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Immigration FAQs

Nothing can take the place of the information you receive when you speak directly with an attorney, but we offer the following to answer some common questions about the immigration process.

For legal assistance with your immigration case, contact our offices today.

Green Cards

Q: How I can get a Green Card?

A: Obtaining a Green Card (Permanent Resident Card) is the highest aspiration of immigrants. There are two main ways to obtain permanent residence: family-based and employment-based. A Green Card can be obtained through a spouse, child, parent or sibling. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen can obtain a Green Card more quickly.

An employment-based Green Card is often a very complex process. Some immigrants can receive a Green Card quickly if they have skills deemed “exceptional” in certain fields, or if they work in professions with a scarcity of workers. However, for most individuals, a thorough process of labor certification must occur. Under this process, a residence permit may be obtained only if no domestic workers meet the minimum requirements. If no qualified candidates express interest in the job opportunity, then a Green Card is possible for the immigrant.

Q: How I can sponsor a family member for a Green Card?

A: Not all family relationships are applicable for Green Card sponsorship. For example, a person cannot sponsor a niece or nephew. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor a parent, spouse or minor children. There are other qualifying family relationships, such as sponsorship of married sons and daughters, or brothers and sisters. Moreover, permanent residents can sponsor their spouses for a Green Card. However, these categories may be subject to lengthy delays.

We help people develop a strategy for Green Card sponsorship that results in the shortest possible waiting time. Each situation is unique, and that is why it is best to have a lawyer help you through the complicated process.

Visas

Q. What is H1B visa, and how I can get one? 

A: One of the most common work visas for foreign professionals is the H1B. This visa is not available for all workers. There are a limited number of H1B visas available each year. To qualify for an H1B visa, you must be engaged in a “specialty occupation,” which is usually one requiring a bachelor’s degree or other higher education degree in a specific field, such as marketing, engineering, physics, mathematics, education, accounting or other field. Generally, you must have a university degree in the area of intended employment or sufficient work experience. Not all areas of practice are “specialty occupations” for the purpose of H1B sponsorship.  An employer must sponsor the visa in the specialty occupation, and the employer must agree to pay a salary exceeding the prevailing wage.

Q: How I can extend my stay in the U.S.?

A: An immigrant wishing to extend a visa must request an extension from U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services. The extension must be requested in advance. To be eligible for an extension, the person must not have violated any of the terms of their visa and must not have committed any crimes that lead to deportation.

Q: What is the purpose of the Diversity Lottery Program (DV)?

A: The DV Lottery Program awards visas to applicants whose country of origin has a low rate of immigration to America (fewer than 50,000 people in the last five years). The program is called a lottery because there are more applicants than available visas, and visas are chosen at random from qualified applicants.

Deportation

Q. What is the basis for deportation? What are the consequences of deportation?

A: Deportation (or removal) occurs when a person has violated certain immigration or criminal laws. The immigrant may lose his or her right to remain in the U.S. and be prohibited from returning.

Q. How does the deportation process start?

A: The Bureau of Immigration and Border Protection delivers a notice of appearance (NTA) explaining the reason the immigrant should be deported or removed. The notice is filed with the immigration court. A hearing is held, during which an immigration judge will determine whether the information in the notice is correct. If so, the government will deport the person.

Q: Can I appeal the deportation or removal order?

A: Absolutely. You have 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration (BIA). If the BIA sides against you, the matter may be appealed to the Court of Appeals. Finally, if the Court of Appeals also finds against you, the matter may be appealed to the Supreme Court, the highest court in the U.S.

Q: What can lead to deportation?

A: Deportable offenses include using false documents to enter the U.S., giving false statements to obtain a visa, committing crimes (such as drug trafficking or other serious crimes), representing a threat to national security, helping others enter the country illegally, overstaying a visa and voting illegally.

General questions

Q: What factors do U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) consider when granting citizenship?

A: Factors considered include:

Q: How long will it take for me to get a visa/Green Card?

A: Unfortunately, immigration procedures are often subject to long delays. While the representation of an attorney can help you avoid mistakes that cause delays, some processing delays are inevitable. The processing time varies depending on the actions and the location of the USCIS office handling your case. For example, a decision on a petition for an H1B work visa can generally be made within 15 days if the applicant chooses quick processing. However, this fast processing option does not exist for family petitions, so requests for Green Cards for family members can take months and, in some cases, years. If you have filed forms yourself and they were not accepted by the USCIS, it is a sign something was incomplete or incorrect on your application. We can help you get it right so the process can begin.

Q: Can an immigration attorney help speed up the immigration process?

A: Unfortunately, very few immigration matters are resolved immediately, regardless of whether a person is represented by a lawyer or not. But there are two reasons you should have legal representation from an immigration attorney:  (1) it gives you more power in dealing with the government, and (2) it increase the likelihood that the case will be resolved in your favor. It will not speed up the process, however.

Q: Under what circumstances is a person who has been admitted to the U.S. for the purpose of marriage required to leave the country?

A: If the marriage to the U.S. citizen making the request does not take place within 90 days of entering the country, the fiancé(e) must leave the U.S.

Q: What if I can’t afford application fees?

A: The USCIS has the discretion to waive a fee if you can demonstrate that you cannot afford it. For the USCIS to waive the fee, you must follow specific instructions, including completing a form for review by the government.

Q: Is there a limit on the number of refugees and asylum seekers who are allowed to enter the U.S. each year?

A: Currently, there is a limit on the number of refugees, but not asylum seekers. The annual limit for refugees is calculated each year based on the current world population of refugees. Using information from the State Department, the President and Congress determine the number of refugees to be admitted to the U.S. for resettlement each year.