The quickest way to a green card is harder than you think orange county lawyer
Article in the Orange County Lawyer Magazine, discussing conditional green cards and options for immigrants who are separated from or divorcing their spouse.
1. The QuickestWayI to a GreenCard is Nard,--ThanYouMarrying a U.S. citizen has tradi-tionally been the quickestroute to U.S.permanent residency (mostcommonlyreferred to as having a "green card).Even now, despitethe crackdownon sham mar-riagesentered intoin the 1980sandearly 19905,immigration attorneys receive calls to this dayfrom people openly admitting they married toobtain a green card and money exchangedhands as if its common practice and easy to getaround.Thepenaltiesformarriagefraud,if aper-son is caught,aresteep,includinga possiblefive-year jail Sentence, a $250,000fine and, perhapsthe worst consequencefor an immigrant, a life-time bar to ever receiving a family or marriage-based immigrantvisa thatcouldotherwiselead toa greencard. (8USC 31325(c),IrnrnigrahonandNationality Act 275(c); 18 USC $9371, 1001, ,1546.) For many, though, the benefits of this 1arrangementstilloutweigh the risk Workingille-gally as a bar to receiving a green card does notapplywhen an immigrantismarried toa U.S.cit-izen spouse sponsoring him or her for a greencad (INA 245(c).) Overstaying a visa and thenresidingillegallyin theU.S.without lawfulimrni-@on status is forgiven when an immigrant ismarriedtoa US,citizenspousesponsoringhim orher for a green card. (INA 9212(a)(6)(A).)In 1986,Congresspassed the ImmigrationMarriage Fraud Amendments (IMFA),based onthepremisethatthesurestwaytocounteractanddetect fraudulentmarriagesentered into for thesolebenefit of obtaininga greencardwas topri-marily test the longevity of the relationship.(Immigration Marriage Fraud AmendmentsAct 1,,of 1986 (Pub. L. 99-639, 100 Stat. 3533.) Thislaw, which amended the Immigration and 1 1Nationality Act, established the "conditional"green card. Now, consuls abroad and U.S.Citizenship and Immigration Services ("CIS"),formerly known as INS inside the U.S., issue"green cards for only two years. These condi-18 ORANGE COUNT1 UdxWYER 2. tional green cards are issued to an immigrantwhose marriageto a U.S. citizen is lessthan twoyears old at the time the green card case isapproved. This conditional status is usuallygranted at the green card interview in front ofthespousesorsubsequently,if a decisioncannotbe made at the interviewdueto apendingback-groundcheck or other issuewith thefile.This "conditional green card" will expiretwo years after the initial permanent residencystatuswas approved if, in most cases, thecouplecannotprovethat they arestill livingtogether ashusband and wife at the end of that two-yearperiod. The immigrant has a 90-day windowimmediatelyprior to the permanent residencysexpirationto filewith theirspouseto removetheconditional basis of residence. If this window is,missed, permanent residency expires, will bedficidy terminated,and the immigrantspousewill be subjectto deportation.Usually, the immigrant spouses goal is tokeep their green card by timelyfiling to removethecondition and make their residency perma-nent. In rarecases,immigrantspousesjust leavethe U.S. after their green cardexpires,abandon-ing their residency.The immigrantwill have tostart all overas a temporary, nonimmigrantvisa1holder,in mostcircumstances,and apply for re-entry into the U.S. at a later point. This may bemore difficult to accomplish, requiring theimmigrantspouseto convincea consularofficerandportof entry officerthat, although shewasa formerlawfulpermanentresident and lived inthe U.S., she has no current intent to "moveback" to theU.S. by tryingto qualifyfor,orenterthe U.S.with, a temporaryvisa.A "permanent" green card is valid for tenyears,iseasilyrenewable and,once issued, is nolongeraffectedby thesplitof thepartiesthroughdivorce or death of the petitioning U.S. citizenspouse. Unconditional lawful permanent resi-dencyisnot U.S,citizenshipbut itdoesallowtheimmigranttolivein the U.S.fortherestof hisorher lifeunless the card is abandonedby movingoutside of the U.S. or the