Q: In the US on ESTA with American husband – can we petition and apply for adjustment of status while here - due to corona?
I'm a Swedish citizen living in London with my American now husband. We've been living together in Sweden and the UK for over 5 years, and just got married a month and a half ago in Sweden. We're in the US temporarily to visit family, before heading back to London to start the immigration process (and pack up our life there) to move to the US. During our stay here corona hit the fan and borders have closed. We are kind of stuck here now, as flying is too risky and would also require us separating.
We have gotten multiple contradicting advice on what to do, and since these special circumstances due to corona - we're at a loss on what to do. We also have a big wedding ceremony planned and booked in France in early September, with all of our friends and family as most of them couldn't attend the ceremony in Sweden. So me being forced to stay in the US for several months during the process is not ideal either. We're really at a loss.
Jennie & Thomas
A: While I can't give you any advice on what your best course of action is personally about travelling or rescheduling your event, I don't believe anyone in your specific situation will be eventually punished due to US immigration regulations for sheltering in place as ordered. So you can at least ease your mind to that issue. Good luck, and congratulations on the wedding!
A: Dear Jennie & Thomas,
I am happy to hear that you are taking the necessary measures to be safe. The answer is yes. You can apply for your green card. I will strongly advise you to apply sooner rather than later to allow enough time for you to get a travel document so in the event things improved by September you can leave the US while your application is pending and return to the US and continue with your green card process. I hope this information clarifies your options. If you have additional questions you can always reach me at my office.
Patricia C. Wall
A: Yes. Your husband can petition for you at the same time as you apply for permanent residence. It is about a six to eight-month process under normal conditions, but it is hard to say how the corona virus will change that. It may be your only option at this time. Alternatively, you can wait until restrictions are lifted and you can return to the UK. You will probably accrue unlawful presence, but deportation seems highly unlikely, under the circumstances. Whether the US government would enforce bars due to unlawful presence is still in question, but if they did, and you remained in the US six months beyond the end of your authorized stay, there could be an extra step in the immigration process. You can always apply for an extension of your status, and under the circumstances, it would likely be granted. If you apply for residence within the US, you can also apply for permission to travel abroad and return without abandoning your application—not that you’d actually be able to go anywhere for a while. We strongly recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney, if possible.
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