Tag Archives: green cards

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.

What Visa is Right for You?

If you’re unsure of the type of via you need, this blog guide can help. We’ll be going over how the nonimmigrant and immigrant visa, each allowing you to live and work in the U.S. The laws can be complex, so if you have any questions hire an experienced immigration lawyer. Even a few consultations can help you avoid major mistakes.

What is the nonimmigrant via?
If you are only coming temporarily to the U.S. – such as on a business visit, for family purposes,  as a tourist, or as a member of the media – you want a nonimmigrant visa. These are much easier to get. You will be allowed to travel in and out of the U.S. for a set time. You cannot just decide to stay. If you stay, you must get a U.S. immigrant visa, a green card.

U.S. Immigrant Visa
If you want to live permanently in the US., you need an immigrant visa. If you want to live here for the rest of your life, you would want to apply for naturalization, becoming a U.S. citizen. The immigrant visa has many benefits. You can live and work for 10 years time or more. You can have access to most all jobs. You can sponsor other family for green cards. You can study in U.S. schools. If you become a citizen, you will be allowed to vote, to work all jobs, to serve in all armed forces, and to apply for benefits if you suffer an injury. As you can see, an immigrant visa is the first step toward a dream of living permanently in the U.S.

Citizenship

You can also sponsor other family members for a green card when you become a citizen. Typically, the first step is to get a green card through a family member. Then you apply for citizenship. Upon naturalization, you can then sponsor other family members. If you marry, your spouse can also be sponsored for citizenship. If you have children born in the U.S., they get automatic citizenship.

Legal Help
Nonimmigrant visa, immigrant visa, green cards, citizenship – these all require some legal expertise. Therefore, consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer is essential. You should hire someone who specializes in U.S. immigration law, who is honest, and who you can afford. Paying a fee is more than worth it when you consider the many benefits of a green card and naturalization both for you and your family.

Legal vs Illegal Immigration

You receive far more opportunities when you legally immigrate to the U.S. when compared to immigrating illegally. Why not come illegally? What if you’re denied a green card and decide to break the laws? This guide explains the differences between legal and illegal immigration.

Benefits of Legal Immigration
You get better jobs. You get more opportunities for your family. You can get a better education. You can become a citizen. With citizenship, you can vote. You pay taxes, therefore becoming eligible for benefits. The benefits are numerous. You lose them if you illegally immigrate.

Dangers of Illegal Immigration

Beyond breaking your country and U.S. immigration laws, illegally immigrating itself can be quite dangerous. Why? Say for example you try to illegally immigrate from Mexico. Every year, hundreds die of exposure and the elements. A car may break down, forcing you to walk. Someone dishonest may take your money and try to cheat you out of more. The walk to the border may be longer, hotter, and more dangerous than you originally thought.  Those who help illegal immigrants – always for a fee –  are not the type of people you want to deal with. Some immigrants are taken advantage of – forced into slavery, prostitution, even getting involved in the drug trade. You always have options beyond illegal immigration. If you are caught, you can be penalized both by your home country and by the U.S., including jail time and fines.

The Employer Question
Employers who take part in illegal immigration are also in danger of being penalized, often quite severely. On the other hand, if you legally immigrate, legally get a job, there are laws for how you are treated, what income you can get (by law there is a minimum wage), and the opportunity for benefits.

Are You Unsure of the Laws?
Illegal immigration often occurs because immigrants are unsure of basic laws. Sometimes confusion can lead to problems. You may be promised by an immigration lawyer that he has someone working at the USCIS who can help you immigrate. Even if this were true – and it rarely is – that would be breaking the law. If you are ever unsure, consult with an experienced immigration lawyer, or start researching the subject. To research the subject, go to official government sites, sites by respected lawyers, and blogs focused on the subject (like this one).

Getting Legal Help
While there are some dishonest immigration lawyers, there are many more honest ones. First, pay a fair fee. Second, look for references and experience. Third, be sure they are actual immigration lawyers, and will appear in court on your behalf. And finally, if they offer to break laws for you, get a new lawyer.

When Should You Call an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigrating to the United States is not always easy. Sometimes you need expert legal help. What exactly does an immigration lawyer help with? He or she will be your legal voice, protecting your rights, and help reach your immigration goals. Though not all immigration lawyers are equally effective, a good one can explain what issues might arise in your getting a green card, how you can be a naturalized U.S. citizen, and also explain complex laws you simply cannot understand. Before you get help from a lawyer, you may wonder when you truly need one.

You Always Need an Immigration Lawyer
In almost every situation, you need an experienced immigration lawyer. If you are unsure of the green card process, if you have questions on naturalization, and in a variety of other situation, you should hire an immigration lawyer. In other words, if you want to successfully immigrate, get your green card, earn citizenship, and sponsor a family member, you need a good lawyer.

