Frequently Asked Questions

  • IMMIGRATION

  • CRIMINAL DEFENSE

  • PERSONAL INJURY

1. What is a permanent resident status?

2. How can one adjust status based upon familial relationship?
3. Who can file a petition on behalf of relatives?
4. Who are qualifying relatives?
5. What is the definition of “child” for immigration purposes?
6. What is the processing time for each of the preferences?
7. How can one adjustment as a permanent resident based on employment?
8. What are the different categories through which a foreigner can adjust status based upon employment?
9. Which of the employment categories require the certification from the Labor Department before filing to the BCIS?
10. Can I Adopt a Child Born in a Foreign Country and File an Orphan Petition to Bring the Child in the United States?
11. Is It Possible to Bring My Fiancée to the United States?
12. How is it Possible to File a K-Non immigrant petition for a Spouse or a Child of a US Citizen?
13. How Can I Remove the Conditionality of my Permanent Resident Status Based on Marriage?
14. Can be a permanent status be rescinded?
15. What are other means of gaining resident status?
16. How Can I Apply for Asylum?
17. Who are Resettled in the United States as Refugees?
18. Who Needs a Travel Document?
19. Who Needs a Re- Entry Permit?
20. Who Needs an Advance Parole?

 

What is a permanent resident

As the name denotes, a permanent resident status enables one to permanently settle and live in the United States and work in the US. An individual with this status is issued an “Alien Registration Receipt Card” as evidence of status. This card is commonly known as the “Green Card.” This card has a lifespan of ten years and the expiration date of the card appears on the face of the card. This card can be replaced by filing and filing Form I-90, “Application to Replace Alien Registration Card” with the appropriate fees. Since the application fees changes so dramatically within a short period, make sure to check the most recent fee schedule of the BCIS.

 

How can one adjust status based upon familial relationship?

Adjusting status through a family relationship is usually a two step process. First, the qualifying family member must submit a visa petition on behalf of relative by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Once the visa petition is approved by the appropriate BCIS office, then adjustment application known as I-485 will be made. The only exception for this two-step process is when the beneficiary of the visa petition is an “immediate relative.” In such cases, one can concurrently file the I-130 along with the I-485.

 

Who can file a petition on behalf of relatives?

A citizen can file a petition for a spouse, unmarried child under age twenty one, or parents. These are immediate relatives. Moreover, a citizen can also file for an unmarried child of any age twenty one or above, a married child of any age, or a brother or sister. A permanent resident can file a petition for a spouse, your unmarried child under age twenty one, you unmarried child age twenty one or above. A permanent resident cannot file foe married child, for a parent or siblings.

 

Who are qualifying relatives?

First Preference: unmarried, adult sons and daughters of US citizens. For more, see
Second Preference: Spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of permanent residents
Third preference: Married sons and married daughters of US citizens
Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of US citizens

 

What is the definition of “child” for immigration purposes?

A stepchild is a “child” for immigration purposes if the child was under the age of 18 when the marriage creating the step relationship occurred. Also, note that the end of the parent’s relationship can outlast the marriage that created it. Where the natural parent has died after marriage to the stepparent, the step parent can still petition for the step child.

 

A child born out of wedlock is a “child” under the INA definition. Adopted child is also a child if the adoption takes place before the age of 16 and the child must have been in the legal custody of, and resided with, either or both of the adopting parents for at least two years. Note that legal custody need not be physical custody. Additionally, the two year residency or cohabitation requirement can be satisfied with time either before or after adoption.

 

What is the processing time for each of the preferences?

Relatives obtain visa numbers based upon the preference category in which they belong. Immediate relatives of US citizens, who include parents, spouses, and unmarried children under the age of 21, can immediately file for adjustment without any regard to visa availability.

 

How can one adjustment as a permanent resident based on employment?

Most employment petitions requires a two tier process: first, labor certifications must be filed and approved; second, the BCIS must approve I-140.

 

What are the different categories through which a foreigner can adjust status based upon employment?

First Preference: are considered priority workers. These include extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts education, education, business or athletes; outstanding professors or researchers; multinational managers.

Second Preference: include professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability including advanced degree professionals; qualified aliens physicians who will practice medicine in an underserved area in the US.


Third Preference: skilled workers, professionals and other workers, including BA degrees.


Fourth Preference: Special immigrants including religious workers and employees and former employees of the US government abroad.

 

Fifth Preference: Investors.

 

Which of the employment categories require the certification from the Labor Department before filing to the BCIS?