immigrantisdeportedfor,in most situations,criminalacts.Oops. ForgottoPile!A common problem occurs when theimmigrant and/or their spouseforget about theexpiration of the green card and lawful perma-nent residencyis terminated.With an expired card, the immigrant willhaveno legalproof fortheiremployerthatsheorhe still has the legal right to work The immi-grantwill also have no proof that he or shehasa rightto re-enter the U.S. if the immigranttrav-els abroad with an expired green card. Thisproblem trickles down into every facet of theimmigrants life on paper including making itimpossible to renew a drivers license, profes-sional license, and to obtain credit. This prob-lem also places the immigrant in a vulnerablepositionwith a controllingorabusivespouse.Animmigrant without legal status loses leverageand position in custody and alimony negotia-tions in divorce proceedings. The immigrantspouse,who isoftenworried aboutbeing deport-edbecausetheotherspousewill not cooperateinfiling the joint petition, is o h n forced to sign"contracts" with their spouse. Commonly,through such contracts, the immigrant spouse,who may not know of the waiver option as analternativeto the joint petition, will sign over ajointly owned auto and an existing joint housedeed to the sole property of the U.S. citiinspouse,to achievetheir spouses compliance..The statute allows an immigrant to file torelease the condition on their green card byeither joint petition orwaiver even if the immi-grant files "late," which is after the 90-day win-Benefitsof the UC lrvine ExtensionParalegal Program:W ABA-approvedW Opportunity to become part of a legal servicesdelivery teamOutstandingreputationfor practice-basededucationW Expert instructors representinglaw firms,corporations,and public sector agenciesW Internships& job postingsavailableMake a Difference. Become a Paralegal. 3. . dow before the two-year conditional residencyexpires.The joint petition or waiver may be filedevenwhenCIShas alreadyaffirmativelyterminat-ed the immigrants permanent residency. Animmigrantmusthave "goodcause" forfilinglate,however. "Good cause" is a term that is undefinedin thestatuteorcaselaw. (8CFR 216.4(a)(6).)Inpractice, the shorter the time between the expira-tion of the green card and the filingof thewaiveror joint petition, the more likely CIS will excusethe late filing.Documentingthe reasons that ledto the late filing (e,g,,familyemergency,medicalcrisis, a move to a new city, upheaval at work)greatly improvesthe chances tdat CISwill acceptthe case. The petition must, however, be filedbefore the Immigration Court assumes jurisdic-tion over the immigrant, which occurswhen theclientisservedwith a "Notice to Appear" ("NTA")before an immigration judge for the comrnence-ment of removal p d n g s (2 e.,deportation).When this will happen remains a gamble for theimmigrantwho never knowswhen an NTAwillbeissued;thiseventcan occur assoon as threetosixmonthsafterthecards expiration,andsometimesnot at all.Oncethe CISsendsanoticetotheimmigrantthat hisorherpetitionhas been received (calleda"receiptnotice"), the immigrantsunlawfulstatussincethedatehisor her greencardexpiredwillbebackdated to the date of expiration,returning theimmigrant to lawful immigrant status. And thisbackdating occurs even if the petition was filedlate. Further, the receipt notice itself provides theimmigrantwithproof that hisorher green cardisstill valid for another year or until the case isdecided, whichever comes first. If the case is stillnot hided within a year, the green card will beextendedfor anotheryear andwill continue to beextended annually until the case is decided.Currently,the averageprocessing time for the LmAngela CIS Field Office,whichoverseesthe SantaAna sub-office,to issue a decision in a joint peti-tion or waiver case ranges from one to eightmonths.WhentheMarriageMhApartEven if the couple is experimentingwith atrial separationbutneither has filedfordivorce,itmay bepossibletocontinuewith the joint petitionif there is hope for reconciliation. In this situa-tion, it is much more likely that the couple willhave to interview again with CIS to