SERVICES FOR INDIVIDUALS
Individuals from all over the world need help in filing for immigrant visas for their families. This is because most immigrants come alone to the United States, dreaming of bringing their relatives once they have attained legal status and economic success. This is most likely the reason why there is a long waiting time for Green Cards for family members of U.S. Citizens and Green Card holders.
Our goal at BlackHawk is to bring families together as quickly as possible. We have experience helping clients in the following immigration situations:
Visas for Spouses of Non-Immigrants (F2, H4, J2, L2, M2, O3, P4, Q3, R2, etc.)
DO YOU WANT TO WORK IN THE U.S.?
BlackHawk assists individuals and corporations with professional transfers to the United States from around the globe. Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the U.S. for work must first obtain either a nonimmigrant visa for a temporary stay, or an immigrant visa for permanent residence.
Nonimmigrant status allows a person to enter the U.S. for a limited period of time. These visa categories generally require an employer to first file a paper-based, nonimmigrant petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The foreign national may then use an approved petition to apply for a visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Upon issuance of the visa into the applicant’s passport, the employee may then enter the U.S. to work for the sponsoring employer.
Certain nonimmigrant categories (L-1 and TN) allow Canadian citizens to apply in-person for temporary work status at a Class A port-of-entry to the U.S. Upon approval, a work permit is issued on-the-spot and the Canadian may begin employment in the U.S. that same day.
There are many different types of visas available for working in the United States. For more information about the many nonimmigrant visa categories we handle, click on the links below:
I VISAS FOR REPRESENTATIVE OF THE MEDIA
The I visa is commonly referred to as Media Visa. It is a nonimmigrant visa for foreign media workers traveling to the U.S.A., engaging in their profession and having their home office in a foreign country. While issuing the I visa, the consular officer will consider whether the applicant’s own government grants similar privileges, to representatives of the media or press from the U.S.A. and follow appropriate procedures.
An I visa is for “representative of the foreign media” such as members of the press, film, radio or print industries, whose activities are necessary to the function of the foreign media such as reporters, film crews, editors and other persons in similar occupations, traveling to the U.S.A. to engage in their profession.
The I visa is generally issued only for 1 year and can be applied for abroad or within the U.S.A. as change of status.
R-1 VISAS FOR TEMPORARY NONIMMIGRANT RELIGIOUS WORKERS
R-1 visas are issued to temporary religious workers with non-immigrant intent. The intending worker must be sponsored by a non-profit religious organization that has been present for a minimum of two years within the United States. The petitioning organization and immigrant must demonstrate that the worker will participate in full-time (a minimum of 35 hours) work at the organization per week. The petitioning organization must provide evidence regarding the compensation for the position, which may include: budgets, evidence of previous compensation for a similar position, or verifiable documentation of room and board (if it will be provided). If the religious worker will support themselves during their time in the U.S., they must demonstrate a financial ability to do so and that the position is part of an international missionary program.
R-1 visas grant the religious worker permission to work for the religious organization in the US for up to 30 months; with a possible 30 month extension. A religious worker may remain in R-1 status for up to 60 months. Should a religious worker seek R-1 status again, after previously maintaining R-1 status for 60 months, they must remain outside the U.S. for one full year before seeking R-1 status again.
Additionally, it is the burden of the petitioning organization to evidence their tax exempt status under the IRS as a religious non-profit [Section 501(c)(3)]. It is the burden of the religious worker to demonstrate their membership in the religious organization. Spouses and children under 21 of R-1 religious workers are eligible for R-2 classification, but are not authorized to accept employment as R-2 visa holders.
There are currently no annual quotas or caps for R-1 visas.
How do I qualify for an R-1 Visa?
1. The sponsoring Religious Organization must exist &have a bona fide presence within the U.S. for at least two years prior to petition an alien for R1 status;
2. The sponsoring Religious Organization is tax-exempt under the IRS as described in section 501(c)(3) of the IRS code;
3. The intending religious worker must have been a member of the Religious Organization (including the specific religious denomination or one closely similar in practice and beliefs) for a least two years immediately prior to filing for the R-1 Visa;
4. If applying from outside the US, you must be entering the US for the sole purpose of working and carrying out the duties of the Religious Organization in a religious capacity;
5. R-1 Religious workers who max out the 5 year stay must remain physically outside of the U.S. for 1 full year before seeking R-1 status again.
