The Immigration And Naturalization Answers You Need
At Schwartz Posel Immigration Law Group, we know you have questions about immigration. We have put together a list of commonly asked questions for your convenience. Of course, your situation may involve unique factors that are not addressed here. We would be happy to answer all of your specific questions in a personal consultation.
What do I have to do to become a United States citizen?
- If you did not attain U.S. citizenship by birth or automatically after birth, then you can still become a U.S. citizen using the normal naturalization process. Individuals who are 18 years and older can apply by filing Form N-400, known as the “Application for Naturalization.”
- If you received citizenship from your parents while a child, then you can file Form N-600, also known as the “Application for Certificate of Citizenship,” to document your naturalization.
- If you were adopted and received citizenship from your parents, then fill out Form N-643, “Application for Certificate of Citizenship on Behalf of Adopted Child,” to document naturalization.
What do I have to do to attain naturalization?
There are a few things you must have or do in order to successfully attain U.S. naturalization. Typically, you need to live in the U.S. for a set period of time, whether it be with your family, for education or for work. Be sure you can prove your residence in a particular United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) district before you file for naturalization.
You will need to be able to read, write and speak English, as well as know a bit about U.S. history, the Constitution and how the U.S. government operates. You should have strong reasons for wanting to be a part of the country and demonstrate “strong moral character.”
When does my permanent residency officially start?
Your permanent resident card — also known as a green card — will show the exact day that your residency began, which is the date you were granted your permanent resident status.
Does my profession qualify me for an H-1B visa?
Workers that are employed in specialty occupations may be granted an H-1B visa, as well as fashion models who demonstrate “distinguished merit and ability.” This type of visa is a nonimmigrant classification meant for someone visiting the U.S. for temporary employment.
What are some examples of specialty occupations?
Most workers with specialized knowledge have received advanced education, although only a bachelor’s degree is technically required. There are many positions that qualify as a specialty occupation, including architect, accountant, lawyer, engineer or mathematician. Those who work in the physical sciences, social sciences, education, theology, the arts, or medicine and health may also qualify. Many types of business specialties count as specialty occupations, too.
Can an H-1B alien immigrate permanently to the U.S.?
Yes. There are several different steps you can take to attain lawful permanent resident (LPR) status without it affecting your current H-1B visa. For example, you may apply for adjustment of status or become the beneficiary of an immigrant visa petition. This is known as “dual intent.” While your LPR status is pending, you can still travel on your H-1B visa. You do not need to get advance parole or request advance permission to return to the U.S.
What options exist for employment-based immigration?
The following five different categories of employment-based visas allow a nonresident to stay in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident.
- EB-1 (A, B and C) Priority Workers: EB-1 visas are for visiting workers: who have an “extraordinary ability” (A); are recognized as an outstanding professor or researcher (B); or work as multinational executives or managers (C).
- EB-2 Advanced Or Exceptional Workers: This type of visa is for immigrants who hold advanced degrees or possess exceptional ability in their field, typically in science, business or the arts. Their ability should be shown to “substantially benefit” the U.S. national economy or have a positive impact on U.S. culture, welfare or education. Additionally, eligible applicants must have five years of experience in their field.
- EB-3 Professionals: This category applies to skilled workers with at least two years of experience and professionals with a bachelor’s degree. Additionally, workers who perform unskilled labor in an area for which there is not a sufficient amount of qualified U.S. workers may also be eligible.
- EB-4 Special Immigrants: This group includes individuals who are members of and work for a religious organization. To apply for this type of visa, immigrants need to have held membership for at least two years in a religious denomination with a nonprofit organization in the U.S. prior to applying, in addition to other requirements. Translators, military members, medical doctors, broadcasters and retired NATO employees may also qualify for an EB-4 visa.
- EB-5 Immigrant Investors: This type of visa is meant for entrepreneurs and those seeking to invest in the U.S. economy. Eligible applicants must make significant capital investments in a U.S. commercial enterprise that will positively impact the U.S.
Processing for employment-based visas is completed on a case-by-case basis, meaning there is no set time frame for when a visa application will be reviewed or approved. After five years as a lawful permanent resident, noncitizens may then apply for citizenship.
What does my spouse need to do to become a legal immigrant?
For your spouse to become a legal immigrant in the U.S., they must follow three steps:
- First, they must have you file an immigrant visa petition with the USCIS on their behalf.
- Next, the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin must show that a spouse immigrant visa is available to your spouse. Availability is based on the date you filed the initial immigrant visa application.
- Finally, if your spouse is legally in the U.S. when their visa petition is approved, then they can apply to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident using Form I-485. If your spouse is outside the U.S. when the USCIS approves their petition, they will be notified to go to their local U.S. consulate and complete the immigrant visa process there.
Can my spouse live in the U.S. under a pending visa petition?
Yes. As a U.S. citizen, you can apply for your spouse to receive a marriage-based green card. While waiting on approval, you may file Form I-129F for them to receive a K-3 nonimmigrant visa. If you are engaged but plan to marry soon, then you will apply for them to receive a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. While not technically necessary, K-1 and K-3 visas speed up the process by allowing your spouse to live and work in the U.S. under their pending immigrant visa application. However, your spouse may also choose to wait outside of the U.S. while their visa application is pending.
How can my son or daughter immigrate to the United States?
There are three steps legal immigrants and foreign nationals must take to bring their children to the U.S.:
- You must first apply for an immigrant visa with the USCIS on behalf of your child.
- After the USCIS has approved your petition, your child will then receive an immigrant visa number from the U.S. Department of State, even if they are already in the United States. However, if you are a legal citizen and your child is both under 21 and unmarried, then a visa number is not necessary.
- If your child lives outside the United States, they will be notified to complete the processing at their local U.S. consulate as soon as an immigrant visa becomes available. If your child is legally in the U.S. when their immigrant visa number becomes available — or if they do not need a visa number — then they can use Form I-485 to apply to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident.
The Answers You Need From Experience You Can Trust
If you or your loved one has an immigration need that could benefit from personalized attention and guidance, call the lawyers of Schwartz Posel Immigration Law Group today at 770-951-1100. You can also schedule your free online consultation using our contact form.
Located in Atlanta, Georgia, we serve immigrants from all over the world who are seeking residency or citizenship in the U.S.