Colorado Immigration Lawyer Answers Your Immigration Questions
What is the difference between Voluntary Departure and Deportation/Removal?
Voluntary departure is a form of discretionary relief granted by an Immigration Judge that allows an alien to leave the United States on their own, rather than by a removal order. This means that the alien must pay for their own trip back home, unlike an alien ordered removed. Voluntary Departure has a number of benefits and is most useful to those who are in removal proceedings, but do not qualify for adjustment of status. Leaving the United States under Voluntary Departure does not result in inadmissibility to the United States for 10 years like an order of removal. This means that if an alien accepts Voluntary Departure, he may return to the United States if he is eligible for a visa. An alien that is ordered deported or removed from the United States may not return for varying periods of times lasting as long as 20 years in some circumstances.
My children are U.S. citizens…… Can I get status in the United States through them?
United States citizens may petition for their parents when the reach the age of 21 years. At that point their parents become eligible for a visa as an immediate relative. Immediate relatives may immigrate to the United States in unlimited numbers and are not controlled by quotas or annual limits. This means no long waiting lists. Once the Petition is approved then the green card application may be filed. This may take place either at the consulate of the parent’s home country, or through USCIS if the parent’s are eligible for adjustment of status. The parents may apply for U.S. citizenship five years after they receive their green cards.
Keeping Your Green Card After You Get It
You went through a lot of effort and a lot of money to get your green card; now you should take all measures to keep it. A green card is not a “right” but is considered a “privilege,” and it can be taken from you if you spend too much time outside of the United States. Traveling outside of the U.S. for less than 6 months a year (continuous or frequent trips) is not a problem. This basic six month rule will also ensure that you have no problems applying for citizenship when it becomes available to you. If you stay outside the United States for a year or greater without first obtaining permission from the U.S. government you may lose your green card completely. The general rule is that the U.S. government feels the absence of a year or longer indicates that the green card has been abandoned. If you know in advance that you must be outside of the U.S. for more than one year apply for a reentry permit before you leave. This will allow you to stay outside the U.S. for up to two years.
Can I petition for my niece, nephew or cousin?
Unfortunately there is not a visa category for niece, nephew, aunt, uncle or cousins of United States citizens or legal permanent residents (LPR). A petitioner (U.S. citizens or LPR) may sponsor four categories of relatives. Parents, spouse, children, brothers and sisters. In some situations, with a lot of patience, you may be able to eventually bring over your extended family members by first sponsoring a relative that is included in one of the four categories listed above. For instance, you may petition for your brother and once his visa number becomes available he may bring his wife and children as derivatives. Hence, your nephew and niece (if under the age of 21) are allowed to come with their father, your brother. Another example is that you could sponsor your parents. Once your parents naturalize, they may sponsor their brothers and sisters. In the end you were able to bring to the United States your aunts, uncles and cousins as derivatives.
Once I’m granted Asylum status, can I travel to my home country to visit my family?
If your home country is the country that you fled from persecution the answer is NO!!! Asylum status is granted when a person proves that they have a well-founded fear of persecution if they return to their home country. If you return to your home country to visit your family once your asylum status is granted than you obviously do not fear returning. This means that your asylum application could be deemed fraudulent and your asylum status revoked.
Can my green card be taken away?
Green cards can be revoked for a number of reasons. For example, if you commit a crime, fail to advise USCIS of your change of address, live outside of the United States for too long, or lied on a visa application. Many of these issues come to light when a green card holder applies for citizenship and their case file is fully scrutinized by USCIS.
What are the income requirements needed for the affidavit of support?
The sponsor must show “the means to maintain an annual income equal to at least 125 percent of the federal poverty line.” INA § 213A(f)(1)(E). USCIS posts the poverty guideline for each year on Form-864P on its website. When using the form you must first identify the number of persons in your household (sponsor’s household size). This means that you would count yourself, your spouse and any dependants that you have. Then you count the alien(s) that you will sponsors. You must also count any aliens you previously sponsored who have obtained legal permanent resident status, if the contractual obligations have not terminated. Once you identify the household size, follow the column across to the right under the 125% of Poverty Guideline. This will then tell you how much money you have to make this year to meet the income requirements for sponsorship.
What happens if the family member who is petitioning for me does not show enough income on their tax returns to meet the 125% Federal Poverty Guideline level?
