Category: tips

Have you entered the US without visas?

Entered the US without visas? Learn about I-601A waivers for obtaining a green card at a US embassy. Generally, it’s a problem if you entered the US without a visa (or without ESTA). If you last entered the US more than six months ago without a visa, then you are probably not eligible to get a green card from within the US. You’ll have to get an I-601A and get your green card at a US embassy. If you entered the US at some point, and then later entered the US with a visa, you may have a fraud problem. That is, in order to get a visa to the US, the US generally asks if you’ve ever been in the US and how you entered. If you told the US that you entered without a visa that will make it unlikely that you’ll be granted a visa. If you were asked about prior entries to the US and you did not disclose the entry without a visa, you’ll have a fraud problem that will require an I-601 waiver (not I-601A waiver). 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Which visas cause problems for marriage-based green card applications?

Visas cause Problems for Marriage-Based Green Card: Restrictions and Waivers Explained for Certain Visa Holders. Cambridge Immigration LawCertain types of visas do not allow you to apply for a green card from the United States or do not allow you to apply for a green card in the United States without a waiver. 

If you have entered the US on the following visas, you cannot apply for a green card from the United States unless you are eligible for a “246i” waiver:

  • C/D crew visa
  • K fiancé visa
  • S visa
  • Transit entry (no visa)

If you entered the US on an “ESTA” or tourist visa waiver program, you cannot apply for a green card from the US unless you are a qualified “immediate relative” (such as a spouse of a US citizen) or you are eligible for a “245i” waiver

If you entered the US (this entry or any entry) on J-visa with the two-year home residency and you have NOT resided in your home country for two years since you last left the US, you are not eligible to get a green card from in the US or from an embassy unless you are eligible for a waiver. Depending in the basis of your waiver, you may be able to file for the waiver and the green card at the same time, which saves over waiting for the approval of the waiver to submit your green card application. 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

 

Are you Canadian and applying for a marriage-based green card? There are special (usually positive) issues for Canadians as related to entering the US.

Canadian Green Card Applicants: Benefits and Exemptions for Marriage-Based Immigration to the USCanadians are entitled to various benefits when they enter the US. First, the visa requirements are much more lax for Canadians. Most Caan tourists do not even need a visa in their passport to enter. Many Canadians entering the US on certain visas such as the H1B or L can process their visas at the border and may in some situations be able to enter with just an I-797 Notice of Action Approval Notice. Also, Canadians are entitled to TN visas, which are available to both Canadians and Mexicans. Canadians can apply for TN visas right at the border or airport, but Mexicans must apply at an embassy, which makes the process much slower and more expensive. 

With all that background, you will not be surprised that Canadians are in a better situation than most when applying for a marriage-based green card. That is, if you are applying for a marriage-based green card, you need to show proof of entry, usually with form I-94. Canadians are generally exempt from that requirement–the US government generally will just believe your statement about when you came into the US. Wow! If only the US could trust other noncitizens as much as it trusts Canadians!

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

 

Why can’t you plan to enter the US with a nonimmigrant visa and apply for a green card?

Understanding Nonimmigrant Visas: Why You Can't Enter the US on a Temporary Visa and Apply for a Green CardUS immigration law separates visas into three categories: nonimmigrant intent visa; immigrant-intent visa; and dual-intent visas. Nonimmigrant intent means that you intend to enter the US for a specific time for a specific approved purpose and then you will return to your home country. Immigrant intent means that you plan to enter the US to live in the US permanently. Dual-intent means that you will enter the US on a visa set for a specific time and for a specific purpose, but if you decide to try to remain permanently with a green card, it’s fine. 

The problem comes in the difference between nonimmigrant visas and immigrant visas. If you tell the US government that you’re going to leave, then the US will hold you to that, unless something changes after you enter the US. You’ve seen this situation before: Your friend has been dating someone from France for years. On this last trip to the US, the French citizen and your friend decide they cannot continue the long-distance relationship and they unexpectedly elope. With the help of an amazing legal team like ours, your friend applies for a green card for the spouse, and voila, the couple has the green card. 

But, you just met with my law firm and you don’t understand why this won’t work for you, a US citizen living in the US, and your Brazilian girlfriend. She’s not in the US yet, but she has a tourist visa in her passport. You want her to quit her job, close up her apartment, bring her dog, travel to the US, and stay because you will apply for a green card for her. That’s not allowed; whether it should be (yes!) is another issue. You simply cannot enter the US on a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa with the intention of applying for a green card to stay permanently. 

If your girlfriend happens to end up in the US, come talk to us. We will see if things have changed since she last entered so that the two of you would be eligible to apply for a marriage-based green card. 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Are you eligible for a marriage-based green card from within the US, and are you married to more than one person at the same time?

