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If you are a United States citizen and at least 21, you may petition to bring your parents to live permanently in the United States. This form of family-based immigration is not available to lawful permanent residents.  The process starts with a series of documents: The I-130 Petition (one for each parent) The I-864 (the Affidavit of Support) The DS-261 (filled out by your parents) DS-260 (filled out by your parents) If your parents are already in the United States, they must fill out an I-485, an adjustment of status form.  It is imperative that you avoid bringing your parents in under a tourist visa with the intent of filing an adjustment of status later. USCIS will interpret that move poorly and accuse them of misrepresenting the purpose of their visa when they acquired it.  Before applying, you should make sure you meet the financial requirements. You will have to demonstrate that you are capable of helping your parents meet their physical and financial needs until they either become United States Citizens themselves or can be credited with 40 quarters of work. This means you’ll be responsible for paying the following expenses on behalf of your parents: Food Clothing Housing Medical care Other expenses For a family of two, you must make at least $24,650 as of this writing in 2023. A family of three must make $31,075. You must send copies of your US Tax Returns to prove your income and family size.  The affidavit affirms that if at any point your parents apply for food stamps, Medicaid, SSI, TANF, CHIP, or other public programs, you will repay the government for those benefits.  Finally, your parents must be eligible to immigrate, using the normal eligibility requirements such as having a clean criminal record and being uninvolved in any criminal or terrorist activities. In some cases, we may be able to file a waiver of admissibility to address certain issues.  Get Help Today Every immigration matter is a complex legal matter. To give your parents their best chance of joining you in the United States, you should work closely with a qualified immigration attorney. Even a minor mistake can make it impossible for your parents to come and live with you. If uniting your family is important to you, contact our office today. See also:  Can You Appeal Your Immigration Decision  What Happens When You Make Errors on Your Immigration Paperwork? How a Dismissed Criminal Charge Can Impact Your Immigration Case   
According to the State Department, Americans adopt over 2000 children from other countries yearly. Most children come from China, Haiti, Ethiopia, Ukraine, and Columbia. While the number of adoptions from overseas is in decline, there are still enough of them to prompt USCIS to clarify their guidance on how these children may become citizens.  Here is a summary of the current requirements. The child must be under the age of 18. A US citizen or lawful permanent resident must adopt the child. The child must be physically present in the US before they turn 18. The child must be in the legal and physical custody of the adoptive parents.  The adoption must be full, final, and complete.  There are two separate processes for adopting an immigrant child. The first is through the Hague Process, used if the child habitually resides in a country that’s a party to the Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. The second is the Orphan Process. In addition, US citizens or permanent residents may use an Immediate Relative Petition.  The Hague Process requires a home study. The Orphan Process requires a state department investigation to verify the child is an orphan and a home study. The Immediate Relative Petition allows US citizens to file a petition for an adopted child regardless of age.  Once the adoption is complete, you may apply for a certificate of citizenship. You must provide adequate evidence you meet all the requirements. The adoption requirements did not change under the new guidance; USCIS merely took steps to clarify the process and procedures. The process, nevertheless, remains labyrinthine and complex. Even USCIS urges parents to work closely with an immigration attorney to get through the process. You’re not just dealing with US law; you’re often dealing with international law as well. For example, the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA) requires all adoption agencies and persons providing adoption services to be accredited. This law means you may need to take additional steps with USCIS if your provider loses accreditation or approval at any point during the process.  If you plan to adopt a foreign-born child or have already adopted one, contact our office to get help today. We have extensive experience with certificates of citizenship and citizenship applications and can help you navigate all the forms, evidence, and potential pitfalls that can arise during any immigration matter.  See also: How to Spot an Immigration Scam  What Happens When You Make Errors on Your Immigration Paperwork?  4 Steps to a Smoother Immigration Process
Plans change, the unexpected happens, and sometimes, it’s impossible to return to your home country on the date you expected. Fortunately, the United States has methods for legally extending your stay. Here’s what you need to know.  Extending a Visitor’s Visa Visitor’s visas are usually valid for just six months, but you can request an additional six months by filing Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Non-Immigrant Status. You must also submit a letter stating the reason for the requested extension and proof that you have the financial support for your extended stay. Your visa status must be valid at the time of application. You must not have committed any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa, and your passport must be valid. In addition, you must have a legitimate reason to extend your stay.  Extending a Student Visa If you can’t complete your course of study by the end date listed on your Form I-20, you must request an extension before your program end date. You’ll use Form I-539 to request the extension, just as a visitor would.  USCIS will only extend a student visa for documented academic or medical reasons. You must show that you will have the financial resources to continue supporting yourself.  You may not extend your visa to enroll in extra courses, repeat a course to improve a GPA, engage in research, finish pending coursework for an incomplete grade, or participate in programs. You must obtain a letter of recommendation from your academic advisor or graduate program coordinator.  