| Read Time: 4 minutes | Foreclosure

Foreclosure Help in Chicago (and Throughout the State of Illinois)

Facing foreclosure? This article lists free resources for you to explore. Still have questions? Vantage Group Legal offers affordable foreclosure help in Chicago, Illinois. Home foreclosure is the process by which you lose legal ownership of your property. Receiving a foreclosure notice can be overwhelming. This process occurs several months after months of missed mortgage payments.  Many Chicago area homeowners are devastated when they receive a foreclosure summons and do not know how to cope with the situation. If no action is taken, the bank can take your home and negatively impact your finances. Though this sounds like a difficult situation to overcome, you may have options to save your home and get foreclosure help in Illinois.  Dealing with a foreclosure in Chicago? We offer affordable legal help. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 Foreclosure Resources for Homeowners in Chicago, IL There is foreclosure help in Chicago and the surrounding areas that you can take advantage of to guide you through the process of dealing with your potential foreclosure. Here is a list of some of the available resources to help you keep your home in Illinois. Illinois Housing Development Authority Foreclosure counselors from the Illinois Housing Development Authority are available to provide advice and services to help homeowners. These services include reviewing your mortgage and finances and discussing options to find a solution.  Hope Hotline 1-888-995-HOPE Develop a plan tailored to your unique foreclosure situation. Hope Hotline provides free one-on-one confidential and comprehensive financial and foreclosure prevention education.  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau‘s list of housing counselors. A housing counselor can offer independent advice on your mortgage and other financial housing issues.  Illinois Legal Aid Resources that explain the foreclosure process are available from Illinois Legal Aid, along with the necessary paperwork and filing timelines to guide you through the process. There are also helpful videos explaining how foreclosures work and what you can do.  Illinois Hardest Hit Fund Financial assistance is available through the Illinois Hardest Hit Fund for thousands of homeowners who meet eligibility criteria and have experienced at least a 15% income reduction due to qualifying hardships.  Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc. A certified homeowner counselor from Neighborhood Housing Services of Chicago, Inc., can help identify foreclosure prevention options and solutions to make your home more affordable. They also offer additional homeowner advice and resources.  Illinois Attorney General At the Illinois Attorney General‘s website, you can learn about the steps you should take when facing a foreclosure, your legal rights and options, and what to beware of. This site also provides access to the attorney general homeowner helpline.  Chicago Urban League The housing and financial empowerment center of the Chicago Urban League is a counseling agency that provides professional assistance for low-to-moderate-income residents. Some of their services include mortgage delinquency and default resolution, pre-purchase counseling, homebuyer education, financial counseling, foreclosure prevention, and more.  Northwest Side Housing Center Certified counselors from the Northwest Side Housing Center work toward improving your housing situation through counseling, education, and advocacy. If you are unable to make your mortgage payment and trying to save your home from foreclosure, they can work with you and your bank to make keeping your home affordable. This organization focuses on residents in Belmont Cragin and the surrounding communities. Partners in Community Building (PICB) PICB’s foreclosure prevention department assists clients who are in imminent default, facing foreclosure, or in post-foreclosure. Help is offered through the various federal government, bank, and investor programs.  How Can an Attorney Provide Foreclosure Help in Chicago? If you would like to keep your home and believe you have a defense to the foreclosure, your best option is to seek help from an experienced attorney who is knowledgeable about Illinois foreclosure laws. Most defenses are going to require navigating the legal system. Some valid defenses for foreclosure may include: Proper foreclosure procedures were not followed; The party foreclosing on your property cannot prove that it owns your mortgage loan; and The servicer made a serious error with your account.  If you choose to contest the foreclosure, there are several steps that you will need to take within the appropriate time frame.  Complete a Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer to Complaint This form lets the court know that you have been informed of the foreclosure summons and allows you to contest the information within the summons. You also have the opportunity to state any defenses you may have to the foreclosure and facts to support those defenses. An experienced attorney will ensure that this form is thoroughly completed and that your facts do support your defense.  Submit Documents to the Court Clerk The Mortgage Foreclosure Appearance and Answer Form should be submitted electronically to the court clerk in the county where you are filing the case against your foreclosure. This is usually the county where the property is located. Your attorney will do this on your behalf.  All Parties Are Informed of Your Answer The other parties involved must be made aware of the lawsuit. It is best to send these documents to the party’s attorney if they have one. Having your attorney ensure proper delivery will take this procedural aspect off your shoulders. Documents can be hand-delivered, mailed, sent by a third-party postal carrier, or filed electronically. Prepare for and Attend Court An experienced attorney is necessary to help you prepare for court. It is important to ensure you have all relevant documents and proof to defend against your property foreclosure. This may include all financial and payment history surrounding your home. You and your attorney should also review any potential questions that you may be asked by the judge and bring copies of all relevant documents. The judge and your attorney will direct you on how to proceed once you are in court.  Why Hire a Foreclosure Attorney? A Chicago foreclosure lawyer can help you formulate your arguments against foreclosure, navigate the rules of...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

