Associate Attorney Gabriella Agostinelli was the featured interview during the All Things Considered Newscast with Mike Desmond last Friday, February 12th in a segment titled, “You & the Law: Immigration and Marriage.” The interview aired on radio station WBFO 88.7 at 5:45 p.m. To listen to the full interview please click here.
In the interview, Gabriella highlighted several options for couples looking to obtain green cards through marriage.
Mike Desmond: Can immigrants marry in the U.S.?
Gabriella: Yes, they absolutely can marry in the U.S. as long as they are getting married to a U.S. citizen or a U.S. green card holder.
Mike Desmond: If they are immigrants who are for example students at U.B. from other countries, that’s a completely different situation right?
Gabriella: If two immigrants from two foreign countries are getting married in the U.S. that’s absolutely fine, they just can’t apply for a green card on the basis of marriage.
Mike Desmond: Can they at some point apply for one based on the fact that they’re married?
Gabriella: In the family based category, no. Unless one of those individuals becomes eligible for an employment based green card by their employer and then wishes to sponsor the spouse as a derivative, that way they can obtain a green card.
Mike Desmond: This is sort of like computer software, sort of taking these logical paths?
Gabriella: Yes, exactly. Immigration law is all about strategizing. Every individual has a different path to a green card or to whatever immigrant or nonimmigrant status they wish to obtain in the United States, each case is absolutely different.
Mike Desmond: Does it matter where they are from originally?
Gabriella: It does matter where they’re from originally, depending on their ultimate goal. If their ultimate goal is to obtain a green card based on marriage and you are married to a green card holder then it does matter where you are from. If that individual is from India, China, Mexico, or the Philippines that would impact the length of time it would take to actually receive the green card.
Mike Desmond: So there’s one set of rules for them, but if you’re an American citizen who falls in love with a foreign national is that a different process?
Gabriella: Yes, if a foreign national is marrying a U.S. citizen they are able to apply right away for a green card in the United States and it does not matter where that foreign national is from at that point.
Mike Desmond: So you have a different process if you’re up at Bay Beach and you meet a Canadian or if you’re an American student at U.B. who meets someone from China?
Gabriella: If it’s an American citizen, either way it does not matter where that foreign national is from as long as that U.S. citizen is the individual who is anchoring that foreign national to the United States.
Mike Desmond: How complicated does it get?
Gabriella: It gets pretty complicated, but it is fun to assist our clients in that way because it’s nice to strategize a plan to move forward in a way that’s most amenable to their personal and professional lives and the timelines that they are seeking at that point in time.
Mike Desmond: Now this is the government, so it can’t be quick.
Gabriella: It depends on the process. Some people wait years and years for a green card on the basis of different familial relationships, but if you are applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen and you are applying within the United States right now we’re seeing processing times of about five to six months from start to finish, that is from the date that you file the application until you have the green card in hand. However, if for whatever reason your case involves applying from outside the United States, right now we are seeing a lengthier wait time of about 10 to 15 months until you have the green card in hand.
Mike Desmond: So if the non-American partner is overseas somewhere or even across the river in Canada it might make a lot more difference than if you are both students at U.B. and you see each other every day?
Gabriella: Absolutely. Some individuals depending on their particular circumstances are not able to enter the United States as frequently or they’re not able to enter the United States at all and again that varies with what is going on in their life personally and professionally but the process can be quite lengthy for some individuals.
If you are interested in learning more about marriage based green cards please contact our office today to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys!