immigration and nationality law services

Services:
Immigration and Nationality Law

The Law Office of Joanne M. Fakhre, P.A., focuses primarily on Immigration and Nationality Law and has handled all aspects of Immigration and Nationality law, throughout the United States, Canada and worldwide.

We provide the highest quality of cost effective service to our clients, and understand the importance of fostering the attorney-client relationship. We are committed to the success of each client alike.

Our clients include:

  • Private individuals
  • Families
  • Corporations
  • Professionals
  • Military Personnel
  • Religious Institutions
  • Health Care Facilities
  • Governmental Organizations
  • Universities & Schools
  • Entertainment Facilities
  • Sport Facilities

We have a comprehensive set of Immigration and Nationality Law services:

HUMANITARIAN VISAS

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Asylum, Withhold of Removal, Convention Against Torture

Asylum, Withholding of Removal and Relief Under The Convention Against Torture (CAT) are all available to foreign nationals physically present in the United States, regardless of immigration status or country of origin, who have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Sufficient proof of this fear must be presented and the burden of proof is high. All three forms of relief can be applied for at the same time in most circumstances.

Asylum is a relief which allows individuals to remain permanently in the United States if they prove that they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. The harm must be based on one of these protected grounds. However, you will not qualify for asylum if you have residence in another country other than your home country, if you have participated in any persecution of another person, are regarded as a danger to the security of the United States or have committed certain serious crimes.

Asylum must be applied for within one year of arrival to the United States, and can be requested at a port of entry (boarder, airport or seaport), or following entry into the United States. There are exceptions to the one year filing deadline, such as significant changes in the conditions of the country of nationality or country of last habitual residence (if you are stateless), changed circumstances that materially affected eligibility for Asylum, such as changes in the U.S. law, or involvement in activities outside the country of nationality that could place you at risk if returned, or if you were included as a dependent on another asylum application and the relationship no longer exists.

Dependents (spouse and unmarried children under 21), can be included in the Asylum application if they are in the United States at the time the application is filed, or they can be added to the application at any time until a final decision is made on the case.

Green Card: If granted Asylum, the Asylee and derivative family members, are eligible to adjust to Permanent Residence Status (Green Card) at a later date.

Withholding of Removal can be applied for at any point during a removal proceeding, and offers protection to individuals who will "more likely than not" be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Unlike asylum, if the person proves his/her case, the judge must grant the relief. Withholding of Removal is a temporary protection and does not lead to permanent residence status (green card).

Although it offers temporary protection from being returned to a home country, it does not prevent the individual from being removed to a non-risk country.

Like an asylum case, if you have residence in another country other than your home country, or if you have participated in any persecution of another person, are regarded as a danger to the security of the United States or have committed certain serious crimes, you will not qualify for a withhold.

Convention Against Torture (CAT) – the standard is the same as that for a Withholding of Removal "more likely than not" that if you are returned to your home country you will be tortured. With Asylum and Withholding of Removal, the standard is not torture but fear of persecution. Another major difference is that individuals who have committed serious crimes may still be eligible to apply for CAT.

With the complex and continually changing nature of Immigration Law, it is best to have an immigration attorney review your situation and assist you with your application to ensure your eligibility.

Call or email us at (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to determine whether you qualify for any of the above.

Battered Spouses, Children & Parents (VAWA)

A VAWA Petition allows battered spouses (men or women), children or parents of U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card holders) to self-petition or file independently for their immigrant (Green Card) status without relying on the abusive family member.

The first step of the VAWA application process is to file the self petition providing evidence of the abuse. The abuse does not have to be physical and the victim does not have to have reported the abuse to law enforcement.

If the abuser is a U.S. Citizen, then the victim can file for adjustment of status (Green Card) at the same time/concurrently as filing the VAWA petition. If the abuser is a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR), the victim files only the VAWA petition, but is also eligible to file for employment authorization. When a visa number becomes available (or the LPR abuser becomes a United States Citizen), the victim can file for adjustment of status. An approved VAWA petition allows the victim to be eligible for some public benefits.

If you are or have been a victim of violence at the hands of your U.S citizen or LPR spouse, child or parent, you may be entitled to legal status in the United States.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we may assist you.

Deferred Action Status for Young People (Dreamers)

Deferred action is a discretionary determination which would defer removal of the individual to which it is granted. On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that the U.S Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would not deport certain undocumented youth. Instead, they would be granted a temporary relief called deferred action. In essence, deferred action is intended to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children. These individuals are commonly referred to as "Dreamers". Deferred Action does NOT grant permanent status to eligible candidates, but does permit work authorization.

To qualify, the following criteria must be met:

  1. Must have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and are present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
  3. Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate (GED), or are honorably discharged veterans of the United States Military;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Not be above the age of thirty.

The applicant must begin by ordering or getting together the following records;

  1. Original birth certificate (NOT a copy) and a certified English translation if it is not in English. To determine if your birth certificated meets the necessary requirements or to find out how to get one, go to http://travel.state.gov/visa/reciprocity/index.htm, select your country of birth.
  2. Proof of entry into the United States before age 16. Documentation that can prove you have lived in the United States from date of entry.
  3. Copies of all high school transcripts for each year attended, and copy of high school diploma or GED. If you do not have a high school diploma or a GED certificate, it is best to enroll immediately.
  4. Proof of residence in the United States for a five year period before June 15, 2012. Try to acquire documents like school records, driver's licenses, bank accounts, leases, medical records, work records, tax returns and other such items proving residence in the United States.
  5. Certified copies of all criminal convictions. If you have ANY charges other than a simple speeding ticket, you must get copies of these for review. Even the minor of offenses could impact your eligibility.

While this procedure seems wonderful on its face, there are many negative implications that can arise. For instance, this is a temporary option. It does not cure subsequent periods of unlawful presence. It is not permanent and cannot lead to permanent status or green card. Although it is renewable in two-year increments, this could change with a new administrative policy, or can be terminated at anytime by the government. If terminated, the government can initiate removal proceedings against you. Furthermore, there is no implemented policy for family members who may not themselves qualify and no guarantees they will not be deported. Therefore it is best to consult an immigration attorney to review your documents and analyze all options before you make a determination of whether you should apply.

Contact us at (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com and schedule a consultation to review your options.

Humanitarian Parole

An individual may be paroled into the United States for an urgent medical reason or other such emergency, if that individual is not otherwise eligible for a visa. Humanitarian Parole cannot be used to circumvent normal visa processing. Proof that the individual has exhausted all attempts to get another visa must be documented.

Humanitarian Parole is requested for individuals outside the United States. The petition can be filed by anyone for that person. In other words the person seeking Humanitarian Parole can file the application, or a family member, friend or even an attorney can file on his/her behalf. The length of time granted coincides with the situation for the request. However, the maximum time allotted is 1 year. This can be extended while in the United States.

Humanitarian Parole cases are complicated and the review criteria, stringent. Therefore it is important to seek the assistance of an attorney to review your case and help formulate a strategy that best fit your needs.

Contact us at (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so we can review your situation and assist you with this visa application.

Prosecutorial Discretion (PD)

Prosecutorial Discretion (PD) is a process by which the government grants certain undocumented immigrants exemption from deportation. The government decides whether it will bring charges and pursue a case or whether it will decline to pursue charges and dismiss the case. A favorable exercise of discretion is known as Prosecutorial Discretion. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Customs and Border Parole (CBP) all have the authority to exercise this.

PD can be exercised at any stage in an immigration case, such as granting deferred action, terminating or administratively closing removal proceedings, grant a stay of removal, or a decision not to issue a charging document in the first place. While it seems wonderful on its face, PD does not grant permanent status or even work authorization, and the government will look at various factors before making a determination to grant PD. PD can be terminated at any time and the government can then initiate removal proceedings.

Call or email us at (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a telephonic or in-person consultation to review your eligibility.

Temporary Protective Status (TPS)

Temporary Protected Status (TPS) is a temporary nonimmigrant status that is given to individuals of certain designated countries who are unable to return to their home country because of some unsafe natural disaster or armed conflict.

Although a person awarded TPS status may be granted work authorization, TPS does not lead to permanent residence (Green Card) and once that country is removed from the designated list of countries, the individual must return there unless he/she has filed for another immigration benefit before the expiration of the TPS.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com and schedule a consultation.

T Visa Victims of Trafficking

Victims of Human Trafficking may be eligible for a T–1 Visa if they are physically present in the United States as a result of being a victim of human trafficking and they will be assisting in the investigations, or persecutions of the violators. Human Trafficking is no different than modern day slavery.

Family Members: If the victim is under age 21, then he/she may also file for the following family members; spouse, children, parents and unmarried siblings under the age of 18. If the victim is over 21 then he / she may apply for his/her spouse and children. However, regardless of the victim's age, if parents or siblings under age 18 face present danger as a result of the victim’s escape from the violator or cooperation with law enforcement, then they are also eligible.

