Immigration Lawyers in Northern Virginia
The highly-rated immigration lawyers at Livesay & Myers, P.C. represent clients in Virginia, Washington, D.C., Maryland and all across the United States.
Immigration law is, to the say the least, a complicated area, involving multiple agencies and a large number of federal rules and regulations. Our experienced immigration lawyers can navigate your application for permanent residence, citizenship, or a visa through these bureaucratic waters.
If you are seeking a green card, temporary visa, or citizenship, it is important that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney early in the process. Whether you are immigrating with the help of your employer or through a family member, the process of immigrating to the U.S. can take years.
Also, very little is automatic in the field of immigration. For example, just having a spouse who is a U.S. citizen does not mean that you have permission to remain in this country. You and your spouse must file the correct paperwork with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before you are authorized to remain in the United States. Similarly, temporary visas such as H or L visas do not lead automatically to green cards even after living and working in the U.S. for many years.
Likewise, if the government institutes removal proceedings against you, then it is critical that you seek legal counsel from an experienced immigration lawyer immediately. Our attorneys can help you identify and apply for any available forms of relief, such as asylum, withholding or cancellation of removal, temporary protected status, or an extreme hardship waiver.
See our Immigration Legal Fees page for a list of flat fees for many common immigration cases.
A lawful permanent resident is someone who has been granted authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. As proof of that status, a person is granted a permanent resident card, commonly called a “green card.” Immigration law provides a number of paths to permanent residency. Most individuals are sponsored by a family member or employer in the United States. Others may become permanent residents through asylee or refugee status or other humanitarian programs. In some cases, you may be eligible to file for yourself. For more information, including the steps toward becoming a permanent resident for both family-based and employment-based green cards, see Green Cards for Permanent Residents.
Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to immigrants who fulfill certain requirements. You may qualify for naturalization if you: (a) have been a permanent resident for at least 5 years and meet all other eligibility requirements, (b) have been a permanent resident for 3 years or more and meet all eligibility requirements to file as a spouse of a U.S. citizen; or (c) have qualifying service in the U.S. Armed Forces and meet all other eligibility requirements. In addition, your child may qualify for naturalization if you are a U.S. citizen, the child was born outside the U.S., the child is currently residing outside the U.S., and all other eligibility requirements are met. For more information, including a complete list of eligibility requirements and potential roadblocks to naturalization, see Citizenship Through Naturalization.
Deportation or Removal
If the government institutes removal proceedings against you—i.e., attempts to deport you from the country—then it is crucial that you understand your potential forms of relief in immigration court. Some forms of relief, such as asylum, withholding of removal, and relief under the Convention Against Torture, are based on an individual’s fear of persecution, harm, or torture in his or her native country. Other forms of relief are based on a number of different factors, for example extreme hardship to the immigrant’s U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse.
Advice for Immigration Court. Receiving a notice to appear before an immigration court is very stressful, and can raise many questions. You may have received this notice by mail or through an immigration official. This notice will contain the charges against you and the date, time and location of your court hearing. The charges will explain why the government believes you are deportable. Some of the main reasons for deportation are criminal allegations or immigration violations including an illegal entry or a visa overstay.
When you do receive a notice to appear, you want to make sure you do a few things to protect your stay in the United States. First, make sure to attend your scheduled hearing. Ignoring the notice and not attending your hearing will only make the situation worse. If you fail to appear for your hearing, the government can have you ordered removed without your presence. By appearing, you have a chance to defend yourself. Once a removal order has been entered against you, it will only serve to limit many forms of relief for which you might otherwise have been eligible. Second, consult with an experienced immigration attorney. Depending on your situation you may be eligible for relief from deportation.
Relief From Deportation. There are many potential forms of relief; an experienced attorney can analyze your situation to see if any apply to your case. Some forms of relief are:
Cancellation of Removal (Green Card Holders). If you have had a green card for at least 5 years and been in the U.S. for at least 7 years, you may be eligible for cancellation of removal. Once you can show you are eligible it is up to the judge’s discretion whether to grant this form of relief. A good attorney can help you present the strongest possible case to have the judge find in your favor.
