Tag: green card

Indian Doctors Face Deportation Due to Paperwork Error

Two Indian physicians who reside in Houston, Texas, face imminent deportation from the United States due to a paperwork error.

Dr. Pankaj Satija is a neurologist who helped found the Pain and Headache Centers of Texas.  His wife, Dr. Monnika Ummat, have resided in the U.S. for many, many years.  Dr. Ummat is also a neurologist.  She specializes in treating epilepsy at Texas Children’s Hospital.  They are the parents of 2 U.S. citizens, 7-year-old Ralph and 4-year-old Zoeey.

The pair faced removal last week after immigration officials refused to extend Dr. Satija’s and Dr. Ummat’s temporary permission to stay in the U.S.  The decision by Homeland Security may cause dozens of Texans who suffer from neurological disorders to be without their doctors.

“I have 50 patients today and 40 patients tomorrow,” said Dr. Satija. “I’m just concerned they’ll be left in a lurch. They could land up in the emergency room.”

The Houston Methodist Hospital System sponsored Dr. Satija for a green card (lawful permanent resident status) in 2008.  Dr. Ummat would be eligible to adjust status as his spouse.  But because the couple are from India and because USCIS has a nearly decade-long backlog for Indian professionals to adjust status, they have not yet received their LPR status.

The couple regularly renewed their travel documents and work authorizations.  But last year, their permission to travel abroad was extended for only one year instead of two years, which had typically been what they received.  Later snafus by Customs and Border Patrol contributed to the confusion.

The couple never noticed the problem.  Then Dr. Satija’s brother called from India to tell him that their father had been admitted into intensive care and was gravely ill.  The entire family flew to India.

When they returned to the U.S., they learned that they had left the U.S. on expired advance parole documents (the formal name for the travel documents).

CBP allowed the couple to enter the U.S. on deferred inspection, which means they were allowed in but would have to explain how they believed they were entitled to stay at a later date.

When they brought their paperwork back to CBP, they were initially told that everything would be okay.  But the next day, they were told “[s]omebody up there has decided you have to leave the country in the next 24 hours.”

According to the Houston Chronicle, in two expansive immigration memos the Trump administration issued in February, it directed the nation’s three main immigration agencies to “sparingly” use the practice of parole, though it hasn’t yet detailed the new regulations.

At the end of last week, DHS did agree to give the couple another 90 days to try and sort out the situation.

This story demonstrates a few themes we talk about at the Hacking Law Practice on a regular basis.

First, it is absolutely ridiculous that we have an immigration system that takes nine years for a pair of super-qualified doctors from India to get lawful resident status.

Second, it is absurd that we are even talking about the possibility of deporting these people who serve sick Americans every day of their lives.

Third, immigrants are awesome and help this country every day.

 

Here’s What Happens When You File a Fake Green Card Case

 

Can I get away with immigration fraud if my spouse decides not to sponsor me anymore?

Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration lawyer practicing all throughout the United States. Yeah, it’s a ridiculous title to this video.

I have to tell you that I had something happen for the first time in my many years of legal experience. That is that someone came into my office and they told me flat out that they had paid seven thousand dollars to a friend, a US citizen friend to sponsor them for a green card based on a fake marriage. I honestly have never had that happen before and I have to tell you I was quite surprised. I was surprised that someone was that honest. I was surprised that they had the nerve to tell me. I was surprised that they were even thinking about how to get back at their US citizen spouse for not going through with the promise to perpetuate this fraud. I believe what happened is that as the interview date got closer, the US citizen wised up to what they were doing was a crime under federal law and they didn’t want to go through with it. That’s a good thing.

You shouldn’t file fake immigration cases. It’s one of the worst things you can do. It can prevent you from getting any kind of benefit whatsoever. In addition, it also makes it harder on all the good people who want to get a green card the right way who have a valid marriage. It’s bec of people that pay off other people to get them a green card that cases are harder for regular folks who are just trying to do the right thing. I was quite upset with this person. I held my anger and I told her that this is not a good thing that you did and you should be glad that you’re not going through with it anymore. My advice to her was that she should withdraw this fraud and the petition. Now that leaves her out of status and she’s been out of status for a really long time which is probably why she went ahead and paid for this. Here’s the thing folks, don’t assume that immigration lawyers are going to help you with your fraudulent fake marriage cases. That’s not our job. That’s not what we’re here for. Our job is to help the people who have legitimate claims for lawful permanent resident status for people that are married to real life citizens and have real life marriages.

