Immigration laws and processes are constantly changing in the United States, and it is challenging to remain informed and to navigate on your own. The fact is, immigration law is extremely complicated.
Michael Saul, an experienced Georgia immigration attorney, is only concerned with one thing: your well-being and your need for compassionate and caring legal assistance. He has over 40 years of experience helping clients and will represent you from the beginning to the end of the process. Immigration matters can be complicated, but we can effectively guide you with our immigration expertise and experience.
Need assistance with an immigration issue? Contact us today.
Family Immigration & Citizenship Law
U.S. citizenship grants various inalienable rights to citizens of this country. Citizenship can be achieved in a variety of ways:
- Being born in the U.S. or certain American territories
- Having parents who were citizens at the time of your birth if you were born abroad
- Applying for naturalization
A citizenship certificate is given to someone who acquires citizenship through their birth or U.S. parents, as opposed to a certificate of naturalization, which is obtained by someone who becomes a citizen through naturalization.
Naturalization is the process of a lawful permanent resident becoming a U.S. citizen, which is the primary path to citizenship for individuals born outside of the United States.
The naturalization process can be complicated, but an immigration lawyer can help you determine your eligibility and help with the process.
Most often, eligibility is determined by:
- A green card holder who has been a permanent resident for at least five years
- A green card holder who is married to a U.S. citizen
- A green card holder who is in the military as well as their family members
- Children of U.S. citizen parents
Michael Saul can help you evaluate your situation and determine your eligibility. We can guide you through any issues that could impact your naturalization process and how to complete and submit your application accurately.
Permanent Resident/Green Card
According to Homeland Security, a green card holder is a permanent resident and has been granted authorization to live and work in the U.S. permanently. As proof of that status, USCIS grants a person a permanent resident card, commonly known as a “green card.”
You can become a permanent resident in a variety of ways. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the U.S. Others may become permanent residents through humanitarian programs, such as refugee or asylee status. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself.
USCIS provides thorough information on how to apply for your green card:
- Visit the green card Eligibility web page to find out if you are eligible
- Visit the Green Card Based Forms page for details on which forms you will need to complete and submit
- Follow the form instructions to submit an application for your green card. It is important to follow all of the instructions or USCIS might not be able to process your application
The process of filing for a Green Card can be complex and confusing, but Michael Saul has the experience to help with questions or guide you through the process.
Family-based visas are given to individuals who have a close relationship with a US Citizen or permanent resident. Unless an individual is an immediate relative, such as a spouse, parent, or minor (under 21) child of a U.S. citizen, they are subject to an annual numerical quota limitation under visa issuance guidelines published monthly by the U.S. Department of State.
The total number of visas available for non-immediate relative family-sponsored immigrants is 480,000 annually. When the quota numbers run over for any year, the foreign relative must wait until the next fiscal year (October 1). They are also required to wait until the visa waiting list for their visa category becomes current.
In addition to being able to work with a permanent resident card an individual will also be able to obtain a work permit under the following:
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ( DACA) is an immigration policy created by President Barrack Obama that allows certain individuals the right to remain in the United States under unlawful presence. These individuals were brought to the country as children under DACA were protected from deportation and allowed work permits.
On December 4, 2020, a federal judge ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to fully restore the original Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must start accepting initial DACA requests from first-time applicants.
A person can be eligible for DACA if they:
- Were born after June 15, 1981
- Came to the United States before their 16th birthday
- Were physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012, and when applying for DACA
- Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, until the present
- Meet certain educational requirements or were honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces
- Have not been convicted of certain crimes
If you are interested in applying for the program or renewing your DACA eligibility, contact Michael Saul, an experienced Georgia immigration attorney, to prepare and file a request.
Cancellation of Removal
This type of defense against deportation is available to individuals who are already in removal proceedings where the Department of Defense has initiated deportation proceedings. Permanent and nonpermanent residents may apply to an immigration judge to be moved from a deportable alien to being lawfully admitted for permanent residence. To obtain the new status, the applicant must meet certain conditions. In most circumstances the individual applying for cancellation of removal is eligible for a work permit or Employment Authorization Card.
Michael Saul has the experience to help navigate this confusing and complex process. During your cancellation of removal hearing, you will appear before a judge. Your future will be held in the hands of the judge’s discretion, so it is important to have a Georgia cancellation of removal attorney advocating for you throughout the long process.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary immigration status available to nationals of certain countries experiencing the kind of problems that make it difficult or unsafe for their nationals to be deported there. A person with TPS is eligible for a work permit.
