Experienced Representation - Dedicated Service

Main Office Locations:

USA: 3520 NW 43rd Street  ·  Gainesville, FL  32606  ·  (904) 425-8078
Europe: Tandbergvegen 88 ·  1929 Auli, Norway  ·  + 47 40 10 18 24
Coming Soon: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Office

        

Frequent Immigration Law Questions

Following are some frequently asked questions about immigration (click on a question to view the answer):

How do I get a green card?

How do I sponsor a family member for a green card?

What is an H1B visa, and how do I obtain one?

Can attorney representation really make a difference in my immigration proceeding?

How long will my immigration process take?

I am a US citizen, and I wish to marry a foreign citizen... what do I do to bring them here to the United States?

How do I get a green card?

Getting a green card (permanent residency card) is by far the greatest aspiration of non-immigrants both within and outside the United States. There are two primary ways of gaining permanent residence: family-based and employment-based. A family-based green card can be obtained based upon a qualifying family relationship, such as through a spouse, child, parent, or sibling. Immediate relatives of a United States citizen, such as a spouse, parent, or minor child (including stepchildren), have the "fastest" route to a green card. Other qualifying relationships may be subject to backlogs, before a green card can be obtained.

An employment-based green card is often times a very complex process. For a limited number of individuals, such as those with "exceptional" ability in the arts or sciences, intracompany managerial transferees, or those engaged in pre-certified "shortage" occupations, such as nursing or physical therapy, obtaining an employment-based green card is relatively straightforward and quicker. However, for most individuals, an intensive labor certification process (PERM) must occur, including good faith recruitment, before a green card may be had. Under such a process, a green card may be obtained only if no domestic workers who meet minimum qualifications (which cannot usually be catered to the beneficiary's qualifications), are interested in the job opportunity. If no qualified applicants express interest in the job opportunity, then a green card is possible if other general criteria, such as financial criteria, are met.

We assist families and individuals across the United States with their questions and issues involving the green card process. To discuss your green card questions or inquiries, please do not hesitate to telephone us or e-mail us.

[Back to Top]

How do I sponsor a family member for a green card?

Another popular question we often receive, is how a person may sponsor a family member for a green card. First, be aware that not all family relationships can lead to green card sponsorship. For example, an uncle is usually unable to sponsor a nephew or niece for a green card. If you are a US citizen, you can sponsor a parent, minor child, or spouse for a green card through the standard I130/I485 adjustment process, and the process will not be subject to any immigrant visa backlogs.

Other qualifying family relationships exist, such as sponsoring married sons and daughters, or brothers and sisters. Moreover, permanent residents can sponsor their spouses for green cards (though they are unable to sponsor parents, which is a sponsorship class limited to US citizens). However, these categories are subject to extensive backlogs.

Many times, we have helped individuals formulate a strategy for green card sponsorship of a family member, that will result in the shortest possible wait time. For example, we might recommend that a permanent resident apply for naturalization first, if eligible to do so, in order to obtain US citizen status, which opens up a myriad of greater and quicker sponsorship opportunities. In other cases, we may explain options such as the K-1 fiance visa, K-3 spousal visa, of V visa for spouses of permanent residencts. Every situation is unique, and that is where an attorney can assist you in coming up with the best possible sponsorship solution. To discuss your situation, please do not hesitate to telephone us or e-mail us.

[Back to Top]

What is an H1B visa and how do I obtain one?

One of the most common non-immigrant "work" visas for foreign professionals is the H1B visa. This visa is not available for all workers, however, as strict criteria must be satisfied. Moreover, there are limited numbers of H1B visas available each year, so "cap" issues are common.

In order to qualify for an H1B visa, you must be engaged in a "specialty occupation", which in simplified terms, usually is a position which requires a Bachelor's Degree or higher, and is in a specific field of endeavour, such as marketing, engineering, physics, math, education, accounting, or the like. You must usually possess a college degree in the area of intended employment, or sufficient work experience for each year of college not completed. Not all professional positions are "specialty occupations" for purposes of H1B sponsorship. You also must have an employer sponsor you for the visa in that specialty occupation, and the employer must agree, as specified in a Labor Condition Application filed and certifed by the Department of Labor, that it will agree to pay you a specified salary that exceeds the "prevailing wage" for that position in the geographic job market where you will be employed.

