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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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