COVID-19 Immigration Update
This month many states and cities around the US will begin to reopen their businesses and communities. Immigration offices, however, will remain closed this month and are planning to reopen on June 4th. The biggest change in immigration during this pandemic was announced on April 22nd when was President Trump temporarily suspended entry of immigrants into the US. For a 60-day period, immigrant visas will not be processed and foreign nationals seeking green cards will not be allowed to enter the US. In the meantime, USCIS is still processing cases for applicants within the US and have made several accommodations to assist filers during this time.
As a reminder, if you are currently in the US and your non-immigrant visa is about to expire, you need to contact USCIS immediately to apply for an extension of status (EOS) or change of status (COS). Please do this BEFORE your visa expires. If your visa has already expired you may still be eligible for an extension if you can show that your delay was due to extreme circumstances beyond your control.
If you are a green card holder (legal permanent resident) and currently outside the US and your stay outside will exceed 6 months due to COVID- 19 illness or travel restrictions then you should contact the US embassy for information on the proper procedures to establish that you do not intend to abandon your US residency or legal status.
Client Case Study: Help! I Have a Two-Year Green Card and My Marriage is Over
In this edition, we would like to briefly explore a common scenario that I’ve seen throughout the years. Let’s see how this hypothetical case is resolved.
Background Scenario: Fatima is from Senegal and met Daniel through a mutual friend. They begin a long-distance relationship and Daniel proposes after a few months. He goes to Senegal to marry Fatima and files for Fatima to come to the US as his spouse. Her case is approved and she is granted a conditional two-year green card. Things are great for the newlywed couple for the first few months but then Daniel begins to abuse Fatima verbally and physically. Fatima does not have any family in the US and does not speak English very well. Daniel does not allow Fatima to have any friends or work outside the home. He often threatens to have her arrested or deported if she does not obey his rules. After a year of a rocky marriage Daniel leaves Fatima and files for divorce. Fatima came to our office to seek advice regarding her legal status.
Issue: What will happen to Fatima’s temporary green card now that her husband has divorced her?
When you have been married for less than two years you are granted a conditional (temporary) residency status. After two years, you have to file a joint application with your spouse to remove the “conditions” or conditional status from your green card. When the application is approved then you will receive a 10-year green card. If you fail to file for the removal of conditions then your conditional residency status is terminated.
Solution: Fatima may be able to remove the conditions from her green card by applying for a waiver.
If you have a conditional green-card and you are no longer with your spouse you may be eligible to remove the conditions on your green-card without your spouse. Under circumstances you can apply for a waiver of the joint application if you entered into a good faith marriage but your marriage was terminated or annulled, you were a victim of abuse, or your spouse died.
If you or someone you know is dealing with a similar situation please contact our office for a consultation to discuss a solution for your specific situation.