Immigration law involves obtaining the Immigration Service permission to live and/or work in the United States. The government however, requires that certain requirements be met in order to obtain a visa, green card or citizenship, or to avoid deportation, and proving these requirements to the government’s satisfaction is often not easy. The most common reasons for seeking this permission are to reunite a family or to work or invest in the United States, though there are other acceptable reasons, too, such as persecution in your own country.
An individual’s eligibility is determined by a series of complex regulations. While it is technically possible to apply on one’s own, the maze of rules can be daunting, and lack of knowledge of their intricacies can often lead to denial. Indeed, not only is it ill-advised to go it alone, but it is equally risky to engage the services of anyone other than a true immigration attorney who attends to detail and has extensive experience and expertise in the field.
Obtaining a “green card”— indicating lawful permanent residency in the U.S.–is the primary goal of our clients who are planning to enter this country. If that is your goal, too, please contact Joseph Urso today to arrange a free consultation and to learn how we can help you. Having lawful permanent residency enables you to live and work in the USA indefinitely. But because obtaining permanent residency has become more complicated since 9-11, applicants regularly need help navigating the process. We can assist you in obtaining permanent residence through the categories listed below:
1. FIANCEE (K1) VISA
If you are engaged to a fiancee who is residing in a foreign country and want to marry your fiancee in the United States, the only proper visa for entry into the U.S. is the K1 fiancee visa.
• You are a U.S. citizen.
• You have met your fiancee in person within the previous two years.
• You and your fiancee are both legally free to marry.
• You and your fiancee both have a sincere intent to marry within 90 days of your fiancee’s arrival in the U.S.
The K1 visa petition is filed at one of the two USCIS Centers that between them process all of the K visa petitions in the U.S. The Center which will process your K1 visa petition is determined by the state in which you reside. If there are any missing documents or incorrect paperwork, you will receive a Request for Evidence (“RFE”). Each RFE will delay the approval of your K1 visa petition, and ultimately the approval and issuance of your K1 fiancee visa, by 5-12 months. When the USCIS has approved the K1 visa petition, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (“NVC”) where background checks are performed on the fiancee. The NVC will forward the petition to the Consulate that will conduct the visa interview, but the Consulate will not interview the fiancee until the NVC checks have been successfully completed. When the approved petition and background checks have been received by the U.S. Consulate having jurisdiction over the city in which the fiancee is legally residing, the Consulate will instruct the fiancee to undergo a medical exam at a clinic specified by the Consulate and to report for the visa interview on a specified date. If the fiancee passes the medical exam and the interview is successful, the K1 fiancee visa will normally be issued that day or the following day.
2. MARRIAGE VISAS
Many immigrant obtain permanent residence (green card) through marriage to a US Citizen or Permanent Resident spouse. This is one of the most common basis for many immigrants in obtaining a green card. There are two major routes in this process: (1) Adjustment of Status (when the immigrant is present inside the United States) and (2) Consular Processing (when the immigrant is outside the United States). Generally speaking, adjustment of status route is a faster than consular processing. However, in many cases, consular processing is the only option for many immigrants. For example, an immigrant who entered the United States illegally will most likely be eligible to adjust status within the United States with a few limited exceptions. This problem often arises when an immigrant entered the country illegally. Spouses of US Citizens have a visa number immediately available. So these individuals will not be required to wait prior to filing. In most instances, the spouse and US Citizen will be allowed to file the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative at the same time that the I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is filed.
The basic requirements for marriage visas are
• The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen.
• The petitioner must be legally married under the laws of the country in which the marriage took place.
• The petitioner must prove that the marriage relationship is sincere.
• The American citizen must meet the minimum income requirement or have a cosponsor who meets it.
3. OTHER FAMILY BASED IMMIGRANT VISAS
• You are an immediate relative of U.S. citizens, such as parent or child.
• You are the adult child, married or unmarried, of a U.S. citizen
• You are the spouse or unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident
• You are the brother of sister of a U.S. citizen
• You are being adopted by a U.S. citizen
4. EMPLOYMENT BASED IMMIGRANT VISAS
• Immigrants with extraordinary ability in business, arts or sciences
• Managers and Executives of multi-national businesses
• Outstanding professors or researchers
• Immigrants with advanced degrees and performing work in the national interest
• Immigrants with job offers and a Bachelor degree or higher, or work experience
• Religious workers and ministers whose services are required by their non-profit religious organization
• Immigrant investors with substantial funds invested in the U.S.
Call our office today to speak to Joseph Urso at 866-747-5757 for your free case evaluation.
The Law Offices of Joseph Urso represents individuals who are applying for U.S. Citizenship. An individual can become a US citizen in the following situations:
• A permanent resident who has lived in the US for five years
• Spouses of US citizens who have lived in the US as a permanent resident for three years
• If you have served in The U.S. Armed Services please call for more information.
• With some exceptions, naturalization applicants must meet the following requirements:
Applicants must be at least 18 years old;
• An applicant must have been lawfully admitted to the United States for permanent residence
• Generally, an applicant must show that he or she has been a person of good moral character for the statutory period;
• An applicant must show that he or she is attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States;
• Applicants for naturalization must be able to read, write, speak, and understand words in ordinary usage in the English language;
• An applicant for naturalization must demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of the history and of the principles and form of government of the United States
• An applicant must take the oath of allegiance.
