Disclaimer: All advice given here are strictly as is without any guarantees and reliability. The advice below is solely from personal experiences in filing such applications and process. The best and most reliable advice is always from a good immigration lawyer. 

Q: I’m a US citizen trying to get my husband a Green Card. We don’t live in the US. Our I-130 has been in USCIS since last April. From what I understand, they will eventually transfer our case to the National Visa Center, at which point the process will finally begin. Part of this process will include the National Visa Center asking about my salary. It was below the poverty line last year, and now I am unemployed. Is this going to be a problem for us? Can they reject us for my low income? Or is our application purely based on determining that our marriage is a real one?

A: Yes, you will absolutely be rejected because of the low income/unemployment. The USCIS has to prevent individuals from becoming permanent residents and then simply live on the government welfare and food stamp programs. You must have enough money as indicated on the application instructions. It does not matter that your marriage is real, the joint parties of the green card MUST have enough money to support both the sponsor and the person receiving the green card.

Q: I have a sister who is a US Citizen, and I am an F1 student, wondering if it would be possible to apply for green card through my sister, and how?

A: Yes, your sister must file a I-130 petition for a relative to receive a green card. Because this is not immediate relative (children, spouse or parents), this will take 10+ years to be processed and granted.

Q: A US citizen friend of mine is sponsoring his parents (who are overseas) for US green card, It has been over six months since the application was submitted and we didn’t hear back from USCIS. Is now a good time to schedule an info pass to check on the application status?

A: What have you heard back from USCIS? Did the notice of action arrive at least? If not then there are some serious issues and you should definitely contact USCIS about why the application is not even received. If you have and are simply waiting on the interview appointment, then I would suggest waiting a bit longer. You should have the biometrics appointment already as well, so find out why that has not been scheduled, if not already done so.

Q: I just got married to a US Citizen. Incidentally it appears that we happened to observe the 30/60/90 days rule, my VISA and I-94 are both still valid for few month, so all seems to be in our favor. Considering above, my husband insist I stay in US and he files the I-130 for me, I-130 for my 13 yrs old son (who is abroad with my parents), together with me filing I-485. What is the quickest and cheapest (fees-wise) way to adjust the status and bring to live with us my 13 yrs old son, who already has B2 valid for next 2 years ? The I-485 instructions a bit confusing in this regards. Would I have to file a K-2 for my son ? Or would that be a I-824 ?

A: Your husband just needs to file 1 I-130 which would indicate that you and your child will be sponsored for a green card. There is no need for a separate application for your son. Your son can come to the US now on the B2 visa and then wait for the application to be approved and do an AOS.

Q: Good day, does anyone know how long it takes to get biometrics appointment letter from the time you overnighted docs for I131 to Phoenix office?

A: I think you mean I-130 as I-131 is used to apply for advanced parole during a pending green card application. The biometrics appointment is typically 1 month AFTER you receive the I-797C notice of action saying that USCIS has received and is processing your application. I don’t believe each field office has its own timelines. They are all generally the same.

Q: I’m a GC holder and sponsored my daughter and son. Now my son’s visa is ready. first I’m not sure which I-864 I should fill in. Second, on Affidavit of support, I live with my daughter and never worked in USA nor filed tax return. Can I use my daughter as joint sponsor. Is my status of not filled tax here jeopardize my kids GC application? Do I need to back fill tax even if I never had an income?

A: How did you sponsor your daughter if you never worked nor filed any taxes? Did you have a big savings account to demonstrate that you can support them in America? This does not really make sense. If your daughter is in America in another status and is earning money, then I suppose you can use her income to attempt to qualify for your son’s GC. But this should have been done when you were applying for you son’s GC. You say that his visa is ready but how? You jumped to the application decision without even applying? Not filing taxes is a big no-no in America and you should really do it.

Q: My mother will be visiting (tourist visa) from my home country in February. We would like to be her sponsor for an I-485/I-130. Should we begin the process while she is here, and should she just stay in country after we send the paperwork off?

A: You should definitely have you mother enter America on the tourist visa, make sure that she tells the immigration officer that she only intended on visiting for a temporary duration. If she makes it known that shes coming to America on a tourist visa and going to do AOS through you, she would be denied at the port of entry. Also have a good excuse during the interview why she came on a tourist visa and decided to do AOS. You should say things like she visited and liked what she saw and decides she wants to pursue a life in America and be closer to her son, etc.

Q: I was told that you need to get Advance Parole if you want to leave the US during your green card application, because if you leave the US without it your i-485 application will be considered abandoned. So I was wondering when during the green card application progress can you apply for Advance Parole? Is it after the completion of the biometrics appointment? Has anyone applied for AP before? What is the process like and how long did it take?

A: Yes you were told correctly and you must get the AP document to travel during a pending green card application. You can apply for AP with your I-485 application by submitting I-131 along with your paperwork (everything can be in 1 packet, check my complete guide on AOS to green card). You will get AP stamped on your Employment Authorization Card (they no longer send out a card just for AP, it is combined with the EAD card). So you should also apply for I-765 employment authorization with your I-485, since it is free and its the same card anyway. You can get the EAD card with AP stamped approval after about 3 months of filing your I-485.

Q: I recently got engaged and my fiancee is from the USA and we want to live there. I’ve read a few posts about starting proceedings to get a green card etc. and my fiancee has been researching too. I was wondering if people would suggest getting an attorney to help with the legal forms etc?

A: No, the process is very straight forward. My complete guide here details exactly what you need and what forms and applications to fill out. Unless you have a extraordinary situation or your US Citizen spouse had criminal records, you don’t need a lawyer. You just need to be diligent and careful with your paperwork.

Q: Hello, as my title says, My Daughter is 25 and is a US citizen and she wishes for my son (her half brother) who is 15 and myself to move over there in August 2014. i understand that she can sponsor me to live there but can she also sponsor my son. i do not want to give up my house in the UK and sell all i own just to get there and be told that we cannot stay. thank you in advance.

A: Yes, your daughter can sponsor you and you can get the GC fairly quickly (within 1 year). However if your daughter were to sponsor her half brother, that would take 10+ years to be processed and approved. There really isn’t a need for your daughter to separately sponsor your son. When your daughter sponsors you, because your son is under 21, I assume unmarried, he will be included with your GC application. Once approved, both of you will get a GC.

Q: My girlfriend overstayed her tourist visa before we got married. She was here in February/2013 and we got married in November/2013. Here’ how I understand the petition process.. I will file form I-130 and I-485 for her and address it to the Chicago lockbox (I am a US citizen). She has a daughter in the Philippines. Can you correct me if I am wrong with this process; I will file form I-130 seperately for her using a different lockbox i.e. consular processing. Can I petition for her on the I-130? How long should I expect the process to take?

A: No, you don’t need to file separately for her daughter. Her daughter will be included in the same application for your girlfriend. Also, overstaying on a tourist visa is OK and not a problem when conducting AOS through a marriage. The entire process is usually 9 months.

Q: Hello all, my father is getting his citizenship this year and I’m looking into ways of getting my GC through him. I’m unmarried, over 21 years old, living in the US illegally for a few years. Is there a way for me to apply for a GC through him? How would that work and how long would it take for me to get it?

A: You are no longer considered an immediate relative of your father in USCIS standards, so you fall into the family preference category which takes about 2 years to be processed, 5 year for Mexico and 11 years for Philippines. Also, the illegal status will look unfavorably on the application and may cause you problems.

Q: My husband and I have the immigration papers all ready. I am applying for spouse outside of US. I am in Colorado and he is in Canada right now. What is the timeline for him being able to come, work and live? He doesn’t want to miss too much of our daughter’s life…

A: Assuming you guys have a straight forward no complications marriage and situation, it will take about 6-9 months to complete the process. If you are lucky, under 6 months. If you are unlucky, over 9 months to 1 year. It all depends on your luck. Good Luck and Pray hard.

Q: For question #21 of the I-130 form : “If filing for your spouse, give last address at which you lived together”, 
I unfortunately am not living with my wife.. she lives about 4 hours away and has a work visa, and the reason why I’m applying is so she would be able to move to my city and start living together. I did write a short attachment letter explaining why, do you guys and gals think its a good idea to attach this ? Is there a format i need to use to attach a letter ?

A: It is ok to not be living with your spouse. Remember America is a diverse and officially tolerant country, so people can be married and not live together if they choose not to. There really isn’t a need to attach a letter but if you wish you can do it. The immigration officer at the interview will probably ask you guys about it and just be honest and up front. As long as the marriage is real and bonafied, there are no problems.

Q: My wife has applied for her father’s GC and the I-130 case has been approved. The address she provided for her father at the time of application should be updated now. She called USCIS to change the address but they said the case is no longer with them. And NVC requires a case id in order to do anything.

A: Call the NVC and provide them the receipt number from the I-797C that you received for the petition. They should be able to track down the case and update your addresses.

Q: I have a query about GC processing? I always though it takes a few years. How long does it take on average for GC to come through for a parent for those who have applied?

