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Immigration FAQ

Commonly Asked Questions Answered by our Houston Immigration Attorneys

My family member has been placed in immigration detention. How do I find out where they are?

This is a common issue that occurs for family members, loved ones, and friends who have been placed in removal proceedings. The best thing to do is to go to locater.ice.gov and search if your friend or family member is thereby entering their A# (which stands for their Alien number, a common identifying number used for immigration purposes) and country of birth. Otherwise, you may also search by there biographical data; you will need the person's full name, date of birth, and country of birth in order to do this.

Please note that the online locator is not instantly updated at the time the person is placed in immigration detention. Due to this lag time, it is best to also contact the local immigration detention center in the city that you think the individual is located within. It may take a few days for them to be processed and finally put in the system.

It is advisable that you retain a competent attorney to help locate the individual. Keep in mind that if the individual is placed in immigration detention, it may mean that the U.S. government has instituted removal/deportation proceedings against that person. If this is the case, get in touch with an immigration law firm in Houston right away.

Can I get a bond for my family member in immigration detention so that they can be freed from confinement?

It depends on the specific circumstances of each case. If an individual is not subject to mandatory detention (under INA section 236(c)) then it may be possible to receive bond. Moreover, it is best to have a competent immigration attorney assist with any bond motion, as there are several elements or requirements needed for such a motion.

Please also note that bond amount is discretionary even if approved by the immigration judge and can vary depending on the judge and specific circumstances of the case. It is also important to note that parole may be possible under specific circumstances as well. If parole is approved, which is at the U.S. government's discretion, then no dollar amount will need to be paid for release.

I have been in the United States since I was a child, can I apply for DACA for the first time?

Unfortunately, due to the Trump administration, it is no longer possible to apply for DACA at this time. However, please note that there may be other options possible for you. In all circumstances, it is always best to have a competent attorney evaluate and provide a legal consultation if you believe you may have an option to have legal status. Moreover, there is currently discussion with Congress about potentially passing the DREAM Act.

If such law passes, it is important to have your case analyzed by an immigration lawyer to determine if you are eligible for it.

I’m afraid to go back to my country. I entered the U.S. 15 years ago. Can I apply for asylum?

Although subjective fear of return is one requirement for asylum, there are several other requirements in order to be granted asylum. Therefore, it is highly advisable to have a consultation with a competent immigration attorney. One such other requirement is that an applicant for asylum must apply within 1 year of arriving in the United States. This would be an issue for anyone who entered 15 years ago.

However, another reason it is important to have a legal consultation with an immigration attorney is that an exception to the one-year filing requirements may apply. There are generally two types of exceptions: one is based on extraordinary circumstances and another on changed country conditions. For more information on both or on asylum law in general, please feel free to contact our law firm and set up a paid consultation.

I’m outside the United States and engaged to a US citizen. Can I enter on a visitor visa to get married and then obtain a green card in the US?

It is not advisable to enter the United States on a visitor visa if you have the intent while entering to be on a green card based on marriage. This is very important because if such an attempt is based, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) can charge you with misrepresentation of an immigration benefit due to lying about the temporary intent of entering on a visitor visa, as opposed to the real intent of applying for your (conditionally) permanent green card. They may potentially remove you under expedited removal.

Should this occur, it will have severe consequences for any future immigration application, including any marriage-based application. Therefore, it is best to apply if eligible through consular processing for any fiancée visa, or if you both get married, apply for marriage-based I130 and consular processing.

My visitor visa is expiring. Can I apply for a F-1 student visa?

Generally, individuals who are in status and have no other immigration or criminal bars can change status. That being said, a new policy was recently enacted that requires applicants for a change of status to F-1 to be in status within 30 days of the program start date. This can adversely affect any visa that may expire in the meantime, such as a visitor visa, which may expire by the time the F-1 student visa is decided by USCIS.

Due to these complexities, it is best to have a consultation with an immigration attorney in Houston assist with that application.

I never knew I was in deportation proceedings, but I now have recently heard I have an order of removal. What, if anything, can I do to fix this situation?

This is an excellent question, but a rather complicated one. If you never knew you were in deportation proceedings and received no notice of your court hearing date, that could be the reason you were ordered to be removed: missing your court hearing date. If it’s at no fault of your own (for example, your address was updated), then you may be able to apply to reopen your removal proceedings based on lack of notice. Please note that a motion to reopen and/or reconsider can be very complicated and may have time and number bars. Therefore, it’s best to consult with an immigration attorney in Houston, Texas about your options.

I applied for a visa and it is pending currently. However, I just now reviewed what my previous lawyer sent to USCIS and discovered that I did not approve any of it; the prior lawyer made everything up. What can I do?

If anyone submitted false information to USCIS about you—whether it was your previous attorney, any notary unlicensed to practice law, or any other person—then it is imperative that you immediately contact a Houston immigration attorney. An attorney may be able to amend your USCIS filing while it’s pending under the doctrine of timely retraction or, depending on the strategy of your case, it may be best to withdraw the case instead.

I work at a gas station and i was recently robbed at gunpoint when I was working. Can I apply for a U visa?

We’re sorry to hear about this unfortunate circumstance. In certain cases, people may apply for a U visa, even if they are undocumented.

To be eligible for a U visa, the following must be true:

  • You must be the victim of a crime that occurred in the U.S.
  • The crime has to be a serious and qualifying crime
  • You must have sustained substantial physical or mental harm
  • You must cooperate with law enforcement

In terms of cooperating with law enforcement, the first step or prerequisite to filing a U visa is obtaining a U certification from law enforcement, such as if you reported to the police this incident and continued your cooperation with them so that they can pursue the perpetrator. It is best to retain a competent immigration lawyer for this entire process and determine your individual eligibility.

I want to invest in a business in the United States. Can I get a visa or secure another way to stay in the US? If so, can my family come with me?

Our law firm has worked on investor visas. Generally speaking, there are two main types of investment visas: One is an E-2 investment visa, which is only for individuals born in certain countries; the second is an EB5 investment, which ultimately may lead to legal permanent residence (a conditional green card that will become a normal green card if conditions are later removed).

Each investment application is very different in terms of the amount invested, source of funds documentation, the place of filing, applicable procedures, and if the investment can be passive or as an active or direct investment.

It is very important and advisable to consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney in Houston, TX about any investment visa prior to applying.

Disclaimer: This is general advice only, and it does not constitute legal advice on any specific case. Each individual case is unique and must be judged on its merits. By viewing this website, no attorney-client relationship is formed or implied by this site, these FAQ’s or any other part of this website. Additionally, please note any of these topics or subjects may change over time.

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