(Family)Immigration is stressful—I aim to provide you with accurate legal analysis and careful case preparation, so you can stay in control of your lives and worry less about money and paperwork.
Family Immigration Services Offered
- I-130 Family Petitions
- I-129F Fiancé Petitions
- I-751 Petitions to Remove Conditions – Joint and Waiver Filings
- Adjustment of Status
- National Visa Center and Consular Processing
- Interview Preparation and Representations
- Waivers of Inadmissibility : I-601/I-601A, I-212 Deportations, 9C Permanent Bar, CIMTs
Experience with Complications such as:
- Notices of Intent to Deny and Petition Revocation
- Affidavit of Support
- Child Status Protection Act
- Section 245i
- Classification Changes and Recapturing Priority Dates
- Section 204L and Humanitarian Reinstatement
- Adam Walsh Act
- Analysis of Criminal Convictions
- Grounds of Inadmissibility
- Legal Advisory Opinions
At SIL, I can help you prepare and file petitions for your family members; file adjustment of status or consular processing applications and thoroughly prepare you for interview; write your waivers of inadmissibility and hardship letters; and later help with your petition to remove conditions on residence and application for U.S. citizenship.
My process will begin with a detailed case consultation where I analyze your family relationship and personal eligibility and explain any restrictions or timing constraints. I will review all your family and criminal histories and give you a clear but specific list of documents that you need to support your petition. I will stay up to date with documentary requirements and adjudication standards.
I don’t want you wasting time collecting documents that could have been collected earlier. I will clearly explain the timelines and what you need to expect and thoroughly advise you on potential risks. After I collect your paperwork, I will carefully prepare your required immigration forms and meet with you again for final signatures. My goal is to file your case within a week of you bringing your complete documents. Because I am collecting the documents and preparing the forms myself, the case will be ready for filing as soon as you sign.
I-130 Family Petitions
A person who wants to begin living in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident and ultimately a U.S. citizen must have some path towards this status. Our immigration laws focus on family relationships particularly through marriage and parent-child as the basis upon which people can immigrate. One family member in permanent lawful status, such as an LPR or a US citizen, needs to file a petition, called the I-130 petition, to sponsor his or her family member. This petition is filed with USCIS (Immigration) and processed at a Service Center and sometimes adjudicated after an interview at a local USCIS office before an officer.
The petition itself is just the basis upon which a person immigrates. It does not grant any immigration benefits. While it can seem to be a simple form, who can file it, who it can be filed for, what documents are required, how long it will take, and what complications may arise can quickly become very confusing.
While the petition stays the same, each family relationship is not treated the same. A U.S. citizen can file for a variety of close family members including spouses, single and married children, parents, and siblings. But lawful permanent residents can only file for their spouses, and unmarried children. The laws also treat “immediate relatives” (the spouses, minor unmarried children, and parents of U.S. citizens) and the “preference classes” differently. The “preference classes” includes petitions filed by U.S. citizens for adult and married children and siblings and all petitions filed by lawful permanent residents.
Unlike citizens, permanent residents cannot file for their siblings, their parents, nor their married children! Even worse, USCIS has created annual numerical limitations for these “preference class” beneficiaries to control how many individuals from other countries can become permanent residents each year, and because more petitions have been filed than these “visa numbers” are available, a backlog has accrued with some backlogs of seven years and other backlogs over twenty years.
Related to this process above is also the process for I-129F fiancé petitions for fiancés of U.S. citizens living abroad. For residents who have immigrated through a marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, USCIS will limit your resident card to two years validity if your marriage was less than two years old at the time it was approved. You apply to remove this two year restriction by filing an I-751 Petition to Remove Conditions on your Residence either jointly with your spouse or on your own if you have divorced. This allows Immigration to review your marriage to see if it is still bona fide.
