Are You Eligible for a Green Card Based on Relations?

Many people from other countries have a strong desire to come to the US to chase the American dream. However, this dream is not easy to achieve. America’s immigration laws are strict and difficult. In order for a non-American to get their hands on a green card, they have to overcome mountains of hindrances—legalities that follow stringent rules. There are rules, however, that make it easier for some people to get their green cards. Continue reading to know if you are one of these lucky people.

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

Immediate relatives of American citizens have it easier than most when it comes to getting their green cards.  The most amazing thing when you get included in this category is that there are unlimited slots for applicants and they can get their green cards fast. You are qualified under this category if you are:

  • Married to a US citizen or a widow of a US citizen you are eligible for a green card. Same sex spouses are also eligible as long as the marriage was done in a country where same-sex marriage is legal.
  • A child of at least one US citizen parent and is below the age of 21.
  • You are a parent of a US citizen whose age is 21 years old.
  • Stepchildren of US citizens, if your parent and stepparent married before you were 18.
  • Adopted child of US citizens as long as your age when adopted was 16 years and below.

Other Family Members

For other family members of US citizens who did not qualify at the first category, they still have a chance of getting their green cards, but not as easy and only a limited number of them could get green cards. Another important information to note is that if you belong to this category, you have to act fast because it’s a first come first served basis.  It is based on preference. First preference means more chances to get a green card and so forth.   You belong to this group if you are:

·         Family 1st Preference- 21 years old, unmarried and has at least one parent who is an American citizen.

·         Family 2nd Preference- you are unmarried and are a child of a green card holder and not yet 21 years old.

·         Family 3rd Preference- if you are married and are a child of a green card holder.

·         Family 4th preference- a sibling of a green card holder, 21 years old or older.

If you belong to any of these categories, you should ask an immigration lawyer to assist you in applying for a green card visa.  Immigration attorneys are well-versed on immigration laws and could really make a difference on your green card application. There are even immigration lawyers who offer free consultation.  Even if you don’t have any family member who is a US citizen, don’t worry, there are also other ways to become a green card holder, like if you are hired by an American company or if you win the green card lotteries.

Four Ways to Become an American Citizen

America is the land of opportunity and many people from around the world make it their goal in life that someday they would come here to become American Citizens. However, it’s not very simple to enter America, much less become a citizen. There are many stringent laws you have to wiggle through just to get a legal immigrant status.  Even having a green card does not guarantee that you will become a citizen. However, if you have help from a reliable immigration lawyer, you might be able to pull it off.  Now here are some shortcuts to get an American Citizenship.

Green Card Naturalization

If you already have a green card, it will be much easier for you to become a naturalized citizen of the United States.  All you have to do is make sure you have your green card for five years, be a good person without getting involved in any felony and learn the basics of American history.  If you have passed all these requirements, you should talk to an immigration lawyer who can guide you on the application process.

Marrying an American Citizen

If you have had your green card for three years and are married to a US citizen also for three years, you can apply for a citizenship status.  There are of course many requirements for this method, which you should discuss  with an immigration lawyer. Some of the eligibility requirements are that you have a green card for 3 years and have stayed in The US for a minimum time of 18 months.  Despite all the requirements, you can tell that this is an easier way to get naturalized than waiting for 5 years.

Marrying an American Citizen Working Abroad (where you are)

If you fall in love and get married to an American citizen who is working in your country as an employee of the US government, you are in luck. This is probably the easiest way to get a citizenship in the US. First there is no minimum time of being a green card holder needed.   Second, there is no minimum time of living in the US needed just as long as your spouse is a United States citizen.

Join the Military

America honors the service of the people who put their lives on the line to fight for the country.  If you are a legal resident, but has not been naturalized yet, you will have a good chance of becoming naturalized by joining the army.  You have to serve for one year and if you have been discharged from military service, you have to be discharged honorably and without tarnish to reputation.  You have to talk with your immigration lawyer for the requirements.

Becoming a naturalized US citizen will open a big door of opportunity for you. There are many methods whereby a person can be naturalized based on the situation.  But one thing is for sure, having a good immigration lawyer helps a lot.

