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Adjustment of status victory after cancelled visa at the airport

Jul 30, 2014 | adjustment of status, CBP, DHS, Green card, USCIS

Last week, I attended an adjustment of status interview with a couple, where the foreign national wife was seeking to adjust her status based on her marriage to her United States citizen husband.

The couple was married in India over two years ago.  But the wife remained in India to work, while the husband returned to the United States after the marriage.  Since their marriage, the wife visited her husband in the United States once, through the multiple-entry visitor’s visa she was issued prior to the couple’s marriage.

When the wife came to the United States to visit her husband for the second time in late 2013, she showed her visitor’s visa in her passport for entry into the United States as a visitor.  At the airport, she was questioned about her marital status, and when the officer learned that she was married to a US citizen, the officer immediately cancelled my client’s visa!  So now, my client no longer had a valid visa in her passport, and it was unlikely that she would ever be issued another visitor’s visa in the future, since was married to a United States citizen.

At this point, my client had two choices: she could stay in the US for the time permitted on this visit (6 months) and then return to her native country and begin consular processing, or she could file for adjustment of status in the United States and stay with her husband while a decision was made on her adjustment application.

The couple came to see me in early 2014, and we explored all the options.  After discussing pros and cons of consular processing and adjustment of status, the couple decided to pursue adjustment of status in the United States.  Since the foreign national had entered the country lawfully (with inspection), she was eligible for adjustment of status.  Working closely with both the husband and the wife, I filed the adjustment of status case before the expiration of the six month authorized stay, so that the foreign national wife would not accrue unlawful presence.  Within two months after filing the case, the foreign national wife was issued a work and travel permit.  A month later, an interview was scheduled.

I went to the interview with my clients, just to make sure they wouldn’t have any problems.  At the interview, the officer seemed concerned that my client chose adjustment of status instead of returning to her native country to begin consular processing after her visa was cancelled.  The couple got very nervous when the officer started asking them questions about their choice.  However, I was able to intervene and explain to the officer why the couple chose adjustment of status over consular processing.  After the interview, the officer immediately approved the couple’s case and the foreign national spouse will be receiving her green card in the mail soon.  My clients are so happy that they can now focus on starting their lives together in the United States.

Many couples believe that their case is “simple” and there the adjustment of status process is easy.  However, the process involves a lot more than completing paperwork.  It involves making choices about pursuing one method of obtaining a green card over another method.  It involves assessing the risks (for example, the USCIS believing that the foreign national intended to go around the immigration laws by filing for adjustment of status) and rewards (obtaining green card in a relatively short time, compared to consular processing).  It involves being prepared to answer difficult questions at an adjustment of status interview.  It involves being able to adequately explain certain decisions and choices made by the petitioner and beneficiary.

You should always consult an experienced immigration lawyer before deciding to take immigration action on your case.  An experienced immigration lawyer can help you see potential issues or problems that you may not easily see.  Guidance from a lawyer through your immigration case could save you time and money in the long run!

Ruchi Thaker