The T Visa request is filed on Form I–914 and submitted with a list of documents including Supplement B or a Declaration of Law Enforcement Officer for Victim of Trafficking in Persons. Supplement B shows that law enforcement supports the petition. It is also evidence that you are a victim of trafficking and have complied with law enforcement's requests.

If granted T Visa status and all other requirements are met, the individual and qualifying family members can apply for adjustment of status / Green Card after three years.

If you are, or have been, a victim of a trafficking you may be entitled to legal status in the United States. Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we may assist you.

U Visa for Victims of Crimes

U-Visa categories allows victims of certain crimes (that occurred within the United States or U.S. territory), and their family members (spouses, parents, children, unmarried siblings under 18 years) the ability to remain in the United States and work for up to 4 years.

To qualify for a U-Visa, the victim must be willing to work with, or has worked with, law enforcement, and must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of the criminal activity. These criminal activities include abduction, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, genital female mutilation, felonious assault, hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trader, torture, trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint, and other related crimes.

In addition to a list of documents a Supplement B or a Certificate of Helpfulness must be certified by the head or supervisor of a Federal, State or local law enforcement agency which states that the victim has been helpful, is being helpful or likely to be helpful in the investigation of one of the categories of crimes listed above must be submitted. The individual and qualifying family members can apply for adjustment of status / Green Card after three years if they meet all requirements.

If you are or have been a victim of a crime you may be entitled to legal status in the United States. Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we may assist you.


VISITING THE UNITED STATES

VISITOR / TOURIST VISAS are non-immigrant visas that allow foreign nationals to enter the United States temporarily for business (B–1), vacation or medical treatment (B–2), or a combination of vacation and business (B–1 / B–2). Citizens of certain countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) do not require a visa as long as their stay in the U.S. is 90 days or less (VWP).

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B-1 Business Visa

B–1 Business Visa:This non-immigrant visa is designed for individuals who need to enter the United States temporarily for business, such as but not limited to, attending conferences, workshops or seminars, to research the possibility of setting up investments (cannot stay in the United States to manage the business with a B–1 visa), to attend business meetings, purchase goods for a foreign business, or to compete in tournaments as a professional athlete. This visa does not permit payment for services by a U.S company.

A onetime extension of stay may be granted, but this must be requested from USCIS before the expiration of the period of authorized stay. The period of authorized stay is usually the date marked on the I–94 card, the small white card which is given to you at the port of entry and shows your date of entry and the date by which you must depart the United States. To qualify for an extension of stay, you must prove ties to your home country, adequate financial means to remain in the USA, and intent to return home at the end of the extension. A change of status from a B–1 visa to another non-immigrant category may be possible if you entered the United States lawfully, your non-immigrant visa is still valid and you have not committed a crime that would render you ineligible.

Contact us at (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com if you would like to extend your stay or change your status.

B-2 Tourist / Visitor Visa

B–2 Tourist Visa: A visitors or tourist visa also known as a B–2 Visa, is issued to people entering the United States temporarily for pleasure, tourism, or medical treatment. The maximum length of stay in the United States on a visitor visa is six months.

A onetime extension of stay for an additional six months may be granted, but this must be requested from DHS before the expiration of the period of authorized stay. The period of authorized stay is usually the date marked on the I–94 card, the small white card which is given to you at the port of entry and shows your date of entry and the date by which you must depart the United States. To qualify for an extension of stay, you must prove ties to your home country, adequate financial means to remain in the USA, and intent to return home at the end of the extension. A change of status from a B–2 visa to another non-immigrant category may be possible if you entered the U.S. lawfully, your nonimmigrant visa is still valid and you have not committed a crime that would render you ineligible.

Contact us at (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com if you would like to extend your stay or change your status.

Visa Waiver Program (VWP)

Visa Waiver Program (VWP): Citizens of certain countries are not required to apply for a B–1/B–2 visa because their country of nationality or citizenship is qualified to participate in the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The VWP allows them to enter the United States for pleasure so long as their stay is 90 days or less. Individuals in the United States on a VWP cannot extend their stay. For a list of countries participating in the VWP go to http://travel.state.gov/visa/temp/without/without_1990.html#countries.

Before attempting to extend or change your non-immigrant status, contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com and schedule a consultation.

STUDENT VISAS

Student visas are issued to people coming to the United States temporarily to study. There are three types of student visas, the F–1 Visa for academic studies, the M–1 Visa for non academic or vocational studies, and the J–1 Visa for academic studies as an exchange student. F–1 visa holders are permitted to apply for Optical Practical Training at the completion of their studies. The way to obtain either an F-1 Visa M-1 Visa depends on whether the student is outside of the United States or physically present in the United States.

Family members: Dependents of the student (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age), may also accompany the student to the United States on an F–2, M–2, or J–2 visa. Proof of familial relationship, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate, must be shown.

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F–1 Visa: Academic Studies

If the student is outside of the United States, then the student must first be accepted for a full course of study by an academic institution in the United States that is a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) approved school. To qualify for a student visa, requires proof of sufficient funds to cover the first year of study and access to funds for subsequent years, proof of permanent residence in one’s home country with no intent to abandon, and intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study by showing significant ties to one's home country.

Once accepted, the school will issue a Certificate of Eligibility (Form I–20A–B for an F1 Visa, or Form I–20M–N for the M1 Visa). This form, together with several additional documents, must be taken to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad for the visa to be issued. The documents consist of proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses and proof of ties to home country.

If the student is already in the United States in another valid non-immigrant category or visa, then once the Form I–20 is issued, a change of status application must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once this change of status is granted, the student can enroll in the course work. However, a change of status is not a visa and if the student wants to travel abroad, an appointment must be made at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to get the visa stamped in his/her passport before reentry into the United States.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

Optical Practical Training (OPT)

Optional Practical Training (OPT) for F–1 Students allows students, upon completion of their academic studies, to gain practical experience off campus in their field of study. It can be requested before completion of the course of study. A total of 12 months per academic degree obtained is permitted. Students should request their designated School Official initiate the process by making notation in the SEVIS system.

Once studies or practical training is concluded, the student must depart the United States within 60 days unless he/she has extended his/her student status or changed status to another category.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com and schedule a consultation to discuss your options.

M–1 Visa: Non-Academic or Vocational Studies

If outside of the United States, then the student must first be accepted for a full course of study by an academic institution in the United States that is a SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Program) approved school. To qualify for a student visa, requires proof of sufficient funds to cover the first year of study and access to funds for subsequent years, proof of permanent residence in one’s home country with no intent to abandon, and intent to depart the United States upon completion of the course of study by showing significant ties to one's home country.

Once accepted, the school will then issue a Certificate of Eligibility (Form I–20A–B for an F1 Visa, or Form I–20M–N for the M1 Visa). This form, together with several documents, must be taken to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad and then the visa is issued. The documents consist of proof of ability to pay tuition and living expenses, as well as, intent to return to the home country at the conclusion of your studies.

If the student is already in the United States in another valid non-immigrant category or visa, then once the Form I–20 is issued, a change of status application must be submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once this change of status is granted, the student can enroll in the course work. However, a change of status is not a visa and if the student wants to travel abroad, an appointment must be made at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad to get the visa stamped in his/her passport before reentry into the United States.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

J–1 Visa: Academic Studies as an Exchange Student

J–1 Visa or exchange visitor visa is a non immigrant visa issued to a foreign national participating in an established J–1 exchange program that has been approved by the Department of State. The purpose is to promote the sharing of skills in the sciences, arts and education. Some of the activities covered by the J–1 visa are au-pair and nanny, summer camp counselors and staff, post-graduate students, government visitors, medical students coming to the United States as residents or interns, foreign scholars sponsored by universities as temporary faculty and business and industrial trainees.

Like the F–1 and M–1 visas, the J–1 is issued to full time students accepted into a program who can show ties to their home country and sufficient funds to cover expenses. Many J–1 visa holders are subjected to the two-year home-country physical presence requirement which requires them to return to their home countries for at least two years at the conclusion of their program. In order to remain in the United States, the student must obtain a waiver approved by the Department of Homeland Security, prior to changing status in the United States. This process can be complex and detailed.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com and schedule a consultation.

FAMILY IMMIGRATION VISAS

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Spouses of U.S. Citizens and Spouses of Legal Permanent Residents:

In the United States

Spouses of U.S. Citizens who are in the United States can get a Green Card or Lawful Permanent Residence Status by filing the appropriate paperwork and supporting documents in one step. The U.S. Citizen files the Petition for Alien Relative, and the foreign national files the adjustment of status application concurrently. An exception to concurrent filing is if the foreign spouse is in removal or deportation proceedings. An affidavit of support must be included with the applications. This document indicates that the signor will be financially responsible for the foreign national until he/she either becomes a United States Citizen, or has worked 40 quarters (10 years).

