A close-up of an immigration form next to a fountain pen.

Why You Need to Work with a Business Immigration Lawyer in Houston

When it comes to business immigration, individuals and businesses alike must contend with many specific processes if they are seeking a green card, visa, citizenship, or another legal status. If you find yourself in this situation, you must make sure to follow these processes accurately in order to be compliant with United States law. 

 

A Houston business immigration lawyer from Fong Ilagan can make the process much more streamlined. We offer a wide range of services—including citizenship, employment-based Visas, family immigration, green cards, and more. These services are foundational to the legal system and help many families or corporations navigate the frustrating process of obtaining legal status. Keep reading to learn more!

 

Call our Houston immigration law firm to speak with one of our world-class immigration attorneys — (713) 772-2300!

What is a Business Immigration Lawyer?

Business immigration lawyers represent individuals, families, and/or businesses in front of a variety of legal departments. Some of these can include the Bureau of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), The Board of Immigration Appeals, Immigration courts, or federal circuit courts. Business immigration lawyers often help corporations and their noncitizen employees from foreign offices to the United States. 

What do Business Immigration Lawyers Do?

Work visas require sponsorship to complete work for a United State employer. There is a long list of sponsor-based employment visas for the United States, including the E-1 visa, h1-b, and O-1 visa. Each of these classifications has its own requirements for eligibility, which is where a business immigration lawyer can help. 

 

Some examples of these classifications include: 

  • EB-5: For investors that are investing one million USD in a new commercial enterprise or 500,000 if the enterprise is in a rural or economically-depressed area 
  • First Preference EB-1: Multinational executive level individuals or companies, outstanding professors and researchers, or those who are highly recognized in their field
  • E-3: Applies to nationals of Australia who are coming to the United States to perform a specialty service 
  • H2-A: Allows United States agents or employers to bring in foreign nationals to assist with agricultural roles 

What is Required for Sponsors? 

Sponsors or employers must sign the correct forms to attest to the required visa. They will have to pay fees associated with the filing and return of the employee if there is termination. They must also report any changes in employment to the USCIS. They must confirm that the individual is eligible for employment in the United States by completing an I-9 form. Depending on the category of the visa, they may also need to maintain a Public Access File. 

Common Business Immigration Concerns

With reforms and legal information constantly adapting and changing, it can be challenging for many businesses to keep up. There are also difficulties in understanding how policy works with spouses, dependents, or those who are considered self-employed. Documentation may also be a hurdle, as it can be time-consuming and extensive. 

Why Work with a Business Immigration Lawyer?

As a corporation or business, you want to make sure you do things right when it comes to the legal system. This is especially true if you are working with a highly valued employee who is willing and eager to commit. We can assist in helping your executives with getting visas or reorganizations and guide you through the process. 

Business Immigration Law Firm in Houston

At Fong Ilgan, our Houston, Texas, immigration lawyers are skilled in how businesses can most effectively get legal services. We have decades of experience that provides us with detailed knowledge of how the process works most effectively. This can save you time, money, and frustration. 

 

We have helped a variety of different industries, such as oil, gas, technology, health, research, import, and finance companies. Our core values are being honest, cost-effective, and offering insight as to what legal road would be best for your company. Contact us by calling (713) 772-2300 to get started! 

 

Differences Between Permanent Residency vs. Citizenship

The American passport is one of the most influential ones to own worldwide. U.S. Immigration statistics show that nearly 860,000 green card holders apply for U.S. citizenship.

Considering the number of people who travel to the U.S. for business or personal reasons every year, many want to apply for citizenship. Becoming a permanent resident is a dream for many visitors.

Fortunately, there’s a wide range of different legal statuses that people may have in the U.S. The most common ones include permanent residence and citizenship.

Most people think these two legal statuses are the same in regions like Huston, TX, and other areas of the United States. However, there’s a profound difference between the two that we will mention in this article.

