Margaret W. Wong & Associates - Immigration Lawyers
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Common Immigration Questions & Answers Page 2

Our most frequently asked questions

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This Q&A is from many sources including AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) and our own conversations with clients. Please contact us if you have a question you cannot find here.

 

LPR (Legal Permanent Resident) Petitions for Relatives to Enter US

Question: I am from Mexico but am a permanent resident of the US. I have a large family back home – brothers, sisters, parents, cousins, aunts and uncles. I would love them to come here for a better life, but I want them to do it legally. Which relatives can I sponsor? I can naturalize next year. Will that make a difference? How long does the process take?

Answer: As a lawful permanent resident you can petition for your spouse or unmarried children to come to the United States. However, they will not be able to immediately apply for an immigrant visa once the petition is approved because they have to wait until their visa numbers become available. The visa numbers are updated monthly on the visa bulletin by the Department of State. Once you naturalize, you will be able to petition for your parents, spouse, children, and even your siblings. Your parents can immediately apply for an Immigrant Visa once their petition is approved because they are considered immediate relatives. Your spouse will be considered an immediate relative as well as your children who are under 21. You will not be able to file a petition for your aunts, uncles, or cousins either as a lawful permanent resident or as a United States citizen. I would suggest filing for your parents, spouse, and/or children under 21 now because you can upgrade those petitions once you become a United States citizen. This will also save you some time. You should file a petition for your brothers and sisters once you become a United States citizen.

 

Question: I was arrested for a DUI last week but the police did not realize that I have no documents. I have to go in front of the judge next week. Will they find out about my status? Can they deport me? If I don’t go to court what will happen?

Answer: You should always go to court when a hearing is scheduled. A criminal judge is not an immigration judge and he/she cannot deport you. He/she may however inquire into your status to explain that you may have immigration consequences for convictions. If you don’t go to court then a warrant will be issued for your arrest. This is not a good option. There is always a chance that Immigration and Customs Enforcement could be notified of your unlawful status.

 

Question: I applied for a H-1B visa but I have not received an approval yet. Does this likely mean that I have missed out this year? Is there any way for me to come to the US and start the job I was offered and apply again next year?

Answer: Usually when you have missed the lottery for the H-1B visa, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services returns your application to the employer who petitioned for you. This is how you know that you were not selected. You cannot come to the United States and work unless you have a visa that allows you to work here. There are other visas such as the L-1 visa which allows managers or individuals with specialized knowledge to come from a company abroad to a company in the U.S. to work. The companies, however, must be related. An example is a parent company and its subsidiary.

 

Question: I just arrived from Venezuela 2 weeks ago . I was lucky to get a 10 year visa with an expiration of 6 months. There is no way I am returning to to Venezuela, Is there something I can start doing with an attorney.

Answer: The ten year visa just means that you are allowed to travel to a port of entry into the United States where you will then be inspected by an Immigration Officer. The period of time you have to remain in the United States is stamped into your passport which is usually 6 months. If you fear returning to Venezuela because of persecution or harm you suffered there or you fear persecution or harm, then you may be able to apply for asylum in the United States. You must apply for asylum within one year of your last entry. You could also apply for a student visa and go to college or university to extend your stay. You would have to show intent to return to Venezuela after your studies because it is a nonimmigrant visa.

 

Question: My mother, who was a US citizen, sponsored my sister to come to the US from Honduras. Sadly, my mother died two weeks ago. Does my sister need a new sponsor? What happens to her priority date?

Answer: If your sister is not in the United States, then unfortunately her petition will be automatically revoked and she will lose her priority date. A petition remains valid only if the petitioner dies when the beneficiary is in the United States.

 

Question: My brother owns a business in Mexico, He is tired of the crime in my city. He has a very good offer to sell his business for cash. Is there any way for him to use this money to invest in the US and get a visa to bring my family?

Answer: Your brother may be able to self-petition himself and apply for an immigrant visa under the employment based fifth category. However, this requires an investment of $500,000 or $1,000,000 in a business in the United States that creates full-time jobs. He may also be able to apply for an E-2 Investor Visa which will require him to invest a substantial sum in a business in the United States where he will generate an income more than just to sustain him and his family.

Questions and Answers January 21, 2014

Question: Who is eligible for 10 year cancelation? How long is the process?

Answer: To be eligible for 10 year cancellation and adjustment of status for certain nonpermanent residents, a person must have been physically present in the United States for 10 years, must have good moral character, must not have certain criminal convictions, and must establish that a qualifying relative will suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. The process can take several years because of the backlog the Immigration Courts face with cases.

 

Question: People who overstay a tourist visa and do nothing about it. What do they need to do? What are their options?

