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US CITIZENSHIP FORM: Do not pay for a free form

US Citizenship Form: Do not pay for a form that you can get for free

If you are applying for US citizenship, one of the first things that you have to do is to find the right US citizenship form to begin your application. Some document preparers and unscrupulous businesses try to take advantage of US citizenship applicants by charging high prices for the US citizenship form. The good news is that you are reading this blog post and I am happy to tell you that the US citizenship form is absolutely free.

How to Get the US Citizenship Form for Free?

United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) provides the US citizenship form and all the other immigration forms for free on its website. As long as you have access to a computer, you are able to download the US citizenship form instantly. USCIS no longer mails paper copies of the US citizenship form. If you do not have access to the computer to download the free US citizenship form, you may apply online and totally avoid the need to download the form.

How do I know which US Citizenship form is right for me?

US citizenship law is complex with various changes over the years and clearly, you do not need a US citizenship form if you are already a US citizen. If you were born in the United States or one of its territories, in most cases, you will automatically receive US citizenship. This is called “birthright” citizenship” and is protected by the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

If you were born outside of the United States and you are claiming citizenship because you have at least one American citizen parent, then you may need either the N-600k or N-600 US citizenship form. If you are a lawful permanent resident/green card holder and you are applying for US citizenship because you have lived in the United States for a number of years than you will need the N-400 US citizenship form to apply to US citizenship by naturalization. us citizenship form

N-400 -US Citizenship Form for Green Card Holders who are Applying for Citizenship

This is the most popular US citizenship form and approximately 700,000 immigrants become US citizens each year, using this form. Before you file an application for U.S. Citizenship using the N-400 US citizenship form, you have to make sure you qualify.

These are the eligibility requirements:

  1.  You must be at least 18 years of age at the time of filing (except active duty members of the U.S. Armed Forces);
  2. You must be a permanent resident of the United States for a required period of time;
  3. You must have lived within the state or USCIS district where you claim residence for at least 3 months prior to filing;
  4. You must have demonstrated physical presence within the United States for a required period of time;
  5. You must have demonstrated continuous residence for a required period of time;
  6. You must demonstrate good moral character;
  7. You must demonstrate an attachment to the principles and ideals of the U.S. Constitution;
  8. You must demonstrate a basic knowledge of U.S. history and government (also known as “civics”) as well as an ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English; and
  9. You must take an Oath of Allegiance to the United States. Some applicants may be eligible for a modified oath.

If the N-400 form is the right US citizenship form for you then you may file the application with the required supporting documents and pay the filing fee. Fee waivers or reduced fees are available for low income applicants. If you read the eligibility requirements and you have questions before you file, then you may speak to an experienced immigration attorney about your case. The N-400 US citizenship form is updated regularly so make sure you are mailing in the latest version of the form or USCIS may reject your application.

N-600 – US Citizenship Form- For Applicants who are Already US Citizens & Need Proof

Form N-600 is an application for a Certificate of Citizenship form. You are not seeking to acquire U.S. Citizenship when you use this form. You are already a citizen of the United States and the Certificate is evidence that you are a citizen.

You will use this application if:

  1. You were born outside the United States to a U.S. citizen parent; or
  2. You automatically became a citizen of the United States after birth, but before you turned 18 years of age.

If you were born outside of the United States to a U.S. citizen parent your claim to US citizenship will depend on many factors. The year you were born, whether your parents were married at the time of your birth and the citizenship law at that time will determine if you acquired citizenship automatically. There may also be residency requirements that your US citizenship parent will need to meet regarding your citizenship claim.

Some N-600 cases are straightforward and the applicant or a legal guardian filing on behalf of the applicant is able to manage this application without an attorney. Other cases are not so clear cut and you may choose to consult with an experienced immigration attorney about this matter.

The Child Status Protection Act that came into effect in the year 2002 made it a lot easier for some lawful permanent resident children to gain US citizenship when their parents naturalized. If you are a green card holder and your foreign born child under 18 years old, is living with you and the child is also a lawful permanent resident, the child becomes a US citizen on the day that you are sworn in as a US citizen. You may apply for the child’s Certificate of Citizenship using US citizenship form N-600. Not everyone that applies using US citizenship form N-600 is given a Certificate of Citizenship. Unfortunately, some of these applications are denied. If you received a denial of the application, you may choose to consult an experienced immigration attorney to help fight the denial.

