Immigration Lawyer in Tampa Bay - The Law Office of Gian-Franco MelendezThe United States has, and always will be, a nation of immigrants striving for the American Dream. As a Hispanic-American attorney, Gian-Franco Melendez understands the importance of keeping that dream alive.

Immigration laws can be very complex, especially for those who are new to America or have limited English-speaking skills. Those wishing to enter the United States legally, and live and work in America legally, can find the process to be confusing, frustrating, and lengthy. Many are tempted to live and work in the United States without obtaining proper documentation, but those who do so face serious risks, like deportation and being separated from their family. Either way, seeking legal status or living in the US without proper documentation, both possess their own dangers and difficulties.

Gian-Franco Melendez understands that the immigration process can be one of the most stressful times in the life of an immigrant and their families. It is our goal at the Law Office of Gian-Franco Melendez to not only help our clients understand this process, but to also passionately represent them and give them the best opportunity to live their American Dream.

Our immigration services include:

  • Naturalization
  • Adjustment of Status
  • Permanent Residency
  • Family-Based Immigration
  • Employment-Based Immigration
  • Non-Immigrant Visa Applications
  • Waivers
  • U-Visa Applications
  • Trade/Investor Visas
  • TN Visas

Becoming a United States Citizen

For many immigrants, regardless of why they came to the United States, obtaining citizenship is their ultimate goal. A United States citizen is protected against deportation or involuntary removal from the United States and can fully participate in American society.
US immigration visa process - law office of gian franco melendez

Lawful Permanent Resident Status

Achieving this goal is a very long and arduous process that usually begins with first obtaining the status of a lawful permanent resident.

Lawful permanent resident (LPR) status (commonly known as having a “green card”) gives an immigrant the ability to live and work legally in the United States. However, a lawful permanent resident can have their status revoked and be deported if they engage in certain criminal activity, and they are not eligible to vote. Additionally, they are not permitted to leave the United States frequently or for a prolonged duration.

Obtaining LPR status requires you to obtain a visa. A visa allows you to remain in the United States for a specific amount of time and for a specific purpose, like for vacation or to work.

You may be eligible to obtain a US visa if:

You have a family connection in the United States.

Immigration law enables you to apply for a visa if you have certain family members living in the United States. If you are an “immediate relative” (like the spouse, a child under the age of 21, or parents of a U.S. citizen that are age 21 or older) you may be eligible to obtain a green card.

Visas are always available for the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens and there is usually no waiting period as to when you can apply.

Visas may be available (but are limited in number and do have waiting periods as to when you can apply) to other qualifying family relations, including:

    • Being the unmarried son or daughter (so long as you are over the age of 21), a married son or daughter, and/or the brother or sister of a U.S. citizen;
    • Being the spouse or unmarried child of a LPR / “green card” holder;
    • Falling into a special category, such as being the victim of domestic violence or the surviving spouse of a U.S. citizen.

You have been offered employment in the United States.

If you have accepted a job or been offered employment in the United States, you may be eligible to apply for a visa. The number of visas granted to individuals seeking LPR status through this method is limited. Applicants are approved or denied based in part upon the number of visas available and the following preference scale:

    • The highest preference goes to “priority workers” like exceptional researchers, distinguished professors, and other applicants who demonstrate extraordinary abilities;
    • The next-highest preference goes to individuals who hold an advanced degree or who are otherwise exceptionally gifted;
    • Next is skilled workers or other professionals;
    • The lowest preference is given to those applicants who are investors, entrepreneurs, or who have other certain special skills.

You fit into another special category. 

There are limited numbers of visas for applicants who fit into other, specialized categories such as victims or witnesses of certain crimes and human trafficking victims. These visas generally have very strict eligibility requirements.

Applying for LPR Status

Applicants for LPR status must complete a petition or, in the case of an application based upon an immediate family relation that is a U.S. citizen, that family relation must complete the petition. In many cases not based on an immediate U.S. citizen family relation, they must also show that a visa is available based on the monthly Visa Bulletin.

