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FAQ

Am I eligible for a green card if my 15-year old son is an American citizen?
Once your son turns 21, he can sponsor you, but it’s not easy.He has to be able to file an Affidavit of Support, a legal obligation to be your financial sponsor. This means he has to be able demonstrate that he can support you financially in order for you to be allowed to immigrate.Country of Domicile for Affidavit of SupportFurthermore, he can only take this role if he already resides in the USA and is employed there.If you want to do this, you have to send him ahead of you by himself, and he is going to need to do all of the heavy lifting.The other option would be to find a separate financial sponsor in the USA to obligate themselves, while your son sponsors the visa. Perhaps if you maintained an exceptionally good relationship with your former in-laws.
Do you need an affidavit of support to sponsor your parents who already live in the USA on a different visa?
With very few exceptions, all I-130 petitions (as well as some I-140 petitions) require an I-864 Affidavit of Support from the sponsor. It does not matter if the beneficiary or beneficiaries intend to adjust status instead of being issued immigrant visas through consular processing; an Affidavit of Support is still required. However, if a beneficiary is already legally present in the United States and has income that is anticipated to be unaffected by adjustment of status, that beneficiary’s income may be considered in determining if the income thresholds of INA § 213A are met.The main exceptions are petitions filed on behalf of a beneficiary who:has at least 40 quarters of qualifying employment credits (as defined by the Social Security Act), on his or her own behalf, through a spouse, through a parent, or any combination thereof;is a child who will be entitled to immediate derivative naturalization upon arrival in the United States under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000;is a self-petitioning widow(er), battered spouse, or battered child, provided that the petitioner has an approved Form I-360; oris an orphan adopted internationally where the adoption will be fully and finally complete before the child becomes a US permanent resident.
How can I get my US friend to help me get my visa to live with him?
To be eligible to sign an Affidavit of Support for you - your friend would either need toMarry youAdopt youEmploy youYour friend also needs to be a US Citizen or Permanent Resident, and also with very few exceptions, resident in the USA.The affidavit lasts for at least 10 years so your friend will have to accept financial support for you for at least that long.How you get your friend to do that is up to you.
How much annual income is generally required to sponsor an immigrant to the U.S?
The legal requirement is income equal to 125% of the poverty level (100% in certain cases if the sponsor is on active duty in the United States Armed Forces). The dollar amount will vary because poverty levels are dependent on household size; thus, if you are sponsoring a fiancee or spouse and neither of you has children, the income level required is much lower than if you have a spouse and five kids, and you're sponsoring your four brothers and sisters as a group. You generally may not use any potential income which the immigrants you are sponsoring might potentially earn toward meeting the sponsorship. You can, however, use assets belonging to yourself, other members of your household, and of the immigrants you are sponsoring, in lieu of income. Assets used in lieu of income are prorated to 20% of cash value (so if you're $5,000 short of the income requirement, you can make that up with $25,000 in assets).The formula at present requires $19,913 for two people, and $5,200 for each additional person, except for those living in Alaska and Hawaii, for which higher requirements apply.  See Affidavit of Support for more information.
Does a US citizen need employment before they can bring their foreign spouse to live in the US, if they live in a country outside of the US?
