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Frequently Asked Questions

Topics
President Trump's Immigration Policies
Donald Trump has listed the following as his immigration reform policies:
  1. Building a Border wall between the U.S. and Mexico
  2. Triple the number of ICE officers.
  3. Mandatory return of all criminal aliens.
  4. Detention of all illegal immigrants - not catch-and-release.
  5. Defund sanctuary cities. Trump proposes to cut-off federal grants to any city which refuses to cooperate with federal law enforcement.
  6. Enhanced penalties for overstaying a visa.
  7. Cooperate with local gang task forces using ICE.
  8. End birthright citizenship.
  9. Increase prevailing wage for H-1Bs.
  10. Requirement to hire American workers first.
  11. End welfare abuse.
  12. Jobs program for inner city youth.
  13. Refugee program for American children.
  14. Immigration moderation. Trump proposes to pause the issuance of new green cards to workers abroad so that "employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers.”
  15. Mandated Nationwide E-Verify. E-Verify is an electronic system that checks a new hire’s identity information against government databases to approve or deny them employment.
  16. End DACA. President Obama’s executive action gives temporary work permits and relief from potential deportation for certain childhood arrivals. The requirements to obtain the permit are very stringent. It is NOT an amnesty and it is NOT a path to citizenship. Trump has threatened to overturn all of President Obama's executive orders so this may very well be on the table. The scary thing for DACA holders is that they may now be subject to deportation after applying for this program under which they were required to provide their address, phone number, picture, fingerprints, and other personal information.

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Inadmissibility Due to Unlawful Presence or Deportation
My spouse is here illegally in the U.S.; how can I get them a green card?
If your spouse’s only bar to admissibility is their unlawful presence they might be eligible to file an I-601A hardship waiver and get a green card. To be eligible for a Provisional Waiver, the applicant must, among other requirements: (1) Have an approved I-130 Petition for a Relative filed on their behalf; (2) have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent; (3) be physically present in the US; (4) have a pending immigrant visa case with the Department of State and paid the visa fees; (5) upon departure from the US, would be inadmissible for unlawful presence under INA 212(a)(9)(B)(i); (6) meet the requirements for a waiver under INA 212(a)(9)(B)(v); and (7) not arouse a reason to believe that the person has engaged in activity that would cause other inadmissibility—such as criminal acts.
What if my spouse is outside the U.S., but they have a previous period of unlawful presence in the U.S.?
If your spouse is outside the U.S. and is inadmissible because of a prior period of unlawful presence then, if they qualify otherwise, they might be able to file an I-601 hardship waiver from outside of the U.S. Call us today to discuss your case options.
What if my spouse was deported?
If your spouse was deported, depending on the circumstances, there may still be hope! Depending on the circumstances surrounding your spouse’s deportation, their period of unlawful presence, criminal record, and other factors, your spouse may be eligible to file form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal, and an I-601 waiver.
What is the I-601A Stateside Provisional Hardship Waiver?
The I-601A waiver was created in the interest of family unity. The waiver allows those who qualify to file their waiver while they are inside the U.S. This is a huge benefit because it allows families to stay together while their waiver applications are processing. Before the stateside waiver was available families were separated for months or sometimes longer than a year because they had to file their waivers from outside of the U.S. and remain outside the country while the waiver was processed.
If I file the I-601A waiver, will I have to go back to my native country?
Yes, but the time spent outside of the U.S. will be very short, depending on what country you are from it could be as little as 10 days.
What if my I-601A stateside provisional hardship waiver is denied?
There is no appeal for I-601A hardship waiver denials. Just because your application is denied it doesn’t mean it is the end for you, you can always re-file your application. Call us today to set up an appointment to review your case.
Will I be deported if my I-601A waiver is denied?
Currently the Department of Homeland Security has not been actively pursuing denial cases or initiating deportation proceedings in those cases. However, this is subject to change as the area is subject to change quite a bit once Donald Trump takes the office of the President and begins to implement his immigration policies. If your waiver was denied call us today to review your case and find out your options.
What does the I-601A Provisional Hardship Waiver waive?
The only bar to admission that the I-601A application waives is unlawful presence. In order for your application to be approved the only thing that makes you inadmissible to the U.S. must be your unlawful presence in the U.S.
Who can file the I-601A Provisional Hardship Waiver?
To be eligible for a Provisional Waiver, the applicant must, among other requirements: (1) Have an approved I-130 Petition for a Relative filed on their behalf; (2) have a U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent; (3) be physically present in the US; (4) have a pending immigrant visa case with the Department of State and paid the visa fees; (5) upon departure from the US, would be inadmissible for unlawful presence under INA 212(a)(9)(B)(i); (6) meet the requirements for a waiver under INA 212(a)(9)(B)(v); and (7) not arouse a reason to believe that the person has engaged in activity that would cause other inadmissibility—such as criminal acts.
I have a child over 21 who is a U.S. citizen, can I file an I-601A waiver?
Only if you also have either a spouse or parent who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. Having a child alone does not qualify you for the I-601A waiver even if you have an approved I-130 Petition for a Relative.
If I have a criminal conviction does that mean that my waiver will be denied?
Not necessarily, it depends on what your conviction was for. We have filed and received approvals on many waiver applications for those who have a criminal history. Call our office today to discuss the details of your case and see if you are eligible for a waiver.

