You may become a lawful permanent resident if you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States or a Lawful Permanent Resident. U. S. Citizens may also file for a fiance or fiancée visa for someone they intend to marry upon that person's entry into the United States.
Your relative will have to prove that they can support you at 125% above the mandated poverty line. Once you are issued a Lawful Permanent Resident ("Green") Card, it is valid for 10 years. It may be replaced if it expires, or if it is lost or stolen.
In marriage visa cases, where the couple have not been married for two years, the green card is temporary, and expires in two years. Prior to the two year expiration date, the couple must file a petition to remove conditions of residence. The green card issued following approval of the petition to remove conditions of residence will be permanent, and will expire in ten years, subject to being renewed in ten year increments.
Under U. S. Citizenship law, four years and nine months after obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) status (two years and nine months for LPRs married to and living with a U. S. citizen), LPRs can be "naturalized" as citizens of the U. S.
Naturalization applicants must prove that they maintained permanent residence in the United States for the required period of five (or three) years, have never had a continuous period of one year or more outside of the United States, have been physically present in the United States for at least one half of that time, and have been residents in the state in which they are applying for at least three months.
There are also other requirements, such as a satisfactory score on the U. S. Citizenship test, which measures the applicant's ability to read, write and speak English and the applicant's knowledge of U. S. History and civics.
Citizenship applicants must also show that they possess good moral character. This means that they must avoid any police or criminal law problems, support their children and other dependents, and pay their income taxes on time.
Removal, commonly called "deportation," is the process whereby aliens who have been denied admission upon arrival or who have been admitted are removed from the United States. Common grounds for removal are inadmissibility, visa overstay and criminal convictions.
Some Lawful Permanent Residents ("LPRs") may be able to avoid removal by seeking a form of relief from removal called “cancellation of removal," provided they have not been convicted of any "aggravated felonies,” which need not actually be felonies.
Cancellation may also be available to nonpermanent residents if they have been in the U. S. for at least ten years, and they establish that their removal would cause extremely unusual hardship to their U. S. Citizen or LPR spouse, parent or child.
Asylum may be granted if the applicant has suffered persecution in the past in his or her country of nationality on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. "Persecution" means that harm or suffering has or will be inflicted upon the applicant, in order to punish the applicant for possessing one or more of those protected characteristics. It includes threats to life or freedom, confinement, torture, the denial of the right to work, to pursue an education, to marry, to practice one’s religion, to receive due process of law, as well as the imposition of severe economic restrictions.
An applicant for asylum must show that race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinon was or will be "one central reason" for persecuting him or her. Harm motivated by other reasons does not provide a basis for asylum.
The applicant's testimony, or statement, standing alone, may be sufficient to establish persecution, if it is credible (believable), persuasive and specific. Oftentimes, supporting documentary (paper) evidence must be offered, such as photos, medical records, police reports, newspaper articles, and other material.
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