A: It should be under 1 year. Beacuse this is an immediate relative petition, it should not take years as there are no restrictions on the availability of green cards for immediate relatives. Generally 6-9 months.

Q: I married with US Citizen in USA and applied for I-130. My I-130 was approved after that i filed I-485 and I-765 but the same time i have problems with my wife and we got divorce. My I-485 was denied due to i didn’t change my address with USCIS and we don’t want to pursue it. My question is if i married to other US citizen and wanna file my adjustment of status so my previous I-130 was still valid or shall i have to file the new I-130 from my new wife side. Really appreciate your help.

A: You have to file a new I-130. Each I-130 is for 1 marriage. Since your previous one ended, that case is completely terminated. You have to start the entire process again for your next marriage. You also will be looked at very closely because it is unusual to be married, divorced and married again so quickly.

Q: I am in the process of preparing documents for my father for his GC application. My father visits us every year for 6 months. He has bee doing this yearly since 2009. His tourist visa was for 10 years and he will have to go for renewal by the end of this year. My question is if I submit his paper work for GC application, what will be the consequences on his tourist visa renewal process. Any ideas, suggestions and experiences you would like to share would be welcome and appreciated.

A: If you already begun his green card application and it is in progress, he will likely be denied for a B-2 visa because it is evident that he intends on immigrating to America and therefore should not be using a tourist visa to enter the country. What he should do is simply enter the country as soon as possible on the B-2 visa, and simply stay until he gets his green card. It is ok to stay as long as your green card application is pending. If there is no decision made on the green card application, you can continue staying in America legally.

Q: My father obtained his citizenship illegally and he started the process to bring my mother to America and she finally got her residency after 2 and a half years of waiting. Now they are having marital problems and my mom wants to divorce him and get her permanent residency on her own but he is saying that if she does that then he will reveal to immigration that he setup a sham marriage in order to receive his residency, my question is would this have any effect on my mother’s legal status after she files for divorce?

A: Firstly, how long ago did your mother receive the GC? If it is within 2 years, then if she gets divorced now, she will lose that GC and would have to leave the country. Secondly, if your father reveals that his citizenship was a sham, he would be the one getting deported. I am not sure if he is taking the situation seriously because he himself would be in jeopardy of being deported and NEVER being able to immigrate or visit America due to his fraudulent criminal activities.

Q: Our 32 yo son fell in love with a 23 yo woman from Macedonia. She seemed fine, was pleasant and kind to our whole family. Her parents made contact with us via FB and seem very nice. However, our son needed us to co-sponsor his bride and we have paid for all her living and legal expenses since she came here. To date, she owes us $15,000 not including the note on the car we gave her. As soon as she received her conditional green card, she became obstinate, disrespectful and has said terrible things about our son and our family to anyone who will listen. She now has two jobs making minimum wage and has started her own checking account. She has told us she doesn’t owe us anything (we did make her sign a promissory note) and refuses to help pay the bills. In addition, my son is incurring approximately $500/mo in extra child care bills because his wife claims the child is not her responsibility and intentionally works after school hours and on weekends. What can we do?

A: First thing is to divorce her and she will lose her conditional GC because you will not be filing I-751. Remember, in America, it only takes 1 person in the marriage to file for divorce. Given that she works minimum wage jobs, it is unlikely she can hire an awesome divorce lawyer and she will probably just lose everything. The money that you have paid for her in the past, unfortunately, is lost as you were her sponsor and therefore required to do so. You can get the car back since you own it.

Q: I have a question. i am one of the gettting greencard for 2014. and also i had a interview to usa embassy (so got visa on my passport). I am thinking to come in May. the question is that if i get married with my gf, can she get also greencard, or i need to wait to be usa citizen. is it possible anyone can get greencard, get married with anyone who has greencard, or not?. Is there a way to help me? 

A: It is always a good idea to marry first before applying for any visa since your spouse will be included in the same application at no additional cost. However, in your case, it looks like you have already applied and received your visa to get a green card. In this case, marrying your gf at any time makes no difference. You have to petition for her to come to USA with you after you get your green card, and because you are not a US Citizen, you will have to wait for some time because this is the F2A category preference (for spouses of green card holders). If you had married her before you started your application (in fact on your DV entry), she would have gotten a green card just like you.

Q: Wife and I file our taxes jointly. She makes twice as much as me (more then enough to sponsor a family of four). On the I-864, I know there is a question asking for your individual income. When NVC ask for the I-864, should we also submit a copy of her latest W-2 with the tax transcript to show that she makes more then enough alone to support a family of four (me, her, and both of her parents that she wishes to sponsor)? I take it also since her income is greater then the amount needed, I will not be required to file an I-864A?

A: The latest joint tax return would be enough. In the US, marriage makes 2 people count as 1 person so technically individual income does not even matter. As long as your combined income is more than enough to sponsor the individual in her family, there is no need to file a I-864A in addition just to clarify that you will help pay for the expenses.

Q:  I am married to a USC and have a wonderful son together. We have been together for 8 years and married for 4 years. We totally messed up and filed our I-751 late, over a year late, due to financial difficulties, and I am wondering what happens from here. We send a whole bunch of documents, bank statements in both our names for more than a year, birth certificate and medical records for our son, a ton of pictures, letters that I am 100% beneficiary in my husband’s pension, our son’s college saving fund, health insurance cards, bills in both our names from all addresses we have lived in, credit card statements, joint tax returns for the last 3 years and a nice letter explaining our situation. Also, we never received any letter from uscis in the mean time saying that status has been terminated or anything like that. We filed it last week and of course it is too soon to hear from uscis, but we are so anxious and worried, what will happen?

A: Of course you would not have received any letters from the USCIS reminding you to file I-751. It is completely your responsibility to remember to file for the removal of the conditional residency status and to receive the 10 year green card. With that said, filing late is still OK if you explain your situation well and that it is a genuine mistake that you forgot. Just don’t think of NOT filing it and trying to fly under the radar as you will be caught eventually. As long as you filed, and it is an honest mistake, I don’t see why USCIS would want to tear families apart for the sake of some paperwork.

Q: Hello! I am a U.S. Citizen filing for my father I-130. In my birth certificate, his name shows as ABC. However in his passport and his birth certificate, his name is XYZ. He already has an affidavit stating he is one and same person way back in the 90′s when he applied for his passport, and he has been using his name XYZ on all his legal papers. My question is, can I just photocopy the affidavit that he has (is the USCIS going to honor it even if it’s old?) or do i need to get him another one? Also, which of his name should i use on the I-130 application, ABC, or XYZ?

A: Yes, provide the copy of the affidavit even if it is old. Also provide his marriage certificate to your mom, maybe that would have the name ABC and so it further validates his identity. If possible, IDs of each name with the photos to show he is the same individual.

Q: I have been studying in an online school and staying here in Mexico, and the only time my Green Card is checked is when I go back to the US, about every few month. When I return to Mexico, they do not request any documents to cross the border. I have been doing my taxes (I had some years that I had skipped since I didn’t have an income, but I will be filing them as back taxes although I do not owe) and been gathering rent invoices, etc. I have not been outside of the US (where they do check and stamp your passport) for more than 2 weeks, and I have not been convicted with any type of crime. Please give me an opinion on if it is better for me to renew my green card or apply for citizenship.

A: I would apply for citizenship since once you have it, unless you personally renounce it or done something terribly wrong, you don’t have to worry about any expiration dates. You have been paying your taxes already anyway, which is the most problematic part of having US citizenship. You also do not leave the US for more than 2 weeks so you should be approved for citizenship.

Q: When filling out i485 and the spouse changed her name from her maiden to husband’s does she need to write her husband’s name in field Part1? Or her maiden name . How it will be reflected on the green card ?

A: If she already changed her name, then just use her new name. Keep in mind that marriage certificate may not be enough for a changed name for immigrants. Typically you would have to have filed some immigration documents with the new name to officially use that. Make sure you note the maiden name on G-325A.

 Q: My wife is a green card holder and we got married a week ago when she visited our country. We have our valid court marriage certificate as recognized by the law and she wants me to join her soon. I like to know long it takes before everything is finalized. I like to know the process.

A: Because she is not a US citizen, her petition for your green card is limited and subject to a wait. She will have to file a I-130 to petition for your green card. Once that is approved, your case will be sent to the National Visa Center to wait until the priority date (published here) has reached. Once the date is reached, the NVC will contact you regarding biometrics appointments, interview appointments, possible request for more evidence, and when you can get the green card. The time from filing the I-130 to approval of the green card cannot be determined and can only be checked using the above linked website.

Q: I am a U.S. citizen and my fiancée is a citizen of Mexico. She is currently here on a b-2 visa and we plan to get married before here since we’re both already here and every is on the up and up, so we don’t think there will be any trouble. My question is how long before the. I-94 expires should we get married. Her i-94 expires the 28th of January next year and some people say we should marry before the new year in case laws change in the new year. Also we want to be sure that papers and well in motion by the time her i-94 expires.

