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The final-stage application is filed in order to obtain permanent residence status for a foreign national and possibly that foreign national’s eligible immediate family members/dependents. While the I-140 is intended to determine that there is a legal basis for granting permanent residence, the final stage is intended to make sure that there is no reason not to grant permanent residence. In other words, this last stage is meant to prove to the satisfaction of the U.S. government that there exists no ground for inadmissibility for a given foreign national – inadmissibility being a legal reason why an individual should be prohibited from obtaining U.S. permanent residence.
There are many different reasons why an individual may be found to be inadmissible. Possible grounds include criminal activity, issues with immigration status violations, issues concerning the foreign national’s financial ability to support him or herself in the U.S., health-related grounds and membership in prohibited organizations, among other things. Most grounds of inadmissibility we see among our clients pertain to prior immigration violations or criminal activity. It is entirely possible that someone with an inadmissibility issue may have a perfectly valid way of completing the first stage of the process (the person may be a well-qualified employee with a willing employer-sponsor and a clear way to gain approval of an Immigrant Visa Petition), but find themselves with no practical way to complete the final stage. Often, an individual with an insurmountable inadmissibility issue but with a willing employer-sponsor will ask “What if I marry a U.S. citizen?” Aside from the obvious illegality and immorality if done solely for immigration purposes, marriage to a U.S. citizen will in most cases only substitute one means of getting through the first stage (the immigrant visa) for another. It won’t have any impact on the foreign national’s inability to successfully complete the final stage. In other words, it won’t help at all.
It depends on the ground of inadmissibility involved. In some cases, waivers may be available depending not only upon the ground involved, but on other circumstances of the foreign national’s life. This is definitely an area where circumstances need to be examined carefully with an immigration attorney.
There are two possible ways that a foreign national may be able to complete the final stage to ensure that no ground for inadmissibility exists: by processing for Adjustment of Status here in the U.S., and by processing abroad through a U.S. Embassy or Consulate (“Consular Processing”) .