Law Offices of

Cynthia R. Exner, LLC



American Immigration Lawyers Association










Frequently Asked Questions

1. I know a person who owns a business and he wants to sponsor me for permanent residency. Do I have to be working for him during the process?
No, the employer-sponsor process is really about a job “in the future”. You do not have to be working for the employer-sponsor during the process and you do not have to even be in the US during the process. You are supposed to take the job at the end of the process when you become legal to work in the US

2. I came to the US as a tourist with a B-1 Visitor Visa, but now I would like to go to college in the US. Do I have to go back to my country first?          No, if you are still in legal status under your Visitor Visa, then you qualify to Change your Status to Student Visa while you are inside the US. However, if you have overstayed the time that was given to you at the port of entry on your I-94 card, then you will have to return to your country and apply for a new Student Visa at the US Consulate in your country.

3. I graduated from a US university and I have an employer who wants to get an H-1B visa for me. Can my employer file for me while I am in the US? H-1B visas are professional visas generally only issued to college graduates. There are some equivalency determinations permitted, which means that if you never graduated from college, but have worked in a professional level occupation for 20 years, your experience may be equivalent to college education and you would need to obtain an equivalency evaluation from an approved agency in the US. If you are still in legal status, then you should be able to file for a Change of Status to H-1B status. However, if this is the very first H-1B that you are ever requesting, then there are severe time constraints. The new H-1B visas are issued every year on October 1, 2014 (because immigration works on a fiscal year and that is the first day of their new fiscal year). An employer can apply for a new H-1B visa up to 6 months ahead of October 1st, which means that on April 1st all employers are applying for the H-1B visas which they will need. Generally, many more employers apply than there are available H-1B visas, which means that all new H-1B visas are used up on April 1st. Effectively, employers can only apply one day per year for the new H-1B visas, and that is on April 1st each year, for issuance on October 1st. You must take this into account when you consider that you must be a college graduate to apply, and you must remain in status until the visa is issued (unless you qualify for cap-gap)

4. I was detained by immigration officers at the border when I entered the US many years ago but I never went to court. I have stayed in the US for many years and nothing has happened to me. Do I need to worry about that old case? Yes, chances are you were Ordered Removed from the US in absentia, which means in your absence. This is a very dangerous situation for you because you may have an old outstanding order of removal/deportation against you. If you are ever stopped by the local police, even for a broken tail light, and they contact immigration, immigration officers could come down and take you immediately for removal/deportation from the U.S.

5. I got my green card through marriage to a US citizen, but we got divorced. Can I still keep my green card? Generally the answer is yes. If the US citizen did something wrong, then immigration does not make you stay married to the US citizen. If the citizen got another girlfriend, or went to jail, or was abusing you, you do not have to stay married. If you became a permanent resident before you were married for 2 years, then you will have to Remove Conditions on your Permanent Resident status and you will have to explain what happened to immigration. However, if YOU did something wrong in the marriage, then you may lose your permanent resident status.

6. I am a permanent resident and I just got arrested for possession of cocaine. I was at a party and other US citizen-guests brought the cocaine, but everyone got arrested. My friends are going to plead guilty to possession and get no jail time. Can I plead guilty too?              No! You are not a US citizen yet and you could lose your permanent resident status and be forever barred from the US if you plead guilty to a drug crime. Drug crimes are called “the kiss of death”. It is very important to consult with an immigration attorney before pleading guilty to any crimes, to make sure that you aren’t subjecting yourself to removal/deportation from the US.

7. I am marrying my same-sex spouse and I have 3 minor children from a prior marriage. Can my same-sex spouse also sponsor my minor children? If you marry before your children turn 18, then your spouse may sponsor your minor, unmarried children also.

8 I am not legal in the US but I have a 2 year old US citizen child. Can my child sponsor me? Your US citizen child can sponsor you when the child turns 21 years of age