UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION: VISAS & GREEN CARDS
IMMIGRATION VISA LAWYERS IN DALLAS & HOUSTON TEXAS
Davis & Associates is your immigration lawyer of choice for US immigration and visas in Houston & Dallas Metroplex. Our immigration visa attorneys provide expert legal counsel for all aspects of immigration law, including deportation defense, writs of habeas corpus and mandamus, family-sponsored immigration, employment-sponsored immigration, investment immigration, employer compliance, H1B visas for work, permanent residence, naturalization, consular visa processing, waivers, and appeals.
IMMIGRATION & VISA LAW PRACTICE
Davis & Associates is dedicated to immigration law. Our firm commits all of its efforts to the vast areas of immigration visa law. America’s political landscape changes with each President, so staying on top of immigration law is a full time job for our immigration visa lawyers. An immigrant in the United States needs the best representation possible to be able to overcome many obstacles that arise.
OUR VISA IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS ARE COMMITTED TO PROVIDING EXCELLENT REPRESENTATION IN THE FOLLOWING AREAS:
- Removal proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (Cancellation of Removal, Adjustment of Status, Withholding of Removal, Voluntary Departure, Waivers, Fighting Charges)
- Appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals
- Immigrant Visa Petitions (Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Professors and Researchers, National Interest Waivers, Multinational Managers and Executives, Spouses, Parents and Minor Children of US Citizens, Spouses and Minor Children of Lawful Permanent Residents, Grown Children of US Citizens, Brothers and Sisters of US Citizens, Special Immigrants)
- Nonimmigrant Visa Petitions (Visitors, Investors, International Traders, Students, Professional Workers, Intercompany Transfers, Extraordinary Ability, Performers, Religious Workers)
- Change of Status (conversion of the I-94 Entry Document to a different status)
- Adjustment of Status (filing for lawful permanent resident status while in the US with an approved Immigrant Visa Petition, Asylum status or the Diversity Visa Program)
- Consular Visa Processing (Immigrant or Nonimmigrant Visas from the US Consulates)
- Labor Certification and Business Immigration, H1B Visa Lawyer
- Writs of Mandamus and Writs of Habeas Corpus in Federal Court
- Political Asylum
- Violence Against Women Act
- Special Immigrant Religious Workers
- Advisory Opinions and Expert Witness services for the Immigration Consequences of Criminal Activity and domestic relations decisions
- Waivers (Fraud, Criminal Activity, Medical, Unlawful Presence, Prior Deportations, J-1)
FAMILY BASED VISAS
For people wanting to know how an immigrant visa (also referred to as permanent residency or a “green card”) can be obtained through a family member through Family Immigration.
Citizens and permanent residents of the United States have the ability to petition the federal government for an immigrant visa for certain family members. US citizens can petition for more categories of family members than permanent residents can. The amount of time between the date the petition is filed and the date when the family member actually obtains the immigrant visa can vary wildly – anywhere from 6 months to 20 years or more. The wait time is determined by the immigration status of the petitioner (are they a citizen or a permanent resident?), the category of family member they are petitioning, and what country the family member is from.
An experienced board certified immigration visa attorney can help you better understand the details, but here are the names and descriptions of the family-member categories that citizens and permanent residents may petition for:
US CITIZEN PETITIONERS
- Unmarried child under 21 years old
- Parent (the US citizen petitioner must be at least 21 years old)
- Unmarried child over 21 years old (and his or her children)
- Married child of any age (and his or her spouse and children)
- Siblings (and his or her spouse and children)
PERMANENT RESIDENT PETITIONERS
- Unmarried child under 21 years old (and his or her children)
- Unmarried child over 21 years old (and his or her children)
Every year, the US government authorizes a set number of immigrant visas for the family-based categories. Every year, more citizens and permanent residents file petitions for their family members than there are immigrant visas authorized. This has created a years-long backlog in the system.
The government assigns each of the different types of family petitions a priority. Some family relationships have a higher priority than others, meaning those family members will generally get their permanent residency faster. The government also prioritizes the petitions for immigrant visas based on the country that the family member is immigrating from. Mexico, China, India, and the Philippines have individual waiting times because family members from these countries account for many of the requested immigrant visas.
The family relationship categories with the highest priority have a special name. They’re called “immediate relatives.” The spouses, unmarried children under 21 years old, and parents of US citizens are immediate relatives. Immediate relatives have immigrant visas instantly available to them. Once the initial petition by the US citizen is approved by US Citizenship and Immigration Services, the immediate relative may immediately file an application for the immigrant visa – sometimes it can even be filed together with the initial petition.
Those family relationships which are not immediate relatives are called “preference categories.” The people in preference categories must wait until an immigrant visa is available for them before they can apply for one. Every petition filed by a citizen or permanent resident which is approved is given a priority date (generally, it’s the date on or near when the petition was received by USCIS). The US Department of State publishes a visa bulletin every month which lists each preference categories with a date. Immigrant visas are available to anyone in that preference category whose priority date is earlier than the date on the visa bulletin. Waiting for a priority date to become current can take many years.
