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Frequently Asked Questions

Brian Answers Your FAQ

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I want to come to the U.S., what do I do?

In order to come to the U.S., most people need a visa. There is an exception for Canadian nationals (who can enter with their Canadian passports for tourism for a stay not to exceed 180 days). For citizens of countries that participate in the visa waiver program (Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brunei, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan and the United Kingdom), citizens can enter the U.S. with their passports and are authorized a temporary stay for 90 days. For all other countries, a visa is needed to enter the U.S. The most common type of visa is the tourist visa (B-1/B-2). There are many visas available depending on the intention of the visit to the U.S.

What is a visa?

A visa is a document issued by a foreign country allowing the person to board a carrier (plane, ship, train or car) to enter the U.S. The visa has an expiration date and might be limited to the number of visits to the U.S.

For how long may I remain in the U.S.?

Once arriving to the U.S. border, the person is inspected by an officer of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to determine if the person is admissible to the U.S. If admitted, the inspector should stamp the passport with the date of entry and the expiration date of the stay. In addition, the person should go to the following website to access and print their I-94 (the legal form that is proof of legal stay in the U.S.). The Form I-94 should be carried at all times to prove your legal stay in the U.S.

Form I-94
Am I allowed to work in the U.S.?

With a tourist (B-1/B-2) visa, including those entering under the Visa Waiver Program and Canadians entering with their passport for tourist reasons, you are not authorized to work. In order to be authorized to work, you will need a work visa. There are different types of work visas available, including specialty/professional workers (H-1B), extraordinary ability (O-1), temporary/seasonal farm workers and other workers (H-2A/H-2B), and intracompany transferees (L-1).

Can I open up my own business in the U.S.?

Yes. Anyone can open a business in the U.S. But if you would like to manage and work for your business, you will need an entrepreneurial visa such as a treaty trader (E-1) or treaty investor (E-2) if you are the citizen of a country that has a treaty with the U.S. authorizing the visas or perhaps and L-1 visa if you work for a foreign company for one year during the last 3 and want to transfer to the U.S. to work for a U.S. parent/subsidiary or affiliate company as an executive, manager or employee with specialized knowledge.

How can I get a Green Card and do I need one?

Visas are temporary and eventually expire. If allowed, you may be able to renew the visa for temporary stays in the U.S. Lawful permanent residence (or a “Green Card”) allows you to reside in the U.S. indefinitely. There are various ways to apply for permanent residence, depending on your circumstances. The most common way is through family relationships (e.g., marriage to a U.S. Citizen, a U.S. Citizen child over the age of 21, U.S. Citizen siblings, adult children of U.S. Citizens, or perhaps an unmarried adult child of a permanent resident). Although it is the most common way of applying for permanent residence, each case is unique. In order to apply in the U.S., the beneficiary must maintain a lawful status until a visa number becomes available. Visa availability depends on the family relationship and perhaps the country of origin.</p> <p>In addition, a Company can sponsor someone for permanent residence through a labor certification (a job offer filed before the U.S. Department of Labor). You can also invest $1,000,000 in a U.S. company or perhaps $500,000 if the company is located in a rural area with a population of less than 20,000 or if the unemployment rate is 150% above the national average. You can also invest $500,000 in a regional center as long as it is authorized by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). A Green Card through these investments is the 5th employment-based category (also known as “EB-5”).

I entered the U.S. with a visa but overstayed. How can I at least get a work authorization or a driver’s license?

Once your authorized stay (as dictated on Form I-94) expires, you are unlawfully present in the U.S. And if you depart the U.S. after being unlawfully present for more than 180 days but less than one year, you will not be able to return to the U.S. for 3 years. If you depart the U.S. after being in unlawful status for more than 1 year, you will not be able to return for 10 years. Since you are now out of status, unfortunately, you will not qualify for an employment authorization document or a driver’s license in most states.

I entered the United States by crossing the border illegally. How can I legalize my status?

By entering the U.S. unlawfully, in most cases you cannot adjust your status in the U.S. There is an exception if a family member or company filed a family or labor petition for you (or perhaps your parents) prior to May 1, 2001. Since each case is unique, please call our office to schedule a free consultation so we can determine if you might qualify for a benefit under the current immigration laws.

I am studying on a student visa. How can I get a Green Card?

For those people studying on student (F-1) visas, upon graduation from university, you qualify for work authorization as optional practical training (or OPT). OPT is valid for 1 year or can be extended for a total of 3 years if your major falls within STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The normal procedures for students is to obtain a job offer from a company with your OPT and then the company can sponsor you for an H-1B (professional) visa. But with only 65,000 H-1B visas available each year (with an additional 20,000 visas for those who graduate with a Master’s degree from a U.S. university), unfortunately, there is chance the H-1B petition might not be accepted due to the shortage in visas. Whether or not the H-1B is selected, the company can also sponsor you for permanent residence through a labor certification.

I am in this country illegally and I was robbed and assaulted outside my home. The State Attorney wants me to testify at the trial but I am scared I will be deported. What can I do?

There is a U visa available for victims of certain crimes (and a T visa is available for victims of human trafficking). You will need an Attorney to help you apply for the visa since the State or District Attorney or police will need to complete part of the petition. And once in U status for 3 years, you will qualify to apply for permanent residence.

I am married to a U.S. Citizen, but (s)he has been very abusive and has said (s)he will not sponsor my Green Card. What else can I do?

Under the Violence Against Women Act, victims (both men and women) of domestic violence where the aggressor is a U.S. Citizens spouse, can apply for permanent residence without the need of having the spouse participate (and you do not have to remain married to the aggressor).

I am a resident and want to apply for naturalization. It sounds too easy and I am unsure of the process.

Naturalization cases can be quite complex. In order to qualify you must be a permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if you are married to a U.S. Citizen for 3 years). In addition, you must have been physically present in the U.S. for more than half that time and should not have been outside the U.S. for more than 180 days. During your interview, you will need to prove your good moral character and pass an exam of U.S. history and civics. You will also need to read and write simple English sentences. You can take the exam in your native language if you are a permanent resident for more than 15 years and are at least 55 years old or a permanent resident for more than 20 years and are at least 50 years old. There is also an exception for those who cannot understand English because of a medical or psychological disorder.

I am a permanent resident but I was arrested and I want to apply for naturalization. Will the arrest result in a denial of my application for naturalization?

Possibly. Anytime a non-U.S. Citizen is arrested, s/he must consult with a qualified immigration attorney. Certain convictions can result in removal (formerly known as deportation) proceedings. In addition, by returning to the U.S. from a trip overseas, you might be subject to mandatory detention at the port of entry. Mandatory detention means that you are not entitled to a bond and will not be released from custody. If you are ordered deported, you could face deportation to your home country. But not all convictions lead to these severe consequences. For some arrests involving drugs, a conviction is not needed in order to be placed in removal proceedings and removed (deported). You need to consult with an immigration attorney who can research your case and advise you appropriately before applying for naturalization or traveling.

Do I really need an immigration attorney?

Executing and satisfying immigration law is not solely about filing out forms, which is why 67% of all applications and petitions filed with the USCIS without legal counsel are DENIED. Immigration law can be a complex and highly confusing subject. Indeed, there are specific laws dictating which visas are available, the qualifications for obtaining those visas, and the process which must be followed to be granted a visa. Knowing which of the multiple visas available would best suit your needs, understanding the difference between an immigrant visa and a non-immigrant visa, and correctly filling out the application can mean the difference in your visa application being approved or denied. Moreover, the laws under the current Trump administration appear to be changing daily. Can you keep up?

Tel: 561.674.0080   |   Email: Info@bgbimmigration.com