Petitioning Parents for Permanent Residence

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Petitioning Parents for Permanent Residence

Question:  

I am a civil engineer from China and I married a U.S. citizen. I am now a permanent resident and I want to bring my parents to the U.S. to reside here with my husband and myself. What is the process and how long does it take?

Answer: 

While your parents are free to come to the United States as tourists, you can only petition them for permanent residence when you become a United States Citizen. 

Evergreen Blog Carmen Villamor COI 5 Petitioning Parents for Parement Residence

As of now you are still a greencard holder (permanent resident). When you become a citizen, you can then file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for each of your parents.  Parents of U.S. citizens are considered immediate relatives so they don’t have to wait for a long time to get a visa number.  Right now, it is generally 6 months for adjudication. Once the petitions are approved, your parents will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete visa processing. They will receive their Green Cards once they arrive in America.

Here are the documents you will need to file the petition: 

  1. Documents to show you are a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old: birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or US. Passport
  2. Documents to prove family relationship with your parents: birth certificate showing your name and your parents’ names, marriage certificate of your parents
  3. If the above documents are not available, you can submit secondary evidence such as: church records, school records, census records, affidavits of knowledgeable persons
  4. Documents to show you can financially support your parents and your annual income is at least 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size:  most recent tax returns, paychecks, or proof of liquid assets. 

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Changing Status from Tourist to Student

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Changing Status from Tourist to Student

Question:

I am currently in the U.S. as a tourist. I visited friends and family, and visited many places, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. Now on my third month of vacation, I realize that I don’t want to return home yet. I want to stay longer to pursue a Masters degree. Is it possible for me switch to student status so I can study?

Answer:

Yes you can switch from B-1/B-2 tourist status to F-1 student status while remaining in the U.S. 

Carmen Villamor Conversations on Immigration: Immigration Center Changing Status from Tourist to Student

To do this, you must submit an application to change status with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).  The USCIS will review your application based on your ability to document and justify your change of primary purpose since having arrived in the U.S. as a tourist. You must establish that you did not have the intention of studying before entering as a visitor. 

Here is a general guide on what to include in your application for a change of status from B-1/B-2 to F-1:

  1. Form I-539, Application to Adjust Status with $290 filing fee
  2. Form I-20 from your school of choice and proof of payment of the SEVIS fee
  3. Immigration documents:  I-94 card or photocopy of admission stamp and paper printout of I-94; photocopy of the visa and identification pages in your passport
  4. A letter from you, requesting a change of status and explaining your circumstances. Include the reasons why you entered as a B-1/B-2 tourist, and how your intentions changed after arrival. 
  5. Financial documentation to show how you will be supporting yourself while studying. 

You must make a photocopy of your entire application and supporting documents for your files before sending them to the USCIS.  After the USCIS receives your application, it will mail you a Form I-797 Notice of Receipt with your assigned case number. You can check the status of your application online by following the directions on the form. 

 

 

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Immigration Center: How DUI Conviction Affects Naturalization

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Immigration Center: How DUI Conviction Affects Naturalization

Question:

I was recently arrested and convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol while driving home from a party in Los Angeles.  This is my first arrest and conviction. Does this DUI on my record ruin my chances of getting my U.S. citizenship? 

Answer: 

To become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you will have to show that you are a person of "good moral character", particularly in the last five years prior to filing for naturalization. The period is three years for a spouse of a U.S. citizen or one year for a person in the military.

Carmen Villamor DUI American Citizenship

A conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol will definitely affect your chances of getting your citizenship.  A simple DUI is not an absolute bar but you will have to work hard to prove good moral character. For example, you can show membership in civil organizations, proof of volunteer activities, etc. Also you will need to explain the events surrounding your arrest and persuade the USCIS officer that drunk driving is not your typical behavior or that you have since taken steps to change your behavior. And even then, the USCIS officer can still find that you lack the "good moral character" required for U.S. citizenship. 

Another option is to wait five years (or three years or 1 year, depending on your legally required waiting period) to file for citizenship. If you have not committed any other crimes in the meantime, filed your taxes, and paid any required child support, you should be granted your U.S. citizenship then.

 

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Quiet Mornings

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Quiet Mornings

I woke up before the sun today. My moringa trees needed pruning while the weather was still warm. I spotted some tiny apples for Logan - he will like them with his breakfast. These will be the last ones until next year.

Carmen Villamor Morning Reflections

What a blessing these early mornings are. I often feel most alive when I am alone, able to process what’s going on in the world and in my life. Yesterday I received an unfavorable result for a client. I am thinking of his wife and four sons. They may have to go back home to the Philippines or continue to live here without legal status. Is there anything I could have done differently? I am in despair thinking about it.

