Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘I-751’

4th October 2009

A happily uncommon issue that can arise in United States Immigration law is known as the “widows penalty.” The Widow’s penalty becomes an issue when the American Citizen Petitioner dies before the adjudication of a foreign spouse’s pending Immigration matter. For example, a widow of a United States Citizen could be penalized if her American spouse dies before the I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence is adjudicated (also known as a “lift of conditions”). The logic underpinning the penalty is based upon the notion that the widow is no longer married to a United States Citizen and therefore cannot have conditions removed because the continuing marriage is the basis for removal of conditions. Currently, the United States courts are in the process of dealing with this issue and it would appear that there is an overwhelming feeling that the “widow’s penalty,” should be removed because it is somewhat inequitable.

In the recent case of Hanford v. Napolitano, a Texas Court held that the Widow of an American Citizen will be entitled to adjust status to permanent residence even if the American dies before adjudication provided the couple was lawfully married and there are no issues as to the bona fides of the relationship. To quote the court opinion:

“Under the plain language of the statute, Congress’s intent is clear: The Attorney General is precluded from adjusting the status of a non-immigrant except as a result of the marriage of the nonimmigrant to the very U.S. citizen who filed the petition in the first place to grant that alien’s nonimmigrant status. Situations such as Ms. Hanford’s meet the exemption. Plaintiff is entitled to adjustment of her legal status to that of permanent resident under the language of the statute because her legally filed application is a result of her marriage to the U.S. citizen who filed Form I-129F to obtain her nonimmigrant status.”

The Widow’s Penalty would seem to be falling by the wayside, but the law is not completely settled on the issue as some courts have differing rules regarding the adjudication of such cases. For those with a great deal of anxiety about their spouse’s ability to obtain an adjustment of status in the future, researching immigrant and non-immigrant visas may provide insight into the consequences of a US Citizen’s untimely death.  One major benefit of the Immigrant visa categories such as the IR1 visa and the CR1 visa is the fact that the foreign spouse enters the United States with lawful permanent residence upon entry. However, the processing time for these visas is considerably longer when compared with the K3 visa or the K1 visa.

Issues like this fully emphasize the reason why it may be imperative for an American to obtain licensed legal counsel for issues involving US visas. For more information about the importance of retaining licensed legal counsel, please see: How Can My Thai Fiancee Get US Citizenship?

more Comments: 04

4th October 2009

For those who have already executed a marriage in Thailand, the options for United States visas can become more limited. In general, the two Immigration options most applicant couples choose to pursue immediately following lawful marriage are the K3 visa and the CR1 visa. Unless there exist strategic reasons for applying for the K3 visa (speed of issuance, or choice of interview forum), the CR1 visa is often the better choice as it confers conditional lawful permanent residence upon the applicant at the moment they are admitted into the United States of America.

The CR1 visa is available to those couples who have been married for less than two years. IR1 visas are used by couples who have been married more than 2 years. In Thailand, a common misconception is that getting married is the best way to ensure a fast visa for a Thai loved one. In many cases, this is untrue because the K1 visa is sometimes a faster Immigration option. That being said, in cases where the United States Citizen is entitled to file an I-130 application abroad (known as a local filing or direct consular filing) marriage might provide a way of expediting the US visa process. If a US Citizen opts to file locally for a US visa and the couple has been married for less than 2 years, then a CR1 visa will be issued upon application approval.

Once in the United States, the foreign spouse will eventually need to apply for a lift of the conditions of his or her visa. This is accomplished by filing an I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. The United States Citizen spouse will need to file the petition within ninety days of the second anniversary of the foreign spouse’s entrance into the US and once the application is approved the foreign spouse’s lawful permanent residence will no longer be contingent upon their continuing marital status.

Essentially, this application to lift conditions is somewhat similar to the adjustment of status application. For those with a fiance visa it is necessary to adjust status to permanent residence before being able to remain in the US indefinitely. The lift of conditions is analogous because it is a necessity that must be dealt with before permanent residence is unconditional and failure to apply for the lift of conditions could result in the foreign spouse falling out of lawful status. It should be noted that for those who adjust status from a K1 visa, permanent residence is deemed to begin on the date noted upon the adjustment of status approval notice. Within ninety days prior to the two year anniversary of said date, the foreign spouse must apply to Remove the Conditions of Residence.

Upon approval of an application to remove conditions, the former CR1 visa holder will be converted to an IR1 visa and be issued a 10 Permanent Resident Card (Green Card).

more Comments: 04

9th July 2009

For Thai-American couples seeking Lawful Permanent Residence (Green Card) in the United States for the spouse of an American Citizen the options are either the CR-1 or IR-1 visa. A CR-1 (Conditional Resident) visa provides conditional lawful permanent residence to the visa holder while the IR-1 (Immediate Relative) visa provides unconditional permanent residence upon entry into the United States.  An often asked question with regard to these visas: what is the difference?

When seeking a United States visa for a Thai spouse, the classic method of obtainment is through filing an I-130 visa application. After the I-130 is approved by either a USCIS Service Center in the United States or USCIS Field office abroad, it will be forwarded to a US Diplomatic post that adjudicates Immigrant visas. In Thailand, the US Embassy in Bangkok processes all US Immigrant visa petitions. Assuming that a visa is ultimately approved, the Thai spouse shall be entitled to travel to the USA in order to take up residence.

For those holding a visa conferring conditional permanent residence, it will be necessary to eventually file to have the conditionality of the visa lifted. In practical terms, this means that the Thai wife’s residence will no longer be based upon her marriage to an American citizen.  Instead, the permanent residence will become independent and unconditional. For those who enter the USA on a conditional resident visa and subsequently end their marriage during the conditional period, loss of permanent residence is highly likely.

Some people confuse the lift of conditions with adjustment of status. In cases involving a K-1 visa for a Thai fiance, adjustment of status is the process of obtaining conditional permanent residence for the fiancee (now wife) after marriage in the United States.  For those couples who adjust status in the US, after the adjustment interview, should the application be approved, the adjustment date will be that written on the adjustment of status approval letter from USCIS.

One must file for a lift of conditions within 90 days of the two year anniversary of the the Thai spouse taking up residence, in the case of adjustment the two year anniversary will be marked from the date of  adjustment approval. For the Thai who enters on a CR-1 visa, it will be the date the Thai spouse entered the USA.

In order to obtain a lift of conditions the I-751 application must be filed with an approved by USCIS. After approval, the Thai spouse may remain in the United States permanently.

For related information please see: Thailand permanent residence

(This post is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be legal advice. No lawyer/client relationship is formed by reading this information.)

more Comments: 04

The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisement. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information presented on this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.