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Commonly Asked Immigration Questions

At the Law Office of Troy J. Mattes, P.C., our lawyers have represented countless clients facing immigration issues and answered hundreds of questions about the immigration process. Below are honest and straightforward answers to a few of the most frequently asked questions that our team receives.

Do I have to talk to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents if I am approached by them?

No. You do not have to answer their questions, no matter what they say. You are not legally required to reveal your immigration status or country of origin to ICE agents. Do not give an officer consent to search you or your home. Anything you say to them and any evidence they collect in a search can be used against you. If you have been contacted by ICE agents or placed under arrest, request to speak with an attorney and call us.

Why should I hire a lawyer to help with my immigration case?

You need a knowledgeable immigration attorney who can move the process along as efficiently as possible. Any mistakes you make can cause significant delays. United States immigration laws are becoming increasingly more difficult to interpret, and this can be especially challenging for those who do not speak English. Our Pennsylvania lawyers can pave the path to citizenship and permanent residence in the United States.

I expect to marry my American fiancé(e) soon. What do we need to know about my potential path to citizenship?

To avoid making mistakes or experiencing delays, work closely with an attorney from the beginning of your immigration journey. Once you are married, you can take the steps necessary to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR), and after having that status and living in a marital union with your spouse for three years or longer, you will be eligible to file a naturalization application. Congratulations in advance, and good luck.

What are my rights as a green card holder?

As a green card holder, you have the right to:

  • Receive federal benefits, including food stamps, Social Security, Medicare and assistance from the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program
  • Apply for a visa on behalf of loved ones who live outside the U.S.
  • Apply for a driver’s license
  • Set up financial accounts
  • Obtain a Social Security number
  • Enroll in public education systems, including college

There are certain rights you do not have. You may not run for public office, vote in elections, apply for a visa on behalf of relatives who are not your spouse or child, or work in certain federal jobs.

What is “adjustment of status,” and how does it work?

Adjustment of status (AOS) simply refers to a situation where you want to alter your status in the U.S. and become an LPR. This does not mean that you were previously an illegal alien. You may have entered the U.S. legally, such as by using a student visa to attend college or using an employment visa to take a job.

By working with a lawyer who understands the ins and outs of the system, you can adjust your status or get a green card and become a permanent resident.

Am I eligible for asylum?

Asylum means a place of security, refuge or safety. To qualify for asylum in the U.S., you must have a well-founded fear of being persecuted if you return to your country. A year after you are granted asylum, you may qualify for permanent residency (a green card).

With asylum status, can I bring my immediate family members to the U.S.?

After you have entered the U.S. as an asylum applicant or have been granted asylum, you may apply to sponsor your spouse and/or children under age 21.

Am I eligible for a work authorization card?

To be eligible, you have to have an underlying application, such as one for asylum or AOS. You may apply for AOS and work authorization at the same time on two different forms.

Is “withholding of removal” a way to keep from being deported?

Many who seek asylum will also apply for “withholding of removal.” This can prevent their removal from the United States on the grounds that they fear significant persecution or other types of retribution if they return to their home countries.

If you are interested in applying for withholding of removal – you may qualify for it more easily than asylum itself. You will need to show that it is more than 50% likely that returning to your home country will lead to issues such as torture or persecution. If you are in that situation, then it is critical for your safety and that of your family that you explore all legal options carefully.

If I’m arrested, will I automatically be deported?

An arrest will not automatically trigger a deportation. Not all crimes even warrant deportation, which is typically used for crimes of moral turpitude and other more serious allegations. However, if you plead guilty or are convicted in court, then you could be deported. It depends on the details of the case, the type of crime in question and many other factors.

This is why it is so important to work with an experienced legal team to protect your future in the United States.

How does an “unlawful presence waiver” work?

When someone enters the United States, they must do so with the proper status. If they have entered illegally or improperly, they may not be legally able to adjust their status. They would have to leave, and they may not be allowed to re-enter. However, if that person has immediate relatives who are already lawful permanent residents – such as green card holders – then they can apply for an unlawful presence waiver. The person still has to leave the U.S., but they can then get an immigrant visa and come back to the country with the proper status.

What is a bail bond hearing?

When someone posts bail, they are released under the stipulation that they have to return for their trial or future court dates. Bail is not offered to all those who have been arrested. At a bail bond hearing, the court determines if bail will be allowed and how high it should be set. Each case is unique, so it’s important to work with experienced legal professionals every step of the way.

What do I need to do to bring my children to the U.S.?

If you are already in the United States but you have children – direct relatives who are under 21 – who are not living in the country, you may want to petition to bring them to the U.S. and reunite your family. You need to be either a citizen or a permanent resident with a green card. If so, you can use Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. You also need to provide the correct fee and other documentation to prove your own citizenship, such as your certificate of citizenship, your naturalization certificate or your green card (Form I-551). If your petition is denied, you may be able to appeal, so always be sure you explore your legal options carefully.

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Our attorneys work with clients from all parts of the world out of our Lancaster office. Making profits comes second to helping protect their rights. We keep our costs affordable, offering flexible payment plans and reasonable flat fees. Request a consultation online or call us at 717-208-2481 to speak with an attorney and ask questions about your specific situation.