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Successful Adjustment of Status based on Approved EB2 I140 Petition for Korean Taekwondo Head Coach Applicant in Akron Ohio

by JP Sarmiento on February 1, 2013

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CASE: I-140 (EB-2) / I-485
Applicant: Korean
LOCATION: Akron, Ohio

Our client is a prominent Taekwondo master who is working as a Taekwondo coach. He had a Taekwondo school willing to do a second-preference petition (I-140) for him. Our client has a Bachelors and Masters degree in a related field and has more than 5 years of coaching experience. Although he had maintained his status as an O-1 visa holder in the United States, his previous green card application (Based on the EB-11 category) was denied two years ago.

After talking to our client, our firm decided that his potential employer can petition him as a Taekwondo Head Coach. Second preference petitions for Koreans are current, which means that if a PERM Labor Certification for a second preference position gets approved, the I-140 and I-485 could be filed simultaneously. Based on our client’s educational, professional and working background, our office determined that he is clearly eligible for the EB-2 classification. Our client eventually retained us for his PERM labor certification in March, 2011.

As we stated in previous success stories, his PERM Labor Certification was approved on October 25, 2011. After the PERM approval, our client retained us again for the I-140 petition.

We then proceeded with the I-140 Petition filing. One of the main requirements for the I-140 is that the petitioning company must show that it has the ability to pay the proffered wage for the beneficiary’s position. The adjusted gross income was not enough, thus, we attached the tax return schedule that showed the net current assets of the Petitioner, which was over the minimum requirement. We included the job offer letter, employment verification letters from our client’s previous employers, and other necessary supporting documents. The I-140 Petition was filed on December 5, 2011 via premium processing. On December 15, 2011, in only ten days, the I-140 EB2 for our Korean client was approved.

Once his I-140 was approved, our office filed his I-485 adjustment of status application along with supporting documents on January 30, 2012. His wife’s I-485 was filed simultaneously as a derivative applicant of our client’s adjustment of status application. Everything went smoothly and the receipt notices, fingerprint appointment, and work permits all came on time.

However, in May 2012, the USCIS Nebraska Service Center issued Request for Evidence (RFE) for our client and his wife’s I-485 applications.  In the RFE letter, the USCIS wanted them to submit a copy of their marriage certificate.

They participated in a marriage ceremony in Connecticut in 2004, but they did not record their marriage in Connecticut.  Rather, they only recorded their marriage at a local South Korean Government office.  Nevertheless, they have been “married” under Korean law since 2004, and our client’s wife applied for O-3 visas since our client got his O-1 status, with all these relevant facts on hand, and our client’s wife has been granted O-3 extensions too.

In our Response to the RFE, our office argued that their marriage is valid and should be recognized.  This case was transferred to the local USCIS office in Cleveland, Ohio and they appeared at the interview for the adjustment of status interview with Attorney Sung Hee (Glen) Yu from our office on September 4, 2012.

The interview went well, however, the USCIS office denied our client’s wife’s adjustment of status application on September 28, 2012 based on the fact that our client and his wife failed to establish that she married him in a marriage ceremony that was legal in the place where it was conducted.  As a result, the USCIS denial decision stated that she has failed to establish that her marriage to our client is valid for “U.S. immigration purposes.”

Once our client’s wife’s adjustment application was denied, we immediately withdrew our client’s adjustment application as well.  The primary reason for withdrawal was the fact that if his adjustment application is approved, then his wife cannot adjust her status as a derivative applicant. Then, our client would needs to file the I-130 petition for his wife which will delay her adjustment of status for three years.

Since the USCIS decided that our client’s marriage to his wife is not valid for U.S. immigration purposes (due to the immigration requirement that they both be present for the marriage to be valid, even though in South Korea this was not a requirement), our client and his wife had another ceremony and registered their marriage in Ohio to make it valid for “U.S. Immigration Purposes.” They had their marriage ceremony and it was registered in the state of Ohio in October 2012.

With this marriage certificate, our office re-filed our client and his wife’s I-485 adjustment of status application on November 1, 2012. On top of their I-485 applications, our office included an extensive brief in support to explain the nature of this case and its complicated procedural history. Everything went smoothly and the receipt notices, fingerprint appointment, and work permits all came on time.

Eventually, on January 28, 2013, our client and his wife’s I-485 applications were approved by the USCIS Nebraska Service Center.  There were no more RFEs and no interviews. Our client came to the United States in 2002 and has remained in the United States with O-1 visa/extensions. He had a previous I-140 denial under the EB-11 category, and had to withdraw his I-485 application due to the aforementioned marriage issue.  Nevertheless, he and his wife are now finally permanent residents.


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