6. Must be seeking to work in a religious occupation or vocation as defined in 8 CFR § 204.5(m).
7. This includes: Ministers, Rabbis, Priests, Clergy members, or other individuals in a role that directly relates to the dissemination or inculcation of the organizations beliefs or creed that is a recognized occupation within the organization.
8. Other religious workers can include: Vocational religious workers who have taken vows, ceremonies, etc., attesting to a particular religious lifestyle that is recognized by the organization such as nuns, monks, and religious brothers & sisters.
Those who are not eligible include: administrative or supporting occupations such as: maintenance workers, janitors, clerks, accountants, fundraisers, choir members, musicians, administration (when not directly related to the organization’s beliefs or doctrine), or religious students (although study & training is allowed under R-1 status).
For a variety of reasons, many individuals who enjoy Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) Status (a.k.a. “green cards”) in the United States need to travel outside the United States for significant periods of time. It is important to know that Customs and Border Protection is cracking down on green card holders coming back from extended trips abroad. Any time a green card holder plans to spend, or actually spends, more than six months outside the United States, the green card holder should proactively contemplate the potential immigration consequences of the trip.
Filing a Re-Entry Permit Prior to Departure
If you know that you will be outside the U.S. for a significant period of time, you can file an application for a reentry permit prior to leaving the United States. The purpose of filing for a re-entry permit is to establish that you do not intend to abandon your status even though you will be spending more time outside the U.S. than is generally allowed.
In the application for re-entry permit, you will need to justify to U.S. immigration officials why you need to remain outside the United States for more than the allowed time period. You should also submit evidence showing continued ties to the U.S. sufficient to prove to immigration officials that you do not intend to abandon your residence in the United States.
A re-entry permit is valid for up to two years. It cannot be extended.
INVESTOR GREEN CARD: EB-5
Families and individuals who seek to move to the United States on a permanent basis can apply for the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) set out various requirements to obtain permanent residency through the EB-5 visa program. The requirements can be summarized as:
1. The investor must meet capital investment amount requirements; it is typically required to make either a $500,000 or $1 million capital investment amount into a U.S. commercial enterprise,
2. Job creation requirements, and
3. Ensure that the business receiving the investment qualifies for the EB-5 program.
EB-5 visa applicants, their spouse, and their children under 21 will obtain Permanent Residency in the U.S. (a.k.a. a “Green card”) once all requirements have been successfully met and approved by USCIS
The Q-1 visa allows individuals to come to the U.S. to take part in an established international cultural exchange program. The program must provide practical training and employment, while sharing the participants' native culture, history, and traditions with the people of the United States.
There is no cap on the number of visas issued under this category each year.
Key Features of the Q-1 Visa
A Q-1 visa is a nonimmigrant visa and thus requires nonimmigrant intent. In other words, upon the termination of the Q-1 visa an individual must return to his/her native country. Once the individual has entered the U.S. in Q-1 status, he/she can engage only in activities allowed under the visa.
The spouse and children (unmarried, under age 21) of Q-1 visa holders may come to the U.S. under Q-3 visa status. A Q visa petition is approved for the length of the program, or for 15 months, whichever is shorter. The holder of a Q visa may enter the U.S. up to 10 days before the start date of the petition. No extensions of stay are granted upon the expiration of the 15 months. Moreover, the holder of a Q visa who has spent 15 months in the United States may not be issued a visa or be readmitted under the Q visa classification unless he/she has resided and been physically present outside the U. S. for one year. Upon the expiration of the 15 months, an individual has 30 days to depart the U.S.
Adoption refers to a legal process in which a person or couple assumes the parenting role of a child from others, thereby acquiring parenting rights and responsibilities over the child.
U.S. based adoption takes place within the borders of the U.S. and its territories. Adoption laws differ from one State to another vary according to the state of residence for the parents and the child. The prospective parents must abide to State’ s laws and regulations, which usually consider age, residence, marital status, and other criteria for those involved in the process. The complexities of adoption almost always require an attorney with experience in adoption as it related to adopting an immigrant child.
U.S. Based Adoption
There are three main petitions through which the adoptive parents can file for the US immigration of an adopted child:
1. Hague Convention Petition
Hague Convention applies if the adoptive U.S. Citizen parent chooses to adopt from a country that is party to the Convention. In a Convention adoption, U.S. parents are unable to choose a particular child since the potential adoptees are provided by the central authorities of that- country. What’s more, the adoptive parents cannot contact the biological parents, orphanage or legal custodian of the intended adoptee. However, the child will gain U.S. citizenship once the adoption is completed. Moreover, there is an exception by which the U.S. Citizen parent can opt-out of the Hague Convention and proceed directly to an I-130 petition.
