Service Category: Immigration for Individuals and Families

Citizenship Through Naturalization

Naturalization is the process of becoming a citizen if you are an immigrant or other non-citizen who is over the age of 18. This process gives you certain rights and responsibilities in the United States, but it can be complicated. The immigration lawyers at Poarch Thompson Law seek to make naturalization as straightforward as possible. We guide you through the process and can answer your questions.

Naturalization vs. Green Card 

Having a green card, which means you are a permanent resident, is different from being a naturalized citizen. You will need to have a green card in order to become naturalized.

While having a green card is called “permanent” residency, it is not always permanent. You may still be deported with a green card if you break the conditions of the visa on which you gain your green card, committing crimes, or miss deadlines, among other issues.

You may also not be eligible for federal benefits and other rights you would have as a naturalized citizen. Naturalization puts an end to the green card process. When you complete naturalization, you have the same rights as natural-born U.S. citizens.

Why Become Naturalized? What are the benefits of Naturalization?

If you become a U.S. citizen through naturalization, you gain several benefits:

  • You cannot be deported or removed from the United States
  • You can gain federal benefits only citizens have access to
  • You travel with a U.S. passport, among the most powerful in the world
  • You can sponsor your family members to become citizens
  • Your minor children automatically become U.S. citizens, even if they are not residing in the U.S.
  • You can be hired by the U.S. government
  • You can vote in U.S. elections
  • You can run for elected office
  • The immigration process is over—no more paperwork!

Who is eligible for Naturalization?

There are several standards you must meet to be eligible for naturalization, including:

  • You must be 18 years old
  • You must be a permanent resident of the United States for at least three or five years (depending on how you obtained your residency)
  • You must not have left the country for 30 months or more in the last three years (exceptions apply)
  • You can read, write, and speak basic English (exceptions apply)
  • You know the basics of U.S. history and government (exceptions apply)
  • You can demonstrate good moral character
  • You are willing to perform military service if required by law (exceptions apply)
  • You will support the U.S. Constitution and take an oath of allegiance to the United States

If you meet all criteria except you have only been a permanent resident for three years, you may be eligible for naturalization as long as you have been married to a U.S. citizen and living with them for those three years. Plus, you must not have left the United States for trips of six months or longer for those three years.

Naturalization eligibility is very complicated. There are other issues, including Selective Service, that you need to look into. It is best to confirm your eligibility with an immigration attorney.

Do I need a Lawyer to apply for U.S. Citizenship?

You do not require a lawyer; however, it is extremely beneficial to have a lawyer, especially to help determine that you are eligible and to deal with any unexpected roadblocks you may face.

How long does it take to get U.S. Citizenship?

On average, we expect the naturalization process to take ten months, from the moment you submit your N-400 form. However, it can take longer.

How many people apply for U.S. Citizenship per year?

Roughly, half a million people are granted U.S. citizenship per year, but more apply.

Can I travel outside the USA while waiting for Citizenship?

You may, but you should plan carefully when you do. If your travel pushes you over the limits for travel (as explained in the eligibility requirements), you may no longer be eligible for naturalization.

The basics of Dual Nationality

It is possible to keep your original citizenship when you gain U.S. citizenship; however, this is a complicated matter. Your home country may cancel your citizenship if you become a U.S. citizen. Holding dual citizenship also comes with drawbacks. It is wise to seek the counsel of an immigration lawyer to determine if dual nationality is right for you.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

The experienced immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law have helped many people complete naturalization. We can guide you through the whole process, starting with determining your eligibility, all the way through to your certificate of naturalization. Making an error at this point in the immigration process can be damaging, so it’s best to have professional guidance to secure your future. Reach out to us today.

Adjustment of Status

An adjustment of status, or form I-485, allows those in the United States on specific visas to get a “green card” or become a lawful permanent resident, without returning to their home country. Essentially, an adjustment of status changes your status from your current visa to a green card.

Understanding the eligibility requirements for an adjustment of status and completing the process can be confusing, even if you have a native citizen to help guide you. Our immigration attorneys can answer your questions about adjustments of status and give you the highest chance of success.

