Am I Eligible?

Am I Eligible? "MY fianc obtained U.S. citizenship and returned to Ireland to live. When we marry, will I be eligible for U.S. citizenship? If so, how would I go about securing this for myself (and any possible future children)?

"I won a green card in the Morrison visa lottery, worked in America a few years, and then returned home. My green card expired a few years ago. Would this adversely affect matters?"

AFTER you marry, you will not be immediately eligible for U.S. citizenship. First your husband would have to apply for permanent resident status (a green card) on your behalf. Three years after the status is granted, you would eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship.

The above is contingent on you and your husband maintaining a primary residence in the U.S., and adhering to the rules about keeping green cards valid - i.e., filing U.S. tax returns. If your post-marriage plans do not include residing in the U.S., then there's no point in filing for a green card.

Your past Morrison visa won't affect any future green card application. Many people obtain green cards, live in the U.S. for a few years and return to their home countries. This in and of itself is not a bar to future admissibility to the U.S.

EIIC Reminder

AS we've mentioned in previous columns, fees for obtaining many services from United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) will increase come July 30. Here's a timely press release reminder from the Emerald Isle Immigration Center in Queens and the Bronx about the new changes:

Immigrants should consider filing that application for United States citizenship or that Green Card renewal before July 30, 2007.

On May 29, USCIS officially announced that they would raise filing fees on most immigration applications and petitions effective Monday, July 30. Fees will be increased by an average of 66% across the board. All applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after July 30 must include the new, higher fee. The current filing fees will be valid through July 29.

Among the many fees that will rise is the one for a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to apply to become a United States citizen. The application for naturalization will be increased by 66%, to $675 from $400, which includes the fee for fingerprints and biometrics. Applicants for citizenship over 74 years of age are not required to pay the fingerprint and biometrics fee, which is currently $70 and will be increased to $80.

The fee for an application to renew or replace a permanent resident alien card will increase from $260 to $370. A green card renewal application may be filed up to six months before the 10-year expiration date on the green card.

An immigrant applying to become a lawful permanent resident in the United States through the adjustment of status process will have to pay $1,010, a whopping 155% increase over the current $395 fee. Applicants over 78 years of age or under 14 years old do not have to pay the fingerprints and biometrics fee. To limit the cost increases for immigrant families with children, the fee for each child 14 years and under who applies with at least one parent to become a legal permanent resident will be $600, instead of $930.

The USCIS intends to use the additional revenue to improve efficiency and upgrade its buildings and computer systems and to reduce the average time for processing visa applications. The agency's operating costs are entirely funded by filing fees.

A list of all the new filing fees may be found on the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov, or check the Emerald Isle website at www.eiic.org for further details on applying for U.S. citizenship and the documents you will need to prepare.

Those with further queries about the fee increases or applications should contact either office of the Emerald Isle Immigration Centers in New York and ask to speak to an immigration counselor.

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