Articles Posted in Green Card Holders and Criminal Convictions

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The eventual goal of most immigrants, residing in the United States temporarily, is to gain United States Citizenship, and later to immigrate their immediate relatives to the United States. It is very difficult however to obtain U.S. Citizenship, and there are important requirements that must be satisfied before applying. For starters, you must meet the minimum age requirement to apply, you must also be a legal permanent resident (LPR) of the United States (green card holder) for a certain period of time before you may apply. In addition, you must prove that you have maintained your legal permanent resident (LPR) status by demonstrating that you have remained continuously physically present in the United States. Lastly, you must be competent in the English language, and be a person of good moral character in order to apply for U.S. Citizenship. There are many valuable benefits conferred to U.S. Citizens. The most important benefit is that U.S. citizens are entitled to protection from the United States government in exchange for their allegiance to the country. Secondly, unlike green card holders, U.S. Citizens may leave the country and travel abroad for any length of time without having to worry about returning to the United States to maintain their immigration status. U.S. Citizens can also apply for immigration benefits for their immediate relatives and other family members more quickly than legal permanent residents. Legal Permanent Residents may also lose their immigration status and risk removal from the United States if they are convicted of serious crimes such as crimes of moral turpitude. U.S. Citizenship is also required for many jobs in the United States including law enforcement. Generally, there are also greater employment opportunities for American Citizens.

When applicants sign the N-400 application for naturalization they are promising to support the United States constitution, obey all of the laws of the United States, renounce foreign allegiances and/or foreign titles of nobility, and bear arms for the Armed Forces of the U.S. or to perform services for the U.S. government when called upon. The N-400 oath of allegiance must be taken very seriously. If you are not prepared to support the U.S. Constitution and bear arms for the U.S., you should not apply for citizenship.

General Naturalization Requirements

In order to apply for naturalization, applicants must satisfy all of the requirements below except for members of the armed forces and their immediate relatives. Members of the armed forces may apply for expedited naturalization as indicated below.

  • Language Requirement: You must be able to read, write, speak, and understand the English language in order to take the Citizenship test, although exemptions exist for certain applicants.

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What are the most challenging questions for couples at a STOKES/Fraud Interview?

By Attorney Marie Puertollano, Esq.

What happens when a US Citizen Spouse and the intending immigrant spouse fail an interview pending an application for permanent residence?

Normally couples who have failed to provide sufficient documentation to an immigration officer, for the purpose of establishing their bona fide marriage—in other words that the marriage between both parties was entered in good faith and NOT to obtain an immigration benefit—may receive an appointment for a second interview also known as the STOKES or fraud interview. In some cases however a couple may be scheduled for a STOKES or fraud interview the very first time around. There are multiple reasons a couple may be scheduled for a STOKES/fraud interview. Couples should note that the burden of proof always rests on the couple. So what happens at this fraud interview? During the STOKES/fraud interview the couple is separated in different rooms and interrogated by an immigration officer. The officer will first interrogate one of the parties in a separate room. Then, the officer will question the other party asking the same exact questions.

Fraud interviews are lengthy and very complex. Officers ask very detailed questions that are challenging even for couples who have been together for many years. Our attorneys have successfully represented couples at hundreds of fraud interviews. Here are the most challenging questions that almost all couples are unprepared to answer despite having been together for many years. It is important that if a question is unclear or if the context of the question is unclear that the party ask the immigration officer for clarification.

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You have Questions, We have your Answers. Here are answers to 6 of our Frequently Asked Questions

In this blog we are answering 6 of your frequently asked questions in detail. Please remember that every case and every story is different and unique. You should not compare your situation to anyone else’s. We hope that our answers will provide you with further guidance on your immigration journey. For any further questions please visit our website or call our office for a free legal consultation. We thank you for your continued trust in our law office.

Q: I have my green card and I can file for citizenship in the near future but my marriage is not working and I am trying to figure out my options.

