So We Applied for a Green Card

My family and I first moved to Nashville in the USA in 2015. At that first move, Cha and I didn’t really decide how long we were going to stay here and when we will go back to the Philippines.

I was granted an R-1 visa because I work with a global agency of the United Methodist Church. Since the R-1 is only good for a maximum of 5 years, I needed to apply for a green card if I wanted to keep working here.

Sometime in late 2017, we decided to apply for the green card so we could continue staying and working in the US.

I talked with my supervisor and with our HR department. I read and researched a lot about the Green Card process.

Process: Green Card, Permanent Residence Application for Religious Workers

Applying for our green card is a two-step process. The first one is to apply for the USCIS Form I-360 Special Immigrant: Religious Worker. Because my visa is R-1 (Religious Worker), this is the path I needed to take. It also falls under the Employment-Based application fourth category or EB4.

After the I-360 petition is approved, my wife, son, and I could then apply for the Adjustment of Status (USCIS Form I-485). For other employment-based categories, they could apply for the petition (I-140) and the Adjustment of Status concurrently (at the same time).

The green card application process is neither easy nor cheap. It’s actually quite expensive. Two lawyers gave me a quotation of between $9,000 to $18,000 for the three of us–me, my wife, and our son.

Because of the expense, we decided to do it ourselves. It ended up costing us $3,635 for the I-360 and I-485 applications. Plus another $1,120 for the immigration physical examinations for the USCIS Form I-695 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.

To know the complete cost of this process, please visit this post: http://amightylife.com/2019/03/04/how-much-does-it-cost-to-apply-for-a-green-card-in-the-usa/.

Our Permanent Residence Application Timeline so far

1st Step: I-360 Application

• Submitted USCIS Form I-360: May 12, 2018
• Application Received by the USCIS: May 18, 2018
• USCIS Approval of I-360: October 23, 2018

2nd Step: I-485 (Adjustment of Status) Application

• Submitted USCIS Forms I-485, I-131, and I-765: November 10, 2018
• Application Received by the USCIS: November 19, 2018
• Biometrics Appointment Notice Received: January 11, 2019
• Biometrics Taken: January 31, 2019
• USCIS Approval of my wife’s I-765: March 20, 2019
• Received my wife’s Social Security Number and work permit card: March 26, 2019
• Received my Travel Authorization/Advance Parole Document: 20 April 2019

In addition to I-485, I also applied for USCIS Form I-131 Travel Authorization, Advance Parole, which will allow me to travel outside of the USA and be allowed to re-enter the USA. Without this document, I could not leave and re-enter the USA. If I leave, the USCIS will consider my application as withdrawn. And we definitely don’t want that.

My wife applied for I-765 Employment Authorization Document so that she would be allowed to work while waiting for the Green Card approval.

I am still waiting for my Travel Authorization Document, also known as Advance Parole. I hope I’ll receive it before the end of April because I have an upcoming travel for work in May. My supervisor is aware that I may not be able to join our program in South Africa IF the travel authorization does not arrive before the end of April.

UPDATE (22 Apr 2019) – I received the Travel Authorization Document on April 20th.

Processing Times

According to the website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), it will take at least 11 months for our application to be processed. Based on that timeline, the earliest time that we will receive the green card is between September and October 2019.

Waiting and Waiting…

We are in that process right now. Waiting for updates on the process. It is nerve-wracking I tell you. Waiting is not my strong suit. If I need to go through something, I’d rather go head long into it or just move on to the next thing. It’s my monkey brain that could not sit still and rest.

Meanwhile, my wife can work legally. So we will look for ways to take advantage of that.

For now, we wait.

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