Articles Posted in Adjustment of Status

Overview: 

Have you ever wondered what is bona fide marriage and what is the evidence required to establish bona fide marriage? In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick will explain how you can go about proving bona fide marriage.

When applying for adjustment of status based on marriage, the foreign national must prove to USCIS that they have what is called a “bona fide” marriage, meaning that the couple has entered the marriage for love, and not solely to obtain an immigration benefit. USCIS requires the applicant to meet their burden of proof of bona fide marriage to prevent green card fraud.

There is certain documentation that must be provided to prove that the couple has a bona fide marriage. This documentation can be provided with the filing itself, or at the time of the green card interview.

What type of documents are required to show bona fide marriage?

Evidence of Cohabitation: to show bona fide marriage, the couple must show that they have been living together throughout the marriage. The types of documents that can establish cohabitation are lease agreements, property deeds, and secondarily utility bills (electricity bill, water bill etc.).

Evidence of Commingled Finances: in addition, the couple must provide evidence of commingled finances such as joint bank account statements showing activity on the account such as payments for rent, food, groceries, and regular household items.

Joint Ownership of Assets: if the couple has any assets held in both of their names such as real property, an automobile, ownership of stocks or bonds etc. they may provide evidence of such assets.

Other Joint Documents: The couple may also provide life insurance policy documents, health or auto insurance, or joint memberships in a club such as gym membership.

Photographs: The couple must present photographs of themselves with friends and family members throughout their relationship to show that they have a legitimate marriage.

Trips: the couple may choose to show evidence of trips or other activities they have undertaken throughout the marriage as proof of bona fide marriage.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses an EB-2 National Interest Waiver success story involving a client who was able to obtain a green card without an employer based on his background as a foreign national with an exceptional ability.

The EB-2 category allows a person to apply for a green card without an employer, as long as certain criteria are met.

* Criteria

  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

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You are married to a US Citizen and you filed your petition for a green card, but now you are going through a divorce, can you keep your green card?

Divorce Prior to Green Card

If you have filed your application for a green card, but have not yet attended your green card interview, and you or your spouse has since filed for divorce, it is going to be nearly impossible for your green card application to continue without the U.S. Citizen spouse.

If the divorce is filed or is happening before the adjudication of your green card, there are very few options for the foreign spouse to obtain a green card.

As long as the foreign spouse is in legal status, they may be able to remain in the United States by changing their status to a nonimmigrant visa category. In this case, the foreign spouse may only remain in the U.S. temporarily, until the duration of the visa is up.

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The San Diego Immigration Law Offices of Jacob J. Sapochnick welcomes you. Our immigration practice is committed exclusively to the areas of immigration and citizenship law. We have big firm expertise in these specialties, but strive to deliver personalized client services at an economical cost.

Every week we cover different immigration topics on our Youtube channel. Subscribe and hit the notification bell to be notified every time we upload!

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses the current processing time for the I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Permanent Residence.

If you were granted conditional residence (2-year green card) based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR), you must file USCIS Form I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence proving that you entered your marriage in good faith, and not to gain an immigration benefit. Filing the I-751 petition allows you to receive your 10-year permanent resident card

The most common question we receive regarding the I-751 application is how long the application takes to process.

The processing time depends on various different factors such as when you filed your petition, where you reside, the service center processing your application, and the volume of applications currently in the pipeline.

You can view the current processing times based on the service center handling your petition, by visiting the USCIS website.

The current processing times for each service center are as follows:

  • The California Service Center is currently taking between 14.5 to 19 months to process these petitions.
  • The Nebraska Service Center is currently taking between 15.5 to 23 months to process these petitions.
  • The Texas Service Center is currently taking between 16 and 19 months to process these petitions
  • The Vermont Service Center is currently taking between 15 and 19 months to process these petitions.

If you have received a request for evidence, then you may experience delays if you wait a long time to respond. If you have changed your address please ensure that you file a change of address on the USCIS website as soon as possible.

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Can I lose my green card if my citizenship application is denied after the interview?

A person typically acquires a green card based on employment or an underlying family petition. As part of the process of becoming a permanent resident, an applicant must pass a background check, and meet all other eligibility requirements to become a permanent resident.

During the citizenship application process, USCIS is given another opportunity to further vet the applicant and ensure that the applicant meets all of the criteria required to become a United States Citizen, as well as ensuring that the applicant has not committed fraud or any other immigration violations to obtain an immigration benefit.

If during your citizenship application process, USCIS finds that there was an inaccuracy or inconsistency during the process of obtaining your green card, it is possible that such a finding might adversely affect the outcome of your citizenship application, depending on the type of defect.

USCIS may or may not decide to investigate further depending on the inaccuracy or inconsistency involved. If USCIS decides to investigate any inaccuracies or inconsistencies involved in your prior green card case, they may decide to not only deny your citizenship application, but also to rescind your permanent resident card. Typically, this occurs where there is an instance of fraud or an individual gained a green card through misrepresentation.