Eligibility for an adjustment of status

In order to be eligible for an adjustment of status, you must meet several criteria, including:

  • You must be currently in the United States and not abroad
  • You must have arrived in the United States as a non-immigrant
  • You must meet one of the categories listed in the next section

There are also several things that you must not have done in order to remain eligible for an adjustment of status. For example, you must not have committed certain crimes or entered as a non-immigrant crewman. Those are just two examples of many. Contact Poarch Thompson Law today to make sure you are eligible for an adjustment of status. 

What types of green card applicants can use the adjustment of status procedure?

There are several types of green card applicants who can use the adjustment of status procedure.

  • Family members of U.S. citizens who have an approved form I-130 or petition for an Alien Relative
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens who had a K-1 visa to enter the United States and then used an approved form I-129F after their marriage
  • Employees of U.S. companies who have an approved form I-140 or an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
  • Those with asylum or refugee status who have lived in the United States for a year
  • Those who have a Diversity visa, who won a visa in the Green Card Lottery
  • Registry applicants or those who have lived in the United States since before January 1, 1972 (and who have never lived elsewhere)

If you fall out of status for your work petition, you may no longer be eligible for an adjustment of status. If you did not marry or were divorced from your sponsoring spouse, you are not eligible for an adjustment of status.

An immigration attorney can help you determine if you are eligible to get an adjustment of status or what paperwork you and your children need to file in order to do so.

How much is the adjustment of status fee?

Currently, the fees for this process are:

  • $1,140 filing fee
  • $85 biometrics fee
  • An additional fee if you have a disqualifying condition and need a waiver

Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing

If you are not currently in the United States, you are not eligible for an adjustment of status. Instead, you may become a lawful permanent resident or get a green card through a procedure called consular processing. You may have better odds if you try one process over the other. It is best to speak with an immigration attorney to determine which is the best course of action for you.

Useful links for adjustment of status

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Poarch Thompson Law can help with every step of the process as you seek an adjustment of status. We can ensure you complete every form correctly and lawfully to ensure that you have the best chance of having your adjustment of status approved. Reach out to us today.

EB-5 Visas (Investment Green Cards)

EB-5 Visas

There are many requirements for this visa, both in eligibility and in the type and amount of investment you make. At Poarch Thompson Law, we can advise you to help you meet these criteria, tell you about programs that can reduce the amount you need to invest, and help you through the EB-5 investment visa process.

Who is eligible?

In order to be eligible for the EB-5 investment visa, you must generally:

  • Invest the minimum amount of one million dollars (there are exceptions)
  • Make the investment in a new business enterprise or an existing business that meets certain requirements
  • Create ten full-time jobs
  • Be able to prove you got the investment funds through legitimate means

Once I have an EB-5 Green Card, how do I file for Removal of Conditions?

If you were given a conditional green card as an EB-5 applicant, you must file to remove the conditions before the two-year deadline. USCIS will want to ensure that you have continued to fulfill your business obligations in the ensuing two years. If you successfully remove the conditions, you are granted the ten-year green card and can pursue naturalization if you wish. You will need an attorney to assist with this complex filing. 

Immigration Consequences of Criminal Charges

Immigration Consequences for Criminal Charges

If you face criminal charges, will your immigration status be affected? You may face harsh immigration consequences, especially if your case is handled by your criminal attorney without regard for immigration effects. USCIS always conducts a criminal record check. As the crossover between immigration and criminal records is one of the most complex areas of the law, this is not something you want to face alone. Work with immigration attorneys to best protect your immigration status from criminal charges.

How do Criminal Convictions Impact Immigration Status?

Two main ways of getting a criminal conviction may impact your immigration status:

  • Inadmissibility: You will not be able to get or renew certain visas after receiving a criminal conviction.
  • Removability: After gaining a criminal record, you may be removed from the country, or deported.

They way your immigration changes due to your criminal record will depend on the type of crime, your specific visa, and how your criminal defense lawyer proceeds.

What is the difference between Criminal Law and Immigration Law?

In order to understand how criminal charges affect immigration, you first have to understand that immigration law is federal only. Criminal law is both state and federal. This means that there may be a significant difference between what your state’s law enforcement agencies think is a crime and what USCIS thinks is a crime. USCIS even defines a conviction differently than state or federal criminal law.

