This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq., Doran Shemin, Esq. and Laura Lorenzo, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.
In the wonderful world of immigration, legal terminology matters hugely. In this column, we’ll explain what a few of the most important words mean, so our loyal readers (hi, commenters!) can understand more clearly what our clients have to learn. The three words of the day are: Petitioner, sponsor and admissible.
There are three layers to every green card application. The first layer is figuring out who the petitioner is. Sometimes clients refer to petitioners as sponsors. For example, many clients say “I have a U.S. citizen who can sponsor me.” The accurate way of putting it is that the U.S. citizen is petitioning the U.S. government to allow you, the client, the benefit of becoming a permanent resident.
Family members can serve as petitioners. U.S. citizens can file petitions for spouses, children, parents and siblings, and permanent residents can file petitions for spouses and children. Companies can file petitions for employees or potential employees. However, just because the immigrant has a family member who can petition for her does not mean that she automatically qualifies for a green card.
The second layer is finding a sponsor. A sponsor is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who agrees to serve as a financial guarantor; the sponsor is liable in a civil action if the new permanent resident receives certain government benefits or falls below the poverty threshold. Not all petitioners are good sponsors because the U.S. government demands that the sponsor have enough financial resources to serve as a guarantor. Under such circumstances, you need a second sponsor as a backup. That sponsor is liable in precisely the same way if the new permanent resident falls on hard times.
Got a petitioner and a sponsor? Good, you might be eligible, but we still need to figure out whether you are admissible. To determine this, thorough immigration lawyers ask you a laundry list of questions. For example, “Did you enter the United States by crossing the border without a visa, or did you come through an airport with a visa?” and “Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime?”
Criminal convictions frequently render an immigrant inadmissible. For example, sometimes a misdemeanor theft offense can render a person ineligible for a green card. Another common example is crossing the border without a visa or entering the United States multiple times in that manner.
In some cases, this is fixable via an application for a waiver, which adds a fourth layer of complexity (and cost) to the case. But it all depends on the family relationships that the immigrant has. In the case of someone who enters the United States across the border without a visa, the immigrant must have a spouse or parent that is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. On top of that, the immigrant has to prove that the spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship if they are separated or must relocate to the immigrant’s home country. Notice that having U.S. citizen or permanent resident children does not help in these circumstances.
To waive criminal convictions, the immigrant must have a spouse, parent or child that will suffer extreme hardship. However, some criminal convictions cannot be waived. For example, many controlled substance convictions make an immigrant permanently inadmissible.
Determining whether someone is eligible to get a green card is a complex issue that, as we can see, requires multiple layers of analysis. We recommend that immigrants work with reputable attorneys during their green card journey.
As always, we would love to hear your thoughts and we will do our best to respond.
I-395 Ramp Closure — “Beginning at 5 a.m. Friday, Dec. 1, weather permitting, the ramp from southbound I-395 to eastbound Boundary Channel Drive (Exit 9/Clark Street) and the eastbound Boundary…
Fully updated; remodeled Bas; open family room w/vaulted ceiling; 1-car garage
Good Thursday evening, Arlington. Let’s take a look back at today’s stories and a look forward to tomorrow’s event calendar. 🕗 News recap The following articles were published earlier today…
A look at the smallest and largest homes sold in Arlington last month, October 2023.
Children’s Weekday Program (CWP) is a non-profit preschool rooted in a play-based philosophy. We focus on developing a love of learning and exploration, cooperation, empathy, and independence.
Our caring and experienced educators create opportunities for children 16 months to 5 years old to play, learn, and grow in a nurturing environment of child-centered and developmentally appropriate experiences.
Initially established more than 50 years ago in South Arlington, CWP continues to be a lauded program in the Northern Virginia area. We are extremely proud to have been recognized as a Best Preschool in Northern Virginia Magazine for the last 4 years.
Located now in North Arlington at 2666 Military Road, CWP offers a part-time parents day out and preschool program with options to extend care both before and after school. We offer a supportive and inclusive school community for children and parents alike and welcome all families to join our school!
The Optimist Club of Arlington is holding its 77th annual Christmas tree sale!
This year, the tree sale will be held at the Knights of Columbus (5115 Little Falls Road). The lot opens for sales on November 24th. The Optimist Club is selling small and large trees ranging from tabletop size to 10 foot tall trees! Wreaths, garland, tree stands, and White House Christmas ornaments will also be for sale.
100% of all proceeds go towards helping Arlington County youth.
For more information, please visit the Arlington Optimists website at https://optimistclubofarlingtonva.org/.
Holiday Art Show featuring artists: Peter Fitzgerald, Claire Plante, Alanna Rivera, and Suzy Scollon. At the Barcroft Community House, 800 South Buchanan St., Arlington, VA. Dec. 8 from, 2 PM to 8 PM and Dec. 9 from 10 AM to
2023 Christmas Tree Sales Begin
Saturday, December 2
Get your holiday decorating off to the right start this year! We will be selling 150 Fraser firs, freshly cut and delivered from Sparta, North Carolina.