Archive for the ‘Adjustment of Status’ Category

7 Common Reasons for Receiving an Adjustment of Status RFE

Posted on: December 29th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

Whenever a request for evidence, or “RFE” is received, it can be a stressful part of the process. At RapidVisa, we see more RFEs at the adjustment of status phase than any other in the immigration process.

Most RFEs we receive for AOS petitions are related to the financial ability of the sponsor to support the alien. They need to know that the sponsor can support the intending immigrant financially, and feel confident that they will not become a burden to the state. Here are some common reasons for adjustment of status RFEs we see:

1. Sponsor Doesn’t Meet or Barely Meets the Income Requirement

You need to make sure you not only meet the income requirement, but can solidly prove it. Your evidence should be strong and irrefutable. If you’re trying to shimmy things around to barely meet the minimum, it will be discovered and your case could fall apart.

2. Sponsor Doesn’t File Tax Returns

If a sponsor didn’t file for the most recent year, they need to file or prove they are not required to file by the IRS. The sponsor should provide returns for the last 3 yrs in most cases. In some cases, people may not be required to file taxes, but without including an explanation or evidence to prove this is the case, an RFE is imminent.

3. Sponsor’s Tax Returns of Last 3 Years Indicate Unsustainable Income

If your work history is shaky, or your income fluctuates radically, it could indicate that your income is unsustainable. This could cause an RFE or even denial.

4. Sponsor Over-Deducts on Taxes

Self-employed individuals and independent contractors commonly deduct more items than the typical taxpayer to avoid a high tax bill. Such deductions may be 100% legitimate, but historically draw more scrutiny and can cause RFEs to occur.

5. Sponsor Doesn’t Provide 1099s

This is mainly for people who are on social security benefits, retired, or disabled. Sometimes these kinds of income are not taxable, but the sponsor must still provide 1099s.

6. Workers Compensation

If a sponsor is on workers compensation, their income is viewed as unsustainable by USCIS. This can draw an RFE or denial.

7. Providing Weak Assets in Lieu of Income

The types of assets that are more easily approved are liquid. The more liquid, the better. Vehicles and properties are more scrutinized. IRAs, cash in bank accounts, stocks, and bonds are the safest bet. Remember if using assets in lieu of income, you can only use 1/3 of the assets.

For example, if your income requirement is $20,000, you must have at least $60,000 in assets to use in lieu of income.

taxes

Bringing a Fiance or Spouse to the USA [Infographic]

Posted on: November 19th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

We’ve designed this helpful infographic which is a flow chart depicting the path to citizenship available to fiances and spouses of US citizens and lawful permanent residents. We hope it’s helpful in simplifying the overall big picture of what you can expect.

Bringing a Fiance or Spouse to the USA

What if We Don’t Marry Within 90 Days on a Fiancé Visa?

Posted on: July 13th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff 12 Comments

The K1 visa is valid for 90 days from the time the alien enters the U.S. That means, you’re expected to fulfill the visa’s purpose of getting married within this time frame. But, what if you don’t?

This is a common question we get that can add a lot of stress to anyone’s situation. There are a few different circumstances you might find yourself in this situation. You could have gotten married later than the 90 day fiance visa period, or you may have changed your mind about marriage altogether, and you’re now months past the visa expiration date.

So… What happens?

Man sitting on a bench contemplating

1. We got married, but it was more than 90 days after entering the US.

The good news is that you are most likely able to still adjust your status in this scenario, if it’s within a reasonable amount of time, because you did enter the U.S. legally.

The bad news is that if you go over 90 days without marrying (ie. 90 days and 1 hour), you’ll have to submit form I-130 along with your adjustment of status. This will cost you an extra $420 in the form of the USCIS filing fee.

In addition to these, you may also need a new medical exam, and will be scrutinized by a consular officer about why you didn’t marry in time.

Try to avoid these “procrastination fees” and get married within your visa period.

Tip: If the date of the ceremony is an issue, consider getting married in court and having a nice reception at a later date. There is no reason to miss the 90 day deadline.

