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


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October 14, 2016

by Hillary Richonne (



My name is Alexandra and I’m from Russia. I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science, speak English fluently and consider myself smart. My family in Russian is small, but we grew up close to each other. My story began in 2006 when I was 24 years old.

While visiting my sister and new brother-in-law in Idaho in 2006, I met an American man from Texas whom I had been chatting online with and Skyping. Mitch was loving and attentive and when he flew up to Idaho to see me, I knew that he was serious about me. He was a few years older than me, but that is common in Russia. My sister thought we looked cute together, and he spoke fondly of his own sister and the grandmother who raised them both. We continued to talk and get to know each other better and when I went back to Russia, we missed one another desperately. The men in Russia are not as nice, respectful, and hard working as the men in America.

Not long after, I decided to fly to Texas to see him. Mitch and I fell even more in love and when he took me to the top of a mountain and proposed I was thrilled to say yes. It was so romantic – he swept me off my feet and even had a diamond engagement ring. My parents weren’t thrilled that I got married without them, but was so in love with Mitch that I couldn’t wait for them to get tourist visas to get here.

We got married in a small, but special ceremony at a chapel in Texas later that year. Though we were living with Mitch’s sister, things were going really well and we were approved for my two year green card. We even got our own puppy. I traveled with Mitch to work conferences and we went to some of America’s beautiful national parks.

It wasn’t long before I realized that I didn’t know Mitch as well as I had originally thought. He had lied about his age, and had a drunk driving conviction which required regular trips back and forth to a small town in Texas to complete court mandated DUI classes and community service. He started drinking alcohol and made it a daily habit.



Mitch would sit in a room alone with a bottle of alcohol, refuse to speak to me or his family, and often would refuse to go to work. He blamed me for the massive debt he had accrued by buying gifts for his ex-girlfriend, and the creditors that were chasing him because of it.

At first he would apologize for his bad behavior, but soon there was no end to the drinking and the mentally abusive cruelty. He’d only speak to me to tell me how much he hated me and how much I didn’t deserve to live. I was working full-time and he got fired from his job. I was too far away from my sister in Idaho to ask for her help – and also I was ashamed and embarrassed because I had made such a huge mistake in marrying Mitch.

I no longer felt smart. I know I’m young, but I don’t think I would have made such a huge mistake judging a man’s character if I was living in Russia, or dealing with a Russian man.

Mitch would drink in the car on the way back from his trips back from doing his community service work and DUI classes. He was eventually pulled over and arrested for a second DUI. When I called him earlier, he’d been so high on both alcohol and prescription drugs that I couldn’t understand him and he didn’t recognize me on the phone. Since the car had been impounded after the arrest I had no way to get to work the next day, not that he seemed to care.

The last straw came on a day when Mitch’s grandmother started screaming at him about the money he owed her and then at me for not having the money to post the bail for Mitch to get out of jail after the second DUI. Then she took the metal gate we used for the puppy and hit me over the head with it. My life of constant unpleasantness and verbal abuse had just become physically abusive and dangerous. Mitch did nothing to stop her and started hitting his own head against the wall.

I felt trapped, like I had no one to turn to during this crisis. I was afraid to call the police because l thought they would deport me. I ran to the phone and called my sister instead of the police and she called the local police for me. She also called an Immigration Attorney she knew, who told me that I should not get deported, that it was a good idea to call the police, and that I must immediately get out of danger.

I left that city the very next day and moved in with my sister and her husband back in Idaho. I finally felt safe, but very emotionally drained. After I left, my husband was diagnosed with various mental disorders and committed to a psychiatric hospital. I realized I could not go back to my husband or his family and therefore was faced with a new set of problems concerning my legal status in America, which was based on my marriage to a U.S. citizen. I still wanted very much to make a life for myself in America near my sister, and to continue working in computer science. My life in America had its ups and downs, but just because my marriage did not work out the way I’d planned didn’t mean I wanted to abandon all of the life I’d created here.

i-751 divorced


I was in a difficult situation and I knew I needed a special Immigration Lawyer that not only knew how to keep my green card but someone who would listen to my specific problems and find a way to help me personally. My sister already had a wonderful experience with her attorney when she emigrated from Russia and married her husband, a U.S. citizen in Idaho. She successfully got my sister her two year  marriage green card as well as her follow-up ten year green card.

I thought I’d have no hope of staying in America after the expiration of my two year green card, but my attorney said she would try to find a way to keep me with my sister. I no longer felt my situation was as hopeless as I once thought. It turns out there is a loop-hole in the rules when filing an I-751 Petition to remove the conditions off of a two year green card even though the marriage has been dissolved, so long as there is proof the marriage was entered into in good faith.

There is a risk of being barred from entering the United States permanently if a marriage is seen as fraudulent. My attorney worked hard to help me collect and submit the right kind and amount of I-751 evidence to prove my marriage was entered into in good faith, and I strongly feel that was why I was granted the ten year green card without further questions or interviews.  I was honestly disappointed that the marriage to the man I loved was over, but that man didn’t exist anymore. My attorney provided me with the first good news in my life for over a year, and I was incredibly thankful for all she did for me.

Three years later, at age 27, I can start living my own American Dream, but I can do so without fear, knowing that I had an immigration lawyer on my side who cared about my personal welfare as well as helping me with all of my immigration needs. Never assume your case is hopeless until you’ve tried to get help from someone who cares.

NOTE: Attorney Danielle Nelisse no longer handles I-751 cases.  Please contact immigration attorney Jennifer Keating at for assistance.

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