Phones answered 24/7 414-383-6700

Immigration Law

Home/Immigration Law

New Green Card Rules for This Year

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

When you’re a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you’ll get a “green card.” That card shows your residency status – but there are a few new rules that you need to know about. The new rules could impact your status as a lawful permanent resident, or LPR, now and in the future.

New Green Card Rules That Could Affect Wisconsin Immigrants

The new green card rules involve:

  • Failing to cite immigrant status on tax returns or failing to report income can be a removable offense
  • You must register with the U.S. Selective Service if you are a male aged 18 to 25 or risk removal
  • An extended trip overseas can be considered “abandonment” and result in removal

Here’s a closer look at each.

Immigrant Status on Tax Returns

If you fail to choose the appropriate immigrant status on your tax return, or if you fail to report income, you could be deported. For example, if you work “under the table” (meaning you work for cash and are paid directly by another person, and neither you nor that person reports the income to the Internal Revenue Service, or IRS) and the IRS catches you, you can be removed from the country.

Related: Green card FAQ

Registration With the Selective Service

If you are a male green card-holder between the ages of 18 and 25, you are legally required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, or SSS) within 30 days of your arrival in the United States. That includes everyone – and if you don’t yet have a Social Security Number, you must apply for one.

Abandonment of the Green Card

Your green card is invalid for reentry into the United States if you’ve been gone for more than a year – but even if you’ve only been gone for 6 months, you could be subject to additional scrutiny about the nature of your trip abroad. If you’re gone for too long and the official asking you questions believes you don’t intend to keep your LPR status, he or she may ask you to sign Form I-407, which is the Record of Abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident Status. You do not have to sign that form – no matter what anyone tells you. If the official interviewing you does not believe that you’re not abandoning your green card, he or she can refer you to immigration court for removal proceedings, and in that case, you should contact an immigration attorney.

Related: How long can you stay out of the U.S. with a green card?

Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About the New Green Card Rules?

If you have any questions about immigration, from green cards and naturalization to nonimmigrant visas or temporary protected status, we’re here for you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:49:54-06:00January 10th, 2021|Immigration Law|0 Comments

What Can You Do if Your Green Card is Denied?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or USCIS, receives tens of thousands of applications for green cards every year – and some of them are denied. But why would a green card be denied, and what can you do if that happens to you? Here’s what you need to know.

Why Would a Green Card Be Denied?

Green card applications are denied every day for a variety of reasons. Some of the most common involve errors and mistakes (either on the applicant’s part or USCIS’s part), inadmissibility due to a criminal history or health, or a lack of funds. Here’s a closer look at each.

Green Card Denial Due to a Mistake

Sometimes people make mistakes. It’s incredibly important that your green card application is complete before you turn it in, and that you don’t miss any appointments or interviews. This is one of the reasons people often choose to work with an attorney. Your attorney can fill out and file all your paperwork for you.

Related: Green card FAQ

Green Card Denial Due to Inadmissibility

Some people are inadmissible to the United States. The U.S. can refuse to grant you a green card because you’re not lawfully allowed to be in the country, such as if you’ve been previously deported or you have health issues that would preclude you from staying in the country. If you’re having admissibility issues, you may want to talk to an attorney about your situation – there may be a way around what you’re facing.

Green Card Denial Due to Lack of Funds

You must be able to show USCIS that you’re unlikely to use public resources (like financial welfare programs) to get a green card. If the USCIS official evaluating your case thinks that you’ll become a public charge, you can be denied a green card.

Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney?

We can help you with your green card application, and we can answer your questions about the entire application process. We’ll even help you when it comes time for you to naturalize as a U.S. citizen. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney who can point you in the right direction.

Attorney Carlos Gamino

By |2020-11-16T15:38:46-06:00January 6th, 2021|Immigration Law|0 Comments

Common Immigration Attorney Fees

Common Immigration Attorney Fees - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Working with an experienced immigration attorney can give you the peace of mind you need to tackle your case, whether you’re applying for an immigrant visa or you need deportation defense. But how much does it cost? What can you expect to pay in immigration attorney fees? Here’s what you need to know.

