Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘Adjustment of Status’ Category

27th January 2014

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that Vietnam has legalized same sex wedding ceremonies performed in that Southeast Asian nation. Prior to this announcement it was illegal for same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony performed in Vietnam and also illegal for same sex couples to cohabit without fear of government reprisal. It should be noted that these recent measures only allow same sex couples to have a marriage ceremony, notwithstanding the fact that such ceremonies will have no legal recognition in Vietnam (or elsewhere). However, many LGBT rights activists believe that this is a significant step towards eventual marriage equality in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, in the Kingdom of Thailand the struggle still continues to see the full marriage equality. Unlike Vietnam, Thailand has allowed same sex marriage ceremonies within their jurisdiction for some time. It should also be noted that Thailand is one of the most tolerant nations in Southeast Asia when it comes to LGBT issues. However, the law in Thailand still stipulates that a legally recognized marriage is a union between one man and one woman. There are many activists in the Kingdom hoping to change these rules in order to allow same sex couples the right to get married. With recent political turmoil in the Kingdom and uncertainty surrounding upcoming elections it remains to be seen whether any change to the current law will speedily occur, but some believe that the tolerant attitude in Thailand will lead to changes in the law especially in light of the fact that recent proposals in the Thai parliament would, if adopted, allow same sex couples to legalize their marriages.

The issue of same sex marriage legalization is of concern to many same-sex bi-national couples since the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision granting federal recognition of same sex unions. One result of this decision was that same sex couples and spouses are now eligible to receive United States visa benefits in the same manner as different sex couples. Therefore, visas such as the CR-1 visa and IR-1 visa are now available to same sex couples who are already married. Although this may not be a highly sought after category in Southeast Asia at this time as no jurisdiction in the region currently recognizes same sex marriage, it could be of substantial importance in coming years as laws may be amended to equalize marriage laws for the LGBT community. Meanwhile, officials at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) as well as the Department of State have noted that same sex couples, where one of the partners is American, who maintain a bona fide intention to marry in the USA may be eligible for the K-1 visa (more commonly referred to as a fiance visa). This type of visa allows the foreign fiance of an American citizen to travel to the United States for 90 days for the express purpose of getting married and filing for adjustment of status to Lawful Permanent Residence.

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1st October 2013

The United States government has recently shut down due to the inability of Congress to make a deal regarding the budget and current debt ceiling level. The reverberations from this recent turn of events will likely be felt in many sectors of the United States government and by those who may have business with the US government. As a general matter, governmental functions which are deemed essential will still be available. However, those governmental activities and employees deemed non-essential will likely be discontinued and work furloughed until such time as Congress reaches an agreement. It has been 17 years since the United States government last shut down. As of the time of this writing, the Office of Management and Budget has instructed supervisors of various governmental entities to “execute plans for an orderly shutdown.”

What is the practical impact of the government’s closure upon the immigration process? It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the following has been posted on the official website of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand:

The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok and Consulate General Chiang Mai remain open to the public. As always, our priorities remain providing safety, security, and service to U.S. citizens. We are open for all consular services, including visa processing.

It could be inferred that the Embassy is attempting to dispel rumors that a shutdown will negatively impact the processing of US visa applications as well as applications for US passports, Consular Reports of Birth Abroad (CRBA), and various notarial services requested by Americans living in Thailand. Hopefully, the recently announced government shutdown will not last long and thus not cause any great problems for those seeking visas to the United States of America. However, a protracted shutdown could mean that processing of US visa applications could move at a slower pace, or, in a worst case scenario, be discontinued until such time as a budget is agreed upon. Hopefully, this will not happen and the processing of applications will continue apace.

Meanwhile, it is likely that the shutdown will not affect processing of immigration petitions at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). As USCIS is funded by the fees paid by petitioners, it seems likely that a government shutdown will not adversely impact those seeking immigration benefits from USCIS. Again, as the United States has not seen a government shutdown in nearly two decades some of the details about the impact of the current shutdown remain somewhat speculative. Readers of this blog should take note that further information will be provided herein as it becomes available.