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Criminal Grounds for Inadmissibility
What crimes will make me inadmissible to the U.S.?
Criminal grounds for inadmissibility include, among others, convictions for crimes involving moral turpitude (“CIMT”), drug or controlled substance offenses, money laundering, two or more offenses (other than purely political offenses) for which the aggregate jail or prison sentence actually imposed was 5 years or more, prostitution, and human trafficking. If you have a criminal conviction don't give up yet, there may be hope. Call our office today to discuss if an exception or waiver applies to your case.
What is the petty offense exception?
Under the petty offense exception, you are not inadmissible if: (1) you committed only one crime; (2) the maximum penalty possible for the crime does not exceed one year in jail; and (3) you were not sentenced to more than 6 months of jail.
What is the Youthful Offender exception?
Under the youthful offender exception, you are not inadmissible if: (1) you committed only one crime; (2) you committed the crime when you were under 18 years of age; and (3) your crime was committed more than 5 years before the date of your application for a visa or admission into the US.
What is the difference between crimes that make you inadmissible and crimes that make you deportable?
This is a very technical and confusing area of immigration law. There are some crimes that if you commit while being a legal permanent resident (e.g. a single possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana) you will not be deportable and you can maintain your permanent resident status. However, if you are a legal permanent resident who has a conviction for a single possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana and you travel outside of the U.S., then you become inadmissible when you attempt to enter back into the U.S. If you are a permanent resident and are inadmissible for this reason the Department of Homeland Security will likely parole you into the U.S. and initiate deportation proceedings against you at the same time. If this has happened to you it is likely that you have options to prevent your deportation. Call us today if you are in this situation to discuss your case and the options you have.


