Who Qualifies for Adjustment of Status Without Leaving the Country?

If none of the aforementioned options apply to you and you have to leave the country, there are still a few more options to make it easier for you. For instance, if your US citizen spouse filed an I-130 family-based petition for you, and assuming there are no other grounds of inadmissibility, then you can file a waiver for unlawful presence.  

If you are in the United States and, before leaving for your interview, you file a provisional waiver for unlawful presence that is based on the hardship that your US citizen or resident spouse or parent would have during the time you are gone, you would leave for your interview for a few weeks instead of leaving for years. If all goes well in the interview and after you pass inspection, you would be considered a lawful permanent resident.

The problem is that you won’t have a work permit in the meantime, and the process is lengthier. That is why, before going down that route, it is very important to exhaust all possibilities of adjusting status without having to leave the country, since there might be other alternatives for you or your loved ones.

For anyone who is working through an immigration process to become a resident, few things are more dreadful than the idea of having to leave the United States for an immigration interview abroad. Especially if you have been living here for many years, just the thought of getting a denial for your request is enough to leave you overwhelmed.

However, if you qualify for Adjustment of Status, you could complete your immigration process (for example, your I-130 family-based petition) within the United States and without having to leave the country once. Who qualifies and what are the benefits? Keep reading to find out more.

Is getting your green card through adjustment of status an available option for you? You might have been told in the past that you don’t have a case, but you might be surprised after you consult with a licensed immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can answer your questions and find the right option for you to get you your legal permanent residency. 

The Benefits of Adjustment of Status

One of the most noteworthy benefits of adjusting status is that you won’t have to travel abroad for an immigration interview. This in itself is a big deal, mostly because going abroad is typically costlier and the process takes longer. It is also riskier, because your case can be denied and you don’t have as many rights abroad as you do here.

Another important difference between adjusting status here versus having to leave, is that, after you qualify for adjustment of status, you can get some sort of work permit and travel permit, whereas if you don’t qualify and need to go abroad for your interview, you won’t have a work permit nor travel permit in the meantime, which can make the whole process harder.

It is clear, then, that you should see if you qualify to adjust your status here, in the United States, before you try to pursue any other option. A professional immigration attorney can help you analyze your individual circumstances to see where you stand.

Who Qualifies for Adjustment of Status?

First, you can qualify for adjustment of status without leaving the country if you can prove lawful entry. A lawful entry means that you entered with inspection and with a valid document into the United States. If this is your case and you are filing a family-based petition, then you can do the whole immigration process here with adjustment of status.

Regarding a lawful entry with inspection, it is noteworthy to mention that, if you were just waved in at the land border and maybe you didn’t even get your passport stamped, or perhaps you didn’t have valid documents with you but you were waved in, that could count as an inspection and lawful entry. The tricky part, however, is proving that you were waved in, but it is possible to present evidence and this needs to be considered on a casa by case basis.  

Another factor to consider if you are trying to adjust status through a family petition, is who is the one petitioning you. For instance, if your family-based petition is through a US citizen spouse or a US citizen child, then you can adjust status even if you overstayed your visa or were just waved in. But if the one petitioning you is, for example, your US citizen sibling or you are the adult child of a US, then you will not be considered an immediate relative and you won’t be able to adjust status if you overstayed your travel document, even if you had a lawful entry with inspection.

The second way through which you may qualify to adjust your status is under section 245(i) of the Legal Immigration Family Equity Life Act. To qualify for this provision, you must be the beneficiary of a labor certification application or immigrant visa petition filed on or before April 30, 2001. 

Some people who have 245(i) are unaware of it. For example, perhaps you were the minor child or the spouse of the beneficiary at the time, and you may have it too. Even if you are divorced from that person, but back then you qualified as a beneficiary of that petition, you might have your own 245(i). There are other details to consider, so your best option is to ask an immigration attorney.

Other ways in which you may qualify for adjustment of status and not have to leave the country are if you have Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or some form of advanced parole or travel permit. For example, people with DACA may qualify for an advanced parole and get a travel permit for humanitarian, educational, or business reasons. After you leave the country and return with your advanced parole, then that counts as your lawful admission for adjustment of status.

Lastly, you might qualify to immigrate in the United States without having to leave the country if you have a U visa or qualify for VAWA. A U visa can be granted for people who were victims of violent crimes and who then cooperated with law enforcement to the best of their capacity. The downside is that it might take years of waiting for you to get a U visa and then your green card, but it is a great option for those who have no other way to immigrate, such as if you have a permanent bar and cannot immigrate through family.

And regarding VAWA, this provision is available for abused spouses or parents of US citizens or lawful permanent residents. If you suffered or are suffering certain abuses, mistreatments, extreme cruelty, or things alike, then you might be able to qualify for VAWA and adjust your status withing the United States. There are many misconceptions regarding VAWA. For example, some believe that abuse can only be physical, when this is not true. Check with a professional immigration attorney to see if this is an option for you.

What Happens if You Need to Leave the Country?

