A Florida Immigration Lawyer Will Fight For Your Rights and Future
At ChieloLaw, PLLC, we believe in keeping families together so they can achieve the American dream. The path to citizenship is multifaceted, and having legal counsel who understands the ins and outs of immigration law is crucial for your future.
Immigration attorney Eddy Chielo is a lawyer with over twelve years of experience as an adjudications officer for the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services and experience as a former military officer (Judge Advocate General). His knowledge and skillset in immigration law are unmatched. His immigration practice is all-encompassing, addressing many of the most commonly seen issues in immigration law today.
U.S. Citizenship & Asylum
U.S. Citizenship is typically the ultimate goal of every person who immigrates to the United States, and filing for asylum status is often the first step to reaching that goal. An asylee (person seeking asylum) is allowed to live and work in the United States. After one year of being an asylee, they may seek permanent residency, and after five years as a permanent resident, they may seek U.S. citizenship.
Naturalization & Citizenship
An immigrant may become a United States citizen through one of two ways: by birth or through naturalization.
U.S. Citizenship by Birth: If an individual was born in the United States or one of its territories, or if either of their parents is a citizen, they may be able to claim U.S. citizenship by birth.
Naturalization: Individuals must meet some requirements to qualify for U.S. citizenship through naturalization, such as:
- Naturalization by being over the age of 18
- Having been a permanent resident in the United States for at least five years meets the naturalization requirement
- Naturalization by having lived in the state or district in which they are claiming residency for at least three months
Asylum & Refugee Status
Determination of refugee status, the rights of refugees, and the duties of states regarding refugees were addressed at the 1951 Refugee Conference. The core principle of the conference was “non-refoulment,” which holds that a refugee should not be returned to a country where their life or freedom will be in serious jeopardy.
An individual is considered a refugee if they fear returning to their home country due to the possibility of persecution for their political views, race, religion, or membership in certain groups. An individual may file for refugee status as follows:
- A refugee may be able to file for asylum in the United States
- Their ability to file for asylum does not depend on whether or not they entered the country legally
- They are eligible even if they have never entered the country
Visas, Green Cards, & Work Permits in Florida
Visas, green cards, and work permits are all documents allowing an immigrant to live and work in the United States without having U.S. citizenship status. Each has its purpose and rules.
The official name of a green card is the “Permanent Residence Card,” and it does not expire. It allows the holder to live and work anywhere in the United States, and within three to five years of receiving it, the holder may begin the process for U.S. citizenship. Green cards are received after arrival to the United States, and there are different types:
- Family-Based Green Cards: An immigrant can apply for and receive a green card based upon their familial relationship with a citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. The petition is actually coordinated by the immigrant’s family member, as it is a way to promote family unity. Family-based green cards may be granted to the spouse, minor child, sibling, or parent of a citizen or LPR.
- Employment-Based Green Cards: Employment is another way to seek entrance to the United States. This area can be hard to navigate, as specific rules and regulations apply to different vocations. However, according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are usually three preference tiers for the issuance of employment-based green cards. Tier one includes priority workers; immigrants with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; certain multinational managers or executives. Tier two includes immigrants who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability. Tier three includes skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.
- Diversity Lottery Based Green Cards: In an attempt to diversify the country of origin of immigrants entering the United States, every year around fifty thousand people are selected from countries that have, in the past, not had many individuals immigrate to this country.
Eligible immigrants who are already present in the United States may apply for a Green Card (Adjustment of Status) without having to return to their home country. The Adjustment of Status is requested by filling out Form I-485. A Florida immigration attorney can help with the process.
An immigrant must obtain a visa before coming to the United States. It allows an immigrant to live and work in the United States but can expire and is not in and of itself a way to pursue U.S. citizenship. There are different types of Visas, including:
- Fiancee Visa: A fiancee visa, also known as a K-1 visa, allows an immigrant who is engaged to be married to a citizen to remain in the country for up to 90 days. The marriage must take place before the 90 days expire, and then the immigrant may apply for a green card.
- Military Fiancee Visa: A military fiancee visa operates much like a fiancee visa. The most substantial difference is that military fiancee visas may be expedited.
- Student Visa: Before a foreign national can enter the United States for educational purposes, they must obtain a student visa. There are two types of student visas, F and M. The type of school attended and the course of study taken will determine which visa is appropriate.
