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 Tips: Facts About the Provisional Waiver for Unlawful Presence

So you have been found inadmissible to the U.S.  This is no ground for despair ad it may not be the end of your hopes for a U.S. visa or green card. As any specialized immigration attorney will tell, there are many inadmissibility situations that actually allow applicants to apply for a waiver. So what is a waiver? It is basically forgiveness of the ground by the U.S. government. You should know that different grounds of inadmissibility have different waiver requirements so you need to make sure you meet the basic criteria to submit an application.  A very important thing is the application itself. This will need to be carefully prepared and documented so enlist help from a specialized immigration attorney.

Long story short, if you are an undocumented immigrant who has been living on US ground for several years, can you get a green card due to the new provisional waiver? Below are a few clarifications from an immigration attorney.

Fact: The new waiver of unlawful presence is basically a change in procedure, not an immigration law change. So, you won’t get a green card or work permit if you have been living illegally in the US.

Actually, if the Immigration Services decide that you are eligible for the provisional waiver, you will need to travel back to your home country to interview for an immigrant visa at a local consulate or embassy office. Meanwhile, your green card may still get denied.

Who is this waiver for? This is basically for immediate relatives, including spouses, parents or children under the age of 21of U.S. citizens. These people, because of their family relationship, may have already met basic eligibility criteria for a green card – but they might have a hard time actually getting it. These are people who are forced to apply for their green card in their home country, through a process of consular interviews. Some of these people may however face a three- or ten-year bar on returning to the U.S. because of their unlawful presence of 180 days or more. According to legal experts, a provisional waiver will however guarantee you can get a definite “yes” or “no” answer from USCIS as to whether your returning to the US will be blocked.

If you have family members in the U.S. through whom you qualify for a green card, but you aren’t eligible to adjust status here (most likely because you entered the U.S. illegally); and if you believe you might be eligible for a provisional waiver of unlawful presence in order to safely leave the U.S. and obtain that green card, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney for help.


Your U.S. Immigration Attorney Tips on How to Stay Out of Trouble

Many people who are in a situation involving the US immigration services will not realize that even the slightest mistake can impact their visa or green card application. If you would like to be sure everything goes along smoothly, the first tip is to work with a specialized immigration attorney all through the process. Also, it helps to “stay out of trouble” by following a few essential tips, listed below.

  • Turn your application or renewal request in far in advance.

Planning for possible delays is always a good idea, but in the case of your work permit status that needs to be renewed, for example, you should always be prepared. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) can be an extremely busy office and if you want to avoid any legal issues, turn your application far in advance. This is especially important if your legal status has an expiration date. Failing to do so may end up in your arrest.

  • If you have a green card, file for U.S. citizenship as soon as legally possible. This will undoubtedly be helpful in avoiding any removal procedures and will ensure your more secure status in the US. Legally, people have to wait five years after their green card approval before applying, but a few categories can actually file an application sooner.
  • Notify the USCIS of any address changes. Legally, you are required to notify the local service of your changes of address, within ten days of moving.  Keep in mind that if more members of your family are under visa application procedures, every member of your family must send separate notifications. You don’t have to file the notification in person, but you can do it online by using the AR-11 form, currently available on the USCIS website.
  • Don’t be late on any procedure hearing. As any immigration attorney will be able to explain, this is extremely important. Never be late or skip any scheduled appointment with the USCIS, a U.S. embassy or consulate, or the U.S. immigration court. This can result in months of delays, for the best case scenario, but also can lead to your removal from the United States.
  • Avoid any form of  visa violations. Use the services of a specialized attorney to understand the fine print surrounding your visa, work permit, or green card, and follow the rules carefully. Violating even minor terms can result in visa deniability or deportation. Minor facts include working while you’re here as a tourist or helping to smuggle a family member over the border.
  • Take good care of your paperwork. USCIS is a really busy office and sometimes they may lose your documentation. Make sure all applications or requests are sent by certified mail, always keep a copy and a return receipt, as these will be your only proof of filing.
  •  Be careful who you accept advice from.  Don’t rely on friends and rumors, especially as legal situations can be so different. Don’t rely on minor USCIS employees either, rules and regulations are subject to change and they may give you the wrong advice. Do your own research where possible and, most importantly, take your unanswered questions to an immigration attorney.

