This is the first of our Industry Insights articles where we reach out to professionals across the country to gain insight into their businesses.
For this article, we surveyed immigration attorneys from across the country to learn about the questions that they are most commonly asked and their answers to those questions.
We hope that this can be an interesting and educational article for you and if you have other questions you would like answered, please comment below.
Adam Green – Law Offices of Adam Green
Question: I am a US citizen and have just married a wonderful lady from Germany. She is a student at the local university. How can I sponsor my wife for a green card?
Answer: Yes, it is certainly possible to sponsor your wife. However, you should be aware that the whole process can take approximately one year. At the end of the year, there is an interview with the two of you and the Citizenship and Immigration Services officer. You would have to establish at the interview, through presentation of documents, that the two of you reside together and will remain together. Documents such as a joint lease, bank accounts, driver’s license indicating the same address, cell phone and utility bills would be submitted. Perhaps your employer can confirm that it is aware of your marriage and her name. Also, either you, or your wife, or a close family member or friend must submit an Affidavit of Support and copy of his/her federal income taxes for the last three years. In other words, it is not enough just to present a marriage certificate. The immigration agent must be satisfied that the documents that you present convince the person that you two actually reside together.
Michael Dye – Law Office of Michael B. Dye
Question: In what circumstances is a visa required for business visitors?
Answer: Non-immigrant visas are issued to those who intend to enter the U.S. for a temporary stay and who intend to depart the U.S. at the end of their stay. U.S. law establishes separate classifications of non-immigrant visas for tourism, business, temporary employment, study, transit, investment, training, and other purposes. The “B” visa is the most common type of visa issued worldwide. The flexibility of the B visa allows travelers to temporarily visit the United States for vacation as well as a multitude of business-related endeavors. The B-1 “Business Visa” allows individuals to travel to the U.S. to attend conventions, conferences, consultations, and other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature. This may include taking steps to establish a branch office of a foreign company or set up an investment in the United States.
Bryan Johnson Xenitelis – Law Offices of Bryan Xenitelis
Question: My relative has been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) – are they eligible for bond and how soon will they get out?
Answer: Bond is a very complicated issue in U.S. Immigration Law and it is neither easy nor speedy to secure someone’s release from ICE detention. Virtually any person whom ICE believes to be removable from the United States (either as someone who entered the U.S. without inspection, someone who overstayed or made material misrepresentations or committed certain frauds after entering using a visa, or permanent residents (green card holders) who have been convicted of certain crimes), maybe lawfully detained by ICE. Some of these individuals may request a bond hearing before an administrative Immigration Judge. The Judge may grant bond if they determine the individual is not a flight risk (will come back to court proceedings) and is not a danger to the community (a discretionary determination made by the Judge). Individuals who have unresolved criminal matters that remain ongoing can rarely obtain bond because the Immigration Judge will want to hear testimony about why they were arrested but the testimony could be self-incriminating and used against them in the criminal case and so they are unable to testify for 5th Amendment self-incrimination reasons. Individuals who have prior arrests relating to DUIs or violent crimes will likely be deemed a danger to the community. Many numbers of individuals who have prior criminal “convictions” (a very wide-scoped definition under the federal U.S. Immigration Laws) are actually subject to “mandatory detention,” meaning they are not even entitled to a bond hearing and will remain detained until either they are removed from the United States or succeed in requesting some form of relief from the Immigration Judge. The best advice to give to anyone asking this question is to have them tell their relative not to sign any paperwork presented to them, refuse to answer any questions without an attorney present, and to immediately find a qualified immigration attorney to analyze the case to determine bond eligibility and if eligible for bond to present the best possible presentation in the form of a motion for bond to prove the person is not a flight risk or a danger to the community.
Jennifer Chang – Pyrus Law
Question: How do the latest news articles/conversations on immigration affect me?
Answer: Immigration is currently a hot topic, drawing lots of conversations and debates. It’s impossible to predict how the latest hot topic will affect you since we don’t know whether it will be written into the laws and if it is how it will be implemented. It’s good to stay apprised of potential developments in the immigration field, but pay attention to what has been proposed and what has actually been passed into law. Proposals are interesting but they are rarely implemented in their full form and are often changed drastically and take long periods of time to come to fruition.
Christine Troy – Law Office of Troy & Neils, LLLP
Question: I just entered the US. The expiration date on my I94 entry form is shorter than the date given on my H1B approval notice. What do I do?
Answer: It is very important to have this corrected if possible, and to act quickly. When you enter the US, the date stamped in your passport and on your I-94 form controls, even if this date is earlier than the time given to you by USCIS on your approval notice I-797. (for example, H1B, H4, L1, L2, etc.). Failure to catch this error can lead to severe complications including falling out of status, a 3 or 10-year bar to being in the US and loss of employment. Each time you enter the US, it is important to check passport notations made by the CBP officer and the I-94 form. Check your passport notation while still at inspections to ensure that you are given the correct period of stay and the right visa category. Within 24 hours, you can print and examine your I-94 form here: https://i94.cbp.dhs.gov/I94/#/home Review for errors in spelling, expiration date, and visa category.
If there is an error, then you can generally call or make an appointment with Deferred Inspections. They will amend the I-94 card and passport notation to reflect the correct date. If your passport expires before the time given on your approval notice, it is CBP policy that you will only be given a period of stay through the passport expiration date. You can contact Deferred Inspections after renewal, to ask for the amendment; or else travel and re-enter the US. This will trigger issuance of a new I-94 card which should clear up the matter.
Dayna Lally – Lally Immigration Services, LLC
Question: When can I become a USA citizen?
Answer: Generally, an individual must be a lawful permanent resident (“green card holder”) for 5 years before applying for naturalization. The requirement is 3 years if applying for naturalization as the spouse of a U.S. citizen.
Applicants may file Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, up to 90 days before meeting the required 3- or 5-year period of continuous residence as a green card holder.
Jeanny Tsoi – Wilner & O’Reilly, APLC
Question: What is a premium processing fee? Why is it important?
Answer: The premium processing fee is an optional fee that may be included with certain types of employment-based petitions (such as the L-1A petition for intracompany transferee executive or manager). When this “extra” fee is included, USCIS guarantees a response within 15 calendar days. If it fails to meet the deadline, USCIS will issue a refund. The response may be an approval notice, a request for evidence (“RFE”), a notice of intent to deny, or a denial notice. Based on our experience, the first 2 scenarios – approval notice and RFE – are more likely to occur. Premium processing is important to those who want an answer ASAP. The program also offers greater access to information and we normally recommend it.
Kathryn Terry – Law Offices of Kathryn Terry
Question: I am a U.S. citizen born of parents who are here illegally for the past 25 years. How can I get my parents legal?
Answer: You can surely petition for your parents who are your immediate relatives and there is an immigrant visa immediately available. However, since your parents are here unlawfully, they can not adjust their status unless they can qualify under 245i which means they had a prior bonafide petition filed on their behalf before 4/30/2001 by either a relative or an employer. In order for them to get the visa and therefore permanent residence, they must go home to their home country, but the minute they leave the USA, they will be banned for 10 years to return. Although there is a waiver for some relatives to return if extreme hardship can be shown to the U.S. relative, unfortunately, there is NO waiver for parents. Unless the laws change to favor family unity, there is no hope to get your parents legal at this time (although they could go home and return in 10 years if that is an option which I doubt to be true since they have lived here for 25 years, this is their home.)
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