Employers of second and third preference beneficiaries will require certification. Employment based petitions for other categories such as multinational managers, or religious workers are filed directly with the BCIS.

 

Can I Adopt a Child Born in a Foreign Country and File an Orphan Petition to Bring the Child in the United States?

A married US citizen may file an orphan petition. The spouse of the petitioner need not be a US citizen. However, if the spouse is in the United States he or she must be legally living in the United States. An unmarried US citizen of 25 years or older might also file for an orphan petition.


There will be two steps before you are enabled to bring the child in the United States. First it has to be determined weather the petitioner qualifies to be an adopter. For this the petitioner needs to apply for advanced processing. This is an application to determine weather you qualify to be an adopter. It is possible and recommendable to file the USCIS form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition) even before you have identified the foreign born child that you want to adopt. As the second step you have to file USCIS Form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) on behalf of the child.

 

Is It Possible to Bring My Fiancée to the United States?

If you a US citizen you can file a petition for your fiancé with whom you plan to get married in the United States. There is a requirement that you must have met with your fiancée in person within the last two years before filing for the fiancé visa. This requirement can be waived only if meeting your fiancée in person would violate long-established customs, or if meeting your fiancée would create extreme hardship for you. You and your fiancée must marry within 90 days of your fiancée entering the United States.

 

How is it Possible to File a K-Non immigrant petition for a Spouse or a Child of a US Citizen?

Spouses and children of a United States citizen could be admitted to the United States in a non immigrant category. In such instances, the spouse or the child of a United States citizen would be enabled to complete processing for permanent residence while in the United States. A visa obtained by a spouse of a US citizen in such a manner is a K-3 visa. People in these categories are eligible to get work permits while waiting for their obtaining the status of a permanent resident. K-4 for dependents of K-3 beneficiaries can be obtained by the unmarried and under 21 years old child of the person that is eligible for a K-3 visa.

 

How Can I Remove the Conditionality of my Permanent Resident Status Based on Marriage?

If a permanent resident status was obtained as a result of a marriage that has been concluded less that two years from the day you were given permanent residence, you need to apply to remove the conditionality of your status after two years. To remove the conditionality from your status of a permanent resident, you need to apply for removal of such conditions during the 90 days before your second anniversary as a conditional resident. Generally, you have to apply for the removal of the conditions together with your spouse. You could lose your conditional resident status and be removed from the country if you do not apply to remove the conditions in time.

 

Can be a permanent status be rescinded?

Yes. Your green card can be rescinded if it is determined by an Immigration Judge that you have abandoned your US residency, committed a crime resulting in removal proceedings, or has provided fraudulent information to acquire such status in the first place.

 

What are other means of gaining resident status?

Asylees and Refugees: If an alien has held refugee or asylee status for at least for one year, she can apply for adjustment of status. AN asylee must show that she continues to meet the definition of a refugee or is a spouse or child of an asylee. Upon approval of an application for adjustment of status, permanent residence is backdated for one year. As for refugees, the granting of adjustment of status for a refugee results in permanent residence as of the date of arrival in the United States.
Battered spouse or child: The immigration provisions of Violence Against Women Act allow certain battered immigrants to file for immigration relief without the abuser's assistance or knowledge, in order to seek safety and independence from the abuser. Under the Violence Against Women Act, spouse and children of US citizens or lawful permanent residents may self-petition to obtain permanent residence.


Diversity lottery: Is available to people who come from countries with low admission rates. The State Department holds the lottery every year and randomly selects approximately 110, 000 applicants from qualified entries. However, only 55,000annual immigrant visas will be eventually available. Because, more people will be notified of selection that will actually be granted visas, aliens selected for visas must act quickly before the 55000 cap is reached.

 

How Can I Apply for Asylum?

You can apply for asylum in the United States if you fulfill the definition of a refugee as provided in 101(a)(42)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). According to that part of the law, a refugee is someone who is unable or unwilling to return to and avail himself or herself of the protection of his or her home country or, if stateless, country of last habitual residence because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. You can apply for asylum weather you are legally or illegally present in the United States. You have to apply for asylum with in one year of your arrival in the United States. It might also be possible to apply for asylum after one year since your arrival in the United States. This is so if there are changed circumstances that materially affect your eligibility for asylum or extraordinary circumstances directly related to your failure to file within one year. These may include changes in the conditions of your country, in your own circumstances and other events. The appropriate form to file to request asylum is I-485. You have to fill that carefully and file it to the appropriate service center. You can also apply for asylum at the time of your entry in the United States. In this case you can ask for asylum at the port of entry. There is no fee for filing asylum.


