Frequently Asked Questions

EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT AND IMMIGRATION MATTERS CAN BE QUITE COMPLEX.
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Employment-Based Immigration

Can my employee start working after I file the non-immigrant petition on the employee’s behalf?

There are different types of employment-based immigration petitions. Typically, your employee can only start working if you are petitioning for an H-1B non-immigrant and the employee is already in the United States under H-1B classification.  In all other circumstances, you must wait for approval of the petition.

What is Premium Processing and how can it be used?

Premium Processing is a special USCIS processing route that provides significantly faster processing in exchange for an additional fee. For an additional fee USCIS guarantees either a decision or a request for additional evidence within 15 calendar days on the following types of visa petitions or applications: H-1B, H-2B, H-3, O, P, Q-1, E-1, E-2, L, TN, some R-1, and certain I-140 petitions.

Is an employee allowed to reimburse the employer for immigration costs?

It depends on the type of visa status obtained and the amount in question.

General Questions

What is the basic law that governs immigration?

The federal Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) provides the basis for U.S. immigration law.

What is a green card?

A “green card,” provides proof of lawful permanent resident status, with authorization to live and work anywhere in the United States. It is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Most green cards must be renewed every ten years, but some conditional green cards based on marriage or investment must be made permanent after the first two years.

What is USCIS?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the government agency that oversees legal immigration to the United States. USCIS is primarily responsible for approving green cards, naturalization, work permits, travel permits, and other immigration benefits.

Can an alien request a fee waiver for immigration services?

Yes. USCIS provides several filing fee waiver options if the applicant can establish that he or she is unable to pay. In order to have the USCIS consider waiving a fee, the applicant must follow specific instructions, including completion of a form and demonstrating financial hardship.

What is a lawful permanent resident?

A lawful permanent resident, also known as a green card holder, is a foreign national who is authorized to live and work anywhere in the United States, sponsor certain relatives for their own green cards, and ultimately apply for U.S. citizenship.

What is conditional permanent residence?

A conditional green card is only valid for two years, and the designation “CR1” on the physical card stands for “conditional resident.” A conditional green card holder must file Form I-751 to “remove the conditions” and obtain a permanent green card. Most commonly, a conditional green card is issued to a spouse who has been married for less than two years at the time their green card was first approved. Contact us to learn more.

Why would a green card application be denied?

A green card application may be denied by the government for several reasons, including but not limited to mistakes on the required forms, missing documents, insufficient financial resources, or failure to demonstrate eligibility. Contact us to learn more.

Can I work in the U.S. while waiting for my green card?

Anyone who already has a valid work visa (for example, an H-1B or L-1 visa) can continue working even while applying for a green card. Otherwise, green card applicants aren’t allowed to start working in the United States until they obtain a work permit by filing Form I-765. Contact us to learn more.

How long does it take to get a green card?

There are many ways to get a green card, and the timeline for each option is different. Depending on the situation, the marriage-based green card process can last as little as ten months or over three years. Contact us to learn more.

What is the Visa Bulletin?

The visa bulletin, issued every month by the U.S. Department of State, shows which green card applications can move forward, based on when the I-130 petition that starts the green card process was originally filed. The visa bulletin exists because Congress caps the number of green cards that can be issued each year in certain categories, creating numerous backlogs. Contact us to learn more.

What is a biometric screening?

During a biometric screening, a government representative records an individual’s fingerprints and takes photos, in order to check government records for any serious criminal record or relevant prior immigration violations. The biometric screening process is typically short and simple. Contact us to learn more.

Can a visa be obtained in the United States?

All foreign nationals requiring new visas must apply for their visas at a U.S embassy or consulate outside the United States.

What are some factors that are considered by USCIS when granting immigration status?
  • Does the applicant have an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen?
  • Does the applicant have a permanent employment opportunity or offer in the U.S. Does that employment fit under one of the five eligibility categories?
  • Is the applicant able to make a capital investment in the U.S. that meets certain monetary thresholds? Does making such investments create or save a specified number of jobs?
  • Does the applicant qualify for refugee or asylee status as an individual who suffers or fears persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, political view, or membership in a certain group in his or her country of origin.
Do I need to register my home and mailing address?

Yes.  All non-immigrants and lawful permanent residents must register any change of address using USCIS Form AR-11.

Diversity Visa Lottery

What is the Diversity Lottery Program (DV)?

The DV Lottery Program annually awards immigrant visas to applicants whose country of origin has low immigration rates to the U.S. (not more than 50,000 in the last five years). This is also referred to as quotas. The program is called a lottery because there are more applicants than available visas. The visas are granted randomly allocated to qualified applicants.

