Frequently Asked Questions
Dealing with the immigration process, whether it’s for yourself or a loved one, can be an extraordinarily frustrating experience. There may be a wide range of unanswered questions about how best to proceed and what your rights under the law may be. For this reason, the attorneys at the Law Office of William Jang, PLLC, have put together the following list of frequently asked questions and their answers, hoping to give those with immigration questions a better understanding of their rights and options.
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Is the deferred action program the same as the DREAM Act?
Although there are many important similarities between the deferred action program and the DREAM Act, these programs are fundamentally different in one key regard: while the DREAM Act would provide a permanent path to citizenship for those who immigrated to this country illegally as children, the deferred action program provides no such pathway. Though individuals who apply for and receive deferred action status can apply for extensions, they cannot receive permanent legal status under current law. Talk to a qualified immigration lawyer to learn more about these programs.
If I want to bring my family to the U.S., what can I do?
The immigration policy in the United States is built to strongly favor connecting family members to residents or citizens already in the country. For this reason, there are a wide range of policies and programs in place to help speed up the immigration process for those who want to be united with their families in this country. If you are interested in bringing your family to the U.S., you should consult with a qualified legal professional in order to learn more about the options that may be available to you.
What can I do if I lose my immigration documents?
For those who are not currently established residents or citizens in the U.S., it is important to keep track of all documents related to your immigration status. Unfortunately, mistakes can and do happen, and sometimes these documents can be misplaced or lost. In these circumstances, it is typically possible to get replacement documents. However, those who need replacement immigration documents should consult with an attorney first in order to ensure that they have everything in order and that nothing comes up that may negatively impact their immigration status.
Does applying for citizenship status have any risks?
Becoming a fully naturalized citizen of the United States can have a number of important advantages. However, there are certain risks that applicants may face if they choose to apply for citizenship. Because the application process typically involves an in-depth examination of the applicant’s background, things such as prior criminal convictions or a refusal to register for the Selective Service can not only result in applicants being denied citizenship, but may even lead to the loss of residency status. A qualified attorney can help you to more fully understand the risks you may face in order to determine whether applying for citizenship is right for you.
What is a green card?
A green card, officially known as a United States Permanent Resident Card, is an important immigration document that allows a person to legally live and work in the United States. Though individuals with green cards do not have full citizenship privileges, such as the right to vote in elections, they are still entitled to a wide range of rights as residents of the United States. To learn more about the benefits of having a green card and what you can do to obtain this crucial immigration document, you should speak with an experienced immigration lawyer.
What can I expect to be on the citizenship test?
When individuals residing in the United States wish to become naturalized U.S. citizens, they are required to take a ten-question oral test to prove their familiarity with the principles of U.S. democracy and general history of the country. All of the questions and answers that may be asked on this test are made publicly available for individuals to study beforehand. By answering six questions correctly, an individual will have achieved a passing grade and will be one step closer to naturalization. The purpose of this test is to help immigrants understand fully the values of the United States.
How is Permanent Residency Status obtained?
In order for individuals to live and seek employment in the United States, individuals will need to obtain permanent residency status. Green Cards, or United States Permanent Resident Cards, are provided to immigrants who have become legal residents of this country. To obtain a United States Permanent Resident Card and individual must have done one of the following:
- Have a close family member who has immigrated to and achieved residence in U.S.
- Gained employment through a company in the U.S.
- Immigrated through investment
- Immigrated Department of State’s Diversity Lottery program
- Immigrated as a refugee
What is the Department of State’s Diversity Lottery?
Every year, the Department of State runs a Diversity Lottery program that is meant to grant 50,000 so-called “diversity immigrants” legal residency in the United States. To be considered a diversity immigrant, an individual must wish to emigrate from a country with a statistically low presence in the U.S. As such, individuals from a diverse group of nations are eligible for the Diversity Lottery. An immigration lawyer can help interested individuals determine whether they may be eligible for this program.
Is there an annual limit to how many people can immigrate to the United States?