verii thebow& natureof the relationship,especially ifseparation happened withii the first six monthsJULY 2007after the immigrants initial green card wasapproved. The more common occurrenceimmigration attorneys face, especially giventhe divorce rate in thisstate,is that the couplehas no intent to reconcile and usually one ofthespouseshas alreadyfiledfor divorce.Marriages that are on the rocks as thetwo-yearexpirationdateapproachescan great-ly interferewith the immigrants desire to keeptheir permanent residency. Even ifa marriagewas initiallyenteredintofor "love," but isnowleading to divorce due to domestic violence,adultery, or other "irreconcilable differences"near the t i e the immigrants green card isaboutto expire, a joint petition may not be fea-sibleby the time the greencardexpires.In mostcases, requiring the cooperation of the petition-ing U.S. citizen to sign and file to have the con-ditionremovedcreatesapower-strugglebetweena feudingcouple and,worse, gives a potentiallyor alreadyabusiveU.S.citizenspouseevenmorepower and leverageover the immigrant.There are limited exceptions available toan immigrantspousewhen his or her U.S. citi-zen spousewill not cooperate in filing to havethe conditionremoved from the greencard. If a 4. coupleseparatesordivorcesat anytime afterthegreen card is first issued, it is unlikely that theoriginally sponsoring U.S. citizen, or "lawfulpermanent resident," spouse will cooperate inhelping the immigrantspousefor a number ofreasons. If this happens, it may be possible forthe immigrantspouseto applyto have the con-dition removedfrom his or her own green cardby applying for a "waiver." The waiver allowstheimmigrantto applyto removetheconditionon his or her green card without the assistance,and sometimeseven without the knowledge, oftheir U.S. citizen spouse. The other benefit,applicable to each of the three grounds for awaiver, isthat thewaivermay be filedbeforethe90day expiration of the immigrants greencard and, in some circumstances, even afterp n m m ~ e n C y n a s t e r r n i n i f o r ~ Fto filebeforeexpiration. (Matterof Stowers,22I & N Dec. 605 (BIA 1999)(noting that,althoughthe statute only specificallymentionsthat the extreme cruelty waiver may be filedbeforeor afterthe90-daywindow,itislogicaltoconcludethat Congressintendedto allowany ofthe waivers to be filed at any time, assumingjoint filingis not possible or feasible).)There are three different grounds to applyfor a waiver:(1) goodfaith madgee;(2) atreme bar&@;(3) atreme mlty.2% GoodPaitb M a d g e WaiverThe good faith marriage waiver requiresthat the immigrants marriage is over, i.e., thata finaldivorcedecreehas been issuedprior to fil-ing the case. (W. Yates, Acting Assoc. Dir.Operations, "Filing a Waiver of theJoint FilingRequirement Prior to the Final Termination ofthe Marriage," INS Mem. HQADN70123.12 (Apr.10,2003).)The immigrant must alsoprove thatthe marriagewas enteredinto in goodfaith andwas terminated through no fault of the immi-grant. (INA 216(c) (4) (B).)ThisTaiE ~GitesGGngissIlefF6immigrant trylng to prove thebona&!e natureof the relationship, especially in states such asCaliforniawith minimum waitingperiods of sixmonths before a final divorce decree may beissued. If the immigrant does not want to gam-blewith thepossibilityof facingdeportationandfalling out of status until his or her divorcebecomes final, the immigrant will file thedivorce early to ensure that the final decree isEmployment D ~ s ~ u K ~Mediation CenterFlat Fee/Fd day mediationEvaluation of strengths,w&nesses and casevalue txasedupon extensivetrial =den=.No additional charge regardless of time expendedor locale.