Catfished? Never!

Posted by texaslawdiva on December 19, 2013 at 2:00 AM Comments comments (0)

“Catfished”? Never!

No immigration client of mine shall be “CATFISHED”!


In immigration, “Catfished” is not a new concept. This is when parties set-up false social network or dating profiles for deceptive or fraudulent purposes. We have been working for many years with the Dept. of Homeland Security to make sure that our K1 Fiancé Visa clients do not face such challenges.

So let’s say… you tried your luck with online dating or that you traveled to an exotic country and you found the love of your life.

Now, what can you do if you are a U.S. citizen and now you are engaged, but the person you are engaged to (your fiancé is not a U.S. citizen? Wait a minute…not only is your fiancé not an U.S. citizen but he/she also lives outside the U.S. And you plan to get married in the U.S!

Don’t worry…. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a solution.

You can obtain a fiancé visa for him/her.

What is a Fiancé Visa?

K1 visa:

The K1 fiancé is a nonimmigrant visa that entitles the foreign partner of a US citizen to enter the U.S. to marry the US citizen.

So what do we do? How do we apply for a fiancé(e) visa?

It is a multi-step procedure:

Step 1: First, you, as U.S. citizen fiancé submits a fiancé visa petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is done on Form I-129F, along with various documents. (Alert: Please do not confuse it with Form I-129, which is used by employers petitioning for workers).

---Here’s your “Anti-Catfished” protection….

In addition to filling out the form, you, the petitioner must prepare various documents, for example proving your U.S. citizenship status and the fact that you two have met IN PERSON within the last two years.

What do I have to prove in the I-129F Fiancé(e) Petition?

The I-129F petition must establish four things:

• That the sponsoring fiancé is a U.S. citizen;

• That both individuals are legally free to marry and that the marriage is legally possible in the state where the couple intends to wed;

(Note: The USCIS guidance on marriages involving a transgender spouse specifically says that if you live in a state that will not recognize your marriage you will receive a Notice of Intent to Deny at which point you will have the opportunity to submit an affidavit explaining your intention to marry a state which will respect your marriage. Additional procedures may apply to same-sex relationships.)

• That the couple has personally seen one another within the last two years, and

• That the couple’s relationship is real (bona fide) and that they intend to marry for reasons beyond just obtaining a green card.

Step 2: Once this petition is approved, it will be sent to a USCIS service center, which will then direct the petition to the U.S. embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the foreign national partner.

Step 3: The embassy or consulate will send a detailed “Instruction Package” and information for setting up an interview to determine the foreign national partner’s eligibility for the visa. We complete the package, while the foreign fiancé sees a doctor (one approved by the U.S. consulate) to get a medical exam report, and then he/she presents everything to a U.S. consulate in his/her home country. At the embassy or consulate, the foreign partner attends an interview and hopefully receives his/her K-1 fiancé visa. If approved, the foreign national fiancé will receive a visa and must enter the U.S. within 6 months and marry within 90 days of that entry.

What kind of documents can be submitted to prove the good faith nature (bona fides) of the relationship? More “Anti-Catfished” Precautions!

You should be prepared to submit affidavits from each partner, discussing how and when you met and evidencing your intent to marry within 90 days of the foreign partner’s entry; photographs of the two of you together; letters or emails that you’ve sent one another over the course of your relationship; letters of support from family or friends who can attest to the bona fide nature of your relationship; travel itineraries or tickets showing that you’ve visited one another; any powers of attorney, wills, insurance policies in which one partner lists the other as a beneficiary; evidence of any shared financial accounts or obligations, etc. The idea is to submit whatever documents you have that would lead someone to conclude that the two of you are in a real relationship.

How long will it take before my partner will be able to travel to the U.S. on a fiancé(e) visa?