If none of the aforementioned options apply to you and you have to leave the country, there are still a few more options to make it easier for you. For instance, if your US citizen spouse filed an I-130 family-based petition for you, and assuming there are no other grounds of inadmissibility, then you can file a waiver for unlawful presence.  

If you are in the United States and, before leaving for your interview, you file a provisional waiver for unlawful presence that is based on the hardship that your US citizen or resident spouse or parent would have during the time you are gone, you would leave for your interview for a few weeks instead of leaving for years. If all goes well in the interview and after you pass inspection, you would be considered a lawful permanent resident.

The problem is that you won’t have a work permit in the meantime, and the process is lengthier. That is why, before going down that route, it is very important to exhaust all possibilities of adjusting status without having to leave the country, since there might be other alternatives for you or your loved ones.

Obtain Your Green Card with the Help of a Licensed Immigration Attorney

The process of immigration can be overwhelming because there are just too many details to consider. I'd be more than happy to answer your questions and help you find the best option for you. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

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Need help? Contact Law Office of Sharon Abaud to speak with an immigration lawyer.

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U Visa: What is it? What are the benefits? Is it for you?

The U Nonimmigrant Status Program, commonly known as the U visa, is a provision available for people who have been victims of violent crimes within the United States and who cooperated with law enforcement thereafter. After having a U visa for three years, you may qualify for adjustment of status, which means that you could get your green card and become a United States legal permanent resident without leaving the country. Keep reading to know more.

Would you like to know if you can get a U visa? Before you file any paperwork on your own, consider having your case reviewed by a licensed immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can help you review your case and file the appropriate forms for a higher probability of success.

Who Qualifies for a U Visa?

To qualify for a U Visa, you need to meet certain specific requirements that would allow you to request this type of Visa. The basic requirements are:

  • You were the victim of a violent crime
  • The crime occurred inside the territory of the United States
  • You did everything you could to help authorities with the case

Some people who were victims of crime in the past but never contacted the police to file a report do not qualify for the U visa. One of the most important aspects of this provisions relies on the fact that you cooperated with the law enforcement agencies involved to continue with the criminal case against the culprit or culprits. 

If the culprits were not caught or prosecuted, but you did everything you possibly could by giving all the information you had and cooperating with the officers and investigators, you still can qualify for a U visa, even if the authorities were unable to continue the case.

What Are the Benefits of a U Visa?

One of the main benefits of getting a U visa is that, after having this visa for three years, you may qualify for adjustment of status and obtain a green card, which would make you a legal permanent resident. Also, if you have grounds of inadmissibility, the U visa can give you the option to waive those grounds of inadmissibility.

For example, if you are married to a United States citizen but you made false claims of citizenship in the past, you may be permanently barred from filing a family petition to become a resident. But, with the U visa, you are able to get a waiver and become eligible for your residency in the future. 

This is just one example. If you have been told in the past that you don’t qualify for a green card but would like to have a more thorough evaluation by a professional immigration attorney, do not hesitate to ask; it may give you the opportunity you need.

Another benefit is that you could include your minor children or a spouse in your petition. This is called a U visa with derivatives. Eventually, your whole family could be approved for a U visa and then for a green card. And, of course, this would be the right path to take if you want to apply for citizenship in the future.

How Long Does It Take to Get a U Visa?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions because things have changed considerably in recent years. Unfortunately, the waiting period for a U visa is currently of about five years. And, while you are waiting for USCIS to make a decision regarding your case, you will not get a work permit. 

Once you are approved, you will be placed in a waiting list for your turn to get the U visa. You need to be in a wait list because Congress only allows 10,000 U visas to be issued each year. However, once you have been approved after about five years, you will be granted a work permit even if you still don’t have the U visa with you. Once you finally get the U visa, which is valid for four years, you will start to count the three years needed to apply for a green card.

The long wait might feel like an overwhelmingly long time, but once you have the U visa in your hands, you will realize that it was worth the wait. Get in touch with a professional immigration attorney to find out if the U visa is the right option for you. Don’t make the wait longer and act now.

Immigration Help to Get a U Visa

If you have any questions or doubts about the U Visa or you would like to start your application today, I'd be more than happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

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Need help? Contact Law Office of Sharon Abaud to speak with an immigration lawyer.

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How to Qualify for a Green Card if You are Separating or Divorcing

Going through a separation or divorce is already a difficult challenge. On top of that, it might seem like the end of the road for your immigration process. But before you jump into conclusions, there might be a way (or two) for you to lift conditions on your marriage-based green card even if you are separating from or divorcing your spouse. And, you can still qualify for a green card even if you never filed for anything, as long as you meet certain requirements. 

¿Would you like to know if you can get a green card or work permit on your own? Before you file any paperwork, I highly recommend that you have your case reviewed by a licensed immigration attorney. An immigration attorney can help you review your case and file the appropriate petitions and waivers for a higher probability of success.  


#1 Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residency

If you are already in possession of a two-year green card obtained through your qualifying marriage, your next step would have been to file the form I-751 to lift the conditions on your green card and get a ten-year green card. However, you might think that this is now impossible because you are separating from or divorcing your spouse and you cannot file this form jointly anymore.