Ensure your first marriage is valid for immigration purposes as USCIS recognizes only the initial marriage.USCIS will only recognize your first marriage as a valid marriage for immigration purposes. With that, you do not need to disclose marriages that take place after a first marriage is still legally valid. However, talk to an experienced immigration attorney if you have engaged in a marriage ceremony while you are legally married because you may be committing a crime in certain US states and in countries outside of the US.  

If you plan to practice polygamy in the US or have attempted to be polygamous in the US, you will not be eligible for a green card. 

It is not allowed to practice polygamy in the US.

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-766-0214) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Are you eligible for a marriage-based green card within the US? What is your marital status—engaged or married?

Marital Status Matters: Discover your eligibility for a marriage-based green card from within the US—engaged or marriedWhat is your Marital Status? Are you engaged or married? 

If you’re trying to figure out if you’re eligible to get a green card based on your marriage to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, let’s start with an easy question: Are you married or engaged? If you’re not yet married, you cannot file for a marriage-based green card from within the US. There is a route for fiancé/fiancées of US citizens if the fiancée is outside the US; but there is no path for a fiancée to get the green card from within the US unless the fiancée entered the US with the special fiancée visa (K-visa). 

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-272-7980) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

When can I renew my two-year green card?

Renew your two-year green card on time by filing Form I-751. Prove your genuine marriage to avoid complications.You can apply to renew your two-year conditional green card by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, in the 90 days prior to the expiration date on your green card. For example, if your green card expires on 12/31/23, you can file anytime between October 2, 2023 and December 31, 2023. However, wait until about October 4 to file—so that it’s not early, but don’t wait until December 31, 2023 to file–make sure USCIS gets it well before December 31. 

USCIS will reject/deny your Form I-751 if you file too early or too late. Sometimes USCIS will reject the application right away, and you’ll know to fix your mistake. However, sometimes USCIS will not realize the application was early or late until it gets around to looking at your case in 12 to 48 months. If your case is denied at that point, the best case scenario is that you re-file with a good explanation for the now-late application. Worst case scenario is that USCIS denies your Form I-751 and puts you into removal (deportation) proceedings that will take years and years to complete, even if you are sure to win in Immigration Court.  

To be successful on your green card renewal, you must prove that you were in a “real marriage,” that is, that you did not fake the marriage to get a green card. Also, you must file on time. Green card renewal applications with Form I-751 are difficult to prepare and win, and USCIS is always looking for fraud in I-751 applications. 

Our team is happy to share information about immigration law. However, please remember that every situation is unique, and we believe that all USCIS applicants should be represented by an experienced, compassionate, and approachable attorney.  You may have a small issue in your situation that could cause major complications if you do not deal with it correctly. Or, small or big issues can arise after you file. For example, USCIS may make a mistake in your case. Or, USCIS’s processing procedures may change or processing times may decrease drastically. Preparing the application correctly is only part of this process; you need to understand what’s going on and what needs to happen until your green card is finally approved. 

The stakes are very high for the renewal of your green card. Don’t risk your future in the US by trying to figure this out on your own. Work with an experienced immigration attorney on this project that will determine whether you can continue your life, career, and family in the United States. 

 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-676-0503) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

How to get out of an abusive marriage AND keep your green card

Renewing Green Card After Abusive Marriage: Form I-751 & Evidence Requirements Explained for Protection and RenewalYou do not have to stay in an abusive marriage to protect your green card. US law wants you to leave your US citizen spouse’s abuse, and the US will allow you to keep your green card if you are abused by your US citizen spouse (or LPR spouse). 

If you are abused by your US citizen spouse, you can apply to renew your green card at any time. This is different from a joint renewal that must be submitted in the 90 days prior to the expiration of the two-year card. Abuse waivers can be filed before the 90-day period, or after the period. You must be legally married to your spouse at the time you file the abuse waiver. 

To file the waiver, submit the following to USCIS: 

  1. Form I-751 (fully answered and signed)
  2. Filing fee of $680
  3. A statement from you about the circumstances of the abuse
  4. Evidence that you and your spouse were in a real relationship and marriage
  5. Evidence that your spouse abused you. The abuse can be physical, sexual, financial, or emotional. 

If USCIS approves your application, you will be issued a new green card that is valid for 10 years. If you win your renewal based on abuse, you are eligible to file for US citizenship three years after the date you first became a conditional lawful permanent resident. 

If your waiver application is denied, you may be placed in removal proceedings and may need to appear before an immigration judge to defend your case.

To win a waiver case, you must only prove it was a “real marriage” and that you experienced abuse. Waiver applications are difficult to prepare and win, and USCIS is always looking for fraud in I-751 waiver applications.

