This seems to be a season of lost spouses.
Today, I had the privilege to chat with another potential client regarding her spouse who appears trapped overseas. I discussed a similar situation in an earlier post. In this case, a gentleman went overseas to take care of family business in Nigeria. He is married to an American here in DC. He was gone for 9 months. BAM -- no return entry permitted. Now here is the debate: Is it better to pay less (at least in terms of legal fees; filing with USCIS is expensive regardless)and file your own SB1, K3 or appeal, and hire an attorney to draft the paperwork and send it to your spouse overseas? Honestly, the results are mixed in my opinion.
Assuming the party to whom you are providing legal serves is competent and savvy, they may be able to handle the drafting of the requisite USCIS/Consulate forms themselves (or with minimal advisement and review by counsel). However, where I DO find legal assistance is really critical -- time. My experience, and the stories told to me by clients who have tried it on their own seem to corroborate this, is that a bar license and attorney oversight on a USCIS case has the effect of speeding the review process (by the government) by almost 30% on average -- sometimes as much as 50%. This is especially true on citizenship applications.
My conclusion? If you are not comfortable making cogent arguments on paper and filing government forms -- get a trusty lawyer! Even more importantly, if you want your application processed in a reasonable time-frame -- definitely retain counsel!
Sean R. Hanover, Esq
Do you have a legal question? Let us help!