Common Immigration Attorney Fees

Like any other service, you have to pay for an immigration attorney’s help with your case. It’s important to note that you should watch out for people who say they’re “immigration consultants,” “immigration advisors” or “immigration advocates,” because they’re not attorneys – and often, they don’t provide actual services or answer your legal questions.

When you hire an immigration attorney, remember that every lawyer is different, and the cost will vary between law firms. You also need to know that:

  • You’ll often have to pay an advanced fee to get started on your case.
  • Hourly rates are different between attorneys. One attorney might charge $50 per hour, while another could charge $200 per hour.
  • Visas have different rate structures, and those rate structures are set by the U.S. government. You’ll have to pay filing fees for the immigration documents you file with the government.
  • You could be eligible for premium processing, but that results in an additional fee.

What Are Advanced Fees for Immigration Attorneys?

An advanced fee is money you pay an attorney before he or she will start working on your case. Usually, attorneys calculate them by evaluating your case and determining how much it will cost to complete based on an hourly rate. If your attorney works on your case longer than expected, you’ll incur hourly charges – but you’ll know about them ahead of time. Really, what’s happening is that you pay the attorney and he or she “works off” the balance using an hourly rate.

So what if you’ve overpaid because your case was easier than the attorney anticipated? You’ll get a refund of the balance. If you pay an attorney who charges $100 per hour a $1,000 retainer fee, but she finishes your case in 8 hours, you’ll get $200 back. (That’s just an example, though – every attorney’s retainer fee and hourly rate is different.)

Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney?

If you’re considering immigrating to the United States, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with a Wisconsin immigration attorney who will talk to you about your case and answer your questions.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T15:11:43-05:00November 4th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on Common Immigration Attorney Fees

What is Adjustment of Status in U.S. Immigration?

What is Adjustment of Status in U.S. Immigration - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

For many people, an adjustment of status is one more step in the direction of becoming a naturalized citizen. This guide explains what adjustment of status is, how to accomplish it and what happens when the U.S. government changes your immigration status.

What is Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of status is a process you can use if you have a valid visa and want to become a lawful permanent resident, or LPR, of the United States. If the government approves your adjustment of status petition, you’ll receive a green card – and that will enable you to live and work anywhere in the U.S.

Who Qualifies for Adjustment of Status?

Not everyone qualifies for an adjustment of status. You can only apply for it if you used a visa to come to the U.S. on this trip – the one that brought you to the U.S. this time around. Most people must be in the U.S. legally to adjust status, although there are some exceptions (such as when you have overstayed a visa).

How Long Does it Take to Adjust Your Immigration Status?

Adjusting status in the U.S. can be a lengthy process, and it can be complicated. That’s why many people choose to work with a Wisconsin immigration attorney throughout the process.

Essentially, the length of time it takes to adjust your immigration status depends on the reason you qualify for a green card, the location of the processing office and a handful of other factors. Generally speaking, it takes between 7 months and 3 years to get a green card after your application is complete and filed with the U.S. government. However, those based on familial connections (other than spouses and children) can take a long time – even up to 10 years. Those types of green cards are based on availability, and you must wait until your number comes up to claim your green card. On the other hand, some employment-based green cards can go through the system fairly quickly, particularly if they’re in low-demand areas.

Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About an Adjustment of Status Petition?

If you’re thinking about filing an adjustment of status petition, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 today to schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney. During your consultation, we’ll be happy to explain the process, answer your questions and get you started on the right path to a green card.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-09-19T14:45:22-05:00October 7th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on What is Adjustment of Status in U.S. Immigration?

What Questions Are on the Citizenship Test?

What Questions Are on the Citizenship Test - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Becoming a naturalized American citizen is a big step – and it requires you to put in a bit of work. Before you can become a citizen of the U.S., you must establish lawful permanent residency; then, after filing a petition with the U.S. government, you’ll have to take the naturalization test.

Related: Am I eligible for U.S. citizenship?

What Questions Are on the Citizenship Test?

