Immigration Q & A September 2014
Author by Edward Boreth
I filed for my green card based on marriage. My interview with immigration is coming up. How should I prepare? What questions will they ask me?
It is important to prepare for a marriage immigration interview. The officer will want proof that you married your spouse to establish a life together and not just for the immigration papers. It is a good idea to present as much documentation as possible showing that you and your spouse live together, share income and expenses, and that your friends and family acknowledge you as a married couple. If you and your spouse have children together, it is usually easy to prove that you have a valid marriage. The same is true if you have made many purchases jointly, particularly real estate. However, for couples that have been married recently, have limited funds and have no children together, the task is more complicated. I frequently sit down with my clients to prepare for a marriage interview. We go over various parts of the couples life where they are able to document that they are a real couple. If the immigration officer sees few joint documents or suspects for some other reason that the couple’s marriage may be fraudulent, the couple is separated and questioned about different aspects of their life. The answers are then compared. If the answers contain discrepancies, the officer will try to deny the case. Unfortunately, sometimes the husband and wife provide different answers only because of poor memory, or because they understood the questions differently. There is no set list of questions that officers ask. You can’t find it on the internet and study it. Each officer has a different series of questions. However, there is a way to prepare. I meet with my clients to do practice interviews so that they are ready for the types of questions that might get asked and how to make sure they understand the officer’s questions and that they can provide answers the officer understands.
I am a permanent resident. Can I petition for my brother in India to get a green card? What about his wife and children?
No. You have to be a US Citizen to petition for a brother or sister. There is a quota on brothers and sisters of US Citizens, so that once a petition is filed there is a long waiting period until your brother can get his green card. Right now the wait time is approximately 12 years. Do not be discouraged by the wait times. Apply for your brother as soon as you become a citizen. The wait times can change, and if you don’t apply, your brother will never get his green card. As for his family, his wife will be able to get a green card with him, but only those children that are under the age of 21 at the time the green card becomes available will be able to get green cards with your brother. That means if his children are very young now, they will probably be able to immigrate with him. If they are teenagers, then the likelihood of them being able to immigrate with your brother is very small.
I was married in my country many years ago. My wife and I have separated and I have lived in the United States for 7 years. I have met a special lady here, and I would like to marry her. She is a US citizen and wants to apply for my green card. Do I need to divorce my wife in my country, since that is where we got married, or do I even need a divorce at all, since I did not marry her in the United States?
You definitely need to divorce before you marry again. Otherwise the second marriage will not be valid, and you certainly will not be able to get your green card based on marriage. No matter what the location of your first marriage, it is considered valid in the United States and you must first divorce before remarrying. You do not have to get a divorce in your home country. Most states in the United States will allow you to get a divorce if you have physically resided in that state for a certain time, even if your spouse is outside the country.
I am a US citizen. I would like to apply for my parents’ green card. They have a visitor visa and they come to the US once or twice each year to see me and my children. How long will it take to get them a green card and can they travel while we are waiting for the application to be approved?
Your parents have two options. They may wait in their home country during the process or they may complete the process inside the United States. If they wait in their home country, you must first file a petition with USCIS, which will take around 6 months and then complete immigrant visa processing at the National Visa Center. This may take another 6 months or so, but the processing times vary. If your parents choose to come to the United States on their visitor visas, you may file the family petition at the same time as they file their applications to adjust status. The total process here takes about 6-8 months. Once your parent apply for adjustment of status, they will not be able to travel outside the United States during the process, unless they apply for an advance parole. This takes approximately 3 months. The advance parole document will allow them to go outside the US and return to the United States to resume their application for the green card.
The advice in this column may not apply to your specific situation, even if it seems similar in nature. The only way to obtain legal advice is by speaking with a qualified attorney and reviewing your specific circumstances. If you have any questions, please call me at (954) 522-4115.
Edward Boreth is an immigration attorney who has practiced law for 18 years. He is a partner at Shapovalov & Boreth and a director of the Citizenship Clinic. He is also an avid cricket fan.