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Top 10 most frequently asked questions

I don’t live in Nebraska, can you still represent me?

Immigration law is federal law, this means that an attorney who is lawfully admitted to the bar in any state can represent you before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (US-CIS) or the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in any state of the United States.

Even though our principal office is located in Nebraska, we have clients throughout the United States.

What’s more, you don’t need to come to Nebraska to visit us, we can visit with you via phone, email, or Skype.

We cannot represent you for a state criminal charge unless you are in Nebraska, Iowa, or Utah.

But, we can work with your criminal attorney to resolve your case with the least amount of immigration consequences.

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Is immigration law the same in every state?

Immigration law is federal law; this means generally speaking immigration law is the same in every state of the United States.

However, because immigration law is federal, there are several immigration issues that have been interpreted by the various federal appeal courts.

This means there are some specific immigration issues which will be interpreted differently depending upon which state you live in.

Even where this is the case, we can assist in whatever jurisdiction you are located.

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What is Family Immigration?

Family Immigration is a process whereby a non U.S. Citizen is allowed to either move to the United States or remain in the United States permanently by virtue of having been petitioned for by a qualifying family member.

Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident allows you to live and work in the United States without restriction.  By becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident, you become eligible to petition for your spouse and unmarried children.

More importantly, Lawful Permanent Resident status opens the door to the pathway whereby you may become a Citizen of the United States.

For more information, see our Family Immigration Page.

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What is Employment Immigration?

Employment Immigration is the process whereby you are offered employment by a U.S. company.  Through the offer of employment you may come to the United States, or remain in the United States permanently or temporarily, depending on your visa.

If your visa is for temporary employment it is called a “Non-Immigrant” visa.  If your visa is for permanent employment it leads to a legal status called “Lawful Permanent Resident” or LPR status.

If you obtain a Non-Immigrant visa you are entitled to live and work in the United States for a temporary period of time (generally up to 7 years).  You may bring your spouse and children (under 21 years old), but they are not allowed to hold employment.

In most cases, you may convert your Non-Immigrant visa into Lawful Permanent Resident status through your employer.  Your spouse and children may convert along with you.

Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident allows you to live and work in the United States without restriction.  By becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident, you become eligible to petition for your spouse and unmarried children.

More Importantly, LPR status opens the door to the pathway whereby you may become a Citizen of the United States.

For more detailed information see our Employment Immigration Page.

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How do I adopt from a foreign country?

Immigrating the child will fall under one of three (3) processes:

1. Hague Convention:

Under this process your child will enter the U.S. with either an IH-3 visa (if you adopted your child in a Hague country) or an IH-4 visa if you are going to complete the adoption in the U.S.

2.  Non-Hague Adoptions:

Under this process your child will enter the U.S. with an IR-3 visa if the adoption was finalized in the child’s home country and you saw your child during or before the adoption process.

If the child will be adopted in the United States, she/he will enter with an IR-4 visa.

3. Immediate Relative Process:

If you are in this process, it means you did not qualify for either The Hague or Non-Hague process.

Under this process you will need to file a I-130 (which is a petition for alien relative) after you have acquired two (2) years legal/physical custody of your child (this does not have to be legal/physical through adoption, it can be, for example guardianship).

The adoption, though, must be finalized before the child turns 16 years old (and if there is a sibling involved with the adoption, before the sibling turns 18).

Your child will then adjust status as an IR-2.

For more detailed information, see our Adoption Page.

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How do I become a U.S Citizen?

Before your can become a U.S. Citizen, you must become a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), unless you are already a U.S. Citizen by “operation of law” (For more detailed information see our Citizenship page).

Generally speaking:

  1.  If you became a LPR (or Conditional Permanent Resident) through your U.S. Citizen spouse and you continue to be married to your same spouse, you are eligible to become a U.S. Citizen in 2 years and 9 months of when you became a LPR (or Conditional Permanent Resident).
  2. If you became an LPR through employment, marriage to an LPR, or other than marriage (i.e.: Parents, sibling, NACARA, etc.) then you must wait 4 years and 9 months from when you acquired LPR status before applying for citizenship.
  3. If you were granted refugee status or asylum status (or a derivative of the same) you still must become a LPR, but your 4 years and 9 months waiting period begins from the date you were granted refugee or asylum status not when you became an LPR.

