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The Citizenship Journey from the Perspective of a Pasadena Immigration Attorney

Immigration and citizenship are hot button topics these days since a certain audacious billionaire from New York City became the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. But even before Donald Trump enlivened his base while insulting the nation of Mexico with his caustic remarks, immigration and the path to U.S. citizenship has been a major issue for years that has sparked debate without much in the way of a consensus toward resolution.

In reality, immigration to the U.S. is largely a lottery system for many unless you are an immediate family member of a U.S. citizen living here. There are exceptions, of course, but the road can be difficult if you are not prepared and well advised. The citizenship journey for many immigrants demands the services of a skilled and experienced immigration attorney such as those at Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law.

Filing for Immigration

Immigration is regulated by federal law and by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) which sets the number of green cards that are available each year, issued by the U.S. Department of State. Countries are allotted a certain number of visas. Visa numbers are given out by preference category and priority date, which determines your place in a queue. When your priority date is reached, you may apply for the visa. You can check your place on the waiting list per the Visa Bulletin published by the State Department.

If you are in the United States, your first step is to determine your immigrant status before filing for adjustment of status. If you live outside the U.S., you would need to go to a consulate or embassy for consular processing.

Your immigrant status fits within one of the following categories:

  • Family based
  • Employer based
  • Refugee or asylum
  • Special class
  • Other humanitarian

Family based immigrants need to have a U.S. relative file a Form I-130 Petition for alien relative for them. For those seeking visas to work in the U.S., the qualifying American company or business will have to file a Form I-140 Petition for Alien Worker. Only so many foreign workers are allowed in the U.S. based on a lottery system. Another option, if you have considerable resources and wish to invest in a U.S. venture, is Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, which must be filed by the company desiring the foreign capital investment.

Certain individuals may file the Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, such as immediate family relatives of U.S. citizens residing in the U.S. An immediate family relative is a spouse of a U.S. citizen, parents of a U.S. citizen and unmarried minor children (under age 21) of a U.S. citizen.

You can file concurrently as well, if there is a visa immediately available to you in your particular category. If you had a particular job in another country — such as being an Iraqi or Afghan translator or someone who as a citizen of these countries assisted the U.S. government, or you are a broadcaster, armed forces member or religious worker, among others — you may be able to obtain a green card under this special category, so long as other conditions are present. There are other special immigration categories as well that we can advise you on, so long as you qualify.

The Immigration or Naturalization Interview

Not everyone has to endure the immigration interview, but if you just married a U.S. citizen, you will need to be ready for the green card interview that is designed to uncover sham marriages. You will have completed and filed an N-400 Application before this interview that will be reviewed by the USCIS officer with you.

It is not a good idea to go to the interview without documentation regarding the bona fides of your marriage and without knowing what questions will be asked, nor being without legal representation. Many legitimate applicants have jeopardized their applications or have had valid marriages ruled fraudulent because they failed to appreciate the serious nature of the interview or exaggerated or lied about certain matters they thought were inconsequential.

At Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law, we will thoroughly prepare you for the interview as well as checking to be sure you can speak passable English and can pass the civics test. Some of our other suggestions include:

  • Arrive early at the interview even though you may have to wait a long time. An attorney will be there with you.
  • Dress appropriately.
  • We will review with you any changes in your N-400 form since it was submitted.
  • We will ensure you have documentation for any changes to the N-400 information, such as change of employer, residence, or trips made outside the U.S., or if another child was born to you.
  • We will review with you other changes that could affect your application, such as an arrest.
  • We will review 100 possible questions a USCIS officer may ask you.
  • Be courteous to the officer.
  • Only answer the questions that are asked; do not elaborate unless asked.
  • If this is a marriage interview, we will carefully prepare both you and your spouse for the questioning and see that you have relevant documents.

A Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law attorney will advise you regarding the interview based on your status, which determines the purpose of the interview, to give you the best chance possible of being approved.

Retain a Pasadena Immigration Attorney

Your Pasadena immigration attorney is at the Lee, Green, Stewart & Paul Attorneys at Law offices. We focus exclusively on immigration, appeals, asylum hearings, preparing our clients for interviews and ensuring that applications are properly prepared and considered. Our goal is to counsel you about your immigration and citizenship status and to get you on the proper path toward U.S. citizenship. For clients seeking asylum or refugee status, we can review your application and advise you if your circumstances qualify you.

For the majority of immigrants seeking a green card, we can help by preparing the paperwork and documentation you will need to get a visa number or qualify as an immediate family member without the delays that often occur if you use an inexperienced immigration lawyer.