During your naturalization interview, you’ll have to answer questions about your application and background. You’ll also have to take an English and civics test (unless you qualify for an exemption). Your interviewer will ask you up to ten questions, and you must answer at least six of them correctly. The questions revolve around:

  • American government
  • American history
  • Integrated civics (things like geography, symbols and holidays)

Sample American Government Questions on the Citizenship Test

Your interviewer can ask you a number of questions regarding the U.S. government, such as:

  • What does the Constitution do?
  • What is an amendment?
  • What are the two parts of the U.S. Congress?
  • What is one responsibility that is only for United States Citizens?
  • What is the name of the Speaker of the House of Representatives now?

Sample American History Questions on the Citizenship Test

You might encounter some questions on American history, such as:

  • Who lived in America before the Europeans arrived?
  • What group of people was taken to America and sold as slaves?
  • There were 13 original states – name three.
  • What territory did the United States buy from France in 1803?
  • What did the Emancipation Proclamation do?
  • What did Susan B. Anthony do?

Sample Integrated Civics Questions on the Citizenship Test

There are a number of integrated civics questions your interviewer can ask you. You might hear some like these:

  • Name one of the two longest rivers in the United States.
  • Name one state that borders Canada.
  • Why does the flag have 13 stripes?
  • Name two national U.S. holidays.
  • When do we celebrate Independence Day?

Who Can Become a U.S. Citizen?

You can only qualify for naturalization – the process of an alien becoming a U.S. citizen – if you:

  • Have been a permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 5 years and meet all eligibility requirements
  • Are the spouse of a U.S. citizen and you have been a permanent resident in the U.S. for at least 3 years and meet all eligibility requirements
  • Have qualifying service in the U.S. Armed Forces and meet all eligibility requirements
  • Are the child of a U.S. citizen who was born outside the U.S. and meet all eligibility requirements

Do You Need an Immigration Attorney to Become a U.S. Citizen?

If you’re like many people, you’re more comfortable working with an immigration attorney as you file your naturalization paperwork and prepare for the process. We’d love to help you, so call us at 414-383-6700 today to speak with someone about your situation. Carlos Gamino

By |2020-07-17T11:20:23-05:00September 14th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on What Questions Are on the Citizenship Test?

International Adoption FAQ

International Adoption FAQ - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

International adoption is one way to complete a family – but if you’re like many people who have considered it, you want to do as much research as possible. Check out this international adoption FAQ to get answers, and if you don’t see what you’re looking for, call us at 414-383-6700. We’ll be happy to help.

International Adoption FAQ

When you’re considering international adoption, the answers to these questions may help you make the best possible decision for your family.

Related: Types of adoption processes

Should We Work With an Attorney for International Adoption?

For many families, the best – and simplest – course of action is to work with a family law and immigration attorney during the international adoption process. Your attorney can answer all your questions, ensure you file the appropriate paperwork with the government and the courts, and walk you through the process from start to finish.

What Are the Requirements for International Adoption?

Generally speaking, adoptive parents must be at least 25 years old, and at least one parent must be a U.S. citizen. Each person adopting the child must complete the appropriate government forms, have a home study, and be cleared by the FBI in a search for child abuse records. Other countries may have eligibility criteria, as well.

What Kinds of Immigration Forms Do We Need for an International Adoption?

Usually, you need Form I-600 or I-800 for an international adoption. Your attorney can also let you know if there are other forms you need to file, as well as supporting documentation that you must provide.

How Much Does International Adoption Cost?   

International adoption can cost between $15,000 and $35,000, but the fees vary based on the country from which you’re adopting. Those fees often include agency fees, travel expenses and U.S. government fees for filing the right immigration paperwork.  

Is it Hard to Adopt a Child From Another Country?

It can be difficult to adopt a child from another country, but it can also be difficult to adopt a child in the U.S. It depends on what country your adoptive child is coming from, what issues your current family is facing, and the requirements imposed by your adoptive child’s home country.

Do You Want to Speak With a Family Law Attorney About International Adoption?  

If you’re considering international adoption – or if you want to adopt a child from within the United States – we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and help you start moving forward to grow your family.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-07-17T11:09:34-05:00August 25th, 2020|Family Law, Immigration Law|Comments Off on International Adoption FAQ

What is Adjustment of Status in the U.S.?

What is Adjustment of Status - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people from abroad who are living and working in the United States, you’d like to become a lawful permanent resident – and to do that, you need to file an adjustment of status petition. But what is an adjustment of status petition, who can use it, and how does it work? Here’s what you need to know.

