Extensive Experience In All Aspects Of Immigration Law

Immigration Information

Common Immigration Status Acronyms

USC – U.S. citizen
CR – Conditional Resident
LPR – Lawful Permanent Resident
EWI – Entered Without Inspection

Statuses and documents

Immigrant – An immigrant is a person coming to the U.S. to remain permanently or for an indefinite period of time and who intends to make the United States the primary place of residence. A permanent resident of the U.S. is an immigrant. A person who plans to become a permanent resident is an intending immigrant. See our employment-based or family-based immigration pages for more information.

Non-immigrant – A non-immigrant is a person coming to the U.S. for a specific purpose, such as visitor, student, or employee. See our temporary visas page for more information.

Visa – A visa is a document placed in your passport by a U.S. consular officer. A visa permits a person to apply to be admitted to the U.S. at a port of entry. A visa does not give you the right to enter the U.S. but only the right to apply to enter at a port of entry.

Immigrant Visa – If you qualify for permanent residence, a consular officer will issue you an immigrant visa. An immigrant visa is a document placed in your passport by a consular officer. After immigrant visa issuance and paying a fee., USCIS will mail you the green card. See our immigrant employment or family pages for more information.

Non-immigrant Visa – A non-immigrant visa is a visa that allows a person to remain within the United States for a particular purpose for a limited time. A non-immigrant visa is valid for entry only for the purpose for which it was issued. For example, a student visa (F-1) cannot be used for entry as a visitor. The validity period shown in a non-immigrant visa relates only to the period during which it may be used in making application for admission into the U.S., it does not indicate the length of time a foreign national may spend in the U.S. See our temporary visas page for more information.

Branches of U.S. Immigration

DHS – Department of Homeland Security
ICE – Immigration and Customs Enforcement
USCIS – U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
CBP – Customs and Border Protection (this includes Border Patrol)
ERO – Enforcement and Removal Operations

Immigration Court

Removal proceedings – this is another name for deportation proceedings; when the U.S. government has filed a case in the Immigration Court to try to prove that an individual should be deported from the U.S.

EOIR – Executive Office of Immigration Review
NTA – Notice to Appear
IJ – Immigration Judge
NWDC – Northwest Detention Center
OSUP – Order of Supervision
BIA – Board of Immigration Appeals
DA – Deferred Action

Employment

DOL – Department of Labor
PERM – (Program Electronic Review Management) – Electronic Labor Certification program filed with the Department of Labor (DOL)
LCA – Labor Condition Application – It is filed with DOL for some employment-based non-immigrant visa petitions.
FDNS – Fraud Detection and National Security Directorate

Answers To Some Common Questions

How do I become a U.S. citizen?

  • A person may become a U.S. citizen by birth or through naturalization. Generally, people are U.S. citizens if they are born in the United States or if one of their parents is U.S. citizen. If you were born in the United States (including, in most cases, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands), you are an American citizen at birth. Your birth certificate is proof of your citizenship. Please refer to our citizenship page on who may be eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship, or whether you may already be a citizen through your parents or grandparents.

What is Naturalization?

  • Naturalization is the act of making a person a citizen of the United States who was not born with that status. An application for citizenship is an application for Naturalization. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information.

How do I become a naturalized citizen?

  • If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth, you may be eligible to become a citizen through naturalization. People who are 18 years and older use the “Application for Naturalization” (Form N-400) to become naturalized. Children who are deriving citizenship from naturalized parents use the “Application for a Certificate of Citizenship” (Form N-600) to become naturalized. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information.

What are the requirements for naturalization?

  • You may apply for naturalization if either: (1) you have been a lawful permanent resident for five years, (2) you have been a lawful permanent resident for three years, have been married to a US citizen for those three years, and continue to be married to that U.S. citizen, (3) you are a lawful permanent resident child of United States citizen parents, or (4) you have qualifying military service. Children under 18 may automatically become citizens when their parents naturalize. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information.

Is my child a U.S. citizen?

  • Usually if children are Permanent Residents they can derive citizenship from their naturalized parents. Please refer to our citizenship page for more information on this topic.

Is it possible to be a dual citizen of the United States of America and another country?

