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Posts Tagged ‘US citizen’

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was formed to provide relief to abused and battered women a chance to petition for an adjustment of status. Recently the USCIS provided guidance for adjudicating Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) by self-petitioners who were neither inspected, admitted or paroled.

This Act allows abused immigrants to petition for legal status in the U.S without relying on parents or children to sponsor their Adjustment of Status. This is so because many victims are threatened by family to withhold legal immigration sponsorship by way of abuse. This Act allows the victims to independently seek immigration status and may file form I-360 and once the petition is approved can directly apply for Adjustment of Status ( I-485)

Generally, an alien who seeks Adjustment of Status under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act must have been inspected at a port of entry to be admissible as an immigrant. However, in October 2000, section 345 (a) was amended so that the inspection and admission does not apply to a self-petitioner under VAWA. If the applicant had been denied Adjustment of Status, he or she may file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider form (I-290B).

Also, as a battered spouse, child or parent one may file an immigrant visa petition under VAWA, which allows for filing the petition without the knowledge of the abuser. This allows the petitioner both safety and independence from the abuser. VAWA applies equally to men and women petitioners. Help is also available through hot lines where assistance is provided to these women.

Those who are eligible to file

  1. A spouse of a U.S citizen or permanent resident who was subject to abuse may file including the names of children under 21.

  2. If you are married to an abuser who is a U.S citizen or permanent card holder.

  3. If your marriage was terminated by death or divorce

  4. If your spouse lost his permanent card status within two years due to domestic violence

  5. A parent of a U.S citizen who was subject to abuse can file including the names of children if any who have not filed for themselves.

  6. If you are an abused child, under 21 and unmarried

  7. If you are an individual having good moral character.

Filing process

Form I- 360 must be completed and filed along with all the supporting documents with the Vermont Service Center. If all the filing requirements are met, you will receive a notice valid for 150 days. This can be presented to government agencies that provide benefits to victims of domestic violence. If form I-360 is approved and if you do not have legal immigration status, you may be placed in deferred action and you may continue to remain in the U.S. You are also eligible to apply to work in the U.S. However, you may have to file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization with the Vermont Service Center. Your children too may apply for this. If you have an approved I-360, you may also apply for a green card.

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Income for the USCIS comes largely from application and petition fees. If the fee is waived for certain applicants, it means higher fees for the others. There are certain individuals who cannot afford the application or petition fee. The USCIS has recognized this and developed Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, to assist the fee waiver request process.

Though the USCIS introduced Form I-912, they still continue receiving certain applicant-generated fee waiver requests (without Form I-912). The instructions that come along the Form have the principles that USCIS adopts while passing a decision on a fee waiver request, whether the request is through Form I-912 or via just an applicant’s written statement requesting a fee waiver. The instructions will guide the applicants on the process and the supporting documents that needs to be submitted. There are many avenues that are considered before coming to a final decision on fee waiver requests. The applicant’s income level or financial condition is reviewed.

Means-tested benefit is one that would have a say in the final decision for fee waivers. There are various acceptable means-tested benefits, and the kinds of acceptable evidence used to document the receipt of a means-tested benefit. This also will decide which family members will qualify for a fee waiver based upon the main applicant’s receipt of a means-tested benefit. If you are receiving a means-tested benefit and you have included strong proof along with your fee waiver request, the USCIS will generally approve your fee waiver request, and no other information is required.

At the time of filing your request, is your household income at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines? If you have included adequate proof that your household income is at or below 150 % , your fee waiver will generally be approved. Forms I-90, I-191, I-751, I-765, I-817, I-821, I-881, N-300, N-336, N-400, N-470, N-565, N-600, N-600K are general fee waivers.

Battered spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident or US Citizen, or having Temporary Protected can get Humanitarian Fee Waivers. VAWA self-petitioners or a foreign national who has or is requesting a T visa or U visa can also claim waivers under the humanitarian fee waiver. This also includes filings not otherwise eligible for a fee waiver or qualifying only for a conditional fee waiver such as Forms I-212, I-485, I-539, and I-601.

There are Conditional Fee Waivers too. You can apply for a fee waiver if you are subject to certain conditions. Apart from these, an applicant who does not have to show he/she will not become a public charge for admission or adjustment of status purposes may request a waiver for Forms I-192, I-192, I-485 and I-601. The USCIS is sole authority in deciding whether to grant a fee waiver or not and they have determined that some applications and petitions should be designated as fee exempt.

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The national unemployment rate is lingering around 9 percent. According to the American Enterprise Institute study by Madeline Zavodny, an economics professor at Agnes Scott University, one way to press forward job creation is to increase the number of immigrant workers in the US.

After detailed research and after analyzing the available data, Zavodny found a relationship between the number of highly-educated immigrant workers in a community and elevated employment statistics for US citizen workers. Gathering figures from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Zavodny claimed that between 2000 and 2007, for every 100 foreign-born workers having a science, technology, engineering or mathematics degree from a US university, 262 new jobs were created for US citizen workers. She also determined that for every 100 immigrants with advanced degrees in any field, an additional 44 jobs were created for US citizen workers.

