In this article, we will explore five important pieces of information that individuals may have neglected to reveal to their immigration lawyer, which could ultimately jeopardize their chances of obtaining a green card. Attorney Vanessa Rae Alonso, an experienced immigration lawyer at Alonso & Alonso Attorneys at Law, will provide insights and advice to help individuals avoid these common mistakes and increase their chances of a successful immigration application.
1: I had to lie on my tourist visa application to get it approved.
If you held a tourist visa after the birth of your U.S. citizen child, you likely marked "No" on the visa application question that asks, "Do you have any children born in the United States?" If you had answered "Yes," the consular officer would have started asking questions about the payment for the child's birth in the United States, whether you used U.S. government assistance, and whether you lived or worked in the United States at that time.
Because of this, you may have answered "NO" and renewed your visa without any issues. However, this can create a problem because you technically lied to obtain an immigration benefit (the tourist visa). This lie is not an outright bar or barrier to obtaining your green card, but it may require you to apply for a waiver. The waiver to address this lie is only available if you have parents or a spouse with legal status.
Your U.S. citizen child will not be sufficient for the waiver, and this is how a simple and unintentional lie can lead to a denial of your green card. If you are in this situation, there is hope. There are remedies that would allow you to obtain a green card in the scenario described above (past lie and not eligible for a waiver), but it requires a special evaluation that can be done during a consultation with our firm. We handle these types of cases all the time and we succeed.
2: I was arrested, and I believe the case was dismissed.
If you were ever arrested, you must ensure that your case has been resolved. In other words, the charges have been dropped, the case has been dismissed, or you pleaded guilty to the case and received a sentence. Basically, it's been concluded.
If you were ever arrested and you're unsure about what happened, this could be a big problem. You might have an outstanding warrant, and you could be arrested during your immigration interview.
Your criminal record could make you ineligible for a green card, so you need to know exactly what resulted from any arrest to ensure your eligibility. You should never blindly submit a green card application and hope that your previous arrest was dismissed or disappeared.
If you were ever arrested, you should have a disposition, which is a fancy word for a document showing the outcome of your case. If you're unsure whether you have an outstanding warrant, you could request an FBI record by submitting a fingerprint card with correctly taken fingerprints. You can also go to the court where you think your charges were filed and request your dispositions. However, if you believe you might have an outstanding warrant, it's better to use a criminal defense lawyer to help you obtain the dispositions and not risk showing up at the court where you could be arrested.
Our firm handles immigration cases, which means we know how to handle past criminal backgrounds, whether resolved or not, while seeking or planning to seek a green card. We're available for a free pre-screening of your case if you're unsure about how your criminal arrest affects your chances of obtaining a green card. We take on very complex cases with prior arrests, convictions, deportations, and illegal entries. We've got your back.
3: I'm still married in my home country.
Remaining married in your home country means that your current marriage in the United States is not valid. You must have a divorce decree or a death certificate from your ex-spouse to prove the validity of your current marriage.
You need to ensure that the divorce decree exists or that your ex has passed away, and you'll need to provide that evidence to avoid a denial of your green card based on marriage. There are options! You can obtain a divorce in the United States to validate your current marriage and the basis of your green card.
You won't need your ex's presence or signature, as most states in the United States will allow you to get a divorce without their participation. We've helped many people in this situation navigate their unresolved previous marriages to make their green card based on marriage in the United States a reality.
So be honest with your lawyer about prior marriages, even tribal marriages in Africa, because they are considered legal marriages and require evidence to show a tribal divorce or a divorce with civil registry. Also, be aware that not having seen your ex in 15 years doesn't mean you're "divorced."
4: I smoke marijuana, but it's legal in my state.
Smoking marijuana may be legal in many states in the United States, but it's still not legal under federal law. Immigration is federal law, and your green card will require a medical examination.
If you tell the medical examiner that you smoke marijuana, this could lead to you having to complete a rehabilitation program before your green card is approved. This is especially problematic if your green card interview requires you to leave the United States, as rehabilitation can take a year and you can't return to the United States until it's completed and your immigrant visa is issued.
So tell your lawyer if you smoke marijuana so you can receive
appropriate advice. It's best to stop smoking until after your green card is approved.
5: I'm married to a U.S. citizen, but I live with another person.
I've heard this many times over the years, and we cannot have a genuine relationship for love and another marriage for paperwork. This is not only a reason for denial, but also a lifetime bar to obtaining a green card based on marriage. If your marriage is just for paperwork, you need to know that your case is not valid and it may be denied. The law states that your marriage cannot be solely for the green card.
The green card can be a reason for the marriage, but not the only reason. Make sure you have enough evidence that your marriage is not solely for the green card. Make sure you can show plans to have a future together, shared accounts, evidence of quality time spent together.
Don't ruin your chances of obtaining a green card because someone is willing to "help" you or worse, accepts payment in exchange for a green card based on marriage. If you're in this situation, consult with us as soon as possible so we can seek the appropriate remedy for your legal status. We've saved many applicants from denial and the serious consequences of a green card based on a fraudulent marriage.