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Chicago Immigration Law Blog

Understanding your options if your visa sponsor dies

If you have worked hard to make your way to a new country and begin a new life for both yourself and your family, chances are you have spent considerable time making sure that your affairs are in order. However, sometimes things can happen suddenly which could prevent you from being able to maintain your temporary stay or could put you at risk of being deported. At Francis Law Center, we understand the risks that immigrants face, and we have been able to help many people in Illinois to work through the process of immigration. 

One of the potential problems you may face is figuring out how to maintain your visa if your visa sponsor dies. According to NY Daily News, if you are currently awaiting an immigrant visa, but your sponsor passes away, you still have a likely chance of getting sponsored. If you are able to provide proof that the deceased person was petitioning for you and that you are deserving of permanent residence, the USCIS may be willing to consider your case. In fact, in some cases, you may not even be required to demonstrate a humanitarian need, but simply provide proof of your deceased loved one's petition on your behalf. If you are a widow or widower of the deceased, your chances of getting a green card are even better. 

What happens if I overstay on a visa?

People overstaying their visas is a situation that the authorities in the Chicago area take seriously. Here at Francis Law Center, our attorneys are aware of how immigration agencies across the country are detaining and deporting foreign nationals who are in the country unlawfully after overstaying their visas. 

Many foreigners do not realize the dire consequences they face when they overstay their visas. They must keep track of the “admit until date” on their Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to avoid complications, states FindLaw. Some visa types are ineligible for extension and renewal. Once the validity dates pass on their visas, they risk deportation and being banned from re-entry into the United States for several years. A 10-year ban is given to individuals who overstay their visas by 365 days or longer. The ban goes into effect on the expiration date of the visa. The penalty for overstaying 180 to 364 days on an expired visa is a three-year ban.

My visa petition was denied. What now?

Regardless of your reason for wanting to live in Illinois or elsewhere in the United States, receiving a denial letter for your petition may feel devastating. The notification may not be the end of the road, though. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you may still receive a favorable decision through an appeal.

If you are the beneficiary and the filer of your petition, then you may file the appeal. However, if someone else, such as a family member or employer, filed the petition on your behalf, that person will also have to file the appeal on your behalf. 

Which spouse visa is right for you?

There is nothing more important than bringing your family together and keeping it together. Across borders it often involves rules and regulations which are confusing and difficult to make sense of.

Marrying the partner of your dreams to start a life together in the United States can be very complicated. There are two different ways it can be done, either with marriage here or abroad. Both have their advantages, depending on your unique circumstances. In all cases, however, the process requires careful attention so that the happiest day of your life can become real.

Why citizenship is such a valuable goal for immigrants

When people make the decision to immigrate to a new place, they are often confronted with many critical decisions regarding their future. These choices require time and careful planning to determine that leaving their home country will indeed provide better opportunities to pursue a life that is pleasant, safe and rewarding. When immigrants are interested in making a home in Illinois, they will benefit exponentially from securing citizenship and learning more about the history and governance of the United States. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, citizenship is an incredibly important goal for all immigrants to make and work toward. Perhaps the most compelling reason for people to pursue citizenship is to acquire the freedoms and privileges that come with being a citizen. These include the right to vote, serve in government positions and complete jury duty if requested. Equally as important as being able to enjoy the benefits of citizenship for people who accomplish this feat, is being able to enjoy the fulfillment that comes from having responsibilities. 

Is marriage fraud considered a crime in the U.S.?

If you are an immigrant in the state of Illinois, you may be curious about the process of petitioning for immigration on behalf of family members who still reside in your country of origin. While there are legally effective ways to provide your loved ones with opportunities to seek U.S. citizenship, there are also deceitful ways that could leave you in a lot of legal trouble. Marriage fraud for example, may appear as a clever method to bringing someone you love to the United States, but it is much more serious than you may realize. In fact, marriage fraud is considered a felony. 

According to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, if you are convicted of using marriage fraud as a way to engage in illegal financial gain, you could be facing many costly penalties including prison time and fines. In serious cases, if you aid someone in entering the United States through marriage fraud, you could be investigated for helping a terrorist. What you may not realize is that terrorists often use this deceitful course to gain entry into the U.S. Once here, they are able to more easily conceal their personal information and actions, but still gain access to the sensitive information of you and others. 

Trump voids Temporary Protected Status for Salvadoran immigrants

While many immigrants enter the U.S., every year seeking new opportunities, improved quality of life and shelter from dangerous exposure in their homeland, achieving citizenship is not for the weary. Acquiring citizenship status in the United States and Illinois requires time, effort and commitment to carefully following all designated protocols for approval. Recent changes to several laws under President Trump's administration has complicated this process for those seeking to make a living on U.S. soil. 

A recent announcement by the Department of Homeland Security provided insight into Trump's decision to end Temporary Protected Status for nearly 200,000 El Salvadoran immigrants who currently live in the United States. The decision means that Salvadoran immigrants who were awarded this status as early as 2001 are required to leave the U.S. by September 2019. Those who choose to stay will be listed as undocumented immigrants and will be facing deportation. 

Preparing yourself for a successful citizenship interview

If you have recently immigrated and are slowly acclimating to your new home, you may be well aware that the adjustment process requires time, patience and determination. Over time, you will become accustomed to the changes in your environment and the anticipation of completing your citizenship test will give you something new to look forward to. At Francis Law Center, we are experienced in helping Illinois residents to work toward achieving citizenship status and taking the next step into their exciting future. 

Before you can take the naturalization test, you will be required to study and prepare, to give yourself a winning chance at having a successful result. According to, some of the ways that you can effectively prepare for your interview include the following:

  • Collect required documentation: Begin by collecting all of the documents required by your interviewer. These documents include application papers, reentry permits, your passport and your state ID card among other things.
  • Pay attention to the civics test: Studying for the civics test will effectively familiarize yourself with the basics of our nation's history and notable figures. Being able to verbalize the reason that being a citizen is important to you, is imperative to making your case and facilitating your request to become a citizen. 
  • Be familiar with the interview process: Take the time to understand what goes on during the interview. You may also wish to understand what happens leading up to the interview, as well as what happens afterward to you know what to anticipate throughout the process.  

DACA solutions pushed to 2018

After pledging to force a vote in December over the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Congressional Democrats are acknowledging defeat.

The hope was to add a vote on DACA to the short-term spending bill set to keep the government running through mid-January, but Democrats were unsuccessful. Efforts will likely pick up again in 2018, as DACA is set to shut down in March.

Common visa interview mistakes

If you or someone you love is trying to obtain a visa so that you, he or she can move to Illinois, Wisconsin or another part of the United States, you may have questions about the visa interview process, and what it entails. At Francis Law Center, we have helped many immigrants and their families navigate the visa interview, and we have a firm understanding of common errors many people make that can hinder their chances of lawfully staying in the United States.

Per, the visa interview is a critical step in the immigration process, and how you perform in it can have a considerable impact on whether you receive a visa afterward. As important as understanding what to do in your visa interview is identifying what not to do, so recognizing where others made errors may help you avoid making them yourself.


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