Early analysis of Criminal Charges and Records

Early analysis, preferably prior to a plea or admission of guilt, is critical to avoiding immigration consequences of criminal activity. Immigration consequences of criminal activity changes every day as courts make new law. Every detail matters. Seek the counsel of an immigration attorney to discover how USCIS will treat your crime. Even a seemingly minor criminal offense may result in numerous immigration problems, based on the intricate interplay of criminal law and immigration law. Petty crimes may not be petty for immigration.

Immigration after Conviction

Committed a crime in your home country? It depends on the nature of the crime. Many actions may be considered a crime in your home country, which are not considered crimes in the United States. Again, it is best to speak to an immigration attorney about these crimes. 

How can Poarch Thompson Law help? 

Poarch Thompson Law can help you minimize the impact of criminal charges on your immigration status. From the moment you are arrested, reach out to us. Criminal lawyers are useful, but they are less likely to understand how these charges will affect your immigration status. At Poarch Thompson Law, we know how these charges can affect you.

If you contact us early on, we can help you plead to lesser charges or help predict how USCIS will handle your case. Do not plead guilty to a crime until you have spoken to a lawyer. Always seek our legal counsel before you meet with immigration officials about any crimes you may have committed. Reach out to us today.

Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers

Usually, living unlawfully in the United States prohibits you from gaining permanent residence status. However, applying for the provisional immigration waiver of unlawful presence may make you eligible again. This may be a stressful process for you, but the potential for a green card is worth the risks. Poarch Thompson Law seeks to make this process as simple to understand as possible for our clients. Here are answers to the common questions our clients ask about provisional unlawful presence waivers.

Risks to Applying for Provisional Unlawful Presence

Immigration provisional waivers are not without their risks, but an experienced immigration attorney can help you prepare the best case possible.

In general, we recommend that you do not apply for a provisional waiver if you have multiple grounds of inadmissibility or if you can’t prove “extreme hardship.”

Request for Evidence and Notice of Intent to Deny

Request for Evidence (RFE) and Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)

After you submit a petition or application to USCIS, they may respond in a number of ways. Sometimes, they use requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID) to alert you to problems with your application or petition. Both of these hurdles can be successfully overcome, especially with the help of an experienced immigration attorney. Allow us to answer your most common questions about requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID).

What is a Request for Evidence (RFE)?

A request for evidence is USCIS’s notice that your petition is missing evidence that they need to decide your petition or application. The RFE will tell you what evidence or kind of evidence is missing. You must respond timely to these requests. RFEs are increasingly common in any and every type of filing from employment-based non-immigrant visa filings to U Visa or special immigrant status filings. 

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

A notice of intent to deny informs you of defects that are serious enough that USCIS is considering denying your petition or application. It also requires a timely response and may result in denial if the applicant or petitioner cannot adequately address the issues set forth in the NOID.

How an RFE differs from a NOID

While a request for evidence tells you that the USCIS cannot evaluate your petition or application in its current form, a NOID is more serious and tells you that USCIS can deny your petition or application in its current form. Usually, this means that you don’t meet the criteria for the visa, green card, or adjustment of status for which you applied. Most importantly, the timeline for responding is different. A NOID usually only permits 33 days for a response, while an RFE usually permits approximately 87 days. The deadline for response will be stated clearly on the RFE or NOID.

New policies surrounding RFEs and NOIDs

New policy has been implemented which grants USCIS the ability to simply deny any petition or application that is missing substantial information or that, in its current form, does not meet the standard of proof necessary for the visa type. While prior to September 1, 2018, USCIS would have issued either an RFE or NOID to these applicants, your request may now be denied outright. This can have serious consequences and as a result, requires competent, legally sufficient filings initially.

What to do if you received an RFE or a NOID

Contact a competent immigration attorney immediately. Do not respond partially to the RFE or noiD before speaking with an immigration attorney. Once USCIS receives a partial response or partial evidence, they may issue a denial based on the limited evidence they received. Many RFEs or NOIDs can be overcome with the assistance of competent counsel, but not all. The earlier you are able to receive good legal advice on whether or how to respond, the more likely you are to prevail with USCIS.

