Vero Beach Immigration Lawyers

Strong advocacy for foreigners seeking US citizenship, and green cards

Vero Beach Immigration

People all across the planet see America as a land of freedom and a land of opportunity. Many people who wish to relocate to Vero Beach have relatives in Vero Beach already. Obtaining a nonimmigrant visa, becoming a legal permanent resident (LPR), or becoming a US citizenship requires the skills of experienced immigration lawyers. Seasoned Florida immigration lawyers are also skilled at defending foreigners in deportation proceedings and when they’ve been charged with criminal offenses.

Foreigners generally can obtain LPR status (which means they have a green card) or US citizenship if they are sponsored by someone who already is a US citizen or by a legal permanent resident. Generally, the sponsor must also be a relative of the applicant – though exceptions may apply for some refugees, asylees, and others.

Foreigners may also be able to obtain LPR status based on the type of work they do or if they make investments in the United States. Generally, it helps if the applicant already resides in the US – if the applicant wants to become a US citizen or obtain a green card. In some cases, eligibility for LPR status is based on a visa lottery and/or the number of eligible immigrants for a specific country of origin.

 At Lulich & Attorneys,  we’ve been advocating for Vero Beach residents and families for nearly 35 years. We’ll explain how you can help a loved one file the correct legal documents, in the correct places, at the correct time – so they can petition to obtain a nonimmigrant visa, a green card, become a US citizen, or defend themselves in deportation cases. We also help foreign applicants who already reside in Florida.

Obtaining citizenship through the naturalization process

Applicants and sponsors of foreign applicants rely on experienced Vero Beach immigration lawyers to explain who is eligible for naturalization – the process by which a foreigner becomes a US citizen. They also rely on skilled Florida immigration lawyers to submit the correct documentation and guide the applicant through the approval process.

7,400 Indian River County residents, between 2015 and 2019 used the naturalization process to become US citizens. The most common language other than English among the foreign born population of Indian River County is Spanish.

The core requirements for naturalization include:

  • The applicant must be 18 or older
  • The applicant must live in the US from the time the application is filed through the time the USCIS grants citizenship
  • The applicant must have “good moral character”
  • The person seeking naturalization must pass a citizenship/civics examination that demonstrates an understanding of US history.
  • The applicant needs to be able, with some exceptions, to read, write, and speak simple English. The understanding of English requirement may be waived if the applicant:
    • Is 50 or older and has had LPR status for 20 years or more
    • Is 55 or older and has had LPR status for 15 years or more.
    • Other exceptions based on the health of the applicant may apply

Applicants who are single must have had LPR status for at least five years before filing for US citizenship. Applicants who are married must have had LPR status for at least three years before filing for US citizenship. The residency time limits may be modified was or is a member of the US military.

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may also consider an applicant’s work history and any investments the applicant made to the US economy. Applicants who have a criminal record may not be eligible for US citizenship. The USCIS may even start deportation proceedings depending on the type of criminal offense.

Our skilled Vero Beach immigration lawyers review the following naturalization factors:

  • The eligibility to apply. You need to meet the eligibility requirements. You may even be a US citizen and not know it. If your parents (biological or adoptive) became US citizens before your turned 18, then you should automatically qualify for US citizenship. We’ll explain if you qualify.
  • Form N-400. This form needs to be completed and submitted along with the filing fees and any support documents that may be required.
  • Biometrics. Your picture and fingerprints will be taken to verify your identity and to run a background check.
  • An interview. You may be asked to answer questions at an interview to confirm your English proficiency and take the civics exam.

Once your naturalization application is approved, you should receive a notice to Pledge your Allegiance to America. The best part is taking the Oath of US citizenship at the Courthouse with your family.

If the applicant doesn’t have their green card, then we’ll work to obtain legal permanent residency status so you can obtain the green card and be one step closer to applying for US citizenship.

How does family-based citizenship work in Vero Beach?

Many Vero Beach citizens and residents with LPR status have spouses, mothers, fathers, children, and siblings who they’d like help to become US citizens. Many family members are eligible for legal permanent residency status if they meet the eligibility requirements and if they complete the paperwork and other legal requirements. Once they obtain their green card (LPR status), they can then apply for citizenship through the naturalization process.

