Q: I don’t have a green card, but I work and pay taxes. Can I purchase a home in the U. S.?
Naresh, Toms Rivers, N.J.
A. Yes. Anyone who has the funds may buy property in the U.S. That includes undocumented immigrants, visitors, temporary workers. Even individuals who have never been to the U.S.
Most people can’t afford to pay an entire home purchase price, so they get a bank loan for the house, called a “mortgage.” For undocumented immigrants, getting a mortgage can be difficult. If you are here unlawfully, you may need to pay a higher down payment — the amount you must pay besides the loan amount — than other buyers.
Q: Can you explain the 90-day rule for filing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence? I became a conditional permanent resident based on a petition filed by my U.S. citizen husband. My two-year card expires on July 4. I filed form I-751 with my spouse’s signature on May 6. The form says “If you are filing this petition jointly with your spouse, you must file it during the 90-day period immediately before your conditional residence expires.” I am confused about the “must file it during the 90-day period” statement. Did I file late?
Name Withheld, Ronkonkoma
Q. You did not file late. Filing late would mean that you file after your two year conditional card expires. In your case, July 4.
You received a two-year conditional permanent residence card because you became a permanent resident based on marriage and, you became a permanent resident before the second anniversary of your marriage. Where the petitioner (here, your husband) and the green card holder (you), both sign USCIS form I-751, the couple must file the form anytime between 90 days before the two-year conditional card expires, and the date the card expires. If the joint petition is filed after the card expires, USCIS will accept it if the late filing was because of “good cause and extenuating circumstances.”
Sometimes the petitioning spouse won’t or can’t sign form I-751. Often, the conditional permanent resident can self-petition for the permanent card. Then, the self-petitioner can file anytime, before, during and after the 90-day period that applies in joint petitioning cases.
Q: My sister is visiting Europe for a month. Can she apply for a visitor’s visa at a U.S. consulate outside her home country? I am a permanent resident and I would like her to visit me.
Samkit, Houston, TX.
A. If she is lawfully in the country where she applies, your sister can apply for a visitor’s visa at any U.S. consulate. Sometimes a consular officer in what some call a “third country,” will require a visa applicant to return home to get a visa. The third country officer feels he or she cannot properly evaluate evidence that the applicant has sufficient ties to her home country. The way you describe your sister traveling around Europe, she has lots of financial resources. That will help convince a U.S. consular officer to grant her a visa.
Allan Wernick is an attorney and director of the City University of New York’s Citizenship NOW! project. Send questions and comments to Allan Wernick, New York Daily News, 4 New York Plaza, N.Y., 10004 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @awernick.