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.

When to Find an Immigration Lawyer

Immigration policies have been the subject of debate among top ranking government officials for many years now. Some want to ease the immigration laws while others want to tighten them. All the while, many non-citizen immigrants are caught in the middle of the foray not knowing whether they will still be allowed in the country or be sent back to the place they left.

Being deported is a big problem especially for those who have already built their new life in the US.  Naturally, everyone who comes to live here wants to become an American citizen. However, the immigration laws in the US are full of technical twists and turns and if you find yourself if you’re confused, it is always best to contact an immigration lawyer instead of applying for a VISA yourself.

If you find yourself in any of this situation, it’s a sign that you need to get help from an immigration lawyer to sort things out.

If You Are Inadmissible

If an immigration officer says you are inadmissible to be a citizen of the US, that’s a big problem. Sometimes their reasons are valid like if you had a previous run-in with the law or if there was a time you lied to the government. There are also times when the inadmissible status is the result of some mix-up, like if someone with the same first and last name as you is listed as a criminal. However, a big problem doesn’t mean it’s insurmountable.  Many immigration attorneys are willing to help you if you go to them. They have the expertise and perseverance to fight for your cause to the immigration department.

If You Are in Immigration Court Proceedings

Being in an immigration court deportation (removal) proceedings is not where you want to be if you are a non-citizen living unlawfully here, because it’s just a step away from being deported. If you haven’t contacted a deportation attorney yet, then it’s time you do it. You can’t defend yourself alone and you need a reliable counsel to fight alongside you in your quest to hurdle the immigration court proceedings.

If You Are Overwhelmed by the Paperwork 

The most dreaded immigration forms are one of the reasons many people choose to remain non-citizens. They’re just too complicated and full of details that they can make anyone nauseous by just looking at them for the first time. To make the problem worse, a single mistake can lead to outright rejection, which means you have to start again. On the other hand, lawyers working on immigration services are already used to these paper works. They are highly knowledgeable about these matters so they can fill them out for you with the information you provide them.

If You Are Encountering Delays

Delays not only waste your time, but also your energy especially when your continued stay in the country you have begun to love is at risk. More often than not, delays are not caused by valid reasons.They’re usually because of the inefficiency of the bureaucracy to get its act together.  Often, technicalities only serve to lengthen your agonizing wait. However, you can solve this problem by contacting a green card attorney who can help you sort things. They know the law and all the technicalities that can be causing the delays in processing your papers.

When it comes to immigration and deportation problems, non-citizen immigrants in the US should try to get hold of a lawyer to assist them. The law of immigration is unnecessarily complex and confusing for a regular person to tackle alone.

Applying for Asylum? Tips from an Immigration Lawyer

Many immigrants who fear deportation turn to the protection offered under the asylum law in the United States as a way to stay in the country. With asylum, immigrants may be able to seek protection in the US if they fear persecution in their home country. Not everybody will be able to qualify for asylum, however. Use this guide to help you determine whether you may be eligible, and consult an immigration attorney to learn more about your specific circumstance.

Eligibility Requirements

There are a number of ways that you may qualify for asylum protection. You may be eligible if:

  • you fear persecution because of your race, religion, social status, sexual orientation, or political affiliation
  • your home country is experiencing a war
  • you or members of your family have been put in prison, tortured, or otherwise harmed in your home country in the past
  • your rights and freedoms have been severely restricted

Keep in mind, if you have been convicted of certain violent crimes or if the court can find proof that you have given support to a terrorist group, you may lose your eligibility even if you fit one of the above requirements.

Application Requirements

Applying for asylum can be challenging, and if you are not familiar with the process you will benefit immensely from the help and advice of an experienced immigration lawyer. To start the process, you will need to fill out USCIS Form I-589, along with some other needed documents, and mail it all to the office of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Then, your lawyer will work with you to start building a case that will convince an asylum office that you do indeed qualify for asylum.

You will have to provide a statement explaining what type of persecution you fear and why, along with as much documented evidence as possible of persecution you have endured in the past, the conditions of your home country, and proof of your political affiliation, etc. that you fear persecution for. When you have your interview with the asylum office, you will have to verbally communicate this information again, and bring your own translator if you need one.

