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Do You Qualify For A Green Card Or Citizenship Through A Family Member?

This year the government will deport nearly 300,000 immigrants.

You don’t need to be one of them.

If you follow the news, you’ve probably heard stories about the cold-hearted claws of ICE clamping down on good, honest, hard-working immigrants.

Many of them had U.S. citizen husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.  Good-paying jobs.  Community and church ties.  Children in high school and college.

They were torn apart from their family and sent back to their home countries. You worry the same disaster could happen to you.

You’re searching for a solution.

We’re here to help you find it.

The Family Unity Process

To assist you in the quest for legal residency, we provide a full range of services from immigrant visas to green cards to citizenship.

Here is a brief summary of the steps involved.

Step 1: Family-Based Visas And Immigrant Relative Petitions

Your first step is to file an immigrant family petition for your relative.

Step 2: Green Cards And Permanent Residence

The second step happens when your family member can file his or her papers for permanent residency. Sometimes this can take place right away and sometimes it takes many years. Sometimes winning a green card requires you to go back to your home country for an interview.

Step 3: Citizenship And Naturalization

The third and final step is when you apply for citizenship after becoming a permanent resident. There are other paths, besides just naturalization, to obtain U.S. citizenship via family ties.

Battles We Fight, Problems We Solve

Don’t be fooled. Winning your green card or becoming a citizen is not a simple process.

Too many people lose their cases because they made mistakes that could have been avoided, that should have been avoided.


You don’t just lose your case and hard-earned money spent on the application.  You could be sent to immigration court to face deportation charges.  You could be separated, forever, from your family.

This is why your lawyer must be ready to take care of many different type of issues which frequently stand between immigrants and permanent residence success.

Examples of such problems include:

  • Spouse Green Card Petitions And Fiancé(e) Visas
  • Removal Of Permanent Residence Conditions
  • Family-Based Immigrant Relative Visas
  • Violence Against Women Self-Petitions
  • Adoptions
  • Citizenship And Naturalization
  • Visa, Green Card, And Citizenship Denials

Green Card Marriage Applications And Fiancé Visa Petitions

Many immigration clients are citizens or permanent residents who want to marry someone who does not have valid immigration papers to live in the United States.

Sometimes the immigrant is already living in the United States. In these cases, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident need to file family-based immigrant visa petitions for their spouses.

Other times the immigrant seeking to become a lawful permanent resident is still living in his or her home country. If you’re a U.S. citizen, but have not yet married your soon-to-be immigrant spouse, you may have the option to choose to apply for a fiancé visa petition.

Whatever your situation, Carlos always makes it a priority to give you a realistic assessment of your chances of success at your first consultation.

You owe it to yourself and your spouse to figure out which path offers you the best opportunity.

When Is It Safer To Immigrate Your Future Spouse Under A Fiancé(e) Visa?

John, a U.S. citizen, plans to marry Louisa, who lives in Brazil. They have arranged for Louisa to visit John next month on a visitor visa. John wants to file papers to immigrate her as soon as they get married. To avoid making any mistakes, John called our Riverside immigration office for an appointment to discuss his case.

A key concern, Carlos informs John, is Louisa’s knowledge. Does Louisa already know about John’s intentions? If she knows about John’s ideas, and she plans to stay in the United States and get married, her visit is probably a bad idea. The U.S. government may interpret her entry as immigration fraud – since she was intending to stay, not just visit, in the United States.

Carlos advises John a safer course is to file a fiancée visa. This means canceling their current plans. This means a longer period of separation right now. But he explains, once Louisa arrives, they can live together happily ever after in the United States.

On the other hand, if Louisa had been here on a valid visitor visa before John suddenly decided to get married, they may be able to immediately file her immigration paperwork. She could complete the documents for her green card here without going back to Brazil.

Although most immigrants are in a hurry to legalize their status, it’s often the hare, not the tortoise who wins the race to immigration success.

Removal Of Permanent Residence Conditions

Some clients experience a divorce or separation after the family immigration petition has been filed. Many are afraid. They believe there is no possibility of going forward. They fear being deported.

This worry may or may not be warranted. To be sure, as your permanent resident attorney, Carlos will thoroughly analyze your situation before offering any recommendations.

Once he has learned about when your were married, when your were divorced, and other important facts, Carlos will make suggestions on if and how you can avoid future problems and, whenever possible, still obtain your green card.

Maybe you’re a marriage-based conditional resident.

This means if you were married for less than two years when your green card was approved, it was only approved on a conditional basis. Your green card is only valid for two years.

Before the time is up, you must apply to remove the condition along with your spouse, allowing you full permanent residence status. If you are no longer married, or your spouse has died, the immigration process is more difficult.

You will need to prove you qualify to remove the condition on your green card by yourself.

But there are only a few circumstances under which you can file without your spouse, and all require high standards of evidence.

If you are facing this type of situation, here’s the key point. Do not give up until you talked to an experienced green card attorney.

“I heard about Carlos from some church friends. They told me he was a good lawyer who really cares about his clients. I had tried 20 years before to get my green card. Since then I always worried that I might get stopped by immigration officers. I was tired of living in fear. I was tired of hiding. I decided to call Carlos’ office.

