USA and the UK
What is the IR5 visa?
This visa is one of the Immediate Relative Green Cards which means that it is not subject to a yearly cap. However, you must petition separately for each parent. Under this IR5, the applicant can enjoy the privilege of not having to wait until their application becomes current. Furthermore, eligible applicants can live freely and work without an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Parents who have minor children abroad can not bring their children with them on this IR5 visa. Instead, the U.S. Citizen will need to apply for an F4 (Sibling Visa) and petition for their green card separately. It should be noted that F4 visas are not immediate relative green cards and are therefore subject to a yearly limit.
What should I expect after my IR5 visa is approved and issued?
Good news! You applied for an IR5 (Parent Green Card) and your immigrant visa application has been approved! So what happens now?
After approval, you will soon be sent back your passport by courier service. Affixed inside your passport will be your visa (complete with visa number) and a sealed packet. As tempting as it might be, DO NOT OPEN the sealed packet. This must be carried with you unopened and presented to immigration services at a port-of-entry when you arrive in the U.S. from your home country.
One of the most important things for you to do before you travel to the U.S. is to pay the USCIS immigrant fee. You can pay this fee online via the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS). It is strongly encouraged for this fee to be paid as soon as possible after receiving your welcome letter so as to avoid any unnecessary delay regarding the issuance of your Permanent Resident Card (aka Green Card).
In addition, it is important that you enter the United States before the expiration date on the visa which is usually within 6 months. Upon arrival at the U.S. port of entry, an immigration officer will take the sealed packet, open it up and do a second inspection to make sure that everything has been done properly. If you pass this inspection, you will then be assigned an ‘alien number’.
This number will be stamped in your passport with a note that you are registered for an alien registration card. This alien number will allow you to work in the U.S. and travel while you are waiting for your green card to be sent to you.
What is inside the sealed packet?
As tempting as it might be to open the sealed packet, it is crucial that you keep it unopened. This packet will be handed to immigration officials at a U.S. port of entry when you arrive. You may be denied entry into the U.S. if your packet has already been opened.
Your packet will be labeled with your name and any other biographical data on the outside and will contain the following required documents inside:
- A copy of your IR5 visa application
- A copy of your medical exam
- Copies of your I.D.
- I-864 (Affidavit of Support) and any other supporting financial documents
- Documents supporting your relationship to the U.S. citizen such as a birth or adoption certificate
- Any other information and supporting documents that are deemed important to your immigrant visa application.
If you accidentally or intentionally open the packet, you must return it to your local U.S. embassy or consulate and ask them to reseal it. Keep this packet on hand with you (along with your X-rays) as you will need to submit it to immigration services. Do not pack it in checked baggage where you will not have immediate access to it.
What is in the Welcome Packet?
After approval of your Green Card application, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will mail you a welcome letter along with a packet titled “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants”. This will be sent within 30 days of application approval.
In this packet, you will find important information about moving to the U.S. such as:
- Information about your rights and responsibilities as a Green Card holder.
- Information about potential consequences for criminal behavior
- Lists of Federal Government agencies and departments (with contact information).
- Information about U.S. government assistance programs
- Information about how to properly maintain your permanent resident status
- Information about how to get a Social Security number, find a job and place to live, seek out childcare, get a driver’s license, open a bank account, etc.
- An overview of U.S. history and civics
- Information about becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen
What happens if my parent applied from within the U.S.?
If your parent is already in the U.S. when they become approved for a green card, your parent will need to file form I-485 (Adjustment of Status). This can be done if the applicant has entered and is currently living in the U.S. under a valid visa. For example, if your parent has entered the country illegally or overstayed their visa, he/she may be ineligible for adjustment of status. If this is the case, contact an immigration attorney who can offer you expert legal advice.
While your parent is waiting to become a permanent resident, they are eligible to apply for both employment and travel authorization while their case is pending. To do this, he/she must fill out Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and Form I-131 (Application or Travel Document). If you apply for these forms while also applying for adjustment of status (Form I-485), then the fee is automatically waived.
How long does it take to receive my permanent resident card after approval?
The time it takes for you to receive your permanent residence card will depend on whether or not you paid the immigrant visa fee and when you entered the country.
If you paid the immigrant fee before entering the U.S. then you will receive your card within 90 days of entry.
If you paid the immigrant fee after entering the U.S. then you will receive your card within 90 days of payment receipt.
If you have not paid the immigrant fee then the card will not be processed or sent.
Again, the card processing will begin as soon as payment for the immigrant visa fee has been received. When fully finished, the card will be sent to you at the U.S. mailing address specified by you on the DS-260 form which you initially filled out to complete your IR5 visa. If you do not receive your card during this or if you change addresses, you should notify USCIS by going online to their website or contacting them at their National Customer Service Center number, (800) 375-5283. Make sure to have your receipt number and immigrant visa number available when calling in in order to verify your visa case.
Are there any fees that I should look out for?
Not considering the fees of the IR5, additional costs will depend on whether or not you are inside the U.S. or abroad when the visa became approved.
If lawfully present in the U.S. when your green card was approved, you will need to pay:
- Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status): $1,140
- Biometric Service fee (if needed): $85
- USCIS Immigrant visa fee: $220
If you were approved for your IR5 visa abroad, your fees may include:
- Cost of travel
- Cost of setting up residence
- USCIS Immigrant fee: $220
If you do not pay the USCIS immigrant fee, your permanent resident card will not be processed. Therefore, it is important to pay this fee as soon as possible to avoid any delays.
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