When Is it Too Late to Stop Foreclosure?

Homeowners have many possible options before foreclosure happens. The only time it is finally too late is when the house has been sold at auction after a court approves the sale.  General Timeline of Foreclosure Proceedings Lenders must make a decent amount of effort to attempt to help the borrower avoid foreclosure. Here is a brief timeline of what a borrower can expect after they default on their mortgage payments: After the first month, the lender must attempt to contact the borrower by phone to discuss any loss mitigation options. Once the borrower has been delinquent for 45 days, the lender must inform them in writing about loss mitigation options and may appoint someone to help them avoid foreclosure. After 60 days, the lender will advise the borrower that they have a 30-day grace period to contact a housing counselor. If the borrower chooses to do so, they will receive another 30 days before legal action can happen. Once 90 days pass without payment, the lender will issue a notice of acceleration announcing their intent to foreclose.  If 120 days pass, the lender will begin foreclosure proceedings by filing a lawsuit in court. Foreclosure proceedings cannot start before 120 days of non-payment. After that, the lender can file a lawsuit asking for the court to issue an order allowing the lender to sell the house. What Happens Once the Lender Files a Lawsuit? After the lender files the lawsuit, they serve the borrower with the summons and complaint. The borrower must answer the complaint within 30 days to defend themselves against the foreclosure. If the borrower does not respond, the lender will receive a default judgment in favor of foreclosure. If the court issues the order to allow the sale, the lender must publish a notice of sale in a newspaper once a week for three weeks. The lender must also send the notice to the borrowers by email, or by other means if they do not have email. Consent Foreclosure The borrower and lender can also agree to a consent foreclosure. The court enters the judgment of foreclosure against the borrower and the borrower agrees to walk away from the property. The benefit to the borrower is that the lender usually waives their right to any deficiency judgment (discussed below). However, the borrower may end up having to pay taxes to the IRS on any forgiven debt. What Happens at the Sale? At the sale, the lender may bid up to the total amount owed on the property. If the lender wins the auction for less than the amount owed, the lender can get a deficiency judgment against the borrower for the difference. If a third-party bidder wins the auction for more than the amount owed, the borrower gets the surplus amount. The lender will then have the court confirm the sale. The court will also enter an eviction order for the former homeowner to leave the property within 30 days. If they do not leave the property, the new owner may have the sheriff evict them. Can a Foreclosure Be Stopped? There are multiple ways a borrower can prevent foreclosure. Bankruptcy Bankruptcy can stop a foreclosure even up to the day of sale. Chapter 13 bankruptcy is most common, but Chapter 7 is also possible. Loss Mitigation Loss mitigation usually refers to loan modification. The borrower must submit a completed loss mitigation application within the initial 120 days before the lawsuit. Then the lender cannot begin foreclosure proceedings unless the borrower is ineligible for loss mitigation, rejects the options offered, or fails to follow their mitigation agreement. Reinstatement Reinstatement means that the borrower brings the loan completely current, including all costs and fees. It is only available to a borrower once every five years. A borrower may legally reinstate their loan up to 90 days after the lender serves the complaint. Most lenders allow reinstatement at any time.  Redemption Borrowers can redeem their loans by paying the entire balance due, including costs and fees. For property tax foreclosures, this means paying any outstanding taxes. The redemption period is within seven months after the complaint is filed or three months after judgment. If the owners abandoned the property, the redemption period is 30 days after judgment. If the lender wins the auction for less than the total debt (including any expenses or fees), the borrower has 30 days after the court confirms the sale. What Do I Do If I Am Facing Foreclosure? Foreclosure defense is a highly specialized field, and you need quality representation. Vantage Group Legal is a highly accomplished legal services organization that specializes in foreclosure defense. We will review your case for free, and if hired, you will be carefully assigned the right attorney to handle your case from start to finish. Please contact us today for your free consultation.

