I have written about my nightmare experience trying to bring my husband – at that time we were engaged – to the U.S. via a fiance visa. See the series on Why I Practice Immigration Law Series: How I Imported My Husband, Love or Tension in the Air: Green Card Approved, How a Website Helped Get a Fiance Visa and If All Else Fails, Call Your Congressman. An unnecessarily complicated, expensive, and lengthy experience, this was unfortunately my first exposure to immigration law.
I was actually a corporate attorney at the time, working with The Procter & Gamble Company (P&G). At P&G, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to live and work in Paris, France for a short international assignment. By that time, my husband had received his green card as a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) and was able to accompany me. Navigating our French work permits and resident cards, and trying to make sure my husband did not lose his LPR status while we were abroad was my second exposure to the field of immigration.
This time, however, I had the assistance of an immigration attorney provided by P&G, and the experience was much less complicated – at least on my end. The attorney figured out the legal stuff to facilitate my work visa, and advised on the impact of the work assignment on my husband’s LPR status and future application for citizenship. Having an attorney figure out the legal stuff and give me questionnaires to complete so that the required forms and applications could be drafted was definitely a better experience than when I had previously navigated the system and prepared the fiance petition on my own.
So now in my practice I am especially fond of assisting couples with their immigration process. In general, the underlying life event – marriage, relocation, adoption, etc. – can be stressful enough; when adding the complicated rules and paperwork (not to mention the cost) of the immigration process, things can quickly become overwhelming. The couple is nervous about a possible denial of the green card or immigrant visa application, and the government officials can be intimidating. I enjoy explaining the process to couples, advising them of their options, providing filing tips that I have learned over the years, and most importantly, identifying risks and proposing solutions to increase the likelihood of approval.
Here is what one of my clients said about his experience, in response to my description of the marriage-based green card interview for my husband:
“I can empathize with you on the tension and stress leading up to the interview day.
As you know, we just had our interview. The days leading up to the appointment were filled with the preparation of all the documents and photo albums and contingency planning and figuring out who can pick up the kids after school if the interview runs late, etc., etc., etc. Not to mention trying to keep all our normal business in order.
I believe that really good preparation is the key. There is no way to predict what may be asked in the interview. With the help of your expert direction, I believe we had any and all material that might be requested in our hands for the meeting.
And like you, we quizzed each other back and forth on those critical dates and important events in our lives. I’m good with dates, my wife is not.
Even so, I almost forgot the date of our anniversary when the interviewer asked me. This was one of the first questions that I was asked and I almost blew it.
Having you with us for this interview was both confidence inspiring and comforting. After maybe fifteen minutes of questions and answers, I was almost shocked when the interviewer stopped and said, “OK, I’m recommending approval for your application, congratulations”.
The feelings we felt afterwards were of relief and thanks. The uncertainty of the future of our family was removed. No more worrying about what we were going to do if the applications were denied. We were thankful for having you with us for this process. It’s a day that will remain among the most significant in our lives.”
And I too, shared in their joy as there were congratulatory hugs and kisses all around. My ability to help couples like this and be a part of the dramatic change in their family life, i.e., obtaining the legal right for the foreign national spouse to live and work in the U.S. permanents – well it gets me up early in the morning and motivates me to work late into the night.
Every time I receive notice of a client’s approval for a green card or an immigrant visa, it takes me back to the days when my husband was approved for the fiance visa, approved for the green card, approved for the Removal of Conditions of Residence, and approved for citizenship at the oath ceremony.
These were wonderful, joyous occasions, and I am pleased to be able to enjoy them all over again through my clients. Every day I feel so fortunate and blessed to have the knowledge and experience to provide this important service to couples. I get more satisfaction from my clients than they will ever know, and I thank all of them for allowing me the opportunity to assist