Immigration Q & A

Immigration Q & A October 2011

Author by Edward Boreth

How long can I stay outside the United States if I am a US citizen?
As long as you want! Once you are a US citizen, there is no limit on the time you may stay outside the US. This is one of the many benefits of US citizenship. Green card holders risk losing their green card with absences over one year.

My uncle owns a business in Dubai. Can he get a green card by opening a business in the US or investing in a US business?
Your uncle has a few options. He may get his green card as an investor. To do this, he has to make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and plan to create 10 permanent full time jobs for US workers. He must invest $1,000,000, or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural area). Alternatively, he can invest $500,000 in a private organization designated by USCIS as a “Regional Center.” Your uncle may also be able to get his green card with a smaller investment by opening or purchasing a business in the US. This only works if he has been managing the business in Dubai for at least one year. There are also limitations on the relationship between the business in the US and Dubai, and the size and scope of the businesses.

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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