Category: Family Based Visas

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.

HLP Attorney Andy Bloomberg Gets Client on Path to Status

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), President Obama’s use of executive orders to temporarily protect from deportation undocumented individuals who arrived in the United States as children, has helped many, many people. What it didn’t do was offer any route to a green card or citizenship.

And with President Trump taking office, the status of DACA and all those who benefited from it came into doubt the moment the oath was taken.

Over the last few years, however, one path for DACA recipients who are otherwise eligible for a green card as the spouse of a U.S. Citizen, but whose entry into the United States without inspection has barred them from adjusting status, has been carved out by clever attorneys and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

The BIA held that an individual who left the United States with the temporary travel authorization known as advance parole did not depart the United States in a way that would block future immigration benefits, but such an individual still enters the United States with inspection, allowing them to adjust status.

To receive advance parole, the individual must prove that their trip is necessary for some serious reason, such as illness to a close family member.

Two weeks after the election, Andrew Bloomberg of our firm was hired by an American citizen and her husband on DACA.

The timeline was even more constrained – the normal processing time for Advance Parole applications would put them well past President Trump’s inauguration. We had to get an application on file and then our clients had to go to a USCIS field office and ask that their application be approved on an emergency basis (which they USCIS has total discretion to approve or deny).

Our clients and our firm scrambled to collect and translate medical documents from the husband’s home country, and we got the application on file. As soon as the filing receipt came, they drove to their local field office and were told that that office simply doesn’t do emergency advance parole, a completely inappropriate blanket refusal.

The next day, they had to drive to another field office hours away. This time, they were met with a much more professional, reasonable response and the application was approved.

Within a couple of days they were on a plane, and they arrived back in the United States on Thursday, January 19, one day before the inauguration. We are now getting started on their green card application. It seems to have worked out this time, but situations like this are why we encourage our clients to apply for immigration benefits as soon as they are eligible for them.

Great job, Andrew!  We are happy for you and our clients.

How Immigration Interviews Are Like A Concert

 

Jim Hacking: How is an immigration interview like a high school musical concert? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States. Today I was meeting with my clients, getting them ready to file their spouse visa application. They’re excited about getting it on file, but they did have some concerns about the interview itself, and so we talked about how the interview goes. About what happens, how you get sworn in, and put under oath, and how they ask for all your identifying documents. How they ask for all your other supporting documents for the application, and this principle that I’m going to talk about today really applies to all kinds of immigration cases. It doesn’t just apply to spouse cases, but in any event, I was trying to explain to them what it’s like for the officer to be receiving all of the evidence, and so obviously, I’ve never been an immigration officer, but I have been in hundreds of interviews.
I’ve had the chance to observe officers, and see their reactions, and how they respond to various answers, and to various evidence that is presented to them, and so I thought I would make this video to explain it to you the way I explain it to my clients. The way I sort of set it out is that in a lot of ways, an immigration interview is like a musical concert, and I have been spending a lot of time at my son’s various year end holiday concerts, and so the metaphor seemed apt, and so in these situations, you always have one of the high school kids. The music is sounding great, and then every now and then, you hear a wrong note, and if there’s a collection of wrong notes, then you’re sort of scratching your head and saying, “What is it about this song? What is it about this band? What’s going on? Who’s making that noise?”
It’s not what the person receiving the information or the music is expecting, so an immigration interview is a lot like that, so when you go in for your interview, you want to hit every note perfectly, and if your notes are off, if you have a combination of notes, if you strike one bad note after another, it’s going to end up with a very bad, messy interview. What do I mean by that? Well, the example we were talking about today in our meeting was driver’s licenses, so sometimes people will go to their interview and the couple may have just recently moved in together, and one or both of them may not have gotten around to updating their address on their driver’s license, so when the officer starts off the interview by reviewing their identifying documents, they look at the driver’s licenses and here you have two people, who say that they’re married, who are asking for an immigration benefit, yet they have two different addresses.

Now there might be logistical or legal reasons for this, but this is a bad note. Another bad note is when you come without all your documents. If you don’t have your original birth certificate with you or if you don’t have the original marriage certificate. These are all notes that cause the officer to pause, and we don’t want our immigration officers pausing. We want them to be going along quickly and as smoothly as possible, because when they pause, they think. When they think, they think of more questions to ask. Our job, as immigration attorneys, is to be the conductor. We want to orchestrate a interview that sounds perfect, that sounds great. Obviously, we’re always telling our clients to tell the truth, but there are really tons of reasons why the way you present yourself, the way you sound with your answers, the answers that you give, the evidence that you bring, all these things contribute to a good concert, a good interview, so make sure that you don’t sing the wrong note. That you don’t hit the wrong note.

