Immigration Law News
President Barack Obama Executive Action on Immigration
President Obama is Taking Action on Immigration
President laid out the steps he took to fix our broken immigration system. Enacted within his legal authority, the President’s plan focuses on cracking down on illegal immigration at the border; deporting felons, not families; and accountability through criminal background checks and taxes.
NEW Immigration Law
Top 25 Immigration Questions
Q: What is an Immigration Lawyer?
A: An immigration lawyer (immigration attorney) or abogado de inmigración is a lawyer who specializes in immigration law. An immigration lawyer can help you or your family member immigrate to the United States. They also help those people already living in the United States who need help with an immigration issue, such as getting a green card, deportation, asylum, and citizenship. Immigration lawyers also handle immigration cases involving those who want work visas or want to travel to the U.S. for business and students who want to come to the U.S. to study.
Q: Why do I need an Immigration Lawyer?
A: A good immigration lawyer will increase your chances for success. With an immigration lawyer, your case is more likely to get approved and processed faster. However, we can never guarantee success. An immigration lawyer will analyze the specific facts of your case and determine all possible options. Those options can then be discussed and evaluated in order to determine the best possible path to pursue. You can save yourself a lot of time, money and aggravation by hiring an experienced immigration lawyer.
Q: What is a Green Card or a Permanent Resident Card?
A: A Green Card holder (lawful permanent resident) is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, the USCIS grants a person a permanent resident card, also known as a green card.
Q: How do I get a green card?
A: The United States offers several ways to become a Permanent Resident. You can typically obtain a green card in the following categories: 1) Family-Based Petitions; 2) Abused Women and Children; 3) Special Immigrants; 4) Country Specific Immigration; 5) Employment Based Petitions; 6) Green Card Lottery; 7) Asylum; and 8) Amnesty. There are other ways, not mentioned here, to acquire lawful permanent resident status.
Q: Can I work while waiting to get my green card?
A: When you apply for your green card, you can also apply for a work permit to be able to work while your adjustment application is being processed. If you marry a permanent resident and are not able to file for green card yet, you can only work if you have a valid non-immigrant visa which allows you to work.
Q: I have a work visa, how can I apply for a green card through my employer?
A: The most common ways to get a green card through employment, include: 1) green card through a job offer; 2) green card through investment; 3) green card through the self-petitioning process for those with extraordinary ability or certain individuals granted a national interest waiver; and 4) green card through special categories of jobs, where there are a number of specialized jobs that may allow you to get a green card based on a past or current job. This is a very complex area of immigration law.
Q: Can a person with a F-1 student visa get a green card and become a permanent resident?
A: Yes, if you can find a job in the United States and an employer to sponsor you. You can also get a green card if you are married to a U.S. citizen or have a family member who can sponsor you.
Q: If my husband or wife abuses me can I get a green card?
A: Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), victims of domestic violence can obtain a green card through the self-petitioning process if they were abused or battered by a U.S. citizen relative or by a green card holder. The victim must provide proof of his or her relationship to the abuser, evidence of abuse, such as statements from friends or people who witnessed the abuse, pictures, and other evidence. Police reports are not required in this case, as it is very common that victims of domestic violence are in the United States illegally and afraid to seek help from law enforcement agencies fearing they will be deported.
If you need an immigration lawyer but can't afford one, you may be eligible to be represented by an immigration lawyer for free or at a reduced rate. Contact us for more information.
Q: If I am illegal can I get a green card?
A: If you entered the U.S. without documentation, you may be able to request a hardship waiver based on the extreme hardship to your U.S. citizen spouse or your U.S. citizen children. You may also be able to apply for a green card under the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act.
Contact us immediately if you entered the United States illegally. Everything you tell us will be confidential, so do not be afraid to speak to us.
Q: I overstayed my visa, can I get a green card?
A: It is possible that you may be able to get your green card if you marry a U.S. citizen. However, you really need to schedule a consultation with us to analyze all facts of your case. Please keep in mind that you can face a 3 or 10 year bar from entering the United States if you overstay your visa.
Q: What are J-1 Visas for?
A: If you wish to participate in an exchange program you may be eligible for the “J” category for exchange visitors. The J visa program is for educational and cultural exchange programs, including nannies, teachers, trainees, etc.
Q: How can I get a green card for a family member?
A: An U.S. citizen or permanent resident can petition to get a family member a green card. U.S. citizens may sponsor a spouse, parent, sibling, minor child or adult child (regardless of marital status) for an immigrant visa. Additionally, permanent residents (green card holders) may sponsor a spouse or unmarried child.
Q: Does my spouse have to file an Affidavit of Support?
A: An affidavit of support is a document a person signs to accept financial responsibility for another person who is coming to live in the United States. The person who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor (or joint sponsor) of the immigrant. The sponsor is usually the petitioner of an immigrant petition for a family member.
Q: What is a conditional green card?
A: Your permanent residence has all of the benefits of regular permanent residence, but lasts only two years instead of ten years. In cases where your permanent residence is based on a marriage that was less than two years old on the day you went for your green card interview, then your status is considered conditional. You are given conditional resident status on the day you are lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa or adjustment of your status to permanent residence. Your status is conditional, because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States. To remove these conditions you must file a petition with USCIS and prove that your marriage continues to be good-faith and you continue to live with your U.S. citizen spouse. Be aware that if you attempt to file the application on your own and it is filed incorrectly or the documentation is insufficient, you will immediately be placed in deportation proceedings and lose your conditional residence in the United States.
