Are you a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident who wants to bring a family member to the United States?
What is USCIS Form I-130 and when do I use it?
Form I-130 is the first step in helping an eligible relative apply to immigrate to the United States and receive a Green Card.
USCIS will generally approve your I-130 form if you can establish a relationship between you and your relative that qualifies them to immigrate to the United States.
If your relative is already in the United States and a visa is available, they may be eligible to get their Green Card by filing USCIS form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
What is an immediate relative?
An immediate relative is the spouse, unmarried child under 21 years old, and/or the parent of a United States Citizen.
What is Consular Processing?
Consular Processing is the second step in a two-step process to bring a family member to the United States.
Step one is filing form I-130 with USCIS. After USCIS approves form I-130, the approval packet is sent to the your home nation’s Embassy or Consulate so the Department of State can issue you the immigrant visa.
The Department of State will expect you to file an Immigrant Visa Application, Affidavit of Support, pay all associated fees, receive a police clearance, medical exam, and attend a visa interview.
All communications with the Department of State takes place in the National Visa Center’s immigrant portal.
After receiving an approval, an immigrant visa will be issued so you can travel to the United States.
At the U.S. port of entry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection makes the final decision of whether to grant admission to the U.S. Assuming they do, within a few weeks after enter the U.S., USCIS will mail you your Green Card.
Naturalization Application (N-400)
I am a U.S. Green Card holder, when can I apply to be a U.S. Citizen?
There are a number legal requirements that must be satisfied before a Legal Permanent Resident (aka, Green Card holder) can apply to USCIS for Naturalization.
The simple answer is you must:
- Have been a Legal Permanent Resident for at least five years before applying for Naturalization
- Demonstrated good Moral Character
- Demonstrate a basic knowledge of US Civics
- Be able to read, write, and speak English.
How do I satisfy the "continuous residency" requirement to be a U.S. Citizen?
The simple answer is that you must have continuously lived in the U.S. for five years prior to filing your naturalization requirement, but depending on your situation, it may be more complicated.
What does it mean to be "physically present" in the U.S.?
USCIS defines physical present as being actually in the United States. Meaning, if you leave the United States to visit family overseas, you are no longer physically present.
The statutory requirement is, physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the past five years (84 months).
Ref: USCIS Policy Manual Volume 12, Part D.
Can I file my Naturalization Application with USCIS before my 5 year mark?
An applicant is eligible to file his/her naturalization application up to 90 days before his five year anniversary of becoming a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident (US Green Card Holder).
Ref: Immigration Nationality Act Section 334(a).
I have heard I need to learn English, History, and Civics to be a U.S. Citizen. Is that true?
Yes. In general, an applicant for naturalization must learn to read, write, and speak the English language.
Additionally, an applicant must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and principals and form of government of the United States.
An applicant demonstrates this knowledge by taking a history and civics test during your naturalization interview, and you must read, write, and speak English with the USCIS Officer conducting the interview.
Can I receive an exception to the English and Civics portion of the test?
Congress has provided an applicant to be excepted from the English and Civics requirement if you can demonstrate you have a physical or developmental disability or mental impairment that prevents you from learning English and Civics.
At the time you file your N-400 Naturalization Application with USCIS, you must also send a form that was completed by a licensed medical professional stating you have a medical condition that prevents you from meeting the English requirement, the civics requirement, or both.
Ref: USCIS Form, N-648.
Green Card Application (I-485)
What are the requirements to adjust my status while inside the United States?
A person can adjust their status to that of a Legal Permanent Resident when you meet the following requirements:
- You have been admitted or paroled into the United States
- You must file an adjustment of status application (I-485)
- You must be physically present in the US
- You must be eligible for an immigrant visa
- An immigrant visa must be immediately available to you at the time you file the adjustment of status application and at the time of final adjudication
- (6) You must be admissible to the US or eligible for a waiver
- (7) you meet favorable exercise of discretion. See INA Section 245(a).
I entered the U.S. illegally many years ago, but am now married to a U.S. Citizen. Can I become a Green Card holder?
The short answer is, yes, you can apply to adjust your status based on your marriage to a U.S. Citizen.
Normally, an immigrant is barred from adjustment of status if the immigrant is in an unlawful stratus, but that bar is removed when you are the immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen. USCIS defines an immediate relative as the spouse, child under 21 years old, and parent of a U.S. Citizen.
No waiver is required to be filed with the adjustment of status application.
Can I legally work while my Adjustment of Status Application is pending?
Generally, no, but there are some exceptions. An immigrant is barred from adjusting his status if he accepts employment before filling his adjustment of status of application, or after filing it.
This bar to adjustment does not apply to:
- Immediate relatives
- Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) based applicants
- Special Immigrant Juveniles
- Other family members of members of the armed forces, NATO employees, and family members of physicians.