2. We decided not to get married because we simply had a change of heart.

Fair enough. This is not as uncommon as you might think. Hopefully, you will know this before the expiration, and can depart before the visa expires. Unfortunately, the alien will need to return to their country. If you go more than six months beyond the visa expiration, you may be banned from re-entering the U.S. for three to ten years. So it’s best to leave as soon as you know you’re not getting married. Unlawful presence in the U.S. can have life-changing ramifications.

Flow chart:

What if We Don’t Marry Within 90 Days on a K1 Visa?

What if We Don’t Marry Within 90 Days on a K1 Visa?

Can I Adjust My Status on an Expired Visa?

Posted on: May 8th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

One of the most common questions we get about Adjustment of Status (also known as AOS) is whether or not one can adjust their status on an expired visa. Unfortunately the government isn’t absolutely clear about each type of case. There’s even language that seems partially contradictory in the form I-485 instructions.

If you have a case that requires legal advice, you should contact an experienced attorney.

In the section “Who is Not Eligible to Adjust Status”, in the instructions, section 4 states:

“… you are not eligible for adjustment of status if any of the following apply to you: … Your authorized stay expired before you filed this application;”

But section 6A and 6B would suggest otherwise in the case of immediate relatives of US citizens, or K visa dependants who married the petitioner within 90 days of entering.

AOS instructions for expired visa

Source: USCIS

This exception appears to allow immediate relatives and K visa dependants to adjust their status even if they are on an expired visa. The most common occurrence RapidVisa gets with this type of case is when a K1 visa holder doesn’t adjust their status before their visa expires. They’ve married the petitioner, but haven’t had the need to work or leave the US, so they wait quite a while to file for the adjustment of status. In our experience, the vast majority of these are approved, likely due to the above #6 guideline.

Though you don’t need to adjust your status immediately, there are still many reasons you should, such as being able to legally work.

What about adjusting status on an expired tourist visa or visa waiver (ESTA)?

Waiting on status.

The second most common type of customer asking this question is someone who entered on a tourist visa, or on visa waiver (ESTA), but didn’t adjust status before they overstayed. According to the I-485 instructions, it would appear these should fall in to the #6 guideline if they are married to a US citizen. See our article Can I Adjust My Status if I Get Married in the USA? for more basic information about adjusting status based on marriage.

To further make the case that these kinds of cases are widely accepted, there was actually a memo put out in 2013 by the USCIS that states:

“USCIS field offices shall adjudicate adjustment of status cases filed by immediate relatives of
U.S. citizens who were last admitted to the United States under the VWP, in accordance with
section 245 of the INA. This includes cases where Form I-485 was filed after the 90-day period of
admission.”

Which cases can RapidVisa help with?

To wrap up everything mentioned in this article, we can help you adjust your status if you are married to a U.S. Citizen or are the step-child of a U.S. Citizen and entered the US legally through one of the visa types on this page, regardless of if your visa is currently expired. Our Adjustment of Status service includes all forms needed to get your Advance Parole (travel permit) and Work Permit.  We get 99.7% of these cases approved every day. Our value proposition is unmatched.

If you still have questions, give us a call right away at 719-208-7033, or toll free at 800-872-1458. 

Alternatives to Meeting the Visa Income Requirement

Posted on: April 22nd, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff 29 Comments

In order to sponsor an alien for a non-immigrant visa, an immigrant visa, or a green card through marriage, you will need to meet certain income requirements. The government wants to make sure the alien doesn’t have a high likelihood of becoming a ward of the state. The income amount determined is based on several factors but the most important one is that you meet a certain percentage of the poverty line – 100% or 125%, depending on which petition you are filing. However, there are two alternatives that will help you meet the requirement that don’t depend on your income. Assets or joint sponsors.

Money

Non-Immigrant (K-1) Sponsor’s Income Requirement

If you are sponsoring an alien on a non-immigrant visa like a K-1 or K-2, you’ll need to meet 100% of the poverty guidelines for the Affidavit of Support for Form I-134. This amount changes depending on which state you live in, how many aliens you are sponsoring, and how many are in your household.

Keep in mind, when you go to adjust status and apply for a green card, you’ll need to meet 125% of the poverty guidelines.