Permanent Residency vs. Citizenship: Differences To Consider

There’s a wide range of differences between having a permanent residency and being a citizen of the United States. Here are a few things you should keep in mind.

What is a Legal Permanent Resident?

A permanent resident is a person who holds the right to stay in the United States for an indefinite period. These residents have the same rights as citizens (more or less) along with most privileges.

For example, you can work in the U.S. as a permanent resident without legal issues. Depending on your niche, you can run a personal business or work with a company.

Most permanent residents get an “alien registration card” known as a green card earlier. The card used to be green, which is why people called it such.

However, a green card is powerful enough to prove your eligibility for a job. You can apply for employment opportunities with a green card or an alien registration card.

Can Permanent Residents Travel Out Of The U.S.?

The U.S. allows residents to travel to any area outside of the United States. However, all travelers should have a valid “alien registration card” when re-entering the U.S.  

Additionally, all residents should ensure their passports do not expire before returning to the U.S. They can apply for a passport renewal in the American Embassy and have an unexpired passport for a secondary country.

Permanent residents must meet all the admission criteria back into the U.S. they met when first applying for permanent resident status. It can include certain law violations, such as health concerns, criminal records, false claims of U.S. citizenship, etc. Other severe offenses may include instances of terrorism, public charges, etc.

What Can A Permanent Resident Not Do?

There are a few things that permanent residents cannot do. One such example is the ability to vote. Individuals with permanent residency status cannot participate in the elections. Additionally, people with U.S. legal citizenship can vote in the presidential elections.

Is Permanent Residency Valid Forever?

The permanent residency makes the immigrants legal in the United States as long as they do not commit serious crimes or other legislative violations. People who violate these rules can be deported and banned from the U.S. permanently and may lose their residency status.

Additionally, some traveling scenarios may have the same result for the immigrants. For example, some people may lose their permanent residency status because of staying out of the U.S. for more than their designated period. The allotted period is six months at a time.  

The immigration department authorities will assess your situation and determine your status. There are two scenarios in this case:

  • The permanent resident has abandoned their permanent residency in the United States.
  • The individual cannot return to the U.S. on time for personal reasons.

Additionally, individuals who remain out of the U.S. for a year or more no longer hold a permanent residency. They need to re-apply for permanent residence and meet the requirements again.

However, a legal attorney can present your case to the American Embassy and defend it against the immigration authorities.

What Responsibility Does a Permanent Resident Have?

A person with a permanent residence has some responsibilities they will need to uphold. 

These include:

  • Filing the U.S. tax returns as a permanent resident in the U.S.
  • Abide by all the laws and regulations the government sets in their state.
  • Sign up for the Selective Service (applicable for males and females between the ages of 18 and 25)
  • Support the government by all means.
  • Notify the USCIS about any changes in residential address.

Get Information with the Best,  Contact Fong Ilagan

There’s a profound difference between a citizen and a permanent resident in the U.S. Understanding your rights and responsibilities depend on your immigration status in the U.S. Individuals facing immigration problems should reach out to a professional law firm.

Our immigration lawyers at Fong Ilagan are more than happy to help people looking to apply for permanent residence or defend their case against embassy authorities. We have an expert team who will assess and resolve your situation to protect your U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.

Reach out to us today!

 

Tips and Preparation for a US Visa Interview

Applying for a visa in the United States is rather similar to applying for citizenship. The process can be lengthy and arduous. Just like applying for citizenship, visa applicants will undergo an interview when they arrive at the consulate. If you are new to the process, it is important to familiarize yourself with this part of the application. To help you prepare, we put together some important tips that are guaranteed to help you in your interview. 

Clearly Explain Your Ties To Your Home Country 

When applying for a United States visa, a consular officer will likely question your reasons for returning to your home country. In this case, you have to make your reasons clear and show that they are stronger than remaining in the United States, where you would be considering an intending immigrant. Strong ties to your home country can include family, financial prospects, investments, and similar reasons. 

