What you need to know about Asylum

The first thing you may be wondering is, what is the difference between a refugee and a person seeking asylum? A refugee is a person who is located OUTSIDE of the United Status and is afraid to return to their native country and seeking refuge in the U.S. A person seeking asylum is already IN the U.S. and is afraid to return to their native country.

You’ll notice one thing that they both have in common which is that a person is afraid to return to their native country. In order to file for asylum you must have been persecuted or have a  well-founded fear of persecution on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion and be unwilling to return to your country.The term “persecution” is not specifically defined and can come in many different ways. BUT if you are NOT afraid to return to your native country, you CANNOT file for asylum.

Along with having a well-founded fear of persecution, you must file your asylum application within ONE year of entering the United States. The exception to that is if there are “changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file.”

If you plan to file for asylum, it is important that you speak with an attorney first. Filing for asylum should be taken very seriously. You can file whether you have status in the U.S. or not. And if you don’t have status and file, the U.S. government will know who you are. If your asylum is denied, you could be deported back to the country you fear. If your asylum is granted, you can eventually apply for a green card and after some time gain citizenship! So it is important to put together an application with evidence that can demonstrate the persecution or your fear of returning to your country.

Please call our office at 508-438-1198, if you plan to file for asylum!

 

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

#asylum #refugee #greencard #oneyear

 

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Same-Sex Marriage/Engagement & Immigration

Congratulations, you are engaged or married! And you may be wondering if you can bring your same-sex spouse or fiancee to the United States. Well the answer to your question is yes! If you are in a same-sex relationship, the application process is the same as it is for any other couple.

If your spouse is already in the United States, you can file the I-130 and I-485 concurrently to obtain a green card for your significant other.

If your spouse is NOT in the United States, you will have to go through consular processing. First you have to file the I-130 and once that is approved, you will schedule an appointment with the closest U.S. consulate office. Go to your interview, be granted your visa, come to the U.S. and THEN receive your green card in the mail.

The most important thing to remember in this scenario is, if you were NOT married in the United States, you MUST have been married in a country that LEGALLY recognizes same-sex marriage or your marriage will not be considered valid when you apply for your spouse.

If you are a fiancee, you will file for the K-1 visa and you can find the requirements for a K-1 visa in my previous blog post here.

If you are in a same-sex relationship and have any questions about bringing your significant other over, please call our office at 508-438-1198.

 

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

 

#samesexmarriage #greencard #k1visa #immigration

Immigration Fees Raised!

On December 23, 2016, USCIS raised the fees to file for naturalization, a green card, and more. Please find some of the new fees below:

I-130 Petition for a relative: $535

I–485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: $1,140

I–601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver: $630

I–690 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility: $715

I–751 Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence: $595

I–765 Application for Employment Authorization: $410

N–400 Application for Naturalization: $640

For more information about the new fees you can visit the USCIS website.

 

If you have an immigration issues or question, please call our office at 508-438-1198.

 

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

#immigration #newfees #naturaliation #greencard

 

 

Taking the English Test

When you apply for naturalization you must pass an English and Civics Test. But for certain people there are exemptions.

The first one is called the 50/20 exemption. If you are 50 or older at the time you file for naturalization and have lived as a green card holder in the United States for 20 years, you are exempt from the English test.

The second exemption is the 55/15. If you are 55 or older at the time you file for naturalization and have lived as a green card holder in the United States for 20 years, you are also exempt from the English test.

If you qualify for either exemption, you must still take the civics test. But if you qualify for these exemptions, then you can take the civics test in your native language!

If you have any questions about naturalization or the English or Civics test, please call our office at 508-438-1198.

 

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

 

#naturalization #englishtest #civicstest #greencard #uscitizen

 

How do you become a green card holder? Part Two

So in part one, I explained how you can obtain a green card through a US citizen. This post will talk about how to get a green card through another green card holder/legal permanent resident.

A green card holder can petition for only certain family members. They can petition for a spouse or an unmarried child. The child may be over 21, they just cannot be married! If the child marries and divorces, the green card holder could petition for the child. The main thing to remember is the child must NOT be married!