Don’t bring in bad evidence. Don’t make it easy for them to deny your case. You want to do everything you can to have your case tracked the way that they’re used to receiving their cases, so you’re going to want to have all of your evidence lined up. You want to know all your dates. You’re not going to have any fumbling around, looking through documents, all that stuff. You really want to put on a show for the officer.

Obviously, you’re always telling the truth, and being truthful, and honest, and thorough as you can, but at the same time, there is a little bit of professionalism and good work that you bring when you go to an interview properly, so if you have any questions about this, if you want to know how we can help you sound a better tune at your immigration interview, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com.

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What if I Flunk my Immigration Drug Test?

What happens if my fiance or spouse fails their drug test at the embassy appointed doctor?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the united States. Every now and then we have a client who has a problem with marijuana and they want to know what happens. Are they going to be able to come to the United States?

Here’s how it comes up. After you file a fiance petition or after you file an I130 spouse petition and the case gets processed by the national visa center, eventually at some point the foreign national, whether it’s a fiance or a spouse is going to have to go to a doctor appointed by the local embassy and that doctor is going to ask the applicant questions about their history of using marijuana. They’re also going to test their blood.

The question comes up what happens if a client fails that drug test or admits to using marijuana at the interview with the doctor? Here’s what we know. Generally, it’s a bad deal. You really, obviously, don’t want to be doing drugs. I don’t even need to go into that. From an immigration standpoint, it presents specific hurdles. What happens is, is if you fail your drug test or if you admit to marijuana drug use then you’re probably going to be kept out of the United States for a while. It’s certainly going to be a red flag for the embassy officials.

The way it works is you go see the doctor shortly before your embassy interview. In our case, our client had to go see the doctor about 3 weeks before his actual embassy interview. The doctor asked him, “Have you ever smoked marijuana.” And he said, “Yes.” And he said, “How recently?” And he said, “About 2 weeks ago.” So it’s going to show up in his blood when they get the lab results back.

First of all, let me say that I’m really glad our client was honest. You can often get in a lot more trouble for lying to embassy officials or embassy doctors or immigration officials. You never want to lie. It is good that our client told the truth, but, it does present a problem. Here’s what’s going to happen. The doctor will complete his medical report. He’ll reflect that the applicant indicated that he’d used marijuana. It’ll probably come back on his drug test and the counselor official is going to have to decide whether or not that renders our client inadmissible.

What we’re going to have to do, which probably going to happen is our overseas client is going to have to go to drug testing and drug classes for about a year. He’s probably not going to be able to come for another year. We’ll see what happens when he goes to the interview. The official may let him pass and may send him to the United States. We think that’s doubtful. What’s much more likely is that our client is going to be in communication with that doctors office over the course of the next 12 months and have to be tested up to 4 times over the course of the year and he’s going to have to attend drug classes and treatment to make sure that he’s clean and sober.

Obviously, our US citizen here, in the United States who’s spouse or fiance is very upset and we understand that. There’s really no way around it. There’s no way to try to reschedule the appointment or to do anything sneaky. You never want to come across as being dishonest or untruthful. It’s good that our client told the truth but it’s going to be a real hurdle for him. He’s probably going to be outside the United States for another 12 months. He’s going to have to spend money on drug testing and he’s going to have to spend money on treatment. Maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe in the long run, for his own health, that’s a good thing. From an immigration standpoint, it’s obviously a negative. It’s going to slow down our client and her fiance from being together and so we’re sad about that.

If you have any questions about the medical exams that go along with embassy interviews or the interview itself, remember always to tell the truth, but if you have specific questions and are wondering how to handle a situation make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can always email us info@hackinglawpractice.com. We hope you like this video. If you did, make sure to click like and also subscribe to our channel so that you can get new updates whenever we shoot a new video. Thanks a lot, have a great day, and stay off that marijuana. See ya.

USCIS Announces Steep Filing Fee Increases

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services USCIS has announced an increase to many of the fees associated with filing for immigration benefits in the United States.  This is the first fee increase in six years.

The increase goes into effect on December 23, 2016.

The average fee increase is 21 percent.

The biometric fee for all applicable applications will remain $85.

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Naturalization and Citizenship

The cost to naturalize (N-400) in most cases will increase from $595 to $640 (with the biometrics fee, this amount will be $725).

One slight tweak to the filing fee requirement is that applicants with income greater than 150% but not more than 200% of the federal guidelines will pay a reduced fee of $405, including biometrics.

The naturalization fee waiver will remain available to lawful permanent residents who receive public assistance or have incomes under 150% of those poverty guidelines.