But what you might not know, is that you are able to lift your conditions alone if you are in one or more of the following categories: 

  1. If you actually finalized your divorce, you can file an I-751 waiver to lift your conditions on your own. For this, you need to prove that you entered into marriage in good faith, present proof that your marriage was real or valid from the very beginning, and proof of a real divorce.
  2. The second option to lift conditions on your green card without your spouse is to show that there was some form of abuse or extreme cruelty. It is very important to consult with an immigration attorney about this option to know what constitutes proof of abuse or extreme cruelty. Note that you can qualify for this option even if there wasn’t a police report. Extreme cruelty or abuse can come in many different ways, and it is not limited to physical abuse. You can find examples in the next subheading.
  3. The third way is to show proof of extreme hardship. If departing from the United States would put you in a position of extreme hardship, this might be an option for you. Examples of extreme hardship include family separation, economic detriment, medical considerations, lack of educational or employment opportunities abroad, your safety in the new country, etc.

When you speak to an immigration lawyer, you can see if you are in a position to benefit from one of these options and lift conditions on your green card on your own. But, if you never filed for anything or you were in the process of getting your residency when the separation or divorce occurred, then the following option might be just what you need.

#2 Get Your Green Card Through VAWA

The Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, is a legislation that allows both men and women who were/are victims of abuse or extreme cruelty to receive their permanent residence, even if they didn’t have a green card before or never filed for anything. This can also be your option if your case was still pending when you separated or divorced from your spouse.

Again, it is very important to consult with a legal professional to clear any misconceptions regarding what abuse or extreme cruelty is. Many make the mistake of defining abuse only in terms of physical abuse. However, abuse can also be psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual, or financial, and each case is different. If you think you were in such a relationship, an evaluation of your case done by an immigration attorney can help you see if you may qualify.

Each case is unique and deserves a professional assessment. Some people have been married for many years and no one ever filed anything for them. Then, after digging a little bit more, it becomes clear that their spouse has been using their immigration status to manipulate them. Or, there might be other forms of manipulation tactics and threats that constitute psychological abuse, like if you weren’t allowed to leave the house, your spouse was extremely possessive or jealous, or you had to ask permission for everything.

These forms of abuse can also be presented as proof when lifting the conditions on your green card on your own petition and obtain your permanent ten-year green card without your spouse. Or, if you just never had a green card before but suffered extreme cruelty or abuse, you might qualify for your residency and work permit under VAWA.

Immigration Help: I-751 and VAWA 

If you have any questions about how to file the I-751 on your own or would like to know if you qualify for VAWA, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

CONTACT US

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Immigration Attorney in Los Angeles Received Public Benefits It Could Affect Your Ability to Immigrate to the US

Received Public Benefits? It Could Affect Your Ability to Immigrate to the U.S.

It’s long been the immigration policy of the United States to deny immigration applicants when they are determined to be a public charge or likely to become a public charge. However, the policy up until recently included a narrower definition of who was to be considered a “public charge” or “likely to become a public charge”. 

On August 14, 2019 the “final rule” on the public charge inadmissibility ground was made, severely limiting those who can immigrate to the U.S. based on income standards and the use of public benefits. If you have used public benefits or are determined likely to use them in the future, it could result in a denial of your immigration application.

What should you do?  

First read the below explanation of the rule. If you think you are likely to be determined inadmissible, then you should submit your immigration application before October 15, 2019 when the new rule goes into effect. Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you with your case.

Who does this rule affect?

This rule affects pretty much anyone wishing to immigrate to the United States, permanently or temporarily.

  • People seeking immigrant (permanent) or nonimmigrant (temporary) visas abroad
  • People seeking admission to the United States on immigrant or nonimmigrant visas
  • People seeking to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident from within the United States

Which public benefits are included in the rule?

The following benefits are listed in the rule. If you have used or are likely to use any of the listed benefits, you might be considered inadmissible.

  • Any federal, state, local, or tribal cash assistance for income maintenance   
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI) 
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) 
  • Federal, state or local cash benefit programs for income maintenance (often called “General Assistance” in the state context, but which may exist under other names)  
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or formerly called “Food Stamps”) 
  • Section 8 Housing Assistance under the Housing Choice Voucher Program 
  • Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance (including Moderate Rehabilitation)  
  • Public Housing under section 9 the Housing Act of 1937, 42 U.S.C. 1437 et seq. 
  • Federally funded Medicaid (with certain exclusions) 

Are there exceptions to the rule?

Some classes of immigrants are exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility. These include:

  • Refugees
  • Asylees
  • Afghans and Iraqis with special immigrant visas 
  • People enlisted in the U.S. armed forces, serving on active duty, or in any of the Ready Reserve components of the U.S. armed forces, and the spouse and children of such service members. 