What evidence you must show:

  1. You must show that you have acquired the required continuous presence in the United States.  Thus, you must consider any and all trips you have taken outside of the United States since becoming an LPR (in some cases this can be waived, see our Citizenship page for further details).
  2. You must show that you do not have a criminal history for at least five (5) years prior to applying.  However, please note, this does not preclude US-CIS from looking further back.  Also note, Citizenship is discretionary.  This means that even if you have been clean for five (5) years, if your criminal history was serious enough you can still be denied.
  3. You must show you have been a person of good moral character.  Typically, you show this through income tax returns (as a practical matter, tax documents also prove physical presence).
  4. You must be able to pass the Citizenship Exam, English test, and Writing Test (for exceptions please see our Citizenship page) (for our exclusive time tested secret to passing your exam, please sign up for our Citizenship class, it’s so simple you won’t believe it!!!).

Being a Citizen of the United States is a great honor and should never be taken lightly.

When and if you join our family as a citizen, you will be expected to renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty.

You will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

You will bear true allegiance to the United States.

You will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law.

You will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by law.

You will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law.

You will be expected to make this oath and commitment freely, without any mental reservation whatsoever.

You are joining what we believe to be the greatest country ever devised in the history of mankind and as our brother/sister we expect you to live up to this legacy in its’ fullest!!

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I have been arrested by ICE what can I do?

Generally speaking, if you do not have:

  • A prior deportation/removal,
  • Outstanding order of removal, or
  • Have not been convicted of a "crime involving moral turpitude",
  • An "aggravated felony", or
  • A controlled substance (except less than 30 grams of marijuana) (or if your drug conviction is subject to Transitional Period Custody Rules (TPCR): 4/1/1997 – 10/9/1998).

You may be eligible to bond out of immigration custody.

A prior deportation/removal order which was issued after 4/1/1997 (The effective date of IIRIRA) will make you ineligible for an immigration bond and subject to automatic removal from the United States.

Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) will simply enforce the prior order.

PLEASE NOTE: even some orders issued prior to 4/1/1997 may make you ineligible for bond.

If you have ever been arrested by ICE and/or were given a Notice to Appear (NTA) before an immigration judge, but you never attended your court date, you likely have an order of removal issued against you.

If you are arrested by ICE again, while this order continues outstanding, you will not be eligible for bond and will be subject to immediate removal from the U.S.

If you have plead guilty to and been sentenced to a crime that ICE interprets to be a "Crime Involving Moral Turpitude" (CIMT) and you were given a sentence of 181 days or more (even if it is a suspended sentence of 181 days or more) you will not be eligible for  a bond

NOTE: if you have been admitted to the U.S. you are not subject to mandatory custody if you were sentenced more than 181 days;

If you have been convicted of a crime which has been listed as an "Aggravated Felony" (See INA §101(43)(a)) you will be subject to immediate removal from the U.S..

Finally for most drug convictions you are not eligible for bond.

Other grounds which may preclude you from being eligible for a bond are:

  • If you are classified as an "arriving alien"; or
  • If it has been determined by ICE that grounds exist to believe you are a terrorist.

Currently ICE is exercising a large amount of discretion when it comes to arresting and detaining people.

For example, if you have been arrested by the police, charged criminally, and pay your state bond before pleading or being found guilty then in many instances, when you do not have other convictions, you may be released without having to pay a bond.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It is in ICE's sole discretion whether or not to release you without a bond, impose a bond, or refuse a bond.

ICE can place a "no bond" even though you are legally eligible for a bond.  If this is the case, or your bond seems too high, you can ask the immigration judge to review and reduce your bond.

In reviewing your bond, the immigration judge will consider two primary factors:

  1. What is the risk that you will not show up for future courts; and
  2. Do you present a danger to the community.

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I am a victim of a crime or domestic abuse?

If you are a victim of sexual or violent crime please do not hesitate to report this to the police, even if you do not have legal status in the United States.

The person (i.e., your spouse or significant other) will try and convince you that by going to the authorities you will be deported.

Do not believe them!!!  The US government has special programs available to help you.

One program falls under:

  • U-Visa

Another falls under:

  • The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) (Which also includes men who are victims of domestic violence).

U-Visa:

There are certain crimes such as: domestic assault, sexual assault, abduction, blackmail, extortion, false imprisonment, felonious assault, female genital mutilation, hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostitution, sexual exploitation, slave trade, torture, trafficking, unlawful criminal restraint, witness tampering, or attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above.

If you are a victim of any of the above, you may qualify for the U-visa.

To qualify you must show:

  • You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result;
  • You possess credible and reliable information establishing that you have knowledge of details of the criminal activity;
  • You have been helpful, or can be helpful to the police in investigating the incident; and
  • The criminal incident must have occurred in the United States.

As a victim you must show you received direct harm from the crime.

If you are a witness to the crime you may qualify if you have suffered an adverse reaction.

