Tag Archives: Green Card

Taking Advantage of Your Green Card

If you are going to live in the U.S. for a longer period, how can you take advantage of this opportunity? There are many ways. This blog guide explores your options as a new resident of the United States.

You Can Live Here Longer
One definite option you want to take advantage of is the fact you can stay for at least 10 years once you get a green card. You might be able to find a good job in this time. You might start a family. You might get an education. You can also consider becoming a U.S. citizen. And there is no reason you can’t apply for an extension once your green card has run out.

Study At a School
If you get a green card, you are considered a permanent resident of the U.S. Because of this, you are going to pay less tuition at colleges than most foreign nationals. You might save as much as 80% of your tuition costs simply because you have a green card. With your education, you can learn a trade. It’s historically been true that the better the education you get, the better job opportunities you will have. If you have children, you can send them to better colleges and give them opportunities too. The point is that you stand a much better chance with a college education. And because you can save more money and often live on campus, you can have a better college experience.

Get a Better Job
You can try different careers if you get an education, thought it’s not a requirement. You might learn on the job instead. In any case, you stand to get paid much better and have more opportunities for advancement with a green card. If you earn citizenship, you can even land federal jobs where pay is competitive. Though the economy in the U.S. is tough right now, there are still many skilled jobs available, and many pay more than in other countries.

Start a Business
There is no reason you can’t venture out into your own business once you get a green card. You might save up some money after school by working some jobs. You can start your own business; there is no law against it. This can in many ways lead you to the American dream.

Retire
Finally, you might decide to retire in the U.S., in a place safe from war and political strife, with a stable economy and many opportunities for retirement packages after working a job. Retirement in the U.S. is very possible with a green card.

The next logical step after a green card is to earn your citizenship. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you gain the most rights, such as voting and being eligible for certain benefits, and never having to reapply for a visa.

6 Green Card Laws You Need to Know

Some immigration laws can be difficult to understand, especially regarding green cards.  This blog guide is an answer to those questions, providing a simple overview of green card law.

What Your Rights Are
You have the right to live and work in the United States if you have a green card or are a citizen. A green card gives you the right to stay and work, though technically you have more rights as a citizen. If you break the law, you can be prosecuted.

You Can Still Be Deported
Having a green card is no guarantee of legal protection. If you break criminal laws, especially those with jail time involved, you can be deported. Infractions are minor violations you will rarely have trouble with as long as you don’t get too many. Misdemeanors and felonies are, on the other hand, more serious and can lead to deportation. If you have been charged with a crime, you need an experienced lawyer.

Green Cards Expire

A green card, being a permanent resident of the U.S., is not a lifetime event. You have to reapply in order to keep it. If you earn citizenship, you have no need to reapply. But otherwise, you need to reapply every 10 years.

If You Lose Your Card, It’s No Problem
Simply losing your green card or having it stolen does not mean your status is in jeopardy. Some believe you must have your green card ready at all times, and that with no green card you can be deported. As long as apply for a replacement, you are fine.

If You Have Family Here, You Can Be Sponsored
If you have family in the United States, you have the opportunity to be sponsored for a green card. If immediate family are citizens, you may be able to apply for citizenship, common with spouses. If any family who are not immediate family are citizens, they can sponsor you for a green card. If your immediate family have a green card, they too can sponsor you for a green card.

A Green Card Does Not Guarantee Citizenship

A green card is not a guarantee of citizenship. It is a good first step, but it does not mean you will be able to successfully apply for citizenship.

If you are unsure about green card laws, your best resource is an experienced immigration lawyer. He or she can explain how the laws work, what laws you must be aware of, help you fill out applications, and also give tips on becoming a U.S. citizen. A lawyer is invaluable in protecting your rights.

5 Reasons for Illegal Immigration to the United States

Why do immigrants come to the United States illegally every year in such higher numbers? And how can we solve this problem?

There is no easy solution, but perhaps studying how the affects of economic hardship, joblessness, religious persecution, and freedom can give us a better understanding of why.

Labor Markets in Poor Countries

Well, we might as well go over the obvious. Most illegal immigrants coming to the United States are from Mexico. They are on the border. The problem is that with a population which has increased tenfold in a century, labor, especially cheap labor, is more in demands in the U.S. than Mexico. It’s the same thing in countries in South America. With such population growths, there are less jobs. And the jobs available pay much less than the average U.S. job. You have to understand even minimum wage can seem like a boon for someone used to living on a few dollars a day.