Processing times vary based on a number of factors and are especially dependent on the individual embassy or consulate that will be handling the petition. Generally, however, it can take between 8-11 months from the time that an I-129F petition is filed before the foreign national partner is issued a visa to enter the U.S. This includes 5-6 months for the processing of the I-129F itself and another 1-2 months for the embassy or consulate to establish contact with the foreign national partner. From that point on, much is dependent on the foreign national’s ability to gather the materials requested by the embassy or consulate that will need to be submitted before an interview is scheduled.

What do we need to do after my partner arrives in the U.S.?

You must get married! The marriage must take place within 90 days of the foreign fiancé entering the U.S. If the marriage does not take place within 90 days or the foreign fiancé marries someone other than you, the US Citizen who petitioned him/her, your fiancé will be required to leave the U.S. It is NOT possible to extend the fiancé visa beyond original 90 days duration.

Once married, the foreign spouse can then apply for adjustment of status to become a permanent resident (green card-holder). This is the Adjustment of Status process which will allow the foreign spouse to live and work permanently in the U.S. (This process involves even more paperwork than the fiancé visa did!)

If your fiancé does not want to become a permanent resident after marriage, your fiancé (now your spouse) must leave the U.S. within the original 90 days duration! 

Here are some additional benefits…. He/she may also file the application for employment authorization.

Also, K1 visa holders can get a social security number. If you applied for a social security number before marriage, you can go back to the social security office after marriage to get your name changed in the social security card. The social security card will be marked "VALID FOR ONLY WITH USCIS AUTHORIZATION". That means, you need to get EAD first before you can actually work.

Note: In rare instances, some couples may have to attend a fraud interview if the government has any doubts whether the intended marriage is a real one. This could happen either as part of Step One or after Step Three.

May we travel outside the US?

The fiancé visa (K1/K2) allows a fiancé to enter the U.S. only once. If he/she leaves the U.S. after entering on a fiancé visa, he/she may not re-enter on the same visa and will need a new visa.

After getting married and after filing an ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS, if he/she wants to leave and re-enter the U.S., he/she must apply for ADVANCE PAROLE to return to the U.S.

As you can see, with these several checks and balances in place, it is almost impossible for a fiancé via K1 applicant to be “CATFISHED”.

“CATFISHED”… No Sir –-not on my watch!




Consider the Children....

Posted by texaslawdiva on December 5, 2013 at 12:10 AM Comments comments (0)

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Consider the Children....

Currently, in the U.S. there are many youth who came to the U.S. as children without legal authorization but through no fault of their own.    Arriving in the U.S. as a child, they live their whole lives in the U.S. without permission, in most cases, with absolutely no connection with their home country.

Therefore, they remain in the U.S., earn an education, seek to go to college, or to join the U.S. military services. 


What can they do to become legalize?

One option:  In 2012, President Obama implemented a new policy labeled Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that provides possible assistance for these young adults. 

In order to qualify, the undocumented immigrants must be between the ages of 16 and 30 who have been in the country for at least 5 years from 6/15/12 (and meet other requirements) to obtain a temporary legal status and a work permit.

This privilege does NOT come easy.  Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date.


So, let’s clarify it once again…who does this benefit?  The undocumented aliens under age 30 who were brought here illegally at a young age AND have lived in the United States for at least five consecutive years, currently in school or are high school graduates or military veterans.

Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.


They will also obtain a work permit. 

Please note that this is NOT the “Dream Act” and does NOT lead to a greencard or U.S. citizenship.  Yet, the policy will halt the deportations of those in deportation proceedings and will make immune from deportation those who are not in any proceedings.

It is a celebrated step in the right direction and it allows these individuals to live and work in the U.S.   




  • Did you come to the United States when you were under the age of 16?
  • Have you continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time?
  • Were you physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 AND on the date of your Deferred Action request?
  • Were you under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012?
  • Did you enter without inspection before June 15, 2012, or did your lawful immigration status expire before June 15, 2012?
  • Are you "currently in school" in the U.S. on the date you submitted the application, or have you graduated from High School, obtained a G.E.D., or been honorably discharged from the U.S. military?*
  • Have you NOT been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety?