As dictated by the 1990 Immigration Act, only 700,000 people are allowed to immigrate into the United States every year. Additionally, the Immigration Act provides easier access to family members of legal immigrants who also wish to immigrate to the U.S. Of the 700,000 legal immigration statuses that are granted every year, there are 50,000 spaces devoted to what are termed “diversity” immigrants. To qualify for one of these 50,000 spots, an individual must emigrate from a country that is otherwise under-represented in the U.S.
What are the risks of applying for citizenship?
While the benefits of United States citizenship are extensive and include the right to vote, collect benefits, and obtain federal employment, there are certain risks involved in the application process. Among the most serious risk of applying for U.S. citizenship may be the extensive background check that is mandatorily performed on each and every applicant. If an individual has been convicted of certain crimes in or outside of the U.S., is found to lack good moral standing, refuses to register for Selective Service, then that individual may be denied a citizenship request and, moreover, lose their already existing permanent residency status.
How often do I need to replace my green card?
Critical to living in the United States as a foreign national or legal alien, the information on an individual’s Permanent Resident Alien ID (green card) must be valid and up-to-date. As a result, an individual must replace their green cards whenever the following circumstances arise:
- If the holder of a green card was younger than 14 years of age when they received it, they must replace their green card on their 14th birthday
- If a green card is stolen, lost, damaged, or otherwise non-functional
- If the information is incorrect
What do I need to do to qualify for dual citizenship?
Individuals who have dual citizenship enjoy the benefits of simultaneous citizenship of two countries. However, dual citizenship can be difficult to gain, as each respective nation’s laws concerning the eligibility of dual citizenship may either prevent or impede citizenship with particular nations. For instance, some countries may confer citizenship to any individual who is capable of tracing their paternal lineage to their country, while others may allow individuals to claim citizenship if one of their parents were citizens at the time of their birth. To best know your eligibility, speak with an immigration attorney about your specific situation.
Does my child have United States citizenship?
There a number of different conditions under which a child may be conferred with United States citizenship. The most direct method of citizenship, however, is granted when a child is born in the United States, regardless of the ancestry or resident status of their parents. Additionally, any child born to parents who are both U.S. citizens while outside of the United States will still be considered a citizen. Under the Citizenship Act of 2000, children who are adopted by and in the custody of U.S. parents may be naturalized citizens once they gain entry into the United States.
What is denaturalization?
Denaturalization is a process by which a country revokes the citizenship status of an individual. While each instance of denaturalization is independently evaluated on a case-by-case basis, the decision to denaturalize a citizen is often prompted when a person commits a criminal or treasonous action. However, denaturalization is not only a punitive legal action; in some cases, an individual may voluntarily renounce their own citizenship. In any case, it is likely worthwhile for you to have an experienced immigration lawyer evaluate the details of your situation.
Why was my visa denied?
Without knowing the particulars of an application, it is difficult to say exactly why a visa would be denied. However, some common reasons that visas are denied are when incomplete documents are filed, when an applicant has a criminal record, when an individual poses a perceived security threat to the United States, when an individual has severe health problems, and in cases where there have been previous issues related to an individual’s immigration status. To better determine why your visa application was denied, it is advisable that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer.
What is the deferred action program?
Under the deferred action program, qualifying individuals may apply for deferred action status. With the deferred action status, individuals are protected from deportation for the entire duration of their deferred action period. This period can last up to two years and, so long as the applicant still qualifies for the program, can be renewed. Under the deferred action status, an individual will also become eligible to gain legal authorization for employment. If you believe that you or your loved one is eligible to apply to the deferred action program, it would likely be beneficial to consult with an experienced immigration lawyer before applying for this status.
Who qualifies for EB-1 first preference employment based immigration status?
With its distinct advantage over employment-based immigration statuses, the EB-1 status is awarded to professionals who are exceptional in their field—for example, international transferee executives and managers, outstanding professors and researchers, and other extraordinary workers. With EB-1 designation, highly-skilled foreign workers are provided with nearly immediate immigration status, allowing them to enter the United States and begin working right away. EB-1 first preference employment based immigration status is available to workers from any country, except India and China, as a means of attracting these highly-skilled workers.
If I am granted employment-based immigration status, will my family be able to accompany me?
