Category Archives for Citizenship

Immigration Attorney - Proofs of Real Marriage - Prove Your Marriage is Real

10 Ways to Prove Your Marriage Is Real to Immigration

You’re in the process of filing the I-130 immigration petition for your spouse and you’re stuck on one tricky part. Exactly how do you prove that your marriage is real? Here are 10 types of evidence you can submit that will help get your I-130 approved.

WARNING: If you’re considering entering into a marriage solely for the purpose of getting an immigration benefit, don’t do it. Marriage fraud has brutal consequences (including criminal consequences), for both the potential immigrant and the U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

1. Who Qualifies for a Family-Based Visa

Once you’re married, you’ll need to submit taxes together. Showing that your finances are intermingled is a great signal that your life is intertwined.

If your marriage is less than one year old, you might not have yet filed joint taxes. That’s fine, just keep it in mind for the future. Also, if your marriage is new, remember that you will need to file Form I-751 to remove the conditions on your residency.

2. Proof of Shared Living

Proving that you live together is another great signal that your marriage is real. Submit your lease if you’re renting. Submit your mortgage if you bought a home. In either case, it’s better if both names are on the document so keep that in mind if you’re searching for a place to live now.

Even if you are living with a relative or a friend and there is no formal agreement, you can still prove you are living together in other ways. For instance, you can submit proof that you each receive important mail at the same address, or a notarized statement from a landlord stating under penalty of perjury that to his knowledge you both live there together.

3. Joint Bank Accounts

Shared finances are a big sign of commitment. Joint bank accounts are excellent proof of this. Note that it’s not enough to simply have an account in both partners’ names if it’s just sitting there idly. You want to show that both partners are depositing money into the account and using money from the account to show that it’s active.

4. Insurance

Proof of insurance is another great form of evidence. This could be car insurance, life insurance or health insurance. For example, perhaps one partner is a beneficiary of the other’s life insurance. Or, one partner is on the other partner’s health insurance plan through their employer.

5. Joint Utility Bills

Utility bills in both partners’ names prove that you live together and that both partners contribute to household finances. Even if you split the utilities (for example one partner pays gas and the other electric), you can still submit those bills as proof of shared financial responsibility and shared living. It’s helpful to submit any official documents that show you have the same address.

6. Affidavits from Family & Friends

These affidavits from family and friends are essentially letters written under oath that testify to the validity of your relationship, shared life, and love for one another. These are especially great for new couples that may not have a lot of evidence otherwise.

Your friends and family can talk about how they know you, how they met you, how they see you together at events, and how they think about you as a couple. It’s really important that these letters are unique and from the heart. You don't want everyone saying the same thing; you want the letters to be personal. These letters should come from U.S. citizens and residents, and you should include proof of that person’s citizenship (ie copy of passport) or permanent residency (copy of green card) as well as contact information. Affidavits do not need to be notarized; however, notarizing an affidavit can add credibility which will allow the officer to give it more weight when looking at the entirety of the case.

7. Photographs

This is the fun part. Pictures, pictures, pictures of your relationship. Photographs should span the entirety of your relationship, from the beginning until now. Stay away from sending the same selfies in different clothes. Try to submit photographs that show where you are and that include other people to prove that you present yourselves as a couple to the world.

8. Social Media Posts

Another great way to prove that your relationship is public is to submit evidence from social media. This can be photographs (with the date posted and comments from friends), relationship status, or any other kind of communication that’s public.

Immigration often does look into applicants’ social media accounts. In this case, I think it's an asset. It shows that you are public with the nature of your relationship and love for one another.

9. Children

Kids! Proof of having children together is the strongest evidence of a real marriage. If you have a child together, definitely submit evidence of this (a birth certificate with both parents’ names listed).

If you don’t have a child together but one partner has a child from a previous relationship, this can still be an excellent sign of shared life. For example, if you partner has a strong relationship with the stepchild and you have photographs together, that’s a great signal of a happy, blended family.

10. This Is Not a Checklist

This is not a checklist and you shouldn’t use it like one. Every relationship is unique and you are going to have different evidence that proves your marriage is real. The bottom line is that you want to prove your relationship is loving, public and committed. Use any evidence that you think does this.