If you answered YES to all of the above questions, you should qualify to apply for Deferred Status.

Nevertheless, each case shall be handled by DHS on a case-by-case analysis; therefore we would need more details about your specific case in order to determine your options.


  • Submit documents that show that you qualify. Examples of records that demonstrate eligibility might include: school records, medical records, vaccination records, financial records, employment records.
  • A copy of your birth certificate.
  • A translation into English of your birth certificate with a Certificate of Translation in which the translator shows that he or she has accurately translated the document into English.
  • An unexpired picture I.D. issued by a government agency (eg., a passport or country I.D., a school I.D.).
  • If you finished school without graduating, get into a GED course or other qualifying educational course of study. Check out the Texas Education Agency GED website or GED Testing Service website. IF you are enrolled in a GED course, you should meet the "currently in school" requirement.
  • If you have been arrested, obtain copies of all arrest records, charging documents, dispositions (outcomes), sentencing records. 
    • Where a case was dismissed or where charges were not filed, obtain an "Arrest Disposition Report" showing what happened after the arrest. 
    • If you plead guilty or were found guilty by a judge or jury, obtain certified copies of the charging document (Information), Judgment, sentencing, and other documents about the conviction.



Property Basics

Posted by texaslawdiva on November 27, 2013 at 1:15 PM Comments comments (0)

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Property is defined as anything that can be owned.

There are two categories of property:

1.                 REAL PROPERTY

2.                 PERSONAL PROPERTY 

Real Property, which is property that is immovable, land and things permanently attached to the land.  The ownership of real property is transferred from one person to another by a DEED, in which the seller of the land is referred to and the GRANTOR and the buyer is the GRANTEE. 


Personal Property, which is property that is not land or attached to land. Personal property may be classified into two categories.


1.                 TANGIBLE – you can touch it (car, furniture, etc.)

2.                 INTANGIBLE – you cannot touch it (stock certificate, promissory note)


Tangible things have a “face” value.  Example, a car’s value comes from the fact that it is a car (make/model).  Intangible things are inherently worth very little, like a piece of paper, but they represent something much more significant.  (stock certificate, $10 bill, promissory note, etc.)


Why is this important?  There may be some items on the land or realty that become attached but still are not considered a part of the realty. 


How would you define a 1970 Sedan that has remained parked on your neighbor's front lawn for 10 years?  We will address this a little later. 

FIXTURES:  Now you could take something that is moveable, is not attached to land, like a dishwasher, or a rosebush in a pot, and attach it to the land.  That would change its character from personal to real.  An object whose character has been changed in this way is a FIXTURE, and once the fixture has been attached to the land it usually becomes part of the realty.  However, if you are renting an apartment and you install a ceiling fan, doe the ceiling fan become owned by the owner of the apartment building?


The law uses a three-way test to determine if the fan is now part of the real estate.  These are annexation, adaptation and intention.

1.                 ANNEXATION asks to question, how is it attached?  Is it meant to be permanent? Nailing something to the wall is a lot different than scotch taping it.

2.                 ADAPTATION asks the question, was this item of person property modified to fit in this particular space, like the wooden shelves cut a certain length to fit in a built-in bookcase.

3.                 INTENTION asks the question, what did the person installing the item intend? If the owner of the apartment installed the ceiling fan, clearly he intended the fan to be a permanent part of the apartment. IF it was the tenant installed the fan, however, he probably meant for the fan to be temporary. 

If the answers to these three questions show that the item of personal property was permanently attached, then it’s now part of the real property.

The law divides property into two categories for the purpose of inheritance:

          Probate and non-probate

PROBATE ASSETS are those items of real and personal property that can be passed to another person either by will or by the laws of intestacy.  While NON-PROBATE assets are those items of property that transfer to someone else at the death of the decedent, by some law other than the laws of inheritance.  In fact, non-probate assets cannot be transferred by will or inheritance. 

