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Contact Us: (617) 714-4375


H1B to Marriage Green Card?

Right now uncertainty is a part of life. Will I stay healthy? Will the people I love stay healthy? Will I keep my job?

For people in the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas tied to their employment, this is an especially uncertain time. For example, individuals in the US on H1B visas must keep their employment in order to keep their H1B status and lawfully remain in the US. What should you do if your H1B employment may be at risk?

Every week I meet couples made up of a US citizen and an H1B holder. They are in love and they plan to get married, but they are not sure when or where they will get married. Usually by the time they are in my office, they are getting closer to getting married, and a talk with me sometimes is all is takes for people to take the final step to tie the knot. It’s a fun part of my job!

Some people worry about getting married “just for a green card.” Correct–that is not allowed and I won’t help you with your case if the marriage is “just for the green card.” However, getting married now, instead of this summer or next year, because you need to maintain immigration status is not getting married “just for the green card.” It is making a decision for your future based on what is going on right now.

I give couples the example of healthcare. What if immigration status were not an issue? What if you were in a serious relationship with someone who has healthcare through employment but then loses the employment and therefore will lose healthcare soon? What if your partner needs prescription medication? Care for chronic illnesses? Or, an emergency? With these uncertainties, you and your partner decide to get married so that your partner can get healthcare through your employment-based healthcare plan. That is not getting married “just for the health insurance.” It is doing what you need to do to protect someone you love.

That’s the way to look at getting married now so that you can protect your partner’s ability to remain lawfully in the US.

If you or your partner risk losing H1B status in this uncertain time, you should consult with an immigration attorney to find out if there are ways to help you or your loved one stay living and working in the U.S.

USCIS Offices will remain closed until 5/4/2020.

USCIS offices have been closed since mid-March and were initially scheduled to reopen in early April. USCIS just announced that USCIS in-person services will remain closed until at least 5/4/2020.

Your case may still continue to process with USCIS. In some cases, USCIS will reuse previously obtained biometrics and apply them to currently processing cases. That would allow USCIS to approve certain types of applications, such as I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and I-131 Application for Advance Parole.

However, without biometrics, USCIS is unable to approve other types of cases such as I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status, N-400 Application for Naturalization, and I-589 Application for Asylum. Further, many of those applications (plus others) require in-person interviews, and unless USCIS establishes alternatives to in-person interviews, USCIS will not be able to approve applications for citizenship, asylum, and most applications for adjustment of status.

I have a green card. Can I be a “public charge”?

The new public charge rules implemented by this Administration are causing extreme stress and confusion among immigrant communities and their advocates.

A question that frequently has arisen in my practice is whether a “green card” holder is subject to public charge rules. The answer is, generally, no. A green card holder with a ten-year green card or a two-year (conditional) green card is not subject to the public charge rules. This means that the green card holder’s income does not matter after s/he obtains her green card, and does not matter at the time the green card holder files Form I-751 to remove the conditions of the two-year card. Also, public benefits for which the green card holder is legally eligible will not affect her/his eligiblity to maintain the green card.

There are two important exceptions. First, if the green card holder did not disclose prior use of public benefits at the time of obtaining the green card and was required to disclose such benefits, those benefits could come back to bite the green card holder from the perspective of misrepresentation. That means that USCIS may allege that the green card holder lied to get the green card.

The second important exception is a green card holder who leaves the US for more than 180 days. Upon returning to the US, CBP (and USCIS) can inquire about the green card holder past use or future use of public benefits. See, which states: “DHS notes that a person who is already a lawful permanent resident has already undergone a public charge inadmissibility determination, unless she or he was exempt from such a determination at the time of application for such status. Such a person would not undergo another public charge inadmissibility determination unless U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) determines, upon the alien’s return from a trip abroad, that the returning lawful permanent resident is an applicant for admission based on one of the criteria set forth in section 101(a)(13)(C) of the Act, 8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(13)(C), such as the alien has been absent from the United States for more than 180 days. ”

Why Misrepresenting Yourself is an Immigration No-No

A top priority for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services is to identify people who are attempting to abuse the U.S. immigration process. As a result, if USCIS finds that you are misrepresenting yourself or your history to try to get into, or stay in, the United States, the penalties are severe. 

According to 8 U.S.C. §1182(a)(6)(C)(i), “Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) a visa, other documentation, or admission into the United States or other benefit provided under this chapter is inadmissible.” What does this mean? Lying to an immigration officer, lying on any immigration application, or submitting fraudulent or even minorly altered documents to an immigration agency, subjects you to a lifetime ban from the United States.

Some examples of situations that may create a lifetime ban:

  • When seeking a marriage green card, if USCIS determines that the marriage wasn’t bona fide, meaning it was a marriage entered solely to obtain a green card, this can subject you to a lifetime ban.
  • If you abuse a tourist visa, USCIS may subject you to a lifetime ban. For example, you are not permitted to seek permanent residency by entering the U.S. on a tourist VISA. If you enter the United States on a temporary VISA with the intention of filing for a green card, you risk the agency finding that you were intentionally abusing your temporary visa and may subject yourself to a permanent ban from the U.S.
  • If you misrepresented yourself on a prior application, this could cause problems even if you didn’t fill out the form yourself. For example, if you hired an attorney in a foreign country to complete an application on your behalf, any misrepresentation on the prior application, whether approved by you or not, can subject you to a lifetime ban.
  • Immigration agencies often considers omissions from your application as intentional misrepresentation. For example,  USCIS may charge you with misrepresentation if you you don’t include your prior marriage, an earlier arrest, or you don’t include all of your group memberships, thinking they aren’t necessary.  

The immigration application process can be fraught with pitfalls. That’s why it’s a good idea to consult an experienced immigration attorney before filing an application with the USCIS. Even if you have a criminal or organizational history that you think may disqualify you, or if you believe you have engaged in misrepresentation, I may be able to help. I have helped people from around the world overcome small and large obstacles during the U.S. immigration process. I would love to help you too.

Boston EOIR Cases Postponed, Except for Detained Cases

As of 3/18/2020 the Boston Immigration Court will only hear detained master calendar and individual hearings. If you have a hearing (and you are not detained) it is crucial that you stay on top of your case. You should call the EOIR hotline at 1-800-898-7180 on a regular basis (every few days) until you learn of the new hearing date. You will need your A# with you when you call.

If you fail to attend the next hearing, you could be ordered removed/deported in abstenia.

Also, if you have recently moved, you must do two things. First, make sure to report your address change to EOIR and ICE. Second, try to get someone at your old address to notify you if you receive any mail at the old address.

© Copyright 2014 Law Office of Ellen Sullivan, P.C. This website does not constitute a representation agreement with Attorney Sullivan or anyone else at the firm. The information on this website is not intended to, nor does it in fact, replace legal advice provided by an attorney in an attorney-client consultation. Please contact our office or another immigration attorney if you would like legal counsel. Sitemap