Come With All The Necessary Documents 

Even if you have sent over documentation when you applied, a consular officer will still expect you to come with important written documents. These written documents should be clear to the officer and you must quickly explain what they signify. You should even come prepared with copies in case they are requested or needed when reviewing your application. 

Expect The Interview To Be Conducted In English 

Even if the consulate is located in your home country, you should come prepared and anticipate that they will be communicating with you in English. Officials recommend that you practice speaking in English or holding a conversation in English with a native English speaker prior to your interview. If you are coming to the United States solely to study English, be able to explain how speaking the language will be useful in your native country. 

Be Ready To Discuss Credentials 

While it may seem odd to be questioned heavily on credentials, applications for visas are very dependent on one’s credentials and qualifications. When answering these questions, focus on explaining that your credentials meet the legal standards for admission into the visa program you are applying for. It is also recommended to not become too technical as consular officers will not know everything about the institution or work you are going into. 

Know What You Are Applying For 

If you cannot explain how a visa program benefits you and your professional goals, you will most likely fail at being able to move forward with your application. You must be able to explain how either working or studying in the United States directly benefits your future professional career, whether you plan on pursuing it in your home country or in the United States. 

Be Straightforward And Concise 

You won’t have too much time when being interviewed. Oftentimes, consular officers have many other applicants to meet in one day, so you need to be straight to the point and concise with your responses. With that being said, you have to also be able to make a good impression during the first couple of minutes of your interview. 

Keep Documents Short, As Well 

When explaining and going over your documents, you also have to be short and straight to the point. Similar to when an employer is scanning a potential employee’s resume, you must be able to explain each document between a sentence or two. You may have, at most, three minutes of interview time, so you should keep this part of the interview as short as possible. 

Be Prepared To Discuss Dependents 

Discussing your dependents can very much support your reasons for returning to the United States after your visa. Additionally, you must explain how dependents remaining at home will be able to support themselves. This can be a tricky area in the process of applying for a visa, especially if you are the primary source of income for your family. If your family decides to join you later, this can help your application for a visa. 

Keep A Positive, Professional Attitude 

Even if the interview doesn’t go as planned, it is always best to keep your cool and maintain a positive attitude. You never want to engage in an argument with a consular officer, much less instigate one. If you are denied a visa, you can ask the officer for a list of documents you can use to overcome the refusal and request the reason you were denied in writing. 

Prepare With The Best, Contact Fong Ilagan

At Fong Ilagan, we provide comprehensive services to support you in your endeavors in the United States. To get started with our services, you can contact us today and schedule a consultation with an attorney. 

US citizenship exam test and USA flag.

The Citizenship Exam: How to Prepare and What to Study 

As part of the United States naturalization process, applicants must pass a citizenship test. The test is broken up into four different components. It may sound overwhelming, but by being wise with your time and studying every moment you can, you’ll be able to pass the test. We discuss many ways you can prepare and what exactly you can expect to see on the test. 

 

Find Helpful Study Materials and Resources 

 

On the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) website, you can find plenty of resources to practice for the civics portion of the test. The website also has resources to strengthen your English skills and to practice the oath of allegiance. There are many other websites online that provide free programs and study materials for you to use and prepare with. 

 

Take Practice Tests 

 

Just like we mentioned, you can find plenty of practice tests online. One thing to be aware of is that some of these games may be a bit outdated, but they are still good practice. On many websites, you will be able to find common questions that are guaranteed to be on the test. You can practice with any method that best helps you. 

 

Divide Your Studies by Subject 

 

The naturalization test has several portions to it, one of which is civics. The civics portion itself is then divided into different categories which consist of history, government, geography, symbols, and holidays. You should treat each of these categories as a different subject when you are studying for your test. This helps your brain to organize this knowledge and make it easier to remember during the test. 

 

Use Different Kinds of Media to Retain Important Information 

 

Even if you are studying the same content, using different mediums of practice materials will better train your brain to retain the information. For example, you could listen to audiobooks, watch video lessons, or read all the same information if it means helping you to remember what you will need to know for the test. 

