FAQs

Question: Why would it be beneficial to get a lawyer?

Answer: The paperwork involved in immigration to the United States is very complex and there are many forms that have to be filed in conjunction with other forms. It’s something that’s not for an amateur and it’s something that you need a professional to do in order to make sure it’s done right and to watch out for your rights and whereas, you apply for these benefits, something that a non-attorney, something that we call a notario will not be able to do it for you. And since the consequences are so great for doing something wrong, it’s important to have the right person to help you with the paperwork.

Question: If I had a child in the United States and I’m not a citizen, does that make me a citizen?

Answer: No, it does not. A child born in United States is a US citizen from birth. And they are allowed to sponsor the immigration of a parent but not until they are up to 21. Having a child in the United States does not give anyone any special benefits. Again, it is 21 years away in order for that child to be able to put in for the parent.

Question: What are some of the costs associated with immigration?

Answer: Every time you request the benefit from the US government in immigration, there is a fee associated with it. The system is a pay as you go and supported by the user fees, just like the post office. You want to mail the letter; you put a stamp on it. You want to file your request for citizenship; you have to include a fee for the government. Additionally, there are going to be attorney’s fees. Some people try and skimp on that and either do it themselves or go with a non-attorney but that can lead to problems with your paperwork which could ultimately result in your deportation. So, it’s extremely important that you get a qualified attorney. It’s worth the money to make sure it’s done right and so that you get the benefit you’re seeking.

Question: How can I legally bring my family members into the United States?

Answer: First, you have to have the proper status. You need to be either a permanent resident or your citizen. In fact, your citizens can bring more people than permanent residents. A permanent resident can put in for their spouse, their minor children, or if their children have reached adulthood, their unmarried children. And your citizen, on the other hand, can put in for those people as well as their parents, their brothers and sisters and any married children. So, it really depends on what status the individual has as to what family members they can bring into this country.

Question: Are there any special programs available that I might qualify for.

Answer: There are numerous programs that apply to people in special situations. For instance, there’s the deferred action for people who were brought here as children. There’s also a program to allow people to become permanent residents if they are victim of crime or if they are victim of domestic abuse. That’s not just limited to women, men qualify for those programs also. There are actually a number of special programs for people in certain situations, so it’s best to consult with a qualified immigration attorney and you can call our office and we can discuss that with you.

Question: What if I’ve committed a crime in my native country?

Answer: Any criminal activity, whether it was perpetrated in the United States or in another country can affect your ability to either come to United States or to remain in United States. It’s not an issue of where the crime was committed but what type of crime it was and the seriousness and what kind of follow up was done and did you complete probation or did you make restitution things like that. But the best course of action is to not develop a criminal record if you’re going to be seeking immigration benefits.

Question: What happens if I commit a crime as a permanent resident?

Answer: Everything you do as alien in this country can affect your ability to stay here. That includes even if you’re in a category of a permanent resident. There are many people who think the word “Permanent” means it’s never going to expire, it’s never going to go away but there is a good number of crimes that if you become convicted of them, it will not only cause you lose your permanent resident card but you’ll be deported and be unable to return to this country. So, it’s extremely important to stay away from that kind of activity. And if you do find yourself in a situation to consult not only a criminal attorney but to consult an immigration attorney.

Question: How do I become a citizen of the United States?

Answer: To become a citizen of the United States, you must first be a permanent resident. There’s no way to jump over that requirement. So, if you want to become a citizen, you do need to become a permanent resident. And then, depending on how you became a permanent resident, you may have to wait 5 years or 3 years, or if you join the military, even a shorter period of time than that. You take a test and provide some more documentation and then, you get sworn in as a citizen, a naturalized citizen of the United States.

Question: What sort of paperwork do I need to provide?

Answer: For permanent residence, the process is going to require that you disclose information about yourself, so birth certificate and the other identification documents like a passport, your relationship to whoever is putting in for you, a marriage certificate or a birth certificate of a US citizen child. Also, if you do have any kind of criminal record, that will have to be disclosed along with information about residence and employment that you’ve had within the last five years. It’s not enough just to fill out the form. You really do need to create a complete package of the information in order to get the process to completion.

Question: What is the permanent resident and how long does the process take?

Answer: A permanent resident is someone who’s been granted the right to live in the United States on a permanent basis. Now, when I say “permanent”, there are some things that could lead to that status being taken away but it’s more prominent to say someone entering with a visitor’s visa or student visa. They’re allowed to come here and live and work. How long does the process take? It really does depend on where they’re starting from. Are they someone who’s in another country and someone’s putting in for them or are they already in the United States in some other status like a visitor’s visa and it also depends on who is putting in for them, what family member or employer.

Question: Why is it important to hire an attorney? Hold let me go back here, why would it be important to hire an attorney that works with immigration for a criminal matter?

Answer: The simple fact is while they do have and arm of the immigration system that processes paperwork and issues green cards or naturalizations certificates, the administrative side of immigration, immigration has and entirely opposite side who’s main focus is removing people from this country and the they are dedicated in the perspective is that we give you the right to come here or if you’ve come here illegally and now you’re asking for the benefit of being allowed to stay in the united states.