Crimes That Can Get You Deported – Even With a Green Card

Even if you are a legal immigrant to the United States, there are certain crimes you can commit that will get you deported before your visa is up. Some of them, like murder or drug trafficking, are obvious. But there are some crimes that can get you deported that you might find surprising. Take a look at these criminal convictions that can end in deportation, and contact an experienced immigration lawyer right away if you fear you may be convicted of one of them.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Theft

If you are caught stealing anything, whether it’s money, merchandise, or personal property, you could be facing deportation. You may be excused and allowed to stay in the US if you are only convicted of petty theft, and if you only serve six months or less in jail.

Assault

Like theft, not all assault charges will end in deportation. However, also like theft, if you are sentenced to serve more than six months or the maximum penalty allowed for your assault charge is more than one year, your chances of being allowed to stay are slim. Assault an officer of the law, and there is almost no chance that you will be able to stay.

DUI

Driving under the influence of alcohol or another drug may or may not result in deportation. It largely depends on the circumstances surrounding your DUI – if you were involved in an accident while intoxicated, for example, you are in much greater danger of having to leave the US than if you were caught at a police checkpoint.

All crimes of moral turpitude, including theft, assault, and DUIs, among others, are only deportable if they either happened within your first five years in the US, or you have committed two or more crimes independent of one another. An immigration attorney can help you improve your chances of being allowed to stay in the US if you can prove that your crime was not one of moral turpitude or aggravated felony, or if you would either be in danger when you returned to your home country or that you would be leaving a parent, child, or spouse in danger if you had to leave.

Crimes of Aggravated Felony

Fraud and Tax Evasion

Yes, you can be deported for failing to pay your taxes. If you owe the IRS more than $10,000 or were involved in fraud that involved $10,000 or more, you will almost certainly lose your immigrant status in the US and be sent back to your home country.

Domestic Violence

Child or spousal abuse is almost always considered an aggravated felony, and child neglect can also be an aggravated felony depending on the circumstance.

Other Aggravated Felonies

Other felonies that will almost certainly get you deported include such things as rape, child pornography, murder, treason, and even perjury, or lying under oath. Unlike crimes of moral turpitude, there is no time limit on the United States’ ability to send you back home, and there is very little you can do to have your deportation excused. Your best bet, if you are in danger of being convicted of an aggravated felony, is to hire an experienced immigration attorney as well as a defense lawyer who can help reduce the charge to a misdemeanor in immigration court.

Marrying a US Citizen Does Not Automatically Make You a Citizen

Many immigrants, legal or otherwise, mistakenly believe that if they marry a US citizen they will automatically gain citizenship. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Marrying a US citizen can, however, prevent immediate deportation if your visa has expired or you have been found living in the US illegally. These steps can stop or at least slow down the deportation process, and get you started on becoming a US citizen so you don’t have to leave your spouse behind in the future.

Marriage

In order for your marriage to keep you from being deported, you must be able to prove to the courts that the marriage didn’t take place solely to keep you in the States. If you have paid someone to marry you, for example, the deportation will likely still continue. You need to be able to prove that your marriage took place with someone you were already living with, or planning to marry anyway. In most cases, if your marriage is legitimate – and particularly if there is a child involved – you should be able to stay in the US for a period of time after your marriage to start the naturalization process.

After Your Marriage

As soon as your marriage has taken place, you will be eligible to apply for a green card. Apply for your green card right away, as this will work to further prevent deportation in the near future. Unless you have a criminal record, your status as “immediate relative to a US citizen” will make your chances of being denied a green card slim. Once you have your green card, you will have to live in the US for three years with your spouse before you can apply for naturalization.

Other Eligibility Requirements

If you have to travel outside the US during the three years before you apply for naturalization, you must be physically present in the US for at least a year and a half of that time, and your permanent residence must always be within the US. If you are planning to move to a different state, make sure you are at your new home for at least three months before you apply for naturalization. You will need to be proficient in the English language and have a basic knowledge of US history and how the government works, but remember that you will have three years to study and to polish your English.

Hire an Immigration Lawyer

Even if you meet every requirement and think that you are the perfect candidate for US citizenship, you should hire an immigration lawyer to improve your chances of gaining citizenship. There are several forms you will have to fill out, as well as a thick stack of your own paperwork that you will need to provide, and an immigration attorney can make sure that your paperwork is in order and you are as ready for your interview as possible. The sooner you hire an immigration lawyer, the better your chances of successfully becoming a US citizen.