A: You can get married any time. The marriage does not automatically give your fiancee status. It is the filing of the I-130 and I-485 (on her part) that starts the process. Your main question should be, when should you guys file the immigration applications. Well, this all depends on when she entered the country. See my post about the 90 day rule for B-2 visitors. If she only arrived within 90 days and you guys file for Adjustment of Status, she will likely be denied due to preconceived intentions on immigration. However, after 90 days then you guys should be married, document the relationship and file for AOS and get the process started. Yes, I agree you should do it as soon as the 90 days have passed in case new laws and regulations are put in place to slow the immigration process.

Q: So, I’m planning to go abroad this summer and to get married there. What should I do after that? File I-130 abroad or wait until I come back? Will it be faster to file abroad? About how long would it take to get everything processed?

A: The person filing I-130 is the US Citizen. I assume you are filing for your spouse in which case you should file it while abroad since you guys can stay physically together during the application process and when your spouse receives the GC, then both of you can come to America without any problems or long distance relationship strains. The processing time varies but usually it ranges from 4 months to 12 months. If you come back to the US and file for your spouse, you guys would have to remain physically apart for 4 to 12 months because your spouse will not have a visa to enter the USA.

Q: Hello, everyone! I applied for I-130 for my mother while she is in Russia, she is going to have consular processing. My question is: can she still come to USA to visit me while her application is pending/under review? She already has B1/B2 visa… Will she have any problems with entering USA and can the US border officer deny her entry because of her pending immigration status? Thank you!

A: Because there is an immigration application pending, she may be denied for a B-2 entry because of her immigration intent. Since you are likely 21 and over to be filing for your mother, and your mother is an immediate relative which means no visa wait, I don’t think your mom would be denied at the entry port since her GC is likely to be approved.

Q: I am a USC. My brother lives in New Zealand and has PR there. He is skilled worker. He also holds passport of UK because he lived in UK before.
I heard that I can apply for his GC while he is visiting me here in USA and he can apply for EAD while waiting for his GC. is that true?  if true, he can practically start working on EAD immediately after his GC application is filed. this sounds too good to be true but my friend told me that it is possible.

A: Yes it is too good to be true. Siblings of USC have a 12 year + wait on getting their GC application approved. Only after the application (your petition for him to get a GC) is approved can he file for AOS (through I-485) and then while doing that he can file for EAD card. He cannot do AOS as soon as he enters the country because your petition for him has not been approved yet. The wait is just going to be longer and longer so start the process now and just keep waiting.

Q: I have been in the USA since high school and now in my 2nd year in college. Sorry for the long intro but here are my questions for F-1 visa adjusting to Green card (permanent resident):
-How much does it exactly cost to go through the entire process? (Including the extra price for the form that I have to fill out in order to work in the U.S, while waiting for my green card)
-I know sometimes they reject some people because they were intending to get a green card through marriage. I had no intention of getting married to a U.S citizen when I first entered U.S. Do you think I have high chance of passing it or failing it?
-Is it recommended to hire someone? Because I have very little money since most of my savings will be used for the payment that I have to pay with the green card form. I cannot afford things to go wrong. If I cannot obtain my greencard, I will be forced to leave the country and join the army, without being able to come back to America
- Can I get a job in the U.S with just f-1 visa legally?
- How long does it usually take for me receive the license that allows me to work after I send all the required documents?

A: The process to file AOS from F-1 visa to GC costs about 2k total if you do it yourself. Your situation likely will not be rejected because you have been in the country for 6 + years and that is not a preconceived notion to immigrate. Your case, if genuine, should be approved and completed without any problems. You don’t really need to hire someone if your situation is very straight forward and legitimate (no visa violations, no criminal records, no illegal work activities). You can get a job on F-1 visa for on-campus employment only, so jobs such as the school’s cafeteria worker, teaching assistantship, research assistantship, work in the computer labs, work as a tutor for other students, etc. You cannot get a job off-campus unless you demonstrate extreme financial needs. Since this is a spouse based GC application, as soon as you file I-130 and I-485, you will also be filing I-765 which will give your EAD card and then you can work unrestricted while your AOS application is pending. The time to get the EAD card is roughly 3 months from initial filing if everything goes smooth. I have a comprehensive guide on how to adjust from F-1 to GC here.

Q: I am a USC and have applied for my parents’ GC back in Nov’2013 through AOS. They landed in the US on a tourist visa in Oct’2013. Since then, they both have received their A# and have been finger printed. My dad applied for EAD and got the same. My mom didn’t apply for EAD. Neither of them applied for Advance Parole (as they weren’t planning on traveling).
This is my question - 
Their I-94 expiration date (on their tourist visas) is end of Mar’2014. With their I-485 receipt and A# in hand, do they still need to apply for their B2 visa extension?
 Also, if we need to apply for an extension – is it too late (less than 45 days). And, if we apply now – what do we need to receive from USCIS in order to be assured that they are not out-of-status??

A: No, don’t worry about the I-94 or B-2 expiring because they have a pending AOS application which is a legal status in itself. Unfortunately because you did not apply for AP for both of them, they cannot leave the country even for an emergency because that will be considered abandoning their application.

Q: Hello All,iam currently separated from my us husband due to abuse,iam a GC holder schedule to refile at the end of the year…Now my my husband had file for my overseas children at the age of 16/19,now that we are separated I don’t see him doing anything for them where the filing is concern because he threatens me all the time that he is going to call an have uscis take his name off their petition…So my question is can I refile for them,they are now 18/20 will they come soon are do I need to wait until I became citizen?Thank you all in advance,an anyone who know of anyone with similar situation can feel free to give their imput,iam beside my self with worrie I don’t know what to do…

A: This is an unfortunate situation however the US laws are not blind and know this could happen with GC marriages. You may need to get a lawyer for filing the removal of your conditional green cards because you guys are separated. However, don’t worry about the USCIS kicking you out of the country because your USC husband is a douchebag. Also you don’t need to refile anything for your children. All of you can remain on the current GC. As long as the marriage was entered on good faith and genuine, you just need to prove to the USCIS that it is complete the USC husband’s fault for the failure of the marriage and that you are a law biding GC holder and want to remain in the country. Your GC can still become permanent without any involvement from him. Check out this article and story.

Q: My mom is going to be citizen in next month, and she would like to apply for her daughter (she age-out when mom came to US) which was in 2008. US didn’t let her come under CSPA. However, US let somebody else entered in the US even though they were 28 year old. My sister was 23 at the of the interview. If my mom apply now, when will visa become available?

2nd question: Is there anyway can expedite this process? I mean can I get same priority date as in before?

A: As a daughter of a US citizen, there is a currently a 7 year backlog from the visa bulletin (http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin/2014/visa-bulletin-for-march-2014.html). There isn’t a way to expedite the process or else everyone would do it. you have to wait until the visa becomes available before your sister can get the GC to come here.

Q: My father was born in the United States to a US father and Australian mother. My father came to Australia when he was 2 years old and holds Australian citizenship. My father and grandfather have birth certificates that state they were born in the United States. I want to move to the US within the next few months and was wondering which, if any, visa/green card I am eligible for. It has been very difficult, because my father is not a US citizen anymore. I do have a bunch of family who still live in the States though.

A: You are out of luck. There is nobody that can apply for a GC for you. Your father is not a US Citizen anymore so he cannot petition and apply for you to go to America because he is a foreigner just like you. I never heard of grandfather applying for grandson’s to come to USA so I am not sure if that is even possible. You can try coming to America through the B-2 tourist visa or the F-1 student visa or the J-1 exchange visitor visa. Keep in mind though, if your dad was born in America but just never went back, technically he can still apply a GC for you because he is still a US Citizen. But I don’t know if you would be approved because of the lack of taxes your dad has NOT been paying the US government and I don’t know if they would approve his petition for you.

Q: I recently became US Citizen and all of my immigration documents says that I am single. But, I was married in India in 2010 and has a daughter. I would like to get them here as soon as possible. One of my friend raised a question that this might be a problem if I mention now that I was married in India and not mentioned on the n-400 immigration documents. If yes, are there any other documents that I should submit to uscis to let them know that I was married back in 2010?  Any advise would be greatly appreciated.

A: What you should do, is actually just get married again. Because the USCIS has no record of you ever being married, you can get married now and then bring your wife over. However, your daughter is going to be a problem because I think you must have filed a G-325A during your citizenship path and you have failed to disclose you have a biological daughter. Maybe since you are doing a secondary marriage certificate, just put your daughter as a child from your “new” wife’s previous relationship and that you are the step-father. That way it will look like you never neglected to mention anything!

Q: My current birth certificate is a duplicate of the old one, however it looks very different and there is a slight difference (a couple of letters) in spelling of the names. It is issued by the state archives, but they used a new spelling system and new format. Will UCSIC compare my current copy (when I file a petition for my parents) with the old one filed long time ago with the Green card application?

