For immigrants and United States citizens alike, the immigration process can be difficult to understand if a qualified attorney is not by your side to help guide you through the process. Therefore, at Pozo Goldstein, LLP we have taken the time to prepare answers to some of the questions that we receive most frequently from clients of the firm. Below, you will find a series of questions and answers that pertain to immigration law as it applies to cases in New York. We encourage you to read through these to gain a better understanding regarding the circumstances of your case and how we can help.
What’s the difference between naturalization and citizenship?
Naturalization is the physical process of obtaining citizenship in the United States. Therefore, these two terms are closely related and often used simultaneously. If you are applying for citizenship as an immigrant, you will need to complete the naturalization process first. This will entail submitting an application, completing an interview, passing a citizenship test, and taking an Oath of Allegiance to the U.S.
Do I have to be a permanent resident before I can go through the naturalization process?
Generally speaking, yes. An individual can only complete the naturalization process if they are a permanent resident of the U.S. Furthermore, your permanent residency status must amount to at least five years in the country in order to qualify for naturalization. There are, however, exceptions to this rule. In certain circumstances you may be able to expedite the process if you can prove that you are married and have already been living in the country with a U.S. citizen for at least three years. No matter what the circumstances of your situation may be, it is always wise to include an immigration attorney in the process to ensure that you proceed through the process according to the requirements expected of you.
What’s the Green Card Lottery?
The Green Card Lottery was established by the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program; through it, the United States government issues 50,000 permanent Green Cards every year. The applicants who are included in the Green Card Lottery are selected randomly through a computer-generated drawing. Immigrants who are selected in the Green Card Lottery will be authorized to live and work permanently in the U.S., as will be the members of their family.
What’s the Trade-NAFTA category?
Special economic and trade relationships between the United States, Canada, and Mexico were created under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Under the Trade-NAFTA category, qualified Canadian and Mexican citizens are permitted to seek temporary entry into the U.S. for the purpose of professional business activities.
I was denied a green card. What can I do?
If you were denied your original request for a green card, not all hope is lost. Under the guidance of an immigration lawyer at our office, legal action can be taken to remedy the situation. Some of the options available to you include arranging another interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS); having your lawyer file a motion to reconsider; or having your lawyer file new application. We can review the particulars of your situation to make an ultimate determination on how to move forward after your green card application has been denied.
How can the UAFA help me stay in the United States?
The Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) is a bill that is currently pending in both chambers of Congress. If passed, it would amend the original stipulations of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952. As of right now, a lawful citizen of the U.S. or a permanent resident is not permitted to use their status to help a same-sex partner obtain the same lawful permanent resident status. In fact, as it stands, same-sex partners who attempt to obtain permanent residency can be penalized for immigration fraud in connection with permanent partnerships. If the UAFA is passed, legal permanent residents will be able to lawfully sponsor their long-term same-sex partner for immigration benefits in a very similar manner as to that which is utilized by opposite-sex spouses.
How do I file for Advance Parole?
In order to successfully file for Advance Parole in the United States, an alien will be required to attache the following to his her official Advance Parole document:
If an alien’s eligibility for Advance parole is based upon a separate application for adjustment of status or asylum, then he or she will also be required to attach a copy of the filing receipt for that application.
In addition, if an alien is traveling to Canada for the purpose of applying for an immigrant visa, he or she will also be required to attach a copy of the consular appointment.
How do I file for a re-entry permit into the U.S.?
Permanent and / or conditional residents of the United States must attach the following when applying for a re-entry permit:
If the alien has not yet received his or her alien registration receipt card, then a copy of the biographic page of his or her passport can be submitted instead. In addition, a copy of the passport page which indicates initial admission as a permanent resident should also be submitted at this time.
Under certain circumstances, other evidence which attests to the fact that the alien is in fact a permanent resident of the United States might be accepted as well. To ensure that the right documentation is submitted at this time, work with an immigration attorney from our firm.
Do I need a notario for my case?
Notarios, or notary publics, are not lawyers, nor have they been recognized as a valid and accredited representative of the United States government. As such, they should not be relied upon in your immigration case. Notarios are public officers who are constituted by law to serve the public in non-contentious matters such as many of those which relate to immigration law.
The primary functions of a notario include administering oaths and affirmations, witnessing and authenticating the execution of certain documents, taking affidavits and statutory declarations, taking acknowledgement of deeds and other conveyances, providing exemplifications and notarial copies, protesting notes and bills of exchange, among other things.
A notario, or a notary public, cannot under any circumstances provide the same types of legal services that a standard attorney can. Therefore, you could be much better served under the representation of an immigration attorney from our firm whose past experience also includes time spent as a former judge. Together, our professional team can address all of your needs, including those that do not fall within the abilities of a notario.
If I have a visa issue, am I supposed to contact the Department of State or the Department of Homeland Security?
Whether to contact the Department of State or the Department of Homeland Security about a visa issue will depend on the country in which you are currently residing. The Department of State should be contacted regarding a visa issue if you are not physically in the United States at the time that the issue arises. Individuals who are currently abroad and who would like to check on the status of their visa processing or inquire into a visa denial can do so by contacting the Department of State, U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
If you are already in the U.S., your visa issues will fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS is in charge of approving all visa petitions, along with authorizing an immigrant to work in the U.S., and issuing an extension of stay if requested. Any change or adjustment of a visa applicant’s status will also fall under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security assuming that the immigrant is currently residing in the U.S. and not abroad.
If I have a Burroughs visa, is that okay?
Burroughs visas, which are also referred to as indefinite validity visas, were officially declared void as of April 1, 2004. Accordingly, if you currently hold an indefinite validity visa, you will need to apply for a new visa for travel to the United States. Tourist and business Burroughs visas that were manually stamped into a traveler’s passport and assumed to be valid for ten years are no longer recognized by the U.S. government (even if the ten years has not yet expired), so you should take action to rectify this issue as soon as possible.
Can the ICE investigate my workplace because of my immigration status?
The short answer to this question is yes. In fact, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has developed a comprehensive program geared toward worksite enforcement strategies that are aimed at promoting national security. As such, the ICE has liberty to investigate workplaces that are believed to be knowingly utilizing the manpower of one or more illegal workers. Investigations of this nature can be problematic for both the employee and the employer if the employee is an illegal worker.
When conducting an investigation, the ICE will look for evidence of trafficking, harboring, smuggling, ID fraud, visa fraud, and even the mistreatment of workers. Additionally, it will obtain the necessary search warrants, indictments, criminal arrests, etc. from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in order to be able to carry out the prosecution of an employer, as well as the arrest of an employee who is found to be in violation of a civil immigration law.
Don’t be discouraged if the answer to your question was not included above. There are far too many facets of the legal immigration system to include on a single page, so we’ve only included a small subset of some of the queries that we receive most frequently. We encourage you to contact Pozo Goldstein, LLP to speak with a New York immigration lawyer from our office in person. During a free in-office consultation with a member of our team, you can get all of your questions answered and have all of your concerns addressed by a team with more than 90 years of combined experience. Don’t wait to contact us today for a quick and informative response that can help with your case.
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