Before filing an immigrant petition, it is important to have an attorney review any criminal convictions to ensure there will be no ramifications later. Certain crimes can render a foreign national deportable, even though he/she has a U.S Citizen spouse and U.S. Citizen Children.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we can assist you in filing your immigrant petition.

Outside the United States

Spouses of U.S. Citizens who are outside of the United States can come to the United States as lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders). First, the United States Citizen files the Petition for Alien Relative for the spouse and spouse's minor children who are unmarried and under 21, with the local immigration office. When approved, the file is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for review, payment of fees and additional documents and then to the U.S Embassy or Consulate abroad for consular processing. Before filing an immigration petition, it is important to have an attorney review any convictions you may have to ensure there will be no ramifications later. Certain crimes can render a foreign national inadmissible, even though he/she has a U.S Citizen spouse and U.S. Citizen Children. Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we can assist you in filing your immigrant petition.

K–3 Visa

K–3 marriage visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows the spouse of a U.S. citizen to enter the United States before their immigrant visa (Green Card) is adjudicated. To apply for this visa, the U.S citizen and his/her foreign spouse must be legally married and the spouse must be admissible to the United States. Children of K–3 visa holders who are unmarried and less than 21 years old can enter the United States on a K–4 visa.

The process consists of filing an Immigrant Petition and supporting documents must be filed with the USCIS office serving the area where the U.S. Citizen lives. When USCIS sends the Notice of Action Receipt indicating that the petition is filed, then the U.S. Citizen can submit Form I–129F Petition and the Notice of Action. Once approved, the petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for review and processing and then to the appropriate US embassy abroad for scheduling the interview. Once in the United States, the spouse can apply for employment authorization while waiting for the immigrant petition to be approved.

Before filing an immigration petition, it is important to have an attorney review any criminal convictions you may have to ensure there will be no ramifications later. Certain crimes can render a foreign national inadmissible, even though he/she has a U.S Citizen spouse and U.S. Citizen Children.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we can assist you in filing your immigrant petition.

Removing Conditional Residence Status

Removing Conditional Residence Status (Form I–751): If a marriage is less than two years at the time the permanent residence or Green Card is approved, the foreign spouse will be grant Conditional Resident Status which is valid for two years. Within 90 days of the expiration of the conditional card, both the U.S. citizen and foreign spouse must file jointly to Remove the Conditions of Residence. Once this is approved, the foreign spouse will be granted Permanent Resident status which is valid for ten years. If the couple is still married a year later (3 years after first receiving permanent residence, the foreign spouse may apply for Naturalization.

If the foreign national has divorced before the second anniversary as a conditional resident, or has been abused by the U.S Citizen spouse, the foreign spouse can apply to remove the Conditions of Residence alone, by requesting a waiver of the joint filing requirement. The foreign spouse has the burden of proving that the marriage was bone fide and not entered into for an immigration benefit.

Children granted conditional resident status within 90 days of the parent, can be included in the parent's application to remove the conditions on permanent residence. However, if the child received conditional residence status more than 90 days after the parent, then the child must file a separate application to remove conditional residence status.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we can assist you in filing your immigrant petition.

Spouses of Legal Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders)

The spouse of a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) is not immediately eligible to file for his/her Green Card until a visa number becomes available. This is determined by the priority date, which is the date assigned when the petition is filed at the local immigration office. This date is found on the Notice of Action receipt or receipt notice and determines where the foreign national falls in the immigration queue to apply for a Green Card. Therefore, the LPR spouse should file the Petition for Alien Relative as soon as possible to lock in a priority date. When a visa number becomes available, the spouse and unmarried children under 21 may file for their green cards. Priority dates are published monthly on the U.S. Department of States Visa Bulletin.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we can assist you in filing your immigrant petition.

Marriage Fraud

Often, the temptation to marry a United States Citizen to incur the immediate benefit of a Green Card is great. While some may get away with it, many will get caught and the penalties of marriage fraud are harsh. A finding of marriage fraud under section 204(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act could render a permanent bar from any other immigration petitions being approved. The penalties far outweigh the risk. There are both criminal and civil penalties for marriage fraud.

However, if you are facing charges of marriage fraud and your marriage to your United States citizen spouse was not entered into fraudulently, it is best not to answer any questions, or sign any documents regardless of what the government may threaten. The government has the burden of proof during deportation/removal proceedings and you may be eligible for some specific forms of relief.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com immediately if you receive any indication that the government may charge you with fraud.

Children of United States Citizens

Children of U.S. Citizens are eligible to receive permanent resident status from their U.S. Citizen parent. Age and marital status of the child are determining factors in the application process. Unmarried children under 21 are immediately eligible to receive permanent residence status. If the child is in the United States, then the Petition for Alien Relative and Adjustment applications can be filed concurrently. If the child resides outside the United States, then petition for alien relative is filed with USCIS and once approved the petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for consular processing.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to assist in getting your children here as soon as possible.

Children of Legal Permanent Residents

Children of Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) or Green Card holders, regardless of age are not eligible to file for their Green Cards until a visa number becomes available. However, the LPR parent should file the Petition for Alien Relative as soon as possible to lock in a priority date. The priority date is date that the petition is properly filed. This date is found on the Notice of Action receipt and determines where the foreign national falls in the immigration queue to apply for a Green Card. When a visa becomes available, the child may file for their green cards. Priority dates are published monthly on the U.S. Department of States Visa Bulletin.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to assist in getting your children here as soon as possible.

Parents of United States Citizens

Parents of U.S. Citizens: Only U.S Citizens (NOT Legal Permanent Residents) who are at least 21 years of age can petition for their parents to become Legal Permanent Residents. Parents of U.S. Citizens are immediately eligible to receive Permanent Residence Status (Green Card). If the parent is in the United States, then the Petition for Alien relative and adjustment applications can be filed concurrently. If the parent is living outside of the United States, then the Petition for Alien Relative is filed with USCIS and once approved, the petition is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for consular processing. If applying for a mother then the birth certificate showing the U.S. Citizen’s name and Mother’s name must be included. If applying for a father then in addition to the above birth certificate, the marriage license of parents must be included.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to assist in getting your parents their Green Cards quickly.

Siblings of United States Citizens

Only U.S. Citizens (NOT Legal Permanent Residents) who are at least 21 years of age can petition a sibling (brother or sister) by filing the Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS and submitting supporting documents proving the sibling relationship. A sibling through adoption, step parent or paternal half-siblings can be petitioned so long as the appropriate paperwork evidencing the relationship is included in the petition. Siblings are not eligible to file for their Green cards until a visa number becomes available. However, the U.S Citizen should file the Petition for Alien Relative as soon as possible to lock in a priority date. The priority date is the date that the petition is properly filed. This date is found on the Notice of Action receipt also known as a receipt notice and determines where the foreign national falls in the immigration queue to apply for a Green Card. When a visa number becomes available, the foreign national may file for their green cards.

Priority dates are published monthly on the U.S. Department of States Visa Bulletin. Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com for a consultation.

K–1 Fiancé(e) Visa

K–1 Fiancé(e) Visa petition is filed by the U.S. citizen who is engaged to a foreign national living in a foreign country and wishes to bring that person to the United States to get married. The requirement for a K–1 visa is that the United States Citizen and fiancé have met in person within the previous two years before submitting the application. Both must be free to marry at the time of filing (all previous marriages must have been legally terminated) and both must have the intent to marry within 90 days of the foreign national's arrival to the United States. An affidavit of support will be required to show that the United States Citizen can financially support his/her fiancé while in the USA. Following the marriage, the K–1 Fiancé can then apply for adjustment of status (Green Card). If the marriage does not take place, the fiancé must depart the United States. Foreign Nationals who entered the United States on K–1 Fiancé/(e) visas cannot marry someone else and apply for a green card or change to another status. He/she will have to leave the United States and return in another status.

K–2 Visa is issued to children of K–1 visa holders who are unmarried and under 21 years of age.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com for assistance in bringing your fiancé(e) to the United States quickly.

THE MILITARY, THEIR FAMILIES & IMMIGRATION

There are several immigration benefits for members and veterans of the Armed Forces and their families. For example, you may be eligible for expedited naturalization (Citizenship). Recently enlisted non-citizens may be eligible to naturalize before completing basic training.

You may be eligible to apply for your spouse, children and family members for permanent residence (green card). Your spouse may be eligible to file for certain benefits while you are deployed abroad, with proof of deployment/military papers. Immediate relatives of military personnel who died in combat, may also be eligible for certain benefits.