 

What Will Be on the Test

 

As we mentioned previously, there are different categories to the test. There is plenty of content that you will be tested on, which is why it is important that you take the time to study. Not only do you want to study, but you want to make sure you feel confident enough to take and complete the test. We briefly discuss the different components that you must complete on your test. 

 

Speaking Test

 

For this part of the test, you will be asked questions regarding your citizenship application and eligibility. The purpose of this test is to evaluate your English-speaking and comprehension skills. So in addition to learning U.S. history and geography, you have to know English just enough to be naturalized. Although, you will not be expected to understand every word or phrase on your application. 

 

Reading Test 

 

For this portion of the test, you will be given a tablet. Sentences will appear on the tablet and you will be asked to read them out loud. You will be asked to read a total of three sentences aloud. You may be asked more until you’ve read three successfully. The USCIS website provides a complete list of vocabulary words that are used on the reading test. You can look through the vocabulary as you prepare for your test. 

 

Writing Test 

 

To complete this portion of the test, you must write one of three sentences correctly. You will be asked to write the three sentences as an officer reads them out loud to you. You will use a digital tablet to write the sentences on. The USCIS also provides a list of vocabulary that will be used for this part of the test. 

 

Civics Component 

 

During the last component of the test, you will need to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and a basic understanding of U.S. history and government. There is a total of ten questions, but of those ten, you must be able to answer six of them correctly. An officer will randomly select questions, read them aloud to you, and stop the test once you have been able to answer six questions successfully. You will be allowed to phrase your answers in any way as long as they are correct. 

 

Team Up with an Immigration Lawyer to Get Started on the Naturalization Process 

 

One of the best ways to prepare for a citizenship test is to work with an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer will guide you from start to finish. If you want to start the process of naturalization, you can contact the professionals at Fong Ilagan and schedule a consultation, today. 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security Logo

Important Terms and Definitions to Know in Immigration Law 

The immigration sector of law is ever-changing. As decades and even centuries of immigration have gone by, laws have changed and legislation has brought new laws into the picture while others have been overridden. With so many new reforms coming into the picture, more immigration terms and phrases make their way as well.

 

For the most part, people are familiar with terms such as “green card” or visa, naturalization, adjustment of status, and several others. But there are many other terms that might not be used as often but are still very important to know considering they can be used in any case at any time. We run through a quick list of terms that are often misleading or misused that way you can better understand the context they are used in. 

 

Amnesty (Legalization) 

 

The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 was often referred to as an “amnesty,” considering it included more conditions and longer time periods depending on an immigrant’s status. Amnesty is an older term for legalization, which is why it may cause confusion in different cases. There has been some debate regarding which term is the appropriate term, as each one may pose negative connotations to either the supporters or opponents of the act. 

 

Deportation (Expulsion) vs. Extradition

 

These two terms are known for being used interchangeably, but they do not mean the same things. Extradition is used when a criminal suspect held by one government is relocated to another government to go to trial. If a suspect has already been tried and found guilty, that is when they are deported; this is also known as the process of expulsion. With that being said, extradition and expulsion are two different terms. 

 

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vs. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

 

Both organizations play a critical role in immigration law and in the modern-day activity of immigration, but they both have different responsibilities. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is an agency that conducts enforcement and removal operations regarding immigration violations. These officials also investigate crimes that involve the crossing of the U.S. border. 

Customs and Border Protection oversees and protects the border and ports of entry. This agency is also charged with regulating trade and commerce operations across U.S. borders. 

 

“Merit-Based” Immigration

 

This term is used in various immigration systems that select immigrants for permanent residence based on the overall characteristics, as opposed to other ties such as familial relationships. This term includes a form of a point system, allocating points to a prospective permanent resident based on their age, language skills, and education. Those who meet desired specifications may apply to immigrate and reside in the United States legally.

