Green Cards & Naturalization

Our legal services include assistance with obtaining permanent residence (“green card”) through employment and family based immigration in the U.S. We advise corporate and individual clients in all of the employment-based (EB) immigrant visa categories, including EB-1 priority workers; EB-2 advanced degree professionals; and EB-3 professional, skilled and unskilled workers. We guide companies through the PERM labor certification process, when a test of the U.S. labor market is required. We work with our clients in evaluating their unique credentials, specific needs, expectations, and guide them in selecting the appropriate immigrant visa preference.

In addition, our legal services include assistance with obtaining permanent residence (“green card”) through family reunification. U.S. immigration law was designed to encourage family reunification; most immigrant visas are issued to close relatives of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. We work with individuals, couples, and families to determine the available U.S. immigration options based on your unique family history, current living situation, and goals for the future. Once a path has been selected we help guide you and your loved ones through the U.S. immigration maze and keep you updated along the way.

  • Extraordinary ability
  • Outstanding professors and researchers
  • Multinational manager or executive
  • Advance degree professional (requires PERM labor certification)
  • Exceptional ability
  • National interest waiver
  • Skilled workers (requires PERM labor certification)
  • Professionals (requires PERM labor certification)
  • Unskilled workers – “other workers” (requires PERM labor certification)
  • I-485 applications to register permanent residence or adjust status
  • I-765 applications for employment authorization (EAD card)
  • I-131 applications for travel document (Advance Parole)
  • Accompanying clients at personal interviews with immigration officers
  • DS-260 immigrant visa and alien registration application and related forms
  • Accompanying clients at personal interviews at U.S. consular posts abroad

We continue to advise our clients following the attainment of permanent resident status. We assist with reentry permit applications to allow clients to retain their status during prolonged assignments outside the U.S.

“Immediate relatives” of U.S. citizens are exempt from the numerical limits placed on the family-sponsored immigration categories and can generally have their permanent residence applications processed relatively quickly. Immediate relatives include spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children (who are under 21) of U.S. citizens, parents of U.S. citizens (who are at least 21), and certain widows or widowers of U.S. citizens.

Green card application based on marriage to a U.S. citizen

Our family immigration attorneys assist couples around the world and across the U.S. with their permanent residence applications, and often appear with couples at the various local USCIS Field Offices for their immigration marriage interviews. In addition, we assist with any necessary joint petitions to remove conditional residence, waivers of the joint filing requirement, as well as naturalization applications based on marriage to a U.S. citizen.

Spouses of U.S. citizens

Spouses of U.S. citizens may apply for permanent residence in one of two ways: either by filing an adjustment of status application with USCIS if they are in the U.S., or by filing an immigrant visa application with the Department of State if they are outside of the U.S. In either case, the U.S. citizen spouse must file an I-130 immigrant visa petition with USCIS to classify the foreign national spouse as an immediate relative. The foreign national spouse may not be able to travel in or out of the U.S. during the pendency of their permanent residence application unless they have obtained advance permission from the U.S. government. If the foreign national spouse files an adjustment of status application with USCIS, then the couple must appear for a marriage interview at their local USCIS Field Office.

Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens

Fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens who are outside of the U.S. and intend to marry the U.S. citizen within 90 days of entering the U.S. may qualify for K-1 visas. The U.S. citizen fiancé(e) must file an I-129F fiancé(e) visa petition with USCIS and establish, among other things, that the couple has met in person within the past 2 years (or qualify for a waiver), are free to marry, and have a bona fide intent to marry within 90 days of the foreign national’s entry to the U.S. Upon approval the K-1 petition is transferred to the Department of State for processing and eventually the foreign national fiancé(e) may file an application for a K-1 visa and appear for a visa interview at a U.S. consular post abroad. If the couple gets married in the U.S. within 90 days of the foreign national’s entry to the U.S. with the K-1 visa, then the foreign national may file an adjustment of status application with USCIS. In some cases the immigration marriage interview may be waived by USCIS.

Conditional permanent residence

If the couple has been married for less than 2 years at the time the foreign national spouse is granted permanent resident status, then USCIS will only issue a 2 year conditional green card and the couple must submit a joint petition to remove the conditions during the 90 day period prior to the expiration date of the 2-year green card to show, among other things, that they remain married. If the marriage subsequently terminates but was nonetheless valid when entered into, a waiver of the joint filing requirement may be available.

If the couple has been married for at least 2 years at the time the foreign national spouse is granted permanent resident status, then USCIS will issue a 10 year green card (and no petition to remove the conditions is required). A permanent resident spouse of U.S. citizens that continues to live with their spouse may qualify to apply for naturalization as early as 2 years and 9 months after being granted permanent resident status.

