NEW JERSEY GREEN CARD ATTORNEY
Apply for Permanent Residency with Our NJ Green Card Lawyer
Since 1987, The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett, Esq., P.C. has helped thousands find solutions to their immigration issues. When it comes to obtaining a green card and taking a step toward citizenship, we know that early preparation and careful planning can help to ensure your application is handled correctly.
September 2021 Vaccine Update for Green Card Applicants
Applicants for U.S. permanent residency (i.e., green card applicants) are required to obtain the COVID vaccine as part of the medical examination starting October 1, 2021. Both consular process and adjustment of status applicants will be required to be vaccinated. Only age-appropriate applicants will be subject to the requirement. Some children may have the requirement waived, depending on applicable guidelines at the time of the immigrant visa medical exam. This new vaccine requirement is required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services / Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How Can Our New Jersey Green Card Law Firm Help?
Our green card immigration lawyer has valuable knowledge and years of experience to guide you through the process. Careful preparation and proper application handling may save you time, money, and anxiety.
Here are just some of the ways we assist clients with the process:
- Careful assessment of green card eligibility for you and family members
- Evaluation of travel, employment, and criminal background
- Correct application preparation and speedy processing with USCIS
- Predict and address problems that may arise with the application
- Minimize risks of deportation and other errors
- Prepare you for the status interview and additional requests
Call (800) 909-8129 to schedule a consultation with a New Jersey green card attorney.
How to Obtain a Green Card
When a person is eligible through marriage, family, or employment to become a legal permanent resident of the United States, they may apply to adjust status from within the U.S. or at a U.S. Consulate abroad for permission to enter as a lawful permanent resident. After being granted permanent residency, they will be given a permanent alien registration card, known as a green card. This card indicates that the holder has been granted immigration benefits and can live and work in the United States.
There are several ways to obtain a green card, including:
How Long Is a Green Card Valid?
Permanent resident cards are issued for 10 years and can be renewed indefinitely if the resident remains in good standing. If the card is obtained through marriage, and the marriage is less than 2 years old at the time of the grant, the card will be conditional for two years. It will require an additional filing before the expiration date to make it permanent.
Additional Requirements for the Visa Application
All applicants must submit the following personal documents:
- Birth certificates
- Police certificates
- Other civil documents such as marriage and divorce certificates
- Affidavit of Support
USCIS and Consulates abroad conduct in-person interviews before issuing a green card. The interviews are detailed question and answer sessions in which the USCIS will attempt to determine whether the required relationship exists.
Before issuing an immigrant visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination. A doctor designated by the consular officer will conduct the examination for those filing from abroad. For those adjusting status in the US, check the USCIS Civil Surgeons list for a list of approved providers.
Medical exams signed after 10/01/2021 must contain proof of COVID vaccination.
Due to changes in policy announced in 2018, the medical exam report is now valid for two years from the date of submission to USCIS. However, USCIS shortened the validity period of the signed report to 60 days prior to submission*. Therefore, the report cannot be more than 60 days old upon submission.
We typically recommend not scheduling or submitting the report of the exam with the initial application due to lengthy processing delays. These delays might cause an applicant to incur a cost for an additional exam if the old one expires. Generally, we recommend bringing the exam to the interview, with the caveat that it not be more than 60 days old. This may not work for all situations and we encourage you to discuss any unusual medical or timing issues with us.
* As of 12/09/2021 the 60 day validity period is suspended until 09/30/22.
What Is an Affidavit of Support?
All U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents who petition to have their family members admitted to the U.S. must act as financial sponsors and provide an Affidavit of Support for the alien regardless of income level. The affidavit is required to assure the USCIS that the alien spouse will not become a public charge by showing their income is above the poverty guideline. The income amount varies according to family size and location.
In the event that the primary sponsor does not earn enough income, a joint sponsor may be used. To qualify as a joint sponsor the individual must be 18 or older, a USC or LPR of the U.S., and live or hold domicile in the U.S. The joint sponsor must meet the above requirements but does not need to be related to the alien.
An affidavit is an enforceable contract that remains in effect until the alien becomes a citizen or has worked for more than 40 qualifying quarters as defined by the Social Security Act. The sponsor and/or joint sponsor can be required to reimburse any state or federal agency for most public benefits that the alien receives.
