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Immigration Q & A June 2011

Author by Edward Boreth

I have had several traffic tickets in the past six years. Will that prevent me from getting my US citizenship?
To get your US citizenship you must show good moral character for the five-year period immediately before filing. As long as the traffic tickets are simple moving violations (speeding, failure to obey traffic sign, etc.), it is not considered a lack of moral character. In most cases, even one conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is still not a sign of bad moral character. However, some “tickets” are actually issued for certain misdemeanors. Not all misdemeanors bar you from US citizenship, but some may. One example is petty theft within the last five years. Multiple DUI convictions can also lead to trouble on the citizenship application. Even if a conviction is not a “bad moral character” conviction, you can be denied citizenship if you lie about it. When applying for citizenship, if you have had any sort of brush with the police, talk to an immigration attorney. It may not be a problem at all, or it may cause a big problem.

I got my green card through employment, but just before my card arrived, my sponsor company went out of business. I have had my green card for five years now and would like to apply for citizenship. However, I have heard that I might have a problem because I did not work for my sponsor after I received my green card.
This is a tricky question, and once again, as many immigration questions, depends on the exact facts. First of all, the issue comes up if the immigration officer reviews your citizenship application and suspects fraud. This happens often in cases where the original sponsoring employer or perhaps even the attorney who helped you with your green card is under investigation for green card fraud. In other cases, we are never told what makes the case suspicious. In some cases, a citizenship applicant may never have worked for the sponsor employer, but does not get questioned about it. Generally the key to fighting any such investigation is by having proof that you did not intend to commit fraud. This could consist of evidence that you worked for the company before you got your green card, or evidence about the financial hardships the company suffered just before it went out of business, as well as actual evidence of the company going out of business (news accounts, court filings, etc.). Whatever you do, do not lie on your citizenship application, as this will definitely get you into trouble.

I filed a petition for my son when I was a green card holder. My son got married 15 days before I got my citizenship. Now his petition is denied. Do I have to file a new family petition or is there any other way?
You will have to file a new family petition for your son, and start the wait all over again. Right now the wait is up to 10 years! The reason this happened is that there is no immigration category for married children of permanent residents, so the moment your son married and you were still a permanent resident, your first petition became invalid. The good news is that when you file a new petition, your son’s wife and any children under 21 will be included in your petition.

I am a US citizen and I filed for my brother in Bangladesh. I received a letter that USCIS wants to deny the petition because they do not want to accept his birth certificate and they do not believe he is really my brother. What can I do?

This probably happened because your brother’s birth certificate was not issued the year he was born, but much later, when he was already an adult. This type of birth certificate is suspicious to immigration. What if he is not really your brother, but a man who paid you to petition for him and bribed the registrar to give him a birth certificate with the same parents’ names? In these cases, immigration wants more proof that he is really your brother. This could be school records or affidavits from people who knew you growing up, such as schoolteachers, village elders, neighbors, etc. Usually 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 waiting time you have already put in. See an immigration attorney quickly to help you come up with a list of documents that will satisfy USCIS.

I am a US Citizen. Can I file for both my father and sister at the same time?
Yes. You would file two separate petitions. Your father’s case would be processed within a year, but your sister would have over a ten-year wait. There is no limit to the amount of family petitions you can file, but you will eventually have to show enough income on the affidavit of support to show that you can support ALL the family members. If you do not have enough income, you can get a co-sponsor.

I have received many questions regarding the changes that will occur with Florida’s Immigration bill.
The Immigration bill in Florida did not pass in the last session. There were two main issues being debated. The first issue dealt with the local police’s ability to investigate a person’s immigration status. There were many questions regarding the circumstances a police officer could investigate a person’s status and whether it would violate Federal law, as is currently being litigated with the Arizona Immigration law. The Florida House and Senate bills had different standards that must have been met before the police could investigate a person’s immigration status. The House of Representatives wanted a lower standard for police to be able to do an investigation of a person’s immigration status. The House and Senate were not able to come to an agreement on these standards. The second issue had to do with using the E-verify system to check an employee’s immigration status and which employees needed to be checked. The House of Representatives wanted fines for employees who were not checked through the E-verify system, the Senate was against this provision. It is expected that these issues will be revisited by the Legislature in their next session.

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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