Marriage Based Immigration Law
Marriage based immigration is one of the simplest and most straightforward ways of obtaining legal residence in the United States. In order to qualify it must be shown:
- The alien entered legally,
2. They are in a bona fide good faith marriage with a US citizen,
3. They are not convicted of any crimes which make them inadmissible,
4. They will not become a public charge,
5. They meet the health requirements, and
6. The US citizen spouse is not a sex offender under the Adam Walsh Act.
Despite its relative simplicity marriage based applications can cause problems for the novice and non-attorney. Unfortunately in the worst case scenario this can and does lead to deportation. Aliens commonly file this type of application on their own without the help of an attorney when they do not qualify. Little do they know they take a huge risk because a denial is a trigger whereby immigration will start the removal process against the person.
Common mistakes are filing when the alien entered illegally or was convicted of a crime. If the alien entered illegally, they should look at whether they qualify for forgiveness under Section 245i of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Likewise, if the alien has any criminal convictions, they should speak with an attorney and see if there are any possible waivers they qualify for.
Other common mistakes occur at the interview, where the couple did not prepare themselves and the application is denied because the officer did not feel the marriage was in “good faith” or worse that it was fraudulent. A finding that a marriage was fraudulent can be particularly troublesome, as it can serve to bar the alien for life from ever obtaining a green card. There are no exceptions and there are no waivers.
Another common reason for denial is that the alien files the application but does not address that their US citizen spouse is a sex offender. Such application will be denied under the Adam Walsh Act. If this is an issue speaks to an attorney about an Adam Walsh Act Waiver.
Thus, although marriage based applications may seem simple on their face, there are many details that can trip up the applicant. It is always best to work with an attorney and most will negotiate a reasonable fee with the couple because the applications are not that difficult.
Obviously applications, which require waivers or 245i analysis are going to require more work and will also cost more money. Unfortunately the filing fees the government charges create an additional expense and they continue to increase them as a way to generate revenue.
Generally, the straightforward marriage based applications will take between 6-9 months and require attorney fees in the range of $1500-$3500 with an additional $1490 for filing fees, which go to the government. When you file the application is important to file the application for employment authorization with it, as this will generally be approved in about 3 months.
If you are considering filing a marriage based green card application, it is important to speak with an attorney. Our firm has successfully worked on cases involving all of the issues discussed above. We offer reasonable fees, payment plans, and top-notch service. For a free consultation contact Nicklaus Misiti at 212 537 4407 or by filling out the form on his website Misiti Global.