We provide our business clients with a host of immigration services such as counseling regarding compliance practices, employment visas and permanent residency for foreign employees, and general counseling regarding obtaining foreign national employees that are either already in the United States or abroad.
We offer our clients competitive flat fees and personalized service. We truly understand the risks and challenges of your business and in turn offer corporate discounts and free compliance seminars to our business clients.
Specifically, we handle all types of employment-based visas, for example:
H-1B (for those with a specialty occupation)
OPT (for those prospective/current employees in F-1 status)
L-1A/L-1B (for intra-company transfers)
TN (for those qualifying professionals from Canada or Mexico)
Also, counseling and preparation of PERM certifications and permanent residence (green card) sponsorship
Immigration Counseling for Investor Individuals
We provide counseling and preparation of E1 (treaty traders) and E2 (treaty investors) visa applications for foreign national clients from countries with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation. We also counsel clients seeking L-1 visas for intracompany transfers, including new office L-1 visas.
We are able to provide our clients with counseling from the very start of their business/investment all the way to managing compliance issues once the business has been established and the visa is approved. Our clients include those investors who seek such visas abroad through consular processing and those who choose to apply for a change of status if already in the United States. We offer our clients competitive flat fees and personalized service.
What is asylum?
Asylum is a protective status that allows people who are in the United States to remain in the country legally because they would be at risk of serious harm, or have a well-founded fear of persecution, if they had to return to their home country. There are two types of asylum applicants can apply for: Affirmative Asylum, which is filed through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Defensive Asylum, which is filed by applicants who have been placed in removal (deportation) proceedings by the government in Immigration Court.
Who is eligible?
A person may be eligible for asylum if he or she has suffered past persecution or has a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Persecution can include, but is not limited to, the infliction of harm or suffering by a government or persons a government is unwilling or unable to control. Serious violations of human rights amount to persecution. Persecution may also include severe economic deprivation that threatens an individual’s life or freedom. Cumulative incidents of threats, discrimination, or harassment may also rise to the level of persecution.
Temporary Protected Status (TPS)
What is TPS?
The Secretary of Homeland Security may designate a foreign country for TPS due to conditions in the country that temporarily prevent the country's nationals from returning safely, or in certain circumstances, where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. USCIS may grant TPS to eligible nationals of certain countries (or parts of countries), who are already in the United States. Eligible individuals without nationality who last resided in the designated country may also be granted TPS.
- The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country
- Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
- An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
- Other extraordinary and temporary conditions
During the period for which a country has been designated for TPS, TPS beneficiaries may remain in the United States and may obtain work authorization.
Who is eligible?
An alien who is a national of a country (or alien having no nationality who last habitually resided in that country) designated for TPS is eligible to apply for TPS benefits if he or she:
- Establishes the necessary continuous physical presence and continuous residence in the United States as specified by each designation;
- Is not subject to one of the criminal, security-related, or other bars to TPS; and
- Timely applies for TPS benefits. If the Secretary of Homeland Security extends a TPS designation beyond the initial designation period, the beneficiary must timely re-register to maintain his or her TPS benefits under the TPS program.
An alien is not eligible for TPS if he or she:
- Has been convicted of any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States;
- Is a persecutor, or otherwise subject to one of the bars to asylum; or
- Is subject to one of several criminal-related or terrorism-related grounds of inadmissibility for which a waiver is not available.
Citizenship & Naturalization
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the process of a Lawful Permanent Resident’s becoming a U.S. citizen. If you are the child of a U.S. citizen or were born within the United States, you are almost certainly already a U.S. citizen. If you are not yet a U.S. citizen, we would be delighted to assist you in the naturalization process. United States citizenship has many advantages. For example, American citizens can sponsor relatives for immigration to the United States, obtain a U.S. passport, remain immune from deportation for criminal convictions, vote for government leaders, apply for high-level government positions, and even run for public office.
Who is eligible?
Naturalization requirements include:
- Age: Applicants must be at least 18 years old.
- Residency: Applicants must be legal permanent residents (LPR) of the United States.
- Physical Presence and Residence: To be eligible to naturalize, most applicants must have continuously resided in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents for at least five years. During the five-year period, applicants must have been physically present in the United States for at least half the time. Any absence from the U.S. between six months and one year breaks the requirement for continuity of residency unless applicants can prove that they did not abandon their residence during that period. Finally, applicants must have resided in a particular state or district for at least three months prior to filing. Certain individuals, primarily those who have been married to U.S. citizens for at least three years at the time of naturalizing, may be eligible to naturalize after three years, rather than five. Applicants are permitted to file 90 days before completion of the full five-year or three-year period. Time as a “conditional permanent resident” is counted toward the relevant period of time.
- Good Moral Character: Applicants must prove that they have been people of good moral character during the relevant five-year (or three-year) period. USCIS looks particularly at the individual’s conduct in this period, examining whether applicants have complied with legal obligations. The government will examine tax returns, child support payments, selective service registration, court involvement, truthfulness of all statements made on the application, and other evidence of moral character. However, USCIS does not limit itself to examining only the specified period when examining the moral character of an applicant.
- Language: Applicants must demonstrate their ability to read, write, speak, and comprehend the English language.
