As you can imagine, one type of case, I frequently handle as an immigration attorney is, of course, adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is immigration legal terminilogy referring to the process of applying for permanent residency (green card) while the beneficiary is in the United States, as opposed to overseas. During this process, the applicant applies to have his/her status changed from a visa to permanent residency, hence the term “adjustment of status.” Adjustment of status is distinguished from the process of obtaining an immigrant visa from overseas, referred to as consular processing, because the applicant’s home consulate must give the final stamp of approval in order for the applicant to obtain permanent residency, in the latter. This blog will focus on family-based adjustment of status, that is the process of getting a green card in the U.S. through a family member.
Now, let us get straight to it. What are some frequently asked questions/concerns from clients and of course what are my answers (based on immigration law) to these questions?
- I am permanent resident (green card holder) and I would like to file for a parent. Can I file for my parent(s) in this context?
Answer– No, only a citizen of the United States can file for a parent to obtain a green card.
2. I would like to file for my spouse and my child who is under twenty-one (21) years old. Can I file one petition for both, since they are both related to me?
Answer– No, each beneficiary would need his/her own petition. In other words, your spouse and child would need separate petitions with some exceptions.
3. Do I have to show that I can support my family member in order to get their green card approved?
Answer-Yes, currently anytime you file a petition for a family member’s green card, you need demonstrate you earned enough money, at least in the previous tax year to support that person. In other words, you need prove that the family member will not become a public charge to the government while the individual’s application is pending, and while he/she is not yet working. Consult an immigration attorney to know the exact amount you need demonstrate to have earned in order to sponsor your family member’s green card application.
4. I did not make enough money last year, is there another way to demonstrate my ability to sponsor a family member’s green card application?
Answer- Yes, you can always find someone to agree to be a joint sponsor along with you on your family member’s application. Alternatively, if you wish, you can use assets (property ownership, significant amount of savings, significant checking account funds) to demonstrate that you are financially able to sponsor your family member until he/she becomes a permanent resident.
5. I heard of a new public charge rule which frowns upon immigrants who obtain government benefits such medicare/medicaid, and food stamps. Will that affect me?
Answer-Currently that law is ONLY a proposed law, meaning it is not yet the law and it is still going through the proper channels of Congress before it can pass. Please also my previous video blog published on October 24, 2018 for more information on who this new law if passed, would affect and other important details.
6. I have a drug charge/conviction or DUI charge/conviction. Will that affect my ability to file for (sponsor) a family member?
Answer– Depending on the charge/conviction and how long ago it was, yes, it may affect your ability to sponsor a family member. Please consult an immigration attorney for specific advice.
7. My family member has a drug charge/conviction or a DUI charge/conviction. Will that affect the individual’s ability to obtain a green card?
Answer- among other considerations, depending on whether 1) it is merely a charge or a conviction, 2) the severity of the crime, i.e. is it a misdemeanor, or a felony, and 3) is it a crime of moral turpitude, that is, one generally against the morals of society, such as stealing, murder, etc. Please consult an immigration attorney for specific legal advice.
Therefore, as you can see, many considerations affect the adjustment of status of a family member, other than just the applicant/beneficiary’s eligibility. On top of that, new policies (as discussed on a previous blog, dated Oct. 30, 2018), mandate immigration offices to no longer issue requests for additional evidence for application(s) with errors, rather they will simply deny said application(s). Furthermore, another recent immigration policy, mandates, depending on the details of said denied case, a denial will land the applicant with in deportation proceedings. Thus, now more than ever, be sure to consult an experienced immigration attorney before beginning the adjustment of status process for your family member. Until next time!
Immigration Law From a Realistic Lens,
Elizabeth Wafula, Esq.