How to Get a Green Card Faster Than 90 Days

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Are you in the US and wondering how to get a green card faster than 90 days? If you’re here on a temporary visa and circumstances require you to adjust your immigration status as quickly as possible, you have legal options. But applying for permanent residence soon after arriving in the US will raise red flags with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Prior to 2021, the USCIS implemented a 90-day rule to determine whether immigrants violated their non-immigrant status. While this rule has been removed from the agency’s Policy Manual, it remains a guide to assess visa applications. And although the rule no longer applies today, you must respond adequately to USCIS if your original intent to enter the US has changed. In addition, you must demonstrate that you did not misrepresent your initial intention.

In this post, we provide an understanding of the 90-day rule and its potential impact on your request for expediting your green card application.

What was the USCIS 90-day rule?

US immigration laws prevent the misuse of immigration rights. The 90-day rule was a presumption that you made a willful misrepresentation during admission or application for a non-immigrant visa. Today, it is a guide that USCIS uses to determine whether you engaged in conduct inconsistent with your non-immigrant status within 90 days of entering the country.

You can still apply for an adjustment in immigration status if your original intent was genuine, especially if your circumstances changed unexpectedly and significantly during the first 90-days. But proving non-immigrant status is not easy and you must be careful in avoiding any conducts that could raise USCIS officials’ suspicions.

Who is exempt from the 90-day rule?

The 90-day rule applies to holders of ‘single intent’ visas, which are intended for the specified purpose only, such as business, study, tourism, or some temporary employment. These are the temporary visas like B, F, J, M, Q, and TN. You cannot come to the US on a single intent visa and decide to apply for a green card. You may, however, extend your stay while you’re in the US but you must do so before your visa expires. Not all visa categories are eligible for an extension.

If you’re engaged to an American national, you can enter the country on the 90-day fiancé visa (K-1) to marry your American partner. After you marry, you can apply for an adjustment of status and get a green card.

The 90-day rule does not apply to ‘dual intent’ visas like the H-1B or L-1 visas, which give you an option to apply for a green card. The dual intent is, first, the intent to live and work in the US, and second, the intent to apply for permanent residency.

As far as 90-day rule exceptions go, immediate family members of US citizens are partially exempt from this rule. They will, instead, follow the 30/60 rule, which was in force prior to September 2017. Under that rule, green card applications filed within 30 days of entering the US were viewed with suspicion. Applications filed within 30 and 60 days of entry were flagged as suspicious but not automatically disqualifying. The 30/60 rule meant eligible individuals had a shorter wait to apply for a change of status.

How can you fall foul of the USCIS 90-day rule?

Learning how to get a green card faster than 90 days goes hand in hand with knowing what constitutes a violation of the 90-day rule. Here are the conducts that could lead the USCIS to believe that you misrepresented your original intent during visa application or admission to the US:

  • You take up unauthorized employment
  • You enroll in unauthorized studies
  • You marry a US citizen or green card holder
  • You file an “adjustment of status” green card application (Form I-485)

If these activities occur after 90 days of your entering the US, you won’t automatically be presumed to have misrepresented your original intent. But a contrary presumption can be made if you mention during an interview that you came to the US with the intention of remaining in the country. Then, you can face a problem even if you apply for a green card more than 90 days after arriving in the US.

How to count your 90 days?

Even though the USCIS is no longer using the 90-day rule, they are examining the date on which you entered the US. Previously, the rule applied to your most recent entry and your most recent visa, and this window is still considered by immigration officials.

Add 90 days to your most recent US entry date on your Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record. If you traveled and came back, the 90-day clock is reset to reflect the most recent date on your Form I-94 travel record.

For example, if the travel date is May 1, 2024, then 90 days later would be July 30, 2024. So long as you didn’t file a green card application before that date, you would not have problems with the 90-day rule.

Say you originally came to the US on a dual-intent visa, later left the country and returned using the single-intent visa. Then, your most recent visa status and entry will be considered in applying the 90-day rule.

What are the consequences of breaking the 90-day rule?

When you apply for a non-immigrant visa, you must prove that you plan to return to your home country after the trip’s purpose is completed. You’re granted a non-immigrant visa under the presumption of “non-immigrant intent”. It means you did not plan to live permanently in the US, and therefore, required a temporary visa when entering the country.

The 90-day guide presumes that you willfully misrepresented your non-immigration intent, and the USCIS assumes you are guilty until proven innocent. If you’re unable to provide otherwise, that your intent was genuine, the consequences can be dire. Not only will your request for permanent residence be denied but your temporary visa may be revoked and you may find it hard to obtain US visas in the future.

Working with an immigration attorney can help your chances of making a strong case and showing that your intentions really changed during the 90 days of arriving in the US. Here’s more on the ways to get a green card.

How to get a green card faster than 90 days? A look at strategies and scenarios.

