In this segment, we answer 4 of your most frequently asked questions received on our social media platforms and our website. Please remember that every case is different and every immigration journey is unique. You should not compare your situation to anyone else’s. We hope that our answers will provide you with further guidance while you embark on your immigration journey. If you have any further questions, please call our office to schedule a free first time consultation. We serve international clients and domestic clients in all 50 states. We thank you for your continued trust in our law office. For more information on the services we offer please click here.
Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) and the Affidavit of Support
Q: I am a US Citizen married to a foreign national. We have a child together. We recently moved to the United States from abroad. My husband and son entered the United States on a B-2 visa and we are planning to apply for their adjustment of status. My question is regarding the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. I have just secured employment and will be able to sponsor my family. I want to know what documents are required in support of the Affidavit of Support as proof that I have sufficient income to support my family. At the moment I do not have pay stubs. I plan to start my employment next month.
A: Thank you for your question. If your child was born abroad, your child may acquire U.S. Citizenship by filing for a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA, Form FS-240) before your child reaches their 18th birthday. To do so, the U.S. Citizen parent must report the birth of the child at their nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Anytime that a child of a U.S. Citizen parent is born abroad, the parent must report the birth to nearest U.S. Consulate as soon as possible. This will allow the Consulate to issue a Consular Report of Birth Abroad as an official record of your child’s claim to U.S. Citizenship. The CRBA may be used as proof of your child’s U.S. Citizenship and allows the child to obtain a U.S. passport. A child with a consular report of birth abroad receives the same privileges as a child born in the United States. It is recommended that you first contact your closest U.S. embassy or Consulate before filing a petition for your son, because it is likely that you will not need to go through the immigration process for your son.
In order for your spouse to obtain permanent residency, you will need to file Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, along with Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. USCIS requires the petitioner to sign the I-864 Affidavit of Support and provide financial documentation proving that they meet 125% of the HHS Poverty Guidelines based on their household size.
To prove that you maintain sufficient income to sponsor your spouse, you will need to provide the following financial documentation: Most recent federal income tax return, wage statements for the most recent tax year, employment letter verifying your salary and employment status, and proof of income (pay stubs, or last 6 months of bank statements).
Since you have not yet begun your employment, you will not be able to provide many of these documents in time to file your husband’s petition. It is recommended that you obtain a joint sponsor to expedite the process. Your joint sponsor will be required to sign a separate I-864 and provide documentation proving that they meet the income requirements. The joint sponsor must be a U.S. Citizen or legal permanent resident. Please click here for more information about the affidavit of support and poverty guidelines.
Immigrating a Foreign Spouse and Legal Costs
Q: I am a US citizen, married to a foreign national. What is the process to immigrate my foreign spouse? What are the costs?
There are several different options you may have to immigrate your foreign spouse; this will depend on whether your spouse is living in the USA with you or if they are living abroad:
- If you and your husband entered your marriage in good faith, and your husband entered the United States on a valid visa, and you are living together in the States, the fastest way for your husband to obtain a green card will be to apply for adjustment of status from within the United States. This process takes approximately 4-5 months. Please note that your husband will not be allowed to travel internationally once you have filed his immigration petition with USCIS. If this will be a problem for your spouse, it is recommended that they apply for an immigrant visa from abroad through a process known as consular processing (see option 2).
There are some important things you should know before filing an immigration petition for your husband. If your husband entered the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, with the intention to marry you, this will raise flags for USCIS at the interview stage. USCIS will determine the foreign national’s intent by evaluating documents you will present during the interview stage to prove that your marriage is genuine. If the immigration officer determines that your husband entered the marriage to obtain an immigration benefit, the application will be denied and he may be barred from entering the United States. CIS also questions the intent of the foreign spouse if the marriage took place within 90 days of arrival. For this reason, you should always consult with an attorney before entering into marriage.
For more information about adjustment of status within the United States please click here.
- If your husband is currently living outside of the United States, or if he will need to travel internationally throughout the immigration process, he can obtain his immigrant visa through Consular processing. This process does not impose travel restrictions on the foreign national. For this process the US Citizen must file the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative first. Once it is approved, the case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center, where you will be required to provide documents in support of your husband’s immigrant application. These documents include biographical documents, as well as financial evidence to prove that you will be able to support your husband while he is in the United States. After all necessary documents have been submitted to the NVC, the agency will review the materials which may take up to 90 days, and forward the case to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate near your spouse. This process takes approximately 7-10 months.
Click here for more information about consular processing and the national visa center.
- A third option for spouses residing abroad is the K-3 visa, although there are drawbacks to this type of visa. For more information about the K-3 visa please click here.
Our legal fees are separate from the filing fees owed to the Department of Homeland Security for processing of the immigrant petitions. Our legal fees will depend on the complexity of the application and the scope of work that will be involved. Please call us to discuss the legal fees associated with your case. To view the filing fees for each form, click here.
Can I obtain a waiver if I have taken Voluntary Departure?
Q: I entered the United States unlawfully and took voluntary departure twice in my life. I want to come back to the United States. All of my immediate family members live in the United States. I also have a felony for grand theft. I was innocent of the crime but pleaded guilty for early release. Is there anything I can do to immigrate to the United States?
A: Thank you for your question. Unfortunately, our office receives this question very often and our answer is always the same. If you have taken voluntary departure, you are not eligible for a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility, even if you have a qualifying relative who can file a petition for you. Having a felony unfortunates make your case even more complex. You will need to wait for comprehensive immigration reform before you can obtain any relief. As the law stands today, you cannot immigrate to the United States.
Lost Green Cards
Q: My original green card has been lost. I have not received it in the mail, what can I do?
A: Thank you for your question. If your green card was issued but never received, or if it has been lost, stolen, or destroyed you must file Form I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident card to receive a new one. As of May 19, 2016 the filing fee for this application is $365.
Still have questions? Please contact us to discuss your immigration needs.