The United States is a wonderful country in which to live and to work. Seeking permanent residence in the United States is a difficult process that requires the attention of an attorney so that all the proper documents are completed and submitted to the appropriate agencies. Whether you are seeking permanent residence, through employment, through marriage, or through other familial relationships, I can assist you in this burdensome process.
Naturalization and Citizenship
An individual can obtain United States citizenship by:
having been born in the United States,
having been born abroad to at least one American citizen parent or
a process called naturalization. Hundreds of thousands of immigrants get United States citizenship through naturalization each year.
Citizenship by Naturalization
Becoming a United States citizen through naturalization often begins when a foreign national obtains lawful permanent residence in the United States, usually with a “green card.” With the green card an immigrant has permission to live and work in the United States permanently, as long as no unlawful act is committed by the individual. The advantages for a green card holder becoming a United States citizen includes the ability to vote, protection from deportation, sponsorship of other immigrants, qualification for many federal government jobs that are reserved for “United States citizens only,” no renewal of green card, the ability to carry a United States passport when traveling outside the United States and remain outside the country for extended periods of time.
To obtain United States citizenship through naturalization, an applicant must be at least 18 and meet certain citizenship eligibility requirements including:
Length of permanent residence,
Length of time physically present in the United States,
Good moral character,
Some basic knowledge of the English language, and
Basic knowledge of United States civics.
Spouses of United States citizens can take advantage of the marriage citizenship process and could be eligible for citizenship in just three years.
Upon determination that an individual meets the citizenship requirements, they can submit a United States citizenship application along with the required documentation and fees. However, one should take care in ensuring that they are not subject to deportation for prior immigration or criminal violations before sending anything to immigration officials.
After completing a citizenship application, the applicant must submit fingerprints for a background check. If the background check is passed, the applicant must attend a citizenship interview. At the interview the applicant will undergo an English and United States civics exam (certain applicants may be able to waive some or all of these requirements). A lawyer is permitted to attend the citizenship interview with the applicant and is often helpful in advocating for the applicant.
Green Card/Legal Permanent Residence
Obtaining a Green Card
Typically, to obtain what is known as a “green card” to live and work in the United States, you must apply for a visa. The three most common manners in which green cards are obtained are:
Visas obtained through other family relationships; or
Citizenship for Spouses of United States Citizens
The green card through marriage process is one manner for a foreign national to immigrate to the United States because the husband or wife of a United States citizen is given immediate relative status. Through a petition by the United States citizen, the immigrant spouse’s children may also be entitled to a green card.
Marriage-Based Visa Requirements
The requirements to obtain a green card through marriage to a United States citizen are that (1) the immigrant must be legally married to a United States citizen, (2) the marriage must be bona fide, (3) any prior marriages must have been terminated, and (4) the petitioning spouse must be able to support the spouse financially.
The formal marriage visa process can be time consuming. If the immigrant spouse lives outside the United States, a K-3 marriage visa may be more appropriate because it allows the immigrant spouse to enter the United States on a temporary basis to complete the green card process.
Citizenship for Spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents
Typically, the spouse of a green card holder must wait five years after the green card is issued to apply for a marriage visa. However, if the green card holder becomes a United States citizen before a marriage visa is available for the husband or wife, the spouse will be eligible to adjust the application as the immediate relative of a United States citizen.
Naturalization and Citizenship for Spouses of United States Citizens
Five years after the issuance of a green card, the holder is allowed to apply for United States citizenship through naturalization. Some lawful permanent resident spouses of United States citizens are allowed to apply after three years.
K-1 fiancé visas allow a foreign fiancée or fiancé to immigrate to the United States to get married. After marriage, the foreign spouse can immigrate to the United States by applying for a green card while living here.
K-1 Fiancé Visa Requirements
A foreign national can enter the United States for up to 90 days for the purpose of marrying a United States citizen (fiancés of green card holders do not qualify for a K-1 visa). The requirements for the visa are that (1) the couple must have met within the two years prior to the fiancé visa application, (2) both spouses must be of legal age to marry, and (3) proof that any former marriages have been terminated must be shown.
