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Immigrant Visa Application at a U.S.
Embassy or Consulate, and Form I-485 Adjustment
 

               

1. Form I-864 and Public Charge

As a U.S. citizen, you should be prepared to prove that you meet the income requirement of a sponsor. When your parent has been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview with a consular officer overseas, or when your parent is about to submit an application for adjustment to permanent resident (Form I-485), you will need to complete an I-864 Affidavit of Support. 

The USCIS Form I-864 - Affidavit of Support is required for family-sponsored immigration. An affidavit of support is a guarantee to U.S. government that an immigrant will not become a public charge. The affidavit could be offered by the petition sponsor or someone who could provide financial assistance to the immigrant in the event that such help would be necessary. 

All petitioners, regardless of whether or not they have been working or living in the U.S. since the past three years, must submit a notarized Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, for the beneficiaries of the petitions. The determination of a possible public charge must be made in all cases. A public charge is defined as someone who cannot support him or herself, and may therefore become reliable on the adopted country - the United States. 

2. Get Immigrant Visa at U.S. Embassy or Consulate

The first step in applying for an immigrant visa is for the U.S. citizen (petitioner) to file an immigrant visa petition to USCIS. Each person immigrating will be required to complete a biographic data form. The appointment for the visa interview and medical examination will be scheduled. 

The Immigrant Visa Unit at U.S. embassy or consulate will process the application for an immigrant visa. While no assurance can be given regarding the appointment date of a visa interview, the alien applicant should prepare for that appointment and obtain the documents required for the visa application.  When the alien applicant has obtained all of the required documents and are prepared for the interview, he or she should notify U.S. embassy or consulate.

3. How to Fill the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application Form DS-260

The Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application (also called "Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application") replaces the paper-based DS-230 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (parts I and II); while the Form DS-261 Choice of Address and Agent will replace the DS-3032 Choice of Address and Agent.

The Department of State (DOS) has implemented use of the DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application, and the DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. These two forms are used for immigrant visa applicants processing at all U.S. embassies and consulates abroad. The online forms are submitted to DOS through the Consular Electronic Applications Center (CEAC) website at https://ceac.state.gov/ceac/. In order to access the online forms, the applicant must input his or her NVC case number and invoice I.D. number.

All of the information entered online is accessible by the National Visa Center (NVC) and the consular posts, the applicant is not required to submit a paper version to the NVC or bring a copy to the visa interview.

    *  Most fields on the DS-260 must be completed before the application can be submitted to DOS. The system will not allow you to continue without providing the required information unless the field is specifically marked "Optional."

    * If a mandatory field is left blank, an error message will appear and the applicant must complete the required field before proceeding with the form. A partially completed application can be saved by clicking on the "Save" button at the bottom of each page.

    * It is recommended that data be saved often to ensure information is not lost. A saved application can be accessed by returning to the website and selecting View/Edit from the Alien Registration section of the Immigrant Visa.

    * The applicant can continue completing the form by clicking on the "Edit" button on the right side of the application's listed status. Once all of the fields are completed, the applicant submits the form by clicking on the "Sign and Submit Application" button.

    * Should the applicant need to make any changes to the form after submission, he or she will have to contact the NVC to request access to the form. If a case has already been sent by NVC to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate interview, any changes to the form will have to be made at the post. 

4. Application Related Fees for Filing USCIS Form I-130

Immigration application related fees are charged for different services, such as fees for Department of State government services, fees for Visa Services, and fees for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS):

  • Filing an immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, this fee is charged by USCIS;
  • Processing an immigrant visa application, Form DS-260;
  • Medical examination and required vaccinations - costs vary.
  • Other costs may include: translations; photocopying charges; fees for obtaining the documents you need for the immigrant visa application (such as passport, police certificates, birth certificates, etc.); and travel expenses to go to the embassy or consulate for the interview. Costs vary from country to country and case to case.
Also, Form I-864 is required for most family-based immigrants and some employment-based immigrants to show that they have adequate means of financial support and are not likely to rely on the U.S. government for financial support. There is no fee when filed with USCIS or abroad with the Department of State (DOS). DOS does charge a fee when this form is filed in the U.S. 

5. The Differences Between Sponsor, Joint Sponsor, and Substitute Sponsor for USCIS Form I-864 - Affidavit of Support

An affidavit of support, USCIS Form I-864, is a document an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. The person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor of the relative coming to live in U.S.  The sponsor is usually the petitioner of an immigrant petition for a family member. An affidavit of support is legally enforceable; the sponsor's responsibility usually lasts until the family member or other individual either becomes a U.S. citizen, or can be credited with 40 quarters of work - usually 10 years.