Answer: People who overstay a tourist visa are considered to have overstayed their status. They begin to accrue unlawful presence after their status expires. A variety of options are available to these individuals; however it is dependent on a number of factors such as how long that person has been unlawfully present in the U.S., what country they are from, any harm they experienced in their country, etc.

 

Question: People who do not show up for deportation hearings out of fear but want to take care of the situation. What do you suggest?

Answer: Always attend your deportation hearings. If you do not, then you are ordered removed in absentia which means without you there. Once you receive an order of removal, then you would need to file a motion to reopen your case. You must show a lack of notice for your hearing or an exceptional circumstance which prevented you from attending.

 

Question: I crossed the border 10 years ago when I was 14 years old with a cousin. I never went to school here. I am now 24 years old with no family members here. What can I do?

Answer: You may be eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). What you need to do is begin to take GED courses. As soon as you start classes, you can file for DACA by completing the required form, providing evidence that you came to the U.S. before you turned 16, and providing evidence that you have resided in this country since June 2007 till the present. You also have to show that you were in the United States in June 2012.

 

Question: Can a U visa help a male victim of verbal abuse and enslavement? I am 23 years old and for 2 years I have been married to a 30 year old American citizen. She has a remodeling company so I work for her but she says I have no rights over her company. She only gives me an allowance and I can no longer send money to my family because she says that she will call immigration. I can only work and stay at home with her on weekends, no friends, nothing. She says it’s the price for freedom in the US. What can I do? She will not file any papers for me.

Answer: You first have to file a police report against her and explain what she is doing to you. If you help the police with their investigation and they file charges against her, then you have a possibility of obtaining a U visa. Do not be afraid to go to the police if you feel your life is in danger or that you are being forced to live inhumanely. The U visa is there to help people who are victims of a crime.

Leaving the US

Question: My brother is a permanent resident, A couple of months ago my mother in Peru had a heart attack so he went to see her. Once there her situation got worse, it has been close to 6 months, is my brother going to have problems coming back? He has only been a resident for a year.

Answer: If your brother returns within 6 months of his last exit from the United States, then he should have no problem when he returns. If your brother returns after 6 months of his last exit from the U.S., then Customs and Border Protection can question his intent to permanently live in the United States. Your brother should bring evidence when he returns to the U.S. of the reason why he stayed so long outside of the country. Evidence can include your mother’s medical record and documents which show intent to permanently reside in the U.S. These documents are tax returns, evidence of employment in the United States, evidence of immediate family members in the U.S., and other documents showing his intent.

 

Question: Is it possible to win an asylum case based on sexual orientation?

Answer: It is possible to win an asylum case based on sexual orientation; however, it depends on the country from which you are from, any harm you experienced while in that country, and how you will be persecuted if you return.

Asylum

Question: Which are the most recent and common asylum cases your firm has won?

Answer: There are many asylum cases our firm has won. These cases involve many different reasons for seeking asylum. For example, our firm helped President Obama’s aunt obtain asylum in the United States.

 

Question: What happens if someone did not enter the US legally but now is working for a company that wants to sponsor you?

Answer: If a person did not enter legally and is now working for a company who wants to sponsor him, then that individual will not be able to adjust status to permanent resident in the United States. Entering without inspection is inadmissibility to getting a green card.

 

Question: If I am in the process of applying for permanent residency through my employer, can I change employers as long as the new one agrees to sponsor me?

Answer: You can only change employers without disrupting your application if your application has been pending for longer than 6 months. Additionally, your new job with the new employer must be same or similar to the job you were sponsored for by your previous employer.

 

Questions and Answers January 7, 2014

Question: President Obama says that immigration reform is one of his top priorities in his second term. What changes would you like to see?

Answer: I would like to see immigration reform tackle several key issues. First, I would like immigration reform to implement a temporary status for undocumented individuals who are currently in the United States. This status should, at minimum, allow an individual to obtain a work permit. Second, I would like immigration reform to eliminate the one-year filing requirement for asylum. Currently, if a person does not apply for asylum within one year of their last entry into the United States, then that person is barred from asylum. Immigration laws are very complex and this law is unfair for individuals who learn about asylum after the one year filing deadline. Third, I would like the government to reduce the backlog and long waits for individuals who are petitioned for in certain family based and employment based categories.

 

Question: What happens if many years after coming into the country I found out that I was ordered removed by an immigration judge because I didn’t attend a hearing that I never knew about. I have been living here, paying taxes, and have committed no crimes. What do I do? Do I have to leave?

Answer: Depending on the reason for missing the hearing, you may be able to file a motion to reopen in absentia. This means that you are asking the Court to reopen your case because you never received notice or there was an exceptional circumstance that prevented you from going to the hearing. Also, having different forms of relief available if your case is reopened is helpful. For example, but for the removal order, you are able to adjust status to a lawful permanent resident.