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8th August 2013

Many Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) couples have questions regarding United States Immigration in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s finding in the Windsor case that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unConstitutional. Both the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the Department of State have previously issued answers to frequently asked questions on this topic. In a previous posting on this blog, USCIS’s answers to these FAQs were discussed. However, it recently came to this blogger’s attention that the USCIS has issued further answers to such FAQs to further clarify their position on this issue. To quote directly from these new answers to FAQs on the official website of the USCIS:

Q1: I am a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident in a same-sex marriage to a foreign national. Can I now sponsor my spouse for a family-based immigrant visa? NEW
A1: Yes, you can file the petition. You may file a Form I-130 (and any applicable accompanying application). Your eligibility to petition for your spouse, and your spouse’s admissibility as an immigrant at the immigration visa application or adjustment of status stage, will be determined according to applicable immigration law and will not be denied as a result of the same-sex nature of your marriage.

Clearly American Citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents may petition for an immigrant spouse visa such as an IR1 visa, CR1 visa, or by extension a K3 visa (as the K-3 visa petition is a supplementary petition based upon the initial petition for an immigrant visa). Furthermore, when applying for the visa at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad during the Consular Processing phase of the US immigration process the application will be viewed in the same way as an application based upon a different-sex marriage. Also, adjustment of status applications for the same sex spouse of a US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident will be adjudicated in the same manner as a similar application for a different-sex spouse.

A question for many same sex and LGBT couples concerns the State of the couple’s residence versus the State of marriage since there are only a few States which allow such marriages while other states either do not recognize such unions or specifically forbid such unions. USCIS issued further clarification on this issue in their recently updated FAQ section:

Q3: My spouse and I were married in a U.S. state or a foreign country that recognizes same-sex marriage, but we live in a state that does not. Can I file an immigrant visa petition for my spouse? NEW
A3: Yes. As a general matter, the law of the place where the marriage was celebrated determines whether the marriage is legally valid for immigration purposes.  Just as USCIS applies all relevant laws to determine the validity of an opposite-sex marriage, we will apply all relevant laws to determine the validity of a same-sex marriage..

There may be some limited circumstances where the law of the couple’s residence may determine their legal standing on certain issues. However, as can be seen from the above quoted FAQ, the USCIS appears to primarily defer to the law of the State which legalized the marriage when determining whether the couple is eligible for immigration benefits.

Finally, this blogger does not recall the USCIS previously answering questions regarding immigration petitions which were filed with USCIS prior to the Supreme Court’s holding that Section 3 of DOMA violates the U.S. Constitution. The following section of USCIS’s recently expanded FAQ section would appear to respond to this inquiry:

Q5. My Form I-130, or other petition or application, was previously denied solely because of DOMA.  What should I do?
A5.  USCIS will reopen those petitions or applications that were denied solely because of DOMA section 3.  If such a case is known to us or brought to our attention, USCIS will reconsider its prior decision, as well as reopen associated applications to the extent they were also denied as a result of the denial of the Form I-130 (such as concurrently filed Forms I-485).

  • USCIS will make a concerted effort to identify denials of I-130 petitions that occurred on the basis of DOMA section 3 after February 23, 2011.  USCIS will also make a concerted effort to notify you (the petitioner), at your last known address, of the reopening and request updated information in support of your petition.
  • To alert USCIS of an I-130 petition that you believe falls within this category, USCIS recommends that you send an e-mail from an account that can receive replies to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov stating that you have a pending petition.  USCIS will reply to that message with follow-up questions as necessary to update your petition for processing.  (DHS has sought to keep track of DOMA denials that occurred after the President determined not to defend Section 3 of DOMA on February 23, 2011, although to ensure that DHS is aware of your denial, please feel free to alert USCIS if you believe your application falls within this category.)
  • For denials of I-130 petitions that occurred prior to February 23, 2011, you must notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, in order for USCIS to act on its own to reopen your I-130 petition.  Please notify USCIS by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov and noting that you believe that your petition was denied on the basis of DOMA section 3.

Once your I-130 petition is reopened, it will be considered anew—without regard to DOMA section 3—based upon the information previously submitted and any new information provided.   USCIS will also concurrently reopen associated applications as may be necessary to the extent they also were denied as a result of the denial of the I-130 petition (such as concurrently filed Form I-485 applications).

Additionally, if your work authorization was denied or revoked based upon the denial of the Form I-485, the denial or revocation will be concurrently reconsidered, and a new Employment Authorization Document issued, to the extent necessary.  If a decision cannot be rendered immediately on a reopened adjustment of status application, USCIS will either (1) immediately process any pending or denied application for employment authorization or (2) reopen and approve any previously revoked application for employment authorization.  If USCIS has already obtained the applicant’s biometric information at an Application Support Center (ASC), a new Employment Authorization Document (EAD) will be produced and delivered without any further action by the applicant.  In cases where USCIS has not yet obtained the required biometric information, the applicant will be scheduled for an ASC appointment.