Adjustment of Status within Family Immigration
Adjustment of Status is the process through which an individual present in the U.S. applies for lawful permanent residency “adjusting” his or her impermanent status into a permanent one. The foreign national, called the “applicant,” files Form I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status is filed to apply for permanent residence. The laws focus on the applicant’s individual eligibility for permanent residency. The strength or merit of the underlying family petition sponsoring the immigrant makes little to no difference in the individual’s eligibility for permanent residency.
To be eligible for AOS, you must:
- Have a petition sponsoring you either already approved or filed concurrently
- Have a visa number available
- Have entered the U.S. lawfully, maintained lawful non-immigrant status while present in the U.S., and have no periods of unauthorized employment or unlawful presence except for the “immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens and in limited situations for some employment based applicants
- Not have a ground of “inadmissibility,” which are reasons to deny your residency
Applicants for residency who are not residing in the U.S. or not eligible for adjustment of status apply for permanent residency through the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in his or her country of residence. This applicant will receive an “immigrant visa” in his or her passport and will become a permanent resident after entering the U.S. The resident card or “green card” will be mailed later.
Like Adjustment of Status, a petition must be approved and an application filed with supporting evidence, but the differences end there. Highlights of the consular process include:
- The Petition must be approved first and then transferred to DOS before you can start applying for your immigrant visa.
- A centralized office called the National Visa Center in Portsmouth, New Hampshire oversees the consular process. It manages, reviews, and transfers complete files to the embassies and consulates for adjudication.
- Some additional evidence is required for consular processing that isn’t required for adjustment of status such as police clearance letter (“police certificates”) and proof of a valid passport. Consular officers are notorious for being demanding on documentation such as the affidavit of support especially with the latest “public charge” crackdowns
- The Family Immigration process is more time-consuming as it is spread out across several different steps, and the applicant’s application is adjudicated by a consular office at the consulate or embassy in the applicant’s country of residence.
Waivers of Inadmissibility
I have spent a large portion of my practice towards the filing of applications for waivers of inadmissibility for consular processing immigrant visas and adjustment of status applicants. I filed my first waiver application in Ciudad Juarez in 2006 back when few people dared to try the process out of fear for the lengthy processing times and denial rates. But these first brave souls paved the way for me to successfully file over 1000 waiver applications for the 9B unlawful presence “ten-year” bar, misrepresentation, alien smuggling, deportations, criminal convictions, and the 9C “permanent bar.” I still have the bottle of wine my clients brought me back from Mexico after her 9C waiver was approved and her visa issued uniting her with her husband and daughter after ten years living apart from each other.
The immigration laws contain a list of “grounds of inadmissibility,” which are essentially all the reasons USCIS or the consular officer can deny your application. There are many different grounds of inadmissibility, and some rarely apply. But some are very common and can cause serious problems for you. These are:
- 3 or 10-year unlawful presence bar – unlawful presence in the U.S. for more than 180 days followed by a departure from the U.S.
- Criminal Convictions – crimes involving moral turpitude and other serious criminal convictions.
- Material misrepresentations or lies to immigration – fake documents, lying about your intent to immigrate; failing to disclose information on an application that would affect your eligibility, etc.
- Falsely claiming U.S. citizen to gain any benefit including employment, student loans, etc. is a permanent, lifetime bar against immigrating
- 9C Permanent Bar – entering the U.S. without inspection after a prior removal order or a period of a year in the aggregate of unlawful presence in the U.S.
- Deportation or removal orders – 5, 10 or 20 year bar from the U.S.
- Alien “smuggling” – assisting any person into the U.S., which includes your spouse and children.
An experienced attorney can determine whether other penalties may apply, and whether you may be eligible for a waiver to forgive any of these penalties. Each penalty has different standards and requirements. Most commonly, the 3 and 10-year bars are waived through the filing of the I-601 or I-601A provisional waiver based upon extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent. Establishing extreme hardship is a demanding and detailed process. As an understanding and creative lawyer with years of experience building these skills, I can help analyze the hardship factors in your case, make recommendations on the best documents to support your case, and write persuasive arguments to prove your case. I’m here to tell your story.