You should contact our office before the 90 days so that we can help you properly prepare your petition to ensure that it is approved. It is highly advised to seek the advice of an immigration attorney when preparing this petition as there are specific requirements that must be met.
Q: How do I become a U.S. citizen?
A: Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national. If you have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years (3 years for a spouse of a U.S. citizen) and meet all other eligibility requirements, you can apply for naturalization. Also if you have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements, you may apply for naturalization. There are other ways to qualify for naturalization that are not mentioned here. Please contact us for more information.
Q: What are the benefits of becoming an American Citizen?
A: There are many privileges associated with U.S. Citizenship, making it a life-changing event in the lives of many immigrants. Below is a list of reasons for why you should become a U.S. Citizen.
Q: What types of questions are included in the English and civic sections of the citizenship or naturalization test?
A: During your naturalization interview, an USCIS Officer will ask you questions about your application and background. You will also take an English and civics test unless you qualify for an exemption or waiver. The English test has three components: reading, writing, and speaking. The civics test covers important U.S. history and government topics.
Q: For how many years do I need to have my green card before applying for my citizenship?
A: You need to be a permanent resident for at least 5 years (3 years for a spouse of a U.S. citizen) and meet all other eligibility requirements.
Q: How do I get a fiancé or fiancée visa for my girlfriend/boyfriend to travel to the U.S.?
A: You need to apply for a K-1 Visa. It’s highly recommended that you get an immigration attorney to apply for a K-1 Visa for your fiancé to travel to the United States.
Q: What is the diversity lottery?
A: The diversity lottery is a Department of State program which issues 50,000 visas each year to foreign nationals from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. Those foreign nationals who meet the criteria for the lottery are placed into a pool and randomly selected by a computer program for the available visas. Only foreign nationals from countries that sent less than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. over the past five years are eligible for the lottery.
Q: Is there a limit on the number of refugees and asylum seekers that are allowed to enter the U.S. each year?
A: There is a limit on the number of refugees, but not on the number of asylum seekers. The annual limit for refugees is calculated each year based on the current global population of refugees. By using data provided by The State Department, the President works with Congress to determine the amount of refugees that should be admitted to the United States for resettlement. This total number is subsequently allocated by region (East Asia, Africa, Europe and Central Asia, Latin America, Caribbean and Near East/South Asia) with a number set aside for reserve in cases of humanitarian emergency.
Q: What are deportable offenses?
A: Deportable offenses are those actions for which an alien may be deported from the United States and return to his or her home country. Some of the deportable offenses include using fraudulent documents to enter the United States, providing material misrepresentations to an Immigration officer to receive a visa, committing certain types of crimes, overstaying a visa, voting illegally, etc.
Q: What are removal proceedings?
A: Very often non U.S. citizens are placed in removal proceedings. Removal is a legal term referring to the legal process of removing or deporting a person from the United States. You can be deported from the United States for various reasons including overstaying a visa, denial of immigrant petitions, criminal convictions, and other problems.
Q: What is an immigration hold?
A: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will normally place an immigration hold on inmates that are not U.S. citizens. If an undocumented inmate or an inmate with an expired visa has been arrested in put in jail, ICE will place an immigration hold on them which will prevent him or her from being released on bail until the criminal matter for which the inmate was detained is concluded. Once the criminal case has been concluded and the inmate has served his or her sentence, the inmate will be transferred to ICE custody for deportation. It is important for anyone involved in this situation to contact an experienced immigration attorney.
Q: How can I fight my deportation case?
A: There are many different defenses and strategies to fight your deportation, including but not limited to temporary protective status, adjustment of status, cancellation of removal, asylum, waivers, voluntary departure, citizenship, etc.
Q: ICE took my husband, can I contact him?
A: There is no way for family members to contact detainees until the detainee is processed by ICE and sent to a county jail in New York or New Jersey. To find out what jail the detainee has been transferred to, you need to check ICE’s online detainee locator system. https://locator.ice.gov/odls/homePage.do
Q: What is mandatory detention?
A: The Immigration and Nationality Act and federal regulations state that the government must take you into custody and hold you without bond if you have been convicted of certain removable offenses and released from jail after October 8, 1998. If you were convicted of a removable offense but not sentenced to jail (for example if you were sentenced to community service, probation, or a conditional discharge) you may still be eligible for bond. If you think that you are entitled to bond, you must write to the immigration court and ask for a “Joseph Hearing” where you can try to convince the judge that the mandatory detention law does not apply to you.
Q: What is a Merits Hearing or Individual Hearing?
A: The merits hearing also called the individual hearing is the final hearing before an Immigration Judge. It is the trial stage of the removal proceedings. At the end of the hearing the Immigration Judge will make his or her final decision to either allow you to stay in the United States or order you to be deported. During the hearing, you will testify and present evidence and witnesses on your behalf to support your application for relief from removal. Also the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) government attorney will be present and he or she will question you and your witnesses, and present evidence to the Immigration Judge for why you should be deported.
Q: Do Canadian citizens need a visa to enter the United States?
A: If you are a citizen of Canada you do not need a non-immigrant visa to visit the U.S.