The rule also makes exceptions to benefits received under the following circumstances:

  • The receipt of Medicaid for the treatment of an emergency medical condition;  
  • Services or benefits funded by Medicaid but provided under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act;  
  • School-based services or benefits provided to individuals who are at or below the oldest age eligible for secondary education as determined under state or local law;  
  • Medicaid benefits received by an applicant under 21 years of age; or  
  • Medicaid benefits received by a woman during pregnancy and during the 60-day period beginning on the last day of the pregnancy.  

How long must you have been using public benefits in order to be determined inadmissible?

If you received public benefits for a total of 12 months or more within a 36-month period, then you would be considered inadmissible. Note that the receipt of two benefits in one month counts as two months.

However, the rule also states that any duration of public benefits can be considered.

How do they determine if you are “likely to become a public charge”?

Under the final rule, “likely at any time to become a public charge” means more likely than not at any time in the future. In other words, it’s determined that a person is more likely than not to receive one or more of the designated public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period.

To make this determination, the USCIS officer will consider your: 

  • Age
  • Health 
  • Family status 
  • Assets, resources, and financial status 
  • Education and skills
  • Prospective immigration status 
  • Expected period of admission
  • Sufficient Form I-864, Affidavit of Support when required

You are “likely to become a public charge” if…

These factors weigh heavily in favor of a determination that someone is likely to become a public charge in the future.

  • You are not a full-time student and are authorized to work but cannot show current employment, recent employment history, or a reasonable prospect of future employment. 
  • You have received, or have been certified or approved to receive, one or more public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period, beginning no earlier than 36 months before you applied for admission or adjustment of status. 
  • You have been diagnosed with a medical condition that is likely to require extensive medical treatment or institutionalization or that will interfere with your ability to provide for yourself, attend school, or work and you are uninsured and have neither the prospect of obtaining private health insurance nor the financial resources to pay for reasonably foreseeable medical costs related to a medical condition. 
  • You have previously been found by an immigration judge or the Board of Immigration Appeals to be inadmissible or deportable based on public charge grounds.  

You are NOT “likely to become a public charge” if…

The following factors would weigh heavily against a finding that a person is likely to become a public charge in the future.

  • You have household income, assets, resources, and support from a sponsor, excluding any income from illegal activities or from public benefits, of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size. 
  • You are authorized to work and are currently employed in a legal industry with an annual income of at least 250% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for a household of your household size. 
  • You have private health insurance appropriate for the expected period of admission, so long as you do not receive subsidies in the form of premium tax credits under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to pay for such health insurance. 

Immigration Help: Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds 

If you have any questions about your immigration application, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon was very professional, knowledgeable and very informative...

My husband and I had the best experience working with Sharon. I HIGHLY recommend her. She helped us with our immigration process and made us feel at ease every step of the way. Sharon was very professional, knowledgeable and very informative whenever we needed questions answered she was there from the very beginning until the very end, making sure we were prepared. Words can't explain how grateful my husband and I are. We would definitely not hesitate to contact her for any future services.

Karem S. , Los Angeles, CA
Immigration Attorney in Los Angeles Parole In Place Immigration Program for Military Family Ending Soon

Parole In Place: Immigration Program for Military Family Ending Soon

Parole in Place, a special immigration program for family of U.S. military, may be in its final days. If you were considering applying, now is the time.

What Is Parole in Place? 

Parole in Place allows relatives of U.S. military to apply for permanent residency without having to leave the United States—even if they entered the country illegally. 

It is not a waiver. It doesn't forgive crimes or other grounds of inadmissibility. All it does is give a fictitious lawful entry so that you can apply for permanent residency while remaining in the United States, eliminating the risk of travelling abroad and possibly not being let back in.  

It’s a way for someone with an otherwise clean background to immigrate within the United States and not have to leave the country.

Is Parole in Place Ending? 

There has been talk, beginning in June 2019, that the program would be ending in about a month. As of late September, nothing official has happened. However, there remains a leak saying that this is going to happen soon.

So what should you do? I strongly advise you to hurry up! If you are planning on filing for parole in place, apply now! Get it done as soon as possible. It looks like the program may be terminated any day.

But, before you apply, consult an immigration attorney. Make sure you don't have any other immigration issues and make sure that you have a case that will qualify.

Who Is Eligible for Parole in Place? 

Family of active U.S. military or military members that have been honorably discharged may be eligible for Parole in Place.

You may be eligible for Parole in Place if your military family member is:

  • An active-duty member of the U.S. armed forces
  • An individual in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve
  • An individual who (whether still living or deceased) previously served on active duty or in the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and was not dishonorably discharged

Eligible relatives for Parole in Place:

  • Spouse or widow(er)
  • Parent
  • Child under age 21

You must have entered the U.S. illegally to qualify for Parole in Place. If you entered the U.S. lawfully but overstayed your visa (or are otherwise in the U.S. past your period of authorized stay), you do not need Parole in Place.

How To Apply for Parole in Place  

To apply for Parole in Place you need to prove that you’re a good, moral person and an asset to the community. To do this, you can submit documents from the community such as:

  • Letters from family saying they are dependent on you
  • Letters from family or friends proving you have strong community and support in the United States
  • Proof of any activities that show your good character such as church attendance, community service, etc. 