A: Just use whatever is issued to you. USCIS and DoS are aware of changes in forms from other governments as they process these paperwork on a daily basis. Do not worry and just bring what you have. Use the new form as that is what you have in your possession ( I assume you lost the old one). Even if they dig up your green card application from ages ago, you have a perfectly valid explanation, and it would be hard for them not to believe you since everyone from your country will be using that new form as well.

Q: If I-94 expires in a month, is it too late to file I-130 and I485 concurrently for my dad? He has medical issues and we would like him to stay.

A: No not at all. File it now and your father’s status immediately becomes a pending status and has the right to remain in America while his application is being processed.

Q: Hi, I became citizen 4 months ago, and I have been separated from my husband over year. I’m divorcing now, we have final hearing in 2 weeks. My boyfriend is illegal and he has been living in USA for about 14 years. I want to married him, we are planning family, we are from the same country. What documents we both will need in order to get him legal? We want to get married after my final divorce hearing ASAP.
We have account together, we have apartment lease over year together, Power is on my name, TV on his name. 
My question is do I need to change adresses on my health insurance my ex husband will continue to pay some of bills as we made deal. Can this be issue for immigration interview?

A: You need to wait until your divorce is final before you can do anything. After the divorce, get married and file a I-130 for your boyfriend/future husband. Just be up front about everything and let them know that your health insurance is being paid by your ex-husband as part of the divorce agreement. Show as much proof about the relationship as possible.

Q: My husband just became a US citizen, so we want to start with my adjustment of status, we have been married for 6 years, we have 2 kids together, there are only a couple of things I am worried about
1. I was arrested 7 years ago for underage drinking. I went to court, pled guilty and paid the fine and did the classes they required
2. My husband is 15 years older than me
We are afraid that they would deny my green card because of those 2 reasons and I will end up being separated from my family, how hard is my case? Do I have any chances at all?

A: You have absolutely no issues. As long as the marriage is genuine and real, which it sounds like it is, your underage drinking charge/record is not really important. What is important to USCIS is that you did not commit serious crimes like murder, theft, etc. Age is not an issue at all, this is America, relationships are free to form without restrictions. You have a good chance of getting approved.

Q: I have read on various threads about attaching a cover letter to the I 130. Could anyone tell me what should be included in this letter. My wife is applying for her father and stepmother.

A: There is no need for a cover letter. In fact, the USCIS may just tear off the cover letter once they receive your application. For me personally, all I listed on the front page of the application packet was detailing all the forms that was included in my application packet. This is not a required item and nobody can tell you what it may or may not be used for.


Q: Quick background – I am a professional gay male from Hongkong and for almost 2 decades I have been in a great friendship and on-and-off lover relationship with a Bay Area based American guy. We were recently more connected and early this year we took a trip together to Thailand, Cambodia and China – it was at the time that we decided we should consider the marriage option. I am a regular visitor to the US for years for business and pleasure. I have a valid tourist visa. The question is – I have been told that I should not get married since on a tourist visa, because it would be against the intention/purpose of a tourist visa that it will work against us in future procedures.

A: Yes, if you enter the country on a B1/B2 tourist visa and you get married within 90 days and file for adjustment of status to PR (green card), you will get denied because you lied about your intentions on entering the country. The best way to go about doing this in your situation, and to avoid possible physical separation while you wait for the process to complete, is to first wait 90 days. A tourist visa is good for 6 months so you should be fine. After the 3rd month, get married at any location in US that recognizes gay marriages. Get married legally. Do not go to Canada because you would be effectively resetting your tourist visa when you return to America. After you get married, file the I-130, I-485 to adjust status to permanent residence. Once you file,  you are in a limbo period where you should not travel outside the country unless you file I-131 advanced parole. If you leave the country without prior authorization, you are considered as abandoning your green card application. You should make every effort to stay in America the entire time of your green card application. Once you get your green card, then you can resume your life as before.

Q: I am a US naturalized citizen and I am finishing my university studies this year. So my situation is that I married my wife in January in Pakistan and we filed her I-130 with all documents in February and it was received and is in the “Initial Review” portion of the process. I have received a good job offer in Kuwait to teach in a high school with a yearly renewable contract. My question is that if I accept this offer would this affect my wife’s immigration process? Do I need to be in the US for things to process smoothly? What advice can you give me in this situation I am kind of confused.

A: Yes of course if you accept the job offer and move to Kuwait it would jeopardize your wife’s immigration process. The green card application you filed for your wife is for her to live in America permanently with you. If you are not residing in America, why would the USCIS give your wife a green card? Your wife’s application will likely be denied if they found out you are actually living and working in Kuwait.

Q: My wife and LPR, is going to send of the i-130 soon, to petition to have me live in the states. I know I can technically visit her on the VWP (I’m from Ireland) but what are the chances of being admitted by the CBP? I dont know if I will have a job yet by then, economy is rough here! I may be doing a college course for the year in Sept, I could use that as evidence of ties. What else could I use?

A: You should first come to America, be admitted under the VWP and live with her for 90 days before filing the I-130. If you file within 90 days, it is considered entering America under false intentions (visa is for temporary visits). If she files the I-130 and you are still in Ireland, chances are you will not be able to enter America because you have already demonstrated you intend on living in America permanent and therefore should not be entering the country on a tourist visa (or VWP). Basically, you need to understand that the USCIS is very strict on what kind of visa you are using and for what purpose. It is very simple: Do not use a tourist visa to enter the country if you have intentions on immigrating right from the start. Intentions can be changed after 90 days.

Q: My friend wants to file I-130 for his married sister who has a husband and 3 children. Does he need to file separate I-130 for each one of them (1 for sister, 1 for her husband, 3 for 3 children)? Or does he need to file I-130 only for his sister right now and when time comes, he’ll get a letter from USCIS asking to file I-130 for his sister’s family/dependents?

A: Your friend only needs to file I-130 for his married sister. In fact only the married sister is eligible for the GC. Her family would be derivative status based on her status. So they will get GCs if she gets one.

Q: I am married to a USCIS citizen. At first he was charming and very loving we have so may wonderful memories together. My husband became violent and scares me. He always threatens to kill me. He has been in prison for 13 years, which I have found out after doing some research. He also confess to me that he has killed his sisters husband and made it look like he committed suicide. He also stated that he killed more people. I told him I would tell the police and he said it is all circumstantial evidence and they would not believe me as he has gotten away with it for so long. I found out he has moved from the south to NYC. He said if I tried to leave him he will kill me. He also states that he will never allow me to get GC and said that he would tell USCIS that I only married him for the GC. I am now stuck and don’t know what to do. I have no money no paper to get work and petrified to leave. He his tells me that I have to drop of heroin to his customers. 

I was insulted and thought he was joking. He then told me how do you think I can afford to pay for my rent. I thought his wages covered it, if I asked any questions I was told to mind my own business get shouted at, and things broken. I manage to get him on tape asking me to deliver heroin package which I refused. I am stuck in the USA and is uncertain because he his from the south if anything happens to me he can skip states. He his always drunk and abusive. 

He would then boast about what he has done and told me if I ever crossed him or try to snitch he would kill me and my family. He would search me to see if I was wired tap, ask constantly ask if I work for the FBI. I need to get out but he say he will not divorce me. He said he didn’t get married to get divorce and I am his wife he owns me and I must do what he says. I am petrified, stress out and dying slowly. He refuses to put me on his health insurance so I could get basic medical. I am still on B2 visa and has not yet received any form of settlement. We have been married for 8 months and I have never seen someone changes as radical as this. He told me that behind this pretty face lies a monster. 

He said if I ever called the police he would make sure I disappear like the people he made disappear. I am walking on eggshells here. He refuses to sign the paper to petition for me, and I am scared that I will end up in a ditch if I tried to file VAWA. Any suggestions welcome.

A: Firstly, you are on a B2 visa so why can’t you just get up and leave the country? Why are you bothering staying in a relationship with such a criminal? Just leave the country and go home. If you are looking to stay in America, it is not possible with your situation because your husband refuses to file a GC for you anyway.

Q: For an I-864, I have significant assets from past income in the US including real estate which has been paid for but I have no income in the past 3 years as I have been investing into some businesses which will start paying in a couple of years. My wife still earns a good amount of money on her W2. I have no W2 or 1099. How shall I show my income in this case on the I864? I can show all deeds to my assets and my liquid assets and my wife can also co-sign.

A: Assets are fine, they are calculated at 1/5 of their value for the I-864. So let’s say you need to prove an income of $50,000, you should have $250,000 in assets to qualify. Just divide your total assets value by 5 and see if this is greater than the minimum requirement to sponsor your parents.

Q: Good day, just wanted to ask if anything changed to apply for GC for a spouse within US, required forms: I485, I130, I864, I693 and G325A (for each spouse)
Optional: I765 and I131

A: You have the correct list of documents to apply. It has not changed yet.

Q: My wife is a US citizen. I am a Canadian citizen. We live in Canada, and have been married for 20 years. I have a job opportunity in the US, and we want to move there this summer. She does not have a job, but is currently employed here in Canada. What options do we have for sponsorship?

