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Immigration Issues/Immigration issue UK to US


Hello! I have a question about immigrating from the UK to the USA. I am currently visiting my fiance, who is an American citizen, and am here with her in Florida. We are so confused as to how we should go about getting a VISA for me to live and work here. I was working in London but am wanting to permanently move her. My plans are to marry my fiance as soon as possible but we are confused as to how much this process costs, who to go to, whether to use a lawyer and whether it is possible for me to stay in the USA past the 90 visitor visa if I do apply for something in the meantime. I appreciate your information!

Eileen Chun-Fruto, Los Angeles immigration attorney writes:

Congratulations on the engagement.  I'm sure that this is an exciting time for you, but also filled with questions regarding the immigration process and how best to proceed...

Generally, the process for getting sponsored for a greencard through marriage entails submitting your application to the USCIS, attending an interview with the USCIS and showing that you and your spouse are sharing a life in "marital union."  In many areas of the nation, processing times are Moreover, there are certain requirements that your US citizen spouse must provide to show that she has the financial means to bring you, the immigrant to the United States.

Many of my clients are students or young couples who have a hard time with that last requirement and may not be able bear the financial requirements.  In that case, you might need a "co-sponsor" for the affidavit of support part of the case.

As a service to potential clients, some attorneys (including me) provide free consultations.  You should take the time to interview several attorneys and choose someone you feel comfortable with, and of course, someone who takes the time to get to know you and your fiance.  You should also try and hire someone who does not "dabble" in immigration law but focuses exclusively in the area and of course, has a good representation.  You can check whether the attorney has ever been sanctioned by their state bar association as well.  Another thing you should be mindful of is the fact that immigration lawyers can represent clients throughout the United States, they are not limited to one state of practice, which is the case with other fields of law, so you aren't limited to only attorneys in your state or area.  This means you should take the time to search for someone who is highly qualified and not just geographically convenient.

Some people opt to use "immigration consultants," who aren't licensed to practice law.  Such services provide form-filling, cursory review of documents and little else.  Many times, "immigration consultants" provide guidance into the process and help you prepare your case as if there was a formula or cookie-cutter solution to your specific situation.  I see many victims of immigration consultants who's spouses are later deported or handcuff and removed from their greencard interviews because of bad advice from consultants.  I represent a lot of such clients *after* the damage is done by consultants, and sadly, the damage caused by consultants isn't reversible.  Much more must be done to bring someone back to the US after being removed or having suffered a previous immigration denial.

Having said all that, there are complexities in the law that apply to someone such as yourself who is here on the visa waiver, allowing for only 90 days of legal stay.  There has been recent caselaw, too (see Momeni v. Chertoff) which makes it even riskier for you to try and represent yourself without using an attorney who is competent.  This was a case where a person was denied a greencard even though she was married to a US citizen because their marriage was after their 90 day entry had expired.  But you need to be careful as to when you marry since marrying too soon after entering the US might be considered a violation of the terms of your visitor status and you can also be accused of visa fraud and subject to deportation, too.

Although many people think that getting a greencard through marriage is the type of thing they can do for themselves, this area of law is filled with legal landmines.  Together with the fact that increased enforcement (both in funding and man power) by the Immigration Service is at an all-time high, you really do want to make sure you don't try to navigate this on your own.

If you can't afford legal representation, you can opt for some advice from a local non-profit, but most non-profits can only give you advice and not formal representation at your interview or throughout the process.

Good luck in your journey and thanks for stopping by.

Eileen Chun-Fruto  

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Eileen Chun-Fruto


I can answer any employment-based immigration question including questions about PERM labor certifications, H-1B skilled workers, L-1A multinational managers or executives and L-1B specialized knowledge, R-1 and I-360 religious workers, investor cases (E Treaty Trader and E Treaty Investors and EB-5 "million dollar investors") and O-1 extraordinary ability cases. I can also answer any questions regarding family-based immigration, such as adoptions, waiver cases, consular processing (using foreign consulates to enter as an immigrant), marriage and fiance/fiancee cases, 245(i) cases, VAWA (Violence Against Women's Act), battered spouses, and Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).


I have over 12 years of experience in business and family immigration. I was a former law clerk for the Executive Officer for Immigration Review (the immigration courts) in San Francisco and I current serve as the California Service Center's (CSC) liaison on behalf of the Los Angeles County Bar Association. I represent individuals and corporations alike, ranging from professionals in the high tech, science, liberal arts fields. I have a special niche in working with start-up companies and individuals with more complex immigration issues.

Member, American Immigration Lawyers Association Member, Los Angeles County Bar Association, Executive Committee on Immigration

J.D., University of California at Davis - King Hall School of Law (1997) B.A., University of California at Irvine, cum laude (1994)

Awards and Honors
2005, 2006, 2007, 2008: Selected to Southern California Rising Star - Super Lawyers List (an honor shared by no more than 2.5% of the attorneys practicing in the entire Southern California region) Faculty/Moderator on various AILA and LACBA continuing legal education seminars in the following topics: H-1B, O-1, religious workers, business immigration visas

Past/Present Clients
My typical business clients can range from a start-up company, established engineering and software research and development companies, manufacturing, trade and distribution companies, public and private schools, and religious organizations. Family clients include spouses, parent-child petitions, siblings, naturalization, and most especially, representation of abandoned and neglected children viewed as orphans under the immigration law. I have represented many clients who relied on special provisions of the immigration law to preserve or "grandfather" benefits to family members in limited (and complicated) circumstances, to avoid re-application fees and longer waiting times.

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