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dupage county immigration lawyerSince 2020, U.S. immigration officials have used a rule known as Title 42 to expel certain immigrants who were accused of crossing the border illegally without following the standard deportation procedures. While Title 42 was initially put in place during Donald Trump's presidency, it has continued to be used during the administration of President Joe Biden. However, a federal judge recently issued a ruling that struck down this policy, and this may allow some immigrants to avoid expulsion and make their case for why they should be able to remain in the United States.

What Is Title 42?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Trump administration took action to issue an order through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that would allow immigration officials to expel migrants who had entered the U.S. This order was meant to protect public safety by limiting the potential spread of infections by immigrants coming to the United States. Under Title 42, officials have been allowed to quickly expel immigrants from the country, often without giving them the chance to plead their case or provide evidence showing that they were eligible for asylum due to the credible fear of persecution.

Title 42 has been used to expel more than 2.4 million people from the United States, although many of these expulsions have occurred after people have made multiple crossings over the border. Critics of this policy have noted that it is often applied arbitrarily. For example, exceptions have been made for refugees from Ukraine who are fleeing the war in that country, but migrants from Mexico and Central America have continued to be expelled. To make matters worse, human rights advocates have found that those who are expelled are often placed at risk of harm, and more than 10,000 cases of violent attacks, sexual assaults, kidnappings, and torture have been identified among people who have been expelled from the United States into Mexico.

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itasca immigration lawyerReceiving a green card is a dream come true for many immigrants. After all, securing permanent residency in the United States comes with a number of benefits, including the ability to live and work in the country indefinitely, access to social services, and, eventually, eligibility for citizenship. Workers who are seeking to immigrate to the U.S., those who are currently in the United States on a temporary work visa, and employers who are planning to sponsor foreign workers for immigration will need to understand the types of immigrant visas that may be available. By working with an experienced immigration attorney, employers and employees can make sure they take the correct steps to apply for employment-based visas and green cards.

Categories of EB Visas

There are limits on the number of foreign workers who may be approved for green cards. Typically, around 140,000 visas are available each year, although this limit has been increased in recent years due to issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other ongoing concerns. EB visas are issued in an order of preference:

  • EB-1 Visas for workers with extraordinary ability - To qualify as someone with extraordinary ability, an immigrant must be able to demonstrate a high level of achievement in their field through acclaim, awards, scholarships, fellowships, or other similar evidence. This preference category also includes internationally recognized professors and researchers with at least three years of experience and multinational executives and managers who were employed during one or more of the previous three years by a foreign branch or subsidiary of the employer that is sponsoring them for immigration.

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Itasca immigration lawyerPeople from foreign countries come to the United States for a variety of reasons, and in many cases, they may wish to become permanent residents. Those who are currently living in the U.S. may apply for an adjustment of status, and if their request is granted, they will receive a Green Card and be designated as a lawful permanent resident.

However, the ability to receive an adjustment of status will depend on the type of visa available to a person and multiple other factors. By understanding the options for immigration, a person can make sure they will be able to take the correct steps to live permanently in the United States.

Adjustment of Status for Different Types of Immigrants

A person who is currently present in the United States and who is eligible for a Green Card may apply for an adjustment of status by filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Situations where adjustment of status may be available include:

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Itasca immigration lawyerDuring the administration of President Donald Trump, the government put a number of policies in place that affected immigration. In addition to its efforts to build a wall along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the administration implemented rules that allowed for the detainment and deportation of many immigrants. President Joe Biden has pledged to relax some of these rules and take steps to address the issues affecting immigrants. However, his administration has had trouble doing so due to some recent rulings in federal courts.

Rulings Affecting Title 42 and Prosecutorial Discretion

During the Trump administration, a rule known as Title 42 was put in place, allowing for the expulsion of immigrants without going through many of the standard deportation procedures. This rule was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and its stated purpose was to reduce the possibility of infections being spread by immigrants entering the United States.

The Biden administration has attempted to lift Title 42, and officials have stated that because the threat of COVID-19 infections has been reduced, the rule is no longer necessary to protect public safety. However, a group of 24 states filed a lawsuit challenging the lifting of this rule, and they have claimed that without Title 42 in place, illegal immigration will increase and place a financial burden on the states due to increased health care and education costs. In May of 2022, a federal judge ruled in the states’ favor, requiring Title 42 to remain in place.