- Knowledge of United States Government and History: Applicants must demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of United States history and government, also known as civics. There is a list of 100 questions, from which the applicant will be asked up to ten questions. The applicant must get at least six questions correct.
- Oath of Allegiance: Applicants must take oaths of allegiance, in which they swear to: (1) support the Constitution and obey the laws of the United States; (2) renounce any foreign allegiances and/or foreign titles; and (3) bear arms in the U.S. armed forces and/or perform non-combatant services to the U.S. government if required by law to do so.
Exemptions from Language and/or Civics:
Elderly or disabled individuals who may not be able to pass the English or history requirements may be eligible for exceptions. The English requirement is waived for individuals at least 50 years old who have been lawful permanent residents (LPR’s) for at least 20 years, or for those at least 55 years old who have been LPR’s for at least 15 years. These individuals may take the civics test in their native language. Those over 65 who have been LPR’s for at least 20 years have a list of only 20 civics questions to study. Individuals who suffer from a serious medical condition that prevents the individual from passing the naturalization exam may qualify for a waiver of the testing requirements. The medical condition must be serious, and must be directly related to the inability to pass the exam.
Special Cases (expedited naturalization)
Certain applicants have more flexible physical presence and continuous residence requirements for naturalization. For example, as explained, a lawful permanent resident who has been married to a U.S. citizen for three years may file for naturalization early, provided that the couple continues to reside together in an intact marriage. Individuals granted relief under VAWA who are or were married to abusive U.S. citizens are permitted to naturalize after three years despite no longer being in an intact marriage. Immigrants who have served or are serving in the U.S. military may be entitled to expedited naturalization. Expedited naturalization is also possible for individuals married to U.S. citizens employed by the government or some other employers, if the permanent resident must travel overseas to accompany or follow the U.S. citizen spouse stationed abroad.
The Naturalization Process
Becoming a citizen of the United States usually takes between three and five months. The applicant first files Form N-400 and obtains a receipt. Shortly thereafter, the applicant will receive a biometrics notice, and must have fingerprints and photos taken at an assigned location. Then the individual will be scheduled for an interview. An immigration official will review all information on the application form, and will administer the English and civics tests. He or she will verify the applicant’s compliance with legal obligations such as payment of taxes and child support, and selective service (draft) registration if required. If there is any criminal record, that will be carefully examined. After successful completion of the interview, USCIS will issue a notice for an oath ceremony where the applicant will turn in the permanent resident card, be sworn in as a U.S. citizen, and receive a Certificate of Naturalization Please note that the applicant does not become a U.S. citizen until after taking the oath of citizenship. Falsely claiming U.S. citizenship can have extremely severe consequences.
Automatic Citizenship of Children
If a child under 18 years old is a legal permanent resident when a parent naturalizes, the child will become a U.S. citizen “automatically” without naturalizing. (This was not always true in the past). Certain LPR children adopted abroad may also become citizens “automatically.” However, the rules regarding adopted children are extremely complex, and they vary based on the date of the adoption, the age of the child, and the country of origin. Children who become citizens automatically through action of law (or their parents, on the children’s behalf) may apply for a U.S. passport, and/or Certificate of Citizenship.
How can Ghiaasiaan & Briceno help you?
- Helping you determine if and when you are eligible to file for naturalization.
- Assisting you with the accurate and thorough completion of form N-400 with the correct filing fees to the correct location.
- Monitoring the progress of your application and its status with USCIS.
- Accompanying you to your interview to provide legal support and ensure that the process runs smoothly.
- Assisting you in securing documentation of citizenship for any eligible children.
- Preparing you thoroughly for the interview.
- Documenting eligibility for expedited naturalization, good moral character, or qualifying for an exemption to the English or civics requirement, as appropriate.
- Our office can also assist you in sponsoring relatives for immigration to the United States.
Further Sources of Information
USCIS Naturalization Homepage
This information is not legal advice and is not a substitute for having a consultation with an attorney.
What is a lawful permanent resident (LPR)?
An LPR is an individual who is authorized to remain permanently in the U.S. LPRs can work in the U.S., is fully protected under U.S. laws, and can travel internationally. However, LPRs are not eligible to vote and can lose their status if they commit certain crimes or leave the U.S. for a long period. For complete information on the rights and exceptions given to LPRs, visit the USCIS LPR page.
How can I obtain LPR status?
In order to apply for LPR status you must have a basis of adjustment. This basis can be an immigrant petition, approved asylum status, or one of several other USCIS categories, including the diversity lottery and provisions for special immigrants. Our firm’s experience in adjustment cases includes (but is not limited to) the bases of adjustment listed to the left.
Cautions about applying for immigration benefits
We are delighted to help our clients apply for and obtain permanent residence and other benefits for which they qualify. However, applying for any immigration benefit invites government scrutiny. It is extremely important that you discuss the following with an attorney: how you entered the United States, whether you have ever been ordered removed (deported), and whether you have been charged with or convicted of any crime.
While my application is pending, can I travel and work?
In most cases applicants for adjustment of status are permitted to work legally in the U.S. and travel abroad (with some restrictions) while their application is pending.
This information is not legal advice and is not a substitute for having a consultation with an attorney.