- Visitor Visa: A visitor visa allows a foreign national to enter the country for purposes such as tourism, visiting family, or medical treatment. While the length of time a person can remain in the United States on a visitor visa varies, it rarely exceeds six months.
- H1-B Visa: An H1-B Visa allows a United States-based company to temporarily employ foreign nationals in certain occupations that require a high degree of specialized knowledge. Examples include engineering, medicine and health, law, physical science, and education.
When applying for a visa, it is imperative the person understands which visa best applies to their situation. Once that has been determined, the application process can be time-consuming and complex. Having an experienced attorney guide you through this process is always a good idea.
A Work Permit, also known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), is issued to visa holders who have visas issued to them for reasons other than work. The application process is pretty straightforward, but it can take weeks for your application to be processed.
Deportation, Removal & Other Immigration Court Matters in Florida
Many issues related to immigration can arise, and they must be dealt with in a court of law or through administrative proceedings. One example of this is removal or deportation, which occurs when a court orders a foreign national must be removed from the country and usually occurs due to failure to adhere to immigration laws.
Cancellation of Removal
There are potential remedies to removal, including a status adjustment, a waiver based upon the hardships the removal would cause, and asylum. However, a cancellation of removal may be the best option for foreign nationals who meet the following criteria:
- They have been a lawful permanent resident for a minimum of five years.
- They have been a permanent resident in the United States for a minimum of ten years. They have been physically present in the United States during the ten-year period. One 90 day absence or several absences totaling 180 days is a bar to receiving the cancellation of removal status.
- They can prove they have conducted themselves as a person with good moral character throughout their time residing in the United States.
- They can prove removal would cause extreme hardship to their family.
Immigration Court Cases
Removal and deportation cases are generally held administratively before an immigration judge and are prosecuted by attorneys from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Common reasons these proceedings are held include:
- Entering the United States without inspection
- Remaining in the United States after the visa expires
- Criminal activity
- Unlawful presence
- Immigration fraud
Some defenses and requests can be made to the court when a hearing is held, such as requesting asylum, seeking a Cancellation of Removal Order, or a Waiver.
Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA)
According to the United States Department of Justice, the BIA is the highest administrative body for interpreting and applying immigration laws. Located in Falls Church, Virginia, the BIA generally conducts the appeals process through a “paper review.” Decisions made by the BIA are binding on DHS Officers as well as Immigrations Judges and can only be overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court. BIA decisions are typically issued within six months.
When a foreign national’s documentation that allows them to stay in the United States (such as a visa) expires, they are considered out of status. Out of status also applies in situations where the immigrant fails to comply with the terms of their visa, i.e., a person in the United States with a student visa fails to attend school. It is possible for a foreign national to be out of status but not unlawfully present. An example of this would be if an immigrant applied for an extension to their visa before it expired but did not receive a response before its expiration. The person would be considered out of status but lawfully present until a decision is reached on the renewal.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
DACA is a program initially founded in 2012, which allows certain persons who came to the United States as children to request deferred action for a period of up to two years. Through DACA, they would be exempt from removal during the two-year time period, and they are eligible for work authorization during that time. The DACA two-year exemption is renewable. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, you may qualify for DACA if you meet the following criteria:
- You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
- You came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
- You been a continuous permanent resident in the United States since June 15, 2012, and are still living there at the time of making your request for DACA
- You had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
- You are currently attending school, have completed high school (or obtained a GED), or are an honorably discharged veteran of the United States Coast Guard or Armed Forces
- You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors and do not pose a threat to public safety or national security
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
When the Secretary of Homeland Security determines a country cannot guarantee the safety of any of its citizens returning to it from the United States, it may grant the foreign national Temporary Protected Status (TPS). A TPS means the holder may not be removed from the United States, may obtain a work permit, and can be given the authorization to travel.
Speak With An Experienced Florida Immigration Attorney
Immigration law is a complex and detailed area of the law. Even minor mistakes can jeopardize your ability to be admitted or allowed to stay in the United States. It is crucial to obtain counsel who understands how to navigate immigration law and is not afraid to fight for you. If you have questions regarding any immigration-related issue, contact Chielo Law, PLLC today to schedule an initial consultation. Mr. Chielo has the unparalleled skill and experience you need to resolve your immigration-related matters. His leadership and strong work ethic will lead to the results you seek for yourself and those you love.