That you had the behavior that you decided to violate the laws of the United States, then that particular branch of law enforcement is going to go out of their way to make sure you leave the country. They are focused they have the tools, they have access to computer records and things like that, they want you to leave, and the only way you’re going to prevail, is if you have somebody on your side who is knowledgeable and who will work for you and fight for you, the difference between an immigration attorney and a criminal attorney is criminal attorneys, they are going to try to get you’re the best deal with regards to sentencing and things around those lines.

They don’t have the whole picture that something that they go like oh well we plead you down, and if you plead guilty to this crime, you only have to serve 2 days in jail and pay a fine, and then you’re done, they don’t realize that, the act of pleading guilty to whatever it is they have set up, can have repercussions that can 10,20,30,50 years, I’ve seen people deported, who had clean records for 50, 60 years and because of something came up and because of advice of a criminal attorney, they were deported. So you really have, you have to have the best interest in criminal court, but you also have to look out for the best interest in immigration, because once a court has adjudicated you and you have a conviction, there is no going back, that’s all they need in some cases to pick you up and give you a one way ticket to your home country.

Question: Let’s say that I have been in the United States for many years, and I want to check if I have something on my record, could I contact an attorney to see if they can find something?

Answer: Some attorneys have the ability to do that, I think some attorneys have a regular researcher on their staff who can do that, I would suggest, that even if an attorney can’t do it, they may be able to guide you to who locally can do it, while some independent private investigators, unless you are sure that there’s nothing on your record, your probably don’t want to, without any preparation, just go down to your local police department and ask to see a copy of your record, because you don’t know if an unpaid parking ticket or something like that has turned into a warrant, and once you’re arrested, in many jurisdictions, automatically if you weren’t born in this country will automatically notify immigration. So contacting an attorney is I think important, if you contact one and they don’t do that kind of work, then ask them who does, because there are attorneys that either their staff themselves or their hired investigators can do that.

Question: What if someone had a type of misdemeanor where multiple offences turned into a felony?

Answer: It’s important to differentiate between lawyers representing you in criminal matter. But a lawyer representing you in immigration, unless you have committed a federal crime, most criminal lawyers, are going to be dealing with state law only, the law of the state in where you were arrested. In since of 50 states, 50 states called different called different things, called similar things different, or call different things the same things.

So immigration is not so much concerned about the labels as far as misdemeanors and felonies under state law because they are going to label it in how they want. And you can be deported for what immigration calls an aggravated felony, when the state where you got your conviction, called the crime a misdemeanor. So multiple crimes of any type are just multiple extensions of the initial problem, don’t get in a position, of where you are being arrested for a crime, and don’t do it repeatedly. Each time you get a strike against you, they can add together and build up and create a situation where there is going to be no escape from the fact that you’re going to leave the united states and you’re never going to be allowed back.

But as far as distinctions between felonies and misdemeanors, the rules on Crimmigration is which we call the inner section between criminal law and immigration, don’t really necessarily focus so much on what the state calls a crime because immigration is going to call it whatever it wants, but where the rules focus on more as to whether or not you got, what type of sentence you got, whether or not there were multiple crimes and whether or not like in the case of assault, a domestic partner that was involved.

Question: What are some of the most common crimes, or what are some examples, of the types of common crimes that people commit.

Answer: We see all kinds of crimes committed by people who aren’t citizens of the United States, but I think the ones top up the most that end up in my office are theft crimes especially from like shop lifting because back in the day when they did it and they pled guilty, they didn’t realize it was such a big deal. Ah there’s a significant amount of people who some kind of DWI or public intoxication type of crimes and again besides the type of those, the crimes in of itself can hurt you.

The fact they are involved drugs or alcohol can give someone who wants to fly them out of the country, give someone the ammunition they need to make an accusation that you’re a drug abuser and you don’t, we don’t have those people in the United States so that’s why it is significant up a lot of themselves, and that can go to the range of 2 guys in a bar shoving each other to domestic assault, a lot of stuff that isn’t domestic violence gets labeled domestic violence and someone gets arrested.

The criminal attorney is not aware of the consequences for immigration, they make some plea where the person stays out of jail and has to do community service or something, and the foreign citizen, believes that everything is taken care of and 2,3,4,5, 10 years later, it comes up because they crossed the border or applied to renew their green card and they get looked at by immigration as a candidate for being removed from the country, so it’s really important of people to stay out of trouble and not put themselves in a situation where they are being arrested for a crime but if they are, to seek proper legal help, because anything can cause them problems in the future, but the ones we see probably the most is theft is incidents, involving drugs or alcohol and assaults.

Question: What are some of the more common misconception that your clients have, that you have to dispel?

Answer: well a lot of times, if it is a minor crime, people sometimes don’t even get an attorney and if they do get an attorney, they believe their attorney knows every aspect of how this will affect them. How most common people get arrested, they seek out the services of a criminal attorney. Now criminal attorneys should be aware of it could affect your immigration status. But often time they are not and before anyone agree to plead guilty or agree to talk to the police, or anything of that nature, since it could have an impact on their ability to stay in the United States they need to visit with an immigration attorney.