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

The National COVID Foreclosure Moratorium Has Ended

On June 25, 2021, the Biden administration and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) announced that the national foreclosure moratorium ends on July 31, 2021. However, many borrowers are still experiencing hardships related to COVID and remain seriously delinquent. The mortgage industry is anticipating a high volume of foreclosures and an overwhelming amount of assistance requests. The Biden administration announced that HUD, VA, and USDA loans would take certain steps to prevent mass foreclosures until their borrowers are reviewed for affordable loss mitigation options. These servicers each implemented their programs for loss mitigation, payment reduction, or other programs to assist borrowers. Likewise, the FHFA implemented plans for Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae borrowers to get evaluated for home retention solutions. Below you will find descriptions of the programs available to borrowers of each type of loan. Remaining Foreclosure Relief Options HUD Loans Homeowners with HUD loans may be eligible for one or more of the following options: Loan modifications—borrowers can move missed payments to the end of the mortgage;   Payment reductions—up to 25% reduction in monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments; COVID-19 Recovery Standalone Partial Claim (if the homeowner can resume payments)—loan for the unpaid payments with 0% interest, repaid when mortgage terminates after sale or refinance; or COVID-19  Recovery Modification (if homeowner incapable of resuming payments)—extends loan term to 360 months and reduces P&I payments by 25%. Homeowners have until September 30, 2021 to apply for forbearance. Borrowers can find more information about HUD loans and COVID relief here.  USDA Loans Homeowners with USDA loans may be eligible for the COVID-19 Special Relief Measure, which provides up to 20% reduction in monthly P&I payments and interest rate reduction. If that is not enough, the homeowner can also obtain a loan term extension. Finally, the homeowner may be able to obtain a 0% mortgage recovery advance loan that becomes due when the mortgage terminates. USDA borrowers have until September 30, 2021 to apply for forbearance programs with their servicer. The USDA website has more information about USDA loans and COVID relief programs. VA Loans Homeowners with VA loans may be eligible for one or more of the following options for relief:  COVID-19 Refund Modification—20% reduction in P&I payments; COVID-19 Refund—VA provides loan for borrower’s COVID-related debts and up to 30% of the unpaid principal loan at 0% interest; or Loan modification—up to 120 months of loan extension. As with HUD and VA loans, borrowers have until September 30, 2021 to apply for forbearance programs. Borrowers should check out the VA home loan website for more information. Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac Loans Payment deferral—borrowers can defer up to 18 months of payments, which are due when the mortgage terminates;  Loan modification—borrowers can receive up to 20% reduction in monthly P&I payments; or Flex modification—eligible borrowers could capitalize all past-due amounts, extend their loan terms, obtain a lower interest rate, or receive a forbearance of the principle amount.  Homeowners with Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae loans must already be on a COVID-related forbearance plan to be eligible for relief. Borrowers with these loans should consult with their servicers for more information about forbearance plans.  Additional Protections The Bureau of Consumer Protection also announced temporary safeguards to ensure borrowers have enough opportunities to be reviewed for loss mitigation before the servicer initiates foreclosure proceedings. Perhaps most importantly, lenders must make a sufficient effort to make borrowers aware of forbearance programs and expiration dates, as well as loss mitigation options. Finally, eligible borrowers may avail themselves of federal financial assistance through their state housing authorities. The Illinois Housing Development Authority will receive federal funds from the Homeowner Assistance Fund created in the American Rescue Plan Act for homeowners still experiencing COVID-related hardships. Eligible homeowners could receive up to $25,000 in assistance.  Vantage Group Legal Services Is Ready to Help  If you are struggling with your mortgage payments the options can seem overwhelming. Vantage Group Legal Services can help you figure out the best solution for your situation. We specialize in foreclosure defense and offer affordable debt relief solutions for struggling Chicago homeowners. We can help keep you in your home and preserve your credit with expedited, affordable legal assistance. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Immigration

