Consulate Selection for LGBT Immigrant and Fiancé Visa Applicants

LGBT rainbow streetSince the Supreme Court’s decision in Windsor v. U.S. ruling on Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) holding it unconstitutional, many same sex couples have been able to marry and petition their spouses and fiancés. One cause for concern, however, is fear for the safety of the spouse or fiancé when applying for a visa based on a same-sex relationship in his or her home country. For example, many people apply for political asylum from their home countries if they have been persecuted for being homosexual, or fear being persecuted if they come out openly as homosexual.

In light of this, the State Department has set up procedures for requesting to consular process through another country if applicants fear that they will be persecuted by their government, family, or community in their home countries. This practice has been in place for immigrant visas since earlier this year, and will now be implemented for fiancé visa applicants as well.

The applicant must make a case for why he or she should be allowed to visa process in another country, and list alternative consulates. He or she should also keep in mind that a visa may be required to enter that country. A request will be made to the consulate, and if accepted, the applicant will be informed.

By Grace Alano.  Grace Alano is an immigration attorney at Alano Immigration in San Francisco, CA. Find Grace Alano on Google+

[Photo by Murrur.]

The Uber Wedding Has Arrived in TIme for Pride Weekend

Uber weddingI was just remarking yesterday about how fantastic it is to live and work in San Francisco.  We have so many apps and companies at our fingertips that help us live better.  For example, Google Shopping Express, which will deliver products from Target and other stores the same day for free, or Sprig, which delivers hot, healthy meals in about 10 minutes.  One friend said she ordered from Sprig when she was upstairs in her loft and when she went downstairs the delivery person was at her door.  She swears that they employ fairies.  A big source of relief in the past year or two has been Uber.  It is an app for your smartphone that locates the closest driver.  You just keep a credit card on file.  I have been trying to get my 79-year-old auntie in Los Angeles to get a smartphone so that she can use Uber.  She is currently either driven around by an errand guy or a limo company and can spend 20 minutes trying to arrange a ride.


This Saturday, in honor of Pride, Uber is offering free wedding packages.  What a brilliant marketing idea by Uber and the participating vendors.  You just select “Uber wedding” on the app menu tomorrow during a certain time period.  Of course, you will need to have whatever documentation you will need for the wedding license ready.  And, obviously, I would never want to encourage anyone to spontaneously get married, as that can lead to, as a family law lawyer friend calls it, a “not-so-spontaneous divorce.”  It can also affect how a foreign national who is married to a U.S. citizen might be able to immigrate (so you might want to talk to me first before marrying, as I am an immigration attorney).  But for the couple who was planning to get married at City Hall this summer and who is able to get a spot, this could be a great thing.


The Uber wedding ceremony takes about an hour and includes flowers, candles and cake from local San Francisco companies Bloom That, Bella J and Susie Cakes.  There’s even a toast.  But – get this – a honeymoon is included (Hotel Tonight arranging accommodations and Alaska Airlines providing transportation).


Why am I blogging about this?  Well, as mentioned, I am an immigration attorney and most of my cases are marriage to U.S. citizen green card and fiancée visa cases.  I’ve also officiated a cousin’s wedding.  Basically – I see lots and lots of weddings and I love them and the happy energy couples bring into my office.


Is this marketing idea crazy or indeed brilliant?  Is it crazy to sign up for it?  Time will tell.  Is it a great service if you are able to book a wedding before they run out?  Or will things be a hot, chaotic mess tomorrow or turn out sub-par?  I think a lot probably depends on the couple.


By Grace Alano.  Grace Alano is an immigration attorney at The Law Offices of Grace R. Alano in San Francisco, CA. Find Grace Alano on Google+

Meet Marilyn

Meet MarilynI’d like to introduce our new Legal Assistant, Marilyn.  She is a graduate of UC Davis and has previous immigration law office experience.  Marilyn is also a Community Organizer at OCO (Oakland Community Organization).  She is fluent in Spanish and speaks conversational French, is big on sports such as swimming, baseball and soccer, and loves to dance.  Marilyn is drawn to immigration law because she comes from an immigrant background, has close ties to the immigration community, and likes helping people.  I agree that as a field of law, immigration is about healing and helping people.  In particular, Marilyn likes working on political asylum and K-1, fiancee visa cases.

We look forward to working with you!


By Grace Alano.  Grace Alano is an immigration attorney at The Law Offices of Grace R. Alano in San Francisco, CA. Find Grace Alano on Google+

My Small Wedding Style Pinterest Board

As an immigration attorney who assists clients with fiance visas and marriage-based green cards, I am sometimes asked to give advice on wedding venues and even the nuts and bolts of obtaining a marriage license and marriage certificate.  My fiance visa clients must also plan weddings without really being able to plan them ahead of time.  Those entering the U.S. on fiance visas must marry within 90 days.  They also can’t predict when they will actually get their visas.  So oftentimes, the couple will plan a small civil wedding, and sometimes follow up with a big vow renewal with all their loved ones from across the country and around the world at a later date.  I often tell them that these small weddings are my favorite.  Whether it was a Scottish bride wearing a red column dress and fascinator and groom wearing a kilt at City Hall; an outdoor wedding at the courthouse in Marin County; a lovely small luncheon reception at a favorite restaurant or friend’s house; or a wedding at the beach with flower in hair officiated by a friend, small weddings are often the sweetest.  They can beat the 450-guest wedding with the cotton candy Cinderella wedding dress any day in my book.  All you need is love and a little panache.  In the spirit of lovely small weddings, I’ve created a Pinterest board with ideas for my fiance visa clients and hope you find it helpful: Grace Alano’s Wedding Pinterest Board.

By Grace Alano.  Grace Alano is an immigration attorney at The Law Offices of Grace R. Alano in San Francisco, CA. Find Grace Alano on Google+

Information from USCIS Regarding Temporary Immigration Relief Measures for the Philippines

Haiyan After Moving Through the Philippines

For those U.S. citizen petitioners with spouses in the Philippines, please be aware that USCIS is providing immigration relief measures:

In light of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines (named “Yolanda” by Philippine authorities), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) would like to remind Filipino nationals that they may be eligible for certain immigration relief measures if requested.

USCIS understands that a natural disaster can affect an individual’s ability to establish or maintain lawful immigration status in the United States. Therefore, Filipino nationals impacted by Typhoon Haiyan may be eligible to benefit from the following immigration relief measures:

  • Change or extension of nonimmigrant status for an individual currently in the United States, even when the request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired;
  • Extension of certain grants of parole made by USCIS;
  • Extension of certain grants of advance parole, and expedited processing of advance parole requests;
  • Expedited adjudication and approval, where possible, of requests for off-campus employment authorization for F-1 students experiencing severe economic hardship;
  • Expedited processing of immigrant petitions for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs);
  • Expedited adjudication of employment authorization applications, where appropriate; and
  • Assistance to LPRs stranded overseas without immigration or travel documents, such as Permanent Resident Cards (Green Cards). USCIS and the Department of State will coordinate on these matters when the LPR is stranded in a place that has no local USCIS office.

However, although the Philippine government did finally request Temporary Protected Status (TPS) designation, and the American Immigration Lawyers Association has been advocating for such designation, USCIS has not yet designated the Philippines for TPS.  USCIS is instead currently advising petitioners and applicants of the above relief measures.

Grace Alano is an immigration attorney at The Law Offices of Grace R. Alano in San Francisco, CA. Find Grace on  Google+Twitter and Facebook.