Family Based Immigration
In our increasingly globalized society, many people fall in love at a distance. Luckily for international couples, the U.S. immigration system allows for a U.S. Citizen to obtain a visa for their fiancé to come to the United States and get married. The K-1 fiancé visa has been popularized in reality TV shows that narrate couples’ 90 days in the United States before they marry, but TV often fails to show how complicated the legal process can be.
The fiancé visa process is a hybrid of other family-based immigration processes—it requires a petition to be filed, establishing the good-faith or “bona-fide” nature of the relationship, and an interview to be set at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Similar to consular processing for immigrant visa petitions, each U.S. embassy or consulate abroad has different procedures when it comes to fiancé visas. Applicants typically have to complete a medical examination abroad with an approved immigration clinic, and U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident petitioners have to establish they are financially capable of supporting their fiancé. Once the foreign fiancé arrives in the United States, the couple has 90 days to get married. After that, the applicant will have to file an application for Adjustment of Status to obtain their green card.
Because every relationship is different, our expertise provides a valuable perspective on the breadth and type of relationship evidence that is successful and effective, the particulars of different consular posts, and the ins and outs of the different immigration agencies that touch the case.
All U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents enjoy the same rights when it comes to bringing family members to the United States from other countries, regardless of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity. With that said, it can be intimidating and stressful to undergo scrutiny of your family dynamics by a U.S. government official. Our goal in representing diverse applicants and families is to ensure that everyone is empowered with the information they need to protect their rights and pursue their goals.
Although immigration officers undergo some training with regard to LGBT+ issues, there’s nothing like having the peace of mind in knowing that you have an experienced attorney on your team, defending and representing your interests.
At McGuire Law, we believe that all families should be treated with dignity and respect, and that being a part of the LGBT+ community should not have any kind of impact on the immigration experience.
Consular processing is the technical name for the procedure by which applicants receive Lawful Permanent Residency abroad. Although the benefit is equivalent to a green card, it is called an immigrant visa because the visa is placed in the applicant’s passport to allow them to travel to the United States from their country of residence or origin to permanently reside in the United States.
Consular processing can be a tricky strategy because it involves several steps with several different immigration agencies, including USCIS, the National Visa Center (NVC), and the U.S. Department of State. U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad have different requirements and procedures for the immigrant visa interview, so it can be extremely valuable to have an experienced attorney help you with this process and lend their insights to your case.
Some applicants may also need a waiver or background checks before attending their immigrant visa interview abroad. It is very important to get quality, expert legal advice before pursuing a consular processing strategy, because a negative outcome at the visa interview can have serious, long-term consequences. Many applicants overlook important details or eligibility issues and get stuck abroad because they did not carefully screen their case before pursuing their immigrant visa.
Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of Status is the technical name for the process of applying for a green card or Lawful Permanent Residency from inside the United States. Adjustment of Status applications usually require the applicant to appear at an interview at their local USCIS office. Applicants for Adjustment of Status may also be eligible for work and/or travel permits while their applications are pending.
In order to qualify for Adjustment of Status, applicants must have an underlying reason for their eligibility. Examples include an approved family petition, an approved employer petition, or the qualifying period of time with a U Visa.
Prospective applicants should review their eligibility carefully with an experienced attorney, because filing for Adjustment of Status does require that you disclose personal information to the government, which could expose you to immigration enforcement if your application is not approved.
Removal of Conditions
Spouses of U.S. Citizens who were married less than two years when their first green card was approved are given a two-year green card instead of a ten-year green card. These two-year green cards are also called “Conditional Residency.”
At the end of the conditional residency period, the spouses are required to jointly file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence. This process is implemented by USCIS to screen for possible marriage fraud. The purpose of the I-751 process is to establish with immigration that the marriage is legitimate and in good faith, or “bona fide.” If the marriage has since ended, some people may still be able to get their I-751 Petition approved with certain waivers.
It can be very helpful for couples to consult with an experienced attorney when they reach the I-751 stage, because the timing of filing is important and so is the type and amount of evidence submitted to immigration. Some couples may have to appear at an interview with USCIS. Immigration interviews can be a stressful experience, but having an attorney help you can alleviate a lot of that stress.
If you need to file an I-751 petition after the termination of a marriage, you should plan to speak with an experienced attorney to make sure your rights are protected.
Green Cards for Relatives
U.S. Citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents have the right to petition for certain family members to obtain Lawful Permanent Residency (also called a “green card”) in the United States. This can include:
There are certain limitations as to which relatives can receive green cards, and there are also limits as to how many green cards can be issued based on where the person is from and what type of family relationship they have with their petitioner. Some categories of applicants have to wait many years before their visa becomes available, so it’s recommended that you review your case with an experienced attorney to help you understand the process and set reasonable expectations for the timeline of the case.