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  1. #1
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    A favor needed: how to become a legal resident in the U.S. from Canada?

    Many of you have given great advice on a myriad of topics, so I hope many of you can help me.

    My younger brother and his new wife were married this past October, after dating for 1.5 years. She's a Canadian citizen, and he's a U.S. citizen. They were recently married in Philadelphia, given a marriage certificate, and we would like for her to live in the U.S. permanently.

    Can his new wife stay in the U.S. during the paperwork process for her to become a legal resident? Or would she need to return to Canada? Her last entry into the U.S. was Sept, 2011, and her passport was swiped at the U.S. border. She is not sure how long she is allowed to stay in the U.S.

    I have tried to look for info online, and have tried to call INS, but everything seem to be so complicated, so any help would be greatly appreciated.

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    My husband is Canadian & we live in the US. She needs to go to immigration asap & apply for a green card. She will need her birth certificate, her passport, & her marriage license. My husband had been in the US for 3 days prior to our wedding & we went to immigration right away. Even though it took about 3 months to get his green card, he was allowed to stay in the US & was given a work permit the day we went. That work permit also allowed him to get his social security card immediately.

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    Quote Originally Posted by taf2002 View Post
    My husband is Canadian & we live in the US. She needs to go to immigration asap & apply for a green card. She will need her birth certificate, her passport, & her marriage license. My husband had been in the US for 3 days prior to our wedding & we went to immigration right away. Even though it took about 3 months to get his green card, he was allowed to stay in the US & was given a work permit the day we went. That work permit also allowed him to get his social security card immediately.
    Thanks for getting back so quickly, taf2002! We did go to Immigration & Naturalization Services (INS) last week, and was given a bunch of forms to complete. We went again yesterday if they would review the forms, but immediately was turned away, asking if my new sister in law was given a visa to enter the U.S. To our knowledge, visas are not needed to enter the U.S. from Canada, right? Her passport was not stamped, just swiped. I just don't want her to break any laws to have married in the U.S. and may have extended her stay here. As a Canadian citizen, she has visited us many many times, it is only until recently she legally married my younger brother.

    From what you are saying, your husband was allowed to stay during the paperwork and waiting process, and was given the right to work? When the forms were filed, did he use his Canadian address or your U.S. resident address? Thanks again!

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    I don't know, other posters will have ideas. I know FSU banded together a few years ago to help a certain Canadian ice dancer become an American citizen. I suppose your sister-in-law is not in the same situation.

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    I am not a lawyer. So take this as it's given - in good faith, but as something you should verify via other sources, i.e., an immigration lawyer or the Canadian consulate nearest to your home.

    Visas aren't required to enter the US as a tourist from Canada. Normally, a Canadian can enter the US and stay, I believe, for six months, before having to leave.

    However, this is an unusual circumstance. Are you saying she got married in October, 2011, after entering the US in September, 2011? If so - then although she entered as a tourist (thus no visa), she is not here as a tourist - she does not plan to return to her home in Canada. She got married and plans to stay in the US. She should have entered the US on a K-1 fiance visa. This is a non-immigrant visa. http://vancouver.usconsulate.gov/vis...nce-visas.html Once she'd entered the US and gotten married, her husband would then file the appropriate paperwork to allow her to stay.

    But that's not what happened, and it'll be quite clear to US Immigration that, based on the timing of her entry in to the US and then her marriage, she entered the US with the express purpose of marrying a US citizen and remaining in the US, and not as a tourist - thus she needed a visa. I am thinking that this could potentially be a major issue. I don't know what happens next. You may want to consult with a good immigration lawyer, very quickly. She may also want to seek advice from the nearest Canadian consulate in the US, very quickly. She needs to find out if it is it possible for her to stay now, and get this resolved. If not, can she return to Canada, file whatever paperwork is required, then return?
    Last edited by GarrAarghHrumph; 11-30-2011 at 07:07 PM.
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    GarrAarghHrumph is right, you need legal advice immediately. My husband entered on a fiance visa. He came down here about a month before our wedding & filed all the paperwork. He also had to show his divorce papers to prove he was free to marry me so if she's been married before this may be necessary. Because he had done the work before we were married, afterwards everything was a breeze. Except for the endless standing in line.

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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    I am not a lawyer. So take this as it's given - in good faith, but as something you should verify via other sources, i.e., an immigration lawyer or the Canadian consulate nearest to your home.

    Visas aren't required to enter the US as a tourist from Canada. Normally, a Canadian can enter the US and stay, I believe, for six months, before having to leave.

    However, this is an unusual circumstance. Are you saying she got married in October, 2011, after entering the US in September, 2011? If so - then although she entered as a tourist (thus no visa), she is not here as a tourist - she does not plan to return to her home in Canada. She got married and plans to stay in the US. She should have entered the US on a K-1 fiance visa. This is a non-immigrant visa. http://vancouver.usconsulate.gov/vis...nce-visas.html Once she'd entered the US and gotten married, her husband would then file the appropriate paperwork to allow her to stay.

