There is truly no greater moment for an immigration lawyer than to witness a client taking the Oath of Allegiance and become a naturalized U.S. Citizen. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we are dedicated to assisting our naturalization clients prepare for the naturalization interview. Our mission is to prepare accurate paperwork and to examine the supporting documents carefully before they are submitted to USCIS. By doing this, our clients can focus of studying for the civics, reading, and writing portions of the naturalization interview with the peace of mind that their paperwork is satisfactory. Additionally, our goal is to assist our clients obtain proof of U.S. Citizenship in the event that they are unable to locate previously issued documents or when certain documentation was never obtained. Our services include assistance with applications for certificates of citizenship for both adults and children, naturalization, records requests, and passport applications.
One of the most complicated aspects of U.S. Immigration Law is helping a family member adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we have assisted many spouses of U.S. Citizens adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident. The law currently provides an exception for unlawful presence (i.e. visa overstay) to spouses who get married after their temporary visa status expired. This can be a scary time for both spouses because everything is riding on getting their immigration situation on track. While there are exceptions to this rule (i.e. unlawful entry), it is often possible to help the spouse acquire conditional permanent residence and thus take away the burden of not having lawful status or employment authorization.
The foundation of every immigration law practice is usually Family Based Immigration. Congress has categorized family relationships between the petitioner and the primary beneficiary. The U.S. Government processes family based immigration petitions based on the category of the visa being sought. There are specific rules for derivative beneficiaries as well as for unmarried children who are turning 21 years old. Some petitions may be filed at USCIS International Offices while other petitions must be filed in the United States at a USCIS Lockbox Facility. Once the petition is approved, an immigrant visa application is generated at the National Visa Center. The last stop is the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the beneficiaries country of chargeability where an immigrant visa interview is conducted by a Consular Officer. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, P.L.L.C., our mission to give our clients the peace of mind that a professional immigration lawyer will handle their relative's case from start to finish and handle all aspects of the case in a timely and organized manner. We have assisted clients with family based immigration cases in many countries and have coordinated with several U.S. Embassies and Consulates located in Africa, North and South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Perhaps the most unique and often misunderstood requirement in U.S. Immigration Law is the Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence (Form I-751). For spouses who have been married for less than two years prior to obtaining permanent residence through family based immigration, they must submit paperwork with USCIS within the 90 day window before their two year conditional residence card expires. This can become a stressful time for families because their marital relationship is being reevaluated by USCIS. Complications can arise when the spouses have separated or divorced. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, our priority is treating our clients with dignity as we evaluate evidence and counsel them through this stressful time. We often include affidavits from friends and family members as supporting evidence. The processing times for the Form I-751 are somewhat lengthy and it is sometimes appropriate to file an Application for Naturalization while the Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence is still pending in order to streamline the immigration process.
K-1 Visas allows a Fiancée (female) or Fiancé (male) of a United States Citizen to enter the United States for the limited purpose of getting married within 90 days. The fiancée / fiancé may not marry anyone other than the petitioner and they are not allowed to leave the United States during the 90 day period. If they marry the petitioner, the fiancée / fiancé is eligible for work authorization and conditional permanent residence. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we understand that many of our K-1 Visa clients are extremely excited about getting their future underway and that they want their immigration process to be completed without delay. Our goal is the same as our clients and we prepare every K-1 Visa Petition with the appropriate amount of supporting evidence. K-1 Visas are unique because they are forwarded from USCIS to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate almost immediately from the National Visa Center. Once the K-1 Visa Petition (Form I-129F) is approved, our firm immediately begins working toward scheduling the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Employment based immigration consist of a variety of business-related immigration procedures for petitioning companies, investors, executives, and skilled and unskilled workers. EB-1 Extraordinary Individuals may self-petition as long as they can prove that they have risen to the top of their field of sciences, arts, education, business and athletics. Additionally, employment based visa holders such as L-1A Executives and H1-B Skilled Workers may be eligible for adjustment of status to permanent resident when the corresponding requirements have been satisfied. EB-5 Investor Visas are available to wealthy individuals whose goal is to make a 1.8 million dollar investment in a job creating enterprise in the United States. The minimum investment is $900,000 for investments made within a targeted employment area (TEA). For EB-5 Investor Visas, the petitioner must be prepared to submit a source of funds report to show that the origin of the funds came from a legitimate source of income. At the Galloway Law Firm of Ponte Vedra Beach, PLLC, we have assisted businesses, executives, investors and extraordinary individuals with employment based immigration cases.
I would like to talk to a USCIS representative about my case. What is their phone number?
USCIS Contact Center can be reached at 800-375-5283.
I received a Request for Evidence. Does this mean that USCIS is going to deny my case?
Absolutely not. If your case was not pending further consideration, then you have received a Notice of Intent to Deny or Decision. A Request for Evidence means that the immigration officer needs additional information or documentation. If you are feeling overwhelmed or confused, then feel free to schedule a complementary appointment with my office to examine the Request for Evidence and discuss the best course of action on how to proceed.