The fee for form N-600, the application for a certificate of citizenship, will increase almost 100% – from $600 to $1170.  This form is generally used for lawful permanent residents who became citizens as a matter of law, usually because their custodial parent became a citizen before they turned 18 years old.

Family-Based Immigration

The fee for an I-130 relative petition, which includes spouse petitions, will increase from $420 to $535.

Adjustment of status (I-485) application fees will go up from $985 to $1140.  So with biometrics, the total adjustment of status fee will go from $1140 to $1225.

Applications for a travel document (I-131) will increase a lot – from $360 to $575.

Employment-Based Immigration

Petitions for non-immigrant workers in the H-1b category will increase from $325 to $460 (in addition to the $750/$1500 training fee and $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

Non-immigrant visas in the L category will also increase to $460 with the $500 fraud prevention and detection fee).

A petition for an immigrant worker for an immigrant visa (green card) – the I-140 – will increase from $580 to $700.

An application for employment authorization (EAD), the I-765, will increase from $380 to $410.

What if my Marriage-Based Work Card is Going to Expire?


What happens if my work and travel card expire before my green card interview?

Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, immigration attorney practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.

The St. Louis field office and some other offices around the country have gotten behind on processing spouse-based green card cases. These are situations where a US citizen has a foreign-born national spouse, and they want to sponsor that spouse for a green card. With any one of these applications, we always file the I-45, which is the application to adjust status, the I-130, which is a petition for an alien relative. We also file for work authorization and for advanced parole, so the foreign national can leave the United States if they have to.

In 95% of the cases, the interview occurs before those temporary travel document and work card expire. What happens in the 5% of the situation where that doesn’t occur, where the work card is set to expire before the interview?

Here’s what we do at our office. We always monitor the expiration dates of the work card and the travel document. The one thing we don’t want to happen is to have our clients be without the ability to work or to travel outside the United States while the green card case is pending. In St. Louis, they got way behind because of the election and because of the number of naturalization cases that they had to process, so they started delaying having the interviews on the green cards. Now, they are approaching the time where our clients’ original work card and travel document have expired.

The good news is that you can apply for a renewal. You have to submit 2 more passport photos, a new I-765, and a new I-131 for advance parole to make sure that you keep that process smooth, to make sure that you keep a newer card, a new travel document. Now, in a lot of these cases, we’re getting that right before or right after the green card interview, because they’re scheduling them right now about 14 months after filing, which is ridiculous, but it is what it is. We want to make sure that our clients have the ability to work and to leave the United States in an emergency if they need it. We’ve been filing that 4 months early, which is the earliest you can file it. You submit evidence that the green card case is still pending, and the prior approval notices, there’s no filing fee for that, so that’s the one good thing, but it is a hassle to have to do. Hopefully, the immigration service will get back on track and start scheduling these interviews in a timely manner.

If you have any questions about an expiring work card or travel document, make sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com. If you like this video, please be sure to click Like below, and to sign up for our regular emails and videos, so that you understand and know when we submit a new video to YouTube. Thanks a lot and have a great day.

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Board of Immigration Appeals Reverses Denied I-130

Our office recently won an appeal at the Board of Immigration Appeals for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”).

We were hired by a U.S. lawful permanent resident after the I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative was denied by USCIS.

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On September 14, 2015, our client filed a Form I-130 on behalf of her husband, a Pakistani national.  She sought to classify her husband as the spouse of a lawful permanent resident under Section 203(a)(2) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Our client filed the form without an attorney.  She apparently did not provide all of the required evidence that USCIS wanted before approving the application.

So on January 28, 2016, USCIS sent our client a Request for Evidence (RFE).  The RFE directed the U.S. citizen to submit the “Nikah Nama” between our client and her Pakistani husband.

The Nikah Nama is the marriage contract between a bride and groom.  The Nikah Nama is prepared for any Pakistani marriage and we have never filed a case from Pakistan without it.  Apparently, our client did.  The RFE also instructed our client to submit a translation of the Nikah Nama as well.

The petitioner filed her response by herself on February 5, 2016.  She still did not decide to hire an attorney.   According to USCIS, our future client submitted the translation of the Nikah Nama, but not the original Urdu version itself.

The case was accordingly denied.  Ordinarily, USCIS issues a Notice of Intent to Deny.  But this was a case involving a Muslim man from Pakistan so USCIS apparently skipped this procedure.

The U.S. citizen wife found us on YouTube and asked for our help.  We filed a timely appeal and pointed out the fact that – in this case – the Pakistani government officials had provided our clients with an English version only.  But we asked our client to go ahead and get an Urdu copy and they did.  We submitted both on June 28, 2016.  We also submitted additional marriage evidence.

