Common Issues and Preparation Tips
Below are some helpful tips and information that will help prepare you to file for your alien spouse or fiancé. This guide will also cover common issues to avoid that we have come across in our practice.
In order to successfully file a petition for your alien spouse or fiancé, you must first take care of four very important things:
Be Honest, Be Prepared, Do Your Research and Ask questions
Our Law Office provides our clients with a concise list of documents the couple will need to collect in order for our office to compile their forms and finalize their case. This list not only keeps the client organized, but also serves as a starting point in preparing the client. Please obtain this list from an accredited attorney as soon as possible to begin preparing for your case.
Tip #1: Do your Research, Come to your Consultation Prepared, and Ask Questions
As soon as you begin to consider filing for your alien spouse or fiancé, you should come in to your attorney’s office for a consultation and ASK all of your questions. At the consultation some important questions to ask are:
- What documents do I need to bring to finalize this case?
- What is the process from beginning to end after we file?
- What can we expect during the interview?
- What are the requirements to file this case?
- What must I prove to immigration?
- I have petitioned for another alien before, will this affect my case?
- I had a prior criminal conviction, how will this affect my case?
- I plan on traveling during the following period, can I do so while my case is pending?
- Will I need a Joint Sponsor?
Other important items to disclose:
- Your status when you entered the United States (B-1/B-2, F-1, J-1, H-1B, etc)
- When the beneficiary’s authorized stay in the United States expires
- If the beneficiary or petitioner has been divorced more than once
- If the petitioner has petitioned for this or any other alien before
- If the beneficiary has applied for an employment authorization in the past
- If the beneficiary has applied for permanent residency in the past
- Criminal History/Prior Convictions
- If the beneficiary has been or is under immigration proceedings
- Future Travel Plans
Tip #2: Disclosing Criminal History/Prior Convictions
Disclose any issues to your attorney that may present an obstacle to your case. If the petitioner (the U.S. Citizen) or beneficiary (green card applicant) has a criminal history, prior conviction, has engaged in prostitution, or has ever been deported, etc. it is VERY important to discuss this history with your attorney. Many times we find that a client is reluctant to share this information with their attorney. Due to this, time and time again, our attorney’s have not found out about a client’s criminal history until the marriage interview. However delicate sharing this information may be, this information must be discussed with your attorney so that the couple is not blind sighted during their marriage interview. Remember that your attorney is there to HELP YOU. Sharing this information will prepare you and will only help your case.
Common questions/scenarios that must be discussed with your attorney:
- Any criminal convictions or criminal history (deportation, removal proceedings, prostitution, false claims to U.S. citizenship, drug smuggling, etc.) the petitioner (U.S. Citizen) or beneficiary (green card applicant) may have. When in doubt ASK.
- Please bring legal evidence of criminal convictions (deportations, removal proceedings, criminal convictions, etc) to your consultation.
- If the beneficiary (green card applicant) travels internationally on a frequent basis (i.e. businesspersons) it is very important to discuss this with your attorney during your consultation, to determine the best venue where you must file, and so that your attorney can make recommendations based on your lifestyle.
Adjustment of Status and Petition for Alien Relative (I-130/485) applicants:
- Once the beneficiary’s (green card applicant’s) case is filed with immigration, the green card applicant CANNOT travel, if filing within the United States. The green card applicant cannot travel internationally until an advance parole is issued by immigration. The green card applicant can only travel within the United States once their receipt notice is issued approximately 2 weeks after filing. If the green card applicant holds a valid U.S. Visa they are free to travel within the United States. Please discuss this with your attorney.
- Do your research and make sure that the beneficiary’s sponsor meets the income requirements for the Affidavit of Support. If the sponsor does not meet the income requirements the green card applicant will need a joint sponsor. The joint sponsor need not be a relative, but they must be a U.S. Citizen or U.S. permanent resident. (See Tip #5)
Tip #3: Collect Proof of Relationship Evidence Early On:
As soon as you become interested in petitioning for your alien spouse, begin to collect proof of joint occupancy, joint ownership of assets and joint responsibility for liabilities, and general evidence proving your bona fide marriage. This evidence must be presented at the time of the marriage interview. This evidence includes, but is not limited to: photos of the couple with family and friends, lease agreements, property records, joint tax returns, joint bank accounts, joint insurances, birth certificates of children born to the marriage (if any), utility bills, cards/letters the couple wrote to one another, gifts given to one another, receipts/tickets for reservations, flights, hotels, or trips taken together, cell phone records, and emails/text messages between the couple. If the couple does not have sufficient joint ownership of assets or joint responsibility for liabilities, it is important to supplement this deficiency with affidavits from family members or friends that can attest that the couple’s marriage is bona fide.
For K-1 Visa Applicants, if the couple does not yet share joint occupancy, joint ownership of assets or liabilities, any evidence establishing your bona fide relationship is sufficient. Please discuss this with your attorney early on.
Tip #4: Get time consuming items out of the way
It is important for applicant’s to take care of time consuming items as soon as possible. These items include, but are not limited to obtaining foreign birth certificates and certified English translations, certificates of naturalization (if applicable), renewing foreign passports (if applicable), obtaining divorce decrees (if applicable), and for Adjustment of Status applicant’s to obtain their medical exam results in a sealed envelope.
Tip #5: Be sure your Sponsor/Joint Sponsor meets the Income Requirements
Provide your most recent tax return and W2s to your attorney or case worker (paralegal) so that they can determine whether you meet the income requirements for the Affidavit of Support, and what supporting documents you will need to provide. Always discuss your household size with your attorney/case worker if you have dependents. If the sponsor or joint sponsor has petitioned for the alien in question or any other alien before, please disclose this information to your attorney/case worker.
K-1 Visa Applicants:
Applicants for K-1 visas must be able to prove three important requirements set by immigration, please keep these items in mind when gathering evidence for your case and discuss these requirements with your attorney:
#1: The couple must prove they have met within the last 2 years
#2: The couple must prove they are legally free to marry. If the petitioner or beneficiary has been divorced they must provide divorce decrees from their respective countries.
#3: The petitioner must certify that they are legally able to and intend to marry the alien fiancé (green card applicant) within 90 days of his or her arrival to the United States. The alien fiancé must also certify that they are legally able to and intend to marry the petitioner within 90 days of his or her arrival to the United States.
The more prepared you are to file your case, the smoother your journey will be. Remember to keep yourself organized by utilizing a photo album and a binder to keep all of your original documents inside.
To begin the process of filing for your alien spouse or fiancé please contact our office to schedule a consultation. We thank you for your continued trust and loyalty.