Green card application based on other family-sponsored categories

There are 5 family-sponsored immigrant visa categories (“preference categories”) that are subject to numerical limits, and often have long waiting lines. The waiting lines can be particularly long for applicants born in India, Mexico, the Philippines, and mainland China. The family-sponsored immigrant preference categories vary according to individual characteristics such as the legal status of the petitioning U.S.-based relative, and the age, family relationship, and marital status of the prospective immigrant. The five preference categories are:

  • F1 Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of U.S. citizens
  • F2A Spouses and children (who are under 21) of permanent residents
  • F2B Unmarried sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of permanent residents
  • F3 Married sons and daughters (21 years of age or older) of U.S. citizens
  • F4 Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (21 years of age or older)

In most cases, the first step is that the U.S.-based relative files an I-130 immigrant visa petition with USCIS to classify the foreign national relative into one of these 5 preference categories. Depending on the foreign national’s place in the waiting line for their preference category, it may be several years or even decades before they may proceed to apply for permanent residence – either by filing an adjustment of status application from within the U.S (e.g., if they are maintaining valid nonimmigrant visa status); or by filing an immigrant visa application to process at a U.S. consular post abroad. The decision of how and when to apply for permanent residence based on an approved I-130 petition in one of the family-sponsored preference categories involves complex and nuanced issues of U.S. immigration law, regulation and policy. Therefore, it is vitally important to consult with an experienced family immigration attorney to get all facts and carefully set up your family immigration plan to avoid any problems or issues along the way.

Almost anyone who has completed the equivalent of a U.S. high school education, or has worked for at least two years within the last five in a qualifying occupation, is eligible to enter the Department of State’s annual diversity visa (DV) lottery program which issues 50,000 green cards to persons from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the U.S. During a thirty-day registration period in the fall, applicants from eligible countries submit online entry-forms. In the spring, the State Department randomly draws around 100,000 entry forms. Once selected in the drawing, “winners” must act quickly to be among the first to qualify for their visas. The successful processing of a DV winning ticket into a green card is a perilous process requiring expeditious and careful preparation of documents and forms. Questions frequently arise involving complex eligibility questions and difficult choices requiring knowledge of the immigration laws. While having a lawyer may not be critical if you carefully read and comply with the regulations, having a good lawyer will help to ensure success in properly preparing the application.

DV-2018 Lottery Program

If you participated in the DV-2018 Lottery Program, you may now check online to see if you were selected in the lottery. Please note that the Department of State does not send selectee notifications or letters by regular postal mail or by e-mail. Any email communication you receive from the Department of State will direct you to review Entrant Status Check for new information about your application. The State Department has indicated that additional winners may be selected. If selected, please contact us immediately so that we can commence processing of your immigrant visa application.

The State Department will most likely conduct another DV Lottery draw this fall October 2017. While this is not a certainty, if there is another draw, we look forward to the opportunity to assist you. If you would like us to process your next application, you may download an application from our website: www.Wolfsdorf.com or you may request one by calling: (310) 570-4088. You may also apply on your own by going to the official website of www.dvlottery.state.gov

For the DV-2018 Lottery Program, natives of the following countries were not eligible to enter because the countries sent a total of more than 50,000 immigrants to the United States in the previous five years:

BANGLADESH, BRAZIL, CANADA, CHINA (mainland-born), COLOMBIA, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC, EL SALVADOR, HAITI, INDIA, JAMAICA, MEXICO, NIGERIA, PAKISTAN, PERU, PHILIPPINES, SOUTH KOREA, UNITED KINGDOM (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and VIETNAM.

For an in-depth analysis of some of the complex issues in the DV lottery program, please read our articles "Diversity Visa Immigrant Lotteries - Reasons Why Attorney Processing Can be Helpful" written by Bernard Wolfsdorf; and "The Diversity Lottery - A Deceptively Simple Program (An Update)" by Bernard P. Wolfsdorf and Naveen Rahman Bhora. You may also refer to our blog titled "You Won the DV Lottery, Now What?! Now Turn Your Lottery Number Into A Green Card: A Lawyer's Guide to Navigating The DV Lottery".

We provide legal representation with applications for U.S. naturalization, including preparing N-400 applications and accompanying clients at personal interviews with immigration officers in the U.S.

Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer
1416 2nd Street
Santa Monica, CA 90401
: 310-570-4088

New York Immigration Lawyer
641 Lexington Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY 10022
: 212-899-5040
© 1986-2017 Wolfsdorf.com
: visalaw@wolfsdorf.com