Featured Clients of the Month: Ted & Austhin

Congratulations to our clients, Ted and Austhin, who recently completed the marriage-based green card process and were successfully approved! Ted is a U.S. citizen and Austhin is a citizen of Indonesia. Austhin recently received her ten-year green card with the help of our firm after filing an approved Form I-130 and attending an immigrant visa interview in Jakarta, Indonesia with the U.S. Embassy.  Ted met his wife, Austhin, in Jakarta where he was volunteering as an English instructor in 2012. Austhin was a teacher at the local school. The two immediately hit it off and began dating. However, Ted had to return to the U.S. in August of 2012 in order to continue pursuing his graduate degree. In the meantime, Ted and Austhin had a long-distance relationship and continued to keep in touch.  Upon completion of his degree in the U.S., Ted moved to Indonesia to be with Austhin. The couple enjoyed their life together in Indonesia until Austhin was granted a scholarship at Northern Arizona University. Austhin went to study in Arizona while Ted accepted a job in Cincinnati, but the couple continued their long-distance relationship in the meantime. In 2017, Ted and Austhin decided they could not be […]
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USCIS Announces New Guidelines for Spousal Petitions Involving Minors

On April 12, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) added to its February update on spousal petitions involving minors. USCIS has now decided that I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor require more heightened scrutiny than has been applied in the past. The new guidance was released as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM), and it directs officers to conduct an additional interview, early in the petition process, for I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. The purpose of interviewing spousal applicants earlier on during the I-130 process is to create an extra opportunity for USCIS to evaluate the petition and the claimed spousal relationship. This new interview requirement is an add-on to guidance published earlier in the year by USCIS, which detailed factors that officers should consider when evaluating I-130 spousal petitions involving a minor. For instance, officers should consider whether the marriage is valid in the country in which it took place, and officers should also take note if the marriage violates the law or public policy of the state where the couple plans to reside. The circumstances under which USCIS will be conducting these new, in-person interviews are laid out clearly in the AFM. USCIS […]
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USCIS Strengthens Guidance on Spousal Petitions Involving Minors

In the United States, state law determines the minimum age that an individual can be married. Every state but two requires that both members of the married couple be 18 years of age or over to be married without parental or judicial consent. Occasionally, immigrants coming into the United States have minor spouses, or immigrants living in the United States want to bring minor spouses into the country. Immigration officers subject petitions involving these minor spouses to special scrutiny. USCIS has just announced that it will be publishing additional clarifying instructions for its officers to consider when adjudicating spousal immigration petitions involving minors. These additional instructions were published as an update to the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM). It clarifies age requirements for a petitioner filing an Affidavit of Support for a spouse in conjunction with a concurrently filed I-485, and identifies factors officers should consider when adjudicating a Form I-130 spousal petition involving a minor.  What does the updated guidance instruct USCIS officers to look for when considering a petition? While there are no statutory age requirements to petition for a spouse or to be sponsored as a spousal beneficiary, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider […]
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Things to Consider When Applying to Remove Conditions on a Marriage-based Green Card

Foreign spouses applying for a green card based on marriage to a U.S. citizen will be issued a conditional green card, valid for two years, if the couple has been married for less than two years at the time of the green card interview. Before the conditional green card expires, the couple must file Form I-751. An approval of Form I-751 removes conditions on residency by proving a bona fide marriage. A denial can result in the removal of the foreign spouse.  The purpose of the I-751 process is to prove that a marriage was formed with a genuine intent to live together and not to fraudulently obtain a green card. This process is used to provide evidence of a bona fide marriage. Some documents to submit include financial records showing joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility of liabilities, birth certificates of any children born to the marriage, mortgage or lease agreements showing joint occupancy of a residence, and photographs of the couple. Based on the evidence submitted, USCIS will assign a fraud level based on an officer’s judgement of the quality of the petition and evidence provided. If USCIS believes the case does not present a likelihood of […]
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Featured Client of the Month: Shane Booth

Shane Booth is one of Berardi Immigration Law’s longest standing clients and has been working with Rosanna Berardi since 2004! In 2004, more than 14 years ago, Shane reached out to Rosanna to help him obtain TN status as an Industrial Designer for a popular U.S. television network. Rosanna met Shane at the Peace Bridge Port of Entry to assist in presenting the application and Shane’s TN was successfully approved for a full three-year period. Thrilled with our services, Shane reached back out to Berardi Immigration Law three years later to prepare his TN renewal application, which was also approved.    Luckily, however, Shane wouldn’t need to use his three-year TN visa, as he had married his wife, Kathryn, a U.S. citizen, just a few months prior! As Shane was already present in the U.S. under TN status, we were able to file an I-130 Green Card petition concurrently with Form I-485 Adjustment of Status, so that Shane was able to remain in the U.S. to be with Kathryn while his green card application was pending. In April of 2009, Shane was officially granted Lawful Permanent Status and received a conditional green card valid for two years.  In January of […]
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Investigating Marriage Fraud

A marriage entered into solely for the purpose of procuring an immigration benefit, often referred to as a “sham marriage,” is not valid under the law, and United States immigration officials have far-reaching authority to intrude upon the applicant’s personal lives and investigate. For the most part, the investigation that a U.S. immigration official might conduct is largely superficial. Officials will generally rely on the applicants to provide supporting documentation that proves the couple’s relationship is bona fide. Along with an in-person interview, most approvals and denials do not extend beyond that level of investigation. The investigatory power these immigration officials possess, however, reaches well beyond simply reviewing documents and interviewing the applicants. USCIS is permitted to conduct a background check; interview the applicant’s employer, family, and friends; or even visit the couple at their home. In cases where fraud is suspected, U.S. immigration authorities have been known to use a tactic referred to as “bed checks.” This involves an officer showing up at the applicant’s front door, usually in the early hours of the morning, to see if the couple is actually cohabitating. From a legal standpoint, the applicants can refuse to allow immigration officials access to their home, […]
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Marrying When on a Tourist Visa

There are two types of visas available to foreign nationals wishing to come to the United States for tourism purposes.  The B-1/B-2 visa is a type of nonimmigrant visa for persons desiring to enter the United States temporarily for business (B-1) or for pleasure, tourism or medical treatment (B-2). International travelers with visitor visas comprise a large portion of temporary visitor travel to the United States every year.  Individuals from any of the 36 countries participating in the Visa Waiver program may enter the United States for tourism or business purposes for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Traveling to the U.S. on any tourist visa WITH THE INTENT TO MARRY and filing for adjustment of status is deemed to be visa fraud.  A tourist visa is, by definition, a nonimmigrant visa.  If you marry while on a tourist visa you may severely impact your chances of gaining permanent residency (green card status) in the U.S. and you should thoroughly understand your options prior to taking such a step. However, there are certain circumstances when adjustment of status based on a marriage performed in the United States while on a tourist visa may be possible, Scenario:  Susan is […]
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