Frequently Asked Questions
There are often many misconceptions about immigration law, especially with recent changes in laws throughout the United States. It can be complicated and involve multiple forms, court proceedings and be quite stressful. Below we have answers to some of the most common questions we receive. If you have further concerns, do not hesitate to contact The Law Office of Tony E. Parada immediately.
What are the federal immigration agencies and what do they do?
There are 3 separate agencies in the federal government that handle immigration matters. They are the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The USCIS takes care of immigration matters such as permanent residency (green cards), asylum, and naturalization (citizenship). The enforcement of immigration laws is handled by ICE, which takes care of such issues as deporting undocumented immigrants. The CBP handles the borders, enforcing immigration laws there. They will determine whether or not an individual may enter the U.S.
What is a removal hearing?
A removal hearing is conducted by an immigration judge to determine if an individual is inadmissible in this country under immigration law, if he or she should be deported, or if the person is eligible to apply for relief from removal. About 80 percent of the caseload of an immigration judge concerns removal proceedings.
What is a deportation bond?
During removal proceedings, the federal government has the right to hold an individual in custody. If the individual being held is not a danger to the public and is unlikely to flee, then he or she may be released on bond. If the individual is considered a national security risk or is likely to flee, then he or she may be held without bond. Also, if the individual has been convicted of a crime, he may held in custody. A bond must be posted in cash and can be obtained through a friend, family member, or a professional bondsman.
What are grounds for removal from the U.S.?
There are many grounds for removal. Some examples include being inadmissible at the time of entry, such as those who entered the country illegally, through fraud, or who have violated the conditions of entry or who have helped others enter the country illegally; those who have committed criminal offenses, such as aggravated felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude; those who have falsified documents in regards to immigration; those who are a national security risk, such as terrorists or spies; and those who end up as public charges, such as those on welfare.
What is adjustment of status?
This is the process through which one becomes a lawful permanent resident. Those who entered the country legally and would like to adjust their status to permanent resident may do so by applying for a green card either through a family-based or employment-based petition. To get experienced legal assistance with this process, you should consult with an attorney at the firm immediately.
How do I qualify for naturalization?
The process of obtaining citizenship is termed naturalization. Even before you can attempt to qualify, you must meet certain requirements. You must be at least 18 years of age, have lived continuously in the U.S. without moving and leaving, and you have upstanding moral character. If all of the aforementioned factors are met, then you may qualify for citizenship. In the United States there are four different avenues to achieving status as a U.S. citizen. For all of the different paths you can take, you must meet all of the eligibility requirements. If you have been a lawful permanent resident for the past 5 years, your spouse is a citizen and you have lived here for the past 3 years, or if you are serving in the U.S. military, you may qualify for naturalization. Any children you have may also be able to qualify if they were born outside of the U.S., have continued to live outside of this country and you yourself are a United States citizen.
How do I apply for citizenship?
To apply, you must fill out the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization. The form will ask you for basic information such as your name, marital status, residency location, and current employment. It will also have you fill out a section for them to perform a criminal record search. There are also questions that must be answered that check your standard for morality. You will also be asked about any time spent outside of the United States, either for business or pleasure. Once filled out, this must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. After this, an interview will be given to ask you about your intentions for immigrating. A naturalization test will then be given to test your knowledge on the English language and U.S. History. Study materials and resources can be found here.
What kinds of questions might they ask in the interview?
This interview is one of the most important steps in applying for citizenship as it is the ultimate deciding factor to determine if you qualify. Here is some of the information they are going to seek to find out through the interview questions:
- Plans after immigration into the U.S.
- Information on your family and personal life
- Understanding why you want to immigrate to this country
- Achievements and pursuits in the professional world
It is highly recommended that you prepare for this step and hire an attorney that is knowledgeable on the topic to help guide you.
How can I obtain a green card?
There are a few ways that a person can become a permanent resident in the United States.
- A family member that is a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident files a petition on your behalf.
- You win the Diversity Visa Lottery.
- Your employer files a petition for you.
- You are a refugee who has been granted asylum status.
- You are victim of domestic violence.
Though this is not an exhaustive list of ways to obtain a green card, they are the most common. For more information about how you can get a green card, contact our office.
Can I get a green card through my employer?
Employees may be able to get sponsored by their employers through a labor certification process. Usually, the government conducts a search to see if there are any qualified U.S. citizens who are looking for this position in the local labor market. If there are none, then the employer can apply with the Labor Department and file a petition with the Department of Homeland of Security so they can pay that worker. Once those are approved, the individual and family can then apply for permanent residence.
What is the Diversity Visa Lottery?
The Diversity Visa Lottery, also known as the green card lottery, is held every year by the U.S. Immigration Department. About 50,000 people who have applied for a visa are chosen to apply for a green card or lawful permanent resident. Winners are not guaranteed a visa; however, they must meet the eligibility requirements and get interviewed before being allowed to enter. The requirements are as follows:
- A high school diploma or the equivalent
- Two years of work experience in an occupation that needs at least two years training
- In the country from which the individual applied
Those who are in the U.S. when they win the lottery should speak to an attorney from our firm before applying for the visa. Winners may be able to bring their spouses and any unmarried children that are under 21. Entrants may apply electronically once a year during the specified 2 month period. It is recommended that all entrants carefully read the instructions before applying.
Is there a difference between "adjustment of status" and "change of status"?
Adjustment of status is when an individual goes through the process of gaining permanent resident status, as opposed to a visitor. Change of status, on the other hand, is when a person changes a temporary status to another temporary status. For example, a student could change their status to a temporary worker. This status will eventually expire, unlike a permanent resident.
Obtaining the Legal Representation You Deserve
Throughout the entire immigration process, it is essential that you have someone with you who understands what you are going through. As a dedicated and knowledgeable Houston immigration attorney, I am prepared to help you prepare a solid case against any deportation issues.
It is my goal to see that you get the results you desire, whether that is citizenship or simply being able to stay and be with your family. I will be more than happy to send you any further information detailing the successes I have seen with past clients. It is an extremely important decision when you are considering hiring a lawyer and I want you to feel completely comfortable. Do not wait to contact my office today for more information.