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Green Cards

How Long Does It Take to Receive a Green Card Through Marriage?

By Peek & Toland on October 21, 2020

There is a common misconception that marrying a U.S. citizen is an easy and fast process. Unfortunately, that is not the case. In the video below, attorney Jeff Peek talks about how long it actually takes to adjust your status inside the U.S. or apply for a green card outside the U.S.

Many have heard through friends or family that if you marry a U.S. citizen, that it’s an easy path to becoming a permanent resident. While that can be true, and certainly marrying a U.S. citizen does provide an opportunity, you have to have several eligibility factors available to you. But the bigger question is, how long is that going to take?

There’s no expedited fee for adjustment of status or for applying for a green card outside the U.S. What we’ve seen is that the process inside the United States is usually the best, as far as time and ease. However, it can still take up to 10-11 months to receive a green card. While you wait, you will obtain a work permit and a travel permit, if you paid for one, which can also take 4-5 months to receive.

On the other side, if you’re going to try to do things outside the U.S., the process is even longer. It can take up to a year to receive a green card.

Other people might think that getting a fiancé visa would be faster as well. Think again. Even that has a lengthy process time. Right now, the wait time can be over a year.

Our point is don’t assume that just because you have a U.S. citizen fiancé and getting married, it will be an easy and quick process. It’s not.

Now, there are some tricks of the trade. There are little things you can do to speed up or make yourself eligible for different processes. Which we recommend you reach out to an attorney so they can further explain to you those options.

We want to note that don’t assume that because you have a visa, you can leave the United States, get married to a U.S. citizen outside, come back in with that visa, and later on change your status. That assumption can lead to problems down the road.

Every time you come into the U.S. the officers will look at your intent. Meaning what was your intention of coming to the United States when you came in, even though you already have this approved visa. If they find out you married a U.S. citizen then left on a tourist visa, came back in on a tourist visa, and then tried to adjust status, it can lead to a denial. Likewise, if you were here on a work visa, went outside the U.S., married a U.S. citizen, and came back in on your work visa, even though you married a U.s. citizen, it can be an issue. If you cannot convince them that your intention when you came into the U.S. was temporary and plan on leaving again to go back to your home country, they can deny you, saying you knew you would adjust status coming into the country.

Therefore, you have to be very careful about how you plan trips, plan your wedding if it’s going to be outside of the U.S., and don’t assume things. Timing is crucial, so talk to a lawyer quickly if you have any inkling that you might want to get married.

Applying for an adjustment of status or a green card can be a very stressful process. Just getting married has its stresses, don’t add to it by making mistakes of not planning or getting competent immigration advice from a seasoned immigration expert.

If you are getting married and want to adjust status, we’d love to help you, or if you have an immigration question, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 512-474-4445.

Posted in Fiance Visas, Green Cards, Immigration

Two Important Legal Terms that Affect Permanent Residents

By Peek & Toland on August 19, 2020

Attorney Jeff Peek discusses two legal terms that could potentially affect permanent residents who want to apply for U.S. citizenship or have been outside the U.S. for an extended period of time. 

Those two terms are physical presence and continuous residence. When someone wants to apply for citizenship, they have to prove two things: they need to maintain continuous residency in the United States and maintain physical presence in the United States. While both terms sound similar, they are two separate things.

Continuous residence
Continuous residence has to do with where you live, where you establish your domicile or dwelling place. Typically, for a permanent resident applying for citizenship, you have to have five years of continuous residency in the United States. If you are married to a U.S. Citizen, then it’s three years.

Now, what does that mean? If you have been outside of the United States for more than six months, but less than one year, then there is a presumption that you abandoned your continuous residence in the United States. You may overcome that presumption with evidence that you went outside for a job, maintained your house or apartment when you left or had immediate family members that stayed back while you went abroad. It’s a rebuttable presumption, but once you get over a year, you’re not going to rebut that presumption. They will say you are not eligible because you did not maintain your continuous residence here in the United States.

If you’re outside of the United States for more than a year, you can potentially encounter problems when coming back to the United States. When you’re out of the country for more than one year, you probably need to call a lawyer before you try to come back in to see if that’s going to be problematic for you.