What Documents Do I Need for a Marriage Green Card?

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 will give you an idea of what the government expects from you and how to prepare for your green card application.  The Documents Your Spouse (the Citizen/Legal Resident) 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.  Going through the green card process? We can help. Call us 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   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.  The Documents You (the Non-Citizen Applicant) Must Provide 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. 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...

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | Immigration

How Much Does a Green Card Cost?

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. Need a Green Card? You’re in the right place. Call us 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   How Much Are the Application Fees for a Green Card? 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.  What About Immigration 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 Vantage Group Legal to Discuss Our Green Card Solutions 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. 

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| Read Time: 5 minutes | Immigration

Getting a Green Card Through Marriage

You can apply for a green card if you married a United States citizen or legal permanent resident and immigrated to the United States to be with your spouse. 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.  Need a Green Card but don’t want to pay hourly lawyer fees? You’re in the right place. Call us 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   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 application process for a green card is...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Divorce

Hiring a Cook County Divorce Lawyer

There are many life-altering factors to consider when filing for divorce. Where do you live? Who takes care of the kids? How do you adjust to a single-income household that depends solely on you? These are questions you should not have to answer alone, and you should not have to fight for your rights to property, parenting time, and support by yourself. The experienced network attorneys at Vantage Group Legal Services can answer your questions and fight for your rights in Cook County divorce proceedings.  What Happens During a Divorce in Cook County? Some spouses enter an agreement to split assets and parenting time after a divorce. If an agreement between spouses is not unconscionable, the court approves the agreement, and the agreement becomes enforceable. If the spouses cannot come to a reasonable agreement, or cannot come to an agreement at all regarding support, the division of assets, and parenting time, the court holds a hearing on the matters and decides each party’s rights and obligations.  In divorce proceedings, the court makes decisions about rights affecting many different areas of your life, including: Your rights to marital property such as housing, bank accounts, retirement funds, and other property acquired during the marriage; Your obligations to pay debts incurred during the marriage; Your rights to make significant decisions for your children, such as child custody, healthcare, schooling, religion, and extracurricular activities; Your rights to have parenting time with your children; Your rights to receive child support; Your obligations to pay child support; and Your right to receive spousal maintenance based on your economic and personal circumstances. Whether you have an agreement with your spouse or you submit your case to the courts, inviting the legal process into your personal life is daunting.  Each of your family law rights depends on your economic circumstances, your needs, your spouse’s needs, your child’s needs, the nature of your relationships before filing for divorce, and the personal characteristics of you, your spouse, and your family. The court looks at these factors to decide whether awards of support and property are just. The court also looks at these factors to determine if allocations of parental responsibilities are in your children’s best interests.  How Can a Cook County Attorney Help Me in a Divorce? The best divorce lawyer for you will help you in multiple ways including: Protecting your rights and holding your spouse accountable in initial divorce proceedings and agreement negotiations; Arguing to enforce the rights you received in an agreement or judgment of dissolution of marriage; and  Arguing to modify your rights and obligations in a divorce judgment when circumstances change.  A Cook County divorce attorney knows what information to gather and how to present your case to your spouse and the court to maximize your rights in a divorce.  Protecting Your Rights in an Initial Divorce Judgment Winning the appropriate rights in an initial divorce judgment is very important because some rights are hard to change after the fact. If you enter an agreement with your spouse regarding parenting and property rights and the court approves your agreement, you cannot modify the portions of the agreement regarding the division of property. In many cases, you cannot modify an order allocating significant decision-making responsibilities for your child until two years have passed. Cook county divorce lawyers can review your case and determine what you need in the long term and how to get it before the court enters its judgment. Enforcing Your Rights in a Divorce Judgment In a divorce, you must prove that irreconcilable differences caused an irretrievable breakdown of your marriage and efforts at reconciliation have failed or wouldn’t be in the family’s best interest. If you and your spouse are at this point, there’s a good chance you have a hard time communicating and cooperating with each other. Unfortunately, the lack of communication and cooperation may continue after your divorce is final. Your spouse may not comply with their obligations to pay support or let you have your parenting time. If your spouse fails to fulfill their obligations in a divorce judgment, an attorney can help you enforce those obligations.  Modifying Your Rights and Obligations in a Divorce Judgment If your circumstances change and you cannot comply with the obligations or terms of your divorce judgment, you have options. Do not suffer in silence or risk sanctions from the court for noncompliance. An experienced family law attorney can ask the court to modify the terms in your divorce judgment. Contact an Attorney Today The family law attorneys at Vantage Group Legal Services are experienced, affordable, and eager to help you through every step of your divorce case. We understand that divorces are hard and complicated. We simplify the divorce process as much as possible and work to get you the best results in these life-altering proceedings. Contact us online or call us at 773-232-6892 for a free consultation.

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| Read Time: 9 minutes | Foreclosure