Individuals seeking LPR status must also prove that they are legally admissible to the United States. This usually means they do not fall into one or more categories of inadmissible immigrants. An immigrant may be deemed inadmissible based upon previous criminal convictions, previous unlawful presence in the United States, and/or security concerns the federal government may have concerning the LPR applicant.

If you are determined to be inadmissible due to unlawful presence in the United States (for example), an immediate family member may be able to apply for an I-601 or I-601A waiver for you that will “waive” your inadmissibility and allow your petition to proceed.

The Law Office of Gian-Franco Melendez, LLC can assist you through all stages of the process of obtaining lawful permanent resident status, including determining your eligibility for a visa, assisting you in completing the petition, preparing you for any interviews you must complete, and/or helping you apply for waivers of inadmissibility.

Becoming a US Citizen by Naturalization

Naturalization is the process of obtaining U.S. citizenship by fulfilling the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

While lawful permanent resident status gives an individual the ability to live and work in the United States indefinitely, this status can be revoked and they cannot vote in most elections. In addition, some rights afforded to citizens (like freedom from deportation) are not given to LPRs.

Naturalization may be available if:

  • You have been a permanent resident for five or more years, meet certain requirements relating to residency and presence in the United States, and meet other eligibility requirements;
  • You have been a permanent resident for three years and are eligible to file for naturalization as the spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  • You meet the eligibility requirements and have sufficient qualifying service in the United States’ military;

Naturalization may also be available for your child if you are a United States citizen, your child was born outside of the United States, your child is currently residing outside the United States, and other eligibility criteria are met.

These are some of the most common ways in which a person can obtain citizenship through naturalization, but attorney Gian-Franco Melendez may be able to determine that other paths to citizenship available to you based on your specific circumstances. After evaluating your individual case, we can devise the most effective and affordable method(s) available to obtain your citizenship.

What information will my immigration attorney need?

Immigration law cases are inherently complex and depend on the specific facts of your situation. Your immigration attorney will need certain information from you in order to determine a suitable course of action designed to achieve the best possible results. Be prepared to discuss the following topics with your immigration lawyer:

  • Your age, date of birth, and when you came into the United States;
  • Where you have lived since coming into the United States;
  • Any periods where you have left the United States, including the dates of your departure, your destination, and the reason for your departure;
  • Whether you intend to reside permanently in the United States;
  • Whether you presently have any status to be in the United States lawfully;
  • Whether you had any legal status to live and/or work in the United States in the past;
  • Information about your family, including names and addresses of your parents, siblings, and/or children, and whether any of these individuals are United States citizens or lawful permanent residents;
  • Whether you have any previous convictions. If you do, be prepared to disclose the nature of your criminal history, including the charge of which you were convicted, the date of your conviction(s), and what sentence you received;
  • Whether you have been previously deported?

Any additional information about your overall life, like if you hold an advanced degree or have specialized skills or training, will be helpful information for your attorney to know.

Additionally, if you have received an offer of employment from a U.S. business, be ready to provide the details of your offer or a copy of the letter sent by your employer describing the details of your job offer.

Gathering all this information for your attorney may seem like an exhausting, and at times, uncomfortable task. However, it is important that your immigration attorney have all the facts and details about your situation so we can provide you with the most accurate legal counsel possible.

the Law Office of Gian-Franco Melendez

For assistance with your immigration matter, you want legal advice from an attorney who is knowledgeable in the current immigration laws. Gian-Franco Melendez has assisted many clients seeking to obtain legal status and achieve their United States citizenship. His knowledge of the law enables him to take swift and decisive action on your behalf, but his passion for assisting his clients makes sure his clients feel that he has their best interest at heart.

The sooner you contact the Law Office of Gian-Franco Melendez, the sooner we can begin working to help you achieve the American dream. Call the Law Office of Gian-Franco Melendez, LLC at 813-841-6553  or contact us online today for help with your immigration matter.

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