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Student Visas and Green Cards For the USA

Updated on August 24, 2017
Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Ms. Inglish offers 25+ years successful experience in medicine, psychology, STEM courses, and aerospace education (CAP).

Immigration Challenges in America

July 1976. Amerigo Vespucci at the ship parade in the NYC harbor at the United States Bicentennial festivities.
July 1976. Amerigo Vespucci at the ship parade in the NYC harbor at the United States Bicentennial festivities. | Source

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).

Form I-130

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.

COST: $420.

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.

A sample Green Card.
A sample Green Card. | Source

Form I-485

Costs

  • 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:

Step 1

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)

Step 2

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):

  1. Lower 48 States = $15,510; 150% = $23,265
  2. State of Alaska = $19,380; 150% = $29,070
  3. State of Hawaii = $17,850; 150% = $26,775
For current numbers visit: aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

Step 3

The couple has a proven financial hardship. They must provide all needed documentation.

NOTE:

The fee for Form I-90, Renewal of Green Card, is required every 10 years. It is also eligible for fee waivers.

USCIS Service Centers

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A markerVermont -
Vermont, USA
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B markerNebraska -
Nebraska, USA
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C markerTexas -
Texas, USA
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D markerCalifornia -
California, USA
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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: vsc.ncscfollowup@dhs.gov
  • Nebraska Service Center: ncscfollowup.nsc@dhs.gov
  • Texas Service Center: tsc.ncscfollowup@dhs.gov
  • California Service Center: csc-ncsc-followup@dhs.gov

Additional Immigration Scenarios, Visas, and Requirements

Source

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    • profile image

      francis5k 5 years ago from New York, New York

      nice idea and very informative blog! this blog is helpful... goodjob!

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      The government website gives a lot of information on all the visas and forms and such, but no examples that people can follow, so I hope this one helps a lot. Other sites are often commercial sites charging a lot of money even to provide the application form alone, which is free on the government site.

      Thanks for all the comments!

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 5 years ago

      GREAT information, as always, Patty! There are soooooooooo many delightful people out there who need this information desperately! YOU are just the BEST!! Blessings always, Earth Angel!

    • tamron profile image

      tamron 5 years ago

      Patty

      You really out did yourself on this one. What a great article with a lot of useful info. on green cards. Ping Ya

    • rlaha profile image

      rlaha 5 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

      Thank you! I will check everything out and then go from there. :)

    • Patty Inglish, MS profile image
      Author

      Patty Inglish 5 years ago from North America

      Good luck with all of that! The government web page that includes the forms has a lot more information as well about a range of immigration issues and visas.

    • rlaha profile image

      rlaha 5 years ago from Spartanburg, SC

      Hi Patty.

      Thank you so much for writing a hub about my question. This is really helpful and I will have my husband read this as well. I hope we can have some kind of waiver as both of us are not very well off (financially). Thanks again!

      Rani