ImmigrationTALK: Questions & Answers
By: Attorney Gail S. Seeram
Through this “Question & Answer” column, our goal is to answer your immigration questions. Many of you have questions on backlog time and eligibility – we seek to clarify these issues and more. We appreciate your comments and questions. If you have a question that you would like answered in this column, please email: Gail@GailLaw.com.
Question #1: I was in removal proceedings in the U.S. and took voluntary departure but never left the U.S. I am currently married to a U.S. citizen, can I apply for a green card?
Answer #1: The answer to your question depends on when your voluntary departure order was issued. However, in general, if you agree to voluntary departure and do not leave the U.S. within the specified time, then the voluntary departure order automatically turns into a removal order. You will not be eligible for adjustment of status or to apply for a green card in the U.S. once the removal order is active. A possible option is filing a motion to reopen your prior case and rescind the removal order.
Question #2: I lost my wallet with my green card, driver’s license and social security card. How do I apply for a new green card?
Answer #2: It is good practice to copy your green card (front and back) and keep it in a safe deposit box. It is the law to carry your green card with you at all times so don’t think about leaving it at home or in a safe deposit box. Once you have your alien number, you can apply for a replacement green card. The process can take three to six months and the filing fee is $450.
Question #3: I am a green card holder and every time I enter the U.S. the officer takes me into a room for secondary inspection where they ask me questions and look at the computer?
Answer #3: Second inspection is conducted when the U.S. Custom and Border Protection officer sees something in your alien file that indicates that you may be inadmissible into the U.S. or the officer has questions about a note in your file. If you believe there is an error in your alien file and you would like it corrected then file a redress claim by visiting www.dhs.gov/trip.
Question #4: I am married and living with a U.S. citizen and he has not filed a sponsorship petition for me? We have two children together who are U.S. citizens. I entered the U.S. with a visitor visa but overstayed and have no status. My husband is verbally and physically abusive to me and the children. Do I have any options to self-petition on my own?
Answer #4: Yes, under the Violence Against Women Act, an abusive spouse can self-petition for a green card. Note, you will be required to provide the abuse and submit evidence to document the abuse. It is not required that you have a petition pending or that your spouse filed a sponsorship petition for you. Contact our office for a consultation.