Q: I’m a Canadian citizen married to a US citizen and I’ve never applied for adjustment of status or green card. Can I bypass the green card and apply for citizenship since I’ve been married and living in the USA for 5 years?
Q: I am sponsoring my wife for a green card. She has 2 children from a previous marriage. Can we add her children to her green card application as derivatives or dependents?
A: Your wife’s children may be able to receive permanent resident status (green cards), but not as derivatives of your wife. Your wife is considered an Immediate Relative for immigration purposes, and so her children would need to qualify on their own for permanent residency. Generally this is done by the stepparent (you) sponsoring the stepchildren. Here’s how it works:
Q: I am a US Citizen, and my mom is a citizen of China. She is here on a B-2 visa for a visit and she’s considering extending her stay or applying for a green card. Which is a better choice?
A: Yes, either extending a B-2 visitor visa or applying for permanent residence (a green card) might be possible for your mom. I’ll list some guidelines below to help you start to think about this situation:
Extending a B-2 visa: B-2 tourist visitors may be granted extensions up to 6 months after their status expires. To request an extension, your mom needs to apply before her current visa expires. I recommend she applies after being in the US about 3 months. When she applies, she needs to provide a reason for her request, and provide evidence of the reason if possible. A common reason for extending a B-2 tourist visa is related to health issues. Sometimes a visitor needs to stay longer because of a doctor’s order, or in order to obtain medical treatment.
Q: My Green Card is expired. Have I lost my permanent residence status? What should I do?
A. Your status as a permanent resident does not change just because your card is expired. You remain a permanent resident unless your status is terminated by “final administrative order of exclusion, deportation, removal, or rescission (8 CFR § 1001.1(p)). Also, an expired permanent resident card only shows that a person’s card has expired. It does not show that the person’s work authorization has expired (8 CFR § 274a.12(a)(1)).
Q: My friend has been waiting a long time for her green card. Her brother filed for her a while ago, but he passed away. Can she still receive a green card?
A: The short answer is yes, it may be possible. It is an easier process if your friend lives in the US, but even if she does not live in the US, there is a chance she can get the green card. For the long answer, keep reading!
To begin, your friend’s brother is considered a petitioner since he filed an application for her, and your friend is a beneficiary of the application. Previously, the death of a petitioner meant that the beneficiary could no longer receive permanent residency (a green card) except in rare cases where DHS would agree to humanitarian reinstatement. This was referred to as the “widow’s penalty” as many surviving beneficiaries were widows after their petitioner-spouse passed away. Now there is relief available under INA section 204(l) in addition to humanitarian reinstatement. Below is a brief description of the two options.
A: Yes, if your husband is a permanent resident (LPR) he can likely submit a petition for you to obtain a green card. Spouses of LPR’s are not immediately eligible, and need to wait until their priority date is current. Right now, the wait is about 1.5 years. While a petition is pending, you could remain in the US only if you had another valid status. You may have trouble traveling in and out of the US while your petition for permanent residency is pending, but travel is possible. You’d have to show that you had intent to return to your country (by showing your job and property owned, etc).
Q: I live in the US and my new husband lives in Canada. I am a permanent resident and would like to sponsor my spouse for a green card. How long will the process take, and can he come live with me in the US and obtain a work permit while he waits for the approval?
A: Congratulations on your recent marriage. Yes, green card holders (also called permanent residents or LPR’s) can petition for their spouses, however, the priority dates are not current for spouses of LPR’s. The Visa Bulletin shows that the current wait is about 6 months for these spouses. That means you could submit a petition for your husband, and then he would wait about 6 months initially, and then another 6-9 months for general processing. Filing a marriage petition for your spouse would not in itself give him a status in the US. He could only enter and remain in the US if he has another separate valid visa status. Most likely, he would need to wait in Canada until the process is complete.
If you are eligible to naturalize, that could help speed up the process a bit. Spouses of a US Citizen do not have to wait, and are immediately eligible to apply (meaning they only wait the general 6-9 months.)
Yes, you can eventually bring your spouse to the US, but I am sorry to inform you that this will take some time. You will need a green card or US Citizenship before you can apply for your spouse because the marriage happened after you received asylum status. I would recommend you apply for your spouse after you have received your green card as it will likely be a bit faster than waiting until you are a US Citizen.
As asylee is generally eligible to apply for a green card after 1 year in the US in asylum status. After you’ve applied it could take between 6 months to 1 year to receive your green card. Once you have the green card, you can then submit a petition to sponsor your foreign national spouse. Unfortunately, you then will need to wait another 1-2 years because a spouse of a green card holder is the F2A priority category, and this category is not current. See the visa bulletin for how long F2A category (spouses of permanent residents) are waiting.
If you are filing form I-130 to petition for permanent residency for your spouse, you need to show your relationship is bona fide, or genuine. Give yourself time to think about what documents you have that can be used to prove your relationship. Below is a list with some ideas, but it is not a comprehensive list. An attorney can talk in more detail to you about your particular relationship and the best evidence for your case.
USCIS gives a list in the instructions of evidence to provide, and this is the best starting place. Below is USCIS’s list, with my advice for preparing evidence:
Documentation showing joint ownership or property
If you and your spouse own property together, like a house, car, or boat, include a title or deed with that shows both of your names.
A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence
Include a copy of your lease if it shows both names.
Documentation showing co-mingling of financial resources
While not required, many couples do share a checking or savings account, and this is a good way to show evidence of your relationship.
Birth certificate(s) of child(ren) born to you … and your spouse
This one is pretty straight-forward! Include birth certificates of any children you had together. Make sure both of your names are on the certificate(s).
Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the marital relationship
Ask family members and friends to write letters affirming your relationship. Writers should include their full name, how they know you, how they know about your marriage (e.g.: I know they are really in love, I attended their wedding, or I enjoy eating dinner with them, or we took a trip together last year). Letters should end with an oath, swearing that the information provided is accurate.
USCIS states that each affidavit should also include the writer’s full name, address, date/place of birth, relationship to the couple.
Normally, it is also beneficial for the couple to write similar affidavits explaining how they met and describing the the relationship.
Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union
Include 3-10 photographs showing you and your spouse together in different places, seasons, and with different people.
Print and include emails, text messages, cards, or other notes between the two of you that show your relationship
Include your tax return, if it shows both of your names.
Another idea is to dig up records from trips you’ve taken together. Find airline tickets, confirmation emails, or matching passport stamps. These can be organized and labeled to show you travelled together to the same places.
Still need more evidence? Be creative! Look for Facebook posts showing both of you, receipts for wedding rings, wedding announcements, and photos from your wedding. Find documents for insurance benefits that have both your names, or even copies of your state ID’s showing you have the same address.