A: Why doesn’t your job sponsor you the visa to work in America? Sounds like they should give you a H-1B visa. If you must get a green card, you can also detail your own job as source of income in addition to your wife even though she is the sponsor. It is ok for the petitioner to also contribute to the overall cost of living in America. For the marriage method, go to America, start the green card application process, once you get your I-765 approved and get the EAD card, you can start working for your new employer. Check my detailed guide on green card through marriage.

Q: I am an American citizen and my italian partner and I lived in Venezuela and had our entire lives there. The political situation in Venezuela has been tough for a while and the political persecution of people like us has been strong so we made a plan to come to the US, explore and check out our options, then go back to Venezuela to regroup, make back the money we would spend in the US and fly out of Venezuela (which is way cheaper than from the US) to Italy in order to explore our options there. From there we planned to go back to Venezuela and decide which country we wanted to move to. Then we were going to spend a few months selling our properties in Venezuela while waiting for a spouse visa (whether it was going to be for me in Italy of for him in the US).
We planned a 3 month vacation to the US to do some workaway experiences (www.workaway.info) but about 5 days before we got on the plane to come on our vacation, all hell broke loose in Venezuela and a civil war broke out. We made it to the airport in Caracas just in time and got out before the crazy killing of protesting students and the political persecution of white people from the evil empires of the world (such as Italy and specially the US) began. Venezuela is now under communist rule and the Cuban military has infiltrated the oil rich country. Before we left Venezuela I called the American embassy there to see if the best option for me would be to go to them but they urged me to just safely make it to the airport and get out. We thought that maybe the violent protests would end within a week or two but it is now clear that it will be going on for quite some time and we now have to establish ourselves here in the US.
Because of all this we cannot be spending our money going to Italy to explore, we have to use our money wisely and make a new life from scratch. We have come to terms with the reality that we have lost everything (except our love for each other) and we really do not know if we will ever be able to go back to Venezuela to at least sell our property. We called a lawyer here and explained our situation and he immediately told us that what we need to do is get married. So we got married yesterday!
We are now needing to figure out how to fill out all of the paperwork ourselves since we simply cannot afford the fees the lawyer wants to charge, so we need help. My new husband (OMG!!!) is here on a tourist visa (ESTA) so which forms do we need to fill out? Change of status? Green card?

A: You don’t need to go through a lawyer. Just check my detailed guide on adjusting status through marriage and apply and fill out the applications yourselves. As you have said, you will be filing for a change of status to permanent residence which will get you the green card. Also make sure you file after 90 days of your partner’s arrival into the US. You might have some issues getting the original documents such as birth certificates and police records if you left them in Venezuela. It sounds like you are applying via a same-sex marriage which is no different from a opposite-sex marriage.

Q: I have a couple of questions on I 864 (Affidavit of Support). Hoping someone who has already been through the process can help me.
I have I 130 Approvals for both my parents (separate I 130 was filed for each) and am going to be filing I 864 now.

  1. Should I submit two separate I 864 in support of each parents application?
  1. Do I mention anything (for example my mom’s info in my dad’s I 864) in section 2a where it asks to list family members immigrating at the same time or within 6 months of principal immigrant.
  1. If I should be submitting a separate I 864 for each parent – what should I mention in the Household size (Section 5)? In other words, should I just include my father (in his I 864) in the household size and my mom (in her I 864) in the Household size… even though in reality my total household size would increase by 2 but when you look at the individual I 864 applications it shows an increase by 1. I hope that is not confusing

A: Why did you have to file separately? Why couldn’t you have filed for one parent and through their own marriage get both a green card? Unless your parents are divorced? Anyways because you filed separately, answer to question 1 is Yes you must file separate I-864. Question 2 is no because you don’t include relatives on a separate visa petition. Question 3 is for each I-864 you just add 1 because they are separate applications.

Q: My husband came to the US illegally without any status and has been here for almost 10 years as an undocumented alien. We have been together for almost 5. Married for 1. We want to start the process of making him legal here and don’t really know were to start. I have read many things on this subject. Seems like a very long process that could cost quite a bit. My questions are if I file the i-130 visa petition and the i-485 and we are denied when filing the i-601a waiver, what do we do? We have only seen one lawyer so far and plan to speak with another before making our final pick but my concern is that we won’t be able to prove “extreme hardship”. If we can not prove extreme hardship do we have other options? Any info would be greatly appreciated. Also my husband was divorced many years ago in Mexico and does not have his papers. The lawyer said we need to get these papers on our own but did not offer any assistance in how to get them. I have searched and searched and can’t even seem to find a phone number to call to request these papers. Please help. This is all new to us and we are somewhat at a loss.

A: Unfortunately you cannot possibly get him a green card because he did not enter the country through a port of entry. He has no status to adjust from and therefore cannot get a green card through you. The only way is for him to leave, wait 10 years, then apply for a green card.

Q: I am seeking clarification on the vaccination requirements. My spouse is in her late 20s and she does not have any vaccination records. Will she be given all the vaccinations during the the medical examination? Is it physically possible to get all the shots in one setting? What if some vaccinations require another shot (a month later), do I have to wait to complete it prior to appearing for the interview? Is there a possibility on getting a headstart on the vaccination? I found the list of vaccinations online, however I read somewhere that the approved doctor during the medical exam will ultimately decide which of these vaccinations are required? If so, then we will have to wait for the medical exam prior to getting the vaccination.

A: Only a qualified doctor should recommend you what vaccinations to get and which ones are OK to get again if you had it before. With that said, if you want a “headstart”, by all means go visit a doctor and tell them that you need to have that list of vaccinations that you found and that your spouse may or may not have received them in the past. If the doctor is any decent, he should have a way to determine if blood testing can determine if your spouse already have some of the antibodies which would allow her to NOT have the vaccinations again. Your own doctor can start an immunization record and then when you are ready, attend the immigration medical examination with that record and hopefully you can “fast track” the immunizations.

Q: I recently received my US citizenship through naturalization and would like to sponsor my parents and sister for a US greencard. My questions are: 

1) Do you advise I hire an attorney or is it simple enough to do it myself like I did for my citizenship through naturalization?

2) How long to expect it would take on average for my family members to erceive their greencard?

3) My sister is married, does that make a difference?

A: No, you can definitely do it yourself if you have a very straight forward application and also that you or your parents and sister have not egregiously violated any laws. My guide on filing green card through marriage can work for your parents as well, just make sure you check the right boxes (instead of spouse). Your parents can get their applications processed immediately because they are immediate relatives and therefore has no wait. It should take about 6-9 months if they are outside the USA. Your sister is in the F4 category which has a current wait time of 12 years for the application to begin processing. It is because your sister is married that she can only qualify in the F4 category. If she was not, she can technically be a dependent of your parents and get the green card through your parents at the same time.

Q: I had filed for I-130/I-485 for my mother in Sep 2013. Sent both the I-130/I-485 forms at the same time. Since it was taking long time, my mother decided to go back to india in Feb 2014.
Now I have received a letter stating there is a intial review of her I-485 Application which is going to be interview on April 23rd. Is it possible at this stage to convert the case to Consular Processing, meaning can the I-485 process be continued in India.

A: No, I-485 is for someone who is already in the US to adjust their status. Your mother, with her departure, abandoned her application. I am afraid you have lost all that application fees and have to re-start her application if she wants to get a green card, through consular processing.

Q: I will be sending civil documents soon for my parents who will appear for their Immigrant visa interview in Mumbai, India.

1. Do I need to send ORIGINALS of civil documents (birth certificate, Police Cert, Marriage cert etc) to NVC? or copies would be sufficient and my parents can take Originals with them to the Interview in Mumbai?

3. Do I need to submit photographs (passport size) for my parents to NVC?

A: You NEVER send in the originals because anything you send to USCIS/DOS is considered their property once they receive it and they WILL NOT give it back to you. You always send copies and bring the originals to the interview. You definitely need to submit passport sizes photos of your parents as they are a critical part of the application. Check my guide on making your own passport photos to save money.

Q: I am petitioning for my sister who is New Zealand citizen to come and live here in the US if she wants to 12 years later. With that said, while the petition is pending, can she visit the US without any issues under the Visa Waiver Program? or will it be anywhere on the form asking if someone has petitioned for her for permanent residency? She just wants to visit here under 90 days as the program’s regulation. 

A: No, because the Visa Waiver Program does not require your sister to file applications or go through consular interviews. She can enter the country without any review and can stay up to 90 days as you described. She would not likely be denied at the port of entry because her application probably has not made it to the USCIS database yet.

Q: I live in a small town in Japan and my wife lives just outside of Tokyo. Because I have a contract with my employer and my apartment is way too small for two people to live in, I live in my town on the weekdays and go to her place on the weekends. While my mail does come to my place, I pay bills at her place too. So I am not sure what to put down as my place of residence on the I-130. I guess my question is, for the purpose of this form, can I consider us living together, even if it is only 2/7 of the time?

