At Shestopalko Law, we want to help you adjust your immigration status and eventually become a Citizen of the United States. Obtaining a green card or adjustment of immigration status is a crucial step in the immigration process which will eventually qualify you to become a Citizen of the United States. There are many benefits of becoming an American citizen. As an American citizen, you may vote, and you may petition your family to join you in the United States, and most importantly you will no longer have to live in fear of ever being deported. We understand the process can be confusing and complex and that is why we will be with you every step of the way.
Adjustment of Status (Green Card)
When a person wants to become a Permanent Resident of the United States, he or she must first obtain a green card. Originally deriving its name from the color of the card, a green card is the status of a person authorized to permanently live and work in the United States. Adjustment of Status (getting a green card) is the process by which a non-United States citizen applies to become a Permanent Resident of the United States. Once a person becomes a Permanent Resident, they must carry their residency documentation (green card) with them. A green card offers important rights and protections. After a certain number of years, a green card holder can apply to become a naturalized United States citizen. The most common ways for an alien to qualifying for Adjustment their Status or obtaining a green card are:
Certain requirements must be met before an alien can apply for an Adjustment of Status obtain a green card:
There are two primary paths for a non-citizen to Adjust their Immigration Status or obtain a green card.
Adjustment of Immigration Status (green card) applicants wishing to complete the process in the United States must first file status granting forms (I-589, I-130, I-140 and others). Once the status granting form is approved, the applicant must file I-485. It could take six to 36 months or more to obtain a green card after a complete and valid I-485 was submitted. The process includes an adjustment of status (green card) interview, medical exam, and background check. Those hoping to work or travel during the period when their green card application is processing should also apply for EAD (work permit) and advance parole (travel permit). Note: not all applicants will qualify for the work/travel permit and the advance parole does not guarantee re-entry into the United States. It also does not cure any prior overstay.
In some cases, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will interview an adjustment of status applicant. Typically, the interview will last around 20 to 60 minutes. The officer conducting the interview will ask the applicant questions regarding his or her application and will verify the pertinent documents. An applicant going to an interview should bring a complete copy of his or her visa petition and adjustment status application as well as any documents that may be relevant to his or her application.
Those Fiancés who adjusted their status (obtained their green cards) based upon a marriage to a United States Citizen (Fiancés who traveled to the United States on a K-1 or K-2 Visa) will receive a conditional green card. The conditional green card is valid for two years from the date of issuance. He or she will be required to apply for an unconditional permanent green card prior to the expiration date of the conditional green card and show evidence that the marriage was bona fide (real) and not entered into to evade immigration laws. This process is called removal of conditions on a green card. An applicant is still eligible to remove conditions on their green card through a waiver even if they divorced or their spouse passed away prior to the expiration of the two years period. However, an experienced immigration attorney is usually required in order to comply with the waiver’s requirements.
A person with a labor certification or a visa petition filed on their behalf on or before January 14, 1998 is qualified for the benefits of adjustment of status or obtaining a green card. Under the special adjustment of status law, a person who has a labor certification or visa petition filed on their behalf after January 14, 1998, but on or before April 30, 2001, is also qualified for the benefits of special adjustment of status law but only if they were physically present in the United States on the date of enactment of the new law on December 21, 2000. This adjustment of status is becoming progressively more rare and complicated; please consult an experienced immigration attorney in order to meet the requirements of the special adjustment of status law.
Benefits of Adjusting Immigration Status (obtaining a green card):
Naturalization is a process by which a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) becomes a United States Citizen. United States Citizenship is considered by many to be the ultimate benefit granted by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to an immigrant. For this reason, it is important that you hire an experienced naturalization lawyer to review and process your case. Shestopalko Law has the experience necessary to review your immigration history and process your naturalization application as quickly as possible.
Benefits of Naturalization (Citizenship):
In order to become a United States Citizen, a Lawful Permanent Resident must:
An alien applying for Naturalization must prove that they had Good Moral Character throughout the time of residency. Therefore, it is important for the applicant to disclose all criminal arrests to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services regardless of how minor they were. Even arrests that were expunged or sealed by a Criminal State or Federal Court, the arrest must be disclosed. Convictions of gambling, drug possession, drug distribution, prostitution, fraud, smuggling, and other felonies may cause an individual to be considered of bad moral character and disqualify them from citizenship. Any past immigration fraud will disqualify an applicant from proving the necessary good moral chapter to obtain United States citizenship. Other offense like Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) or Driving Under the Influence (DUI) may cause the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services to deny the Naturalization application. Applicants with issues relating to their good moral character should obtain help from an experienced immigration attorney who will aid them in overcoming these issues.
Once an application is filed, the interview will be scheduled. At this mandatory interview the applicant will answer questions about himself of herself, his or hers application and his or hers background. There are two tests as part of the interview: a written examination and an oral examination. During the oral examination, the interviewer will ask the applicant questions about American history and civics. During the written examination, the applicant will be tested on their ability to read, speak, write, and understand English. By taking and passing these tests, the applicant will prove that he or she can read and write English and that he or she is knowledgeable of the history and government of the United States. Depending on applicant’s age and the length of time that he or she has resided in the United States as a lawful permanent resident, he or she may be able to take the examinations in your native language. In addition, there are exemptions from these tests for applicants who are able to show medical documentation of mental or physical disability. An applicant may be represented by an attorney during the interview.
Once the applicant has passed his or hers naturalization interview, he or she will receive a ceremony date. At this ceremony, he or she will return his or hers green card and take a ceremonial Oath of Allegiance. The applicant will then receive his or hers Certificate of Naturalization and be granted all of the rights and responsibilities of a United States citizen.