Illinois Mortgage Foreclosure Law

Facing foreclosure? Start by reading this guide to Illinois foreclosure law, then contact Vantage Group Legal for immediate help. Anticipating or dealing with the process of foreclosure in Illinois can be an angst-ridden time for anyone. Tendencies can be to ignore the possibility of foreclosure, try to handle the foreclosure case on your own, or be angry about the circumstance but not act. However, the most productive result is understanding the Illinois foreclosure process and seeking immediate help from an established legal service with expertise in Illinois foreclosure law. If you face foreclosure, you are taking a significant step in protecting yourself and your property right now by reading a bit about the Illinois foreclosure process. No matter what the circumstance, you have rights and options. Here’s a brief guide to help you get started on addressing foreclosure in Illinois. We help Illinois homeowners who are facing foreclosure. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747   What Is Foreclosure in Illinois? Let’s start with the basics. You’ve heard the term and maybe received a notice which references the term. But what exactly is foreclosure? Foreclosure is a process. It involves a lender taking a homeowner’s property because the homeowner failed to make agreed-upon payments or otherwise violated the mortgage contract. How Long Does a Foreclosure Take in Illinois? The time it takes from missed payments to having a home foreclosed on and sold can vary significantly depending on the individual case and whether you opt to contest the foreclosure. Without contesting the foreclosure, it can take up to 15 months before the property is no longer yours. Don’t start packing just yet. There are a lot of steps along the way. Here is the general Illinois foreclosure timeline: 30-60 days late: missed payments prompt contact from the lender. 60-120 days late: automatic mortgage loan default. 90 -120 days late: lender provides a breach letter.  120-175 days late: homeowner receives service of a mortgage foreclosure summons. 230 days late: without a response, the court enters default judgment. 260 days late:  right to reinstate the loan expires. 7 months after being served or 3 months after judgment (whichever is later): right to redemption expires. 10 days before sale: receive written notice. 15 days after property is sold: an eviction notice is entered. 30 days after property is sold: you may be forcibly evicted.  If you decide to contest the foreclosure, the timeline will change a little. The process will also include document filing deadlines and court proceedings. Illinois Foreclosure Process and Timeline Going through foreclosure proceedings can be extremely stressful and hard on you as well as those you care about. This is especially true if you and your loved ones are living on the property in question. The help of an experienced foreclosure attorney could make the process a lot easier and potentially uncover ways that you could keep your home. It may be worth looking into getting professional legal help with your potential foreclosure.  