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Post image for J-1 Waiver Through Exceptional Hardship Approved for Filipina Client in Seattle Washington

CASE: J-1 Waiver of the Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement, Exceptional Hardship

NATIONALITY:  Filipina

LOCATION: Seattle, WA

Our client came from the Philippines on a J-1 visa in 2008.  She got her J-1 status as a recipient of the Fulbright Scholarship in the United States and her J-1 status made her subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement. Later, she changed her status from J-1 to F-1 and maintained her non-immigrant visa status. In 2012, she married her U.S. citizen husband. She would like to file her adjustment of status application along with her husband’s I-130 petition for her. However, due to her two-year foreign residency requirement, she has to get the waiver or fulfill the requirement before she files the adjustment of status application.  

Unlike our other J-1 clients, our client could not pursue her waiver under No Objection Statement or Interest Government Agency (IGA). Our client also received government funding (Fulbright Scholarship) for her research programs which made her case tougher for the No Objection Statement or IGA waiver route. Our client, though, would like to pursue her J-1 waiver based on exceptional hardship standard. In fact, our client’s U.S. citizen husband is experiencing exceptional medical hardships.

According to 8 C.F.R. Section 212.7(c)(5), “an alien who is subject to the foreign residence requirement and who believes that compliance therewith would impose exceptional hardship upon her spouse or child who is a citizen of the United States… may apply for a waiver on Form I-612.”

Some of the factors in analyzing exceptional hardship are as follows: age of the subject, family ties in the U.S. and abroad, length and residency in the U.S., health / medical conditions, conditions in the country of removal – economic and political, financial status – business and occupation, position in / ties to the community. Matter of Anderson, 16 I&N Dec. 596 (BIA 1978).

After she retained our firm, we prepared and filed a waiver request through an exceptional hardship basis. On September 10, 2015 the J-1 Waiver (Form DS-3035) Application was filed to the Department of State.  Thereafter, our office prepared affidavit of our client, extensive brief in support for our client’s J-1 waiver application, and other supporting documents. Our client provided us with extensive medical documents and doctor’s reports for her U.S. citizen husband’s medical conditions.  On September 24, 2015, our office filed I-612 application to the USCIS and asked for them to issue and recommends this waiver based on the fact that our client’s husband would experience exceptional hardship if our client needs to go back to the Philippines for two years.

Eventually, the USCIS approved her I-612 waiver on December 15, 2016. Now that our client’s two-year foreign residency requirement is waived, she can file her adjustment of status application along with her husband’s I-130 petition.  

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Post image for 245i Adjustment of Status Approval for Filipino Client in Washington

CASE: Employment Based Adjustment of Status (Derivative Applicant) / 245(i)

CLIENT: Filipino

LOCATION: Washington

Our Filipino client came to the U.S. in April 1993 on a valid B-2 visitor’s visa when he was a minor. He has remained in the United States since then. In April 2001, his U.S. citizen brother filed an I-130 petition for him. Thereafter, he married his current wife in April 2011. His wife got an approved EB-2 I-140 petition and she later filed her I-485 adjustment of status.

Our client contacted us around May 2015 for consultation and sought legal assistance for his adjustment of status application. He was not sure whether he could be a derivative applicant of the adjustment of status based on his wife’s I-140 approval since he overstayed his status. Nonetheless, after consultation, we determined that he is eligible for adjustment of status under INA 245(i). Our client retained us on May 26, 2015.

Section 245(i) of the INA allows certain foreign nationals to become permanent residents of the United States despite entering without inspection (EWI) or overstaying (if beneficiary of petitions filed not by an immediate relative). Immigrants are barred from adjusting their status if they entered the United States without first being inspected and admitted by a Customs and Border Patrol officer and if they have either failed to maintain lawful status or been unlawfully employed in the country, with certain exceptions. Section 245(i) was first added to law in 1994 to allow certain people who otherwise would not be eligible to adjust their status to be able to do so upon payment of a $1,000 fine.