For each of the employment-based immigration statuses, spouses and children will be eligible to obtain green cards as derivatives of the primary beneficiary, or the individual who has been granted some form of employment-based immigration status. However, it should be noted that in order for an individual’s children to be eligible to obtain a green card as a derivative, they must be both under the age of 21 and unmarried at the time of immigration. Furthermore, there are specific, additional costs associated with green cards obtained by spouses and children.
Who is eligible for EB-3 immigration status?
Second-preference, employment-based immigration is available to professionals who either hold advanced degrees or who are workers of exceptional ability. As the second highest preference for immigration, successful EB-2 applicants typically have both their Labor Certification (PERM) and a job offer from a company in the United States. However, both of these requirements may be waived should an individual successfully file a National Interest Waiver with USCIS. While individuals who plan to emigrate from almost any country may be granted EB-2 immigration status without waiting for numerical availability, individuals emigrating from some countries, like India and China, may not be able to do so.
Who is eligible for EB-4 immigration status?
The fourth-preference, employment-based immigration status is reserved for foreign ministers and other individuals who hold religious occupations and who wish to obtain a green card in the United States. However, it should be noted that this form of employment-based immigration status may be difficult to obtain for non-ministers, as the law authorizing non-ministers will periodically sunset. To be considered a minister under EB-4 designation, an individual must be directly authorized by a recognized domination to perform religious worship and any other duty that may normally be performed by members of clergy on a day-to-day basis.
Who is eligible for EB-5 fifth preference employment based immigration status?
EB-5 fifth preference employment based immigration status is available to immigrant investors and their families. Should an investor be approved and requisite investment made for this status, he or she may live in the United States for up to two years on a conditional basis. In the course of those two years, an investor will need to be approved for permanent residence within the United States. However, an individual living in the United States under the conditional residence may work in the United States until permanent residence is received.
What is the minimum investment for EB-5 fifth preference employment based immigration status?
To even be considered for EB-5 fifth preference employment based immigration status, an individual must have already or be in the process of investing, at minimum, US$1,000,000 of capital in a United States business. However, this amount may fluctuate, as determined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS), depending upon the area an investor chooses to invest their money. That being said, the minimum investment may be as low as US$500,000 in high-target areas or as high as US$3,000,000 in areas of high employment.
If I am pursuing employment based immigration status for myself and my family, do I need an attorney?
While you do not technically need an attorney to file the necessary paperwork for these immigration statuses, the process can be highly complex and confusing for many individuals. If any aspect of an individual’s application is incomplete, inaccurate, or misunderstood, an application will be denied. Though you will be able to reapply for an employment based immigration status, the process can be time consuming and expensive, as you will need to pay application fees with each application. With the help of an experienced immigration attorney, you can rest assured that your application will be as complete as possible and filed by the applicable deadline.
How can my company aid in the process of attaining an employment-based visa?
The most important thing your company can do is be compliant in providing you with the documentation you need, as well as with communicating with immigration authorities. Your employer may have to write a letter testifying their purpose in sending you to the United States. If your employer is based in the United States, they may play a bigger role in helping you receive a visa. The United States Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services needs to know that you are in the United States for business purposes only, with no intention of staying in the U.S. past your duties. A compliant and informative employer will help in proving this.
How do you go about proving “specialized knowledge”?
“Specialized knowledge” is unofficially defined as the knowledge of the company’s products, services, techniques, management, research, or any other interest as it applies to the international marketplace. Certain documentation must be provided as proof that an individual contains this specialized knowledge needed in the United States. Documents regarding training history and a letter from the foreign part of the company describing the individual’s specialized knowledge are examples of documentation that would help in proving specialized knowledge.
What is an au pair?
An au pair is typically a young woman—usually in her twenties—from a foreign country, who helps with housework and childcare in exchange for room and board. Many young women from the United States travel to foreign countries to work as an au pair, and many young women from foreign countries travel to the U.S. to do the same. Working as an au pair provides these young people a way to experience a new place and culture, for a fraction of the cost. Young women wishing to au pair in the U.S. must obtain a J-1 visa before their travels. The J-1 visa allows au pairs to stay in the U.S. for the duration of a single year, after which they must return to their home country.