Our office recently represented a very nice student and his wife before the St. Louis USCIS office. The student had been studying in the U.S. for several years before meeting his wife. As it often happens, they met, fell in love, and decided to get married and reside together in the U.S. At the time, the student and his wife thought they could save some money by applying for the student's green card or lawful permanent resident status on their own.
As is often the case, doing it on your own can be more than you bargained for, even if you are an intelligent person. That's because immigration is a specialized field that has its own laws and procedures that go beyond simply filling out the right forms.
A normal marriage petition case handled by our office takes about 4-6 months to complete. From the time this couple filed their petition and finally had the case approved, a year had passed. That's a whole year of this student and this wife living their lives in limbo. The delays came because USCIS kept asking for additional evidence or information. This type of evidence and information is something our office knows to include upfront to avoid the dreaded "Request for Evidence." At one point, one of their forms had to be re-filed costing them an extra $1070 filing fee that could have been avoided.
By the time this couple had come to our office, they were really frustrated. I don't think they wanted to see another immigration form for the rest of their lives. We are happy to report that from the time we took over, we had secured an approval in two months. Not only that, but the interview took less than 10 minutes to be conducted. That's a record for us!
Changing from a student to a lawful permanent resident will open up a lot of doors for this bright young man and his wife. We look forward to seeing what he does and helping him with his U.S. citizenship when the time comes.