Monday, July 30, 2018
Applying for a family-based green card
A green card is the document that proves your status as a permanent resident in the United States. With a valid green card, you can legally live and work in the United States for 10 years, as well as:
•Travel outside the United States, without the risk of being denied entry.
•Live and work anywhere in the United States, without the need for employer sponsorship.
•Start a business in the United States.
•Receive government-sponsored financial aid for education, if eligible.
•Collect social security benefits in retirement, if eligible.
•Sponsor certain family members for a green card.
•Be protected by all federal, state, and local laws.
Who can get a family green card?
•Spouses of a US citizen
•Parents of US citizens, if the sponsoring citizen is age 21 or older
•Children of a US citizen
•Siblings of US citizen, if the sponsoring citizen is age 21 or older
•Spouses of a permanent resident
•Unmarried children of a permanent resident
Overview of the steps
1. Get sponsored. To obtain a green card through family, a relative who is a permanent resident or citizen must sponsor their immigrant relative by filing a visa petition on their behalf. This is always the first step towards receiving a family green card, regardless of the immigrant’s current status.
2. Wait for a visa. Once the relative visa petition is approved, the immigrant must wait for an immigrant visa to become available. The waiting period could take a few months or decades depending on how many other applicants are in the US visa backlog. This is true for applicants both in or outside of the United States.
3. Apply for a green card. After an immigrant visa becomes available, the immigrant must complete a medical exam, file for adjustment of status or consular processing, and potentially attend an interview. If approved, the immigrant will officially be a permanent resident.
Exception: Immediate relatives of a US citizen always have a visa available and can become permanent residents as soon as their applications are approved. Everyone else, however, has to wait.
Monday, July 23, 2018
It Is Legal to Seek Asylum
As thousands of asylum-seeking parents were separated from their children in recent months, the A.G. administration actively portrayed them as law breakers who must be prosecuted and punished for coming to the United States. Left out of the narrative is one well-established fact: it is legal to seek asylum.
The Immigration and Nationality Act, which governs our nation’s immigration law, makes clear that anyone arriving at the U.S. border or within the United States is permitted to apply for protection. U.S. law embraces both international and domestic legal obligations not to return any person to a place where they face persecution on account of one of several protected grounds.
Most everyone can apply for asylum, and where narrow exceptions apply, those individuals can apply for other forms of protection including withholding of removal or relief for those at risk of torture.
For those able to reach the U.S. border, many have been unlawfully turned away by Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials who have told migrants that ports of entry are closed or that the U.S. no longer welcomes asylum seekers, at least from certain countries, among other justifications.
Faced with no alternatives, many asylum seekers present themselves to Border Patrol between the ports of entry in order to seek protection. Following the Attorney General’s “zero tolerance” policy of prosecuting everyone apprehended between the ports of entry, many asylum-seeking parents were separated from their children for months so they could be prosecuted for entry-related crimes before being given a chance to ask for protection.
Monday, July 16, 2018
Employment-Based Visa Categories in the United States
One of the key principles guiding the U.S. immigration system has been admitting foreign workers with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy. Current U.S. immigration law provides several paths for foreign workers to enter the United States for employment purposes on a temporary or permanent basis.
Temporary Employment-Based Visa Classifications
There are many different temporary employment-based visa classifications. Most of the classifications are defined in section 101(a)(15) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), and the visa classifications are referred to by the letter and numeral that denotes their subsection of that law. Temporary employment-based visa classifications permit employers to hire and petition for foreign nationals for specific jobs for limited periods. Most temporary workers must work for the employer that petitioned for them and have limited ability to change jobs. In most cases, they must leave the United States if their status expires or if their employment is terminated.
Permanent Employment-Based Immigration
Lawful permanent residency allows a foreign national to work and live lawfully and permanently in the United States. Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are eligible to apply for nearly all jobs (i.e., jobs not legitimately restricted to U.S. citizens) and can remain in the country even if they are unemployed. Immigrants who acquired lawful permanent resident status through employment may apply for U.S. citizenship after five years.
Numerical limits and Per-Country Limits
In addition to the annual numerical limit on the number of employment-based immigrant visas, each country is limited to seven percent of the worldwide level of U.S. immigrant admissions, otherwise known as per-country limits. Because of numerical and per-country limits, and because in some preference categories there are more petitions each year than visas available, some individuals must wait a significant period of time to apply for adjustment of status (in the U.S.) or an immigrant visa (abroad) even after the employer’s petition is approved by USCIS.
As of September 2016, most preference categories were current for most countries, meaning that visas are available as petitions are received. However, for some employment-based preference categories, there are backlogs for petitions for individuals born in certain countries with high annual levels, such as India, China, Mexico, and the Philippines.
Monday, July 9, 2018
When Can I Apply for U.S. Citizenship?
The "five years of permanent residence" rule and more guidance on the naturalization process.
If you are a U.S. permanent or conditional resident -- that is, someone with a green card -- the basic rule is that you cannot apply for U.S. citizenship (or apply to naturalize) until you have lived in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. That means exactly five years, to the day.
if you were approved for permanent residence on April 17, 2011, you would be eligible for citizenship on April 17, 2016. Check your so-called green card (permanent resident card) for the exact date on which you became a permanent resident.
If you start out as a conditional rather than a permanent resident (most likely because you got your residence either through recent marriage to a U.S. citizen or through an investor visa), your two years as a conditional resident count as permanent residence, on one condition: You must successfully become a permanent resident at the end of the two years.
Any one of several exceptions may, however, reduce the amount of time you must wait.
or at least the ones that apply to civilians. If you are a member of, or relative of someone who has been with the U.S. Armed Forces.
90-Days Early Application Rule
Despite the five years of permanent residence requirement, you are actually allowed to submit your naturalization application to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) within the 90-days before your five-year anniversary has arrived. The reason has to do with timing.
Monday, July 2, 2018
What Will Happen at Your Master Calendar Hearing?
Learn how to prepare yourself for your preliminary immigration hearing.
A master calendar hearing (“MCH”) is a short, preliminary hearing on immigration matters -- the usual start to efforts to remove an immigrant from the United States. You will meet with the Judge and the government attorney to figure out how your case will proceed. The Judge will schedule dates for your submission of written documents, and for your individual merits hearing (at which the substance of your applications or claims and/or defenses will be addressed in detail). If you have an attorney, he or she will answer most of the Judge’s questions.
During a MCH, the Court will not address any legal claims or defenses of your case. You will not be questioned about your case or immigration applications, and will not present any witnesses. The Judge will not make any rulings regarding legal issues in your case.
How to Prepare for Your MCH
You will first receive a Notice to Appear (“NTA”), which will specify the date and place of your MCH. Note that you must personally attend your MCH, even if your lawyer attends as well.
You may bring family members with you to the court. Make sure that they have legal immigration status. Otherwise, they may be arrested. It is not a good idea to bring children. Dress appropriately – in clean, neat, conservative clothes.
Arrive on time at your MCH. If you are absent -- or even late -- you might be ordered deported “in absentia” (due to your absence) or the Judge might deny your legal claims or defenses. Arriving early is a particularly wise idea because going through a security check point can take a while.
Try to find out ahead of time how your local Court operates. Bring important documents with you: your identification documents (passports, a driving license), your NTA (or another “hearing notice” that directed you to come to court), and any original documents that might be helpful at this preliminary stage (based on your lawyer’s suggestion). Also, bring a calendar, because the Judge will schedule deadlines in your case.
During your MCH, you will most likely be before the Judge for about five to 20 minutes only, although you might be in Court for several hours (including time to check in and wait). Plan accordingly.