While many immigrants in the U.S. can’t afford representation, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center reports that legal representation is the single largest factor when it comes to the likelihood that a case will succeed in immigration court. Because of this, immigration lawyer Robert R. Flores is dedicated to providing affordable assistance to those in need of this type of legal support in the Rio Grande Valley, including the cities of Raymondville and McAllen.
While immigration law can become incredibly complex, many of the basics are easy to understand. For instance, there are just four categories of immigration status in the U.S.
The first type of legal immigration status includes U.S. citizens. Citizens are either born in the U.S. or become naturalized after up to 5 years living in the country as a permanent resident. You can also become a citizen through close relatives with citizenship status.
Permanent or conditional residents include immigrants with a “green card”. Permanent residents are individuals who have been granted authorization by the government to live and work in this country permanently.
Conditional residents, on the other hand, are individuals who have a green card and who have been married to their citizen spouse for less than two years. Conditional status can be converted with a joint filing by both spouses at the end of two years. Failure to convert could result in deportation.
Non-immigrants are foreign nationals that are legally in the country but only on a temporary basis. This category includes fiancees, students, business visitors, tourists, and those with temporary protected status. Many non-immigrants do not intend to stay in the country, but many others become undocumented once their visas expire.
Undocumented foreign nationals in the U.S. are those who are here illegally, or without the government’s permission. Undocumented individuals are not authorized to work or access public benefits in the U.S., including health care and driver’s licenses. Living as an undocumented individual can cause a great deal of stress due to the legal uncertainty and possibility of deportation at any time.
Work permits are a way for foreign nationals to come to the U.S. for their employment. Many potential foreign employees receive this type of permit after their potential employer files a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition usually needs to be approved prior to the foreign national’s entry into the U.S. or application for a visa.
There are also some types of legal immigration statuses that do not include work authorization. In that case, you may need to apply for a change of immigration status. In some cases, you will need the assistance of your employer, but others may be qualified for a self-petition, meaning they can file for permanent residency on their own behalf. For example, you may be able to self-petition if you have “extraordinary ability.”
Removal defense is the legal effort to avoid deportation. This defense often involves appearing before an immigration judge in court. Deportation proceedings can be triggered if you fail to renew your immigration documents, so renewing those authorizations before a judge may be one effective form of defense.
If you entered the country illegally, you may need to receive a waiver for that act. Others may need to seek asylum under the Convention Against Torture, meaning they face “persecution” in their own country.
Deportation proceedings may also be triggered if a foreign national in the U.S. is accused of a crime. If you’re in this situation, you may wish to seek an immigration lawyer who can also defend you against criminal accusations.
These defenses represent just a few of the many ways to avoid deportation from the U.S. The defense needed in your case depends on the specifics of your situation.
If you entered the country illegally, you may need to petition for a waiver for the time you spent in the country without legal permission. Once this waiver has been granted, you can seek permanent residency. This is usually initiated through a petition from a loved one.
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