Our team is happy to share information about immigration law. However, please remember that every situation is unique, and we believe that all USCIS applicants should be represented by an experienced, compassionate, and approachable attorney.  The stakes are very high for the renewal of your green card. Don’t risk your future in the US by trying to figure this out on your own. Work with an experienced immigration attorney on this project that will determine whether you can continue your life, career, and family in the United States. 

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-272-7980) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

How do I renew my two year green card if my spouse died?

Renewing Green Card After Spouse's Death: Form I-751 & Evidence Requirements Explained for a Valid MarriageIf you obtained your two-year green card through marriage and your US citizen (or LPR spouse) died, you are still able to renew your green card by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. If you are successful, USCIS will grant you a 10-year green card (Form I-551)! To be successful on this application, you will need to show that yours was a “real” (aka bona fide) relationship and marriage. Or, in other words, you need to prove to USCIS that you did not get married just to get a green card.  Also, you need to prove that your spouse died, with a death certificate.

Your death-based waiver application should include: Form I-751:

  1. Form I-751 (fully answered and signed)
  2. Filing fee of $680
  3. A copy of the death certificate of your spouse
  4. A statement from you about the circumstances of the death
  5. Evidence that you and your late spouse were in a real relationship and marriage

You need to submit as much evidence as possible to show your marriage was real. Submit documents such as photos of the two of you with other people (such as family at a birthday party), joint tax returns, joint financial documents, joint health insurance, joint lease, joint property deeds, and similar documents. Also, you can submit documents relating to your spouse’s death such as an obituary with your name, a receipt for the funeral, burial, or creation in your name, sympathy cards to you from family and friends. 

If USCIS approves your application, you will be issued a new green card that is valid for 10 years. However, if your application is denied, you may be placed in removal proceedings and may need to appear before an immigration judge to defend your case.

To win a waiver case, you must not only prove it was a “real marriage”and how/when/why your spouse died. Waiver applications are difficult to prepare and win, and USCIS is always looking for fraud in I-751 waiver applications. Don’t file a waiver application without an experienced immigration attorney!

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-272-7980) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

 

How to renew my two year green card with a divorce waiver?

File Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, with a divorce waiver to renew your green card.If you obtained your two-year green card through marriage and your US citizen (or LPR spouse) died, you are still able to renew your green card by filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. If you are successful, USCIS will grant you a 10-year green card (Form I-551)! To be successful on this application, you will need to show that yours was a “real” (aka bona fide) relationship and marriage. Or, in other words, you need to prove to USCIS that you did not get married just to get a green card.  Also, you need to prove that your spouse died, with a death certificate.

Your death-based waiver application should include: Form I-751:

  1. Form I-751 (fully answered and signed)
  2. Filing fee of $680
  3. A copy of the death certificate of your spouse
  4. A statement from you about the circumstances of the death
  5. Evidence that you and your late spouse were in a real relationship and marriage

You need to submit as much evidence as possible to show your marriage was real. Submit documents such as photos of the two of you with other people (such as family at a birthday party), joint tax returns, joint financial documents, joint health insurance, joint lease, joint property deeds, and similar documents. Also, you can submit documents relating to your spouse’s death such as an obituary with your name, a receipt for the funeral, burial, or creation in your name, sympathy cards to you from family and friends. 

If USCIS approves your application, you will be issued a new green card that is valid for 10 years. However, if your application is denied, you may be placed in removal proceedings and may need to appear before an immigration judge to defend your case.

To win a waiver case, you must not only prove it was a “real marriage”and how/when/why your spouse died. Waiver applications are difficult to prepare and win, and USCIS is always looking for fraud in I-751 waiver applications. Don’t file a waiver application without an experienced immigration attorney!

 

If you have a two-year conditional green card and you are divorced or separated from your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, you may be eligible for a waiver of the joint filing requirement when filing Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence, with USCIS.

To apply for a waiver based on divorce, you will need to demonstrate that you entered into the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was terminated due to divorce or annulment. You will need to provide evidence of the bona fides of your marriage, such as joint financial records, lease agreements, photos, and affidavits from friends or family members.

When filing your Form I-751, you will need to submit a written request for a waiver based on divorce, along with supporting evidence. You may also be required to attend an interview with a USCIS officer to discuss your case. At the interview, you should be prepared to answer questions about your marriage, the reasons for the divorce, and why you are seeking a waiver of the joint filing requirement.

If USCIS approves your application, you will be issued a new green card that is valid for 10 years. However, if your application is denied, you may be placed in removal proceedings and may need to appear before an immigration judge to defend your case.

It is important to note that the process of obtaining a waiver based on divorce can be complex and challenging. It is recommended that you seek the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the process and help you present a strong case for a waiver based on divorce.