What is an Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of status is the process people who are in the U.S. on a visa can use to become lawful permanent residents. You can only use this process while you’re present in the U.S., and it’s designed to help you get a green card, which signifies your lawful permanent resident status, without forcing you to return to your home country.

Are You Eligible for a Green Card?

Some types of visas don’t qualify you to adjust your status and get lawful permanent residency. For example, if you’re in the U.S. on a tourist visa, you can’t apply for residency based on that.

You can only apply for a green card if you’re in the U.S. in one of these immigration categories, and even then, you must still meet other requirements:

  • A relative or fiancé of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • A worker in the U.S. for the purpose of employment
  • Asylees and refugees
  • Human trafficking and crime victims
  • Victims of abuse
  • Special categories, such as a diplomat who is unable to return home or a person selected for a diversity visa
  • People who have resided continuously in the U.S. since before January 1, 1972  

Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About an Adjustment of Status Petition?

If you’re considering filing an adjustment of status petition, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to set up your consultation with an immigration attorney now. Carlos Gamino

By |2020-08-21T09:40:53-05:00August 18th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on What is Adjustment of Status in the U.S.?

Green Card FAQ

Green Card FAQ - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

If you’re like many people, you’d like to get a green card and become a lawful permanent resident, or LPR, of the United States. Whether you’re in the U.S. on a visa right now or you’re just beginning the process, this green card FAQ will answer all your questions – and if you don’t see the answers you need here, call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with a Wisconsin immigration lawyer.

Related: Immigrant visa information

Green Card FAQ

Check out the questions and answers below to get the information you need about becoming a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. and getting a green card.

What is a Green Card?

A green card, which is officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, allows you to live and work permanently in the United States. This immigration document shows that you’re authorized to travel anywhere in the U.S. for any lawful purpose, that you can work for any employer you wish to work for, and that you can live in any city in any state without restriction.

How Many Green Cards Are Issued Per Year?

During Fiscal Year 2019, U.S. Customs and Immigration Services issued just under 577,000 green cards. The number varies each year, but USCIS is working through its backlog of applications to reduce wait times for applicants.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

Typically, it takes between 7 and 36 months for USCIS to process a green card application. It depends on several factors, including where your application is processed. Some types of green cards take even longer – for example, it can take between 1 year and 10 years for USCIS to approve a family preference green card.

You can check your case status online here.

Can I Travel While Waiting for a Green Card?

You can travel inside the U.S. without restriction while you’re waiting for your green card. If you want to leave the United States, you’ll have to fill out and file a Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. Typically, if you’re waiting for your green card and you leave the U.S. without an advance parole document, the U.S. government can conclude that you’ve abandoned your application.

Related: Permanent residency in the U.S.

How Long Can You Stay Out of the Country With a Green Card?

If you have a green card, you can generally stay outside the U.S. for up to 6 months at a time. If you stay outside the U.S. for more than 6 months but less than a year, you’ll most likely face additional questioning when you return. If you stay outside the U.S. for a year or more, you’ll need a reentry permit – but you can’t apply for it when you’re outside the U.S. You must apply for it when you fill out and file Form I-131 before you leave the country.

How Long is the Green Card (I-485) Interview?

Your green card interview, which USCIS uses to determine whether to permit you to change your status and become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., should take less than 30 minutes to complete. Some interviews are very short, and others are a bit longer. Either way, the immigration officer assigned to your case will ask you a series of questions and let you know whether your petition is approved on the spot – unless he or she needs more information. In that case, you’ll be given time to provide additional evidence. You’ll receive USCIS’s decision by mail.

What Happens After the Interview for a Green Card?

In many cases, the USCIS officer who conducts the green card interview will approve the application on the spot. If that happens to you, the officer may put an I-551 stamp inside your passport and USCIS will mail you a green card. However, sometimes USCIS needs more information to make a decision. If that happens to you, you’ll have time to provide evidence; then, you’ll wait for USCIS’s decision to arrive in the mail.

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Immigration or These Green Card FAQ?