A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting the family member with you. A joint sponsor must meet all the same requirements as you, except the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor, or the joint sponsor and his or her household, must reach the 125% income requirement alone. You cannot combine your income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.

If the visa petitioner has died after approval of the visa petition but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decides to let the petition continue, a substitute sponsor must file a Form I-864 in place of the deceased visa petitioner.

Some other eligibility requirements apply to the substitute sponsor as well. He or she must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of at least 18 years of age who has a domicile in the U.S. And the sponsor must be a relative of yours. In order to be a substitute sponsor, you must be related to the intending immigrant in one of the following ways: Spouse; Parent; Mother-in-law; Father-in-law; Sibling; Child (if at least 18 years of age); Son; Daughter; Son-in-law; Daughter-in-law; Sister-in-law; Brother-in-law; Grandparent; Grandchild; Legal guardian of the beneficiary.

Serving as a substitute sponsor is a primarily financial relationship, and it involves filling out an Affidavit of Support on USCIS Form I-864. The Affidavit must indicate that the new sponsor is able to support the immigrants and his/her own household, at a level that is at or above 125% of the federal Poverty Guidelines. In fact, by filing Form I-864, the substitute sponsor promises the U.S. government to pay back any need-based public assistance that the named immigrants receive for approximately the first ten years of their having a green card.

6. The Form I-485 Application and Medical Examination

The Form I-485 adjustment of status application is for an applicant who is in U.S. already on a non-immigrant visa. If your Form I-130 application has been approved, you can submit Form I-485 to get your Green Card. If the eligibility of your I-485 application is based on an immigrant petition, you need to attach a copy of the approval notice for an immigrant petition that makes a visa number immediately available to you. If your eligibility is based on the Form I-130 approval, you need to attach a copy of the Form I-130 approval notice. The U.S. citizen child can also file Form I-130 and Form I-485 concurrently for parents at the same time to speed the process.

The medical examination, endorsed by a civil medical doctor on Form I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status, is a necessary part of the Green Card application process. The examination is submitted in connection with the Form I-485, to ensure that the individual does not have any "communicable diseases of public health significance", or other medical conditions that may pose a danger to the individual or to others. The medical examination includes proof that the foreign national has had vaccinations against a specified list of preventable diseases.

7. Parents Adjusting Status in U.S. to Get Their Green Card

If your parents are in the United States after a legal entry with a valid visa, as U.S. citizen's immediate relatives, it is possible for your parents to apply for a U.S. Green Card without leaving the United States.

However, if your parents entered United States without inspection, such as by smuggling across the border, your parents cannot apply for a U.S. Green Card without leaving the United States, and it can be a problem for their immigration at all, since living in the U.S. unlawfully for longer than 6 months may create a long-term bar to U.S. admissibility.

The process to get a Green Card in Unites States is called "adjustment of status." U.S. citizen's parents would not have to wait for the Form I-130 to be approved, but they could submit it concurrently with the Form I-485 application for adjusting status. If you have already obtained Form I-130 approval, your parents can simply submit the approval notice, also called Form I-797, along with the Form I-485 adjustment of status.

8. Working in U.S. Legally

1) If your parent is now outside the United States: If your parent is now outside the United States, he will receive a passport stamp upon arrival in the United States. This stamp will prove that he is allowed to work until a Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) is created. 

Your parent does not need to apply for a Work Permit (EAD) once they are admitted as an immigrant with their Green Card (immigrant visa), or have already been approved for adjustment to permanent resident status. As a legal permanent resident, your parent should receive a Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred to as a 'Green Card') that will prove that your parent has a right to live and work in the United States permanently. 

2) If your parent is in the United States: If your parent is in the U.S. and has applied to adjust to permanent resident status (by filing USCIS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), he is eligible to apply for a Work Permit while their case is pending. Your parents should use USCIS Form I-765 to apply for a Work Permit.

9. What Will Happen for Green Card, If a Parent Wants to Live outside U.S. for Long Time

Many people want to apply for U.S. Green Card for their parents, and hope it will facilitate easy travel and long visits for their parents. But their hope does not fit with U.S. immigration laws, which require that the Green Card holders should make their permanent home in U.S., not in their home country. Also, there is no minimum amount of time that a parent can live in the United States to avoid the problem of "abandonment of residence" of United States.

If a parent with Green Card leaves the United States, even for a short time, and upon return the border U.S. officials can be convinced that the parent's real home is outside the United States. So, the official can deny the parent's entry into U.S., and revoke the Green Card. Also, trips outside the U.S. of 5 months or longer are guaranteed to raise series questions, and trips of a year or more can raise a presumption that the parent has abandoned their residence of United States.




 

 

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