Q: Who can enter the U.S.?
Answer. Before determining how a Foreign National can enter the U.S., it is necessary to find out if that person can even enter the U.S. (Inadmissibility) in the first place. Under the inadmissibility law, there are several grounds that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) may use to deny Foreign Nationals entry to the U.S. such as health reasons, economic, crimes, prior immigration violations, and other grounds.
Q: What do I need to do once I enter the U.S.?
Answer. Once a Foreign National is in the U.S., they must comply with all U.S. laws to remain in the U.S. Under deportability law, there are grounds that USCIS may use to deport immigrants already in the U.S. such as for health reasons, economic, crimes, unlawful status, entry in the U.S. without inspection, and other immigration violations.
Q. What must I do if I am facing a charge in municipal court or criminal court in the U.S. as a Foreign National?
Answer. Before Foreign Nationals plead guilty to any crimes in criminal court or to charges in Municipal Court, it is imperative that the person consult with an immigration attorney to determine whether he or she will be subject to removal (deportation).
Q. How am I affected if I overstay in the U.S.?
Unlawful presence refers to the period that a Foreign National is in the U.S. after entering the country without having been inspected or authorized. Unlawful presence also refers to a Foreign National who initially was authorized to enter the U.S. but then overstays the legal period.
Unlawful status “Unlawful status” is different from “unlawful presence.” Unlawful status refers to a Foreign National who violates their authorized status e.g., a student who works without seeking USCIS's approval or a student who stops attending school.
Three-year bar A foreign National who remains in the U.S. unlawfully for at least six months but less than a year who then seeks to be readmitted to the U.S. is barred from entering for three years. This three-year bar only applies if the Foreign National leaves the U.S. and seeks to return. If a Foreign National leaves before six months and then seeks to return, he or she will not be subject to the three-year bar.
Ten-year bar: A Foreign National who remains in the U.S. is unlawfully for a year or more, then leaves and seeks readmission to the U.S. will be barred from entry for 10 years.
Q. Can I enter U.S. temporarily to attend school or visit?
Answer. USCIS grants temporary status (nonimmigrant status) to foreign nationals for many reasons, such as medical treatment [visa number], to visit friends and family (B-2), for work (B-1), for study or training (F-1, J, M, H-3), temporary work (H-1B, H-2A, H-2B, E, L, O, P, R, or TN visas), or seeking protection from violence and crime (T or U visas),
Q: How do I become a lawful permanent resident or get a green card?
Answer. Most Foreign Nationals though come to the U.S. to remain here permanently in what the USCIS calls immigrant status. Their reasons vary: to work here permanently , to live with their immediate family members, or to avoid political persecution or violence. People who qualify can obtain immigrant status through their family, employment, the diversity lottery, asylum, or through other protective measures that USCIS has put in place.
Q: How do I become a U.S. Citizen?
Answer. A lawful permanent resident may apply to become a U.S. citizen after five years of obtaining permanent residency and meeting other requirements. That period is reduced for persons who obtained permanent residence based on marriage or under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).
Q: I am a victim of domestic violence, Can I obtain legal status in the U.S.?
Answer: Yes. If you are a victim of domestic violence or other qualifying crimes, you may be eligible for a U Nonimmigrant (temporary) status and subsequently qualify for a green card. Further, if you are a spouse, parent or child of a U.S. Citizen or spouse or child of a Lawful Permanent Resident, you may apply for green card through VAWA (Violence against Woman ACT).
Q: I reentered the U.S. illegally after I was deported. Can I obtain legal status?
Answer: No. Unfortunately, reentering the U.S. illegally after deportation is a federal crime punishable by up to 2 years in prison and will cause a permanent bar from the U.S., and the person may only apply to reenter the U.S. after being absent from the U.S. at least 10 years.
Q: I live in the U.S. and just married a U.S. Citizen. What are my next steps?
Answer: Your U.S. Citizen spouse may petition for you to become a permanent resident. However, since you have been married less than two years, you may only qualify for a conditional green card that is good for two years. After you receive your conditional two-year green card, you and your U.S. Citizen spouse must petition to USCIS to remove the condition.
Q. I am a permanent resident of the U.S. and want to bring my adult son and grandson to the U.S. May I petition for my grandson?
Answer: No, you may not petition to bring your grandson here. However, you may petition for your son to get a green card through the F2B Family Preference category and your grandson can come as a derivative beneficiary of your son.
Q. What is DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)?
Answer: DACA is a policy that prevents any removal action for people who came to the U.S. as minors and meet certain requirements. For more information on DACA, see link here: https://www.uscis.gov/DACA
Q. I am a student in the U.S. with a F-1 visa, can I work in the U.S.?
Answer: It depends. USCIS has strict rules about individuals in the U.S. under F-1 (student) visa and a student may be removed from the U.S. if a student does not follow the strict rules.
• On-campus: During the first year of undergraduate school, a student cannot work except on-campus or with employers affiliated with the school.
• Off campus: After the first year, a student may work off-campus if a student is suffering severe economic hardship after the Designated School Officer and USCIS approve the off-campus work.
• CPT (Curricular Practical Training): A F-1 student may participate in CPT, after a first year of study, in alternate work/study or internship that is part of the required curriculum. The student must have a job offer and must submit a request to the Designated School officer.
• OPT (Optional practical training): A student may also receive optional practical training before or after completing a course of study. Prior to completing a course of study, a student may work up to 20 hours while school is in session. OPT is limited to 12 months except students in STEM can work up to 36 months. For more information see link here: https://www.uscis.gov/working-in-the-united-states/students-and-exchange-visitors/students-and-employment
Q: What is TPS and how do I qualify?
Answer: TPS also known as Temporary Protected Status is a humanitarian protection for foreign nationals when the Secretary of Homeland Security designates a foreign country dangerous to return to due to war, natural disasters, or other dangerous temporary conditions. If you are from one of the countries that the Secretary has designated for TPS, you may qualify and if eligible 1) you cannot be removed from the US for a certain period and 2) may qualify for work authorization. To check the current list of designated countries, see link below.
Q. Can I get a driver’s license as an undocumented immigrant?
Answer: It depends on where in the U.S. you live. Some states including New Jersey allow persons, regardless of immigration status, to get a driver’s license. NJ has two types of licenses, 1) basic license regardless of immigration status and 2) Real ID license for documented immigrants and US citizens. For more information on how to get a license in New Jersey, please click on the link here: https://nj.gov/mvc/license/firstlic.htm.
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