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) also requires you submit:

  • Completed Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (without fee). 
  • Evidence of the family relationship, such as:
    • Marriage certificate
    • Documentation of termination of previous marriage
    • Son or daughter’s birth certificate
    • Military member’s birth certificate with parent’s name
    • Proof of enrollment in the Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS)

  • Evidence that your family member is a current or former member of the U.S. armed forces, such as a photocopy of the front and back of the service member’s military identification card or DD Form 214
  • Two identical, color passport style photographs

Immigration Help: Applying for Parole in Place

If you have any questions about Parole in Place or think you might be eligible, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon is the best lawyer I've had the pleasure to work with!

Sharon is the best lawyer I've had the pleasure to work with. She was very professional, but also offered emotional support during sometimes tough episodes and harsh deadlines. Indeed, I would definitely recommend her. Thanks Sharon! Mallory, the kiddos and I appreciate all your hard work!

Eloy F. , Los Angeles, CA
Immigration Attorney in Los Angeles What to Do If Your Family-Based Immigrant Visa Was Approved Overseas

What to Do If Your Family-Based Immigrant Visa Was Approved Overseas

The family-based immigration process is long and unpredictable. That makes it difficult to plan a move to the United States. Oftentimes, applicants want to take some time to arrange a move to the U.S. after they’ve been approved for a permanent resident (green card) visa. But, they’re unsure of exactly how much time they have. Here’s the answer to that common question.

Once my visa is approved, do I have to move to the U.S. immediately or can I wait?  

The short answer is no. 

You have only approximately six months from the time of your approval at the interview to go through the residency (green card) process at the border. I say approximately because here is the thing: You should come to the US and apply for admission in the United States no later than the expiration date printed on your visa. 

An immigrant visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance, but if your medical examination expires sooner, this may make your visa valid for an even shorter time. 

The key is to look at the visa expiration date. 

It works like this. 

1. You attend the visa interview and receive a decision on your application.

 After you submit the required applications and wait for them to be processed, you’ll attend your scheduled visa interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. In most cases, this is where you will find out whether you are approved or denied for a visa. However, even if you are approved you are not considered a resident yet. Technically, you have one more checkpoint to go through before you become a resident—approval at the U.S. border by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.

2. Travel to the U.S. and receive final approval at the border.

It’s a common misconception that once you are approved for an immigrant visa you will be allowed to enter the United States. However, United States Customs and Border Patrol has the ultimate discretion whether or not to allow people to enter. That means your visa isn’t fully approved until you are admitted to the United States; not until that moment does your residency start.

After you receive the approval for your visa at the visa interview, you will receive your visa. You will be instructed by your specific embassy on making arrangements to receive a visa and sealed packet in the mail. You will be directed to NOT open this envelope. This envelope is for the US Customs and Border Patrol. They will review these documents when you travel to the United States and ultimately decide if you are allowed to enter the country.

3. You enter the United States and are officially a permanent resident.

Customs and Border Patrol approves you to enter the country. It is not until this moment that you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

What happens if I wait too long to travel to the U.S.? 

From the time of the interview to the date of your entry, you only have about six months to enter the United States (it could be a lot less time depending on the expiration of your medical exam). After that, all your paperwork, everything you did, will be considered expired and you will have to begin the process from scratch

I do not recommend that you begin the immigration process until you are sure you want to move to the United States. It's a lot of money and it's time consuming. If you're not quite ready, I would suggest that you wait until you have a more solid timeframe of when you want to live in the United States. At the same time, also be aware that the processing time is long and plan accordingly for that. If you want to live here tomorrow, that's not going to happen. 

If you are going to embark on this immigrant visa journey through a family member, you should be sure that you want to live in the U.S. and that you understand that there is not going to be a solid timeframe for this process. It’s impossible to know the exact date of when you will be able to come live in the United States.

Immigration Help: Family-Based Visa Application (Immigrant Visa) 

If you have any questions about your family-based visa application, I am happy to help. I’m Sharon Abaud, a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon speaks Spanish very well and that helped us a lot!

Sharon is a very professional lawyer. She helped my mom with her Immigration process and everything went perfect! She also speaks Spanish very well and that helped us a lot! I highly recommend Her! Muchas gracias Sharon!

Cristina A. , Harbor City, CA
Immigration Attorney in Los Angeles - Becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident Through US Citizen Child

Can You Become a Lawful Permanent Resident Through Your US Citizen Child?

So, you think you can become a U.S. resident because your child is a U.S. citizen? Not so fast! Before you file any paperwork, be sure that you understand the entire process and all the requirements involved. 

If you have a U.S. citizen child who is 21 years old or older, this relationship does qualify your child to file a I-130 family-based petition.. But, having a qualifying relationship is by far not the only thing you need to qualify for a family-based green card

Green card applicants must also meet a set of requirements that deems them “admissible to the United States.” If you apply and you do not meet these requirements—if it’s determined that you are inadmissible to the United States—then you could face serious consequences. The worst one? A permanent bar from entering the country. 

