CASE: Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status
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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