Indirect victims may also qualify for U-Visa benefits.  Indirect victims include parents where the victim was under 21 as well as siblings under 18 years old, spouses, and children (under age 21 at the time of incident) of the victim.

VAWA:

You may qualify for Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status if you are a victim of domestic violence and:

  • You are married to an abusive U.S. Citizen or LPR;
  • You are otherwise eligible for an immigrant visa based on your marriage;
  • You are currently residing in the U.S., or have resided in the U.S. and were living with your spouse;
  • You have been battered or have been subjected to extreme cruelty at the hands of your spouse; or you are the parent of a child who has been battered by or has been subjected to extreme cruelty at the hands of your abusive spouse while you lived with her/him;
  • You are person of good moral character;
  • If you were removed or deported from the U.S. it would result in extreme hardship to you or your child; and
  • You married your spouse in good faith.

For more information relating to victims of crime and domestic violence, please see our Criminal Defense Page.

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What is a waiver?

US-CIS tells us the purpose of a waiver is for "an individual who is ineligible to be admitted to the United States as an immigrant or to adjust status in the United States, and certain nonimmigrant applicants who are inadmissible."

The waiver seeks to waive the basis (or grounds) for inadmissibility to the United States.

Grounds for inadmissibility include:

  • Health-related;
  • Certain criminal grounds;
  • Membership in Totalitarian Party;
  • Immigration fraud or misrepresentation (except for False Claim to U.S. Citizenship) (Note: there are few exceptions)
  • Alien smuggler;
  • Unlawful presence bar;
  • Others which pertain to non-family immigration.

Generally, the most common waivers are for family based immigration and deal with unlawful presence, criminal matters, and misrepresentation.

However, waivers are available for VAWA, TPS, NACARA, HRIFA, and T nonimmigrants.

Waivers are also available for many nonimmigrant visas.

Most waivers, for family based immigration, require that the immigrant have a "qualifying relative" who will suffer extreme hardship if you, the immigrant, are not allowed to return to the United States.

Generally speaking, qualifying relatives are U.S. Citizens or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) spouse, fiancée, or parent of the petitioning immigrant.

Children are not qualifying relatives.

In determining the approvability of your waiver US-CIS will review the extreme hardship which will befall your qualifying relative.  US-CIS will consider factors such as your qualifying relatives:

  • Health
  • Financial status
  • Education
  • Personal considerations
  • Special factors including: culture, relations, language, religion, fears of persecution, etc.

For more information on waivers, please enter your name and email to enter our Waiver library.

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Do I qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

Do I Qualify?

The six basic criteria (you must meet all six) for qualifying for DACA are:

  1. You entered the United States on or before June 15, 2007 and have lived in the United States since then.
  2. If you entered the United States legally, your legal status expired on or before June 15, 2012.
  3. You entered the United States before your 16th birthday.
  4. On June 15, 2012 you were under 31 years old.
  5. You have either completed high school, or are working toward a GED, or have been honorably discharged as a veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or military.
  6. You do not have more than three misdemeanor convictions (please note not all misdemeanor convictions count as convictions under for purposes of DACA).  You have not been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor.

If you have never been in removal proceedings, remember you need to be 15 years old or older to file the DACA Form I-821D.

If you are in removal proceedings and you are over 15 years old, you may file the DACA Form I-821D if the immigration judge has terminated your removal proceedings.

If you are currently:

  • in removal proceedings,
  • have already been ordered removed,
  • have been granted voluntary departure by the immigration judge, or
  • your case has been administratively closed

Then you may file the DACA Form I-821D to request deferred action on your case.  You can file for consideration even if you are under 15 years old at the time.

How do I file?

  1. Complete the new Form I-821D
  2. Complete the Form I-765
  3. Complete the Form I-765 Worksheet
  4. There is a filing fee of $465.00 ($380.00 for the Employment Authorization and $85.00 for fingerprints).

How do I renew?

For DACA renewal:

  1. IMPORTANT: US-CIS will not accept renewal filed with the old Form I-821D (6/25/2013 version).  The New I-821D is now available.
  2. For renewals, you will not need to resubmit proof of eligibility, but US-CIS may still request additional documents (i.e., if you have suffered a criminal charge since your first DACA).
  3. Check the expiration of your Employment Card (EAD), make sure you file at least 120 days before it expires.
    • CAUTION: do not file more than 150 days in advance, your application will be rejected!!
  4. ATTENTION: As with TPS, if US-CIS cannot timely process renewal applications, they will likely automatically extend your current EAD.
  5. If you applied for DACA with ICE, your renewal time is NOW and you can use the current Form I-821D (Version 6/25/2013).

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