Failure to respond to an RFE or NOID

If you do not respond before the deadline, or if you respond inadequately to USCIS’ request, your application or petition will be denied.

Denials after RFE and NOID

In certain circumstances, you can appeal a denial, although not all denied petitions permit appeal. Sometimes, you may move to reopen the case for adjudicator error or have USCIS reconsider your petition in light of new evidence or law. Sometimes, the only option is to apply for a new visa type.

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Requests for evidence (RFE) and notices of intent to deny (NOID) may be stressful. Even if you’ve done your best to determine your eligibility and send the proof USCIS requests, you may make simple errors that have unfortunate consequences. Call us today. 

Special Immigrant Juveniles

Immigrant children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned can apply for special immigrant juvenile status. If you are granted this status, you may become a permanent resident or receive a green card.

This process is very time-sensitive but highly beneficial for the at-risk child. A state court must first determine the child was abused, neglected, or suffered similar circumstances and that it would not be in their best interests to return to their home country. Then, the child must start the application process before the age of 18. 

As this process involves both state and federal law and because a child’s well-being is on the line, it is best that an immigration attorney licensed in the child’s represents a child.

Benefits and disadvantages of the Special Immigrant Juveniles Program

There are many benefits to the special immigrant juveniles program. A child who receives this designation is eligible for federal assistance programs, which can relocate them and care for their basic needs.

Also, the program eligibility requirements are lower than many other forms of visas because it is intended to help abused children. The child need not have arrived in the U.S. legally, nor must they prove they can support themselves.

On the other hand, unlike other visa options, special immigrant juveniles can never petition for their biological family members. 

Who is eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

In order to be eligible for the special immigrant juvenile program, the child must:

  • Be under the age of 18 when filing form I-360
  • Be in the U.S. when filing form I-360
  • Not be married

Further, a state court order must be in effect when filing form I-360, which proves:

  • You are a dependent of the court, state agency, or department.
  • You cannot be reunited with your parent due to abuse, abandonment, neglect, or similar circumstances.
  • It is not in your best interests to return to your country of origin.

Grounds for inadmissibility as a Special Immigrant Juvenile

Children who are eligible to become a special immigrant juvenile may still be inadmissible to get a green card or permanent residency on the basis of:

  • A mental or physical disorder, which makes them a risk to people or property
  • Are a prostitute or pimp
  • Are a drug abuser or drug addict
  • Are an alien smuggler (human trafficker)

Even if a child is inadmissible, an attorney may be able to get their inadmissibility waived, based on their circumstances.

What if my child is in Removal Proceedings?

Removal proceedings do not make your child ineligible for the special immigrant juvenile process. In fact, most special immigrant juvenile proceedings are begun when a child is in removal (or deportation) proceedings.

How long does the process take?

Special immigrant juvenile cases are a high priority but involve several steps. The state court process may take six months to a year. USCIS should take an additional six months to make a decision about the child’s case. Most importantly, the country the child is from will determine how long the wait will be since there are a limited number of visas per year per country. This retrogressed priority date can delay SIJS cases by many years. 

How to apply for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

The process for applying for special immigrant status includes:

  • Petitioning a juvenile court for a court order that proves your eligibility for the special immigrant juvenile
  • Submitting form I-360 Petition for a Special Immigrant to USCIS
  • Waiting for your Notice of Action from the USCIS
  • After you receive approval, petitioning for adjustment of status
  • Attending a biometrics appointment (your photo and fingerprints will be taken)
  • When requested by USCIS, submit form I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
  • Waiting for a decision about your adjustment of status and receiving a green card

You will never be asked to contact the person who abused or neglected you during this process. However, the process is complicated, and USCIS may request more evidence of you. As you cannot appeal the decision (but can ask for it to be reopened or reconsidered), it is wise to have an immigration attorney to guide you and avoid denial.

What to submit

When you file your form I-360, you will need a variety of supporting documents, including:

  • Evidence of your age, which can include:
    • Birth certificate
    • Passport
    • Official ID card issued by a foreign government
    • Other documents are acceptable, refer to your attorney
  • Valid juvenile court orders, which establish you are eligible
  • If you are in the custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, written consent from them
  • If you have a lawyer representing you, form G-28 Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative

Must non-abusive parents go to Court?