The requirements to be eligible to file for a green card based on sponsorship by a US citizen are that the applicant:

  • Is the spouse of a US citizen.
  • Is under 21 and an unmarried child of a US citizen
  • Is the parent of a US citizen who is 21 or older
  • Is the son or daughter of a US citizen, is not married, and the applicant is 21 or older

Vero Beach residents with LPR status (but who aren’t US citizens) can also sponsor foreign family members for a green card if the applicant (some exceptions may apply):

  • Is the spouse of a legal permanent resident
  • Is the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child. To qualify for the green card, the sponsor/applicant must use a K-1 nonimmigrant visa petition for the fiancé(e) and a K-2 nonimmigrant visa process for the child of the fiancé(e).
  • Is under 21 and is the unmarried child of the LPR.
  • Is the unmarried child of the LPR and is 21 or older.

Other family members who can also apply for a green card are:

  • A widow or widower of a US citizen – as long as the widow and US citizen were married when the US citizen died
  • Some family members of an LPR can request a green card f they are being abused. These members include spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21.

Other eligibility requirements that your Vero Beach immigration lawyer can explain, may also apply. Generally, the application for the green card is filed in the US or at the consular office of the foreign location if the applicant lives abroad.

Our experienced Vero Beach immigration lawyers help families understand the eligibility requirements and prepare and process the necessary petitions. We explain what forms need to be completed, what the time limits are, and the evidence that must be submitted in support of the green card request.

Some of the issues involved with applying for a K-1 nonimmigrant visa are:

  • The fiancé and the US citizen must enter into a bona fide marriage within 90 days after the fiancé is admitted into the United States. Once the marriage becomes official, the fiancé/now spouse can apply for a green card by filing a second petition called an “Adjustment of status.” Any prior marriages must have been properly terminated through death, divorce, or an annulment.
  • The fiancé and US spouse must have met at least once during the two years prior to filing the K-1 petition – unless a cultural exception applies or if the meeting would create an extreme hardship.

The family green card process can become very confusing if there are children of different relationships. Our experienced Vero Beach immigration lawyers work to address any complicated family situations that may arise.

We recognize how important it is for families to stay together. We’ll guide you and your family through phases of the green card and naturalization process.

Deportation and Removal Proceeds for Vero Beach foreigners

Every foreigner, even those with green cards and nonimmigrant visas, worry that they may be ordered to appear at a deportation proceeding if they are charged with violating the law, they’ve overstayed their visa, or for other reasons. All foreigners without documentation worry that they can be deported every day. Foreigners worry they may never see their family again. They worry about the life they’ll need in countries they left a long time ago.

The USCIS should serve you with a Notice to Appear. The notice should explain why you need to appear in court. Unlike American citizens charged with crimes, immigrants are not entitled to court-appointed counsel. That’s why you need a skilled Vero Beach immigration lawyer on your side. Some defenses may apply. You have the right to contest any criminal charges. You can show that your visa or green card is valid.

In some cases, if you are facing deportation, you may be able to seek asylum due to fear of persecution in your country of origin.

When can Vero Beach holders of visas request an adjustment of their visa status?

There are some ways and times when aliens who have a nonimmigrant visa such as a tourist visa or a short-term work visa can request a change of their visa status to another nonimmigrant category or to LPR status. The USCIS has different categories of people, such as workers and family members, who can request an adjustment of status if they are already in the United States.

The eligibility categories, according to the USCIS, include:

  • There are some workers that the US wants to stay in the US – such as skilled workers, professionals, and workers who create jobs through investments
  • Asylee status. To be eligible, the asylee must have been physically present in the US for one year or more after the asylum grant. The applicant’s asylee status must also be current.
  • Refugee status. Refugees also must be present in the US for at least one year before they can file for an adjustment of status and they must meet other conditions that your Vero Beach immigration lawyer can explain.
  • A US citizen can petition for an adjustment of status (by using form I-485) on behalf of:
    • Unmarried sons and daughters under 21
    • Married sons and daughters of any age
    • Siblings
    • A spouse
    • A parent provided certain age requirements are met

The sponsor or applicant (your lawyer can explain which) must file Form I-485 to seek an adjustment of status. There are some occasions where the alien may be able to file for adjustment of status directly.

