The journey to green card and citizenship is sometimes confusing, given the history of the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), since renamed the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS), and it’s varied and complicated documentation, forms, and visa types.
The Gardner & Mendoza website has many resources to help simplify the process, (and you’re always welcome to reach out directly at any time to our lawyers), so we’re providing an easy way to find the key immigration forms’ information and visa content available on this site:
- I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This is the petition that starts off the process when you are petitioning for a family member. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you can file the I-130 petition for your spouse and/or unmarried son or daughter no matter what their age. If you are a U.S. Citizen, you can file the I-130 petition for your spouse, parent, and unmarried children under 21 years of age (these family members are classified as ‘immediate relatives’ and visas are always available for these family members). As a U.S. Citizen, you can also file for your unmarried and married children over 21 years of age as well as siblings. The I-130 petition is filed as a standalone petition unless your relative is in the U.S. and eligible for adjustment of status.
- Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent residence or Adjust Status. This application is sometimes referred to as the ‘green card application’, and it is for those who are eligible to adjust their status in the U.S. to that of a lawful permanent resident. For example, you entered the U.S. on a tourist visa, you got married to a U.S. Citizen, and now you want to get your green card based on your marriage. You will be adjusting your status from a tourist to a lawful permanent resident.
This application is not just for family-based cases; those who have an employment-based I-140 petition filed on their behalf may also be eligible to adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident.
Suppose that you entered the U.S. on an H-1B visa and after a few years of working, your employer filed a PERM application on your behalf; after the PERM was certified, the employer filed an I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for you, and it was approved. Once a visa becomes available, you will be able to adjust your status from H-1B visa to a lawful permanent resident by filing the I-485 application.
- Form I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), also referred to as the K-1 Visa Petition. This form is used if you are a U.S. Citizen petitioning for your fiancé(e) to come to the U.S. so you can get married. The petition has to be filed within two years of when you last saw your fiancé(e) in person. This petition is the first step to a process that will allow your fiancé(e) to come to the U.S. Once your fiancé(e) arrives in the U.S. on the K-1 visa, the two of you must get married within 90 days. After marriage, your now spouse will be able to file the I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status to get their green card or lawful permanent resident status.
- K-1 Visa
- Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization. You may be eligible to get a ‘work permit’, which is also known as the employment authorization document (EAD) by filing the I-765. The purpose of this form is to allow eligible applicants to lawfully work in the U.S. Unfortunately, not just anyone can file this form to start working in the U.S. as you must fall under an eligible category to be considered. Below are a few examples of categories of applicants and visa holders who may be eligible to apply for the I-765 (please note that it is not exhaustive):
- Form I-134 Declaration of Financial Support. We frequently use Form I-134 for our clients who are applying for a K-1 visa. The I-134 is required at the time of an applicant’s K-1 visa interview. When we file the I-134, we include supporting financial documents such as the Petitioner’s most recent income tax return, W-2 and paystub or LES if in the military. Form I-134 is also used for those who are agreeing to financially support Afghans and Ukrainians and their immediate family members who are seeking parole into the U.S. Those who file the I-134 must file a separate I-134 for each beneficiary in the family, including minor children.
- I-864 Affidavit of Support. This form is used in most family-based and some employment-based immigrant visa cases to show that the beneficiaries have financial support and will not become a public charge and rely on the U.S. government for financial support.
Generally, when filing the Affidavit of Support, the Petitioner/Sponsor must provide their most recent income tax return or a statement as to why one was not filed, their W-2, 1099 or other proof of income and their most recent pay records. The amount of income required is based on the Sponsor’s household size; the larger the household, the more income the Sponsor must show. The required income can be seen on Form I-864P.
If the Petitioner does not make sufficient income based on the Form I-864P, a joint sponsor may be used. A joint sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident of the U.S.
- Form I-360
- N-400 Application for Naturalization
- U Visa