A Canadian man called me asking how he, his wife and their daughter could become U.S. permanent residents. He and his wife were tired of the Canadian long winters and wanted to be closer to his U.S. citizen daughter from a previous marriage living in California with her husband and children. I told him that it wouldn’t be a problem for his USC daughter to sponsor him and his wife (the daughter’s stepmother), as they were the daughter’s immediate relatives, and thus could have their permanent resident applications processed within a year.  Because the step-mother and father had married before the USC daughter was 16, the step-mother would also be considered the daughter’s immediate relative, rather than just the father’s dependent.

The problem with this plan was that the father and step-mother had a minor child together, who was the USC daughter’s half-sister.  Because she qualified as a “sibling” of the USC daughter, her sister would have to petition for her as a sibling rather than as a dependent of her father. The processing times to sponsor a parent as opposed to a sibling differ drastically.  While the father and step-mother could be sponsored and immigrate to the U.S. within around one year, the USC daughter’s sponsorship of her sister would take approximately 13 years!  Predictably, the family had no interest in waiting over a decade to immigrate. 

To allow the family to relocate to the U.S. right away, with a long-term plan to become immigrants, I structured the following plan.  The Canadian father had a previous employer in California who was willing to hire and sponsor him on a TN visa.  The father was a mechanical engineer and easily qualified for the TN for the employer’s equipment manufacturing company.  We prepared the TN petition and the father travelled to the U.S./Canadian border for processing.  He was easily approved.  Shortly thereafter, the family moved to the U.S.  As you may know, a TN applicant must have strictly non-immigrant intent, and must not intend to stay in the United States on a permanent basis. The father confided to me that he actually had no idea whether he and his family would enjoy living in the United States, and therefore, in reality they didn’t have immigrant intent when they first moved down.  As a matter of fact, the family initially moved to Arizona and hated the summer heat so much that a few months later they packed their bags and returned to Canada.  They tried moving down to the U.S. again approximately one year later, this time landing in Florida, again on TN status.  The Florida move worked out much better, and they stayed.

About three months after the family moved to Florida, they contacted me to let me know that they had decided to pursue their green cards.  The next step was for the USC daughter to file an I-130 petition ONLY for her step-mother.  This was the way to go because after the step-mother obtained her green card, the father could stay on TN status with his minor daughter as a dependent.  Approximately a year later, the mother became a permanent resident.  No interview was required.

While we were waiting for the step-mother’s permanent resident status to be approved, we prepared both the father and minor daughter’s adjustment of status petitions, so they would be ready to go when the step-mother’s status came through.

When it did, the step-mother filed I-130’s for her husband and minor daughter.  We checked the F-2A category priority dates, and it looked like their priority dates would become current in approximately a year and a half. Although that was after their TN and TD visas would expire, based on then current processing times, it looked like they would receive their Advance Parole documents allowing them to travel and their Employment Authorization Documents allowing them to work, before their TN/TD visas expired.  That was important so that there would be no gap in the father’s ability to work in the U.S.

Right on schedule the father and daughter got their AP/EAD cards before their TN/TD expiration, and about a year later, they attended their adjustment of status interviews and were approved.  The whole process took several years, but the family is now living happily in Florida as permanent residents.

Let the Law Offices of Marla Schechter evaluate your objectives and determine whether we can help you reach your short- and long-term immigration goals.

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