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Guillermo Senmartin
Guillermo Senmartin, Immigration Attorney
Category: Immigration Law
Satisfied Customers: 115324
Experience:  Principal Attorney at Guillermo J. Senmartin, P.A.
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May I ask your background with U.S. Immigration law

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Hello! May I ask your background with U.S. Immigration law regarding a passport holder/citizen of GHANA whom I want to pursue options for him to be able to travel with me internationally? I have known he and his family more than 2 years, and yes, I am very aware that Ghana is a 'bad boy' country! However, not every person in Ghana falls into that category! I have a 'history' of our meeting and relationship over the past 2 years which I am willing to share AFTER I know what your qualifications and success rate are...I am 'educated' in law (tax law) but licensed as a 'tax' professional...
JA: What steps have you taken? Have you filed any paperwork with the U.S. government?
Customer: Yes...In early 2017, he began the process of applying for a 'Tourist' Visa...we tried on our own which looking back, we made mistakes...I thought 'sponsoring' him would help, but it hindered instead! He was DECLINED in May 2017
JA: Have you talked to a lawyer about the visa?
Customer: No..
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: I really want to know more about the lawyer's experience with 'Ghana' passport holders AND his/her success rate before we proceed...
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
My partner is from a 'bad boy' country (GHANA). Approximately 2 years ago, he and I were introduced by a tax client, an international business consultant who had been in Accra, Ghana on business. The client had issues with his computer and was recommended to my partner. When the client returned to the U.S., he shared with me that he had met the 'male' equivalent of me. He said that this Ghanaian IT Consultant seemed so intelligent but was moreorless stuck because he was self-employed and just not making much money. My client was not in a position to offer the Ghanaian IT Consultant potential employment in the U.S. due to the nature of my client’s business (he traveled internationally extensively).
I have been in the tax law profession for 36 years. My Bachelor’s degree is in Accounting, and my Master’s degree is in Tax Law. Living in the US is expensive, especially for those on a fixed income and/or minimal interest income from bank accounts. I know I must keep working in my profession until either the interest rates increase markedly which they haven’t in more than 8 years, and/or I figure out a way to cutback on my professional work, and/or I decrease my living expenses.
This is potentially where my Ghanaian partner could really help me AND help himself…
I NEED and WANT to cutback on my professional work…
He NEEDS and WANTS to increase his income...
We get along marvelously…
So…he and I are together in Ecuador for 3 months exploring options for offering income tax services for U.S. expatriates in Cuenca, Ecuador (the current number of ‘expats’ in Cuenca is not exact, but there are thousands…some quotes are as high as 11,000 of which however many thousand are U.S.)
I have been researching becoming a U.S. expatriate in Cuenca, Ecuador since September 2017, including emailing back and forth with US expats already living in Cuenca. This initial 3+ months’ trip to Cuenca is to check out the prospects for he and I to work together in the preparation and ‘electronic’ transmission of U.S. income tax returns beginning in 2019.
The arrangement we have is both business AND personal. We have become very close in the 2 years of using smartphone apps (Hangouts and Whatsapp)…initially, we texted…then we began audio-chatting…then we began video-chatting. In a normal day, we communicate 2-3 times per day and probably average 2 hours per day of conversation be it texting, audio or video chatting.
I have come to know his mom, his sister, his niece over the 2 years…we have texted…we have audio chatted…and we have video chatted.
Our ultimate goal: We want to be together…we want to work together…we think Cuenca, Ecuador is where we want to be for now…However, that could change in time…
We found booking airfare for him to ECUADOR (a Visa ‘free’ country) was a challenge!
Travel by AIR was extremely limited for him because most flights from Accra, Ghana to Ecuador required travel thru a ‘U.S.’ airport. Travel for a Ghanaian thru a US airport evidently requires a US VISA. His US ‘Tourist’ VISA application was unsuccessful in May 2017 (denied presumably because ‘my’ name was listed as the ‘support’),Many flights from Accra, Ghana were thru a Schengen Area which requires ‘Ghanaian’ Passport holders to have an Airport Transit VISA (another unsuccessful application presumably because we did not really understand that ‘he’ needed to prove his own financial support rather than ‘my’ offering to help).
We did find an airfare from Accra, Ghana thru Brazil to Ecuador. He applied for and RECEIVED a ‘Tourist’ VISA from BRAZIL! He does have ‘income’ in Ghana, but we thought it was not enough to ensure his qualifying for either the ‘US Tourist VISA’ OR the ‘Schengen Area Airport Transit VISA’.
This initial scouting trip to Cuenca, Ecuador i. Though his ‘travel’ was successful, he must return from his initial arrival in Brazil within 90 days based on his Ghanaian citizenship.
Only having 90 days at a time or a maximum of 180 days in a ‘lookback’ year is NOT enough! This is not satisfactory for business or for personal !!
Preparation of U.S. income tax returns is generally done in the months of February, March until mid-April unless an ‘extension’ is filed by mid-April. For ‘expatriates’, the ‘extension’ deadline is mid-JUNE which makes the maximum 90 days virtually impossible to work with.
The country of Ecuador offers a unique ‘residency’ situation…the first 90 days is ‘free’…the second 90 days is ‘paid’…then, a Temporary Residency is available (assuming qualifications are met which they are for EACH of us) for 2 years with a maximum 2 years extension…then, a Permanent Residency is available
Even though I am educated in ‘law’, it is certainly NOT ‘immigration’ law!
We have reached a point where it is time to consult with ‘professionals’ in the immigration field, particularly now that US President Trump has signed an Executive Order on January 27, 2018 to enhance the security of the U.S. visa process worldwide.o
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
We are currently in Cuenca, Ecuador and do NOT have international calling other than via WhatsApp...
Also, NO TEXTING unless via WhatsApp...

