I am a French citizen and have entered the US in January 2012 with a J1 visa "Trainee". My J1 visa ends in June 2013
I have met my girlfriend last year and we plan on getting married before this date so that we can continue live together and so that I can work here.
How long does this process take ? Am I going to have to go back to France knowing that I am NOT subject to the 2-year rule ? (On my J1 visa, it says "bearer is not subject to section 212(e) 2-year rule does not apply)
What can we do to make me stay in the US while I wait for my work authorization and green card since my visa expires in June2013?
Am I going to be able to begin to work while I wait for the green card or am I going to have to wait until I have a green card to be able to work ?
Thank you for the inquiry. After you get married, your wife can petition for you to get a green card and you can seek to adjust status here in the U.S. As for work authorization, it typically takes up to 90 days for USCIS to issue work authorization. If you are unfamiliar with this process, I recommend that you consult with an immigration attorney.
I will assume that your girlfriend is a United States Citizen for purposes of answering your question. If she is a permanent resident or in another status, then the answer would be quite different.
The length of processing your case will depend on different factors. First, where you live and where the case is filed, as Service Centers and local offices have different processing times depending on your location. Typically, if a case is properly filed and everything flows smoothly, you can expect to have an interview in 5-7 months after filing. Second, to minimize the risk of delay, you should hire an experienced immigration attorney. Any request for additional evidence (RFE) asking for evidence that should have been submitted or to clarify evidence previously submitted can delay your case; so can mistakes in the application or improper preparation for the interview.
Regarding your question about going back to France, if you are not subject to Section 212(e), you do not need to go back to your home country. If you and your spouse properly file the required applications, including your adjustment of status, you can stay and concurrently request work authorization, which usually takes about 90 days to processed.
You can begin processing the paperwork for your green card as soon as you marry. Once married, you do not need to leave the US. Once you file the entire process takes about 5 - 6 months. You should get your work authorization a couple months before it is final.
I highly recommend you retain counsel to assist with the process to make sure it goes smoothly. I am a little concerned about your comment, "we plan on getting married before this date so that we can continue live together and so that I can work here". The marriage should not be solely for immigration purposes. It must be a legitimate marriage. You may want to talk to a lawyer about what might help to establish that.
Assuming your girlfriend is a US citizen and you apply for a green card as soon as you marry, you can expect work suthorization within a 90 day time frame and a green card interview within 7 months. I agree with my colleagues that it is best to retain a lawyer for this process.
Rochelle Inger - 845-270-0601
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