Other Tips to Keep in Mind

You must apply for asylum within one year of coming into the country. There are a few instances in which this deadline may be waived, but your chances of being granted asylum are much better if you apply before the year is up. If you miss this deadline, you may still be able to stay in the country if you apply for witholding of removal or Convention Against Torture protection. In fact, you should apply for these as well when you apply for asylum, even if you are within the one year deadline, because you may qualify for one if your application for asylum is denied.

Applying for asylum is a difficult and lengthy process. The required documents can be confusing, and it isn’t always easy to determine what evidence can be used as proof of your likelihood of persecution. Hiring an immigration attorney gives you the best chances of winning your case for asylum, and even of being allowed to bring your family into the country as well.

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.

Visa Overstay: What it is & How an Immigration Lawyer Can Help

Immigrants who are already residing on US ground can generally apply for a green card, without leaving the country. This is generally  done through a status adjustment procedure also called AOS. Is this a procedure open to everyone? Find out by reading the following immigration lawyer tips below:

This is not for everyone

The adjustment of status procedure is mainly open to people who not only are eligible for green cards, but are currently residing on US ground on an unexpired visa. A few other conditions ask that the people in question have not worked illegally, and have not spent time out of lawful status.  Depending on their current visa or immigration status, some people are legally required to leave US ground and to attend an interview in a local consulate in their own home country.

For instance, if you are in the United States with an expired visa, then you are definitely not eligible to apply for adjustment of status.

What is there to do if the visa is about to expire? If you feel you are not 100% ready to apply for AOS, and you cannot fit into any exception, you can apply for an extension of visa.

Are there any exceptions allowing applicants with expired visas to adjust status? As with any law, there are some exceptions involved.

People who are immediate relatives of an US citizen- spouse, parents, minor children. This is not valid though, if you have entered the US without a visa or any authorized form of entry.

Immigrants who qualify under Section 245- an older law. Normally,  these people have had a visa petition or labor certification filed on their behalf by January 14, 1998; or by having been physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000 and had a visa petition or labor certification on file by April 30, 2001.

Immigrants applying for green cards on employment basis, who have spent more than 180 days out of status.

It will be tough to figure out whether you fit into one of these exceptions, and basically this would depend on more details that you may not have access to. This is why it is wise to consult an experienced immigration attorney. They may be able to explain the risks involved in staying on an expired visa – these can range  from status application rejection to removal and even a ten year bar on returning.

Immigration Lawyer Tips on What Crimes Are Considered Inadmissible for Visa Application

Did you know that a crime on your record can block your eligibility for a lawful permanent residence on US ground? If you are applying for either a visa or a green card, officials will make sure you are admissible to the US, and this involves an investigation of your past and all the possible crimes you may have committed. In some instances, a legal forgiveness application may be available, in other words a waiver, but this is a complicated process. Here are a few immigration lawyer tips about what crimes are inadmissible in your visa or green card application process.

  • Section 212A of the INA- the Immigration and Nationality Act includes several grounds for inadmissibility that indicate several crimes, past immigration violation acts or recorded communicable diseases.  While financial situations or immigration violation are considered small impediments, crimes present a major issue. However, not every small law breaking act will make you inadmissible.
  • Crimes appearing on an applicant’s record after the US visa or green card have been received can also be a problem, but there will be analyzed under a separate act of the immigration law, and they are considered grounds for deportability.

Below are a few crimes that the INA lists as being utterly inadmissible. One thing that you should know is not all of these crimes will have to require actual conviction in court.

–          Crimes or conspiracy to committing crimes involving moral improbity. This will exclude any such crime committed below the age of 18.

–          Violation of a controlled substance law by either consumption or traffic. This may include conspiracy to committing such a crime.

–          Any conviction or multiple convictions for a crime that made you spend at least 5 years in a prison.

–          Prostitution or engaging in acts leading to prostitution. This may also include trafficking video and audio material that involves human trafficking and prostitution or conspiracy to committing such a crime.

