How to Apply for a US Green Card WITHOUT a Lawyer: 7 Tips

The process to apply for a Green Card of Permanent Residence in the US can be complicated and expensive. But if you are willing to read a lot of documents, and carefully fill out the application forms, you can choose not to use a lawyer’s services.

Disclaimer: This is not a legal advice on immigration. I am just sharing my experience for educational purposes.

Here are 7 tips to help you apply for a US Green Card without a lawyer.

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Where to Eat Filipino Food in and around Nashville TN

For people like us who grew up in the Philippines, our palates and taste buds will always long for the familiar taste and smell of Filipino cooking.

Thankfully, several restaurants in Nashville offer Filipino food and cooking.

If you’re missing food from the homeland, here’s the list of where to eat Filipino food in and around Nashville, TN. The list below is not ranked. Instead, I organized them based on relative distance away from downtown Nashville.

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Moving to the USA? Teach Your Child the Filipino Language First

Our son Malcolm was a few months short of two years when we started planning for our move to the USA.

We decided to start talking to him mainly in English to help him prepare for the transition since he will be surrounded by English-speaking Americans.

Nope, that is not how it turned out. We were wrong.

Teach Filipino first!

Looking back, the same reasoning would have helped our son acquire Filipino as a mother-tongue first. Since he’s surrounded by English-speaking people–in church, at school, and in our neighborhood he could easily pick the language up.

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What does it mean to have children who are American citizens?

When we first moved from the Philippines to Nashville, TN, we were a family of 3: Tatay, Nanay, & Malcolm. Five years later, Caspian joined us and another baby is on the way.

It also means that in our soon-to-be family of 5, three of us are Filipino citizens while two (2) are American citizens.

To be completely accurate, Caspian is a dual citizen and our next baby will be one, too.

Citizenship by birth

The USA is one of the countries that follow the jus soli doctrine of citizenship. It means that all babies born within its territory are considered citizens. This is also called birthright citizenship, which the Trump Administration has been challenging as part of tightening policy on immigration.

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Don’t Submit Documents Unless Asked For: Lesson Learned from our Ongoing Green Card Application

Back in October 2018, we applied for Permanent Residence (Green Card) in the USA. We initially did not include the medical examination (Form I-693). The form said that we can submit it at a later time, which, I thought, made sense.

So in June 2019, I sent our Forms I-693 to the USCIS. It had a cover letter and included the receipt numbers for our application, as well as our A numbers.

As it turned out, we should not have done that.

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How Much Does It Cost to Apply for a Green Card in the USA?

Applying for a US Green Card can be an expensive process. Some jobs provide a way to become a Permanent Resident. Sometimes, though, you arrive in the US with a work visa and after at least two (2) years, you become eligible to apply for Permanent Residence, aka Green Card.

By the way, it’s called a “Green Card” because the Permanent Resident cards issued before 1976 had the green color. Since 2002, though, the card has a light pink color.

We arrived in the USA in the third quarter of 2015. By mid-2017, we became eligible to apply for Permanent Residence. However, because of the demands of my job, we chose not to apply. But I was actively seeking information about the process and what it will require from us.

Expensive!

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7 Tips for Visiting South Korea in 12 Hours or Less

The land of Korean telenovelas, K-Pop, castles, kimchi and Korean barbecue! I am not really a fan of K-Pop and koreanovelas, but I love the sense of history of the place and the clash or coexistence between contemporary and historical.

You can visit South Korea visa-free!

Yes that is true if you have a US visa or a green card, together with an onward ticket from or back to the USA can enjoy a short visa-free stay in South Korea! I was surprised to learn this, but it was definitely a welcome development.

After my short trip to Mongolia, then to Malaysia, I planned a 12-hour layover at the Incheon airport so I could visit Seoul for just a few minutes. Thankfully, a friend of mine was there at the time. Another friend visiting from Manila joined us.

If you have a 4 to 12-hour layover, make sure to exit the airport through passport control. Don’t go to the gate of your next flight. I was so set on needing to take a shower after my flight from Kuala Lumpur. I explored Kuala Lumpur the day before and I was so sweaty and feeling icky that I felt like I needed a shower first!

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How to prepare for your first winter

If you’ve spent some time in Baguio City or Mountain Province in January or February, then you have an idea of what cold is like. You cannot take a bath without a heater or hot water. Your breath steams early in the morning and the fog!

But that is nothing when you experience your first winter in the United States. It is cold, nope not Baguio Cold, but refrigerator, freezer cold!

If you are new to the US you better prepare for the cold of winter!

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The Art of Accumulating Pasalubong

Every Overseas Filipino know the importance of stocking pasalubongs for loved ones in the Philippines. Some even send balikbayan boxes regularly. You probably see many balikbayans at NAIA with lots and lots of baggage and boxes, especially during the Christmas season.

Pinoys who have spent many years in the USA have probably come up with their system of buying and accumulating pasalubongs. But for newcomers, it may be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few tips on the art of accumulating pasalubong.

First things first: decide on a budget and stick to it!

Do not bankrupt yourself because you want to give something nice to family and friends. I repeat, do not bankrupt yourself! Decide on a budget and stick to it. Read my post on keeping up with the Joneses.

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How to Apply for an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN)

Disclaimer: The article that follows tells the story of how my wife and son applied for their Individual Tax Identification Number (TIN)s. It is not meant to be taken as financial or tax advice. This is only for educational and informational purposes. The reader is encouraged to do their due diligence.

After my first year of working in the United States, I had to file my income tax return. I had my Social Security Number, our HR Department withheld my tax every payday. All I had to do was to file my income tax. I decided to do it online through TurboTax. It was easy–all I had to do was upload my form W-2, which our HR provided.

There was a catch, though. I was taxed as a single person because I could not claim my wife and my son as my dependents. They did not have Social Security numbers and they couldn’t get it either. They are considered as dependents of a non-immigration alien. What that meant is that my wife cannot work at all.

I, on the other hand, was being treated as a resident-for-tax purposes.

Good thing, I got in touch with a few Filipinos who had been in the same situation as we were. They told us to explore the possibility of getting an ITIN for my wife and son. That’s exactly what we did in November 2016.

If you have family members who are dependents, but you want to claim them as dependents in your tax returns, then this information may help you.

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