    But that's not what happened, and it'll be quite clear to US Immigration that, based on the timing of her entry in to the US and then her marriage, she entered the US with the express purpose of marrying a US citizen and remaining in the US, and not as a tourist - thus she needed a visa. I am thinking that this could potentially be a major issue. I don't know what happens next. You may want to consult with a good immigration lawyer, very quickly. She may also want to seek advice from the nearest Canadian consulate in the US, very quickly. She needs to find out if it is it possible for her to stay now, and get this resolved. If not, can she return to Canada, file whatever paperwork is required, then return?
    Thanks for your reply too, GarrAarghHrumph. Yeah, her situation seems to be a bit complicated, whoever knew, especially as a Canadian citizen! Her last entry to the U.S. was 9/25/11 (she is still with us), for the purpose to finally get married, and to live together in the U.S., after having had dated for 1.5 years. I'm now watching some Youtube videos, and one of them said she can still remain in the U.S. to "adjust their status to permanent status without leaving the U.S" and the guy said don't bother with K visas. Hmmm...perhaps there is some relief?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf97TFtMUdA

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    It really seems like the best bet is to visit a Canadian embassy. Canada appears to have one in most geographic areas of the United States, so hopefully it won't be too much of a hassle to visit one.

    http://canadaonline.about.com/od/travel/a/usembassy.htm

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    I recommend consulting with an immigration attorney. You can also look up the information on the INS website (someone has already posted the link) but talking to an attorney may be more efficient. You may or may not want to use his/her services, but an initial consultation would be good.

    US/Canada citizens can enter each other's country legally, so I don't think staying in the USA and working here would be an issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron W View Post
    It really seems like the best bet is to visit a Canadian embassy. Canada appears to have one in most geographic areas of the United States, so hopefully it won't be too much of a hassle to visit one.

    http://canadaonline.about.com/od/travel/a/usembassy.htm
    Aaron, I have just tried to call one of the numbers listed on the website, but got only a recording, tried to call the Consulate in Philly, was referred to the one in Buffalo, NY...she then referred me back to the INS in Philly, lol. So frustrating. I will let my sister in law and brother know...perhaps it's worth to get a lawyer, despite their limited income. I heard the application fees, lawyer fee, etc can total $2,500! We already paid $40 to a nonprofit immigration organization for a consultation this morning...they would charge us $1,800 if we are assigned to one of their lawyers.

    Thanks though for all your quick replies!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fan123 View Post
    Thanks for your reply too, GarrAarghHrumph. Yeah, her situation seems to be a bit complicated, whoever knew, especially as a Canadian citizen! Her last entry to the U.S. was 9/25/11 (she is still with us), for the purpose to finally get married, and to live together in the U.S., after having had dated for 1.5 years. I'm now watching some Youtube videos, and one of them said she can still remain in the U.S. to "adjust their status to permanent status without leaving the U.S" and the guy said don't bother with K visas. Hmmm...perhaps there is some relief?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf97TFtMUdA
    I don't know if what he's saying will apply to her. What I understand is that, if she'd entered the US a few months ago, stayed, then got married, it wouldn't be seen as if she'd entered the US under false pretenses, as it were. But due to the timing in your case - she entered and got married within about a month - based on the timing of her entry, and then her marriage, she will be seen as having entered the US under false pretenses. She entered the US basically saying she was here temporarily as a tourist, when she knew full well her intention was to get married, and remain. Big difference.

    In the first case, she'd enter as a tourist, and let's say... her relationship with her guy would turn serious while she was here, and they'd decide to get married - but when she entered, she'd have had no intention of getting married to a US citizen and trying to make the US her home. However, that's not what happened in her case - she quite obviously entered with the intention of getting married. That's why I think there's an issue.

    Even the guy on the video, in his "do it right" section toward the end, says that you need to wait until you've been in the US for at least two months before you get married. That's due to the issue I mentioned.

    Thus her need to consult an immigration attorney, and when I say immediately, I mean that this is a matter of utmost urgency.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fan123 View Post
    ...perhaps it's worth to get a lawyer, despite their limited income. I heard the application fees, lawyer fee, etc can total $2,500! We already paid $40 to a nonprofit immigration organization for a consultation this morning...they would charge us $1,800 if we are assigned to one of their lawyers.
    Since the alternative is potentially deportation with no future chance of entry into the US, this $1,800 will be a relative, if painful, bargain. I feel that her situation is now a complicated one, and an immigration attorney is needed.

    I have every hope that they can resolve this situation, and she can stay in the US and be happy! But they need someone who knows what they are up against.
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    I can't remember what the permanent resident status ultimately cost us. It was over 26 years ago. My husband recently got his green card reissued & it cost about $700 I think. He has to do the same every 10 years.

    Why didn't she go to the INS in that month before she got married? She knew she would eventually need legal status. INS is very touchy...she may really have a problem now. I hope not. Good luck.