A: The first question our office would have for you is whether you have a conditional 2 year green card or a 10 year green card? If you have a conditional 2 year green card you must apply for the I-751 removal of conditions application in order to receive the 10 year green card. It is possible to file the I-751 application for removal of conditions, even if you are now separated and in the process of dissolving the marriage or if you are legally divorced. This is called seeking a waiver of the joint filing requirement for the I-751 removal of conditions application or what is typically referred to as the I-751 waiver. In order to do so, you will need to indicate on the I-751 Removal of Conditions Application that you are seeking a waiver of the joint filing requirement. To file for an I-751 Waiver you must be presently separated and in the process of dissolving your marriage or already be legally divorced. Filing for a waiver of the I-751 is very detail-oriented and a very time consuming process, given that the applicant needs to prepare a detailed personal statement providing a detailed timeline of the relationship from beginning to end, as well as detailed information regarding why the marriage broke down and the applicant’s plans for the future. In addition, the applicant must be prepared to provide documented evidence that the marriage was entered into in good faith and the relationship and marriage was bona fide. You should definitely seek the help of an accredited legal representative to assist you in order for your application to be successful.

If you already have the 10 year green card, you cannot apply for citizenship until at least 5 years have passed from the date of becoming a permanent resident. If you have any arrests or other criminal history you must consult with an attorney or accredited legal representative. We would be happy to assist.

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President Obama’s executive order is looming on the horizon, as part of an alleged 10 point plan the president plans to announce as early as Friday, November 21. According to a draft proposal released by a U.S. government agency, the plan may suspend removal proceedings for millions of undocumented immigrants who came to the United States as children, as well as parents of U.S. Citizen children residing in the United States illegally, and parents of green card holders, by allowing them to benefit from a reprieve that will expand deferred action for these individuals. Among its 10 initiatives, firstly, the plan proposes to bolster border security, secondly, to improve pay for immigration officers, thirdly, to provide a 50% discount to the first 10,000 applicants whose income levels are below 200% of the poverty level in order to encourage participation, fourthly, to establish a program designed to stimulate the tech industry which could potentially offer millions of immigrants and their dependents a path to citizenship, and lastly, to prioritize removal proceedings on the basis of the severity of an immigrant’s criminal history, calling an end to the program known as ‘Secure Communities.’ This 10 point plan makes anyone who entered the United States before turning 16 and before the date of January 01, 2010, eligible for naturalization. Such a plan would thereby suspend deportation for millions of undocumented immigrants.

The proposal has not yet been announced, we would like to inform our audience to please be wary of fraudulent schemes. At this time ONLY preliminary information has been released.

Please continue to follow our blog for further updates, for more information please contact our office.  It is our goal to provide you with the most up to date immigration reform developments.

I always counsel Lawful Permanent Residents with past criminal convictions to be careful before traveling abroad. Before the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA) took effect on April 1, 1997, lawful permanent residents (LPRs) with criminal convictions who traveled abroad did not, upon their return, face inadmissibility – then called excludability – if their trip was brief, casual and innocent.

After IIRIRA, however, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) determined that the new law eliminated this Fleuti exemption for LPRs who had committed a criminal offense that fell within the grounds of inadmissibility. On March 28, 2012 in Vartelas v. Holder, the Supreme Court held that the Fleuti doctrine still applies to LPRs with pre-IIRIRA convictions who travel abroad.

The Court did not reach the question of the continued viability of the Fleuti doctrine for LPRs with post- IIRIRA convictions. Under its retroactivity jurisprudence, the Court found that the legal regime in force at the time of a person’s pre-IIRIRA conviction governs. As a result of the Supreme Court’s decision, Mr. Vartelas’ removal proceedings should be terminated on remand. This decision directly impacts other Green Card holders with pre-IIRIRA convictions who have been placed, or are at risk of being placed, in removal proceedings after a brief trip abroad.