IMMIGRATION LAW SERVICES
Our attorneys had long and intensive experience in immigration law in various immigration law firms both in the mainland of the United States and in Guam.
We practice comprehensive fields of immigration law including visas, permanent residency, and waiver against inadmissibility, including the following:
Types of U.S. Visas and Permanent Residency
The following includes the basic information regarding various non-immigrant and immigrant U.S. visas. Please note: visa application varies and depends on an individual’s circumstances:
1. Permanent Residency
The following are the categories of U.S. permanent residency:
1-1. Family-Based Petition
Permanent residency can be obtained through the applicant’s immediate family members. A U.S. citizen can sponsor his/her spouse, under-age children (under 21), adult sons and daughters (both married and unmarried), parents, brothers and sisters. However, a U.S. permanent resident can only sponsor his/her spouse, under-age children (under 21) and unmarried adult sons and daughters.
The definition of a “child” whom a citizen or a permanent resident can sponsor includes:
For immigration purposes, a child can be any of the following:
▷ A genetic child born in wedlock
▷ A genetic child born out of wedlock:
- If the mother is petitioning, no legitimation is required.
- If the father is petitioning, legitimation is required in accordance with the laws of the father or child’s place of residence.
- If the father is petitioning and the relationship is not legitimated under applicable laws, a bona fide parent-child relationship must be shown to have existed prior to the child’s 21st birthday and while the child was unmarried.
▷ A step-child, as long as the marriage creating the step-relationship occurred before the child turned 18.
▷ An adopted child if the child was adopted before age 16 (or before their 18th birthday, if certain circumstances described on the Adoption-Based Family Petition Process or Adoption-Based Form I-130 Process page apply), AND the adoptive parent has satisfied 2-year legal custody and joint residence requirements. (The legal custody and joint residence do not have to be during the same time period, but each must be met for a cumulative 2-year period.)
▷ A child born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to a non-genetic gestational mother who is recognized under the law of the relevant jurisdiction as the child’s legal parent at the time of the child’s birth.
The petitioner of the permanent residency applicant must be able to provide a sufficient financial report demonstrating that he/she can support the applicant in the U.S. If he/she is unable to provide acceptable financial support, then he/she can add the income and assets of a co-sponsor or a joint-sponsor.
1-2. Employment-Based Petition :
The 3 categories of permanent residency based on employment are as follows:
This category is for persons of extraordinary ability in science, arts, education, business or athletics. Extraordinary ability is determined by extensive documentation and sustained national and/or international acclaim.
This category is for persons who hold advanced degrees or demonstrate exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business who will ultimately benefit the national economy or culture of the U.S. To be eligible for this category, it is usually required that the applicant have a Master’s Degree (or a Bachelor’s Degree and 5 years of related work experience), and is employed in the United States.
The employment requirement can be waived if the applicant obtains a National Interest Waiver. For detailed information regarding a “National Interest Waiver”, please click
This category is for skilled workers, professionals and other workers. Skilled workers are persons whose positions require a minimum of two years training or work experience. Professionals are persons whose positions require a Bachelor’s Degree or university equivalent. The other workers subcategory is for persons in positions that require less than two years of work experience.
Applicants who hold a Bachelor’s Degree but do not have the requisite work experience may apply for the U.S. permanent residency under this EB-3 category, instead of EB-2.
1-3. Special Immigrant
This category of permanent residency is available for certain types of religious workers, Panama Canal Treaty employees, Amerasian children, certain employees of U.S. foreign service posts abroad and certain retired employees of international organizations.
1-4. Investment Immigration
This category of permanent residency is available for those who invest a large sum of money into a United States business. To be eligible under this category, the applicant must invest $1.8 million in a new U.S. commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers. A lesser investment of $900,000 may qualify the investor if the investment is in one of the targeted employment areas. These include rural areas with population of less than 20,000, or locations that have experienced unemployment rate at 150 % of the national average.
1-5. Green Card Lottery (Diversity Immigration)
Applicants born in certain designated countries may obtain U.S. permanent residency by winning a green card lottery. The process begins with the applicant’s submission for the lottery. To be eligible under this program, the applicant must have at least the equivalent of a high school education or two years of work experience.
1-6. Re-entry Permit (I-131)
If you have a permanent resident status in the U.S. but been absent from the U.S. for more than 1 year, then you will not be able to re-enter the U.S. with your green card.You will need to obtain a “returning resident visa” (SB-1) at a U.S. consulate abroad.
However, if you have obtained a “re-entry permit” before you departed from the U.S., then you may be able to return to the U.S. within the validity period of the re-entry permit without having to obtain a special immigrant visa.
Such validity period of a re-entry permit will be 2 years the very first time you obtain it, and can be extended for another 2 years.After that, you will only be able to extend it in the increments of 1 year each time.
You can apply for a re-entry permit by filing Form I-131, and you can only file it while you are in the U.S. (including Guam)Our firm provides comprehensive services and assistance for applying for a re-entry permit in Guam. Please refer to Guam Immigration Services for details of these services.