Four years later, on January 14, 1998, Congress phased Section 245(i) out of law. Immigrants and their families who had already begun the process of changing their status under Section 245(i) by January 14, 1998 were grandfathered into the section’s benefits. However, this left thousands of otherwise qualified persons who had not begun the process unable to adjust status in the United States. They could not return to their countries to begin the legal process of obtaining their permanent residency in the United States also without being subject to either a three- or a 10-year bar upon returning to the United States.

On December 21, 2000, Congress extended the qualifying date for Section 245(i) benefits to April 30, 2001. This law allowed immigrants who had labor certifications or visa petitions filed on their behalf between 1998 and April 30, 2001, to qualify for adjustment of status. Those who were beneficiaries of petitions filed prior to January 14, 1998 could still adjust despite an EWI record, and those people do not have to meet the December 2000 physical presence requirement.

As mentioned above, our client’s U.S. citizen brother filed an I-130 petition for him back in April 2001. Therefore, he was a beneficiary of an immigrant petition filed after January 15, 1998 and before April 30, 2001 and that I-130 petition was approvable when it was filed. Moreover, he was physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000.

On July 2, 2015, our office filed his I-485 adjustment of status application under 245(i).  Everything went smoothly and the receipt notices and fingerprint appointment all came on time.  Eventually, on October 19, 2015, without any requests for evidence, our client’s I-485 adjustment of status application was approved.

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Post image for Marriage Based Petition and Adjustment of Status Green Card Approval for Filipina Client in Seattle Washington

CASE: Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status.

NATIONALITY:Filipina

LOCATION: Seattle, Washington

Our client is from the Philippines who came to the U.S. on a J-1 Visa in October 2011.  Upon completion of her J-1 program, she remained in the United States and overstayed.  She was subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement. Later, she got married to her U.S. citizen husband.

She was eligible to get a green card through her marriage to a U.S. citizen; however, before we can file her I-130/I-485 application simultaneously, she had to get a waiver of her two-year foreign residency requirement.

As a previous success story explained, our office worked on our client’s J-1 waiver.  Eventually, the Philippine Embassy issued a No Objection Statement for our client, and sent this letter to the State Department’s Waiver Review Division.  On December 6, 2012, the Waiver Review Division issued a favorable recommendation based on the No Objection statement. The CIS has receipted the fee and issued an I-612 approval notice for our client’s waiver on December 28, 2012.

Later on, our client retained us for her adjustment of status application. Our firm prepared and filed the I-130 petition and I-485 adjustment of status application on March 5, 2014.  Everything went smoothly and the receipt notices, fingerprint appointment, and work permits all came on time.  Prior to the interview, we thoroughly prepared our clients through conference calls.  On August 29, 2014, our client was interviewed at the Yakima WA USCIS office.  On September 2, 2014, her green card application was approved.

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Post image for J2 (Over 21 Yrs Old) Waiver of Two Year Foreign Residency Requirement, Interested Government Agency Approval, for Chinese Client in Seattle, Washington

CASE: J2 Waiver of Two-Year Foreign Residency Requirement / Over 21-year-old dependent child

NATIONALITY: Chinese

LOCATION: Seattle, WA

Our client was a citizen of China (now, he is a naturalized Canadian Citizen) who came to the U.S. on a J-2 Visa in 1997.  He came with his father who came on a J-1 Visa for his research program in the United States. Both were subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement, meaning they had to go back to their home country for two-years before they can apply for permanent residency or some non-immigrant visa such as the H, L, and O visas.

After our client came to the United States, he finished high-school as a J-2 visa holder. In 2000, he went to Canada and stayed there as a Canadian Permanent Resident. Later, he pursued his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Canada and became a naturalized Canadian Citizen. In 2007, he came back to the U.S. as a TN visa holder to work for Microsoft in Seattle, Washington.  Currently, he is working for Microsoft on a TN visa, but he would like to apply for a J-2 waiver so that he would not have any problems for his future change of status in the United States when his employer files an I-129 petition for him this year.

Although J-2 dependents cannot independently apply for a waiver, in cases where a J-2 child reaches 21, the Waiver Review Division may consider requests for waivers on behalf of the J-2 dependent.  The Department of State’s policy allows for that process in instances where the J-2 dependent obtains a divorce form the J-1 principal, the J-1 principal dies, or in cases where the J-2 dependent turns 21, which is our client’s case. Our client turned 21 in June 2002.