Generally speaking, the US citizen must file an affidavit of support showing that he/she gains the needed income to support the foreigner spouse. If the family has only two members (no children), then the minimum income needed is 100% of the poverty guideline (income must be at least equal to 100% of Health and Human Services (HHS) poverty guideline for two persons) provided that the person is on active duty in military, or 125% otherwise. Poverty guidelines vary by state. For Alaska, 125% poverty guideline is $25,362. For Hawaii it’s $23,337. For the 48 contiguous states, Guam, and Puerto Rico it is $20,300.You can find the numbers in the form that can be downloaded from this link:HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of SupportThe US citizen doesn’t have to be employed per se (he/she can be making money from stocks/investments/etc) BUT MUST be able to prove he/she has the required income. In other words the income can be passive. And the only way to prove this is by filing tax returns because if you have such an income and you don’t file for tax returns then you are probably in a big problem due to tax evasion.There are a few exceptions from filing the affidavit of support to bring a spouse. The key one is if the US citizen can prove that he/she already worked for 40 quarters (10 years) making the income required by the HHS poverty guidelines.If the US citizen doesn’t gain the required income then can use a co-sponsor who makes sufficient money (to support his/her family AND the US citizen's family). However, the USCIS usually considers co-sponsors only if they are a close relatives to the sponsor. In this case, the co-sponsor is obligated to provide financial support to the foreigner spouse for 40 quarters (10 years) or until he/she gains US citizenship (whatever happens sooner) and the co-sponsor can go to jail if he/she doesn’t comply even if the US citizen and the foreigner spouse get divorced. Co-sponsoring is no joke.Hope that helps.Reference: Affidavit of Support
Should privately owned companies be forced to sell items to gay couples if doing so violates their religious beliefs? E.g. a baker was willing to sell any item in the shop except a wedding cake to a homosexual couple, and the couple filed a lawsuit.
Since you are the kind of person who subscribes to Christian E-zines that call gay people "homosexuals", let me ask you to imagine that you are actually a persecuted minority somewhere other than in the minds of the kind of people who write Christian E-zines. Here, I have some practice, so I'll tell you what it's like:You walk down the street with your head down and your arms wrapped tightly around you in the hope that you won't be recognized, because you don't think you can take one more day of hearing "Jesus-fucker" and "HEY, CROSSIE?" and "get fucked, you Christian asshole?" and "Christian, heh, I could knock that out of you [punctuated by a crotch grab]" simply because you are breathing. You have a cross necklace, but don't dare wear it except to church; one of your friends wore a cross necklace on the street, and she was stabbed in the neck with an ice pick. The doctors say she'll never be the same. You attend church--with only three other people, because congregations draw attention and are dangerous--only at night, in a dark and damp location, and some weeks you can't meet because the anti-Christians have been out again and there are rumors two people were raped (nobody you know; probably somebody you know knows them, though). It's a near-weekly occurrence that the walls of your church have slurs and reverse pentagrams and stuff like HAIL SATAN XTIANS GET OUT 666 painted on them. The police never investigate; you no longer bother calling them, because they're just going to tell you that you kind of invite it, being all in your face about how much you love Jesus and everything. There are no stained-glass windows; in your entire life you have in fact never seen a church that had windows, because they're easy to break and why should you give anyone easier access to hurt you? Someone saw you outside a fast food place once taking someone's hands to comfort them in prayer, and they beat you with a two-by-four. You turn on the TV and there is no Sunday morning sermon anywhere. Instead there is one show that airs on Thursday nights that has a single character who's Christian. She's a horrible stereotype, and her religion is always played for laughs, but at least she exists, she's there (your parents say there were never any Christians on TV at all when they were growing up, and you are horrified), and you cling to her like a dying man to a life ring because if she is there then at least you know other people like you are out there, somewhere. A Christian boy made it onto American Idol and people started talking about how great it was and how progressive our country is that someone "like that" could be on a reality show (but then the radio stations all refuse to play his music). You can't buy Christmas or Easter decorations; nobody sells them. Sometimes in big cities there are rumors that big-box department stores will have, like, half an aisle at the back of the store for a week before the holiday, but the stuff they sell is all very basic, and generic, and often inaccurate. You buy it anyway because it is all you have. Most of what you know about the history of your own religion is passed down to you in tattered little zines, some of them re-photocopied until they're nearly illegible. Almost everything is apocryphal because nobody ever found this stuff important enough to write down until about fifty years ago, and then it was only academics. Some nights you don't sleep because what might happen to you is terrifying. The life expectancy for Christians is 20 years less than the general population, and it's not because communion wafers lower your lifespan, it's because if you take out all the homicides and only count Christians who have not been murdered the life expectancy rises to be about equal with non-Christians