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Maybe you are married or plan to marry a person with immigration issues. You may have the desire to give some advice to a friend or neighbor who is in need of some immigration help. Let me make it clear that I am not a lawyer and I don’t pretend to have the knowledge a good immigration lawyer has. That is why they make the big money because they have the experience and the ability and the knowledge to help you through the complicated mess of immigration paperwork. This blog is not meant to be legal advice, more than anything it should be a wake up call so you can get the needed paperwork, documents and money together so you can hire an experienced immigration lawyer. When you have all the documents together and you go into see your lawyer they will have a much easier time if you have done much of the footwork for them. Understand that filing your own forms is possible but not recommended. Know that complicated forms such as the waivers need to be filled out in a certain way and your lawyer can help you with this process so the forms get filed in the right way.
If you don’t have the money to file the forms then start saving and make a plan of which forms to file first and get them ready to file. If you sit down with an immigration lawyer they can help you with your plan and tell you according to your situation which forms are needed and when. Ask them if the list of forms is right or not. Understand that in Nov 2010 the fees went up so make sure you print and use current forms and instructions www.uscis.gov
Depending on the countries involved and your specific legal situation the forms and the procedures can change so it is important that you meet with an immigration attorney to verify the steps. If the alien entered the country without inspection and stayed over 365 days a 10 year bar can be issued when such person leaves the US. Normally the US does not prosecute these cases as criminal but they treat them as civil unless you have been deported and come back in which case that could be a felony. It is a federal issue so don’t misunderstand me, it is serious. If the undocumented alien marries a US Citizen they can have the US Citizen Petition for them by filing an I-130 form $355 + and then there will be a marriage interview at ICE where they will want to see wedding certificates, pictures and proof of a valid relationship. If this interview is approved then they will receive a notice to get biometrics taken and then they will send the I-130 application to the National Visa Center NVC.
If the person entered without inspection there is a strong chance they will need to go back to their own country and then re-enter, this may take a year or longer to process the forms. There are circumstances where the person can adjust status within the country but these are few and far between. If the person entered and let their visa expire then there is more of a chance they can adjust their status within the USA although there are times when these people need to go back to their countries as well.
It is best to use an immigration attorney with experience and normally they charge about $250 per hour. If you cannot afford a lawyer there are some free law clinics you can attend where a lawyer can look over the forms you have filled out yourself but there are certain aspects of immigration law that are so complicated it really is best to hire someone with experience so my advice, start saving up for forms and lawyers. Put all your paperwork together in one box and organize it. Keep another copy of everything at a secondary location.
A US Citizen can also petition a father, mother, brother or a sister when they are 21 years of age using the same I-130 form. A US Citizen can petition for a fiancee visa as well and this is a different form but it costs a bit more.
Some of the forms are as follows:
I-130 Petition $355, I-212 $545 (If deported), I-601c $545 (If they left on their own), I -765 Application for permission to work, I-693 (Medical Form) G-28 (File paperwork as to who will be representing you), I-246 (Stay of deportation $155) I-918 U-Visa, I-589 Asylum Petition (Denied much of the time if you do not meet the criteria outline exactly as stated) Motions to re-open or to appeal can also be filed. www.uscis.gov make sure you file the most current forms off the website. Don’t use old copied forms.
Then instructions will come in the mail to fill out the DS230 and an affidavit of support which is another $470. The order of forms you may have to fill out may be different than these depending on your situation and your attorney will go over this with you. Do not send forms in out of order. If you don’t get instructions from the National Visa Center don’t send in the DS230 because it will not do any good.
If the alien has worked over 40 quarters themselves it is possible for them to fill out the I-864w. If not then the person will need someone to be the sponsor with the I-864 financial affidavit.
The Spouse may or may not qualify depending on their work experience/years and income. Verify with ICE. Check www.USCIS.gov normally the alien will need to leave the USA and go back to his or her country for the interview at the consulate. This is 9+ months although the time varies per country. The alien will need to have all their vaccinations up to date and there is a list of them and they will need to have a special physical done by an approved doctor and the I-693 form will need to be filled out and submitted with the vaccination record. They will most likely want to file an I-765 application for permission to work as well when you file for the waivers. If the alien does not speak the language start having them take classes now and that goes both ways. If they need to go back to another country they need to speak that language and learn English as well.