A country may be designated for TPS for one or more of the following reasons:
- An ongoing armed conflict, commonly a civil war that poses a severe threat to the personal safety of returning nationals
- An environmental disaster, such as an earthquake, hurricane, or epidemic that results in a substantial but temporary disruption of living conditions, rendering the foreign state temporarily unable to adequately handle the return of its nationals
- Extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent its nationals from returning to the state in safety, unless the U.S. government finds that permitting these nationals to remain temporarily in the United States is contrary to the U.S. national interest
Currently, persons from ten countries: Haiti, El Salvador, Syria, Nepal, Honduras, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Nicaragua, and South Sudan, have temporary protected status.
According to the USCIS, special immigrant juveniles are juveniles in the United States who need the protection of a juvenile court because of abuse, abandonment, or neglect by a parent. These juveniles may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. If SIJ classification is granted, they may qualify for lawful permanent residency in the form of a green card.
There are, of course, statutory requirements that must be met, such as, but not limited to:
- The child must be under 18 years of age in some states but 21 in others
- The child must be currently living in the United States
- The juvenile must be unmarried, which means they either have never been married or you were previously married, but the marriage ended in annulment, divorce, or death
Many individuals immigrate to the U.S. under an employer or family-sponsored green card, which are typically the most preferred options. A green card offers both lawful permanent resident status and the legal right to work in the United States. You also do not need other documents to prove your eligibility to work in the U.S.
Another option for employment is an employment authorization card, also known as a work permit. The EAD is meant to help immigrants work in the U.S. until their green card is processed (which can be quite lengthy) or as a regular EAD (or more a temporary employment authorization).
Individuals interested in applying for an EAD must fit into one of the following categories and fulfill certain criteria per the USCIS website:
- Asylee or Refugee and their dependents
- Certain nationalities
- International students
- Eligible dependents of employees from certain International Organizations, Diplomatic Missions, or NATO
- Employment-Based Nonimmigrant
- Family-Based Nonimmigrant
- EAD applicant who has filed for an Adjustment of Status (you have applied for a Green Card)
- U visa approved persons (victims of certain crimes)
Immigration Protection and Programs
According to the American Immigration Council, asylum is “a protection granted to foreign nationals already in the United States or arriving at the border who meet the international law definition of a ‘refugee.’”
The United Nations 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol define a “refugee” as a person who is unable or unwilling to return to their home country. They cannot obtain protection in that country due to past persecution or a well-founded fear of being persecuted in the future “on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion.” Congress incorporated this definition into U.S. immigration law in the Refugee Act of 1980.
In short, if you qualify as a refugee, you will be granted asylum.
Refugees and Emergency Situations
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) Handbook for Emergencies, The UNHCR addresses people’s urgent need for protection and humanitarian assistance anywhere in the world. Refugees and others fleeing conflict need help as quickly as possible, requiring a strong institutional commitment to emergency preparedness and response. The international community and public opinion expect aid workers to be on the scene and take swift action.
The UNHCR develops the mechanisms to reinforce an effective, swift, agile, and flexible emergency response capacity. They have developed an Early Warning System, linking key preparedness measures at country, regional, and headquarters levels. They are also asked to help identify genuine asylum-seekers among the rapidly-growing groups of new arrivals mixed in with migrants, calling on their ability to deploy qualified staff for protection screening and refugee status determination.
According to the National Immigration Project, a noncitizen criminal is faced with permanent banishment from the U.S. and separation from their family. Criminal defense counsel, though well-intentioned, may be unaware or uninformed about the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction. The National Immigration Project has led the national effort to help criminal defense lawyers understand the law and protect their noncitizen clients.
Common deportation defenses include:
- Cancellation of the removal order
- Permanent residency status
- Asylum status
- A waiver under the Immigration and Nationality Act
- Voluntary departure from the U.S. prior to deportation
An “Immigration Bond” refers to the bond money paid to release a detained foreign national and, like typical bonds, serves as a guarantee to the government that released individuals will attend all immigration court hearings. After ICE detains a foreign national, ICE sets the bond amount if the person is eligible for a bond.
Also somewhat familiar, the bond amount is based on a “risk classification assessment” that calculates the risk to public safety and the risk of flight posed by the released individual. If the foreign national can afford to pay the ICE’s bond amount, the individual will be released upon payment. If the individual cannot afford to pay the ICE’s bond amount, they can request that the immigration judge review and lower the bond amount.
The person who pays the bond and completes the paperwork with ICE at the closest ERO Field Office is known as the “obligor,” and the process is commonly known as “posting the bond.”
Contact attorney Michael Saul to Learn More About Immigration and How We Can Help
The immigration process is complex and exceptionally bureaucratic, and it is very challenging to navigate alone. For help with any immigration issue, contact Michael Saul, an experienced Georgia immigration attorney with over 40 years of experience. We will treat you with compassion and understanding, and we know the law regarding immigration. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.