1 Bank Street, Suite 206, Stamford, CT 06901
Se Habla Español
Gonzalez Law Office, LLC

Call Today for a Consultation

Call Us203-323-1440

Recent blog posts

New Canaan immigration green card lawyerIf you are considering marriage as a way to obtain permanent resident status in the U.S., also known as getting a green card, you must be very careful to avoid being accused of fraud. Applications for marriage-based visas, which permit the immigration of fiancés and spouses of U.S. citizens, are closely examined by U.S. immigration officials because of the relatively high incidence of fraud. You would be wise to consult an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that you do not make any mistakes in the application process.

Avoiding Marriage Fraud

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has been involved in the investigation and prosecution of numerous marriage fraud schemes in the past few years. It is instructional to review a few of these cases to understand what was done wrong:

In 2017, eleven people were found guilty of immigration-related marriage fraud in two separate but related schemes in Texas. They had been paying U.S. citizens to enter into fraudulent marriages with Nigerians who had entered the United States on tourist visas and then preparing fraudulent applications for the Nigerians to obtain permanent resident status. One of the ringleaders, an American citizen, was sentenced to two years in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised parole. Other defendants were sentenced to 12 to 18 months in prison or a term of probation. Several of the defendants are not U.S. citizens and will face deportation proceedings upon their release from custody.

...

Westchester County immigration interview lawyerFrom the moment you decide you would like to immigrate to the U.S. until the moment you become a United States citizen, you will go through at least two in-person interviews with U.S. immigration officials. 

When Interviews Are Required During the Immigration Process

Many people first come to the U.S. on non-immigrant visas, such as F1 visas for college students or H1-B visas for skilled workers. In order to get those visas, the applicant must appear at a U.S. consulate in their home country for an in-person interview. When such individuals decide they would like to convert their temporary status to lawful permanent resident (green card) status, they often find an employer willing to sponsor them for an employment-based immigration visa, most commonly an EB-2 or EB-3 visa. An in-person interview is again required prior to issuance of an EB visa. 

Other people are able to become lawful permanent residents via a family-based immigration visa, often sponsored by a family member (parent, spouse, child, or sibling) who is already a lawful permanent resident or citizen of the United States. An in-person interview is required prior to the issuance of immediate relative (IR), family preference (F), and fiancé (K) visas.

...

Stamford citizenship naturalization attorneyIf you have recently become a naturalized U.S. citizen, there are several steps you should take within a month or two of receiving your Certificate of Naturalization. 

Update Social Security With Your Citizenship Status

You should already have a Social Security number and card, because these are required to work in the U.S. When a lawful permanent resident (LPR) becomes a naturalized citizen, you must inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) of this change in status. To do this, take your Certificate of Naturalization to the nearest SSA office. It is recommended that you wait about two weeks after naturalization to do this.

There are several reasons why it is important to update your Social Security record. First, if you changed your name at your naturalization ceremony, you must officially inform the SSA of your name change. This is necessary to ensure that all of your employment records under different names remain linked together. 

...

Westchester County NY citizenship and naturalization lawyerMost people assume that a naturalized citizen of the United States has the same rights and permanent status as a citizen by birth. In most cases, that is true. However, there are some situations in which a naturalized citizen can be denaturalized and deported from the country. 

Grounds for Revocation of Naturalized Citizenship

According to section 340 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, there are four situations in which a person’s naturalized citizenship may be revoked: 

1. Person concealed or willfully misrepresented a material fact. 

Put simply, this means that a person deliberately lied or withheld information on their application or in their interview for naturalization, and USCIS found out about it later. The lie must involve a “material fact,” meaning that the information could have influenced the USCIS decision on naturalization.

...

