Usually an individual’s first encounter with immigration law comes in the form of a petition for a foreign-national relative or fiance(e). When a petitioner marries a foreign national visiting or working in the United States on a government issued visa, that couple has the ability to petition the government to recognize the validity of their relationship. This is accomplished by providing USCIS (immigration) with the proper forms, fees, and supporting evidence demonstrating a shared life. Evidence of a shared life typically includes shared bank accounts, shared bills, filing jointly on tax forms, evidence of shared recreational and family activities, and the presence of children within a marriage.
For other relatives, such as children and parents, evidence that serves to legitimize the relationship is required. This type of evidence includes birth certificates, DNA tests, and evidence that, in the case of a child, the petitioning parent legitimized the relationship before the child reached the age of adulthood.
When the foreign-national relative is living in the United States after entering on a government-issued visa and is an immediate relative, either a parent, minor child or spouse of a United States citizen, the relative petition is typically filed with a request for adjustment of immigrant status from that of a visa holder to that of lawful permanent resident. This process is called adjustment of status and can be completed entirely within the United States, allowing the foreign-national relative to remain with family throughout the process.
When the foreign-national relative or fiance(e) is living overseas the relative petition usually initiates a process called consular processing in which the foreign-national relative or fiance(e) is required to appear before an officer at the United States embassy in his/her home country for a final determination of eligibility.
Fiance(e) petitions have special requirements that must be met before the relationship can be approved by USCIS (immigration). In the case of fiance(e) petitions, the couple must have met each other in person within the past two years, however, waivers may apply in certain circumstances. The United States citizen fiance(e)’s criminal background will be under consideration by USCIS (immigration) during the fiance(e) petition to determine a history of domestic-based violence.
Additional complications and dangers arise within the relative petition process when the foreign-national relative entered the country without a government-issued visa or if s/he does not fall into an immediate relative category. Before proceeding with any type of immigration petition, please contact an immigration attorney who can advise you on the best approach to take and all the potential dangers to expect.
If you believe you are ready to begin a relative or fiance(e) petition, please feel free to contact Shryock Law Firm, LLC to schedule a consultation.