How to Find an Excellent Immigration Attorney: A Few Essentials

So you have decided you need the services of an immigration attorney, to represent your case in court, or help you with US official organizations. A good lawyer can make all the difference to your case. You need to make sure you have selected a seasoned professional who will genuinely help. A bad attorney will overcharge you, fail to deliver on the promised services and overall bring more damage to your case.

Whether you are trying to avoid deportation or only seeking to file a petition for a visa or green card, make sure you get the right professional on your side.

Below are some tips to avoid the wrong type of attorney:

1)      Avoid representation from a representative who approached you in the immigration offices.  You will find these prowling hallways of immigration offices, attempting to solicit business from people like you. Please keep in mind that this is not considered ethical by the legal bar associations. Any reliable immigration attorney will be too busy practicing law and representing clients, rather than trying to convince people to hire them.

2)      Make sure you are not dealing with a petition preparer or consultant. Just as well as you would not rely on a nurse to conduct your surgery or ask a neighbor to fill out your tax forms, you should not be able to rely on any other legal rep than an immigration attorney. Sadly, many  non-lawyers claim to be capable of assisting foreigners who need help with the immigration process. But the value these so called pros will bring to your immigration case is nil. A worst case scenario would have someone like this actually take your money and run, or fill out your forms in a defective way.

If you manage to get in contact with a lawyer that seems legit, there are still a couple of things to consider. Any immigration attorney who suggests that you do something illegal or fishy will not be the best representative. If they start suggesting that you lie on an application or ask for bribe money for an immigration officer, this is definitely not the right immigration attorney for you. Such schemes are likely to get you more in trouble, more so than the legal practitioner.

If an attorney starts making unrealistic promises, make sure you meet these with skepticism. It is time to find another lawyer. A seasoned immigration attorney will not guarantee 100% success from the start. Keep in mind that your case’s outcome is up to an immigration court and to the USCIS.

You will be able to find out many things about your selected lawyer online: check if they are listed as members of a bar association and the AILA (Immigration Lawyers’ Association) professional organization.  Also, check if the attorney is mentioned in any online review, or in any professional papers. While most good immigration attorneys will likely be pretty busy, you should be able to talk to them and their office staff to get a sense of their commitment to clients as well as their overall demeanor and impression of honesty.

Immigration Attorney Tips: How to Keep Your Green Card After Getting It

So, you are the proud owner of a green card. Does this mean you have all the rights an US citizen will have and this is a status you won’t be able to lose, as a permanent resident? Think again. Below are a few rules you will need to follow.

What are the rules?

There are a few conditions to meet, once you have been awarded the green card, if you want to be able to keep it for life. There are criminal and immigration laws you must not violate, including one law that asks you to inform authorities if you change addresses, within 7 to 10 days. Another thing implies that you must not abandon the US as a permanent residence.

What law violations should you keep away from?

Most commonly, if you have committed a crime, you are liable for losing your green card. Your immigration attorney will confirm the fact that “the crime” does not necessarily have to be a felony or anything major. It is enough to have committed domestic violence, or to be caught using or distributing drugs. Even aiding a person to illegally enter the US, or aiding and abetting a criminal are causes. Basically, any crime that is considered morally wrong is considered a motive to lift your green card.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as a set list that tells you which crimes make you removable. If you get arrested for any crime, it is best to call not only your criminal lawyer, but an immigration attorney, who can help you avoid deportation. Don’t trust the judgment of only a criminal lawyer in this case, as they may unknowingly cause more harm and advise you to plead guilty on any of the crimes. Pleading guilty can have you deported.

There are other law violations that don’t fall under criminal law purview and they are still a base for deportation. One such violation involves getting married for green card, as a result of a sham, or any fraudulent green card obtaining methods.

Keep in mind that, in case you move and change your address, failing to inform authorities about that may bring about deportation.

Living outside of the US

If you believe that entering US soil once a year is enough, after you have your green card, you are wrong. As a matter of fact, if you leave US territory without an intention to make this country your permanent home, the law claims you have given up residency. So any border official is entitled to look for signals in your behavior, to look for travelling patterns and establish if your place of residence is not the United States.

As a general rule, if you have a green card and leave the United States for more than one year, you may have difficulty reentering the country.

Immigration Attorney Tips on What to Expect When Entering US Territory

As an immigrant or non-immigrant, you will be entering the United States through one of the border points. This means the first person you meet on arrival, no matter if you come in by air, sea or land, will be a Customs and Border Protection officer (commonly named CBP).

