The Immigration process to get a green card (permanent residency) through marriage to a U.S. Citizen

Question: Can someone get a green card (permanent residency) if they entered the U.S. with a Tourist Visa and they marry a U.S. Citizen?

Answer: If someone is not barred from admissibility, the answer is generally yes. However, individual facts may come into play.

Question: If a marriage based application is filed, will the married couple be interviewed by Immigration (DHS)?

Answer: Yes. Marriage based green card (permanent residency) submitted applications require that the couple be interviewed to decide whether the marriage is bona fide (“real”)?

Question: If a marriage based application is filed and the couple live in New York City (NYC), where will the interview be scheduled?

Answer: If a marriage based application is filed and the couple live in New York City (NYC), the interview usually takes place at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY

Question: If Immigration approves the green card (permanent residency), what type of green card (permanent residency) will the applicant obtain from Immigration (DHS)?

Answer: If 2 years have not passed since the marriage at the time the green card (permanent residency) is approved, the applicant will obtain conditional permanent residency. This means that the green card status will expire in 2 years from the grant of the conditional permanent residency.

Question: What needs to be done to obtain the permanent green card in a marriage based application? In other words, how do you remove the conditions on permanent residency?

Answer: An application to remove conditions on residence (Form I-751) must be filed during the 90 days before the card expires. You cannot simply renew a conditional permanent resident (conditional green card) status.

Question: If I file an application to remove conditions on residence (Form I-751), will I be interviewed again by Immigration (DHS) at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY?

Answer: Whether Immigration (DHS) interviews you again can depend on many factors. These can include (but not limited to) how convincing your documents are as to whether your marriage remains viable and genuine.


Filing for Asylum in New York City (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan and the Bronx)

We all have heard a great deal about asylum lately through the news and other sources of media. All of this information can be very confusing. I started getting calls with people entirely confused and think that filing for asylum is not available any longer.

I’m going to list the most common questions I get and I will do my best to answer these questions.

1. Can you still file for asylum in New York if you entered with a Visa but are now out of status?

Yes. However, there may be individual facts which may vary your case, such as when you last entered the U.S.?

2. If you are not eligible for asylum, can you still seek protection from deportation/ removal in Immigration Court?

Presuming you are eligible for asylum (whether because of a particular criminal conviction or are time barred), you may still be eligible for other relief, which may stop your deportation/ removal.

3. How long does the process take?

This is very difficult to answer without knowing certain facts. There are some cases filed with USCIS that can be resolved favorable in less than 2 months and there may be some cases that can be on the court calendar for 3 years. So, these things usually depend on each individual case.

4. Can I get work authorization during this long wait?

Generally speaking, you qualify to get work authorization after the passage of certain days following the pendency of your asylum application. I’m hesitant to give the number of days because every case is unique and the clock to start there time may be triggered at different times for different cases.

Familiarize yourself with the law. Get the information from a proper source. Someone licensed to practice law and is in the business of immigration law.


Filing for Asylum under the Trump Administration

As you may have heard, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the Trump administration’s rule that prevents many Central American migrants from filing for asylum in the U.S. can continue. Is this an end to asylum for those people? Not necessarily. It just temporarily blocked a lower court’s ruling prohibiting Trump from doing that.

However, we can obviously infer from this that it will not get easier for certain asylum seekers. So, if you are a person seeking asylum protection and live in New York City (such as Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan or the Bronx), contact an experienced Immigration lawyer to discuss filing for asylum. Do not waste further time and wait for laws to possibly make it even more difficult. Be offensive and not defensive. This does not put an end to asylum seekers everywhere. Get the facts from an Immigration attorney that has nearly 20 years experience serving the New York City (such as Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan or the Bronx) area.


Immigration Court at 26 Federal Plaza, NYC (Manhattan)

President Trump has pledged to increase immigration enforcement.  What does this mean for the undocumented immigrant?  This likely means that you will have contact with ICE (Immigration DHS Agents).  When ICE makes contact, they will determine your custody status.  What does this  mean?  To put it simply, they will determine whether they will keep you locked up or release you.  They will need to determine whether you can be trusted to appear in Immigration Court (Executive Office for Immigration Review – EOIR).  Dont take any comfort in assuming that they will make a rational and reasonable decision in making a custody determination.  Most of their decisions lack a common sense approach.  All too often, I have clients with criminal records released by DHS and clients with no criminal record and strong ties to the U.S. (U.S .Citizen children, long length employment, etc) held without bond.  The moral of this blog?