If you are or have been a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or a family member of a deceased member of the armed forces, contact us at (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we can review your options. Discounts apply for Members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

WORKSITE ENFORCEMENT

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I–9 Compliance Issues for Employers

Employers are required to employ only individuals who may legally work in the United States. Employers must use Form I–9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to certify that the employer has reviewed the work eligibility of all its employees within 3 business days from date the employment begins. The back of Form I–9 lists acceptable documents that can be used for employment verification.

If a document is lost or destroyed, then the employee should present the employer with a receipt indicating that he/she has applied for a replacement and the document must then be produced within 90 days. Employers cannot request specific documents and should have the same practice of verification for all employees.

Employees must produce original documents for review by the employer, the only exception being a certified birth certificate. There are penalties from $100 to $1,000 for each missing or incomplete form I–9. These forms should be retained for at least one year after the employee is terminated. Workplace audits and I–9 inspections have become commonplace. It is therefore a good practice for employers to have I–9 files reviewed annually. An immigration attorney can assist companies in reviewing their I–9s to ensure workplace compliance.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, so that we can assist you with I–9 compliance, review your employee records and electronic verification requirements.

NON-IMMIGRANT WORK / EMPLOYMENT / BUSINESS VISAS

Non Immigrant Work Visas / Business Visas allow a person to come to the USA to work temporarily, for a specific period of time. While most visas require a showing of non-immigrant intent, some of these visa categories allow "dual Intent" where one can come to the United States to work temporarily and then seek to gain permanent residence (Green Card). However, it is best to show that you do not intend to abandon your foreign residence abroad. In most cases a spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age may accompany the employee on a derivative visa.

To begin the process, the employer must first file a nonimmigrant petition on the employee's behalf.

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B–1 Visitor for Business

B–1 Visitor for Business: This nonimmigrant visa is designed for individuals who need to enter the United States temporarily for business, such as but not limited to, attending conferences, workshops or seminars, to research the possibility of setting up investments (cannot stay in the United States to manage the business with a B1 visa), to attend business meetings, purchase goods for a foreign business or make investments, conduct negotiations, conduct research, or to compete in tournaments as a professional athlete. This status does not grant work authorization, therefore gainful employment, running a business or receiving payment by a company in the USA are not permitted.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

E–1 Treaty Traders & E–2 Treaty Investor Visas

E–1 Treaty Trader / E–2 Treaty Investor Visas: This category allows foreign nationals (individuals or companies) of qualifying treaty countries to conduct trade (E–1) or investment (E–2) between the U.S.A and the qualifying country. A treaty country is one in which the United States has a friendship and some form of commerce or investment treaty. A list of Treaty countries can be found at http://travel.state.gov/visa/fees/fees_3726.html.

Managers, executives and specialists of a company under a treaty nation can apply for an E Visa to set up the new company in the United States or manage a branch or affiliate. An application for the E visa can be made either at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has jurisdiction over your place of residence, or if you are in the United States then with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as a change of status. However, travel outside of the United States will require another petition to be filed at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy. In most cases, the visa is generally granted in 2 year increments, and can be extended indefinitely.

A spouse or unmarried child under 21 years of age will be granted derivative. Spouse may apply for work authorization and children may go to school.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

E–1 Treaty Traders Visa

E–1 Treaty Traders Visas were designed to encourage trade between the United States and countries with the U.S.A which has a commercial treaty. The trader must be a citizen of the treaty trader country. The trade must be substantial in nature. This means that 50 percent of the trade should be between the two countries. Trade can be in the form of goods, services or technology.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

E–2 Treaty Investor Visas

E–2 Treaty Investor Visas allows individuals to enter the United States to make a substantial investment in an existing or new company and to manage and develop this investment. The investor must own at least 50 percent of the U.S. Company and must be a citizen of the treaty country. The investment must be committed, meaning that it must be from the investor’s own funds. Evidence documenting this must be provided. The business cannot be marginal in nature. It must be able to generate income more than just to support the investor and investor's family. Employees may also qualify for an E–2 visa.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

E–3 Visas: Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia

E–3 Visas for Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia; these visas are issued to citizens of Australia (not permanent residents) under the Australia free-trade treaty. This visa is similar to the H–1B, in that the individual comes to the USA to work in a specialty occupation, (that requires a theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge, and a minimum of a bachelor degree in the specific specialty or its equivalent). The Form I–129 application process should include a Labor Condition Application, credentials demonstrating the employee's qualifications for the position, a contact or job offer detailing the terms of the job and wages, and any required licenses. The E–3 is initially granted for 2 years and can be extended indefinitely. Unlike the H-1B, spouses are eligible to work and spouses of E-3 visas need not be Australian citizens.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

H–1B Visas: Professional Worker / Specialty Occupations,

H–1B Visas for (Professional Worker) Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models. This category allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. The foreign national must possess a minimum of a Baccalaureate degree or its equivalent. This visa is granted in 3 year increments for a total of 6 years. However, in certain circumstances such as when an H–1B employee is in the process of a green card application, the employee can receive extensions beyond the 6 years.

H–1B visas are limited numerically (referred to as the H–1B Cap) each year to 65,000 for individuals with at least a bachelors degree or the equivalent and 20,000 for individuals possessing a masters degree or higher from a U.S. college or university. Certain jobs are not subject to the cap and it is important to determine if a particular job is exempt from the before beginning the application.

The process for an H–1B visa begins with a job offer by a U.S. sponsor who is willing to pay the prevailing wage for the position. A Labor Condition application (LCA) is then filed with Department of Labor and when the approval is received, the employer can then file the appropriate forms, filing fees and exhaustive list of supporting documents with the immigration office that has jurisdiction over the place of employment.

If the employee is in the United States in another status, a change of status to H–1B can be requested. If the employee plans to travel outside of the United States then he/she must go to the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to get a visa in his/her passport.

H–1B work-authorization is strictly limited to employment by the sponsoring employer only. If a foreign worker in H–1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa, or leave the United States.

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age can enter the USA in, or change their status to, H–4 status and are eligible to attend school but not to work.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

H–2 Visas: Temporary Worker Visas

H–2 Temporary Worker Visas are granted when for jobs that are temporary or seasonal in nature. The maximum allotted time is 3 years, including extensions. The employer is required to show that the services are needed. Unlike the H–1B visa, the H–2 does not require a college degree. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 can enter the USA in, or change to H–4 status and are eligible to attend school but not to work.

There are two categories of H–2 visa; H–2A and H–2B.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

H–2A Visa: Agricultural Worker

H–2A Agricultural Worker Visa allows an employee to come to the United States for a specific period of time to perform agricultural work. It requires a Temporary Labor Certificate from the Department of Labor (DOL), proving there are no U.S workers available to perform the position. Once approved, the employer must attempt to recruit U.S workers and the DOL will then subtract the number of qualified U.S workers from the number of requested H–2A workers. Once this is finalized, the employer can submit the necessary forms, filing fees and exhaustive list of supporting documents with the immigration office that has jurisdiction over the place of employment. Once approved, the foreign worker may apply for the Visa at the consulate in their home country.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

H–2B Visa: Skilled / Unskilled Worker

H–2B Skilled / Unskilled Visa allows employers to fill jobs that are a one-time occurrence, seasonal in nature or intermittent. Once the Temporary Labor Certificate filed with the Department of Labor (DOL) is approved, the employer must attempt to recruit U.S workers. Once this is finalized, the employer can submit the necessary forms, filing fees and exhaustive list of supporting documents with the immigration office that has jurisdiction over the place of employment and the foreign worker may apply for the Visa at the consulate in their home country.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

L–1 Intracompany Transferee Visa

L–1 Intracompany Transferee visas are offered to foreign businesses with offices in the United States who would like to transfer employees to the U.S. office for a temporary period of time. The L–1 Visa is issued to foreign employees of a corporation to allow them to enter the United States to work in the company's U.S. affiliate company, subsidiary, or branch. The foreign worker must have worked at the foreign corporation for at least one year in the preceding three years prior to getting the visa. There is no requirement to pay prevailing wages to L–1 visa holders.

To begin the process, the employer must file Form I–129 Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker together with an exhaustive list of supporting documents from the U.S. company, foreign company and employee, with the immigration office having jurisdiction over place of employment. Applicants can apply for a change of status if in the United States, or consular process if abroad. The L–1 visa is initially approved for 3 years (unless it is a new office which is initially limited to one year).

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years if age can enter the USA on L–2 visas and are eligible to work (spouse) or attend school.

