Russian Brides: Abusers Need Not Apply

On January 5, 2006, President Bush signed the International Marriage Broker Act of 2005 ("IMBRA"), found at Title VIII, Subtitle D of Public Law No. 109-162 which itself reauthorized the Violence Against Women Act. 

IMBRA imposes certain requirements on Internet dating services that primarily focus on matching American men with foreign women.  Before allowing an American to communicate with a foreign woman, an Internet dating service must conduct a criminal background check on the man, a sex-offender check on him and require him to complete a questionnaire detailing his previous arrests, convictions, marriages, divorces, children and all states of residence since he turned eighteen.

As one might imagine, IMBRA has been unpopular with American men who claim that it unfairly presumes they will abuse their future foreign spouses.

Why did Congress pass this law?  A court that ruled on IMBRA’s constitutionality explained:

The rates of domestic violence against immigrant women are much higher than those of the U.S. population as a whole and have in common with women brokered through international marriage brokers a number of factors, including the dependency of the immigrant woman on the U.S. citizen for her legal status.  An estimated 70% of abusive U.S. citizen spouses, including those who consummate relationships through [International Marriage Brokers], withhold the filing of the proper paperwork necessary to validate the legal status of their immigrant female partners to cause them to fall out of legal status and to hold the threat of jail or deportation over the woman.  Estimates by the National Institute on Justice are that over 73 percent of domestic violence cases go unreported.

An international marriage broker called European Connections & Tours, Inc., sued to have IMBRA declared unconstitutional.  European Connections contended that IMBRA posed an impermissible prior restraint on European Connections’ free speech rights.   A federal district court in Georgia upheld IMBRA’s requirements.

SOURCE FOR POST: North Texas Divorce & Family Law Blog

Child Custody for Immigrants

Many illegal immigrants in places like the Georgia carpet-mill town of Calhoun are taking special precautions in case they are jailed or deported. They are drawing up legal instructions designating someone to take care of their children.

At the urging of activists, parents are authorizing, in writing, a friend, neighbor or relative to watch their children until they can be reunited either here or in their home countries. During workplace roundups of illegal immigrants, youngsters sometimes become separated from their parents and are taken into government custody. In some cases, they can be held for days or weeks before they are reunited with their parents on one side of the border or the other.

Under U.S. law, children born in this country are American citizens and cannot be deported. There are more than three million such children in the U.S. There are also an estimated 1.8 million children in the country illegally.

Parents of children both legal and illegal are filling out the papers, specifying such things as whether they want their U.S. born children to stay here or to be sent back to the country where the parent might be deported. Fear is particularly strong in Georgia, where many young mothers work in the fields, carpet mills and produce-packing houses.

One of the nation’s strictest immigration-control laws, passed last year, will go into effect July 1st.

SOURCE: WMAZ

Priority: Spouses, Fiancé(e)s, and Adopted Children

Spouses, fiancé(e)s, and adopted children of U.S. citizens receive priority in the family-based immigration system, and these family members can be admitted into the U.S. upon government approval of their immigration visa petitions. Learn more below.

Marriages

Following is a description of the process to be followed by a spouse of a U.S. citizen seeking to gain permanent resident status in the U.S.:

  • The immigration service must approve a visa petition filed on behalf of the spouse.
  • If the spouse is outside the U.S. when the visa petition is approved, the spouse will go to his or her nearest U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa prior to travel to the U.S.
  • If the spouse is inside the U.S. when the visa petition is approved, the spouse may apply to adjust his or her status (i.e. temporary visitor) to that of a lawful permanent resident.

The spouse’s permanent resident status will be conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old when that status was granted. To remove the conditions on permanent resident status, it must be established that the marriage was not entered into in order to evade U.S. immigration laws. If Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence, is not filed within the 90-day period before the spouse’s second anniversary as a conditional resident, the conditional permanent residence status will be terminated and the government will initiate deportation (removal) proceedings. 

