Emma didn’t plan to fall in love with and marry a non-US citizen. She certainly did not prepare herself for the challenges of marrying and applying to adjust the status of a spouse so she can build a life with a foreign husband, in the U.S.. But like many love stories, hers began when she least expected it. Emma met Francisco in Mexico when Emma was visiting the Riviera Maya. When they decided to date and later get married, they had no idea how challenging the journey would be. But fortunately for them, STERN Law was able to help them every step of the way. Although the process was difficult, they were able to get through it thanks to the strength of their love and their decision to put their case in the hands of the experienced attorneys at STERN Law. If you or a loved one has ever thought about the possibility of marrying a non-US citizen, here’s what you can learn from Emma and Francisco’s experience.
You can fall for a non-US citizen when you least expect it.
Emma wasn’t looking to enter into a long-distance relationship with a non-US citizen when she traveled to the Riviera Maya in Mexico for vacation. She was there to vacation with her parents when she met Francisco. He worked with his mom in the hotel where Emma and her family always visited. The connection they felt was undeniable, and they figured out a way to continue to visit each other frequently, as their love grew stronger.
Dating can lead to marriage, but a visa is not guaranteed.
After dating for a few years, and Emma’s many back and forth trips to Riviera Maya, Francisco and Emma had a beautiful wedding in 2014 at the resort where they met. As a non-US citizen Francisco did not automatically receive a visa, just because they were married. They had to make some tough decisions knowing that Emma would have to return back home in Michigan, so Francisco needed to start his immigration process as soon as possible. Considering the significance that this process had for their future, it was not ideal to leave anything to chance. They decided to put their case in the hands of an expert, STERN Law.
The immigration process is far from simple.
Shortly, after Emma and Francisco started the application process with STERN Law’s help, they realized how bureaucratic and challenging the journey could be. They had to prove the validity of the marriage, and doing so made them feel very exposed. It seemed odd having to justify such an intimate relationship through receipts, bank statements, travel records, taxes, etc. The process was complex and messy. Meanwhile, they had to manage feelings of anxiety over putting their future life together in the hands of a legal system run by people who would assess, scrutinize, and question whether their relationship was real. Fortunately for them, they were not going through this immigration process alone. They had the STERN Law team supporting them every step of the way.
The devil is in the details.
At STERN Law, we took this opportunity very seriously, because now more than ever, every detail on an application matters, and nothing in a person’s history should be ignored. Lack of strong evidence, lack of understanding if a person qualifies for the benefit for which he/she is applying for, analyzing their past thoroughly, and building a strong argument for the application is part of the important legal work we had to do to support Emma and Francisco through their application process. Just like with other clients’ cases, our involvement and experience increased the likelihood of a positive outcome.
Unanticipated issues can and do happen.
Even though Francisco’s case seemed very straight forward, he ran into an unexpected hurdle. There was an error made by USCIS. His conditional residency had the wrong expiration date. Usually, conditional residency is valid for two years, but his green card was given only for one year. This alerted U.S. Customs and Border Protection when Francisco was coming back from one of his trips to Mexico. He was stopped, questioned, and held for a few hours. Once we at STERN Law received this information, we knew exactly what we needed to do. We went ahead and submitted his application for 10-year Permanent Residency, faster than in a normal circumstance, and it was successfully approved.
After obtaining his 10-year permanent residency, Francisco was feeling pretty confident about traveling and didn’t seem too interested in becoming a citizen. Even though being a permanent resident gives a sense of security, non-U.S. citizens have a lot of risks that can only be overcome by obtaining citizenship. The biggest risk is deportation, but risks of inadmissibility after international travel is also a large concern.
After a heart-to-heart call with our firm’s owner, Francisco was assured that his future was in the U.S. with his wife. He knew that he had his family and our firm by his side to take just one final step, and he took the leap of faith! Francisco is now a U.S. Citizen!
Francisco feels pretty grateful that he had the opportunity to go through this process relatively quickly and without significant problems. He knows that part of this success was having the support of his wonderful wife, family, and an experienced law firm. For Francisco, knowing that we, at STERN Law, were taking care of every detail of his case, following up with monthly updates, and having the answers he needed when things got complicated, was incredibly valuable, especially for a process that had several stages over a period of many years.
Now Francisco and Emma enjoy the lives they always wanted, together, and without having any worries about future immigration obstacles.
If you are interested in learning more about what is necessary for you to take the next steps in your immigration journey, please contact us by calling us at 404-990-4112.