Before you file any paperwork, it’s extremely important to understand all the requirements and potential consequences. 

Do You Really Qualify for a Green Card?

Qualifying for U.S. permanent residency is really a two-step process. Step one is a qualifying relationship for a family-based petition. Your son or daughter is a U.S. citizen 21 years of age or older? Great! You meet the requirement for step one. 

Step two is determining if you are admissible. To talk about this, let’s flip the question. What makes a person inadmissible to the United States

There are many ways a person can be inadmissible, so many in fact that you’d need a firm understanding of immigration law to know them all. Inadmissability is a very complex area of immigration law and even if you think you are not inadmissible, you should definitely speak to an immigration attorney before starting any paperwork. That being said, here are some common reasons a person would be determined inadmissible:

  • A criminal history with crimes involving violence, theft, or abuse
  • Violations of immigration law (including false claim to US citizenship which could result in a permanent bar)
  • Communicable diseases like tuberculosis
  • Mental disorders that could cause you to harm yourself or others
  • Drug abusers
  • Drug traffickers
  • A history of prostitution
  • Involvement in a terrorist organization or gang
  • Members of the Nazi party
  • People likely to become dependent on the U.S. government due to financial instability

A Common Scenario  

A common scenario for parents of U.S. citizen children is that leaving the country for their interview would trigger an unlawful presence bar. This bar is triggered when a person who entered the U.S. without inspection, accumulates 6 months to a year, or more than one year of unlawful presence, and then leaves the country. 

The 3-Year and 10-Year Bar 

A three-year bar occurs if the person spent more than six months but less than one year in the United States without legal status after having entered without inspection. A 10-year bar occurs if a person was unlawfully present for more than one year after having entered without inspection. 

What often happens is that this person leaves the U.S. to attend their visa interview in their home country thinking that they will only be gone a few weeks. Then, when they attend the visa interview, their immigrant visa is denied and only then do they learn of the 3-year or 10-year bar that was triggered when they left the United States to go to their interview.  This is a tragic occurrence for many families. 

The Waiver that Can Help You Avoid Being Barred from Entry to the U.S.   

There is a provisional waiver (I-601A) that if granted waives the 3-year or 10-year bar prior to leaving the U.S. for an immigrant visa interview. To qualify, the intending immigrant must have a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident Spouse or Parent. Thus, unless they have a family member who qualifies them, parents immigrating through their U.S. citizen children do not qualify for this waiver.

Immigration Help 

If you have any questions about your visa application, I am happy to help. I’m Sharon Abaud, a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon is the best lawyer I've had the pleasure to work with!

Sharon is the best lawyer I've had the pleasure to work with. She was very professional, but also offered emotional support during sometimes tough episodes and harsh deadlines. Indeed, I would definitely recommend her. Thanks Sharon! Mallory, the kiddos and I appreciate all your hard work!

Eloy F. , Los Angeles, CA
Immigration Lawyer in Los Angeles - Immigration Through Family

Before You Immigrate through Family—Read this Ebook!

Michael is a U.S. citizen. Barbara is from Mexico but she has been living in the U.S. since she was 3 years old. She cannot remember being brought into the U.S. but she has been told she entered without status. Michael and Barbara have been married for 10 years and they have 3 U.S. citizen children, ages 9, 7, and 5. Michael and Barbara have been too scared to take any risks and so it took them a long time to decide to file for Barbara’s lawful permanent residency.

Finally, Michael and Barbara decided it was time and they wanted to save on a lawyer so decided to do it on their own. Michael filed an I-130 for Barbara. It was approved. Next, they just did what immigration told them to, which was to send paperwork and go to the interview in Mexico. Barbara went to the interview in Mexico promising her 5 year old she would make it back for her ballet recital. Unfortunately, in Mexico, Barbara learned she would not make it back to the recital or any of her kids’ events for several years. Barbara was told that since she had not filed for a waiver in the U.S. she would have to file for a waiver from outside the U.S. and wait for it abroad.

Only then did Barbara and Michael consult with an immigration attorney. There they learned that Barbara could not come to the U.S. until a waiver was filed and approved. Though she could ask for forgiveness from the 10 year punishment, she would still have to wait for the waiver to be prepared, filed, and approved, which could take years. Barbara didn’t even speak any Spanish and she didn’t have family in Mexico. Worst of all, she wasn’t going to be there for her young children.

This is a terrible situation to be in, especially if you did not see it coming. I strongly advise that you consult with an immigration attorney before you start and not just that—educate yourself.

People often come to me wanting to immigrate, thinking that simply because they have a qualifying U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative, they will be granted U.S. permanent residence. It is not that simple. There are many factors that can seriously complicate the process and it’s important to discuss your situation with an immigration attorney before you submit any application.

Before you begin the process of family immigration, it’s extremely important that you understand the risks. This article explains a huge consequence of family-based immigration when you’ve spent time unlawfully in the United States—and how to avoid it. 

There’s more to family based immigration than just having a U.S. relative.

