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Immigration Law FAQ

What is a ‘green card’?

A “green card,” issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), provides proof of lawful permanent resident status, with authorization to live and work anywhere in the United States. Most green cards must be renewed every 10 years, but conditional green cards based on marriage or investment must be replaced after the first 2 years.

What is USCIS?

U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the government agency that oversees legal immigration to the United States. USCIS is primarily responsible for approving green cards, naturalization, work permits, travel permits, and other “immigration benefits.”

What is a lawful permanent resident?

A lawful permanent resident, also known as a “green card holder,” is a foreign national who is authorized to live and work anywhere in the United States, sponsor certain relatives for their own green cards, and ultimately apply for U.S. citizenship.

What is conditional permanent residence?

A conditional green card is valid for only 2 years, and the designation “CR1” on the physical card stands for “conditional resident.” A conditional green card holder must file Form I-751 to “remove the conditions” and obtain a permanent green card. In most cases, a conditional green card is issued to a spouse who has been married for less than 2 years at the time their green card was first approved.

Why would a green card application be denied?

A green card application may be denied by the U.S. government for several reasons, including but not limited to mistakes on the required forms, missing documents, insufficient financial resources, or failure to demonstrate eligibility.

Can I work in the United States while waiting for my green card?

Anyone who already has a valid work visa (for example, an H-1B or L-1 visa) can usually continue working in the United States even while applying for a U.S. green card. Otherwise, green card applicants aren’t allowed to start working in the United States until they obtain a work permit by filing Form I-765.

What is a biometric screening?

During a biometric screening, a government representative records an individual’s fingerprints and takes their photos and signature, in order to check government records for any serious criminal history or relevant prior immigration violations.

What documents do I need for a marriage green card?

The required documents for a marriage green card can vary by situation, but in general the couple must provide evidence, such as proof that the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident; a copy of their marriage certificate; evidence that the marriage is authentic; and evidence that the sponsoring spouse can financially support the spouse seeking a green card.

What is an Affidavit of Support (I-864)

Most green card applicants must have a U.S. sponsor who accepts financial responsibility for them upon arriving in the United States. An “Affidavit of Support” (Form I-864) is essentially a contract between the financial sponsor and the U.S. government, where the financial sponsor demonstrates that they meet the government’s income requirements.

What do I do if I’ve received a deportation order?

Receiving a deportation order does not necessarily mean there is no hope to stay in this country. An individual can challenge, appeal, or otherwise seek to stay a deportation order. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) handles deportations and removal proceedings. DHS sends an individual a Notice to Appear, which will contain the details of why the proceeding has been initiated. The notice will also provide the date of the first hearing. The initial hearing is procedural, and the individual will receive information about his or her rights. At the end of the hearing, an evidentiary hearing is set. The evidentiary hearing is when a federal immigration judge will hear the evidence against the individual. The government must show through clear and convincing evidence that the individual is removable from the United States. The individual will be able to present evidence, such as documents and witness testimony, in his or her defense. If your claim is denied, you can file an appeal with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).

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