  • Yes. If you have been a citizen from birth or childhood of another country, and you become a U.S. citizen, you may retain dual citizenship as long as the other country does not have any laws or regulations requiring you to formally renounce either citizenship.

My family member or friend was arrested by immigration – what do I do?

Can I work in the United States?

  • You may only work in the U.S. if you have work authorization. An individual may obtain work authorization through many different ways, such as through an employer’s petition, through an application, F-1 optional practical training after completing a degree program at a college or university, or through filing an application in Immigration Court.

I have been a victim of crime or abuse, can I get a green card?

  • You may be eligible for a green card (Lawful Permanent Residence.) Please refer to our survivors of certain crimes page for more information on how an individual may be able to obtain legal status if he or she has been a victim of a crime.

I am widow or widower of a U.S. citizen; can I get a green card?

  • If your U.S. spouse has died and you don’t have your green card yet, you may still be able to obtain a green card for you and your children.

I came here as a child, can I get legal status?

Can I bring my family member to the U.S.?

  • You may be able to bring your family members to the U.S. if you are a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. Please refer to our family-based immigration page for more information.

I or my family member have been arrested by the police – how will this affect my immigration status?

  • If an individual has been arrested by police, his or her immigration status may be affected. It is very important that the individual contact an attorney immediately to determine whether the arrest will cause problems for his or her immigration status. Please see our criminal immigration matters page for more information.

I won the Diversity Lottery (DV); what is next?

  • If you have won the Diversity Lottery, please go to www.travel.state.gov and search “Diversity Lottery” for additional information.

Are you or a loved one facing deportation?

  • As with many areas of immigration law, removal proceedings (formerly called deportation) is a complex area of immigration law. It starts in immigration courts and can result in persons being removed from the U.S. Various forms of relief are potentially available in deportation/removal proceedings.

Immigration Court

  • In Washington State, there are two immigration courts. One Court is located in downtown Seattle. The other Court is located at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma.To begin removal proceedings against an individual, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) submits to the Immigration Court a “Notice to Appear” (NTA). The Immigration Court will then schedule the individual for a hearing with the immigration judge.In Immigration Court, an individual does have the right to have an attorney represent him or her, although he or she does not have the right to a free, court-appointed attorney.

    If you receive an NTA, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible before your hearing date.

Northwest Detention Center (NWDC)

  • If an individual has been detained at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC) in Tacoma, he or she will want to contact an attorney as soon as possible. At the NWDC, the government will either place the individual in removal proceedings before a judge, or the government may “reinstate” an individual’s prior deportation order if the individual has previously been deported from the U.S. and then reentered the U.S. illegally.

Bond proceedings

  • After arrest, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may set a bond for the individual. ICE may also refuse to set a bond. If ICE does set a bond and it is too high for the person to pay, or if ICE refuses to set a bond and the person wants a bond to be set, he or she may request a bond hearing with an Immigration Judge at the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC).

Removal proceedings in the Northwest Detention Center (NWDC)

  • If an individual is in removal/deportation proceedings at the detention center, he or she has the opportunity to request the same types of relief as an individual fighting his or her case outside of the detention center. The difference, of course, is that the individual must remain at the NWDC during his or her proceedings (unless he or she is able to bond-out).

Reinstatement of removal

  • This process is started when there is an old removal/deportation order on file for the individual in Immigration custody. The individual may not know that she or he has a removal order (he or she may have been caught at the border during a previous entry attempt and signed paperwork unknowingly agreeing to a deportation order). This situation would allow ICE to reinstate the prior removal order (i.e. to deport the person from the U.S. quickly and without letting them see a judge). Reinstatement of removal is difficult to stop, and usually happens very quickly, so it is incredibly important that the individual obtain legal advice as soon as possible.

“Relief” From Deportation

  • Even though a foreign national may be deportable from the United States, they may be eligible for some form of “relief” from deportation. Some of the most common forms of “relief” from deportation (which are discussed below) are: Cancellation of Removal, Asylum/Withholding of Removal/Convention Against Torture, and waivers for fraud or past criminal convictions.

Cancellation of Removal

  • Cancellation of Removal is one of the more common ways to fight deportation.