We want to make sure that we’re not poisoning the well and making immigration think that we file for those claims. We don’t file for those claims. We don’t file fake claims and this person is exactly the kind of person that makes life difficult for the rest of the applicants. Obviously it should go without saying that you should never file a fraudulent marriage based case. Immigration will find out about it. We’ve had many cases in the office recently where immigration has found out about it and so if you are considering filing for a green card, it has to be legitimate. It has to be a real marriage based on what? Love. Nothing else. Not for an immigration benefit. Not because it’s convenient. Not because they want to be able to keep working. We get married for one reason and one reason alone and that reason is love. Don’t listen to anybody who tells you otherwise. Don’t engage in immigration fraud. This couple was headed to a denial. They were headed to a finding that the immigrant beneficiary had engaged in fraud, that the US citizen had engaged in fraud, they could be criminally prosecuted and they sure as heck weren’t going to get a green card.

That knowledge is an expensive lesson. I can’t believe that someone would pay that or would engage in such behavior. If you have such a case, don’t take it to this law office. We don’t have any interest in it. We’re not about filing fake immigration cases. Some people think that the only reason you need a lawyer is when you have a fake immigration case and that’s completely wrong. I’m sure that the vast majority of fraudulent immigration cases are filed by people who don’t have attorneys. Any reputable attorney would turn it down. We do sometimes hear about attorneys who don’t but I’ll tell you this right now.

Don’t ever come in here and try to pedal a fake immigration case past us. We’ll figure it out and immigration will figure it out and you’ll get deported if not, sent to jail first. That’s our lesson for today. Enough pontificating. We’re not here to berate you or to make you mad. Rather we want to educate you on the perils and the problems associated with filing a fake immigration case. Do you so at your peril. You will get caught, you will get punished, and you deserve it. All right. If you have any questions give us a call. 314-961-8200. We’d love to help you out with any legitimate spouse cases.

In the meantime, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel. That you like us on Facebook. We also have a Facebook group where we post news and immigration related issues on our Facebook group. It’s called Immigrant Home. So if you want to do a search for Immigrant Home you can find it on there. Otherwise, feel free to email us info@hackinglawpractice.com. Or you can call us at 3149618200. Thanks a lot. Peace.

 

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.

uscis

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.

Can a conditional permanent resident file a petition to bring their children to the United States?

 

Can a conditional permanent resident file a petition to bring their children to the United States?
Yes.  Federal regulations hold that “Unless otherwise specified, the rights, privileges, responsibilities and duties which apply to all other lawful permanent residents apply equally to conditional permanent residents, including but not limited to the right to apply for naturalization (if otherwise eligible), the right to file petitions on behalf of qualifying relatives, the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with the immigration laws, such status not having changed; the duty to register with the Selective Service System, when required; and the responsibility for complying with all laws and regulations of the United States. All references within this chapter to lawful permanent residents apply equally to conditional permanent residents, unless otherwise specified.”  8 CFR 216.1
The exceptions apply to attempts by Conditional Permanent Residents to apply for spouses other than the one who is the source of their conditional residency.
Conditional permanent residents are able to petition for children on the same terms as any other permanent resident.  Conditional residents can file an I-130 at any time after receiving their LPR status.  They do not have to wait until having the conditions removed from their green card.

Immigrant intent or non-immigrant intent

What’s the difference between immigrant intent and non-immigrant intent, and why is that important in the immigration context? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in Saint Louis, Missouri. I was talking to a young man yesterday about a situation in which he was thinking about having his brother sponsor him for a green card. This young man is in the United States on an F1 student visa, and who was wondering what repercussions there would be of his brother filing that immigrant visa for him, and so I thought I’d  shoot this video to explain the difference between immigrant intent and non-immigrant intent and tell you why that’s really important in the immigration content.

One thing you have to understand is that there’s a big distinction in immigration between people who want to come and visit, or stay temporarily versus those who have said and declared that they want to stay and remain in the United States. That’s the difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa. If you’re here on a non-immigrant visa, which is like a V1, V2, which can be a visitor visa, or an F1 student visa, or some of the other types of student visas including Ms and Js, in those situations, you’re telling the government that you’ll be here temporarily in the United States, and that at the end of your stay, at the end of your studies or whatever it is that brings you to the Unites States, that you will return home, to your home country.