The USCIS may expedite a green card application in certain emergency situations. They include but are not limited to urgent humanitarian cases, severe financial loss to a person or business, or if it is in the US government’s interests. Here are the fastest ways to get a green card in relation to the 90-day rule:

Humanitarian situations

Humanitarian efforts include death in the family, disability, an urgent need for medical care and extreme living conditions. For example, if you were to be afflicted with a serious health condition, you may be eligible for an expedited green card to maintain treatment for your medical condition. For a successful application, you must prove that, if forced to leave the US, you may endure serious bodily harm, even death.

A dire emergency situation

If you’re in danger of persecution or serious harm in your home country, it could be another reason for expedited green card processing. You will need to prove the safety risk to you if you’re forced to leave the US and return to your home country. For example, a breach of confidentiality or a national emergency that poses a threat to safety or life can warrant faster approval for employment-based green card applications.

Severe financial loss

Another reason that may justify faster green card approval is if your business sustains or you face a substantial financial loss. An example of the former case is if you hold an important position in the company and it may face a fire financial situation if you do not receive an expedited green card. An example of the latter is if you lose your job and cannot relocate to find another job while your employer suffers losses without immigrant employees in need of a green card.

An error by USCIS

Sometimes, immigration officials may be at fault. In the event that the USCIS is responsible for the delay due to an error during processing, you can request an expedited green card. An example would be if the USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE) by mistake when the requested evidence was already provided in the initial green card application. Your expedited request may be approved to make up for the lost time.

US government interests

Expedited green card processing may be motivated by US government interests. For example, if your case involves national security or public safety interests, which are urgent enough to warrant expedited processing, you may get your green card sooner.

Premium processing

The USCIS offers premium processing for the following employment-based petitions: Form I-129, Form I-140, Form I-765, and Form I-539. Premium processing guarantees processing within 15 calendar days. A fee of $1440 to $2500 applies.

Reasons for denial of expedited green card request

The USCIS has the final word on approving or denying green card expedite requests. Reasons for denial include:

  • Failing to file your request or application within the processing window
  • Failing to submit sufficient supporting documentation and evidence for your request
  • You filed an Employee Authorization Document (EAD)/work permit and used it to request immigration status changes

Understanding the possible reasons for denial will help you prepare better when you’re planning how to get a green card faster than 90 days. Keep these tips in mind when applying for expedite requests:

  • Make sure you check for eligibility criteria. If you don’t meet them, your request will likely be denied. To expedite the process, the USCIS may schedule an in-person interview to verify the authenticity of your documents and assess their eligibility for faster processing.
  • Be aware of the additional documentation that the USCIS may request to validate your reasons for expedite request. If you’re unable to provide these, your request may be denied. Gather all required documents ahead of time to be able to submit them promptly.
  • Follow USCIS guidelines on submitting your request. You may have a strong case but face denial for overlooking USCIS guidelines.
  • When you’re planning on how to get a green card fast, resist the temptation to avoid blowing the personal emergency you’re facing out of proportion. Understand the nature of personal emergency and determine whether it is a serious emergency or humanitarian concern.

As it is, getting a green card is not a walk in the park. Depending on your situation, you may have a lot to lose if your request is denied. That the USCIS has implemented stricter criteria for expedite requests increases obstacles in your path. Having an immigration attorney take over your case will increase chances of a successful application and relieve you of the substantial legwork and effort involved in making a strong appeal.

Benefits of hiring an immigration attorney

An immigration attorney can play a crucial role in helping you gain permanent resident status in the US. Here’s what you can expect when you hire an immigration attorney:

  • Get guidance and support in navigating the complex process of expediting your green card application, including the steps of the process and workings of the USCIS.
  • Have your situation assessed by a legal professional and determine the best course of action for your case.
  • Ensure a streamlined documentation process and personalized assistance throughout the application journey.
  • Understand whether and how your visa category may affect your application or processing times.
  • In case of a denial, you will receive advice on preparing and submitting documentation for an appeal.

Last but not the least, partnering with an immigration lawyer gives you the confidence that your application is in capable hands. You can use your own time to focus on other aspects of your situation and life.

We can help you obtain your green card sooner

For more information on how to get a green card faster than 90 days, contact Getachew & Ansari Immigration Attorneys, P.C. We’re a reputed immigration law firm in San Jose, California, with over 25 years of experience helping foreign nationals acquire permanent residency in the US. Our legal counsel services cover several areas, across asylum, citizenship, DACA, cancellation of removal, green cards, family immigration, waivers, removal defense, and crimmigration, to state some. We serve clients from the Middle East, Africa, Europe, Australia, Central America, South America, and Asia.

If your situation requires you to obtain a green card quickly, please drop us a message via our contact form and receive an initial consultation. No matter how complex your legal issue, rest assured we will provide legal solutions that have the best chances of helping you obtain a green card expeditiously.

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