Immigration Information Now – Immigration Help When You Need It.
If you entered the United States with the permission of the U.S. government, you entered illegally. However, even if you entered the U.S. with a visa, your presence may still be illegal if you overstayed your visa or violated the terms of your visa. In fact, historically, more people have become “illegal aliens” by overstaying their visas than by crossing the border illegally. What may come as shock to immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally is that many of them could qualify for Green Card or another visa with a little help from an immigration attorney.
Obviously, the best way to immigrate to the United States is through the legal immigration process. However, hindsight being 20/20, if you or a loved one is in the United States illegally, you should consider working with an attorney to get legal status. The last thing that you want is to be in an immigration detention center, on an immigration hold, facing removal proceedings and deportation. If that occurs, your path to legal immigration just got much longer and bumpier unnecessarily.
Contact one of the Arizona immigration attorneys at the Pew Law Center today. We will give you honest, straight forward answers and we’ll help you find a solution to your immigration problems. Often, we can help when others can’t. The consultation is free, so there is no risk to you.
Legal immigration comes in many forms. It can be through family-based petitions, fiancé visa or marriage visa, student visas, employment visas, visas for entrepreneurs, athletes, religious leaders and many more. The legal immigration process is never easy. It requires stacks of forms, piles of paperwork, financial statements, background checks, medical examinations and that is just the beginning. Above all else, legal immigration requires patience. Very few immigration petitions are granted within a matter of weeks. Most often, the immigration process takes several months or even years. If you do not know what you are doing, it can take even longer or your immigration petition may even be denied because you did not do something correctly or failed to supply the correct forms or documents. That is why is usually best to work with a licensed immigration attorney. They know how to navigate the immigration process as quickly and efficiently as possible without needless delay and extra cost.
Family Based Immigration
The family-based immigration process generally begins with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioning the U.S. government for a family member to immigrate. Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, must be properly completed along with the supporting documents and filed with USCIS.
A valid family relationship with the petitioner and immigrant must exist. The immigrant must be an immediate relative or fall into one of the family preference categories.
If the immigrant is not an immediate family member and they are subject to a family preference category, the date that the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) accepts the petition automatically establishes a priority date and the waiting starts. The immigrant must wait until his/her priority becomes current before the petition is finalized and either approved or denied.
If the USCIS approves the I-130 petition and a visa number is available, the immigrant family member may apply for a green card. This time frame can vary significantly depending on if the immigrant is in an immediate relative or family preference category.
Essentially, there are two possible paths to a green card. Either consular processing or adjustment of status.
Consular processing is when an immigrant applies for a visa (green card) at the U.S. embassy or consular office in their home country. Consular processing is the most common way to obtain a green card.
If the immigrant is already in the U.S. it may be possible for them to adjust their status from a temporary visitor to a lawful permanent resident of the United States (Green Card holder). However, this method is only available to a few types of immigrants.
Family-based immigration petitions are complicated and come with a lot of requirements. Unless you have prepared and filed several I-130 packets, you can probably expect several costly rejections or even an outright denial. Talk to an immigration attorney to avoid issues and get it done right the first time.
Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of status (AOS) is how a temporary lawful visitor to the United States becomes a Green Card holder without having to return to their home country for consular processing. Current immigration law permits temporary visitors to change status to a permanent resident if they lawfully entered the United States and meets certain requirements.
Many requirements come along with the request for adjustment of status. One wrong step and the process could set back months or your application could be denied altogether. Consult an immigration attorney to avoid problems.
Removal of Green Card Conditions
Green Cards based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (current Green Card holder), are granted conditionally, meaning that the USCIS imposes conditions for you to keep your Green Card. Typically, the conditions will include that you must remain married for a period of two years and that the marriage be bona fide for the conditions to be removed. Once the required time period has passed, you may apply to have the imposed conditions removed so that you can stay in the U.S. indefinitely or even pursue U.S. citizenship. It is usually best to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer prior to requesting the removal of Green Card conditions. They can help you to avoid costly mistakes.
Green Card Renewal
Most Green Cards expire after a period of time. It is up to the Green Card holder to renew the Green Card before it expires. It can take several months to process the application to renew a Green Card. Generally, it is a good idea to start the process about six months prior to the expiration of your current Green Card. There are many problems associated with renewing a Green Card too early or after it has expired. It is a good idea to consult with a qualified immigration attorney to avoid potential problems.
Provisional Waivers of Unlawful Presence
Immigrants who enter the country illegally or overstay the time that they are permitted to remain in the U.S. under a lawfully issued visa accumulate what is called “unlawful presence”. Depending on how long the immigrant is in the U.S. unlawfully determines the length of time that they are barred from re-entering the country (either 3 or 10 years). However, some immigrants may apply for a special waiver of the bar and stay in the U.S. pending the processing of their immigration application. This means that they are not required to return to their home country for consular processing and they do not have to wait 3 or 10 years before lawfully re-entering the U.S.
However, an immigration waiver is not right for many immigrants. Applying for a provisional waiver without the assistance of an experienced immigration lawyer may result in negative consequences.
Employment Authorization or Work Permit
If you have an application pending for a Green Card or another immigrant visa, you may apply for a work permit. Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) are granted when an individual has a pending Immigration Petition for Permanent Residence or I-485. The card permits non-citizens to legally work in the United States for a U.S. employer but is not the same as a Green Card.
If you desire to work in the U.S. while your Green Card or other visa is being processed, you should contact an immigration attorney for assistance. They can help you get it right the first time and get you started legally worker faster in many cases.
Freedom of Information Act or FOIA Request
It is important to know what the USCIS knows about you before you file any immigration application or petition. If you are here illegally and the USCIS is aware of it, you could be asking for trouble. That’s why immigration attorneys regularly use a FOIA request to gather information about their clients. Attorneys want to get all available information so that they can provide informed advice. The FOIA request is also a great way to get information about your family genealogy. You can gather actual records filed by a family member that immigrated to the United States many years ago.
Affidavit of Support
The petitioner for a family-based immigration petition must prove that they have the ability to support the immigrant family member without the immigrant becoming a burden on the United States. This is done by filing an Affidavit of Support along with the immigration petition. The Affidavit of Support can be one of the most confusing immigration forms. It combines financials of a tax return with the complexity of an immigration form. But, it is one of the most important things to get right. If the sponsor does not qualify to be a sponsor, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not issue the intending immigrant permanent residence (green card).
To avoid delay or denial of your petition contact an immigration attorney for assistance.
Translation of legal documents
All official documents and records submitted to the USCIS must be in English or translated into English. The person translating the documents must be qualified to do the translated and certify that the translation is true and correct. A poor or incomplete translation can create problems and needless delays with your immigration petition. A licensed immigration attorney uses only qualified translators who will do the job correctly and submit the translation in the proper form.
Naturalization (become a U.S. Citizen)
The process to become a U.S. citizen can be a lengthy one in some cases. There are many requirements that must be satisfied before citizenship is granted. In general, you must be at least 18 years old and have had a green card for five years (or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen). You may also apply based on qualifying military service. A number of forms are required with your citizenship application package including the N-400.
We highly recommend that you speak to an immigration attorney before applying for citizenship. They can ensure that you have met all of the requirements, that all of the proper forms and documents have been submitted to the USCIS and that you are adequately prepared for the interview and citizenship examination.
Contact Our Immigration Attorneys Today
If you are an immigrant, you have too much to risk by trying to navigate the immigration process alone. Our team of immigration professionals is here to help you. We understand your needs and the importance of getting it done fast and doing right the first time. Give a call today. Initial consultations are always free.