Extending a Work Visa Your employer can apply to extend your authorized period of stay. They must apply at least 45 days before your authorized period of stay expires.  You can also apply using Form I-765. Visas You Can’t Extend Some visas can’t be extended, including: Non-immigrant “D” visas for crew members “C” visas used for people who are “in transit” through the United States K-visas, used for the fiancees of a US Citizen “S” visas, used for organized crime or terrorism informants and accompanying family members  You also cannot extend your visa if you don’t have one. For example, if you’re in transit through the United States without a visa (TWOV) or are here under the Visa Waiver program, it will be impossible to extend your stay.  Get Help Today  Applying to extend your visa isn’t easy, and it might not be right for everyone. Some might need to adjust their status instead or take other actions to better serve their long-term goals. Any time you deal with USCIS, you should work closely with a qualified immigration lawyer to maximize your chances of success. If you need help, contact our offices today.  See also:  Can You Appeal Your Immigration Decision?  What Happens When You Make Errors on Your Immigration Paperwork?  The 5 Most Common Immigration Mistakes
The April 15 deadline for filing US income tax is coming up fast, so our office thought it would be a good time to discuss immigrant tax obligations. Many of our clients tend to find that tax time brings many surprises.  It may surprise you to learn that immigrants must pay taxes. In fact, immigrants account for about 20% of the nation’s income tax revenue.  Residents are taxed on their worldwide income, while non-residents are taxed according to special rules. If you are here in the United States, you must pay taxes. You will also be required to report foreign assets such as foreign trusts, bank accounts, and securities accounts.  It may also surprise you to learn that paying your taxes can be extremely beneficial. Proving that you’ve been paying your taxes correctly and on time can help with a green card or permanent citizenship application. It provides proof of good moral character and proof of continuous presence. If you file taxes with your spouse, doing so can help you prove you have a bona fide marriage.  What about if you’re undocumented? It may also surprise you to learn that you should file your taxes anyway. While doing so can prove you worked without a permit, filing your taxes can help you more than it can hurt you. Don’t worry about your taxes being used to deport you—tax information is privileged, as the IRS cannot give it to USCIS, ICE, law enforcement, or to the Department of Homeland Security. Laws exist which prohibit using taxes to initiate removal of any kind. The United States Treasury would rather get its money than remove people.  That’s not to say there aren’t some disadvantages to filing taxes. If you’ve been “paid under the table” all year, then your income taxes haven’t been withheld the same way it would have been had you been a legal employee. This means your tax bill can get quite large at the end of the year. We recommend that anyone in this situation set aside monthly tax savings.  We also recommend working closely with an accountant or other tax professional, as mistakes can be costly. Taxes aren’t simple even for Americans…most barely understand how the tax code works, if at all. They get even more complex when you through foreign assets into the mix. You also don’t want to get caught accidentally omitting information on your tax return simply because you didn’t understand it; discrepancies can be used against you later.  If you don’t have a social security number, you can file your taxes by obtaining a taxpayer identification number or ITIN. You’ll find the instructions here. Have other questions about your immigration status or need help immigrating to the United States? Contact the Law Office of Kyce Siddiqi today.  See also: What Happens When You Make Errors on Your Immigration Paperwork?  The 5 Most Common Immigration Mistakes  What Are the Grounds for Cancellation of Removal?

Divorce and Your Green Card

If your husband or wife is a US citizen sponsoring you for a green card, it’s crucial to understand how divorce could impact your application.  While a divorce won’t necessarily disqualify you for a green card, the timing of your divorce could make a big difference.  Here’s what you need to know. Prior to Adjustment of Status Your initial marriage-based green card is only valid for two years. Once your two years are up, you’ll have to apply for an adjustment of status. To do this, you’d file an I-751. If your I-751 gets accepted, you’ll receive a 10-year green card.  Divorcing during this two-year conditional period is risky. You’ll want to have a long conversation with an immigration lawyer before you start a single step. You will have to file a waiver showing that you entered the marriage in good faith, but it terminated through no fault of your own. Without that waiver, the federal government may assume your marriage was fraudulent and may revoke your permanent residency status.  After Adjustment of Status Once you’ve attained your ten-year green card, immigration won’t revoke it just because you get a divorce. USCIS is unlikely to look at your immigration status again unless you give them a reason to do so.  You will have to renew your green card every ten years, but your divorce will unlikely threaten your ability to do so. Renewal is a relatively routine administrative process. To renew your card, you will file Form I-90, the Application to Replace a Permanent Resident Card. You can even change your name on the green card at that time.  Still, you must keep your long-term immigration goals in mind as you face the prospect of divorce.  Applying for Citizenship If you intend to apply for naturalization at any point, you will want to contact an immigration lawyer as soon as divorce becomes an issue. This is the best time to gather evidence that your marriage was bonafide even though it ended. When you apply for citizenship, USCIS will have cause to open your file again. They’ll want to scrutinize your marriage and your life all over again. So you’ll want to provide as much evidence as possible to avoid a denial of your citizenship application.  Get Help Today  Life is complex. So is immigration law.  If you’re experiencing the threat of divorce while attempting to remain in the United States, call the Law Office of Kyce Siddiqi to get help today.  See also: 5 Mistakes Couples Make When Applying for a Green Card The Truth About Green Card Marriage  What Are the Grounds for Cancellation of Removal?