If the alien does not have a current passport then have them go to their embassy and get one as soon as possible. If you’re not in a major city many times your embassy will come to your city every 6 months to process these things. This is normally around $100. This whole process takes time so file the I-130 while the alien is still in the US if possible. If the alien was here and working without permission you will want to obtain all the documents you can such as any taxes paid, letters from neighbors testifying for their character, school certificates, volunteer certificates or letters of recommendation. This will show that they were productive while here in the US and not causing trouble. You will need to file either the I-212 if the alien was deported or the I-601c if they left on their own. Both of these forms have a fee of $545 and in both the alien will need to admit to what they did wrong and ask for forgiveness this includes working without permission, coming in without inspection and working with a false social security card if applicable.
If a ten year bar is issued one or both of these forms could waiver the 10 year bar. They may or may not waiver them depending on your situation. If you have a criminal record this will affect their decision so make sure all your fines are paid, if you can get an expungment this will help. If the charges are felony charges don’t get your hopes up of getting the waiver granted. If you have been through any programs such as drug rehabilitation include those certificates. Do not drive without a license or privilege card. Do not drive without insurance. You do not have to be legal to get insurance. If the alien was abused while here from domestic abuse there is the I-918 form that can be filled out. This is a U Visa that could really help the situation. You will need copies of police reports, photographs of the abuse and hospital verification of injuries etc….The police department will need to fill out a portion of this form. Do not fill any forms out with false information since it can really hurt your case.
Understand when you file the I-130 petition for an immediate family member this could trigger a deportation of the person that is here undocumented. This is a risk you will need to be willing to take to straighten out your situation so be prepared for it. You can file an I-246 which is a stay of deportation $155 but in many cases it will be denied, this form can be filed again if needed. You can also file for deferred action which is something ICE can approve or deny, they have been given authority for this which simply means they know your hear without permission and they will wait before they deport you. Depending on your situation they may allow you to stay in the country for a time period while you file certain paperwork such as appeals etc… Many times just the cost of the forms can run up to about 5,000 or more and the lawyer costs can go from $2,500 to $10,000 depending on your situation. Plan on using FEDX to send your forms and keep good records of everything.
If your spouse is being deported or has been you may want to consider going to their country to live there. Understand that in many countries the standard of living is much lower and wages by comparison can be 15 or 20 times lower then here in the US. Flights to Guatemala and some areas of Mexico are around $600 to $900 dollars so plan on saving enough money so you could fly back in the event of an emergency. Many of the small towns have dirt roads, no hot water, very limited health care depending on the location and the education for your children will vary with the location. In some areas it will rate right up there with US Schools and in some areas they don’t even have computers, internet or books for the children. Go into your situation with your eyes wide open, research the area and know what to look out for as far as sickness, preventative measures, gang or violence issues, cost of living etc….
Keep copies of everything and it is a good idea to keep copies at a secondary location in case you have a house fire so you can rebuild all the applications if needed. Some lawyers may suggest that you wait for immigration reform but I would not hold my breath on that one at least for this year and it may not happen next year either. The wait for a Green card in Mexico according to USCIS is up to 8 years although marrying a US Citizen puts you at the front of the line. Understand that only 25,000 visas are issued per year so once they are gone you get put into the line for the next year. I hope this information help you. Don’t trust any one person for this type of advice, once you talk to a lawyer it is a good plan to get a second opinion as well. Make a list of things that you need to get done and check them off keeping copies of everything along the way and a journal entry book every time you get something from USCIS or ICE and every time you send them something along with the tracking numbers. Keep copies of all the forms and documents and keep an extra set at a secondary location in case something happens to the copies you have at home.
When filling out forms set a certain amount of time each day such as one or two hours that you will set aside. If you try to do all of them at once it is overwhelming.
If your spouse is being deported or if they have been deported start by filling out the I-130 $355 and the I-212 $545. Print the instructions off the web site www.uscis.gov by going to forms. Fill out the forms and print them off and take them into your lawyer. They may have to re-do the forms but it will save them time to have all the information filled in and you will submit all the documents that they need such as marriage, birth, passports, taxes W-2 etc… according to the instructions. These first steps will allow your lawyer to begin the process. Don’t file the forms without consulting with your lawyer as to the order the forms should be filed. If your spouse left of their own accord and they were not deported then fill out the I-130 and then the I-601c form which is also a waiver and also costs $545 plan on paying about $16-25 dollars to mail the applications and many times they have to be sent to two locations. Also plan on costs to copy the documents. Never include the originals. Keep all your receipts and keep all your fed-ex receipts and tracking numbers as well. When you send something FedX or registered mail be sure to include what form it was so you can keep track in your immigration notebook of when you sent the forms in, to whom, how much the fees were etc….Keeping good records can really help your situation when there is a question about your forms from USCIS or ICE.