One thing that determines whether an item of property is a probate or non-probate asset is how that asset is owned.  In other words, it is important to determine how title to the property is held.

Let’s review the various ways a piece of property can be owned:  


1.                 IN SEVERALTY – owned by 1 person

          The sole owner of the property owns all the rights, privileges and interests that go with that property.

2.                 CONCURRENT OWNERSHIP – owned by more than 1 person at the same time

          There are several types of concurrent ownership:

a.                 joint tenancy

b.                 tenancy in common

c.                  tenancy by the entirety

d.                 community property

e.                  tenancy in partnership 


In joint tenancy, two or more people acquire interests in one piece of property.  The unique thing about joint tenancy is that ownership carried with it the right of survivorship, which means that when one of the joint tenants dies, his share does not go to his heirs or beneficiaries.  Rather, his interest goes to the other surviving joint tenants. While a joint tenant is alive, he can sell or give away his interest in the property, and when he does, the joint tenancy ends as to him.   In other words, a Joint Tenant can sever a joint tenancy by conveyance but not by will. 


 Amy & Bob & Chris & Dave joint tenants

Amy sells to Emily

Bob & Chris & Dave are Joint Tenants as to ¾ of the property and Emily is a Tenant in Common as to the other ¼.

In Texas, persons wishing to be jts must sign a written document in which they recite that they are to be joint tenants with right of survivorship.  If you do not do this, you do not have a joint tenancy, but a tenancy in common.      

To create a joint tenancy four events must happen:

1.     Unity of time – the joint owners acquire their interest in the property at the same time.

2.    Unity of title – the joint owners acquired their interest from the same transaction and on the same dealing/or source, the same deed or will.

3.  Unity of interest – the joint owners’ interests are identical in nature, extent, and duration.

4.     Unity of possession – Each joint owner as an equal right to possession to the whole of the property, but not a right to exclusion of any part.  This means that they all constitute a single “person” – “oneness”. 



In a tenancy in common two or more person each owns a fractional share of a single piece of property, but they do not divide the property. Rather, each person owns an undivided fractional share of the whole.


Example:  Farmer Brown dies, leaving farm to his two sons, Tom and Ben.


In a tenancy in common, each co-tenant, Tom and Ben has an equal right to possess or utilize all of the property along with the other co-tenants, but other than that, they each own their own interest and can do with it whatever they wish, without the permission of the other co-tenants and without destroying the tenancy in common.


There is no right of survivorship in a tenancy in common; when one co-tenant dies, his interest goes to his heirs, with each of them receiving his proportionate share, and all the heirs become co-tenants.


Example:  Ben dies, leaving 8 kids.


Since Ben’s heirs inherited through him, we would say that Ben’s interest in the tenancy in common was a probate asset. 


Each of those kids has the right to use all the property and the right to sell his own undivided share of the property.   


Suppose one of Ben’s kids decides to build a house on the land.


He has the right to do so, but the house will become co-owned just like the land.


Or suppose one of Ben’s kids sells his interest to his brother ex-wife Sharon. (Note:  None of the siblings ever got along with her). Too bad!  They cannot prevent the sale.  Sharon now has the same right to live in the house that any of the siblings have.  Is there any thing they can do?  Of, course.  What can they do?


DEMAND A PARTITION.  A partition is a division of property held in joint tenancy or tenancy in common so that each owner of an interest in the property becomes the sole owner of a separate piece of the property.




This is a type of joint tenancy between husband and wife.  Whichever spouse outlive the other becomes the sole owner of the property.  The difference between the tenancy by the entirety and a regular joint tenancy is that the husband or wife cannot terminate the tenancy by attempting to sell his or her interest in the property.  In fact, neither spouse can mortgage, sell or give the property away whether while alive or by will, without the written consent of the other spouse.