Our firm was retained to do his J-2 waiver on December 4, 2013. On December 19, 2013, the J-2 Waiver application (Form DS-3035 and supporting documents) was filed to the Department of State. We also sent a request to the DOS to be an interested government agency and recommend this waiver based on the fact that our client reached the age of 21 and was not a dependent of a J-1 visa holder anymore.  Eventually, on February 3, 2014 the DOS recommended to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that our client be granted a waiver.  On February 7, 2014, the USCIS issued an I-612 approval notice for our client’s waiver request.

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Post image for Immigrant Visa Approval for Seattle Filipina Client’s Daughter in the Philippines

CASE: I-130 and Consular Processing
CLIENT: US Citizen Petitioner; Filipina Beneficiary
LOCATION: Petitioner: Seattle, WA; Beneficiary: Manila, Philippines

Our clients are a U.S. citizen husband and his Filipina wife in Seattle, Washington. This success story pertains to the Filipina’s daughter in the Philippines. They haven’t seen each other in years.

They contacted our office initially for a J-1 waiver and eventual green card in December 2010. As our previous success stories showed, she got a J-1 waiver and green card. (Success Story on Waiver, Success Story on Green Card)

Our client has a daughter from her previous marriage in the Philippines. Thus, after she got her green card, her husband decided to petition for his step-daughter for an immigrant visa.

They contacted our office again in February 2012 and retained our office to help bring his step-daughter to the States. It is important to note that an alien cannot adjust his or her status (get a green card) outside the U.S. by filing an I-130 and I-485 simultaneously. Since the client’s step-daughter was not in the United States, our office filed the I-130 to the USCIS first on March 1, 2012.

After the I-130 was filed, everything went smoothly and the receipt notices came on time. The I-130 Petition was approved by the USCIS on June 25, 2012.

After the I-130 approval, we prepared and filed the immigrant visa packets to the National Visa Center on September 7, 2012, who in turn forwarded the client’s materials to the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. An interview notice was set for the client’s step-daughter.

On November 9, 2012, the beneficiary went to her interview in Manila. On the same day, the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines approved and issued her immigrant visa.

With the approved Immigrant visa, our client’s step-daughter can come to the United States immediately, and she will eventually get her green card.

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CASE: Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status
CLIENT: Indian
LOCATION: Washington, D.C.

Our client came to the United States in May 2008 with an F-1 Student visa from India.  He married a U.S. Citizen in December 2011 and retained our office on December 12, 2011 for his adjustment of status application.  Our firm prepared and filed the I-130 Petition and Adjustment of Status Application on February 1, 2012.  Everything went smoothly and the receipt notices, fingerprint appointment, and work permits all came on time. Prior to the interview, we thoroughly prepared our clients through conference calls. On May 17, 2012, our client was interviewed at the Fairfax, VA USCIS office.  On the same day, his green card application was approved.

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CASE: Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status
CLIENT: Indian
LOCATION: Seattle, WA

Our client came to the United States in 2011 with an L-1 intra-transferee visa from India.  He is currently working as a lead engineer for his employer in Seattle, WA.  He married a U.S. Citizen wife in 2011 and retained our office on October 19, 2011 for his adjustment of status application.  Our firm prepared and filed the I-130 Petition and I-485 Adjustment of Status Application on October 27, 2011.  Everything went smoothly and the receipt notices, fingerprint appointment, and work permit all came on time.  Prior to the interview, we thoroughly prepared our clients through conference calls.  On January 12, 2012, our client was interviewed at the Seattle, Washington USCIS.  The day after the interview, her green card application was approved.

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CASE: Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status
CLIENT: Albanian
LOCATION: Chicago / Washington DC
ISSUES: J-1 2-Year Foreign Residency Requirement

Our client came to the United States in February 2001 with a J-1 visa. He was only 16 years old at that time. He was on an exchange visitor program and lived with his host parents in New Hampshire. As he went to college, he was able to switch to an F-1 visa. He moved to Chicago and later on met her future wife while in college. They got married in December 2009.

