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Immigration FAQs

Would you and your family like to become duel citizens?
Making a decision to become a citizen of another country is huge. Not only does it involve a lot of paperwork, but it can create a lot of confusion. Having the knowledge and support you need during this time is important and that’s what we’re here to do for you. Here at Victory Law we will assess your current situation, answer your questions, and walk you through the consular process for legal immigration or naturalization, along with the necessary processes to qualify for it. We will then assist you in efficiently and effectively streamlining the process for the quickest outcome. Whether you’re inside, or outside the U.S. we are here to help you return to what it is that you hold dear and desire in our great country. Consular Processing Includes:
  • Performing a full analysis of your specific situation to determine your immigration rights and basis to immigrate
  • Determining Visa availability and consular processing times as well as solutions allowing you to immigrate sooner
  • Analyzing all possible factors that may negatively affect your case as well as solutions to overcome such factors
  • Putting together a comprehensive package of legal documents to submit in conjunction with your application to increase the chances of a favorable decision
  • Filing your Immigrant Petition with all supporting documentation
  • Scheduling your interview appointment with the appropriate consular office
  • Preparation for your interview appointment at the appropriate consular office
  • Communication with the Consulate and National Visa Center during your case review
  • Client Education regarding your Visa packet
  • Client Education regarding your rights and responsibilities as a legal permanent resident
Gain the support, trust, and knowledge you need to successfully complete this process in a quick and effortless manner by allowing us to partner with you as you gain residency within the U.S. Don’t delay in taking the first step toward a great change. Call us for a free consultation today!
What documents do I need to travel outside the United States?
In general, you will need to present a passport from your country of citizenship or your refugee travel document to travel to a foreign country. In addition, the foreign country may have additional entry/exit requirements (such as a visa). For information on foreign entry and exit requirements, see the Department of State’s webpage.
What documents do I need to present to reenter the United States?
If seeking to enter the United States after temporary travel abroad, you will need to present a valid, unexpired A green card (Form I 551, Permanent Resident Card). When arriving at a port of entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection Officer will review your permanent resident card and any other identity documents you present, such as a passport, foreign national I.D. card or U.S. Driver’s License, and determine if you can enter the United States. For information pertaining to entry into the United States, see U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s webpage.
Does travel outside the United States affect my permanent resident status?
Permanent residents are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status. If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home, you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status. A general guide used is whether you have been absent from the United States for more than a year. Abandonment may be found to occur in trips of less than a year where it is believed you did not intend to make the United States your permanent residence. While brief trips abroad generally are not problematic, the officer may consider criteria such as whether your intention was to visit abroad only temporarily, whether you maintained U.S. family and community ties, maintained U.S employment, filed U.S. income taxes as a resident, or otherwise established your intention to return to the United States as your permanent home. Other factors that may be considered include whether you maintained a U.S. mailing address, kept U.S. bank accounts and a valid U.S. driver’s license, own property or run a business in the United States, or any other evidence that supports the temporary nature of your absence.
What if my trip abroad will last longer than 1 year?
If you plan on being absent from the United States for longer than a year, it is advisable to first apply for a reentry permit on Form I 131. Obtaining a reentry permit prior to leaving the United States allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Please note that it does not guarantee entry into the United States upon your return as you must first be determined to be admissible; however, it will assist you in establishing your intention to permanently reside in the United States. For more information, see the Travel Documents page. If you remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years, any reentry permit granted before your departure from the United States will have expired. In this case, it is advisable to consider applying for a returning resident visa (SB 1) at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. An SB 1 applicant will be required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and will need a medical exam. There is an exception to this process for the spouse or child of either a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad on official orders. For more information on obtaining a returning resident visa, see the Department of State’s webpage on returning resident visas. Additionally, absences from the United States of six months or more may disrupt the continuous residency required for naturalization. If your absence is one year or longer and you wish to preserve your continuous residency in the United States for naturalization purposes, you may file an Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes on Form N 470. For more information, please see the Continuous Residence and Physical Presence Requirements page.
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
You May Qualify for Naturalization if:
  • You have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, please visit our Path to Citizenship page for more information.
  • You have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen, please visit our Naturalization for Spouses of U.S. Citizens page for more information.
  • You have qualifying service in the U.S. armed forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. Visit the Military section of our website.
  • Your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met.
You may qualify through other paths to naturalization if you do not qualify through the paths described above. Note: You may already be a U.S. citizen and not need to apply for naturalization if your biological or adoptive parent(s) became a U.S. citizen before you reached the age of 18.
