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 this last summer and we plan on getting married before this date so that I can stay in the US to
continue live together and raise her kid.
When should we begin to file the papers (I-131....) ? Am I going to have to go back to France knowing that I am NOT subject to
the 2-year rule ?
Can I get a fiance visa or any other thing that could make me stay in the US while I wait for my work authorization and green card ?
Do we have to see a lawyer or can we fill the papers by ourselves?
Thank you in advance
You should first verify that you are not subject to the J-1 "home stay" requirement. If you find that you are subject to the rule there is a process for requesting a waiver through the French consulate in the U.S. Because you entered the U.S. on a valid J-1 visa - If you are not subject to the "home Stay" requirement you may adjust status in the U.S. You are not required to return to your home country for processing if your J-1 is clear of the return requirement. As for returning to France during processing - if you file for adjustment of status in the U.S. you should not leave the U.S. until the process is complete. If you do so without an advance parole document your petitions and applications will be cancelled for abandonment.
You can apply for a green card without going back to France one you got married. I recommend applying before your current status expires. You must make sure that you are not subject to 2 year home residency under INA 212(e). I recommend hiring a lawyer unless you absolutely know what to do.
I agree with my colleague. To answer your question about whether you have to see an attorney, you can of course apply on your own and fill out the required forms. But the procedural timing aspects, and the potential consequences of what is put on the application forms are some of the reasons why some people choose to hire an attorney to assist them in the process. It may be best for you to seek the advise of an attorney to at the very least guide you in the right direction. Good luck.
The Law Office of Elliot M.S. Yi, 2075 SW First Avenue, Ste 2J, Portland, Oregon, 97201 www.emsylaw.com; email@example.com; 503-951-8209. This answer is intended for general informational purposes only and does not create an attorney-client relationship. The statement above does not constitute legal advice, as all the facts are not known.
On the top of the advice given by my colleagues, I would also suggest that you request and obtain an Advisory Opinion to. Make sure that you are not a subject to the home residence requirement.
Nothing in this post shall be construed as a legal advice. If you need advice regarding your particular situation, please contact my office directly. This information is transferred without an intent to creat an attorney-client relationship.