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DuPage County immigration lawyerThere are many cases where immigrants to the United States may be at risk of harm, but they may be hesitant to report a crime or seek protection because they are concerned about their immigration status. In cases where immigrants are undocumented, entered the United States illegally, or stayed in the U.S. after the expiration of a temporary visa, they may worry that if they report domestic abuse or seek protection for themselves or their family members, they could face deportation. Fortunately, the United States has laws that provide protection in these situations. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a victim of domestic violence or abuse may not only receive protection against deportation, but they may also qualify for a Green Card that will allow them to remain in the United States permanently.

Eligibility for Protection as a VAWA Self-Petitioner

Most of the time, immigrants who are seeking a visa or Green Card will need to be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who will file a petition on their behalf with immigration authorities. However, the Violence Against Women Act allows a person to file a petition for themselves in certain situations.

To qualify for protections under VAWA, a person will need to meet the following requirements:

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Illinois immigration lawyerThere are multiple situations where immigrants may be the victims of crime. Unfortunately, this often puts people in a difficult position, since they may be concerned that if they report these crimes or attempt to leave a situation where they or their family members are in danger, they could be detained by immigration officials and deported. However, the laws in the United States provide some protection for immigrants who are the victims of crimes, and depending on a person’s situation, different options for obtaining a visa or Green Card may be available.

U Visas for Crime Victims

Immigrants in the United States who have been the victims of certain types of crimes may apply for a U visa that will protect them from deportation. A person will need to show that they have been the victim of qualifying criminal activity and that these crimes have caused them to suffer significant abuse of a physical or mental nature. Qualifying crimes include murder, manslaughter, domestic violence, stalking, felony assault, kidnapping, false imprisonment, sexual assault, prostitution, and incest, and these crimes must have taken place in the United States or violated U.S. laws. An applicant must cooperate with law enforcement officials during a criminal investigation or the prosecution of a crime.

Up to 10,000 U visas can be issued each year. Derivative U visas may also be available for an applicant’s immediate family members, including their spouse and children, or if they are under the age of 21, their parents and unmarried siblings. A U visa will allow a person to stay in the U.S. for four years. After three years of living in the U.S. with U nonimmigrant status, a person can apply for a Green Card.

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Itasca family immigration attorneySome of the most common avenues for immigration involve sponsorship by a person who is already living in the United States. Family-based immigration allows U.S. citizens or permanent residents with valid Green Cards to sponsor family members for immigrant visas. However, certain types of visas are also available that will allow U.S. citizens to establish family relationships and provide others with immigration benefits. Fiancé visas are one common way of doing so, and this type of visa will provide a foreign-born person with the right to enter the United States for the purpose of getting married to a U.S citizen. Couples who are planning to get married will need to understand the procedures that will be followed as they work to complete the immigration process.

Steps Followed When Bringing a Foreign Fiancé to the U.S.

K-1 visas provide a person with the authorization to enter the United States and get married to a U.S. citizen. These are technically non-immigrant visas, and they do not authorize a person to stay in the U.S. permanently. Instead, they provide temporary authorization to come to the U.S., and after a couple gets married, the foreign-born spouse can then apply for adjustment of status based on their legal relationship to their U.S. citizen spouse.

A couple will need to proceed through the following steps when they apply for a K-1 visa:

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DuPage County immigration lawyerRussia’s invasion of Ukraine has been devastating for people in the country, as well as Ukrainian citizens around the world. The U.N. is estimating that around 6.5 million people have been displaced from their homes inside Ukraine, and another 3.2 million have fled from the country. Because of the dangerous conditions in Ukraine, refugees who have fled the country are looking to ensure that they will be protected from harm, and Ukrainian citizens will likely want to avoid being forced to return to the country while the war is ongoing. Those who are looking to enter the United States or who are currently in the country will need to understand their immigration options and the protections that may be available.

Refugee and Asylum Protections for Ukrainians

Immigrants who have fled their home countries because they fear for their safety or believe that they will be subject to persecution based on factors such as race, religion, or membership in certain groups may seek to enter the United States as refugees. While the U.S. has only accepted a limited number of Ukrainian refugees so far, the Biden administration is looking to put plans in place to ensure that people who have fled the country will be able to resettle in the United States. Immigrants who have already entered the U.S. may be able to apply for asylum to ensure that they will be able to remain in the country.

Temporary Protected Status to Prevent Deportation

The Department of Homeland Security has designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status as of March 1, 2022. This status is used to provide protection for immigrants who may be at risk if they were required to return to their home countries. Ukrainian immigrants who have resided in the U.S. since March 1, 2022 will be protected against deportation. Those who apply for Temporary Protected Status may obtain employment authorization, and they may also receive authorization to travel internationally and return to the U.S. Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine will remain in effect for 18 months, and if necessary, it may be extended in the future.

