Tag Archives: United States Citizenship and Immigration Service

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.

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.

5 Tips When Traveling Outside the United States – Help for Permanent Residents

If you are considering traveling outside the United States as a permanent resident, you can make your vacation or business trip easier by understanding how the laws work. First and foremost is understanding what rights a permanent resident has.

Your Rights
You need to reapply for a green card – having permanent resident status – every 10 years. You will have the right to live and work in the U.S. as long as you follow all laws. If you travel, you can still return to the U.S., but you must follow certain guidelines. This includes, generally, keeping your residence here and not leaving for too extended of a period (generally over 6 months without returning). Also, if you are in another country more than the  U.S. over a long period, you may lose your green card. You still have rights, and if you’re worried consult with an immigration attorney.

What You Need to Travel
When you visit another country, you need to bring a passport from the country you are a citizen of, or a refuge travel document. Say for example you were born and raised in Brazil, but became a permanent resident of the U.S. through a job. You would need a passport from Brazil to travel to a country, such as France or England. There are some other laws involved here, namely the fact you may need a visa or to provide some other documentation to the country you’re traveling to. If you are unsure, you can visit the Department of State site at travel.state.gov for more info.

When You Return to the U.S.
You’ll need a valid green card. According the the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service), “When arriving at a port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will review your permanent resident card and any other identity documents you present, such as a passport, foreign national I.D. card or U.S. Driver’s License, and determine if you can enter the United States.” As long as you have not stayed away for too long, your green card is valid, and you have noted documents, you should be fine.

What if You Stay too Long?
Generally, six months is when you are risking losing your permanent residency status. According to the USCIS, “While brief trips abroad generally are not problematic, the officer may consider criteria such as whether your intention was to visit abroad only temporarily, whether you maintained U.S. family and community ties, maintained U.S employment, filed U.S. income taxes as a resident, or otherwise established your intention to return to the United States as your permanent home.” If you are ever unsure, consult with an attorney.

Who can help?

An immigration attorney is invaluable to consult with when traveling. There are some steps you can take to ensure you maintain your permanent residency status. If you follow the laws, are honest, consult with legal representation, and break no laws, you should have no problems in traveling.

Are You Eligible for U.S. Citizenship? Some Tips on Successful Naturalization

Immigrating to the United States has many inherent advantages. A better life can be a found here, a better job, a better education for you and your family, and more rights than many other countries, such as the right to vote and financial help. This is why so many immigrate to the U.S. But how can you immigrate? One option is getting a green card by being sponsored by immediate family or by an employer. Once you get here, you may want even more rights than a permanent residency gives. That means you want to be a naturalized U.S. citizen, who has the most legal rights of any person in the country.

How do you know if you’re eligible for citizenship? What can you do to improve your chances of success? How much will it cost? And who can help? Let’s find out.

Criteria for Naturalization – Becoming a U.S. Citizen

The laws below govern whether you can be naturalized. If you do not meet any of the following guidelines, you will not be able to earn citizenship just yet.

-You have been in the U.S. as a legal resident for at least five years. If you are here as a refugee other for asylum, you need to speak with a lawyer as you may be eligible.
-You have been present in the U.S. for at least half of said five years.
-You have been in the state you’re applying for citizenship in for at least three months. So if you’re in Virginia, you must have been there for a minimum of three months before you can apply for citizenship.
-You have not traveled outside the U.S. for more than a year.
-Your main home is not in another country. So if you have a permanent home in Mexico, you may not be eligible.
-You can speak, read, and write in the English language.
-You have good moral character (just a way of avoiding criminals).
-You can pass a test on U.S. history and government.
-Finally, you can swear to the ideas of the Constitution and will be loyal to the U.S.

What if you are not eligible?

Remember, in order to apply for citizenship you must first be a permanent resident – having a green card. If you are not eligible, as you can see from the above guidelines, you will likely get another opportunity. For example, you may have only been a resident for four years, meaning you need only wait one year for the opportunity for citizenship. Or you may have recently moved to another state and have only been there one month: in this case, you need only wait a few more months to apply for citizenship.

How can you improve your chances of success?

First off, you need an immigration lawyer. He or she is invaluable in this process. You can save you a lot of time and headaches by hiring an experienced lawyer. That’s the best way to ensure all the applications are filed correctly. Also, you can consult with any family you have who might have successfully earned citizenship. They may be able to give you some basic advice on what to expect on tests and such. As to taking the tests, they are not impossible, and if you put some time into studying, if you already have a grasp of the English language, you should have no problems.