If you are the parent of a child applying for special non-immigrant status, even the non-abusive parent, you may be required to attend various court dates. Most commonly, you are required to attend a pre-trial hearing and a full hearing.

Can I get a Green Card if my child is granted Special Immigrant Juvenile Status?

No. Special immigrant juveniles may never sponsor their parents to become a permanent resident, even the non-abusive parent. The child is considered an orphan by law.

Employment authorization of Special Immigrant Juveniles

Those with special immigrant juvenile status may be granted employment authorization to work in the United States. However, the timing of when one can apply and obtain employment authorization can be extremely complex and lengthy. Contact Poarch Thompson Law today to help you navigate the nuances of SIJS. 

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Abused children are among the most vulnerable people and need the assistance of an attorney to get the justice and protection they need. The special immigrant juvenile process may, or may not, be in a child’s best interests. Whichever immigration method is best, Poarch Thompson Law can help the child through the process and give them the best chance of securing a future in the United States.

U Visas (Victims of Crimes)

U Non-Immigrant Visas Status or U Visas

U non-immigrant visa status, or U Visa, is available for victims of certain crimes who assist law enforcement investigate or prosecute the offenders. This visa was created to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, trafficking, and other crimes. At Poarch Thompson Law, our experienced immigration attorneys have assisted victims of crimes secure to U visas and relieve their concerns about the process. Here are some answers to the most common questions about victim visas.

U Visa Eligibility

In order to be eligible for a victim visa, you must meet the following conditions:

  • You are the victim of an eligible criminal activity (more on this below)
  • The crime that victimized you, occurred in America or violated U.S. law
  • You suffered substantial physical or mental harm or abuse due to the criminal activity
  • You were helpful to law enforcement, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful while law enforcement investigates or prosecutes this crime

U Visa processing time

Victim visas have very long processing times, even if you have already taken the step of speaking with the police and getting a signed I-918 Supplemental Form. Current processing times vary greatly and newly filed applications are estimated to take approximately ten years or more for the final approval. 

If I did not prosecute the Offender, can I still qualify for a U Visa?

Yes, you can still get a victim visa if you did not prosecute the offender of the crime you suffered, so long as your cooperation with the police aided their investigation.

U Visa Caps

The U non-immigrant status (U visa) wait period is very long because there is a cap on the number of visas given each year. There are only 10,000 visas available annually, and many more people apply for these visas each year.

Can I get Work Authorization on a U Visa?

You cannot qualify for a work authorization card based on your u visa until you receive deferred action. This may take many years to receive. 

Filing for qualifying Family Members

Your family members may qualify to apply for a U visa as well based on your victimization. Those who qualify will depend on your relationship to them and their age. 

If you are under the age of 21, then your parents, unmarried siblings under the age of 21, your children, and your spouse may also apply. If you are over the age of 21, your spouse and children may apply.

U Visa Extensions

U Non-immigrant status (U visa) is actually valid for four years. Once you apply for a green card based on your U non-immigrant Status, you are automatically granted an extension of your status. If your status is about to expire, you must apply to extend the status before it expires. Circumstances that may allow you to extend stats include but are not limited to: 

  • Law enforcement requests your visa be extended to help investigate or prosecute crime
  • You have faced delays in consular processing
  • You have faced exceptional circumstances
  • USCIS made an error on your processing times

An immigration lawyer can help you make the best argument as to why your status should be extended.

Can I leave the U.S. with a U Visa pending?

Generally, our office recommends U visa applicants do not depart the United States until permanent residency is approved. While you can apply for a victim visa from outside of the U.S. through consular processing, if you already have an application pending, then you have a high risk of not being able to reenter the United States. There’s always the chance that you are not allowed back into the U.S. or miss important communications or appointments with USCIS. Many factors need to be evaluated to assess whether you may leave the United States. You should speak with your immigration attorney to assess the risk you take by leaving the United States. Do not depart the United States or make plans to depart before speaking to your immigration attorney. 

Applying for a Green Card

After you have had your U visa for three years, you may be able to apply for a green card. Any family members on your U visa may also need to apply at this time.