One of the real advantages of this type of ownership is that a creditor who is owed money by one spouse cannot seize the tenancy by the entirety property to satisfy that debt. Exception:  only if the debt is a debt of both spouses can the property be seized.  So in other words, only death, divorce, mutual agreement, or execution of a joint creditor of BOTH the husband and wife can sever a tenancy by entirety.

In some states, when property is acquired by a married couple the property automatically becomes a tenancy by the entirety.  In other states, a written declaration their intention to hold it as a tenancy by the entirety is required. 


Texas does not follow either rule, because in Texas we have a different type of co-ownership between husbands and wives . . . COMMUNITY PROPERTY!!!




In this type of ownership, property that a married couple purchase during their marriage is COMMUNITY PROPERTY, considered to be owned ½ by each spouse, no matter whose salary was used to purchase the property.


However, property each spouse owned before the marriage took place, or property either spouse received as a gift or inheritance is SEPARATE PROPERTY, owned only by that one spouse, and the other spouse has not interest in it.


So, if the wife works and the husband does not, the wife’s salary is owned ½ by her and ½ by her husband.  The car or house they bought with the salary is owned ½ by her, ½ by him.


Now the rules about the right to sell the community property are a little different.  In Texas, each spouse has the sole right to manage or sell that community property which he or she would have owned if single. 


Since her salary bought the house, it is subject to her control.  It is her SPECIAL community property.


On the other hand, if a couple went in together and each contributed a portion of their salary to the purchase of a house their two special community interests have been COMMINGLED with the result that the property is considered to be MIXED community. Therefore, if they decided to sell the house, both of them must participate; in the transfer of the property.


Now if the wife dies while they still owned the house or car, the husband still owns his ½ of that house or car, no matter who she gives her ½ to in her will.


On the other hand, let’s say the husband possesses a beautiful lake-side view vacation home.  If he owned this house before they were married, it is his separate property and his wife owns no part of it.  He can sell or give it to someone other than his wife, even if she assisted in the care of the home, or even paid parts of the mortgage on the house. This is because of the INCEPTION OF TITLE RULE, which states that the ownership of the property is determined at the moment the property is initially acquired.  So, if you know the history of a piece of property, you can determine if it is separate or community. (Attorney Note:  Wife may not own the vacation home, but she does have an interest in it . . . But we will inform her about her rights later, just in case Husband ever tries to divorce her.)


Question:  What if you do not know the history of a piece of land? How would you determine if it is separate of community? Texas law says if you cannot tell whether a piece of property is separate or community, you must assume it is community.


Additional type of community property:  QUASI-COMMUNITY PROPERTY.  Personal property acquired while a couple is living in a non-community property state, and is still owned by them when they move to a community property state is considered to be quasi (or “almost’;) community property.  If one of the couple dies while they are living in that community property state, the quasi-community property will be treated as community property for the purposes of determining who inherits it.

That's enough for today...we'll talk more later!



Coming to American: How Can I Live & Work in US?

Posted by texaslawdiva on October 25, 2013 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

Coming to America: How Can I Live and Work in US?


U.S. Immigrations provides several options for an individual and/or his or family to legally reside and work in the U.S.  Since there are so many possibilities, I am going to begin by summarizing the many options.  Once you see all of the possibilities, it can help you decide which option will work best for you.

The two main categories are the following:  permanent residence visas (also called “immigrant visas” or “green cards” and temporary residence visas (also called “nonimmigrant visas”.


A Green Card holder (permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As a permanent resident, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants a person a permanent resident card, commonly called a "Green Card." 

You can become a permanent resident several different ways.

a)      Family sponsored green cards

b)      Employment based green cards

c)      Green card lottery (diversity green card), and

d)     Political Asylum.

a)         To qualify for a family sponsored green card, you must have a very close relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder).  Who does the U.S. Immigration define as your close relatives? This list includes husbands and wives of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens, and children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens (including step-children). This category usually takes top priority over other family categories and in most cases can qualify for a green card relatively quickly.