Once an immigrant visa is available to the intending immigrant family member, other factors such as the person’s US immigration history, criminal history, and current location will determine where he or she qualifies for permanent residency and where the application should be filed – inside or outside of the United States.
It is important that you consult with a visa immigration lawyer who is experienced in visas and US immigration law before filing petition or application with the government. The team of attorneys at Davis & Associates, lead by our Founder and Managing Partner, Garry Davis, is ready to help you with your case.
VISAS FOR CERTAIN VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Certain people battered by their US Citizens and Legal Permanent Resident family members may qualify for an immigrant visa. If you have questions, an immigration visa lawyer can help.
Immigration through a US citizen or permanent resident family member usually requires that the citizen or permanent resident file a petition and see the immigration process through to the end, often with an interview conducted by USCIS. This means that the citizen or permanent resident has complete control of the immigration process for their family member; they must be the one to initiate the process and can terminate it at any time. In relationships where domestic violence exists, this control can be abused by the citizen or permanent resident as one more way to hurt their family member through threats of revoking or delaying the immigration process, or of deportation.
Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in order to help undocumented victims of domestic violence gain permanent resident status independently of their abusive citizen or permanent resident family member.
The categories of people who can file VAWA petitions are:
- Battered spouses of US citizens and legal permanent residents can apply. The battered spouse’s unmarried children under the age of 21 can be included in the application, regardless of whether the child suffered abuse or not.
- Parents of children who have been abused by their citizen or permanent resident step-parents can apply. The parent’s other unmarried children under 21 can be included in the application, regardless of whether the child suffered abuse or not.
- Unmarried children under 21 who have been abused by their citizen or permanent resident parents can apply. The child’s unmarried children under 21 can be included in the application, regardless of whether the child suffered abuse or not.
- Parents who have been abused by their adult US citizen sons or daughters can apply.
A VAWA petition is filed on Form I-360 and requires fairly extensive documentation. There are specific requirements that have to be proven in order for USCIS to approve a VAWA petition. Generally, the requirements are:
- Proof of the abuser’s immigration status. The abuser’s status can be proven with a copy of his or her birth certificate, passport, naturalization certificate, or permanent residency card.
- Proof of the relationship between the abuser and the undocumented person. This includes marriage certificates, birth certificates, and divorce decrees.
- Proof of the abuse, and the effect of the abuse on the undocumented person. Typical proofs include police reports, arrest reports, protective orders, restraining orders, court documents, medical records, doctor and/or hospital bills, pictures, news reports, counseling letters, and letters from people who were aware of the abuse at the time it occurred.
- Proof of the good moral character of the undocumented person. USCIS requires that the VAWA applicant obtain a police clearance letter from every city where the applicant has lived for the past three years, if the applicant lived in that city for six months or more.
If the VAWA petition is approved, the battered spouse, child, or parent may be able to apply for permanent residency based on the petition once the priority date is current. The particular immigration, criminal, and medical history of each applicant must be fully analyzed in order to determine if, how, and when they can apply for a green card.
BUSINESS VISAS, INCLUDING H1B VISAS AND EB5 EMPLOYMENT CREATION VISAS
Bringing employees to the US can be a frustrating and difficult process. When it comes to business immigration law, whether your business is seeking to hire the most qualified candidate, who happens to be from outside the US, or trying to transfer in an executive or manager from your foreign office, the visa immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of Garry L. Davis, board certified immigration attorney can help.
Our firm focuses exclusively on practicing US Immigration law. Garry Davis, the founder of the immigration law firm, is Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Immigration and Nationality Law. We represent corporate clients ranging in size from one employee to hundreds. Whether your business is a start-up, an investment purchase of an existing business, or a well-established company with a need for talent that can only be found outside the US, our immigration lawyers can help.
We have successfully filed intra-company transfer visas for executives, managers and those employees with proprietary knowledge of the company’s offerings (L-1A and L-1B visas). We also file for professional worker visas and work visas provided for under the NAFTA treaty (H-1B and TN-1). For nationals of those countries with whom the US has a treaty of trade and friendship that provides for them, we file E-1 trader and E-2 investor visas. If you are a religious organization and wish to bring a foreign clergyman to head up or start an ethnic congregation, we file R-1 religious worker visas.
Once the immigration visa holder has made it to the US, there are various options for allowing that person to become a permanent resident as well. We provide assistance in going through those processes as well, whether the candidate is an individual of extraordinary ability, a multi-national manager or executive, a high net worth investor, or an outstanding professor or researcher. We also process applications for labor certification. If you are an investor, executive, manager or employer that has a need for visa processing, the immigration lawyers in our office will be happy to provide you the assistance you need. Our firm has H1B employment visa attorneys who are experts in business immigration law.
WHO QUALIFIES FOR A PERMANENT VISA
What are the ways in which someone can become a permanent resident of the United States?
