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San Antonio Immigration Law Blog

When to replace your green card

Whether your immigration status is permanent or conditional, you rely on your green card to show that you belong in America. Your green card is probably one of your most valuable possessions, both because it protects your life in the U.S. and because it usually isn’t easy to obtain.

However, this green card probably won’t last your entire lifetime, even if you are a permanent resident. In fact, there are several reasons why you would need to ask the government for a new card other than expiration.

Should U.S. military service automatically grant you citizenship?

You may not realize that many U.S. military personnel fight overseas for our freedom every day without having the full benefits of American freedom themselves. These brave men and women—legal permanent residents—put their lives on the line for us, but could still be subject to deportation if they later make a misstep against the law.

Such is the case for Miguel Perez Jr., a green card holder and decorated army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan. Like many permanent residents who serve in our military, he mistakenly believed that by taking an oath to serve and protect the United States, he was also gaining the full rights of a citizen.

3 reasons to take your lawyer to your naturalization interview

Immigration attorneys offer a wide array of services connected to the naturalization process—ranging from assistance with the application to preparation for the exam. One service that many immigration attorneys offer is to accompany their clients to the naturalization interview. You might be wondering why your attorney’s presence would be beneficial here. We’ve laid out a few reasons your attorney can aid your interview process.

  1. Ensuring clarity in questioning. If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer uses complex wording or fails to ask a question articulately, your attorney can advocate on your behalf and ask that the question be rephrased to make it easier to understand.
  2. Ensuring the interview process is above board. As your advocate, your lawyer will call out any aspect of the process that may be unfair. If, for instance, an officer asks you a question that is unreasonably difficult, your lawyer can challenge this. Your lawyer can also serve as a second set of eyes and ears to make sure your case is properly evaluated and your interview is free of bias.
  3. Ensuring that there are no holes in your case. Any inconsistency in your case could raise questions for the USCIS officer. An immigration lawyer can clarify any such discrepancy to help prevent an officer from jumping to unwarranted conclusions and unnecessarily derailing your case.

Seeking a provisional waiver of unlawful presence

If you are in the United States unlawfully, you may think this prevents you from fulfilling your dream of obtaining your green card. Your spouse may be a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, but your unlawful status is a barrier to you. This is because you must apply for your immigrant visa from outside the United States. However, if you leave the country, the ban imposed due to your unlawful presence takes effect.

If you have been in the United States illegally for longer than 180 days, immigration law temporarily bars you from reentry once you leave. This means you will spend at least three years -- possibly 10 -- separated from your family before you can begin the process of obtaining your green card and returning to the country. However, you may be eligible for a waiver of this ban.

Human rights infractions in immigration detention centers

A recent report from the Office of Inspector General (OIG) points to issues of inhumane treatment in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention centers across the country. The conditions under which detainees are held neglect their health, safety and basic human rights. The existence of such detention centers has been controversial since their founding.

According to the study, the OIG conducted announced inspections of six detention centers in five states (California, Texas, New Jersey, Georgia and New Mexico). The Texas-based Laredo Processing Center was the only site that reportedly “modeled quality operations.”

Got married. Got your green card. Don’t forget this crucial step!

You finally did it. You met love of your life. You successfully completed the arduous K-1 fiancé visa process. You moved to the U.S. to get married and start your life together. You received your green card, and you’ve started working at a new job you love. Life is finally returning to normal. It’s smooth sailing from here on out, right?

Not so fast. That green card you received—which is valid for two years—lists you as a “conditional permanent resident.” You might be thinking that once the two years is up, you’ll just apply for a new one. Unfortunately, this card is non-renewable.

Green card application: showing your same-sex marriage is legit

After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) to be unconstitutional, same-sex marriages have become recognized as legal by the United States. This step has provided new benefits and protections to same-sex couples already residing in the United States as well as to those seeking to immigrate here.

Since DOMA's defeat, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services (USCIS) now treats same-sex marriages exactly the same as opposite-sex marriages. If your same-sex spouse is applying for a marriage-based green card, the USCIS will use the same criteria to determine the validity of your marriage as it would for a marriage between a man and a woman.

How does the travel ban impact citizenship for my family?

The Supreme Court’s ruling that the Trump administration’s travel ban can temporarily take effect has made a lot of waves with people on both sides of the issue.

What seems to be getting lost in this conversation, however, is what the travel ban actually does. As previously stated, the decision by the high court is temporary, so it is worth watching how the executive order continues to progress, particularly through the lower courts.

The barriers between you and permanent resident status

If you are not a citizen of the United States, you know that marriage to a citizen may be a way for you to secure permanent resident status. However, there are still many challenges standing between you and your goal of legally and permanently residing in the United States, specifically Texas. 

There will still be conditions on your status even after marrying a U.S. citizen. In fact, your resident status will be conditional if you were married less than two years at the time you originally obtained this status. The reason for this provision is to prevent individuals from avoiding the legal process of obtaining legal residency and using marriage as a means to enter and reside in the U.S.

Late DACA renewals get a second chance

Since last November when Donald Trump secured the presidency, the subject of immigration has been anything but stable. From a mega border wall to the travel exclusion of entire countries, immigration policy has been up in the air. What would actually happen under President Trump?

One near certainty, however, was that Obama’s DACA policy would end. Sure enough, the president expects to eliminate the program one year from now. In the meantime, DACA recipients are struggling to figure out what to do.

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Trevino Immigration Law | 206 E. Locust Street | San Antonio, TX 78212 | Toll Free: 877-464-5593 | Phone: 210-544-5105 | Fax: 210-568-4649 | San Antonio Law Office Map

Trevino Immigration Law, 206 E. Locust Street, San Antonio, TX 78212