There are two steps to family-based immigration. The first is having a qualifying relative petition for you. The second, an entirely separate process, is applying for lawful permanent residence based on this petition. It’s this second step that actually grants you a green card or permanent resident visa. It comes with its own set of qualifications, beyond your relationship to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. This second step comes with a lot of risks too, especially if you’ve spent any time unlawfully in the United States.

The most important thing to consider before starting the immigration process is understanding if you have any “grounds of inadmissibility.” What exactly is a ground of inadmissibility? It’s any circumstance that would make you inadmissible to the United States. In other words, something that would cause you to be denied entry into the country. One of the most common is unlawful presence.

Immigrating if you’ve been unlawfully present in the U.S. has serious risks.

Unlawful presence is time spent in the U.S. without legal status. If you entered the U.S. without status and spent more than six months, but less than 1 year in the United States without status, you will trigger a 3 year bar upon leaving the U.S. This means that if you exit the country, you will not be allowed to reenter for 3 years and any application to immigrate will be automatically denied.

If you entered the U.S. without status and spent more than 1 year in the United States, you will trigger a  10-year bar upon leaving the U.S. This means, that if you leave the U.S. you will not be let back in for 10 years (unless you can apply for a waiver outside the U.S.). 

The issue arises when a person who doesn’t qualify to immigrate inside the U.S. (through a process called adjustment of status) travels abroad to their immigrant visa interview. They are typically unaware of this 3 year and 10-year punishment. So what happens? They go to their interview thinking they will return to the U.S. with a green card in a few weeks, only to learn that they will not be let back in for another 10 years. 

Unfortunately, Michael and Barbara’s story is a common one and to me, it’s especially sad because it’s something that could have been prevented! These risks can be prevented if you do things the right way.

It is possible to apply for a Provisional Waiver of Inadmissibility before you apply to immigrate to help you avoid these risks. If you know that you have unlawful presence or think that you may have any other ground of inadmissibility, it’s extremely important to talk with an immigration attorney before you start any paperwork. Having this waiver can will allow you to go to your interview abroad without having to wait years outside. This waiver is truly essential in getting your case approved, and an immigration attorney can help you get it. 

Find out whether you qualify to immigrate through adjustment of status or if you are required to travel abroad to immigrate (consular processing). Find out if you can file for a Waiver of Unlawful Presence from within in the United States, so that you only leave for a few weeks as opposed to months or years. The only people who qualify for this are the spouses of a U.S citizens or lawful permanent residents and the children of U.S citizens or lawful permanent residents.

Download this FREE Ebook before you start the process.

I prepared this very simple guide to help you understand if you qualify to immigrate here in the United States or if you are required to travel abroad. It is NOT a replacement for a legal consultation, but it is an important first step to understanding your options.

3 Ways to Immigrate in the US Without Having to Leave the US Ebook

Immigration Help 

If you have any questions about U.S. immigration through family, I am happy to help. I’m Sharon Abaud, a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

I have never met a person as determined and focused to help her community, as Attorney Abaud

I have never met a person as determined and focused to help her community, as Attorney Abaud. She cares about every single detail of any case. It was a pleasure and honor to work with her for many years. I learned a lot from her.

Angela P. , Los Angeles, CA
Immigration Attorney in Los Angeles - How To Prove Our Long Distance Marraige Is Real

5 Ways to Prove Your Long-Distance Marriage is Real to Immigration

Proving to immigration that your marriage is real is difficult enough when you live together. When you’re long-distance, it’s even harder. Here are five tips to prove your marriage is real.

When you’re married to someone who lives abroad, you likely won’t be able to submit the “typical” documents that immigration asks for to prove your relationship is real. You can’t show a joint rental agreement because you’ve never lived in the same country, let alone the same house. You likely never had a joint bank account and you probably haven’t filed taxes together. Maybe the foreign spouse has never even stepped foot into the U.S. because they don’t have the proper visa documents. Nevertheless, there are plenty of ways to prove your relationship is real.

1. Photographs

Show them your pictures. You’ve likely been traveling to see each other A LOT and you probably have lots of wonderful photographs. This shows immigration: (1) that you value spending time together; (2) that you spend money to make that happen; and (3) that you are a part of each other's lives even though you live apart.

Photographs should ideally be presented with a description that includes the date, location, and who’s pictured. Here are some other pro tips:

  • Don’t send all selfies! Selfies’ major downfall is they don’t leave a lot of room for much beyond your faces. For these photographs, the location is important, whether it’s the Eiffel Tower on a romantic trip to Paris or your wife’s mother’s kitchen in Ecuador. While it’s okay to send a few good selfie pictures, keep them at a minimum.
  • A variety of places. When you’ve been to a lot of places together, it proves that you’ve spent a lot of time together just as a couple that lived in the same country would. It doesn’t have to be photos of adventurous vacations from all over the world, but it shouldn’t be the same 10 photos in your spouse’s apartment either. Shoot for somewhere in the middle.
  • A variety of faces. Photographs with different people show immigration that your relationship is public. Your spouse has met your friends and family, a big step in any relationship. Photos with family are especially good.

