked up to 10 questions and you must answer correctly six of the 10 questions to pass the civics test.

4. Gather all required documents

You should bring the following documents with you to your interview – 1) green card, 2) passport, 3) interview notice, 4) reentry permits, 5) state-issued identification. You can also electively bring a copy of your application, previous leases or deeds to show continued residence, and tax returns to show compliance with filing your taxes.

5. Attend the Interview

Go to your local office at the specified date and time at least 30 minutes before your scheduled interview. At your naturalization interview, you will be required to answer questions about your application and background. You will also take an English and civics test unless you qualify for an exemption or waiver.

6. Decision

If your application is approved for citizenship, you will either be given notice of an oath ceremony for a later date or be given the opportunity on the same day. If a request for more evidence is issued, you will need to submit the documentation requested by the specified date. Finally, if you are given another opportunity to take a portion of your testing, attend the follow-up interview at the designated time and date after having prepared thoroughly.

Visa Bulletin October 2017

The Visa Bulletin provides updated priority date information for family-based and employment-based green cards.
Immigrants to the US are classified into two categories – those requiring placement on a waiting list and those not through their relationship to a US immediate relative. Further, there are numerical quotas on the green cards that require a priority date. If the number of applicants in a year is over the available visa numbers, those applicants are placed on a waiting list and are given a priority date, which estimates when an applicant would get a visa based on the number of previous applicants on the waiting list.

Below are preference category information and visa allocations.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents: 114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents: 23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens: 23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

EMPLOYMENT-BASED PREFERENCES

First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.

Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.

Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*Other Workers”

Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.

Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.

Below is the link for the Visa Bulletin for October 2017.

https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin/2017/visa-bulletin-for-October-2017.html

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

Widows Living Inside the U.S.

This guide is intended for widowed immigrants seeking to obtain an immigration benefit through their deceased spouse.