Another significant find by Zavodny is that, states with a higher number of immigrants with temporary work visas had lower average unemployment among US citizens. Having arrived at such numbers, Zavodny has proposed many immigration reform measures. She recommended lawmakers to increase the number of green cards issued to highly educated immigrant workers, mainly international students in STEM fields graduating from American universities. She also found it sensible to increase the number of temporary work visas available for both skilled and less-skilled workers, given the fact that only about 151,000 are currently issued every year.

According to Zavodny, “Changing permanent and temporary immigration policies to favor holders of advanced degrees from US universities in STEM fields is an obvious step given the demand for highly skilled workers and the extensive investment the country already makes in such students,” She also claimed that without a clear path to stay in the US, these foreign students will add innovation and economic growth in countries that compete with the American economy.

Green cards for grads” bills, a proposal to increase the number of work visas granted to STEM graduates, have been introduced in both the US Senate and House of Representatives. Appearing with Zavodny at an American Enterprise Institute event in Washington, D.C., on December 15, Republican Representative Tim Griffin of Arkansas said there is bi-partisan support for such a law. He said he was optimistic the legislation will pass, according to the Washington Post.

 

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Marriage

If you have decided to get married in a foreign soil, it is very important you know the requirements of that particular country before you leave the US. US Consulates do not have much say in it and normally, it is the local civil or religious officials who perform the marriage. The marriage procedures differ from each country and the entire process can be time consuming.

Some countries requires the persons who wish to get married to be a resident in that country for a certain period of time before they can get married in that place. Parental consent and blood tests are included in other requirements. Some countries make it mandatory for submitting documents certifying the end of a previous relationship (death or divorce certificate). The documents have to be translated to the local language and authenticated too. While in some countries, you have to submit an affidavit by as proof of legal capacity to enter into a marriage contract and this can be done at a US Embassy or Consulate.

As stated earlier, the entire process can be time-consuming and also expensive. Make sure you find out the requirements of that country before your travel. You can contact the embassy or the tourist information bureau of the country where you wish to get married. You can find the list of foreign embassies and consulates in the US on the Department of State’s website. You can also get US embassy and consulate contact information on the Country Specific Information for each country. Get in touch with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate if you are already in the foreign soil.

After your marriage abroad, the US consulate can authenticate your foreign marriage document. This authentication only proves that your foreign documents are real, but it does not imply that your marriage will be recognized by your state in the US. To get the marriage recognized in the US, it is highly recommended you consult the Attorney General of your state of residence in the US.

Birth

Through the Child Citizenship Act (CCA), most children born abroad to a US citizen parent(s) acquire US citizenship. After the birth, the US citizen parent is required to get in touch with the nearest US Embassy or Consulate. If the Consulate is convinced that the child has acquired US citizenship, a consular officer prepares a Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a US Citizen. This document acts as proof of citizenship and is recognized in the US. It can be used to get a passport, enter school, and for many other purposes. If you do not document the child’s citizenship, you might face unnecessary difficulties later when you try to get a passport or register for school.

Divorce and Death

If you were divorced abroad, the validity will vary according to the requirements of your state of residence. It is better you consult the authorities of your state of residence in the US to know these requirements. US consular officers will assist families of US citizens who die abroad.

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Foreign nationals who obtained a green card through marriage and came to the US on a K1 visa will be issued a conditional green card that is valid for two years from the date of issue. This residence status will expire as soon as the two-year conditional period ends. After the two year period chances are that you may be deported or removed from the US. To avoid being removed, it is extremely important to file Form I 751, Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence with the USCIS. The petition should be filed 90 days or less before the conditional residence expires. Once the USCIS approves this petition, the conditional status will be removed and you will receive a Permanent Resident card that has a validity of ten years.

It is always better to file the I 751 petition at the early end of the 90-day period. Likewise, ensure that you do not file this petition before the 90-day period because if you file too early, the USCIS will most likely return your petition.

If you are still married, you can file this petition jointly with your US citizen or permanent resident spouse through whom you obtained the conditional permanent status. If you have dependent children (on a K-2 visa) who got conditional permanent status when you did and they did enter the US within 90-days of your arrival, you have to add their names in your petition. On the other hand, if your children got their conditional status ninety days after you obtained or adjusted your status, they have to file the I 751 petition separately to remove the conditions. The same rule applies even if the conditional permanent parent dies.

There are options to apply for a waiver for joint filing under circumstances where your spouse died or your marriage ended because of divorce or annulment. You have to prove that you got married with honesty and good intentions. Apart from this, you can also get a waiver of joint filing if you can prove that you got married in good faith and have remained married, but have been battered or subjected to extreme cruelty by your US citizen or permanent resident spouse or if the termination of your status would result in extreme hardship.

While requesting a waiver for joint filing, you should have adequate proof to support your request. Divorce decree copies or police, court or medical proof that you were abused or a death certificate showing that your spouse died are few of the important documents required as proof.

While mailing your application package, make sure it includes a completed and signed Form I-751 and also a copy of your Conditional Green Card. In addition, you should also include two passport-style photographs for you and children applying with you. Apart from these, two completed fingerprint cards (Form FD-258) for you and any children applying with you and adequate proof that the marriage is a bonafide one and that it was entered in honesty and in good faith should also be a part of the application application. Not to forget the submission fees.

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