Green Cards & Waivers
Lawful Permanent Residence
Individuals who wish to live and work permanently in the United States can do so by applying for lawful permanent residence (LPR) status (also known as a "green card"). Such an application can be made in a variety of ways, but the laws governing these processes are complicated and include many rules and exceptions. For that reason, consultation with an experienced immigration attorney is critical to avoid problems.
Generally speaking, individuals who have citizen or lawful permanent resident relatives in the United States and who entered the country lawfully on a visa may be eligible to apply directly with the immigration service in a process called "adjustment of status." Those who entered without inspection (i.e. without permission) are usually ineligible to adjust status unless they fall under specific exceptions. However, they may be able to apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate in their home country. Individuals in removal proceedings may be able to apply for adjustment of status with the immigration judge or may be able to request permission to apply for a visa overseas without being deported.
Applications for lawful permanent residence are based on petitions filed by family members who have legal status in the U.S.* There are two types of family petitions: immediate relative petitions and petitions that fall within preference categories. Immediate relative petitions are filed by United States citizens for their parents (if the citizen petitioner is over the age of 21), their children (if their non-citizen children are under the age of 21), and their spouses. An immediate relative petition accords the beneficiary of the petition the immediate right to apply for lawful permanent residence.
Preference category petitions do not accord an immediate right to apply for status and are backlogged, sometimes by many years. These petitions fall into the following four categories:
First Preference: Petitions filed by U.S. Citizens for their unmarried adult children (over the age of 21)
Second Preference: Petitions filed by lawful permanent residents for their spouses and unmarried children
Third Preference: Petitions filed by their married adult children (over the age of 21)
Fourth Preference: Petitions filed by U.S. Citizens for their siblings
For individuals who are beneficiaries of the preference category petitions, obtaining lawful permanent resident status can be complicated. The date the petition was filed is known as the "priority date" and an application for residence cannot be made until the priority date is "current." In order to determine if your priority date is current, you must reference the visa bulletin which is published by the Department of State every month. Individuals who have petitions filed on or before April 30, 2001 have increased chances of applying for lawful permanent residence in the United States because they are protected under a law that is no longer in effect.
Cecily has extensive experience representing individuals in applications for lawful permanent residence. She has successfully represented gay and transgender applicants, people who have criminal convictions, individuals who were apprehended at the border and returned to their home country, and those who have lied about their identity or nationality to immigration officials. Even seemingly hopeless cases can sometimes be won. If you think you might be eligible to apply for permanent residence, or you want to know what your options are, contact our office today for a consultation.
Waivers of Inadmissibility
A person is inadmissible to the United States if the law provides some reason why their request to become a lawful permanent resident should be denied. This includes prior unlawful presence, misrepresentations or fraud in connection with requests for an immigration benefit, and certain criminal convictions. Cecily has extensive experience in filing waivers of grounds of inadmissibility in connection with both applications for adjustment of status as well as applications for immigrant visas at consulates overseas (known as "consular processing").
In order to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility an applicant must show that a relative (who is a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S.) will suffer extreme hardship should the application be denied. The inquiry involves proving hardship to the relative both in the United States and in the home country. These cases can be complicated and potentially involve significant amounts of evidence. Moreover the rules governing waivers are complicated and confusing, for that reason consultation with an experienced immigration attorney is highly recommended. Should you have any questions about this process, please contact our office for a consultation.
* Please note that U.S. employers are also able to petition for non-citizens but the Law Office of Cecily Clements does not handle those types of applications.