FAMILY BASED PETITIONS
If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States, or a relative who is a lawful permanent resident, you must go through a multi-step process.
The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, I-130 for Alien Relative, for you. This petition is filed by your relative and must be accompanied by proof of your relationship to the requesting relative.
Then, the Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, the foreign national, even if you are already in the United States, When an immigrant visa number is available, it means you can apply to have one of the immigrant visa numbers assigned to you.
If you are already in the United States, you may apply to change your status to that of a lawful permanent resident after a visa number becomes available to you. This is one way you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number. If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you must then go to the U.S. Consulate servicing the area in which you reside to complete your processing. This is the other way to secure an immigrant visa number.
CAUTION: In addition, the alien relative must not be inadmissible based on any grounds under the Immigration and Nationality Act. Before applying for any immigration benefit, be sure to consult with an experienced immigration attorney.
The Immigration and Nationality Act contains several grounds for deportation of aliens, whether the alien is in lawful or unlawful status. Some of the grounds for deportation include:
certain types of criminal activity
If a person is not a United States Citizen a criminal conviction can subject them to deportation or removal from the United States. If a person has been convicted of certain criminal offenses, including simple or domestic battery, they may be subject to deportation from the USA regardless of how long ago the criminal conviction occurred, or how long they have been in the country, even a withhold of adjudication counts as a criminal conviction by the immigration officials, even if the record was sealed.
However, a person who has entered a plea of guilty or no contest to a criminal charge may have legal grounds to withdraw their plea if they had not been advised by the Judge, or their attorney, prior to entering the plea, that their plea could subject them to deportation. Prior to October 26, 2006 the immigration law allowed a person two years from the date they threatened with deportation from the immigration officials to file a motion to withdraw their plea. On October 26, 2006, the Florida Supreme Court in State v. Green severely reduced that time to two years from the date of their conviction. However, the Supreme Court did authorized people who were convicted prior to October 26, 2006 to be allowed two years from that date to file motion to withdraw their pleas in such cases.
If you or your family are not United States Citizens and have previously entered a plea to a criminal charge, you may be subject to deportation. However, you may still be able to withdraw your plea if you were not properly advised or misadvised of the consequences. The deadline to file such a motion is extremely limited. If you are not a United States Citizen and have a criminal record, it is important that you discuss with a criminal defense attorney what consequences that record will have on your ability to remain in the United States.
Last, a person in deportation proceedings, may be eligible for some type of relief which would prevent a deportation order.
If you or someone you know is subject to deportation, contact our deportation attorneys immediately. We are available 7 days a week at .
Naturalization is the process through which a foreign citizen becomes an American Citizen.
Naturalization – Requirements:
If you want to apply for naturalization you must be at least 18 years old.
If applicant received his/her green card through marriage to a U.S. Citizen, he/she must have Permanent Residence Status (Green Card) for at least three years and still be married to and living with the same U.S. Citizen. Otherwise, the permanent residency requirement is five years.
Must have been a resident of the state in which the petition was filed for at least three months.
Must be physically present in the U.S. for at least one-half of the five years (one half of the three years for spouse of a Citizen).
Must reside continuously within the U.S. while the application for naturalization is being processed.
Applicant must not be absent for a period more than one year during the period residence is required (three or five years).
The person applying for naturalization must be a person of good moral character.
The applicant must be interviewed by the INS.
Must speak, understand and write basic English. Some exceptions may apply.
Applicant must be willing to serve in the U.S. armed forces or to perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by law.
SPECIAL NOTE: There are some exceptions to the above rules. It may be possible to obtain waivers or exemptions from the above requirements. Also, often a person may be a U.S. Citizen derivatively based on the citizenship of his or her parent. In such case, the person would not need to apply for naturalization; rather for a certificate of citizenship. Consult an experienced immigration professional about the best route to your citizenship.