Poverty
Those who do live on a few dollars a day are often in cases of poverty, sometimes extreme poverty. Mexico is not a third world country, but it’s not a rich one either. The U.S. has more programs for helping the jobless, homeless, and penniless than most other countries. It comes down to wanting a better life for themselves and their family.

Family Life
Sometimes immigrants come here illegally not because of a job or a chance at freedom, but because some of their family are already here. It’s common for immigrants to cross borders in order to reunite with families. The problem is growing with each new illegal immigrant. However, once an immigrant earns his or her green card, he can sponsor immediate family to come here. It’s unfortunate sometimes they come illegally instead.

Persecution
One common reason for immigration in general across the centuries is persecution. Whether it was Christians coming to the Americas in the 18th or 19th centuries, or communists crossing the Berlin Wall, or Africans fleeing countries where persecution is occurring, the point is to find a better life. This is still a major part of illegal immigration..

Freedom

Freedom from persecution is still a relevant issue. Freedom to work, vote, and to speak are not as common as we might think. While money may be the driving reason for illegal immigration to the U.S., don’t discount freedom and liberty.

Immigrants come to the United States for a variety of reasons. We have to remember what’s now a cliche: most of us came here in some sense or another, whether as persecuted by our religions, enslaved, or to escape war. The problem with immigration may not be solved entirely, but by knowing more about it why it occurs we can gain a better understanding of how to stop it.

Immigration Through Employment Basics – The I-9 and Beyond

Immigration through employment is governed by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), and, oddly enough, all employers are involved in immigration through employment in a minor way. This is because of the I-9 verification process – it’s designed to ensure you only hire permanent residents or citizens, not illegal immigrants. So if you have any employees, you are part of the INS system.

What are I-9 Forms?
You can get them from the INS online or by calling. It’s part of a process to ensure you hire no undocumented workers, a major problem in the United States. All companies are involved in this process. The only exemption for filling out an I-9 is if you are using an independent contractor, but all other new hires need an I-9.

What if there are problems?
The INS receives complaints of employers using illegal worker often enough to add to the current debates on illegal immigration. The problem is that illegal immigrants are taking jobs they are not allowed to take. While the majority of these jobs are low-paying, it’s still breaking the law. If you are using illegal immigrants as workers, it’s not just them who pay; you can be penalized for hiring illegals. If, however, you do not know one of your workers is undocumented, and he or she had apparently valid information, you will not be held responsible.

What if you’re unsure?
The only times you should investigate a worker is when the information and documents are clear forgeries. If they appear to be correct, you need not investigate. However, if the documents are forgeries, for example a faked green card, you should investigate further. While you are not always penalized if you don’t know, it can help you legally to ensure you hire no illegal workers.

There are some steps to to avoid running into trouble. First, when you first hire a worker, verify his or her status with the usual paperwork. Make sure you get all documents required. Look closely for possible forgeries in these documents. You will then ensure the documents match up with the I-9. Then keep the I-9 for a minimum of three years, or one year after employment. It’s important to note that the INS can give you notice to inspect the I-9, without a warrant or subpoena. If they ask for the documentation, you have three days to give it.

You should also never tell your new employee what documents to give you; this is his or her job. Also, if the document is a copy, you need the original. And finally, only reject a document if it’s clearly a fake.

Getting Help
Immigration through employment may sound complicated and dangerous. However, if you hire proper legal representation to ensure no mistakes are made, if you follow the above laws and tips, you can benefit from a new employee with unique talents and knowledge.

Illegal Immigration FAQ

This blog guide focuses on the argument of illegal immigration, the problems it has caused, and also the benefits of having illegal immigrants in the country. That last point may confuse you:  pros of illegal immigration? There are some clear reasons illegal immigrants can help our country. Though this issue is very divisive, it’s too important to ignore. Let’s start with why immigrants are coming to the United States illegally.

Why are they immigrating illegally?
America was once considered the place where dreams happened. It quite often still is. Even with our recent economic downturn, even with job loss in recent years, it’s still the place with the most opportunities for most in the Western Hemisphere. You can quite often live a safer live, work a job which pays more, and give more opportunities to your children. You have far more rights than most countries – you can sue, get proper medical care, and vote in elections. These may seem simple, but to many they are big benefits. People immigrate to the U.S. for better lives.