Top Immigration Attorney Tips to Keep in Mind When Coming to the U.S.

As exciting coming to the USA can be, the process of immigration can seem overwhelming to a newcomer. To make sure you are afforded all of the rights of residency or citizenship in USA, make sure you work closely with a specialized immigration attorney. Just to get you started, here are a few tips and tricks:

#1 Be prepared for delays in your application and/ or renewal process

The first thing any specialized immigration attorney will tell you is that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will be constantly behind schedule. It may take up to three years to process an application. So, if you are already living on US ground, and you have applied for a renewal of your immigration status, you should be ready to wait for a long time. This is why it is highly recommended to apply well in advance of your expiration date, otherwise you may risk deportation or even an arrest.

#2 File for U.S. citizenship as soon as the laws allow you.

Generally, you will be allowed to apply for citizenship five years after your green card is granted, or three years or less if you have gotten your green card through marriage.

#3 Notify the USCIS of any changes in your status

This is for people changing address or work. By law, all immigrants who stay longer than thirty days must notify USCIS of any address changes. This has to be done no later than ten days after your change of address.

#4 Do not be late on your appointments with USCIS

It is important to make sure you don’t arrive late for any scheduled appointments with a U.S. consulate or embassy, immigration court, or the USCIS. Being late can result in your deportation. If any of the possible immigration tips is more important than others, timeliness is the one you should always respect.

#5 Always keep copies on any paperwork pertaining to your application

The USCIS is notorious for routinely losing paperwork.  Make sure you email all your paperwork only via certified email, and ask for a return receipt. Keep copies of all these.

Another important tip is to make sure you are in no violation of any immigration law provisions, all through your visa getting process. Know that consequences can be catastrophic, leading to deportation, visa cancelling or permanent ban from the U.S. Always rely on help from a specialized attorney, they will be able to assist with any issues related to your visa process.

Immigration Attorney Tips: Marrying a Citizen of Mexico

How to Get a Green Card for Your New Spouse

One of the great things about living in America is you get to meet people from many different countries all over the world. Given the right attitude, you can easily find out about all kinds of foreign cultures, customs, and beliefs, and have the opportunity to extend a friendly handshake, or perhaps more. Yes, not only can people enrich their cultural knowledge, but they might also find true love. International marriages are becoming more common, so you are no longer restricted to these shores to find the one person with which you plan to share your life.

Just one problem… you may not be able to share your life here.

The Risk of Deportation

The United States of America has always been a land of opportunity, but illegal immigration is a great concern when it comes to our state of well-being. So if you fall in love with someone who is still a citizen of his or her home country, you need to find a good immigration attorney to make sure this person can stay with you. Sneaking into this country unlawfully or staying here beyond the authorized amount of time on one’s visa is a deportable offense. Penalties will not only affect your loved one, but you may also face conviction for harboring an illegal alien.

How to Go Green

If you are a U.S. citizen (or a permanent resident) and you wish to marry someone from a foreign country and bring him or her to live with you, the spouse needs to apply for a green card so he or she can be considered a permanent resident. There are a few forms you need to complete and submit to the Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services to make this happen. An immigration attorney can help you file all the necessary documentation.

The primary form is the I-130, which is the Petition for Alien Relative. Once you have signed it and paid the appropriate fee, you will also need to present your marriage certificate, proof of your own citizenship or permanent residency, proof that any and all prior marriages for both you and your spouse have ended, passport-style photos of both of you, and evidence of all legal name changes. In addition, both you and your spouse will need to fill out a G-325A form, which will supply biographic information to the Department.

If all this seems confusing, contact an immigration attorney to represent both you and your spouse. Attorneys will work with the Immigration and Naturalization Services to make sure your loved one is just as welcomed in Uncle Sam’s home as he or she is in yours.

 

by Ali Golchin

Immigration Attorney: Frequently Asked Questions About H-1B Visas

by Ali Golchin

If you are looking into applying for an H-1B Visa, you could use the help of an immigration lawyer to guide you along the way. An immigration lawyer is familiar with the ins and outs of visas and will be able to help you prepare for the application process and tell you what to expect along the way. They will be able to ask any questions you may have and really make the process much more user-friendly. The following are just some of the questions that an immigration lawyer will be able to answer for you about H-1B Visas.

