To receive a green card through your marriage to a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident you must prepare personal documents and government applications. You also must prepare yourself financially. Your green card application comes with multiple forms and fees, and you may also have to pay for copies of personal documents to submit with your application. How much does a green card cost? A green card can cost thousands. The total cost depends on the specific facts of your case, but there are some broadly applicable costs you should consider as you prepare to change your immigration status. How Much Are the Application Fees? Your green card application is not reduced to just one form. To receive your green card, you must submit multiple forms to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and other government agencies. The USCIS receives the vast majority of its funding from application and petition fees, so submission of many of your green card forms costs money. Many petitions and applications for immigration benefits can be time sensitive, so you should make sure you have access to a substantial amount of money before you start the filing process. Your green card application fees could total up to $1,845 or more, depending on your circumstances, including fees for: Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative; Biometric services for U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse; Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (for applicants already in the U.S.); Biometric services for spouse seeking green card; Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form I-864 Affidavit of Support; Immigrant fee (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form I-765 Application for Employment Authorization (if applicable); Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable); and Form I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable). If you must submit to a medical examination for your green card, you have to pay for an exam with a USCIS-approved civil surgeon. While prices vary, a civil surgeon examination could cost between $200 and $400 dollars. If not already included in your exam, you need to pay additional money for any required vaccinations you have not received. An experienced immigration attorney can determine what application fees apply to you and help you locate any necessary supplemental services. Are There Necessary Costs Outside of My Application Fees? Your application fees are not the only costs associated with your green card application. Your green card application requires you to submit multiple supplemental documents about your life including: Copies of official documents proving your spouse’s citizenship or their lawful permanent resident status; A copy of your government-issued ID with photo; A copy of your marriage certificate; Copies of the legal terminations of any prior marriages for you and your spouse (if applicable); Financial statements; Two identical passport-style photos in color of you and your spouse (separately); Birth certificates for any children you had with your spouse; Any other documents that prove you have an ongoing marital union; Certified police and court records regarding all your criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (regardless of the final disposition); Inspection and admission or inspection and parole documentation; Proof that you have continuously maintained lawful status since you arrived in the U.S.; and Proof your spouse has continuously maintained lawful status since they arrived in the U.S. If you do not already have these documents, you might have to request them from government agencies and other institutions. Your requests for copies of these documents may come with fees. Also, your application for a green card may require you or your spouse to travel, and you should prepare for those costs early. Attorney Fees In addition to the fees you need to pay the government, you may incur attorney fees. Although you can attempt to file your application on your own, it is easy to make mistakes that may jeopardize your status. An immigration attorney is an invaluable resource when applying for a green card. They can help you gather all the documents you need, fill out your forms, and file your application. They can also help you prepare for your green card interview. Attorneys may charge by the hour, or they may prepare your immigration application for a flat fee. Or you can take advantage of Vantage Group Legal’s subscription legal services for a low monthly rate. Contact an Attorney Right Away The financial burden of applying for your green card is less overwhelming if you plan early and efficiently. There are many moving parts to a green card application, and most of those parts cost money individually. It is important to know which parts you do and do not need. An immigration attorney can help you streamline your immigration application process so you do not pay unnecessary fees or suffer the financial blow of an unexpected expense. Vantage Group Legal Services boasts a network of highly experienced and reputable immigration attorneys. Our network attorneys stick by you through the duration of your case and respond to your needs quickly. You will likely have many legal questions and needs as you and your spouse seek to build a life in the United States. We are here to help you. Contact us online or call us at 773-938-4747 for a free consultation.Keep Reading
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Nobody goes into a real estate transaction expecting that their interest in the property will be foreclosed on. Unfortunately, however, this happens more often than you might think.
Being a defendant in a foreclosure action is nothing to be ashamed of. We know that this is something many people face, especially during these ever-changing and uncertain times. Don’t give up hope—you don’t have to handle this alone.
If you are facing a foreclosure action, the professionals at Vantage Group Legal Services can connect you with an experienced Chicago foreclosure defense attorney for one monthly fee. We will help you understand your options, fight for your rights, and avoid foreclosure where possible.
In some cases, you might be able to avoid foreclosure through a loan modification.
A mortgage loan modification is a loss mitigation technique that can help you prevent a foreclosure from occurring.
If you are or have been experiencing difficulties keeping up with your monthly mortgage payments, you may be able to negotiate a change to the original terms of your mortgage promissory note. This might look like a reduction in your monthly payments but an increase to the total length of your loan term. While you may end up making payments for a longer period of time, ultimately, this can still be a great alternative to losing your home entirely in a foreclosure action.