Federal immigration laws allow various ways for a non-citizen of the United States to become a permanent resident. A person with permanent residency (a “green card”) is known as a Legal Permanent Resident (“LPR”) and has the right to live and work in the United States, and to travel in and out of the United States.
The pathways to permanent residency are listed below along with a brief explanation. Please see the other articles on this website in our News section for more detail on any particular method of obtaining permanent residency
CERTAIN FAMILY MEMBER OF US CITIZENS & LEGAL PERMANENT RESIDENTS
If you are the spouse, parent, child, or sibling of a US citizen, or the spouse or unmarried child of a permanent resident, you may be able to become a permanent resident through your family member. Through Family Immigration, the citizen or permanent resident family member would have to file a petition on your behalf with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. If that petition is approved, you may then be able to apply for an immigrant visa (a “green card”).
The amount of time between when the citizen or permanent resident files the petition and when the non-citizen family member actually obtains the immigrant visa can vary wildly – anywhere from 6 months to 20 years or more. The wait time is determined by the immigration status of the petitioner (are they a citizen or a permanent resident?), the type of family member they are petitioning, and what country the family member is from.
Simply having an approved petition, or even multiple approved petitions, does not mean that the non-citizen will actually be able to obtain permanent residency. USCIS must determine that the person qualifies for residency according to a number of factors, including the person’s health, immigration, and criminal histories.
CERTAIN EMPLOYEES, WORKERS, OR INVESTORS
People who have certain skills valuable to US employers can qualify for permanent residence through Business Immigration. There are various eligible categories such as those such as professors, researchers, athletes, entertainers, people with advanced degrees, religious workers, people willing to invest $1 million in a US company, and certain “special immigrants.”
Each different type of worker is prioritized in preference categories, much like with family-based visas. Because of this, there can be a long wait time between the time the employment-based petition is filed and when the person can apply for permanent residency.
Because of the variety of ways that a person can qualify and the requirements that an employer must fulfill in order to petition for permanent residency for a non-citizen worker, an experienced immigration attorney should be consulted before beginning the process.
In some cases a person can file a visa petition for themselves. Recently widowed spouses of US citizens can self-petition, so long as they were married for two years prior to the death of their spouse, apply within two years after the death of their spouse, and have not remarried.
The battered spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 of US citizens and the battered spouses and unmarried children under 21 of permanent residents can also self-petition. In order to do so, the battered family member must submit evidence that they have suffered extreme cruelty at the hands of the citizen or permanent resident. The petitions are subject to approval from USCIS.
ASYLEES & REFUGEES
Asylum can be sought by an individual inside the United States within one year of their arrival. The person must prove that they have a well-founded fear of persecution in their native country based on their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Refugees are similar to asylum-seekers except that they apply for refugee status outside of the United States. A person granted asylum or refugee status can apply for permanent residency after one year.
DIVERSITY LOTTERY WINNERS
Fifty thousand immigrant visas are authorized every year for the lucky winners of the diversity lottery. The winners are randomly selected by the Department of State and the lottery is open to people from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.
PEOPLE WHO QUALIFY FOR LEGALIZATION, SAW, OR NACARA
Legalization programs from the 1980s allowed millions of people to become permanent residents. The application periods for the “amnesty” and Special Agricultural Worker programs of 1986 ended years ago. However, subsequent class action litigation have allowed a narrow group of people to seek permanent residency through those programs even after they ended.
The Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act of 1997 provided immigration benefits for people from Nicaragua, Cuba, El Salvador, Guatemala, and certain Eastern European countries. The application period for NACARA has ended.
PEOPLE WHO QUALIFY FOR REGISTRY
Registry is a provision in immigration law which allows an undocumented person who has lived in the United States since January 1, 1972 to apply for permanent residency. The person must be of good moral character and must otherwise qualify to receive permanent residency. A person’s criminal, immigration, or medical history could disqualify them from becoming permanent residents – it is important to speak with an experienced immigration attorney to be sure you qualify.
CONGRESSIONAL PRIVATE BILLS
Permanent residency can be conveyed to an individual through an act of Congress via the introduction of a private bill, but this is extremely rare. A member of Congress must sponsor the bill and introduce it. The bill must voted on and passed just like any other law would be. People who obtain residency through a private bill typically have compelling humanitarian factors in their cases and no other way to legalize their status.
PEOPLE WHO SUCCESSFULLY DEFEND THEMSELVES IN IMMIGRATION COURT AGAINST DEPORTATION
A person who is in removal proceedings before an immigration judge and who has lived in the United States for at least 10 years, has good moral character, has not been convicted of certain crimes, and has a US citizen or permanent resident spouse or parent can stop their deportation if they can prove to the judge that if they are deported, their relative will suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship. This is an extremely high standard and consequently few people can meet it. However, if the judge does decide to cancel the deportation, she will also grant permanent residency to the non-citizen.