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DuPage County immigration lawyerImmigrants who are looking to come to the United States or those who are already in the country and are seeking permanent resident status will need to meet many different requirements. The process of applying for a visa or Green Card can be complicated, and there are a variety of factors that may affect a person’s ability to enter or remain in the country. Claims that a person has committed marriage fraud can play a significant role in immigration cases, and immigrants and their family members will need to understand when these issues may arise and how they may be overcome.

What Is Marriage Fraud?

Family-based immigration is one of the most common avenues that may provide a person with authorization to enter the United States and take steps to become a lawful permanent resident. A U.S. citizen may sponsor a foreign spouse for an immigrant visa, or they may apply for a fiancé visa on behalf of a foreign citizen, allowing the person to come to the United States, get married, and receive a conditional Green Card. However, a couple’s marriage must be bona fide, and a person cannot enter into a marriage for the purpose of bypassing immigration laws.

There are multiple different forms of marriage fraud. In many of these cases, a U.S. citizen may accept a monetary payment or other benefits in return for agreeing to marry a foreign spouse and sponsor them for an immigrant visa. Marriage fraud is a federal crime, and both parties who enter into an illegitimate marriage may face charges for this offense. The penalties for a conviction on marriage fraud charges may include a prison sentence of up to five years and a fine of up to $250,000.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1754916179.jpgFor immigrants living in the United States, the threat of deportation is a significant concern. After a person has established a life for themselves and their family members in the U.S., being forced to leave the country is likely to cause significant hardship. Fortunately, those who are facing deportation may have options, and in some cases, a person may be able to apply for cancellation of removal. If a person meets certain requirements, deportation proceedings may be ended, and they will be allowed to remain in the United States.

Eligibility for Cancellation of Removal

The requirements for qualifying for cancellation of removal will differ depending on whether a person is a lawful permanent resident with a valid green card. A person may qualify for cancellation of removal if they have had lawful permanent resident status for at least five years, and they have accrued at least seven years of continuous residence in the United States. Lawful permanent residents may be disqualified from cancellation of removal if they have been convicted of an aggravated felony such as murder, sexual assault, drug trafficking, fraud involving at least $10,000, burglary, or bribery.

People who do not have lawful permanent resident status may qualify for cancellation of removal if they have resided in the United States continuously for at least 10 years, can demonstrate that they have good moral character, and have not been convicted of any crimes that would cause them to be deportable. In these cases, a person will need to show that their removal from the United States would cause extreme hardship to a close family member (their spouse, child, or parent) who is a U.S. citizen or has a valid green card. Non-permanent residents who receive a cancellation of removal may also qualify for an adjustment of status that will allow them to become lawful permanent residents.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_shutterstock_1242234112.jpgThere are many situations where people living in the United States may want to sponsor their loved ones for family-based immigration. A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident with a valid Green Card may provide sponsorship for multiple different family members, including a spouse, children, parents, or siblings. However, when doing so, a person will need to meet certain requirements, including making a commitment to provide financial support for those who will be coming to the U.S. By understanding their obligations when sponsoring one or more family members for immigration, a person can avoid potential issues and ensure that they and their loved ones will be able to maintain financial success in the United States.

Filing an Affidavit of Support

When a person sponsors a family member for immigration, they will submit an application for the appropriate type of immigrant visa. Along with the visa application, the sponsor will usually be required to submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864). This affidavit functions as a legally enforceable contract stating that they have the necessary financial resources to provide for the immigrant’s needs and that they accept responsibility for supporting their family member once they enter the United States.

To sponsor a family member for immigration, a person must be at least 18 years old, they must be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and they must maintain a primary residence in the United States. A person must also meet certain income requirements. In general, a sponsor’s household income must be at least 125 percent of the poverty level in the United States for their household size, which includes the sponsor, their dependents, any other family members living in their home, and the immigrant or immigrants being sponsored.

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IL immigration attorneyImmigrants who are hoping to live in the United States and those who are already present in the country may encounter a variety of issues that will affect their legal status and their ability to obtain the necessary visas or Green Cards. One issue that may arise during the immigration process involves inadmissibility, in which immigration officials determine that a person is not eligible to enter the U.S. Fortunately, this will not necessarily prevent a person from immigrating to the United States, and waivers of inadmissibility may be available in certain situations.