A skilled foreclosure attorney can help you gather the information you will need to request a loan modification and negotiate terms that are favorable to you.
Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure
If you miss scheduled payments on your mortgage, your lender may consider foreclosing on your interest in the property. When this happens, everything can feel uncertain. Fortunately, however, there are options available that may allow you to avoid a foreclosure action.
A deed in lieu of foreclosure is one such option.
A deed in lieu is an agreement in which you turn over the deed to the property in exchange for the lender releasing you of your mortgage responsibilities. While you will no longer have any ownership interest in the property, the benefit is that you can avoid a foreclosure and many of the negative effects that come along with it.
Financial hardships can arise in many different scenarios, often when we least expect it.
When you are faced with more debt than you can handle, it can feel tempting to want to give up. Fortunately, however, filing for bankruptcy can provide a way out.
The word “bankruptcy” has a lot of negative connotations associated with it. But depending on your specific scenario, bankruptcy can actually be the right option.
If you are considering filing for bankruptcy, you are not alone. In fact, in 2019, there were nearly 800,000 total bankruptcy filings.
Bankruptcy is designed to get rid of debt and give debtors a fresh start. While the process is not easy, a skilled bankruptcy attorney can help you understand your options and guide you through the process.
Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a process by which debtors are provided the opportunity to get rid of most of their existing debts and start over with a “clean slate.” It is also referred to as “liquidation” or “straight bankruptcy.”
Of course, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy also has its downsides. In the course of a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the debtor must sell their assets and give up their property. Additionally, filing for bankruptcy will have an adverse impact on your credit.
In the long run, however, the benefits may still outweigh the drawbacks, freeing you from your debts and allowing you to have a fresh start.
Another type of bankruptcy is Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It is also referred to as “reorganization” bankruptcy.
Chapter 13 bankruptcy differs from Chapter 7 bankruptcy in a few key respects. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, debtors sell their assets to credits to get rid of their debts in one fell swoop. Those who file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, on the other hand, instead set up repayment plans to use their income to gradually pay off their debts.
It is important to note, however, that not all people qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy. And even if you do qualify, there are many steps that you will need to take to complete the process.
Contact a qualified bankruptcy attorney today to discuss your case and see if Chapter 13 bankruptcy is right for you.
This is a complicated area of the law that often involves some of the most difficult issues. Family law includes divorce and separation, custody arrangements, spousal and child support, modification or enforcement of court orders, and prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Emotions run high in family law matters, and these legal issues can lead to life-altering changes for all parties involved.
Because of the high stakes involved in family law matters, it is crucial to have an experienced family law attorney in your corner.
Divorce occurs when a marriage is legally terminated.
Going through a divorce can be a traumatic experience. And to make matters worse, a divorce can be a complex legal process.
Issues that are considered during a divorce include property distribution, child custody and support arrangements, and in some cases, spousal support. All of these topics must be addressed to finalize the divorce.
If you and your spouse have agreed to the issues that need to be addressed in your divorce, you may be able to file an uncontested divorce. This is typically a more cost-effective option, but it is not possible in all scenarios. When spouses cannot agree on key issues, a contested divorce is likely the only option.
Regardless of whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the fact remains that a divorce is often emotional and messy. Vantage Group Legal Services can help connect you with qualified legal professionals and divorce attorneys to help you get through this difficult time.
Sometimes referred to as alimony, spousal support is typically an issue that is hotly contested during a divorce.
Spousal support is ordered when one spouse will need financial support from the other following the divorce. The spouse seeking support must demonstrate a need for the support, and the other spouse must have the means to pay the support.
The judge in your divorce case will determine spousal support. Additionally, it is important to note that a judge has broad discretion to award spousal support.
In determining whether spousal support is appropriate and what should be awarded, the court will consider factors such as:
- The standard of living during the marriage;
- The length of the marriage;
- Each spouse’s individual income;
- Property owned by each individual spouse;
- The future earning capacity of each individual spouse; and
- The specific needs of each spouse.
Spousal support can be an important part of a divorce. Thus, it’s important to have someone in your corner who understands the law and who will fight for your interests.
Fighting for the custody of your child can be expensive and emotionally draining.
There are two aspects of custody to consider in Illinois: legal and physical custody.
Legal custody determines which parent makes important decisions on the child’s behalf. This includes which school he or she will attend, what religion will be supported in the home, and medical decisions. If parents have joint legal custody, they will make these decisions jointly.
Physical custody, on the other hand, determines who the child will primarily live with. If one parent has sole physical custody, the other parent will typically have regular visitation rights. Parents may also share joint physical custody.