  1. DONT ASSUME YOU WILL NOT HAVE ANY CONTACT WITH IMMIGRATION OFFICIALS. DONT ASSUME BECAUSE YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE U.S. FOR AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF TIME, THEY ILL NOT GET TO YOU.
  2. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR FREEDOM IN THE HANDS OF AN AGENCY THAT ALL TOO OFTEN MAKES THE WRONG DECISION.

Immigration laws are very complicated.  DHS uses these laws to deport people.  You can use them to obtain permanent residency.  Be proactive, not defensive.  Take the initiative and legalize your status.  The first step is to contact an experienced Immigration lawyer attorney.


Immigration ICE arrests in NYC (Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx, Manhattan, Staten Island)

Is Immigration ICE after you or a loved one? What are your rights?

Let’s remember one thing about our beautiful country and the United States Constitution. Yes, it is this constitution that the President swears to uphold. Is also the same constitution for which our brave soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice.

I will answer just a few questions that many people ask me.

1. Do you have to open the door when immigration agents knock?

The answer is no. You can ask whether they have a warrant, whether a search or arrest warrant. If they claim they do have an arrest warrant, you may ask them to slip it under the door.

2. Do you have to answer questions?

You should not answer any questions or provide any statement. Obviously, we must be respectful with these agents. However that does not mean we have to acquiesce to everything they want. Tell them that you wish to speak with an attorney.

3. Can immigration come to your workplace?

Usually for agents to come to a workplace, they must be invited by the employer or allowed to enter.

Remember, we are in nation of laws. Immigration agents use these laws to enforce immigration laws and at times use them to deport people. However, never forget that these same laws can be used to your benefit as well in order to obtain legal status and/or fight deportation.


Anti-Immigration Hatred & Immigration Enforcement

By now, everyone has likely heard about the investigation of a hate hate crime in El Paso, Texas where someone allegedly killed over 20 people. Investigators claim that right before the shooting, the alleged shooter posted an anti- Immigration article that blamed Immigration for taking away jobs in the U.S.

Is there any rational basis for the belief that undocumented individuals take away jobs? How does someone obtain work authorization (employment authorization)?

The fact is that most of the jobs performed by undocumented immigrants are jobs the general American public would likely not accept anyway. Another observation is that undocumented immigrants do not comprise the bulk of public assistance recipients, presuming they are even eligible to receive such benefits.

As far as immigrants that have work authorization is concerned, the issue is similar. I will never be convinced that they threaten American jobs. Here’s what I’m struggling with… You mean to tell me an American should be threatened by an immigrant with work authorization who is new to the work force? Well, if that’s the case, so be it … If someone who newly entered the workforce can edge out an American, then that’s just fine in a capitalist economy. It’s about competition. Competition is and always will be great for business. I’ll have zero sympathy for the American who should have had the advantage over a newcomer. It appears to be reminiscent of how children behave. They don’t want something until someone else has it. It’s not convincing at all.

Let’s get back to the following question. How do I obtain work authorization (employment authorization) in NYC (for example)? For the most part, to obtain employment authorization or work authorization, you must have an underlying application. It is usually provided during the pendency of a permanent residence (green card) application or asylum. It is issued before the green card application or asylum application is decided because those applications cab take some time to be approved or decided.


Immigration Enforcement

I’m sure by now, many have heard widespread news coverage of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement efforts. There have been immigration raids throughout many cities.

If Immigration agents (Immigration Customs Enforcement) (DHS) show up at your door, what can you do?

Will you be “deported”?

What happens when Immigration takes away a loved one?

Many of these questions are often asked.

As with anything else, preparedness is essential and can make a world of a difference. Don’t assume it won’t happen to you. You know what they say, the best defense is a great offense. But, what does that mean in terms of someone who has no immigration status. What can they actually do to help them before an immigration agent even knocks on their door.

There are actually many steps that a client can take in advance.

To begin with, don’t assume it won’t happen to you. That type of comfort is quite foolish.

Be prepared…..How?

To begin with educate yourself on immigration law and avenues of relief (meaning what are you eligible to file to obtain immigration status). How do you do that? Well, although the internet is a great resource, it can also cause great confusion. I can tell you from personal experience, this should never be the primary source of information. There have been many times when I was inflicted with health issues and after researching the internet for similar symptoms, I almost always diagnosed myself with some form of terminal illness. I’m exaggerating a bit of course, but I will hold steadfast to my feelings about the internet. Get your information from a licensed and experienced immigration lawyer serving the jurisdiction where you reside, whether it’s looking for an experienced immigration lawyer in Brooklyn, New York City (NYC), or elsewhere. The interpretation of laws may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.