Some of the biggest H1B issues that arise are determination of whether or not a position qualifies as a specialty occupation, whether the intended beneficiary is qualified for H1B status, and whether cap problems are present. Often times, we assist employers with crafting the job description in such a way so as to highlight the specialty occupation nature of the position. We also can help an employer recognize and cope with cap issues under the H1B visa program. In short, we have found that nearly all employers benefit from attorney representation when attempting to secure an H1B visa for a potential hire. To discuss your H1B situation, please do not hesitate to telephone us or e-mail us.

[Back to Top]

Can attorney representation really make a difference in my immigration proceeding?

When discussing an immigration situation with a potential client, a question we commonly hear is whether or not having an attorney will really make a difference in their immigration proceeding. First, as a caveat, immigration attorneys are not able to change the facts of a case, nor are they permitted to help a client evade immigration laws or commit immigration fraud. Nevertheless, in nearly all cases, from simple to complex, an experienced immigration attorney can be the difference between a smooth and enjoyable USCIS experience, or a nightmare.

Even in the simplest immigration cases, we are approached by clients who have first tried to "do the process themselves", only to find out they made mistakes such as sending a petition to a wrong filing address, or mailing in an incorrect payment. Such a simple mistake can add months, and in some cases years, onto the process. In other cases, a potential client seeks representation after they have unknowingly submitted an incomplete application, without all the proper forms or supporting documentation. Finally, some clients fail to recognize the importance of certain aspects of their immigration situation, such as the impact a DUI may have on the permanent residence or naturalization process.

Thus, we strongly recommend that everyone involved in an immigration proceeding or process, secure experienced immigration counsel of their own choosing. To discuss your immigration situation with us, please do not hesitate to e-mail us or telephone us.

[Back to Top]

How long will my immigration process take?

Unfortunately, immigration proceedings are usually subject to lengthy delays. While attorney representation can help avoid mistakes that cost needless delays in your matter, some processing delays are inevitable. Processing times can vary by the nature of the proceeding, and depending upon the location of the USCIS office handling the proceeding. For example, a decision on an H1B work visa petition can usually be had within 15 days by electing premium processing. However, such a premium processing option does not exist for family-based petitions, so family green card petitions can take months, and in some cases, years to process.

In some cases, we are approached by prospective clients that have already submitted an application or petition, and are concerned that they have not yet heard anything from the USCIS on that petition or application. This may sometimes be a sign that something is wrong or incomplete with your documentation and/or forms. We then can assist the client in trying to determine with the USCIS whether any further action is needed to move the case forward.

Once we know the facts of your situation, and the process that will be required, we are able to give you an estimate of the processing time that you should expect. To call us about your immigration process, please telephone us or e-mail us.

[Back to Top]

I am a US citizen, and I wish to marry a foreign citizen... what do I do to bring them here to the United States?

The process of bringing a foreign citizen fiance/spouse to the United States can vary depending upon whether or not the marriage is to occur here in the United States, or overseas. If the marriage is to occur in the United States, then a K-1 fiance visa may be an appropriate option. That visa, which in most cases takes about 3-7 months to obtain, allows a foreign citizen to enter the United States for the purpose of marrying a US citizen within 90 days of entry. Once the marriage occurs, the foreign citizen can pursue the I-485 green card process in the United States.

If the marriage takes place overseas, then usually a K-3 spousal visa is obtained. First, an I-130 petition is filed, and then, once a receipt from that petition is received, an I129F form is filed, claiming K3 status for a spouse (as opposed to K1 status for a fiance). Once the K-3 spouse enters the United States, s/he can wait out the I130 process, and file an I485 green card application when the I130 is approved.

Note that a common practice is to simply have the person you intend to marry enter the country in a visitor's visa, and then marry them once they have arrived. Yet if there is a preconceived plan to marry when the foreign citizen gains admission in B status, that will constitute immigration fraud, as that is an invalid purpose for using the B visitor visa. If the marriage occurs within 30 up to 90 days of admission in visitor visa status, certain USCIS offices will apply a presumption of immigration fraud. Of course, if there was no preconceived plan to marry, and marriage results spontaneously a reasonable time after entry in B status, this issue is rarely raised by the USCIS (though again, there are never any guarantees when marrying on a visitor visa).

To discuss your marriage-based green card process, please do not hesitate to telephone us or e-mail us.

[Back to Top]



©2006. 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 Richard Ruth    


.
The hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements.  Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience.  This site is established to provide accurate and reliable information about  the law practice of Attorney Richard L. Ruth, Esquire, whose main offices are located at 3520 NW 43rd Street in Gainesville, Florida, telephone (904) 425-8078.  No information provided here is to be considered legal advice, nor does use of this site create an attorney-client relationship.