Most immigration attorneys do represent them in criminal court also. some do not, but they can just rely on the advice of a criminal attorney, because the criminal attorney mostly can, what they are trying to please their criminal clients and most criminal clients no matter what their charged with, they’ll agree to anything the prosecutor wants, that they gets them reduces them of time in jail. Sometimes you can make that deal; sometimes you have to be a little creative on how you want to handle something, because of your agreed to plead guilty to the wrong crime, something that might even seem very minor like shop lifting, then it in could in fact hurt their ability to remain in this country, and if they were a permanent resident and they had some thoughts about maybe in the future, naturalizing it cannot permanently buy them to naturalizing.

Question: What are crimes of moral turpitude?

Answer: A crime of moral turpitude is a list of crimes that in essence regardless of how your state preached the crime, and of regardless of where you come from. And whether you are educated, and what your culture says. Many crimes that involve moral turpitude are crimes of anyone in any language in any culture and with any level of education would know is wrong, stealing is wrong, and so it doesn’t matter you steal a car, or steal a pack of gum, stealing is stealing and its wrong and it’s a crime of moral turpitude . the list goes on what crimes fall into that category, is actually changing a lot of time, because of as more and more people get revealed by law enforcement to immigration. And what I mean by that is, that if they you for up for some shop lifting crimes where someone calls the cops and they don’t even arrest you, they basically write out a ticket and you go pay a ticket for it, if that amount was under a certain level.

But because it is a crime involving moral turpitude that police will let immigration know because that is something they can, get your deported or, at a minimum get you placed in detention, while they analyze your status. So that is defiantly one of them, others ones anything having to do with, predatory sexual types of things where sexual presentation on a child or things like that. Things that everybody knows, is wrong. Regardless of your age, culture, education level, ability to speak English, everybody knows certain things are wrong. The biggest thing that most people have a difficulty with is theft, because a lot of things can constitute that, like I said, some people whether young, they may on a dare, steal a CD or something from retailer, they get caught, that’s theft, and that is a crime involving moral turpitude. A lot of crimes based on the misuse of checks, you know you had a check or you cash a check, that you don’t really have a right to cash, those are theft crimes, and therefore the crimes involving moral turpitude.

I have even defended somebody who thought he was picking up scrap metal by side of the road, but apparently someone owned that scrap metal and called the cops on him. He had absolutely no intention of stealing from anybody but appeared it just rusty old metal, it wasn’t even very much, that he felt somebody had just tossed out of the vehicle, but he was convicted of stealing, it was a crime involving moral turpitude, and he got placed in detention and they wanted to deport him, so it’s something very important for people to realize that all crimes, not especially aggravated felonies and crimes involving moral turpitude need to be dealt with in a way that doesn’t affect your immigration status.

Question: Do all crimes have immigration consequences, if not, which ones?

Answer: If you’re not a US citizen and you are here legally, all crimes can have some impact on your ability to either remain here, or say your visa was going to expire and you want to renew it. But some crimes engage law enforcement immediately and the law enforcement will contact the immigration department but even something simple but might be most people consider a minor misdemeanor or something like that could have an impact on someone’s ability to remain in the United States,

Its, difficult to gather an entire list but in essence the United States will deport you if you’ve been convicted of a aggravated felony, and that’s as defined by LUM not defined by state law, they may take you into custody and deport you if you’ve committed a crime involving moral turpitude. But even something like say someone gets one or two drunk in public or something like that. Very minor misdemeanor type of situation, but the next time they go to renew their visa, they might be told, you have been in a pattern of alcohol abuse. So we don’t want you in the United States, so in essence yes, any crime can affect someone, but some crimes will put somebody on the bus track for deportation.

Question: What is a temporary protective status?

Answer: TPS or temporary protective status, is when the department of homeland security designates that a certain country, has some kind of condition that prevents it from taking back in its own citizens in a safe manner, it usually has something to do with, something like a hurricane or an earthquake has struck that country, and if the individual from that country who is in the united states, can’t get on a plane and go back there because the airports been shut down because of an earthquake or something like that.

So that they are not just wandering around the United States, in an illegal status, so the US government will give them what’s called a TPS, temporary protective status. It’s usually removable, you have to keep checking on it every year of whether or not it applies to certain countries and most countries change or improve then the temporary status might be withdrawn but every year, of the situation of the home country is, hasn’t changed, then usually they the department of homeland security allows the individuals with that status living in the United States to go ahead and then release the TPS.

Question: How would a foreigner be affected by a criminal conviction?

Answer: A person who in the United States is not a US Citizen, whether they are here illegally, or they are under some kind of visa, or they have some kind of status, will be asked to leave if they commit certain crimes, it’s they need to remain in the United States for a foreign citizen is based on, the fact of, based on the behavior of the foreign citizen if they do not follow the laws, they will be asked to leave, and sometimes they will be told you can never come back.