EXPERIENCED FAMILY IMMIGRATION LAWYER
Due to our commitment to keep families together in the United States, our investment in technology and our affordable rates, we handle a high-volume of family-based immigration cases. Our goal is to help keep as many families together in the United States as possible. Our extensive experience in this field results in a tried and true path to success. Use our years of dedicated experience with family immigration to your advantage.
It is important to make an educated decision about which family immigration case type is best for you.
To determine if you are a good fit for any case, call us for a free attorney consultation.
We also recommend that you read about the benefits of each case type below.
ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS
“Adjustment of status” is the process of becoming a legal resident of the United States while already in the United States.
Adjustment of status is appropriate for qualifying immigrant family members who are already in the United States and are willing to stay in the United States until a temporary travel document is issued as part of the pending adjustment of status case. Once an adjustment of status case is filed, the immigrant may not be able to travel outside of the United States with a visa previously obtained (most visas are not “dual intent” and do not permit the holder to have the intent to stay in the United States). Additionally, USCIS will consider leaving the United States without the temporary travel document (called an “advance parole” document) abandonment of the case, resulting in denial. Receipt of the temporary travel document might take 4+ months to receive.
Note: We apply for a temporary work permit and temporary travel document in all adjustment of status cases. It is currently taking approximately 4+ months to receive both – which arrive on a “Combo” card.
Adjustment of status is generally appropriate for individuals who entered the United States after inspection by an immigration officer or who are 245i eligible. Individuals who last entered the United States with specific visas do not qualify to file for adjustment of status.
For the typical one-step adjustment of status cases, the filing fees – including Form I-130 petition, Form I-485 application for adjustment of status, Form I-765 temporary work permit and Form I -131 temporary travel document, are $1,760 (subject to change by the government). Note: this price might be slightly lower for certain individuals based on age and may be lower if a petition is not require or already approved.
Applicants for adjustment of status will also need to complete a medical examination (approx. $300) and obtain 6-10 passport photographs (approx. $60-$150). Professional translation services are optional. A DNA test may be required in some cases to prove the relationship (approx. $300).
So what if you are not in the United States, but want to file for adjustment of status to avoid the long delays of consular processing?
Unless you already have a “dual intent” visa – which is rare, this may be difficult. It is generally not advisable to enter the United States with your mind made up that you will apply for adjustment of status. The reason is that upon arrival to the United States, the Custom and Boarder Patrol (“CBP”) agent will ask what the purpose of your trip is. If you tell the officer that your intent is to file for adjustment of status, or move in with a family member, then you easily may be denied entry and sent home on a plane – even if you have a visa. Most visas (F-1, B1-B2, ESTA (VWP), etc.) do not allow for the intent to stay in the US.
So maybe you will be tempted to lie to the immigration officer. If you are tempted to lie to the official, don’t! Fraudulent statements made at entry can be grounds to later deny an adjustment of status application. For example, let’s say you enter the US and say you are visiting a friend, but you are already engaged, and you stay in the US, get married and file for adjustment of status. USCIS may determine that calling your spouse a “friend” instead of “fiancee” at the time of entry was fraudulent. They may find this information from your Facebook page or other investigation.
Well, what if we are just thinking about getting married, but there has been no proposal, and we just want to know or options?
Keeping an open mind, entering the US with the intent to return home, but changing your mind and remaining in the United States to adjust status is perfectly acceptable for eligible “immediate relatives” of US citizens. This is common with married couples and parents of US citizens.
Keep in mind, however, that actions taken within the first 90 days of entry to the United States may be viewed with more skepticism and could result in USCIS presuming fraud. Consider, for example, a couple who never speaks with an immigration attorney, enters the US with a visitor visa, and then immediately marries and applies for adjustment of status within a couple of weeks. Even if the immigrant did not lie to the immigration official upon entry to the United States (with is hard to imagine), USCIS may still think that the immigrant lied or presume fraud. Legally speaking, you could fight unproven accusations by USCIS, but do you want to be in a defensive position for an important legal matter?
What if when we entered the US, we told the CBP officer about our plans to adjust status, and after several hours in secondary inspection at the airport, the officer ultimately let us into the United States and told us we could not apply for adjustment of status?
We have had clients with this type of luck. Actually, they are very lucky that the officer lets them into the United States. Our clients of this type have all been already married. It is probably less likely that a fiancé(e) of a US citizen would be allowed into the US in this situation.