It might be a good idea to discuss with an immigration attorney before you enter the US, but in general, you should know what to expect and how to be prepared for your short custom interview. Below are a few tips.

What will happen at the Customs’ Office?

The CBP is entitled to inspect your legal documents. Their first aim is to establish if you were given legal permission to enter the US, and to try and establish if there is reason that they might prohibit you from entering US soil. Make sure all your visa paperwork is ready and in order.

One thing to keep in mind is that these officers are trained to be skeptical so be ready for “the look.” Their main concern is security so, sometimes delays may occur, while they are checking your name against several computer databases. A border officer will also be on the lookout for people who are trying to obtain an illegal or permanent stay in the US through a non-immigrant or tourist visa.

Sometimes, even if your papers are in order, if you are behaving erratically and you are not firmly answering their questions, these people are trained to consider you are lying for some reason and they may refuse you entry, start procedures for your return to your home country, even prohibit you from entering US soil for five years.

Another important thing is that you need to be prepared for a luggage search. A border official is entitled to check your personal possessions. This is why you need to make sure not to bring in any questionable items, such as illegal drugs or firearms. Any dangerous or illegal products found on you could bring about immediate removal.

What kind of questions will you be asked?

Any immigration attorney will tell you that border officers are trained to ask you any question they like. Keep this in mind and try to remain calm and polite.

A few of the questions you may be asked are listed below:

Why are you visiting the United States?

For this, your answer must be the same as the one on the visa. Don’t ever say you are coming to the US to find a job, if you are coming on a visitor visa. They will make sure to put you on the next flight home.

Where will you be living? / Who will you be visiting?

A border officer will want to make sure you have clear plans for what you will be doing in the United States. If you have no previously arranged places to stay, the officer might question whether you should be allowed in.

How long will you be staying?

Even if your visa says you are allowed multiple entry or one year, you may not be allowed to stay that long, so the I-94 card the officer will be handing to you will clearly set up a date for your departure.

Also expect other questions such as: “How much money are you bringing?” or “Have you visited the United States before?”


Immigration Attorney Tips on Applying for U.S. Citizenship

If you are a permanent or conditional resident of the United States of America, you know that you cannot become full citizen until you have lived on US soil for 5 years. You are probably opening your green card every day counting the days until you can apply to naturalize or apply for citizenship. Are there any exception to the rule? Read below to find out more about the process.

If you have got your residence through marrying with an US citizen, or via an investor visa, you will have two years as a conditional resident and these can count as permanent residence provided at the end of these two years, you successfully become a permanent resident.

What is the 90- days early rule?

Your immigration attorney will explain that you are required to fulfill the five years of permanent residence, but prior to that period ending, you can submit your application for naturalization with the USCIS with three months in advance. You will have to use a N-400 form, and the ensuing process is generally a lengthy one: you will be called for interviews, fingerprints, for application review, US history and government knowledge as well as a language test. As more and more applications are received daily, the USCIS will take at least ninety days to call you for your first interview, this is why it is recommended to start applying early.

What are the rules for people married to US citizens?

If you have been a conditional or permanent resident living in the US as a spouse to a citizen, your waiting period is normally three years. However, you and your immigration attorney will have to provide solid proof that you qualify to apply for citizenship. The exception actually applies to people who have not received their green card as a result of marriage, but rather got it from various other means, employment being one of the most frequent examples. To prove your marriage is not a convenience one, you will need to stay married to the same US citizen all the way through the naturalization and citizenship obtaining process.

If you are wondering: are there any exception to the marriage rule?- the answer is yes. Any seasoned immigration attorney will tell you that, an exception is made in the case of battered spouses of US citizens. According to new rules and regulations, immigrants don’t have to forcefully remain married to an abusive spouse for three years, in order to obtain the three year waiting exception. Your attorney will have to prove your spouse is being emotionally or physically abusive, and when this is done, you can apply for citizenship using this exception.

What are other exception to the five year rule?

People who have entered the United States as asylum seekers or refugees can use one year of that stay as a permanent resident, a situation which is generally called rollback.

For more information on the process, feel free to contact your reliable immigration attorney.

Immigration Attorney Tips: EB3- What Professional Categories Does It Imply?