The Pros of Illegal Immigration

While you may think immigrants take jobs, some say they keep the economy going by fulfilling low-paying jobs. This may not seem fair, but quite often its much more than they would make in their native country. You then get a better state of life; where some families are forced to live on several dollars a day in other countries, in the U.S. jobs allow you to live much better.

Also, illegal immigrants pay taxes in the billions. They pay sales taxes, but also in some cases real estate taxes. If they are made permanent residents, they also pay income tax. And in either case, they buy things far beyond food. In terms of the economy, they are not a drain, but a boost.

Cons of Illegal Immigration
Beyond the simple fact illegal immigrants break the laws by staying here, some also commit other crimes. Drug trafficking, for example, is a problem on the Mexican border. Drugs bring new criminals to the country, while also damaging the lives of those who use them. Because of the increased crime rate, local, state, and federal governments have to hire more personnel and spend more funds. One controversial point is that illegal immigrants also come here solely because of government support systems such as welfare and disability.

The Winner?

Both sides have clear cases. The pros are mainly economic, while the cons are mostly criminal law points. There is no winner. Illegal immigration is a problem with no easy solution. It is important to remember both sides have points. Some of the above may be disagreeable to you, and in a free country, you’re allowed to say so. Some immigrants simply want a better life where they can support their families with honest work and have the rights to freedom and liberty.

Facts on Marriage and Immigration

Coming to the United States has immense benefits, but it can be costly in terms of time and money. You need the right legal guide in order to successfully immigrate to the U.S. Perhaps one of the most law subjects is immigration via marriage. If you’re married to someone who’s not a U.S. citizen like you are … if your husband has a green card but you don’t … if you are about to marry and one of your has a green card but the other does not – these situations are quite common. How can you get help? Reading this blog guide is a good start, so let’s start with legal representation and then go into marriage and immigration laws.

Who can help?
You can go to many sites online looking for help, but only get more confused. That’s okay, because immigration law itself is very complex. Your best option is to consult with an immigration lawyer, especially someone with fiance and marriage immigration experience. You can find lawyers across the country, but you should get one close to you, who has the legal experience to help you, who you can communicate with and ask questions to successfully, and who you can afford.

You want one local because a face-to-face meeting is quite important. You want one with experience in handling immigration cases to ensure you make no mistakes on any forms and also not break any laws. You want one who you can ask more than basic questions, who can explain things easily to you, mainly because it’s invaluable to have a good understanding of the process. Sometimes the bottom line, lawyer fees, is your first way of hiring. If you can’t afford them, it’s good to know that beforehand. But an experienced immigration lawyer who charges somewhat more may have the knowledge you need.

What if you misuse a visa?

One problem many face, beyond hiring the right lawyer, is actually staying within the laws. Say for example your fiance comes to the U.S. before getting his green card; in this instance, he’s misusing his visa because he came here with the intention of staying. You need to get a green card first.

Are you eligible for a green card?

If you are engaged but not married, your fiance can get a green card by proving the intent to marry a U.S. citizen, have met you within the past two years, and be legally able to marry.

If you are already married and want your spouse to get a green card, you need to be legally married, though it does not matter what country, to a U.S. citizen. You cannot be married to someone else at the same time,  and you cannot be married to someone who has another wife or husband.

In both cases of engagement and marriage, they cannot be based on lies. This may seem obvious, but some try to get into the country by marrying only to get the green card, likely parting ways with their spouse after. This goes against the nature of the law.

What is the difference with a fiance green card?
As you can see, there are some differences between getting a green card through a fiance and through marriage. If you are engaged, the eligibility requirements are different than being married.

How can you prove this engagement or marriage is real?
The easiest way to prove your intentions are true is to be married and have a copy of the marriage certificate. You need a government annotated marriage certificate, even if you are from another country. To  prove your fiance visa is valid, you need to show a variety of things: marriage arrangements, any love letters, proof you met within the last 2 years via plane tickets, and sometimes more.

This can all get complex, especially in applying for a fiance visa. If you have any questions, contact a professional immigration lawyer today.

