A Happy Homecoming: an immigrant visa through marriage love story

I recently represented a remarkable young couple, “Mariana” and “Alejandro,” who applied for an immigrant visa through marriage.  Their names have been changed for privacy purposes.  Mariana filed an immigrant visa petition on behalf of Alejandro based on their marriage, and he recently immigrated to the U.S.

Alejandro had been in the U.S. since he was a young boy.  He had just turned 18 when the couple came in to see me.  He had no lawful immigration status and was undocumented.  The couple were high school sweethearts, deeply in love, and wanted to get married.  Because he had no proof of lawful entry to the U.S., he could not apply for adjustment of status, or a green card, from here.  I had to propose something scary to them – that Alejandro leave and pick up his immigrant visa in El Salvador.  Normally, the last thing I advise people with no lawful immigration status to do is to leave the country as they may not be allowed to return for 10 years!  However, because he had recently turned 18, if he left the country before a certain time period, he could return without a bar.  He also met all the other eligibility factors.  The plan would necessitate that Mariana and Alejandro would have to be apart for several months, and an approval, while likely, is never guaranteed.

Maria and Alejandro decided to get married.  About a month later, they broke the news that she was pregnant!  Advising him to leave the country for several months worried me even more.  It is always risky to send a client out.  Alejandro would likely not be here in time for the birth of their first child.  But they realized that in the long term obtaining the immigrant visa while he could was the right thing to do.  He flew out the day after Christmas.

After a few months, the visa petition was approved.  That was step one and a huge relief.  We then started working on the consular processing stage.  Mariana and Alejandro had their son, Anthony, in the Spring.  I got an email a few hours later with pictures of the baby.  I was honored to be one of the first to know about Anthony’s birth and considered it a privilege.  Eventually, Alejandro was scheduled for his immigrant visa interview.

Alejandro finally had his immigrant visa interview in the fall.  We had prepped for his interview on Skype.  It went very well and he was told that his case was going to be approved.  Mariana called me and we were ecstatic.  That was short-lived, however, as the next morning I received an email from them letting me know that Alejandro’s case was randomly picked for administrative processing.  The Embassy did not give a reason for it and said it would take an additional three weeks, but I began to research and found that it could take an additional 90 days or longer.  That three or four weeks was very long for us.  I received a desperate email from Mariana at one point, because she was starting to get depressed.  But one morning, she informed me that Alejandro’s visa was approved!  He received his passport and visa by courier a few days later, and flew home the next day.  Alejandro even received two job offers soon after returning to California.

The information in this blog post is not intended to be legal advice.  You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.  It also does not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.

Photo by Camdiluv.

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