2. Non-Immigration Visas
Non-immigrant visas allow the visa holder to visit the U.S. for a limited period of time.
2-1. Visitor Visa (B-1/B-2 Visa)
Visitor Visa allows you to stay in U.S. for up to 6 months. The B-1 Visa is for business and the B-2 is for pleasure. The term pleasure refers to a trip to the U.S. and visiting relatives/friends in the U.S. Even though the Visa Waiver Program removes the necessity of this visa for the citizens of certain countries, including Korean and Japan, they may still need to obtain B-1/B-2 Visa if they intend to stay in U.S. for longer than 90 days for any reason. In assessing the eligibility for B-1/B-2 Visa, the Consulate General takes into consideration the ability of the applicant to leave the U.S. and return to his/her home country prior to the expiration of the permitted period of stay in U.S.
2-2. Student Visa (F-1/M-1 Visa)
F-1 Visa is applicable to students who intend to pursue a full course of study in the U.S. at a language school, elementary school, secondary school, or to pursue a regular Bachelor’s Degree at a tertiary institution.
M-1 Visa is granted to the students who intend to attend vocational schools, usually for 2 years, in the U.S. Nail art schools, culinary schools, motor mechanic schools and flight schools are typical examples of these vocational schools.
After completion of course work, students may be eligible for an additional period of stay in U.S. (usually 1 year for F-1 students, and a maximum of 6 months for M-1 students) to work in an occupation related to their field of study.
2-3. Work Visa (H Visas/E-3 Visa)
The citizens of most countries need to obtain an H-1B Visa to work in U.S. In order to obtain an H-1B, the applicant must have either a (i) regular Bachelor’s Degree, (ii) 12 years of work experience or (iii) a 2 year diploma and 6 years of work experience. There is a limit of 85,000 H-1B Visas that can be issued each year (even though there are separate quotas for the Chilean and Singaporean citizens).
However, if you are coming to the U.S. for a temporary work, you may be eligible for an H-2B Visa. The H-2B permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peakload or intermittent basis.
2-4. Investor/Trader Visa (E-1/E-2 Visa)
These visas are available to the applicants who invest a certain amount of funding into a U.S.-based business. Usually a small investment is sufficient and those who open or purchase small businesses, such as dry cleaner services, restaurants and convenience stores, often acquire these visas. More than 50% of the business ownership must belong to a non-American citizen who is also a citizen of an E-1/E-2 treaty country. Even though there is no set amount of investment required, the amount must be sufficient to direct and develop the business. Usually the amount of US$100,000 is the required minimum.
2-5. Intracompany Transferee Visa (L Visa):
L Visa is for inter-company transfer and is available to employees who are being relocated to a U.S. branch, subsidiary, parent company or head office. To be eligible for this visa, the applicant must have been an employee of his/her company for at least 1 year out of the 3 years period immediately preceding the date of application for the visa. L Visa can be adjusted to permanent residency.
2-6. Religious Worker Visa (R Visa):
R Visa is available to applicants who receive a paid job offer from a religious institution in U.S. The applicant must have been a member of the same denomination as the offering religious institution for at least 2 years, and the job must be related to the religious doctrine of the institution. R Visa can be adjusted to permanent residency.
2-7. Spouse, Fiancé(e) Visa (K Visa / V Visa)
K Visas are available to the fiancé(e) or spouse of a U.S. citizen. K-1 Visa is applicable to the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen, and K-3 Visa is applicable to the spouse of a U.S. citizen. The K-1 Visa holder must marry his/her spouse within 90 days of admission to U.S. The consequence of the failure to marry within the 90 days period can be severe and result in the visa being denied.
V Visa is available to the spouse of a permanent resident of U.S.
K and V Visas can be adjusted to the permanent residency based on family-based petition.
2-8. Media Visa (I Visa)
I Visa is available to media workers, such as journalists, reporters and film crews. To be eligible for this visa, the applicant must be employed as a media worker of a company (as an employee or a freelancer contractor), and such company must have the home office outside of U.S. I Visa can be adjusted to permanent residency.
2-9. Visa for Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement (O Visa)
O Visa is applicable to a person who has demonstrated distinguished ability in science, arts, business and athletics. Such distinguished ability can be proved by satisfying at least three (3) of the following:
▷ Receipt of nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards
▷ Membership in associations in the field which require outstanding achievements
▷ Published material in professional or major trade publications, newspapers or other major media about the beneficiary and the beneficiary’s work
▷ Original scientific, scholarly or business-related contributions of major significance in the field
▷ Authorship of scholarly articles
▷ A high salary or other remuneration for services
▷ Participation on a panel, or as a judge of the work of others in the field of specialization
▷ Employment in a critical or essential capacity for organizations and establishments that have a distinguished reputation
3. Visa Denials
Having your visa application denied at the U.S. Consulate is very frustrating, especially if you have a family or business in the United States.