When judges are faced with a child custody case, the court will seek to accommodate the best interest of the child. Several factors are considered in making this evaluation. An experienced child custody lawyer can help you navigate your child custody case.
Divorce is a complicated process as it is. When one or both spouses are military members, it can become even more difficult.
As a general rule, parties must reside in Illinois for 90 days to meet the residency requirements to file for a divorce in the state. This also applies to active-duty military members who are stationed in Illinois for 90 days or more.
If your spouse is an active-duty member when you file for divorce, the divorce papers must be served on your spouse in person. If your divorce is uncontested, the spouse can waive the affidavit and forego receiving the papers in person.
Federal law protects members of the military from being divorced without knowing the action was filed. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act allows a military divorce in Illinois to be postponed if the spouse is on active duty. The active-duty spouse can waive these protections if he or she wants the divorce to move forward.
While a military divorce can be complicated, an attorney can help you understand the process and ensure that your divorce goes as smoothly as possible.
If you have ever suffered a personal injury due to the actions of someone else, you may have a legal claim for recovery.
A personal injury claim allows you to seek monetary compensation from a party who was at fault in causing your injuries. This is often a great way for accident victims to get the compensation they need to recover in the aftermath of an accident.
Examples of damages for which you can recover compensation in a personal injury lawsuit include:
- Past and future medical expenses;
- Property damage repair and replacement;
- Loss of income and earning capacity due to your injuries;
- Pain and suffering;
- Loss of companionship; and
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries at the hands of another, contact a personal injury attorney today to discuss your case and see what you can do to begin your process toward recovery.
A car accident can turn your world upside down.
In the aftermath of a car accident, victims are often faced with personal injuries, property damage, financial hardships, and emotional trauma. So what can you do after a car accident to address these complicated issues?
A personal injury lawsuit can provide you with a way to get the compensation you need and deserve after your car accident. Though it can feel stressful to take this on, you don’t have to handle this on your own.
If you have sustained injuries in a car accident, a personal injury attorney can help you fight for your rights and work toward recovery. At Vantage Group Legal Services, we can connect you with an experienced car accident attorney to get you the best legal representation for your case.
Truck accidents are some of the most devastating personal injury accidents that can occur.
The size and weight of commercial trucks coupled with the speed at which they travel can lead to severe consequences in the aftermath of an accident. For this reason, extensive regulations exist to better protect both truck drivers and other drivers on the road.
Unfortunately, however, truck drivers don’t always follow these regulations.
Some of the most common causes of semi-truck accidents include:
- Improper cargo loading,
- Poor truck maintenance,
- Poor training,
- Driver fatigue, and
If you sustain injuries in a truck accident due to any of the above, you may have a legal claim against the truck driver, the trucking company, or both.
An attorney can help you assess your potential claims and determine your best pathway toward recovery.
Many people love the simultaneous thrill and sense of calm that comes with riding a motorcycle. However, the fact remains that motorcycles are some of the most dangerous modes of transportation that exist.
In fact, in 2017, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely to die in an accident than passenger cars per vehicle mile traveled. Despite increases in motorcycle safety and a rise in helmet use by riders, there is never any way to prevent involvement in a motorcycle accident with any certainty.
Due to the size of motorcycles compared to passenger vehicles and trucks, they can be less visible to other vehicles and more susceptible to being hit. Further, motorcycles are less stable than vehicles with more than 2 wheels.
If you are a motorcyclist who has sustained injuries in an accident, contact an attorney today to see how you can recover.
Slip and Fall
One of the most common types of personal injury accidents is the “slip-and-fall” case.
You may have heard of slip-and-fall accidents before but never given them much thought. Surprisingly, however, slip-and-fall accidents can result in significant injuries and potentially complicated legal proceedings.
A slip-and-fall accident can lead to many complications, including:
- Extensive physical injuries,
- Medical expenses,
- Time away from work as you recover,
- Lost earning capacity, and
- Emotional trauma.
Dealing with these issues can be stressful and overwhelming. But all of them are damages for which you may be able to receive compensation.
If you want to know more about how to recover in the aftermath of your slip-and-fall accident, a personal injury attorney can help.
Vantage Group Legal Services can connect you with a competent personal injury attorney to get you the compensation you need to recover.
Immigrants are essential to what makes America “America.” Unfortunately, however, countless immigrants live in fear each day of what will become of their future.
If you or a loved one is facing immigration challenges, we want to help.
