Immigration Lawyer in Seattle, Washington
The process of immigrating to the United States can undoubtedly feel very overwhelming. The immigration process can take years to complete and it’s understandable to feel frustrated or confused about what you should be doing to gain residency or citizenship.
However, there is assistance available to those who need it and many people find it helpful to consult with an immigration attorney. By working with a lawyer, you’ll have trusted resources during this time to ask questions, voice concerns, or get hands-on assistance filing paperwork or petitions. For immigration help in the Seattle, Washington, area or anywhere in Washington State, call Carney & Marchi, P.S. to schedule an appointment and learn more.
Permanent Residency and Citizenship
One of the most common pursuits for those wishing to live in the U.S. is to gain permanent residence status and ultimately citizenship. These two processes take a long time to complete and are usually done in stages that can stretch out to years and in some cases, decades.
Green Card: When you petition to become a permanent resident (often referred to as getting your green card), there are few different approaches you can take. One of the biggest factors that will determine the path you take is whether you’ll be applying from within or outside of the U.S.
Applying from outside of the U.S.: If you’re currently living outside the country you’ll need to apply for a green card with a U.S. Department of State consulate (called “consular processing”).
Applying from inside of the U.S.: If you’re currently living in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, you will have to apply for an adjustment of status. In some cases, you may be able to stay living in the country while this process takes place, while in others, you may be required to travel back to your home country and wait there until your green card is approved.
Naturalization: If you wish to become a United States citizen you will do this through a process called naturalization. There are three basic criteria that you must meet to apply, though the entire process is fairly complex:
You must be at least 18 years old.
You must be reasonably proficient reading, writing, and speaking English.
You must be of “good moral character.”
Typically the process of naturalization can only be done by those who are:
Married to a U.S. citizen.
Already a green card holder of at least five years.
On active duty with the U.S. military or are a veteran.
Have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen.
Also, you may be able to gain legal status in the U.S. through family petitions if you have an immediate family member who is already a U.S. citizen. This could be a parent, child, sibling, spouse, or fiancé(e). To petition for a family member to become a permanent resident, you must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative which is a separate step from filing the application for permanent residence.
Two common ways to use this method are through an adjustment of status (ex. a family member who is already legally residing in the country), or through a marriage or fiancé(e) visa. The best way to understand your options for a family petition is to meet with an immigration lawyer who can evaluate your specific situation and advise you on your next steps.
Additionally, if you are petitioning for a family member you should know there are a limited number of visas available and even if your application is approved, you will still have to wait for one to be available to you. Furthermore, depending on the nature of your relationship, there will be different levels of preference given to certain family members. For example, first preference is given to unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens while brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens are given the lowest preference level.
Another common reason people seek out the help of an immigration attorney is to address removal proceedings or concerns about being deported. Your removal defense will depend on why you are facing deportation. Possible options could include:
Asylum: If you have a legitimate claim of asylum (meaning you had to flee your home country for fear of persecution), you may be able to use this as justification for remaining in the U.S.
Cancellation of removal: Only some people will be eligible for cancellation of removal and this option can only be used once. Some requirements can include:
Been in the U.S. legally for 5 to 10 years (depending on resident status.)
Resided continuously in the U.S. for at least 7 years.
Have not been convicted of a felony.
Be of good moral character.
Waivers: There are both criminal waivers and noncriminal waivers that may be available to you that can stop removal proceedings.
Immigration Attorney Serving Seattle, Washington
If you need immigration assistance and are currently living in Washington state, reach out to Carney & Marchi, P.S., to schedule a consultation and learn more. An attorney at the firm can assess your conditions and help you move toward the path you want in life.