N-600K- US Citizenship Form for Application for Citizenship

Some children of US citizens are born abroad but are not automatically citizens of the United States and must apply and prove their claim of US citizenship. This is where the N-600 US citizenship form differs from the N-600k form. With the N-600, you are not trying to prove that you are a US citizen. You are already a US citizen and want the certificate to use as evidence that you are a US citizen. If you are using the N-600k US citizenship form, it means that you are not a citizen and are applying to become one. The N-600K form is for children of US citizens who are born abroad and regularly reside outside of the United States. You should not file the N-600k US citizenship form if the child is over 18. Only a US citizen parent, a US citizen grandparent or US citizen legal guardian may file this form, but not the child.

Before you file US citizenship form N-600k, check these eligibility requirements:

  • The child regularly resides outside the United States;
  • The child is in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent;
  • The child’s U.S. citizen parent has been physically present in the United States for a period or periods totaling at least five years, at least two of which were after 14 years of age. If the U.S. citizen parent does not meet this requirement, the U.S. citizen parent’s own U.S. citizen parent (grandparent) has to have been physically present in the United States for a period or periods totaling at least five years, at least two of which were after 14 years of age. 
In cases where the U.S. citizen parent died in the preceding five years, and Form N-600K has been properly filed on behalf of the child by the U.S. citizen grandparent or by the U.S. citizen legal guardian, the child does NOT have to be residing in the legal and physical custody of the person as long as the person who has legal and physical custody of the child does not object to the Form N-600K; and
  • The child is temporarily present in the United States at the time of interview in a lawful status pursuant to a lawful admission.

The child will need to attend the interview in the United States. The child will need to enter the United States lawfully with either a visa, visa waiver if he/she is from an eligible country, or by other lawful means. It is also possible to acquire US citizenship, using US citizenship form N-600k, through a grandparent if the US citizen parent has not lived in the United Sates for the required amount of time. This may be a complicated process and it is highly recommended that you speak to an immigration attorney if you have a claim to US citizenship through a grandparent.

About the Author

Cheryl Fletcher Esq., is the Founder and CEO of Fletcher Law Office, P.A., an award winning immigration law firm located in West Palm Beach, FL. She has helped hundreds of clients obtain US citizenship.

Divorce After Conditional Green Card- What Happens Next?

Divorce after conditional green card is not an uncommon situation. Many people in the immigrant community mistakenly believe that if you get a divorce when you have a conditional green card that you will automatically lose the green card and be deported. This is not true. A conditional green card is a two-year green card that is granted to the spouse of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident if the marriage is less than two yearson the date that the green card is approved. Although many marriages end before the two-year time frame, many steps can be taken to avoid deportation.

Ninety (90) days before the two-year green card expires, both spouses are supposed to make an application to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to remove the conditions on the green card, using form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. For some couples, this is not an issue because they are still together and are enjoying married life. They simply complete and sign the application and mail it to USCIS with supporting evidence. Other immigrants may not be so fortunate and may be alone when the time comes to remove the conditions.

Divorce After Conditional Green Card – It is Possible to Get a Divorce Waiver

If your divorce is final at the time that you are submitting your petition, this means that you will be submitting the application with only your signature. Since you no longer have a spouse, you will need a divorce waiver. A divorce waiver is not a separate application. It is a part of the I-751 form and you will be checking the box that states that you are unable to file jointly with your spouse because of the divorce after conditional green card. You will have to prove that you entered the marriage in good faith and intended to live together with your spouse as husband and wife but it did not work out. You will need evidence to show that the marriage was real and a copy of the divorce decree showing that the divorce was finalized.

The divorce waiver also applies to cases where you filed for the divorce but it is not final at the time that you are submitting your I-751 petition. You should include a copy of the filed divorce petition with your application. USCIS usually will issue a   request for evidence (RFE), giving you eighty-seven (87) days to produce the final divorce decree. You will need to get divorced fast. This is where a divorce attorney can help you. Getting a divorce fast is a complicated matter and you could jeopardize your immigration case if you are unfamiliar with divorce court. In some cases, the divorce attorney  can get your divorce finalized in as little as twenty (20) days. 

