Annual Reminders for Individuals – Green Card Applications & Expirations21 Apr 2016
This final NewsBrief in our series of annual reminders focuses on key dates within immigration law. The subject here is primarily dates important to permanent residents (“green card” holders) and those applying to become permanent residents of the United States.
Regularly Check Priority Date Movement to File I-485
Those who are interested in obtaining permanent resident status, but are not familiar with the U.S. Department of State Visa Bulletin, should inform themselves of this important publication. Learn about priority dates by reading our informative article, Immigration Basics: The Priority Date and Its Importance (03.Sep.2010). The visa bulletin is available via link to the DOS WebSite from MurthyDotCom. Monthly analyses of priority date movement are included in our Visa Bulletin section.
Many foreign nationals watch for the issuance of the visa bulletin each month, and actively follow predictions of cutoff date movement. Those individuals understand that the visa bulletin determines when the beneficiaries of immigrant petitions, such as the employer petition (form I-140) or family petition (I-130) can move forward with filing an application for adjustment of status (I-485). An application for adjustment of status can be filed only if the individual’s priority date predates the cutoff date in the visa bulletin in the particular category. Thus, those in backlogged categories, waiting to file the I-485 form, should check the visa bulletin when it is issued each month, to know immediately when they become eligible to file.
The visa bulletin also determines which of those individuals who previously filed the I-485 is eligible for approval in a particular month. Thus, these individuals must also check the visa bulletin each month, so that they can identify likely approval timing and take appropriate follow-up action, if needed.
New Dual Chart Visa Bulletin System Introduced in 2015
In September of 2015, the U.S. Department of State (DOS) introduced a new system for determining when individuals can file their applications to adjust status (I-485). This new system was explained in depth on MurthyDotCom in the NewsBrief, October Visa Bulletin: Exciting New System Benefits Backlogged Categories. Each monthly visa bulletin now has two cutoff date charts for all visa categories: Application Final Action Dates can be regarded as exactly the same as the cutoff dates in prior visa bulletins, issued before the change. But the Dates for Filing Visa Applications chart, in general, provides earlier cutoff dates for individuals to file their applications to adjust status. The USCIS, however, determines each month whether or not the Dates for Filing chart can be utilized. In employment-based cases, this chart has not been available for use since its introduction in October 2015.
Expiration Date of “Green Card” Itself Important
Nearly all green cards have an expiration date. But, there is no set expiration date on a person’s status as lawful permanent resident (LPR). Rather, the expiration date only applies to the document itself. This, however, does not mean that the date on the green card should be ignored. A valid, unexpired green card typically still is required in order to prove employment eligibility. It is also needed for reentry into the United States following a trip abroad. Therefore, LPRs are encouraged to file form I-90 to renew the green card during the final six months of the card’s validity.
Conditional Residents Must Timely File Petition to Remove Conditions
Conditional permanent residence is granted in green card cases based upon marriage, when the marriage is less than two-years-old at the time the case is approved. Individuals who receive a green card based on an investment in the United States also receive conditional status initially. Conditional permanent residence status is granted for a two-year period. This date should be clearly indicated on the green card. This expiration date is different from the green card expiration, explained above. For conditional permanent residents, the expiration date on their green cards reflects the end of their status, unless proper steps are taken. In the 90-day period prior to the end of the two-year period, the immigrant must file a second petition to “remove the conditions.” Failure to file this second petition during the 90 day period prior to the expiration date will result in loss of permanent resident status and, potentially, even placement in removal (deportation) proceedings. It is sometimes possible to remove the conditions after the deadline has missed, but this is never guaranteed. Therefore, this deadline should be taken seriously.
Correct Form to Remove Conditions: I-751 or I-829
A frequent mistake that is made by individuals with conditional permanent residence is filing the incorrect form at the end of the two-year period. The correct form to file is either form I-751 or form I-829, depending upon the category under which the conditional permanent residence was granted. But, immigrants tend to mistakenly file a form I-90 application to replace a permanent resident card. To make matters worse, there have been many incidences of the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accepting the I-90s and failing to notify applicants of these errors for months – long after the conditional status has expired.
Marital Problems and Form I-751
Individuals with marriage-based conditional green cards often face difficulties if they have troubled or failing marriages. However, even if there is marital discord, it is important to file to remove conditions, form I-751 in a timely fashion. There are a variety of options for pursing such cases. We wrote about such situations in our March 9, 2016 MurthyDotCom article, I-751 Removal of Conditions in Troubled Marriages.
In short, foreign nationals should make sure they understand the significance of the dates on their immigration-related documents, and to remain informed about changes within immigration law that may impact them. Naturally, one great way to stay up-to-date on the latest immigration news is to subscribe the MurthyBulletin, the Murthy Law Firm’s free eNewsletter.
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