Frequently Asked Immigration Questions

I’ve been exclusively practicing Immigration Law for 25 years. 

But rarely have I heard people sound so afraid of their outcomes. 

We’ve had great success with immigration cases under the last four presidents: Clinton, Bush, Obama, and Trump. It does not matter who’s in power. 

Bill Clinton did more damage to immigration law by signing one piece of legislation in 1996 than Donald Trump did in four years with all his policies. But there were no smartphones and social media when Clinton was in office.

The most important thing you need to know is that You Don’t Have To Be Afraid. 

Regardless of what kind of immigration issue you have, there is help available for you. The United States is the greatest country globally, in no small part because we welcome new immigrants who enrich our society.

Below is a list of the questions we get asked the most regarding immigration, green cards, and visas. 

  • How do I become a US citizen?
    You have a handful of choices when seeking citizenship (naturalization) in the United States, but they usually start with a green card. A green card is not naturalization (citizenship), but after you have held your green card in good stead from 3-5 years, you can get your citizenship.

    Most people usually choose between getting a green card through family, particularly marriage, or employment immigration. There are varying waiting times for many immigrants in different relative classifications, from siblings of citizens to the adult children of green card holders and a host of employment options.




  • How much does it cost to get a green card?
    Costs for green card applications can vary based on type. Government fees for marriage-based green cards are approximately $2300 if the immigrant spouse lives in the US, and $1000 if the spouse lives abroad.  Legal fees are separate.



  • If I marry someone do they instantly become US citizens?
    No. A foreign spouse may become an “immediate relative” after marriage to a U.S. citizen or a “preference relative” after marriage to a U.S. permanent resident. More importantly, marrying a US citizen does not automatically guarantee that you will get a green card.




  • How much does a US immigration lawyer cost?
    One of the first questions we often get asked after someone contacts our firm is: how much is this going to cost? There is a lot of confusion out there about what someone should pay for immigration lawyer fees. This is because there is such a huge difference in what certain attorneys charge. Immigrants are faced with everything from bargain-basement do-it-all-law firms, to lawyers charging $1000-$2000 per hour! It’s hard to know what is a reasonable fee, when reputable law journals are quoting enormous amounts per hour, and a street corner lawyer is saying he can get you a green card on the cheap. One simple answer is that immigrants shouldn’t be paying by the hour. Nor should they be going to a “you can’t beat our prices” lawyer. Immigrants and their loved ones should find a law firm with multiple attorneys, exclusively practicing immigration law — with a proven track record and outstanding reputation — charging flat rates for services.


  • Do I need an immigration lawyer to fill out my green card application? Green card applications are not a walk in the park. The complete packages resemble a massive set of documents. The paperwork is complicated, frequently subject to changes by the government, and sensitive legal documents that can affect your ability – or that of your spouse and children — to live and work in the U.S. Often, a delay of having to refile forms that were incorrectly filled out in the first place can cost many months of time away from a job, loved one, or family. While it is possible to download and file a green card application on your own, in many cases, it can end up costing significant time plus causing errors that might ultimately affect your chances of getting permanent residency.Moreover, a denied green card application may result in a Notice to Appear in Removal Proceedings (a deportation hearing) in U.S. Immigration Court.


  • Is marrying for a green card illegal?
    Getting married for the purpose of getting a green card is illegal. In fact, you will be asked to prove the validity of your relationship. About 21% of all immigrants enter the US through family-based green cards every year. Many people believe that getting a green card through marriage is one of the fastest and easiest ways to become a US citizen, but this is not necessarily the case. Things can go very wrong with this type of green card application, especially if it’s not a valid relationship, which may result in a fraud allegation, very difficult to fight.


  • Can I get deported if I marry a US citizen?
    Yes, you can still be deported if you marry a US citizen. People think that marriage is an instant ticket to a green card. They breathe a sigh of relief once they are married, assuming that they are now safely living in the US. There are four main qualifications that must be met if you want to get a green card through marriage. The simple ACT of marriage is not enough to guarantee your safety.


  • What is a green card medical exam?Whether your green card application is based on family, employment, visa lottery, political asylum, or any other means, everyone must file a completed Green Card, or Immigration Medical Exam (also known as an I-693, I693, or I 693 form) before approval. If you want to get a green card “fast” (and of course that term is relative) you need a properly completed green card medical exam.The purpose of the Immigration Medical Exam is to ensure that applicants who are applying for permanent residence are not inadmissible to the US on grounds of public health, and do not pose a health risk to the citizens of the US. In this post, we look at what to expect from your exam, what you will need to bring with you, as well as proper steps to better ensure success.


  • What is USCIS?
    USCIS stands for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. This is the organization that oversees legal US immigration. Services they provide include adoptions, family immigration, employment immigration, and naturalization. In other words, citizenship, green cards, and visas.


  • What is a lawful permanent resident?
    A lawful permanent resident is another term for green card holder. It means you can live and work anywhere in the US, sponsor your spouse and other relatives, and ultimately become a citizen. There are certain conditions that permanent residents must follow, such as maintaining a clean record with law enforcement, paying income taxes, and actually living in the U.S.


  • Will a prior arrest affect my green card?
    Many people become US citizens, despite prior trouble with law enforcement. This is perfectly acceptable as the Immigration Act only requires 5 years of good moral character before filing for naturalization. In fact, if you are married to a US citizen, you need only show 3 years of good moral character. (WARNING: Immigration WILL look at older arrests as well as one’s immigration and tax hitories, but that’s one of countless reasons to find the best immigration lawyer!)


  • Once I get my green card, can my citizenship be denied?
    Short answer, yes. While the naturalization form can look deceptively simple, there are a number of reasons why you could be denied citizenship, including failure to register for selective service, fraud, crimes, lying on immigration forms, unpaid taxes or child support, and proficiency in English.  CONSULT WITH A TOP IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY BEFORE DOING CITIZENSHIP YOURSELF!