We’ve built a handy visa income requirement calculator to quickly determine how much you should earn to qualify.

Immigrant (CR-1/AOS) Sponsor’s Income Requirement

If you are sponsoring a spouse or other alien for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status through marriage, you will need to meet 125% of the poverty guideline when filling out the Affidavit of Support, Form I-864. Again, check our income requirement calculator for an exact income amount you’ll need to meet.

Using Assets In Lieu of Income

If your income doesn’t match up, but have enough assets, you may be able to use them to qualify. If qualified assets total up to at least three times your income requirement, you may qualify. For example, if your income requirement is $20,000, you will need $60,000 in verifiable assets to use them in place of income.

House

Do you have equity in your house? It may qualify as an asset.

What kinds of assets can I use?

Real Estate

If you have equity in your house or own it outright and it’s in the US, you can use it if you have a deed and or loan payoff amount along with an appraisal. If you owe money on your house, the loan balance would be deducted from the appraisal amount to determine the asset’s value.

Vehicles

You can use your vehicle if you have at least two vehicles. You cannot use your primary vehicle. To use a vehicle, you’ll need the title (of at least two, although only one will be used) and KBB value.

Cash in the Bank

If you have cash in the bank, and the account is in the USA, you can use it as an asset.

Stocks/Bonds/Retirement Accounts

Stocks, IRAs or 401k accounts, bonds and other investments that are in the USA can be used. You will need statements showing the value and ownership.

Life Insurance

If you have a life insurance policy with a cash surrender value, you may use it as an asset.

Musical Instruments/Jewelry/Miscellany

You will need receipts proving you purchased the asset, and an appraisal proving its value.

Calculating

Using a Joint Sponsor

If you have a friend or family member who is willing to be held jointly responsible for the intended immigrant(s) you are sponsoring, you may use them as a joint sponsor if:

They are domiciled in the United States

They are a US citizen or lawful permanent resident

They meet 125% of the poverty guideline regardless of active duty

They meet the entire income requirement on their own (Cannot combine multiple joint sponsors to meet poverty level)

They are 18 or older

Related Resources:

Visa Income Requirement Calculator

Affidavit of Support F.A.Q.

Can I Adjust My Status if I Get Married in the USA?

Posted on: February 11th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments
Permanent resident card & social security card

Adjusting status grants permanent residency.

If you enter the US on a non-immigrant visa, then decide to get married, you may want to stay in the US with your new spouse. The problem is, you entered as a non-immigrant. That means when you applied for your visa, you did so under the pretense that you did not intend to stay. The proper procedure to take from here is to adjust your status from a non-immigrant to immigrant status. This will allow you to legally become a lawful permanent resident and get your green card.

To get a marriage based adjustment of status, you’ll need to meet some basic requirements. RapidVisa can help if you came in on one of these visa types.

The basic qualifications for a marriage based AOS are*:

  • You must be physically in the US
  • You must be married to a US citizen
  • You must have entered the US legally
  • You can’t have a major change of circumstances (ie. sponsor death, child’s marriage, etc)
  • Your American spouse must meet the income requirement (125% of the poverty line/military-100% of the poverty line)

*There are a few other circumstances you may qualify for an AOS, but RapidVisa cannot help you, and you will need to contact an attorney in those cases. For frequently asked questions relating to the adjustment of status, go here.

What if I come on a tourist visa or visa waiver, then get married?

Bald Eagle (22 years)We get this question all the time. The truth is, if you come on a tourist visa or visa waiver with the intent to stay, you are committing fraud. It’s illegal and there are severe consequences. It’s tempting to work around the legal, proper way, but the fact is, you will hurt yourself in the long run if you don’t. Is deportation or a permanent ban from entering the US really worth saving a few months?

We’ve written a whole post about this subject.

How does the process work?