A: It does not matter; just put the address that you will be able to receive mail promptly without issues since all communication with USCIS is done through mail. During the interview, if they ask you about your living arrangements, just explain it the same way you are doing here and they should understand.

Q: Hello. The Petitioner received an I-797, Notice of Action.
Notice type: Approval Notice section: Unmarried son or daughter (21 or older) of USC, 203(a)(1) INA.

Priority Date: June 9, 2011.
Notice Date: May 19, 2014.

‘This courtesy notice is to advice of action taken of this case. The official notice has been mailed to the authorized representative. Any relevant documentation included in the notice was also mailed as part of the official notice.

It says that ‘The above petition has been approved. The petition indicates that the person for whom you are petitioning is in the United States and will apply for adjustment of status. The evidence indicates that he or she is not eligible to file an adjustment of status application.’ I understand that my PD is June 9, 2011 and according to the latest Visa Bulletin update. My PD is has not arrived yet. The Beneficiary also falls under the 245i Grandfather clause as well. The Beneficiary also has an Immigration Attorney handling all of the process from the start. I am a little confused about the Beneficiary being approved but says unable to do Adjustment of Status. Can someone help me please?

A: This notice is simply to let you know that your petition for immigration has been approved but as you have found out yourself, the current Priority Date for the F-2B category (unmarried sons or daughters) in April 1, 2007, as stated on the Visa Bulletin for June 2014 and therefore you must wait until the visa bulletin shows your Priority Date of June 9, 2011 before you can start any type of process (adjustment of status or consular processing) to get a green card. Basically, you have a long wait ahead of you before you can immigrate to America.

Q: So my dad has a green card, by the time he’ll come back to the states it’ll be little over a year, almost 1 year and 15 days. For the delay, he has valid reasons; his retirement(from work), my grand father passing and he’s being ill. Else, he would have been in the states before a year. What are the possibilities he running into any problem? Also, anything he should be aware of, before starting his travel? Any other heads up or advice?

A: With a Green Card, you can only stay abroad outside the US for up to 1 year. Anything beyond 1 year you are considered as abandoning your intention on permanently residing in America. Before leaving, if you were going to stay beyond 1 year, you should have applied for re-entry permit which would let you stay outside for up to 2 years. Given that he seems that he has situations beyond his control, he could apply for a SB-1 to re-enter the country. Also, it has been noted that since he only stay a little over 1 year, if he is questioned by a nice immigration officer, they could let him back in with a warning.

Q: Few years ago(March 2011), I submitted an I-130 petition for my wife and son. My wife also gave birth to another son. My wife finally got an interview which is scheduled in June. My question is concerning the newborn. I submitted a new petition for the newborn in January 2014, but has not been approved yet. I was reading through the net that the newborn can be added to the first petition and should not have submitted a new petition. Did anyone have that experience? Can the newborn be added to my wife’s petition? Any advice or recommendations?

A: You need to file a I-130 for your newborn as soon as possible, which you have done already. You can expedite it based on your situation and have it added to your wife’s petition so that everyone can get a green card.

Q: hey guys, thanks in advance for your help. I got a citizenship through marriage. And I would like to sponsor my parents for GCs. They currently live abroad in their home country. I’ve read the guide from USCIS and understand that I need to file I 130 for each of the parents. My parents are divorced by the way, but I would like to sponsor both of them just in case they would like to come live here in US. What’s the process is all about and how long does it take from your experience? I live in Colorado. Aslo what is I-130 Petition for Parents of US Citizens through Consular Processing? Do I have to put a check mark in the I130 form indicating that the processing is through the local consulate in their home country? Also how does the medical exam in their home country go? Is there a list of USCIS certified doctors abroad I can use so that they have it in advance? Thanks a lot

A: You need to file I-130 for each parent as you described. The process is usually about 1 year (9-10 months) for Consular Processing. Consular processing means that your parents are NOT in America and will receive a visa to immigrate to America when they arrive. Most of the process is done overseas in your parent’s home countries. Don’t worry about putting anything special on your I-130 for Consular Processing because USCIS will know that your parents are not in America. It will default to Consular Processing. Your parent’s local consulate/embassy will provide instructions and a list of doctors certified to do the medical exam, I don’t know of any way of looking that up online. I have a complete guide to follow to petition for your parent’s green card through consular processing here.

Q: Hi, I’m currently working in PA with an H1b visa but have a B1/2 as well. I’m also due to be married in Sept but my fiance lives in NY. My boss informed me today that after budget discussions, our project will be shut down by end of this month. Should I move up the wedding date (and cancel everything already scheduled)? Will I be able to do everything in 2 weeks to submit the paperwork while still working full time? City Hall requires that both of us be present just to pick up the license and my boss is not willing to give me a day off to go get married and my fiance just started a new job last week so he can’t get time off. Please, any advice you can offer, I would really appreciate.

A: In your situation, I would just first adjust status to B2 after your H-1B is terminated. Or actually, just find another job that will sponsor your H-1B? Then after you have some time, have the wedding that you were planning in Sept and get married the right way. Once you have done that, then start the AOS process. Don’t try to rush things, it will not work in 2 weeks. AOS takes a minimum of 3-4 months (at the best possible scenario).

Q: My brother filed a f4 petition (Priority date : March 28, 1990) for me in 1990. The petitioner moved without updating the address with NVC. As a result, when my turn came, The NVC could not contact me to come claim the visa. Now, I called the NVC and they told me my case has been put on purged status. I was wondering , If my case can be re-instated and visa reclaimed ?.

A: Unfortunately no, generally if you missed the PD, you just have to re-apply all over again. This is why keeping the addresses up to date is VERY important because it is very common to miss mails from NVC/USCIS and they ONLY communicate by mail.

Q: My wife came here on a student visa and stayed after the visa long expired. We have been married for nearly 17 years with a 16 and 13 year old chilren. Many years ago we sent in our paperwork but somehow it was lost and we have done nothing else out of fear. She has an excellent job as they never checked her status and makes over 77k a year. I have health issues and do not work. She does not have any paperwork nor a work permit. We pay taxes and receive no handouts. Heck, she does not even have a foreign accent and speaks english better than most Americans. We would like to get her legal but we have a fear she will be forced to leave or at the very least lose her job which would leave us homeless with 2 children. Do we have any options or do we just hope and pray that something is done in congress(hahaha yah right). Thanks.

A: Generally if she came here legally and overstayed, doing an AOS through your US citizenship will be ok and approved. However, seeing that she has worked for such a long time illegally, I don’t know what is the consequences of that. Do you have any receipts or proof of the last paperwork you sent in to do AOS? Maybe use that as a reason to apply again now, saying that it was lost before and you just didn’t think about it (oversight on your part).

Q: One of my aunts is visiting his native country and recently, she received her GC approval notice (based on her son’s citizenship). Now her lawyer is asking about 1500 for “affidavit of support fee, attorney fee, and immigrant visa fee” because since my aunt is visiting her native land, they will have to go through National visa center, hence, they need to file immigrant visa fee and also file affidavit of support fee”.  My aunt suspects her lawyer is trying to dupe her. Is what she’s been advised normal or is her lawyer really trying to dupe her? P.S. Her approval notice arrived 2-3 weeks ago and she was hoping to receive the physical card sometime this week, and subsequently, have it shipped/sent through someone visiting her native country. 

A: Firstly, why is your aunt trying to leave before getting the green card? I mean, just wait for it, it isn’t very long if you already received the approval notice in the mail. Why such a rush? Just get the green card, then go home, then come back without any issues (assuming its a short visit less than 6 months). There shouldn’t be any fees to pay whatsoever. I think the lawyer thought your aunt is trying to APPLY for a GC, instead of waiting to get it physically after being approved.

Q: I have been dating my girlfriend for the past two years long distance. We met here in the USA at a coffee shop and when her visa expired she returned to Moscow in 2012.Since then she got a new 3 year visitor visa in 2013 and has been back to see me twice, and I just visited her in Moscow this past May.We have both come to the conclusion that we desperately want to be with each other. Although we talk daily and I know I love this women, I think both of us would like that final confirmation that we should get married.I think in a perfect world she could come here on a visa that would allow her to work and we could continue to date each other more seriously, and then ultimately get married. However, we all know we don’t live in a perfect world and my heart tells me she is the one I am supposed to be with.So here are my questions: 1) What is the fastest way for her to get legal working status? Marriage? some sort of crazy medical profession visa I don’t know about? 2) If we do get married should we do it in Moscow or USA? I heard that if she enters the country as your wife then a green card is immediate, and if you wait it takes a year.3) What can a Lawyer do for me?

A: The fastest and best way is to ask her to come to USA on the tourist visa that she has, wait 90 days (see my post about waiting before doing Adjustment of Status - AOS), then get married, here in the USA, just legally, no need to do fancy ceremony. After marriage, apply for her green card through Adjustment of Status. This way allows you to see her continuous during the process and be physically with her. Also during a pending application, if she received the EAD card with Advanced Parole approval, she can also return to Russia for a short period of time to maybe have a ceremony there as well. She can start working as soon as she gets her EAD card, which takes about 2-3 months after you apply. So you have a total of 6 months or more without work, but this is the fastest way. There is no need for a lawyer, just follow my guide on immigration through marriage.

