Immigration Issues/US Citizen married to illegal. I-94 and Visa lost and expired. Overstay 10 years on B2
Hello. Thank you so much for your time. I am a US Citizen born abroad obtained via a US citizen father. I have been a US citizen and US resident since I arrived as an infant. I met my husband in 1999 through my mom while working. We dated 2001-2005. We reunited end of 2008. He moved in with me into a house I own in September 2008. We decided that we will work on his permanent resident status this time around. We consulted with an attorney who told us to get married. We married Dec 2008.
My husband came to the US through NYC from Poland on a visiting visa in 1997. He was just visiting his sister who was not a US citizen. He received I-94, returned to Poland, his native country, once later that year and received another I-94 upon re-entering the US. He did this so he could get visit again for another 6 months. The first I-94 was removed. His sister got married to a US citizen. He was staying with her and ended up not returning to Poland before the I-94 expired. He has not left the US since. He paid a NYC attorney in 1997 to process his paperwork so he could remain in the US and doesn't know if forms were ever filed with USCIS. He remembers signing some forms but has no copies of any paperwork. After two years he called the attorney and the attorney told him they need to start over. He believes he was scammed and does not remember who was the attorney. In the meantime he got a US Social Security card and moved to FL in 1998 where his sister ended up moving and got a FL driver's license. It expired in 2002. In 2005 he lost his Polish passport, I-94 and US SS card. He has no copies. He knows his SS# and had used it for work for years. He renewed his Poland passport after it expired in 2006 but there are not any stamps in it. He has worked and paid US taxes and Social Security tax all these years. He lost his job of 7 years and now works as an independent contractor. We want to get him permanent status or at least a legal status in the US. An attorney told us to get married, pay their fee and they would proceed with paperwork. WHAT paperwork? They never said what forms they would file. Don't we need the I-94#? My husband worked illegally for so many years, I don't know if he qualifies to file some forms. We would like to know what are our options and what can we expect from an attorney? We want to know what forms so that when we walk into a firm, we're educated instead of getting "Just hire us and we'll take care of the rest" pitch. My husband is leery of attorneys but I feel our situation is in desperate need of professional legal help and I do not feel comfortable attempting to file these forms without an attorney's assistance. We have been quoted fees beyond our means and that does not even include all the fees to USCIS. It will take us time to save the money but I want to see what I can do so as to not have to pay too much for attorney. Several offer package flat rate fees but add that there could be additional fees as special circumstances arise. I do not think we need the attorney for when we have to go to the interview or do we? I can fill forms as long as I know which ones and in what order. We want an attorney to review our package before submission and provide legal guidance about our situation as it arises. Maybe this would be a better price for us than the flat packages that can still have added fees. I have been to USCIS website and other informative websites that provided me more knowledge than the attorneys we spoke with so far about our situation. These are some of my questions.
How do we find out if a file was ever initiated by the NYC attorney if we don't have any documentation or recall how to contact the attorney since my husband does not remember the firm? Should we start over and assume the NYC attorney did nothing? Does it matter if anything was done before and do we need to find this out before anything else? What do we do about the lost I-94? Should we file I-102? What about the fact that he severely overstayed his visiting visa? Is he eligible for I-765 so that he can apply to work legally? Are we eligible to file I-485 and I-130? Can he get deported? I just lost my job earlier this month and he is the primary income earner. How will this affect us?
Answer to some of these questions would greatly help us as we continue to meet with attorneys until we settle with one he feels comfortable with. Thank you for any assistance.
Eileen Chun-Fruto, Los Angeles immigration attorney writes:
Thanks for your question. Your husband's scenario is unfortunately a typical one. Yes, there are some attorneys out there who don't spend the time to really educate their clients what their case is about and many times, clients like yourself are left with little to no results after paying attorneys fees. I'm sorry to hear this happened to you and your husband.
Your question tells me that there are some very serious issues on your husband's case. Without any evidence of the previous filing and no copy at all of your husband's I-94, you truly are left with nothing to stand on.
You can file for an I-102 if you remember the details of your husband's initial entry. Those applications also take time, so don't expect a response soon on that.
I truly think you are correct in needing to take the time to find an attorney you trust and want to work with. But my point is that you do need to fine someone to represent you and your husband. There are simply too many problems with your husband's case and it's not advisable that you "do it yourself."
If hiring someone is impossible because of financial reasons, you can check with your local state bar association for a list of non-profit organizations in your area that can assist you. Make sure they provide immigration legal assistance.
Again, I hope you and your husband find your way to someone who can help you. Unfortunately, this website is set up to provide general information. Though I try to be as specific as possible, this is one scenario where I think you need an advocate, not just general answers.
Kind regards and best of luck.