 

Question: Once a judge has ordered that I be removed can I appeal? How does this work?

Answer: Yes, you can appeal an Immigration Judge’s decision. At the time of the decision you must reserve appeal. After reserving appeal, you must file a Notice to Appeal within 30 days with the Board of Immigration Appeals or BIA. The BIA will then review the decision of the Immigration Judge and determine whether the Judge’s decision was correct.

 

Question: We have often heard about the one-year rule when it comes to asylum claims. Can you explain this? Are there circumstances where it is possible to apply successfully for asylum after one year?

Answer: An applicant for asylum must file his or her application within one year of their last entry into the United States. If filed after one year, then that individual is time barred and is not eligible for asylum. This person, however, would still be eligible for withholding of removal. The issue is that withholding of removal requires a higher standard of fear and persecution. It also provides fewer benefits than someone who was granted asylum. An applicant for asylum may argue that there exists a changed circumstance or an exceptional circumstance for filing the application for asylum after one year has passed. Circumstances may be changed country conditions, lawful status in the United States, and other circumstances that can be deemed exceptional. You must, however, apply within a reasonable period of time after the changed condition or exceptional circumstance.

 

Question: If you are undocumented are there ways to get official work authorization from the government? Does it matter how you entered the country?

Answer: If you are undocumented, then you cannot receive authorization to work unless you have relief available to you such as Cancellation of Removal for Non-Permanent Resident, Asylum after 180 days, Adjustment of Status, and other relief. The manner of your entry into the United States is very important. For example, a person cannot adjust status in the United States if they were inspected and admitted into the United States.

 

Question: Some countries allow joint-citizenship with the United States—what does this mean, and what are the benefits?

Answer: Joint or Dual citizenship means that a person is a citizen of two countries. There are no benefits you will receive in the United States for having joint or dual citizenship. Each country has its own laws governing citizenship and how to obtain it. However, a U.S. citizen who obtains citizenship in another country may lose their U.S. citizenship if they apply voluntarily, by free choice, and with the intention to give up their U.S. citizenship.

 

Question: A permanent resident in the United States who has a relative living in India that wants to come to visit and see if the US is somewhere they might like to one day live. They keep having their request for a visa denied. What can they do?

Answer: When an individual intends to come to the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, then that individual must show intent to return to their home country. If an officer believes that your intention is to live in the United States rather than to visit, then he or she will deny the application for a nonimmigrant visa. To prevent this, these individuals should bring documentation showing that they will return to India. Examples of documentation includes a round trip ticket, evidence of immediate family members in India, employment in India, filing of taxes in India, bank accounts in India, and other evidence showing that they are more likely to return to India than remain in the United States.

 

Question: In some cases after marriage to a US citizen a two year green card is granted and in other cases a ten year one. Why the difference? What happens at the end of the two years?

Answer: The difference arises from the amount of time two individuals have been married at the time of obtaining lawful permanent resident status. If an individual has been married to his or her spouse for less than two years, then he or she will receive a two year conditional green card. If an individual has been married to his or her spouse for over two years, then he or she will receive a permanent green card without conditions. Congress decided to create this difference to prevent people from forming fake marriages in order to obtain a green card. If a person is given a conditional green card, then he or she must petition to remove those conditions within 90 days prior to their green card expiring. Once that person has satisfied USCIS by showing that their marriage was real and not fake, then he or she will be issued a permanent green card without conditions.

 

Questions and Answers January 2, 2014

Question: My boyfriend came to the US illegally last month. Somebody told us that the new immigration reforms might not affect him because there is a cut off date. Is this true? What happens to people who come after that date?

Answer: Currently the immigration reform bill present before the House of Representatives in Congress has a cut-off date of December 31st, 2011. This would mean that anyone who came after this date may not benefit from the bill. Please note that the bill itself is not final and may change before it passes the House of Representatives.

Question: How long does the H-1B process take? I am looking for a job and I will need a visa, and this kind of visa seems like my most likely option, but I am concerned about the timeframe. I need to start working soon.

Answer: There are a few steps that must be completed before filing for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa. First a prevailing wage must be submitted to the Department of Labor which may take 6-8 weeks. Next a Labor Certification Application must be submitted again to the Department of Labor and this takes 1 week before it is approved. Once the documents are gathered and the petition submitted, it can take anywhere between 2-7 months depending on whether it is the first petition or a request for an extension. Thus the complete process may take between 4-9 months.

Question: I am a citizen of Bolivia and a permanent resident of the US and I want to sponsor my son to come to the US. He is not married. I am eligible for naturalization in about 5 months. Should I wait until I am a citizen to sponsor him, or will it make no difference?