Physical Presence
Physical presence is that you have to live here more than half the time, more than 50%. So if your period is five years for applying for U.S. citizenship, you will need to be in the United States for at least two and a half years. If it’s three years, because you’re married to a U.S. citizen, it’s one and a half years. That means you will need to count up every physical day you are outside the United States. You will want to check your passport and make sure that’s not going to be an issue. If you’ve spent over 50% of your time outside the United States, it will disqualify you for citizenship.

Physical presence and continuous residency, terms that can affect your citizenship eligibility, and if not followed, you could potentially lose your residence.

If you are a permanent resident and would like to apply for U.S. citizenship or have any immigration questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 512-474-4445 to book a consultation.


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Posted in Citizenship, Green Cards, Immigration

What Should an LPR Do if He or She is Detained at a Port of Entry?

By Peek & Toland on May 31, 2020

As even American citizens and legal permanent residents (LPRs) of the U.S. seem to be facing increased scrutiny at our nation’s borders, they should be aware of the fundamental rights that they possess in this situation. Like all international travelers, LPRs are subject to inspection by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). They will screen all LPRs to classify them either as “returning residents” or “arriving aliens.”

What Should an LPR Do if He or She is Detained at a Port of Entry?

In some cases, CBP officials will detain LPRs for secondary inspections. They will go to a separate room, where CBP officers will ask them questions, run records checks, and ensure that the individuals are eligible to enter the U.S. Nonetheless, individuals do enjoy some basic rights when detained in this manner.

You can always contact your consulate for assistance, who, in turn, may contact a lawyer on your behalf or your family. You also have the right to contact your lawyer directly. Any documents that CBP presents you must be written in a language that you understand, and you have the right to review those documents. You also can refuse to sign paperwork that CBP offers you if you do not agree with the contents of that document.

However, you do not have a right to privacy in any of your personal belongings when detained for inspection, including your computer and cell phone. CBP has the right to take these items, read your email, look at your social media activity, and generally search these devices. They can keep these items for a period before returning them to you.

As a returning LPR, you should have no difficulties passing the screening and being allowed to enter the U.S. If you are an arriving immigrant, however, CBP likely will examine your situation further to determine if you have abandoned your LPR status by remaining outside the U.S. for a lengthy period or committed a crime. As a result, detention periods for these LPRs may be longer.

Our goal is to assist you with your immigration concerns, whether family or business-based. We can evaluate your situation and develop a strategy that is most likely to be efficient and effective in your case. Regardless of the immigration matter that you are facing, the attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience, knowledge, and reputation that you want and need to advocate on your behalf. When results matter most, contact us at (512) 474-4445.

Posted in Green Cards

How Can I Obtain a Green Card as a Special Immigrant?

By Peek & Toland on April 3, 2019

Some immigrants may qualify for a green card as a special immigrant. There are several different categories of special immigrant that might allow you to obtain a green card.

For example, you can apply for a green card as a special immigrant if you are a religious worker who is coming to the U.S. to work for a non-profit religious organization. Special immigrants also include international broadcasters, or members of the media who are coming to work in the U.S. Retired officers or employees of certain international organizations, NATO, and certain family members also may qualify as special immigrants.

 

How Can I Obtain a Green Card as a Special Immigrant?

Individuals also may qualify as special immigrants if they have Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status as children who have been abused, neglected, or abandoned by a parent. To be eligible for SJI status, these individuals must have been present in the U.S. prior to age 21, unmarried, and declared a dependent by a juvenile court. Furthermore, the juvenile court must make findings that reunification with one or both parents is not in the child’s best interests and that it would not be in the child’s best interests to be returned to his or her native country.

Finally, nationals of Iraq or Afghanistan may be eligible for green cards as special immigrants if they fall into one of the following categories:

·         Nationals who worked for the U.S. government as an Iraqi or Afghan translator

·         Nationals who worked for the U.S. government in Iraq for at least one year, so long as it was on or after March 23, 2003

·         Afghans who were employed by the International Security Assistance Force (SAF)

No matter the type of immigration issue you are facing, the skilled and knowledgeable immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland are here to assist you. We handle many different types of immigration cases every day and have the kind of strategic experience and skills that are necessary to reach the desired outcome. By calling our office as quickly as possible after your legal issue arises, we will have the best opportunity to successfully resolve your immigration law case.

Posted in Green Cards

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