Who can help?

An immigration lawyer is invaluable. There are many who help immigrants trying to earn citizenship. Look for experience first, then factor in the price of the lawyer.

Your Rights As a U.S. Permanent Resident

You have many rights as a permanent resident of the United States. This is not about being looked at as a secondary citizen. In fact, permanent residents are immigrants who get many of the rights all citizens get, such as being able to live and work in the United States. That makes successfully getting your green card – becoming a permanent resident – more valuable than ever. While the U.S economy may be coming out of a depression, immigrants come here by the thousands every year. Why? The jobs are some of the best in the world, the rights are the best in the free world, education is highly respected, and people who are struggling can quite often get help from the government.

Yes, immigrating to the U.S. is a boon. You can raise a family, get a high-paying job, and let your children reap the rewards of your decision. But, what rights do you really have? What if you are not a permanent resident yet? And how can you become a naturalized U.S. citizen?

What Rights You Have

We went over perhaps the greatest right you have: to live and work anywhere in the U.S. This is much bigger than you can imagine. Yes, the U.S economy has struggled, but already in 2010 new jobs are being created in states by the thousands. Those with an education are competing for many opportunities. But those out of work are also being given new opportunities in education and training. To put it simply, being able to work in the U.S. can change your life immediately, especially if you’re naturally a hard worker.

You have the right to apply for U.S. citizenship, which can only give you more opportunities. In some cases, you can get Social Security Income and medical coverage. You can apply for a drivers license, being able to drive anywhere you want legally. You can go to a public school or college, a right your children have too. There are many more, such as being able to join the U.S. army, but let’s go over how you can get your green card and become a permanent resident.

How to Become a Permanent Resident of the U.S.

In cases where you lack your green card and want to enjoy the advantages of being a resident of the U.S., you need an experienced immigration lawyer. A good one can help you not only get your green card, but help you earn citizenship. Only so many immigrants are given green cards every year. You must be sponsored by a family member or employer in order to come here; you can’t just apply. If you have immediate family or a spouse here, they can sponsor you and your chances of acceptance are much higher.

How to Earn U.S. Citizenship

If you get your green card, it’s time to start thinking about citizenship. Citizenship opens many doors for you, including more rights when you are struggling financially, better opportunities for medical coverage, and the ability to leave the country and return as often as you want. Here again you need a professional immigration lawyer. He or she can help you successfully apply for citizenship, which happens to over 1 million immigrants every year.

Keeping Good Records and Solving Immigration Problems

One common mistake made by immigrants when applying for a green card is not keeping up to date and accurate records. If you keep good records, it can save you a lot of time and hassle. But what do you need records of? What if you fear running into problems with immigration? This post answers some important questions for prospective U.S. immigrants.

What do you keep?
The big step in applying for a green card is your initial application. Not only must it be accurate and truthful, but it should also be kept. That means you make copies of it, along with any other supporting documents you send in.

Why keep records?
In getting a green card, you will be dealing with a the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Unfortunately, problems do occur, such as the USCIS losing your initial papers. While not incredibly common, it it does happen and it can delay your application for months or longer. This can cost you valuable time and opportunities. Also, if you ask for the application and supporting papers back, it may take some time to get mailed back to you, if it’s mailed at all. That’s why you should keep copies of every single document you send to the USCIS. It’s saves you a lot of time and headache. Also, when you mail anything to them, use certified mail or delivery confirmation so you can prove the documents were sent and when.

What other documents should you keep?
Keep your application, all supporting documents sent with your application, copies of  mail receipts (for certified mail), as well as any letters you send to the USCIS and any they send you.

What if you make mistakes?
We all make mistakes, but sometimes the big ones can cost you time and money. However, it’s not the end of the world if you make some mistakes in filing. You should first hire an immigration lawyer when you’re applying to the USCIS for a green card or naturalization. If you make mistakes, you will have nothing to worry about unless you keep no records. Keeping good records can quite often save your application from never being accepted. In other cases, it can prove to the USCIS you did in fact send in the application in a timely manner (with certified mail).

How can a lawyer help?
An immigration lawyer is invaluable in first getting your green card and then applying for U.S. citizenship. An experienced lawyer saves you time, money, and a lot of headaches. Consider all the benefits of living and working in the U.S. Consider all the opportunities you will have. And also remember that you can then sponsor other family members to become permanent residents too.