The main visa requirement by the U.S. Consulate for issuing a visa is a sufficient tie of the applicant with his/her home country, which will be compelling enough for the applicant to return to her/his home country after a trip to the United States.
The following are the usual evidence of such tie submitted in a visa application:
▷ Stable immigration status
▷ Stable place of residence (whether rented or owned)
▷ Family ties
▷ Professional job
The U.S. Consulate is likely to deny a visa application if the applicant does not fulfill these requirements in the country where that Consulate is located. In assessing the applicant’s tie with a country outside of the United States, the Consulate usually does not look beyond the very country where it is located.
However, in the modern global society, a large number of people spend their lives in several different countries around the world. For example, there will be a lot of immigrants from another country who are living in the country where the U.S. consulate is located and have their jobs there, but do not have a permanent residency status or family in that country. On the other hand, in their home country, they have family and stable immigration status, but do not have jobs and residence there. This will be the case for many people in many multicultural countries.
Our immigration lawyers will explain the ways in which you can overcome these problems and reapply for denied visas.
4. Previous U.S. Immigration Law Violation
Previous record of a violation of the U.S. immigration law is another reason for a visa denial. The most common forms of immigration law violations are the following:
▷ Overstaying in the United States
▷ Working without an authorization in the United States
When a person with such records applies for a visa, the U.S. Consulate is very unlikely to issue one, unless there is overwhelming evidence that the applicant is likely to never commit these violations again. The Consulate usually requires the applicant to obtain a Waiver Against Inadmissibility from the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) before they will issue a visa to the applicant. To obtain a Waiver Against Inadmissibility, the applicant will need to prove his/her unlikelihood of committing the same violation again or becoming a threat to U.S. society.
5. Criminal Records
In most cases, but not all, applicants with a criminal record may be denied entry into the United States or have his/her visa application denied.
Under the U.S. immigration laws, so-called the “crimes of moral turpitude” make the applicant inadmissible to the United States, but the U.S. immigration laws or courts have not clearly defined the term “crime of moral turpitude” to date.
The prevailing view among the U.S. immigration courts is that a crime of moral turpitude refers generally to conduct that shocks the public conscience as being inherently base, vile or depraved, contrary to the rules of morality and the duties owed between man and man, either one’s fellow man or society in general.
The trend is that unintentional crimes usually do not deter the applicant’s entry to the United States.
In our experience, the following clients’ criminal records have not deterred their entry to the United States:
▷ Negligent offenses
▷ Driving while intoxicated (drunk driving) : For this offense, the U.S. Consulate officer usually requests the applicant to obtain a medical certificate from the psychiatrist and submit it to the Consulate before the officer can issue him/her a visa.
▷ Negligent homicide
However, the applicants with the following criminal records usually had their visas denied or were refused entry into the United States:
These were some of the violations of people who applied for a visa or permanent residency. The decision to deny an applicant with these records can vary according to the subjective judgment of each consulate officer.
Under the U.S. immigration laws, the following crimes will not deter the applicant’s entry to the United States.
▷ Juvenile Crimes: If the applicant committed the crime while she/he was under the age of 18 and more than 5 years prior to the date of application for entry, or for a visa to enter the United States, that crime usually will not deter the applicant’s entry to the United States. If she/he was imprisoned, then she/he must have been released more than 5 years prior to the application for visa or entry to the United States.
▷ Petty Offense: A petty offense will not deter the applicant’s entry into the United States. A conviction is considered a petty offense where the maximum imprisonment is for one year and the applicant was not sentenced to a term of imprisonment in excess of six months.
6. CITIZENSHIP APPLICATION
After having resided in the U.S. with your permanent resident status, you may become eligible to apply for a citizenship. The process of becoming a citizen is called “naturalization”, and you will be starting by filing the N-400 Form.
The requirements for naturalization include the following:
▷ Be at least 18 years old at the time of filing an application for naturalization.
▷ Be able to read, write, and speak basic English.
▷ Be a permanent resident of the U.S. for at least 5 years.
▷ Demonstrate continuous residence in the United States for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application for naturalization.
▷ Show that you have been physically present in the U.S. for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application for naturalization.
For immediate questions or assistance, please feel free to contact our attorney at any time. The direct contact information of our attorneys is provided at the bottom of this page.
Guam : 238 Archbishop Flores St., Suite 802, Hagatna, GU 96910
California : 3424 W. Carson St #440, Torrance, CA 90503
New York : 50 Fountain Plaza Suite 1400, Buffalo, NY 14202
Texas (Houston) : 2717 Commercial Center Blvd., Suite E200, Katy, TX 77494
Texas (Austin): 901 Mopac Expressway South, Bldg 1 Suite 300, Austin, TX 78746
Australia: Suite 501, level 5, 280 Pitt Street, Sydney, NSW 2000
South Korea: 010-8922-3931
* Please do not send text messages to the above telephone number. Please call or send an email if you have any questions or require an assistance.