Let’s skip the part on how you got to the US. Let’s start with “now you are here, so what is the next step?” first of all you should aim to legalized your status. Either through Work, family or marriage you need to adjust your status to become a permanent resident here in the US. Some prefer to hire immigration lawyers and some just take their time to learn how to do it their own (saves you a lot of money).
I came here and marry my best friend so i am under the category of adjusting status based on marriage to a US citizen but most papers/documents that are required actually are almost the same whether you came and are adjusting from work visa or through family based immigration.
First step: Gathering documents, you will need the following;
a. Marriage certificate
b. Copies of your passport old and new
c. Copy of birth certificate
d. Copy of divorce decree if your partner was married before
e. Proof of Genuine relationship i.e Photos, emails, phone bills/calls, trips, etc.
f. Tax returns/W2 etc. of your US citizen partner
g. Completed application forms for adjusting status (check http://www.uscis.gov for forms and fees) there are at least 6 type of application form you need to fill up.
h. Fees for application it will cost you around $1600+
i. some other documents you need depending on what type of visa you are adjusting from.
j. Patience because this is just the beginning!
Step 2; After you gather all papers and submitted your application, they will notify you once they received your check payment and documents.
Step 3; After a month or two they will send you a mail for your biometrics schedule. Biometrics is for taking your photo, finger prints and records this will be used for your temporary work permit (if they will approved it).
Step 4; After biometrics they will send you another mail after 3 months letting you know if your wok permit has been approved.
Step 5; Once approved you will then wait again for another month to receive your work permit card in the mail (this depends how fast or how slow the process is in your state). Your work permit card can also be use as your travel permit (yes you can travel) while you are awaiting for your green card approval. So let’s just say your work permit got approved that doesn’t mean you will be able to work or find a work in a snap (it is not easy specially you are competing with so many people who are in fact grew up in the US and have job experiences in the US! hello US citizens!) priorities people! priorities! but let’s save this topic for another time.
Step 6; After being approved to work, you will then wait for another 3 months for your interview appointment in the mail (that if they don’t need you to send them more evidences/documents because they found your application insufficient, if they did it will set you back another month or two). Ugh!
Step 7; After receiving the appointment that is usually a month before the actual date, you will then go to the nearest USCIS office to have your interview. After the interview they may or may not tell you if you are approved or not. They will tell you to wait for their mail in a week or two.
And once you received that mail say you got approved you will wait for your green card to arrive in the mail in a week or two!
If you came here in the US based in marriage to a US citizen and it is less than 2 years then the immigration will probably give you a “Conditional Greencard” that will expire after your 2nd year anniversary being married. That means within the 90days before your card expires you have to apply again to removed the conditions in your green card. This will be another waiting game and another step to get a 10 years green card and i will share with you the steps in my next post.
So far, If you are paying attention, How many months/year did it take to get just a conditional green card? (not counting whether you get “RFE” request for Evidence) and the timeline process in different states? Hmmm you get the idea! And it doesn’t end there.