–          Human trafficking crimes, commission or conspiracy on such offenses, within or without the US territory.

–          Severe violations of religious freedom while serving as a foreign official of another non US government.

–          Money laundering crimes or acts of aiding, abetting, conspiring on such crimes

The list also includes such crimes as espionage, terrorism, persecution or sabotage.

If you are wondering how these crimes are discovered, when you apply for a green card or visa, you should know that you will be asked to declare them yourself. Even if an applicant decides to lie on the application, lies are usually unveiled. Lying is grounds for complete ineligibility and any further US immigration benefit in the future. This is why it is best to work with your immigration lawyer very closely and solve such issues in a legal matter.

Immigration Lawyer’s Tips on Sponsoring a Family Member for Green Card

There are many known ways by which an individual can become a permanent resident or a Green Card holder in the United States. Some of the most frequent are through the Green Card lottery, investment in the U.S., asylum or refugee status and family membership. Many people still consider the easiest way to get your Green Card is through the sponsorship of an US citizen family member. According to the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services), this allows a citizen to sponsor a petition for an eligible family member so they can permanently move and work in the U.S.

If you are considering this, you should really seek help from a specialized immigration lawyer. Here are a few things to consider before applying:

1)    Who does it apply to?

Immediate relatives of the U.S. citizens qualify, such as parents (provided the citizen is 21 years old or older), spouses (wife or husband) and unmarried children (who aren’t 21 years old yet).

This applies to the immediate relative category, but there are also other ways. You can be sponsored under a family preference category and this includes:

–       Children who are not married and over 21 years of age

–       Siblings (above the age of 21)

–       Married children (there is no age limit applied here)

2)    Who is given special priority?

Generally, the USCIS permits a US citizen to sponsor immediate relatives in order to promote family values and unity. So, if you are an immediate relative of an U.S. citizen, you are given special priority and you won’t have to wait to get your visa.

3)    What are the first steps to take?

A Green Card holder or U.S. citizen will have to first file a petition, by filling in form I-130. If there are more relatives that person is trying to petition for, separate forms should be filled out for each individual. This petition will require the U.S. citizen to provide undeniable proof of status; a proof of birth or naturalization. A certificate of citizenship issued by USCIS will be required. Also, as a permanent resident, you will be asked for a copy of your Green Card. Additional steps will have to be taken in order to prove the relationship with the sponsored person, such as original and photocopied proof in the form of marriage or birth certificates and so on.

There are many other things you should consider when sponsoring someone to get a Green Card visa to the United States, as your immigration attorney will inform you. As a full-rights citizen, if you would like to sponsor one of your relatives who does not currently reside in the US, you will have to apply for Consular processing. If that relative already lives in the States, there will be an Adjustment of Status to apply for, and in some cases, Consular processing will also be required.

If you would like the process to be fast and efficient, it is not enough to look for online forms and apply. In most cases, a specialized immigration lawyer with a proven track record will be able to help you assess your particular situation, help you with the required paperwork and make sure everything will go smooth.

Obtaining Asylum in the United States: Essential Tips from An Immigration Attorney

Obtaining Asylum in the United States: Essential Tips from An Immigration Attorney

If you fear persecution in your country of origin due to your nationality, religious or political beliefs, or race, you are entitled to seek asylum in the United States. Naturally, in order to ask for asylum you have to be physically present in the United States.

A distinction should be made between the affirmative asylum process and the defensive asylum process. In the former case, you affirmatively apply for asylum of your own accord. Bear in mind that you should apply for asylum within one year of your last arrival in the US. That is, unless you can provide convincing evidence of changed circumstances that affect your eligibility or extraordinary circumstances that justify your delay in filing the application.

The defensive asylum process refers to the situation in which you request asylum as a defense against removal from the U.S (Withholding of Removal).