Fiancé(e)s

A U.S. citizen who is planning to marry a foreign national in the U.S. must file a petition on behalf of his or her fiancé(e) (see Form I-129F) before he or she comes to the U.S. to get married. Both parties must be unmarried and must also have met within the last two years before filing for the fiancé(e) visa (although this requirement may be waived based on long-standing custom or extreme hardship). The marriage must take place within 90 days of the fiancé(e) entering the U.S., or the fiancé(e) will be subject to removal from the country. Federal immigration laws do not recognize same-sex partnerships for visa purposes.

Adoptions

A married U.S. citizen and spouse may file a petition to adopt a foreign-born child. An unmarried U.S. citizen may also file an orphan petition provided that he or she is at least 25 years of age. To speed up the adoption process, Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, may be filed before a specific child has been identified for adoption. After a child is identified and is shown to meet the Immigration and Nationality Act definition of "orphan," Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on behalf of the child.

SOURCE: FindLaw

Eligibility and Preference Categories

Eligibility as Sponsor

To be eligible to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States and be able to provide documentation proving your status.
  • You must prove that you can support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.
  • If you are a US Citizen you may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however you must be able to provide proof of the relationships:
    • Husband or wife;
    • Unmarried child under 21 years old;
    • Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
    • Married son or daughter of any age;
    • Brother or sister, if you are at least 21 years old; or
    • Parent, if you are at least 21 years old.
  • If you are a lawful permanent resident you may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the United States; however you must be able to provide proof of the relationships:
    • Husband or wife; or
    • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

Eligibility as Immigrant

To be eligible for lawful permanent residence based on a family relationship you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must have a relative who is a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States who can provide documentation proving their status and is willing to sponsor you for lawful permanent residency by filing the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
  • Your relative must prove they can support you by providing documentation that their income is 125% above the mandated poverty line for their family, including you and all other sponsored family members.
  • If your relative is a US Citizen and they can legally prove you share one of the following relationships, you may be eligible for lawful permanent residency, please see below for preference category information.
    • Husband or wife;
    • child under 21 years old;
    • Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
    • Married son or daughter of any age;
    • Brother or sister if you are at least 21 years old; or
    • Parents if you are at least 21 years old.
  • If your relative is a lawful permanent resident and they can legally prove you share one of the following relationships, you may be eligible for lawful permanent residence, please see below for preference category information:
    • Husband or wife; or
    • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.

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Bringing a Spouse to Live in the U.S.

Definition of a Spouse

Before you file any documents, it is helpful to understand that "spouse" means lawful husband or wife. In order to successfully petition for an immigrant visa for your spouse, your relationship with your spouse must be established and your spouse must be admissible to the United States under the immigration law.

Overview of Immigration Process

There is a three-step process for your spouse to become a legal immigrant:

  1. The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your spouse.
  2. The State Department Visa Bulletin must show that a spouse immigrant visa is available to your spouse, based on the date you filed the immigrant visa application.
  3. If your spouse is outside the United States when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, your spouse will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your spouse is legally inside the U.S. when your visa petition is approved and when an immigrant visa number (if required) becomes available, he or she may use the Form I-485 to apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Information for Citizens

If you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse is considered an immediate relative and is immediately eligible for an immigrant visa if your petition is approved. Generally, if your spouse is in the U.S. (through a lawful admission or parole) at the time you file the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, your spouse may file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status at the same time. If he or she is outside the U.S., your spouse will need to go to the nearest U.S. consulate to apply for an immigrant visa.

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ALIENS AND DIVORCE – OVERCOMING MARRIAGE FRAUD

The Immigration and Naturalization Service has always had a concern that aliens seeking permanent resident status in the United States will marry solely to gain that status, thereby circumventing the Immigration Laws. This concern was addressed by Congress in the Marriage Fraud Act of 1986, as amended by the Immigration Act of 1990.

An attempt to gain resident status without a bona fide marriage is marriage fraud. A finding of marriage fraud can lead to the denial of the issuance of an immigrant visa, refusal of admission as a conditional or permanent resident, the loss of resident status previously granted, and deportation from the United States. Lawyers must consider the special needs of aliens in divorce, separation or annulment matters. Accordingly, attorneys must know the applicable sections of the Immigration Law that deal with marriage fraud in order to understand the severe repercussions to any alien who is accused of it.

In order to assist the practitioner, this article will include a glossary of frequently used terms in U.S. Immigration Law:

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