  • If another type of petition or application (other than an I-130 petition or associated application) was denied based solely upon DOMA section 3, please notify USCIS by March 31, 2014, by sending an e-mail to USCIS at USCIS-626@uscis.dhs.gov as directed above.  USCIS will promptly consider whether reopening of that petition or application is appropriate under the law and the circumstances presented.

No fee will be required to request USCIS to consider reopening your petition or application pursuant to this procedure.  In the alternative to this procedure, you may file a new petition or application to the extent provided by law and according to the form instructions including payment of applicable fees as directed.

Clearly, USCIS is committed to implementing policies and regulations based upon the US Supreme Court’s recent finding. By reopening previously denied petitions and taking steps to provide same sex couples with the same standing as different-sex couples in future immigration adjudications this agency is making great strides toward equalizing the US family immigration process for families of all kinds.

To review the recently released information on this topic from the Department of State please see: Consular Processing.

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14th February 2011

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Department of Homeland Security‘s United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has implemented a program to issue advance parole authorization on the same document as that of employment authorization. To quote directly from the official website of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS):

WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it is now issuing employment and travel authorization on a single card for certain applicants filing an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Form I-485. This new card represents a significant improvement from the current practice of issuing paper Advance Parole documents.

The card looks similar to the current Employment Authorization Document (EAD) but will include text that reads, “Serves as I-512 Advance Parole.” A card with this text will serve as both an employment authorization and Advance Parole document. The new card is also more secure and more durable than the current paper Advance Parole document.

For those who are unfamiliar with the K-1 visa process, the adjustment of status occurs after a foreign fiancee arrives in America, marries the American petitioner, and files to have their status regularized to that of Lawful Permanent Resident. The card that is given to the foreign spouse is often colloquially referred to as a “Green Card”. Prior to adjustment of status, if a foreign fiancee leaves the USA, then they will need to obtain an advance parole travel document in order to keep their visa status alive and thereby permit reentry to the USA. Failure to obtain advance parole could result in a foreign fiancee losing his or her visa upon departure from the USA and thereby compelling them to go through the whole process anew.

An employment authorization document permits foreign fiancees in the United States on a K-1 visa to work prior to being approved for Green Card status. In many instances, couples opt not to apply for employment authorization and simply await the foreign fiance’s adjustment to Lawful Permanent Residence.

Once a foreign fiance is adjusted to lawful permanent residence, he or she may still be required to eventually apply for a lift of conditions. Those in the USA as a lawful permanent resident based upon marriage are placed in conditional status for the first two years of their presence in the USA if the couple was married less than 2 years at the time they acquired lawful permanent residence.

The above analysis could be utilized for K3 visa purposes as well. However, as the K-3 visa is currently being issued in very rare instances due to administrative closure policies at the National Visa Center, this blogger only mentions this issue as an aside.

For related information please see: K-1 Visa Thailand.

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30th October 2010

In recent weeks, some websites have been abuzz with information pertaining to a recent memorandum from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which discussed Social Media platforms and their relevance in the context of United States Immigration.  To quote sections of the memo directly, as posted on the EFF.org (Electronic Frontier Foundation) website:

The Internet has made it increasingly easier for people to get connected with each other whether that is with long-distance family, fiiends [sic], or to find new loves and friendships. Social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Classmates, Hi-5, and other similar sites are designed to allow people to share their creativity, pictures, and information with others. Sometimes people do this to find romance, sometimes they do it to find fiiends [sic] with similar interests, and sometimes they do it to keep in touch with family…This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities. Generally, people on these sites speak honestly in their network because all of their friends and family are interacting with them via lM’s (Instant Messages), Blogs (Weblog journals), etc. This social networking gives FDNS an opportunity to reveal fraud by browsing these sites to see if petitioners and beneficiaries are in a valid relationship or are attempting to deceive CIS about their relationship.