For example, if you don’t have a shared bank account but you have done a lot of travelling together, submit evidence of your trips. If you attended events together like weddings or conferences, submit evidence of that. If one partner is learning English to help them acclimate to their new, shared life in the U.S., submit evidence of English classes. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box! If you're thinking of submitting any other type of evidence not mentioned here, please comment below.

What Happens After the I-130?

Now you know exactly what type of evidence you need to submit to prove that your marriage is bonafide. But what about immigrating? This family-based I-130 petition doesn’t get you an immigrant visa. You also need to know what immigration process you’ll take to become a lawful permanent resident. To help you figure this out, I've written a FREE guide just for you. Note that this ebook is not a substitute for a legal consultation, but it will give you a helpful overview of the process.

If you have any questions about your marriage-based visa, I'd be happy to help. I’m Sharon Abaud, a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area . Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment

Adjustment of Status: What You Should Know about Immigrating from Inside the US

The process of applying for a U.S. green card can be overwhelming. This article walks you through seven necessary steps (including required forms) that all applicants must complete. The green card process explained here is for immigrants who are able to apply for an immigrant visa from within the United States, a process called “Adjustment of Status.”

Ready to start the green card process now? Before you file any paperwork, I highly recommend that you have your case reviewed by a licensed immigration attorney. Immigration is complicated and there may be aspects of your case that could lead to your application being rejected or denied. An immigration attorney can help.

#1 Form I-130, Family Petition

In my YouTube video, I discussed the family-based immigration petition Form I-130. As I explained, Form I-130 is not an application for a visa in and of itself, but rather it is a part of the family-based immigration process. If you want to immigrate based on a family, you will need to have the I-130 application approved.

The I-130 petition proves that you have a qualifying relationship with an individual who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. In some cases, it is possible to submit this application and be able to remain in the United States while it is being processed by the USCIS—a process called “adjustment of status.” Depending on your family relationship, you may be able to submit the I-130 application and I-485 application at the same time.

If you qualify for adjustment of status, I strongly advise that you immigrate this way. It’s preferable over the other option, “consular processing,” for a few very important reasons.

  1. First and foremost, adjustment of status allows you to remain in the U.S. with your family and provides you with a work permit while your case is being processed. Consular processing requires that you leave the U.S. and complete the process abroad.
  2. Adjustment of status can sometimes be less costly and faster than consular processing.
  3. Adjustment of status means you can become a permanent resident without having to leave the United States. Leaving the U.S. is always risky. There is always a chance that your application will be denied and you will be stuck abroad, potentially indefinitely.

Want to Know if YOU Qualify for Adjustment of Status?
Read this Ebook


#2 Form I-485, Adjustment of Status

The I-485 application is the application to change your immigration status to permanent residence. While the I-130 petition is filed by the U.S. relative, the I-485 application is filed by the person who is actually seeking a green card.

If you are applying for permanent residence through a U.S. citizen immediate relative, you have a big advantage. These applicants are allowed to file both the I-485 and the I-130 petition at the same time. This can save a lot of time! Immediate relatives are:

  • Spouses of U.S. citizens
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens
  • Parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old

If you are filing through a relative other than an immediate relative you will not have a visa immediately available. This means that you cannot file the I-130 at the same time as the I-485. However, you may be able to file the I-485 before your visa is available. See my video on this topic to learn more. You can also find information on your visa priority date by checking the visa bulletin.

WARNING: Travel with Pending I-485 Is Not Advised

I strongly advise my clients not to travel when they have a pending immigration application. As I said before, it is always a risk to exit the United States as there is a chance you will not be readmitted upon reentry. If you absolutely must travel, you should get permission from the USCIS before leaving. In order to do so, you should apply for a travel document (Form I-131). Do not travel without permission granted.

Another reason not to travel is that you may receive an appointment notice from the USCIS while you’re abroad. In most cases, the USCIS does not give you much time to appear for an appointment (a few weeks, not months) so it may be difficult to appear if you are abroad. Failure to appear for your interview can have devastating results. Worst case: your entire case gets denied and your case is referred to immigration court for removal proceedings.