 

Asylum Seeker and Refugee 

 

An asylum seeker is what an individual is called before they become a refugee if they are accepted into the United States for asylum. Asylum seekers are individuals who come to the United States for protection due to fear of persecution in their home country on account of race, religion, nationality, and other factors. Once an individual is accepted, they become an asylee.

 

Once an individual is residing in the United States to be protected from their home country they become a refugee. The United States accepts a designated number of refugees every year. 

 

Temporary Protected Status 

 

This status can be granted to individuals who are from a country that is no longer deemed safe to return to due to conditions such as military conflict, natural disaster, and other scenarios. This does not provide a direct path to a green card but it also does not prohibit individuals from applying for permanent residency. 

 

Unaccompanied Migrant Children 

 

Children who have illegally crossed the United States border without an accompanying adult are considered unaccompanied migrant children. In recent years, studies and trends show that unaccompanied children are crossing more than they ever have. If they are apprehended, they are transferred to the Office of Refugee Resettlement with the Department of Health and Human Services. 

 

Quota System 

 

A quota system is that which limits the number of immigrants that may enter the United States every year. These limits are based on nationality or where immigrants are coming from. 

 

Learn News and Updates in Immigration Law with the Professionals at Fong Ilagan

 

It doesn’t matter where you are at in the process of legalization or what your citizenship status is; understanding immigration law can help you in the long run. Have questions about your case? Need legal assistance? We’re here to help. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you.

FAQs About Naturalization Answered!

Year after year, the U.S. receives millions of applications for naturalization from all over the globe. There are myriad reasons for why people seek citizenship and naturalization, but many of those seeking will naturally have many questions. At Fong Ilagan, we’ve fielded many of these questions from applicants looking to naturalize and have addressed some in our latest blog here! 

How Long Does The Process Take? 

 

Currently, the application processing portion of the naturalization process takes anywhere from 14 to 15 months on average. The overall time from application to full citizenship can take anywhere from 18 months to over 2 years, depending on myriad factors involved.

 

Unfortunately, if you plan on applying for naturalization, you should expect to wait quite a while before the process is complete. There are some factors that could make the process quicker, like avoiding errors in the application and the applicant’s current residence, among others. 

Is A Lawyer Necessary?

 

Strictly speaking, no, a lawyer is not necessary to complete the naturalization process. You can file USCIS forms on your own, and you can even submit your documents online. However, it is normally advised that applicants at least consult an immigration lawyer to receive more information and specialized assistance. 

 

The reason for hiring legal guidance or assistance is that the immigration has many wrinkles and complexities that a lay person simply won’t have access to. Mistakes in the application process can delay the completion of the process or even mess up your chances altogether. Our team at Fong Ilagan can walk you through the process and provide key bits of information to put you in the best position to succeed. 

 

Can I Live In The U.S. And My Home Country With A Green Card?

 

To qualify for citizenship, you have to demonstrate that you have resided in the United States continuously for at least 5 years. If you live in your home country, then you will not be able to qualify for citizenship. You can visit your home country or other places during this 5-year period, but staying in another country for longer than 180 days may mean the 5-year period has to be reset. 

 

How Many Times Can I Apply For Naturalization? 

 

There is no limit to how many times you can apply for naturalization. Contrary to the beliefs of some, you can always retry your naturalization application if the previous one doesn’t work out. Here an experienced lawyer is crucial because they can point to any mistakes you may have made previously and help you correct them in the future. 

 

However, the application fee will need to be provided each time you submit a new application. This is another incentive to put your best foot forward on the first application, rather than risk having to pay for multiple applications. 

Is The Process Expensive? 

 

The current fee for naturalization comes out to $725. This can be broken down into $640 for application processing and an additional $85 for biometric services. While this is considered expensive for many, there may be some ways to request outside financial assistance from various organizations. Additional costs may arise from legal fees should you use a lawyer during the process. 

Choose Fong Ilagan For Your Naturalization Application!

Still have more questions about the naturalization process, or are looking to get started? We’d love to help! Contact us today to receive more information and speak with our immigration attorneys!

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