inside immigration information about marriage green cards and work visas in America


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Happy diversity couple smiling and looking aheadUPDATED JANUARY 2017

Who knew that eventually you would meet a foreigner, get married in San Francisco or NYC or elsewhere, and be faced with figuring out how to apply for a marriage green card?

And now that same sex marriage green cards are possible, the law applies to everyone.

We’ve all heard about getting a “marriage green card” but the average person doesn’t really know how to get the permanent resident green card, especially same sex couples.

America ‘s share of international marriages is up; international marriages reflect increased globalization as people go on holiday, study abroad, or migrate to a different country to live and work.

The American government agency that handles the processing of marriage green cards is called the USCIS and unfortunately they may be required to deport the people who fill out the forms the wrong way.  Regrettably, the American government has not yet figured out how to explain the marriage green card application process in an easy to follow format.  I personally think doing your USA taxes yourself is easier, even when you own property or own your a business.

Why hire an Immigration Attorney to handle your marriage green card?

WEBSITE.TWO.WOMEN.WALKINGWhen a foreign national is already in the USA  and marries a U.S. citizen, the process of switching them from their temporary visa to a permanent marriage green card or a resident green card is called “adjustment of status” or AOS for short.  The American immigration laws concerning AOS are highly complex, are contained in different statutes, policy memos and court cases,  and are constantly changing.

The key to smooth AOS processing involves constant monitoring of the daily changes in immigration law.  The average U.S. citizen already has a full time job and doesn’t have time to keep checking on the changes in immigration law on a daily basis.

When a U.S. citizen applies for their foreign national spouse to get a marriage green card, it can involve up to 10 different government forms.   Over the years we have learned what green card application forms are needed for each marriage green card case and what documents we are supposed to attach to each of the green card application forms. We have also learned when to submit originals and when copies are o.k. just from doing applications for marriage green cards hundreds of times in all types of situations.

Couple Concerned About Rescheduling Marriage Green Card InterviewMuch of marriage green card application preparation requires that clients provide us with copies of documents and it involves the exchange of information between the client and attorney.

After years of marriage green card application experience we have developed a system that optimizes our legal expertise and provides our clients with an unmatched personalized experience, customized to their needs.

Here are just a few of the questions we answer for clients:

  • My parents’ names are missing from my birth certificate, what do I do?
  • I was born in one country, but am a citizen of another country, what birth certificate do I submit?
  • Do I need to submit copies of all my passports?
  • I lost my I-94 Card proving my legal entry to the U.S., what do I do?
  • My U.S. citizen husband (and financial sponsor) just lost his job, what do I do?
  • I want to change my name so how do we fill out the forms?
  • When can I get a social security card?
  • When can I get a driver’s license?
  • How can I get a bank account without a social security number?
  • When can I travel outside the USA?
  • When do I have permission to work?
  • Does the USCIS have permission to access my Facebook?
  • Do I need to include my other children in the applications?
  • Does the USCIS share information with the IRS?
  • What family members may I bring after I get my green card?
  • When can I apply for U.S. Citizenship?
  • What does a 2 year conditional green card mean?
  • How long do we need to stay in the USA each year after I get the green card?
  • My mom is very ill, can I leave in the middle of processing my green card?

Why do I need an Immigration Attorney to represent me with the USCIS for the marriage green card?

The USCIS in particular is a government agency that is not run as well as the IRS or other government agencies.  For example, they refuse to give out their local phone numbers.  They refuse to allow customers to call and talk to someone specifically about their case.  USCIS Customer service representatives answer a national 1-800 number and give information they read off of pre-written cue cards. No one seems to have the authority to walk over to your actual case file, pick it up and look at it, and answer your questions about your case.  In addition, the information you give them can be used against you and you won’t even know it.

????????????????????????????????????????We subscribe to expensive immigration monitoring services for attorneys that send us daily emails concerning the ever changing marriage green card requirements and ways to communicate with the USCIS.  We also monitor international political events that impact the shifting of governmental staff away from marriage green card processing so that we can accurately predict delays.

We have figured out how to be creative in solving client problems caused by a government agency that only provides a generic customer service number manned by staff who cannot access your green card application file.

How should a marriage green card client be treated by their Immigration Attorney?

We like to be on a first name basis with our clients and be available to answer client questions about the marriage green card application throughout the entire process. We answer phone calls or emails within 24 hours whenever possible. We have handled and overseen all legal aspects of the marriage green card process for many clients and are proficient at fast and accurate communication between us and our clients.

We can eliminate approximately 98% of delays because marriage green card processing is what we do best and is one of our specialties.

What are the processing steps for obtaining a marriage green card?