Once that immigrant visa is filed, he has displayed what’s called immigrant intent. He has demonstrated that his intention over the long term is to stay and remain in the United States. This can make it very difficult to get that non-immigrant visa, that F1 visa stamped in his passport. The State department and the immigration office don’t like it when people try to jump from one status to another, or when they’ve demonstrated that immigrant intent, then the government is sort of believing and think that the person has demonstrated that they want to stay in the United States, and therefore they’re disinclined. They don’t want to give them that non-immigrant visa anymore. This can come up in lot’s of different ways. One other way that it comes up is when someone applies in an embassy for a non-immigrant visa, like a V1, V2 to come and visit. If they have any kind of pending immigrant visa, if someone has filed an immigrant visa for them a long time ago, or if it’s pending, or if they just don’t even have enough evidence that they intend to return home, then this can come back to haunt them and they probably won’t get the visit visa.

When thinking about coming to the United States, when thinking about what you’re doing with the immigration service and with the state department, you really need to think it through, you can’t just file things willy nilly. This guy was very smart in asking me, “Should I wait to have my brother file this for me, or should I just go ahead and file it?” I said, “Well, what’s your long term plan?” Right now, brother and sister visa cases are taking 13 years. He wisely saw that he wanted to finish up his studies to make it clear that he did intend to return home, and that if his brother still wants to file for him, and if he wants to come, to do that after he’s completed this non-immigrant visa that he’s here on now. If you have any questions about this, if you’re worried about how you may have displayed immigrant intent, how you may have harmed your chances to get a visit visa or anything like that, give us a call (314)-961-8200, or you can email us at jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks.

 

 
 

 

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.

 

 

What do I need to know about sponsoring my brother or sister for a green card?

I was on the phone with a client yesterday. He just became a US citizen. He was wondering what does it take to bring his brother or sister to the United States.

Now you’re probably aware that there’s a long, long wait for brothers and sister of US citizens to come to the United States. The reason for this is that Congress has placed a cap on the number of these visas that are available every year. Depending on your country of origin the wait can be as short as 13 years or as long as 20 years based on current numbers at the State Department that they issue through the visa bulletin.

The first thing you need to know is that you have to be a US citizen to sponsor your brother or sister. If you’re in the United States on a green card and you’re thinking about sponsoring your brother or sister, you’re not going to be able to do it until you become a US citizen.

The next thing you need to know is that long wait. It’s a long, long wait and the process works like this. Once you become a US citizen you file what’s called an I-130. It’s a petition for an alien relative and that goes to USCIS. Now because of the long delay on visas being available because that line for a green card to come to the United States is so long, USCIS doesn’t place a high priority on adjudicating and deciding these I-130s. When you file your I-130 you’ll get a receipt notice and then you won’t hear from immigration for quite some time. Lately we’ve been seeing people get their decisions about 4 or 5 years after their file.

One thing to really keep in mind is that you have to keep your address up to date with USCIS because if you move and they can’t forward the mail to you, you might miss a deadline to reply to a question from the Immigration Service or you might miss the approval altogether. You really want to make sure that if you have any kind of pending I-130 for your brother or sister that you’re updating USCIS with your address.

Another thing we’ve been noticing is that we’ve been getting a lot of push-back from USCIS on birth certificates and on documents related to the brother or sister relationship. What do I mean? Well one thing is, a lot of people that we work with come from countries where birth certificates were not so prevalent back in the home country when the US citizens sponsor or the foreign beneficiary were born. Let’s say people were born back in India in 1956. Well back in India there might not have been birth certificates as readily available as there are now.

Now most countries have adopted a birth certificate generation system and are issuing birth certificates now, even for people born way back when but the problem is USCIS is taking a position that these late filed birth certificates, these ones that are generated years and years later when the people are adults are not as compelling evidence as USCIS would like. I think this is generally ridiculous but I can see their point. They want to make sure that there is a brother/sister relationship and the birth certificate is an important way to do that.