Answer: You should file a petition for him as soon as possible. This is because the petition can be upgraded once you become a United States citizen. Also, there is not a major difference in the priority dates for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents. Thus in either case an individual would have to wait approximately 6-7 years before their priority dates become current under each category. If your son is under the age of 21, then he will qualify as a child of a permanent resident and have a short waiting period of approximately 3-4 months unless the numbers regress or slow down. Once you become a United States citizen then he will be considered an immediate relative and you do not have to worry about priority dates. He will be able to apply for an Immigrant Visa immediately.

Question: I am waiting for my green card application to be process and it has already taken more than a year. I need to travel for my work. I am worried that I will lose my job if I cannot go on this trip. I am also afraid to tell my boss that my green card has not been granted yet. Can I request permission to leave and come back without abandoning the application? Do I have to tell my boss (he is not my sponsor)?

Answer: You can apply for advanced parole which allows you to leave the United States and reenter while your application for permanent resident is pending with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. You do not have to notify your boss that you are applying for advanced parole.

 

Question: I came to the US as a student and I paid a girl to marry me so I could get a green card. I am unable to locate her and I need to file the I-751. I am worried that USCIS will discover my fraud. Can I still file the I-751 without her?

Answer: We do not recommend filing any application which is fraudulent.

Question: I am a permanent resident and I filed an I-130 application for my daughter about 9 months ago. Since then she has married. Does this affect the application?

Answer: Yes, your daughter’s marriage will remove her from the preference categories and she will no longer be able to apply for an Immigrant Visa until you become a United States citizen. Immigration law does not allow a lawful permanent resident to sponsor a married son or daughter.

Question: I came to the US on a visitor visa but I don’t want to go back to Colombia. When I came I had every intention of leaving, but now with a month left on my visa the thought of going back there is filling me with dread. What are my options? I have a college degree and I speak fluent Spanish.

Answer: You have a few options. You can enroll into a school and obtain an F-1 student nonimmigrant visa. If you believe you require more time to enroll into school, then you can request an extension of your B-2 visitor status with USCIS. Another option is if a company is willing to petition for you for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa; however, you have to maintain status until your change of status is granted.

Question: I just found out that my boss has no documents and he was arrested by ICE. What will happen to his restaurant if he is deported?

Answer: This will depend on whether or not your boss can maintain the business in the United States during his absence.

Question: I need to have my visa renewed. Do I have to go back to my home country, Peru, or can I go to the US consulate in Canada, which is much closer?

Answer: You can go to Canada to get your visa renewed, however, please keep in mind that you may need a visa issued by Canada to enter the country. Also keep in mind that many other individuals seek to renew their visa at the U.S. Consulate in Canada.

Question: I recently arrived in the United States. I have no documents and I am not able to find a job. I am very worried about being caught by border agents. I want to return to Mexico but I am very scared. Can I just go through the border check point or will they arrest me?

Answer: Legally, you will have a 3 or 10 year bar if the government finds out that you were in the US illegally. So in the future if you want to legally enter the US, you may have a problem if you get on their radar by leaving through the border checkpoint.

Question: I am an agricultural worker here in the US. I have a work visa, but the money I earn is not enough and is not what was agreed. My employer takes money for rent, but I had organized to live with my cousin. The employer also makes us pay for food, but very rarely do we get the food. The employer also makes us pay for food, but very rarely do we get the food. I would like to leave this employer, but he keeps my work authorization card. I am afraid to ask him for it. What can I do? Can I report the card lost and get a new one and then go work for another employer?

Answer: If you have a valid employment authorization card which your employer is withholding from you, it may be advisable to report your employer to the police and get your card back and look for a new job.

 

Question: My father came to the US illegally almost thirty years ago. He has lived a very quiet life and has caused nobody any harm. He paid taxes, although not every year he was here. He is an old, retired man who just wants to live out his days in the country he calls home. I am very worried that immigration might discover him and try and remove him. Can we do anything preemptively to prevent this? I have heard of deferred action requests and I wonder if this could help him?

Answer: A deferred action request could be an option for your father. Right now, if you do not need to get him work authorization, he probably does not need deferred action. However, if he is picked up by ICE at some point, it would be advisable to request deferred action in the form of a stay of removal.

 

Question: I recently went through the naturalization process and my application was denied. I had a criminal record from seven years ago, but I was only in prison for two months. I have since not been in any trouble at all. Can I appeal the decision? Will I lose my green card?

Answer: It depends on the crime you committed. It is a good idea to see an attorney for help with potentially re-filing for naturalization.

 

Question: I was one of the lucky people to get one of the H-1B visas and I was due to start working in Octover. I was just told by my employer that they are downsizing and won’t be hiring me. Is there anything I can do to protect the visa? Can I transfer it to another job if I can find one?

Answer: Yes, you can transfer to another job if you can find one. Your new employer will have to file a new H-1B petition for you.