New Canaan citizenship attorneyMany immigrants arrive in the U.S. with limited formal education. Other immigrants arrive with multiple degrees but are not fully fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English. Still others are well-educated and fluent in English but are age 50, 60, or older and have not had to memorize information for a test in many years. Any of these situations can leave an immigrant nervous about passing the English and civics tests necessary to qualify for U.S. citizenship by naturalization

If you are at all nervous about these particular requirements, you need not be. The tests are actually quite simple, and study aids are readily available to help you prepare. Some applicants may even be exempt from these requirements.

Exemptions From Test Requirements

You do not need to take the English test, but must take the civics test in the language of your choice if:

...

New Canaan naturalization lawyerAfter overcoming many hurdles to achieve your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States and accumulating the required time—usually five years, you may be interested in applying for U.S. citizenship by naturalization. This can be a difficult step for some people, as it means giving up your loyalty to your old country in order to take up your new role as an American citizen. However, it is necessary if you want to enjoy all of the benefits of citizenship, such as freedom from the risk of deportation in all but the rarest of circumstances. 

If you are planning to become a U.S. citizen, there is just one more step to take before contacting an immigration lawyer and preparing your application for naturalization. You must make sure there are no remaining barriers that could cause your application for naturalization to be denied.

Checklist: 10 Reasons Naturalization Could Be Denied 

  1. Being unable to speak, read, and write basic English, unless you qualify for an age or disability exception.
  2. Being unable to demonstrate required knowledge of American civics, unless you qualify for a disability exception.
  3. Being unwilling to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. To become a citizen, you must renounce your allegiance to any other nation and swear your sole loyalty to the USA. You must also promise to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States and to serve the country in military or non-military service when required.
  4. Failing to continuously maintain a permanent residence in the US for the required minimum time period (usually five years) since obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident status. This includes:
    • Taking a trip out of the U.S. that lasted for more than six months (more than 181 days) but less than one year (less than 365 days) and not being able to provide proof that the U.S. remained your permanent residence during that time.
    • Taking a trip out of the U.S. that lasted for one year or more since becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident and not meeting USCIS requirements for maintaining LPR status.
  5. Failing to meet the standard of “good moral character” during the required period of permanent residence. USCIS may also, at its discretion, consider your conduct prior to becoming a LPR. In addition to USCIS review of information provided on your application, the FBI will run your name and fingerprints against law enforcement databases. The definition of good moral character specifically excludes these categories of people (partial list):
    • Habitual drunkards
    • People who are currently on parole, probation, or suspended sentence for a criminal offense
    • People who have been incarcerated for 180 days or more
    • People who have admitted to or been convicted of prostitution or drug trafficking (other than a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana)
    • People who have at any time in their life been convicted of an aggravated felony, such as murder, rape, child pornography, or another crime for which the court imposed a sentence of imprisonment for one year or more
  6. Failing to file a U.S. tax return and pay federal taxes owed. Certified copies of your tax returns for each year of the required LPR period must be provided as part of your application for naturalization.
  7. Failing to financially support your minor children who do not live with you.
  8. Failing to register with the Selective Service System if you are a male who lived in the U.S. during ages 18 to 25.
  9. Being a member of or associated with any totalitarian political party or terrorist organization.
  10. Committing immigration fraud; that is, willfully misrepresenting or concealing a material fact in order to obtain an immigration benefit. Examples of immigration fraud include:
    • Lying or omitting material facts on both written applications and oral interviews related to immigration
    • Entering into a fraudulent marriage
    • Falsely claiming US citizenship on an I-9 form to obtain employment

Consult a Stamford, CT Naturalization Attorney

When you are ready to take your final step toward citizenship and apply for naturalization, consult an experienced Fairfield County citizenship and naturalization lawyer. Gonzalez Law Office, LLC will review all possible barriers to your naturalization with you to ensure that your path to citizenship is as smooth as possible. Contact us at 203-323-1440. 

...

New Canaan family immigration attorney sibling visaMany people who have successfully immigrated to the U.S. wish to help their siblings immigrate as well. One option is the family preference visa program, specifically, the F4 visa category. However, be aware that only 65,000 F4 visas are available per year. Once the sponsor’s petition is approved, the immigrant (known as the applicant) may have to wait 10 years or more for an F4 visa to become available.