On September 23, 2016, the Board of Immigration Appeals reversed itself and approved the I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative.  Our client is ecstatic and her case is back on track.

Several lessons here.

Once the client received an RFE, she should have hired an attorney.  At that point, her case was in trouble and she needed help.

Also, USCIS denied this case on a super-technical reason.  We do not believe that the client was treated fairly and we believe this unfair treatment was because her husband was from Pakistan and not from France.

Finally, the reason that this result is especially good is that the U.S. lawful permanent resident would have had to start all over if the appeal was denied.  Because there is a cap on the number of spouses of LPRs who are allowed to come to the U.S., it would have added an extra year or more to the time this couple had to spend apart.

We are happy that we won.

Spouse visa or fiance visa – which is better?

Should I marry my significant other and apply for a spouse visa, or file as a fiance without getting married first? Hi, Jim Hacking here, 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 from couples that have been together for a while but have not yet gotten married. They want to know, is it better to come to the United States from overseas as a spouse or a fiance?

The processes are relatively similar but they’re also a little bit different. Let me talk a little bit about if. When a person wants to sponsor their fiance, we have to prove that they’ve been in each other’s physical presence at some point in the last 2 years. Obviously we don’t have to prove they’re married because they’re not married yet, but we are going to have to show that they’ve been together with each other some time in the last 2 years. The way that we do that is with photos, with trip tickets, with documentation of travel, these kinds of things to show that the 2 have been together.

We also have to demonstrate that the couple intends to get married within 90 days of the non-citizen’s arrival to the United States. Typically we do that with an affidavit from both the US citizen and the non-citizen saying that the plan is that once the non-citizen arrives in the United States, that they will go either to the courthouse or the chapel or somewhere and get married, and then apply for adjustment of status that way.

On the spouse visa side, obviously at this point the couple’s already married, so typically the US citizen has gone overseas, they’ve either met in the home country of the non-citizen or they’ve met in some third country and gotten married. They’ve gotten a marriage certificate, and they’re going to apply through the I-130 process. As things stand now, right now in 2016, spouse visas are going a lot slower than fiance visa.

We see this from time to time. Sometimes the processing time to get a fiance here is relatively similar to a spouse, but lately, for the last year or so, fiances have been coming to the United States a lot faster than spouses. If the couple has not yet gotten married we often encourage them to go the fiance route, especially if we can demonstrate that they’ve been in each other’s physical presence.

This leads to some people to come to us and they want to say, “Well, Jim we may have had a marriage ceremony but we’re not really married.” That can be tricky. Obviously you can never tell a lie to the immigration service, you don’t ever want to submit fraudulent documents, but if you haven’t recorded the marriage, if it’s just been a religious ceremony or an engagement, then you can go the fiance route, but you really have to play it straight. You can’t lie or pretend that your fiances when you’re actually married.

Speed is definitely one of the issues to think about when considering whether to come as a fiance or a spouse. Let’s talk about strength of case and likelihood to get it approved. Sometimes if there are things in the relationship between the fiance and the US citizen, things like maybe big age differences, or racial differences, that stand from people being from different countries and that they think that the couple isn’t really legitimate, they don’t speak the same language, they have very few similarities, these kinds of things.

When the couples are different, when they’re fundamentally different and worry that some racist immigration officer at the state department is going to give us trouble, if we’re worried that they’re going to say, “This couple is too different. We don’t really believe that this is a valid engagement.” Then we may encourage the couple to go ahead and get married and apply as a spouse. We believe that some cases are fundamentally stronger when filed as a spouse, as opposed to as a fiance.

In other words, state department officials often look at fiance cases and sometimes like I said if there’s too many of those differences that we think that people are going to nitpick about or take advantage of or use to deny the case, then we may encourage the couple to go ahead and get married because that demonstrates another level of commitment, a seriousness, an intention of purpose, that the couple is in fact married, sometimes goes a long way towards carrying the day and getting the case approved.

These are complicated issues. We do not encourage you to do these on your own. We think that if you want to come and bring you loved one here, that it’s an important issue, that you want to spend time thinking about and doing it correctly. We want to make sure that we put your case in a position as strong as possible. We understand that it’s difficult to be separated from your loved one, and we understand that you want to get them here as fast as possible, but sometimes you really need to consider the strength of the case and getting getting approved, as opposed to just getting them here as quickly as possible.

