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FAQ'S

Here are our most common questions and answers.

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I have a fiancé out of the country, should we get married first? It all depends. Getting married first might be better. But, if you are a United States citizen and you have a fiancé in another country, you can apply for a fiancé visa. Once approved, your fiancé can come to the U.S. and then you must get married within 90 days. After marriage, you may immediately file for legal permanent residency. It is important to consult with an immigration lawyer to discuss the best option for your individual situation.

How can I get a new Greencard if I lost mine? Visit the USCIS website and file form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card. This can be done online or by mail.

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Will I have to leave the country if my spouse petitions for me? This depends on how you entered the United States. If you had a visa and entered legally, then you can adjust status without having to go back to your home country. However, if you entered without being inspected and admitted (EWI), then you will have to consular process, which involves leaving and having an interview at the consulate.

Is it possible to return to the Unites States after being deported? Yes, depending on the reason you were deported. If you do not have a permanent bar, then you may return once you serve your required number of years out of the country. In order to return, you have to have a way to obtain status. A parent, child, LPR or United States citizen spouse could petition for you.

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What does the immigration Judge consider to grant a bond? The immigration judge will consider criminal history, immigration history, ties to the U.S., is there relief available, and other factors. In some cases, mandatory detention is required, and a bond cannot be issued. Immigration bonds can be as low as $1500 on up to very high amounts. An experienced immigration lawyer can argue for a reduced bond.

How do I prove my marriage is bonafide? Having a bona fide marriage means that you married for love and not a Greencard. There is a list of items on the USCIS website to submit to help prove your marriage is real. Such things as pictures, text, joint bank account, lease, and other items to prove you are a couple. If you have only been married for a short period of time and do not have sufficient evidence, seek the help of a reputable immigration attorney. We give you ideas of alternative evidence to use to make your case stronger.

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I’m undocumented and in an abusive relationship, what can I do? If you are married to a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident who is mentally or physically abusive, you may qualify for VAWA. VAWA is the Violence Against Women’s Act, but it is not only for women. Men experiencing abuse in a relationship can also self-petition. There are certain things that you must prove so seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney to help you. You shouldn’t go at this alone.

I have a pending immigration petition, but have a criminal conviction, what could happen? It all depends on what the criminal conviction is for and the immigration benefit you are seeking. Some crimes make you inadmissible and would ultimately prohibit you from any immigration benefit. Some crimes can be forgiven with a waiver, and some crimes have no effect. You must always be honest and upfront about arrests and convictions on any immigration application. Having a criminal convictions can also affect you becoming a U.S. citizen so don’t file a petition without consulting an immigration lawyer first.

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I’m supposed to go to Immigration Court, but never received a notice, what should I do? Make sure that you have the correct address on file. Consult with an immigration attorney who can look up you’re Alien number to get a status on your case. You do not want to miss a court hearing because you can be removed in absentia for missing court.

Do I need an immigration attorney? Immigration law is very complex, and it changes daily. Any wrong information or omissions can have significant consequences. You should definitely seek the help of an experienced immigration attorney if you have a criminal history, are in removal proceedings, entered illegally, or are experiencing unusual delays in processing.

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When can I apply for Citizenship? It depends on how long you have been a lawful permanent resident, and how you got your status. If you received your Greencard through marriage, you can apply after 3 years. 5 years is the requirement for any other way.

Can I appeal my removal (deportation) order? Generally, yes. But time is of the essence. It is important that you contact an experienced immigration lawyer immediately to discuss your options if you want to remain in the United States.

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I just moved, do I need to update my address? Yes. If you are a lawful permanent resident or in the U.S. with a nonimmigrant visa, you must notify USCIS within 10 days of moving withing the U.S. or its territories. This can be done by filing Form AR-11 either electronically or paper.

How long will my immigration case take? Unfortunately, the answer is we don’t know exactly. Immigration attorneys can give you an estimated time frame, but we cannot control the speed that government agencies process any particular case. But, we are often able to use nonpublic email addresses and telephone numbers to help move a case along.

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How do I know if I have a deportation order? When you miss court you can receive an order of removal in absentia. Oftentimes, you will not be aware of this order. You can file for a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act). It is free. This is a way to get your entire immigration file from the court, EOIR which will show your current status. It is always a good idea to pay an immigration attorney a fee to review your file. It can be very difficult to understand the proceedings. You can also have an immigration attorney check the 1800 hotline for your status.

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What do I do if I get stopped by the police? Be quiet and don’t be overly talkative. The only questions you are required to answer are identifying questions. What is your name and where do you live. Be respectful and don’t escalate the situation. Ask if you are free to leave. If not, ask for your lawyer.

What is Bond of Bail? Bail is the money or surety that a defendant must pay to get out of jail. A bond is posted on a defendant’s behalf by a bail bondsman. A percentage is paid, and the bondsman pays the bond amount to the jail. A bond ensures that you will return to court. If you skip out on court, then the bond is forfeited and the bondsman may come looking for you.