Criteria for Eligibility

To qualify for asylum, you need to prove that:

  • You fear governmental persecution in your country of origin. Bear in mind that torture is legally recognized as a form of persecution, while discrimination or other behaviors are subject to litigation. However, the increasing effect of numerous types of maltreatment, including economic disadvantages and encroachments on your basic human rights (the right to work, the right to a private life, freedom of thought and opinion) can add up to persecution.
  • You have been harmed or fear wrongful treatment from local authorities. Consider that the army and police forces are governmental structures, so if you fear you may suffer harm at their hands, this also counts as persecution. The same goes for harm inflicted by political, paramilitary or religious groups that authorities are “unable or disinclined to control”.
  • You fit into one of the above mentioned categories. If belonging to a particular racial, religious, national or social group (the latter category refers to social categories considered more vulnerable to persecution, such as women, children or LGBT individuals) makes you a target for persecution in your country of origin, this will also weigh as a criterion when assessing your application for asylum.

Bars to Asylum Seekers

Even if you meet the criteria above, certain circumstances might bar you from seeking asylum in the States. You should not ask for asylum in the US if you

  • have aggravated felony convictions on your record;
  • have committed a serious nonpolitical crime outside the United States;
  • are a risk to the national security of the United States;
  • have ordered, assisted, or took part in the persecution of any individual arising from political opinion, race, nationality, religion or other discriminating factors.

How a Competent Immigration Attorney Can Help with Your Application

Seek consultation with a reliable immigration attorney before filing an application for asylum. He or she can tell you what criteria in your particular situation can weigh in your favor in the assessment of your application and help you put forth a strong application. However, be wary of lawyers who “promise” you a sure victory in your application or encourage you to gloss over some facts. Bear in mind that filing a fraudulent or frivolous asylum application before an Immigration Court can have you permanently deported from the United States, without any hope of discretionary relief.

Can I Immigrate Using a Marriage Visa? A Few Tips from an Immigration Lawyer

Are you one half of a dual nationality couple, wondering about the best means to obtain a visa and join your partner in the United States?
Your two main options are the K1 or Fiancé Visa and the CR-1/ IR-1 Marriage Visa.

The K1 Fiancé Visa           

The K1 or Fiancé Visa is the travel document most frequently used to bring a foreign fiancé to the United States. Under this visa, the person has the legal right to remain in the United States for 90 days. Within this period the two must legally marry and the spouse must subsequently apply for an adjustment of status, which will allow him/her to remain legally in the USA.
The main advantage this type of visa offers over the Marriage Visa is a shorter processing time. The average waiting time from the day you file the application to the awarding of a visa is 6 to 7 months for a K1 visa and 8 to 9 months for a CR-1/ IR-1 visa.
The second advantage the K1 Fiancé Visa offers consists in lower fees for the initial application (even if additional fees will have to be paid when applying for an adjustment of status).

The CR-1/ IR-1 Marriage Visa 

Although taking slightly longer to process, the Marriage Visa awards the foreign spouse Permanent Residency (Green Card) upon arrival to the United States. It also has the advantage of a lower overall cost.
A distinction should be made between the CR-1 Visa, the type of visa awarded when the couple has been married for less than two years, and the IR-1 Visa, applicable for couples married longer than two years. The CR-1 Visa awards the holder Conditional Permanent Residency for two years, while the IR-1 Visa entitles the visa holder to Permanent Residency for a period of ten years.
To sum up, the US fiancé visa process is comparatively quicker than the immigrant marriage visa process. However, a foreign national entering the US on an immigrant marriage visa will have a safer status than one on the K-1 visa.
If you’re interested in getting more information about the K-1 and CR-1/ IR-1 visas, it is a good idea to consult a competent immigration lawyer. A specialized immigration lawyer can help you get a clear understanding of the process so you can make an informed decision. If you decide to enlist his help, an immigration lawyer will guide you through the process, help you with the paperwork and enhance your chances of obtaining the visa.
Whether you decide to apply for a K-1 or CR-1/ IR-1 visa, it is important to gather the proper documentation and have them translated, if need be, up front, as this will save you a lot of precious time. One thing is of the essence: Do NOT lie to the US Government. Do not apply for a tourist visa when bringing a fiancée to the US for marriage, as this is tantamount to immigration fraud.