Immigration to United States After Marriage
Once the K-1 fiancée marries the petitioning United States citizen within 90 days of entering the United States, he or she can complete the immigration process by applying for adjustment of status and obtaining a green card.
Children of K-1 Fiancé(e)
Children of a foreign fiancé coming to the United States on a K-1 visa are able to accompany their parent on a K-2 visa if they are unmarried, under 21 at the time they enter the United States and they might need permission from the non-custodial parent in order to qualify.
Visas Obtained by Familial Relationships
Whether living inside or outside the United States, a green card is immediately available to the parents of United States citizens over the age of 21. To qualify for a green card for parents, the United States citizen must be residing in the United States and may need to arrange to financially sponsor the parents for a period of up to ten years.
Parents Currently Living in the United States
Parents of a green card holder who live in the United States and the United States citizen must apply for the green card using the adjustment of status process. The parent is considered to be the immediate relative of the child, which may possibly allow the parents to stay in the United States for the duration of adjustment status processing. Parents who entered the United States without inspection should discuss the situation with an attorney prior to filing any paperwork.
Parents Living Outside the United States
Parents of United States citizens where the parent is located outside the United States must submit a petition and complete an application process. The United States citizen child must affirm by affidavit that the child will be financially responsible for the parent for a period of up to ten years.
After the application is approved, a background check must be completed, the parent must pass a medical exam, and the parent must be interviewed at the United States Embassy or Consulate. If approved at the interview, the parent has six months to enter the United States.
Approximately 140,000 employment visas are made available to qualified immigrants every fiscal year under the provisions of United States immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants.
Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Workers
There are three types of E1 Workers:
Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise. Such applicants do not have to have specific job offers, so long as they are entering the United States to continue work in the fields in which they have extraordinary ability.
Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. Applicants in this category must be coming to the United States to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education.
Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the United States employer. The applicant’s employment outside of the United States must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity.
Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
There are two types of E2 Workers:
Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
There are three types of E3 Workers:
Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
Unskilled workers (Other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants
There are many types of E4 Workers:
Broadcasters in the United States employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization
Ministers of Religion
Certain Employees or Former Employees of the United States Government Abroad – Must use Form DS-1884, Petition To Classify Special Immigrant Under INA 203(b)(4) As An Employee Or Former Employee of the United States Government Abroad
Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone
Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1st, 1979
Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators who have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator/interpreter for a period of at least 12 months and meet requirements. This classification has an annual numeric limitation of 50 visas.
Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided faithful and valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than one year after March 20th, 2003 or in Afghanistan for not less than one year after October 7th, 2001, and have experienced an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment.
Certain Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only)
Certain Retired International Organization Employees
Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of International Organization Employees
Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased International Organization Employees
Special Immigrant Juveniles (no family member derivatives; Adjustments Only)
Persons Recruited Outside of the United States Who Have Served or are Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of NATO-6 civilians
Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees
Persons who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed prior to September 11th, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act on September 11th, 2001
Certain Religious Workers
Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors
Immigrant Investor visa categories are for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the United States which provide job creation.
Temporary Work Visas
Temporary work visas are for persons who want to enter the United States for employment lasting a fixed period of time, and are not considered permanent or indefinite. Such visas require the prospective employers to file a petition with USCIS. An approved petition is required to apply for a work visa.
Spouses and Children
Excluding Q-1 visa applicants, spouses and unmarried, minor children may apply to reside with you in the United States.
President Obama’s Announcement Extreme Hardship Waiver
President Obama expanded the provisional waiver program announced in 2013 by allowing the undocumented spouses, sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents and undocumented sons and daughters of United States citizens to obtain citizenship by provisional waiver if they have resided unlawfully in the United States for at least 180 days.
CALL ME at (832) 949-8468 for a free consultation regarding all of your IMMIGRATION ISSUES.