Your Rights
As a permanent resident (green card holder), you have the right to:
  • Live permanently in the United States provided you do not commit any actions that would make you removable under immigration law.
  • Work in the United States at any legal work of your qualification and choosing. (Please note that some jobs will be limited to U.S. citizens for security reasons)
  • Be protected by all laws of the United States, your state of residence and local jurisdictions.
Your Responsibilities
As a permanent resident, you are:
  • Required to obey all laws of the United States the states, and localities
  • Required to file your income tax returns and report your income to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and state taxing authorities.
  • Expected to support the democratic form of government and not to change the government through illegal means
  • Required, if you are a male age 18 through 25, to register with the Selective Service
You will need to replace your green card if:
  • Your previous card was lost, stolen, mutilated or destroyed
  • Your card was issued to you before you were 14 and you have reached your 14th birthday (unless your card expires before your 16th birthday)
  • You have been a commuter and are now taking up actual residence in the United States
  • You have been a permanent resident residing in the United States and are now taking up commuter status
  • Your status has been automatically converted to permanent resident status (this includes Special Agricultural Worker applicants who are converting to permanent resident status)
  • You have a previous version of the alien registration card (e.g., USCIS Form AR 3, Form AR 103 or Form I 151 B all no longer valid to prove your immigration status) and must replace it with a current green card
  • Your card contains incorrect information
  • Your name or other biographic information on the card has been legally changed since you last received your card, or
  • You never received the previous card that was issued to you by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
What The Law Says
Section 264 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) states, “Every alien in the United States . . . shall be issued a certificate of alien registration or an alien registration receipt card in such form and manner and at such time as shall be prescribed under regulations . . .” It also says, “Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him . . .. Any alien who fails to comply with [these provisions] shall be guilty of a misdemeanor…” The specific requirements and procedures for applying to renew an expiring green card are contained in the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] at 8 CFR section 264.5.
You may lose your permanent resident status (green card) if you commit an act that makes you removable from the United States under the law, as described in Section 237 or 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If you commit such an act, you may be brought before an immigration court to determine your right to remain a permanent resident.
Abandoning Permanent Resident Status
You may be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status if you:
  • Move to another country intending to live there permanently
  • Remain outside of the United States for more than 1 year without obtaining a reentry permit or returning resident visa. However, in determining whether your status has been abandoned, any length of absence from the United States may be considered, even if less than 1 year
  • Remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years after issuance of a reentry permit without obtaining a returning resident visa. However, in determining whether your status has been abandoned any length of absence from the United States may be considered, even if less than 1 year
  • Fail to file income tax returns while living outside of the United States for any period
  • Declare yourself a non-immigrant on your tax returns
You may be eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) through your family, a job offer or employment, refugee or asylum status, or a number of other special provisions. In some cases, you may even be able to self-petition or have a record created for permanent residence on your behalf. In general, to meet the requirements for permanent residence in the United States, you must:
  • Be eligible for one of the immigrant categories established in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • Have a qualifying immigrant petition filed and approved for you (with a few exceptions)
  • Have an immigrant visa immediately available
  • Be admissible to the United States
Each requirement is detailed below.
Eligibility for an Immigrant Category
Individuals who want to become immigrants (permanent residents) through their qualified family member, a job offer or employment, or a special category will generally be classified in categories based on a preference system. Except for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen who are given the highest immigration priority and a few other exceptions, Congress has set a finite number of visas that can be used each year for each category of immigrants. The general categories are listed below.
Family Based Eligibility
Some relatives of U.S. citizens, known as immediate relatives, do not have to wait for a visa to become available. There is no limit to the number of visas that can be utilized in this category in a particular year. Immediate relatives include:
  • Parents of a U.S. citizen
  • Spouses of a U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Note: U.S. citizens must be at least 21 years old to apply for their parents.