Who are Resettled in the United States as Refugees?

Generally, refugees are people who were persecuted in their countries or have a well-founded fear of persecution there on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Refugees who are found in a country other than their own could be resettled to the United States.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or a United States embassy may refer certain refugees for resettlement in the United States. This is one way of resettlement of refuges in the United States. On the other hand it is also possible for the United States government to decide to resettle refugees of specified groups with special characteristics in certain countries. These categories are to be periodically determined by the United States government.

 

Who Needs a Travel Document?

A travel document is a document that would allow individuals who are of were once asylees or refugees to return back to the United States after having made a trip abroad. These people are given a travel document because it is assumed that they can not get a passport form their country of nationality. Generally you should apply for a travel document before leaving the United States.

 

Who Needs a Re- Entry Permit?

It is a permit given to lawful permanent residents who intend to travel and stay abroad for more than one year. If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States intending to travel abroad and stay for more than one year, you have to apply for re-entry permit before leaving the United States.

 

Who Needs an Advance Parole?

Most aliens whose applications are pending for immigration benefits or for changes in non immigrant status need to apply for advance parole if they are intending to travel abroad.

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1. When are police legally allowed to search me?
2. Why do police want to search me?
3. Isn’t refusing to let the police search me an admission of guilt?
4. If I’m not doing anything illegal, why shouldn’t I let the police search me?
5. What if the police call in drug-sniffing dogs?
6. What if the officer says he'll go easy on me if I cooperate?
7. Aren’t police required to read me my rights?
8. How do my rights apply during non-law enforcement officials such as security guards?
9. When can police order me out of the car?
10. What are the rights of passengers during traffic stops?
11. Are police allowed to lie?
12. I refused a search, but the officer searched me anyway. Was it an illegal search? What should I do?

 

When are police legally allowed to search me?

Police officers are legally allowed to search your home or your property if they obtain a search warrant. To obtain a warrant, police officers must write out an affidavit -- a written statement under oath -- to convince a judge that they have probable cause to believe that criminal activity is occurring at the place to be searched or that evidence of a crime may be found there.


As a general rule, searches conducted without a warrant are automatically unreasonable and hence violate the Fourth Amendment. But in fact most searches occur without warrants because police take advantage of these many legal exceptions to the Fourth Amendment:


Consent Searches If the police ask your permission to search your home, purse, briefcase or other property, and you freely consent, their warrantless search automatically becomes reasonable and therefore legal. Consequently, whatever an officer finds during a consent search can be used to convict the person.
Plain View Rule This is common sense: Always keep any private items that you don’t want others to see out of sight. Legally speaking, police do not need a search warrant in order to confiscate any illegal items that are in plain view.


Searches Made in Connection with a Legal Arrest Police do not need a warrant to make a search "incident to an arrest." After a legal arrest, police can legally protect themselves by searching the person and the immediate surroundings for weapons that might be used to harm the officer. Consequently, whatever an officer finds during such a search can be used to convict the person.


Exigent Circumstances A judge may uphold an officer’s warrantless search or seizure if "exigent circumstances" exist. Exigent circumstances were described by one court as "an emergency situation requiring swift action to prevent imminent danger to life or serious damage to property, or to forestall the imminent escape of a suspect or destruction of evidence."


If you ever face a real-life police encounter where the officer is urging you to consent to a search, do not try to figure out whether or not the search is legally permissible. You must assume that the search is not legally permissible and that the search will only be legal if you consent. If an officer is in fact legally allowed to search you, you have nothing to lose by refusing to consent.

 

Why do police want to search me?

Simply put, the number of arrests an officer makes is a major factor used to determine his job performance. And police officers know that the easiest way to make arrests is to find people in possession of illegal drugs. To make one drug arrest, an officer generally has to search ten people. This means that nine innocent people will likely endure the inconvenience and humiliation of a police search so that one law-breaker can be arrested. In some officers’ minds, the nine searches that turned up nothing are easily justified—especially if those people willingly consented to his warrantless search requests.

 

Isn’t refusing to let the police search me an admission of guilt?

No. If a police officer asks your permission to search, you are under no obligation to consent. The main reason why officers ask is because they don’t have enough evidence to search without your consent. If you consent to a search request you give up one of the most important constitutional rights you have -- your Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. As a general rule, if a person consents to a warrantless search, the search automatically becomes legal. Consequently, whatever an officer finds during such a search can be used to convict the person.

