Thursday, August 17, 2017

How to Apply for Green Card. A to Z

In as much as I'm going to miss my sister, there was a ton of stuff idling at home, awaiting my attention. My heart wept on my way home from the airport and beyond. As soon as I got home, I had to deal with paperwork sht. Immigrations. I had to do a change of status. 

This process can take months. It can take years. The sooner you get started, the better. You can get a lawyer to apply for Adjustment of Status or you can totally do it yourself. It's a very self explanatory process. You go on the USCIS website and follow the links to what forms exactly you need to fill out depending on what you are applying for. I did just that. By myself, no lawyers. My husband, Calvin, still doesn't know what's what. I singlehandedly did the whole application myself 

It's a long and tedious process that requires all your focus. Think of it as the final exam!  I filled out four application forms in total. And submitted a lot of 'evidence' and all kinds of back backing up documentation. 

I was doing my adjustment of Status in The US based on marriage. In this case, one has to prove that your marriage is legit. They want all kinds of proof to back this up from photos, to legal documents, to letters to each other, to both of you from others etc. Most of all, Immigrations wants co-mingling of finances, things like joint bank accounts, joint credit cards, leases, tax returns with both your names to name a few. These are pretty much the most important documents. You may not have all these if you are a newlywed like we were, so of this is going to be you somewhere down the line, you want to compile as much proof of a bona fide marriage. 

You may miss some things later on, my advice to you is to compile as you go along. Get a file/folder/drawer or shoe box and dump things you think may come in handy with Immigrations as you go along. You would rather have too much than too little. Trust me! This is like your day in court. You only get one chance! They will white you if they need more evidence. That's called RFE request for evidence. You really don't want that as it may slow down your application. Plus, what if you don't have what they want ready? What if it's going to take you months to get it? Get ready way in advance! 

You can even save texts you exchanged when you first met. This applies to people who met online while one of them lived overseas and to people who know each other in person. The texts that have date stamps help prove that the relationship has been going on for a while. If you go for vacations together, keep receipts, copies of tickets, reservations, photos from the trips. Try and make sure your photos aren't just selfies of your faces but include background. This helps show that you were in Different locations, different tomes of day, different seasons. If possible, include photos with extended family from both sides. Don't force or trick people into taking photos. That's weird and creepy! Let it all happen naturally. If people send you invites to events as a couple, keep copies or even originals if possible and add those to your proof that your marriage is not fake. 

It goes without saying that it is not advisable to marry someone for green card as the burden of proof is tight on you! Also, the mail is to prove that you love together. Don't get caught in a lie by USCIS or any legal entity for that matter. It's embarrassing and it makes them wonder what else you might be lying about. If they want all your previous addresses, give them to them. Don't try to outsmart them for whatever reason because, when the law asks you a question, chances are they either know the answer or they have a way of finding out. Don't let them find your answers inconsistent. 

Everybody has a fair chance of being approved for the green card, there are cases that may require a little more digging from USCIS. If you think your case may raise red flag or people are asking a lot of questions or look at you and your spouse side ways, pile up that evidence! Chances are Immigrations will wonder too. No shadow of doubt. 

The applications process may take you a couple of weeks or even longer: just you filling out forms and making copies of things, so be ready and keep a clear mind. 

Fill out form G325 and enter your phone number and email address to have them send you notifications on updates. When you have sent all your paperwork through and have received receipts; Create a profile on USCIS.com, add all your receipt numbers. This will enable you to go on the website to check updates. Sometimes, they will update the site without texting or emailing  you an update. They may even send you stuff in the mail without updating any of the afore-mentioned. 

There's an application fee. It's more than $1000. It may go up, so do check what it is around the tome of your application. You will need to write immigrations a check to pay for this. Check needs to be included in the application. 
Get paper clips or those giant black ones to clip documents that go together. Do a table of contents to make it easy for the person who will be going through your application. Don't rush the application process at all. Take your time and make sure your do it right once and for all. 

You're going to need all your ID's and just about all your legal documents, passports. And a bunch of passport photos. Shop around for passport photos, Costco, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS etc. 
read the instructions on all the forms. Don't skimp through them. These is not those times where you act like you're reading a documents and then sign. There's a reason every detail is in there! 

There will be parts where your spouse is also required to sign, so, no, you cant sneakily apply for a green card or change of status without your spouse's consent. Plus, don't do that! 

I went through this entire process from scratch myself, without any help, so I extend an invite to you to ask me any questions regarding your application. I will be answering questions here on the blog, please don't send them to me on Instagram, whatsapp and such. If you ask here, that helps someone else who may have a similar question and it prevents me from answering the same question more than once. 

