I-130 For Client Who Overstayed on F-1 Visa
- Applicant: Mr. Wong
- Country/Region: Taiwan, China
- Applying For: Petition For Green Card Through Marriage (I-130)
- Time: 11 months
- Client overstayed on F-1 student visa and fell out of status, technically making him illegal
- Client was worried about possibly getting deported due to falling out of status with the government
- High bar to prove the case is not fraud
- Knowing how to effectively approach the USCIS Officer with a case where the individual lost status with the U.S government
Applying for a green card through marriage can be a daunting task for people who have fully complied with the law. At times, it is like the entire weight of the U.S. government is against you, is watching you, waiting for you to mess up so they can put you into deportation proceedings. And during the current administration, which is highly aggressive with immigration issues, that pressure has ratcheted up a few notches. Even worse for our client, Mr. Wong, was that he was technically out of status here in the United States.
Mr. Wong came to the United States on a F-1 student visa. He lived here, he went to school here, and he fell in love here. He ended up marrying his wife, now Mrs. Wong, and staying in the United States without updating his visa. This caused him to fall out of status with the U.S. government. Any petition for a green card through marriage is going to get highly scrutinized. It is an immigration case officer’s job to protect the United States and her citizens from fraud, and they do that job very well. Anytime that a case officer receives a case in which the person involved has currently lost status or lost status in the past or even has multiple failed attempts at visa changes in the past, the case will be scrutinized at an even higher level. However, once Mr. Wong came to us and gave us his information, we felt like we had all the tools and experience we needed to help him.
KEYS TO SUCCESS
At first we proceeded with our comprehensive approach to a standard marriage petition. We had Mr. Wong and his wife gather all the documentary evidence of a commingled life. Things like joint health insurance, mail to both individuals to prove that they receive mail at the same place, joint bank accounts, joint tax forms, affidavits from friends and family, and other documents can be used as thorough proof of a loving, long-term relationship. Our firm also has a vast amount of experience preparing those documents to read well to immigration case officers. Throwing a bunch of documents haphazardly at an officer will likely just lead to confusion and apathy. Knowing how to prove your point to a case officer, through the use of an organized cover letter and an itemized point-by-point run down of your case, is a skill that our firm specializes in.
Once we had the joint documents prepared and ready to go, we put our client and his wife through a thorough interview preparation process. We initially gave Mr. Wong a list of likely questions faced by nearly everyone who goes in to interview for these cases, but we also supplemented the questionnaire with questions about his F-1 visa status fallout. We did a mock interview with them and helped them understand each step of the interview process and to be prepared for the usual United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) tactics used in these interviews, including the separation of the spouses in order to see if they can catch either person in an apparent falsehood.
Finally, we addressed fully in the documentation Mr. Wong’s F-1 student visa overstay. We knew it would immediately show up to any case officer looking over the case, so we decided to tackle it straight on instead of running from it. Acting like it was something to hide was only going to exacerbate the problem. Something unusual we did for this case, as Mr. Wong was quite apprehensive of going to interview because he was out of status, was that we ensured that one of our attorneys would be on site on the day of the interview, in order to provide him peace of mind. We know our clients do better when they are fully prepared and fully relaxed, that they can better represent their true selves when they are not nervous, so that sense of calm is what we try to provide every client.
We sent an attorney with the Wongs to the local USCIS office and waited to hear back once their interview was complete. When they contacted us, we were told the interview was a smooth process, and that the case officer was impressed with the thoroughness of the documentation and explanation of the F-1 visa overstay. Not long after, Mr. Wong received through the mail his approval for a green card. Not only did Mr. Wong not have to worry about being illegal anymore, but he was thankful that Tsang & Associates had the knowledge of how to effectively get his case approved. The time and thoughtfulness they had put in his case had allowed him to permanently develop a life here with his family.
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