Here is a breakdown of each step to better answer the question, How long does a foreclosure take in Illinois? MISSED MORTGAGE LOAN PAYMENTS Most lenders offer a grace period before assessing late fees on missed mortgage payments. The lender may even reach out to provide payment assistance programs to help you catch up. Life happens, and sometimes our finances change. Most lenders understand that, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take missed payments seriously. You certainly should not ignore lenders who may have options to help you out of debt.  AUTOMATIC MORTGAGE LOAN DEFAULT In Illinois, your mortgage loan will automatically default after 90 days without payment. At this point, your lender will send a Notice of Default (NOD), which serves the purpose of informing you of their intent to foreclose on your property due to lack of payment. Once the lender sends this notice, your foreclosure becomes a public record. Beware of solicitation from creditors offering to help. It is best to work with your lender directly or a reputable debt management company.  BREACH LETTER IS RECEIVED Most mortgage contracts contain a clause that requires the lender to send a “breach letter” when the loan defaults. The lender should issue this letter 30 days before filing the foreclosure lawsuit, giving you, as the borrower, a chance to avoid foreclosure proceedings. Thirty days after the breach letter is sent and 120 days after the first missed payment, the lender may file a foreclosure complaint.  SERVED WITH A MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE SUMMONS Despite what you may have seen in the movies, hiding in the bathroom or closet when the mailman knocks on your door will not prevent you from being served. The mortgage foreclosure summons is not something you should ignore. It is necessary to read the complaint to understand the allegations against you, find any discrepancies, and be notified of any important dates.  DEFAULT JUDGMENT IS ENTERED If you choose to ignore or to intentionally not respond to the mortgage foreclosure summons, a default judgment will be entered against you. If you choose to respond and fight the foreclosure, this will change the Illinois foreclosure process timeline for your specific case. It is best to consult with a foreclosure attorney to assess your options prior to deciding whether to respond to the summons. Choosing not to respond means that you essentially agree with the complaint and the lender’s request for foreclosure.  RIGHT TO REINSTATE LOAN EXPIRES In Illinois, you have 90 days from the date the lender serves you with the mortgage foreclosure summons to reinstate your mortgage loan, even after a default judgment has been entered. This means that you may bring your loan payments current along with other expenses that have occurred because of your late payments. Reinstatement after the 90 days may still occur if the lender allows it, but they are not obligated to do so. If the lender allows an extension past the 90 days, it could change how long the foreclosure takes in Illinois.  RIGHT TO REDEMPTION EXPIRES Up until seven...

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| Read Time: 3 minutes | Foreclosure

Can a Bank Foreclose if Payments Are Current?

