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Immigration FAQ

Immigration Law Center Inc. Sept. 5, 2023

For United States citizens and immigrants, navigating matters involving immigration, citizenship, and residency can be quite complicated. Whether you’re applying for a visa, green card, or citizenship, or helping a spouse or relative migrate to the United States, getting proper guidance is crucial to understand the process and avoid making irreversible mistakes. 

At Immigration Law Center Inc., we’re dedicated to offering reliable guidance and advocacy to clients in the legal matters of immigration. Our experienced immigration law attorneys are available to discuss your unique situation and answer some of your frequently asked questions about immigration law. We proudly serve clients across Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Birmingham, Alabama. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Immigration

What is the difference between a green card and a visa?

A U.S. visa allows a person to enter the United States lawfully for a specific purpose and period. Also, you have to apply for and obtain a visa before leaving your home country. Conversely, a green card serves as proof that a person is a lawful permanent resident and can live and work in the United States. You will obtain a green card after entering the United States, and it must be renewed after ten years. 

How can I help my family member gain citizenship?

To help your family member become a lawful permanent resident, you must obtain a family-based visa—immediate relative or family preference—and sponsor the person. When sponsoring a relative, you must show proof that you have sufficient assets or income to support the family member you’re sponsoring when they get into the United States. 

Can I become a citizen if I entered the country illegally? 

If you entered the U.S. illegally, you may be unable to apply for an adjustment of status while still in the country. You must return to your home country to apply for an immigration visa. Generally, it is advisable that you leave before 180 days of illegal stay to avoid re-entry bars and other penalties. 

What is the difference between lawful permanent residence and conditional permanent residence?

Lawful permanent residence is a green card that is renewable and valid for up to 10 years. This allows you to live and work in the United States. Conversely, a conditional permanent residence is a temporary, non-renewable green card that is issued to certain spouses of U.S. citizens and LPR or green card holders. It is only valid for two years. 

Why would a green card application be denied?

Some common reasons why the USCIS may deny your green card application include: 

  • Incomplete green card application. 

  • You have certain medical issues. 

  • Errors in your green card application. 

  • You have a criminal record which makes you inadmissible. 

  • You depend on government benefits. 

  • You have a prior immigration violation. 

  • You are a national security threat. 

  • No documentary evidence to prove your family relationship. 

  • Fraud or misrepresentation. 

  • You missed the deadlines. 

Can I live in or work in the U.S. while waiting for my green card?

As mentioned earlier, a green card allows you to live and work in the United States lawfully. To work while awaiting your green card, you must apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or work permit. 

How long after my marriage can I apply for a green card?

Within the first two years of your marriage, the non-U.S. citizen spouse (immigrant spouse) can apply for a conditional marriage green card. After two years, the couple can apply for a permanent marriage green card. Once your marriage green card application is approved by the USCIS, your green card should be ready within three (3) weeks. 

What documents do I need for a green card or visa?

Here are some of the documents that you may need for a green card application: 

  • birth certificate 

  • current or expired U.S. visas 

  • valid passport 

  • court records 

  • marriage certificate 

  • proof of bona fide marriage 

  • proof of funds (for investment purposes) 

  • financial documents 

  • police records 

  • divorce decree 

  • medical examination documents 

  • proof of lawful entry into the United States 

  • proof of your sponsor’s lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizenship status 

  • military records 

  • death certificate of a former spouse 

How long does it take to get a green card/visa?

However, the time it takes to get a green card often depends on the type of application. For instance, it may take about two years or less to get a marriage-based green card. In comparison, an employment-based green card may be processed within 1 to 4 years. 

How should I prepare for my green card interview?

The interview remains a crucial part of your green card application. Here are some insightful tips to help you prepare: 

  • Review your green card application thoroughly. 

  • Attend the interview with all the necessary forms, documents, and evidence. 

  • Prepare to answer questions about your relationship and immigration history. 

  • On the date of the interview, arrive at the venue at least 15 minutes early. 

  • Dress appropriately for the interview. 

  • You can attend the interview with your interpreter if you’re not fluent in English. 

  • Remain calm throughout the interview. 

If I came into the country illegally, but my children were born in the U.S., are they considered citizens?

Yes. According to U.S. immigration laws, a child who is born in the United States automatically becomes a U.S. citizen, even if the parent entered the country illegally. However, only the children will be eligible for all the benefits and perks of being a U.S. citizen. 

Get the Answers You Need

Navigating the ever-changing U.S. immigration process by yourself can be quite difficult. For the past 22 years, we have been helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of U.S. immigration, citizenship, and residency. As your attorney, we can help you submit your green card or citizenship, prepare you diligently for the green card interview, and improve your chances of a successful outcome.  

Contact us at Immigration Law Center Inc. today to schedule an initial consultation with knowledgeable immigration law attorneys. Our reliable team can offer you the trusted advocacy and detailed guidance you need to navigate intelligent decisions in your immigration and citizenship matters. We’re proud to serve clients across Atlanta, Georgia, as well as Birmingham, Alabama.