Without question, some of the most emotionally-charged issues in all of law fall under the domain of Immigration Law. The Guthrie Law Office focuses exclusively on immigration law which allows us to give you knowledgeable and skilled advice to guide you through your process.
Click on the tabs below for more information on each practice area.
Family Based ImmigrationK-1 Fiancé VisaForeign nationals seeking entry into the United States with a K-1 fiancé visa must be engaged to marry a U.S. citizen. The foreign relative must prove that they have met their U.S. citizen fiancé(e) within the two year period preceding the filing of the application and that their relationship is in good faith (meaning not for immigration purposes). In addition, the couple must marry within 90 days of the fiancé's entry into the U.S. or the foreign national must return to their home country.K-3 Spousal VisaThe K-3 visa is an option to allow a foreign spouse of U.S. citizen to enter the United States prior to the approval of their green card application. K-3 applicants must have a Form I-130 pending prior to filing the I-129F petition. Upon approval of the I-129F petition, K-3 applicants then attend an interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy where the marriage took place to adjudicate the K-3 visa application. K-3 applicants must demonstrate that their marriage to the U.S. citizen is a bona fide or good faith marriage. I-130 FilingAs a citizen of the United States, you may help a relative become a lawful permanent resident of the United States by obtaining what is often referred to as a “Green Card.” To do so, you need to sponsor your relative and be able to prove that you have enough income or assets to support your relative(s) when they come to the United States.You begin the process by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form establishes the family relationship that exists between you and your relative.U.S. citizens may sponsor immediate relatives to come live and work in the United States as permanent residents. U.S. citizens can sponsor the following family members: • Spouses;• Children (married and unmarried);• Parents;• Brothers and sisters. Permanent residents (also known as "green card" holders) of the United States may only sponsor their spouses and unmarried children to become permanent residents of the United States. Adjustment of Status Through FamilyThe most common way of obtaining a permanent resident status in the United States is through family sponsorship. U.S. citizens may sponsor immediate relatives to come live and work in the United States as permanent residents. U.S. citizens can sponsor the following family members: • Spouses;• Children (married and unmarried);• Parents;• Brothers and sisters.• Permanent residents (also known as "green card" holders) of the United States may only sponsor their spouses and unmarried children to become permanent residents of the United States.Renewal of Permanent ResidencyA permanent resident card expires every 10 years and you must file an application and pay the filing fee to renew it. If you have any criminal issues, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney before filing to renew your green card.Removal of Conditions on ResidencyYour permanent residence status is conditional if it is based on a marriage that was less than 2 years old on the day you were given permanent residence. You are given conditional resident status on the day you are lawfully admitted to the United States on an immigrant visa or adjustment of your status to permanent residence. Your status is conditional, because you must prove that you did not get married to evade the immigration laws of the United States. To remove these conditions you must file Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence jointly with your petitioning spouse and show that you are still married to your spouse and you have an ongoing good faith relationship. There are waivers of the joint filing requirement if you can show: 1. Are a widow or widower who entered into your marriage in good faith;2. Entered into a marriage in good faith, but the marriage ended through divorce or annulment; or3. Entered into a marriage in good faith, but either you or your child were battered or subjected to extreme hardship by your U.S.-citizen or permanent-resident spouse; or4. Your deportation or removal from the U.S. would cause extreme hardship.
Consular ProcessingConsular processing is one of the pathways to permanent resident status (otherwise known as a "green card"). When an individual outside of the United States has an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa number immediately available, he or she may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. Once a visa is available, the consular office will schedule an interview for the applicant and complete processing of the case. Naturalization/CitizenshipConsular processing is one of the pathways to permanent resident status (otherwise known as a "green card"). When an individual outside of the United States has an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa number immediately available, he or she may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. Once a visa is available, the consular office will schedule an interview for the applicant and complete processing of the case. To apply for naturalization, you must meet the following eligibility requirements: • Be at least 18 years old;• You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years (for permanent residents who are married to U.S. citizens and received their permanent residency status through their U.S. citizen spouse, this time is 3 years);• You must show that you have been physically present in the U.S. for the last 30 months of the 60 month (5 years);• You must show good moral character for the past 5 years prior to your application for U.S. citizenship. Those with a criminal history should consult with a qualified immigration attorney as certain criminal acts even prior to the 5 year time frame could disqualify a person from naturalizing. At a naturalization interview, USCIS will test the applicant on their ability to read, write and speak basic English (there are exemptions for age and mental or medical conditions). The applicant will be tested on their knowledge of U.S. history and civics. Applicants must also declare the willingness to support the United States and defend the Constitution. If the applicant meets all the eligibility requirements and is approved for citizenship, they are sworn in at a ceremony where the applicant swears an oath of allegiance to the United States. The applicant is presented with a certificate of naturalization and is then a citizen of the United States. AsylumEvery year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or their political opinion. Applicants must show that their home government is unwilling or unable to protect them. If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. To apply for Asylum, file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States. You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried.
