U.S. Immigration Law Frequently Asked Questions


My green card expired. Am I out of status?

No. It is only the card that is expired. Your permanent resident status does not “expire” with the card. One exception to this rule, however, is if you are a conditional permanent resident with a green card that is valid for two years only. If your conditional permanent resident card has expired and you have not filed the application to remove the conditions, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney immediately.

I just received my green card. Now I’m going to go back to my home country because I still have a job and house there. I can maintain my green card as long as I maintain a bank account in the U.S. and visit every six months right?

In general this is not a good idea, though there are always exceptions. If immigration believes you intended to abandon your U.S. residence by residing and working in another country, they can seek to rescind your green card even if you "check in" every six months. If you have a green card, are considering spending a significant amount of time abroad, and hope to maintain your green card status, speak to an experienced immigration attorney immediately for advice.

I am visiting the U.S. as a tourist and I met my soul mate, who is a U.S. citizen. Can I stay here with her and get a green card?

Maybe. There are many factors to consider, including the purpose of your trip, your intent at entry into the U.S., how much time has passed since you last entered the U.S., your spouse's income level, and the strength of any evidence you have to prove your marriage is bonafide.

I was just granted asylum. Can I petition for my parents to immigrate now?

No. You must be a U.S. citizen to be eligible to petition for a parent. As an asylee, you must first reside continuously in the U.S. for one year before applying for your green card. You must then wait five years after obtaining your green card to be eligible for naturalization.

I have $500,000 in the bank that I would like to invest in the U.S. and get some sort of status. What are my options?

You have a few options. With $500,000 you might be eligible for a green card based on an EB-5 investment. If you do not have a desire to become a permanent resident, however, you might want to consider an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa, which is a non-immigrant visa.

I am a well-known and highly accomplished medical researcher with a PhD. I believe in a few more years I will have a breakthrough in cancer research. So far I have been unable to secure a job offer in the U.S. What are my options?

You may be eligible to self-petition for a EB-1 classification as an outstanding researcher. In the alternative, you might also qualify for an exceptional ability EB-2 classification with a National Interest Waiver, if you can demonstrate that it is in the interests of the U.S. to waive the job offer and labor certification requirement.

I failed the naturalization history test and my case was denied. Can I get my application filing fee back?

No. The filing fee is not refundable for a denied application.

I have had a green card for 20 years. I was convicted of shoplifting 10 years ago. Last week I was arrested and charged with shoplifting again. My defense attorney is telling me to just plead guilty and I'll just have to pay a fine without jail time. Is that a good idea?

It might be a terrible idea. A shoplifting conviction is likely to be considered a "Crime Involving Moral Turpitude" (CIMT) under the immigration laws. Two CIMTs from separate incidents constitute a ground of deportability. Your defense attorney has a duty to advise you of any potential immigration consequences in a criminal proceeding, and so he is failing to meet this requirement by not discussing immigration with you.

My friend was in the exact same situation as me but his case was filed later than mine and already approved while my case has been pending this whole time. Why?

There are a number of possibilities. First, it is important to note that no two cases are exactly the same. Your friend's case may have additional facts that caused his case to be processed quicker. Second, USCIS often experiences delays in adjudication due to misplaced files, staffing shortages, or excess applications. Sometimes it is truly a matter of luck if your case is adjudicated more quickly than others.

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