 

Question: My brother is in prison for a drug and we have been told that he will be deported once he is released. He has since found out that his girlfriend, a US citizen, will give birth to his daughter in 6 months time- about 3 weeks before his release. They plan to get married. If they are married can we stop his deportation? Will the fact that he is the father of a US citizen make any difference?

Answer: If the drug crime is not considered an “aggravated felony” under immigration law, your brother may be able to apply for cancellation of removal. Cancellation is available to those who have been in the United States for 10 years and have U.S. citizen children or spouse. It is advisable for him to hire an immigration attorney.

 

Question: I work in a restaurant that was raided last week. Four of the staff were arrested for having no documents. I have work authorization while I wait for my asylum application. I have heard that if you agree to help the policy you can get a visa. If I help the police with their investigation of my employer can they get me a visa? Will this change my asylum request?

Answer: I believe you are referring to an S visa. In order to qualify for an S visa, you must: (1) possess reliable information regarding an important aspect of a crime or pending commission of a crime; (2) be willing to share this information with law enforcement officials or to testify in court; and (3) your presence in the US is necessary to the successful investigation or prosecution of the case. It is likely that, in this case, the police can get enough evidence on their own to prosecute your employer.

 

Question: Two months ago I filed my I-751 application after being married for two years. Last week my husband asked me for a divorce, but said he would wait until after my green card is approved. Can I get divorced while the application is pending and still get my green card, or should I take my husband up on his offer to wait?

Answer: As long as you are prepared to prove that your marriage was bona-fide at the time, you can still have conditions removed from your green card even if you are divorced. Since your I-751 is currently pending, it may be advisable to wait until it is approved.

 

Question: I have three sons living in Mexico and I would like to find a way for them to come to the US and join me. I just became a US citizen. My youngest son is only 14 years old. At the moment he lives with his mother, but if could come to the US legally he would move and live with me. Can he get citizenship because he is only a minor? My other sons are 18 and 19 years old. What can I do for them?

Answer: As a U.S. citizen, you can file an immigrant visa petition (I-130) for your children if they are unmarried and under the age of 21. They will go through an administrative review and interview process at a U.S. consulate in Mexico to verify the relationship and if they are otherwise admissible to the U.S. The entire process will take approximately a year and a half.

 

Question: I want to get married but I am nervous about the immigration implications. I am a citizen, but my boyfriend has no legal status in the US and he has a criminal record. I am worried that he will get caught by immigration and be deported. If we are married can he still get a green card even though he came here illegally? Will his criminal record make any difference? Will they arrest him when we apply and they find out where he is?

Answer: If you get married, you will file an I-130 immigrant petition with your husband as the beneficiary to prove to USCIS that your marriage is real and not for immigration purposes. Because a U.S. citizen spouse is considered an “immediate relative”, your husband can immediately apply for his green card once your I-130 petition is approved. To speed things up, the I-130 petition and the I-485 application to adjust status to permanent resident can be filed with USCIS simultaneously. Barring any removal orders or outstanding warrants for arrest, your husband should not be arrested when he attends the I-130 interview at USCIS.Illegal entry to the U.S. and certain periods of unlawful presence in the U.S. are grounds for inadmissibility. However, certain individuals who had an immigrant petition filed for them before April 30, 2001 or who can demonstrate that their removal would cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse or parent, may still be admissible. There are separate forms that you must file for those situations. Certain criminal convictions could also make someone inadmissible. You should consult an experienced immigration attorney.

 

Question: I am very worried about the lawyer I hired for my immigration case. I have been doing a lot of research on the internet and I think the things my lawyer tells me are wrong. He is very hard to get hold of and I don’t think he is giving my case the right kind of attention. We have already entered the pleading where we conceded the charges against me, but I wonder should I tell the judge I want to change lawyer? If I think I am getting bad representation is there anything I can do?

Answer: Begin contacting other attorneys and if after talking to them you would like to change representation, your new attorney will enter their appearance and file a motion to substitute counsel with the immigration judge. Most immigration judges will grant the motion. However, do not wait until your case is approaching the individual hearing. Some judges do not look kindly upon a last minute motion to substitute counsel because they view it as a delay tactic and may deny the motion.

 

Question: I just received my DACA work authorization and I want to start paying back my taxes so that when the new law comes in I will be able to move quickly on the path to citizenship. What should I do? Do I need an immigration lawyer to help me or should I just contact the tax office and ask them?

Answer: Contact an experienced tax advisor.

 

Question: I have no documents here in the US, but I really want to go to college and study nursing. I have no social security so I can’t sign up for the classes. I also don’t qualify for DACA. Is there any way that I can get a visa to be a student even though I came illegally?

Answer: No, you will not be approved for a student visa. However, you are not required to have a visa to attend college. Some schools may require a social security number, but you can apply for a tax I.D. number and use that instead.