You Are Struggling to Get a Green Card
There are many cases where you have trouble getting a green card in the first place. You might have never applied for a green card before, making legal help crucial. There might also be some issues with your history – perhaps you have a criminal record or broke immigration laws. These situations can be resolved. If you do not know what is on your record, save yourself some time and hire an experienced lawyer.

Broken Laws and Deportation
If you have any kind of criminal history, you need to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer. Why? You might be denied entry, losing the opportunity to live in the United States. On the other hand, if you broke some U.S. laws, you might face deportation. If you are unsure of what is happening, and need legal help, you should consult with a lawyer.

You Are Trying to Sponsor Another Immigrant
If you are trying to sponsor another family members – perhaps a spouse or a sibling – save yourself some time and get an experienced lawyer to help you. There are so many opportunities for immigrants in the U.S. that it’s more than worth it. Best of all, if you sponsor immediate family or a spouse, the process is much faster.

You Don’t Understand Naturalization
The goal of most immigrants is to become naturalized U.S. citizens. Why? You can vote, work all jobs, raise a family here, be eligible for many benefits, enjoy many freedoms, and much more. However, there are some naturalization laws in place. If you are unsure of how to get the process started, working with an immigration lawyer is invaluable.

What is the Green Card Lottery?

Why have a lottery involved in immigration? Well, for immigrants it’s a big benefit and helps when those wanting to immigrate to the United States. The problem is one of the green card process; as so many apply for green cards, you may have to wait your turn in order to be eligible. Sometimes you can come via other means, such as asylum or refuge status, though those are rare. More commonly immigrants are sponsored by immediate family, such as spouses who already are citizens or have a green card.

So how can the green card lottery help you? What is it exactly? Let’s find out.

What is it?
The green card lottery is a system designed to give more opportunities countries who do not send many immigrants to the U.S. According to the government, “Each year, 50,000 immigrant visas are made available through a lottery to people who come from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.” That means if you are from Mexico, for example, you would not be eligible for the lottery. But if you came from a smaller country or one where immigration to the U.S. is less common, you would be eligible.

How can you win?
The process can be somewhat complex, but here is what basically happens. The State Department holds the lottery every year, always getting a high number of applicants. 110,000 of these applicants are randomly chosen, and from that list 50,000 are given green cards. While 110,000 are singled out, many do not complete the process. If at the end of the year less than 50,000 immigrants have immigrated, the contest ends; or, if 50,000 is reached earlier than the end of the year, it’s then closed. That’s how it works.

But that doesn’t necessarily help you win. There is no trick to winning, and anyone who promises you an “in” to winning is likely either trying to steal your money or breaking laws. However, you should be aware if your country is eligible to apply, then apply if you are eligible, and you might know.

How do you apply?
The system is now based online, here. You may consider consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer if you are unsure of the process. It’s important to fill out the application in it’s entirety, and to do so online instead of sending it in. According to the main site just references, “ Millions of applications are rejected each year for failure to follow the directions.” If you fill it out incorrectly or not completely, you will be disqualified.

Who can help?

You can have someone help you fill out the application, such as a family member or a lawyer. There is no rule against that. If you submit, even accurately, it does not mean you will win. And simply being accepted also does not mean you’ll get the green card; remember that 110,000 are accepted, but only 50,000 are taken. If you fail to win the lottery, your chances of immigration are far from over. You can consult with an immigration lawyer on how best to become a permanent resident of the U.S. via other means.

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.

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.

5 Tips On International Travel as a Permanent Resident

International travel is supposed to be simple on paper, but quite often is not. If you’ve received a green card recently, if you need tips on keeping your green card if you’ve had it for some time, or if you recently lost your green card due to moving, this guide can help. We’ll go over some crucial tips you need to know in order to navigate the laws.

Keeping Permanent Residency Status (Keeping Your Green Card)
Let’s go over the facts in general. When you get a green card, becoming a permanent resident of the United States, you receive numerous benefits. You have more opportunities to maintain jobs, you can get a better education, you can apply for benefits, and you can soon enough apply for citizenship. Now, in order to keep your green card and eventually become a citizen, you need to follow U.S. laws. You can be deported for breaking laws, sometimes even minor ones. It’s a big risk if you start breaking laws enforced here. Also, in order to keep your green card, make sure you reapply on time.

If You Move
If you travel for a few months, you’ll usually have no trouble getting back into the country. If you actually move from the U.S. to another country, the government can and often does look at this as giving up your permanent residency status. If you move, and decide you want to return, you have to reapply for a green card. If you only intend to stay for a few months, if not several years, there are ways to maintain your green card, but it may be difficult.

If You Stay Too Long

If you stay much longer than six months in any other country, you risk losing your green card. So if you traveled to France, stayed a year, and decided to come back, you may be not allowed reentry. It sometimes takes longer, sometimes less, before you lose your green card. If you intend to stay for longer than six months, it’s smart to consult with a legal professional.