Non-Permanent Resident Cancellation of Removal

  • Individuals who are not lawful permanent residents (not green card holders) may be able to remain in the U.S. and obtain a green card if they can prove that (1) they have resided in the U.S. for 10 years or more, (2) have not been convicted of certain crimes, (3) are a person of good moral character, and (4) can prove that their deportation would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, child, and/or parent.This application is discretionary. This means that the immigration judge will take into account all of the information in front of him or her and decide whether the individual deserves this type of relief.

Permanent Resident Cancellation of Removal

  • Individuals who have green cards may be able to remain in the U.S. and keep their green card if they can prove that: (1) he or she has not been convicted of an aggravated felony (a unique term to immigration law); (2) he or she has resided in the U.S. for 7 years after having been admitted to the U.S.; and, (3) he or she has been a permanent resident for at least 5 years.This application is discretionary. This means that the immigration judge will take into account all of the information in front of him or her and decide whether the individual deserves this type of relief.

Are you afraid to return to your country?

  • In today’s political environment, it is more difficult for people to be granted asylum. And, with the U.S. implementing immigration policies that ban certain asylum seekers, many people face tremendous obstacles. Asylum has a place in this world and the U.S. in helping people from other countries flee persecution for reasons that may include political beliefs, religion, race and sexual orientation.If you are seeking asylum in the U.S., Soreff Weinrich Law attorneys will fight for you. We have represented many people pursuing affirmative asylum applications and defensive asylum applications.

Affirmative Asylum Applications (with the Asylum Office)

  • An individual who is not in deportation proceedings can “affirmatively” apply for asylum with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) Asylum Office. To be granted asylum, the individual must prove that he or she was persecuted in the past on account of his or her race, nationality, religion, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group (e.g. LGBT individuals, members of opposition political organizations, abused spouses, persons subjected to female genital mutilation (circumcision), etc.) and/or has a well-founded fear of persecution on same basis in the future. The individual must prove that the persecution was/will be committed by the government (or its agents) of his/her home country, or by people who the government cannot or will not control.

Defensive Asylum Applications (first raised in deportation proceedings)

  • An individual who is in deportation proceedings may apply for asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) to the Immigration Judge. The requirements for asylum in deportation proceedings are the same as affirmative asylum applications.Whether before an Immigration Judge or at the USCIS Asylum Office, these are often very difficult cases. The applicant will want to hire a lawyer familiar with immigration asylum law.

Fraud/misrepresentation and Criminal Issues

Fraud/misrepresentation

  • If an individual has committed fraud or misrepresented himself or herself, the individual may be forgiven for the prior fraud or misrepresentation. This is accomplished by submitting an application for a “waiver ” to either the Immigration Court or USCIS.

Criminal convictions

  • If an individual has been convicted of a crime, the individual may still be allowed to remain in the U.S. by submitting an application for a “waiver” for the criminal conviction to either the Immigration Court or USCIS.

Board of Immigration Appeals

  • If the Immigration Judge orders an individual deported, he or she may appeal the Immigration Judge’s decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). The government (DHS) may also appeal the Immigration Judge’s decision. An individual has 30 days after the date of the Immigration Judge’s decision to appeal.Where the BIA has made a decision in an individual’s case, he or she may submit motions to reopen or reconsider with the BIA or may appeal to the Federal Circuit Court.

Federal Circuit Court petitions

  • If the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) denies an individual’s appeal or motion, he or she may appeal their decision to the federal circuit court which has jurisdiction over his or her state (in Washington, it is the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals) by submitting a “Petition for Review”.

Know Your Rights

If you are approached by immigration officers or the police, you do not have to speak with them. No matter your legal status is in the U.S., you are protected under the U.S. constitution’s right to remain silent. You also have the right to refuse the police or immigration entry into your home or to search your belongings unless they have a judicial warrant.

Legal Disclaimer

The statements made throughout this website are not intended to provide legal advice and are neither meant to replace legal advice nor to substitute for obtaining legal advice from a qualified attorney. The statements are solely meant to provide very basic information about concepts in immigration law. By reading the information on this website, you have not created an attorney-client relationship with Soreff Weinrich Law.