Family Law, Criminal Defense & Immigration Attorneys

Smith Law Offices, LLC Answers the Most Common Immigration Questions

Immigration is an extremely complicated process and the rules are always changing. To assist you with your immigration journey, we have created a frequently asked questions sheet with common immigration questions and answers so you can proceed with confidence.

Q: What Is the USCIS?

A: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), is the government agency that oversees legal immigration to the United States. USCIS is primarily responsible for approving green cards, naturalization, work permits, travel permits, and other “immigration benefits.”

Q: What Does It Mean to Be a Lawful Permanent Resident?

A: A lawful permanent resident, also known as a “green card holder,” is a foreign national who is authorized to live and work anywhere in the United States, sponsor certain relatives for their own green cards, and ultimately apply for U.S. citizenship.

Q: What Does Conditional Permanent Residence Mean?

A: A conditional green card is valid for only 2 years, and the designation “CR1” on the physical card stands for “conditional resident.” A conditional green card holder must file Form I-751 to “remove the conditions” and obtain a permanent green card. In most cases, a conditional green card is issued to a spouse who has been married for less than 2 years at the time their green card was first approved.

Q: Can I Work In the U.S. While Waiting for a Green Card?

A: Anyone who already has a valid work visa (for example, an H-1B or L-1 visa) can usually continue working in the United States even while applying for a U.S. green card. Otherwise, green card applicants aren’t allowed to start working in the United States until they obtain a work permit by filing Form I-765.

Q: What Is Biometric Screening?

A: During a biometric screening, a government representative records an individual’s fingerprints and takes their photos and signature, in order to check government records for any serious criminal history or relevant prior immigration violations. The biometrics appointment is typically short and simple.

You will not have your blood drawn, nor will there be a DNA test as part of the biometrics appointment for a green card. There are some circumstances under which an applicant might be asked to provide a DNA sample—generally if the visa application is based on a blood relationship (parent/child or sibling/sibling) and there is ambiguity about that relationship. The goal of a DNA test, if requested by USCIS, is entirely different from the goals of the biometrics appointment.

The entire process generally takes 15–20 minutes, although you may have to wait beforehand. There is no interview at the biometrics appointment, and the people who take your fingerprints and photo do not have any information about your application, so this is not an appropriate place to ask questions. The people who do the fingerprinting are often not even USCIS employees, but work for separate contractors and don’t necessarily know anything about the immigration process.

Q: How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card?

A: There are many ways to get a green card, and the timeline for each pathway is different. Depending on the situation, the marriage-based green card process can last as little as 10 months or over 3 years.

Q: How Much Does a Green Card Cost?

A: The total cost for each type of green card application can vary. Government fees for marriage-based green cards are $1,760 if the spouse seeking a green card lives in the United States and $1,200 if the spouse lives abroad, in addition to other costs, such as a fee for a required medical examination.

Q: How Do I Prepare for The Marriage Green Card Interview?

A: The final step in the marriage-based green card process is the interview, where the interviewing officer’s primary goal is to assess the authenticity of the marriage. Marriage green card interview questions can focus on the history of the couple’s relationship, as well as their daily activities and future plans as a married couple.

If you are in the immigration system and need legal assistance, contact Smith Law Offices, LLC.