Abuse Waiver- Available to Conditional Residents Who Are Filing the I-751 Alone

An abuse waiver is another option if you will be filing the petition alone. It is available if you are still married, separated or divorced. If you are still married but your spouse won’t sign the application, you can apply for the abuse waiver. The abuse waiver means that your spouse was cruel to you. Some common examples of what qualifies as “extreme cruelty” include threatening to get you deported, controlling money or food, invading your privacy, taking away your means of transportation and deciding who you can talk to. Issues like domestic violence usually come up in these kinds of cases. You can apply for both the divorce waiver and the abuse waiver if your case meets both requirements.

Hardship Waiver– Apply for this Waiver if it Would  be Difficult for you to Live Outside the US

There is a third type of waiver available to you if you are filing to remove the conditions on your two-year green card without your spouse. This is the hardship waiver. When you apply for the hardship waiver, you are telling USCIS that it would be very difficult for you if you were sent back to your home country. Some examples of extreme hardship include: you have lived in the United States for a long period of time, you do not speak the language of your native country, you have custody of your United States citizen children, you have a medical issue for which you could not obtain proper treatment in your home country, financial difficulties, or you would face persecution. This is one of the more difficult waivers to qualify for and you should get an immigration attorney to help you with this type of case.

Divorce after conditional green card can make you uncertain about your future but with the right help, you can save your immigration case and get approved for a 10-year green card. 

About the Author

Chery Fletcher is a divorce and immigration attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida who has been helping immigrants through the green card and divorce process. She has won hundreds of cases where there was a divorce after conditional green card.

If you would like to get in touch with immigration and divorce attorney,  Cheryl Fletcher , call 561-507-5772 to get a fast consultation or fill in the contact form on the website: http://www. lawyerfletcher.com and we will call you right away.

Sources:

Fletcher Law Blog, “How Long After I Get My Green Card Can I Divorce?” Accessed June 12, 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, ”Conditional Permanent Residence,” Accessed June 12, 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, ”Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence Based on Marriage,” Accessed June 12, 2018. 

How long after I get my green card can I divorce?

How long after I get my green card can I divorce?How long after I get my green card can I divorce? – Two types of green cards

How long after I get my green card can I divorce? is a popular question that many immigrants have in their minds when their blissful marriage unfortunately starts to break down. The answer to this question depends largely on the type of green card that was issued to the immigrant. There are two types of green cards: 1) a ten-year green card; and 2) a two-year conditional green card.

The type of green card that you have is written on the green card itself. If you look at the green card, you will see a “resident since” date and an “expiration date.”

If the difference between the two dates is 10 years, it means you have a regular green card.
If the difference between the two dates is 2 years, it means you have a conditional green card.

Divorce after getting a 10-year green card: What are the consequences?

If you have a 10-year green card, a divorce should have very little effect on your immigration status. You are not going to automatically lose the green card because of the divorce. However, in some circumstances if the divorce occurs shortly after you are approved for the green card, USCIS may suspect that your marriage was fraudulent. Marriage fraud is illegal and if USCIS can prove that your marriage was fake, it could start a deportation case against you to revoke the green card.

USCIS is not generally keeping track of all the marriages that end in a divorce after a 10- year green card is issued. USCIS usually finds out that your marriage ended in a divorce when you apply for U.S. citizenship or naturalization. You will have to write on the N-400 application how many times you were married, the date you were married and the date you obtained a divorce. You also must bring certified copies of divorce decrees to the citizenship interview with you. If the immigration officer sees that you were married many times and that each former spouse petitioned for you, he/she may start to believe that you were only getting married to get a green card. A reasonable explanation as to why the marriage ended in a divorce can quell doubts.Marriages usually breakdown because of abuse, incarceration, incompatibility, cheating and financial difficulty. Many people get divorced after obtaining a ten-year green card which is reflected in the high divorce rate in the United States. Despite this fact, many of these marriages were real. Some immigrant divorcees have successfully obtained U.S. citizenship.

Divorce after getting a two-year conditional green card: What you should know?

A conditional green card, also known as a 2-year green card, is issued to a married person who:

Has been sponsored for permanent residency by their U.S citizen or green card holder spouse
Has been married to their U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse for less than two years

A conditional green card holder has the same rights as a person who has a regular green card. The main difference between the two, aside from the shorter expiration date, is that within 90 days before the conditional green card expires, you must apply to remove the conditions on the green card or risk losing your green card status.

On a green card obtained through marriage, the conditions can be removed by filing form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions. If the couple is still married, both people will sign and file the form together. This is called “filing jointly.”