of similar health and age. You wonder daily if you are going to spend the entire rest of your life looking over your shoulder, wondering if you should take a different route home.Welcome to my life. This is what it is like, being me, as a gay woman. I've changed rainbow ribbons to cross necklaces and "FAGGOTS BURN IN HELL" to "HAIL SATAN 666," but everything above is based on personal experience. I still have physical scars from some of it. It's gotten way better in the last ten years--after the September Nine killed themselves, people started taking the ostracization of queer people way more seriously--but it's still no walk in the park.So now let's go back to this world in which you are now a hated minority like me, shall we? In this world, Congress finally passes a couple laws that basically give you the right to exist. You can serve in the military. Pastors are now allowed to perform federally-recognized weddings. There are three Christian characters on TV now, and one of them is even treated seriously (although there's still significant debate over whether Christian characters are appropriate to children). There's even talk that there'll be a modification to ENDA, and you'll be able to wear your cross necklace at work without having to worry about being fired? This is great? You talk to your fiance (or fiancee, depending on your gender) and they agree: you should marry in a church. Now that you have the chance, before it gets repealed, you want your wedding vows to say "by the power vested in me by God and the state of wherever you live" and you literally just change into some clean clothes and race to the church. You don't even wait for a dress and tux. You call your family; there's a lot of happy crying. You set a date for a proper ceremony now that it's at least legal, and you call my bakery.And I say "You'll have to go somewhere else, I don't serve cross-kissers."How do you feel?If this was your everyday life, if you weren't poshy-poshy at the top of the food chain, and this happened to you, how would you feel?Would you find it unfair? Would you hope a court would side with you, because all you want to do is be able to walk down the street and read your Bible at lunch and not be afraid? Would you just want some tiny bit of validation, a bone that says "you are worth the air you breathe"? Do you understand, with this tiny shred of what it's like to be gay, that it is about much, much more than just a cake? Consider that. You'll never find it in one of your e-zines.
How much would it cost an American citizen to sponsor a non-American citizen in the U.S.? How long would it take, and what would be the implications?
A US citizen may, in general, only sponsor family members (specifically, one spouse, and any number of parents, children, or siblings) for immigration. The process takes about a year for spouses, parents and children, and significantly longer for siblings. The current (May 2021. fee for the I-130 petition is $535 per primary beneficiary. In addition, each beneficiary now living outside the United States (whether a primary beneficiary or a dependent) must pay a consular processing fee of $325. Each beneficiary currently living in the United States must instead pay an adjustment of status fee of between $750 and $1225, depending on the age and other circumstances of the individual. (I have no idea why the AOS fee is so much higher than the consular processing fee.) There will also be fees for the required medical examination, which are paid to the doctor who conducts the exam and may vary. There may be other fees as well, depending on circumstances or on things I’ve forgotten about. If you use an attorney, you will probably have to pay attorney fees, which will vary but typically start at around $2021 or so and go up from there with the complexity of the case. There may also be fees that you must pay to third parties to obtain required documentation (such as tax transcripts, certified copies of bank records, birth, marriage, and death certificates, etc.).The sponsor is legally responsible to provide for the basic needs of the immigrant or immigrants he or she sponsors until they naturalize as US citizens, earn 40 quarters of Social Security employment credits, terminate their US residency, or die. The sponsor can be required to reimburse the United States or the government of any State for any expenses incurred by the government to provide subsistence assistance to a person they sponsored who has not met these cutoff criteria. Note that this can be a lifelong obligation.In addition to family-based immigration, a US employer may sponsor a nonrelative as an employee. The process here is somewhat different, and the time frames will vary considerably depending on the qualifications required of the position. The overall fees are roughly similar (the I-140 fee is $700, rather than the $535 of the I-130 fee, and the consular processing fee is slightly higher for employment-based applications as well, but the AOS fee is the same). For employment-based immigrants, there is no obligation of support, but an employer that fires an immigrant shortly after they arrive will find their ability to sponsor further immigrants impaired.There is no process by which a US citizen may sponsor a random, unrelated foreign person to immigrate except as an employee. About the closest you can get to this is for a kind and generous soul to agree to provide a I-134 Affidavit of Support for someone who has otherwise qualified to immigrate in some other category (almost always the diversity visa lottery) but does not have sufficient resources to prove that they will not become a public charge. There is a $120 fee associated with filing an I-134 in connection with someone else’s immigrant visa application. Filing an I-134 to support an immigrant does not carry the lifetime commitment that the filer of Form I-864 (sponsor of an immigrant) does; indeed, it is generally accepted that the obligation created by filing form I-134 is effectively unenforceable.