You might be forced to document the relationship between your brother and your sister and you in a fashion more than just submitting the birth certificates. This means you might have to submit a lot of secondary evidence that shows that you’re in fact brother and sister. This can include affidavits from older siblings or relatives, school records, family records, any kind of documents that you see that demonstrate that you are together; photographs of the two of you, school pictures. These are the kinds of things that really work.

One problem in particular is that when the parents of the brother and sister who are applying have passed away, it prevents us from being able to get DNA which is the silver bullet in establishing the brother-sister relationship. USCIS and the State Department won’t except a match just between a brother and sister. You have to go up to the parents and get their DNA and then establish with the help of a DNA lab that the brother and sister are in fact related. This can be difficult, time consuming and expensive.

You really want to think this through when you’re getting the process started because what you don’t want is to file your I-130 which is a relatively straightforward process and then the case languishes for 4 or 5 years and then all of a sudden you get a request for evidence from USCIS giving you 60 days to basically prove that your brother is your brother or your sister is your sister and you’re scrambling over those 60 days to either do DNA lab work or find old documents. Very, very stressful and we’ve seen more than one case get denied because the family was not able to get their documents together. These are cases where the people filed on their own and came to us after the request for evidence was issued.

One other thing to keep in mind, when we do the I-130 here at our office, we sort of split up the legal fee and the processing fee into 2 parts. One is the I-130 part with USCIS and the other is the State Department part with the NVC and the Embassy.

Right now we are getting started on a brother of a US citizen I-130 and so we basically only charge half our legal fee for that because nobody knows where we are all going to be 13 years from now. You might want to use a different attorney or I might never be around or whatever, you might not be around so we don’t charge the whole thing upfront, we do it split 50-50 and then on the backend right now it’s pretty exciting. We are getting to help someone who had filed for her brother from Bosnia 13 years ago and now we are going through the second part of the process with the National Visa Center and the Embassy because his visa number finally became available and he’s in line now to get his green card and come to the United states.

If you have any questions about this crazy system we have of sponsoring brothers and sisters to the United States to get them a green card, give us a call (314) 961-8200 or you can email us jim@hackinglawpractice.com. Thanks a lot.

Green cards for the sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents

What are the rules regarding when a green card holder can sponsor their son or daughter for a green card themselves? Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer practicing law throughout the United States based out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Green card holders often want to bring their children to the United States to be with them. The immigration service and the immigration laws are designed to try to enhance family reunification, and so the law does allow a green card holder to sponsor their son or daughter for their own lawful permanent resident status. It’s a little bit different than the way it works when a petitioner is a US citizen, so we thought we’d shoot this video to explain to you some of the differences in how the process works.

Let’s say you’re a US lawful permanent resident and you’re living in St. Louis or anywhere in the country, and you want to sponsor your son or daughter to come to the United States from your home country, maybe it’s the Philippines, Mexico, or wherever. The way that it works is you file an I-130, and the I-130 is the petition for an alien relative, and that’s the form that’s used to alert the USCIS of your intention to try to get a visa for your son or daughter. The process begins with USCIS, and you file the forms, and about 6 months later, you get an approval notice from USCIS. At that point, your son or daughter is placed into a wait.

Now, one of the big distinctions for these kinds of cases is whether or not the son or daughter is over 21 or under 21. If they’re under 21 and unmarried, they’re going to be able to come in about a year and a half, maybe a little bit longer because there’s a long line. Congress has placed a cap on these cases, and so there’s a line of about a year and a half for a visa to actually become available for your son or daughter. That’s if you’re from most countries. Now, the wait is longer for people from the Philippines, China, and Mexico. You’re going to need to check something called the Visa Bulletin, and that’ll let you know when the visa might become available, and it will tell you when cases are being handled. When you first file the case, you’re assigned a priority date, and then after that, you wait in line based on that priority date.

Now, if the son or daughter is over 21 and unmarried, the wait is a little bit longer. Right now, it’s about 6 years for the unmarried son or daughter of a green card holder to get a green card themselves. Again, the law is trying to reunify people, but again there’s a cap on the number of these visas available. If you’re a green card holder and if you have a son or daughter who’s 25 or 30 and unmarried, you can sponsor them for a green card, but the wait is a lot longer if they’re over 21. It’s really important when you’re looking at this that if the person is about to become 21, that you really take action because you want to get in on the earlier, shorter line. You don’t want them to have to wait in the 6-year line if you can avoid it.