He had spoken to several lawyers to pursue adjustment of status, but was turned back to due to the tough policy of Albania when it came to no objection statements. Upon consulting with us, we told him we can try obtaining the no objection statement, and in case that does not work, go for the interested government agency route. He retained our firm on January 2010.

We initially filed the waiver through the no objection statement. We were in contact with the Albanian Embassy in DC. The officer claimed that they’re policy in the Embassy was to not issue no objection statements, and that the only way was through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Albania. The officer stated that they have not issued no objection statements since 2006.

We thus tried the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Albania. After several months waiting for their decision, they too stated that they do not issue no objection statements.

And so we filed another waiver, requesting the Department of State to be an interested government agency. We explained in detail our client’s history, the fact that he came here when he was only 16, and that he was able to change status to F-1 in April 2002. We pointed out that the change of status was approved despite his submission of his I-94 and visa page copy which both indicated that he was subject to the 2-year foreign residency requirement. We explained that it would be unfair to have the couple be separated for something that was not his fault. If he did not waive his 2-year requirement and the change of status was still approved, he should not be penalized later on now that he is married to his spouse.

On February 2011, the Department of State issued a finding that the applicant was not subject to the two-year foreign residency requirement (despite the IAP-66 and Visa indicating he was) and that it was not necessary to process a waiver for his case anymore.

After filing the applications and accompanying our client to their interview in Chicago for the I-130 (Petition) and I-485 (Green Card Application), the CIS finally approved his green card on August 13, 2011. He had to wait a few more months because they moved to Washington D.C., but finally they got it.

10 years since our client entered the U.S. on a J-1 Visa with a 2-year foreign residency requirement as a 16-year old exchange student, after having to go through the tough policy by the Albanian Embassy regarding their non-issuance of no objection statements, our client finally has his green card. He had been waiting to go back home to visit his family. He had been telling us that his mom was sick and he wanted to visit her. But prior to the green card issuance, even if an advance parole travel document, we could not let him leave as he might be subject to a bar and not be able to come back. After 10 years of not being able to visit his family, he finally is able to come back.

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CASE: I-751 / Waiver of the Joint Waiver Requirement

APPLICANT : Korean

LOCATION: Virginia

ISSUE: I-751 Application Pending Divorce Proceedings

We initially met our client in our Washington DC office when she scheduled a consultation with our office. She is from Korea who came to the United States in the 90s, and has maintained her F-1 status throughout until she married a U.S. citizen in 2006. Through her marriage with a U.S. citizen spouse, she obtained a 2-year conditional green card in May of 2008.  Therefore, her conditional residency was scheduled to terminate in May 2010.  To comply with the immigration requirements, our client and her husband filed an I-751 Joint Petition to Remove Conditions in March 2010.

Unfortunately, their marriage ended in September 2010.  Moreover, our client received the Request for Evidence immediately after her husband initiated divorce proceedings. Eventually, our client contacted our office and retained us to assist her response to her Request for Evidence (RFE).

According to an April 9, 2009 USCIS Memorandum by Director Neufeld, “USCIS may not deny a petition solely because the spouses are separated and/or have initiated divorce or annulment proceedings…  If a Service Center ISO encounters an I-751 petition jointly filed by co-petitioners who are still married but are in divorce proceedings, the ISO issues the Conditional Permanent Resident (CPR) a Request for Evidence with an 87-day response period.  In the RFE, the ISO specifically asks the CPR to provide a copy of the final divorce decree along with a request to have the joint filing petition treated as a waiver petition.  This affords the CPR an opportunity to provide evidence that the proceedings have been finalized and it affords the CPR an opportunity to request a waiver to the joint filing without refilling.”

Based on this Memorandum and with various supporting documents (over 20 exhibits and an affidavit over 5 pages) to demonstrate their bona fide marriage, on October 15, 2010, our office promptly filed I-751 Response to RFE and Request to convert joint filing to I-751 with waiver of the joint waiver requirement pursuant to the Neufeld April 3, 2009 Memorandum for I-751 Applications pending divorce proceedings.

On January 6, 2010, USCIS approved our request for the removal of conditions on her permanent resident status without even an interview. Now, she has her ten-year green card.

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