Is the Diversity Lottery Program real?

Yes, absolutely.  It is not a ruse or scam to locate those who are illegally present in the United States.

Deportation Proceedings

What is the basis for being deported? What are the consequences of deportation proceedings?

Deportation (or removal) proceedings occur when an alien is found to have violated certain immigration or criminal laws. The consequences being that the alien forfeits his or her right to remain in the U.S., and is usually barred from returning to the U.S.

How is the deportation process started?

The Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) issues a Notice to Appear (NTA) stating the reason why the alien should be deported or removed. The NTA is served on the alien and is filed with the Immigration Court. A hearing is then scheduled, at which an Immigration Judge will determine if the information in the NTA is correct. The removal of the alien will be ordered if no objections or findings in favor of the alien are recorded. That’s why it is important to have an attorney represent you.

Can a deportation or removal order be appealed?

Yes. The alien has 30 days to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If the BIA decides against the alien, the matter can be appealed further to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Finally, if the Court of Appeals also finds against the alien, the matter can be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court (the highest court in the U.S.).

Family-Based Immigration

What is a marriage green card?

Most U.S. citizens and U.S. green card holders are entitled by law to sponsor their spouses for a green card, also known as permanent residence status. The total cost, waiting time, and other details of the marriage green card process varies based on several factors. Contact us to learn more.

Does marriage to a U.S. citizen automatically grants a green card (permanent residency) to a foreign national?

No. It may take several months to years to complete the green card process.

What is the difference between a fiancé(e) visa and a marriage visa?

A K-1 or “fiancé(e) visa” is a temporary visa that is available only to fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens who are living outside of the United States and intend to get married within 90 days of arriving in the United States. A marriage green card is available to spouses of both U.S. citizens and U.S. green card holders, whether living in the United States or abroad, and provides permanent residency. Contact us to learn more.

Under what circumstance will a foreign spouse’s permanent resident status in the U.S. be conditional?

A spouse’s permanent resident status will be conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than two years old from the day the permanent resident status was granted. To remove the conditions, the spouse must establish that the marriage was entered in good faith (also called bona fide) and was not to circumvent the U.S. immigration laws.

What is a K-1 visa?

The K-1 fiancé(e) visa is available to fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens who are living outside of the United States and intend to get married within 90 days of arriving in the United States. Contact us to learn more.

Under what circumstances a foreign fiancé(e), who has been admitted into the U.S. for the purpose of getting married, can be required to leave the U.S.

If the marriage to the U.S. citizen who filed the petition to let the fiancé(e) into the U.S. does not take place within 90 days from the date of entry to the U.S., the fiancé(e) will be required to leave the country.

How should I prepare for my marriage green card interview?

The final step in the marriage-based green card process is the interview, where the interviewing officer’s primary goal is to assess the authenticity of the marriage. Questions can focus on the history of the couple’s relationship, their daily activities as a married couple, and their future plans as a couple. Contact us to learn more.

How do we prove our marriage is genuine or “bona fide”?

A “bona fide” marriage means two people who intend to build a future together, and who did not get married only for immigration purposes. Evidence of an authentic marriage can include joint financial documents, evidence of living together, tickets and photos of trips taken together, and other forms of evidence. Contact us to learn more.

International Students

Can a student work?

Only if the student has been authorized for curricular practical training (CPT), optional practical training (OPT), or has an employment authorization document obtained under different immigration provisions.

If I sponsor an employee for a green card, can he or she leave my employment before his or her case is finished, yet continue to use the benefits of my sponsorship?

Yes, once the I-140 petition is approved.

Can my employee’s spouse work?

L-2 visa holders (spouses of L-1 visa holders) and spouses of E visa-holders, and some H-4 (H1-B visa dependents) visa holders can apply for employment authorization (EAD).

If my employee needs to travel, how easy is it to get a visa for return to the U.S.?

Each consulate or embassy has different local regulations for obtaining visas.  Visit the Department of State to see the websites for American embassies and consulates across the world.

How has 9/11 and related developments affected prospective employees?

Here is an unofficial list of countries whose nationals may be subject to additional clearances that may delay visa issuance: Bangladesh; Egypt; Indonesia; Jordan; Kuwait; Afghanistan; Algeria; Bahrain; Eritrea; Iran; Iraq; Lebanon; Libya; Morocco; North Korea; Oman; Pakistan; Qatar; Saudi Arabia; Somalia; Sudan; Syria; Tunisia; United Arab Emirates; and Yemen.

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