Visa and Immigration Fraud are fundamental concerns of the Department of Homeland Security, the USCIS, and Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS). Therefore, investigation into the bona fides of a relationship that is the basis for submission of a visa petition can be rather routine in circumstances where a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident has submitted a petition for immigration benefits on behalf of a foreign loved one. That said, the implications of USCIS’s monitoring social media sites can be somewhat unnerving for many as evidenced by a recent quote from a blog post on the ImmigrationEquality.org website:

While we would never encourage anyone to engage in immigration fraud, it is disturbing to think of government officials “friending” unknowing immigrants to use the information in their personal posts against them. In these times of technology speeding forward, it’s important to remember that when you post anything on a public site you have to anticipate that it could be used against you.

Immigration fraud is a serious issue as the integrity of United States immigration law must be upheld both by those seeking immigration benefits and those adjudicating immigration petitions. New technologies offer new ways to stay connected to friends, family, and loved ones in a global context.  However, comments made on social media sites which may seem innocuous or humorous to an online poster at the time of a comment’s posting could be taken out of context by immigration adjudicators who are not personally acquainted with the person or persons making such comments. At the end of the day, the main themes that may be gleaned from the recent revelation of this memo: DO NOT EVER attempt to defraud the U.S. government in an attempt to obtain immigration benefits and even those seeking immigration benefits for bona fide reasons should be cognizant of the fact that information posted on social media websites could, at some point, be heavily scrutinized by immigration officers and/or adjudicators.

For related information please see: US Visa Processing Time or I-601 waiver.

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21st October 2010

Those who have read some of the blog will no doubt note that this administration often posts information about the K3 visa process and the overall impact of administrative closing of K3 visa applications by the US State Department’s National Visa Center. Many American Citizens who have a Laotian husband or wife pose the question: “Can I get a K3 visa for my wife (or husband) to reunite with me in the USA?” The answer to this question, at the time of this writing, is a rather qualified: no. However, a brief overview of the K3 visa and the recent changes to the K3 visa process may enlighten those who are researching this issue on their own for the first time.

At one time, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) had a substantial backlog of immigrant spouse visa petitions. This lead to a situation in which it could take as long as 3 years to receive USCIS adjudication of a mere immigrant spousal visa petition filed by an American Citizen. Due to this rather untenable situation, the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton promulgated and executed a piece of legislation commonly referred to as the “Life Act”. Under the provisions of the Life Act, the K3 visa category and the K4 visa category were created (The K4 visa is a derivative visa for the children of foreign spouses similar to the derivative K2 visa which can be “piggybacked” onto a K1 visa application). At the time, the K3 visa was greeted by many as a severely needed stopgap solution to a rather pernicious problem: slow processing of classic immigrant visa petitions. In recent years, the USCIS has gone to great lengths to streamline the adjudication process and thereby decrease the time it takes to see an immigrant spouse visa petition adjudicated. As a result, many adjudicated immigrant visa petitions began arriving at the National Visa Center at the same time as their K3 counterparts. At one point, it would appear that a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the Immigrant petition arrives either before or at the same time as the K3 petition. This leads to a situation where American-Lao bi-national couples are compelled to seek immigrant visa benefits rather than K3 visa benefits. It should be noted that immigrant visa benefits are substantially superior to K3 visa benefits as immigrant visas confer lawful permanent residence upon the bearer at the time of his or her entry into the United States. Whereas the K3 visa is simply a non-immigrant spouse visa. Therefore, those entering the USA in K3 status must either file for an adjustment of status or Consular Process their immigrant visa petition at a US Embassy or US Consulate outside of the USA.

The term “K3 visa” has sort of become the buzzword used to refer to a US Marriage Visa over the internet. In point of fact, the classic travel documents used by Lao spouses to reunite with their American counterparts are referred to as either the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa. Depending upon a bi-national couple’s circumstances such travel documents may confer either conditional or unconditional lawful permanent residence upon admission to the USA.

For related information please see: K1 Visa Laos or K3 Visa Laos.

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20th October 2010

This blog frequently discusses American Immigration matters in a country-specific context in order to provide insight to those researching US Immigration issues for the first time. Some are not aware that in 2010 the United States National Visa Center (an agency under the jurisdiction of the US Department of State) promulgated the policy that K3 visa applications would be “administratively closed” if the underlying immigrant visa petition arrived at NVC prior to, or at the same time as, the K3 Visa petition.Those researching this issue for the first time may find a brief overview of the K3 visa’s history insightful as this may shed light upon the possible reasoning behind the “administrative closure” policy.