2. Text Messages

Text messages prove that you’ve been in communication, that you share your day to day lives with each other. Do you WhatsApp each other every evening? Print it out and present it with your green card application.

3. Travel

Proof of travel is excellent evidence of your commitment to each other. You took time off work, away from your home, and spent a lot of money to be able to have time with your partner. That’s shows just how important the relationship is to you. Print out plane tickets that show you’ve been traveling back and forth and present them to immigration.

4. Letters

You can include letters, one from you and one from your spouse, in your application that tell the story of your relationship and your devotion to one another. The letters should explain how you met, times you’ve spent together, your commitment to one another, and how you are planning a life together in the United States. Letters can be written in any language, so long as you also provide a certified English translation.

5. Proof of Financial Support

If one partner is sending the other partner money, you will also want to show proof of this. Offers of financial support are another way to show evidence of a serious, committed relationship.

That’s it! Five simple tips to prove your marriage is real, even if you have never lived together. 

Questions About Your Marriage-Based Green Card?

If you have any questions about your green card application, I am happy to help. I’m Sharon Abaud, a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

Sharon was very professional, knowledgeable and very informative...

My husband and I had the best experience working with Sharon. I HIGHLY recommend her. She helped us with our immigration process and made us feel at ease every step of the way. Sharon was very professional, knowledgeable and very informative whenever we needed questions answered she was there from the very beginning until the very end, making sure we were prepared. Words can't explain how grateful my husband and I are. We would definitely not hesitate to contact her for any future services.

Karem S. , Los Angeles, CA
Immigration Attorney in Los Angeles - Will my tattoo be a problem for my immigration application

Can Tattoos Cause Visa Problems When Immigrating to US?

Certain tattoos can cause issues with your green card application. It depends on the type of tattoo and whether or not it could symbolize an affiliation with a dangerous gang or other group. Here’s what you need to know.

Part of the permanent resident process is the immigration medical exam. It’s here that immigration will not only be checking your health, but also examining any tattoos.


The Immigration Medical Exam

The reason for the immigration medical exam is to ensure that you are not inadmissable on any health-related grounds. It’s a fairly straightforward process. You go to a certified doctor—it’s important that they are a doctor certified by the USCIS or Department of State—and they conduct a medical exam.

The doctor will review your medical history, which vaccines you’ve had, and give you a physical examination, a chest X-ray, and blood test. The doctor is checking for any communicable diseases and making sure you are up to date on your vaccines. These include:

  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Influenza
  • Influenza type b (Hib)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal disease
  • Mumps
  • Pneumococcal disease
  • Pertussis
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella
  • Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
  • Varicella

You should bring with you a list of vaccines that you’ve already had and proof, such as your immunization record (if you have it). Also bring any documentation for existing medical conditions. If you’re adjusting status in the United States, you will also need to bring a copy of Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, with the top part filled in by you.

As the doctor examines you, they will complete a medical report. In this report, the doctor will note the presence of tattoos. When finished, they will place it in an envelope, seal it, and hand it to you. DO NOT OPEN THE ENVELOPE. The USCIS or Department of State (depending on whether you are applying for a visa from inside the U.S. or abroad) will need this envelope to remain sealed.

Bad Tattoos for Immigration

Yes, while the doctor is checking your health, they will also be examining your body for tattoos. Why? The main reason is to determine if you have any symbol on your body that suggests a gang affiliation or affiliation with another organization that the United States deems a threat. 

Now, I don't want you to think, "Oh, no, I have a tattoo, I'm never going to become an immigrant." No. If you have a little butterfly on your toe, I don't think you'll have a problem. That is not something they care about. However, it is important that the tattoo not be or even appear to be gang-related.

If immigration thinks that the tattoo may be gang-related, then you might be in trouble. Once it’s labeled this way, it will make it very difficult for you to immigrate. It’s very important to let your attorney know of any tattoo that you have, even if you don't think it's gang related, just to make sure that it doesn't come off that way. It's better to be prepared and be able to express the true story behind the tattoo come time for your interview.

Immigration Help

I hope this information was helpful to you. It's extremely relevant today, especially for people trying to immigrate from abroad. It's real; it's happening; and it's very important that you know about this and that you inform your attorney of any tattoos.

If you have any questions about your green card application, I'd be happy to help. I’m a dedicated and passionate immigration attorney, fluent in English and Spanish, located in the Los Angeles area. Call (310) 803-3040 or visit https://abaudlegal.com/appointment/ to schedule an appointment.

I also suggest that you download my FREE ebook that explains different routes of immigration. Note that this ebook is not an alternative to seeking legal advice, but simply a resource to help you understand what immigration options are available to you.

 

I have never met a person as determined and focused to help her community, as Attorney Abaud

I have never met a person as determined and focused to help her community, as Attorney Abaud. She cares about every single detail of any case. It was a pleasure and honor to work with her for many years. I learned a lot from her.

Angela P. , Los Angeles, CA
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