 

If I’m not doing anything illegal, why shouldn’t I let the police search me?

Don’t expect a police officer to tell you about your right not to consent. Police officers are not required by law to inform you of your rights before asking you to consent to a search. In addition, police are prepared to use their authority to get people to consent to searches, and most people are predisposed to comply with any request an officer makes. For example, the average motorist stopped by an officer who asks them, "Would you mind if I search your vehicle, please?" will probably consent to the officer’s search without realizing that they have every right to deny the officer’s request.


Police officers are often pretty tricky about trying to get someone’s consent to a search. They know that most people feel intimidated by police officers and are predisposed to comply with any request by a police officer. For example, the average motorist stopped by a police officer who asks them, "Would you mind opening the trunk, please?" will probably consent to the officer’s search without realizing that they have every right to deny the officer’s request.


If for any reason you don’t want the officer digging through your belongings, you should refuse to consent by saying something like, "Yes, I do mind. I have private, personal items in my [car, backpack, etc.] and do not want you looking through them."

 

What if the police call in drug-sniffing dogs?

Your rights do not disappear if the officer threatens to call in the dogs, so don’t let this all-too-common tactic intimidate you into consenting to a search.
Before the dogs arrive, you have the right to dismiss yourself by asking if you are free to go. But if the officer detains you until the dogs come, remain silent and refuse to consent to any searches.


If a K-9 unit arrives, you should never consent to a dog sniff even if the officer claims you have to (which would be a lie). Remember: Unlocking your car at the officer's request or handing the officer your keys is the same as consenting to a search. Also, despite the widespread myth to the contrary, an officer does not need to get your consent in writing. Oral consent is completely valid.

 

What if the officer says he'll go easy on me if I cooperate?

Unfortunately, many people get fooled by some version of this commonly used police officer's line: Everything will be easier if you cooperate. That might be true sometimes, but when it comes to consenting to searches and answering incriminating questions, it couldn't be further from the truth.

 

Aren’t police required to read me my rights?

Despite the myth that police officers should read ones Miranda rights during arrest, the truth is that the only time an officer must read a person his or her Miranda rights is when: (1) the person has been taken into custody, and (2) the officer is about to question the person about a crime.

 

How do my rights apply during non-law enforcement officials such as security guards?

At the present time the Fourth Amendment does not apply to searches carried out by non-governmental employees like private security guards.

 

When can police order me out of the car?

During a legitimate traffic stop, police may order the driver and any passengers out of the vehicle. This rule is intended to protect officers’ safety, but it’s often used for investigatory purposes. Police who order you out of the vehicle probably suspect you of criminal activity, so be prepared for a pat-down and maybe a search request.

 

What are the rights of passengers during traffic stops?

Traffic stops typically occur as a result of suspected moving violations committed by the driver of the vehicle. Passengers cannot be held responsible for the driver’s conduct, and are generally free to leave, unless police become suspicious of them during the course of the stop.


Unfortunately, this happens frequently and the amount of evidence required to detain passengers is minimal. For this reason, passengers must remember to refuse search requests and refrain from answering questions without an attorney present. Police who suspect criminal activity will often separate the occupants of an automobile and question them separately. If their stories differ, this could lead officers to claim that they have probable cause to prolong the detention or conduct a search.
As with any other brief detention, the best way to handle this situation is to ask if you’re free to go.

 

Are police allowed to lie?

Yes. Police are generally permitted to lie if it helps them make arrests. The best example of this is when undercover officers claim not to be police. So police won’t hesitate to trick you into incriminating yourself or others. This is particularly common during interrogations in which officers might tell you that “your friend already gave you up, so you might as well come clean.”


The best defense against these manipulative tactics is to avoid saying anything to police without first speaking with an attorney.


I refused a search, but the officer searched me anyway. Was it an illegal search? What should I do?

Unfortunately police sometimes search you even if you refuse consent. If they find anything illegal, you’ll have to get a lawyer and fight it out in court. If you’re searched illegally and nothing is found, you should still consider taking legal action or at least filing a complaint.

 

1. What is a personal injury and what kinds of cases are considered personal injury cases?
2. How do I know if I have a claim?
3. How is liability determined?
4. What is the compensation for which I am entitled to?
5. What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and do I have it?
6. Do I get protection when an accident and injury in caused by unknown person, ex. Hit and run?
7. Can you recommend a doctor to me to treat me for my injuries?
8. How soon after the accident should I seek medical attention?
9. Should I give recorded statement to the insurance company of the at-fault party?
10. Can I be compensated for lost wages?
11. Do I need an attorney to handle my personal injury claim?
12. Do I have to pay you any money when I hire you and how would you assist me?