Most common forms: (Check for current forms and fees www.uscis.gov )
I-130 petition $355 + petition your husband, wife, mother, father, son or daughter
I-765 permission to work
I-693 Medical – ask the lawyer when to file this or if
I-601 waiver or the I-212 waiver – Don’t mess this one up. (Good lawyers know how to fill this out)
I-589 Political Asylum – Not approved very often
I-918 – U Visa – requires forms to be filled out by the Police Department – (Abuse etc..)
I-485 change of status $1080+ and possibly the I-485a for working without permission another $1000+
I-864 Affidavit of support showing you will not be a hardship on the country
DS230 normally is filed with the I-864 or the I-864W $470+
I-246 $155 + Stay of deportation
Documents to get together NOW and have them ready with a copy at your house, one for your lawyer etc….
All birth certificates – May have to order them from your country
Current passports – wise to get them for the kids as well – Consulates can help you with this
Documents showing any schooling or certificates of training
Documents showing you have lived in the country for so many years…. School, rent receipts, bank etc…
Proof you have been paying taxes and social security payments
Many of the forms require current passport photos
BCI background check from your State – Certified
If you have any speeding tickets or other outstanding issues such as crimes pay all the fines and keep copies
Letters from neighbors, friends, people at church
Police reports if you have been abused
Have pictures in an album for your marriage interview showing it to be a valid marriage
Have original paperwork with you for the interview and have copies for them
Send all your applications with shipping method like FedeX so you can track them and keep all receipts and tracking #
List the form number on your tracking shipping labels and keep all of these for reference.
Make a plan of which forms to file first, list how much they cost according to the new fees, make an appointment with a good immigration lawyer and many will do the consultation for about $100 and go over this plan with them asking them questions. (You may want to record the meeting so you can refer to it later) Ask them if your plan is realistic and ask them what they would change about it according to your situation.
Example if you marry an undocumented person that came without inspection:
1. File the I-130 petition $355 with all the supporting documents then go to interview.
2. Get all vaccinations up to date while they are still in the US.
3. Get all the information from them for all the forms you will need to file and get them ready.
4. Get all the documents together so you will have them for any of the forms.
5. After they leave file the I-601 or the I-212 waiver petition right away. (needs to be complete and done right) $545+
6. Before they come back they may need to have a physical done – check with the lawyer
7. The I-130 will be sent to the NVC National Visa Center and they will then send you a letter letting you know that you need to fill out the DS230 and the I-864. Don’t wait until you get this letter to start the forms. Have them ready to send.
8. You can send in the I-765 employment permission request as well so ask your lawyer when it will be best to send this in.
9. The I-485 form will not have to be filled out until later so have your lawyer help you with a list so you know all of the costs upfront so nothing will be a surprise to you and so you can start saving for all of these forms to be done when the time comes.
10. When you get contacted from the NVC and you send in the forms then they will contact the person to have their interview in their country and what the next steps are. You can be separated from your Husband or wife for 1-3 years or possibly more so make sure you understand when you file the first form that it will throw up a red flag and possibly start a deportation for your spouse so be ready for this and don’t let it be a surprise.
11. Make sure you stay out of trouble and don’t have any criminal charges and if you do then get them paid right away and get the treatment done and keep all the paperwork and don’t lie on any application, make sure you explain things and included the supporting paperwork.
I know I have repeated myself but when you are in the middle of this you cannot miss anything since it affects your life and family so much. Don’t put all of your trust with anyone. It is always a good idea to get additional opinions from other lawyers.
Illegal aliens pay billions of dollars in tax each year. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24054024/
Illegal aliens using false social security numbers will not be charged with identity theft if they were only using the number in order to work.
Sources on Amnesty and the economy:
New Report Finds Legalization of Immigrants Substantially Improves Economic Status
The Economic Boost of Legalization
Immigration Reform Will Enhance Economic Recovery
I also sell audio recordings of much of this information in English and Spanish for a low cost on my site www.larryloveutah.com or www.ayudaconpapeles.com or www.helpwithpapers.com