What Are The Most Frequently Asked Immigration Questions?
There are some areas of immigration law that seem very straightforward but the wrong filing or a misstep can lead to adverse consequences. You wouldn’t perform surgery on yourself or cut your own hair, would you? For the same reason, choosing to proceed through the immigration system without legal representation can be difficult and even foolish. With a good immigration lawyer in your corner, you can rest assured your rights will be protected.
When a person becomes a lawful permanent resident of the United States, meaning they can live and work here indefinitely, he or she is issued an identity card which is commonly referred to as a “green card.” When the concept was first invented in 1946 and immigrants were issued these identity cards, they were green in color and hence they came to be known as informally as green cards. The card itself is about the size of a driver’s license and is formal identification signifying a person’s right to live and work indefinitely in the United States.
No. The process of obtaining lawful permanent residence or a “green card” can take anywhere from between 3-months and 2-years. There are a variety of factors that can affect the process. For this reason, consulting with a knowledgeable immigration attorney can help you or a loved one prepare in advance. The facts and manner in which the application is presented to the immigration authorities can make a big difference in whether a green card is granted. In the event the marriage arouses the suspicion of immigration authorities, you want to make sure you have competent counsel that can allay the government’s concerns and help you get through the process.
Citizens of Canada seeking to come to the United States for tourist related reasons do not need a visa. However, if a Canadian citizen wishes to work in the United States or carry on a business (or attend school), then a visa will be required. The most common types of business visas for Canadians are the E-1 Treaty Trader visa or E-2 Treaty Investor visa.
Immigration authorities prefer the phrase “removal” rather than “deportation.” But removal proceedings are basically the process by which an immigrant or non-immigrant can be deported. The proceedings are conducted in immigration court and focus upon determining a person’s removability (immigrants) or inadmissibility (non-immigrants). During these proceedings, a person can apply for certain benefits under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 which may allow the person to claim legal status in the United States. Having the right lawyer guiding you through this process is crucial.
You may be able to file a motion with immigration court to “reopen” your removal proceedings so that you can apply for residency. Under certain other circumstances, you might even be able to file a direct challenge in federal court. To fully understand your range of options, it’s essential to consult with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer.
This is merely a preliminary hearing where charges of inadmissibility or removability are addressed by the immigration court. At this hearing, an immigration court will also consider a person’s eligibility for relief under the Immigration and Nationality Act. The court will then schedule an individual hearing. In most cities, the immigration courts are extremely busy and it’s not unusual for an individual hearing to be scheduled to a date more than a year after a master calendar hearing.
At a master calendar hearing an immigration judge will generally set a time and date for an individual hearing pertaining to a particular person’s case. At this hearing, the immigration judge will take testimony from witnesses and review other evidence to determine if a person should be granted relief. The purpose of an individual hearing is to determine whether a charge of inadmissibility or removability should be sustained.
Good question. Unfortunately, it should not be this way. The need for simplifying the immigration system is long overdue. Immigrants and non-immigrants alike are often at the mercy of government bureaucrats that can deny applications and petitions for capricious reasons causing an alien to incur significant financial costs. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (often referred to as USCIS) brings in a ton of money for the government through filing fees. The immigration system is administered by several government agencies including the United States Department of Homeland Security, the United States Department of State, the United States Department of Labor and the United States Department of Justice. Navigating these agencies and achieving a favorable result can be challenging and costly. For this reason, having experienced legal counsel on your side is extremely important.
If a person has been the victim of a crime, depending upon the circumstances they can qualify for a green card. The most common vehicle for this is through a U Visa or through a petition under the Violence Against Woman Act (VAWA). These laws exist to encourage crime victims to come forward and report criminal activity without having to worry about being deported from the United States because of their legal status. The main requirements for getting a “green card” as a victim of a crime require you to show that (1) you were the victim of a qualifying crime (such as domestic violence), (2) you were helpful in the police investigation and the prosecution of the crime, (3) you suffered severe emotional or physical abuse in conjunction with the crime and (4) you don’t have a serious criminal history of your own making you otherwise inadmissible.
Although a person can be deported based upon the commission of a serious crime, historically a driving under the influence or DUI conviction has not been considered a serious enough crime that could lead to deportation. In fact, the United States Supreme Court addressed this very issue in Leocal v. Ashcroft and held that a DUI conviction, even where it resulted in bodily harm to another person, was not a “crime of violence” under federal immigration law. Thus, generally a person cannot be deported for a single DUI. Given the way the laws are constantly subject to interpretation and reinterpretation, any immigrant facing DUI charges should consult with a good criminal attorney to ensure their rights are protected.