Immigration Q & A May 2014
I married a US citizen and got a 2 year green card. I have had it for about 1 year, but our marriage is having problems. My husband leaves for long periods of time and I think he is cheating on me. When he does come home, he is abusive. He tells me that I got my green card because of him and he can take it away from me. He treats me like a servant and if I do not do what he tells me, he threatens to call immigration and have me deported. My life has become intolerable. I want to leave him, but I cannot go back to my home country, because my family there will not understand. Can I stay in the US if I leave my husband or do I have to put up with his abuse?
If your husband is physically abusive, call the police and get to a safe place. You do not need to be afraid of deportation. You are a permanent resident and your husband has no right to deport you. Since your green card is for 2 years, you are considered a conditional permanent resident. To extend your card, you need to file a petition to remove the condition on your card. Generally, both you and your husband must file it jointly during the last three months of your card’s validity. You must enclose proof that you and your husband have a valid marriage and are still living together. However, if your husband is physically or psychologically abusive, you may file the petition to extend your card on your own. You must have proof of the abuse through either a police report or a psychological evaluation. In this case, you must still be married when filing, but you do not have to wait the full two years before filing. You can file as soon as the abuse happens. You are definitely free to leave your husband and live somewhere safe. If there was no abuse, you may file without your husband’s signature only if there has been a divorce, and you must provide evidence that you entered into the marriage in good faith, and not to evade immigration laws, but that the marriage deteriorated due to circumstances beyond your control.
My son was arrested by Immigration and he is now detained. He has his green card, but 5 or 6 years ago he had a problem with the police. Will he be deported?
The answer to your question depends on a lot of different things. Your son will have a court hearing to determine is he is removable. He may also be eligible for a bond, so he can get out of detention. Unlike criminal case, there is no right to a bond, so whether he gets a bond, and the amount of the bond, depends on the circumstances of the case. The immigration court will make a decision if the type of crime on his record makes him removable. Since states and US immigration have different definitions of what is a conviction, the Immigration Judge will need to consider a number of factors to see if your son’s record qualifies as a conviction and if it is the type of conviction that warrants deportation. Even if your son is found to be removable, he may qualify for relief (in other words, the Immigration Judge may allow him to stay in the US). This will depend on how log he has lives on the United States, his family ties, rehabilitation, the nature of the crime and some other factors. These case are quite complicated, so see an immigration attorney right away.
I am a US citizen and I want to file for my parents in India. I was born in a very small village and do not have a birth certificate. Can I still file for them?
Yes. You will have to prove that they are our actual parents. If there is no birth certificate, you will need to get an original letter from a government authority in India, stating that a birth certificate is not available. Then, you will need to provide secondary evidence that your parents are truly your parents. For example, you can present affidavits from people who have known you since birth, your school records, etc. You may also get a DNA test. The DNA test will only be accepted if it is done by certain laboratories recognized by the Department of State.
If you try to register your birth with the authorities now, you will run into the same problem with USCIS. You will have a birth certificate that was not issued the year you were born, but much later, when you was already an adult. This type of birth certificate is suspicious to immigration. What if your parents are not really your parents, but people who paid you to petition for them and bribed the registrar to give you a birth certificate with their name?
In these cases, immigration will want more proof that your parents are really your parents. Often USCIS will send you a letter asking for these documents, but they only give you a short time to respond. It is very important that you answer their request in the time they give you. If you send in documents late, USCIS will deny your case, and you may lose whatever time and money you have already put in. See an immigration attorney quickly, to help you come up with a list of documents that will satisfy USCIS.
For how many people can I file an affidavit of support? I sponsored my wife years ago and now a friend has asked me to be his sponsor. Can I do it?
The answer depends on your income. Each person you sponsor on an affidavit of support counts as a dependent. The number of dependents determines the minimum income you need to show on your tax return to be able to sponsor someone. So if you are single, you need to show an annual income of $19,662 to file for your wife. Your wife will stay your “dependent” for affidavit of support purposes until she becomes a US citizen or works 40 quarters. In the meantime, if you want to file a second affidavit of support for someone, you need to show a minimal income of $24, 737 If you have children, the required income will go up. The advice in this column may not apply to your specific situation, even if it seems similar in nature. The only way to obtain legal advice is by speaking with a qualified attorney and reviewing your specific circumstances.
If you have any questions, please call me at (954) 522-4115. Edward Boreth is an immigration attorney who has practiced law for 18 years. He is a partner at Shapovalov & Boreth and a director of the Citizenship Clinic. He is also an avid cricket fan.