At Vantage Group Legal Services, we will connect you with the best possible legal representation to help you fight for your rights and maintain your legal status in the United States. Examples of services our network immigration attorneys can assist with include:
- Navigating the immigration process;
- Renewing DACA status; and
- Applying for and obtaining visas and citizenship.
We know how important these issues are to you and your family, and we will do everything in our power to advocate for your rights and get you the help you need.
The concept of civil litigation can seem intimidating if you are unfamiliar with how the process works. Sometimes, however, you just can’t avoid involvement in a civil lawsuit. So what do you do if you are considering bringing a lawsuit against someone else or if you are haled into court by another party?
You can always handle a lawsuit on your own, but why do so if you don’t have to?
The civil litigation process can be lengthy and complex, regardless of whether you are the plaintiff or defendant. A civil litigation attorney who handles lawsuits for a living can be a great asset to you and your case.
An experienced litigator can help you:
- Analyze your case,
- Draft and file court paperwork,
- Negotiate with opposing parties, and
- Prepare for and take your case to trial if and when it becomes necessary.
If you are in need of a Chicago civil litigation attorney, look no further. Contact Vantage Group Legal Services for a free consultation to discuss our services and get connected with a seasoned civil litigator in our attorney network.
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If you are married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you can apply for a green card. A green card application requires many documents—documents about your life that you must locate and present to the government, and documents the government provides for you to fill out. The United States government wants an in-depth illustration of who you are personally and professionally before it grants a green card. This article can give you an idea of what the government expects from you and how to prepare for your green card application. What Documents Should I Have Before I Apply for a Green Card? The green card application process can be lengthy and involves many steps. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, you should gather as many necessary documents as possible before you start filing forms. What Your Spouse Must Provide Generally, your official green card application process begins with your spouse’s Form I-130 petition to the government. This petition establishes your marriage relationship with your spouse and lets the United States government know you are eligible for legal permanent resident status. Your spouse must prove their legal permanent resident or citizen status In their petition, your spouse must prove that they are a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident with the following documents: A copy of their birth certificate from a civil authority; A copy of their naturalization certificate from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS); A copy of form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad from a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate; A copy of their unexpired U.S. passport; An original U.S. consular officer statement that verifies your spouse is a U.S. citizen with a valid passport; A front and back copy of their Permanent Resident Card; Copies of their passport biographic page that shows admission as a lawful permanent resident; or Other documents issued by USCIS or INS that prove permanent resident status. If your spouse is a U.S. citizen who cannot locate their official citizenship documents, USCIS offers alternatives for proving their status. Your spouse must prove they legally married you Your spouse’s petition must include proof of your legal marriage. Proof of your legal marriage to your spouse includes: A copy of your marriage certificate; Copies of the legal terminations of any prior marriages for you and your spouse (if applicable); Two identical passport-style photos in color of you and your spouse (separately); Any documents that show joint property ownership; Lease documents showing you and your spouse live at the same residence; Documents evidencing joint financial resources; Birth certificates for any children you had together; Affidavits from others who can affirm the validity of your marriage; and Any other documents that prove you have an ongoing marital union. The USCIS has many specific rules regarding your passport-style photos, so you and your spouse should read the Form I-130 instructions carefully before submitting documents. The list of documents to prove your legal marital status is long. The marriage certificate, proof of legal terminations of prior marriages (if any), and passport photos are required for every spouse petition, but the USCIS encourages you to include one or more of the other documents listed above to prove you have a bona fide marriage. The United States government is very wary of potential marriage fraud for immigration status, so the more documents you have to prove the validity of your marriage, the better. Your spouse must prove that your travel in and out the United States has been legal Your spouse’s petition must include your I-94 documentation. Your I-94 is a document from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol that proves your lawful admissions into the U.S. after trips abroad. You can get copies of your I-94 travel history from the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol website. What You Must Provide The Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is your main green card application. With your application, you must submit many documents including: A copy of your birth certificate; A copy of your government-issued ID with a photograph; Inspection and admission or inspection and parole documentation; Documentation of your immigrant category, including Form I-797 to prove receipt of your spouse’s Form I-130; Certified police and court records regarding all your criminal charges, arrests, or convictions (regardless of the final disposition); Proof that you have continuously maintained lawful status since you arrived in the U.S.; and Proof your spouse has continuously maintained lawful status since they arrived in the U.S. If you were previously deported or deemed inadmissible for entry, you will likely have to file additional forms with your application. There are also certain immigration statuses that require additional forms. You should check the list of initial evidence needed for green card applications to determine what additional forms you need (if any). An experienced immigration attorney can determine what you need to complete your green card application and reduce complications in your application process. What Applications Do I Need to File to Receive a Green Card? In your list of documents for a green card through marriage are many petitions and applications. Generally, the applications and petitions you or your spouse need to file include: Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (filled out and submitted by your citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse); Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (submitted by you); Form I-797 to prove receipt of your spouse’s petition; Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form DS-261 Online Choice of Address and Agent (for applicants outside of the U.S.); Form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record; Form I-508 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable); and Form I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable). A Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record is for public health reasons and must be completed and sealed by a USCIS-approved doctor...Keep Reading