#3 Apply for a Work Permit

It’s possible to apply for permission to work in the United States when you file your I-485 adjustment of status application. This is a big deal and one of the major advantages of filing for permanent residence within the United States. The application for a work permit is Form I-765.

#4 Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

One of the final steps in the green card process is finding a sponsor. In this case, I am talking specifically about a financial sponsor, someone who lives in the U.S. who promises to financially support you in case of difficult times. This is something the U.S. requires of all immigration applicants. The sponsor will have to make a minimum yearly income.

The I-130 petitioner in your case will need to fill out Form I-864, even if their income doesn’t qualify them to be a sponsor. If this is the case, you can request another person sponsor you (a “joint sponsor”), who will complete a separate Form I-864.

#5 Medical Exam

All permanent residence applicants are required to get a medical exam. In October 2018, the guidelines for this requirement changed. Now, all medical exams have a 2-month validity period. This means that you must get your medical exam no more than two months before your interview. If the exam took place more than two months before your interview, it is considered expired and the USCIS will not accept it.

You have the option to submit the medical exam with the initial filing OR present at interview. I highly recommend presenting the exam at interview. If you submit the medical exam with your initial application, it’s likely that it will expire before your interview and be invalid.

Note: It’s important that you keep the document sealed—don’t open the envelope!

#6 Pay USCIS Filing Fees

The I-485 application is the application to change your immigration status to permanent residence. While the I-130 petition is filed by the U.S. relative, the I-485 application is filed by the person who is actually seeking a green card.

You will need to submit payment with each application you file. Here’s a breakdown:

  • I-130, Petition for Alien Relative                                                                            $535
  • I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status        $1,140 
  • I-765, Application for Employment Authorization                                               $410      

Note that immigration filing fees are always subject to change. Please check the USCIS website for the most up to date filing fees.

#7 Prove that You are Not Inadmissible to the United States

This is the most important step! You need to prove that you are not inadmissable to the United States for any reason. There are many reasons a person could be inadmissable, some they may not even be aware of. If it turns out you do have issues of inadmissibility, you certainly want to know about it before you present your case to immigration to ensure you are well prepared to address such matters. This is why I highly, highly recommend consulting with an immigration attorney before you proceed with your case so that they can screen you and make sure there are no issues of inadmissibility. There are many instances where an attorney can help you with these issues, for example by requesting a waiver, when possible.

Immigration Help: U Visa

If you have any questions about your I-485 application I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish , located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

 


Immigration Attorney - Green Card Application

The Fastest Way to File Your Green Card Application

It’s no secret that the green card process is long. Many applicants spend years waiting to file their adjustment of status (I-485) application. However, there is a faster way to file that many applicants don’t know about. It can give you a work permit and a social security number while you wait for your green card.

This process is only for applicants who are eligible to file from within the United States through the “adjustment of status” process (Form I-485). Applicants who are required to leave the U.S. to attend a visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, unfortunately, do not qualify.

Why Filing Earlier Matters

When you file for residency, by virtue of having a pending I-485 application, you automatically qualify to have a work permit. A work permit gives you a social security number. With both of these documents, you can really start a life in the United States.

How To File Your I-485 Early

The trick to this process is all about when to file your I-485. It is for applicants who have already filed the immigration petition (Form I-130) and are waiting in line for their visa to become current.

Knowing when your visa is current requires you to check the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. Below is the visa bulletin for October 2018. Note that there are two separate charts. Chart-A is the “Final Action Dates for Family-Sponsored Preference Cases” and Chart-B is the “Dates for Filing Family-Sponsored Visa Applications.” Most people only look at Chart-A, but if you can file according to Chart-B’s dates, you will get the benefits of a pending I-485 application sooner. 