An alternative to U non-immigrant status is a VAWA self-petitioner application. This status is based on the Violence Against Women Act. If you were abused by a US citizen or lawful permanent relative you may qualify for this form of relief.  You can do this without notifying the person who abused you.

VAWA, T Visa, and U Visa compared

T visas are for human trafficking visas and may be another alternative for you were trafficked in the United States. Which of these three options should you choose if you qualify for more than one? It’s complicated and depends on your circumstances. You will want to pick the application that gives you the strongest case, with the shortest wait time. Your family members, inadmissibility and ability to collect proof will help an experienced immigration attorney assist you to select your best options. 

Resources for victims of Human Trafficking & other Crimes

USCIS has resources for you if you’ve been a victim of a crime. 

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

At Poarch Thompson Law, we care deeply about victims of criminal activity and can advise you on the best way for you to get a visa and other support you need. If you are considering one of these visas, reach out to us today. We can help you through the entire process, and ensure you are aware of all potential options of relief. 

Marriage-Based Green Cards

Marriage-based green cards, or permanent resident status based on a marriage to a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident, are often straight forward and relatively quick to obtain. However, these green cards are not guaranteed. You and your sponsoring spouse must prove that your relationship is legitimate or bona fide. An immigration attorney can help you ensure that you have the proof you need and guide you through the whole process. Here are the answers to the most common questions about marriage-based green cards.

Steps to get a Marriage-Based Green Card

When seeking a green card through your marriage, you’ll need to follow these steps:

1. Establish the Marriage relationship

Your sponsoring spouse submits form I-130 to start the process and establish your relationship.

2. Establish Spouse eligibility

Based on the I-130 form, the government will seek to determine if the alien is eligible to receive sponsorship from the U.S. citizen. If the alien spouse is living in the United States, the sponsoring spouse files form I-485 when they submit the I-130 form in the first step. This concurrent filing usually shortens the process to six to twelve months.

If the alien spouse is living in their home country, the sponsoring spouse files an application package with the National Visa Center. The NVC will schedule an interview

3. Green Card Interview and wait

Whether in the U.S. or in the home country, the alien spouse will need to attend an interview. The sponsoring spouse is sometimes also asked to attend the interview if it is being held in the United States. Bring all of your proof to the interview and expect to be asked personal questions about your relationship.

4. Removing the Conditions

If granted a conditional status card based on the length of your marriage, you can remove the conditions in two years by filing form I-175. You have a 90-day window before the two-year anniversary of the green card to file for the removal of conditions, so don’t forget.

What happens if we Divorce?

If you and your sponsoring spouse divorce before you are granted conditional permanent residency, then you may no longer immigrate. There are exceptions and help for abused spouses and those in forced marriages. If you divorce while under conditional permanent residency, you can file to get a “good faith marriage waiver” and remain in the United States. If you are divorced after gaining permanent residency without conditions, you may remain in the United States.

Your options if you’re living in the U.S. and married to a U.S. Permanent Resident

If you are in the United States legally on a non-immigrant visa, you can file to adjust your status to K-3 visa or marriage visa.

Can an illegal Immigrant get a Green Card based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen?

No, not unless the illegal immigrant is willing to leave the United States. You cannot apply while illegally in the United States. However, leaving may also void your eligibility for future visas depending on your circumstances. This is a complex situation, and you need the guidance of an immigration attorney.

Risks of entering the U.S. as a Tourist, then applying for Marriage-Based Green Card – The new 90-Day Rule and Adjusting Status

 If you enter the US as a tourist, then apply for a marriage-based green card, you must be very careful regarding the time of your entry the timing of your marriage. 

A general guideline is that USCIS is less suspicious of your decision if you were married and applied to change your status 90 days after your initial arrival. You will need an immigration attorney’s guidance to make the best argument in your favor regardless of your timeline.

Another option: K-1 Visa to Green Card

There is another option. Before you are married, your loved one can get a fiancé(e) visa in order to come to the United States, at which point you have 90 days to marry. They can then apply for a green card.

K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa or Marriage Visa: Which is better for me?

This is a complicated choice. It’s best to refer to an immigration attorney to discuss your options.