If you meet the requirements, you create a free account here. Fill out the questionnaire, pay our small fee, then within 4 business hours, our agents will review your case, locate any issues or mistakes, then enable for printing. Once you print out your package, it will include all necessary forms filled out and signature ready, along with a detailed checklist of evidence items to include. If you bought our premium review package, you will send all your items to us, and we’ll manually review it again, assemble it how the government likes it, and send it off to the USCIS. If you didn’t purchase premium review, you’ll send your packet to the USCIS.

clockGenerally the waiting process is 4 to 6 months. Early on, you will have a biometrics appointment, where you’ll get fingerprints and photos taken. At around the 3 month mark, you should receive a temporary travel & work permit. In some cases, you’ll have an interview at a nearby USCIS office. If you came in on a fiance visa, it’s rare that you’ll have this interview. Usually in under a month after the interview, you will receive the green card.

Get my AOS account started

Reference: USCIS and U.S. Department of State

Should I Marry my British Fiance in the UK or the US?

Posted on: January 30th, 2015 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments

If you are reading this, chances are you are an American who fell in love with a Brit, or a Brit who fell in love with an American. This post will focus on couples who plan to get married and settle in the United States, and wish for the British citizen to obtain permanent residency in the US with a green card. If you are looking to settle in the UK, go here.

We will go over the pros and cons of each option, and try to give some insight to what to expect for each that will help you make the right decisions.

Option: Getting married in the UK, then immigrating to the US.

married couple in UKIf you want to get married in the UK, then return back to the US to settle, the US citizen will first need to obtain a Marriage Visitor Visa. It’s different than a UK Fiance Visa, which is intended for those settling in the UK. This visa is required to enter the UK with the intent to marry but not settle. You will need to make sure your marriage is legally recognized in order to make the second half of this process possible – The CR-1 Spousal Visa required for the British citizen to come to the US and settle.

Once the US citizen gets this visa, which usually takes around 2 to 4 weeks to obtain, he or she can travel to the UK, then get married. This visa allows the US citizen to spend no more than 6 months in the United Kingdom.

After marriage, you can immediately begin the UK citizen’s CR-1 Spousal Visa application. This generally takes between 6 and 7 months. During this time, the US citizen could stay in the UK for the duration of their visa, but there likely will be some time that the couple is apart. This is one of the hardest parts of this process, for family, emotional and financial reasons.

Big BenOnce the CR-1 is granted, the UK citizen can enter the Unite States, and receive the green card in two to three weeks. Once received, they can legally work in the US, and exit the US for trips. Generally, the next steps are removal of conditions and then naturalization.

What kinda costs are we looking at?

For this option, you can expect the following costs:

  • Marriage Visitor Visa application: (£83/≈$125)
  • Trip cost for US citizen to travel to the UK (cost varies)
  • Wedding in UK: (≈£18,244/≈$27,500 – based on UK average wedding)
  • CR-1 Spousal Visa process: ($1,680/≈£1,120 – includes government fees – based on RapidVisa’s low costs)
  • Trip cost for UK citizen to travel to the US (cost varies)

How long should we expect this to take?

  • Marriage Visitor Visa: 2 to 4 weeks
  • Wedding Period: (varies)
  • CR-1 Spousal Visa Process: 6-7 months

Things to consider:

  • Make sure everyone meets all the requirements for their respective visas.
  • Consider how much time apart you are willing to bear.
  • Make sure both citizens have their respective passports.
  • Plan ahead, because the process is already long, and lack of planning can prolong it.

Option: Getting married in the USA and settling there after marriage.

If you intend to marry before traveling to the States together…

Statue of LibertyOne option that many of our customers choose is to get a K-1 Fiance Visa, which allows the UK citizen to enter the US with the intent to marry, get married, then adjust status to a permanent resident. While this is usually the quickest option, it is by no means a breeze.

What kinda costs are we looking at?

For this option, you can expect the following costs:

How long should we expect this to take?

  • K-1 Fiance Visa: 5-6 month wait until able to enter US and marry.
  • Adjustment of Status: 5-6 month wait for green card (to be able to work and re-exit the US)

Things to consider:

  • The US sponsor must be able to support the UK citizen via income, assets, or joint sponsor.
  • Consider how much time apart you are willing to bear.
  • Keep in mind the UK citizen will be in the US for up to 6 months without the ability to work, until the green card is granted.
  • Plan ahead, because the process is already long, and lack of planning can prolong it.