 

Question: in my home town I suffered greatly at the hands of violent gangs. I escaped ot the US with the intention of asking for asylum. I spoke to another attorney and they said my case was very difficult and I might not win. They said because I had no proof of the violence I suffered that the government might not believe me. Is this true? What kind of evidence do I need? I could not report the events to the police because they are so corrupt. Is the attorney right that my case is not strong?

Answer: To be granted asylum, you have the burden of proving that you suffered part persecution in your home country or have a well-founded fear of future persecution and that the persecution is on account of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The testimony of the applicant, if credible, may be sufficient to meet the burden without corroboration. However, reasonable corroboration is expected. Applicants should provide country condition information, medical records, police reports, witnesses, and any other evidence to support their claim. If corroborating evidence is not available, you should be able to explain why. An experienced immigration attorney can help guide you and give ideas as to what evidence should be gathered. The type of corroboration will be different for every case.

 

Question: My friend paid $50 on the internet to enter the visa diversity lottery for a green card. I think that this might be a scam and that there is a way to do this for free. Is this true?

Answer: There are many scams surrounding the diversity visa lottery so be careful. There is no fee to apply for the lottery. See here for more information: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1322.html

 

Question: The immigration judge ordered me removed and I have to leave in the next 60 days. I own a lot of property here in the US but I don’t have time to sell it all. What will happen to my property after I leave? If it sells after I leave will the government stop me from getting the money?

Answer: You can continue to own property in the U.S. if you wish. You may want to hire a property management agent to handle the management or leasing of the property or a real estate agent if you choose to sell the property. You can collect any proceeds from the rental or sale of the property as you wish.

 

Question: My boyfriend came to the US illegally last month. Somebody told us that the new immigration reforms might not affect him because there is a cut off date. Is this true? What happens to people who come after that date?

Answer: Currently the immigration reform bill present before the House of Representatives in Congress has a cut-off date of December 31st, 2011. This would mean that anyone who came after this date may not benefit from the bill. Please note that the bill itself is not final and may change before it passes the House of Representatives.

 

Question: How long does the H-1B process take? I am looking for a job and I will need a visa, and this kind of visa seems like my most likely option, but I am concerned about the timeframe. I need to start working soon.

Answer: There are a few steps that must be completed before filing for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa. First a prevailing wage must be submitted to the Department of Labor which may take 6-8 weeks. Next a Labor Certification Application must be submitted again to the Department of Labor and this takes 1 week before it is approved. Once the documents are gathered and the petition submitted, it can take anywhere between 2-7 months depending on whether it is the first petition or a request for an extension. Thus the complete process may take between 4-9 months.

 

Question: I am a citizen of Bolivia and a permanent resident of the US and I want to sponsor my son to come to the US. He is not married. I am eligible for naturalization in about 5 months. Should I wait until I am a citizen to sponsor him, or will it make no difference?

Answer: You should file a petition for him as soon as possible. This is because the petition can be upgraded once you become a United States citizen. Also, there is not a major difference in the priority dates for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents. Thus in either case an individual would have to wait approximately 6-7 years before their priority dates become current under each category. If your son is under the age of 21, then he will qualify as a child of a permanent resident and have a short waiting period of approximately 3-4 months unless the numbers regress or slow down. Once you become a United States citizen then he will be considered an immediate relative and you do not have to worry about priority dates. He will be able to apply for an Immigrant Visa immediately.

 

Question: I am waiting for my green card application to be process and it has already taken more than a year. I need to travel for my work. I am worried that I will lose my job if I cannot go on this trip. I am also afraid to tell my boss that my green card has not been granted yet. Can I request permission to leave and come back without abandoning the application? Do I have to tell my boss (he is not my sponsor)?

Answer: You can apply for advanced parole which allows you to leave the United States and reenter while your application for permanent resident is pending with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. You do not have to notify your boss that you are applying for advanced parole.

 

Question: I came to the US as a student and I paid a girl to marry me so I could get a green card. I am unable to locate her and I need to file the I-751. I am worried that USCIS will discover my fraud. Can I still file the I-751 without her?

Answer: We do not recommend filing any application which is fraudulent.

 

Question: I am a permanent resident and I filed an I-130 application for my daughter about 9 months ago. Since then she has married. Does this affect the application?

Answer: Yes, your daughter’s marriage will remove her from the preference categories and she will no longer be able to apply for an Immigrant Visa until you become a United States citizen. Immigration law does not allow a lawful permanent resident to sponsor a married son or daughter.

 

Question: I came to the US on a visitor visa but I don’t want to go back to Colombia. When I came I had every intention of leaving, but now with a month left on my visa the thought of going back there is filling me with dread. What are my options? I have a college degree and I speak fluent Spanish.