The USCIS determines every month which chart you are allowed to file under, depending on the number of visas that are available for that filing year. While Chart-A indicates the actual date your visa is current, Chart-B often indicates an earlier date on which you are allowed to file. Find out if you can file under Chart-B by checking the USCIS website

Here’s an example. Let's pretend that I'm a U.S. permanent resident married to someone from Mexico, and I petitioned for him today. First, I would look under the visa category “F2A,” because I'm a resident married and I'm petitioning for my spouse. Second, I would look under “Mexico.” Looking at the first chart, the date is August 1, 2016. Going by this chart, we’d have to wait about two years before we could file the I-485 application. But, if you look at the second chart, the date is December 1, 2017. That’s only a 14 month wait until we can file the I-485. That’s a lot sooner and after we file my husband will be able to legally work in the United States and get a social security number.

FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCES

First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400 plus any numbers not required for fourth preference.

Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents:  114,200, plus the number (if any) by which the worldwide family preference level exceeds 226,000, plus any unused first preference numbers:

     A. (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents:  77% of the overall second preference limitation, of which 75% are exempt from the per-country limit;

     B. (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents:  23% of the overall second preference limitation.

Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens:  23,400, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences.

Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens: 65,000, plus any numbers not required by first three preferences.

A.  FINAL ACTION DATES FOR FAMILY-SPONSORED PREFERENCE CASES

Family-
Sponsored
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed

CHINA-mainland
born

INDIA
MEXICO
​PHILIPPINES
F1

01JUN11

01JUN11

01JUN11

01AUG97

22DEC06

F2A

22AUG16

22AUG16

22AUG16

01AUG16

22AUG16

F2B

22NOV11

22NOV11

22NOV11

15MAY97

15MAY07

F3

15JUN06

15JUN06

15JUN06

22DEC95

08JUN95

F4

15FEB05

15FEB05

01MAY04

22JAN98

08JUN95

B.  DATES FOR FILING FAMILY-SPONSORED VISA APPLICATIONS

Family-
Sponsored
All Chargeability
Areas Except
Those Listed

CHINA-mainland
born

INDIA
MEXICO
​PHILIPPINES
F1

08MAR12

08MAR12

08MAR12

08OCT98

15FEB08

F2A

01DEC17

01DEC17

01DEC17

01DEC17

01DEC17

F2B

22MAR14

22MAR14

22MAR14

22JUN97

22JUN97

F3

08JAN07

08JAN07

08JAN07

22DEC98

01JUN97

F4

01JUN05

01JUN05

01MAY04

22JUN98

08APR96

Immigration Help: When to File Your I-485 Adjustment of Status Application

If you have any questions about when to file your adjustment of status application, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Los Angeles Immigration Attorney - Father and Child Proof of Relationship

Form I-130, Proof of Father-Child Relationship

Family-based green card applications require that you submit proof of the relationship. This article gives an overview of how to prove a father-child relationship for USCIS Form I-130, whether the father is petitioning for the child or the child is petitioning for the father. Evidence will vary depending on whether or not the petitioning father was married to the mother before the child’s 18th birthday.

If the Parents Were Married Before the Child’s 18th Birthday

The primary document immigration wants to see is a marriage certificate between the child's mother and the petitioning father. Ideally, the marriage took place before the child’s 18th birthday. If a marriage took place after the child’s 18th birthday or not at all, you will need to submit additional documentation.

If the Parents Were Not Married Before the Child’s 18th Birthday

If the petitioning father and mother were not married before the child’s 18th birthday or never married, you’ll need to submit other documents. The point is to show that there was a paternal relationship between the father and child. Examples of this type of evidence include:

  • Photographs
  • Proof of having lived together
  • School records
  • Money transfers
  • Joint savings account
  • Letters between father and child

You want to provide as much proof as possible that you publicly treated the child as your own or participated in the child’s life, specifically through financial or emotional support. Proof will vary depending on your situation.

I'll give you an example of a father I helped file a petition for his daughter. In this case, the father was never married to the mother. He had left his home country and became a United States citizen, but his daughter was still living abroad. They hadn't seen each other for years. They didn't have any pictures together or other physical proof of that sort to send to immigration. In this case, we sent copies of years worth of letters they had sent to one another. In addition, we submitted evidence of money wires sent from the father to his daughter abroad. 

Immigration Help: Proving a Father-Child Relationship

If you have any questions about proving a father-child relationship for Form I-130, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

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