Now, sometimes the green card holder can become a US citizen while the case is pending, and the law allows for that as well. You don’t lose your spot by becoming a citizen, but you do need to be careful about this because right now and many times, the line for the children of green card holders is actually shorter than the line for children of citizens, and you need to make sure that … and we’re talking about the children over 21 now … you need to make sure that you alert USCIS and/or the State Department of your intention to keep the priority date that you have in the green card line.

This is sort of complicated, so we’d be happy to walk you through it, but basically if you are a green card holder and become a citizen, if you just let things play out normally, your child would be placed into a line that’s longer than it is for the children of green card holders, so you can elect to basically freeze your spot as a green card holder and get your adult son or daughter to the United States a little bit faster. These cases are pretty complicated. They are often detail-oriented, and you want to make sure that you are staying on top of things.

Because they take often a long amount of time, you want to make sure to keep your address updated, and you probably want to work with an immigration attorney who knows what they’re doing with these cases. I would not recommend people filing most immigration cases, but especially these types of cases without the help of a competent immigration attorney. I’m not saying that to toot our own horn. I’m just saying that in order to alert you to the fact that these cases are a little bit nuanced, they’re a little bit more complicated than when the US petitioner is a citizen, so you want to make that you do everything you can to file correctly and to make sure that your son or daughter gets here as soon as they can. If you have any questions about the how the visa process works for the children of US citizens, give us a call, 314-961-8200 or you can email us at Jim@HackingLawPractice.com. Thanks a lot.

Can a conditional resident keep their green card after divorce?

Can I keep my green card even if my US citizen spouse decides to divorce me? Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Attorney practicing law out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. When you marry a US citizen and you’ve been married less than 2 years, you’re only going to get what’s called a conditional green card. You’re given lawful permanent resident status, and even though it’s called permanent, it’s not entirely permanent because when you’re married for less than 2 years, the green card that you get is only good for 2 years from the date of issuance.

Typically, what happens in a regular green card case is the US citizen sponsors someone, and they get that green card. If after the 2 years, they’re still married, they submit another form called an I-751 and a bunch of additional evidence that shows that the couple is still married, but the question then arises what happens when the marriage has gone south and either the US citizen or the alien have decided to get divorced? What happens then? Can the person still get their green card? That is the question that we get from time to time here at the Hacking Law Practice, and we’ve made this video to try to explain to you exactly what happens.

The first thing you should know is it is possible to maintain your lawful permanent resident status if you had a conditional green card even if you’ve gotten divorced, so it is possible. It’s not easy though, that’s the other thing. While it’s possible, it’s not easy, and the reason it’s not easy is because the number one factor into determining whether or not you can get that green card is whether or not your US citizen spouse is willing to help or tries to hurt your chances of staying in the United States. How does this work?

Everyone who gets a conditional green card has to file that I-751 at least within the last 90 days of the 2 years that they had their green card. Sometimes we’re contacted after a year of marriage. The couple has had their green card for about a year or a little bit longer, and the non-citizen has to get ready to file on their own. The US citizen is not going to participate in the process. They’re not going to help, and they’re no longer married. The law does allow for a divorced conditional permanent resident to get their green card, and like I said earlier, the one thing that’s most important is whether the US citizen is willing to help.

If they’re willing to sign an affidavit that says that the couple entered into the marriage in good faith, that it was a legitimate marriage, that everyone had the best of intentions and it just didn’t work out, that’s going to go a long way to getting the conditional green card lifted and to get permanent lawful resident status for 10 years and beyond. Conversely, if the US citizen wants to harm the non-citizen’s chances of getting that permanent green card, and they actively go to immigration and try to thwart that effort by making bad statements or saying that the person only married me for the green card, that’s really going to hurt and probably be fatal to the non-citizen’s chances of getting that permanent green card.

When you submit the I-751 on your own without a spouse, then you need to submit all the evidence that you can that the marriage was legitimate, whatever evidence you have that the couple comingled funds, traveled together, had debt together, credit cards together, lived together, all that evidence. The more of it you can submit, the better. In these situations, we want to go for both quantity and quality, so you want to have a lot of evidence, but you also want to have good competent evidence. You want to have testimony from people that knew the couple, you want to have evidence of all the financial stuff together for the couple, and you really want to make sure that you prove it up just like you would a regular marriage, only here it’s been divorced.

