Green Card Queries

Q If I marry a U.S. citizen, can I get my green card and work permit and travel permit in the U.S.?

A Assuming that you entered the U.S. le-gally, when you marry a U.S. citizen, you can apply for adjustment of status and get your green card without leaving the U.S. A couple of months after you submit your application, you can obtain a work permit. You can also apply for a permit, which is called an “advanced parole,” to travel in and out of the U.S. while you are awaiting your green card interview. However, if you have been “unlawfully present” in the U.S. for 180 days or more, you should not travel outside the country until you become a permanent resident. You may be subject to either a three or a 10-year bar to returning to the U.S.

Q How long do I have to wait after my labor certification is approved before I can apply for adjustment of status?

A You can do so immediately.

Q How long do I have to have a green card before I can apply for naturalization?

A Usually five years. However, if you have been married to a U.S. citizen for three years, the waiting time is reduced to three years. If you are serving in the military, there is no waiting time. See shusterman.com/toc-usc.html

Q I’ve heard that if I have been living in the U.S. for over 10 years, I can apply for a green card. Is this true?

A Not so fast. If you are placed under removal proceedings (before an immigration judge), you can apply for a green card via “cancellation of removal” if (1) you have been continuously physically present in the U.S. for a minimum of 10 years; (2) you are a person of good moral character; (3) you have not been convicted of certain enumerated offenses; and (4) your deportation would result in “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parents and/or children.

Q How difficult is it for a registered nurse to emigrate from India?

A Not difficult as long as she first passes the examination given by the Commission on Graduates of Foreign Nursing Schools (CGFNS). This exam is given in both Bangalore and Cochin.

Q I am a physician. Is it true that the department of health and human services (HHS) is now sponsoring physicians for J waivers?

A Yes, it is true. However, the HHS sponsors only primary care physicians, and will not sponsor a physician from a state with a Conrad 30 program until the state and has completed all 30 sponsorships.

Q What are the chances that section 245i of the law will be extended this year?

A The Bush administration continues to push for an extension of this section of law. Hundreds of thousands of persons will be able to immigrate to the U.S. if the law is extended. The ball is in Congress’ court, and more Democrats than Republicans favor an extension.

Carl Shusterman is a former INS Trial Attorney and a specialist in immigration and naturalization law. You can reach him at (213) 623-4592. www.shusterman.com.

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