Answer: You have a few options. You can enroll into a school and obtain an F-1 student nonimmigrant visa. If you believe you require more time to enroll into school, then you can request an extension of your B-2 visitor status with USCIS. Another option is if a company is willing to petition for you for an H-1B nonimmigrant visa; however, you have to maintain status until your change of status is granted.

 

Question: I just found out that my boss has no documents and he was arrested by ICE. What will happen to his restaurant if he is deported?

Answer: This will depend on whether or not your boss can maintain the business in the United States during his absence.

 

Question: I need to have my visa renewed. Do I have to go back to my home country, Peru, or can I go to the US consulate in Canada, which is much closer?

Answer: You can go to Canada to get your visa renewed, however, please keep in mind that you may need a visa issued by Canada to enter the country. Also keep in mind that many other individuals seek to renew their visa at the U.S. Consulate in Canada.

Question: I recently arrived in the United States. I have no documents and I am not able to find a job. I am very worried about being caught by border agents. I want to return to Mexico but I am very scared. Can I just go through the border check point or will they arrest me? Answer: Legally, you will have a 3 or 10 year bar if the government finds out that you were in the US illegally. So in the future if you want to legally enter the US, you may have a problem if you get on their radar by leaving through the border checkpoint.

Question: I am an agricultural worker here in the US. I have a work visa, but the money I earn is not enough and is not what was agreed. My employer takes money for rent, but I had organized to live with my cousin. The employer also makes us pay for food, but very rarely do we get the food. The employer also makes us pay for food, but very rarely do we get the food. I would like to leave this employer, but he keeps my work authorization card. I am afraid to ask him for it. What can I do? Can I report the card lost and get a new one and then go work for another employer? Answer: 2. If you have a valid employment authorization card which your employer is withholding from you, it may be advisable to report your employer to the police and get your card back and look for a new job.

Question: My father came to the US illegally almost thirty years ago. He has lived a very quiet life and has caused nobody any harm. He paid taxes, although not every year he was here. He is an old, retired man who just wants to live out his days in the country he calls home. I am very worried that immigration might discover him and try and remove him. Can we do anything preemptively to prevent this? I have heard of deferred action requests and I wonder if this could help him? Answer: A deferred action request could be an option for your father. Right now, if you do not need to get him work authorization, he probably does not need deferred action. However, if he is picked up by ICE at some point, it would be advisable to request deferred action in the form of a stay of removal.

Question: I recently went through the naturalization process and my application was denied. I had a criminal record from seven years ago, but I was only in prison for two months. I have since not been in any trouble at all. Can I appeal the decision? Will I lose my green card? Answer: It depends on the crime you committed. It is a good idea to see an attorney for help with potentially re-filing for naturalization. Question: I was one of the lucky people to get one of the H-1B visas and I was due to start working in Octover. I was just told by my employer that they are downsizing and won’t be hiring me. Is there anything I can do to protect the visa? Can I transfer it to another job if I can find one? Answer: Yes, you can transfer to another job if you can find one. Your new employer will have to file a new H-1B petition for you.

Question: My brother is in prison for a drug and we have been told that he will be deported once he is released. He has since found out that his girlfriend, a US citizen, will give birth to his daughter in 6 months time- about 3 weeks before his release. They plan to get married. If they are married can we stop his deportation? Will the fact that he is the father of a US citizen make any difference? Answer: If the drug crime is not considered an “aggravated felony” under immigration law, your brother may be able to apply for cancellation of removal. Cancellation is available to those who have been in the United States for 10 years and have U.S. citizen children or spouse. It is advisable for him to hire an immigration attorney.

Question: I work in a restaurant that was raided last week. Four of the staff were arrested for having no documents. I have work authorization while I wait for my asylum application. I have heard that if you agree to help the policy you can get a visa. If I help the police with their investigation of my employer can they get me a visa? Will this change my asylum request? Answer: I believe you are referring to an S visa. In order to qualify for an S visa, you must: (1) possess reliable information regarding an important aspect of a crime or pending commission of a crime; (2) be willing to share this information with law enforcement officials or to testify in court; and (3) your presence in the US is necessary to the successful investigation or prosecution of the case. It is likely that, in this case, the police can get enough evidence on their own to prosecute your employer.

Question: Two months ago I filed my I-751 application after being married for two years. Last week my husband asked me for a divorce, but said he would wait until after my green card is approved. Can I get divorced while the application is pending and still get my green card, or should I take my husband up on his offer to wait? Answer: As long as you are prepared to prove that your marriage was bona-fide at the time, you can still have conditions removed from your green card even if you are divorced. Since your I-751 is currently pending, it may be advisable to wait until it is approved.

