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Immigration FAQ

Get Answers from a New Jersey Immigration Lawyer

The following questions have been frequently asked by our clients.

I am a fiancée of a US Citizen living outside the US. How can I enter the US to marry?

Your fiancée must apply for a Fiancée Visa also known as the K-1 Visa. The visa is for parties who have physically met within the past two years, have an intent to marry and can document a relationship together. The visa is only for those who are residing abroad and cannot be used if the alien is in the US. The application is filed from within the US and when approved, will be forwarded to the American Consular where the alien fiancée will apply for the visa and be interviewed by an officer. Usually about 8-12 months from the date of filing.

The Visa when approved allows the fiancée to enter the US for the sole purpose of marriage. Upon entry the parties are required to marry within 90 days and file to adjust status to receive a green card.

Once the adjustment is filed the alien spouse will receive a work authorization within 90 days. Thereafter, the USCIS may schedule an interview (usually about 4-6 months from the date of filing) in which they will attempt to determine if the marriage is a bona fide marriage and not one entered into to obtain an immigration benefit. If they don’t schedule an interview your fiancée will simply receive a approval in the mail.

If the case is approved your alien spouse will receive a conditional green card valid for 2 years. At the end of that 2 year period your spouse will be required to file again to obtain a permanent green card. If you fail to file at that time the green card will be revoked. 3 years after the green card is issued if you are still married, your alien spouse would be eligible for citizenship.

At any point during the process the Consulate or USCIS can issue a denial of your family based case for one of many reasons. The most common is the failure to properly complete or file the correct forms, failure to properly document the relationship, undisclosed criminal issues, fraudulent documents or statements, the failure to prepare for the interview or failure to file to remove the conditions at the end of the 2 year period. If the visa is denied or revoked your spouse will be refused entry or placed into removal/deportation if already in the US. This is why it’s important to retain a qualified, experienced New Jersey immigration lawyer to assist you and increase your chances for success.

I live in the US and I am marrying a US Citizen. How can I get a green card and become a permanent resident?

Assuming you have entered the US with a visa or are protected by an old law called 245i you may be eligible to adjust status to receive a green card from within the US. If you have been illegally present for more than 6 months you cannot travel until the green card is in hand. Current processing time is about 5-7 months.

This process is document intensive. Once the case is filed you will receive a work authorization within 90 days. Thereafter, the USCIS will schedule an interview (usually about 4-6 months from the date of filing) in which they will attempt to determine if the marriage is a bona fide marriage and not one entered into to obtain an immigration benefit. If the case is approved and you have been married for less than 2 years you will receive a conditional green card valid for 2 years. At the end of that 2 year period you will be required to file again to obtain a permanent green card. If you fail to file at that time the green card will be revoked. 3 years after the green card is issued if you are still married, you spouse would be eligible for citizenship.

I live outside the US and I married a US Citizen. How can I come to the US to live?

To enter the US after a marriage to a US Citizen you would go through Consular Processing. Paperwork would be filed in the US and forwarded to the embassy abroad to schedule and interview. The processing time frame from start to finish is between 9-11 months depending on the embassy abroad. The process is document intensive and requires careful attention to detail to avoid any administrative delays or other problems. It is always wise to consult with and hire an experienced immigration lawyer to explain the process, discuss legal strategies and prepare the documents necessary for a successful result. I have been practicing law since 1987 and have assisted thousands of immigration clients achieve their dreams.

After the marriage takes place the US Citizen or Green Card holding spouse returns to the US and we will file the initial application with the immigration service (USCIS). It typically takes about four (4) months to receive an approval due to current government processing delays. Note however this is always subject to change.

Upon approval the documents are sent to the National Visa Center for additional processing. Upon completion the package is sent to the Embassy abroad where it is placed into a queue for an interview date. Once the interview and security clearances are complete the spouse will be given a “green card” which is permission to enter and stay in the US.

Keep in mind that the “green card” is valid for a two (2) year period. At the end of that period an additional document must be filed with the immigration service (USCIS) to renew the card for and additional ten (10) years. If your still married three years after the spouse receives the green card the spouse would be eligible for citizenship.

I am a green card holder, how long can I stay outside of the country before I lose my immigration status?

A lawful permanent resident (green card holder) must not stay outside the US for more than one year without receiving prior approval from USCIS or you could lose your green card. More than six (6) months outside the US will break the continuous residency period needed for naturalization.

In what circumstance should I hire an immigration lawyer?

Its important to hire a lawyer at all stages of the immigration process. While the forms and instructions contained on the USCIS web site may seem simple. Do not be deceived. The forms and instructions are the product of regulations and case law in some case over 100 years old. Each question and the response to it is critical to the success or rejection of your case. In addition, the evidence submitted will be carefully reviewed by USCIS Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate in an effort to determine whether the relationship is one of love or convenience. If the evidence is insufficient, ambiguous or just incomplete there is going to be an issue. In addition, there may be an interview looming at the end of the process. The interview will be conducted by a USCIS Officer whose is tasked with the job of rooting out fraud and questioning the applicant. The officers job is governed by a 500 page manual called the Adjudicators Field Manual.

Our firm has handled several thousand immigration cases and we understand the regulations and documentation required to present a successful case. We constantly attend seminars and programs hosted by other lawyers, judges, officers and USCIS upper management to keep up with the constant changes. We have seen hundreds of clients who present their own cases and suffer serious consequences as a result of a lack of understanding of the entire process. Some mistakes cannot be fixed.

Do yourself a favor and hire a competent immigration lawyer.