At one time, there was a rather large backlog of Immigrant spouse visa petitions (petitions for visas now classified as either a CR1 Visa or an IR1 Visa) at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Therefore, the United States Congress and President William Jefferson Clinton promulgated and executed legislation colloquially referred to as the “Life Act”. This statute effectively created the visa category known as the K-3 (for derivative dependents the visa category is a K-4 which is similar to the K-2 derivative visa associated with a K1 visa or fiance visa). Since the creation of the K-3 visa, the USCIS has cut down their backlog to the point where immigrant visa petitions are being adjudicated within a matter of months. As a result, there was a rather brief period of time in which USCIS was adjudicating immigrant visa petitions faster that K3 visa petitions. In any case, once USCIS has made their adjudication, such petitions are then sent to the NVC where they are the forwarded on to the US Mission, US Embassy, or US Consulate with appropriate jurisdiction for Consular Processing. At some point, a decision was made to “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the underlying immigrant visa petition arrives at NVC before, or contemporaneously with, the immigrant visa petition. In practical terms, this means that if the adjudicated immigrant visa petition arrives at NVC before the K3 petition, the K3 will be effectively set aside and the bi-national couple will be compelled to proceed with the immigrant visa process.

In a way, this policy makes some sense as the K3 visa’s utility is somewhat negated by the contemporaneous processing of an immigrant visa. As a result, at the time of this writing, there are many who feel that the K3 visa is not a particularly viable option for those Americans wishing to bring their Taiwanese husband or wife to the USA. It should be noted that the K3 visa was always a non-immigrant visa meaning that it did not confer lawful permanent residence upon the bearer when admitted to the USA. Those arriving in the USA on a K3 could choose to either consular process their immigrant visa application or file for adjustment of status in the USA.

For related information please see:  K1 Visa Taiwan or US Marriage Visa.

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19th October 2010

A common question on the lips of many American Citizens with a Burmese husband or wife is: “Can I get my Burmese husband (or wife) a US K3 marriage visa?” In the past, this question would likely have received an unqualified: yes. However, recent changes to the K3 visa process have resulted in the effective end of broad K-3 marriage visa issuance due to the American State Department’s National Visa Center and their policy of “administrative closure” for many K3 visa applications.

To understand the K3 visa process one must first understand why the K3 visa was invented. It was designed to act as a sort of expedited travel document for spouses of American Citizens at a time when the backlog for adjudication of classic Immigrant spouse visa petitions at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) was running quite high. In fact, there was a time when bi-national Burmese-American couples could wait as long as 3 years just to see their I-130 petition adjudicated (this does not take into account National Visa Center processing and Consular Processing of pending visa applications). Due to the aforementioned backlog, Congress and the US President enacted the so-called “Life Act” which, among other things, created the K-3 visa category. The K3 visa petition sort of “piggybacks” onto an underlying spouse visa petition and can only be filed after an initial Immigrant visa petition is filed.

In 2010, the National Visa Center announced that they would “administratively close” K3 visa applications when the underlying Immigrant visa petition arrived before, or at the same time as, the K-3 petition. It would seem that this policy is based upon the premise that the K-3′s utility is negated when USCIS has already adjudicated the Immigrant visa petition. Bearing this in mind, it should be noted that the Immigrant spouse visas (also known as the CR1 Visa or the IR1 Visa, depending upon the circumstances of the couple seeking the visa benefits) confer Lawful Permanent Residence upon the visa holder when admitted to the USA at a port of entry. A K3 visa holder is admitted as a non-immigrant, but the entrant retains the option of either adjusting status in the USA or applying for their immigrant visa at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. In any case, the K-3 visa, although slightly faster from an initial processing standpoint, does not grant superior benefits to the foreign spouse upon entry compared to the Immigrant visa categories. Therefore, those currently researching American spousal immigration are wise to delve into information regarding the CR1 or IR1 visas.

Fore related information please see: K3 Visa Burma or K1 Visa Burma.

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23rd August 2010

Laypeople sometimes confuse the process of adjustment of status with the change of status process. This confusion is directly related to the subject of this post: change of status from US Tourist Visa status to US Student Visa status. Many are under the mistaken impression that it is legal to attend school in the USA on a tourist visa. This is not the case. In a recent announcement promulgated by the US Department of Homeland Security and distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), the question was posed: “Is it permissible to enroll in school while in B-1/B-2 status?” The answer is quoted directly from the aforementioned announcement:

No, it is not. The regulations, at 8 CFR 214.2(b)(7), specifically prohibit study in the United States while in B-1 or B-2 status.