Our firm will review a client’s residency to determine eligibility and also assess impediments to citizenship that may arise from an arrest, failure to prepare and file proper income taxes, substantial stays abroad, failure to register for selective service and other issues.
If you wish to enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, a non-immigrant visa permits you to travel to a U.S. port of entry and request permission of the Department of Homeland Security to visit for a specific purpose – work, schooling, a conference, etc., or to visit the country, friends or family.
A non-immigrant visa differs from an immigrant visa in that the non-immigrant visa only allows a person to enter temporarily, whereas an immigrant visa holder can enter and stay permanently.
The length of time someone can stay in the U.S. depends on the visa status under which they are admitted (for example, specialty occupation). And a person admitted in one status can often change their status in order to stay longer–or to perform different activities. For instance, a medical school student may want to change his or her status to an employer-sponsored non-immigrant visa once they graduate and find employment (assuming their new employer will sponsor them). Several types of non-immigrant visas also allow a person to extend their status and thereby extend their stay in the U.S.
The process can sometimes be confusing and complicated. Our firm can make it much easier, determining the visa category that is right for you and assisting you with changing status from your current category to the new category. In appropriate cases, we can also obtain legal status and work authorization for your dependent family members.
The following is a brief list of the most commonly used temporary working visa categories:
H1-B Specialty Occupation
This non-immigrant visa classification applies to an alien who will be employed temporarily in a specialty occupation (one which typically requires a Bachelor’s degree) or as a fashion model of distinguished merit and ability. Under current law, there is an annual limit of 65,000 aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-1B status. As many as 20,000 additional H-1B slots are available to graduates of U.S. Master’s degree (or higher) programs.
L-1 Intra-company Transfers
The L-1 visa permits multinational companies to transfer high-level and essential employees from their international offices to the United States. The non-immigrant would work at the affiliate or subsidiary of that same employer in the U.S. in a managerial, executive, or specialized knowledge capacity.
E-1 Treaty Traders
The E-1 visa allows an individual to enter the United States on a non-immigrant basis for the sole purpose of carrying on substantial trade between his or her country and the United States. The home country of the non-immigrant must have a treaty with the United States.
E-2 Treaty Investor
If you come to the U.S. to run an enterprise in which you are invested, you may obtain the non-immigrant visa status of E-2 treaty investor. If you are an employee of a treaty trader investor you may also be qualified as an E visa holder if your duties require special qualifications essential to the business. The non-immigrant must have the same nationality as the alien employer and the home country of the non-immigrant must have a treaty with the United States.
O-1 Individuals of Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
Highly talented or acclaimed individuals may be eligible for an O visa for entry into the U.S. People who may qualify for this visa are physicians, scientists and accomplished businesspeople as well as athletes considered at the top of their field.
These visas are limited to nationals of Canada and Mexico. If you are employed in one of the sixty-three listed professions in NAFTA, you can apply for non-immigrant TN status. Most of the listed professions require either a bachelor’s degree or a licensures degree.
R-1 Religious Workers
The R-1 visa permits religious workers to come to the U.S. to take on a religious occupation and perform services for their religious organization. The religious organization must already be established in the United States.
Find out about MANY other means of obtaining a non-immigrant visa to the U.S., by contacting us today to arrange a free consultation.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor
USCIS administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” created by Congress in 1990 to the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:
Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
1. Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results, or
2. Expanded through the investment so that a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs
Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:
• A sole proprietorship
• Partnership (whether limited or general)
• Holding company
• Joint venture
• Business trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned
• This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned , provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.
Note: This definition does not include noncommercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.
Job Creation Requirements
Create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident.
Create or preserve either direct or indirect jobs:
Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital.
Indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an EB-5 investor. A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if affiliated with a regional center.
Note: Investors may only be credited with preserving jobs in a troubled business.
A troubled business is an enterprise that has been in existence for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the 12- or 24-month period prior to the priority date on the immigrant investor’s Form I-526. The loss for this period must be at least 20 percent of the troubled business’ net worth prior to the loss. For purposes of determining whether the troubled business has been in existence for two years, successors in interest to the troubled business will be deemed to have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.
A qualified employee is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States. The individual may be a conditional resident, an asylee, a refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any nonimmigrant status (such as an H-1B visa holder) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.
Full-time employment means employment of a qualifying employee by the new commercial enterprise in a position that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week. In the case of the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, “full-time employment” also means employment of a qualifying employee in a position that has been created indirectly from investments associated with the Pilot Program.
A job-sharing arrangement whereby two or more qualifying employees share a full-time position will count as full-time employment provided the hourly requirement per week is met. This definition does not include combinations of part-time positions or full-time equivalents even if, when combined, the positions meet the hourly requirement per week. The position must be permanent, full-time and constant. The two qualified employees sharing the job must be permanent and share the associated benefits normally related to any permanent, full-time position, including payment of both workman’s compensation and unemployment premiums for the position by the employer.
Capital Investment Requirements
Capital means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur, provided that the alien entrepreneur is personally and primarily liable and that the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital shall be valued at fair-market value in United States dollars. Assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means (such as criminal activities) shall not be considered capital for the purposes of section 203(b)(5) of the Act.
Note: Investment capital cannot be borrowed.
Required minimum investments are:
General. The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.
Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000.
A targeted employment area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.
A rural area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the decennial census.