Applying for Waivers of Inadmissibility

While there are multiple reasons why a person may be inadmissible, waivers may be available if a person meets certain requirements. These requirements include:

  • Inadmissibility for health-related reasons - If a person is inadmissible because they have been diagnosed with an infectious disease such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or leprosy, they may qualify for a waiver if they are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder or if they are applying for a visa under the Violence Against Women Act. A person who is inadmissible because they have not received required vaccinations may receive a waiver if they can provide evidence they are opposed to vaccinations because of sincerely-held religious beliefs. Those who are inadmissible due to physical or mental health disorders that are associated with harmful behavior may be able to receive a waiver if they can provide a complete medical history that includes findings about their current condition and details treatment that is available in the United States that is expected to reduce the likelihood of future harmful behavior.
  • Inadmissibility based on criminal convictions - Waivers may be available for those who are inadmissible due to crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance violations, prostitution, or multiple criminal convictions that resulted in prison sentences of at least five years. In general, a waiver will be available if at least 15 years have passed since the criminal activity in question, although waivers may also be available in other situations.
  • Inadmissibility based on unlawful presence - A person who remained in the United States illegally for between six months and one year will be inadmissible for three years, while a person who was in the U.S. illegally for more than one year will be inadmissible for 10 years. However, these immigrants may qualify for waivers in some cases.

In many cases, a person may qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility if they can show that being denied admission to the United States would result in extreme hardship for an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder. A person who is not currently in the United States or who is applying for an adjustment of status may file Form I-601 to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. Those who are currently in the U.S. may file Form I-601A if they have already applied for an immigrant visa and would be inadmissible due to unlawful presence.

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IL immigration lawyerThere are many different types of issues that can affect a person’s legal status as an immigrant to the United States. People who have entered the U.S. on an immigrant or non-immigrant visa or who have received a Green Card through adjustment of status may face deportation based on a number of factors, including certain types of criminal convictions. An experienced immigration attorney can help immigrants understand the types of convictions that may cause a person to be deported and the options for addressing these issues.

What Types of Crimes Make a Person Deportable?

Immigration laws are meant to protect the health and safety of those who live in the United States, and immigrants who commit offenses that may cause harm to other people may be subject to deportation. Some offenses will automatically lead to deportation, while others may lead immigration officials to detain a person and initiate removal proceedings because they believe that a person presents a risk of harm to others.

Generally, deportation proceedings may address the following types of crimes:

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DuPage County immigration attorneyA recent decision by a Texas federal judge has dealt a blow to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the United States, which currently provides protection for hundreds of thousands of immigrants. With the judge’s ruling that the program is illegal, the program will no longer be accepting new applicants, and the status of those who are currently in the program could also come into question.

The DACA Program

In 2012, then-President Obama created the DACA program in order to provide a reprieve from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. Many of these Dreamers–a term frequently used to refer to those protected by DACA–are now adults. Since the program was created, more than 800,000 Dreamers have been accepted.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump tried shutting down the program, but was barred from doing so by a number of legal actions. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that the Trump administration could not dissolve the program since it had failed to provide a sufficient justification to end the program.

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Itasca IL immigration lawyerIn January, the Biden administration announced plans for the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 with the goal of implementing significant immigration reform. The bill was formally introduced in both the House and the Senate in February and is currently working its way through the legislative process in both chambers. The bill contains hundreds of pages of legalese, as most congressional bills do. The goal of the bill is much more direct: “To provide an earned path to citizenship, to address the root causes of migration and responsibly manage the southern border, and to reform the immigrant visa system, and for other purposes.”

Breakdown of the Bill

If it passes, the new law would create the largest immigration legalization program in United States history. Some of the key highlights of the bill include the following:

  • Many undocumented immigrants would be eligible for lawful prospective immigrant (LPI) status if they were physically here in the U.S. on or before January 1, 2021. LPI status would allow them to stay in the country lawfully, be eligible for social security cards and work authorizations, and travel outside the U.S. and be readmitted as long as the time away does not exceed 180 days. They would also be able to renew their LPI status every six years; however, if the individual passes a national security and criminal background check and pays taxes, they would be eligible for lawful permanent residence (LPR) status in five years. It is estimated that this new rule would apply to about 11 million undocumented immigrants. Other immigrants who would also be eligible for LPI status are those who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic at jobs that are deemed “essential critical labor or services,” temporary protected status (TPR) recipients, and temporary agricultural workers classified as H-2A.

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Itasca IL immigration lawyerPresident Biden has announced that his administration will be limiting the number of immigration arrests that take place at courthouses. According to the new policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will no longer have the authorization to carry out routine arrests at courthouses.

