Pros and Cons of Sponsoring a Spouse

Ame Coats: My name is Ame Coats.  I’m an immigration attorney with Bashyam Shah in Raleigh, North Carolina.  I’m here with our managing partner Murali Bashyam.


Murali Bashyam: Hello everybody.


Ame Coats: And, today, we’re going to be talking to you about a family integration topic:  How to sponsor your spouse or fiancé.  Thank you for joining us.  So Murali and I wanted to talk a little bit about what the pros and cons of all these different options are.  Okay, so Murali, what would you do?


Murali Bashyam: What would I do?


Ame Coats: Yeah.


Murali Bashyam: In what situation, are you saying if I was engaged to somebody over seas?


Ame Coats: Yeah, let’s say that you had been teaching English in Japan, and you had to come back because your contract was over.  You left your girlfriend back in Japan, but you’re going crazy.  You guys want to get married.  What would you do?  What route would you take?


Murali Bashyam: Well, it really depends on one thing Ame, and I’d say how long the process takes between a fiancé visa and a permanent resident process, and how much the immigration attorney I talk to charges for each step.  [Laughter].


Ame Coats: Exactly.  So here’s what I always tell people:  From my perspective as an integration attorney who’s not emotionally involved, I’m thinking about trying to minimize how much you spend, and on the day that your loved one steps foot on U.S. soil, that they have the easiest time possible.  So for me not being emotionally involved, I would go on the PowerPoint here, number two.  I would go get married and I’d come back, and I’d file for an immigrant visa petition for them.


So that on the day that my husband steps foot on U.S. soil, he would have his green card, he’d be ready to work immediately, he could come and go as he please, and I’d only be paying one attorney fee.  But, Murali, I say the same thing to everybody I meet with, and guess which one they choose?


Murali Bashyam: The _______.

Ame Coats: Number one, exactly.


Murali Bashyam: And why is that, Ame?


Ame Coats: Because they get here faster and it’s a lot easier to get it filed.  They don’t have to go anywhere to get married; they can just file the paperwork.  Because, usually, this is when they’ve just been back from a trip – they’ve come back from a trip proposing, they’re ready to get married; they just saw their fiancé.  They don’t have time to go back and get married again and file all this, and so the quickest way to get from here is on a fiancé visa.


It’s the quickest and the easiest, but the problem is, is once your fiancé gets here, you got another completely almost equal set of paperwork to be filed.  You fiancé cannot work right away.  Your fiancé cannot travel right away and you gotta pay another attorney fee, too.


Murali Bashyam: Right.  But when you’re looking – at least they’re here, though.


Ame Coats: Right, they’re here.  Because it saved – again, from my perspective, it probably saved about three months.  So from the client’s perspective, to them, three months is forever, and almost an eternity.


Murali Bashyam: So you’re talking about starting from scratch, the whole visa process to get your fiancé here verses going ahead and getting married overseas and coming back and filing the I-30 and starting the green card process.  You’re talking only a three-month difference between the two of them?


Ame Coats: On today, April 14th.  But that’s just today.  If you asked me that a year and a half ago, my answer would be completely different.  If you asked me six months from now, my answer could be completely different.  So the problem with all these processing times is that you wanna know how long things are gonna take for the petition that you have to file.  If you want to know how long it’s gonna take here in the U.S., I can tell you that pretty easily; they’re processing charts that they publish.


But once that petition is filed, remember, it’s gotta go to an embassy.  And at the point of where it goes to an embassy, it’s very hard to tell you how long it’s gonna take because all these embassies are different.  For example, there was a point in time, where in the Dominic Republic, once a petition got to the embassy, it took a year, whereas if that same petition has gone to London, it might have taken three months.  So there can be a drastic difference at the embassy.


Murali Bashyam: And that is a good question to ask an immigration attorney if you’re deciding which process to take and depending on the country that your spouse or finance is in. definitely ask whether they have any idea how long it’s gonna take once it gets to the second stage of the process.


Ame Coats: Right.  And when a client comes in for the initial consultation, we look at all the charts together.  But I would say depending on the country, it is conceivable, probably not often, that your fiancé could get here maybe in 6 months after filing.  But I’d say it’s probably closer to 7-8 months or so, and maybe 10-11 months, today, for a marriage case.  But again, it really depends on the embassy – where the person is processing, and you have no control over that.


And then, finally, adjustment of status, I would be very careful about this.  I would never want immigration in a million years to think that me or my husband had committed fraud to get a green card.  So I would be very, very careful about that, and go see an attorney for adjustment status, for sure.


Murali Bashyam: Absolutely.  So I think that concludes our presentation, is that right, Ame?


Ame Coats: Yes.


Murali Bashyam: If you do have any other question regarding this topic, all you need to do is send me or Ame an e-mail.  And thank you for attending.


Ame Coats: Yes, thank you for joining us.  Bye-bye.


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