Your spouse needs to complete form 864 if I'm not mistaken of the number. This is all about his or her finances. Your US spouse has to prove that he lives above poverty lines. Check the website to see what those are for the number of people in your household. If spouse can't afford to file alone, get a sponsor. Should anything happen, and you're not working or are trying to get on some government help in the first several years, your spouse or sponsor is responsible to finance you.think twice before you sponsor someone. If someone sponsors you, don't make their lives complicated. This is a huge favor! 

Find your i94. You will need it. In case, you thought now that you've entered The US, you will no longer need that little white piece of paper stapler to your passport. You will b hold on to it, find it! It's the paper with the date of your arrival and the type of visa you had at the time. 

Whether you overstayed your visa or not, once you marry a citizen, Immigrations, 'forgives' you for overstaying. You get to start your visa journey from scratch. Clean slate. I'm not gonna go into detail about what they really forgive you for but you know what you did to stick around the country after your visa expired. Crime is crime! That's a whole another department. 

You will be required to do fingerprints at some point. That's when your sht is gonna come up, so DO NOT COMMIT CRIME! Crime doesn't pay as we all know! Unless your boss' name is crime. Then, I guess crime pays. Unless your boss doesn't pay you, ....  blah blah blah! 

If you are out of status, meaning , if your visa is expired when you apply for green card, you will get a work permit within 3 months. That's valid for a year. By then, you should have received your green card. If you don't have a work permit by 105 days or so, contact immigrations customer service. They will probably expedite the process for you and you should receive your work permit pronto. 

When you receive your work permit, you can apply for social security card. This is going to be pretty much your ID number in America. There's a fee. Not much. Take all your legal documents with you to apply. No need to make an appointment. Just walk in. Process is fast. As soon as you receive your social security card, usually within a week, go to DMV aka department of Motor Vehicles and apply for a state ID. Social security card only has your name and id number but state ID will have all your details, just like a driver license. (Driver's licence). Weight, height, photo, etc. Keep your ID with you at all times and your social security card very safely at home. You can carry a copy on your phone just in case. With us, when we work on some studios, we have to provide social security copy or number. 

When you have State ID (in about 2-3weeks) and social security card, you can apply for driving license and work on your credit score. Credit is almost as important if not more so than cash in America. Get and maintain a good credit score! 
You can piggy bank on your US spouse's credit cards to get higher credit limits or you can get your own. There's such a thing as secure credit card where you pay a deposit to secure the credit card. Those are easier to get for people with no credit history or a bad one. 

After this, you can get a job, do whatever you want! CONGRATULATIONS! You're on your way to become an American Citizen! 

Let me know if I miss something out. 

Don't forget to add me on Social Media: Babalwa Brook
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Friday, August 11, 2017

Fare Thee Well

After our fun time in the west side, I had a lump in my throat. I knew that the time was near for my sister to leave me. I get sad just thinking about that, even though she's been gone for a while now. That feeling, is the worst! You just wanna go back with her! Everybody loved her, which was no surprise to me. There's so much I still wanted to show her and share with her. Alas, she had to head back to her life in South Africa. My husband took

Hollywood And Beverly Hills Tour

Our time in Vegas is running out, we won't be able to meet up with Tortoise. I called and let him know that. We made our way to the bus station. A little waiting and we were on the road back to The City of Angels. Calvin picked us up from Union Station. He took us to the famous Phillippe's for breakfast, downtown LA. I was too tired to care, so I waited in the car for them. We took the food home. There was so much

Friday, August 4, 2017

Shopping in Las Vegas

Having survived our haunted Las Vegas Hotel room,  and good buffet food, shopping was the next logical step. Shopping in Las Vegas! Let's go! I know a few Vegas Malls, so it wasn't a train smash finding one. or three. There are also the Las Vegas Outlets. Two of them, one on each end of Vegas. I am not a big fan because I may or may not know of Outlets in Los Angeles too that are

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Haunted Hotel in Las Vegas

Happy New Month of August, everyone!

We're in Vegas, they let us check in early, thank goodness! Our room did smell like cigarette smoke though! We turned on the A/C as soon as we got in there, to try and, I guess, kill the smell? My sister, Pumla, took a bath first. I was walking around, taking videos. Here's a video of our hotel room...

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Vegas Bound With My Sister

Vegas, it is!
Now, to find accommodation and transportation at such short notice! We both jumped on our phones and got to getting! We didn't want to stay too far from The Strip, so we searched for something along those lines. or Strips?
We found a room on the Vegas Strip with