Before enrolling in classes, individuals who are in B-1 or B-2 status must first acquire F-1 (academic student) or M-1 (vocational student) status. Enrolling in classes while in B-1/B-2 status will result in a status violation. Individuals in B-1 or B-2 status, who have violated their nonimmigrant status by enrolling in classes, are not eligible to extend their B status or change to F-1 or M-1 status. Theseregulations provide no exceptions.

If you currently hold B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status and would like to enroll in classes, you may apply for a change of status to F-1 or M-1, as appropriate, if:


You have not yet enrolled in classes
Your current status has not expired
You have not engaged in unauthorized employment


To change your nonimmigrant status from B-1/B-2 to F-1 or M-1, you must file an Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (Form I-539), and include the required fee and documents listed in the filing instructions.

Please Note:


If you enroll in classes before USCIS approves your Form I-539, you will be ineligible to change your nonimmigrant status from B to F or M. If you are applying to extend your B-1/B-2 stay and you have already enrolled in classes, USCIS cannot approve your B-1/B-2 extension because of the status violation.

For some, the change of status process can be confusing and difficult as few are familiar with DHS forms and protocols, but for those who obtain an F1 visa, the educational rewards can offset the time and resources expended obtaining the visa. Those who are not eligible to receive a change of status may find the following excerpt from the previously mentioned announcement helpful:

If you are not eligible to change your nonimmigrant status to F-1 or M-1, you may apply for an F-1 or M-1 visa at a consular post abroad…We encourage all students and prospective students to work closely with their designated school official (DSO) to coordinate the timing of applying for change of status and enrolling in classes.

Those staying in the United States on any type of visa are required by law to fully comply with the terms of their visa. Failure to do so could lead to severe civil and criminal penalties. Those wishing to travel to the United States of America are well advised to seek the type of visa that truly comports with proposed activity in the USA. As extraneous circumstances can cause unforeseen problems it may be necessary to apply for a change of status if one’s current visa does not provide proper benefits.

Adjustment of status, which can be confused with changing status, is the process of switching a foreign national from a non-immigrant visa to Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card). Those traveling to the United States of America on a K1 visa must adjust their status within 90 days of their arrival after their marriage to the US Citizen petitioner.

For more about adjusting status please see: adjustment of status.

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27th May 2010

For those who bring a foreign fiance or fiancee to the United States of America, an often asked question is: “What if my fiancee wants to work in the USA prior to her adjustment of status?” The answer to this question is somewhat complicated. When a foreign fiancee or spouse enters the United States on a non-immigrant K1 visa or K3 Visa, the entrant is generally not authorized to take up employment in the USA until that alien either adjusts status to permanent residence (Green Card) or obtains employment authorization. Recently, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced that, in an effort to decrease immigration fraud, new Employment Authorization Documents are to be issued. The following is a direct quote from USCIS’s official statement:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) today announced that it has revised the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), or Form I-766, to incorporate the addition of a machine-readable zone on the back of the card.. This update to the EAD is part of USCIS’s ongoing efforts to deter immigration fraud. Starting May 11, USCIS began issuing the revised EAD cards. The machine-readable zone is compliant with International Civil Aviation Organization standards. USCIS also removed the two-dimensional bar code on the backside of the card and moved the informational box of text to just beneath the magnetic stripe on the card. The revised card retains all of its existing security features.

In most cases, foreign fiancees or spouses of US Citizens opt to wait for permanent residence before taking up employment. However, in some instances this is not the case as there are increasing numbers of foreign fiancees and spouses who work for multi-national companies. These international businesses sometimes wish to have their non-US Citizen employee start work in the USA as soon as they can. Therefore, there are situations in which speedy employment authorization is a necessity.

In the past, K3 Visa holders could seek employment authorization at the port of entry when they entered the USA. As the K-3 Visa is being increasingly phased out, this method of receiving employment authorization is being employed less frequently. Another issue that often arises in the context of Employment Authorization is that of advance parole. Holders of a US fiance visa cannot leave the United States prior to adjustment of status and simultaneously maintain their lawful K1 status unless they apply for, and receive, an advance parole travel document.  In some cases, couples making an application for advance parole will also make an application for an EAD in order to work in the USA.

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