Form I-817 – Application for Family Unity Benefits for the United States

1. What is Form I-817 used for?

Form I-817, also known as the Application for Family Unity Benefits, is used by certain qualifying family members of individuals granted legalization under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) to request protection from deportation and work authorization. The primary purpose of Form I-817 is to allow family members to stay together in the United States if one family member has been granted legal status. This form is essential for those seeking to maintain family unity and prevent the separation of families due to immigration issues. It provides an avenue for eligible family members to apply for protection against deportation and obtain work authorization while their immigration status is being considered.

2. Who is eligible to apply for Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817?

To be eligible to apply for Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817, the following criteria must be met:

1. The applicant must be the spouse or child of a principal alien who has been granted legalization under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, or under section 202 of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

2. The applicant must have been physically present in the United States on the date the principal alien applied for legalization, and have continuously resided in the United States since the application was filed.

3. The applicant must not be inadmissible to the United States under certain provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act, unless eligible for a waiver.

4. It is important to note that the eligibility requirements for Family Unity Benefits are specific and must be carefully met in order to qualify for this form of relief.

3. What are the supporting documents required for Form I-817?

When submitting Form I-817 – Application for Family Unity Benefits, it is important to include various supporting documents to strengthen your application. The required supporting documents typically include:

1. Proof of relationship: This can include birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other documents establishing the familial relationship between the applicant and the qualifying family member.

2. Proof of residence: Documents demonstrating that the applicant has resided in the United States continuously since the qualifying family member’s entry into the country are usually required. This could include leases, utility bills, or other official documents.

3. Form I-485 receipt: If the qualifying family member has filed or intends to file Form I-485, they should include a copy of the receipt notice with the Form I-817 application.

4. Evidence of extreme hardship: If applicable, documents proving the extreme hardship that would be faced by the qualifying family member if the application is not approved should be submitted.

5. Evidence of admissibility: Any relevant documents demonstrating the applicant’s admissibility to the United States, such as proof of lawful entry or eligibility for a waiver, should also be included.

By including these supporting documents with your Form I-817 application, you can help provide a comprehensive and strong case for Family Unity Benefits for the United States.

4. How much does it cost to file Form I-817?

The current filing fee for Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits, is $590. This fee should be submitted along with the completed form and any necessary supporting documents. It is important to note that this fee is subject to change, so it is always advisable to check the most up-to-date information on the USCIS website before submitting your application. Additionally, there may be additional costs associated with obtaining any required supporting documents or translations.

5. Can I file Form I-817 online?

1. No, as of the current regulations, Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits, cannot be filed online. The form must be completed in hard copy and sent by mail to the designated address as specified in the form instructions.

2. When completing Form I-817, it is essential to follow all instructions carefully and provide accurate and complete information to avoid delays or potential issues with the application processing. Always ensure that all required supporting documentation is included along with the form to support your eligibility for family unity benefits.

6. How long does it take to process a Form I-817 application?

The processing time for a Form I-817 application, also known as Application for Family Unity Benefits, can vary depending on various factors. However, on average, it takes approximately six to twelve months for USCIS to process a Form I-817 application. The timeline may be influenced by the caseload at the USCIS office where the application is filed, the completeness of the application package, any requests for additional evidence, and the complexity of the case. It is important for applicants to ensure that all required documentation is submitted accurately to avoid delays in the processing of their applications. Additionally, applicants can check the USCIS website for current processing times for Form I-817 applications to get a better estimate of how long it may take for their specific case to be processed.

7. Can I include my children on the Form I-817 application?

Yes, you can include your children on the Form I-817 application to apply for Family Unity Benefits for the United States. When submitting Form I-817 for family unity benefits, you can list your eligible children who are unmarried and under the age of 21. It is important to provide all the necessary information and documentation for each child included in the application, such as birth certificates, proof of relationship to you, and any other required supporting documents. Including your children on the application can help ensure that they are also considered for protection under the Family Unity Program.

8. What are the eligibility criteria for Family Unity Benefits?

To be eligible for Family Unity Benefits through Form I-817, applicants must meet the following criteria:

1. Family Relationship: The applicant must be the spouse or unmarried minor child of a qualifying individual who is either a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.

2. Continuous Presence: The applicant must have been continuously physically present in the United States since January 14, 1998.

3. Admissibility: The applicant must be admissible to the United States or eligible for a waiver of any grounds of inadmissibility.

4. Family Unity Demonstration: The applicant must demonstrate that the qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if the applicant were to be removed from the United States.

5. Application Timeline: The application must be filed within specified timeframes outlined by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Meeting these eligibility criteria is crucial for successfully applying for Family Unity Benefits and ensuring that the application is processed in accordance with established guidelines.