If the UK citizen was present in the US without the intent to marry then decided to get married…

uscisIf a UK citizen were visiting the US, without the intent to marry, for example, on the visa waiver program, and decided to get married during their stay, they could simply adjust status and stay in the US as a permanent resident. If you attempt to adjust status like this even though you had the intention to marry, you may be in violation of law, and could face criminal action, including but not limited to deportation and permanent ban from the US. We highly urge you to avoid hardship and possible life-changing consequences by only choosing this method if you truly qualify.

What kinda costs are we looking at?

For this option, you can expect the following costs:

How long should we expect this to take?

  • Adjustment of Status: 5-6 month wait for green card (to be able to work and re-exit the US)

Things to consider:

  • If you try adjusting status on a tourist visa or visa waiver when you actually knew you were going to get married before you came, you will be in violation of US law and could be deported.

Click here to read testimonials of our UK customers

3 Lawyer’s Concerns About RapidVisa Debunked

Posted on: December 2nd, 2014 by RapidVisa Staff No Comments
3 Lawyer's Concerns About RapidVisa Debunked

Some attorneys are skeptical about our services.

There are a few different paths to get your family based immigration needs met. In fact, we made an infographic about just this comparison decision. One choice that people often unnecessarily opt for is hiring an ‘immigration attorney’. Attorneys are great, and have a very important role in society. In fact, we have our own. But, unless you have legal issues, such as convictions or need a waiver, they statistically are not likely to help your chances and highly likely to cost 5 to 10 times more than RapidVisa, and take significantly longer to process and review your petition.

We understand you have to do your homework. This is important. But don’t be taken advantage of. Do your research. Many of our customers first went to an attorney but after thousands of dollars and no results, contact us in the middle of the process and kick themselves for not using us sooner.

There are a few websites out there that are lead generators for lawyers, so of course, if you ask a question like “Should I use RapidVisa or should I use a lawyer?”, they’ll be biased. Often times they try to lump us in with scammy sites that illegally sell forms or don’t know what they’re doing.

We’ve gathered some comments from some of these lawyers, and paraphrased them to keep the commenters anonymous out of respect. 

Let’s debunk some of these concerns.

1. Is it really a legal matter? Usually not.

"You should never trust someone who is not an attorney to manage your legal matters. That's like trusting somebody who's not a doctor for medical issues."

Debunked:

Filing a visa petition is as much of a legal matter as getting your driver’s license. Do you hire a $3,000 attorney to apply for your driver’s license? The premise is pretentious and misleading. Petitioning for a family visa is not a legal matter, it’s a benefit request from your government. They don’t teach how to apply for visas or green cards in law school. Every lawyer who helps in these matters learned it on their own just like anyone else. That said, if you have legal issues that could complicate your situation, you definitely should get legal counsel.

RapidVisa does not offer legal advice or representation. Here’s what we do offer. Some lawyers have even accused us of unauthorized practice of law, or “UPL”. RapidVisa and its software has been investigated and cleared by both the Department of Homeland Security and the Colorado Supreme Court. We offer a service similar to TurboTax for visa applications. Here’s news coverage of our company being investigated and cleared by the Colorado Supreme Court.

2. Avoid super high denial rates?

"An attorney can significantly improve your chances for approval. Every year, approximately 40 to 60% of all fiancee visa petitions filed are not approved."

Debunked:

This is false. The overall K-1 visa approval rate is around 95% according to the actual NVC’s statistics. This is scare tactics. Of course everyone wants the best chance for approval but do you really want to hire someone who makes such a false statement? RapidVisa has an over 99% approval rate, which is a bit higher than the overall average. There is less than a 1% chance of a lawyer helping your odds better than RapidVisa.

3. Experience matters.

"As an attorney, we do dozens of cases a year and therefore are the most experienced option you can go with."

Debunked:

If your value proposition is that you are the most experienced because you have handled the most cases, then RapidVisa wins. We have over 15,000 approvals at over 99.7% approval rating. There probably isn’t an immigration attorney on Earth who will see that many cases in their lifetime. We have dozens of experienced representatives in 3 countries who help with these petitions every day.