 

What is a personal injury and what kinds of cases are considered personal injury cases?

A personal injury occurs when the negligence of one person or group causes injury to another person. In personal injury cases, negligence may be either an action or inaction. The guilty party may have directly caused the victim's injury by behaving recklessly or may have caused the injury by failing to prevent it when he or she had the duty to do so. Some examples of possible personal injury cases include: slip and fall injuries, nursing home abuse or neglect, automobile accidents, wrongful death, brain injuries, and on-the-job injuries.

 

How do I know if I have a claim?

In order to be compensation, the other driver must be at fault and you must sustain some form of injury as a result of the other driver’s negligence. The injury might be a new one or an aggravation of a preexisting condition.

 

How is liability determined?

The Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland and Washington DC fall in what is called the contributory negligence jurisdictions. What this mean is that if you have contributed to the accident, you would not be able to collect damages, no matter how small you contribution is to that accident.

 

What is the compensation for which I am entitled to?

An individual injured in an automobile accident may be entitled to recover the actual expenses associated with property damage and medical costs, economic damages, and emotional and physical pain and suffering.

 

What is uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage and do I have it?

Uninsured motorist coverage protects you if you are involved in a car accident with a driver who doesn’t have any insurance to pay for your injuries. Underinsured motorist coverage protects you if the other driver does not have enough insurance to pay for your injuries.

 

Do I get protection when an accident and injury in caused by unknown person, ex. Hit and run?

The uninsured coverage also applies when an accident and injury is caused by unknown person. (EX. HIT AND RUN). Uninsured Motorist insurance is extremely important in terms of providing protection from a number of unforeseeable circumstances. The higher the coverage, the better.

 

Can you recommend a doctor to me to treat me for my injuries?

You should probably make an appointment with your health care provider or your primary physician. If your physician believes that you need further treatment, he/she would likely refer you to further treatment with a specialist such as a physical therapist or orthopedist. If, however, you don’t have a primary care doctor or a health care provider, we would be able to provide you with a list of health care providers.

 

How soon after the accident should I seek medical attention?

If you are injured in an automobile accident, you should seek medical attention. Whether or not you have a claim, you should be examined by a doctor, both for your own peace of mind and to document the injury to support your claim. Frequently, an automobile accident injury will not be immediately apparent. Whenever symptoms first appear, go to your family doctor, a hospital emergency room, or another medical professional to obtain medical help. The sooner that you seek medical treatment, the better your claim will be taken seriously, and the quicker benefit of recovery.

 

Should I give recorded statement to the insurance company of the at-fault party?

You should never give a recorded statement to an insurance adjuster of the at-fault party without first consulting with an attorney. Often, insurance adjusters recognize that you could decide to retain a lawyer after a while and would want to solicit information as quick as possible without your interest at heart. The same applies regarding signing documents.


It is especially important to consult an attorney before giving a statement to the other driver’s insurance company. Do not sign any check or document from any insurance company without first consulting an experienced personal injury attorney.

 

Can I be compensated for lost wages?

Yes, as long as your absence from work was caused by the injury and medically necessary. Make sure that you have records and logs documenting your absence.

 

Do I need an attorney to handle my personal injury claim?

Before deciding whether you should proceed with or without a lawyer, it is always wise to initially consult with a lawyer. No matter how claim adjusters sound friendly over the phone and no matter how they rush to get you do things, their ultimate motive is to pay you as little as possible to settle your claim. Just remember that your interest and the interest of the insurance company adjuster are at odds. If you are involved in a serious accident, you must seriously consider hiring an attorney.

 

Do I have to pay you any money when I hire you and how would you assist me?

No. We will be paid only after you are compensated and after you are paid first. Our law firm offers the personal attention, focus and resources that clients who have suffered serious personal injury deserve. We will handle every aspect of your claim from presenting the claim to the insurer, filing suit, conducting discovery and taking the case to trial. Please fill out the form below and we'll contact you for a free initial consultation:


A personal injury occurs when the negligence of one person or group causes injury to another person. In personal injury cases, negligence may be either an action or inaction. The guilty party may have directly caused the victim's injury by behaving recklessly or may have caused the injury by failing to prevent it when he or she had the duty to do so. Some examples of possible personal injury cases include: slip and fall injuries, nursing home abuse or neglect, automobile accidents, wrongful death, brain injuries, and on-the-job injuries.