How long will it take for the H-1B Visa petition to be approved?

There is a yearly limit on new H-1B Visas that some employers are subject to. Before you file your petition, you need to make sure that you are eligible for one and not subject to the cap. You may find that you will have to wait to file until the upcoming fiscal year.

If you find out you are eligible to file, there are several steps and many agencies that the visa petition will have to go through. You may experience a wait as short as month or one longer than six months. You can check the processing times for H-1B Visas through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Can the employer make the processing of the H-1B Visa petition go faster?

Your employer or their attorney may speed up the process, but it does require a little work. First of all, the petition has to have been in processing for more than 30 days over the processing times that are posted on the website referenced above. If this is the case, the attorney can call the customer service number that is listed on their H-1B receipt notice and request adjudication.

The employer also has the option of paying an additional filing fee and submit Form I-907 for premium processing. The employer will hear a response within 15 days.

How long does the H-1B Visa allow immigrants to stay in the United States?

You can stay in the United States as long as six years in total. Your first H-1B Visa will be approved for three years. You may be granted a three year extension once those three years are up. The limit doesn’t apply at all if you are in the United States for less than six months each year.

These are just some of the questions you may have concerning your H-1B Visa, but they are important ones to have answers for. To make the process much easier on you and to increase your chances of being approved, you should hire an immigration lawyer to help you along the way.

Immigration Attorney Facts about the Provisional Waiver

Sometimes, U.S. laws can feel confusing for those who haven’t had to deal directly with them. However, it is always better to be properly informed rather than having to face unwanted “surprises” later on. Many people in the United States used to be afraid that leaving the country to obtain a green card would result in barring them from entering the country for three or ten years.

However, as of 2013, this category of people can apply for a provisional waiver of three-or-ten-year time bar, so that they can leave the country feeling more secure about the fact that they will not have to leave their lives (and maybe even families) behind for so many years.

Who is eligible for this provisional waiver, though? Here are some of the characteristics that may qualify you:

  • You are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. This includes children who are under the age of 21, legal spouses (as long as the marriage was legal where it occurred) and parents. However, it does not include a lot of other green card applicants who want to receive their green card based on their relationship with people who are already in the U.S. For instance, spouses, children and parents of permanent residents are not currently eligible for the provisional waiver – although DHS has promised to change this in the future.
  • You are at least 17 years old.
  • You are physically present in the United States.
  • You haven’t yet been provided with the consular interview date at the moment at which you submit your papers to receive the provisional waiver. Keep in mind the fact that if you have already received the interview date for the consular interview, you will not be eligible to apply for the waiver – and you will not be able to reschedule either.
  • You have to be admissible in the United States – if DHS considers that you are inadmissible for any kind of reason, they will not grant you with a “yes” for the provisional waiver.
  • You have to prove the fact that your relatives in the United States will go through hardships should you not return for three or ten years. In this case, the list of eligible green-card applicants is even shorter than in other cases because it does not include relatives of a U.S. permanent resident – only children and spouses of a U.S. citizen.

The most important thing to know is that you should be very well-organized. Follow through with all the steps of applying for the provisional waiver and make sure you submit all paperwork necessary. Last, but definitely not least, if you receive a “no” from DHS on your application for the provisional waiver, do not despair. You are allowed to reapply at a later date too. Sometimes, these things take time. Be prepared, stay focused and don’t lose your hope! Believe it or not, thinking positively can sometimes go a much longer way than people think.

Illegally Entered the US? Tips from an Immigration Attorney

 

So, you have entered US territory in what can be considered an illegal way. Does this mean you have committed a crime? Below are a few specialized immigration attorney answers and tips.

Under US immigration laws, is entering illegally a crime?

There are many ways of getting on US territory without legal approval, but no matter how you have crossed the border, you can be convicted of a crime and held responsible for a civil violation under the U.S. immigration laws. Illegal entry also carries consequences for anyone who might later attempt to apply for a green card or other immigration benefits. Keep in mind that penalties will get progressively harsher, if a person enters illegally more than once, or enters illegally after a deportation order was placed on their name.