July 3, Tennessee Radio Questions

Question: I have three sons living in Mexico and I would like to find a way for them to come to the US and join me. I just became a US citizen. My youngest son is only 14 years old. At the moment he lives with his mother, but if could come to the US legally he would move and live with me. Can he get citizenship because he is only a minor? My other sons are 18 and 19 years old. What can I do for them? Answer: As a U.S. citizen, you can file an immigrant visa petition (I-130) for your children if they are unmarried and under the age of 21. They will go through an administrative review and interview process at a U.S. consulate in Mexico to verify the relationship and if they are otherwise admissible to the U.S. The entire process will take approximately a year and a half.

Question: I want to get married but I am nervous about the immigration implications. I am a citizen, but my boyfriend has no legal status in the US and he has a criminal record. I am worried that he will get caught by immigration and be deported. If we are married can he still get a green card even though he came here illegally? Will his criminal record make any difference? Will they arrest him when we apply and they find out where he is? Answer: If you get married, you will file an I-130 immigrant petition with your husband as the beneficiary to prove to USCIS that your marriage is real and not for immigration purposes. Because a U.S. citizen spouse is considered an “immediate relative”, your husband can immediately apply for his green card once your I-130 petition is approved. To speed things up, the I-130 petition and the I-485 application to adjust status to permanent resident can be filed with USCIS simultaneously. Barring any removal orders or outstanding warrants for arrest, your husband should not be arrested when he attends the I-130 interview at USCIS. Illegal entry to the U.S. and certain periods of unlawful presence in the U.S. are grounds for inadmissibility. However, certain individuals who had an immigrant petition filed for them before April 30, 2001 or who can demonstrate that their removal would cause extreme hardship to their U.S. citizen spouse or parent, may still be admissible. There are separate forms that you must file for those situations. Certain criminal convictions could also make someone inadmissible. You should consult an experienced immigration attorney.

 

Question: I am very worried about the lawyer I hired for my immigration case. I have been doing a lot of research on the internet and I think the things my lawyer tells me are wrong. He is very hard to get hold of and I don’t think he is giving my case the right kind of attention. We have already entered the pleading where we conceded the charges against me, but I wonder should I tell the judge I want to change lawyer? If I think I am getting bad representation is there anything I can do? Answer: Begin contacting other attorneys and if after talking to them you would like to change representation, your new attorney will enter their appearance and file a motion to substitute counsel with the immigration judge. Most immigration judges will grant the motion. However, do not wait until your case is approaching the individual hearing. Some judges do not look kindly upon a last minute motion to substitute counsel because they view it as a delay tactic and may deny the motion.

Question: I just received my DACA work authorization and I want to start paying back my taxes so that when the new law comes in I will be able to move quickly on the path to citizenship. What should I do? Do I need an immigration lawyer to help me or should I just contact the tax office and ask them? Answer: Contact an experienced tax advisor.

Question: I have no documents here in the US, but I really want to go to college and study nursing. I have no social security so I can’t sign up for the classes. I also don’t qualify for DACA. Is there any way that I can get a visa to be a student even though I came illegally? Answer: No, you will not be approved for a student visa. However, you are not required to have a visa to attend college. Some schools may require a social security number, but you can apply for a tax I.D. number and use that instead. Question: In my home town I suffered greatly at the hands of violent gangs. I escaped ot the US with the intention of asking for asylum. I spoke to another attorney and they said my case was very difficult and I might not win. They said because I had no proof of the violence I suffered that the government might not believe me. Is this true? What kind of evidence do I need? I could not report the events to the police because they are so corrupt. Is the attorney right that my case is not strong? Answer: To be granted asylum, you have the burden of proving that you suffered part persecution in your home country or have a well-founded fear of future persecution and that the persecution is on account of your race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. The testimony of the applicant, if credible, may be sufficient to meet the burden without corroboration. However, reasonable corroboration is expected. Applicants should provide country condition information, medical records, police reports, witnesses, and any other evidence to support their claim. If corroborating evidence is not available, you should be able to explain why. An experienced immigration attorney can help guide you and give ideas as to what evidence should be gathered. The type of corroboration will be different for every case.

 

Question: My friend paid $50 on the internet to enter the visa diversity lottery for a green card. I think that this might be a scam and that there is a way to do this for free. Is this true? Answer: There are many scams surrounding the diversity visa lottery so be careful. There is no fee to apply for the lottery. See here for more information: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1322.html

Question: The immigration judge ordered me removed and I have to leave in the next 60 days. I own a lot of property here in the US but I don’t have time to sell it all. What will happen to my property after I leave? If it sells after I leave will the government stop me from getting the money? Answer: You can continue to own property in the U.S. if you wish. You may want to hire a property management agent to handle the management or leasing of the property or a real estate agent if you choose to sell the property. You can collect any proceeds from the rental or sale of the property as you wish.

 

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