My name is Carsten Cumbrowski and I was born in Berlin, Germany.
I moved to the United States - to Fresno, California - with an L1-B work visa in May 2000. I began my Green Card process in 2002 (my "priority date" was July 12, 2002) and finally got my Green Card on September 18, 2007 (the I-797C notice date was September 4, 2007).
Why am I providing these resources?
I want to make it easier for others than it has been for me. Some of these resources could have helped me to prevent difficult situations (like falling out of status) and others provide information. Not knowing what happens and why is an awful feeling… especially if it is something about which you cannot, or may not be able to, do anything.
Below are immigration resources which cover pretty much everything you need to know and to get updates on current developments and the status of your application process. It took me more than three years to collect this information and I could do the process myself by now. I do not recommend that you do it yourself though; I recommend that you find a good immigration lawyer. You can find some resources for that below as well.
I focus on the process of getting an employment based Green Card, where a company is sponsoring you. The Green Card process that is based on something else, such as marriage, is different in each individual case. They are similar though and the information provided here might be useful for your process as well.
Bookmark this page and you will appreciate it at times when your process is hanging somewhere.
Disclaimer! Please read carefully! I am not an immigration lawyer or work for any U.S. government agency or other organization that is related to the subject. I posted my own personal experiences and my advices are based on things that did or did not work for me. Use them at your own risk! I highly recommend to consult a specialized legal council first, before you take any action yourself. Also keep in mind that U.S. immigration laws are changing constantly (on an almost monthly basis when I was going through the process). This means that information found on this and the subsequent pages might be outdated or straight out not valid anymore today. Perform the necessary due diligence yourself to verify any information provided here.
Important! I strongly recommend double-checking the information that you find here either by yourself or by consulting a professional. I recommend the latter. While it is legally okay to go through the processes by yourself without legal guidance and representation, so is it not advisable to do so. The process is long, it is complex and it is constantly changing. Immigration law is in constant flux. Things that are true today might be wrong tomorrow. It takes time and knowledge to keep up with all that to be able to file all documents properly.
The right information has to be provided in the right format at the right time, delivered via the right delivery methods. Each "form" does actually consist of a number of forms that need to be filed. My immigration related documents (visas and Green Card) fill more than a big folder, just to give you an idea about the amount of paperwork that is involved.
You are able to save the lawyers fee, but not the filing fees that are charged by the involved government agencies. Additional filings because of errors or missing documents cost money again, delay the process and in the worst case put the whole process at risk, especially if deadlines for fillings are not being met. Do you want to risk that? If this is not $1,000, $2,000 or even $4,000, $5,000 or more worth to you, then you might want to ask yourself, if starting the process is the right choice for you.
If you cannot make this choice and pay a good attorney, who acts on your behalf in this matter, for any reason, good luck to you and last piece of advice for you: "Make it a hobby!" to get an intermediate level of understanding of the process. You do not have to be a "pro", but you should also not be a "rookie".