Is the Green Card guaranteed if I marry a U.S. Citizen?

No, a green card is not guaranteed. A marriage-based green card may be denied if the immigration authorities do not believe your marriage is bona fide.

What’s a valid, bona fide Marriage for Immigration purposes?

For immigration purposes, your marriage is bona fide if you intend to spend your lives together. If you are only getting married for a green card, your marriage is not legitimate, and you may face consequences.

Proof for a Marriage-Based Green Card

There are several kinds of proof you will need, or that will benefit you as you attempt to prove your marriage is bona fide, including:

  • Proof that you combine your finances
  • Proof that you live together
  • Proof that you have children together, are pregnant, or on fertility medications
  • Photos, emails, and messaging logs
  • Travel itineraries of visits and vacations

There are many forms of proof, speak to your immigration lawyer for more advice.

Talk to Poarch Thompson Law today

When seeking a green card through marriage, it is best to reach out to an immigration lawyer. At Poarch Thompson Law, we’re experienced in all green card matters and love to help families reunite in the United States. We can guide you through the whole process, to give your alien spouse the best chance of obtaining a marriage-based green card.

Removal of Conditions on Permanent Residence

Removal of Conditions 

Your marriage-based green card may be “conditional” if, at the time you file your initial marriage-based application, you have been married less than two years. The experienced immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law can help with every part of removal of conditions.

Why are some marriage-based green cards conditional? 

Conditional green cards based on marriage resulted from marriage fraud amendments to immigration law in the 1990s. Conditional green cards are USCIS’ way of re-examining your marriage to ensure it has been entered into in good faith.

Can I renew a conditional green card?

You cannot renew a conditional green card at all. You must remove the conditions before its expiration date, but not more than 90 days before the expiration date. 

How to remove conditions from conditional permanent residency? 

In order to remove conditions from your green card, you and your spouse must file a joint petition. You may file 90 days before the two-year anniversary of the green card expiration. 

Submitting the application to remove conditions on your green card is not sufficient. You must also include documents that prove you are still living together as a married couple including financial documentation, children’s birth certificates, and other documents to demonstrate a bona fide marriage. 

USCIS can, but usually does not, ask to interview you and your spouse after you submit your application. If they do, they will send you a notice with the date and location of the interview. After the interview, you will be informed whether USCIS removes your conditions or not. 

What happens if you don’t remove the conditions? 

If you fail to remove the conditions, your green card will expire. You may become vulnerable to removal proceedings. As a practical matter, you will no longer have evidence of your lawful status which will affect things like your state driver’s license and perhaps, lawful employment. 

What if we get a divorce?

You may waive the joint filing requirement if you can demonstrate that you were in a bona fide marriage that has ended, there is abuse, or death. This waiver is not simple, and requires significant documentation. In this situation, you likely need the advice of competent immigration counsel. At Poarch Thompson Law, we have a lot of experience with these particular cases. Call us today!

What to do if you are in divorce proceedings but have not yet divorced?

If you are in the process of separation and divorce, you must submit your divorce decree with your application for removal of conditions. Either way, a competent immigration attorney can assist you by working with your divorce attorney and you to give you the best opportunity to demonstrate that the marriage was valid at the time you entered into it. 

What if I was abused or battered by my spouse? 

The United States government has built-in exceptions for those who are being abused or who were forced into a marriage so that you can still get the conditions removed from your green card and leave the influence of your abusive spouse. These cases are often scrutinized by USCIS carefully. You need an immigration attorney to help you gather proof sufficient to meet your burden of demonstrating abuse. 

Do I have to wait for removal of conditions to naturalize? 

No. You may file for removal of conditions, and if processing times are lengthy, still apply timely for naturalization. USCIS will adjudicate your removal of conditions application while it processes your naturalization application. Removal of conditions must be approved before your naturalization filing is fully and finally adjudicated. 

How can Poarch Thompson Law help?

Removal of conditions from your green card is among the most time-sensitive and critical immigration processes. It’s wise to have the guidance of an immigration attorney in order to ensure that you can continue to live and work in the United States. The experienced immigration attorneys at Poarch Thompson Law will help you avoid common mistakes, no matter what circumstances you face. 

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