There are several ways to obtain a Green Card for the US, as your immigration attorney will tell you in your first free consultation. In fact, there are 5 preference categories. The EB3 visa for skilled and unskilled professionals is probably one of the broadest, allowing many people to apply. However, this can also imply a long waiting period.

Below you can find information about the professional categories included in this EB3 visa with a few examples.

What professional categories does this include?

An EB3 can include three basic categories:  skilled workers, professional workers and unskilled workers.

  • In the case of skilled workers, the person will need a full-time job offer coming from an US based employer. Basically, in these cases the employer is the one who starts the process and aims to obtain an approved certification for labor coming from the US Labor Department. This will confirm the fact that the employer has actually tried to find suitable workers for the job throughout the US but was unable to find people as qualified and willing as the applicant. Technically labor certification is needed for all the three professional categories, although less so for the third category of unskilled workers. The visa obtaining process is typically a bit different in the case of skilled workers. The category may include workers that do not necessarily have a college degree but have at least a couple of years of experience and training in the respective profession. Computer and technical workers, chefs and journalists or graphic designers are a few job categories included here. The laws are not particularly clear about how much experience or actual training a worker should have to qualify. If you are trying to find more info on this specific requirement, you can always contact the local state labor department office.
  • In the case of professional workers, immigration laws are quite unclear on the definition. Initially, only professions like architects, medics, engineers and teachers were included. However, as your immigration attorney will explain, USCIS will accept people with a university degree who actually work in their particular field of expertise. So, if you have a BA and have less than 5 years of work experience, you will be considered a very good fit.
  • As for unskilled labor, you should know that only a limited number of green cards is actually allotted to unskilled workers. As a result, these will have to wait more than the other professionals. This largely depends on how many other people have applied for the visa. Keep in mind the fact that caregivers and nannies are considered unskilled workers, so this is probably one of the most crowded categories. Basically any occupation that has required less than two years of training can be considered unskilled. Nurses, garden workers can also be included in such categories. As your specialized accidents attorney will tell you, your qualifications must satisfy all the requirements of the job, otherwise you may not get the visa.

3 Essential Things Your Immigration Attorney Will Do to Make Sure Your Case Is Won

Finding a lawyer to represent you in an immigration case can be a pretty major decision, one that many people in your position will undoubtedly consider very expensive. You should however consider the fact that an experienced immigration attorney can actually make all the difference and may ultimately affect the positive outcome of your particular case. However, just hiring the first lawyer you can find may not always be the wisest solution and you should be able to choose the attorney who best suits your needs.

Below are a few things your dedicated immigration lawyer should be able to successfully complete, when taking your immigration case to court.

1)      Determine a plea and proper defense strategy based on your charging documents

As a sign that removal proceedings have been initiated in your case, the government will serve you with a NTA notification, which is basically a notice to appear where all the charges against you are to be noted. What does this mean? Basically that all the motives for your deportation have to be properly listed in this NTA document. An experienced lawyer will be able to review the file and determine if everything in there is correct. In case of incorrect changes, the attorney has to be the one who will notify the court. Many immigration cases are based on unproven or wrongful evidence and this is basically where your experienced lawyer can help: if the government has been unable to prove any of the charges against you, your attorney can even move to have the case or legal proceedings terminated.

In case all the charges are proven, you can move to discussing your plea and defense options with your attorney.

2)      Fill out applications and put together supporting documents

Once you have established a proper defense strategy, your lawyer will help complete all necessary paperwork on your behalf, specifically documentation that is sent to court. In this case, you need to actively involve yourself into providing the right information.  At this stage, the lawyer will also take the lead in working with your family and collecting supporting evidence and documents that may you’re your case. Included in this category are letters of support, country condition reports, US presence proof, affidavits and additional information regarding your family. Another important step that your immigration attorney will make sure to follow is follow the rules of submitting documentation to court.

3)      Work on preparing witnesses for your hearing in court

Filing paperwork is not all an immigration lawyer will do for you, as they will typically speak on your behalf during all calendar hearings for your case. These are basically preliminary hearings and they do not compare to the last one, where you yourself will testify regarding your deportation case. In most situations, additional witnesses are invited to testify.  Preparation, for both yourself and the witnesses is vital so your lawyer will hold individual sessions with everyone to make sure they are prepared for questioning.

One thing that you should always keep in mind is that an immigration lawyer with a proven track record of won cases can be often invaluable with your deportation case. Don’t take this matter lightly, as you may not have a second chance to win such a difficult case.