Questions and Answers


Immigration Law Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Dear Immigration Attorney, I am a refugee and I filed for Green Card (I-485 Application for Green Card (Adjustment of Status) over 6 month ago. When I call immigration service they tell me that FBI checks my records. I do not have criminal records or any violations of US immigration law. How long should I wait for?

A. Dear Refugee,
Beginning February 28, 2008, if you are a refugee and your application has been pending for over 180 days, they have to consider the application favorably.

Q. Dear Immigration Attorney, I am a Legal Permanent Resident and I lived in the US for 12 years. I committed a crime and my conviction term was 2 years in prison. I was released on parole after 9 month. I started seeing my parole officer once a week and one day when I came to see the officer I was detained by ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and put into removal proceedings. Is there a way for me to stay in the US?

A. Dear Detainee,
The short answer is “it depends”. You might be eligible for cancellation of removal. Cancellation of removal for permanent residents, (previously known as 212(c) relief), is available to an alien who is inadmissible or deportable from the United States if the alien: (1) has been an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence for not less than five years, (2) has resided in the United States continuously for seven years after having been admitted in any status, and (3) has not been convicted of any aggravated felony.

Q. Dear Immigration Attorney, I came to the US on tourist visa and I overstayed. Now I live in the US illegaly. My US Citizen brother filed I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on my behalf three years ago. US immigration services approved his petition and I was waiting for the next available visa. One month ago my brother passed away and now all my hopes to obtain American legal permanent residence are gone. I have a US Citizen sister in the US but I’m afraid I would have to wait for many more years.

A. Dear Beneficiary of the Immigration Petition,
Fortunately for you, the petition that your US Citizen brother had filed for you did not die with him. Your US Citizen sister can become a substitute sponsor to enable your to obtain green card. This a discretionary relief and among other evidence you should be prepared to demonstrate strong ties to the US community.

Q. Dear Immigration Attorney, I came to US on Student Visa F-1 and finished my studies last semester. I plan to return to my home country but I would like to travel in the United States. How long can I stay in the US without causing myself immigration problems?

A. Dear Student,
Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and being out-of-status in the United States is a violation of U.S. immigration laws, and may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the U.S. According to US immigration laws (8 CFR 214.2(f)(5)(iv) (“Duration of Status”)) an F-1 student who has completed a course of study and any authorized practical training following completion of studies will be allowed an additional 60-day period to prepare for departure from the United States or to transfer in accordance with paragraph (f)(8) [School transfer] of this section. It is important that you depart the U.S. on or before the last day you are authorized to be in the U.S.

Q. Dear Immigration Attorney, I am on a student visa in the US and unfortunately, I was erroneously arrested and charged with soliciting a prostitute. I don’t have a criminal conviction because the investigation just begun. I would like to travel back to my home country for the summer and then come back to continue my studies.

A. Dear Student,
You may not be admitted back to the United States because you were simply charged with procurement of prostitute. There are grounds of inadmissibility based on conduct which do not require a conviction (e.g. trafficking, prostitution). INA 212 reads in relevant:

(D) Prostitution and commercialized vice.-Any alien who-
(i) is coming to the United States solely, principally, or incidentally to engage in prostitution, or has engaged in prostitution within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status,
(ii) directly or indirectly procures or attempts to procure, or (within 10 years of the date of application for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status) procured or attempted to procure or to import, prostitutes or persons for the purpose of prostitution, or receives or (within such 10- year period) received, in whole or in part, the proceeds of prostitution, or
(iii) is coming to the United States to engage in any other unlawful commercialized vice, whether or not related to prostitution, is inadmissible.

Each time you present yourself to port of entry or US consulate or for adjustment of status, you must demonstrate that you are admissible. Therefore, if you is looking to apply for a green card, a new visa, or admission at a port of entry, you may have to seek a waiver based on the conduct that you allegedly committed.

Q. Dear Immigration Attorney, I am married to a US Citizen spouse and I have had a permanent Green Card for over 3 years. I heard that I can only apply for US Citizenship after 5 years.

A. Dear Green Card Holder,
If you are applying based on 5 years as a Permanent Resident or 3 years as a Permanent Resident married to a U.S. citizen, you may file for naturalization up to 90 days before you meet the continuous residence requirement. For example, if you are applying based on 3 years of continuous residence as a Permanent Resident married to a U.S. citizen, you can apply any time after you have been a Permanent Resident in continuous residence for 3 years minus 90 days. You may send your application before you have met the requirement for continuous residence only. Therefore, you must still have been married to and living with your U.S. citizen spouse for 3 years before you may file your application. You must also meet all the other eligibility requirements when you file your application with USCIS.

Q. Dear Immigration Lawyer, if I leave the US, can I continue to receive Social Security benefits?

A. Dear Client,
If you are a United States citizen, you can travel or live in most foreign countries without affecting your eligibility for Social Security benefits.

However, there are a few countries—Cambodia, Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and many of the former U.S.S.R. republics (except Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Russia)—where Social Security Administration cannot send Social Security payments.

If you are not a United States citizen, the law requires Social Security Administration to stop your payments after you have been outside the United States for six consecutive calendar months unless you meet one of several exceptions in the law which will permit you to continue receiving benefits abroad. These exceptions are based, for the most part, on your citizenship.

For example, if you are entitled to worker’s benefits and are a citizen of one of the many countries with which the United States has a reciprocal arrangement to pay each other’s citizens in another country, your Social Security benefits may continue after you leave the United States.


Q. Dear Immigration Lawyer, I am an LPR (green card holder) and I had a prior felony conviction.  I had this conviction vacated and I have a proof that it was reduced to a minor violation. I was detained at the border by CBP agents and they took my green card away.  They told me to bring a proof that I do not have a felony conviction and they gave me some document. I don’t know what to do now.

A. Dear Client,
Deferred inspections are used when an immediate decision concerning the immigration status of an arriving traveler cannot be made at the port of entry due to a lack of documentation. On a case-by-case basis, the port of entry may schedule the traveler to report to a Deferred Inspection Site at a future date in order to present the necessary documentation and/or information. You should have been given an Order to Appear-Deferred Inspection, Form I-546, explaining what information and/or documentation is required to resolve the discrepancy.  Upon presentment to the CBP the court ordered proof that you are no longer a felon, CPB is likely to return your green card to you.

Please contact our experienced Connecticut immigration lawyers to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation.

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