Immigration FAQ

Helping Clients and Their Loved Ones With Complex Immigration Procedures

At Greenwood Law, our immigration attorneys work closely with our clients to understand their individual circumstances and provide them with personalized legal advice and representation. Whether you are seeking a work visa, trying to obtain permanent residency, or fighting a deportation order, our attorneys have the knowledge and experience necessary to help you understand your legal options.

With nearly 200 forms for various U.S. immigration procedures, it can be challenging to know which questions to ask to find clear solutions to immigration concerns. Below are a few frequently asked questions that our attorneys hear when we sit down with our clients.

How do I become a U.S. citizen?

To become a naturalized U.S. citizen, you must be at least 18 years old and meet certain eligibility requirements, which include:

  • Being a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) for at least five years
  • Demonstrating continuous residency in the United States during those five years
  • Being able to read, write, and speak basic English
  • Having knowledge of U.S. history and government
  • Being a person of good moral character

If you meet these requirements, you can complete and file an application for naturalization with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After filing your application, you will be scheduled for an interview and examination. If you pass the interview and exam, and meet all other requirements for naturalization, you will be eligible to take the Oath of Allegiance and become a U.S. citizen.

Unfortunately, the naturalization process can be time-consuming and complex. Our North Carolina immigration attorneys are prepared to help you and your loved ones with all aspects of the naturalization process, from determining your eligibility to cheering you on as you take the U.S. citizenship oath.

Do I qualify for DACA?

If you or someone you know is an undocumented immigrant who arrived in the United States as a child, one potential path to legal status is through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. DACA provides temporary protection from deportation and work authorization for eligible individuals who meet certain criteria.

To be eligible for DACA, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
  • You came to the United States before your 16th birthday
  • You have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007
  • You were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of filing your DACA application
  • You entered the United States without inspection or your lawful immigration status expired before June 15, 2012
  • You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a General Education Development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
  • You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

If you meet these criteria, you may be eligible to apply for DACA. However, it is important to note that DACA does not provide a path to permanent residency or citizenship. The program provides temporary relief from deportation and work authorization for two-year periods, subject to renewal.

If you are considering the DACA application, it is important to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can help you navigate the application process and stay up-to-date on any developments related to the program.

Do I qualify for employment-based immigration?

To qualify for an employer-sponsored visa, you must have a full-time offer from a U.S.-based employer and appropriate education and experience. You must also demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers that could otherwise fill the position and provide documentation that you are not a health or security risk.

Your job offer must fall under one of the five employment-based immigrant categories to qualify for employment-based immigration:

  • First Preference (Form EB-1): Priority workers, including persons with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain executives and managers of multinational companies;
  • Second Preference (Form EB-2): Professionals holding advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability;
  • Third Preference (Form EB-3): Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers;
  • Fourth Preference (Form EB-4): Religious workers; and
  • Fifth Preference (EB-5): Investors.

If your job meets one of these qualifications, your sponsoring employer must file a petition on your behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once your petition is approved, you will need to go through consular processing to obtain your visa.

What do I do if I receive a deportation order?

Receiving a deportation order can be an extremely stressful and frightening experience. If you or a loved one has received a deportation order, do not ignore the order. There are steps you can take to protect your rights and potentially avoid deportation altogether. It is critical that you contact an attorney immediately after receiving the order to explore your legal options.

A skilled immigration attorney will first review the deportation order to understand the reasons cited for your removal. This understanding will help our team identify your legal options and prepare for a defense against deportation.

In some circumstances, you may be able to file for relief from deportation. This includes measures such as asylum, adjustment of status, or cancellation of removal. Your attorney will help you determine whether any of these forms of relief are available to you.

If you are ineligible for relief and there are legal grounds to do so, filing an appeal may delay the deportation and provide us with the opportunity to mount a defense against it. Our immigration team has decades of experience helping clients and their families stay together under these scary circumstances.

Will I be deported if I am charged with a crime?

The extent that criminal charges impact your immigration status will depend on a number of factors, including the severity of the crime, your immigration status, and any previous criminal convictions you may have.

Due process still applies in the criminal proceedings of non-citizens, and you are innocent until proven guilty. If your case ends in a conviction, however, you may be subject to removal proceedings if you are convicted of a deportable offense.

There are five categories of U.S. deportable offenses:

  1. Crimes of moral turpitude
  2. Aggravated felonies
  3. Drug offenses
  4. Firearms offenses
  5. Domestic violence

The North Carolina Supreme Court defines “crimes of moral turpitude” as those that involve “an act of inherent baseness in the private, social, or public duties which one owes to his fellowmen or to society, or to his country, her institutions and her government” (State v. Mann). This definition is vague, which means that the “moral turpitude” designation can be widely applied by judges in criminal proceedings.  

For this reason, If you are non-citizen and are charged with a crime, it is in your best interest to speak with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to discuss your options. Choose an attorney with experience handling immigration and criminal defense cases to ensure that all aspects of your rights are protected.

Immigration Concerns? Contact a North Carolina Immigration Lawyer Today

Immigration law is a highly specialized field due to the complexity of U.S. immigration procedures and the unique considerations of our clients. At Greenwood Law, our team specializes in handling immigration law cases and will help you work toward a solution to your legal matter.

Contact Greenwood Law today online or by phone at 336-661-8788 for a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney in Winston-Salem. A consult fee is charged for family law and immigration law.