Immigration Lawyer Fees FAQ

Immigration may seem expensive on paper, but when you factor in all the advantages of living, studying, and working in the United States, these fees are minor. While some immigrants have misconceptions when it comes to how much better the U.S. is than other countries, it’s true that you and your family do get far more opportunities. What fees do you have to pay to get help from an immigration lawyer?

Basic Rates
Immigration lawyers either charge you an hourly rate or a flat fee. These vary, but most hourly rates go between $100 and $300. It may be better to consult with a lawyer who offers a free initial consultation, and also who offers the flat fee. Otherwise, you may have to pay more via hourly and paid consultations. It should be said that many immigration lawyers are worth far more than they charge: immigration applications can be very complex, especially to those still learning the language.

Filing Forms
If you need some help to actually file the forms, this typically is charged from $400 to $700, in addition to the USCIS fees. USCIS fees can be found online, or you can ask your immigration lawyer. One common need is in filing visa cases, and these are somewhat pricier. You can expect to pay $2000 to $10,000 depending on the complexity of your case. Usually these are $2,000 to $3,000, but in some instances an experienced lawyer or one who has to travel charges more.

What is a retainer?

A retainer is the payment you give an immigration lawyer upfront.  It’s common for your lawyer to ask for a portion of the total if not several hours work as an upfront payment before beginning. Once the retainer runs out, further work will have to be paid.

Work Visas
If you want to work in the United States and have an interest employer, an immigration lawyer can be very valuable. Usually either the business covers the entire costs or pays for a consultation for $200 to $300 and files the work visa paperwork itself.

How much for application fees?
Visa application fees, beyond the lawyer, will typically cost a total of $2,000 on average. Sometimes you pay less, sometimes more, though these costs are minimal.

Can you do it yourself?
It is very possible to handle this work yourself. If you can afford it, it can save you a lot of time and headaches to hire an experienced immigration lawyer. If you can’t afford it, and do not know the language well, that does not mean you cannot do it yourself. The value of an immigration lawyer cannot be underestimated. If you have trouble filling out the forms, you can always  hire the lawyer after seeing doing it yourself is impossible.

What You Need to Know About Immigration Reform

While health care reform has taken center stage of late, now we have a chance to really consider  immigration reform. This guide points to opinions on both sides, right and left, and focuses on how we might bridge the gap, improve the country, and handle the immigration reform.

What is immigration reform?
Immigration reform is an idea trying to resolve a problem: the many undocumented workers in the United States. Some studies have pointed out there are as many as 20 million undocumented workers in the U.S. The two sides are those who want them to be forced to leave, and those who want amnesty. Both sides have clear points. If all illegals were granted amnesty, it would almost condone the illegal activities, and be ignoring the many problems these undocumented workers have created. On the other side, forcing 20 million workers out of the country would be a huge problem, and ignores the simple fact we are all, more or less, a country of immigrants.

Democrats are mostly in favor of granting amnesty. There are some advantages here, namely the fact if undocumented workers were made legal, the problems of them driving wages down might improve, as minimum wage laws would take effect.

Republicans and others are divided on the issue, but the main argument is that these immigrants came here illegally, some are breaking laws in the U.S., and some are taking jobs away from U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

President George W. Bush tried to bridge the gap in the debate, but was beaten back by politicians from both parties. Now President Obama is trying to solve the problem, granting amnesty to undocumented workers.

What does it mean to you?
The two sides to this issue each have clear points, but with a Democrat in office, the chances of amnesty passing are much higher. If undocumented workers were made legal, it very likely would improve wages and limit the number of jobs they take from citizens (because the pay scale would be even again). The problem of illegal immigration would be made much easier, though even Obama has said the problems inherent need some time. For one, illegal drug trafficking is a major problem.

In reality, deporting millions of immigrants is impossible. However, we might be able to curb the problem, lessen the effect it has on U.S. workers, and improve the economy. The main goals of immigration reform are to improve border security so we don’t have a continuing problem, using work site enforcements so only legal workers can get job, have guest worker programs, improve the current immigration system, and letting the naturalization process evolve to meet the new demands.

If millions of undocumented workers were made legal, you might think this would somehow hurt the economy. After all, they’re taking jobs. This is true, and a good argument. It should also be considered that these new workers would be hired under fair wages, would invest much more money into the U.S. economy, would pay taxes, and would save the government time and money in tracking them down.