One other concern that you have sometimes is that when you come as a fiance you may be headed towards a Green Card interview here in the United States. After the couple gets married and they file for adjustment of status for the fiance to change their status to that of lawful permanent resident, sometimes there are interviews involved at the immigration office in your local town. If we think that there’s going to be trouble from the local immigration office, then we might also encourage you to go the marriage route.

These are the kinds of things that we think about. This the kind of thing that we talk to our clients about, and we spend a lot of time thinking it through, talking it through, to make sure that we make the best decisions because we want to get the case approved. We want your spouse or your fiance to be here, to be in the United States safely. We want to do everything we can to protect you.

If you have any questions about whether or not your case is a good fiance case or a good spouse case, or if you need some help evaluating that, feel free to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. We hope you liked this video. If you did please subscribe to us on YouTube. We try to update the videos every week. If you have any topics of issues that you’d like us to cover, just email us and we’ll try to shoot a video about it. Thanks a lot, have a great day.

What happens if a dispute arises between the two spouses in marriage based green card case?

What happens if a dispute arises between the two spouses in marriage based green card case? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law around the United States and based here in St. Louis, Missouri.

Every now and then we get a call here at the office when trouble arises between a husband and a wife, what we’re talking about today are green card cases, places where the spouse has sponsored the non-citizen for a green card. A US citizen has the right to sponsor their husband or wife for a green card and sometimes those cases can take a long time. During the pennancy of the case, every now and then a dispute arises and the question is who does the attorney represent at that point.

Generally for an attorney to represent two people at the same time they both have to consent to the dual representations so, if the two parties are on the same wave length and have the same desires it’s perfectly acceptable for one attorney to represent a husband and a wife in a immigration case. We’re talking about he ethical rules related to a attorney representing both and then what happens if a dispute arises.

In a typical example the US citizen sponsors, the non-citizen for a green card in a case can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months depending on how busy the local office and how complicated the case is. Sometimes a dispute arises and the US citizen or the non-citizen wants the attorney to represent just them from that point forward. How does this play out?

We’ve actually had on two different occasions here at the office, a situation where our phone rings and it’s either the US citizen or the non-citizen and they want to talk to us about a fight that they’ve had with the other spouse. That puts us in a very delicate situation because as soon as a conflict arises between the two spouses it really ties our hands because we have to be very careful with what we disclose to the person that’s calling us and to the one who didn’t call us. We really don’t want to do anything to jeopardize the dual representation until such time as it becomes clear that the parties have irreconcilable differences and we won’t be able to continue anymore.

Because what has happened is the US citizen has called and said, “how do I do everything that I can to keep that no good spouse of mine from getting a green card?” Then shortly thereafter we get a call from the foreign spouse asking, “what can I do to keep my green card?” Whenever we have those conversations that puts us in a really tricky situation and if a client goes that far that they want our advice on how to thwart the objectives of the other spouse we have to recuse ourselves and we have to get out of the case. We’ll typically refer both the US citizen and non-citizen to two different attorneys, one each so that their interests can be protected because we can’t favor one client over the other. We can’t pick the US citizen over the non-citizen or do anything because we’re, we have a ton of information about the marital relationship and it wouldn’t be fair for us to pick and choose one spouse or the other.

If you are having conflicts with your spouse you need to be real careful with how you phrase it with your attorney and if, in fact things are irreconcilable your attorney is going to have to recuse himself and not represent either of you from that point forward. If on the other hand it’s just a minor blip and things are able to be worked out and nobody has soured the relationship or soured the relationship with the attorney, then the attorney should be able to keep on representing both sides. These are the kind of things to think about if you’re gong through a marriage based case, you want to make sure that your attorney represents both sides equally and fairly and that nobody gains the upper hand by trying to get the former attorney to represent just their interests. Because when the gloves are off and the couple’s fighting the interests do become very different, the US citizen typically wants to stop the process and to not sponsor the non-citizen anymore and the non-citizen wants to do everything they can to remain in the United States and keep the green card.

That’s the typical situation, keep the green card process going if they can. If you have any questions about this or if you have a questions about dual representation in the immigration context or what you should be thinking about when hiring an attorney. Give us a call at 314-961-8200 or you can email us at Jim@HackingLawPractice.com. Thanks.

 

 

U.S. State Department Says All Visa-Issuing Embassies and Consulates are Back Online

In early June 2015, the State Department reported serious technological problems at embassies and consulates around the world.  A hardware failure in the Consular Consolidated Database left overseas facilities unable to print visas, passports and other documents.  The agency refused to try and speed up the process in other ways and visas did not get printed at the vast majority of embassies and consulates for about three weeks.

The good news is that the State Department is now reporting that all embassies and consulates are back online and printing out visas and passports without any problems.