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Family based immigration
Who can I file an immigration petition or I-130 petition for?
If you are a United States citizen, you may file immigration petitions for immediate family members. Immediate family members include spouses, parents, children, brothers and sisters. Legal Permanent Residents (AKA “LPR” or “green card holders”) can file immigration petitions for spouses and children only. The U.S. citizen or permanent resident is called the “petitioner” and the alien relative is called the “beneficiary.”
How do I apply for my relative who lives outside of the U.S.?
When the alien relative is physically outside of the U.S., the U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitioner will first file an I-130 petition for a relative at United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once the petition for a relative is approved the case will move to the National Visa Center (NVC). After processing at the NVC the case will be sent to the U.S. Consulate where the alien beneficiary resides. The alien beneficiary will be scheduled for an interview at the consulate. If the alien beneficiary is approved at the consular interview then they will receive their immigrant visa. When the alien relative enters the U.S. using their immigrant visa they will then become a permanent resident in the U.S.
How do I become a legal permanent resident or green card holder from inside the U.S.?
In certain circumstances you may be able to apply to change status to that of a permanent resident while you are physically present in the United States in a different status (e.g. tourist visa or student visa). In this circumstance the petitioner would still file the I-130 petition for an alien relative and the beneficiary or alien relative would file an I-485 application for adjustment of status inside the U.S. An interview would most likely take place at the nearest USCIS field office to where you are living and you would not have to travel to a foreign consulate.
What is naturalization?
Naturalization is the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship. If you meet all of the requirements you can apply for citizenship by filing form N-400 with USCIS.
When can my spouse get citizenship/naturalization?
If your spouse received their green card through a marriage based petition filed by you, they successfully removed the condition on their green card (if necessary), you are still married, and your spouse meets all of the other requirements for citizenship or naturalization, then your spouse can apply for citizenship or naturalization 3 years after they receive their green card or become a legal permanent resident.
What is a conditional permanent resident?
If you obtain permanent residence or a green card through a marriage that is less than two years old, you will receive a conditional permanent resident card, which expires in 2 years from the date of issuance. The green card and your permanent resident status in the U.S. is conditioned on your marriage and you must prove to USCIS one more time that you have not entered into a sham marriage or committed immigration marriage fraud just to obtain a green card.
How do I remove the condition on my green card?
Within the 90-day window before the permanent resident card expires the conditional resident cardholder must file an I-751 petition to remove the condition. If this application is approved, then the resident alien will become a permanent resident.
What if I got divorced or my spouse died or disappeared before I was able to file form I-751 to remove the condition from my green card?
Regardless if you got divorced, your spouse died, disappeared or anything else happened, you must still file form I-751 to remove the condition! Failure to file the form timely can have grave consequences. These cases can be very tricky and you will likely need to request a waiver, call our office today to discuss how we can help.
What if my green card has expired?
If your green card has expired talk to an immigration attorney right away to make sure there will not be any problems. If you have a 10-year permanent resident card, you can likely file form I-90 with USCIS to renew the card.
How long will it take my spouse to get a green card?
That can depend on several factors including what status the petitioner has (citizen or permanent resident) and how busy or backed up USCIS, the NVC and the foreign consulate are. Call our office today to discuss your case details and determine how long it will take your spouse to get their green card.


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Citizenship
How do I get U.S. Citizenship?
You can receive U.S. Citizenship through birth, naturalization, or by receiving derivative citizenship through a parent.
What is naturalization?
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the legal requirements.
Do I qualify for naturalization?
If you are a green card holder of at least 5 years, you must meet the following requirements in order to apply for naturalization:
  1. Be 18 or older at the time of filing
  2. Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the naturalization application form. (This requirement is only 3 years if you obtained your green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen and you are still married).
  3. Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application. Students may apply for naturalization either where they go to school or where their family lives (if they are still financially dependent on their parents).
  4. Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application (3 years if you obtained your green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen and you are still married).
  5. Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
  6. Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  7. Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
  8. Be a person of good moral character
If I have a criminal conviction am I eligible for naturalization?
It depends on the facts of your case, but you may still be eligible for naturalization. Contact our office today to discuss your case.


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Deportation
I received a Notice to Appear (NTA), what do I do?
A Notice to Appear (NTA) is a document charging you with being deportable from the U.S. If you receive an NTA call our office immediately to discuss your options.
Are there any defenses to deportation or relief available?
Yes, there are many. Depending on the facts in your case there are defenses and relief from deportation available that may apply to your case. Such defenses and relief include: Cancellation of removal for permanent residents, Cancellation of removal for nonpermanent residents, defensive asylum applications, withholding of removal, protection under the convention against torture, adjustment of status, I-212h waivers, voluntary departure, administrative closure to seek I-601a waivers, and administrative closure or deferral of deportation proceedings. Call our office today to find out what your options are.
Am I eligible for cancellation of removal for permanent residents?
Eligibility for cancellation of removal for permanent residents requires the alien: (1) has been lawfully admitted for permanent residence for not less than five years; (2) has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after having been admitted in any status; and (3) has not been convicted of an aggravated felony. In addition to these requirements you have to show the Immigration Judge that you are deserving of the judge's discretion to approve your case. Issues may arise in calculating the 7 years continuous presence time requirement as there certain criminal convictions and the issuance of the NTA which can "stop the time clock". Call our office today to determine your eligibility.
Am I eligible for cancellation of removal for nonpermanent residents?
To be eligible for cancellation of removal under section 240A(b)(1) for nonpermanent residents an applicant must prove that she (the applicant): 1) has been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 10 years immediately preceding service of the charging document and up to the time of application; 2) has been a person of good moral character for the 10 years prior to a final administrative order; 3) has not been convicted of certain criminal offenses; and 4) establishes that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to the applicant's spouse, parent, or child, who is a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident. Call our office today to determine your eligibility.
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