How lucky are you, marrying a U.S. citizen! Decision time: will you live in the GTA or move to New York or L.A.? If “nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina”, get ready to emigrate.
Could You Get a Green Card?
(Almost) anyone can apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a green card, the first step to becoming a naturalized American. Applying can take a year or more. Once you have a green card, you are on a fast track to taking the oath of allegiance (about three years on average).
Applying From Inside Canada
Now the wedding nuptials are over, your spouse can file the forms for you to emigrate to the States. Your file will be sent to the U.S. National Visa Center and then on to the U.S. consulate nearest to you. You and your spouse will be invited to the consulate for an interview.
Is Your Marriage Bona Fide?
The candles are barely out on your cake. Can you prove your marriage is authentic? Newly married couples of less than two years are interviewed by a U.S. immigration officer to prove your marriage is above board. Marriages of convenience made just to get into the U.S. get a big fat rejection letter.
Proving Your Marriage is the Real Thing
Your ability to live permanently in the U.S. and work or study depends on whether you are a genuine couple and can support yourselves financially. Immigration officers may ask to see:
- birth and marriage certificates
- engagement and wedding ceremony receipts
- wedding and engagement photos
- letters, emails or phone records showing you are a couple
- travel or gift receipts
- affidavits or letters from family and friends
- leases for rental homes
- evidence you share your finances or insurance policies
- photos or receipts of assets you bought as a couple
- and any other document that proves your marriage is not a sham.
What a Conditional Green Card Means
If you’re application is accepted and you are newly married, along with an immigrant visa or permanent residency status, you’ll be given a conditional green card. The card is effective for two years. You can apply to have the conditions removed after two years of living in the U.S. Applications can be made up to 90 days before the expiration date. But be sure to apply before the card expires or you may have to start all over again.
Assessing Your Income
Who’s paying the bills? Moving to the U.S. is one thing. Showing you can support yourselves as a couple is something else. Your spouse needs enough income to make the relationship and move work financially. Minimum income requirements apply. An affidavit of support, employment letters, tax returns, bank account statements and other legal or financial documents are useful in making your case. If income is a stumbling block, ask a joint sponsor to attest that they will be personally and financially responsible for you until you get U.S. citizenship.
Working or Travelling While You Wait
Provided you are already in the U.S., working or travelling while your green card or naturalization application is pending is possible. Permission is at the USCIS’ discretion.
Proving American Indian Ancestry
One or more parents an American Indian? American Indians and their Canadian-born children have a right to enter the U.S. You can apply for a green card after proving your ancestry.
Costs to Emigrate to the U.S.
Filing fees to immigrate or become a naturalized citizen go up substantially Oct. 2. The former fees were too low to cover government’s costs and so some have almost doubled.
- Naturalization applications increase to $1,170 USD from $640 USD.
- If you are already in the U.S., the filing fee is $1,130 USD for children or adults. Reduced fees for children under 14 to change their status to U.S. citizen are eliminated.
- Applying to work or travel will cost you — $550 USD and $590 USD respectfully. Previously it was included with your application.
Good news: the $85 biometrics fee is eliminated. Legal action by the American Immigration Lawyers Association and others to challenge the fee increases is underway. Unless they are successful, expect to pay the new fees.
Tidying Up Your Business Affairs
Before you sever your ties to Canada, be sure you have your business affairs in order. Transfer bank accounts and investments to financial institutions in your new country. Once you leave Canada to live in the U.S. and dispose of land and property holdings here, you are considered an emigrant. Inform any Canadian financial institutions that make payments to you that you are no longer a Canadian resident.
Paying Capital Gains
You will have to file a final income tax return in case you owe capital gains tax on property or goods you sold before you left Canada. Before you turn out the lights, let the Canada Revenue Agency know when you left Canada and where you can be reached. Enjoy your new life.
Notarize Immigration Forms to Move to the U.S.
Axess Law’s Ontario notary publics witness, sign and seal U.S. immigration forms. Get your forms e-signed with a convenient video conference call, 7 days a week. Day or evening appointments available. Dial toll-free to 877-522-9377 or in Greater Toronto at 647-479-0118 or use our online booking form to make yours. Drop in to our Ottawa, Toronto, Scarborough, Vaughan, Etobicoke, Mississauga Winston Churchill or Mississauga Heartland law office for an in-person appointment.
Click here to learn more about Axess Law’s notary public services.
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