Planned Travel
How can you travel internationally for extended periods? You may want to try naturalization, which grants you more rights and the ability to come and go as you please. Citizenship means no more customs problems, no more green cards applications, and an easier travel experience. If you are unsure of how to travel, consulting with an experienced immigration lawyer can help.

If You Are Confused or Have More Questions
You likely worked with some immigration professionals when you first got your green card, or are about to as you apply for the first time. An immigration lawyer can help you successfully travel in and out of the United States with little problems. He or she can also help you maintain your green card and then earn citizenship. If you have further questions on international travel as a permanent resident, contact an experienced immigration lawyer.

6 Myths on Immigration Law You Need to Know

Myths have a sort of capital across the world, all too often turning from misstatements to something close to the accepted truth. It happens all the time in immigration law. In divisive times, words spread. No more, because this blog post points out key myths you need to know.

1-Immigrants Steal Jobs

Actually, most immigrants are either creating jobs through small business enterprises or taking minor jobs most of us would not want. A recent study on immigration highlighted how almost 20% of new small businesses are created by immigrants; and small business accounts for the majority of new jobs. That’s a lot more helpful than hurtful.

2-There Are Too Many Immigrants
This has some basis, as we have more immigrants in the country than ever before, but not in terms of percentages. We’re a long way from the massive immigrations from the 20th century. Immigrants take a much less smaller percentage of the entire population than you might think. Saying there are too many immigrants is almost a cliché, as most citizens are from immigrant families.

3-Immigrants Get Welfare (And Are Supported)
One big myth on immigration is that many immigrants come here to live on the state and federal welfare systems. They get a disability, or welfare, and never work.  In fact, immigrants throughout history have brought some major boons to the U.S. economy. Immigrants account for billions of dollars in taxes—which goes on to pay for roads, social security, welfare, law enforcement, and beyond—and also put billions more into the economy with new jobs. Yes, there obviously is some basis for this, as some immigrants may come to the U.S. because of the better opportunities for aid. However, most come for more work and education.

4-Immigrating Legally Is Too Expensive
Immigrating illegally is much more expensive when you crunch the numbers. Yes, sometimes immigrants see no other option but to enter illegally, only to find little work for those without a green card, and little legal protection. However, applying for a green card has immense rewards. You can get a better job and education. You can also earn citizenship. If you entered illegally, it may save you some in the short term, but you’d lose out soon enough.

5-Lying On Government Forms is Okay
Lying on government forms can stop you from ever getting a green card. It can severely damage you and your families immigration options. If you are afraid telling the truth will hurt you, you should consider that lying puts you in an even worse situation. Consult with your lawyer for guidance.

6-All Lawyers Can Help
Not all lawyers are immigration lawyers, not all have the experience to actually help you, not all know the laws, not all can guide you to a green card and later naturalization. So not all immigration lawyers are equal. Some will offer a low fee and plenty of promises, only to fail. Base hiring a lawyer on experience, availability, and affordability.

5 Answers On Choosing from Many Immigration Lawyers

One common problem faced by immigrants unaware of immigration laws is how to get the correct information and the right representation. This process can be very difficult when you are choosing between literally thousands of qualified lawyers. On the other hand, you may have hired an immigration lawyer, but want a new one. In cases where you hired the wrong lawyer, this blog guide gives some tips, along with how to choose between the great number of lawyers available.

Where do you find them?

You can find immigration lawyers through references, by going to local offices, looking online, and also by making some phone calls. It does depend on where you are. Say you are interested in getting a green card. In this case, you can hire a lawyer from just about anywhere in the U.S., but the closer to you the better. You may want to make a visit here with the goal of finding a lawyer. If you go to a big city, there are quite often immigration lawyers available. On the other hand, you may prefer choosing one online, as you have literally thousands of options, you can find out rates, and you can see experience.

Can you fire your lawyer?

You can almost always fire your lawyer when it comes to any legal matter. It may get complicated if you have an ongoing immigration case, but there is no point where you can’t fire them; it’s your legal right. You will still have to pay whatever fees were involved up to the point you fired them.

What if your lawyer fails?
Quite often lawyers promise their clients too much in the hopes of getting money. In any legal matter, there is a chance of failure. Just because you, for example, failed to become a naturalized U.S. citizen does not mean you fire your lawyer. If you feel your lawyer acted in the wrong, made too many mistakes, or charged you too much, you may consider going ahead and firing them.

How much does it cost?
Immigration to the United States is not always easy nor cheap. It takes some time for you to get a green card or citizenship, unless you have immediate family in the country. However, immigration lawyers know that immigrants rarely are rich when they come here; they come for the opportunity to make more. The best way to find out rates is to consult with 5-10 immigration lawyers about rates, if not more.

How do you hire the right one?
We just mentioned one part of this answer: consult with a good number of lawyers. Don’t hire the cheapest one or the one who promises it will be an easy case. Immigration is rarely if ever a simple process; it takes time and hard work. Focus on experience, availability, rates, and how well you get along with the lawyer.