-cAfIxq+mmmmm:d-i h%%Ziient,coiltract,hour & wage, dam &s, 17200,12340,etc. .Our new office in historic SanJmn Capistrvlo(adjacentto rail transportation) or your facility* Callto book a semion or to receive crurbrochurewith rates and c/xAsk to be added to ow d i n nand-e-mail list.ROBERTD. COVIELLO( )(949)429-7500- 2 email@example.com- For your em~loyment~dispuissued prior to the permanent residencys twoyearexpiration.Theproblem this creates is thatit necessarily shortens the amount of time thatthe couple remains married or even livingtogether on paper after the green cards initialissuance, thereby creating the appearance of ashammarriagebecauseof itsshortduration.Tocounteract the effect of the limited duration ofthe marriage,the immigrantwill likely have toprove - through numerous joint accounts thatremained active and used by both spousesdur-ingtheperiodfollowingtheinitial grantof law-ful permanent residency to the date of separa-tion-thatthemarriagewasindeed realandnotenteredintoforthe solebenefitof a green card..Although the seminal authority in marriage-based cases MatCerof McKee, indicatestWhe1 -standard of review in any marriage case iswhether themarriagewasvalidatits imption,CIS, in practice,chooses to focus solely on evi-dence showing a good faith marriage durilagthe conditional two-year period. (Matter ofMcKee, 17 I & N Dec. 332 (BIA 1990)(holdingthat thefocusshouldnot be onwhether there isa presently subsisting "viable" marriage, butratherwhetherthe marriagewasenteredintoforthe primary purpose of circumventing theimmigrationlawsin the firstplace).)TheExtreme Ctrrelty WaiverThe extreme cruelty waiver, added whenIMFA was amended by the Immigration Act of1990,also requires that the immigrant demon-strate that slhe entered the marriage in goodfaith but was battered or otherwise subjected toextremecrueltyby their spouseduringthe mar-riage. (Pub. L. No. 101-649, 104 Stat. 4978(IMMACT90), now reflected in INA+zrg(Mw.mmettv-the regulationsmay include:. . . being the victim of any act orthreatened act of violence, includingany forceful detention, which resultsor threatens to result in physical ormental injury. Psychological or sexu-al abuse or exploitation, includingrape, molestation,incest (ifthevictimis a minor) or forced prostitutionshall be considered acts of violence.(8 CFR 216.5(e) (3)(i).)Although not mentionedspecificallyin thestatute or regulations, extreme cruelty alsoincludesfinancialabuse,.If one incidentof vio-lence is severe enough, therewill be no need toO R A N G E C O U N T Y LAWYER 5. establisha pattern of abuse. In most cases, how-ever, there is not one moment of abuse thatstands out in the relationship. Consequently,CIS has adopted a "totality of the circum-stances" approach to reviewing these cases.Even periodsof contrition by the abusivespousemay count towards establishing abuse if theabused immigrant is being influencedpsycho-logicallyand is unavoidablycaught in the cycleof violence. (Hernanakzv.AshcroJ, 245 E3d834 (gth Cir. 2003)(overturning the Board ofImmigrationAppeals decision in a suspensionof deportation case and holding that extrememental cruelty existed during the contritionperiod of the abusecycle).)The extreme cruelty waiver applies both towomen and men. The immigrant may offer"any credibleevidence" toprove theircase. (INA216(c)(4); see ah0 Aleinikoff, Exec. Assoc.Commr, Office of Programs, "Implementationof Crime Bill Self-petitioning for Abused orBattered Spousesor Children of U.S. Citizens orLawful Permanent Residents", INS Mem. HQ204-P (Apr. 16,1996).) Such evidence mayinclude affidavitsof witnesses,both indirect anddirect,police and medicalrecords,psychologicalevaluations, shelter letters, and restrainingorders. Section 40702 of the Violence AgainstWomen ~ c tof 1994 amends section 216 of theImmigration & Nationality Act to prohibit CISfromrequiringanyspecificformof evidence,suchas the recommendation of a mental health pro-fessional, to support a conditional green cardwaiver based on abuse or extreme cruelty. And,although the immigrant still has to demonstratethat she entered into the marriage in good faithby providing copies of joint documents and evi-dence of a shared life together, the "any credibleevidence" standard affords the immigrant theopportunity to explain why certain joint docu-ments are inaccessible or why many jointaccounts never existed in the first place given thecontrollingnature of the relationship.These are usually very emotional cases.Oftentheimmigrant hasneversoughtcounselingbefore and will rely on the attorney to help themcome to terms with, and