If your marriage ended in a divorce, you will have to file the form yourself by obtaining a “waiver” of the joint filing requirement. You should not file the bare form but it should be supported with sufficient evidence that shows that when you entered the marriage, you and your spouse intended to establish a life together. From the time you get married, you should start documenting your marriage. Bank statements, credit card bills, lease agreements, photographs at family gatherings and electric bills are some of the documents that you can use to prove that your marriage was real.

You will not automatically lose the conditional green card because of the divorce, however if you did not properly document your marriage, the immigration officer will question whether your marriage was real and you will have a hard time proving your case.

Should I hire a lawyer if I need to get a divorce and I have a green card?

A good immigration and divorce lawyer can help you foresee problems with your case before it occurs. Many cases are won because the client got a lawyer to help them with the case. When deciding if you should hire a lawyer, you will have to look at your finances to see if this is possible. The high fees that some lawyers charge is usually a turn off for many people because it is not affordable. You should make the decision based on whether you can afford to make a mistake with your case and risk being deported. This is where the lawyer is valuable. The lawyer can minimize your risk of being deported by preparing the case properly.

Chery Fletcher is a divorce and immigration attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida who has been helping immigrants through the green card and divorce process.

If you would like to get in touch with immigration and divorce attorney,  Cheryl Fletcher , call 561-507-5772 to get a fast consultation or fill in the contact form on the website: http://www. lawyerfletcher.com and we will call you right away.

Sources:

Fletcher Law Blog, “Divorce after permanent green card issued: How does this affect immigration status?”, Accessed May 30, 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “After a Green Card is Granted” Accessed May 16, 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Conditional Permanent Residence” Accessed May 16, 2018.

Divorce after permanent green card issued – How does this affect immigration status?

Divorce after  a permanent green card  is issued – How does this affect immigration status?

Getting a divorce after a permanent green card is issued happens frequently to many couples in the United States. The entire divorce process comes with a lot of uncertainty and it is especially important for the immigrant to know their legal rights when this unfortunate situation happens.

Divorce consequences for ten-year green card holders

The consequences to the immigrant are minimal if he or she gets divorced after the ten-year green card is issued. A ten-year green card is issued, in marriage-based cases, to the spouse of a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen based on certain circumstances. The marriage must be more than two years on the date that USCIS approves the case, even if the application was sent before the marriage reached the two-year mark. Once a ten-year green card is issued, there is only one higher immigration status that you can achieve and that is U.S. citizenship.
If you are still married to your spouse after getting the ten-year green card, then you only need to be a green card holder for three years to apply for U.S. citizenship. If you are divorced, then you will have to be a resident for five years before you can apply. There is no need to panic if you are divorced from your spouse and you want to become a U.S. citizen. There is nowhere on the N-400 application for your ex-spouse to sign and your spouse does not need to appear at the naturalization interview with you.

Removing conditions from two-year green card after divorce

Unlike ten-year green card holders, the immigration consequences for two-year green card holders can be very complicated, if a divorce occurs. A two-year green card is also called a conditional residence card. You cannot renew a two-year green card. Ninety days before the two-year green card expires, you need to apply to USCIS to remove the conditions, with one notable exception. You can file the I-751 petition to remove conditions before the 90-day window if your divorce is finalized any time after you were granted conditional residence. When it is time to file the I-751, if you and your spouse are still married, both parties will sign the I-751 application and file it. If the immigrant is no longer married, then he or she will need a waiver. This means that your spouse will not sign the application and you will need to tell USCIS the reason for the waiver.
According to USCIS, there are five different circumstances in which you can file the I-751 without your spouse:
1. You entered the marriage in good faith, but your spouse subsequently died;
2. You entered the marriage in good faith, but you have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your petitioning spouse; or
3. Your conditional resident parent entered the marriage in good faith, but you have been battered or subject to extreme cruelty by your parent’s U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or by your conditional resident parent; or
4. The termination of your status and removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship.
5. You entered the marriage in good faith, but the marriage was later terminated due to divorce or annulment;

The last situation is most pertinent to this article. If you are divorced at the time you are filing the I-751, you will need to prove that you and your spouse entered into a good faith marriage and not to evade immigration laws. If you don’t file the I-751, you will automatically lose your conditional permanent resident status. You can then be deported, so this is a mistake you do not want to make.
In some circumstances, you may be able to file late and provide an explanation to USCIS why you were late. You should try to avoid filing late. On late applications, you are going to have to prove that failure to file was through no fault of your own and file a written explanation and request that USCIS excuse the late filing. You must demonstrate when you file the petition that the delay was due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control and that the length of the delay was reasonable. What is important to note is that you must either be married or single at the time you are filing for conditional residence. Legal separation is considered married for USCIS purposes. If you are going to be filing without you spouse, you may need a fast divorce to avoid jeopardizing your immigration case.