An applicant who is denied for other reasons, such as failing the Civics or English examination, failing to prove good moral character, or failing to meet the continuous residence requirement, is typically not at risk of losing their green card.

If you have any concerns that are specific to your case, please feel free to contact our office to schedule a consultation.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what happens at an employment-based green card interview. Employment-based green card interviews became mandatory pursuant to USCIS policy in March of 2017.

It was not until the President issued an executive order on March 6, 2017 that USCIS began to require in person interviews for employment-based green card applicants.

The President’s executive order broke the agency’s long-standing policy of waiving in-person interviews for employment-based green card applicants, who were previously considered low risk applicants.

In keeping with the executive order, all applicants who have filed for adjustment of status, on or after March 6, 2017, on the basis of employment, must attend an in-person interview with USCIS. Derivative family members must also be present at the interview.

Employment-based adjustment of status is where an individual qualifies to apply for permanent residence based on an underlying employment visa category such as EB-2 or where the foreign national has an approved National Interest Waiver.

What happens during these interviews?

At the interview, the immigration officer will review the foreign national’s job description as it appears on the original Form I-140, to determine whether the applicant is still doing the same work or whether there has been a significant change in employment.

If the applicant is no longer working in the same or a similar position, the applicant must explain why.

Immigration officers are also closely scrutinizing federal income tax returns filed by applicants to determine whether the foreign national has engaged in unauthorized employment. Engaging in unauthorized employment will likely result in a denial of the adjustment of status application.

National Interest Waiver

In the case of adjustment of status based on an approved national interest waiver, the immigration officer will want to know whether the applicant has done what they promised to do in keeping with the original Form I-140 to ensure that the applicant has not engaged in fraud to obtain immigration benefits.

Please contact us at jacob@h1b.biz if you have any questions.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses how to respond to a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) after a marriage fraud interview also known as the STOKES interview.

Overview:

As part of the I-130/485 application process to obtain a green card based on marriage, the couple must attend an in-person interview before USCIS to prove that they have a bona fide marriage.

During this interview the immigration officer must determine whether the marriage is in fact legitimate or whether the foreign national entered the marriage solely to obtain an immigration benefit.

If all goes well, the couple is approved following the initial interview.

If the immigration officer suspects fraud or is not convinced that the marriage is legitimate, the couple will be scheduled for a second interview or “STOKES” interview.

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In this video attorney Jacob Sapochnick explains the differences between the K-1 fiancé visa and a marriage visa.

What is the K-1 Fiancé Visa?

The K-1 visa is available to foreign nationals who are engaged to U.S. Citizens only. K-1 visas are also reserved for foreign fiancées, who do not have any other means of coming to the United States. A K-1 visa holder must marry the U.S. Citizen fiancé/fiancée within ninety days of entry to the United States or else the alien must leave the country.

If the foreign fiancé does not intend to marry the U.S. Citizen within ninety days of arriving to the United States, then the K-1 fiancé visa is not a good option.

The K-1 fiancé visa is a good option for couples who want to spend time together in the United States before getting married.

The fiancé visa process is typically much faster than the marriage visa process.

Marriage Visa

Spouses Overseas: U.S. Citizens and Legal Permanent Residents may file Form I-130 on behalf of a foreign spouse residing abroad, so that the foreign spouse can apply for a marriage visa through the U.S. Consulate in their home country. Spouses of Legal Permanent Residents must wait for a visa to become available to them, before proceeding with the marriage visa application process.

Spouses within the U.S.: If the foreign spouse of a U.S. Citizen is residing inside of the United States on a valid visa type, then the foreign spouse can file Form I-130 and Form I-485 to adjust their status permanent residence at the same time.

The marriage visa application process is generally longer than the fiancé visa process, while adjustment of status for spouses residing within the United States is shorter than the fiancé visa process (typically 4-7 months processing time).

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In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses how you can obtain permanent residence if your U.S. Citizen spouse has passed away, and you are still in the process of applying for permanent residence.

Overview:

What happens if you and your spouse have filed the I-130/485, and your US Citizen spouse tragically passes away during the process?

SCENARIO ONE: If the couple married but did not have the opportunity to file the I-130/485 applications with USCIS, before the death of the US Citizen spouse, the surviving spouse can still obtain permanent residence by filing form I-360 as a widow(er), provided the couple had a bona fide marriage. Once the I-360 petition is approved by USCIS, the surviving spouse can proceed on their own in filing the I-485 application for permanent residence.

SCENARIO TWO: In cases where the I-130/485 applications have already been filed with USCIS, but the couple did not have the opportunity to go to their I-485 interview before the passing of the US Citizen, USCIS may still adjudicate the foreign national’s application for permanent residence, even if the US Citizen spouse is now deceased. At the interview, the surviving spouse must provide the US Citizen’s death certificate, as well as evidence of bona fide marriage.

If you have any questions regarding this process, please email jacob@h1b.biz, or contact our office.

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