What is a Green Card?

Asylum | Immigration

Although a green card is similar in appearance and size to a driver’s license, this special document provides much more important rights to immigrants. It provides legal status for an immigrant to be in the United States. While a green card does not give a person full citizenship status, it does get this person one step closer to full citizenship.

Acquiring a Green Card

A person may acquire a green card through a variety of methods. An employer may offer a person a full-time job in the United States which may qualify him or her for a green card. Being engaged or married to an American citizen may also qualify a person for permanent residency. Some individuals acquire this status through family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Political reasons provide another basis for qualification. A person may seek asylum due to dangerous conditions in his or her country or if he or she is a victim of certain crimes. Other applicants qualify because they are health care providers, religious workers or military or government officials.

Benefits of Having a Green Card

In addition to living legally in this country, a permanent resident acquires other rights. He is legally eligible for employment. Within a few years, the permanent resident can also apply for citizenship. In addition, he has the right to visit his country of origin without any restrictions being imposed on him.

Responsibilities of Permanent Residents

Acquiring a green card also signifies that the person accepts specific responsibilities, including agreeing to obey all American laws. A person who has permanent residency may still be deported from the country if he is convicted of certain crimes. Green card holders must also pay income taxes. Males who are 18 to 25 years old must register with the Selective Service.

Conditional Green Cards

Some green cards are granted on a conditional basis for the first two years. An applicant who has a conditional card can apply within 90 days of the card’s date of expiration to make the card permanent. In many cases, the government approves the application. However, a person may be denied if he or she has violated the law or any terms of the green card.

Assistance From an Immigration Lawyer

Immigration laws are often complex and complicated. Each immigration case is often based on a unique set of circumstances. An immigration attorney can assist individuals who would like to acquire permanent resident status. He or she can review each basis that a person has for this status.

To learn more about getting a green card, dial 713-877-9400 to get a free consultation from Mario Madrid.

What is Required for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Asylum | Immigration

Temporary protected status (TPS) is a form of protection that can be granted to a person living in the United States who is a citizen of another country that the U.S. government has labeled as in turmoil. This includes countries in the midst of an armed conflict, a natural disaster or a variety of other unusual and transient conditions that result in an unsafe environment. As temporary status, TPS is valid for a set amount of time and is not equivalent, nor does it entitle one, to a green card or any other type of visa.

Which Nationalities Are Eligible for TPS?

A current list of eligible countries can be found in the Federal Register. In recent years, TPS has been awarded to citizens of these countries:

  • Somalia
  • Rwanda
  • Liberia
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Bosnia
  • El Salvador

How Many People Receive TPS Each Year?

The government has neither a minimum nor a maximum limit on the number of persons that can be given asylum each year. However, there are limits on the number of refugees that are allowed to stay in the U.S. This number is per country and is set by the president of our country. Temporary protected status is currently restricted to those from a particular set of countries, but does not have a limit on the number of individuals.

The Application Process

Refugee and asylum application approval may take months or over a year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, however, has the power to grant temporary protected status in as little as two to three weeks. If your country is listed on the Federal Registrar (see above) and you are not subject to any of the criteria barring you from temporary protected status, you may fill out Form I-821 (or Form I-821A) to initiate the application process.

Legal and Work Status

Persons granted TPS are legally employable and may reside in the U.S. until the termination of the period of time. Temporary protected status does not, however, help individuals to gain permanent residency in the U.S. If a country is removed from the Federal Register, any individuals holding temporary protected status will have their citizenship status reverted to its previous state.

Is It Necessary to Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

An immigration lawyer, while not strictly required, may be very helpful in guiding you through the process and paperwork. Many are experts in the technical and logistical aspects of the process and are therefore good resources for advice and guidance.

For more information regarding temporary protected status, speak to Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

How to Seek Asylum in the United States

Asylum | Immigration

When foreigners feel threatened in their own country, they may seek asylum here in the United States. According to Webster’s Dictionary, asylum refers to “a place of retreat and security”. Those who are persecuted because of race, religion, political beliefs or membership in a particular social class are eligible to apply. The persecution can come from the government or from a special-interest group that is acting outside the law if officials are “unable or unwilling” to control that group of people.

Steps to Take

Those who would like to seek asylum in the United States need to come here first in order to apply. It’s not necessary to enter by legal means in order to do so. Upon arrival, an individual has a twelve-month time period in which to apply for legal asylum, and filing such a petition can halt the removal process at least temporarily.

Individuals who were unable to bring their spouse or children can file a form I-730 along with their petition for asylum. This form is used to request permission for family members to be allowed entry into the United States. Children who are younger than 21 years of age and unmarried may be included on this petition.

Asylum Hearing

An asylum hearing is presided over by a federal judge. During this hearing, the judge will hear testimony concerning the petitioner’s fear of persecution; witnesses may also be called to testify on that individual’s behalf. If the petition is granted, the applicant will be granted permission to remain in the country. Should the petition be denied, an appeal may be filed so that the case can be heard by another federal judge.

Those who file false asylum petitions can be removed from the United States and permanently barred from entering it. Even if persecution can be proven, applicants may be denied the right to stay in the United States if they have a significant criminal history or otherwise pose a threat to national security.

Obtaining a Green Card

One year after being granted asylum, a petitioner is eligible to apply for permanent residency or “green card”. If family members were also granted asylum, each one will need to fill out a separate application.

The process behind filing for asylum or a green card can be complicated and is therefore best left to an experienced immigration attorney such as Mario Madrid. For a review of your asylum case, consult with Madrid Law at 713-877-9400.