My case had some rough spots. At first, the immigration offices denied my case again. I was scared. Carlos would not back down. He filed an appeal. He won. I was given permanent residence. I wanted to cry I was so happy.

Let me say one more thing. Carlos has a wonderful staff. Everyone who works for him treated me with respect and courtesy. They all wanted me to win my case – I think they wanted me to win as much as I wanted to win.”

Domitila Brambila, Hemet, California

Family-Based Immigrant Relative Visa Petitions

Many clients filed family and relative visa petitions for immigration benefits a long time ago. They do not know the status of the paperwork. They do not know if the family petition has been canceled.

They do not know if their paperwork is still valid and if they can still apply for their green cards. They do not know if they must start over again.

If this is your situation, you should consult with an immigration family visa lawyer. Sometimes, your old family visa petition can help you qualify for a green card today. In other cases, the older petition might harm your chances to earn a green card through a new application.

When Should You File A New Immigration Family Petition?

Maria, age 23, is curious about her immigration status. Papers were filed by her lawful permanent resident father several years ago. Because she is now an adult, friends have told she has to wait longer to get an interview.

Maria is engaged to a lawful permanent resident. If she gets married, she wants to know if this will help her get a green card sooner. She wants to know if she has to start the immigration process over again.  Maria decides to call our San Diego immigration attorney office for help.

Her inquiries are not simple. To assist her, there are still many questions to be answered. For example, when did her father file papers? What papers, exactly, did her father file? Is her father still a lawful permanent resident or has he became a U.S. citizen? Will she have to return to her home country for her immigration interview? How did Maria enter this country – with or without permission?

To help Maria, Carlos tells her that she should try to find the old papers. He needs to analyze them. He can then explore all options open to her – instead of merely guessing – which will enable her to make an intelligent decision about the best way to become a lawful permanent resident.

Whether you’re the spouse, child, parent, brother, or sister of a pending family visa petition, you should not take careless risks and assume there aren’t any problems lurking in your immigration past.

Careless risks can destroy all your hopes and dreams of living together as a family with your spouse and children here in the United States.

You don’t want that to happen.

VAWA Self-Petitions For Abused Immigrant Spouses And Children

Unfortunately, some immigrant marriages involve spousal and child abuse. The abuse may be physical, mental, emotional, or financial.

One spouse, a U.S. citizen, controls, mistreats, or harms the immigrant spouse, who does not have immigration documents. The abuser threatens to call the police to deport his spouse if she tells anyone about the abuse or violence.

In these types of cases, Carlos is often able to help the spouse who is being abused obtain green card benefits and permanent resident status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a special program which allows immigrants to self-petition without the abuser.

If you’re trapped in an abusive or violent relationship, don’t wait until the situation gets worse. Seek legal help immediately. Your immigration paperwork is kept confidential – immigration officials will not contact your abuser.

Under VAWA the road to your physical safety is the same as the one to your immigration freedom.

. . . And although VAWA is normally viewed as protecting abused women, Carlos has successfully represented immigrants abused as children, in same sex relationships, as well as male victims of domestic violence.

“When it comes to immigration law, Carlos is the Man!

My wife had overstayed her visitor’s visa for several years. She had graduated from high school in her home country. She wanted to go to college here but felt trapped. She was afraid of getting deported.

My mother told us to contact Carlos. Her co-worker told my mom that her husband had lost his immigration case. Then they hired Carlos. Carlos won the case. So we went to talk with Carlos.

I was not earning much at the time. I did not think we could afford his fees. But Carlos agreed to help us. He worked out a payment plan we could afford. My wife won her case. Now she’s a college graduate and a U.S. Navy officer.”

Harry Mercado, Jr., Tucson, Arizona

Immigrant Adoptions

Sometimes a citizen or permanent resident wants to adopt the child of a relative or friend who does not have immigration documents to live in the U.S.

As a former family law attorney, Carlos provides a special combination of skills and knowledge for such matters – experience in handling immigration cases for families and experience in handling adoptions in state courts.

Are There Any Age Limits On Sponsoring An Adopted Child For Permanent Residency?

Jenny, a U.S. citizen, wants to file papers to immigrate her nephew and niece. Her sister abandoned them several years ago. Jenny has raised them since her sister disappeared.

The oldest child, Hector, is 15 years old and will turn 16 in about eight months. Jenny knows she has to adopt them before she is allowed to immigrate them.   Worried about Hector, Jenny scheduled an appointment with Carlos at our Escondido immigration lawyer office.

Carlos warns Jenny that she does not have much time. Hector’s adoption has to be completed by the time he turns 16. The adoption process takes at least six months. In this case, it might take longer. Jenny must notify Hector’s parents that she plans to adopt them. Yet, Jenny has no clues where Hector’s mother and father have lived for almost ten years.

Carlos emphasizes there is no time for delay. There is no room for mistakes. If Jenny is going to take action, he advises her, she has to take action quickly.

Carlos’ dual expertise in adoption cases offers a hidden benefit for clients. By eliminating your need to hire a second attorney for state court hearings, your costs for lawyer fees are reduced.