The two categories that fall under the L–1 visa are the L–1A and the L–1B.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

L–1A Visa: Managers and Executives

An L–1A Visa is reserved for managers or executives who will either manage people or an essential function of the company. The role and definition is held to a high standard of scrutiny and a detailed job description is among the many items required. An L–1A visa is issued in increments for a maximum of seven years. At the end of that time, the employee must leave the U.S for a total of at least 365 days and work for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of the U.S. Company if wanting to return in that status again.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

L–1B Visa: Specialized Knowledge Worker

An L–1B Specialized Worker Visa is appropriate for nonimmigrant workers who are being temporarily transferred to the United States based on their specialized knowledge of the company's techniques and methodologies. The L–1B visa is initially approved for 3 years for a maximum of 5 years. At the end of that time, the employee must leave the U.S for a total of at least 365 days and work for the parent, subsidiary, affiliate or branch of the U.S. Company abroad if wanting to return in that status again.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

O–1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement

O–1 Visa Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement is issued to individuals in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or who have demonstrated records of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and have been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements. The O–1 visa requires the filing of Form I–129 Petition for nonimmigrant work visa together with an exhaustive list of supporting documents and criteria. O visa individuals do not have to maintain a residence abroad. Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age can enter the USA on O–1 visas and are eligible to work (spouse) or attend school.

The O–1A and O–1B categories under this Visa have specific requirements, detailed below.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

O–1A Visa: Extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics

The O–1A Visa classification encompasses individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics but not in the arts, motion pictures or television industry (see below). Evidence must be provided indicating that the beneficiary as received a major, internationally recognized award, such as a Noble Prize, or evidences of at least 3 of the following comparable items; (1). Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor, (2). Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought which require outstanding achievements, as judged by recognized national or international experts in the field, (3). Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary's work in the field for which classification is sought, (4). Original scientific, scholarly, or business-related contributions of major significance in the field, (5). Authorship of scholarly articles in professional journals or other major media in the field for which classification is sought, (6). A high salary or other remuneration for services as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence, (7). Participation on a panel, or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or in a field of specialization allied to that field for which classification is sought, (8). Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

O–1B Visa: Extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry

The O–1B Visa classification encompasses individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry. Artists and entertainers in the motion picture or television industry must show a high level of accomplishment recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the industry, such as an Academy Award, Emmy, Grammy, Director's Guild Award, or in the alternative, at least 3 of the following; (1). Performed and will perform services as a lead or starring participant in productions or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts or endorsements, (2). achieved national or international recognition for achievements, as shown by critical reviews or other published materials by or about the beneficiary in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines, or other publications, (3). performed and will perform in a lead, starring, or critical role for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials, (4). A record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as shown by such indicators as title, rating or standing in the field, box office receipts, motion picture or television ratings and other occupational achievements reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications, (5). received significant recognition for achievements from organizations, critics, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field in which the beneficiary is engaged, with the testimonials clearly indicating the author's authority, expertise and knowledge of the beneficiary's achievements or a (6). high salary or other substantial remuneration for services in relation to others in the field, as shown by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

O–2 Visa: Individuals who accompany O–1 Visa holders

The O–2 Visa classification encompasses individuals who will accompany an O–1 visa holder to assist in a specific event or performance in an athletic or artistic event. The O–2 assistant must be an "integral part" of the O–1A's activity and "essential" to the completion of the O–1B's production. The O–2 worker should have critical skills and experience with the O–1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O–1.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

P Visa: Artists, Athletes and Entertainment Groups

The P visa for artists, athletes and entertainment groups, are reserved for non immigrants coming to the U.S.A to perform in athletics, artists or entertainers. Eligibility standards are lower for the P Visa than the O visa, which requires the extraordinary ability standard. P Visa holders must have a residence abroad they do not intend to abandon. The P visa categories are P–1, P–2 and P–3. The petition must be filed by a U.S. employer or organization, U.S. agent, or a foreign employer, and must include a written contract or detailed explanation of the terms of the agreement, the event and itinerary and a consultation from the labor department. Servants of a P–1 visa holder may receive a B–1 visa with work authorization.

Dependents, such as spouses and unmarried children under 21 years, can enter the United States on a P–4 Visa. They can study in the United States but cannot work under this visa category.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

P–1 Visas

P–1 Visas are reserved for members of an athletic (P–1A) or entertainment group (P–1B) with international recognition, coming to the United States to perform in a specific competition either individually or part of a group. These Visas are granted in 1 year increments.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

P–1A Internationally Recognized Athletes or Member of an Athletic Team

P–1A Visa: Internationally Recognized Athletes or Members of an Athletic Team must have international recognition in the sport performed to be petitioned on a P–visa. International recognition is defined by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as "having a high level of achievement in a field evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered, to the extent that such achievement is renowned, leading, or well-known in more than one country." Either an individual athlete or an entire team can be sponsored.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

P–1B Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group

P–1B Visa: Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group. To obtain a P–1B Visa the individual must be a substantial part of an entertainment group for at least 1 year. The entertainment group (not the individual) must be recognized internationally for its substantial achievement. Individuals not part of a group, cannot obtain a P–1B visa, unless the individual is coming to the U.S.A to join a foreign entertainment group that is in the United States.

With the Form I–129 application, proof of length of time in membership of group as well as proof of the group's international recognition and proof that the group has been performing for a least 1 year must be included. The petitioner must also include a list of each member and date of hire, as well as three of the following criteria; (1) the group has performed and will perform as a starring or leading entertainment group in production or events which have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by critical reviews, advertisements, publicity releases, publications, contracts, or endorsements, (2). the group has achieved international recognition and acclaim for outstanding achievement in its field as evidenced by reviews in major newspapers, trade journals, magazines or other published material, (3). the group has performed and will perform services as a leading or starring group for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation as evidenced by articles in newspapers, trade journals, publications, or testimonials, (4). the group has a record of major commercial or critically acclaimed successes, as evidenced by indicators such as ratings, box office receipts, record, cassette or video sales, and other achievements as reported in trade journals, major newspapers or other publications, (5). The group has received significant recognition for achievements from critics, organizations, government agencies or other recognized experts in the field, (6). the group has commanded and will command a high salary or other substantial remuneration for services comparable to others similarly situated in the field, as evidenced by contracts or other reliable evidence.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

P–2 Visa: Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program

P–2 Visa: Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program between an organization in the United States and an organization in another country. The artist entering on a P–2 visa, must enter through a government recognized reciprocal exchange program and possess skills comparable to those of the United States artists and entertainers taking part in the program outside the United States.

The application process must include the following supporting documents: (1). written consultation by an appropriate labor organization, (2). a copy of the formal reciprocal exchange agreement between the sponsoring U.S. organization(s) and the organization(s) in a foreign country which will receive the United States artist or entertainer , (3). a statement from the sponsoring organization describing the reciprocal exchange of United States artists or entertainers as it relates to the specific petition for which classification is sought, (4). evidence that you and the U.S. artist or entertainer subject to the reciprocal exchange agreement are artists with comparable skills and that the terms and conditions of employment are similar, (5). evidence that an appropriate labor organization in the United States was involved in negotiating, or has concurred with, the reciprocal exchange of U.S. and foreign artists or entertainers.

In addition, if the events or performances will take place in different areas, then an itinerary must be submitted listing the dates and locations of the events.

Essential support personnel (stagehands, trainers, or those persons having critical knowledge of the specific services to be performed), who are an integral part of the performance of a P– 2 artist or entertainer, are eligible for P–2 classification. A separate petition with specific supporting documents must be filed for them.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

P–3 Visa Artist or Entertainer Coming to be part of a Culturally unique program

P–3 Visa: Artist or Entertainer Coming to be part of a Culturally unique program can enter the U.S.A. individually or as a group to develop, interpret, represent, perform, teach or coach under a culturally unique program, such as or teaching a unique or traditional ethnic, folk, cultural, musical, theatrical, or artistic performance or presentation. The artist or entertainer must also participate in a cultural event that will promote the particular art form.

The Form I–129 application, should include a, (1). A written consultation from an appropriate labor organization, (2). a copy of the contract between the petitioner and the beneficiary or the summary of the terms of an oral agreement between the petitioner and the beneficiary, (3). an explanation of the event and itinerary, (4). affidavits, testimonials or letters from recognized experts attesting to the authenticity of your or your group's skills in performing, presenting, coaching or teaching the unique and traditional art forms and giving the credentials of the expert including the basis of his or her knowledge of your or your group's skills; or documentation that the or group’s performance is culturally unique as evidenced by reviews in newspapers, journals or other published materials, and (5). documentation that all of the performances or presentations will be culturally unique events. In addition, if the events or performances will take place in different areas, then an itinerary must be submitted, which lists the dates and locations of the events.

P–3 visa holders can enter individually, or in a group, for a period not to exceed 1 year. Support personnel of the P–3 visa holder can also apply for a P–3 visa.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

Q–1 Visa: International Cultural Exchange Visitors

Q–1 Visa or International Cultural Exchange Visitors Visa provides practical training, employment and an exchange of history, culture and traditions between people from the United States and other countries through their participation in an international cultural exchange program designated by USCIS. The purpose is to foster the sharing of different cultures.