Foreigners seeking a green card, when using an Adjustment of Status petition, will also need to complete the biometric appointment uses the applicant’s fingerprints and photo to run background and security checks. Applicants may be required to attend an interview. If the Form I-485 documentation is incomplete, the USCIS may ask the applicant/sponsor to provide additional information.

If the Adjustment of Status petition is approved by the USCIS, the USCIS will usually first notify the applicant of the approval. The green card will be sent subsequently.  If an Adjustment of Status request is denied, the USCIS should inform the applicant in writing why the application was denied and whether the applicant can appeal. Most applicants cannot appeal a negative decision. Applicants may be permitted to ask the USCIS to reopen the request or reconsider the request.

The Adjustment of Status process takes a lot of time – often 8-14 months. You normally only get once chance to request an Adjustment of Status. Because of the long timeline and the need to get the petition correct the first time, it’s critical that sponsors and applicants work with seasoned Vero Beach immigration lawyers who will work to ensure you have the correct documentation, that you’re eligible, and that you present your best case in front of the USCIS.

How a Vero Beach criminal alien defense lawyer helps immigrants charged with crimes

Any immigrant, whether they’re undocumented, have a nonimmigrant visa, or have a green card – can be subject to deportation if they are convicted, plead guilty, or plead nolo contendere to Florida or federal criminal charges – depending on the type of offense. There are two immigration concerns, in addition to the criminal charges:

  • Some crimes can result in deportation proceedings.
  • Some crimes may make the foreigner inadmissible if he/she tries to enter the US or leaves the US (even with a visa or green card) and then tries to reenter the United States.

The USSIS and federal law qualify certain crimes as deportable or inadmissible offenses. Generally, deportable crimes include:

  • Crimes involving moral turpitude. These crimes include murder, rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual assault, fraud, robbery, and prostitution.
  • Aggravated felonies. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Servers don’t automatically follow state or federal definitions for aggravated felonies. Generally, USCIS uses their own definitions of what acts constitute an aggravated felony. If the crime is the type where a conviction, even for a first offense, is likely to result in imprisonment for one year or more – USCIS will likely consider that crime to be an aggravated felony. Obstructing justice is likely to be considered an aggravated felony.
  • Drug crimes. Generally, the US Department of Homeland Security decides which drug offenses should result in deportation.
  • Crimes of domestic violence. Any crimes involving force or the likelihood of physical harm – involving a spouse, former spouse, domestic partner, parent, or child might be considered a deportable offense.
  • Weapons offenses. Generally, crimes involving any type of weapon are deportable.

Other deportable crimes include multiple convictions for any types of crimes and theft crimes. A person can be convicted by a jury, by a judge, by entering a plea of guilty, or by entering a nolo contendere plea.

The crimes that are “inadmissible” are set forth in the federal statutes. In addition to affecting your right to reenter the US if you leave, inadmissible crimes also affect your ability to:

  • Petition for an adjustment of your immigration status
  • Request US citizenship
  • Petition for asylum
  • Petition for a green card
  • Seek a waiver of admissibility

Our immigration lawyers assert every defense that applies if deportation is based on a criminal charge including that the crime doesn’t qualify as a deportable crime. For example, a speeding ticket or a parking ticket normally shouldn’t justify a removal proceeding. Immigrants can appeal negative decisions made by the USCIS at the deportation hearing.

At Lulich & Attorneys, our Sebastian immigration lawyers understand just how scary removal hearings are. We work to obtain acquittals and dismissals of the criminal charges. When considering a plea bargain to a reduced/lesser charge, we look to see if the reduced charge is or isn’t considered a deportable crime.

We understand the dual nature of criminal charges – they can result in criminal convictions and in deportation. We fight aggressively to defeat the criminal charge and also fight to show that you shouldn’t be deported.

Speak with a respected Vero Beach immigration attorney today

You can reach us in Vero Beach at (772) 589-5500 or use our contact form to schedule an appointment.