Your Family Immigration Rights
From our law offices in Alpharetta, Buckhead, Fayetteville, Johns Creek, and Marietta, our immigration law attorneys understand the complex process of immigration applications and petitions. Our expertise includes family immigration issues, whether you need a fiancé visa or you want to file a petition for an alien relative, we can help you! In addition to family immigration issues, we handle removal proceedings and deportation defense. We look forward to assisting you with your immigration issues. Our firm also handles some foreign adoptions.
Please be advised that the contents in the immigration article are meant to provide a brief overview of immigration protocols. Stearns-Montgomery and Proctor’s immigration practice focuses specifically on family immigration issues and not criminal defense or removal proceedings relating to pending or adjudicated criminal charges.
When to Call an Immigration Lawyer
- Immigrating to the United States
- Uncertain about your basic eligibility for a green card or other immigration benefit
- Received government assistance while living in the U.S. or are concerned that you might be inadmissible for some other reason
- Requesting any sort of discretionary relief, such as a waiver, which involves persuading the immigration authorities to make an exception or offer you benefits that it might not ordinarily offer to another applicant in your position
- Need emergency help with an immigration matter
- Notified that deportation or removal proceedings are being started against you
- Deported from the U.S. and wish to apply to return
- Immigration application refused or denied in the past
- Convicted of a criminal offense or have committed a criminal offense and are trying to enter the U.S. or protect yourself from removal from the U.S.
- Have a medical condition
- Have looked into the application process and realized that the number of forms and documents you must prepare is either too confusing or time-consuming to deal with on your own
- Need a visa for workers and students
- Renewing a visa, or have overstayed your visa
- Obtaining legal status if you are in the United States illegally
- Preventing deportation or removal from the United States
- Being tried for a crime that may affect your legal status
- Preserving your legal status when you have to leave the U.S. for a period of time so that your status is not abandoned or expired
What is an Immigration Lawyer?
Immigration lawyers represent their clients in court or serve them outside the courtroom by offering invaluable legal guidance with issues such as:
- employment-based immigrant visas;
- acquiring U.S. citizenship;
- assisting foreign companies to establish themselves legally on American soil;
- obtaining a resident permit, also known as a green card;
- filing for political asylum or refugee status.
Immigration attorneys also file applications for relief, such as petitions and waivers, on behalf of their clients and represent them in court for removal and deportation proceedings.
Eligibility Requirement to Become a US Citizen
U.S. Citizenship is an important step for most immigrants. An experienced immigration attorney can help ensure that your petition is prepared properly. With offices located in Alpharetta, Buckhead, Dunwoody, Fayetteville, Johns Creek, and Marietta, we can easily accompany you to your naturalization interview.
Generally, for most people to be eligible to become a US Citizen they must:
- be a lawful permanent resident of the United States for five years, or three years if married to a U.S. citizen for a minimum of the three years. (There are exceptions to this requirement for persons who have honorable service in the U.S. Armed Forces);
- be physically present in the United States for over 50% of the required residency period;
- be a person of good moral character;
- take an oath of loyalty to the United States;
- be able to speak, read, and write simple words and phrases in the English language (there are exceptions to this rule);
- pass a test in U.S. history and government.
Once you become a citizen of the United States, you may sponsor your spouse, parents, sons, and daughters, as well as your brothers and sisters for lawful permanent residence in the U.S.
Naturalization Process to Become a U.S. Citizen
Naturalization is commonly referred to as the manner in which a person voluntarily becomes a United States citizen. Generally, for most people to be eligible to apply for naturalization, they must be:
- at least 18 years old;
- a lawful permanent resident of the United States;
- have resided continuously within the United States for at least five years as a lawful permanent resident (or at least three years if married to a United States citizen);
- physically present within the United States for at least 30 months of the necessary five years preceding filing the application for naturalization (or physically present within the United States for at least 18 months of the necessary three years if applying based on marriage to a United States citizen);
- residing within the state where they are applying for naturalization for at least three months prior to filing their application;
- continuously residing within the United States from the date of application for naturalization to the time of citizenship;
- a person of good moral character and have an attachment to the principles of the Constitution;
- able to read, write, speak, and understand English;
- able to demonstrate a knowledge and understanding of United States history and government.
“Green card” refers to the document given to immigrants who have been granted authorization to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants the immigrant a permanent resident card, commonly referred to as a “green card.” The formal, government name for the card is Alien Registration Receipt Card. Obtaining a green card is an intensive process. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you fully understand all the details at work in the application process. SM&P attorney Ebony Ameen has devoted her time and practice to the process and will help you work toward a successful application.
How Immigration Works in the United States
U.S. immigration law is complex, and there is much confusion as to how it works. Immigration law in the United States has been built upon the following principles: the reunification of families, admitting immigrants with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy, protecting refugees, and promoting diversity. This fact sheet provides basic information about how the U.S. legal immigration system is designed and functions. The body of law governing current immigration policy is called The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The INA allows the United States to grant up to 675,000 permanent immigrant visas each year across various visa categories. On top of those 675,000 visas, the INA sets no limit on the annual admission of U.S. citizens’ spouses, parents, and children under the age of 21. In addition, each year, the president is required to consult with Congress and set an annual number of refugees to be admitted to the United States through the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Process. Once a person obtains an immigrant visa and comes to the United States, they become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). In some circumstances, noncitizens already inside the United States can obtain LPR status through a process known as “adjustment of status.” Lawful permanent residents are foreign nationals who are permitted to work and live lawfully and permanently in the United States. LPRs are eligible to apply for nearly all jobs with the exception of jobs not legitimately restricted to U.S. citizens and can remain in the country permanently, even if they are unemployed. After residing in the United States for five years (or three years in some circumstances), LPRs are eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship. It is impossible to apply for citizenship through the normal process without first becoming an LPR. Each year, the United States also admits a variety of noncitizens on a temporary basis. Such “non-immigrant” visas are granted to everyone from tourists to foreign students to temporary workers permitted to remain in the U.S. for years. While certain employment-based visas are subject to annual caps, other non-immigrant visas (including tourist and student visas) have no numerical limits and can be granted to anyone who satisfies the criteria for obtaining the visa. (American Immigration Council)
Frequently Asked Questions About Immigration in Georgia
How do I know if I need an immigration lawyer?
Immigration proceedings are notoriously complicated. If you cannot figure out your options, our expert immigration lawyers can help you navigate the immigration system.
How do I find a good immigration lawyer?
Contact us for a free consultation.
Can I just do it on my own?
The process is complex and challenging and you risk deportation and being separated from your loved ones. We would highly recommend that you hire an experienced attorney to help you navigate the complexities of immigration law. We are here to help you and your family members with their immigration issues.