Joining husband of ten years in USA - ask international non-resident income tax expert preparation & immigration consultant

Expert:         [email protected]
Date:           Saturday January 06, 2007
Time:           09:51 PM -0500


My daughter of 10 was born in VA I married her father in Florida in 1997 and I have two other girls that were born in Canada my husband and I have been in this relation ship for almost 12 years I have lived in Canada and he is the US going back and forth because we have never know the ways to move us all together as one family we are not rich and cannot afford a lawyer to do all this I have called and called but get different answers always from all I call at immigration can you help me with the steps in this I am tired and it is really putting a strain on our lives living this way in two different worlds.
please help
thank you

david ingram replies:

With the costs of your husband's going back and forth for "x" number of years and the maintenance of two households, I bet legal help would have been a whole lot cheaper.  I am not a lawyer or member of the AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association".

However, I can help steer you in the right direction.  The following is based upon the fact that the other two daughters are also those of your husband and already US citizens as children of a US citizen parent and not from a previous marriage.  If they are your children and not his, the situation is different and it would likely be better if your husband had adopted them.

You cab find a lot of information at

Immediate Relative family based category

This category permits resident alien *(green card) petitions to be filed by United States citizens on behalf of their immediate relatives. Immediate relatives here means the children, spouses and parents of a United States citizen.  This does not apply to you but for a son or daughter to sponsor his or her parent, that child must be 21 years of age or more. (i.e. your CA born daughter could sponsor you to live in the US but not until she is 21). 

For this purpose, children are under 21 years of age, while sons and daughters are 21 years of age and over. In addition, there is no numerical limitation for immediate relative petitions. This means that Immediate Relative Family based petitions are processed immediately.

Because you have been married for ten years and have children, it is unlikely the the USCIS would look upon your marriage as artificial or a "marriage of convenience".  For an example of what happens with a marriage of convenience, rent the movie "GREEN CARD". Therefore, there should not be a lot of suspicious questions.
Because you are married, your paperwork has to be processed through the US Consulate in Montreal.  Getting your paperwork together means not having to make the trip twice.
If I was answering this for your husband, I would say something like the following:
How to sponsor your spouse?
  1. I am assuming that can make sense of "fill in the blank" documents that can be a bit tricky. I am also assuming that neither you nor your spouse have any problems such as a medical condition or a criminal record.  If this is the case, Hire an attorney and make sure that they are a member of the AILA. You start with the I-130 at
  2. This advice works best for simple, straightforward cases. 
  3. Visit the USCIS  website at Today, the best resource for the latest information is the USCIS website.
  4. Make sure you meet all the criteria, in particular, the income if you meet all the criteria, particularly the income criteria at and/or
  5. Print all the forms and instructions and fill them neatly by hand because it is easier than trying to fit in stuff on the form by computer at this point..
  6. Then, have a smart or picky friend or family member review them for you. If okay, you can use the fillable form feature on the site to make nice looking forms for submission.
  7. Make a checklist and get it all together in one pile.
  8. Check it again. 
  9. If you are not sure, try a Google Search.  If still in doubt, search the USCIS website. You can also phone the USCIS.  Every major city will have a couple of volunteer organizations.  Many churches have organizations set up to help refugees, etc.  And most military bases will have someone who is knowledgeable because of the necessity of bringing foreign spouses back when a serviceman (woman) marries overseas.
  10. Get that same picky person look at it again.  If you are still not sure, this might be a point to hire an attorney (member of AILA) to check it again for you.
  11. Do NOT be creative.  Yours is not to reason "WHY?"  If the USCIS asks for something, provide it.  Even if you do NOT think it applies, provide it.
  12. Not providing what is asked for only makes it difficult for you, not the USCIS. Bureaucrats love it when you follow instructions religiously.
  13. Send the application to the USCIS.  Cross your fingers..

What happens next?

  1. Wait for a reply from the USCIS with instructions. Follow those instructions exactly and in a timely fashion..
  2. When you go to your interview, take solid evidence of your marriage to prove your marriage is not a fraud. * Original marriage certificate, * Joint Tax return (you should be filing a joint tax return), joint ownership of assets, photographs of Xmas together, the wedding, the kids with mom and dad should be sufficient evidence in most cases. If you have a genuine marriage, you should be home free in eh USA soon.
  3. If all is right, you should walk out of the interview room with a stamp in your spouse's passport which is as good as a green card until the real thing arrives in the mail.
  4. Thank that friend who checked it all over for you.

The following older reply will likely assist you and gives you the paperwork to get started.

QUESTION: I am an American man living in California and plan to marry a
Canadian woman who lives in Toronto and is in the process of divorcing her
Canadian husband.  The plan is for her to move to CA as soon as possible.
Is there some sort of "legal checklist" that provides an overview of
visitation (for both her and me) implications, visa application, property,
investments, etc. for the interim period prior to finalizing her divorce and
Thanks in advance for your help.
david ingram replies:
This is an impossible question because everyone is different.
Moving to California is impossible to do without a residential visa of some
If she is a professional, it might be as simple as her applying for a job in
her profession and moving to the US with a TN (Treaty NAFTA visa).  She
would need to be in one of the 63 occupations that qualify for a TN.  You
can find these occupations listed in the middle of "Entering the US: which
you can find in the second box down on the right hand side at
If she has an occupation that is not listed in the TN category but she is in
a senior position, she might be able to go in an H category.  Everyone who
qualifies for a TN qualifies for an H and a lot of others do as well.  If
she is in management with a branch of an American Company, she might be able
to transfer under an "L" category.
Indeed her mother or father might be an American and could sponsor her to
the US under certain circumstances.  The parent should be living in the US.
If she does not qualify, you are going to have to sponsor her as a fiancée
and be married within 90 days of her going to the US or marry her first and
sponsor her as a wife.  If you do that, her paperwork has to be processed in
In the meantime, if a Homeland Security officer on the border discovers that
she has a fiancée in the US and intends to marry and live there, the officer
will not likely allow her to enter the US to visit you on the grounds that
they thin k she will try and stay there.  It is the border person's duty to
keep her out.
She (and you) should put together a "border kit".
This kit would consist of a 3 ring binder containing items like:
* copies of your last three year's tax returns
* copy of the lease or ownership papers of your residence
* copy of your driver's licence
*  copy of your car registration
* letter from your employer stating your job and that she / you work there
* copy of video club memberships
* copy of club memberships
* copies of phone bills
* copies of utility bills
* copies of Insurance policies
*  copies of anything that indicates you are intending to return to your
home country in a short period of time.
This is not everything by any means but should be looked at as a minimal
amount of documentation to have.
One form will lead to another.
You should look at the Fiancée petition to get started -
And you should look at the Spouse application as well -
Get to work!
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