If you are a foreign national who wishes to come or stay in the United States, a legal permanent resident seeking to apply for citizenship, wish to help your fiance or spouse legally come to the United States, without or unsure of your immigration status, a non-citizen charged with a crime, or in deportation proceedings because of a criminal conviction I can help. I am Attorney Edward Pepe, and I have been practicing Immigration Law for over fifteen years. I have helped countless people obtain legal immigration status, citizenship, relief from deportation (otherwise known as removal), asylum, and countless other forms of relief. Call to schedule a free consultation. Let me be your advocate so you can face the immigration authorities with confidence. Please review the information on this site to help you understand your legal rights and remedies. Thank you for visiting, Attorney Pepe,
JUST THE FAQS
If I am not a citizen of the United States and have been convicted of a crime does it affect my immigration status?
A criminal conviction can have severe consequences to a non-citizen of the United States, not just in terms of causing deportation, but also admissibility to the United States, legal permanent residency (commonly known as obtaining a "green card"), eligibility for citizenship, and other adverse immigration consequences.
If I am a foreign national and have been charged with a crime what should I do? Immediately contact my office. I am an attorney extremely familiar with the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Everything possible must be done to avoid a criminal conviction that can result in the deportation of a non-citizen. Once a non-citizen has a conviction that affects his or her immigration status it is extremely difficult to vacate that conviction. Therefore, the best defense to the adverse consequences of a criminal conviction is to avoid one in the first place. If you are a non-citizen and have been charged with a crime immediately contact my office. I have the knowledge and long experience to assist you in avoiding those consequences.
What types of criminal convictions have adverse consequences on an individual's immigration status? The Immigration and Nationality Act (the federal law that regulates immigration in the United States) categorizes crimes into two categories: 1) Crimes of Moral Turpitude; and 2) Aggravated Felonies. Aggravated felonies have serious immigration consequences which generally result in deportation, however, there are legal defenses that an experienced attorney can use to prevent deportation. Crimes of moral turpitude generally have less serious consequences, but can result in deportation, inadmissibility to the United States, and denial of other immigration benefits. Some crimes have no immigration consequences at all. It is essential for any non-citizen convicted of a crime to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to provide assistance in dealing with criminal convictions to lessen their impact on that person's immigration status.
Does a person placed in immigration proceedings before a Federal Immigration Court need the assistance of an attorney? Yes. Typically a non-citizen who is required to appear before an immigration court is facing deportation from the United States because that person has been convicted of a crime, entered the United States without inspection, or other charges that can result in deportation. An experienced attorney is necessary to mount a competent defense because the immigration law is extremely complicated and a person without experience in dealing with these issues almost without exception would not be able to mount a competent defense. Contact my office immediately to schedule a free one-half hour consultation.
What are the main bases for becoming a legal permanent resident (more commonly known as "green card" holder) to the United States? The steps to becoming a Green Card holder vary by category and depend on whether you currently live inside or outside the United States. The main categories to obtain a green card are: 1) through a family member; and 2) through a job; and 3) through refugee or asylee status. There are other specific categories of individuals that can qualify to obtain a green card. For information on those categories please go to http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/other-ways-get-green-card.
If I am a United States citizen can I sponsor my fiancé who resides in a foreign county to come to the United States so that we may get married? Yes. Certain requirements, however, must be met which include: 1) you, the petitioner, must be a U.S. citizen; and 2) you intend to marry within 90 days of your fiancé entering the United States; and 3) you and your fiancé(e) are both free to marry and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated by divorce, death, or annulment; and 4) you met each other, in person, at least once within 2 years of filing your petition. There are two exceptions to the meeting requirement which include: 1) if the requirement to meet would violate strict and long-established customs of your or your fiancé(e)’s foreign culture or social practice; and 2) if you prove that the requirement to meet would result in extreme hardship to you. Note that after you are married you must then make application for your spouse to obtain legal permanent residency (a "green card") in the United States.
I am a United States citizen and want to marry my fiancé who is a foreign national that resides in the United States. Can my fiancé remain in the United State while I petition for him to obtain legal permanent resident status (commonly known as obtaining a "green card")? The law allows your fiancé to remain in the United States only if he was inspected and admitted or paroled by the immigration authorities into the United States. If your fiancé entered the United States without inspection then your fiancé generally must return to his country of origin and apply at a United States consulate.
What is the procedure if my fiancé is eligible to remain in the United States and obtain legal permanent residency?
The process called "adjustment of status" requires that several petitions be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service which include an application for an: 1) immigrant visa; and 2) permanent residence; and 3) work permit; and 4) medical exam; and 5) affidavit of support. An experienced immigration attorney can greatly assist in properly filling out and filing forms to adjust status and respond to any problems that may arise during the course of the process. This greatly improves the chances that the application will be approved. Call my office for a free consultation.
What is the cost for obtaining legal permanent residency in the United States? In addition to paying legal fees for assistance in preparation of the appropriate documents and to have legal counsel appear with the sponsor and beneficiary of the petitions before the immigration service there are application fees that are paid to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. The current cost of those application fees can be found at http://www.uscis.gov/forms.
My spouse has sponsored me to adjust status to obtain my green card and we are having terrible difficulties in our marriage. I want to get divorced but am afraid that it will affect my green card application. What should I do? If you are in this situation you should ensure that the marriage is dead, and if not, do everything you can to repair the marriage because if a divorce decree is granted before you, the foreign spouse has obtained a green card, then you cannot be granted the green card because the divorce has ended the legal marriage and a foreign spouse cannot be granted a green card based on marriage that no longer exists.
My spouse has sponsored me to adjust status to obtain my green card and my application was recently approved and I have my green card. We are have terrible difficulties in our marriage and I want to get divorced but am afraid that it will affect my green card status. What should I do? Unlike the situation in the prior question you have options in this situation. If you have been married for three years or more and have received an unconditional green card a divorce will not invalidate a granted green card. You may have to wait 5 years (instead of being able to take advantage of the 3 year residency requirement where married to a USC) to apply for naturalization. If, however, you have been married for two years or less and was granted a conditional green card, you must file a petition within the 90 day period with the USCIS before the conditional residency expires and this petition needs to be signed jointly by the USC spouse. And at that time, if you are still married, you will receive your green card. If, however, a divorce decree has been obtained then your conditional permanent resident status can be terminated because divorce terminates the conditional permanent residency granted. You, the immigrant spouse, is not without a remedy because a waiver can be granted if the marriage was based on good faith and permanent resident status can be granted despite the divorce.
What should I do if am a non-citizen, present in the United States, and am unsure of my rights and immigration status? Contact my office immediately and I can advise you about your current immigration status and what rights or remedies you may have. It is important to know your immigration status and to seek the advice of competent counsel to assist you through the complexities of the federal immigration laws. I am here to help and would be happy to assist you.