Requirements to Sponsor Siblings for U.S. Immigration

You must be an American citizen and at least 21 years old in order to sponsor the immigration of your brother or sister. Your sibling may be of any age. You must also have sufficient income and/or assets to support the immigrant.

To begin the process, you must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On a single form, you can name your sibling along with his/her legal spouse and your sibling’s unmarried children under age 21. Along with this form, you must provide sufficient documentation to prove your citizenship and your sibling relationship.

...

Fairfield County deportation removal defense lawyerReceiving a Notice to Appear (NTA) before a U.S. immigration court can be frightening for a non-citizen, because it is the first step in the deportation process, also known as removal proceedings.

Not everyone who receives a Form I-862 NTA will be deported. With the help of an attorney, you may be able to argue that the charges are not serious enough to require removal or that your deportation would create an extreme hardship for a family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. There are many other possible defenses as well.

Still, it is important to take an NTA seriously. You must determine exactly what you are charged with and start working on a defense strategy.

...

Posted on in Green Cards

Westchester County NY green card application attorneyIf you have come to the U.S. on a temporary visa and want to remain here indefinitely, you may be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status and become a Lawful Permanent Resident. This will allow you to live and work in the U.S. for as long as you like, and you may eventually apply for citizenship through naturalization. The adjustment of status process can be convenient for those who already reside in the United States, as it does not require you to return to your home country for consular processing.

How to Ensure Your Adjustment of Status Is Approved

To improve your chances of approval, your written application must be accurate and thorough, and it must include all necessary supporting documentation. There are a number of documents that you must submit, including:

  • You must complete a Green Card application, Form I-485. Some of the supporting documents you must attach, along with English translations, include:
    • A copy of your government-issued identity document with photograph.
    • A copy of your birth certificate or other evidence of birth, such as church, school, or medical records.
    • Your inspection and admission documentation.
    • Certified police and court records documenting all criminal arrests, charges, or convictions, even if you were acquitted or your record was later cleared (as often happens with juvenile offenses).
    • Other documentation as needed for your specific immigration category.
  • You, or more commonly your sponsor, must file an immigrant petition. For example, if you are applying for family-based immigration, your sponsor would file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Officials of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review your application and most likely will ask you to appear for an in-person interview. Interviews are generally waived for children under the age of 14. During the interview, it is critical that you answer all questions honestly and completely. You will be under oath, and any false or misleading statements could result in your disqualification.

...

Posted on in Green Cards

Stamford green card attorneyIf you are a foreign citizen currently living in the United States, you may be thinking about applying for an adjustment of status (AOS) using Form I-485. If your AOS application is approved, you will be given a green card, and you will be able to live and work in the U.S. for as long as you want.

In our last post, we explained the requirements to qualify for a green card. However, even if you meet all of the qualification criteria, your application could still be denied. In this post, we will explain some of the reasons why U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) might deny an AOS application. 

Reasons for Denial of an Adjustment of Status

Here are some of the common reasons that the USCIS might deny your AOS application:

...

New Canaan green card attorneyIf you are legally in the U.S. on a short-term visa, you may qualify for an adjustment of status (AOS) that will allow you to legally remain in the country indefinitely. This adjustment of status will make you a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States; in other words, you will receive a green card, also known as an I-551 card. 

To be eligible for an adjustment of status, you must meet some basic requirements. However, even if you meet all of the basic requirements, the approval of your application is not guaranteed. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) hearing officers have wide discretion to approve or disapprove any application. Your application may also be subject to annual immigration quotas. An experienced immigration lawyer can help ensure that you do meet all of the requirements, improving your chance of approval. 

Criteria for an Adjustment of Status

You must meet several basic requirements in order to qualify for an Adjustment of Status, including:

...