ICE agents will still be able to arrest individuals in cases in which matters of national security are at risk or the individual poses a threat to public safety. They will also be able to arrest an individual who is the subject of an active pursuit or if there is suspicion the individual may destroy evidence.

Addressing Fears of Law Enforcement

The policy of immigration arrests at courthouses was put in place by the Trump administration and allowed ICE agents to make routine immigration arrests at federal, state, and local courthouses. The practice is believed to have caused many people to avoid cooperating with law enforcement or attending court hearings. Many undocumented immigrants were fearful of confronting domestic abusers or testifying at trials because they feared being arrested by ICE agents and then facing deportation charges.

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Itasca immigration attorneyWith registration for H-1B visas approaching in March, it is important to understand eligibility requirements and the process for obtaining them. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the H-1B is a visa in the United States that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Typically, these jobs require specialized knowledge and a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. The average duration is three years, but they can be extended to six years in some cases, after which the visa holder may need to reapply. Immigration laws limit the number of H-1B visas that are issued each year, so for those foreign nationals seeking an H-1B visa, it is important to properly complete the registration.

Bodies of Work

The H-1B nonimmigrant classification applies to individuals who wish to perform duties in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit, the ability for a Department of Defense (DOD) research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

H-1B specialty occupations can be performed in the following fields:

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DuPage County immigration attorney DACA

A federal court recently ordered full reinstatement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was created under the Obama administration, which protects undocumented immigrants who are brought to the United States as children from deportation. This ruling reverses the decision of the outgoing Trump administration, and it will help many people, including a large number of Indian immigrants. President Trump’s administration tried ending DACA in 2017, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the attempt. DACA allows those individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children to defer deportation for two years and become eligible for a work permit in the United States. Often referred to as “Dreamers,” DACA recipients cannot have any felony or serious misdemeanor convictions on their records. In addition, it only applies to those who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and who have lived in the country continually since 2007.

The Details for Dreamers

More than 600,000 immigrants are enrolled in the DACA program. Per President Trump’s orders last September, DACA was set to end March 5. The administration immediately stopped taking new applications for DACA and accepted renewals for approximately one month. They were hoping the deadline might pressure Congress to come up with a substitute for DACA. In the meantime, two judges have ordered the current administration to accept renewals again. Since DACA is granted for a two-year period, some immigrants will not see their DACA benefits end right away.

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Itasca immigration lawyerAfter being passed by Congress and signed by the President on October 1, 2020, a new law will make USCIS’s Premium Processing service more efficient for those who are going through the U.S. immigration system. Previously, employers and individuals could experience long and unpredictable processing times before receiving USCIS benefits. This expedited processing service allows an applicant to pay an additional fee and receive expedited processing of the petition within a designated timeline. Under the new legislation, USCIS will make Premium Processing available for almost all employment-based immigration and non-immigrant petitions, as well as petitions for their dependents, and petitions for an extension or change of visa status. Premium processing provides expedited processing for the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. These forms guarantee processing in a period of 15 calendar days to immigrants who would like to use the service. If that time frame is not met for any reason, the USCIS will reimburse an individual for the cost of the premium processing service fee and proceed with expedited processing.

New Legislation Aims to Expedite the Process

In addition to the opportunity to pay USCIS for faster service, the new processing update will be expanded to cover new immigration categories. The employment authorization document (EAD) is one example of the processes that can be greatly affected. USCIS used to have a 90-day limit on processing the applications, but these have slowed to six months or longer in certain service centers.

Before this new legislation, USCIS guidelines guaranteed processing within 15 calendar days and the cost of premium processing was $1,440 for those applying for temporary visas. For immigrant applications, premium processing was available, with certain exceptions, for the employment-based (EB-1, 2, 3) visas.

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Itasca immigration lawyerThe path to U.S. citizenship can be complicated for someone coming from another country, especially when a language barrier is involved. There are various legal steps that must be taken to ensure legal entry to the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that oversees the country’s immigration and naturalization process. Obtaining lawful permanent resident (LPR) status means an immigrant will receive what is called a Green Card. This is an important step in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization.

Grounds for Deportation

The U.S. government has the right to remove an undocumented immigrant from the country under certain circumstances. A criminal conviction is one of the most common reasons that an individual would be deported. While not all crimes are grounds for deportation, violent offenses in addition to the smuggling of undocumented immigrants into the United States may warrant an immigrant to be removed. These grounds typically include aggravated felony convictions or more than one conviction for criminal offenses that carry a jail sentence of more than one year. It is important to note that a jail sentence does not have to be served to warrant deportation or removal.

Below are a few of the criminal acts that can lead to deportation or removal from the United States:

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