Immigration Attorney in OKC
If you or someone you care about is trying to become a lawful permanent resident or naturalized citizen of the United States or is facing deportation or removal proceedings, it is essential to have an experienced immigration lawyer guiding you through this complex system.
Most immigration law issues break down generally into two broad categories: how to become a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident through the visa process; and how to avoid being deported from the United States.
Obtaining a Visa
There are many types of visas, each with different requirements to obtain and each carrying different terms and conditions.
A U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident may file an I-130 form called a “Petition for Alien Relative” to request an immigrant visa (commonly called referred to as a “green card”) for certain family members. Not all petitions of this kind are granted. American immigration law designates preferences for certain family members over others.
Under current immigration law, the order of priority for obtaining a family-sponsored visa is:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens, and parents of adult U.S. citizens;
- Unmarried children over the age of 21 of U.S. citizens;
- Spouses of lawful permanent residents and unmarried children of lawful permanent residents;
- Married children of U.S. citizens;
- Siblings of adult U.S. citizens.
Fiancé / Fiancée Visas:
The K-1 Visa enables a person who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident to enter the United States for the purpose of marrying a U.S. citizen. The marriage must take place within ninety days of the foreign fiancé/fiancée’s arrival in the country.
Along with the Family-Based Visas, Employment-Based Visas are the most commonly used type of visa to gain lawful permanent resident status. There are several employment-based categories, and each one carries a different priority, so it is important to understand which one you are eligible to apply under:
- EB-1: First Preference for Workers with Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business, or Athletics; Outstanding Professors or Researchers; and Multi-national Managers and Executives
- EB-2: Second Preference for Workers with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Abilities, or Workers Seeking a National Interest Waiver
- EB-3: Third Preference for Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers
- EB-4: Fourth Preference for “Special Immigrants” including Religious Workers, Iraqi/Afghan Translators, Broadcasters, Physicians, Armed Forces Members, Retired NATO-6 Employees, and others.
- EB-5: Investors Who Will Create Jobs
For some of these categories, the immigrant may make a self-application rather than relying on sponsorship by an employer or family member. It is important to discuss your situation with your attorney to determine all of the forms that must be filed and all of the documentation that must be provided in support of your application.
Visas for Victims of Violent Crimes
The U-Visa is designed to give immigrants who are victims of serious crimes committed in the United States the ability to stay lawfully in the country while assisting U.S. law enforcement efforts. To obtain a U-Visa, the immigrant must be the victim of a crime such as sexual assault, incest, domestic violence, involuntary servitude, trafficking, kidnapping, or other serious violent crime.
This type of visa is valid for four years, after which the immigrant may seek permanent resident status.
The requirements of the U-Visa are:
- the crime must have been committed in the United States;
- the victim must have suffered physically or mentally;
- the victim can provide information about the crime;
- the victim must be willing and able to assist law enforcement in the investigation and prosecution of the crime
Violence Against Women Act (VAWA):
The Violence Against Women Act actually permits both male and female spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents to apply for a visa without a family sponsor. The purpose is to prevent an abusive spouse or step-parent, whom the immigrant would otherwise depend upon for lawful immigration status, from being involved in the process of filing a petition for a visa. Under the VAWA, the abuser is not even entitled to notification when his or her victim files a self-petition.
If you are in an abusive situation, you do not need to stay in order to maintain your immigration status. Contact our immigration lawyers as soon as possible to discuss a safe way out.
Citizenship Through Naturalization
There are many rights and privileges that only come with being a full-fledged U.S. citizen. To name just two: only citizens may vote and travel freely outside of the U.S. without fear of exclusion from the U.S. upon return. Lawful permanent residents may still be subject to removal, despite being called “permanent” residents. For these reasons, many permanent residents eventually choose to become naturalized citizens.
You may apply for naturalization if you are at eighteen years or older and you have been a lawful permanent resident for at least five years. Alternatively, if you are at least eighteen and have been a lawful permanent resident for at least three years and married to the same U.S. citizen for the entire time, you may then apply for naturalization.
You must also prove that you have “good moral character.” Finally, you must pass a citizenship test that will test your knowledge of American history, American civics, and the English language. However, if you have a physical or developmental disability or a mental impairment, you may qualify for an exception to the language and civics test requirement.
In determining whether a lawful permanent resident may become a citizen, the following factors may also be considered:
- the applicant’s age;
- the applicant’s marital status;
- whether the applicant has served in the military;
- how long the applicant has resided in the United States;
- the length of time that the applicant has been a permanent resident;
- whether and why the applicant has been arrested;
- whether the applicant has left the country for substantial amounts of time;
- whether the applicant has ever failed to file or pay income tax;
When you are seeking naturalization, it is imperative to have a knowledgeable immigration attorney to assist you every step of the way.
Visas may also be necessary for people who are not seeking to become permanent residents of the United States. If you are planning to enter the United States for a temporary stay to work or study, you will need to obtain one of the various types of non-immigrant visas, which include:
- E-1 Visa for Treaty Investors
- E-2 Visa for Treaty Traders
- B-1 Visa for Temporary Business Visitors
- F-1 Visa for Students
- F-2 Visa for Spouses and Children of Students
- J-1 Visa for Educational and/or Cultural Exchange Students
- J-2 Visa for Spouses and Children of Exchange Students