Citizenship And Naturalization

Earning permanent residence is an important milestone for all immigrants.

But . . .

Winning a green card should not be the end of your success story.

Think citizenship.

Here’s why.

Your residency status is neither as permanent or durable as citizenship. Your green card can be taken away far more easily than naturalization, and it grants you less privileges.

Real protection against deportation and family separation only occurs when you become a citizen of the United States.

You reach the finish line – after passing the naturalization test and being being sworn in as an official U.S. citizen – when you turn to your spouse or family member who sponsored you for a visa and green card, give them a big hug, and thank them for transforming your life.

You reach the finish line – when you begin to travel without fear, when you start to seek better paying jobs, when you buy a home that you’ve longed to give your wife and kids for a long, long time.

Yet, as with all immigration applications, achieving citizenship is not a leisurely stroll in the park. In spite of winning residence, naturalization is not guaranteed.

Under some circumstances, maintaining your green card status and benefits is wiser than gambling on winning citizenship.

For instance, soon after they win permanent residency status, many immigrants begin to travel back and forth to their home country. If they stay there for more than six months during a 12 month period, their visits could lead to the denial of their citizenship applications.

Even 20 years after citizenship is granted, it can be stripped from you. Through a legal process known as denaturalization, if you have concealed important information in your visa and green card filings, you can lose your status many years later.

If you face any of these situations, don’t gamble with your future.

Before you file an application for citizenship, seek legal advice to ensure your hard-earned right to live and work in the U.S. will not be lost.

Immigration Appeals To Challenge Visa, Green Card, And Citizenship Denials

Not all family unity decisions are favorable.

What happens when your family immigration visa petition, adjustment of status application, or citizenship application is denied or rejected?

In some cases you may need to file a motion to reopen or motion to reconsider the denial, specialized form of appealing the government’s immigration decision. In others you may need to show up at immigration court to defend yourself against deportation charges.

Each type of denial has different requirements. Generally, you must act quickly, within 30 days or less, to protect your rights to fight back.

The danger of doing nothing . . . or taking too long . . . is separation from your family, perhaps forever.

That’s not the path to family unity and immigration success.

“Thank you Carlos Batara !!!

He was the first attorney that gave me a good feeling. Through his experience and wisdom, he took my case even though he told me what I didn’t want to hear. His honesty was what appealed to me the most, because others made it sound too easy. Thanks to him I’m able to reunite with my family that I had not seen for a very long time.”

Maria Gutierrez, San Marcos, California

1. Questions And Answers

My Fiancé Entered With A Visa Many Years Ago. Now It is Expired. Can He Get A Green Card?

My Boyfriend Was Deported Many Years Ago. Will He Get A Green Card If I Immigrate Him?

My Cousin Left The U.S. Over 10 Years Ago. Can She Return With Her Old Permanent Resident Card?

My Cousin Is Over 21. Does He Still Qualify As A Child For A Green Card Through His Mother?

My Spouse And I Separated Before My Two-Year Residency Expired. I Entered On A Fiancée Visa. Do I Have To Return Home?

Must A Green Card Applicant Admit An Expunged Conviction?

My Green Card Interview Is Coming Up Soon. My Husband And I Are Separated. Do I Have To Drop My Case?

Can My Wife, A Former Flight Attendant, Overcome Crew Member Bar And Become A Permanent Resident?

Do I Need An Immigration Waiver Lawyer To Write A Hardship Letter To Keep My Wife From Being Deported?

My Green Card Application Was Rejected Because I Have An Old Case At Immigration Court. How Can I Fix This Situation?

2. Charts And Graphs

Who Can You Immigrate?

I-601 Family Unity Waivers: Factors Of Hardship

The Family-Based Permanent Residence Process

3. Green Card Articles And Blog Posts

Don’t Make These 8 Marriage Green Card Mistakes

Experience, Knowledge & Dedication: A Green Card Lawyer For Your Family

Four Immigrant Entry And Problems: Which Do You Need To Overcome?

Winning Residency Despite Overstaying Visa

Removing Green Card Conditions Without Spouse

The USCIS Fraud Checklist: Green Card Applicants Under Review

The Cold Heart Of ICE: No Room For Love Under The Visa Waiver Program

Green Card Videos

Which Relatives Can You Petition For A Green Card?

“Who Can I Immigrate?” is perhaps the most frequently question asked by immigrants and their family members.

In this video, Immigration Attorney Carlos Batara discusses the family-based system for sponsoring your relatives for green cards.


Green Card Glossary Of Terms:

Green Card Frequently Asked Questions:

Green Card News Articles:

A Jamaican Story Of Persistence: Why The Family Visa System Needs An Overhaul

Ancestry Visas For The United States?

Despite Child Status Protection Act, Supreme Court Affirms Immigrants Age Out Of Green Card Lines

U Visa Relief For Immigrant Victims Of Crime Alive And Well

If you’re serious about evaluating winning permanent residence through a family member, with fresh eyes in a comprehensive manner . . .

Schedule Your Personalized One-On-One Strategy And Planning Session Today.