Immigration FAQ

Immigration FAQ

Q: What is a “Green Card,” and how can I get one?

A: The Lawful Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as “Green Card,” is a document that serves as proof that a foreign citizen has received permission to live and work in the United States permanently.

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Q: My spouse has a “Green Card.” Is s/he a U.S. citizen now?

A: Probably not! The “Green Card” proves only that its holder can live and work in the United States. Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status does not, however, equal U.S. citizenship. For example, the LPR cannot enjoy rights that are exclusively reserved to U.S. citizens, such as (1) the right to vote, (2) the right to serve in a jury, and (3) the right to run for federal office or apply for certain federal jobs. To enjoy those rights, the LPR must first apply for, and receive, U.S. citizenship.

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Q: I have a “Green Card.” How do I know if I am eligible for U.S. citizenship?

A: Ask a lawyer! There are many requirements for U.S. citizenship, and it can be difficult to determine eligibility without knowing the law. Usually, the applicant must have held a “Green Card” for at least 5 years. In some cases, 3 years is sufficient (when the LPR is married to a U.S. citizen, and that marriage was the basis for receiving the “Green Card” in the first place). There is more: past criminal convictions, the ability to read/write/speak English, and the applicant’s age are all relevant factors that may influence whether or not an application will succeed… or fail.

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Q: I married my husband/wife while living abroad. What’s the fastest way to bring him/her to live with me in the U.S.?

A: Good question! Unfortunately it is very difficult to estimate how long the immigration process will take, even if the foreign citizen is already married to a U.S. citizen. Additionally, different immigration paths are available to foreign citizens who are physically present in the U.S. (as opposed to physically present abroad), which may affect not only the timing of the immigration process, but also its cost.

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Q: How much does it cost to get a “Green Card”?

A: It depends. The attorney fee may vary depending on the complexities of each case, and the fees payable to the U.S. government usually run in the hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars (the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization Service (USCIS) regularly updates its fees; for more information, visit www.uscis.gov). At your initial consultation, our attorneys will do their best to estimate how much your case will cost.

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Q: I am a U.S. citizen, but my parents are not. Can I help them get a “Green Card”?

A: Maybe. First, you (the U.S. citizen) must be at least 21 years old. Second, your parents must be eligible for admission into the United States. If they are currently in the United States without proper immigration status, or have been deported from the United States in the past, then it may be difficult or impossible to sponsor them. Each case is unique, though; you should definitely talk to an attorney before either filing anything, or giving up.

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Q: My parents brought me to the U.S. when I was a child. Am I eligible to any immigration benefits?

A: Possibly. Because immigration laws and policies are constantly changing, and each case is different, it is important to consult with an attorney to determine your immigration situation.

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Q: My foreign friend wants to come visit me in the U.S., but was denied a B-1/B-2 visa. Can we appeal?

A: Probably not; U.S. consulates and embassies around the world have a lot of discretion when it comes to granting or denying visa applications. Other than U.S. citizens, no person has an inherent “right” to enter the U.S., even if only for a brief visit. Your friend can always re-apply, and there are steps that s/he can take to increase his/her chances of approval.

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Q: I am a foreign citizen, and I would like to start a business in the United States. What’s the next step?

A: Talking to an immigration attorney. There are many different types of visas related to business ventures. Some visas provide a path to a “Green Card,” and other visas do not. At your consultation, you will discuss your plans and objectives. After the consultation, our attorney will provide you with your options, based on the facts of your case.