Green Card & Citizenship
Family Based Green Card
Family-based immigrant petitions are filed by either U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The term immediate relative applies to certain relatives of U.S. citizens, including spouses, parents, and children. Special rules apply for spouses of U.S. citizens if marriage is less than two years in duration. The term preference relative applies to certain other relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Preference relatives include: married and unmarried sons and/or daughters (over 21) of U.S. citizens; brothers and/or sisters of U.S. citizens. Also included as preference relatives are: spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and/or daughters (over 21) of U.S. permanent residents. Preference relatives cannot obtain permanent residence until their priority dates are current.
Immediate relatives do not face waiting times for visa availability. Immediate relatives in the United States may qualify to file Form I-485 to adjust status. Preference relatives often face very long waiting times, due to strict annual limits on permanent immigration benefits. The length of the wait depends upon which family preference category is appropriate, as well as the country of origin.
The sponsoring relative must file a petition (Form I-130) on behalf of the qualifying foreign national relative. If the relative is outside the U.S., the immigrant visa case will proceed via consular processing. Immediate relatives require an I-130 filing for each sponsored family member. Sufficient documentation of the qualifying family relationship must be provided. Family-based cases generally require an affidavit of support.
How the Tax and Immigration team can help you:
Tax and Immigration team can assist in preparation for and representation at interviews at USCIS offices or U.S. consulates.
We also advise with regard to legal issues and often assist in all types of family-based immigration cases at local USCIS offices, service centers, and U.S. consulates abroad. Our team has significant experience avoiding pitfalls that plague many family-based cases and we assist our clients to navigate their cases to achieve success on their first attempts at achieving status.
Marriage Based Green Card
A United States citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioning to classify a spouse as an immigrant must demonstrate that they and the immigrating spouse (the beneficiary) have a bona fide, legal marriage. Generally, if the marriage was valid where performed, it is considered legal unless it violates public policy. Additionally, the petitioner must establish that the marriage was not entered into for the purpose of evading the immigration laws. Therefore, it is possible that a marriage may not be recognized for immigration purposes even though it is legal. Marriage-based immigration has long been controversial due to the fact that the bona fides of a marriage relationship often cannot be objectively measured. A legal marriage is considered to be valid for immigration purposes if at its inception the couple intended to establish a life together and assume certain duties and obligations. If the sole intention was to secure the immigrating spouse's legal residency in the United States, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will consider the marriage to be fraudulent or a "sham", and not valid for immigration purposes. This is critical to avoid, as a sham marriage finding can and would be deemed fatal to any subsequent applications for immigration benefits. See more information about the available types of visas in our Fiancée and Spouse Visa section
How We Help:
Over the past 17 years, our team has successfully assisted many new families in realizing their goals of uniting and residing the U.S., by counseling clients, and filing petitions on their behalf and providing critical advice to avoid negative adjudications to the most well-intentioned filings by new families. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the immigration service will intuitively decide a case in your favor just because you love your spouse and have decided to spend your life together. --Newsflash-- Contact us now to schedule a consultation to discuss the rise of new opportunities regarding same-sex marriage benefits or provisions concerning relief for abused spouses, two areas that most immigration professionals have little experience navigating successfully.
Employment Based Green Card
U.S. permanent residence (commonly referred to as green card status) may be gained through a range of employment-based (EB) immigration options. Many of the EB options require the sponsorship of a U.S. employer. The employer must intend to hire the foreign national on a long-term basis for a position that is not considered temporary. The employer must obtain approval through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and/or the USCIS, depending upon the type of case.
There are five employment-based preference categories.
First preference is for priority workers including persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational organization executives and managers.
The Second preference is for physicians, members of the professions holding advanced degrees, and persons of exceptional ability.
The Third preference is for professionals, skilled and other workers, including nurses and physical therapists.
The Fourth preference provides for special immigrants including religious workers.
The Fifth preference is an investor-related category, which grants permanent residency to persons who invest.
There are considerable variations in the requirements within the EB options.
All cases require the filing of a petition with the USCIS.
Most cases require a permanent offer of employment from a U.S. employer.
All cases in the employment-based, third (EB3) and most cases in the employment-based second (EB2) preference categories require employment sponsorship and approval of PERM labor.
Self-sponsorship, based upon qualifications, is available in EB2 (National Interest Waiver - NIW) and EB1 (extraordinary ability) categories.
Self-sponsorship via investment is available in the EB5 category.
No PERM labor certification is required in EB1 (Extraordinary Ability, Multinational Executive Transferee and Outstanding Professor/Researcher), EB2 (National Interest Waiver), EB4 (Special Immigrant) or EB5 (Investor) cases.
All EB cases require that the foreign national complete the process with either an adjustment-of-status (AOS) or consular processing (CP) application.
How the Tax and Immigration team can help you:
The Tax and Immigration team can evaluate potential EB options for U.S. employers who wish to sponsor workers, as well as for foreign nationals. We provide full-scope representation throughout the EB immigration process. We can analyze options, develop case strategies, and represent petitioners and applicants throughout the EB immigration process. We are often called upon to represent employees in situations where their employer's attorneys are precluded in assisting the employees due to a conflict of interest.
The Tax and Immigration team has extensive experience with PERM labor certification and the related matters of educational equivalencies and employers' ability to pay. We are also experienced and available to represent qualified foreign national EB5 investors and those categorized under EB4, special immigrants, including religious workers.
U.S. Citizenship is obtained either by birth, derivation or naturalization. U.S. citizens may live and work in the U.S. permanently, and cannot lose this status by extended travel abroad. U.S. citizens have many benefits and privileges, including the privilege of voting in U.S. elections. U.S. citizens may petition for the permanent resident status of their parents, spouses, children and siblings.
Generally, 5 years in permanent resident status [Three years may be sufficient for those married to U.S. citizens.]
Generally, physical presence, continuity of residence, and good moral character standards must be met.
Satisfactory exam results in U.S. government, history, and civics as well as the ability to speak, read, and write English [Some exceptions to the testing requirements exist based upon age and duration of permanent residency, as well as medical limitations.]
How the Tax and Immigration team can help you:
Our team provides assistance in determining an individual's eligibility for U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
We guide those planning future naturalization with issues impacting eligibility, such as extended travel.
We represent individuals in connection with applications for naturalization.
Naturalization by birth or derivation can present complex situations. In such cases, we assess the merits and proof of the claim. When appropriate, we represent individuals seeking certificates of citizenship.
To be naturalized, you must:
Be 18 years old or older.
Have resided in the U.S. for a designated period of time (the time requirement depends on other aspects of your status).
Demonstrate fluency in communicating in the English language.
Demonstrate knowledge of U.S. government and history.
Demonstrate solid ethical character (e.g. individuals convicted of homicide cannot be naturalized).
Applicants can be held to more or less restrictive standards depending on the details of their cases. An elderly foreign national or a person with a mental impairment may not, for instance, be required to show fluency in English to qualify. Applicants must take and pass a citizenship test comprised of ten questions randomly selected from a group of 100 general interest questions about United States government, culture, and history.
Over the past 15 years, our team has successfully assisted many new families in realizing their goals of uniting and residing the U.S., by counseling clients, and filing petitions on their behalf and providing critical advice to avoid negative adjudications to the most well-intentioned filings by new families. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the immigration service will intuitively decide a case in your favor just because you love your spouse and have decided to spend your life together.
Contact us now to schedule a consultation to discuss the rise of new opportunities regarding same-sex marriage benefits or provisions concerning relief for abused spouses, two areas that most immigration professionals have little experience navigating successfully.