So I turned to T.S. Elliot:

    Teach us to care and not to care.

    Teach us to sit still.

My garden helps me to do this. The plants and creatures here are good company. They are patient. They know how to wait, to be still. Too busy surviving, they do not despair. I found a rock, sat it out, let the moment pass. I couldn’t quite let it go yet, until I remembered I had moringas to prune. That chore could not wait. 

 

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Immigration Center: Minors Traveling on Their Own

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Immigration Center: Minors Traveling on Their Own

Question

My 12-year old son will be traveling from Los Angeles to Seoul for Christmas. He will be traveling with my sister. What paperwork should my sister bring with her to show the U.S. authorities at the airport that she has the authority to have my son in her care?

Carmen Villamor Conversations on Immigration Customs Border Patrol

Answer:

The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is the federal law enforcement body in charge with regulating and facilitating immigration in our U.S. borders.  CBP strongly recommends that when a child is traveling with only one parent, there must be a note from the other parent. If there is no second parent with legal claims to the child, you can present a court decision or a birth certificate naming only one parent. If the second parent is deceased then present a death certificate.

And when a child is traveling with a non-parent (like a grandparent, uncle or aunt, friend, or in a group), there must be a note from both parents.  

The note will say something like this: "I acknowledge that my wife/husband/etc. is traveling out of the country with my son/daughter/group. He/She/They has/have my permission to do so." The note does not have to be notarized but notarization is helpful.

When your son travels with your sister, it is possible that CBP will not ask to see any documentation. But if they do and your sister is not carrying one, they will be detained until the circumstances of your authorization is verified. 

Adults traveling with children should also be aware that, while the U.S. does not require this documentation, many other countries do. So it is good practice to have documents handy. This way, we are also helping border officers do their jobs in curtailing child abductions and trafficking.

 
 

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Immigration Center: Removing Conditions on Your Greencard

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Immigration Center: Removing Conditions on Your Greencard

Question:

I obtained a conditional Green Card through marriage to my U.S. citizen husband.  I am already divorced from my husband. Can I still apply for permanent U.S. residence?

Answer: 

Your permanent residence is conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than 2 years old. 

The law requires that you and your spouse must jointly apply to remove the conditions on your residence. You should apply during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. If you fail to apply on time, you could lose your conditional resident status.

Carmen Villamor Conversations on Immigration Greencard

Even if you are no longer married to your husband, it is still possible for you to file for permanent U.S. residence. But you must apply to waive the joint filing requirement.  In this case, you must prove that you entered into your marriage in good faith (not just for the purpose of getting a green card) and that your marriage has ended by annulment or divorce.  

Here are some ways to prove marriage in good faith: 

  • Birth certificate of children, if you have any. 
  • Wedding pictures and/or pictures of other moments with your spouse. 
  • Detailed affidavits or letters from people who know you and your spouse. 
  • A rental agreement for your house or apartment with both of your names on it, or a letter from the building manager or owner proving that you lived together.
  • Joint bank or credit card statements. 
  • Insurance documents. 
  • Utility bills showing both your names or reflecting your shared address.
  • Income tax papers that show your name and your spouse’s name. 
  • Driver’s license reflecting your shared address. 

Once you have all of your paperwork together, submit it along with the required forms and fees.  Soon after that USCIS will send you a receipt notice in the mail.  This receipt notice will extend your conditional resident status for one year. If your evidence is accepted by USCIS as sufficient to prove marriage in good faith, you will be granted an unconditional, permanent U.S. residence. 

 

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Happy Journeys

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Happy Journeys

Greetings from the city of Los Angeles - home to over 4 million people, 35% of whom are immigrants. Everyday I am privileged to meet people from different parts of the world living their American adventure. It is interesting to see what inspires them to leave their homes and their communities, to start a new life in a new place. They all have their stories to tell. And their optimism and courage is contagious.

Carmen and Logan

The immigrant spirit inspires my work and my life. And I am grateful to be given a chance to make a little difference in the lives of immigrant friends and their families. Through this blog, I hope to share stories that matter to immigrants. I hope together we learn to see more clearly our connections with one another. After all, we do not just share a city or a country or a planet, we are in fact bound by the same human aspirations.  

I, too, am an immigrant, straddling between an old home and a new one. Despite the years that have passed, I still feel vulnerable in that never-ending “in-between” state of starting over and becoming. And I, too, am optimistic of great things ahead. So I hope this blog is a place for all of us to give each one some measure of support, and be a gentle reminder that we have one another and are never alone.

Wishing everyone a meaningful journey and a great future! 

Carmen

 

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