The training must occur in a location, such as a museum, school or business, where the public would be exposed to the various aspects of the foreign culture. This cultural component is essential to the training of the alien and in turn their attitudes, customs, history, traditions and heritage must also be exhibited.

While the J–visa can be used for education and cultural exchange programs, unlike the Q–visa, these programs are not international exchange programs. (See J–1 Student Visa for more information).

At the completion of the program (not to exceed 15 months), the individual must return to his/her home country for at least one year.

Spouses or children of Q–1 visa holders do not qualify for a derivative visa and would have to apply for their own visa category.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

R–1 Visa: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

R–1 Visa: Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers Visa is assigned to individuals coming to the United States to be employed in a religious vocation or occupation, by a non-profit, tax-exempt 501(c)(3), religious organization, or an organization that would be eligible for this exemption if they applied for it. The employee must have been a member of the particular religious organization at least two years immediately preceding the application for the religious visa status and coming to the United States to work at a qualified religious organization in a religious capacity.

Establishing the criteria for an R–1 Visa can be a challenge. Even the petitions and documentation must be presented in a concise logical manner, specifically in cases where the particular denomination is not a mainstream one. It is best to have an immigration attorney review the case and all documents before submission.

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age can enter the USA on R–2 visas and are eligible to attend school, but not work.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

TN / NAFTA Professional Visas

TN / NAFTA Professional Visas are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), and are issued to Canadian and Mexican citizens who are professionals and fall into a specific list of occupations. This is a pre-set list of occupations determined by the NAFTA treaty. There are specific eligibility requirements for the TN Visa, which can be extended indefinitely in 3 year increments. If the applicant is in the United States in another valid non-immigrant status, the employer can file a Petition for Alien worker to change their status or extend the employee's stay.

A spouse or unmarried child under 21 years of age will be granted TD status.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

TN–1 Status / Canadians

TN–1 Status / Canadians do not have to get a TN visa at a consulate. They can enter on TN–1 status at a U.S. port of entry so long as they have the required documentation such as the official request for TN status, copies of all relevant college degrees and employment records proving the qualifications for the proposed position, a written offer of employment not to exceed 3 years and the appropriate processing fee. Approved TN-status is valid for a specific employer only and change of employer is not permitted while in the USA.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

TN–2 Status / Mexicans

TN–2 Status / Mexicans requires that the Mexican citizen apply for this visa at a U.S. Consulate or embassy.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

LABOR CERTIFICATION

The Labor Certification is issued by the Department of Labor (DOL), and is the first step an employer takes towards sponsoring a foreign worker for many of the permanent employment / immigrant (Green Card) preferences. However, not all employment based green cards require a Labor Certification. The following immigration petitions do not require that a Labor certification be filed: Investors (EB–5), National Interest Waivers (NIW) also known as EB–2, Intra transfer Manager and executives (L1–A visa holders), and Aliens with Extraordinary Abilities, Outstanding Researchers/Professors, and Intra-Company Transferees for Multinational Executives (EB–1).

The labor certification process is a tedious one and requires the employer to go through a series of recruitment or advertising, screening and interviewing procedures to ensure that there are no eligible U.S. workers who are able, willing, or qualified to fill the offered position. The amount of advertising depends on whether the job is for a professional position (one that requires a bachelors degree or higher) or a non professional position.

Before filing the Labor Certification request, the employer must obtain a prevailing wage determination from the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC), followed by advertising and recruitment steps.

An approved or certified Labor Certification does not give the foreign national legal status, change of status, or the ability to work in the United States. The approval simply allows the employer to move forward with the green card process.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we may assist you in the Labor Certification Process.

IMMIGRANT (GREEN CARDS) EMPLOYMENT VISAS

IMMIGRANT (Green Card) and NON IMMIGRANT EMPLOYMENT / BUSINESS / INVESTMENT VISAS

Immigrant / Permanent: Most people coming to the United States hope to be able to remain here permanently and build a future here. Each fiscal year there are designated approximately 140,000 immigrant visas (Green Cards) for foreign nationals with specific skills who want to live permanently in the United States. There are five main categories of Employment Based Immigrant Visas, and while some are subjected to a numerical cap or yearly limitation, others are not. Most require that the employer get an approved Labor Certification from the Department of Labor before applying for the Immigrant visa. A more detailed description of the Labor Certification process is described above.

Permanent worker visa preference categories are:

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EB–1 Visas: Priority Workers

First Preference EB–1 (Priority Workers): The Labor Certification is not required for this visa category. Form I–140, Petition for Foreign Worker and Form I–485, Application for Permanent Resident Status (Green Card) can be filed concurrently. Individuals falling within this category are Persons with Extraordinary Ability EB–1(A), Outstanding Professors and Researchers EB–1(B), and Multinational Managers or Executives EB–1(C).

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–1A or Persons with Extraordinary Ability

EB–1A or Persons with Extraordinary Ability: No employment offer is required. The individual may file a self petition by submitting Form I–140 together with exhaustive documentation that details their achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim, proving they are top in the field.

To qualify, the applicant must provide extensive document from at least 3 of a list of 10 specific criteria, showing that the applicant's work sets them apart from others in the field and that they are among the top in that field. These are, (1). evidence of receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards for excellence, (2). evidence of your membership in associations in the field which demand outstanding achievement of their members, (3). evidence of published material about you in professional or major trade publications or other major media, (4). evidence that you have been asked to judge the work of others, either individually or on a panel, (5). evidence of your original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance to the field, (6). evidence of your authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media, (7). evidence that your work has been displayed at artistic exhibitions or showcases, (8). evidence of your performance of a leading or critical role in distinguished organizations, (9). evidence that you command a high salary or other significantly high remuneration in relation to others in the field, and (10). evidence of your commercial successes in the performing arts.

The standard of proof is high and it is imperative that you retain an attorney to evaluate all credentials to determine whether this category is applicable.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–1B or Outstanding Professor or Researcher

EB–1B or Outstanding Professor or Researcher requires a permanent job offer, but no Labor Certification is required.

This green card focuses on the achievement of the professor or researcher who must be recognized internationally for his/her work in the field, have a permanent job offer or tenured/tenure-track teaching positions as well as three years of relevant teaching or research experience.

In addition, the outstanding professor or researcher must meet at least 2 of the following 6 criteria; (1). evidence of receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement , (2). evidence of membership in associations that require their members to demonstrate outstanding achievement, (3). evidence of published material in professional publications written by others about the alien's work in the academic field, (4). evidence of participation, either on a panel or individually, as a judge of the work of others in the same or allied academic field, (5). evidence of original scientific or scholarly research contributions in the field, and (6). evidence of authorship of scholarly books or articles (in scholarly journals with international circulation) in the field.

The standard of proof is high and it is imperative that you retain an attorney to evaluate your credentials to determine whether this category is applicable.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–1C or Multinational Manager or Executive

EB–1C or Multinational Manager or Executive requires a Permanent job offer but no Labor Certification is required.

The employee must have been employed outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity, with the same employer, affiliate or subsidiary for at least 1 of the 3 years preceding the filing of the petition, and the U.S. Company must have been doing business for at least 1 year. He/she must be coming to the United States to continue that service. Managerial or Executive capacity covers a specific group of individuals and excludes others. L–1A (not L–1B) visa holders are generally eligible to apply for their immigrant visas (green cards) under this category.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–2 Visas: Professionals with advanced degrees or with exceptional ability

Second Preference EB–2 Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability. This comprises of three categories made up of individuals who are members of professions with advanced degrees or its equivalent (EB–2A), individuals who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business who will substantially benefit the United States (EB–2B), and individuals with exceptional ability, whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the nation (EB–1C). These individuals are granted a National Interest Waiver (NIV).

The employee's spouse and unmarried children under 21 years are eligible to apply for their green cards as well.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–2A Visas: Advanced degrees

EB–2A visa category is for individuals with advanced degrees (any degree above a baccalaureate degree) or its equivalent (baccalaureate degree and at least 5 years progressive experience in the field). The combination of a baccalaureate degree with 5 years experience in the profession is deemed equivalent to a Master's degree. Proof in the form of letters from current and former employers listing the experience is required.