Foreclosure most commonly refers to a lender taking possession of a property for non-payment of a mortgage loan. However, the status of mortgage payments is just one cause of foreclosures. Other causes include the owner’s unpaid debt to other parties, a homeowner not meeting other aspects of the loan agreement, and payments misdirected to the wrong lender.  Therefore even when payments are current, there are several circumstances where the bank can still foreclose.  We Offer Affordable Debt Relief Solutions for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure. Our team is standing by to help. Call 24/7 for a free consultation: (773) 938-4747 5 Reasons Foreclosure May Happen Even When Payments are Current 1. There Are Unpaid Property Taxes Local governments collect property taxes on homes. Sometimes those taxes are paid as part of  mortgage payments (usually under the term escrow). For taxes due separate from the mortgage payment, it is the homeowner’s responsibility to pay the taxes to the government. If they do not pay, the bank may pay the taxes owed. If a homeowner fails to reimburse the bank, the bank can foreclose.  2. Homeowners Insurance Not Up To Date Not having homeowners insurance can be a valid reason for a lender to foreclose on a property. Like property taxes, the mortgage contract likely includes a clause requiring a homeowner to maintain adequate homeowners insurance. Failure to maintain the coverage would violate the mortgage contract. 3. There Are Violations of Other Mortgage Contract Conditions Any mortgage contract term violated by the homeowner, not just failing to pay the mortgage, could be grounds for foreclosure. For instance, most mortgages require the homeowner to keep the property in satisfactory condition. If the homeowner does not do this, the bank can seek to foreclose. A contract violation, such as transferring ownership to another party, may also result in foreclosure.  4. Home Owner Association (HOA) Fees Are Past Due In more recent years, HOAs have become popular entities. An HOA is a community board that makes rules and regulations and provides the upkeep of the shared areas in a specific neighborhood. Homeowners in these neighborhoods are required to pay HOA dues. When a homeowner fails to pay their HOA dues or assessments, the HOA may seek court assistance to sell their home and collect the debt owed. This type of home loss can occur even if all mortgage payments are current.  5. Homeowner Paid Mortgage To Incorrect Bank A mortgage loan may be held by one bank initially, then taken over by another. While the homeowner’s records may indicate that they have been paying the mortgage, they may not have been paying to the right bank. The cause may be a clerical error on the homeowner’s part or that of one of the banks. Regardless, if the current lender is not getting the payments, foreclosure is possible. You Should Have Legal Help in a Foreclosure Case If you or someone you know may be facing foreclosure, look into hiring a lawyer immediately. An attorney will review your mortgage contract and all relevant documents, hear your side of the matter, and defend you in the foreclosure process. A foreclosure defense lawyer gives you the best opportunity to keep your home. Vantage Group Legal Services Will Defend You in a Foreclosure Case No matter the circumstances, Vantage Group Legal Services can assist you in a foreclosure  situation. As a unique company with a team of specialized Attorney’s in foreclosure defense, Vantage Group Legal Services connects you with an experienced network attorney and will give you a no-obligation, free consultation. Once you retain Vantage Group Legal Services, your assigned network attorney and Vantage’s internal support staff will handle all aspects of your case during your contract with them. Chicago foreclosure defense attorneys in Vantage Group Legal Services’ network are chosen because of their ability to win cases and achieve success for their clients. Contact Vantage Group by phone at (773) 938-4747 or online.

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| Read Time: 4 minutes | COVID-19

