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Immigration Q & A August 2011

Author by Edward Boreth

My mother was a US Green Card holder, but unfortunately due to unavoidable circumstance we did not renew her re-entry permit.  It has been a few years since it expired.  Can my mother can revive her Green Card and get her permanent status in the U.S. again?  I am a permanent resident of the U.S. and have been here for four years. My sister applied for the card, and she is a U.S. citizen. Is it possible and how do go about doing this.  Can I apply for my mother?

If your mother was outside the U.S. for more than one year (without a valid reentry permit), she is considered to have abandoned her residence. There is no way to “revive” it. Your sister would have to apply for her again. You cannot apply for her because a permanent resident cannot apply for a parent. Only a U.S. citizen can. However, you can apply for your U.S. citizenship four years and nine months after receiving your green card. It looks like to only have about nine months to wait. The process itself can take three to six months. So, in about one year you would be able to file for your mother.

What is the recently passed Georgia immigration law about?
As one of several anti-immigrant laws to be passed after the controversial Arizona law last year, HB 87 allows law enforcement officers to ask about immigration status when questioning suspects in certain criminal investigations. It also imposes prison sentences of up to one year and fines of up to $1,000 for people who knowingly transport illegal immigrants during the commission of a crime. It also asserts that workers convicted of using fake identification to get jobs could be sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $250,000. The law is designed to eliminate illegal immigration in the state through the use of state and local law enforcement actions. Its goal is to make it so difficult to live in Georgia that illegal immigrants flee the state rather than risk arrest.  The law basically requires all Georgians to carry immigration documentation, because if the police request it and the person does not have it, the police must make an arrest. A lawsuit has already been filed challenging the constitutionality of this law.

What is the recently passed Alabama immigration law about?
The Alabama law, passed on June 9, 2011, is believed to be the strictest state anti-immigration law so far. The law will go into effect on September 1, 2011. The main provisions include requiring public schools to find out if students are in the US legally. The law requires all businesses to check the legal status of workers using a federal system called E-Verify and makes it a crime to knowingly give an illegal immigrant a ride.

The law bans illegal immigrants from attending state colleges and makes it a crime to rent property to undocumented immigrants. As in Arizona, police will now be allowed to arrest anybody suspected of being an illegal immigrant – even if they are stopped for something else.

I have been a Green Card holder for eight years. I met my fiancée on a trip back to India. We plan to marry next year, and of course I would like her to come to the United States to live with me. What do I need to do to bring her here? Will it make a difference to my fiancee’s immigration status where the wedding takes place – India or US?
The first thing you need to do is consider becoming a U.S. Citizen. If you have been a permanent resident for at least five years, have good moral character and a basic knowledge of US history, you are eligible for US citizenship. The benefit is this: the waiting period for a spouse of a permanent resident to be granted an immigrant visa is currently approximately 3 years. During that time, your wife will have to wait in India. The spouse of a citizen is entitled to an immigrant visa immediately (subject, of course to document processing times). So once you become a citizen, you can get married in India and file the petition to bring your wife to the U.S. as a permanent resident. You can also request a fiancée visa for your fiancée, which would enable her to come to the U.S. (in a matter of months) and get married in the U.S. You can only petition for a fiancée if you are a U.S Citizen.

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 16 years. He is a partner at Shapovalov & Boreth and a director of the Citizenship Clinic. He is also an avid cricket fan.

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