start recognizing,abuse.The attorney is possibly in the best position toencouragethe immigrant to seek counseling andphysical safety, two priorities the immigrant mayhave dismissedfor fear of leaving an abusivesitu-ation due to potential loss of their green card.Despite the emotional nature of these cases andthe time involved, there are distinct advantagestoI LAST MINUTE TRIAL SPECIALIST Ir iLAWOFFICEOFSTEVEYOUNG949.788.3999ALL TRIAL WORKiALL AREAS OF LAWMore than 125jury trialsMultiple multi-milliondollar verdicts...................e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org address: www.juryattomey.comfilingunder thiswaiverground.Forone,a finaldivorce decree is not required. The immigrantdoes not even have to be separated from theirspouse. Second, the petition process is com-pletelyconfidential. If filed on this ground,CISis forbiddento disclosetheexistenceof thiscaseto anyone outside of the agency, including theimmigrants spouse. 8 CFR 216.5(e)(3)(viii)providesforconfidentialityof conditional greencard waivers based on the extreme crueltyground. CIS may not release any informationabout the filingwithout the written consent ofthe immigrant or by court order unless it isbeing released to the immigrant or theDepartmentofJustice or other lawenforcementofficials.Because the batterer or abusivespousewill not learn, from any CIS source, about theexistence of the case, the immigrant spousedoes not have to worry about a controllingandunpredictable spouse sabotaging the waiverinterview if one is scheduled. This waiveraffords the immigrant the opportunity to takeback control over their own immigration case,free from the whims, anger, and retaliation oftheir spouse.TZwExtreme Hardskip WaiverThe extreme hardship waiver is the onlyone that does not require the immigrant toprove that she entered into a good faith mar-riage. (IN& Pub. L. No. 82-414, 66 Stat. 163(codified asamendedat7 USC $$1101etseq.),$216(c)(4)(A);but see Velasquezv. LNS,876F.Supp 1071 (D. Minn. 1995) (upholding anINS interpretation of $216 that an alien whoengagesin a sham marriageis ineligiblefor anextreme hardship waiver notwithstanding thealienscurrent b mfiakmarriage).)While, atfirst glance, it may seem this type of waiver isthe easiest to obtain - especially if the immi-grant has little documentation to support theexistence of a born $& marriage - theextremehardshipwaiveris generally thought tobe the most difficulttypeto get approved.The immigrant must demonstrate thatslhe would suffer extreme hardship if deportedto their homecountry. The hardshipmust arisefrom developments in the immigrants life orcountrys political or economicconditions thatarose during the conditionalperiod only. (INA$214(c)(4)(A).) If the immigrant is a womanrocketscientistfrom Iran,a countrywhich doesnot have aspaceprogram but does have a doc-Continuedonpage 30O R A N G E COUNTY LAWYER 6. EXPERT WITNESSand LAWYERS ADVOCATESTATE BAR DEFENSEPHILLIPFELDMANB.S., M.B.A., J.D., AS?Fellow American Board ofProfessionalLiability AttorneysCertifiedSpecialistLegal & Medical Malpractice(Californiafe AmericanBar Associations)Former Judge Pro TernFormer State Bar ProsecutorFee Arbitrator30 yearsLitigator/Expert38 yearsMalp1Ethic.sAuthorwww.legalmalpracticeexperts.comE d : legmalpexpe&walcomStateBarDefense@wLcom(310) LEG-MALP (534-6257)IALSO FEE DISPUTES,PREVENTATIVELAW & RISKMANAGEMENTCONSULTATIONSumentededucationaland culturalbias againstwomen,perhaps this is an easier case to prove.Butwhen the immigrantcomesfrom acountrygenerallyperceivedtobe politicallyinsyncwiththe U.S., such as theUnited Kingdom,Canada,Mexico, or the Philippines,it becomes a muchmore difficult case to prove. The definition ofwhat constitutesextreme hardship is left unde-finedin thestatuteandisconstantlyevolvinginthe realm of case law which varies dependingon the applicable circuit. Some of the factorsappliedby CISinclude:Theeconomicandpoliticalconditionsof the1 immigrants home country;The immigrantsoccupationandworkskills;His or her immigrationhistory;Theimmigrantsposition in the community;Whether the immigrant is of special assis-tance