World Journal Weekly Q & A - May 8, 2011
Q & A 1. 2.
I Just Retired and My Wife and I Want to Immigrate to the States - How Do We Do It?
A retiree asks:
We are a fairly well-to-do couple in our mid-50s who want to immigrate to the United States. I am a retired bank auditor with a bachelor's degree in finance and 25 years of work experience. For the last three years, my wife has opened up and run her own small restaurant. What are our chances of immigrating to the U.S.? How can we do it?
If you are well to do and have over $500,000, the U.S. has an investor immigration program under which a $500,000 investment in a targeted employment area (TEA) allows conditional residence and a further application within the 90 day period prior to the second anniversary of the granting of conditional residence can remove the conditional basis of the green card. A targeted employment area is defined as one which has 150% of the national average for unemployment or is not within a metropolitan statistical area or within the outer boundaries of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more. Within a TEA, you can make your own individual investment or you may select one of the many Regional Investment Centers which have projects in TEA's. If you do not wish to invest your funds in a project in a TEA, the amount of investment required to qualify for the program in other areas is $1 million. The investment program is especially attractive as the time to immigrate is approximately one year to obtain conditional residence.
Another alternative is for you to locate a position in finance or accounting with a U.S. employer which would be willing to sponsor you for immigration. The employer would have to go through a labor certification filing in which you could be selected if there were no able, willing, qualified, and available U.S. workers for the position. Dependent upon whether the position requires a bachelor's degree or master's degree (a bachelor's degree plus five years of progress of experience in the field can qualify as the equivalent of a master's degree) and your country of birth, the period of time to immigrate ranges from 2-9 years. In the meanwhile, you can work for the sponsoring employer if it also sponsors you successfully for an H-1B specialized occupation non-immigrant visa. H-1B visas are capped in number (approximately 85,000 per year) with the cap sometimes running out very shortly after the opening date for submissions but sometimes lasting for many months. U.S.C.I.S. is beginning to accept H-1B petitions for new employment on April 1, 2011 to begin on October 1, 2011. H-1B status can be given for up to six years and even longer if the employer sponsors the individual for permanent immigration. Family members are allowed to accompany the principal under H-4 dependent status.
As your wife has management skills in running a restaurant, she may also be eligible for labor certification sponsorship by a U.S. employer which can use her management skills. She would likely qualify under the category requiring at least two years of working experience. Dependent upon her country of birth, the time to immigrate would likely be anywhere from 5-9 years. In the interim, she might find it difficult to work for the employer as restaurant management is generally not seen as a specialized occupation. in your letter, you have not disclosed any other qualifications in terms of education or working experience of your wife. In the event that your wife has education and working experience which is relevant to another job opportunity in the States, she might be able to use those attributes to immigrate.
In terms of timing vis-a-vis country of birth, I do note that the spouse's country of birth can be utilized for the permanent immigration case if the principal applicant's native country has a longer backlog of years to immigrate to the States.
What to do About the Affidavit of Support Since We Are on Unemployment? Can We Count Unemployment As Part of Income? What Counts Towards Income for Support - Only W-2's?
LA reader asks:
I (a U.S. citizen) filed immigrant paper for my unmarried adult son in 4/2006. Currently his case has been transfer to Guangzhou Consulate. My questions are:
- I filed joint tax return with my husband. I have no job and my husband worked only 1 month in 2010 and lost his job. He has been receiving unemployment pay ever since. Can we have a co-sponsor, when my son’s priority date become current and we are still unemployed? Will the unemployment pay disqualify us from even finding a co-sponsor?
- Can we sponsor our son without a co-sponsor, if I have a job and my pay plus my husband’s unemployment pay is greater than the poverty guideline?
- Is our joint filing W-2 total amount the amount to sponsor our son?
1. Persons who are unable to support those for whom they have petitioned are allowed to have co-sponsors who can assume the support obligation. The collection of unemployment benefits does not disqualify someone from obtaining a co-sponsor.
2. In looking at whether there is sufficient support, a consular officer will look at three years of tax returns. Where there is a visa applicant of young working age, the officer will be more likely to give the benefit of the doubt to the applicant on support questions. The question of whether a consular officer will believe that there is no threat of your son becoming a public charge (assuming that you and your husband meet the poverty guidelines for support) will be one involving the officer's discretion after consideration of your son's age, education, past history of work, and state of health, etc. Kindly note that if your son has been working and has independent funds, those can be mentioned in your affidavit of support papers and counted towards your son's ability to not become a public charge. Unemployment benefits unfortunately cannot be counted as income for I-864 support purposes since the benefits are only temporary.
3. In many cases, the W-2 total amount is the amount considered for the support of visa applicants. To be accurate though, the amount which is considered is actually the total income on line 22 of the 1040 tax form. That total income takes into account not only the W-2 amount, but other items such as taxable interest, dividends, business income not related to the W-2's, capital gain, rental real estate, royalties, income from partnerships and S corporations, etc. In addition, even if not part of recognized total income, other items such as IRA distributions, pensions and annuities, and Social Security benefits can be mentioned in the filling out of the affidavit of support form to convince the consular officer that the visa applicant has sufficient financial support.