If you have questions about immigration that we haven’t answered here, please feel free to schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney by calling 414-383-6700.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-05-16T17:32:07-05:00June 15th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on Green Card FAQ

I-485 Interviews

I-485 Interviews - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

An I-485 interview is probably the last step you’ll need to take in the green card application process – and for many people, the interview results in a decision from U.S. Customs and Immigration Services. Here’s what you need to know about the I-485 Adjustment of Status interview.

What Happens During a Green Card Interview?

During your I-485 interview, the officer in charge of interviewing you will ask you questions about your application. If he or she needs clarification on something, you’ll be given a chance to explain. If you’re adjusting your status based on a marriage, your interviewer may ask you questions about the history of your relationship, what you do together as a married couple, and your future plans together. All these questions are USCIS’s way of determining whether you have a bona fide marriage.

Related: Adjustment of status

What Should I Bring to My I-485 Interview?

You should bring a complete copy of your adjustment of status application, including your Form I-485 and other forms you’ve submitted, to your green card interview. You should also bring:

  • Government-issued ID
  • Your appointment notice
  • Originals of any supporting documents you submitted to USCIS
  • Your passport and any travel documents you have (such as an advance parole document)
  • A letter from your employer if you’re applying based on employment
  • Your marriage certificate and evidence of your bona fide marriage (such as a lease or mortgage, joint bank account information, kids’ birth certificates and other types of evidence) if you’re applying based on marriage

Related: Family-sponsored visas

How Long Does an I-485 Interview Take?

Usually, an I-485 interview takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

What Questions Do They Ask in a Green Card Interview?

Many of the questions your interviewer will ask will be about your I-485 application, such as whether you’ve had any major changes since you filled it out. If you’re applying based on marriage, the interviewer will ask questions to establish that you have a bona fide relationship with your spouse. He or she might ask things like:

  • How, when and where did you meet?
  • Where did your spouse work when you met?
  • How much money does your spouse make?
  • When did you decide to marry, and how did you or your spouse propose?
  • Did you go on a honeymoon? Where?
  • How many bedrooms are in your home, and who sleeps in each?
  • What size bed do you and your spouse have
  • Who pays for your housing, and how?

The USCIS officer in charge of your case can ask a wide variety of questions to see if you and your spouse have a genuine relationship.

Do You Need to Talk to an Immigration Attorney About an I-485 Interview?

Many people choose to work with an immigration attorney during the entire green card application process. If you’re applying for a green card, we may be able to help you – whether you’re only considering filing or you’ve already started the process. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule a consultation with a Milwaukee immigration attorney today.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-05-16T18:17:49-05:00June 8th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on I-485 Interviews

What is a Public Charge?

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

What is a Public Charge - Carlos Gamino

In immigration, a public charge is someone who’s likely to – or who already has – used certain public benefits for 12 months out of any 36-month period. Being a so-called public charge can affect a person’s immigration application, whether he or she wants to become a lawful permanent resident or a naturalized citizen. Here’s what you need to know.

What is a Public Charge?

The U.S. government considers someone to be a public charge if that person uses one or more of the following benefits for 12 months out of any 36-month period:

  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Any federal, state, local or tribal cash benefit programs for income maintenance
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation)
  • Public Housing
  • Federally funded Medicaid (with some exclusions)

That means if you’re a lawful permanent resident who has used Temporary Assistance for Needy Families for more than 12 months out of any 36-month period, you’re considered a public charge.

Who is Exempt From the Public Charge Rule?

Some people are automatically exempt from being considered public charges. These people include:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Afghans and Iraqis with special immigrant visas
  • Some nonimmigrant trafficking and crime victims
  • People who apply under the Violence Against Women Act
  • Special immigrant juveniles
  • Others who have received a waiver of public charge inadmissibility from the Department of Homeland Security

Do You Need to Talk to a Lawyer About Lawful Permanent Resident Status or Adjustment of Status?

If you’re considering applying for a green card, or if you’re ready to apply to become a naturalized U.S. citizen – whether or not you’ve ever used public benefits – you may want to talk to an attorney about your case. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your consultation today. We can provide you with the answers and legal guidance you need.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-03-20T08:32:34-05:00April 11th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on What is a Public Charge?