to the U.S. or their community;The ageof the immigrant;Theageandnumberof theimmigrantschil-dren and their ability to speak the native lan-guage andadjustto life in anothercountry;ConfidenceAtTheCourthouse.IBusiness litigation is increasinglycomplex. That why we believe valuationissuesmust be addressedwith the same meticulouscareas legal issues. Analysis must be clear. Opinionsmust be HIGGINSdefensible. Expert testimony must be thorough and W C U Sarticulate.HML has extensive trial experienceand canprovide legalcounsel with a powerfulresourceforexperttestimony and litigationsupport.GLLOVETTBUSINESS VALUATIONTheimmigrants inabilityto obtain adequateemployment in theforeign country;How long the immigrant has lived in theForMoreInformationCall213-617-7775U.S.;Or visit us on the web at www.hmlinc.comBUSINESSVALUATION LOSSOF GOODWILL ECONOMIC DAMAGES LOST PROFITSThe irreparable harm to the immigrant thatmay ariseasa resultof disruptionof educationalopportunities;andThe adverse psychological impact of deporta-tion on the immigrant.(SeeMatter ofm&Ldn, 23 I&N Dec.45 (BIA2001); Matter of Pi.kb, 21 I&N Dec. 627 (BIA1996); Matter of Amkrson, 16 I&N Dec. 596(BIA 1978).)Proving extreme hardship can be tricky,comparableto a mini-political asylum case rely-ing on documents like Human Rights Watchpress releases that track the current climate ofpolitical and economicunrest in a clients homecountry. As with asylum cases, the case forextreme hardship can fall apart if the homecountrys conditions improve. Evidence to sup-port a case for extreme hardship may include areport from a licensed psychologist or Maritaland Family Therapist documenting the immi-grants currentmentalstateandtheprognosisfordeterioration and potential long term physicaland mental effects that could be triggered bydeportation.Immigrantsmay also producemed-ical reports, doctors letters, and affidavitsfromfriends,co-workers and even family members todescribethehardshipthe immigrantwill suferifseparatedfrom these relationships.Why would an immigrant opt for anextremehardship waiver, givin the kculty ofproof? Takethecaseof an immigrantwho issep-arated from his or her spouse and is quicklyapproaching the two-year conditional residencyexpiration but does not yet have a final divorcedecree. Filing the extreme hardship waiverallowstheimmigrantto buytime,z.e., to remainin lawfulstatusuntilthedivorceisfinaland thenre-fileunderthe goodfaith marriagegroundif itwill be a stronger case. The case for extremehardship must be legitimate and documentedorelse filing for this waiver will create credibilityissues, impairing the immigrants chances ofreceivinganywaiverapproval. Lastly,thiswaiv-erhasno statutoryrelation tothemarriageitself,so an immigrantwho is not on good termswithhis spouse will not have to worry about thespouses cooperationor input.All Ho e Lost?UnderstandingthePAppea sProcess-.The statute is silent on whether an immi-grantcanapplyformorethanonewaiver groundsimultaneously, but immigrants are urged toapply for as many grounds as are applicableand, I I30 ORANGE COUNTY LAWYER 7. arguable.Adeniedwaiveror joint petition cannotbe technically appealed to CIS, althoughcounselmay fileamotion to reconsiderwithin 3days ofthe decision based on evidenceunavailableat thetime of the case submission. (8 CFR103.5(a)(I)(i).)A motion to mpen may be pos-siblewithin that 30-day periodaswell if counselcanprove thatCISappliedanincorrectlegalstan-dard or relied on inapplicableor overturned c wlaw. (Id.) Appeal of the CIS decision must awaitissuanceof aNotice toAppear More an immigra-tion judge beforewhom themeritsof thecasemaybe re-argued Becauseanimmigrationjudgem qonly review the particular ground or groundsappliedfor, it is in the best interestof the immi-grant to apply for as many f e d l e and support-ablegroundsto preserve thepossibilityforappeal.Cihnship t~wequeucs-Waivervs.JoiatPietitionIn deciding whether to file a joint petitionwith their spouse,or going it aloneby filingfor awaiver, what are the consequencesfor citizenshipeligibility?If the immigrantwho decidesto file ajoint petition received their green card