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Immigration Law

Immigration Law FAQ’s

immigration_lawQ. I would like to study in the United States?  How do I get a visa?

A. Once you receive an admission letter and a certificate of eligibility for nonimmigrant student status from the school you wish to attend, you may apply of a student visa.  The course of study you are planning on determines the type of visa you should apply for.  Below are the types of student visas available.

  • F-1 Student Visa. The most common visa for those who want to study in the United States. It is for individuals who want to study at an accredited U.S. college or university or study English at a university or intensive English language institute.
  • J-1 Exchange Visa. This visa is for people who will be participating in an exchange program, including those programs that provide high school and university study.
  • M-1 Student Visa. This visa is for those who will be engaged in non-academic or vocational study or training in the United States.

Students may complete an online visa application, and schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or consular office near your permanent place of residence.

Q. I am currently studying here in the United States.  How do I renew my visa?

A. Continuing Students can renew their visas at any time.  Student must show that they have maintained their student status and their SEVIS records are current. There are no prohibition times from arriving in the US before classes start.  They can come any time.

Q.  I am a U.S. citizen.  Can I sponsor my same sex spouse on a family-based petition?

A. You can file a Form I-130 and your application will not be denied based on the same-sex marriage. Your spouse’s admissibility will be based on current applicable immigration law.

Q.  How do I get permanent residency?

A. Permanent residency visas can be complex and are often difficult to obtain. This type of application process can be slowed or denied if proper documentation is not received.  It is recommended to have an attorney guide you through this process. A two year temporary residency is given after approval.  After the initial two years, permanent residency can be applied for.

Q. My visa is expired, what should I do?

A. Contact an immigration lawyer immediately. You could be facing denial of the renewal application or possible deportation. An experienced immigration attorney can assist you properly navigate the application process.

Q. What is Temporary Protected Status?

A. If there are conditions in an country that prevent a country’s nationals from returning safety due to extreme conditions ie: civil war, tsunami, hurricane or any other extraordinary and temporary conditions.  The Secretary of Homeland Security designates which countries qualify for TPS.  Some countries currently on this list include: El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Haiti, Somalia, Sudan, South Sudan, and Syria.

Q. I am in the United States on a visitor visa, but I wish to obtain a permanent residency.  How can I do that?

A. Depending on your situation, it is best to consult with an immigration attorney to determine qualification of different types of visas.   Changing immigration status is intricate and should be handled with the help of an experienced attorney.

Q. I have received a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court. What happens if I don’t show up?

A. If you receive a notice to attend a hearing in Immigration and do not attend, you could be removed in absentia.  Being placed in deportation proceedings is not the end of the world. For many there are forms of relief that would allow a people to remain lawfully in the U.S.  Contact of office to see how we can help.

Q. How can I improve my case?

A. Communication is a most important aspect between an attorney and a client. If there are documents that need to be found, get them as soon as possible.  Immigration law has many deadlines that must be adhered to so keep in contact with your attorney so your case can progress smoothly. Also, be honest and don’t leave out any information because it may sound bad.  Accurate and complete information makes it easier to fully understand your situation

Q. I have not received my permanent residency but my spouse is abusive.  Will I lose my status if I get divorced?

 A. Divorced spouses who were subject to extreme cruelty from his or her legal permanent resident or U.S. citizen spouse may qualify for VAWA (Violence Against Women) protection.  If your divorce is 2 years old or less at the time you file and you can prove that the abuse was linked to the reason for the divorce.

Q. I was arrested many years ago.  Will this affect my residency application?

A. Any crime could potentially affect your immigration status.  Some charges are more serious that other under the immigration code. Under the code, there are two types of criminal charges that are important to understand:

  • aggravated felonies- serious offenses involving theft, drugs, and acts of violence.
  • crimes of moral turpitude- offenses involving an act of moral deficiency like petit theft and fraud.

Q. I was sentenced to jail time.  Will I get deported?

A. The length of your sentence usually determines whether you are deported or not.  Some aggravated felonies under the immigration code that are deportable no matter the sentence.  This is a complex area of law and if you are in the middle of deportation proceedings then you must consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible.

Q. What is deferred action?

A. Deferred action is a discretionary grant of relief by the Department of Homeland Security.   If you are in removal proceedings; have a final order of removal; or have never been in removal proceedings, persons with deferred action status can apply for employment authorization.  This is not a visa or a path to lawful permanent residency. Applicants must renew this application every two years.

Q. What is humanitarian parole?

A. Foreigners in emergency situations requiring them to travel to the US can enter temporarily through humanitarian parole.  I person granted this form of relief is only allow to remain in the US until the humanitarian need is fulfilled or the emergency situation has passed.  This form of relief is only granted “sparingly.”