I moved. Do you need to update my address with USCIS?
Yes. USCIS requires immigration petitioners and applicants to update their address within 10 days. You can file either an online or paper Form AR-11, Change of Address Card.
How much are the government's filing fees for USCIS paperwork?
USCIS recently implemented a Fee Calculator to help customers determine the appropriate fees. The Fee Calculator is located on their website.
What is the government's processing time for USCIS paperwork?
USCIS calculates the estimated processing time and provides that information on their website. The Check Case Processing Times tool is located on their website.
What is the National Visa Center and how to it affect my family's immigration paperwork?
The National Visa Center or NVC is the Department of State's immigration paperwork processing center for immigrant visas that will be issued by a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The purpose of the NVC is to prepare, review, and organize the file before forwarding it to the corresponding U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The applicant's immigrant visa file may be held at the NVC when the visa is not available.
Do I need to hire an immigration attorney?
The U.S. immigration laws do not require an appearance of an attorney to apply for immigration benefits. You're permitted to submit your immigration forms and paperwork on your own. An immigration attorney can help you understand the rules, regulations, and procedures that are applicable to your situation.
I lost my permanent residence card. What should I do?
Conduct a reasonable search. If you are sure that the card is lost, then call the local sheriff's office non-emergency number and make a report stating that the permanent resident card was lost. Next, prepare a USCIS Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Residence Card and include a copy of the police report. Please note that USCIS routinely conducts background checks while processing Form I-90.
I'm a permanent resident. I recently moved to a different city within the United States. I would like to apply for naturalization. Do I have to wait to submit USCIS Form N-400?
Yes, if you moved to a different state or into a different USCIS district (i.e. USCIS - Jacksonville Field Office). You must live there for at least 3 months prior to applying for naturalization.
I have a B1/B2 Tourist Visa. May I work in the United States?
No. It is permissible to engage in limited business-related activity such as participating at a training session, speak at a convention, and attend the closing of a pre-approved real estate transaction on behalf of an individual or company. However, do not be lured into a false sense of security that work authorization is granted with Tourist Visa status. Every employer is required to have a USCIS Form I-9, Verification of Employment Eligibility for every employee. Holding yourself out as an independent contractor with work authorization while only having a B1/B2 Tourist Visa is a visa violation.
I am an F-1 Student. May I work in the United States?
Not without work authorization. You must submit Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization to USCIS for review and approval. An F-1 Student with a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) may apply to seek employment authorization in an occupation directly related to their field of study in a program called Optional Practical Training (OPT). An F-1 Student may also seek off-campus employment under the sponsor of a qualifying international organization or in cases of severe economic hardship.
What is an invitation letter?
An invitation letter is written by the individual or company supporting the issuance of a visa to someone abroad. It will generally describe the relationship that the individual or company has with the visa applicant and verify the purpose and itinerary of the visa applicant's intended trip to the United States. Many Consular Officer's no longer consider invitation letters.
USCIS scheduled my Biometrics Appointment Notice. What do I need to do to prepare?
At Biometrics, you'll be required to provide your picture, fingerprints, and picture. Please arrive at your Biometrics Appointment at the scheduled time and not more than 15 minutes early. Bring your passport(s) and visa(s), valid photo identification, permanent resident card and employment authorization document (if applicable), and a copy of the Biometrics Appointment Notice. A family member, petitioner or translator is generally allowed to accompany you.
My Form I-485 is pending and I was recently arrested. What should I do?
Consult immigration counsel because your eligibility for an adjustment of status will be affected by the criminal case. If you have an immigration attorney, then contact them as soon as possible. If not, then please feel free to contact me for a complementary consultation.
My country of origin is listed on the travel ban. Can I still apply for naturalization?
Absolutely. As long as you meet the standardized naturalization requirements you will be permitted to become a United States citizen.
I hired an immigration attorney, but the results are not what I expected. May I contact your office to evaluate my situation?
Yes and I will be glad to give you a second opinion.
My current immigration attorney is not returning my phone calls. Should I contact your office for assistance?
That depends if you are aware of any pending deadlines for your case. If there are no pending deadlines, then you might want to write him or her a polite email to request that they contact you as soon as possible to discuss your case. If you still have not received a response within 5 days, then I would glad to speak to you about your case.
I am visiting from abroad and I was injured in an auto accident. May I pursue a claim for personal injury in the United States?
Yes. As long the complaint is properly filed in the correct venue and within the statute of limitations.
My child is a derivative U.S. Citizen with U.S. Passport. Do I need to submit USCIS Form N-600?
It is optional. However, a Certificate of Citizenship can be useful to prove identity, birthday, and U.S. Citizenship. Unlike a U.S. Passport, the Certificate of Citizenship does not expire.
I would like to pay my USCIS filing fees with a check or money order. Who should I make the check or money order payable to?
U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Do not abbreviate USCIS or DHS.
What type of photos should I submit with my application?
Numerous USCIS Forms require the filer to submit two standard, passport-style, color photographs. These photos must have been taken within the past 30 days. Gently write your full name on the back on the photograph.
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