9. Is there a deadline for applying for Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817?

Yes, there is a deadline for applying for Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817. The application must be submitted within 150 days of the following events:

1. The approval of the qualifying relative’s Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.
2. The approval of the qualifying relative’s Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.
3. The grant of asylum to the principal applicant.
4. The grant of withholding of deportation or removal to the principal applicant.

It is important to adhere to this deadline to ensure timely consideration of the application for Family Unity Benefits. Failure to submit the Form I-817 within the 150-day window may result in the denial of the application and the loss of eligibility for this immigration benefit.

10. What happens if my Form I-817 application is denied?

If your Form I-817 application is denied, you will receive a written decision from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) explaining the reasons for the denial. It is crucial to carefully review this decision to understand the specific grounds on which your application was denied. In case of a denial, you have options to consider, such as:

1. Requesting a Review: You can request a review of the denial through a formal process known as a Motion to Reopen or a Motion to Reconsider. This involves submitting additional evidence or arguments to address the issues cited in the denial decision.

2. Appealing the Decision: Depending on the circumstances of the denial, you may be able to file an appeal with the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). The appeal process involves submitting a Notice of Appeal to challenge the denial decision.

3. Re-filing the Application: If your application was denied due to a procedural error or lack of documentation, you may choose to re-file the Form I-817 application with the necessary corrections and additional supporting evidence.

It is recommended to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative to assess the best course of action in response to a denial of your Form I-817 application.

11. Can I work while my Form I-817 application is pending?

Yes, applicants who have filed a Form I-817, Application for Family Unity Benefits, can work while their application is pending under certain conditions:

1. Employment Authorization Document (EAD): To work legally while your Form I-817 application is pending, you must apply for and receive an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) based on your pending Family Unity application. This EAD allows you to work in the United States while your Form I-817 is being processed.

2. Eligibility: Not all applicants for Form I-817 are eligible for work authorization. In general, you may be eligible for the EAD if you can demonstrate that you are prima facie eligible for the benefits sought in your Form I-817 application.

3. Limitations: It is important to note that the ability to work while your Form I-817 application is pending does not grant you lawful permanent resident status or any other immigration status. It simply allows you to work legally in the United States during the pendency of your Family Unity application.

4. Consult an Immigration Attorney: Navigating the complexities of Form I-817 and associated work authorization can be challenging. It is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the application process and ensure that you are in compliance with all relevant regulations regarding work authorization.

In conclusion, yes, you can work while your Form I-817 application is pending, provided you have obtained an Employment Authorization Document based on your pending Family Unity application and meet the eligibility requirements for work authorization.

12. Can I travel outside of the United States while my Form I-817 application is pending?

Yes, you can travel outside of the United States while your Form I-817 application is pending, but there are important factors to consider:

1. Traveling may result in the abandonment of your application if you fail to follow the necessary procedures or timelines.
2. If you leave the U.S. while your application is pending, you may risk being denied reentry or face complications at the port of entry.
3. It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney before embarking on any travel outside the U.S. to ensure that you understand the potential consequences and make informed decisions regarding your application status.

In conclusion, while it is possible to travel outside the United States while your Form I-817 application is pending, it is crucial to proceed with caution and seek professional guidance to avoid any negative impact on your immigration status.

13. Can I apply for other immigration benefits while my Form I-817 application is pending?

While your Form I-817 application for Family Unity Benefits is pending, you can generally apply for other immigration benefits. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Eligibility: Make sure you meet the eligibility requirements for any other immigration benefits you wish to apply for.
2. Impact on Form I-817: Applying for other immigration benefits does not automatically affect your pending Form I-817 application.
3. Dual Intent: Depending on the specific immigration benefit you are applying for, it is essential to consider the concept of “dual intent,” which allows individuals to pursue certain benefits while having a pending immigrant petition or application.
4. Consult an Immigration Attorney: It is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or legal expert to understand the implications of applying for other immigration benefits while your Form I-817 is pending.

Overall, you can generally seek other immigration benefits while your Form I-817 application is pending, but it is crucial to assess your specific situation and seek professional guidance to ensure the process is handled correctly and in compliance with immigration laws and regulations.

14. Can I include my spouse on the Form I-817 application if they are not in the United States?

Yes, you can include your spouse on the Form I-817 application even if they are not physically present in the United States. However, there are certain requirements that both you and your spouse need to meet in order to be eligible for Family Unity benefits. Here are some key points to consider:

1. Relationship Requirement: You must be married to your spouse at the time you file Form I-817 for them to be eligible for inclusion on your application.

2. Eligibility Criteria: Your spouse must also meet all the eligibility criteria for Family Unity benefits, including being the spouse of a principal applicant who is currently receiving benefits under Family Unity provisions.