Some attorneys take on all kinds of cases, immigration or not, and don’t get near the amount of experience on such a that we have. The typical local law firm might take on a few cases a year for a certain visa type. We help thousands of families, not dozens.

Can I Use a Tourist Visa to Get Married in the US?

Posted on: October 23rd, 2014 by benives 15 Comments

Gray areas aren’t generally the government’s forte.

Couple getting marriedIt is legal to enter the U.S. on a tourist visa, travel visa or the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and get married to a U.S. citizen.  It is also legal to adjust your status after getting married. However, the condition of a tourist visa, travel visa and the VWP is a sworn promise that the person using this visa only plans to visit the United States and not immigrate here.

Intent is what really matters.

The intention of a tourist or travel visa is a temporary visit for a specified amount of time. If you want to get married during your visit then return home before your visa expires that may be legal, but a travel visa should not be used with the intention of entering the United States to marry, stay permanently and adjust status. Using the K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa avoids all of the problems noted above, and is the most appropriate way for a foreign fiancé(e) to come to the U.S. to marry.

“…a travel visa should not be used with the intention of entering the United States to marry, stay permanently and adjust status.”

The potential consequences of doing it wrong are serious.

There could be serious problems for someone who enters the United States on another visa with the intention of marrying or residing here. Attempting to obtain a visa or entering the United States by saying one thing when you intend another may be considered immigration fraud, for which there are serious penalties. Those penalties include restricting a person’s ability to obtain immigration benefits, including permanent residence, as well as a possible fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment of up to 5 years.

The Department of State (DOS) and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assume that intent to marry a U.S. citizen is the same as intent to immigrate.

If your fiancé(e) enters the U.S. as a tourist, without disclosing that they are engaged to you and/or intend to marry you, they have committed visa fraud. If the USCIS later decides that your fiancé(e) has committed visa fraud, they could be deported and will be impossible for them to legally return to the United States, even if the two of you are married.

Tourism is kind of specific.

stereotypical tourist

Tourist visas are for people who want to sight see, not get married.

In order for someone to get married in the U.S. while visiting on a tourist or travel visa and then adjust their status to lawful permanent resident they would need to prove they came to the U.S. with the intention to travel to and visit the U.S. and return to their home country but not to get married or immigrate here.

What’s the safe way?

You can easily avoid visa and/or immigration fraud by filing for a K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa or you could get married in the home country of the foreign fiancé(e) and then apply for a CR-1 Spousal Visa. If you have secretly obtained a tourist or travel visa, with the intent to marry your fiancé(e) in the U.S. and to bypass the normal process you should rethink your decision.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post relating to the legal requirements of the United States and U.S. Department of State is provided for general information only. Questions involving interpretation of specific U.S. laws should be addressed to an attorney and/or government officials.

Reference: USCIS and U.S. Department of State

5 Reasons You Need Your Green Card

Posted on: October 16th, 2014 by RapidVisa Staff 4 Comments
Green Card

Permanent Resident Card (Specimen) 
Source: Wikimedia Commons

If you’ve entered the country on a visa, or on visa waiver, and plan on spending building a life here with your family, you will need to adjust your status from a non-immigrant to an immigrant. When you adjust your status, you’ll receive your permanent residence card, otherwise known as the “green card“. Why is it even important to get your green card, you ask? Many reasons.

Here are the 5 that we think you’ll care most about:

  1. You can leave and enter the US at will without risk of being denied entry. Just imagine getting a call for a family emergency that requires you to fly home. You exit the US and upon your return, you’re denied entry and find out you have to apply for a spousal visa and wait outside the US 6 to 7 months. With your green card, you can come and go as you please.
  2. Permission to work in any company located in US territory regardless of job function, hours/week, etc. except for some companies that only hire US citizens. No need for employer sponsorship.
  3. Permission to start your own business. Is owning a business your American dream? With your green card, you can legally own an American business.
  4. Own property, cars, firearms and other items Americans can own.
  5. Social Security benefits are available to green card holders when they retire, if they worked for 10 years before retiring.

Don’t put off your AOS application until it’s too late. Login today and start the ball rolling. We’re here to help you along the way.

Get My Green Card Started!

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