New Canaan waiver of inadmissibility attorneyIf your application for a U.S. immigration visa has been denied because you have a criminal record, you should consider speaking to an attorney about the possibility of getting a waiver of inadmissibility.

Types of Crimes Eligible for a Waiver of Inadmissibility

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will not grant a waiver of inadmissibility to people who have committed very serious crimes, such as human trafficking, terrorist activities, or most drug crimes. However, a waiver may be possible if your criminal record involves:

  • Crimes such as theft, prostitution, or certain immigration law violations.
  • A single conviction for possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana.

In some cases, USCIS may decide that your original visa application was misjudged and that you actually are admissible. Therefore, you do not need a waiver after all. You should actually be deemed admissible if:

...

Fairfield County immigration waiver of inadmissibility attorneyIf you have been declared inadmissible to the U.S. for certain reasons, you may be eligible for a waiver of inadmissibility. In order to qualify for a waiver, you will need to fulfill specific requirements, one of which may be hardship.

The USCIS Definition of Hardship

To fulfill the hardship requirement, you must prove that a specific member of your immediate family--a “qualifying relative”--would suffer hardship if you are denied admission to the United States. 

A qualifying relative (QR) must be either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is a member of your immediate family. For some types of waivers, the relative must be a spouse or parent. For other types of waivers, the qualifying relative may be a spouse, parent, son, or daughter.

...

Westchester County NY immigration visa denial attorneyMany people seeking entry to the United States have something in their background, such as a criminal conviction, which could cause U.S. immigration authorities to declare them “inadmissible,” which means their immigration visa will be denied. If this happens to you, the only way to get your immigration visa approved is to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility

Visa Applicants Must Be Honest About Their Criminal Record

When you apply for an immigration visa, you will be asked if you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, and you will be required to provide details. Even if your record was later expunged (cleared), you must still admit to any past crimes.

Not every crime will make you inadmissible, and even if you are initially declared inadmissible, you can appeal that decision.

...

New Canaan immigration and deportation attorneyReceiving a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court for removal (deportation) proceedings can be very frightening. An NTA means that you have been accused of breaking a law and that a judge is going to decide whether you should be deported from the United States. 

Be assured, however, that not every NTA results in a deportation. Here are three things to do if you receive an NTA:

1. Check the Accuracy of the Notice to Appear in Immigration Court 

The NTA will state:

...

Posted on in Visas

New Canaan immigration visa enforcement lawyerAccording to a report issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in August 2018, more than 700,000 foreign visitors remained in the US beyond their required exit date in fiscal year 2017. This figure represents 1.3% of the 52.7 million individuals who entered the US via an airport or seaport and were expected to depart by September 30, 2017 (excluding land crossings from Canada and Mexico).

DHS defines an overstay as a nonimmigrant who was lawfully admitted to the United States for an authorized period but remained in the U.S. beyond his or her authorized period of admission. When a nonimmigrant arrives in the U.S., their allowed length of stay will be specified on their Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.

Overstay Rates Vary Significantly by Country and Type of Visa

Countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) had an overall overstay rate of 0.5% compared to 1.9% for non-VWP countries. 

...

New Canaan immigration visa attorney visitor visasGiven the long waiting times for U.S. family immigration visas, many people wonder if they can visit their family in the United States while their visa application is pending. The short answer is yes, but as explained below, visits require advance planning.

The Waiting Time for an Immigration Visa Can Be Months or Years

The estimated processing times for Form I-130 petitions for family immigration are currently:

  • Five to seven months for a spouse or child under age 21 of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or a parent of a U.S. citizen. 
  • 67 to 87 months for a U.S. citizen or permanent resident filing for an unmarried child over age 21.
  • 71 to 92 months for a U.S. citizen filing for a married child over age 21.

The wait is much shorter for the first category, because there are no annual limits on visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, while there are quotas for the other categories shown above. Wait times are for September 2018 at the Vermont USCIS service center.

...