An offer of employment with a U.S. company is required. The job offered must require an advanced degree and the applicant must possess this requirement. The company must file a Labor Certification with the Department of Labor showing that there are no qualified U.S. workers to fill the position. After the Labor Certification is approved, then the company can file Form I–140 Petition for Alien Worker with supporting documents. The employee can then file for his/her green card.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–2B Visas: Exceptional ability Visas

EB–2B visas are for individuals who show exceptional ability in the arts, science or business. Athletes would fall under the arts. The applicant must possess a level of expertise higher than what is normally seen in the field. To prove this, USCIS requires documentation of at least 3 of the following 6 items; (1). Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability, (2). Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation, (3). A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation, (4). Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability, (5). Membership in a professional association(s), (6). Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations, other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable. Detailed evidence should be provided of all qualifications.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–2C Visas: National Interest Waivers (NIV)

EB–2C Visa category is for individuals whose presence in the USA would benefit the national Interest. These are called National Interest Waivers (NIV). The Labor Certification is waived and no employer is required because this is a self petition. However, 3 of the following 6 criteria must be adequately met; (1). Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability, (2). Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation, (3). A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation, (4). Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability, (5). Membership in a professional association(s), (6). Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations, other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–3 Visas: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers

Third Preference (EB–3) Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers requires a job offer by a U.S. employer willing to sponsor the employee by first filing a Labor Certification application with the Department of Labor. The Labor Certification determines whether qualified U.S. workers can fill the position. If there are none, and the Labor Certification is approved, them the employer may sponsor the employee for their green card by filing Form I–140, Petition for Alien Worker and the employee files for the green card, when a visa number becomes available.

This category encompasses professionals who have a bachelor degree or the foreign equivalent, skilled workers with at least 2 years job experience or training, and unskilled workers with skills that require less than 2 years experience or training. The employer will have to prove ability to pay.

The employee's spouse and unmarried children under 21 years are eligible to apply for their green cards.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–4 Visas: Special Immigrants.

Fourth Preference (EB–4) Special Immigrants encompasses religious workers. Although a permanent job offer is required, a Labor Certification is not. To qualify, the employee must be a member of religious domination for at least two years prior to filing and must be coming to work in the United States for at least 35 hours/week. The religious domination must have non-profit religious tax-exempt status in the United States. A religious domination can be a religious group and religious workers can be priests, ministers, ordained deacons, monks, nuns, rabbis, imams, among others.

The employee's spouse and unmarried children under 21 years are eligible to apply for their green cards.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

EB–5 Visas: Immigrant Investors

Fifth Preference EB–5 Immigrant Investors provides foreign investors a method to obtain a green card when they make a significant investment, from $500,000 in a government designated Regional Center or Targeted Employment Area, to $1,000,000 and creating a minimum of 10 jobs for U.S. workers. A Targeted Employment Area is generally defined as a rural area, of 20,000 or more people, with a high unemployment rate.

If the Petition is approved, the investor and his/her dependents (spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age) are granted Conditional Resident Status valid for 2 years. Within 90 days of the expiration of this status, the investor must submit proof that the investment has been made, and that 10 jobs have been created or maintained, in order to receive Permanent Resident Status.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

CONSULAR PROCESSING versus ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS

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Consular Processing

If the foreign national of beneficiary is outside of the United States then Consular Processing allows the individual with an approved petition to apply for a visa at the U.S Consulate abroad with jurisdiction over his/her place of residence. Once the visa stamp is place in the passport, the individual can travel to the United States.

In the context of permanent residence or a Green Card, if the foreign national is outside of the United States, the U.S. petitioner files the petition with USCIS(filed either through family, employment or diversity visa lottery) and once approved, then USCIS forwards it to the National Visa Center (NVC). Usually within 24 hours of receiving the petition, the NVC will assign a case number and create a record. If a visa number is available and the case can be adjudicated, the NVC will request specific fees and once paid, an instruction package is sent to the applicant with a list of required documents. Once these are returned to the NVC, an appointment is scheduled with the U.S consulate or embassy for the immigrant visa interview.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

Adjustment of Status

If the foreign national of beneficiary is already in the United States then he/she is eligible to become a lawful permanent resident by filing an Adjustment of Status application (AOS) without having to go abroad to apply for an immigrant visa. If there is a current visa number available then adjustment of status can be filed concurrently with the family based or employed based petition. A K–1 Fiancé(e) who is in the United States and marries the U.S. citizen within 90 days of entering the United States, is eligible to file for AOS as are several other categories of aliens, such as Asylees, individuals who resided in the United States prior to January 1, 1972, diversity lottery winners, among others.

Certain individuals who are in the United States must return to a consulate to apply for permanent residence because they are not eligible for adjustment of status. These are individuals who entered the United States in transit without a visa, entered as a crewman, were not admitted or paroled into the United States, entered on a K–1 Fiancé(e) visa but did not marry the U.S citizen who filed the K–1 petition, a J–1 or J–2 exchange visitor who did not apply for the waiver of the 2 year home requirement, among others.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, to review your eligibility.

US CITIZENSHIP & NATURALIZATION

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Naturalization

Only Lawful Permanent Residents, who have lived in the United States for the statutory period required, are eligible to file for Naturalization. For example, permanent residents who have lived in the United States for five years, or a Legal Permanent Resident spouse of a United States Citizen who has lived in the United States for three years, an asylee who has lived in the United States as a permanent resident for four years or a permanent resident who has served three years of U.S. military service, are eligible to apply.

Applicants must meet the following requirements to qualify for U.S. Citizenship:

  1. Must be at least 18 years of age,
  2. Must have been present in the United States for three of those five years or one and a half years of those three years (if married to a U.S. Citizen),
  3. Must have had continuous residency in the USA as a legal permanent resident for at least five years, three if married to a United States Citizen,
  4. Must be of good moral character for the statutory period,
  5. Have the ability to read, write, speak and understand basic English,
  6. Have knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of US history and government,
  7. Support the US constitution and US government and take the oath of allegiance.

It is important before applying for citizenship to ensure that there are no obstacles such as certain criminal convictions or problems that could result in a denial of your citizenship application, or worse, place you in removal or deportation proceedings. In addition to criminal convictions, certain other factors that could present potential problems are, having voted in a U.S. election, abandoning your permanent residency by remaining outside of the United States for a long period of time, failure to pay child support or taxes, failure to register for selective service (men between 18 and 26 who are permanent residents). It is very important to be sure that none of these factors apply before submitting an application for naturalization.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

Exemption from the English Language Requirement

Exemption from the English language requirement is permitted if the applicant is at least 50 years old at the time of filing for naturalization and has lived as a permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States for 20 years, or if the applicant is 55 years or older at the time of filing for naturalization and has lived as a permanent resident in the United States for 15 years. However, even if you qualify for the English language exception you must still take the civics test. It is possible to take the civics test in your native language, if your spoken English is poor. Applicants who are at least 65 years or older and have been permanent residents for at least 20 years at the time of filing for naturalization, are only required to study 20 of the 100 civics questions.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

Medical Disability Waivers (N–648)

Medical Disability Waivers (N–648) are eligible for persons who are unable to learn English and study for the history and civics requirement due to a medical disability. The waiver must be completed by a qualified U.S. licensed medical doctor who has evaluated the individual and can then document the diagnosis of the disability, its origin, nexus and effect on the applicant’s ability to learn English, U.S history and civics. The form must be completed using specific language. Although the medical doctor is the one that must fill the form, an attorney can review it for completeness.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

Request A New Naturalization Hearing (N–336)

Request a New Naturalization Hearing (N–336): If your citizenship application is improperly denied, we can assist you in requesting a hearing before a new officer by filing the N–336, Request a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings. This must be filed within 30 days of the denial of your citizenship application and additional evidence and a brief can be included.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

U.S. Citizenship Based On Parentage

U.S. Citizenship based on Parentage: often individuals may be unaware that they may have derived US citizenship based on their birth outside of the United States to a U.S. Citizen parent. In this case, these individuals may be eligible to apply for a Certificate of Citizenship (N–600) to show proof of citizenship status.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

U.S. Citizenship Based On Adoption

U.S. Citizenship based on Adoption: If petitioned for by a U.S. citizen parent, legal permanent resident children under 18 years old may obtain a certificate of citizenship.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

U.S. Citizenship Retention

U.S. Citizenship Retention: Often people born and raised abroad are unaware that they have acquired U.S. citizenship from a parent or grandparent. These individuals may have a claim to citizenship through the Doctrine of Constructive Retention.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, so that we can review your options and assist in acquiring your U.S. Citizenship.

ARRESTS & DEPORTATION

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Arrests

DHS can arrest and detain any alien who is removable or is inadmissible. If you or someone you know who is not a United States Citizen is arrested, it is important not to speak to the Department of Homeland Security, police or any legal enforcement agency without an attorney present. Even giving simple information, such as your place of birth could have negative consequences. It is best to contact an immigration attorney immediately. You can refuse to answer questions without an attorney present.

