**Marriage-Based Permanent Resident (Green Card) Applications** (San Francisco Bay Area)

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

**Marriage-Based Permanent Resident (Green Card) Applications** (San Francisco Bay Area)

A marriage between a US citizen and a non-citizen, in many cases, allows the non-citizen spouse to begin the process of becoming a US permanent resident while he or she is still in the US. If you are engaged to be married and thinking about the immigration avenues that will open up with the change in the relationship or if you are already married and have not yet submitted the adjustment of status application, you will benefit from a consultation with an attorney. A qualified attorney can discuss with you whether an adjustment of status process or a process involving the US embassy overseas is better suited for your particular situation.

The adjustment of status application can be a complicated process with the various forms and supporting documents USCIS requires you to submit. You will likely have questions about a number of aspects of the application process, including your immigration status and work authorization before and after filing the application and the significance of any past immigration violations. You may also be concerned about how long the process will take, how soon you can begin to prepare the application and what the application process entails.

Each individual case is different from the next and the preparation of an application must account for the unique characteristics of each case as well as the concerns of the married or engaged couple.

Frequently asked questions:

1. Does the marriage automatically give me permanent resident status?

No. This is a common misconception. You must apply for permanent resident status through US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), formerly INS.

2. Are all non-US citizen spouses eligible to adjust status to permanent resident if they are married to a US citizen and are now in the US?

No. Many are eligible, but there are exceptions. In many cases, even if there are periods of overstay, the non-citizen spouse may be granted permanent residency. Still, there are bars to adjusting status and your particular eligibility should be discussed with an attorney.

3. Now that I'm married to a US citizen, can I leave the US?

You should seek the advice of an attorney before you make arrangements for travel outside of the US. Even if your reasons for traveling are urgent, you should do everything you can to preserve certain benefits before you travel and to avoid certain consequences that are triggered by leaving the US.

4. Why should I hire an attorney over legal service agencies (paralegals)?

The primary reason, I believe, that consumers choose legal service agencies over attorneys is cost. However, most attorneys' offices have developed efficiencies that allow them to offer rates that are not much higher than non-attorney legal service agencies.

There certainly are benefits to retaining an attorney for immigration matters. Some attorneys belong to attorney associations that keep them abreast of the most recent changes in federal law and local filing and processing procedures. The resources of attorneys go beyond the ability to complete forms which I would assume is the area of greatest competence for non-attorney agencies. Many attorneys will contact USCIS supervisors directly to address specific problems and delays in their client's case. Attorneys are allowed to represent their clients in immigration matters and can contact USCIS on their behalf. This may be an important benefit to those who want representation at the USCIS interview. Also, communications between a client and an attorney are privileged--any correspondence or conversation is strictly confidential.

5. How do I select the right attorney for me?

There are a number of factors that would make a particular attorney right for you, some of them subjective. In addition to the specific qualifications of an attorney, the location of the office and ease of access to the attorney may be important considerations. In the least, you should check the California State Bar at their website to get some background on an attorney. The website can be found at www.calbar.org. On it, you can confirm an attorney's California bar membership, education, the date she or he was admitted to the bar and, most importantly, any history of discipline.

6. Why can't I find an attorney's records in the California Bar Association site?

Attorneys who practice immigration law solely who are permitted to practice in another jurisdiction can practice immigration law in California without being admitted to California's bar. Membership in a state's bar other than California is not an indication of any lack in competence. You should ask the attorney which state's bar he is a member of, if he has not disclosed this information already, and look up his records in that state's bar association website.

If you would like to make an appointment for a free consultation regarding your adjustment of status application or other family-based immigration petition, call the Law Office of Jin S. Kim at (510) 277-2969. Evening and weekend appointments are available. Because of the heavy volume of calls to my office, I can only offer free adjustment of status consultations to those residing in the San Francisco Bay Area (including East Bay cities and San Jose).

Students and low-income families: For the month of June 2011, my office will be offering adjustment of status services at a reduced rate to those whose income for 2010 was less than $50,000. A limited number of reduced-price packages are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Law Office of Jin S. Kim
46 Shattuck Square, Suite 16
Berkeley, CA 94704

Active Member, California State Bar
Active Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association
Thank you


  1. The process for obtaining a marriage in USA green card can take somewhere around 6-12 months from the submission of application. The green card processing time may also vary depending on the outcome of medical tests and submission of required documentation. If you have a delay in any of these aspects, this will eventually lead to a delay in getting the green card. Adjustment of status

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