The qualified relatives of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in the remaining family based categories may have to wait for a visa to become available before they can apply for permanent residency. These categories include:
  • First Preference: Unmarried, adult (21 years of age or older) sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
  • Second Preference A: Spouses of permanent residents and the unmarried children (under the age of 21)) of permanent residents
  • Second Preference B: Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years or age or older) of permanent residents
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens, their spouses and their minor children
Job or Employment Based Eligibility
People who want to become immigrants based on employment or a job offer may apply for permanent residence or an immigrant visa abroad, when an immigrant visa number becomes available according to the following employment based preferences:
  • First Preference: Priority Workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers
  • Second Preference: Members of professions holding an advanced degree or persons of exceptional ability (including individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver)
  • Third Preference: Skilled Workers, professionals and other qualified workers
  • Fourth Preference: Certain special immigrants including those in religious vocations
  • Fifth Preference: Employment creation immigrants (investors or entrepreneurs)
Eligibility Based on Refugee or Asylum Status
If you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or the qualifying spouse or child of a refugee, you are required to apply for permanent residence (a green card) 1 year after your entry into the United States in this status. If you were granted asylum in the United States or are a qualifying spouse or child of an asylee, you may apply for permanent residence 1 year after the grant of your asylum status. If you are a refugee, you are required by law to apply for a green card 1 year after being admitted to the United States in refugee status. If you are an asylee or asylee derivative spouse or child, you are not required to apply for a green card 1 year after being granted asylum or 1 year after being admitted to the United States in asylum status, although it may be in your best interest to do so. For more information on green card eligibility for refugees and asylees, see our Green Card Through Refugee or Asylum Status page.
Other Ways
Although most immigrants come to live permanently in the United States through a family member’s sponsorship, employment, or a job offer, there are many other ways to get a green card. A number of special immigrant programs are limited to individuals meeting particular qualifications and/or applying during certain time frames. To learn if you may be eligible for one of these special categories, see our Other Ways to Get a Green Card page.
Immigrant Petition
Immigrants in most categories will need an immigrant petition (Petition for Alien Relative, Immigrant Petition for Alien, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, or another petition) filed on their behalf. A petition establishes the underlying basis for your ability to immigrate and determines your immigrant classification or category. Some categories of immigrants may be able to self petition. Most people immigrating based on humanitarian programs are exempt from the petition requirement.
The main ways to immigrate based on a job offer or employment are listed below:
Green Card Through a Job Offer
You may be eligible to become a permanent resident based on an offer of permanent employment in the United States. Most categories require an employer to get a labor certification and then file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, for you.
Green Card Through Investment
Green cards may be available to investors/entrepreneurs who are making an investment in an enterprise that creates new U.S. jobs.
Green Card Through Self Petition
Some immigrant categories allow you to file for yourself (Aself petition@). This option is available for either Aliens of Extraordinary Ability or certain individuals granted a National Interest Waiver.
Green Card Through Special Categories of Jobs
There are a number of specialized jobs that may allow you to get a green card based on a past or current job, such as:
  • Afghan/Iraqi Translator
  • Broadcaster
  • International Organization Employee
  • raqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government
  • NATO 6 Nonimmigrant
  • Panama Canal Employee
  • Physician National Interest Waiver
  • Religious Worker
  • All of these require a Form I 360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, and are described in Section 101(a)(27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
In some cases, you may be able to file the immigrant petition at the same time you adjust status. If you are not eligible to adjust your status inside the United States to a permanent resident, the immigrant petition will be sent to the U.S. consulate abroad to complete the visa process. In order to apply for a green card, there must be a visa immediately available to you.
Turning 21 years of age. If you are an unmarried child of a permanent resident, turning 21 years of age may delay the process of becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa. You will no longer qualify as an Unmarried Child of a Lawful Permanent Resident and will convert to the category of an Unmarried Son or Daughter of a Lawful Permanent Resident. This change in categories may result in a significant delay in your immigrant visa becoming available. The Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). In certain cases, the CSPA may allow you to retain the classification of child even if you have reached age 21. Getting Married. If you are the unmarried son or daughter of a permanent resident, and you get married prior to becoming a permanent resident, you no longer qualify for permanent residence through your permanent resident family member. There is no visa category for a married child of a permanent resident. Note: You must notify USCIS of any change in your marital status after a Petition for Alien Relative has been filed for you and prior to becoming a permanent resident or obtaining an immigrant visa. Permanent Resident Relative Becomes a U.S. citizen. If the permanent resident relative that petitioned for you becomes a U.S. Citizen, your preference category would change and a visa may be available sooner. This is because you would now be getting a green card as a relative of a U.S. citizen.
To promote family unity, immigration law allows permanent residents of the United States (green card holders) to petition for certain eligible relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. A permanent resident may petition for his/her spouse and unmarried child(ren) of any age to immigrate to the United States. Congress has limited the number of relatives who may immigrate under these categories each year so there is generally a waiting period before an immigrant visa number becomes available. If your family relationship qualifies you as an eligible relative of a U.S. permanent resident, then you are in what is called a family preference category.
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