The Q&A is continued on Part Two.

48 thoughts on “Family Based Green Cards Common Questions and Answers

  1. kachi

    Hi,how are doing?I have a question,my daddy is a united state citizen,he filed paper forr me and my sibling am a nigeria,they are on our case now,under vermont we are over 21 how long will it take before they will get back to my daddy through mail ,I heard there is a form meant to be filled by me and my siblings after that our date of interview and medical text will be sent.I have another question,one of my sister got married just last year,after my daddy has filed us single 2012.plz tell me hope It won’t hider or delay our travelling cause,she is going to say the truth in the form that she is married.

    1. admin Post author

      Time of processing varies and nobody can tell you exactly when. Just make sure you check your mails. Your times will probably be further delayed because you are all not the immediate relative category due to age. Your sister is in the last category because she is married. It will take years to get your green cards.

  2. Chioma

    Hello. And thanks for this Question and answer blog. My mum is married to a U.S citizen and she is now a citizen. She Filed a form I-130 for a child over 21 for me in 2011, when she was still a permanent resident. The case is @ California Service Center and still on initial review. Do u have an idea, how long more before approval, Plus am still single but I have a son. I had him in 2012 which means he wasn’t included in the form. How do I get him included after the approval?? This is the 2nd time an I-130 form has been filed for me. The first was by my stepdad in 2008 when he filed for my mum I was 23 then, so he filed seperate I-130 forms, my mum got to America in 2009, but they didn’t hear from homeland securities Concerning my Own application until 2011 when they were mailed that my application was denied because my Stepfather was not my Biological father. My mum now had to refile in 2011. I am also from Nigeria.

    1. admin Post author

      You are in the F-2B category which will take a long time for you to get a green card. Your priority date is probably sometime in 2011 and the current dates are only until 2007. There is nothing you can do but wait, so just live your life and don’t think about coming to America yet because it will be years before you can do so. You can file another I-130 for your child to be included with your application. You have more than enough time to do this.

  3. Cherri

    Good afternoon. I am hoping you can help me. I married a US citizen when I was in the US in March. I returned to Australia after the marriage to sort things out here and to start the immigration process. My husband does not have a job and hasn’t earned an income for the past 4 years. His mother and his brother have offered to sponsor me for the AOS. His mother is just under the required income to be eligible and I understand that I would have to make up 5 times the difference in my own cash and convertible assets to met the requirements. I am able to do this. His brother however will have no problem meeting the requirements. My question is about applying for obamacare as I understand I must have medical insurance when my application is approved and I enter the US. (note we have not even applied for the I130 yet). If I have understood how this works correctly my monthly premium will be based on my sponsor’s income, is this correct?

  4. Caryl

    Hi… I love your blog and I am hoping that you can help me also. I applied the petition to remove conditional residency (I-751) with my minor son. But only him received the biometric appointment. I called USCIS but they told me to wait 30 days to contact them again (if I still don’t receive my appointment notice) after the receipt of my application. I called them on the date they advised me, it was just a week before my son’s appointment date and they had little knowledge of what was really going on since they told me to just wait for my appointment letter to arrive. I insisted I needed further help so I asked for another agent. I had to go through needles just to get an answer from them wasting so much valuable time. I talked to three nice agents and they told me the same thing. So I requested for an appointment for me and reschedule my child’s appointment date but they told me it will take some time. I said I can’t take chances since my husband is due for a surgery anytime, I wasn’t be rude at all, I was being nice as I can be the whole time but I was firm that I need answers. Then, all of sudden the agent told me that in further checking, she found that they already have my fingerprints and photo from my previous biometric appointment from two years ago.
    A friend of mine also applied for her I-751 with her kids but her children didn’t receive their appointment notices. We have not received any letter from USCIS in regards with them using our previous photos and finger prints. So my question is, is it possible that they use applicants’ previous biometrics?

  5. Vi Tran

    I sponsored my mother to the USA on immigration visa (or a permanent resident); she will automatically get her green card once enter the USA because it’s an immediate family relative. She already arrived USA for two months but has not received a green card yet? Does anyone know how long it takes to receive a green card? Any helps would be greatly appreciated.

    1. admin Post author

      You must be mistaken; nobody ever gets an automatic green card upon entering the country. What visa did she enter with? If you did this right, she should have a I-551 stamp in her passport as a temporary green card. And based on your mother’s application on where she will be living in the USA, that is the mailing address that USCIS will send the green card to.

  6. Sam


    I am about to file for my US citizenship. I have been married to my wife for more than 2 years. However she is living abroad because she does not have a permanent visa, we are living separately (which is very hard). However, luckily she has a visitors visa so we can visit each other once in a six months. My questions are following,
    1. Once I get my Citizenship when shall I apply from her GC?
    2. Does the 90 day rule applies in my case too?
    3. Can She come here on visitors visa and then we file the application or she can not come here when I am filing for her GC.

    I will appreciate the response. Thanks!

    1. admin Post author

      1. once you get your citizenship, you can apply for your wife’s GC right away. I don’t believe there is a waiting period.
      2. The 90 day rule applies for your wife; if she enters the country through the tourist visa, and files for AOS within 90 days, that is considered entering under false intentions. Your marriage does not matter because it is all about what she intends on doing when she enters the country on a specific visa.
      3. She should come here, stay 90 days or more, and then file AOS.

      Good Luck

      1. Sam

        Thank you very much for the comments.

        If she comes here on visitors visa, do we need to file I130 or I485? or both?

        Thanks again!!

        1. admin Post author

          After 90 days, apply Adjustment of status through I-130 and I-485, both.

          1. Sam

            Thanks!! u r blessing for we poor souls!!

  7. Sidra G

    I am a GC holder and applied for my unmarried son visa, but I am currently residing out of the USA over more than 3 years now. However, my son visa has just arrived. My question was will it cause any problems since I don’t live in the USA any longer?

    1. admin Post author

      Yes, it is a problem because your GC status is in question. I think the maximum you can stay outside the US while a GC holder is 2 years with reentry permit approval.

  8. Pattie

    I am a us citizen living in Canada with my husband.
    I want to move back yo California to be near my family.
    My husband is the money maker and we do have some money in rrsp’s, will they take that money into account?
    I was hoping not to spend another winter here.

    1. admin Post author

      I don’t think you can use retirement plans to qualify unless you plan on cashing that out soon because your husband is near retirement age.

  9. bianca

    Ok so my mother got married to my step dad in the 90s filed a i30 she has had her papers for over 10 years now and I still don’t have anything but I then got the acceptance letter n now my case is in the nvc but its been so long it been about 10 11 years ago and now my stepdad has passed away can I still look into the process of the nvc and see if I can complete the process or do I have to re do the process and do a different process of papers his the one that filled for me so what can I do would I be a blessing to finish the process even though it’s been so long??? Plz help

    1. admin Post author

      When the I-130 was filed for you, were you under 21 at the time? Because if you were, I don’t understand why it took so long since you would get the visa immediately. If you were over 21, the wait could be long but not 10 years for F1 preference category. It is likely you need to start over on your application

  10. maria

    Hi,I just need clarifications with our situation. My grandfather petitioned my dad with his family (we fall under the category of F3) and we got in the US last 2012(my dad,mom,brother and me) but my sister was left in the Philippines because she aged out (she was 23 that time and her name was not in the list anymore) and right now my dad would like to file a petition for her. So I have few questions in mind
    1.What are the steps in filling a green card for my sister?
    2.Can we use our priority date before?or expedite the priority date for her?

    1. admin Post author

      The same steps are needed to file for her green card; first file a I-130 for your sister through your father. She will be placed in the F-1 preference category and check the visa bulletin for the priority date. There is no such thing as expediting priority dates or exchanging it. Your sister’s green card application is independent of anyone else’s. GL

  11. Raymon

    Hi there,
    I am the spouse of a U.S Citizen we got married in Jan 2010, my son was born abroad and is a U.S Citizen then we visited U.S in May 2011, when he was 6 months old, I had 5 years U.S visit visa and I am now on a green card since Dec 2011.
    I got my conditional green card on Dec 2011 (through adjustment of status from B1/B2) and had to re-apply in 2013 Sept to remove conditions from that conditional greencard. In Jan 2014 I got unconditional GC valid for 10 years.
    Now I want to apply for Naturalization as in Dec 2014 it will be 3 years since I got my GC.
    I have few questions regarding Filing N-400 for Naturalization
    My first Question is that I had filed my taxes in 2012 and haven’t filed my taxes in 2013 as I had low income and also had business losess. I have 1040A transcripts form IRS for 2012 when I filed my returns jointly. and have 109k for 2013 and an IRS transcript showing I haven’t filed any taxes for 2013. and for 2014 I still need to wait till end of Dec 2014 to file so I believe I don’t need to worry about this 3rd year IRS Transcripts. So for 2012 shall I send USCIS both the 1099k and Non-Filing Transcript and mention that I had low income or just 1099K.and mention nothing as they will know themselves that I had low income so havent filed 1040A and or state taxes.
    Secondly I had about 4 travels abroad to visit my family one was for 154 days one for 164 and two for 53 days each. Shall I explain to USCIS in below line or in a separate page the reason for travel or its ok just to write the dates and days as all are less 6 months of duration?
    Thirdly shall I write a cover letter to explain what is included in the application pack.
    Kind Regards

    1. admin Post author

      Regarding your taxes situation; it is fine that you ended up in a low income situation as long as it is legitimate. I don’t see why they would deny green card holders who have unfortunate situations citizenship; where else would they go? About the absences, they are quiet long but since you were able to keep your green card upon each return, maybe it is ok? I am sorry I don’t have much reliable information to give you as your situation is unique.