How can illegal entry be defined?

From a legal standpoint, illegal or improper entry is more than just slipping across the U.S. border at an unguarded point. Improper entry can equally include attempting to enter US territory at any time or place other than one designated by U.S. immigration officers, eluding proper legal inspection by U.S. immigration officers , attempting to enter or obtain entry to the United States by a willfully false or misleading .

What is an inadmissible person?

A person who comes to the US without permission of the immigration authorities is considered legally inadmissible.  But what does this mean in legal practice? This basically means that if the person became eligible for a green card or any other immigration status, they cannot legally adjust status within the United States. By leaving the U.S. and applying from overseas, the inadmissibility problem could be solved – unless the person had already stayed in the U.S. for six months or more without a right to be there.

What are the criminal penalties for improper entry?

As an immigration attorney will explain, penalties differ drastically, depending on whether the person is committing a first or second offense. For the first improper entry offense, the person can be fined or imprisoned for up to six months, or both.  For a subsequent offense, they are facing two years in prison.

Are there penalties for reentry?

a separate section of the immigration law adds penalties for attempted reentry, especially in cases where the person  had been convicted of certain types of crimes and thus deported from US grounds. People liable for such penalty can be either ones removed for a conviction of three or more misdemeanors involving drugs, crimes against the person, or a felony. These can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. People who were removed as a result of committing an aggravated felony can face 20 years in prison.

If you or someone you know have been involved in an illegal entry in the US, the most important thing to do is to immediately contact a specialized immigration attorney who can help with the case.

Immigration Attorney Tips: What is VAWA and How It Can Act In Your Advantage

VAWA, more commonly known as violence against women act, is a viable way for spouses, parents, and children to petition for lawful status in the United States. What any immigration attorney will explain is that this act  gives abused spouses and children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents (LPRs) who are living in the U.S. a procedural mechanism by which to “self-petition” for lawful permanent resident status, ultimately an U.S. green card.  

How does VAWA work?

This mechanism acts as a substitute for the usual process, in which the immigrant must rely on participation by the U.S. spouse or parent. VAWA effectively cuts the abuser out of the process and limits his or her control over the immigrant.

What are the VAWA benefits?

Aside from removing oneself from an abusive and dangerous situation, there are various other benefits that come associated with a VAWA Visa. For one, it will empower a person  to thrive outside of an abusive relationship. More often than not, immigrants do not act on abuse for fear of being deported.

The benefitting person will additionally be able to enjoy government benefits. This can come in the form of medical expense assistance, food stamps, and various other forms of monetary aid. An experienced immigration lawyer will be able to inform you more about the benefits offered in your area.

What are the steps associated with the process?

The process involves many of the same steps as applying for any family-based green card. However, it can take a little longer. It will also be different for immediate relatives, that is spouses and children of U.S. citizens

  1. Putting Together The Visa Petition: A self-petitioner under VAWA prepares a petition on his or her own behalf, but using USCIS Form I-360. You should include supporting evidence, such as a marriage or birth certificate and proof of the U.S. citizen or LPR’s status. However, because the self-petitioner has to prove the abuse as well as the legitimacy of the marriage, gathering all the required evidence might take longer.
  2. Submitting Visa Petition to USCIS: Upon receipt of your I-360 visa petition, USCIS will issue an I-797 Notice of Action “Receipt Notice.” This contains a receipt number as well as a Priority Date. The Priority Date is generally the date that the petition is received. Once the petition is approved, USCIS issues an I-797 Notice of Action “Approval Notice.”
  3. Waiting for Priority Date to Become Current. As any experienced attorney will explain, the wait can sometimes take a few years, for a visa number to become available. Until your priority date is current, you are not yet eligible to adjust your status on Form I-485.
  4. Filing for Adjustment of Status. Within a period of months, you will be called into a USCIS office for an interview, at which time you will hopefully be approved for LPR status. Unlike regular family cases, your abusive spouse or parent will not be required to accompany you to that interview.

The easiest way to get your VAWA Visa is to work with an attorney to help you with the process. They will help provide you with the proper advice and ensure that you get through each step with little if any hassle. If however you are planning on attempting to attain the visa on your own, there is a process to do so.