If you have hired a criminal defense attorney, be sure that he/she has a full understanding of the possible immigration consequences before you accept a plea or answer any questions. Therefore an immigration attorney should be part of your defense team regardless of how minor the offense may seem or how irrelevant the questions asked may appear.

If you or a loved one has been arrested, contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com before answering any questions, making or accepting a plea agreement for any offense.

Bond Hearing

A Bond Hearing is a legal procedure in which a detained foreign national who is eligible to seek bond, requests a hearing before an immigration judge. After reviewing the evidence presented, the immigration judge will either set a bond amount or monetary deposit (minimum is $1,500) or make the determination that the foreign national is not eligible for bond. Some of the factors the immigration judge will review before making a determination is whether the individual is a danger to the community or threat to national security, will likely appear at future hearings or is a flight risk. Factors used in making these determinations is ties to the United States, has a criminal history, ability to pay bond, involvement in the community, has a history of stable employment and paying taxes and is eligible for relief from removal. Once the bond is paid, the alien is released. If the alien complies with the bond requirements, attends all hearings and complies with any final order, the bond amount is returned at the end of the proceeding. Arriving aliens and terrorists are not eligible for bond.

If you or a loved one has been arrested and there is an immigration hold, contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we may determine if you are eligible for bond.

Criminal Convictions

Criminal convictions can lead to deportation or removal if the non-citizen is within the United States, or can render the non-citizen inadmissible form entering the United States or staying and receiving any immigration benefits. A non-citizen includes all non-immigrants and immigrants (Legal Permanent Residents / Green Cards). Even minor convictions could render a non-citizen ineligible for any immigration benefits or could result in a lawful permanent resident losing their green card and being deported. This is true even if found guilty of certain misdemeanor crimes, been granted probation or court supervision, have been in the United States for years with family of your own or the conviction is very old.

If you or a loved one has any criminal convictions, regardless how minor, contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com before you apply for any immigration benefits.

Deportation / Removal

Deportation or Removal can be initiated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) if it is believed that a non-citizen has violated certain immigration and/or criminal laws and should no longer remain in the United States. DHS will issue a Notice to Appear (NTA) which begins the court proceedings.

Court proceedings are held at one of the immigration courts in the United States. After listening to the evidence presented, an immigration judge decides if the alien is removal, deportable, inadmissible, or is entitled to some form of relief.

Deportation or removal proceedings can be initialed for a number of reasons, such as immigration violations (entering the United States without a visa or lawful documents), violating the terms of a lawful admission by overstaying or working without authorization, immigration fraud, for misdemeanor or felony criminal convictions, employment violations, being a member of a prohibited group or organization, and individuals who have become public charges within five years of their entry, or failing to depart after a final order of removal.

There are several forms of relief available. These are cancellation of removal, asylum, temporary protective status, adjustment of status, VAWA, voluntary departure, withhold of deportation, to name a few. They may even be some relief available in the form of waivers even if you have been accused of committing fraud, such as marriage fraud by the US DHS or if you are convicted of certain crimes. Therefore it is very important that you contact an attorney to thoroughly review your case and determine whether you qualify for available relief.

If you receive an NTA, contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, so that we can review your options and assist you in court.

OTHER IMMIGRATION BENEFITS

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Replace / Renew a Green Card

A Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) living in the United States who needs to replace or renew their green card because it has expired (10 year green card NOT two year conditional card), been lost, stolen, damaged, have an old version green card, have legally changed his/her name or other biographic information, the original card was issued before his/her 14th birthday and now he/she is over 14 years, must file an Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card with all supporting documents. The replacement card is usually sent in 3 months.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com to schedule a consultation.

Change of Status

Many non-immigrants enter the United Status in one status and may decide to change to another non-immigrant status while in the United States. This can be done if the non-immigrant entered lawfully / legally with a non-immigrant visa, that non-immigrant visa is still valid and he/she has not committed a crime that would render him/her ineligible. Non-immigrants who hold an A Visa, B Visa, F Student Visa, G Visa, I Visa, J Visa, M visa, H Visas, O Visas, P Visas, Q Visas and R visas may be eligible to change their status. Contact an immigration attorney to discuss the right application for your status.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com and schedule a consultation so that we may assist you.

Visa Extensions

Visa Extensions or Extensions of Stay can be granted if an individual is eligible for an extension of his/her current non-immigrant status and the extension is applied for before the expiration of the individual's authorized stay in the United States. The period of authorized stay is usually the date marked on the I–94 card, the small white card which is given at the port of entry and shows date of entry and the date by which you must depart the United States. To qualify for an extension of stay, you must prove ties to your home country, adequate financial means to remain in the USA, and an intent to return home at the end of the extension.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com and schedule a consultation so that we may assist you in your visa extension.

Immigration Waivers

Immigration Waivers are available for persons who are otherwise inadmissible to the United States or ineligible to adjust status (Green Card), due to criminal convictions, unlawful presence, health related grounds, and physical and mental disorders, to name a few. It is best to submit a waiver application with the visa application. However, most individuals are not aware they need a waiver and often times find this out during the visa interview. There are several types of waivers that depend in part on whether a person is planning to move permanently or temporarily to the United States. Some of the most commonly used waivers are I–601, and I–212. Winning a waiver case requires submitting documentary evidence and a written brief which entails extensive research, reviewing cases, regulations and laws that pertain to your case. There are other types of waivers such as Good Faith Marriage Waivers, J–1 Waivers and Battered Spouse Waivers that are discussed elsewhere. Waivers are discretionary; therefore it is best to consult an immigration attorney before filing a waiver to ensure that all evidence is presented and areas of law addressed.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, so that we can review your waiver options.

Appeals and Motions

If the immigration court denies your case or orders you deported, you can either file a Motion or an Appeal. A Motion to Reopen asks the court to reopen the proceedings because you have new facts or evidence that was not reasonably available during the hearing. A Motion to Reopen can also be filed if you have new circumstances to present or if an attorney inadequately represented you, or you have an old case in which you were order removed but had no knowledge of the court date. This is known as an In Absentia Motion to Reopen. Motion to Reconsider asking the court to reconsider its original decision because it failed to consider certain evidence or apply applicable law..

You can also appeal the Immigration Court's decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) within 30 days of the Immigration Court's denial asking the BIA to review the Immigration Judge's decision.

Both motions and appeals require very thorough, detailed, well researched, written arguments supporting your case and showing how the immigration judge incorrectly decided your case. Therefore it is best to contact an immigration attorney to review the basis of the denial as outlined in the denial notice and determine the best course of action.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, if your case has been denied.

Requests for Evidence (RFE)

A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a request sent by USCIS asking for additional items, clarification or proof before making a determination on a case. It is imperative to respond to this request within the timeframe allotted to prevent the petition being denied.

A Request for Evidence must be answered completely and thoroughly because it is usually the only chance you will have to clarify the issues raised. Sometimes a denial that results from an inadequately answered RFE can result in a permanent ban. It is best to get professional help from an attorney before responding to an RFE, especially if points of law are to be addressed as these often require extensive research, reviewing cases, regulations and laws. Many RFEs are complicated, therefore a well prepared case is imperative for a positive outcome.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, so that we can assist you.

Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID)

Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) is issued by USCIS when USCIS feels the evidence sent does not support a finding of eligibility for the benefit sought. A NOID is issued explaining the reasons the case may be denied and generally 30 days, to respond. A well crafted response could result in the petition getting approved. Therefore, it is best to seek the assistance of an immigration attorney when a NOID is received.

Contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com, so that we can assist you.

Writ of Mandamus

Writ of Mandamus is an action filed in federal district court to compel a governmental agency or lower court, to act on a pending case that has been unreasonably delayed. In the immigration context, the governmental agency is the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

A Mandamus action is a detailed process filed by the grieved party whose petition or immigration benefit is unreasonably delayed. If the Mandamus is granted, then USCIS must make a decision on the immigration case that has been unreasonably delayed. These cases are generally adjustment of status (Green Card) or application for naturalization cases. A mandamus action can be filed for other types of petitions, such as H–1, I–130, I–140 etc. Before filing this action, all other remedies of relief must have been exhausted.

If you have a case that has been pending for an unreasonably long time, contact us at either (904) 296-9232 or jmf@fakhrelaw.com so that we may assist you.

Each Case Personally Handled
by the Attorney

joanne fakhre Each case is personally handled by the attorney.

The attorney provides equal attention to each case, and is devoted to each and every client equally, responding to their needs in a prompt, confidential, professional manner, with honesty and understanding.

Each client is kept informed of the process/progress of their case, and the attorney is easily accessible.

Up to Date With
Immigration Law

We closely monitor changes and developments in immigration law, encouraging continuing professional development and continued participation in legal education seminars, professional association activities and civic affairs.

This firm also works closely with other attorneys providing advice as to the immigration consequences of potential plea agreements in the criminal law context.