Darien spouse visa immigration lawyerAre you planning a wedding between an American citizen and a citizen of another country? If you intend to make your permanent home in the United States, the foreign citizen will need to apply for a visa to enter the U.S. There are two ways to accomplish this:

  • Apply for a K-1 fiancé visa, then marry in the U.S.
  • Marry abroad, then sponsor the foreign spouse’s immigration through an IR-1/CR-1 visa. 

Before deciding which path to take, consider the following:

Bringing a Fiancé to the U.S. on a K-1 Visa 

  • A K-1 temporary (nonimmigrant) visa allows a foreign-citizen fiancé to enter and remain in the U.S. for 90 days, during which time they must get married. 
  • The U.S. citizen must first file a petition for the visa by mail. Later, the foreign citizen must complete an online application form and attend an in-person interview that is intended to prove that a bona fide relationship exists. 
  • You must also provide proof (such as travel and hotel receipts and date-stamped photographs) that you and your fiancé have met in person at least once. 
  • While there is no annual quota limit on K-1 visas, processing can take six or more months. 
  • Once married, the non-citizen spouse can remain in the U.S. but must apply for an adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident. 

Bringing a Spouse Married Abroad to the U.S. on an IR-1 Visa

  • Before planning to marry in another country, check that country’s specific requirements for marriage. For example, you may need to establish residency in that country for a certain period of time. 
  • When a Connecticut citizen is married in a foreign country, the state will recognize the marriage as valid as long as both parties would be legally allowed to be married in Connecticut, and the marriage is legally valid in the country where the marriage occurs. 
  • When applying for a spouse immigration visa (IR-1/CR-1), you must provide a copy of your marriage certificate. You must also submit “clear and convincing evidence” that you have a bona fide marriage and that you “entered into the marriage in good faith and not for immigration purposes.”
  • If you have already been married for at least two years, the non-citizen spouse will receive an IR-1 (immediate relative) visa, which is good for ten years.
  • If you have been married for less than two years, the non-citizen spouse will receive a CR-1 (conditional residence) visa, which is good for two years. During the ninety days prior to the expiration of the CR-1 visa, you must apply jointly to remove the conditional status, converting the CR-1 to an IR-1. 
  • While there is no annual quota limit on IR-1/CR-1 visas, visa approval can take six to twelve months. Once the visa has been issued, the immigrant must enter the U.S. within six months.

Consult a Fairfield County Spouse Immigration Attorney

If you want to bring your foreign-citizen partner to the U.S., Gonzalez Law Office, LLC can help you decide which type of visa to apply for and work with you to navigate the complex immigration process. Attorney Hector Gonzalez,  a Stamford, CT family immigration lawyer, has been serving the immigration needs of families for over 15 years. Contact us at 203-323-1440.

...

Darien, CT naturalization attorneyIf you immigrated to the United States in the past year or two, you may not have given any thought to the naturalization process yet. You may not even be sure if you want to become a naturalized citizen of the United States. 

You have some time to decide. Under current laws, you must be a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the U.S. (that is, a green card holder) for five years before you can apply for citizenship through naturalization, or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. 

Still, you should understand the benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen. Once you understand these benefits, you may want to pursue naturalization sooner rather than later.

...

Westchester County immigration visa denial attorneyWhen a U.S. citizen wants to help other family members immigrate to the United States, being denied a family-based visa can be heart-wrenching. This bad news can be difficult to bear after the months spent waiting for approval and fearing the possibility of denial. The good news is that an initial denial can often be overcome.

Common Reasons for IR and F Visa Denial 

Insufficient documentation to prove the required spousal, parent-child, or sibling relationship is a common reason for denial of a family-based visa.

For an Immediate Relative (IR) visa, the sponsor must be a U.S. citizen, and the applicant must be the sponsor’s spouse, unmarried child under age 21, parent, or an orphan being adopted. 

...
Fairfield County Bar Association Connecticut Bar Association American Immigration Lawyers Association Connecticut American Immigration Lawyers Association
Back to Top