2. Orphan Petition
This applies to the immigration of an adopted child from a non-Hague Convention country and also qualifies as an orphan as defined by U.S. law.
3. I-130 petition
Under several circumstances, an adoptive parent can file an I-130 F2A petition for the adopted child. This process is obviously different from the other two adoption processes because it requires adoptive parents to have a two-year legal custody of the child, as well, as a two-year joint residency with the adoptee. Once these two criteria are met the adoptive parents can apply for the child’s immigration benefits.
At BlackHawk, we work with many immigrants regarding Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
UPDATE: Unfortunately, due to a federal court order, BlackHawk is not currently accepting requests for the expansion of DACA. Original DACA is not affected by this. Individuals may still come forward and request DACA under the guidelines explained below.
Original DACA allows “certain people who came to the United States as children and meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal. They are also eligible for work authorization. Deferred action is a use of prosecutorial discretion to defer removal action against an individual for a certain period of time. Deferred action does not provide lawful status.”
You may request DACA if you:
1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday
3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS
5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012
6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety
If expanded DACA is implemented, it will expand eligibility beyond these guidelines.
M Visa: Vocational Student
Unlike F-Visas, which are available to foreign students seeking to enter the United States to engage in purely academic studies, M-Visas are available to foreign students who wish to pursue vocational studies at a community college, junior college, or vocational school (including flight school, cooking school, etc.) in the U.S. The process of obtaining an M-Visa is substantially similar to obtaining an F-Visa, insofar as students seeking an M-Visa must present a valid SEVIS 1-20 at their consular interview and must meet the same general requirements as students seeking F-Visas.
M-Visas are considerably more restrictive than F-Visas. An M-Visa holder is not permitted to change his or her educational objectives once his or her visa has been approved, nor is he or she allowed to change schools without approval from U.S.C.I.S. An M-Visa holder cannot reduce his or her course load without a medical reason, and is not permitted to change his or her status from M-status to F-status or, generally, to change his or her status from M-Status to H-status.
M-Visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States during their educational program, but can be authorized, like F-1 students, for employment in connection to practical training once their studies are complete. Employment may be authorized for either six months or for one month for every four months that the student was in school, whichever is shorter. M-Visa holders are permitted to bring family members to the United States in M-2 status. Many times students get accepted by their school of choice but are unable to attend classes because they were denied the visa at the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The experienced immigration experts at BlackHawk Immigration can help you prepare for the interview and assemble the requisite supporting evidence.
Application Requirements for F-1 Student Visas
An alien who is going to pursue full-time academic studies in a college, university, seminary, conservatory, academic high school, private elementary schools, other academic institution, or language-training program in the U.S. can apply for an F-1 Visa with a U.S. consulate abroad. In order to be eligible to apply for an F-1 Visa, various documents should be submitted to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. An F-1 Visa holder is permitted to change his or her educational objectives once the visa has been approved and is also allowed to change schools without approval from U.S.C.I.S.. F-1 Visa holders can change status to other visa categories like H-1B. F-1 Visa holders are not permitted to work in the United States during their educational program, but can be authorized for employment in connection to ‘practical training’ once their studies are complete. Students who hold a degree in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) are also eligible for a 17-months extension on their ‘occupational practical training.’
F-1 Visa holders are permitted to bring family members to the United States in F-2 status.
Many times students get accepted by their school of choice but are unable to attend classes because they were denied the visa at the interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The experienced immigration experts at BlackHawk can help you prepare for the interview and assemble the requisite supporting evidence.
Under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), certain representatives and staff from member countries can enter the U.S. with temporary visas. Under the treaty, these visa holders are not subject to normal immigration inspections and documentary requirements. Instead, consular officials decide whether they are admitted. Admission is for as long as the Secretary of State recognizes their status. Employment authorization is obtained through the State Department.
An alien shall be classified under the symbol NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, or NATO-5 if he or she is seeking admission to the United States under the applicable provision of the Agreement on the Status of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, National Representatives and International Staff, or is a member of the immediate family of an alien classified NATO-1 through NATO-5.
