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Mistakes People Make When Filing for a Marriage or VAWA Green Card in the USA

Filing for a marriage-based green card or a green card under the Violence Against Women and men Act (VAWA) can be a complex process that requires careful attention to detail. Here are three major mistakes people often make when applying for these types of green cards in the United States:

1. Incomplete or Incorrect Documentation; Omissions.

One of the most common mistakes is submitting incomplete or incorrect documentation.  This can include missing forms, incorrect information, or insufficient evidence to support the application. In the case of marriage-based green cards, this often means not providing enough proof of the bona fides of the marriage, such as joint financial records, photos, and affidavits from friends and family.

Sometimes people omit important information such as not listing their children, marriages and divorces, or even criminal arrests. Omissions can be deadly to your green card case and interpreted by USCIS and the Dept. of State as lying (fraud or misrepresentation).

How to avoid this:

  • Carefully review the instructions for the application forms (e.g., Form I-130, I-485, and I-360 for VAWA).
  • Double-check all information for accuracy and completeness.
  • Gather extensive and convincing evidence of the marriage or, in the case of VAWA, evidence of the abuse and the good faith of the marriage.
  • Include all your children, your marriages – even if they happened in another country, and all your addresses. If you have been arrested anywhere in the world, include disposition information.
  • Consult with an immigration attorney to ensure all required documentation is correctly prepared and submitted.

2. Misunderstanding Marriage or VAWA Green Card Eligibility Requirements

Applicants often misunderstand the eligibility requirements for both marriage-based green cards and VAWA green cards. For example, for a marriage-based green card, the marriage must be bona fide and NOT entered into for the purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. For VAWA, the applicant must prove they were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.

How to avoid this:

  • Thoroughly research and understand the eligibility criteria for the type of green card you are applying for.
  • Ensure that you meet all requirements before submitting your application.
  • Seek legal advice if you are unsure about your eligibility or the evidence required to prove it.

3. Failing to Respond to Requests for Evidence (RFEs) or Notices of Intent to Deny (NOIDs) or Responding Incorrectly

If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) needs additional information or has concerns about your application, they may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). Failing to respond adequately and promptly to these requests can result in the denial of your application.

How to avoid this:

  • Monitor your mail and email regularly for any communication from USCIS.
  • Respond to RFEs and NOIDs within the specified timeframe and provide all requested information and evidence.
  • If you receive an RFE or NOID, seek assistance from an immigration attorney to ensure your response is thorough and addresses all concerns raised by USCIS.
  • Make sure you understand EXACTLY what is required of you and you only submit relevant documents and information following the RFE or NOID word for word. Sometimes, we even word our lawyer responses by quoting the RFE because this is a winning strategy.

By avoiding these common mistakes, applicants can improve their chances of successfully obtaining a marriage-based green card or a VAWA green card and achieve their goal of permanent residency in the United States.

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