throughmarriageandis stilllivingwith their huband orwife three years after the green card is initially11 FAX (714) 505-6199IIARE YOU PAYINGTOO MUCH FORINSURANCE?BlueMulledInaranwsmoffers a widevariety of plansfor law professionals.Individualmedicalinsuranceavailablefeaturing BlueCrossof CaliforniaandBlueShieldof California. +O(erkPerronallzed qoote examples:SingleAttorney Age 40Highdeductibleplan($4,000 deductible, 10096coveragethereafter in network)$128 per month BlueShield(also qualifiesfor tax deductibleHealthSavingsAccount)MarriedAttorney Age 34=Spouseandthree children($2500 deductible-2 max. per family$35 co paydoctorsvisits)$468 per monthBlueCrossof CaliforniaEachplanis individuallyunderwritten.For your personalized quotecall 714-884-1005 extPZO4or vlsit us onlineatwww.bl~eardlcallns~rance.com.Hediditagain! 1TheLaw F h ofK e v & ~lzeldodofferstJzeirCaliforniaspremiere personal trial W e rwho continueshisimpressivestring ofjury trial Recent victoriesinclude:HILL V. BUDGET RENT-AOC CaseNo. 04CC07264Auto AccidentWnal Offer": $85,000Jury Verdict: $2,800,000SCOTTOv.RAYC.AMMACK SHOWS,JNC.OrangeCountyCaseNo.05CC08111FenceFell at0.C Fair"Fii Offer": $r10,000Jury Verdict: $972,159DELOSSkWX v.ALBERTSONS INC.orangeCounty CaseNo.05CC02101S u w t sql&Fall"FiiaIO W : $10,000JutyVerdict: %@,WI !I ! 1 I !dFouptsin Valley, LA92708, mail: ~osell@KerrLarFirrn~e~mJULY 2007 8. James W.Lancaster, Jr.Certified Public AccountantlAccredited in Business ValuationCertzpedPublic Accountant Certified ValuationAnalystCertijed Fraud Examiner Master of BusinessAdministrationMember AICPA, CalCPA,ACFE, IACVA & NACVAValuation,Fraud & Litigation ServicesEconomk LossAnalysis Business Val-nLitigQtionSapport Expert Testimony Fraud Investigation714-961-0844714-501-0576(Cell)714-579-1766 (Fax)W. HACKBARTH,JR.----:d GeneralContractor & Real Estate Broker17@f I[rvlsle Blvd.W k 200lldn, CA 927803 2issued,theimmigrantwill beeligibleto applyforU.S. citizenship, even if the joint petition toremovetheconditionon thetwoyear greencardhas not yet been decided.Filingfor U.S. citizen-shipwill actuallyspeed up the processby whichCIS decides the conditional residency issue, asconditional residency will no longer be an issueif a person has already received U.S. citizenship.But what happens to an immigrants eligi-bility to apply for U.S. citizenship if he or shedoes not staywith theirspouseand,instead,filesawaiverpebtionon their own? If an immigrantis applyimg for a waiver because he or she isdivorced, or for any other reason is not Livingwith the spouse anymore, then the immigrantwill be eligiblefor citizenshipafter fiveye& oflawfulpermanentresidencystatus. If a waiver isapproved based on the "extreme cruelty"ground, the immigrant will be eligibleto applyfor U.S. citizenship in three years, even if nolonger living with the abusive U.S. citizenspouse. (W.Yates, Office of the General Counsel,Policy Memo #89, "Instructions Regarding theExpanded Meaning of Section 319(a)", HQISD70f33 (October 15,2002).)Beforedecidingwhethertostayinabad mar-riage, an immigrant must address their availableoptions under both the waiver provisions and thejoint petition provisions of the Irnmigrabon andNationahtyAct.An immigration lawyermaybe inthebestpositionto help an immigrantexplorethepotential advantages and disadvantages ofchoos-ing a particular route and many consultationswith immigration attorneys throughout the U.S.areprovidedfreeofcharge.Theimmigrantshouldkeep acloseeyeontheexpirationdateof theircon-ditional green canl and not let it expire beforeseekinglegalassistance.Tolearnmore aboutcon-ditional green cards, visit the U.S. Citizenship &Immigrabon Serviceswebsite atwww.w&.gov.Heakher L. Poolepractic~aclmively in theareas of family-bmed immigration andUS.Citizenshiplaw. Located in Pasadena,Cal@nia, she is a nationally publtkhedauthor on family-immigration ksues, afrequent lectureron mamirage-basedimmi-gration, and b currently s h n g as theSouthern CaliforniaAmerican immigrationLawyersAssociation Chapter YoungLawyersDivkion liahon. For mors information,vasit m.h m a n r i g h f s m .mm.ORANGE COUNTY LAWYER