Family-Based Immigration • Adoption • Waivers

Family-Based Immigration • Adoption • Waivers

Family-based Immigration.  Our firm assists US citizens or lawful permanent residents seeking to have their foreign relatives join them in the United States, no matter where they are in the world.

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides US citizens and US lawful permanent residents (“green card holders”) the right to petition certain relatives for an immigrant visa to allow them to live and work permanently in the US.

If you are a US citizen or a green card holder, you are allowed to petition for the following relatives to join with you:

  • Fiances / Fiancees (not yet married, but will marry soon)
  • Spouses (this includes same-sex spouses)
  • Parents
  • Children
  • Brothers or Sisters

Depending on the type of relationship, a waiting time of months or even years is expected because of the “Priority Date” system where the US Government has set a strict limit on the number of immigrants every year who can receive an immigrant visa.

However, if you are a US citizen and you are petitioning for a spouse, a child under 21 years of age, or a parent, those relatives can immediately apply for an immigrant visa at a US Embassy or Consulate upon the approval of the petition. If you are a US citizen petitioning for a fiance(e), your relative must apply for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa instead.

Both the K-1 and the immigrant visas are good for 6 months, within which the relative must travel to the US and apply for admission at a US Port-of-Entry (at the airport’s “passport control/immigration”).

Once the admission is approved, the relative (except K-1 visas, see next paragraph) will receive a Permanent Resident Card or “green card” in the mail which allows him or her to stay in the US indefinitely. If your relative is already in the US under a valid immigration status, he or she can apply for the green card directly at a local US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office through what’s known as “adjustment of status.”

A different treatment for K-1 visas exist though — the fiance(e) must marry the US citizen petitioner within 90 days of his or her arrival in the US before he or she can apply for a green card. After the marriage is finalized, the fiance(e) can now apply for the green card through “adjustment of status” at a local USCIS office.

Adoptions.  Our law firm assists US citizen or lawful permanent resident parents in obtaining immigrant visas for either prospective adoptees or already adopted children. Under US immigration laws, adoptions are either “Hague” adoptions or “non-Hague” adoptions. Our expertise can help you navigate through the complexities of both processes and help you decide which is the best for you.

Waivers of Inadmissibility.  Our firm assists applicants for an immigrant visa or green card who think or are told by US immigration authorities that they are not allowed to be granted that status because of “disqualifying” acts such as previous visa overstays, crossing the border, or fraud.

If an applicant for a nonimmigrant visa, immigrant visa, or adjustment of status, has committed certain acts or has a certain serious medical condition, he or she may be declared “inadmissible” or not allowed to be admitted into the US.

This means that the application for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status will be denied. If the applicant is inside the US, the Government may begin to have that person removed or deported from the US.

There are many reasons or grounds for being inadmissible, and these are listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 212. A complete list of inadmissibility grounds is beyond the scope of this brief summary.

Instead, we will focus on the most commonly encountered reasons for inadmissibility:

  1. Unlawful Presence in the US, which includes:
    • Overstaying a visa
    • Entering the US and staying, without a visa, and without being inspected at a border facility or port-of-entry (also known as Entry Without Inspection or EWI)
    • Seamen or crewmembers not returning to their vessel or aircraft (also known as “jumping ship” or  “jump-ship”)
  2. Fraud or Misrepresentation in applying for a visa, entering the US, or in applying for any other immigration benefit, which includes:
    • The use of a false or incorrect name, date of birth, etc. in any document submitted to the US Government.
    • The giving of any false statement, writing false answers in an application form, submitted to the US Government.

The US Government may “forgive” or “waive” such inadmissibility grounds only if the applicant:

  • Has a US citizen or green card holder spouse or parent; and
  • That spouse or parent will suffer “extreme hardship” if the applicant is removed/deported from the US.

The applicant must prove that a US citizen or green card holder spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship if the applicant is deported from the US.

Extreme hardship simply means more than the usual level of hardship that a person commonly experiences when relocating to another country or when separated from a relative. This is a subjective standard, and one person’s extreme hardship situation can differ from another.

Let’s take the example of Jane X, a citizen of Honduras. She crossed the US border into Texas by hiring a “coyote” or human smuggler. She did this because she was looking for work to provide for her parents back home. She found a job, paid her taxes, and obeyed US laws, and eventually she fell in love with a Joseph X, a US citizen, who married her and had a child together with him. Joseph X only finished high school, and because of a learning disability, he also could not find a stable and well-paying job. Joseph X’s parents died a long time ago, and his only sibling lives in Minnesota. He was born and raised in the US, could not speak Spanish, and has never lived in a foreign country before. Joseph X wants to file a petition for Jane X so she could get a green card, which would help her job prospects. However, Jane X is worried because she crossed the border, and did not know how would that affect her in getting a visa. Under these circumstances, normally Jane X cannot be granted a visa because of her crossing the border without inspection by a US immigration official. Her border crossing is an “inadmissibility ground” under US immigration laws. However, if she files for a waiver of her inadmissibility ground, asking for the US Government to forgive her border crossing act, if this is approved, the effect would be as if she never crossed the border and she is declared as not inadmissible anymore. She could now then be granted an immigrant visa.

Our firm recognizes that being separated from a loved one because of immigration problems can be extremely hard in and of itself, and we can help you in organizing and presenting your extreme hardship factors in the best possible way.

Call Madrid Crost Law Group today at (312) 857-0857 to find out how we can help you.