If your petitioner does not meet the 125% Federal Poverty Guideline income level you can have a joint sponsor who meets the requirement. The petitioner is still required to file Form I-864. The joint sponsor must also file Form I-864 with supporting documentation to prove income. It is important to note that joint sponsors must show proof that they are either a US citizen or legal permanent resident.
Once I get my green card, how long do I have to wait before I apply for citizenship?
The answer to this question depends on how you got your green card. If you received it through marriage to a U.S. citizen, then you can apply for naturalization in three years. Asylees can apply four years after their green card approval because they can count the 1 year of asylee status before they get their green card. All other green card holders must wait 5 years.
What should I wear to my USCIS interview?
You should wear neat and conservative attire to your interview. The USCIS officer will make judgments about your character. Avoid wearing articles of clothing or jewelry with symbols or slogans that may be offensive or lead the USCIC officer to question your sincerity or moral character. For instance, it would be unwise to wear a t-shirt with a marijuana leaf printed on the front.
Why do I have to take a medical examination for my green card?
The primary purpose of the medical examination is to check for any diseases that may make you inadmissible to the United States, such as HIV (AIDS) and tuberculosis. Sometimes the inadmissibility factor can be overcome by treatment of the disease, or the applicant may apply for a waiver. The medical exam itself consists of blood work, chest x-ray, and vaccinations if needed. The exams are conducted by private doctors.
Can I go to any doctor for my medical examination?
The medical examination must be conducted by a medical doctor (civil surgeon) who has been approved by USCIS. You can locate a USCIS designated doctor in the area you live on the USCIS website.
Can I travel abroad if I have a green card?
Travel outside of the United States is one of the rights of a legal permanent resident. However, the term “resident” implies that you are to reside in the United States. If you are outside of the United States for too long you could lose your green card. You should not stay outside of the United States for more than six months out of any year. If you know in advance that you have to spend more than a year outside of the United States then you can apply for a reentry permit. Make sure that you apply for this before you leave the United States.
What should I do if my green card has been lost or stolen?
You should apply for a new one as soon as you find out that it is missing and report any stolen green card to the police. You can apply for a replacement green card using Form I-90.
How long will my student visa last?
Typically you are allowed to stay in the United States in student status for as long as it takes for you to reasonably complete your degree objectives.
How does my family apply for a visitor visa to come see me in the United States?
Your family member must apply for a visitor visa (B visa) at the consulate in their home country. They must first prepare the B visa application which consists of government forms and personal documents. The forms for the B visa can be found on the State Department website or can be picked up at the consulate. Once they submit the properly executed forms and documents to the consulate they will be given an interview with a consular officer. The officer will review their application and will ask how long they intend to stay in the United States. The typical interview lasts only a few minutes. Due to increased security checks it is unlikely they will receive a decision on the same day and will have to return to the consulate to pick up their visa once it is approved. It is important that they remember to bring the visa fee money and their passport to the interview (just in case they are approved at the time of the interview) or later when they return to the consulate to pick up the visa.
How do I apply for my Social Security Card?
If you have been granted lawful residency in the United States you can apply for your social security card through your local Social Security office. The application for a Social Security Card, Form SS-5 can be printed the Social Security Administrations website at www.ssa.gov or you can pick it up at a local office which can also be found on the website. You must also provide evidence documents with your application. This includes evidence of age, evidence of identity, and evidence of immigration status. Take your completed application and original documents to your local Social Security office. The Denver office is located at 2nd FL Suite 200, 1500 Champa Street, Denver, CO 80202.
Can I extend my stay on a B-1 or B-2 visitor visa?
If your total stay in the United States will not exceed one year, USCIS may grant an extension of your B-1 or B-2 visitor stay. You must submit your request for an extension before the date issued on your I-94 card.
Do Non-English documents have to be translated to English?
If you are submitting documents that are not in English then you must submit a copy of the original document and an English translation. It is important that the translation is word for word and not just a summary of the document. It must also be accompanied with a certificate of translation.
Where do I apply for my Mexican passport if I am in the United States?
You should apply at the Mexican Consulate for your Mexican passport. The Mexican Consulate in Denver is located at 5350 Leetsdale Drive, Suite 100, Denver, CO 80246. The first step is to make an appointment at 1-877-639-4835. Show up early for your appointment so that you have time to fill out the passport application. Bring proof of your Mexican nationality and an Official ID (original and 2 copies) and three color passport photos.
I am illegal …. Can I apply for a driver license in Colorado?
To be issued a driver license in the state of Colorado, you must prove your lawful presence in the United States.