However, many armed forces personnel are exempt from passport and visa requirements if they are either attached to NATO Allied Headquarters in the United States and are traveling on official business, or are entering the United States under NATO Status of Forces Agreement. In the case of the latter, they must carry official military ID cards and NATO travel orders. Personnel of foreign armed services from other than NATO countries coming to the United States in connection with their military status for education or training at any of the U.S. military schools qualify for A-2 visas.
We are able to offer assistance to individuals seeking A-Visas, reserved for diplomats and foreign officials performing duties on behalf of their government, and G-Visas for those individuals working at certain international organizations within the United States.
Types of Diplomatic Visas
A-1 visas are available to ambassadors, public ministers, or career diplomatic or consular officers. Immediate relatives of individuals holding these positions can also qualify for A-1 status.
An A-2 visa is based on reciprocity and granted to other officials and employees who have been accredited by a foreign government and who are accepted by the Secretary of State. Members of the immediate families of these officials and employees also receive A-2 visas.
A-3 visas are available to attendants, servants, and personal employees of A-1 and A-2 visa holders.
G-Visas are available to individuals working at certain international organizations within the United States. There are five different types of G-Visa:
G-l status is given to the principal resident representative to a permanent mission of a recognized international organization and to his or her immediate family members and staff. G-1 visas are designated for members of a permanent mission of a recognized government.
G-2 status is awarded to representatives of recognized governments and their immediate families who are traveling to the United States temporarily to attend meetings of a recognized international organization.
G-3 status is issued to representatives of non-recognized or non-member governments and to members of their immediate families to allow them to attend temporary meetings of recognized international organizations.
G-4 status is reserved for officers and employees, of any rank, of international organizations, and their immediate family members. Officers and employees of designated international organizations who are not assigned in the United States may be accorded G-4 classification if they intend to transit the United States.
G-5 status is given to attendants, servants, and personal employees of G-1 through G-4 visa status holders.
U VISAS FOR CRIME VICTIMS ASSISTING LAW ENFORCEMENT
The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 authorized two new visas: the “U” visa for immigrant victims of serious crimes and the “T” visa for victims of severe human trafficking. These visas were created due to rising public safety concerns, with the idea that foreign victims of crimes in the U.S. should be allowed to remain in order to provide law enforcement officials with information that will assist in apprehending and prosecuting criminal offenders.
If you are approved for a U visa, you will be granted legal status in the U.S. for up to four years (which may be extended if "exceptional circumstances" warrant it). Once you have held your U visa for three years, you may be eligible to apply for legal permanent residence (a "green card").
However, it is not enough to simply state that you have been a victim of a serious crime in order to get a U visa. You will need to provide a certificate of helpfulness from a qualifying law enforcement agency and prove that you suffered mental or physical abuse by a U.S. perpetrator. Additionally, if you are “inadmissible” to the U.S. due to past immigration violations or for other reasons, you will need to apply for a waiver of these grounds.
Becoming a Citizen
Becoming a United States Citizen is the dream of most immigrants. At times, uninformed immigrants with past criminal acts file an Application for Naturalization on their own and they end up in Removal Proceedings in front of an Immigration Judge. This is because they did not consult a skilled immigration attorney who has reviewed their past history to assess whether they are able to naturalize. Other times, individuals do not apply for naturalization because they are unable to speak English or learn History, and are unaware that certain individuals can file a waiver to waive both tests.
In essence, prior to filing for naturalization it is paramount that a skilled immigration lawyer be consulted. Individuals are often surprised and find out that they are already U.S. Citizens by operation of law.
What Is Naturalization?
Naturalization is commonly referred to as the manner in which a person not born in the United States voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen.
The Constitution and laws of the United States give many rights to both citizens and non-citizens living in the United States. However, some rights are only for citizens, such as:
Voting. Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections. Most States also restrict the right to vote, in most elections, to U.S. citizens.
Bringing family members to the United States. Citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to the U.S..
Obtaining citizenship for children born abroad. In most cases, a child born abroad to a U.S. citizen is automatically a U.S. citizen.
Traveling with a U.S. passport.
A U.S. passport allows you to get assistance from the U.S. government when overseas.
Becoming eligible for Federal jobs. Most jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.
Becoming an elected official. Many elected offices in this country require U.S. citizenship.
Showing your patriotism. In addition, becoming a U.S. citizen is a way to demonstrate your commitment to your new country.
