Student Visas and Green Cards For the USA
Immigration Challenges in America
Future Immigrants Have Questions
A recent reader asked how to change the status of her husband's F-1 Student non-immigrant Visa to a Green Card; and, if any fee waivers are available to help with the process.
Some good news is that the process for applying for a Green Card has been streamlined and fee waivers are available for at least one of the two applications required and for the Green Card Renewal needed only once every 10 years.
The One Step Green Card
One of the easiest methods of converting an F-1 Student Visa to a Green Card is through the One Step process allowed to US Citizens and their spouses who have a non-immigrant F-1 Visa.
Two forms must be filed at the same time in this one-step and if you are submitting a fee waiver request, the request form must go into the same envelope as the other two forms and all the documentation required (see details for all, below). Otherwise, the fees must be paid at the time of application, with a check or checks placed into the envelope as well as all the forms. Be careful not to forget anything.
If you mail anything in another envelope, you risk losing any or all of the important materials, which may result in service delays. The correct address for mailing the forms will be listed in the forms that are required.
Qualifications for Using the One Step
- The Student has committed no crimes while in America, and
- The F-1 Visa is not about to expire. Make sure to apply several months before the actual expiration date.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service of America, now called the USCIS, states that they have made it easier and a top priority to bring families together in the United States. Hence, the one step program was developed.
Not only may a US Citizen Spouse use this program to help a non-citizen spouse, but also a US Citizen Parent may help an applicant child aged under 21 years and unmarried, and a US Citizen Child aged 21 or older may help his or her non-citizen parent(s).
In the one stop process for adjusting a status from the F-1 Visa to the Green Card (I-551), the US Citizen must file Form I-130, which is also called the Petition for Alien Relative.
At the same time, the non-citizen must file Form I-485, called the Adjustment of Status Application.
This means that I-130 and I-485 must be completed and mailed together in the same envelope.
There is no fee waiver available for Form I-130.
NOTE: A new version of Form I-130 has been in production, and applicants may continue to use the current links to the forms provided below. Do not forget to submit all of the required documentation with the application.
- Basic Fee: $985.
- An additional $85 for biometrics (physical measurements like fingerprints), when needed.
- Total = $1070
Special Partial and Total Fee Waivers for the Form I-485 in the Adjustment from F-1 to Green Card via Marriage
- Applicants 79 years of age or older pay no biometric fee. Their total is $985.
- No fee for Form I-485 is charged if the person was admitted to the United States officially as a refugee. .
- No fee is charged for applicants filing as refugees under Section 209(a) of the Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA).
Make sure to read and understand all of the payment requirements on your Form I-485. Make your check payable only to Department of Homeland Security, if you need to pay a fee.
The required Forms and their Instructions are provided on .PDF format free at the links below.
Forms provide a mailing address and a list of documentation requirements to be submitted with the applications. Do not forget to include anything required.
Additional Fee Waivers for Form I-485
US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a fee waiver form to complete, called Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver at the website www.uscis.gov/i-912.
The form is in .PDF format and free of charge. Just print it out at home. Fee waivers are available in the case discussed in this Hub for the couple who meets all of these three steps:
The couple receives some kind of Public Assistance Benefits as a means-tested benefit. They must provide all documentation of their assistance. Such benefits can include any of the following:
- Food Stamps (SNAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Medicaid (health insurance)
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
The couple receives a yearly income that is 150% or a lesser amount of the Federal Poverty Level in the year leading up to their application for the simultaneous I-130 and I-485 forms. Explanation:
Federal Poverty Level for Family of Two and 150% Poverty Level (2013):
For current numbers visit: aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines
- Lower 48 States = $15,510; 150% = $23,265
- State of Alaska = $19,380; 150% = $29,070
- State of Hawaii = $17,850; 150% = $26,775
The couple has a proven financial hardship. They must provide all needed documentation.
The fee for Form I-90, Renewal of Green Card, is required every 10 years. It is also eligible for fee waivers.
Required Forms - USCIS Web Site
USCIS Service Centers
National Customer Service Center (NCSC):
- Telephone: 1-800-375-5283
- TDD line for the hearing impaired:1-800-767-1833
For Follow-up Questions, email:
- Vermont Service Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Nebraska Service Center: email@example.com
- Texas Service Center: firstname.lastname@example.org
- California Service Center: email@example.com
Additional Immigration Scenarios, Visas, and Requirements
- Immigration to the USA with a Masters in Finance.
- How to Bring a Canadian Business to America -- How does a Canadian migrate into the United States and start a business in the State of Arizona? This article provides in-depth information and step by step procedures.
- Immigration and Relocation: How to Establish Residency -- This information helps travelers who are coming into the USA to stay for a prolonged period or people who are already residents and want to move to another US State.