H ere we answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding immigration, visas and residences for the United States. Remember, however, that nothing here constitutes legal advice or replaces a consultation with an immigration attorney. For legal advice, do not hesitate to call us to schedule a consultation: 787-919-0026.
- How I can legalize my status in the United States?
It all depends on your particular circumstances, so you should consult with an attorney to determine if any remedy is available for you. For example, an undocumented person can legalize their status by marrying a US citizen, provided they are not disqualified to adjust status (i.e. made a legal entry, or qualifies to benefit from any special law), and the marriage is genuine. However, a person already present legally in the United States with a “J” visa and restriction of foreign residence of two years, or people with certain visas such as those of crewmembers or transit visas, may not adjust status by marrying a US citizen. As you can see, there is no single answer to this question that applies to everyone equally.
- I stayed longer than allowed by the Immigration Service. What are the consequences?
Like everything else, each case varies. There is no standard answer, because it depends on how long you have “overstayed”.
If you were present illegally in the United States for more than 180 days but less than a year and left the country voluntarily, you are inadmissible for three years.
However, if you were present illegally in the United States for more than a year, and then request permission to re-enter the country, you are inadmissible for 10 years.
By “inadmissible”, we mean that if you show up at the border (including airports, and maritime borders, for example) and request entry to the United States, an immigration officer will not allow you to legally enter, regardless of whether you have a valid visa.
- Do I have to pay income tax returns (income tax) even if illegally present in the United States?
It is the legal obligation of every person who generates an income within the United States (including Puerto Rico), regardless of their status, to pay income tax. Plus it is an obligation of all aliens, when applying for any immigration benefit, either citizenship or to adjust their status to permanent resident, to comply with their obligation to file returns.
If someone is put in deportation proceedings, having filed income tax returns functions as an “equity” or positive aspect of the person that the immigration judge takes into consideration when deciding whether to grant a remedy against deportation.
- Can I request that I remove conditions from my residence if I divorce?
Yes. You may apply on your own by requesting a special waiver. The important thing is to include enough evidence with your application demonstrating that the marriage by which the conditional residence was obtained was not fraudulent.
- Can I stay in the United States until the expiration date in my visa expires?
The period of time you may stay in the United States is usually not determined by the date of expiry of your visa, but rather by the date included in your I-94. The I-94 is automatically generated when you are inspected and admitted into the United States, and may be retrieved online from the website of the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection.
- Do I have to notify the Immigration Service of any change of address?
Yes. It is the obligation of all foreigners, including permanent residents, to notify USCIS (Immigration) of any change of address within 10 days. Otherwise, the foreigner is exposed to fines, imprisonment or deportation. This notification is made by filing the AR-11 form.
- How I can bring my family once I have my residence or U.S. citizenship?
The procedure is to file a petition for alien relative once you have your “status” as a resident or citizenship.
Immigration law gives the right to citizens of the United States to petition “immediate relatives” (relatives immediate) without being subjected to waiting lists, which vary from country to country, and to which other immigrants are subject. Immediate relatives are the father and mother, children, and the foreign spouse. citizens can also apply for their adult children, but these are subject to visa issuance waiting lists.
Permanent residents can petition their spouses, children (minors), adult unmarried sons and daughters(and their sons). However, these immigrants are subject to the waiting lists and immigration quotas mentioned above. Some immigrants prefer to wait a few years as residents and apply for naturalization before applying for an immigrant visa for an immediate relative.
Only US citizens can petition their brothers, but these applications are also subject to extremely long waiting lists, which may exceed more than a decade.
- What are the responsibilities of a ‘sponsor’ when signing an ‘affidavit of support’?
All family-based immigrant visa and some employment-based immigrant visa applications require that the applicant (the petitioner or employer) sign a document known as the “affidavit of support.” The affidavit is signed to show that the petitioner or “sponsor” has sufficient resources to sustain the immigrant above the Federal poverty line during his/her stay in the United States. In other words, the sponsor demonstrates that the immigrant will not become a “public charge”, who will depend of government assistance to survive. By signing the document, the sponsor enters into a contract with the Government of the United States where he/she promises to provide support to the immigrant, if necessary. If the immigrant receives assistance from any federal, state or local agency, that agency may collect the cost of the assistance given to immigrant from the “sponsor”.