We can help you with this. It’s not easy. I would not try this without an attorney who knows what they’re doing. We’re handling 3 of these right now, and the more we do it, the better we get at it because the point is you really need to prove your case. You need an overwhelming evidence to show that the marriage was legitimate. If you have any questions, give us a call, 314-961-8200 or you can email us at Jim@HackingLawPractice.com

Fiance and spouse visas under attack

In America, when something bad happens involving an immigrant, those opposed to immigration run to the cameras and start yelling about how the United States needs to “crackdown” on immigration.

We saw this after the Paris attacks in November of 2015.  Republican hardliners and others opposed to immigration seized upon the senseless terrorist attack to argue that the U.S. should completely revamp its system of allowing refugees into the U.S.  They made these arguments despite the fact that the U.S. has a rigorous screening process for refugees which takes at least a year and a half for the refugee to get permission to come to the States.  They also neglected to mention that the U.S. has allowed hundreds of thousands of refugees to come to the U.S. without a single reported incident of a refugee committing a terrorist act.  Not one.

Now, after the bizarre mass shooting incident in San Bernardino allegedly committed by a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent and his immigrant wife, these same hard liners are calling for greater restrictions on allowing U.S. citizens to sponsor their spouse or fiance for an immigrant visa.

According to news reports, Syed Farook, sponsored his wife Tashfeen Malik on a K-1 fiance visa in July of 2014.  The couple then married in Riverside County on August 16, 2014 and Farook then sponsored Malik for lawful permanent status based on that marriage.

Senators Jeff Sessions and Ted Cruz recently demanded that President Obama release the immigration records of this couple who reportedly killed 14 people in California.  The Senators want to know the degree of scrutiny faced by the immigrant wife when she came to the U.S.  The two Senators have even floated the idea of a government shutdown to force changes in U.S. immigration policy.

Sessions and Cruz demand not only the immigration file for Tashfeen Malik, but also the immigration file of Farook’s parents.  The Senators claim that the files should be released because “[t]he recruitment of terrorists in the U.S. is not limited to adult migrants, but to their young children and to their U.S. born children – which is why family immigration history is necessary to understand the nature of the threat.”

visa denied

According to the Senators, the green card process is on an “autopilot path to approve” these kinds of applications.

This is some harsh rhetoric from some of the most anti-immigrant members of Congress. That being said, it seems very clear that spouse visas and fiance visas are going to be harder to obtain – especially if the foreign spouse comes from a predominantly Muslim country.

Politicians like Sessions and Cruz are going to use this horrible attack as political fodder for their own purposes, but the more troubling outcome is that a fiance and spouse visa process that is already cumbersome, burdensome and slow is going to get even slower.

A couple of other things to consider.

First, this shooting happened less than one week ago.  The investigation into exactly what happened has just gotten underway.  Perhaps it is a bit too early to be calling for drastic changes to our spouse and fiance visa policy before learning all of the facts.

Second, in America, politicians and bureaucrats often make reactionary decisions that are based on a single piece of information without giving much thought to the overall picture.

The entire Transportation and Safety Administration is based on this faulty logic.  That agency was created in light of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and has done little to make America’s airline system safer.  Studies show that investigators have been able to get all kinds of contraband past airport security.  Would additional scrutiny of a visa application have prevented this horrible act?  Probably not, especially if the couple became “self-radicalized” online after the spouse’s arrival in the U.S.

Third, while these hardliners are all too happy to devote government resources to scrutinizing our immigration system, they viciously oppose any attempt to examine the role our insane gun culture plays in these mass shooting incidents.  The perpetrators of this heinous act had serious fire power and at least some of the guns were obtained legally.  So it is very hypocritical for these friends of the National Rifle Association to be screaming their heads off about immigrants, while refusing to even discuss the role our gun culture plays in all of this.

The fact is that hundreds of thousands of spouses and fiances of U.S. citizens have come to the U.S. without the foreign-born spouse committing a such a horrendous act.  The vast, vast majority of spouses and fiances are contributing to U.S. society each and every day.  Does making the fiance or spouse visa process really make us any safer?  Or is this just political pandering to hardliners in the U.S.?