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FAQ's

Frequently Asked Questions

 

  1. If I marry someone from a different country, can I get them a visa?
  2. What are the types of family based visas available?
  3. How do I become a citizen of the USA?
  4. What happens if I have a green card but I want to go to my home country to visit?
  5. I am a permanent resident; can I bring my family over from my home country?
  6. I have a green card but I was just charged with a crime, what should I do?
  7. I came here illegally; do I have any options at all?
  8. I lost my green card. How do I get a replacement?

 

1. If I marry someone from a different country, can I get them a visa?


Marriage to a US Citizen or Resident is one of the most common methods of gaining a visa (lawful permanent residency). We do not advise that you marry someone from another country just to get them a green card. In order to apply for a green card for an immigrant spouse, you both must undergo a vigorous interview with Citizenship and Immigration Services so that they can determine if it is actually a good faith marriage. This process is not easy if you are simply marrying the person to get them a green card. Once your application is approved, your immigrant spouse is granted a conditional residency of two years and then you will have to apply to have the conditions lifted at the end of those two years. If you are a permanent resident and you are marrying someone just so that they can get a green card, you may suffer adverse consequences to your residency status if the marriage is found to be fraudulent. Please take note that if you’re immigrant spouse entered the USA illegally or has been removed (deported) in the past; it becomes more difficult to apply for residency. It is highly recommended that you consult with an attorney to make sure that you are taking the necessary steps and to ensure that you are not creating an unneeded delay in processing.

 

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2. What are the types of family based visas available?

 

Immediate relative petitions and preference petitions. Immediate relatives are the spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 years of age of U.S. citizens. The person who benefits from this petition does not have to wait for a visa number to become available. A preference petition is filed by a U.S. citizen for an adult unmarried son or daughter (21 or older) or for a married son or daughter (regardless of age) or by a lawful permanent resident for a spouse, unmarried child (under 21), unmarried son or daughter (21 or over), or by an employer on behalf of an employee. Unlike immediate relative petitions, people who benefit from preference petitions must wait until there is a visa number ready for them. This is because there are a limited number of people who are allowed to enter the U.S. each year through the preference petition system. The length of time a person must wait depends on which preference category he fits into and the country of nationality.

 

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3. How do I become a citizen of the USA?

 

You become a citizen of the USA through a process called Naturalization. You must meet certain criteria, such as being in the country for a certain length of time and not being inadmissible. You file an application with Citizenship and Immigration Services and then wait for them to process it. You will eventually have to go to an interview with them and if your application is approved, you will have to take a test in English (unless certain criteria are met) and will have to go through an oath swearing ceremony. Then you will be a citizen, and you will receive all of the rights an American citizen has.

 

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4. What happens if I have a green card, but I want to go to my home country to visit?

 

If you are a resident, you can travel from the United States if you wish to. However, you should always ask the advice of an attorney if you are concerned about your particular circumstances. You should also remember that if you are outside of the United States for an extended period of time, you may be seen as abandoning your resident status. If this happens, you could possibly lose your status as a permanent resident. If you are going to be outside of the country for an extended period of time for a valid reason (family is sick, employment), you can file an application before you leave that will allow you to remain out of the country for a longer period of time.

 

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5. I am a permanent resident; can I bring my family over from my home country?

 

There is an application process available for you so that you can attempt to bring family members over to the USA. The system is divided however, into classes of relatives. If you have a spouse and/or minor children in your home country, you should be able to apply for them to come over fairly quickly. Other relatives, such as siblings or adult children will probably take longer to bring over. Most of these relatives will have to wait in line until their time comes to get a visa and come to the USA. The exact timeframe will differ depending on your status and the country you are from. Please ask the advice of an attorney to determine the exact process for your family.

 

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6. I have a green card but I was just charged with a crime, what should I do?

 

You should seek the advice of an attorney immediately. Entering pleas or being convicted of certain crimes could make you removable from the country. It is important for you to be honest with your attorney and tell them everything about your criminal history and the current crime you are charged with. Please review the section on Deportability and its Defenses.

 

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7. I came here illegally; do I have any options at all?

 

Yes. However your options will differ or be made available based upon your particular situation. It is worth consulting with an attorney to find out what your options are.

 

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8. I lost my green card. How do I get a replacement?

 

You can file an application I-90 to request a replacement permanent resident card (“green card”). You can find this form at http://www.uscis.gov/ under immigration forms.

 

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