Preparing for Your Marriage-Based Green Card Interview

Obtaining lawful permanent resident status by marriage to a U.S. citizen is a multi-step process. The first step of the marriage-based Green Card process involves the filing of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Resident, by the U.S. Citizen spouse...
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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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What is Direct Consulate Filing?

Direct Consulate Filing (DCF) is an expedited process through which a United States citizen living oversees can petition the government for an immigrant visa for his or her immediate relatives. DCF requires that, instead of sending an I-130 petition back to the United States, the citizen sends it to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country in which he or she is residing. It is important to note that this procedure is not offered at all consulates and embassies and to date, the government has not issued a list of available consulates that offer this service. The DCF requirements are modest. In order to file a Form I-130 Petition through DCF, the Petitioner must have U.S. Citizenship and have lived abroad for a minimum of six months. DCF may also be available in extenuating circumstances such as members of the military facing deployment, emergency situations, situations involving the health or safety of the petitioner, and when it is in the national interest of the U.S.  Ultimately, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate handles the visa petition directly and decides the immigrant’s eligibility for a green card. This is the advantage of DCF: I-130 applications are handled directly by a U.S. […]
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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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Certain Conditional Permanent Residents Eligible for Interview Waiver

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently provided updated guidance for officers regarding waiving the interview requirement for a Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence.  Conditional permanent residency is granted to qualifying foreign nationals who have been married to their qualifying spouse for less than two years. After a period of two years, a conditional permanent resident must petition to have these conditions removed or face losing their Green Card entirely, as this conditional card cannot be renewed. Generally, in order to complete the process necessary to remove conditions, an officer must interview a conditional permanent resident. However, there are some exceptions, which the recent guidance delves into.   According to USCIS, officers have some discretion to decide if they can waive the interview requirement. They are required to follow certain criteria to make a judgement of whether the interview should be waived or if it is necessary. A USCIS officer must be satisfied that the following conditions are met: The officer is able to make a decision based on the current record because it contains sufficient evidence regarding the bona fides of the marriage and the marriage was not entered into fraudulently for the purpose of avoiding U.S. immigration […]
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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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