WaiversI-601A WaiverForeign nationals who are not eligible to adjust their status (meaning apply for permanent residency or a “green card”) in the United States must travel abroad and obtain an immigrant visa from their countries consulate. Individuals who have accrued more than 180 days of unlawful presence while in the United States must obtain a waiver of inadmissibility to overcome the unlawful presence bars before they can lawfully return. Typically, these foreign nationals cannot apply for a waiver until after they have appeared for their immigrant visa interview abroad, and a Department of State (DOS) consular officer has determined that they are inadmissible to the United States. However, the provisional unlawful presence waiver process allows immediate relatives (spouses, children and parents) of U.S. citizens who only need a waiver of inadmissibility for unlawful presence to apply for that waiver in the United States before they depart for their immigrant visa interview. This new process was developed to shorten the time the foreign national would have to remain outside of the United States.Not all foreign nationals will qualify for provisional waivers. Only foreign nationals who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and only need a waiver of unlawful presence qualify at this time. Immediate relatives who do not wish to seek a provisional waiver can still file Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, after a consular officer determines that they are inadmissible to the United States. The same is true for immediate relatives who are ineligible for a provisional unlawful presence waiver. I-212 WaiverAnother waiver that you may be eligible for is the Form I-212 waiver. Immigrants who have been deported or removed from the United States are automatically considered inadmissible for a certain amount of time, and they may be subjected to a ban from entering the country for a number of years or permanently. If you have find yourself in this situation, you may be able to file a new application for entry after being granted consent to reapply under this type of waiver.I-601 WaiverOne waiver that might be available to you is the Form I-601 waiver. If you have a relative in the United States who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident, and this person would suffer extreme hardship should you be found inadmissible or removed from the country, you might qualify for this waiver. Because the term "extreme hardship" is not clearly defined by statute, USCIS does consider hardship to the qualifying relative on a case by case basis. It is therefore important to file a complete application and to paint a clear picture of the extreme hardship that your relative would suffer should you be forced to leave the country (financial, emotional, educational, etc.). I-601 waivers must be filed at the Consulate and are processed outside of the U.S., meaning that the foreign national must return to their home country to file the waiver and wait for adjudication.
Victims of Domestic Violence, Crime and TraffickingViolence Against Women Act (VAWA)Unfortunately, immigrants are often at higher risk for domestic violence due in part to their immigration status, language and cultural barriers, social isolation, fear of law enforcement and lack of understanding of the laws of the United States. As result, many women and men feel trapped in their situation and do not know how to escape their environment. The Violence Against Women Act is Federal law originally passed by Congress in 1994. It allows immigrants that are victims of domestic violence or abuse to obtain legal status in the United States through a "self-petition" process. Self-petitioning means that the abused or parent of the abused can file on his or her own behalf and for his or her child without the need for the abuser to be involved or even be aware. This can be important in domestic violence situations as a victim might be subjected to further abuse if it is discovered that he or she has filed for protection of this kind. If the VAWA petition is approved, the person may be entitled to Deferred Action if he or she is residing in the country illegally. He or she may also be given the ability to file an application for a visa or lawful permanent resident status. The victim could also be given authorization to work in the United States. If the victim is facing removal for some reason, it could be cancelled based on a VAWA application.U Nonimmigrant StatusU nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to crime victims who have suffered substantial mental or physical abuse as a result of the crime. The U visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity.T Nonimmigrant StatusT nonimmigrant status provides immigration protection to victims of trafficking. The T Visa allows victims to remain in the United States and assist law enforcement authorities in the investigation or prosecution of human trafficking cases. Human trafficking, also known as trafficking in persons, is a form of modern-day slavery in which traffickers lure individuals with false promises of employment and a better life.Special Immigration Juvenile StatusSome children who are here in the U.S. without legal immigration status may need humanitarian protection because they have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent. Special immigrant juvenile status is an immigration classification that may allow these vulnerable children to apply immediately for lawful permanent resident status, commonly known as having a Green Card.Temparary Protected StatusCertain foreign countries are designated by the Secretary of Homeland Security for Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This can occur when conditions in that country temporarily prevent the country’s nationals from returning safely; for example, when a country is experiencing armed conflict, an environmental disaster or an epidemic, it might be designated for TPS. Sometimes, a country is unable to adequately handle the return of its nationals, and that might also lead to TPS. When a country is designated for TPS, eligible nationals who are already in the United States may be granted TPS. Also, eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may be granted TPS.Once a country is designated for TPS, there is a registration period and eligible individuals must apply during that time. There are provisions for late applications, including for children and spouses of individuals eligible for TPS who must file their own applications. TPS is a temporary benefit that does not lead to lawful permanent resident status (a green card); however, once granted TPS, an individual cannot be detained by the Department of Homeland Security on the basis of his or her immigration status. Individuals who are eligible for TPS are not removable from the United States, can obtain an employment authorization document (EAD), and may be granted travel authorization. Registering for TPS does not prevent an individual from applying for any other immigration benefit or protection he or she might be eligible for. Once an individual is granted TPS, he or she must re-register during re-registration periods to maintain benefits.Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)Millions of people immigrate to the United States, including children. This country is the only home many of those children have known, yet they are not citizens. Still, enforcing federal immigration laws against young people who arrived here through no choice of their own did not seem like the best use of government resources. In an effort to address this issue, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) on June 15, 2012.Individuals who receive deferred action will not be placed into removal proceedings or removed from the United States for a specified period of time. This does not mean they have lawful status, but they are considered to be authorized by DHS to be present in the United States (lawfully present) for the period of deferred action. During that period, the individual may be eligible for employment authorization if there is a demonstrated economic necessity for employment (requesting an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) requires a separate application process). Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion by DHS, and as such, it can be terminated at any time. To qualify for DACA, you must show the following: 1. That you were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 and are at least 15 years old at the time of filing DACA (exceptions for children in removal proceedings);2. That you came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;3. You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present;4. You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making his or her request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;5. That you entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or his his/her lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;6. You must be currently in school, graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or have been honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and7. You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and does not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
Nothing on this website or associated pages, documents, comments, answers, email, articles or other communications should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. The responses and information are intended to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice, consult an experienced immigration attorney.
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