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Ten Mistakes to Avoid When Applying for a Marriage Based Greencard

Obtaining your greencard after marrying a United States Citizen can be a positive and happy experience but common mistakes can make the process needlessly stressful. Here are some common mistakes you should avoid when applying for your marriage based greencard:

  1. Failing to file all of the necessary forms with the correct filing fees and requisite paperwork at the correct filing location: Unfortunately, immigration does not make it easy for you to obtain your entitled benefits. You must be certain to file all of the necessary forms: the spousal petition, the adjustment application, the biographic forms, the work authorization application, etc and to pay the immigration fees corresponding to the forms so that your case can be accepted for processing. If you omit a required form or forget to pay a fee your case will be rejected. You must also submit all of the required paperwork corresponding to each form. Also, immigration periodically changes the filing location for its cases so it is important to verify that you are sending your case to the correct address. An immigration attorney will of course correctly take care of all of this for you.
  2. Waiting to apply thereby delaying your benefits: You and your spouse should apply for your marriage based greencard immediately after getting married. The longer you wait, the longer you will go without the benefits to which you are entitled and the longer you subsequently have to wait in order to apply for naturalization (U.S. Citizenship). Couples delay the process for many reasons, too burdensome, too costly, but delaying your benefits comes with a price as well. You may contact our office to learn more about the greencard process at (916) 613-3553 or info@ranchodlaw.com.
  3. Not anticipating how long the process will take for you to obtain your marriage based greencard: In a similar vein to the second most common mistake, many couples fail to account for how long it will take to complete processing of the marriage based greencard. After obtaining the requisite paperwork and filing the forms, you must attend a biometrics appointment and then the couple must attend an interview together. After approval, the greencard usually takes another four weeks to arrive in the mail. Hence, applying as soon after the marriage as possible is wise. In Sacramento San Francisco, and San Jose immigration offices we are noticing processing times that are taking approximately 3-8 months or longer before the interview date. Please note that these government processing times are always changing.
  4. Not being thorough and honest in your application: Both spouses should be completely thorough and honest in their applications. For example, when the application asks for all places of residence and all employers for the last five years, it is important to list every single residence and every single employer for the entire five year time period. If you are incomplete or dishonest in your application and immigration catches you in a lie, the immigration officer may begin to wonder what else you are lying about. You definitely don’t want the immigration officer to think you are lying about the validity of your marriage.
  5. Not gathering paperwork in support of your application: In addition to the basic required paperwork (certificates, passport style photographs, etc.) you will need to gather paperwork to help prove the legitimacy of your marriage. Examples of this latter type of paperwork may include copies of joint bank accounts, bills, proof of a shared home, photographs of shared life experiences, and testimonials from loved ones or other individuals with knowledge of the relationship. Don’t be lazy! Get the documents together so that the immigration officer doesn’t have any doubt as to the validity of the relationship.
  6. Missing your appointments: When immigration schedules you for an appointment (biometrics or the interview appointment) it is very important to attend. If you do not attend, your case will be delayed and could even be denied. If immigration schedules you for an appointment at a date or time that you cannot attend, your attorney can reschedule the appointment for you. It is better to reschedule the appointment then to simply not attend.
  7. Not preparing for your interview: It is very important to prepare yourself for your immigration interview. Your attorney can advise you as to the typical format of these interviews, some common questions asked, and some of the tactics used by some immigration officers. If you appear nervous at your interview, the officer may think that you are trying to deceive the immigration authorities and, in turn, your interview can become more intensive. It is best to know what to expect so that you can be relaxed and appropriately responsive.
  8. Not discussing the basics of your relationship with your spouse: Prior to your interview it is going to be very important for you and your spouse to go over some of the basics of your relationship. For example, when and how did you meet, the details of your engagement, the details of your wedding, recent celebrations, finances, etc. It is fairly common for one spouse to misspeak at the interview in regards to a date and then it makes it seem like the couple is lying. Also, two answers can both be true but different. For example, to the question of how the couple met, one might say “online,” while the other says “in a bar.” Both are true (the couple first learned of each other online but met for the first time in a bar) but if the couple gave these answers at their interview the immigration officer might think that the couple is making up their answers and are not in a true relationship. Your immigration attorney will go over all of the common questions in your preparation interview.
  9. Thinking that immigration will give you the benefit of the doubt: Immigration will NOT, I repeat, WILL NOT, give you the benefit of the doubt if you or your spouse misspeaks or accidentally provides incorrect information. For example, if you say that you started dating in 2002 and your spouse says 2001, immigration will not write this off as a faded memory, absolutely not, immigration will question you believing that you’ve made up the details of the relationship for the purpose of obtaining unwarranted immigration benefits. Also, if immigration has any doubt, your case will be denied.
  10. The final and most critical mistake couples make is not hiring an immigration attorney. There are so many things that can go wrong if you do not have the proper advice and guidance. Hiring an immigration attorney from the inception is affordable and will make the process as stress free and efficient as possible. We see so many couples who don’t come to us until after immigration issues a request for additional evidence or worse, a denial. Don’t let this happen to you. Contact us today at (916) 613-3553. We have offices conveniently located in Sacramento and Stockton, California but we help clients throughout the United States.