Must a petitioner pay an affidavit of support (AOS) fee despite of the inability to sponsor the applicant financially? The sponsoring petitioner is a green card holder and the applicant is an unmarried child over 30.
First of all, the petitioner must file an I-864 Affidavit of Support in family-based immigration cases (with certain exceptions I won’t go into). If the petitioner’s household income is insufficient to meet the required level, then a “joint sponsor” whose household income is sufficient to meet the required level can be used, in which case the joint sponsor would file a second I-864 Affidavit of Support. However, even when there is a joint sponsor, the petitioner still must file an I-864, even though the petitioner’s household income is not enough. If the petitioner’s household income is not enough, and no joint sponsor can be found, then the visa will be denied; in that case, the immigrant should not go through with Consular Processing, and just keep the petition alive by calling NVC once a year, until there comes a time when the petitioner’s household income is enough or a joint sponsor can be found.For someone going through with Consular Processing for an immigrant visa, the $120 Affidavit of Support fee is required. I am assuming that, if the petitioner’s household income is insufficient, that there is a joint sponsor whose household income is sufficient (otherwise, as I said above, there would be no point going forward with the application at this time). In that case, yes, the $120 Affidavit of Support fee is required, but only one $120 fee needs to be paid, even though there are two Affidavits of Support being filed. It doesn’t matter who pays the fee, as long as it’s paid.
Can my husband and I file his immigration papers on our own?
Stuart Reich is correct. I am curious about the other “strange unhelpfulness”. If that was a statement of distrust on your friend/lawyer, find another lawyer. Don’t use a lawyer you can’t trust, period. She may be hinting that she doesn’t want to take your case.IANAL, but I can share that my then-wife and I filed everything on our own successfully. I got my citizenship during the Clinton administration and it took about 5 years. However, I was never out of status in the country, and we were very good at following up so there was nothing whatsoever to disqualify me. I also did my own application for family relative recently myself and everything went well. In general, the staff at ICE (then INS) is helpful, stern but polite, and gives you general advice if they see you telling the truth, honestly trying to do the right thing and following the law.Having said that, if I had had the money, maybe it would have been worth it. I remember my ex taking days off work so we’d both get up at 4AM to be first in line at the immigration office to present paperwork in person so we’d get same-day feedback we could possibly fix the same day and come back (now you know what those long lines of people outside the immigration offices before they open are all about), and even with that our paperwork was rejected over some small technicality - it is a notoriously finicky process and it deserves hours of your full attention. Being physically there let us fix things on the fly though.I have lawyer friends (heck, there’s lawyers even in my family), but I would never ask them to take on a case of mine. I would ask them for general advice and for a recommendation for someone who can handle the case. That way I am both more likely to both keep my friend and I don’t lose a lawyer and a friend at the same time.Since these are human problems, there are multiple steps between “the lawyer does it all” and “I do it myself”, however. Given this person claims to be a friend, is there a way to get a discount if you fill the paperwork and then pay by the hour so your lawyer’s paralegal reviews it (paralegal time is much cheaper) and only brings up anything relevant to the lawyer to fix or make a recommendation, then you take it to file in person?Perhaps you would not be represented by the lawyer in the case, but you would have been notified to any problems or issues that may arise in your particular case for you to solve.