We just received great news that one of our clients from Garden Grove was approved for a conditional resident card through adjustment of status. She married her husband last year after the couple knew each other for many years. Everything about the case was fairly standard except one issue – whether she was admitted into the United States.
In general, in order to adjust status to permanent resident through marriage to a US citizen, the couple must prove many things such as good faith marriage and joint asset ownership among others. The alien is permitted to adjust status (subject to the discretion of USCIS) if the alien was inspected and admitted into the United States. In most cases, the alien will have an I-94 arrival record to prove lawful admission. A stamp in the alien’s passport is helpful evidence as well.
In 2010, the Board of Immigration Appeals decided the case of Matter of Quilantan. In Quilantan, the BIA held that an alien who physically presents herself for questioning and makes no knowing false claim to citizenship is inspected even though she volunteers no information and is asked no questions by the immigration authorities, and that such an alien has satisfied the inspected and admitted requirement of INA 245(a). In Quilantan, the alien was a citizen of Mexico. She did not have a visa or border crossing card when she approached the border as a passenger in a car driven by her US citizen friend. The immigration officer asked the driver if he was an American citizen and the driver confirmed that he was. The officer did not ask Ms. Quilantan any questions before waving the car through to the United States. The BIA held that Ms. Quilantan had been admitted to the US as required in order to adjust status to permanent residency. The BIA held that Ms. Quilantan’s entry had been procedurally proper because she underwent an inspection by an immigration officer, who subsequently admitted the alien. DHS argued that Ms. Quilantan’s entry was not procedurally proper because she had not shown that she was admitted in a particular immigrant or non-immigrant status. DHS argued that Ms. Quilantan was required to present herself before an immigration officer as an alien. The BIA disagreed.
In our case, the facts were remarkably similar. Our client was a young child when she was placed in a car with her relatives. There were five individuals in the car. All were either US citizens or lawful permanent residents other than my client. The officer at the border asked for the driver’s green card, but did not ask for anyone else’s proof of admissibility. The officer waved the car through.
Because Quilantan is a relatively new case, we provided USCIS with a legal brief explaining why our client was eligible for adjustment of status. During the interview, the officer asked many questions about my client’s entry into the United States. My client answered the questions honestly and to the officer’s satisfaction. The officer took the case under review and a few weeks after the interview the case was approved.
Because my client’s marriage is less than two years old, she will be required to file an I-751 in two years to remove the conditions on her residency. I advised her that she should collect evidence of living together and conducting themselves as a married couple for the next two years.
If you are considering adjustment of status based on marriage to a US citizen, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will meet with you during a confidential consultation to help you better understand the options available to you.