Q: My sister came from India on a visitor visa that expired two months ago, and she is still here illegally. Recently, she received a document called a Notice to Appear stating that she has a hearing scheduled before an immigration judge. What does this mean?

A: Your sister was placed into removal proceedings when she was served the Notice to Appear (NTA) by the DHS. The NTA is the charging document which contains statements of allegations and charges against your sister and the statutory provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act alleged to be violated. Among other things, the NTA also lists the time and place she is required to appear before an immigration judge and the consequences of failing to appear for the scheduled hearings. Your sister has a right to be represented by an attorney at no expense to the government.

Q: My naturalization application has already been filed and I already had my interview, but it is taking a long time to get a decision from USCIS. I just received a call from my family in India stating that one of my cousins is getting married next month. I would like to leave the United States for several weeks to attend the family festivities in India. How will this affect my application?

A: There are various consequences of leaving the United States after a naturalization application is filed because there are specific residency and physical presence requirements. First, you must have five years of residence in the United States after becoming a lawful permanent resident. Second, you must be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months in the periods preceding the filing, interview, and swearing in.

You indicated that you only plan on being absent from the United States for several weeks. As long as your absence is six months or less, this should not affect the five-year residence requirement for naturalization. However, any period of time that you are absent from the United States will be subtracted from the 30-month physical presence requirement. A: person often meets the physical presence requirement at the filing of the naturalization application, but then travels abroad and fails to meet the requirement at the interview or swearing in.
Keep in mind that there is a slight chance, while you are away for several weeks, that immigration could call you back in for another interview or alternatively schedule your oath ceremony.

Q: My wallet, with my green card, was stolen from a gym locker. What is the quickest way to apply for a replacement for my green card?

A: E-filing is an option for I-90 Application to Replace a Permanent Resident Card, commonly known as a green card. Applicants who wish to file the I-90 application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) may do so online at www.uscis.gov, the official website of the USCIS. E-filing provides an immediate confirmation receipt notice upon successful submission of the application. The confirmation receipt notice provides the application receipt number, a receipt payment, and instructions for the next steps. You will receive a notice in the U.S. mail from USCIS with your USCIS-scheduled appointment for capturing biometrics and photographs at your local Application Support Center.

James E. Root, Esq., manages an exclusive immigration law practice with two offices in L.A. and Orange counties. (888) ROOT-LAW. www.RootLaw.com

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