Will I Need My Documents Translated?
One of the ways to ensure your application goes through quickly is by translating your documents into English before going in for review at the U.S. Embassy. The translation must be certified and submitted with the original documents to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Consular Processing vs. Adjustment of Status
If you are a beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and have an immigrant visa number available, then you may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to enter the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. This process is referred to as “consular processing.” On the other hand, if you are already in the United States and are eligible, you can apply for permanent resident status without the inconvenience of having to return to your home country to finish the processing. This pathway is referred to “adjustment of status.”
Family-Based Green Cards
Family reunification has historically been the principal policy underlying U.S. immigration law. If you are a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (Green Card Holder), you may be able to sponsor certain relatives for a green card. If you are considering applying for a green card for a family member, our New Jersey family-based green card attorney can help make the process easier. The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett, Esq., P.C., with more than 30 years of experience, stands ready to answer your questions and guide you through the process!
Who Is Eligible for a Family-Based Green Card?
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will issue a green card after approving a petition filed by U.S. citizens for certain family members. After approval, the visa may be available immediately or as long as 25 years, depending on the categories mentioned below and the home country the immigrant applicant is from. However, not all family relationships serve as a basis to apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status.
A U.S. citizen can file a petition for the following family members:
- Husband, wife, or child under the age of 21 (immediate relative);
- A parent if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age (immediate relative);
- An unmarried child over the age of 21 and their children (first preference);
- Married child of any age and their children (third preference);
- Brother or sister if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old and their spouses and children (fourth preference)
A permanent resident can file a petition for the following family members:
- Husband or wife, and unmarried children under the age of 21 (second preference A);
- Unmarried child over the age of 21 (second preference B).
Who Are Immediate Relatives?
Aside from the notes above, “immediate relatives” also include widows or widowers of U.S. citizens who were married for at least two years before the citizen’s death, who were not separated, who remarried, and who file applications within two years of death. The immediate relative category has no limit on the number of visas issued each year; as a result, there is no wait other than the time it takes the USCIS to process the case. Under Section 245(i), a USC may petition for an immediate relative, and they may adjust their status (receive a green card) here in the U.S. even if that relative has fallen out of status long ago. However, the immediate relative must have entered the U.S. legally. If the immediate relative is abroad, the process is called consular processing.
Who Are Non-Immediate Relatives?
Aliens other than immediate relatives fall into one of the four limited family-based preference categories. A visa will not be immediately available as there is a numerical limit on the number of visas issued each year. More aliens want visas than are currently available. Therefore, there may be a long waiting period for the visa to be issued. When the USCIS receives the application, they will note the filing date, called the “priority date.” The applicant must wait for the priority date to be current before entering the U.S.
USCIS publishes a listing of current priority dates in the Visa Bulletin for application for those who are not immediate relatives. If the application was filed on or before the date listed in the Visa Bulletin, the priority date is current, and the USCIS should contact the applicant. It’s important to note that the dates on the Visa Bulletin are unpredictable. The dates may move forward, backward, or not at all. However, a new Visa Bulletin is issued by the State Department on the first day of each month, and it lists the most current priority dates.
The Definition of “Child” in Immigration Law
A child is unmarried and was born in wedlock or was legitimized (parents married) before age 18 while in the father’s custody. Children born out of wedlock may obtain immigration benefits from the natural mother or the natural father as long as they have established a “bonafide” parent-child relationship before age 21.
- Stepchildren are eligible to immigrate if the child was under 18 at the time of the marriage, and the relationship can continue after the death of or divorce from the natural parent provided there has been an active parental interest. Adopted children are eligible to immigrate if adopted before the age of 16 and have been in legal custody and resided with the adoptive parent for at least two years.
- Orphans can be petitioned if under 16 and if both parents have died, disappeared, or abandoned the child. If there is a sole or surviving parent, they must be incapable of providing support for the child.
Marriage-Based Green Cards
- Have you recently married a U.S. citizen or US permanent resident?
- Do you intend to reside permanently in the U.S.?
- Are you currently inside the U.S. after a legal entry?
If you answered yes to the above questions, you may be able to obtain a green card to live and work permanently anywhere in the U.S. through a process called adjustment of status. This process would allow you to obtain a green card without leaving the U.S., assuming you entered the U.S legally.