What You Need to Know About a Spouse Visa

If your spouse or another family member wants to immigrate to the U.S, you have the right to sponsor them via an immigration petition. You can technically sponsor all family – this includes parents, unmarried children, and in some cases stepchildren.  What happens is you apply for your spouse’s visa via the Immigration and Nationality Act, and then it goes to the USCIS. The USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Service, will review the petition and decide whether to approve the visa.

Say you’re just married, your spouse is British, and you already have children. You can sponsor both your spouse and your children, but you’d have to file an I-130 petition for each member. This means you’d have to file this petition more than once.

The visa petition for your spouse or other family members is the first step in getting a green card. Upon marrying, the current U.S permanent resident would sponsor the spouse for a visa. Using the British example, say you just married your spouse, and want her to be able to live in the U.S. In order to do that, you must start the process for your wife by sponsoring her. She cannot do this herself; you have to file a visa petition. In legal terms, you would be the petitioner because you’re sponsoring your spouse, and she would be the beneficiary (which pretty much sums it up: they benefit from the petition).

A visa petition can seem complex, but in most cases sponsoring your spouse for a visa is relatively easy. The best thing you can do is consult legal information like this and hire a professional immigration attorney.

Once you marry, it’s time to file a visa petition for your spouse, or for your spouse to sponsor you if you’re not a resident. You need proof of marriage in order to sponsor or be sponsored. It’s the same with family member. If you just married, proof of a legal marriage is enough. If you’ve been sponsored by your mother for a family based visa, your mother could show your birth certificate as proof of relation. It may seem odd that this proof is needed before the process starts, but really should not be a problem if you’re your completely honest.

The final step can be the most time consuming – you have to wait. Although family members and spouse visas are given priority, you will be put on a waiting list in order to finalize your permanent resident status. The problem is only a certain number of green cards are awarded each year, and you’ll have people ahead of you. However, for a spouse visa, the process is much faster. You are given a priority and you can save months in waiting. It’s the same case if you are sponsoring a child or other immediate relative.

10 Tips on the Green Card Process

If you’re worried you’ll make a mistake in the process of getting a green card, it’s time to start taking action. You first need the guidance of a professional immigration lawyer who has the experience to make your case strong. If you want to be a permanent resident, later becoming a citizen, it’s time to know how to make it happen

Let’s go over 10 tips you’ll need in the green card process.

Hire an Experienced Immigration Lawyer
It bears mentioning again. You need professional counsel for your best chance at success. This means hiring someone you can trust to handle your case. A lawyer can be invaluable in saving you time and money. There are many firms online showing all their experience. Do not rush this part of the process.

Follow the Forms
You will be working with the the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), filling out forms to apply. Follow all the guidelines on the document. If there is a question you are unsure of, consult with your lawyer. Never leave questions blank. Be thorough and have your lawyer check your forms.

Ask Questions

If you’re unsure of any part of the process, you can ask both the USCIS and your lawyer. There are no bad questions.

Ask for Help with the English Language

If you have trouble with English, you can ask for an interpreter. The USCIS will not reject you simply because English is your second language. You can get help.

If You Are Rejected
If you are rejected, that does not mean you have no chance of ever getting a green card. If there is trouble with your documents, if you’ve broke U.S. Laws, if you did not follow USCIS instructions, you need your lawyers help.

What to Tell Your Attorney
Tell your lawyer everything you can. This means that if you’ve been denied entry into the U.S., if you’ve failed to get a green card in the past, or if you broke laws, you need to tell your lawyer. It does not always mean your case won’t go through.

Avoid Crime
If you do commit a crime, even minor, it can hurt your case. The green card process can be difficult for those who break U.S. criminal laws. If you were here illegally, for example, you might have trouble getting your green card without proper guidance.

Never Lie
Be as honest as you possibly can be. Never lie to the USCIS or to your lawyer. Just because you make some mistakes does not mean you should make another. If you lie to the USCIS, it can severely hurt your case. You likely will not become a permanent resident.

If You Need Financial Assistance
If you’re going to be applying for public assistance, speak with your lawyer about this first. If the USCIS feels you will only be here as a public charge, they may delay or reject your application. This is not to say you lie, but that you speak with your lawyer first.

