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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are immigration benefits?
 Answer:  Many people who ask this question are referring to the so called Green Card.  The actual legal title of this status is called “Legal Permanent Residence”. However when we speak of immigration in general, we also mean any immigration benefits available through the Department of State (DOS), United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the Department of Labor (DOL) immigration benefit related activities.

Immigration benefits generally include:

  • Legal Permanent Residence (Green Card)
  • Temporary Residence
  • Temporary Work Permits
  • Refugee
  • Asylum
  • Transit
  • Temporary visitor

2.  How can I immigrate to the United States?
 Answer.  If  a person seeks immigration to the United States as  Legal Permanent Resident (Green Card), they need to meet eligibility requirements, which most often require sponsorship.  The paths to legal permanent resident are normally through employment or family based sponsorships.   Additional routes to immigration can include refugee, asylum, and national interest.  In a few limited situations, a person may self sponsor.

3.  How can I get work in the United States?
 Answer. In order to seek employment or to be hired in the United States, the USCIS, DOL and State Department require work authorization for any category of work visa that you may qualify for.   Nearly all Temporary Work Visas require sponsorship by qualifying employers.

The temporary work visas which may or may not provide a path to Legal Permanent Residence, include the following:

A:  Diplomats and foreign government officials

E:  Treaty traders and investors

E-3: Australian professional occupation

H-1B: For Persons in specialty occupations which requires as a minimum, a Bachelor of Science degree or higher or equivalent;

H-1C: Applies to foreign nurses coming to perform nursing services in medically under served areas.(due to expire but may be renewed);

H-2A: Temporary or seasonal agricultural worker;

H-2B: Temporary or seasonal nonagricultural workers;

H-3:  Trainees other than medical or academic, and practical training in the education of handicapped children;

J:  Exchange and training visas for Au Pairs, Physicians,professors, scholars and interns.

L-1/A or B:  Intra company transferee’s who, within the three preceding years, have been employed abroad continuously for one year, and who will be employed by a branch, parent, affiliate, or subsidiary of that same employer in the U.S. in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity;

O-1: Persons who have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or extraordinary achievements in the motion picture and television field;

O-2: Persons accompanying an O-1 alien to assist in an artistic or athletic performance for a specific event or performance;

P-1: Individuals or team athletes, or members of an entertainment group that are internationally recognized;

P-2: Artists or entertainers who will perform under a reciprocal exchange program;

P-3: Artists or entertainers who perform under a program that is culturally unique (same as P-1);

Q-1: Participants in an international cultural exchange program for the purpose of providing practical training, employment, and the sharing of the history, culture, and traditions of the alien’s home country;

R:  R visas are designated for religious workers;

TN/TD visas:   Temporary workers, valid for one year, who are from Canada and Mexico

 4.  Can an Illegal Alien apply for a green card?
 Answer:  How a person entered the United States and the basis for which legal Permanent Residence is requested determines how successful they will be.  Anyone who believes they have a basis for immigration, who is in the U.S. illegally or not, may apply for immigration.  However if a person has illegally entered, they will most likely not be successful, unless they can find a basis to be excluded from deportation, such as refugee, asylee, or hardship.  Applying for Legal Permanent Residence while illegally entered into the U.S. , regardless of basis, can trigger your deportation.  The news is more positive for those who legally entered the U.S., but fell out of status.

If a person enters the U.S. legally and falls out of status, depending on the basis of immigration, he or she will more than likely achieve success.  If a person is family sponsored by a spouse, in a majority of cases, they will be allowed to change status to Legal Permanent Residence while physically present in the United States.

If a person who entered the U.S. legally and falls out of status, is employment sponsored, they will more than likely have to depart the U.S. to complete the process.  When they depart, because they have been out of status, they may be barred from re-entering the U.S.  Such bars are not easily overcome and few waivers are approved.

5.  As a U.S. Citizen, how can I immigrate my finance so I can marry her in the states?
Answer: U.S. Citizens may sponsor their fiancée with a “K-1” visa.  Your supporting evidence must show that you are a citizen, that you have met in person at sometime in the past two years, that you are both free to marry, and that the relationship is legitimate.  Your petition is submitted to the USCIS for approval.  Once approved, your fiancé applies for the visa at the  U.S. embassy or consulate in the fiancé’s home country.

After your fiancée receives the visa and upon entering the U.S., you have 90 days to complete the marriage.   If you fail to marry within the 90 days, your  fiancée will be out of status and is required to depart the U.S.

Evidence includes but is not limited to:

  • copies of email correspondence and physical letters exchanged between you
  • copies of photos of you and your fiancée enjoying concurrent activities such as meeting the family, vacation, etc.
  • evidence that the citizen has visited the home country at least once, twice  is better.
  • evidence of freedom to marry such as birth certificates for age, if under marriageable age, then parental consent forms, etc.
  • A public engagement or marriage announcement in a newspaper consistent with local custom in the U.S. and the fiancé’s home country.

6.  I received a deportation notice or am threatened with deportation. What can I do?
Answer: Any person who has been placed into Removal proceedings may apply for the following forms of relief:

  1. Voluntary Departure under § 240B(a);
  2. Voluntary Departure under § 240B(b);
  3. Adjustment of Status;
  4. Cancellation of Removal for non-permanent resident aliens (former “Suspension of Deportation”) under § 240A(b);
  5. Cancellation of Removal for Lawful Permanent Resident aliens (former “§ 212(c) Relief”) under § 240A(a);
  6. Political Asylum under § 208;
  7. Withholding of Removal under § 241(b)(3);
  8. Deferral of Removal (Convention Against Torture);
  9. Termination [based upon legality of deportability,claim to U.S. citizenship or technical defect/violation that prejudices person’s rights.

Deportation proceedings are not a do it yourself project.  If you are in deportation proceedings or under the threat of deportation, please seek legal advise from a licensed attorney.