If you're reading this then there is a good chance that congratulations are in order. Besides any blender or bread maker a crazy aunt might get the two of you, the U.S. government may give you something a little better than rising yeast.
So you are married to a foreign national and you would like for them hang around the country for a bit. A vast percentage of this firm's clients are college students who have decided to marry a foreign national, so this is a process we are quite familiar with. Many individuals try to do this process themselves without the help of an attorney, this is a mistake. Most attorneys usually do not charge very much for this service, and you get the comfort of knowing the process is done correctly and that an attorney will be present with you during the adjustment interview.
Each time the couple enters into my office they usually ask the following questions:
"Can I leave the country while my petition is pending?"
"What forms do I need?"
"What kind of questions will they ask me during the interview?"
"How long will this process take?"
Can I leave the country while my I-485 marriage petition is pending?
Every attorney is different and may answer this question differently. I tell every single one of my clients to get comfortable because if you do leave, there is a chance your application will be seen as being abandoned. There are extreme situations in which the applicant may be permitted to leave, but for the most part, no.
What forms do I need to complete?
USCIS has a vast collection of forms that are for very different things so it is easy to get confused as to which form is for what purpose. Most individuals where the spouse is in status and they have a legal entry will need an I-130, I-485, I-765, and an affidavit of support. The purpose of each of these forms is beyond the scope of this post but these are usually a minimum. However, if there is an issue with an overstay, or illegal entry, you will potentially require other forms and to complete an additional process more complex than the one described here. If this is your situation, contact an immigration attorney and seek their counsel about what steps you should take to get the process started correctly.
What kind of questions will they ask me during the interview?
The USCIS officer conducting the interview can ask you an array of questions to verify that the marriage in front of him/her is a bonafide marriage. They can ask anything from when is your spouse's birthday, the date of your anniversary, or how many picture frames are on the wall in the bedroom. Either way, if the marriage is bonafide, these questions should not pose a problem.
How long will the process take?
In short, it depends. We have represented couples where their case is resolved in 6 months, and others where it is closer to a year. However, the beneficiary spouse could work while the time is pending with an approved I-765, which may make the process seem a little quicker.
In the end, it is important to get an attorney for this process. These forms are complex and easy to make a mistake on. More importantly, an attorney can avoid any pitfalls in your case so that this process can be as smooth as possible. Contact our office for a free consultation.