Let's Help Spouse's of Green Card Holders Stay In The USA LegallyWhile
Waiting For Their Green Card
When people get married is it reasonable to expect that they will live together after the wedding? Unfortunately the US government has made it very difficult for people with green cards to get married and legally live with their new husband or wife if that spouse doesn't already have US citizenship or a green card. Did you know that spouses of legal permanent residents who filed relative petitions for their new wife or husband back in April 1994 are just becoming eligible for green cards? Since there are currently over 1 million aliens waiting for visas in this category which is limited to approximately 88,000 per year, it should not surprise anyone that the waiting time is expected to increase rather than decrease in the near future.
What is surprising to most people who have not personally gone through this US Immigration nightmare is that these spouses who are waiting for green cards are often not able to obtain US tourist visas and student visas which would allow them to live in the United States. The legal reason is that these visas require "nonimmigrant intent," the intent to return back to one's home country after a short visit. Since the intent of these people is to live in the United States with their newlywed spouse, the US Embassy finds it legally difficult to grant them visas that require nonimmigrant intent, such as tourist visas or student visas. People from visa waiver countries, such as Japan, do not require tourist visas for short visits of 90 days or less, but multiple back-to- back trips using visa waiver puts these aliens at risk of being turned right back home by the INS at the airport each time they try to enter the United States.
The resulting consequences are painful. Many are forced to remain separated for many years while waiting for a green card. Others are forced to violate the US immigration laws and overstay their temporary visit. The option to violate the US immigration laws, however, has consequences. In California they are unable to obtain a driver's license. Moreover, such aliens are not allowed to work legally. If they chose to work "illegally" they are often exploited.
Congress added a severe new consequences in 1996 for aliens who overstay their time on or after April 1, 1997. Most aliens who overstay their authorized time by 180 days or more and then departs the United States, such as departing to attend a green card interview, will have to wait an additional 3 years before they are able to get their green card. The punishment is increased to 10 years if the period of overstay is 365 days or longer.
Congress needs to create a new visa for spouses and their minor unmarried children who are waiting for their green cards. This visa should permit the alien to live in the United States with their green card spouse and to work in the United States until they are eligible for the green card. If you want to urge Congress to create this new visa please sign, date, and write your address at the bottom of this article, and mail it to my office. Please feel free to make copies of this article and have your friends sign too. I will forward an English version of this article along with all signed articles to Senator Barbara Boxer and other members of Congress in an effort to rally support for this much needed visa.