Top Rated Immigration Lawyer Walker-Gates Vela, PLLC Austin, TX
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Austin, TX Immigration Lawyers
How to become a citizen? What is the application process to apply for U.S. citizenship?
The process of becoming a naturalized citizen of the United States begins with the filing of an N-400 application. Along with the N-400 form, you are required to include certain required documents, which will vary depending on individual circumstances. Once all the paperwork has been filed, USCIS will mail you an appointment letter to have your biometrics taken. Following the biometrics appointment, USCIS will schedule an interview where you will need to answer questions about your application and background as well as take the English and civics test. By law, you are allowed to have an attorney present during your interview.
What are the requirements to apply for U.S. citizenship?
In order to naturalize as a citizen of the United States, the initial requirement for all applicants is to be a Permanent Resident (i.e. have a Green Card). Depending on your situation, you'll need to have been a permanent resident for at least three to five years prior to applying for citizenship. In addition, you must be at least 18 years old when you file your naturalization application; be able to speak, read and write basic English; and be a person of good moral character. For many of the requirements, certain exceptions apply and it's useful to consult with an attorney to see whether you qualify for requirement exemptions.
How do I go from Green Card to citizenship?
As a Green Card holder, you will need to have permanently resided in the United States for a period of at least three or five years (depending on your path to becoming a Permanent Resident) prior to applying for citizenship. After satisfying the time requirement, Green Card holders will need to apply for naturalization through USCIS in order to obtain U.S. citizenship. A reputable immigration attorney can help you through this process.
How do I get a Green Card for my parents?
Regardless of your status within the country, obtaining a Green Card for your parents can be a complex process. Green Card holders are barred from petitioning Green Cards for their parents. In order to sponsor your parents for permanent residency in the United States, you will need to be over 21 and a U.S. citizen. The process of sponsoring your parents to receive Green Cards will vary depending on personal and family factors. An attorney can help ensure you avoid costly mistakes and/or omissions on the application as well as during the process that could jeopardize your parents' chance of receiving Green Cards. There are no quota restrictions for this type of Green Card.
Can I obtain a Green Card through marriage?
You can obtain permanent residency in the United States through marriage to a U.S. citizen. Even after marriage to a U.S. citizen, the petition process for a Green Card can still be a lengthy, complicated ordeal requiring significant paperwork and documentation. You can also obtain a Green Card via marriage to a current Green Card holder. However, your petition will be placed in a limited category with annual quotas and it may be several years before you're allowed to enter the United States on an immigrant visa to receive your Green Card. It's important to remember that marriage to a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder will not automatically confer upon you Green Card status. Speaking to an immigration attorney is a great way to explore all your options in obtaining a Green Card.
Can a Green Card holder sponsor a family member?
A Green Card holder may sponsor his/her spouse as well as any unmarried children. However, any familial relation that a Green Card holder is allowed to sponsor will have to wait several years (at least) before granted entry into the United States. It is important to note that Green Card holders are barred from petitioning Green Cards for their parents. Non-resident relatives of Green Card holders are placed in a quota-limited category separate from consideration of immediate relative petitions for U.S. citizens. The segment of immigration law dealing with the sponsorship of family members to gain permanent residency in the United States is particularly tricky and complicated. Immigration lawyers can assist you in finding legal methods of bringing your family members to this country as quickly as possible.
What is the H1B to Green Card process?
Going from an H-1B visa to a Green Card is one of the most complicated processes in immigration law. There are many steps that both you and your employer must take in order to make that transition. During the Green Card application process, which can be lengthy, it is critical that you maintain lawful immigration status. Under certain circumstances, you can request an extension of your H-1B status in one-year increments while your Green Card application is being processed. H-1B extension processing time usually averages around 2-3 months although USCIS doesn't offer any time guarantees. Working with an attorney to ensure timely and proper filing while remaining in legal immigration compliance is crucial to a successful adjustment of your status.
How long does I-140 processing take and what is premium processing?
In the United States, there are two USCIS service centers which process the I-140 immigration form. The time it takes to process will vary slightly depending on the service center. However, in general, the form takes an average of six months to process. Premium processing is a service offered by USCIS which guarantees processing of your I-140 within two weeks. This service requires an additional fee of over $1200. If USCIS is unable to process your form within 2 weeks, it will refund your money and continue with expedited processing. An immigration attorney will be able to provide you with much more specific information and can advise you on the best course of action with regards to filing your I-140.
What is a K-1 Visa?
A K-1 visa is a non-immigrant travel visa which allows you to bring your fiancé(e) in to the country for the purpose of marriage. The visa carries with it a short duration of stay, you'll need to marry your fiancé(e) within 90 days of arrival. Once married, you can help your significant other apply for adjustment of status towards permanent residency. Since K-1 visas carry certain restrictions and the process for receiving a K-1 visa is tricky and complicated, an immigration attorney can help offer solutions and advise you on all your options.
Are you entering the United States as a result of a job offer from a U.S. employer, enrollment as a student, or marriage to a U.S. citizen?
Your reason for entering the U.S. will determine whether or not you need an immigration attorney and/or what type of assistance you will require.
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