Other family members, such as husbands and wives of permanent residents, children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens can also qualify for family sponsored green cards. But, these family members must wait for a green card to be available (there are long waiting lists), which can take anywhere from five to 15 years!

b)         Employment based green cards are another option as well. There are five types:

  • EB-1: for aliens with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, or multinational business managers and executives.
  • EB-2: for aliens with exceptional ability or aliens with advanced degrees (employer/sponsor required)
  • EB-3: for professional workers (with university degree), skilled workers and unskilled workers (employer/sponsor required)
  • EB-4: for religious workers
  • EB-5: for aliens who invest $1 million and create 10 new full time jobs (in limited situations, an investment of $500,000 and the creation of 5 new jobs is acceptable).

Processing times for employment based green card vary widely. An EB-1 or EB-5 application can be approved in less than 1 year. However, an EB-3 application could take more than 5 years.

c)         The green card lottery (diversity green card) is a government program designed to increase immigration from countries that do not produce a large number of immigrants to the U.S. There are a certain number of countries that are elible for the lottery. Thereby, only people born in those certain countries can qualify.  The program is designed to exclude any country that sends more than 50,000 immigrants to the US (for example, people born in Brazil, Canada, China (Mainland-Born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam cannot participate). 

Each year the government selects 100,000 winners for 50,000-55,000 green cards. The green card lottery usually is between October and December.

d)         Yet, another possible way to qualify for a green card is to submit an application for political asylum or refugee status. To qualify, an applicant must prove he or she has been persecuted in the past or has a well founded fear of persecution in his or her home country based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. Asylum applicants may apply for asylum even if he or she entered the U.S. illegally or if he or she is in the U.S. on an expired visa/I-94. Generally, asylum applicants must apply for asylum within one year of their arrival in the U.S. but there are several exceptions which will allow the filing of an asylum application after one year.


If you only wish to stay in the temporarily, you have several options as well.  There are 20 plus different kinds of temporary visas. Here is a list of the some of the most common temporary visas:

  • B-1/B-2 Visitor Visas, which permit a visitor to remain in the U.S. for up to six month (employment is not permitted).
  • E-2 Treaty Investor Visas, which permit investors from certain countries to invest a substantial amount of money and acquire a controlling interest in an active U.S. business.  The visa is issued for up to five years and is renewable.  The investor can work in his or her own business.  The spouse can qualify for an unrestricted temporary work card.  Children up to the age of 21 can accompany the parents and attend school, but cannot work.
  • F-1 Student Visas, which permit foreign students to attend U.S. educational institutions.  Limited employment is permitted in some cases.
  • H-1B Visas for Workers in Specialty Occupations, which permit employment of professional level workers by a sponsoring employer.  The visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed another three years (additional renewals are possible in some cases).
  • J-1 Visas for Participants in Exchange Programs, which permit business trainees to come to the U.S. to learn about an occupation or profession for up to 18 months.
  • K-1 Visas for a Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen.
  • K-3 Visas for a Spouse of a U.S. citizen.
  • L-1 Visas for Multinational Managers, Executives and Specialized Knowledge employees who are being transferred to the U.S. by a related international company.
  • O-1 Visas for Aliens with Extraordinary Ability who are seeking temporary employment.  This visa is issued for up to three years and can be renewed in one year increments.
  • P-1 Visas for Internationally Recognized Entertainment Groups and Athletes.
  • R-1 Visas for Religious Workers who are being transferred to the U.S. by a related international church.
  • TN Visas for certain professional workers from Mexico and Canada.  This visa is issued for one year and can be renewed in one year increments. 

As you can see, your options may be plentiful. Nevertheless, each category requires strategic planning, patience, and a solid understanding of the U.S. Immigration laws.