Tag: lawful permanent resident

Can My Spouse Adjust if I am an LPR

If I am a green card holder, can my spouse stay in the United States if I file for adjustment of status for them?

Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, Immigration Lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri. Every now and then, we come across a case where there’s a lawful permitted resident, let’s call him Juan, living in the United States.

Let’s say also that his spouse, Maria, happens to be in the United States, let’s say, on the student visa, so she is not a lawful permitted resident. She is just the spouse of a lawful permitted resident, and the question is, what type of status does Maria have to maintain in order to be able to stay in the United States.

Here’s the general rule. If you want to adjust your status, you need to be in valid immigration status at the time of your adjustment. In a situation like this, Maria would need to maintain her student status throughout the time the green card case is pending. The reason for this is that there’s a backlog on the processing of green card cases for the spouses of green card holders.

I know that sounds a little bit confusing but, basically, there are a limit on the number of green cards that are available in all kinds of green card categories, and that includes green cards for the spouses of green card holders. That is lawful permanent residences, husbands or wives.

That is the kind of thing that can screw people up because they assume that, once they file for the green card based on their marriage to a green card holder, that that allows them to stay in the United States. Some of this confusion comes from the fact that the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is out of status is allowed to adjust status.

The rules are different when you’re married to a U.S. citizen so, if Juan were already a U.S. citizen, then if Maria were out of status at the time that they applied for adjustment or at the time of her interview, that would be forgiven, the fact that she was out of status, but that rule only applies to U.S. citizens. That rule does not apply to spouses of lawful permanent residents.

That’s really where the confusion comes in. If you are married to a green card holder and if you want to adjust your status, you need to make sure that you find some valid status to be in and that you maintain that status both at the time that you file and at the time of your actual adjustment. In a lot of situations, that can be up to a year and a half or two years or even longer, depending on how many people are in line ahead of you.

This can be a really confusing issue. We’ve seen people screw it up. We’ve seen the immigration service screw it up so, if you have questions about how this works or about how we could help you with that, how you can go about maintaining your status, be sure to give us a call at 314-961-8200, or you can email us at info@hackinglawpractice.com.

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Thanks a lot, and have a great day.

Big Win at Immigration for Happily Married Couple

When a US citizen marries a foreign national, they can sponsor their spouse for a green card.

If the couple has been married less than two years when the green card is approved, then the foreign national only receives a two-year, temporary green card.

Before the 2-year green card expires, the couple must submit a form called an I-751 form to the immigration service. They have to demonstrate that they are still married and the marriage is real.

If the couple fails to submit this form, the foreign national can lose their status and even end up in deportation proceedings.

Early last year, our law firm was hired to represent a U.S. citizen and his wife. They are both originally from Kosovo.

They have three children and they have lived together every day since they were married.

This couple did file the I 751 on time, but they failed to respond to a request for additional evidence from USCIS. As a result, USCIS denied their I-751 petition.

This couple happens to be members of the Islamic faith. They dress in traditional Muslim garb. S it is not entirely surprising that USCIS sent the woman to deportation court.

This is a bit upsetting, however, given the fact that we have had many clients who come to see us after having not filed there I 751 on time, but without ever being placed in removal. We had a Canadian client who filed it nine years late and he was not placed into removal.

To the best of our recollection, this is the only couple that we have ever had actually sent to deportation for this failure to follow the rules.

After the deportation proceedings began, the couple hired us to try and help.

We filed a new i-751 and submitted a lot of evidence that the couple is still married. The best evidence, of course, is the fact that they have 3 U.S. citizen children between them.

The immigration judge put the deportation case on hold while USCIS decided what to do with the new submission from our office. Last week, we went to a 10 minute interview at the St.Louis field office of USCIS and the case was approved on the spot by one of the supervisors.

We will now be able to take that approval notice and get the deportation case stopped.

We are very happy for a client, especially the wife who has been afraid to go visit her mother back home because of the pending deportation case. Now, she will be able to go visit her family. Our client is also eligible to apply for citizenship now.

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