Another important way to prepare yourself is to make sure you are ready for the questioning by federal immigration agents. You never want to be in a position where you lie or are dishonest. Lying to federal agents is a big NO NO.. So, speak with an experienced immigration attorney about your unique factual background to prepare yourself.

Of course, there are many other ways to get ahead and minimize any adverse or bad immigration consequences. However, every case is unique, so speak to an immigration counselor in Brooklyn, NYC or your jurisdiction.

Remember, we are a nation of laws. Know the law… And use it to your advantage.


Immigration Application Case Denied! What’s next?

So you received a denial from DHS/USCIS/Immigration of your application for a visa, greencard, removal of conditions on greencard (I-751; Application on a marriage based case after receiving your 2 year greencard), naturalization/citizenship? What’s next for you? Well, if this question was asked to me a few years ago, I would have likely been comfortable stating that immigration (deportation) enforcement does not directly and/or automatically follow a denial. However, a lot has changed with the Trump administration and it’s immigration policies, particularly it’s immigration enforcement policies. I have seen a tremendous increase in immigration enforcement (immigration arrests/detention/deportation) as a result of the denial of an immigration application case filed with DHS/USCIS/Immigration. It appears now that in many cases, when an immigration application case is denied, the file is sent to immigration enforcement officers, also sometimes known as ICE (Immigration Customs Enforcement). So, I have found that it is at least more prudent, if not absolutely necessary that you contact an immigration attorney after receiving an immigration application case denial. There may be actions available through an experienced immigration attorney which may minimize the chance that your case is sent to immigration enforcement after a denial. It is always advisable to be proactive (meaning don’t wait for something negative to happen to you before speaking to an experienced immigration attorney). Many times there may be options available which may overcome the denial, such as an appeal, motion to reopen and many other avenues. What you never want to do these days is ignore the denial and hope that immigration doesn’t come knocking on your door. At a minimum, take the time out to get concrete information pertaining to your particular case (even after a denial). This may be the difference between you being taken into custody/arrested by immigration and continuing to live with your family.


Immigration Consequences of a Criminal Arrest/Conviction

In today’s climate, immigration enforcement of individuals with criminal convictions is at an all time high. Whether you live in New York City (Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx, Manhattan or Queens) or New Jersey, you will see stepped up immigration enforcement. Take no comfort in the fact that immigration (DHS) has not reached out to you for a convictions perhaps 20 years old. All too often, we have clients who enter and or appear at JFK airport where DHS/Immigration discovers/finds a criminal conviction from many years ago. People are often puzzled as to why immigration officials make an issue of this now despite countless travels in and out of the country. As such, if you have a criminal conviction, we strongly recommend that you immediately contact an immigration attorney serving New York City (Brooklyn, Staten Island, Bronx, Manhattan or Queens) and New Jersey. You must be proactive and not wait for immigration to appear at your door. If you do nothing and they come to you, you may possibly be taken into custody and stay in detention. Some detainees may have to stay in custody without bond and wait for an immigration judge to take on your case. Be ready. Be diligent. Contact an experienced immigration attorney.


Asylum Transferred to Immigration Court

You filed a case for asylum and you appeared for your asylum interview. Although you seemed optimistic about the results, when you picked up your decision, you found out that your case was transferred to immigration court. When a case is transferred to immigration court, a person receives a Notice to Appear (NTA). DHS will issue a Notice to Appear and if you live within the jurisdiction of the New York City Immigration Court, you will be commanded to appear at the Immigration Court located at 26 Federal Plaza, New York, NY. If you live within the jurisdiction at the Newark Immigration Court, you will be commanded to appear at the Immigration Court located at 970 Broad Street, Newark, NJ. Statistics show that the majority of cases heard by the asylum office in Bethpage, NY or at the asylum office at Lyndhurst, NJ, are transferred to the immigration court. You will have an opportunity to present your asylum case in front of an immigration judge in New York City or an immigration judge in Newark, NJ (if you live within those courts’ jurisdictions). Unlike your experience at the asylum office in the Department of Homeland Security, your experience in immigration court will be entirely different. In the immigration court, immigration court rules will apply. You should find experienced and competent representation through an experienced immigration lawyer serving New York City and/or an immigration lawyer serving Newark, NJ. The decisions you make very early on after receipt of the Notice to Appear will likely be one of the most important decisions in your life. Despite what you have heard out there and despite what you may have heard about the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement, our immigration courts will provide you with a fair opportunity to present your case. Although hiring an experienced immigration lawyer includes financial costs, consider these costs an investment in your future. Make no mistake about it, if proper decisions are not made early on, fixing any mistakes (presuming they are even fixable) will be a lot more costly