A green card holder is much limited in who they can petition a green card for. If a green card holder wanted to bring parents or siblings over to the US, they must wait an appropriate amount of time, then naturalize and become US citizens. Once they become citizens they can apply for their parents, siblings, and married children.

Another issue with a green card holder petitioning for a spouse or child is that there is a wait time, whereas US citizens who petition for spouses do NOT have a wait time and the visa is immediately available. For spouses and children of green card holders and other familial categories of US citizens, there are only a certain amount of visas granted every year. So every month the government puts out a bulletin of how long the wait time is.  Depending on the category the family member is in it normally takes years, but if you are from India, Mexico, or the Philippines where the backlog of visas is higher than other countries, you will wait MANY years.

If a green card holder petitions for their spouse and it is approved, but then the green card holder becomes a US citizen, the spouse will not longer have to wait for a visa, because now he or she is a spouse of a citizen and those visas are available immediately.

Green card holders can only petition for spouses and unmarried children, but there will be a wait time. If possible, it’s always better to naturalize because there are more options available!

If you have any questions, please call our office at (508) 438-1198.

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

#greencard #naturalize #uscitizens #legalpermanentresident #lpr

How do you become a green card holder? Part One

A person who has a green card has legal permanent resident status. If you are a legal permanent resident or LPR, that means that you can potentially apply for citizenship after a certain period of time. But how do you get a green card?

One of the most common ways is through a family member who is a US citizen. If you are the spouse, an unmarried child under the age of 21, or a parent of a US citizen you are deemed an ‘immediate relative.’ If you are an immediate relative you do not have to wait for a visa, because there are an unlimited number of visas for immediate relatives.

If you are a child of a US citizen who is over 21 and unmarried (first preference), a child of a US citizen who is over 21 and MARRIED (third preference), or a sibling of a US citizen (fourth preference), you will have to wait for your visa, which could potentially take years. If you fit into one of these three preferences, there are only a certain number of visas available and currently the system is backlogged. So although you may be approved for a visa, you have to wait for your visa number to become current in the country you are from before you actually receive it. You can check online for the wait times for these types of visas.

Whether you are an immediate relative or fit into one of the four preferences, you will have to file an I-130 which is a petition to show how you are related to the US citizen, and then at some point you will file an I-485, which is the application for your green card. If you are an immediate relative, it may be possible to file the I-130 and I-485 at the same time.

If you have any questions about the process or want to apply for a green card for a family member, please call our office at 508-438-1198.

THIS POST WAS WRITTEN BY ATTORNEY JAMIE COSME. IT IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. IT IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE.

#greencard #lpr #legalpermanentresident #immigration #visa #uscitizen

Naturalization

Naturalization is the process of a person becoming a United States Citizen. There are certain requirements that need to be met in order to naturalize:

  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENCY:  You will need to be a legal permanent resident or green card holder for at least five years. If you gained your legal permanent residency through marriage, there is an exception and it allows you to be a legal permanent resident for at least three years before applying to naturalize. If your spouse naturalized also then he/she must be a citizen for at least three years in order to use the 3-year exception. Also if you divorce or separate then you cannot use the 3-year exception. The date for the 3 or 5 years begins on the date on the green card.
    • During your legal permanent residency you must not have taken trips outside the United States for six months or longer.
  • GOOD MORAL CHARACTER: This part can be a little tricky. If you have any kind of criminal record, whether the charge was dismissed or it was only an arrest, it is important that you speak with an attorney before you file the application for naturalization. There are also certain crimes that if you were convicted will bar you from applying for naturalization.

After sending in your application, you will be asked to do biometric fingerprinting. Then there will be an interview. Next you will have to pass a basic English skills test and a basic civics exam. If you pass both exams, then you will become a citizen and take the oath at a ceremony!

There are many benefits in becoming a citizen, such as the right to vote or bring immediate relatives into the United States. You can apply for federal jobs and become an elected official. The application process can be rather lengthy, but definitely worth it!

If you have any questions or concerns about your naturalization application, feel free to contact us!

This post was written by Attorney Jamie Cosme. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is NOT legal advice.