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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?

New Public Charge Rule

By Attorney Carlos Gamino

New Public Charge Rule - Carlos Gamino

The Department of Homeland Security’s new Public Charge Rule may have an impact on your green card eligibility or your citizenship application. It’s most likely going to decrease the number of people who are eligible for green cards – so here’s what you need to know.

2020 Changes to the Public Charge Rule

The Public Charge Rule is officially being implemented after several lengthy court battles. (The U.S. Supreme Court stayed the final injunction on it in March 2020.)

A “public charge” is a person who receives certain types of public benefits. If USCIS feels that a person is likely to become a public charge, which means that person would (or did) use certain benefits for more than 12 months out of any 36-month period, it can reject a green card application or a citizenship application.

Under the previous rule, USCIS would look at an applicant’s Affidavit of Support and make a determination – but now, it can use other factors to weigh its decision. These are the factors an individual USCIS officer can look at to make an independent decision (and all officers may have different criteria):

  • Age
  • Health
  • Family status
  • Education and skills
  • Assets, resources and financial status
  • Expected period of admission

What Public Benefits Count Against the Public Charge Rule?

The benefits that count against the rule include:

  • 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)

Benefits that won’t count include Medicaid benefits received for emergency treatment or in connection with the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act.

Will the 2020 Changes to the Public Charge Rule Affect You?

If you think the changes to the Public Charge Rule will affect your case, you may want to talk to a Milwaukee immigration attorney. Call us at 414-383-6700 now to schedule a consultation about your case.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-03-20T09:06:18-05:00March 25th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on New Public Charge Rule

What is H-4 EAD Removal?

H-4 EAD Removal - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

Thousands of H-4 visa holders are living – and working – across Wisconsin. However, some H-4 dependent spouses are on the verge of losing work authorization in the U.S. Here’s what you need to know.

H-4 Employment Authorization

Some spouses of H-1B nonimmigrants qualify for employment authorization. This authorization allows the husband or wife of an H-1B visa holder to work anywhere, including as a self-employed businessperson, in the United States. But right now, that authorization hangs in the balance for many families.

The current presidential administration has been working overtime to roll back rules put in place during former President Obama. One of those rules provided H-4 visa holders the ability to work while residing in the U.S. The rule in question had been in place since 2015, and it allowed H-4 visa holders who were waiting for green cards to apply for an employment authorization document, or EAD. Two years later, the current administration unveiled its plan to discontinue these work permits – and it’s been battled in court since then.

Related: The challenges of legal immigration

Some companies, including Pepsi, American Airlines and Apple, are fighting to keep H-4 visa holders in the workforce. Their argument is that the highly skilled H-4 workers they employ will be forced to take their skills to other countries because they can’t work here. The consequences could be dire – especially in fields involving science, information technology, engineering and mathematics – where there are already significant shortages.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Your Immigration Status and EAD Removal?

If you’re married to an H-1B visa holder and you have H-4 status, you could still qualify for another type of business immigration if your EAD is removed. We may be able to help you find realistic alternatives, so call us at 414-383-6700 today or contact us online.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-02-16T12:51:04-06:00March 14th, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on What is H-4 EAD Removal?

The Asylum Process in the United States

The Asylum Process in the United States - Carlos Gamino

By Carlos Gamino

The U.S.’s asylum process can be complicated – and many people end up working with an attorney to ask for safe haven within the country. Asylum is only available to people who are being persecuted (or who are in danger of being persecuted) in their home countries, so here’s what you need to know if you’re considering it.

The Asylum Process in the United States

If you want to obtain asylum in the U.S., you must present yourself to immigration authorities and claim a credible fear of persecution based on:

  • Religion
  • Race
  • Nationality
  • Political opinion
  • Membership in a social group

You must have a valid fear or past experience with persecution in your home country. Otherwise, your petition for asylum will be denied.

Related: Proposed changes to the public charge rule in immigration

What is Persecution for Purposes of Asylum in the U.S.?

Persecution can fall into several categories, including discrimination, physical abuse, harassment, unjust arrest or imprisonment, or another type of harm. However, the U.S. will only grant you asylum if the persecution you experienced is due to one of the five factors listed above. The persecution can’t be from just anyone, either – it must come from your home country’s government or from forces that your government can’t control, like guerrilla groups.

Related: 3 current immigration myths, debunked

The Asylum Interview

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services will require you to come in for an interview if you’re asking for asylum in the United States. You’ll have to talk about all the facts you listed in your asylum application to prove that you have a credible, well-founded fear of persecution (or that you’ve been persecuted in the past). After your interview – but not on the same day – the U.S. government will make a decision about your application.

Are There Alternatives to Asylum?

If you’re outside the U.S., you won’t apply for asylum. Instead, you’ll ask for refugee status. You must meet the same criteria for persecution that you would to become an asylee.

Related: Asylum vs. refugee status

There are other alternatives, though. If you cannot prove a well-founded fear of persecution or show that you’ve been persecuted in the past (and that your persecution is likely to continue), there may be other ways for you to enter the United States lawfully.

If you’re considering immigrating to the U.S. for any reason, we may be able to help you. Call us at 414-383-6700 to schedule your immigration consultation today, or contact us online.

Carlos Gamino

By |2020-02-16T12:32:02-06:00March 2nd, 2020|Immigration Law|Comments Off on The Asylum Process in the United States