As you can see, there are a lot of details to consider. This blog post was not meant to say which side is right or wrong. It’s good to have a debate, and hopefully we’ll have a fair conclusion.

What is a Temporary Worker Visa?

When you want to work in the United States and you are not a permanent resident or citizen, you need to apply for a temporary worker visa. Temporary worker visas allow you to stay in the country. You can get them either by being sponsored by an employer or in other cases you can look to get them on your own accord. What are the laws concerning temporary worker visas? Let’s find out.

How Congress Allows Worker Immigration
According to U.S. laws, employment visas are designed to protect U.S. workers and not lower wages. For example, the mindset is that if an employer hires an immigrant instead of a U.S. citizen, that’s wrong. If you are employed for a very low rate, thereby lowering the pay scale for other workers, you are also going against the goals of the laws. This is not to say you won’t get work. In fact, many who apply for a temporary worker visa are either skilled in a field absent in the U.S. or so limited it won’t effect anyone. If you do not take a job away from a citizen or lower the value of work done by other professionals, you are no danger to U.S. workers.

Work Visas You Need to Know

The more skilled and educated you are, the more specialized your industry, the faster this process will go for you. If you have a major degree in science, for example, you would be put ahead of someone who lacks an education. It’s not meant to be right or wrong, only to bring in more specialized workers first.

There are three types of work visas you need to know: H-1A, for nurses; H-1B for specialty jobs with a requirement of being highly educated and skilled in a specific industry; and the H-2 visa for those in the agriculture industry, where some workers can be hard to get locally.

Your Obligation

Having an exceptional education is not a guarantee of work visa success, and lacking great knowledge in a niche does not mean you are unqualified for a worker visa. It is best to have a specific industry in mind. If you lack an education, or if you have one with less demand in the U.S., you are in need of some legal help with an immigration lawyer. In cases where your skills and education are highly regarded, consulting with a professional immigration lawyer can give you a better idea of what to expect and what to do.

The Employer’s Obligation

By law, employer’s must not take jobs away from U.S. citizens and permanent residents. This means many jobs are not open to worker visas. The employer will apply for certification with the government, showing clear proof that the U.S. labor pool lacks the talent it needs.

Get Immigration Help
If you’re unsure about any of these laws – and worker visa laws are very complex – or if you want to immigrate to the U.S. some other way, you need to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer. He or she can guide you through this process, potentially help you fill a need for workers, and quite often help you apply for a longer stay in this country.

What is a Visa Petition?

The visa petition is the first step in getting your green card. It’s also the first step for you to be sponsored by a family member or employer for this green card. What does it involve? How long does it take? This blog guide answers many questions about the visa petition.

The First Steps

A visa petition involves you applying for a green card through a form via a family member or employer. It can also mean you’re sponsoring a family member for a green card. The process begins when a family member sponsors another, or when an employer decides to hire you. There are different rules for both family sponsoring and employer sponsoring. For family, you must be able to prove relation; if your mother sponsors you, a birth certificate would prove she’s your mother. And the family sponsoring the immigrant must be able to prove they currently have a green card (which is easy). If you are coming here for a job, the employer must be able to prove they cannot find qualified workers here in the U.S.

In either case, it’s up to the family member or employer to sponsor the immigrant. You cannot sponsor yourself or fill out the immediate paperwork.

How it Works
As stated, your family member needs to prove relation and that she or he has a green card. The employer must get labor certification, proof it can pay your wages by showing taxes or annual income reports, potentially your education, and some other information.

Waiting
Once your family member or employer files the visa petition, you are now on a waiting list to come to the U.S. This list is large and only a limited number each year are given green cards. Once your petition is filed by a family member or employer, you are given a date which is your number on the list of immigrants. You can keep track of this online too. There are differences if an immediate relative is sponsoring you.

Advantages for Family
While there is a set number for the number of immigrants allowed into the country each year, quite often the rate of green cards given goes over the number. Why? If an immediate relative sponsors you, such as your mother, father, or sibling, you can be given priority status. You need not worry about priority dates. In some cases, the permanent resident and family member who sponsors you can do so and save you months in actually applying. The only exception is when sponsoring a family member who is in the U.S. illegally.