In the United States of America, a card granting the holder lawful permanent residence is often referred to as a “green card” (technically known as the I-551) because it gives that individual the “green light” to stay in the country and to pursue naturalization (citizenship) if they desire. Also, the original cards were green in color. At The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC, we want to be a part of this momentous step on your journey to fulfilling your American dream. Your immigration story, and all of the questions you have about immigration law are important to us.
Green cards are issued after an adjustment of status if inside the United States or through a US Embassy if you reside outside of the United States. The most common ways individuals receive green cards or permanent residency is through marriage, or other family members, followed by an employment-based petition, the granting of asylum or an EB-5 investor “visa.”
Marriage based green cards are generally no different than employment-based green cards, although marriage-based green card are conditional for two years; at two years, the beneficiary of the conditional green card must file to lift the conditions of their green card.
The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC looks at each case holistically in order to note the different effects that an outcome could have on a person’s life rather than just the narrow scope of the immediate issue at hand and its obvious implications.
Family Based Immigration
Securing legal residency in the U.S. through a family relationship can be confusing. It can be difficult for families to know what immigration law options are out there and which ones are right for them. When you work with The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC, we can provide you with simple explanations of immigration laws, your available options, and your chances at success. Our goal in every case is to assist you with the beginning-to-end process; from filing the initial petition to getting your family member to the U.S. through the immigrant visa consular process.
To apply as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you must be one of the following:
- Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen, and under 21 years of age
- A parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age
To apply as a non-immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, or as a relative of a LPR (lawful permanent resident) under the “family-based preference categories,” you must be one of the following:
- 21 years of age or older, unmarried, and have a U.S. citizen parent
- 21 years of age or older, married, and have a U.S. citizen parent
- 21 years of age or older, and have a U.S. citizen sibling
You can also apply as:
- The fiancé of a U.S. citizen (K-1 nonimmigrant)
- The child of a fiancé of a U.S. citizen (K-2 nonimmigrant)
- Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen who passed away after you were married
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) also recognizes adopted/step children, albeit with some restrictions. A widow or widower of a U.S. citizen can also obtain permanent resident status in the United States.
Fiancé Visa (K-1 VISA)
The purpose of a fiancé immigration visa is to get your loved one into the United States for marriage.
In order to be able to apply for a fiancé visa, you must:
- be a U.S. citizen,
- have met your fiancé within the last 2 years (some exceptions apply), and
- you are both legally able to marry.
Once your application is submitted, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center and forwarded to the embassy indicated in the petition. Generally, the process takes about nine months.
Once your fiancé arrives in the United States, you and your immigrant fiancé must marry within 90 days from the date he or she entered the United States. Otherwise, the visa will expire and the beneficiary of the fiancé must return to their country of origin.
Many cultures have different ideas of how marriages and engagements should occur. The USCIS has carved out certain exceptions, such as the in-person meeting requirement, if this is against your cultural norms or will otherwise cause an undue hardship.
Applying for a fiancé visa can be complicated, especially at the consular processing stage. Contact The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC today for a consultation.
Deportation (Removal Proceedings)
When attending a deportation or removal hearing in front of an Immigration Judge, you should ensure that a knowledgeable and experienced deportation defense attorney accompanies you in the courtroom. This is because most government attorneys have probably handled hundreds or thousands of deportation cases.
If you are represented by an inexperienced attorney in deportation defense, the chances of you losing that case are high. A lot of people do not take their time to search for the best (experienced) deportation defense attorney who will represent them in their removal case. To the contrary, they find lower priced attorneys and some appear before the judge without a lawyer. This can be a disaster as you are setting a record in the presence of an Immigration Judge. In case you lose and appeal the Judge’s decision, the record is already set by you or your failed attorney for the appeal. Exhibits and hearing transcripts are contained in the record of proceedings, including a copy of any application that you submitted either by yourself or through your representative.
Failure to make a good record may even make it difficult for the new deportation lawyer to claim victory during the appeal. The BIA (Board of Immigration Appeals) conducts its operations from Falls Church, Virginia. The Board does not see nor hear from you. They look at your printed record, the Immigration Judge’s decision, and the legal briefs of the attorneys. In case of an unfavorable BIA ruling, you have the option to appeal in Federal Court. Yet, again, the record of the previous proceedings is heavily relied on by Federal Court as well.
The U.S holds thousands of immigrants who are eligible for deportation relief. Unfortunately, some of them are not in a position to make bail while others have been detained without bail. Knowing your rights is vital in immigration detention and representation matters. Call The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation.
It is an exceptional immigration benefit that if granted leads to the permanent residency in the United States and is based on the applicant’s ability to show that the applicant has a well founded fear of persecution in his/her country of origin on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
How do I qualify for asylum?
The Refugee Act of 1980, and subsequent modifications of it incorporated into the Immigration and Nationality Act, provides that: Any immigrant who is physically present in the United States or who arrives in the United States … irrespective of such immigrant’s status, may apply for asylum … (sec. 208 of the INA)
If you or anyone you know have been persecuted by the government of your country based on your race, ethnicity, social group, religion or political opinion and you are afraid to go back to your country because you will be arrested, tortured or killed you may qualify for political asylum in the U.S.
What is persecution?
Persecution is a severe form of discrimination, harassment, torture, or any other type of harm that’s being committed against the asylum applicant by the government of his country directly or indirectly. Examples of persecution include: forced or irregular recruitment into the military, cruel practices rooted in culture or religion, military operations against certain groups of people, rape or sexual assault on account of race, ethnic origin, membership in social group, harm to family members are the examples of persecution that was in some cases found sufficient by the U.S. government to grant political asylum to persons subjected to these forms of persecution.
These are examples of persecution that were in some cases found sufficient by the U.S. government to grant political asylum to persons subjected to these forms of persecution.
Past persecution and future persecution
The asylum applicant must prove to the U.S. government official /interviewing officer or immigration judge that the applicant was not only subjected to severe persecution by his/her government agents in the past, but is more likely than not to be persecuted again if the applicant is returned to his/her country.
Is it important who persecutes me?
Yes, the U.S. asylum law provides for protection from persecution by government agents of the foreign government – the asylum applicant must show that it was his or her government that persecuted the applicant.
What if I was harassed and persecuted by the mafia in my country?
The majority of the countries in the world are corrupt. Criminal enterprises are practically running these countries. However, the asylum applicant in the U.S. will not get asylum unless asylum application clearly states a claim based on persecution by the government. Persecution by the mafia/organized crime usually does not count unless the organized crime /mafia representatives that persecuted asylum applicant were actually at the same time the government officials and persecuted the asylum applicant in their capacity as a government agent and also persecution was based on applicant’s political opinion, race, nationality, social group or religion and was not based on pure economic reasons.
What if I am afraid to go back to my country because of widespread criminal activity?
Although it is true that Mara Salvatrucha and other large organized crime groups freely operate in Central America and other regions of the world, asylum is usually denied if the only asylum claim that asylum applicant makes is fear of criminal activities, abductions, recruitment into gangs or fear of being robbed or killed by criminals. Only the failure of the government to protect an asylum applicant from criminal activity sometimes can be sufficient grounds for asylum but in such cases the burden of proof of the applicant is extremely high.
How do I file an asylum application in the U.S. ?
If you believe that you qualify for asylum and you’ve been in this country less than a year in any status, you may apply for asylum with the immigration service. In order to file for asylum it is necessary to seek assistance of a qualified attorney who will properly prepare your asylum application. Call The Alvarez Law Firm, PLLC today for a free consultation.