  12. Samantha

    Hi im in a long distance relationship with a us citizen for 3yrs …so we finally decide to get married nexy yr 2015 ..i have a valid tourist visa also my son …i want to know after marriage how do i go about collecting documents that we dont have cause we communicate over internette or phone calls .. And what is best i stayed and try to add my name to her bills or go back to my country after marriage & wait a while before filling the i1-30 form?? & how do i include my son in this??…… Thank you inadvance

    1. admin Post author

      You can provide phone call logs from your phone bill; internet is kind of tough so you may have just have to take screenshots of the many call histories. Your son, I assume is under 21 and not married, in which case you can simply add him as a dependent on your green card visa and there is no need for a separate application. The easiest way is to file adjustment of status while you are in America; this allows you to stay together while the entire application gets processed. If you go back to your home country, you will have to apply through consular processing which is much longer.

  13. Mano

    Preference Category: F4
    Your Priority Date: 2002 Applied
    2009 we got the very first letter
    2014 (now) we got the nvc welcome letter

    we go through that six steps. but my children name’s are not there in that online forms.

    Dear Sir,
    Good Day to you.
    I got the NVC welcome letter from last week. So I have to let me know some details regarding my son’s visa matter. I have three sons,

    1. Son1

    Professional: Bsc (Hons) Software Engineering
    Date of Birth: 1986.10.20 – 27 Years old now (Unmarried)
    When my sister apply the sponsor: 2002 and that time his age is 16 years old

    2. Son2

    Professional: Bsc (Hons) Software Engineering, Final year student
    Date of Birth: 1990.12.30 – 23 Years old now (Unmarried)
    When my sister apply the sponsor: 2002 and that time his age is 12years old

    3. Son3

    Professional: Student
    Date of Birth: 1994.07.14 – 21 Years old now (Unmarried)
    When my sister apply the sponsor: 2002 and that time his age is 8years old

    I would like to know if any age restrictions in the case of visa application. Please kindly let me know the details. Sorry for the trouble and inconvenience case. I’m waiting for your kind reply.


    1. admin Post author

      It seems that your sons have aged out. When the priority date became current, your sons are all over 21 years old, so they are no longer eligible for the green cards as your derivative family member. What you can do is get your green card, and then apply for your sons. They will be in the F2B category which would be faster than F4.

  14. jen

    my fianace applied for the I-130 for his mother but forgot to add his little sister. What will happen. She’s under 163 years old.

  15. Ali


    My mother who is a US Citizen petitioned my case and file I 130 (F1 category), the case was approved in 2007 but I returned to my homeland and did not pursue the case further. What process would I need to follow to revive the case and file I485 after 8 years now. I am now above 21 years and also married.

  16. Sam

    Hi, I need some quick advise please. I’m a GC holder as of Jan 2015. My GF is a French national and can visit the US on the Visa Waiver Program. I was wondering that if she travels to the US this month and we get married by the end of March, would it be possible that she lives with me during the time we apply for a spouse visa for her: F2A category I think?

    What would the process be?

    Any help with be greatly appreciated :)


    1. admin Post author

      The current F2A priority date for her is Aug2013 so she cannot stay with you while the application is pending.

  17. Ivan Gomez Trujillo

    My grand father (father’s father) was a US citizen by birth, born on 1897, he lived his childhood and youth in the USA, went to Cuba, got married on 1921 and his first son, my father was born in Cuba on 1922, my grand father came back to the USA and settled again since 1968; he passed away on 1991. My father got married on 1948 and I was his first son (I was born on 1950, I live and always lived in Cuba and now I am legally visiting the USA since last 6 March to get back to Cuba next 4 June). My father settled on the USA since 1968 and on 1974 he applied for, and received, the USA citizenship by naturalization. He told me that when he received his citizenship, the official in function told him that, because of the fact that his father was a US citizen by birth, born on the XIX century, who spent his childhood and youth in the USA, he (my father), had the right to become a USA citizen since the moment when he was born (but I don’t know if this right was by naturalization or by birth). My father passed away on 1999 here in Miami. My brother (the son of my father’s second wedding), was born in Cuba on 1957, settled with our father in the USA and is a US citizen. He is a disabled man (sick of schizophrenia), who lives in Tampa, in a health care institution. I would like to know if the Law of the USA gives a person like me, from the viewpoint of my genealogical features, to apply for and even to receive the green card. A green card would allow me to come easily to the USA, to work legally to care about my brother.
    I would deeply appreciate any information or advice you could give me about my interest I just explained you.
    Sincerely yours,
    Ivan Gomez Trujillo.

    1. admin Post author

      I don’t think you can apply because your father already passed away. Your brother can sponsor for you but that will take 12+ years.

  18. Mody

    I sent 2 G-325a forms for me and my wife 5 months ago to USCIS with I-130 petition. Recently, when I was looking in my G-325a form copy, I found I wrote my first name instead my father’s. My case is in NVC now. What can I do to correct this mistake?

  19. george

    Hi I am a USA citizen and married my wife in her country (lithuania) this past October. I’ve filed i129 to petition for her and also a k3 visa to expedite the paperwork according to the immigration services office I’m using. My question is can my wife come visit me in the USA while we wait for answers from the embassy, its been about 5months and our paperwork is still pending. Thanks

    1. admin Post author

      yea actually she could have just come on a visa waiver program as tourist and then you can file for green card directly.

  20. Sara

    Do you know if you can get a green card – the family one, if a friend gives you an “affidavit of support”? That they will support you? I’m asking because I’ve been with my boyfriend for 5 years and my parents love him and they pay his way for everything, crazy but true. They’re wealthy and they just love him but anyway. We are not wanting to get married at this time because it’s just not good timing in our lives right now I wanted to wait till my late 20s to get married really once I had my own money and can move into my own home. I’m currently living back and fourth between his country and California, my parents have homes in both, and I HATE IT Ive had it traveling back and fourth. I want to move back to the U.S. and bring him with me. My parents make over 1 million per year and if they signed they would support him financially would that count as an affidavit of support for a green card or is it completely limited to blood relatives only? He’s 24 by the way if that makes a difference. Thanks

    1. admin Post author

      Your parental support is sufficient for affidavit of support. However how can you apply a GC for him if you don’t get married? Who would petition for his GC? You can’t since you are not married to him.

  21. Ninny

    Hi! Thanks so much for your blog, it is very informative and helpful. I am in the process of immigrating my father. He is currently in Mexico and was deported in his absence because he never went back to court. He paid bond money and when having to go back he never did. I asked the court for any criminal records and nothing comes out. Now does this mean his record is clean? Should I start the I-130 petition or is there any way I can ask immigration services if they have any criminal records on him? What do you recommend? What do I do?? Thank you!

    1. admin Post author

      If there are no court documents indicating he had been charged with a crime, then it never happened. I don’t see how that is possible though, because usually the courts keep that kind of records. Are you sure you looked into the right courts?

  22. vk

    hello, i xame to america with my step mom when i was 16 and now ihave recently became us citizen, all my gc documents has my step mom name, niw i want to sponsor my real mom, my mom and dad divorced when i was 3 . my question is . can i sponor my real mom even though my step mom name is on my documents

    1. admin Post author

      you can, you just you need your actual birth certificate, divorce records.

  23. pitter tang

    Hi all,
    I am a 25 years old. My parents filed an I-130 for me when I was in the USA as an international student. Since then, I am leaving in the USA as an international student. Recently, I received a “NVC welcome letter”. However, it says, my visa interview will be in my old country but I haven’t paid any fees yet.
    I want my interview in the USA not in my old country. What I need to do to adjust my status? My visa number is NOT current yet. Should I file I-485 now or wait till my get visa number current? Should I wait (doing noting) till my visa number get current?
    Thanks bunch.

    1. admin Post author

      How can you do an interview in USA? You have a pending immigration application via consular processing. If you enter the US on F1 or B2 then tried to file I-485, wouldn’t USCIS see you already have a pending case? I don’t think you can do the interview in USA.

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