The (not so) permanent resident

GETTING your green card is a wonderful accomplishment.  When we represent a client at their adjustment of status interview, the room is filled with smiles and happy tears when their application is approved and the officer shakes the client’s hand and says “Congratulations, welcome to America.”  It feels great to know you can finally travel back home to see your family.  Your immigration status is finally stable…  But your “permanent” residency may not be as permanent as you think.
Our firm recently won a case we had been fighting for years.  An otherwise upstanding US permanent resident with a family committed a small violation which landed him in court with a hefty fine and community service.  Though his blunder was insignificant in the eyes of the California justice system, it was fatal for his immigration status.
He had been a green card holder since he was a boy.  He had no family in his home county and did not even speak the language there.  He was deported.  His family came to us and we fought to obtain a permission for him to return to the United States.  After several years, when his family had hit rock-bottom, lost their home and his children transferred to unfamiliar schools, we won the case.  He returned to the United States and was reunited with his family.  They now have years of rebuilding ahead of them, and years of heartache behind them.  If he had been a citizen, he would have paid his fine, served a few plates of food at a soup kitchen, and gone on to live his life.
Securing your own future is only half of the benefit of naturalization.  Becoming a US citizen also allows you to secure the status of your family.  US citizens can petition family members who are residing outside the country.  Bring your children here, bring your parents here, and bring your husband or wife here.  Unite your family and give them the opportunity to thrive in the United States.  Do not become complacent with your immigration status.  Make it your goal this year to naturalize.  Give the gift of citizenship to yourself so that you may secure your status and possibly even help your loved ones join you in the United States.  Don’t live another year without your family.
If you are afraid of the big, bad citizenship interview, don’t be.  The study guide for history and civics questions makes learning easy and we have professionals who can help you prepare.  If your English is weak or you have a disability that makes it difficult for you to read and write, come to our firm and tell us your worries.  We can help you pass the exam or even waive the exam all together!  Our lawyers have taken and passed the California Bar Exam, the hardest bar exam in the country.  Trust us, we know how scary tests can be!  Let us help you succeed.  And no, you do NOT have to sing the Star Spangled Banner…  we promise.

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Kelly O’Reilly is a nationally known immigration expert and former immigration officer. He is a highly sought after speaker on immigration and employment compliance issues.  Mr. O’Reilly serves as the current chair of the Riverside County Bar Association Immigration section and is a partner in the full-service immigration firm of Wilner & O’Reilly where he provides free consultations. Mr. O’Reilly can be contacted at (562)207-6789 or he welcomes email inquiries at [email protected].  

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