Follow the Rules
You  know not to lie, to fill out the necessary documentation, to hire a lawyer, but you should also know that if you break any major rules in the green card process, you risk losing your opportunity. If you’re unsure of the green card process, that’s what your lawyer is for.

6 Ways an Immigration Lawyer Saves You Time

Isn’t it always great when you have a friend you can always count on when your car breaks down or you just need some help? It’s great to count on people, because some things you cannot do all by yourself. Take immigration law. If you want to immigrate to the U.S, get a green card, apply for citizenship, and enjoy all the benefits, you may think it’s just filling out some paperwork, showing you’re a good and honest person, and paying a minor fee. It’s far more difficult than that. It takes time.

And hiring an experienced immigration lawyer saves you time. How?

The Best Help is Timely
If you need immediate help, surfing the web may just create more questions than answers. While reading law blogs and reference sites is good, it does not replace the experience of an immigration lawyer. This is because the laws change all the time.

Changes to Law
What if the immigration laws just changed yesterday, but you do not know? An immigration lawyer’s job is to find these things out immediately. When you hire him, he or she will find out how any changes might effect you. You can’t pay enough for that kind of help, because it can mean the difference between failure and success in your application to live in the U.S.

The Best Choices
You need to make some choices when it comes to immigrating, and these take time. If you hire a lawyer, he or she will save you time by consulting with you on key decisions. This could include your history in the U.S., what to study for the naturalization test, and what to do if your application is rejected.

Represent You
While representing yourself is possible, you can save time in your interview process with a lawyer. If you appear before the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service), your lawyer can represent you. Of course, representing you also means doing far more. If there are problems with your past or your application, your lawyer will know exactly how to fix them.

Avoid Delays
An immigration lawyer can be your counsel for years. For example, your lawyer can help you with your green card, then successfully applying for naturalization years later. In these processes, there are often many delays. If you make mistakes there are often even more delays too, and a lawyer can help you avoid them.

Appeal
If you’re denied a green card or citizenship, you still have many options. It may delay you, but the process is not over. An experienced immigration lawyer will know exactly how to quickly appeal the decision. If you have no lawyer, you likely would have no idea of where to begin. Therefore, this help is invaluable.

An immigration lawyer saves you time in many more ways, but these are a good start.

 

 

Social Security and Other Benefits of Naturalization

While you can still get good jobs as a permanent resident of the United States, there are some key benefits to applying for citizenship. But why not just keep your green card and ignore applying for citizenship? Doesn’t it take forever?

Actually, the citizenship process for permanent residents, while complex, does not drag on very long. After all, just in 2009 over 1 million permanent residents of the U.S became naturalized U.S. citizens. They applied for many reasons, ones an experienced immigration attorney can go over with you. One key benefit you may have overlooked is Social Security.

What is Social Security?
Social Security is something you pay into on every paycheck as a citizen. They take your money, but you get some immense benefits. When you retire, you will be eligible for Social Security benefits. If you ever get hurt while working and cannot continue, you are immediately eligible for Social Security benefits. For example, if you were hurt while driving, broke your leg, and you cannot work for months, you can apply and likely will be accepted for Social Security Disability Insurance. It is your right, and is why the government took small amounts of your paycheck. But only U.S. citizens get these benefits.

How Does Social Security Help?
There are other ways Social Security can help. Say you suffer from a mental disorder which makes it next to impossible to work. You are therefore eligible for Social Security Income, a monthly paycheck which you can be eligible to receive as long as needed. This is an immense help, and again your right as a citizen. Also, you will be eligible for Medicaid help, along with food stamps if you cannot afford to buy a lot of food.

Travel
There are some other key benefits for naturalized U.S citizens, though not quite as big as Social Security. If you enjoy traveling or just want to live somewhere else for a few years, you will have no problem in reentering the U.S. when wanted. Citizenship is a lifetime deal. For permanent residents, it may be difficult to travel in and out of the country.

No Deportation
As a permanent resident or visa holder, you can legally be deported from the country. As a U.S. citizen, you cannot. While being deported isn’t too common, it does occur if you break the law, and technically does not have to be a major crime.

No Fear
You need not worry about money if you’re hurt. If you cannot work at all, you can get help. If you want to travel, there is no need to worry about being allowed back in the country. If you break laws, you can stay here. Citizenship does not mean you can break laws and do whatever you want, but it offers far more benefits than a green card.