Building a life with your spouse brings excitement and joy. If you immigrated to the United States to be with your spouse, you might feel the exhilaration of adventure, but you might also feel anxiety about where you will live and how you will work. You can apply for a green card if you married a United States citizen or legal permanent resident. A green card gives you the right to live and work permanently in the United States. With a green card, you also have more legal protections than a visa holder. How Do I Get a Green Card After I Marry? Of all the factors that can make you eligible for a green card, marriage can place your application high on the priority list. To receive a green card, you must provide the U.S. government with information about your history, financial resources/needs, marriage, and health. How to Prepare for the Green Card Application Process When you begin the process to obtain a green card, you should have the following documents ready for submission with your application forms: A copy of your birth certificate; A copy of your marriage certificate; Proof that you continuously maintained lawful status since you arrived in the U.S.; A copy of your government-issued ID (containing a photograph); Two passport-style photographs; Certified police and court records of your entire criminal charge, arrest, and conviction history (regardless of the final disposition); and Documents of inspection and admission, or inspection and parole. If you can no longer locate or access your birth certificate, you can provide other proof of your birth or proof that your certificate is unavailable or nonexistent. Acceptable alternative evidence of your birth includes church records, school records, and medical records. Depending on your current immigration status, you may need to gather additional documentation to submit with your green card application. How Do I Apply for a Green Card? Your request for a green card not only requires identification information and many documents about your history, it also requires many government application forms. One of the first applications the government wants when you seek a green card through marriage is Form I-130. An I-130 form is also called a Petition for Alien Relative, and it is for your spouse to fill out. The petition gives information about you and your spouse, and it establishes your relationship with your spouse. During the application process, you may need a medical examination to prove you are admissible to the United States. The U.S. government requires examinations for public health purposes. A designated “civil surgeon” must perform your examination and fill out government-issued paperwork regarding the exam. Your exam form must be dated within 60 days of your green card application. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recommends that you undergo this exam as close as possible to the time you file your application, so your results remain valid during adjudication. Generally, your main application to become a green card holder (also called a lawful permanent resident) is Form I-485. Form I-485 is also called an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This application has many in-depth questions about your background, personal history, employment history, criminal history, immigration history, and financial needs. You must submit multiple personal documents and additional government forms with this application, and you must pay filing fees. What If I Am Not in the United States? If you and your United States citizen spouse are not in the U.S., your spouse must send their Form I-130 petition to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you are. Your spouse’s petition goes through consular processing. You must also file forms from the U.S. Department of State for an Immigrant Visa. If the USCIS approves your spouse’s petition, they send it to the Department of State’s National Visa Center. The National Visa Center lets you know when you need to submit supporting documents and when you need to pay immigrant visa processing fees. Once a visa is available for your priority date, the consular office schedules you for an interview and decides your eligibility for a visa. If the consular office grants you a visa, you receive a visa packet and you must pay an immigrant fee. You cannot open your visa packet. Upon arrival in the United States, Customs and Border Protection takes your packet. Customs and Border Protection also inspects you to determine if they can admit you as a lawful permanent resident. If Customs and Border Protection admits you as a lawful permanent resident, you should receive your green card within 45 days. While you wait for your green card to arrive, you have the right to live and work in the United States. How Long Do I Have to Wait for a Decision About My Green Card? The vast majority of immigration applications take up to eight months to process. Your application may take longer, depending on the nature of your marriage. Your ability to obtain a green card depends partly on whether a green card is immediately available during application processing. If you married a United States citizen, an unlimited number of green cards are immediately available. If your spouse is a legal permanent resident, you may have to wait longer in line for an available green card. Spouses of legal permanent residents are subject to preference categories for green cards. According to the preference categories, spouses of legal permanent residents take second preference after adult, unmarried children of citizens. What Do I Do While I Wait? While you wait for a decision on your green card application, follow all directions you receive from the government. You must also make sure you maintain a continuous and lawful presence in the United States. If you need to travel temporarily while you wait, you need to apply for a travel document first. You can also check the status of your application online while you wait. What If I Have Not Received My Green Card Approval and I Need to Work? The...Keep Reading