Hello! My name is***** and I am a licensed attorney with more than 15 years of experience. I am here to assist you with your questions. Please understand that if I ask you for additional information, you are NOT charged again and our communications are NOT timed. So please see this as a relaxed conversation between friends. I am here to help. Also, please do NOT click on the Opt Out button because if you do, it would prevent me from communicating with you and then it could take a long time before another expert responds to you.

Sorry for the delay. I just ask that if the news is not good that you not shoot the messenger. Shooting the messenger is either leaving a negative rating (usually reserved for rude or unprofessional experts) or not leaving a positive rating at all.

I can only talk to you about U.S. immigration law. So I assume that you are not looking for him to immigrate to the U.S., at least not any time soon? How about him getting a green card and living most of the time outside of the U.S. at least for a few years? At the end, that might be the only viable solution if you are a U.S. Citizen. Are you?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
I am born and raised in the U.S. and a citizen of U.S.
Our goal is for him initially to be with me in CUENCA, ECUADOR NOT the U.S.
The issue that seems to be foremost is his TRAVEL 'out' of GHANA
It seems the only AIRFARE we have found that does NOT require either a US airport OR a Schengen area airport is BRAZIL (Accra to Dubai to Brazil)
As I said previously, the Brazilian Tourist VISA is a maximum of 90 days which is unacceptable...
Is it true that a GHANAIAN passport holder canNOT 'connect' thru a U.S. airport UNLESS he has a 'US VISA'?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Again, for now, unless you have WHATSAPP on your smartphone, we canNOT 'talk' as we are in ECUADOR NOT the US

Please ignore any automated messages for phone calls. I did not send those. Anyway, one option could be a C-1 transit visa. Here is a link:

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/other-visa-categories/transit.html

Of course, he still has to prove non-immigrant intent and strong ties outside of the U.S. If he tries and fails at this one, then unless he develops stronger ties outside, then his reasonable options become the following and none are really fast, unfortunately:

1) The K-1 fiance visa takes around 9 months, but you must have met before at least once during the last two years in order to process it. The is the form that starts the process is the I-129F. After he enters the U.S., then you have to marry and then you have to file the I-485 and he will have to wait about 5 to 7 months and gets another interview that you attend with your new spouse so that he can get Residency.

2) The K-3 spouse visa takes around 9 months, you must be married. The I-129F and also an I-130 are what are used to start the process. Then after he enters the U.S., he must still file the I-485 and wait for the marriage interview about 5 to 7 months later.