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What is probable cause? It is the standard by which police can make an arrest, conduct a search, and obtain an arrest warrant. It simply means that probably a crime has been committed and you probably committed it.

What is a First Appearance Hearing? This is the first hearing after arrest. This is conducted within 48 hours of arrest unless you have already bonded out. At this hearing the charges are read, you are advised of your right to remain silent, and an inquiry is made to whether you are able to afford an attorney.

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What is an Arraignment? Once your case is indicted or accused, there will be a hearing in front of a Judge where you are notified of the charges against you. At this hearing you can plea guilty and resolve your case or you can plea not guilty and proceed to trial.

I bonded out, now what? Now you wait, stay out of trouble, and help your lawyer with your defense. The next court date will be your arraignment once you are indicted or accused, which means you have been officially charged with a crime. At this hearing you can plea guilty and resolve your case or you can plea not guilty and proceed to trial.

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What is an Indictment? An Indictment is the official document charging you with a crime. An indictment will come from a Grand Jury, and it is for more serious type of felony charges. It will list the date of the incident of the crime, victim, and how the crime was contrary to the laws of the state. If your charge is a misdemeanor or a minor felony, then you are charged through an Accusation. This will come from the District Attorney or Solicitor. These documents start the process through the court.

If I am a non-U.S. citizen should I bond out of criminal court? This is a tricky question, and it depends. If you bond out, you are no longer under the jurisdiction of the criminal court and ICE can pick you up if there is an ICE hold. If this happens then you will be detained in ICE jail which is worse than criminal jail. It will be very difficult to fight your criminal charge while in ICE custody. You may get a bond from an immigration judge, but one thing the judge will consider is your pending criminal case. Seek the help of a crimmigration attorney prior to bonding out.

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What do I do if I have a pending arrest warrant? You should get out in front of it and turn yourself in with a lawyer. If you do not, then you run the risk of being arrested by the police. This can happen if you are stopped by the police on a traffic stop. The only way the warrant is going to go away is if you let it run its course through the criminal justice system. The way that starts is once you are arrested.

What happens if I get arrested for a new charge while on probation? Being arrested while on probation is a violation of probation. Most likely, you will have a probation hold and not be able to get out of jail until you have your probation hearing. Oftentimes, your probation case will be adjudicated before your case for your current charges is resolved. Hire an experience criminal defense attorney to help you navigate both cases for the best outcome.

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What are the factors a Judge considers to grant bond? Are you a danger to society, is there a risk of flight, ties to the community, and is there a likelihood of you committing other felonies or intimidating any witnesses while on bond. They will also take into consideration the type of crime you are charged with and your past criminal history.

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Here are our most common definitions

to immigration legal terms.

GLOSSARY 

What is a Lawful Permanent Resident?

A green card holder. A non-citizen who is legally authorized to live and work in the United States.

 

What is consular processing?

The process of getting a greencard outside of the United States. When you enter illegally and are married to a United States citizen you must go back to your home country to consular process in order to get LPR status.

 

What is an affidavit of support?

I 864 filed with a greencard application. This document is to show that the petitioner makes above 125% of the poverty line to support the household. If the petitioner does not meet this income requirement then a join sponsor is needed.

 

What is considered for a bonafide marriage?

Anything to prove that the marriage is legitimate. Joint bank accounts, lease, car insurance, life insurance, pictures, text, emails, affidavits from friends and family, and proof of living in same household.

What is a NTA (Notice to Appear)?

A document that is received to show a person is being place in removal proceedings and must appear before a judge in immigration court.

 

What is a NOID (Notice of Intent to Deny)?

A notice received from USCIS that they intend to deny the application that has been filed. This notice will state the reason for the denial.

 

What is USCIS (United States Citizen Immigration Service)?

The governing body that approves and denies petitions within the United States. This is also the location where interviews within the States are held.

 

What is the NVC (National Visa Center)?

This is the location where a file that needs to be processed for consular processing will go once it is complete. This is the stage where a file waits for an interview at the consulate and a visa to become available.

 

Conditional Resident?

This is a 2 year greencard. If you were married for less than 2 years when applying for a greencard, upon approval, you will receive a conditional greencard. 6 months prior to the expiration of your conditional greencard, you will have to remove conditions to be approved for a 10 year greencard.

 

What is an undocumented immigrant?

A foreign national who is in the States without papers.

 

What is VAWA (Violence Against Women’s Act)?

VAWA is an act that was created to protect undocumented domestic violence victims. If you are undocumented and married to a United States citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident who is mental or physically abusive, VAWA is a way to self-petition for a greencard. Men can also petition through VAWA.

 

What is TPS (Temporary Protected Status)?

TPS is a temporary way to stay in the United States due to your home country conditions being unsatisfactory.

 

What is Naturalization?

This is a way to become a United States Citizen if you were not born in the U.S. In order to qualify, you must be a LPR for 3 or 5 years, be of good moral character, speak and understand English, and pass a Civics test.