    BTW we also looked into me immigrating to Canada before we got married. It was just as complicated & annoying as him coming to the US.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by GarrAarghHrumph View Post
    I don't know if what he's saying will apply to her. What I understand is that, if she'd entered the US a few months ago, stayed, then got married, it wouldn't be seen as if she'd entered the US under false pretenses, as it were. But due to the timing in your case - she entered and got married within about a month - based on the timing of her entry, and then her marriage, she will be seen as having entered the US under false pretenses. She entered the US basically saying she was here temporarily as a tourist, when she knew full well her intention was to get married, and remain. Big difference.

    In the first case, she'd enter as a tourist, and let's say... her relationship with her guy would turn serious while she was here, and they'd decide to get married - but when she entered, she'd have had no intention of getting married to a US citizen and trying to make the US her home. However, that's not what happened in her case - she quite obviously entered with the intention of getting married. That's why I think there's an issue.

    Even the guy on the video, in his "do it right" section toward the end, says that you need to wait until you've been in the US for at least two months before you get married. That's due to the issue I mentioned.

    Thus her need to consult an immigration attorney, and when I say immediately, I mean that this is a matter of utmost urgency.
    Thanks for the advice and caution again, GarrAarghHrumph! Kayla (sister in law) and Johnny (younger brother) met over 2 yrs ago through mutual friends when Kayla visited the U.S. It wasn't until 1.5 years ago when both of them decided to date, despite the long distance relationship. No one expected the relationship to have blossomed, so after many visits back and forth to the U.S., they have finally decided to get married. It was perhaps Kayla's 15th visit was when both families decided to give it a go. So to answer your concern, the initial visits had no intention of marriage and permanent residence, but the last one, Sept 2011...yes. So we should still be concerned?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fan123 View Post
    Thanks for the advice and caution again, GarrAarghHrumph! Kayla (sister in law) and Johnny (younger brother) met over 2 yrs ago through mutual friends when Kayla visited the U.S. It wasn't until 1.5 years ago when both of them decided to date, despite the long distance relationship. No one expected the relationship to have blossomed, so after many visits back and forth to the U.S., they have finally decided to get married. It was perhaps Kayla's 15th visit was when both families decided to give it a go. So to answer your concern, the initial visits had no intention of marriage and permanent residence, but the last one, Sept 2011...yes. So we should still be concerned?
    Yes. All those prior visits just confirm (to the INS) that her purpose for this trip was to get married.

    You may not like these answers but they went about it the wrong way and now they need legal help.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fan123 View Post
    Thanks for the advice and caution again, GarrAarghHrumph! Kayla (sister in law) and Johnny (younger brother) met over 2 yrs ago through mutual friends when Kayla visited the U.S. It wasn't until 1.5 years ago when both of them decided to date, despite the long distance relationship. No one expected the relationship to have blossomed, so after many visits back and forth to the U.S., they have finally decided to get married. It was perhaps Kayla's 15th visit was when both families decided to give it a go. So to answer your concern, the initial visits had no intention of marriage and permanent residence, but the last one, Sept 2011...yes. So we should still be concerned?
    Yes, very. The problem is that Kayla entered the US in September with the intention of settling in the US permanently, via getting married, without the appropriate entry permissions. She entered as a tourist, when she actually had planned to get married and settle here permanently. She should be very concerned. But a skilled immigration attorney may be able to untangle all this, and based on my friends' experiences with being in the US illegally - which Kayla now basically is - the lawyer may be able to arrange for her to stay in the US while all this is being resolved. She may/may not be given permission to work while she's going through all this.
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    I agree with GarrAarghHrumph opinion. I think your brother and his bride should be concerned. But, I am not an expert in the subject.

    One thing for sure, you do not want her green card application to be denied. One thing that they can do is to have an initial consultation with an immigration lawyers. Many times, this consultations are given for free or for a discount price. If the lawyer tells them that they are ok, then they can file themselves.

    Having applied for a green card myself through marriage, I can tell you that the process it complicated enough with all your papers in order. Also, be careful with information that you may find on immigration forums as it can be confusing and contradictory.

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    Although an immigration attorney may be helfpul, they should be very, very careful about the one they choose. In the immigration field, there are a lot of scam artists who are either unethical and incompetent immigration lawyers or just pretending to be lawyers. Your SIL should find a reputable attorney who specializes in this kind of immigration issue for Canadians.

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    I second what Allskate says. The rules are very, very tricky. (And idiotic, imo.) Years ago my b-i-l's US work visa was pulled for 3 months because he married my sister (who was a US citizen) in Canada. It was a mess. They had no idea that getting married would cause such immigration problems.

    The only other option that might be feasible is if you contact your brother's congressman or senator, and ask for the staff member who assists with INS. They have some very useful back-door access to INS -- in the end, this is what helped my b-i-l get his visa back. But, the senator in question was very senior and served on some committee that had oversight over what was then the Immigration office. YMMV.

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    They can also get an Infopass, just search for infopass at the USCIS website (INS is now USCIS), so you can get a consultation with an USCIS official. Although going this route may cause more damage to your sil situation. I still think your brother and sil may need a lawyer; a good one of of course!
    Last edited by mon125; 12-01-2011 at 04:18 AM.

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