Our clients have been able to adjust status in this situation without problem, simply by explaining what happened to USCIS so that it is clear there was no fraud. The fact that the CBP officer told them not to adjust status is irrelevant because CBP loses jurisdiction after the admission to the United States.
Consular processing is the way of obtaining US legal resident status after an interview at a US embassy abroad.
Consular processing is the appropriate procedure if the immigrant is not in the United States, but would like to immediately move forward with a legal resident application and does not have a “dual intent” visa (most do not). It is also a good option if the family is residing abroad and not yet ready to move to the United States.
Consular processing may be the only option available if the immigrant is not in the United States and unlikely to be granted admission to the United States either because they cannot obtain a visa or because they might be denied entry to the United States even with a visa (see discussion regarding immigrant intent in the “adjustment of status” section).
The downside of consular processing is that it can take a very long time from start to finish, and if the family is separated during this time, consular processing can be a significant hardship.
During the time that the case is pending, it is likely that the immigrant will not be issued a visa to travel to the United States (unless the visa type is “dual intent” which is rare). If the immigrant already possesses a visa, or is otherwise eligible for entry to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program (ESTA), it is possible, but not guaranteed, that the immigrant will be able to travel to the United States with the visa or ESTA while the case is pending.
In our experience, ESTA travelers with pending I-130 petitions have not had issues arriving in the United States for short travel and the intent to return abroad for consular processing. Visa holders (with non-dual intent visas) probably are somewhat more likely to be denied admission with pending I-130 petitions, but they also could be allowed to enter the United States for travel if they can clearly show an intent to leave the United States for consular processing.
For typical consular processing cases the filing fees – including Form I-130 petition, DS-260, Affidavit of Support, and USCIS immigrant visa fee are $1,200 (subject to change by the government).
Applicants for consular processing will also need to complete a medical examination (approx. $300), obtain passport photographs, get at least one police clearance letter in most cases, and may be required in some cases to prove the relationship by a DNA test (approx. $300). Professional translation services are optional.
The fiancé(e) visa is obtained after interview at a US embassy abroad. The immigrant fiancé(e) must marry the US citizen within 90 days of entry to the United States, and then apply for adjustment of status.
Is a good option if you are not married yet. You can start the process right away, even if your plans do not permit a quick marriage. Generally speaking, a fiancé(e) visa is the faster route for getting a foreign partner to the US than consular processing for spouses. The Form I-129F petition is generally processed faster than the Form I-130 petition. Also, there is no need to deal with the National Visa Center (“NVC”) like with consular processing cases, saving at least two months of processing time.
If the immigrant fiancé(e) has children, the fiancé(e) visa may be a better option also if one or more of the children is older. If an immigrant stepchild is 18 years or older when the marriage takes place, there may not be an option to bring the stepchild to the United States. In contrast, with the fiancé(e) visa, a child 18 years or older (but under 21) could piggyback on the fiancé(e) visa of the immigrant parent and immigrate to the United States.
For typical fiancee visa cases the filing fees – including Form I-129f petition, DS-160 are $800 (subject to change by the government).
Applicants for fiancee visa will also need to complete a medical examination (approx. $300), obtain passport photographs, get at least one police clearance letter in most cases, and will be required to incur the costs of adjustment of status once in the United States (minus the $535 I-130 filing fee). Professional translation services are optional.
K-3 SPOUSAL VISA
Please note: we do not currently handle this case type at all. If we later determine that the K-3 visa will save a substantial amount of time over consular processing, we will reconsider representing individuals for this case type.
The original idea behind the K-3 spousal visa was to help get families together faster than the lengthy consular processing route (approximately 11+ months in total). Indeed, if you look at the current processing times for Form I-129F (the form used to get a K-3 approved), you will probably see a few months shaved off of the typical Form I-130 processing times (the form used for consular processing). And it is true, that it is possible that the K-3 visa could shave off a little time bringing a foreign spouse to the United States. However, we do not handle these cases for several reasons.
1) The time saving benefits might not be all that substantial. You cannot file the I-129F without a receipt for the I-130 which could take a month to obtain. Also, if the I-130 is approved, the I-129F will be be deemed moot by the National Visa Center and not used.
2) The additional fees over consular processing are substantial. Entering the US with a K-3 and then filing for adjustment of status will cost almost $1000 more in filing fees. Not to mention the additional attorney fees if you find an attorney willing to do this type of work.
3) When the K-3 spouse enters the United States, obtaining evidence of work authorization may result in a several month delay in the ability to find a job.