As an immigration attorney, I understand that people have to live their lives. I also understand that immigration is not always the number one priority for people. That being said, I was surprised this week by the decisions made by some very intelligent people. These people disregarded the immigration consequences of their decisions and basically threw caution to the wind with regard to the possible negative consequences.
In the first instance, a man had applied for his sister and her husband to come to the United States as relatives of a U.S. citizen. The visa application had been filed over 12 years ago and included the woman, her husband and her three kids. USCIS had approved the I-130 long ago, but the family had been awaiting available visas for many, many years. Visas finally came available last year and the family was all approved and given lawful permanent resident status. However, the children were still in school in their home country. So about one week after arrival, the family filed a request for permission to stay overseas but then left without ever waiting for it to be approved. They then lived abroad back in their home country for more than a year. Luckily for them, they did not have a problem when they came back to the United States. But in being away that long, the family had put their LPR status in great jeopardy. When I told them that it was rather foolish what they had done and that they had put their green cards in peril, they sort of shrugged and said, "well we need to do it again one more year because the children still had not graduated." I wished them well and I hope they have continued success, but I warned them that they were again putting their permanent resident status at issue. The government bestowed a great benefit on the family which they have basically ignored.
We have had several instances like this and I find them very troubling. If people understood how difficult it is to obtain visas and all of the work that goes into a successful visa application, I do not believe they would be so cavalier with the way they proceed before obtaining citizenship.
If you have a confusing immigration situation, please feel free to contact us. But you should know that there are simply some things that we can't fix.