The AOS (Adjustment of Status) Process

The AOS process is made up of ten phases:

  1. Clients Gather Documents and Provide to Attorney
  2. Attorney Prepares AOS Applications for Client Review and Client Signatures
  3. Attorney Packages and Submits AOS Applications to USCIS; Attorney is Registered as Official “Attorney of Record” and is Allowed to Intervene on Behalf of Client
  4. Attorney and Client Receive USCIS Receipts Acknowledging Successful Submission and Reflecting New Legal Status (“Adjustee Pending”)
  5. Attorney and Client Receives Biometrics Appointment Letter and Provides Fingerprints
  6. Attorney + Client Receive Temporary Work/Travel Permits (can now apply for Social Security Number and Driver’s License)
  7. Attorney + Client Receive USCIS AOS (Green Card) Interview Notice
  8. Attorney Conducts Telephonic Practice Green Card AOS Interview with Clients
  9. USCIS Conducts Actual Green Card AOS Interview
  10. Client Receives either 2 Year “Conditional” Green Card or 10 Year Green Card in Mail

Will the Immigration Attorney advise me on travel outside the USA?

Yes.  In most cases, if the marriage green card applicant exits the U.S. after the green card application is submitted but before obtaining a special travel permit or the green card, the marriage green card application will be considered “abandoned.”  Most clients are eligible for a special one year travel permit (called “advance parole”) to allow them to travel abroad while they are waiting for their marriage green card interview to be scheduled.

How can the Immigration Attorney help with the marriage green card interview?

After completing the AOS applications and submitting it, I monitor the case.  The USCIS sends a duplicate of every document the client is sent, so I am the safety net.  I am on call for questions through phone calls and emails to answer questions and explain the process. I submit address changes when you move. I personally conduct an extensive practice marriage green card interview so that you pass the marriage green card interview on the first try.  I don’t officially close your case until your marriage green card interview is scheduled and a marriage green card is granted that has all of your correct information on it.

marriage green card attorneyThe marriage green card interview (also known as “lawful permanent residence” and “adjustment of status” interview) usually takes place about 4 – 6 months after the adjustment of status applications are submitted – it depends where you live in the U.S.. At the conclusion of the 10-20 minute marriage green card interview (which is held at the USCIS District Office closest to your residence) if all of your paperwork is in order and you have answered the questions correctly, the USCIS officer has the power to grant green card status immediately. The actual marriage green card arrives in the mail at your residence about 2-3 weeks after the marriage green card interview.

Why is the AOS process often delayed?

I think that the majority of marriage green card cases are delayed due to the lack of accurate information available to the average U.S. citizen trying to complete the paperwork on their own.  The USCIS website is a bit unorganized, often out of date, and difficult to navigate.

In their defense, it is hard for the USCIS to cover every single marriage green card situation in their instructions because there are so many immigration rules that contradict each other.  The USCIS staff who answer the national 1-800 Customer Service phones are not trained beyond reading the answers off the USCIS website or cue cards.  Information shared by applicants on internet blog sites is often contradictory, out of date, or simply erroneous.  Frankly, I don’t know how anyone does it on their own without hours of research!

When mistakes are made on marriage green card cases by applicants or USCIS staff, there are no direct phone numbers to try and fix the problem. Unrepresented marriage green card applicants have told us about various problems they have had with the USCIS, like failing to update their new address properly, causing the USCIS marriage green card interview appointment notices to be sent back to the USCIS as undeliverable.

In that case, their marriage green card cases were considered abandoned and closed, triggering deportation proceedings.  In other instances, applicants were unaware of changes in USCIS regulations and sent incomplete marriage green card applications to the USCIS – which were either rejected outright, or delayed for up to 2 – 6 months while sitting in the huge USCIS mailrooms.

Finally, the USCIS provides unclear directions concerning what documents to bring to the marriage green card interview.  If even one document is missing at the interview, the process can be delayed for 2-6 months.

What are the expectations of the Immigration Attorney

We charge a flat legal fee to provide personalized marriage green card processing legal services in a marriage green card case (one that has no extra complications such as criminal records, visa violations, etc.).  We only take a limited number of cases per month because I personally oversee each case, and feel it is important for clients to be able to have constant phone and email access to me.  After preparing the marriage green card package for the USCIS, we make a complete copy of the applications and supporting documents for our files, and another copy for your files.

We utilize overnight mail and do not charge extra for express mail, long distance phone calls or copies. We track your marriage green card case while the USCIS is processing it to make sure the work and travel permits are issued and to answer all of your questions along the way.

You always know what is going on and what is going to happen next and approximately how long it may take.  Also, while we are waiting for the marriage marriage green interview to be scheduled, I’d like to know if you move, so that I can properly inform the USCIS.  I let you know ahead of time what documents to collect for the marriage green card interview so that you have plenty of time to prepare. I personally thoroughly prepare both of you for the marriage green card interview.

Husbands and wives have found that it helps out their new marital relationship tremendously to have an Immigration Attorney that they both can call or email with questions during the entire marriage green card process.  Imagine the lessened anxiety level when the burden of handling the marriage green card paperwork and processing is on someone else’s shoulders!


danielle nelisseCall Attorney Danielle Nelisse at (619) 235-8811 in  San Diego,  California if you want to discuss legal representation for your marriage green card case.  When you call the office, just ask to speak to Danielle Nelisse.

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