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Gaithersburg, MD Immigration Lawyer

Legal Support for Immigration Matters in Gaithersburg, MD

For many people, the journey through the U.S. immigration system can be challenging and complex. The attorneys at The Law Firm of Ruiz Dougherty, PLLC are here to help make this process easier, and we are dedicated to providing legal support and representation for clients in Gaithersburg, Maryland as they address issues related to immigration. Whether you are seeking a visa, Green Card, or U.S. citizenship or need to determine how to defend against deportation, our experienced legal team is here to assist you every step of the way.

Options for Obtaining Visas and Green Cards Through Family Sponsorship

Family sponsorship is one of the most common pathways for receiving authorization to enter the United States and receive a Green Card. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can sponsor their relatives for different types of visas including Immediate Relative visas, Family Preference visas, and Fiancé visas. This process typically involves the following steps:

  1. Filing Form I-130: The sponsoring relative must file a petition on behalf of their family member with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. Approval and visa availability: Once the petition is approved, the sponsored relative must wait for a visa number to become available. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens typically do not have to wait, while other family members may be subject to annual visa caps.
  3. Adjustment of status or consular processing: If the sponsored relative is in the United States, they can apply for adjustment of status. If they are not in the U.S., they must go through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where they are currently living.

Employer Sponsorship for Immigrant and Non-Immigrant Visas

Employers can sponsor foreign workers for both visas. For certain employment-based visas, the employer must obtain a labor certification and show that hiring a foreign worker will not negatively affect the labor market in the United States. The employer will then file Form I-140 on behalf of the foreign employee. Depending on the employee's qualifications and other factors, different types of visas may be available:

  • Non-immigrant visas: These visas will allow for temporary stays in the U.S. while an immigrant is employed by the sponsoring employer. Many professional work visas fall into this category, including H-1B (specialty employees), L-1 (transferees within a company), and O-1 (workers with extraordinary abilities or achievements) visas.
  • Immigrant visas: EB visas will allow employees to receive Green Cards after being sponsored by employers. With a limited number of EB visas available, they are issued in a specific order of preference, and limits also apply to the number of recipients who can immigrate to the U.S. from each country.

Path to U.S. Citizenship

Obtaining U.S. citizenship provides many benefits, including the right to vote, protection from deportation, and eligibility for federal jobs. Lawful permanent residents can apply for naturalization if they meet the following criteria:

  • Age: Must be at least 18 years old.
  • Residency: Must have been a Green Card holder for at least five years (or three years for those who received Green Cards through marriage to U.S. citizens).
  • Physical presence: Must have been inside the United States for at least half of the required residency period.
  • Good moral character: Must demonstrate positive morals and values. Certain criminal convictions may disqualify a person for citizenship.
  • Civics and English tests: Must pass tests demonstrating proficiency with the English language and knowledge of the history and government of the United States.
  • Oath of Allegiance: Must swear an oath to the United States in a naturalization ceremony.

Immigration Relief Options

For immigrants who have experienced issues that have affected their legal status in the United States, multiple options may be available, including:

  • U visas: These may be available to people who have suffered physical or emotional harm as victims of qualifying crimes. They will be required to cooperate with law enforcement officials by assisting with criminal investigations or providing evidence or witness testimony during criminal cases.
  • VAWA self-petitions: The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows family members who have been victims of domestic abuse to receive protection and apply for visas and Green Cards.
  • Asylum: Protections will usually be available for people who are concerned that they could suffer harm due to persecution in their home countries.
  • Waivers of inadmissibility: People who are considered to be inadmissible to the U.S. may apply for waivers, and they will typically need to show that they have a qualifying relative who would suffer extreme hardship if they are denied entry to the United States or deported.

Deportation Defense Options

Facing deportation is a very serious situation, but there are several steps immigrants can take to remain in the United States. Our attorneys can provide guidance on the options for defense against deportation that may be used, including:

  • Cancellation of removal: Certain permanent residents or other immigrants who have been in the U.S. for a specific period, have good moral character, and meet other eligibility criteria may be allowed to remain in the country.
  • Prosecutorial discretion: This allows immigration authorities to prioritize certain cases for deportation while deprioritizing others, often due to humanitarian factors or family ties.
  • Adjustment of status: In some cases, immigrants who are involved in removal proceedings may be eligible to adjust their status to become lawful permanent residents.

Contact Our Gaithersburg, Maryland Immigration Lawyers

The attorneys at The Law Firm of Ruiz Dougherty, PLLC are committed to helping clients address their immigration-related legal issues effectively. We are here to help you achieve your immigration goals. Contact our firm at 571-441-2233 to set up your free consultation today.

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