Immigration Q and A
Author by Edward Boreth
Q. My friend invested $100,000 in a business in the US and got his papers. How is that possible? I though the minimum was $1 million investment?
There are several possibilities for how your friend was able to obtain immigration benefits through investment. He might have opened a company as a branch of another company he owned in his home country, or he might be a citizen of any country that has an investment treaty with the United States, such as Canada, the United Kingdom, Trinidad & Tobago, Pakistan and many others (but not India). For nationals of those countries, a relatively small investment is possible to obtain an investor visa. The investment must be active and the investor must show that the business will employ US citizens or permanent residents. Our office has had success with investor visas where the investment amount is even under $100,000, but it depends on the unique facts surrounding each investment. This visa even allows one to bring in specialists from the investors home country to work in the US company. If you are interested in getting an investor visa, the first step is to develop a business plan. With this plan, consult an immigration attorney to determine if the investment qualifies.
Q. I received my permanent resident card through marriage to US citizen. My green card was issued for two years. It will expire in six months. I was told that I need my husband’s signature to extend my card, but things have gone badly in our marriage. We are having a lot of problems, and I am worried that he will not agree to sign to renew my card. What shall I do?
Your are considered a conditional resident. To extend your card, you need to file a petition to remove the condition on your card. Generally, the requirement if that both you and your husband file it jointly with the last three month window of your card’s validity. You must enclose proof that you and your husband have a valid marriage and are still living together. If your husband refuses to file a joint petition, you have two options. If your husband has abused you physically or has subjected you to extreme mental cruelty, you may file the request to extend your residence without your husband’s signature, as long as you have proof of the abuse through either a police report or a psychological evaluation. In this case, you must still be married when filing. 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.
Q. I am a US citizen. My son is 20 years old. He is visiting the US on vacation. I want to apply for his green card. Does he first have to go back home to his country?
Not necessarily. Since your son is under 21 and you are a US citizen, he is entitled to an immediate preference visa. That means he can adjust his status from visitor to permanent resident inside the United States at the same time as your petition for him is being considered. That way, he can stay here while the process is going on. If he leaves now, he will have to consular process his visa – receive it at the US consulate in his home country. That may take 6-12 months. In any case, you better hurry. If you file the paperwork after he turns 21, he will have to wait for many more years before he can get his green card.
Q. After I get my US citizenship, how long can I travel outside the United States?
A US citizen can remain outside the US for as long as he/she likes, and may always come back. You may travel for a day, a month, a year or a decade. That is the benefit of US citizenship. If your US passport expires while you are outside the US, you may renew the passport at a US embassy in whatever country you are in.
Q. I have lived in Canada for the last 18 years. About 8 years ago, while I was still a teenager, my father obtained green cards for the whole family. I still have the card, although none of us ever moved to the US or used the card. Is the card still valid and can I move to the US with it now?
No. If you live outside the US for more than one year, you lose your permanent resident status. Since you have not lived in the US for much longer than that, the card is not valid. If you try to use it to enter the US, you will be denied entry. The officer might also take your card and might ask you to sign an acknowledgement that your have “abandoned” your permanent resident status.
Q. I came to the United States more than 20 years ago. I applied for LULAC and was denied. My son, who was born in the US, is now turning 21. Can he file for my green card or will I have problems?
Generally, yes. Your son’s citizenship will excuse your overstay and any unauthorized employment, no matter how long. In most cases, you will need to prove that you entered legally (with a visa). If you entered the US by illegally crossing a border, you will not be eligible to apply for your green card. There are some exceptions to that. If you used false documents, you may be able to get a waiver (an exception) to let you get your green card. If you have been arrested in the past or have traveled for too long after your initial entry, you may also have problems getting your green card through your son.
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 20 years. He is a director of the Citizenship Clinic. He is also an avid cricket fan.