3. Documentation: You will need to provide evidence of your marriage, such as a marriage certificate, and fulfill all other documentation requirements specified on the Form I-817 application to support the inclusion of your spouse.

4. Communication: It is important to ensure regular communication with your spouse regarding the application process, as they may need to fulfill certain requirements from outside the United States.

Including your spouse who is not in the United States on your Form I-817 application is possible, but it is crucial to follow all the necessary steps and provide the required documentation to establish their eligibility for Family Unity benefits.

15. What are the consequences of submitting false information on Form I-817?

Submitting false information on Form I-817 can have serious consequences, including legal ramifications and potential denial of the application. Here are some of the possible outcomes:

1. Denial of the Form I-817 application: USCIS thoroughly reviews all information provided on the form, and if false information is discovered, the application may be denied.

2. Immigration consequences: Providing false information on a government form can have severe immigration consequences, potentially leading to deportation or removal proceedings.

3. Criminal penalties: Knowingly providing false information on a government form is considered fraud, which is a criminal offense. This can result in fines, imprisonment, and a permanent mark on your record.

4. Ineligibility for future immigration benefits: If USCIS determines that false information was submitted on Form I-817, you may become ineligible for any future immigration benefits.

It is crucial to be truthful and accurate when completing immigration forms to avoid these serious consequences. If you realize that you have made an error or provided incorrect information, it is important to seek legal advice promptly to address the issue appropriately.

16. Can I apply for a green card through Family Unity Benefits?

No, you cannot apply for a green card directly through the Family Unity Benefits program, which is governed by Form I-817. Family Unity Benefits provide temporary protection from deportation and work authorization to certain family members of individuals who have legalized their status through qualifying immigration programs. However, participation in the Family Unity Benefits program does not automatically lead to obtaining a green card. To apply for a green card through a family member, you would need to explore other pathways such as family-based immigration petitions (Form I-130) or through employment-based sponsorship, among other available options. It’s important to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative to assess your eligibility and guide you through the appropriate immigration processes.

17. Can I renew my Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817?

Yes, you can renew your Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817. Form I-817, also known as the Application for Family Unity Benefits, is used to request an extension of family unity benefits for certain family members of principal applicants who were granted legalization or amnesty under Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) or under the LIFE Act provisions. To renew your Family Unity Benefits, you would need to file a new Form I-817 along with any required supporting documents before your current benefits expire. It is important to ensure that you submit the renewal application in a timely manner to avoid any lapses in your benefits.

18. What are the steps to apply for Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817?

To apply for Family Unity Benefits using Form I-817, individuals must follow these steps:

1. Eligibility Assessment: Determine if you meet the criteria for Family Unity Benefits, which generally includes having a qualifying family relationship with a principal applicant who is granted legalization under the Family Unity Program.

2. Complete Form I-817: Fill out the Form I-817 accurately and completely, providing all required information and supporting documents.

3. Gather Supporting Documents: Collect all necessary documentation to support your application, such as proof of relationship to the principal applicant, proof of continuous physical presence in the U.S., and any other required evidence.

4. Submit Application: Send the completed Form I-817 along with the supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS address as indicated in the form instructions.

5. Pay Fees: Include the required application fee with your submission. If you are unable to pay the fee, you may request a fee waiver.

6. Wait for USCIS Response: After submitting your application, wait for USCIS to process your request. You may be required to attend an interview or provide additional information during the review process.

7. Await Decision: Once USCIS reviews your application, you will receive a decision on your eligibility for Family Unity Benefits. If approved, you may be granted work authorization and protection from deportation for a designated period of time.

It is important to follow these steps carefully and seek legal advice if needed to ensure your application is submitted correctly and on time.

19. Can I change my address while my Form I-817 application is pending?

Yes, you can change your address while your Form I-817 application is pending. It is important to notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of any address changes to ensure that you receive all notifications and correspondence regarding your application. To update your address, you can submit a form AR-11, Alien’s Change of Address Card, online on the USCIS website or by mail. You should also consider updating your address with the U.S. Postal Service so that any mail forwarded to your old address can reach you at your new location. Keeping USCIS informed of your current address is crucial to avoid missing any important updates on your Form I-817 application status.

20. Is there an age limit for children to be included on the Form I-817 application?

Yes, there is an age limit for children to be included on the Form I-817 application for Family Unity Benefits. In order to be eligible for inclusion on the application, children must be unmarried and under the age of 21 at the time the application is filed. This means that children who are 21 years or older cannot be included as dependents on the Form I-817 application. It is important to ensure that all children meet these age requirements in order to qualify for Family Unity Benefits under this category.