3) The CR-1 visa (or IR-1 if your marriage is more than 2 years old) takes also around 9 months (making the K-3 almost obsolete). You must be married. The I-130 is the form that is needed to start this process. But once he enters the U.S., he enters as a Resident and he does not have to file (or pay for) an I-485 nor does he have to attend an additional interview. He just gets his green card in the mail a few weeks later.

So the K-1 and K-3 might be a little faster but generally more expensive. The CR-1 (and IR-1) might be a little slower, but generally cheaper. And no, there is no middle-visa that he can use to enter the U.S. while that process is pending. He will most likely have to wait outside.

Here is a link to those visas:

http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/immigrate/family/fiance.html

and another link:

http://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Resources/Resources%20for%20Congress/Congressional%20Reports/I-129F%20Petition%20for%20Alien%20Fiance%28e%29.pdf

And yes, I know that you may not want him to get Residency because he will not be able to live long enough in the U.S. per year to maintain it because he is supposed to reside more than 180 days per year inside of the U.S., but if that will not be possible, at least at the beginning, once he has U.S. Lawful Permanent Residency, he can apply for a Re-Entry Permit on form I-131. This will allow him to be outside of the U.S. for up to 2 years. He can use it for multiple trips. If he needs more time, he comes back before the 2 years ends and then he can apply for one more Re-Entry Permit for 2 more years. If he still needs more time, he can apply again, but after 4 years, they get harder and harder to get and often only grant them for one year at a time. At some point he will need to start living in the U.S. and spending more than 180 days per 12 months inside. Here is a link to the I-131:

https://www.uscis.gov/i-131

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions and there is no additional charge. Also, should you need to chat on the phone, private email or need help reviewing documentation, I am happy to do so for a small additional cost. Let me know if you are interested in these – I am happy to give you more details! If you have no further questions (at this time) please leave a positive rating for my service. I would sincerely ***** ***** You can do that by clicking on the 3rd, 4th or 5th stars or smiley faces if you see them. If you do not see any stars or smiley faces, you may have to scroll up to the top of the page or click on my name and they should come out. Also, your session does NOT close when leaving a positive rating, so you can continue to ask additional questions without additional charge. Thank you for your understanding.

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Guillermo,
So you know, we are moving to another lodging in approximately 15 minutes, so hopefully, we can continue this conversation later today or tomorrow depending your schedule...
Is it possible for you to use WHATSAPP???
We have WIFI here in Cuenca, so 'talking' is preferred but again within WHATSAPP ONLY...
If we somehow get disconnected online (we need to leave in 20 minutes or 12 noon Cuenca, Ecuador time), how can we reconnect?
What are your consultation hours?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
should you need to chat on the phone, private email or need help reviewing documentation, I am happy to do so for a small additional cost.
Would you please share your additional fees for 'private emailing'?
He and I have already discussed 'marriage', and I am fine with that...
I want he and I to review each of these VISA options in detail over the next week or so before we get back to you...
Can you give us an 'estimate' of what your additonal fees would be to help us pursue this?
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Would you also consider chatting with us via WHATSAPP
Customer: replied 7 months ago.
Also, should I CANCEL this justanswer.com monthly subscription ASAP IF we are hiring you separately????

Hire me to do that? I don't really like taking Consular Processing cases and that's what this would be. Why? Because I dislike dealing with three different government agencies (USCIS, National Visa Center and U.S. Embassy or Consulate), and more importantly, I hate being the one between a loving couple that want to be together sooner rather than later, want to get the process done quickly, and an government that just doesn't care that the process will take 9 months to a year or more. I can provide you with a website that you can go do in order to find licensed and experienced immigration attorneys if you like. Would that be ok?

Customer: replied 7 months ago.
we would both be very grateful!

Sure. You can look for someone at www.ailalawyer.com. Let me know if you need anything else, but please do not forget that positive rating. Thank you!

Guillermo Senmartin and 2 other Immigration Law Specialists are ready to help you

Thank you for the positive rating. If you would like to request me in the future for a different topic, please remember to put FOR GUILLERMO in the subject line and message box. Good luck to you!