Month: May 2017

What Happens After My Fiance Arrives in the U.S.

What happens after my fiancé’s case is approved at the embassy and they come to the United States? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. We get this question from time to time. A lot of our fiancé clients are nervous and anxious about what’s going to happen when their noncitizen fiancé comes to the United States. Let’s talk through the process.

After the I-129F is approved at USCIS, the case is set temporarily at the National Visa Center while they arrange at the embassy to set the person’s case for an interview. Now, each embassy does things a little bit differently, and it can be a little bit confusing in that time period between when USCIS approves the case and when the case actually makes it to the embassy. Some cases go almost directly to the embassy, some seem to sort of wait at the National Visa Center. You really have to monitor it, and you have to look at each case differently.

What we do is we make sure that we’re following the case as the case is moved along after it’s approved by USCIS. At that point, you’re going to have to file a DS-160. Once that is complete and the case is set for an interview at the embassy, your fiancé is going to go the interview. It’s relatively short. They basically want to make sure that it’s a legitimate relationship, that the two of you have in fact met each other, and that the foreign national does intend to come to United States and marry the US citizen within 90 days.

They’ll take the person’s passport and either they’ll say, “Come back and pick it up from the embassy,” or “We’ll send it to by courier in the next week or two.” Once that happens and the person comes to the United States, then things start rolling. Now, usually after it’s approved at the embassy, you have four months for the foreign national to come to the United States. That visa stamp is usually good for 120 days. That’s the time frame that your fiancé’s going to have to come to the United States in most cases.

Once they arrive and you’re reunited, it’s obviously a very happy time. Then you have to go ahead and get married. The law says that you have to get married within 90 days. From the date of arrival, you have 90 days to get married and to record it civilly with the local government. Then, at that point, you file for adjustment of status based off the approved fiancé visa and the marriage.

You’re going to submit all the same forms you would normally submit with an I-485. The 485 is the application to adjust status. Then you’re going to have to file for the travel document, the work card. That’s how you get that process started. It goes off to USCIS. At that point, it takes about eight or nine months for that process to be approved. You will get that work card and travel card temporarily. While the green card is pending, that’ll come four months after you file. If you do everything correctly, if you get your fingerprints done, and then eventually you’re going to get that green card.

Now, lately we’ve been seeing an uptick in the number of fiancé interviews. There are rules that allow the service center to waive an interview for the fiancé and the US citizen. Then it’s also allowed at the local level, so that you really have two shots of having that interview waived. In other words, there’s a good chance that you might not have an interview, but lately we’ve seeing more and more of these interviews. In those situations, you have to demonstrate again that the person is a good person and deserving of a green card. You have to demonstrate that the relationship is real.

I would say that right now in about 20% of the cases, we’re seeing that there is an interview with the fiancé and the US citizen. I think a little bit of that is random and I think a little bit of profiling. They want to figure out if they see something about the case that they’re worried about or something that they don’t like, then you’re going to see a situation with an interview. I would suggest that if you do do all that and you get an interview notice that you wouldn’t want to go without an attorney. There’s something that they’re looking at in your case, and I think that’s important to keep in mind.

One important thing about a K-1 visa that sometimes gets neglected is that when you come on a fiancé visa, if a foreign national arrives on a fiancé visa, the only way that they can adjust their status, virtually the only way, is if they marry that US citizen. The K-1 is sort of a strange visa. It’s a non-immigrant visa, but everybody knows you’re coming to stay, which means you’re coming to immigrate to the United States.

The rule says that if you come on a K-1, there’s no other way for you to get your green card and that you have to do it based on that marriage. If you don’t, in most situations you’re going to have to go home. The only way you’d be able to stay is if you got sort of obscure visa based on domestic violence or witnessing a crime or some other really extreme way of staying, perhaps an asylum claim. The K-1 rules are strict, and you’re not going to be able to get a green card unless you do in fact marry that US citizen and that US citizen files to help you get the adjustment.

If you have any questions about the K-1 fiancé visa, about what to do after your fiancé case is approved, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200. You can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, please make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel. We’ve got a good number subscribers. Now we put our content on there on a pretty regular basis. If you can share this on social media, Facebook, or wherever, we’re really appreciate it. Thanks a lot, and have a good day.

Not Deporting Anyone Today

Last week, firm attorney Andrew Bloomberg handled his very first deportation hearing.

Andrew was more than ready.

While in law school, he had an internship at the Memphis Immigration Court and witnessed many such hearings.  He learned a lot about what to do and what not to do in such hearings.