If you married a green card holder, you would also need to show:
- You were never out of status
- You were in status at the time of the marriage
- You remain in status until USICS approves your petition.
To obtain a green card through marriage, many requirements must be met. Missing just one could ruin your chances and lead to deportation. Before applying for your green card, seek the advice and assistance of a green card lawyer to determine whether you qualify. By hiring us, you are hiring a law firm with a proven track record. We are not an Internet-based form processing company. We do not outsource our work. If hired, we will complete your application in-house and all your questions will be reviewed and answered.
About the Marriage Green Card Interview
USCIS conducts in-person interviews before issuing a green card. The interviews are detailed question and answer sessions in which the USCIS will attempt to determine whether the marriage is real and/or the required relationship exists. USCIS is suspicious of marriages that occur after removal hearings have been started, marriages where the spouses did not know each other very long, or marriages where the spouses do not live together. Different religious backgrounds and age differences also raise suspicion. To determine where the interview will be held, check for the local field office that handles applications from your area.
How Does USCIS Investigate Marriages?
One of the most popular accusations against immigrants who marry an American citizen is that marriage only exists for legal reasons—to ensure the immigrant can win permanent resident status. It’s a cynical accusation, but it’s at least based on a bit of truth: marriage is a valuable path to citizenship. Marriage fraud is a federal crime. If USCIS suspects it, they will deny the application, starting deportation/removal proceedings.
Here are just a few of the questions an applicant would need to answer:
- When was the last time your spouse saw their in-law?
- Where do they live?
- How do you enter the house?
- What are your appliances like?
- What side of the bed do you sleep on?
- What train does your spouse take to work?
- What’s the layout of your bedroom?
- When did you meet?
- How did you become engaged?
- Where or what did you eat for dinner last night?
USCIS also has the authority to interview your neighbors, review your social media, conduct a site visit, and review your credit history to determine if your marriage is valid.
Red Flags Immigration Officials Look For
After decades of interviewing married couples, USCIS has a shortlist of immediate “red flags” that put certain marriages at a disadvantage. These signs include large age differences, different religions, a language barrier, multiple marriages, and if one of the spouses has already tried the immigration process with someone else.
If an officer is not convinced of a marriage’s validity, they’ll give the applicant a notice of intent to deny. The applicant then has a chance to respond or file an appeal. Because appeals can be cost-prohibitive, our firm recommends having an attorney with you for the interview (which is within your rights).
The New York Times recently published the sort of questions married couples have to answer (separately) to prove the validity of their marriage. Check out the article to see if you and your spouse would pass the test. This is a good way to understand the hurdles would-be citizens face.
What to Expect When You Hire Our Firm
When you call or email our law firm, we will respond and schedule a meeting to review your eligibility. We are responsive to your calls and will answer all your questions as soon as possible. Your success is our goal!
When you hire us to assist, an example of how the process will go as follows:
- We will provide a written retainer explaining the fees and costs, and we will provide you with a checklist of items necessary to begin processing your case.
- We will provide you with a login and password into our secure immigration portal, which we use to gather the information necessary to process the forms. You will also be able to track our progress while we complete and file the necessary documents. You can track the case’s progress at USCIS.
- Upon receipt of the application, USCIS will review the package, schedule a fingerprint appointment, and interview if necessary.
- Within six months of the application, the beneficiary will receive a work permit and a travel document permitting international travel.
- The total timing once the application is filed at USCIS is between 12-18 months. However, this is only an estimate; the period may be longer due to government processing delays.
- Since no advance assurances can be given that a green card will be issued, we advise you not to make any foreign travel plans until visas have been issued.
Get Help. Call a Green Card Lawyer in New Jersey!
Obtaining permanent residence is usually of the highest priority for the immigrant seeking a green card. Often, a spouse, a son or daughter, other family members, or a promising job await them in the United States. For this reason, a seasoned green card attorney in New Jersey can provide immeasurable benefits to the person seeking permanent residence status. At The Law Offices of Lloyd E. Bennett, Esq., P.C., we can help people who are seeking non-immigrant visas, immigrant visas, and green cards for living and working in the United States. Our firm has extensive experience in U.S. immigration laws. We can help you prepare for an application for a U.S. visa or permanent residency whether you are already here in the United States or overseas.