Florida divorce process for green card holders

To obtain a divorce in Florida, you need to be a resident in the state for six months. You also need to prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken or that your spouse is mentally incompetent. The divorce is not hard to get in Florida because it does not require any of the spouses to prove why the marriage is headed for a divorce. Only one spouse need to meet the six-month residency requirement. If there are minor children between you and your spouse, there will be need for a parenting plan and calculation of child support. If there is property between the spouses it should be divided 50/50. The divorce process can take as little as twenty days but some cases drag on for years depending on the issues involved.

How an Immigration and Divorce Attorney can help

A qualified immigration and divorce attorney can answer questions related to a divorce, after a green card is issued. This helps you avoid unnecessary mistakes that can put your case at risk. Chery Fletcher is a divorce and immigration attorney in West Palm Beach, Florida who has being helping immigrants through the green card and divorce process.

If you would like to get in touch with immigration and divorce attorney,  Cheryl Fletcher , call 561-507-5772 to get a fast consultation or fill in the contact form on the website and we will call you right away.

Sources: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “After a Green Card is Granted” Accessed May 16, 2018

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, “Conditional Permanent Residence” Accessed May 16, 2018

Attorney Cheryl Fletcher Sponsors Adopt-A-School Event in St. Mary, Jamaica

There were lots of smiles on Saturday, April 14, 2018, as hundreds of children, parents, teachers and support staff turned out for the inaugural Adopt-A-School fun day at the Mt. Joseph Primary School in Enfield District, St. Mary, Jamaica.

Cheryl Fletcher, founder and managing attorney at Fletcher Law Office teamed up with Sonia Henderson, President of Safe Haven, GB, a Florida non-profit organization, to bring backpacks, books, pencils, sharpeners and footwear to primary school kids in the rural district in the parish of St. Mary.

Cheryl Fletcher, founder and managing attorney at Fletcher Law Office teamed up with Sonia Henderson, President of Safe Haven, GB, a Florida non-profit organization, to bring backpacks, books, pencils, sharpeners and footwear to primary school kids in the rural district in the parish of St. Mary.

The idea for the community event was born after the two women, Fletcher and Henderson met randomly during a trip to a popular Caribbean grocery store in West Palm Beach, Florida. The two women grew to be friends as Fletcher appeared regularly as a guest speaker on Henderson’s radio show, Safe Haven.

Principal Dahlia Johnson applauded the two women for taking time out of their busy schedules in the United States to travel to Jamaica for the event. Johnson had this to say about the occasion, “Mt. Joseph Primary school needs some help and helping this school was one of the big ideas that came out of Fletcher’s and Henderson’s plans and we are very thankful for it.”

The children spent the day jumping in bounce houses, eating hotdogs, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and cheese sandwiches. Later in the day, the children enjoyed a main course dish of french-fried chicken, the Jamaican staple rice and peas, and a healthy serving of raw vegetables, prepared by the school’s regular chefs, including volunteer chef, 74-year old “Mama Vern”.

Teachers, Dornett Dixon and Ilene Smart were busy on the scene supporting the event and giving a helping hand. Also on hand was Parent Teachers Association President (PTA), Donovan Brown, who presented Fletcher with an Award of Appreciation.

Fletcher was delighted to play an integral role in making the event a success. In her address to the children, she stated that, “if you build your school, you build your community.”

The children were thrilled to spend several hours interacting with Fletcher. She is a role model for the children as many have hopes of becoming lawyers.

Reggae music played throughout the day, paused only for the moderator and event chairperson, Wayne Taitam, as he proceeded with the day’s program.
Other notable sponsors for the event were Rogell Levers, Esq., of the Levers Law Firm, a Florida Professional Limited Liability Company, and Shawn Varley, a native of Jamaica, who does a considerable amount of charity work.
The day ended with the kids being provided snacks and party favors as they look forward to next year for the second staging of the event.

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