Cancellation of Removal (Non-Green Card Holders). If you are not a green card holder but have lived in the U.S. for 10 years with good moral character, you may qualify for cancellation of removal. In order to be granted this relief you must prove that your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if you were to be deported.
Adjustment of Status. If you have a way to apply for a green card during your removal proceedings, your lawyer may apply for your green card in court, preventing your deportation.
Asylum. If you have a fear of returning to your home country and you fall under one of the protected groups, you may qualify for asylum. An attorney would be able to present an asylum case for you and possibly keep you in the U.S.
Criminal Waiver. If you have criminal convictions which make you deportable or inadmissible, you may be eligible for a waiver. In order to qualify you would need to have a U.S. citizen spouse, child, or parent who would suffer extreme hardship if you were to be removed. An experienced immigration attorney could assist you in determining if your crime and situation would make you eligible for this type of waiver.
Fraud Waiver. If you have been accused of fraud you may be eligible for a waiver by showing extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.
Voluntary Departure. If the government’s evidence is compelling and there is no other form of relief which could keep you in the country, voluntary departure may be your best option. By agreeing to be responsible for your travel and then leaving within the specified time you can avoid receiving a removal order. The main benefit of voluntary departure is that you can avoid an automatic bar to returning to the U.S. at a later date.
For an immigrant to the United States, conviction of a crime can have particularly severe immigration consequences. Conviction for an “aggravated felony” or “crime involving moral turpitude” (CIMT) can result in, among other things, an immigrant’s detention and revocation of their green card. Conviction for a CIMT can present great difficulties in establishing good moral character, while an aggravated felony conviction can result in a permanent bar to a finding of good moral character. For more information, see Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions.
Nonimmigrant Employment Visas
People who enter the U.S. on nonimmigrant visas are considered to be here temporarily. The law presumes that they intend to return to their home countries at the end of their stays in the U.S. Depending on the nonimmigrant visa category, if a person is here on a temporary visa and starts the permanent residence process, the law may treat that person as having “lost” their intent to stay temporarily, because the person now wishes to immigrate (i.e., stay permanently in the U.S.). Normally, if the person remains inside the U.S. and does not need to renew their temporary visa, this change of intent is not a problem. However, if the person must travel internationally or apply for a temporary visa extension, they may encounter difficulties. For information on the requirements for the most popular nonimmigrant visas, including H-1B visas, L visas and E visas, see Nonimmigrant Employment Visas.
Immigration law requires certain individuals residing in the U.S. to apply for a travel document and have “advance parole” approved before leaving the country. Leaving the United States and attempting to reenter without advance parole may have severe consequences for those individuals—such as denial of re-entry and dismissal of pending applications for naturalization, adjustment of status or asylum. For more information, see Advance Parole.
Temporary Protected Status
Immigration relief in the form of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) allows immigrants from designated countries to live and work in the U.S. even if they do not have any other legal status. Poor economic infrastructure, effects of war and political regimes, and environmental disasters are some of the bases used by the Department of Homeland Security to designate a TPS country. TPS does not lead to permanent residence or citizenship. Once the TPS program for a particular country ends, the individual reverts back to the status he or she had before TPS.
To apply for TPS, an immigrant must have been in the U.S. when their country was designated as a TPS country. Approximately every 18 months, DHS reviews the country’s situation and decides whether to extend the TPS designation. Regular re-registration is required for all TPS programs according to a set schedule, and the applicant must not have any felony convictions or more than one misdemeanor conviction.
Our Immigration Attorneys
Livesay & Myers, P.C. has a team of experienced immigration attorneys in Northern Virginia, representing clients in Virginia, D.C., Maryland and all across the United States. Be sure to read our client reviews, then examine the profiles of each of our immigration lawyers to find the one who is the best fit for you. Then, contact us to schedule your consultation with one of our experienced attorneys today—in person, over the telephone, or via webcam on Skype or Google Hangouts.