While with our firm, Andrew has worked on many aspects of a deportation case.  He had simply never conducted his own trial.  Jim Hacking attended the hearing to make sure that everything went okay.

Andrew’s client was a young man from Afghanistan.  Let’s call him Rashid.

Rashid’s father was an Afghan government official before the Taliban came into power.  Once the Taliban took over the country, Rashid’s father was in trouble.  When Rashid was in grade school, the Taliban came for his father.

Rashid was the oldest child of six.  He was in grade school.  Rashid, his mother and his five brothers and sisters fled to Pakistan.  They believed their father to be dead.

Instead of going to school, Rashid went to work.  His mom worked too and they made a little money.  Just enough to keep the family alive.

Amazingly, Rashid’s father was able to escape from the Taliban and he was eventually reunited with the rest of the family in Pakistan.  They applied through the United Nations High Commission on Refugees to be resettled.  After several years, they were approved to come to Texas.

Rashid continued working.  His father was not able to work full time and Rashid was the main breadwinner.  He never went back to school.

Rashid’s longtime girlfriend and his brother both went back to Afghanistan to assist U.S. military by translating.  Rashid’s girlfriend sustained injuries in Afghanistan.

Rashid got into some trouble.  Nothing too serious, but in Texas they strictly follow the law and he did spend a few days here and there in jail.  None of his crimes were violent and mostly involved things like writing a bad check and credit card problems.

But the crimes were enough to bring him under the attention of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  Rashid and his girlfriend were living in St. Louis when he got picked up by ICE.

Because of his crimes, he was subject to mandatory detention.  This means that he was not eligible for bond and had to sit in jail while his case made its way through the immigration court.

His family hired another attorney, who filed a worthless request for a bond hearing.  Rashid was not eligible for bond and the judge scolded the prior attorney for wasting time with the bond hearing.

The family lost confidence in the prior attorney.  They decided to hire the Hacking Law Practice, LLC, to see if Rashid could be saved.  They met with Andrew Bloomberg and he began working on the case.

We sent away for his immigration file.  We met with the family and Andrew began writing up statements to explain to the judge why Rashid might be eligible to stay in the U.S.  Andrew prepared statements from Rashid, his father, his mother, his girlfriend, his brother and a few of his sisters.

We submitted the statements along with a legal brief outlining our theory of the case.  Section 209(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act provides that when someone comes to the U.S. as a refugee, their deportation may be stopped and they be allowed to adjust status to that of lawful permanent resident for humanitarian purposes, to assure family unity, or when it is otherwise in the public interest.  We asked for a waiver of the crimes that made Rashid inadmissible.

Andrew spent a lot of time at the Lincoln County Jail where Rashid was being held prior to trial.  His family drove from Texas to Missouri to work with Andrew on their statements.  Andrew submitted all of the evidence to the Court a week before trial.

We drove to Kansas City and the family met us there.  Rashid attended the trial by video hookup with the Lincoln County jail.  After a few preliminary matters, Andrew conducted his examination of Rashid and the attorney for the Department of Homeland Security cross-examined Rashid.  The judge asked a few questions.

As Andrew began to call his next witness, the judge cut him off.  We went off the record and the judge asked whether everyone who wrote a letter on Rashid’s behalf was at court.  Andrew replied that they were.  He asked if they would testify consistently with the statements that Andrew had prepared.  Andrew replied that they would.

Incredibly, the judge then told the DHS attorney that he was inclined to grant our requested waiver.  The government indicated that they would not be appealing such a ruling.  The judge cut the hearing off after 35 minutes and granted lawful permanent resident status.

The judge believed that Andrew had established all three reasons for the waiver.  Given the family’s hard life in Afghanistan, the humanitarian prong had been satisfied.  As all of Rashid’s family lived in the U.S. and as everyone but Rashid had become a citizen, family unity was satisfied.  Finally, given the service that Rashid’s brother and fiance had given to the U.S. Army, Judge Salinardi felt that it was in the public interest for Rashid to be allowed to stay.

Andrew won.  Rashid won.  He has been released from immigration detention and has been reunited with his family.

We are so proud of Andrew and the hard work that he put in the case.  The judge called the family into the courtroom to explain why he was not going to make them all testify in the case.  He complimented Andrew for the “excellent” brief and evidence that he had developed.  He thanked Rashid’s brother and fiance for their service and he closed the proceedings.

Excellent work, Andrew.  We are very proud of you.