What are the requirements for naturalization?
The process of obtaining U.S. citizenship is called naturalization. Here are the basic requirements for naturalization:
Permanent Residency: You must be a permanent resident, i.e., have a green card to apply for naturalization
Continuous Residency in the United States
Physical presence in the United States
Ability to read, write, and speak English (in most cases)
Knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and civics
Good moral character
Support for the U.S. Constitution and the U.S. government
Common Obstacles to Citizenship, Naturalization
Everyone makes mistakes. But if your goal is U.S. citizenship, even a small mistake many years ago can stand in the way of your dream.
Other potential problems for applicants for citizenship include:
Voting in U.S. elections as a permanent resident
Failure to pay child support
Failure or omission to pay Taxes
Failure to register for selective service (for man only)
Staying outside the U.S. for a long period of time
Separation from your husband or wife
Who can apply for naturalization?
If you are at least 18 years old and have been a Permanent Resident for the past 5 years and have no special circumstances NOTE: Over 90% of applicants fall into this category.
If you are at least 18 years old and are currently married to and living with a U.S. citizen; and have been married to and living with that same U.S. citizen for the past 3 years; and your spouse has been a U.S. citizen for the past 3 years.
If you have 5 years as a Permanent Resident (a.k.a. you had your ‘Green Card’ for 5 years) without leaving the United States for trips of 6 months or longer.
If you are in the U.S. Armed Forces (or will be filing your application within 6 months of an honorable discharge); and have served for at least 1 year.
If you are at least 18 years old and were in the U.S. Armed Forces for less than 1 year or
If you are at least 18 years old and were in the U.S. Armed Forces for 1 year or more, but you were discharged more than 6 months ago.
If you performed active duty military service during:
World War I (April 6, 1917-November 11, 1918);
World War II (September 1, 1939-December 31, 1946);
Korea (June 25, 1950-July 1, 1955);
Vietnam (February 28, 1961-October 15, 1978);
Persian Gulf (August 2, 1990-April 11, 1991); or
On or after September 11, 2001.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ)
Today, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning (LGBTQ) non-citizens have the same rights and protections under U.S. immigration law as all other non-citizens. However, LGBTQ non-citizens often face unique challenges when facing immigration law issues. According to the Williams Institute at UCLA, an estimated 267,000 undocumented immigrants identify themselves as LGBTQ. Hoping to flee discrimination, trauma, and persecution, some LGBTQ individuals have sought new beginnings and opportunities in the U.S. and are now seeking work visas, lawful permanent residency, green cards, and citizenship.
The immigration experts at BlackHawk understand the issues LGBTQ non-citizens face and offer immigration services in an LGBTQ-friendly environment. Whether you or your loved one are seeking citizenship, asylum, or are facing deportation, our immigration experts are available to help protect your legal rights and attainable pathways to legal residence or citizenship.
MARRIAGE CASES AND PETITIONS
Today, same-sex marriage is legal in every state in the U.S. LGBTQ non-citizens who are married to a U.S. citizen, legal permanent resident, green card holder, or visa holder, may petition for their immigration status to be protected through their same-sex marriage. Our experienced immigration experts can assist you in filling out and filing the necessary documents in order to become protected through your same-sex marriage.
ABUSED SPOUSE CASES
If you have been a victim of a crime, including spousal abuse, you may be entitled to obtain a U visa or a T visa. Moreover, there are special laws and rules specifically for spousal abuse. U visas are made available to immigrants who have been a victim of a certain crime, whereas T visas cover an array of crimes, including human and sex trafficking, as well as forced labor. Victims of domestic abuse may also be protected through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). These special types of visas may protect LGBTQ non-citizens from deportation, give them the ability to work legally and provide the option to apply for a green card.
POLITICAL ASYLUM BASED ON GENDER PREFERENCE
Many LGBTQ non-citizens come to the U.S. because they seek protection from persecution in their home country. Asylum is a form of protection that may be granted to a non-citizen that flees from their country because they fear they will be harmed because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, identified gender, or sexual orientation.
The time to file an asylum protection order is limited. The order must be filed within one year of arriving in the U.S. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact our immigration experts.
If you’re not a citizen of the United States, getting a drivers license can be confusing. There are many requirements that must be met and identification forms that must be provided. BlackHawk can help you navigate the Motor Vehicle commission’s requirements for getting a license as a non citizen.