COVID-19 Forbearance

Legal and real estate professionals expect foreclosures to be on the rise in 2021. Fortunately, the federal government is aware many people are struggling due to COVID-19. Forbearance avenues, therefore, exists to assist homeowners.  If you are a homeowner genuinely unable to meet your mortgage obligations, you should explore all avenues of mortgage forbearance. COVID-19 or other life challenges may have led to your trials regarding your mortgage. Let Vantage Group Legal Services assist you in seeking forbearance help. The Meaning of Forbearance Forbearance is when your lender lets you pause or reduce your payments for a limited time. You will need to discuss forbearance options with the bank, finance company, or mortgage service agency that manages your home loan/mortgage. Usually, forbearance does not erase what you owe. There may be terms for you to repay payments you miss. But the forbearance is very beneficial if you temporarily need to pause your payments. Signs You May Need a Forbearance Many homeowners fall upon challenging times at some point. However, when hardships begin to impact your health, safety, and home, they can be devastating.  Regarding your home, you should take immediate efforts to seek a forbearance if you find it extraordinarily challenging or impossible to: Keep current on your mortgage payments; Have the finances to maintain your home in a safe and livable condition; or Pay your property taxes related to your mortgaged property. Each of the aforementioned are standard requirements in mortgage contracts. Do not wait until the rubber hits the road. If you are struggling to comply with the terms of your mortgage contract, you need a lawyer. If you have been impacted by COVID-19, forbearance lawyers should immediately be aware of that exceptional circumstance. Seeking Forbearance Mortgage lenders have dealt with many others who struggled to keep current on their mortgage just like you. While they may be willing to work with you to let you keep their home, their ultimate goal is to collect their payments, even by foreclosure if necessary. It is not the lender’s duty to tell you how to seek forbearance. However, our mortgage forbearance lawyers do have the desire to help you qualify and receive a forbearance. We are especially attuned to the upheaval individuals are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forbearance may not only be an option a bank can give you; it could be your legal right.  Forbearance Options Not Related to COVID-19  Mortgage holders who meet the criteria below may seek a forbearance under general non-COVID-19 forbearance terms. These criteria include: A good track record of timely payments, up until now; An unexpected change in financial status (sudden job loss, death of spouse or divorce leading to reduced income); and A commitment and clear plan to resume payments at the end of the forbearance. Each lender has a process for applying for forbearance and criteria regarding whether to grant the request. It is almost always better to request a forbearance than to default on a loan. COVID-19 Forbearance  If you are experiencing difficulty making on-time mortgage payments due to the national coronavirus emergency, a specialized forbearance may be an option for you. The government recognized the financial hardships many homeowners faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. Forbearance became a real need to aid families in keeping their homes.  As a result, the United States government created the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Under this law, the government gave homeowners with federally backed mortgages up to a year or more of forbearance on their mortgage payments. With CARES forbearance, homeowners could pay their mortgage at a lower payment or pause payments fully.  As of December 2020, CARES is still in place. The government may well extend it into 2021. Our foreclosure defense attorneys have all up-to-date CARES information. They can help you: Apply for CARES if applicable (it is not automatic, you must apply); and Review other state and private options for COVID-19 pandemic forbearance assistance if CARES does not apply to your situation. For as long as there have been mortgages, there has been a need for mortgage forbearance. COVID-19 is not the only reason for seeking forbearance, but it has created many of the situations people currently find themselves in when they seek forbearance.  Advantages of Legal Assistance in Seeking a Forbearance Understanding forbearance options is just a start. To have the best chance of getting a forbearance, you need an attorney who knows laws related to mortgage forbearance, COVID-19 protections for homeowners, real estate, and more. Specifically, here are things at which only foreclosure defense and mortgage forbearance lawyers will excel. Applying the Law to Protect You Forbearance is a contractual, legal issue. It involves more than a request to lessen or forgive mortgage payments. It involves numerous areas of law, including: Foreclosure law,   COVID-19 pandemic forbearance law,  Bankruptcy law,  Contract law, and Real estate law. To know your responsibilities, your rights, and the legal requirements of others, you need an attorney. Negotiation with and Utilizing Other Professionals The first step in seeking a forbearance may be contacting the mortgage company. That step is more than a phone call. Presenting the request in legal, professional, and complete terms is essential. Also, forbearance may involve reaching out to: Tax accountants,  Government tax officials,  Other attorneys, and The courts.  Vantage Group Legal Services attorneys know how to handle these interactions with professionalism and discretion. Most importantly, they do so while fully advocating for your interests.  Objectively Looking at All Options  The most important aspect of having an attorney is that they will objectively analyze your situation and explore all avenues to assist you. You likely have plenty to handle during the COVID-19 pandemic as it is. Forbearance is an item a lawyer can entirely focus on for you.  In seeking a lawyer, you need one who specializes in mortgage foreclosure and forbearance. These lawyers will be aware of the laws of mortgage forbearance, COVID-19 homeowner assistance, and foreclosure protection.  Your Rights During Forbearance If you...

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