In order to naturalize as a citizen of the United States, the initial requirement for all applicants is to be a Permanent Resident (i.e. have a Green Card). Depending on your situation, you’ll need to have been a permanent resident for at least three to five years prior to applying for citizenship. In addition, you must be at least 18 years old when you file your naturalization application; be able to speak, read and write basic English; and be a person of good moral character. For many of the requirements, certain exceptions apply and it’s useful to consult with an attorney near you to see whether you qualify for requirement exemptions.
How to get a Green Card?
There are a variety of methods for obtaining a Green Card, including through marriage or employment. A Green Card permits an individual the right to permanent residency in the United States. Although marriage to a U.S. citizen is a common means of obtaining a Green Card, there are various other methods such as a family member petitioning on your behalf, seeking asylum or residency as a refugee, an employer bringing you to this country for work, etc. An attorney can help determine whether you meet eligibility criteria and guide you through the arcane application procedures of immigration law.
How long does I-140 processing take?
In the United States, there are two USCIS service centers which process the I-140 immigration form. The time it takes to process will vary slightly depending on the service center. However, in general, the form takes an average of six months to process. Premium processing is a service offered by USCIS which guarantees processing of your I-140 within two weeks. This service requires an additional fee of over $1200. If USCIS is unable to process your form within 2 weeks, it will refund your money and continue with expedited processing. An immigration attorney will be able to provide you with much more specific information and can advise you on the best course of action with regards to filing your I-140.
What is the H1B to Green Card process?
During the Green Card application process, which can be lengthy, it is critical that you maintain lawful immigration status. Under certain circumstances, you can request an extension of your H-1B status in one-year increments while your Green Card application is being processed. H-1B extension processing time usually averages around 2-3 months although USCIS doesn’t offer any time guarantees. Working with an attorney to ensure timely and proper filing while remaining in legal immigration compliance is crucial to a successful adjustment of your status.
Consider the following:
- Are you comfortable telling the lawyer personal information? Does the lawyer seem interested in solving your problem?
- How long has the lawyer been in practice? Has the lawyer worked on other cases similar to yours?
- How are the lawyer's fees structured - hourly or flat fee? Can the lawyer estimate the cost of your case?
- Is the lawyer's office conveniently located near you?
How much experience do you have with cases like mine?
Do you know the judge or prosecutor in this case?
Should I take this case to mediation?
What are your legal fees and expenses?
Are you available after hours for questions?
Which lawyers or associates will I be dealing with?
Do I have to appear in person for my case?
Where is your Texas law office located?
Some people find a lawyer based on a recommendation from a friend or family member but you should do your own evaluation. A friend who suggested a divorce attorney may not be in the best position to recommend a criminal defense law attorney or tax lawyer. Dealing with legal issues can be complicated and frustrating. You should find the right lawyer that you can connect with to provide you with information, advice, and the legal aid you need.
The cost of hiring a lawyer can depend on the type of law and the complexity of the case. Some lawyers offer a free initial consultation. A free consultation is more common in contingency fee cases like personal injury or medical malpractice. Some lawyers may require a fee for the initial interview. During the initial interview, the lawyer may be able to provide some important information, including your legal options, likely outcomes, and cost of legal services. An initial interview is also an opportunity for you to see if this person is the right lawyer for you.
The State Bar of Texas keeps Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct records of violations or grievances against attorneys in the state. You can use the search tool on the state bar website to check an attorney's public disciplinary history. The state bar search results should show the lawyer's disciplinary history (if any) in Texas and other states.