Tag: US citizenship



In the complex landscape of immigration law, seeking asylum in the United States can take two distinct routes: affirmative and defensive asylum applications. These pathways represent crucial distinctions in the process of obtaining asylum status and navigating the intricate legal framework designed to protect individuals fleeing persecution in their home countries.


Affirmative Asylum Application Process

The affirmative asylum process is tailored for individuals who are not currently in removal proceedings. It involves proactively applying for asylum through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Applicants present their case to a USCIS asylum officer, detailing the circumstances of their persecution and the grounds for seeking refuge in the United States. If the asylum officer denies the application, the individual is then referred to removal proceedings, where they can renew their asylum request through the defensive process and present their case before an immigration judge.

Defensive Asylum Application Process

In contrast, the defensive asylum process is designed for individuals who are already in removal proceedings. These proceedings typically occur when individuals are apprehended in the United States without proper legal documentation or are found to be in violation of their immigration status. In the defensive process, asylum is applied for as a defense against removal from the U.S. Applicants submit their asylum application directly to an immigration judge at the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) within the Department of Justice.

Access to Legal Representation

Regardless of whether individuals pursue affirmative or defensive asylum applications, they have the right to legal representation. However, unlike the criminal court system in the U.S., the government does not provide lawyers for individuals in immigration court, even if they are unable to afford legal counsel on their own. This underscores the importance of securing competent legal representation to navigate the complexities of the asylum process effectively.

Additional Forms of Protection: Withholding of Removal and CAT

Beyond affirmative and defensive asylum applications, there are alternative forms of protection available to individuals facing persecution in their home countries. Withholding of Removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) provide avenues for safeguarding individuals from deportation in cases where asylum may not be granted.

Withholding of Removal offers protection to individuals who can demonstrate a likelihood of facing persecution if returned to their home countries due to factors such as race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. While individuals granted withholding of removal are not eligible for a green card, they are permitted to remain and work lawfully in the United States.

Relief under CAT is available to individuals who fear torture in their home countries. To qualify, individuals must prove that they are more likely than not to be tortured, either directly by the government or with the acquiescence of the government, upon return to their country of origin. This form of relief provides an additional layer of protection for individuals fleeing persecution and torture in pursuit of safety and freedom in the United States.

The affirmative and defensive asylum application processes serve as essential avenues for individuals seeking refuge from persecution in their home countries. Understanding the nuances of these processes, along with alternative forms of protection available, is crucial for navigating the complex landscape of immigration law and securing safety and security in the United States.



Embarking on the journey to become a United States citizen is a significant decision, accompanied by various complexities and requirements. If you’re contemplating this path, you might be pondering whether the assistance of an immigration lawyer is indispensable. While not mandatory, enlisting the services of an experienced attorney can prove immensely advantageous, particularly for intricate cases. Let’s delve into the process of obtaining US citizenship and explore the myriad benefits of having legal representation by your side.

Navigating the Path to US Citizenship

Achieving US citizenship through naturalization entails navigating a nine-step process, each crucial for a successful outcome. From determining your eligibility to attending a naturalization interview and taking the Oath of Allegiance, the journey is multifaceted. Eligibility criteria, though relatively minimal, encompass factors such as age, moral character, English proficiency, and status through marriage, parentage, or military service.

Advantages of Legal Representation

While it’s possible to navigate the citizenship process independently, the expertise of an immigration lawyer can significantly augment your chances of success. Here’s how:

  1. Legal Expertise: Immigration attorneys possess a nuanced understanding of immigration law, ensuring you receive tailored guidance aligned with your unique circumstances.
  2. Guidance: The citizenship process can be overwhelming, but an attorney can provide invaluable guidance, helping you navigate requirements, avoid pitfalls, and streamline the process.
  3. Representation: Your lawyer serves as your advocate, representing you in interactions with immigration authorities and ensuring your case is presented compellingly.
  4. Peace of Mind: Having a seasoned attorney on your side offers reassurance and support, particularly in navigating unforeseen challenges or complexities.

When to Consider Legal Assistance

While legal representation is not obligatory, certain scenarios warrant its consideration. This includes prior immigration violations, visa denials, inadmissibility issues, or if you’re currently residing outside the United States. An immigration lawyer can expedite your application process, overcome language barriers, and provide crucial assistance in urgent situations.

While hiring an immigration lawyer is not a prerequisite for pursuing US citizenship, their expertise and support can substantially ease the journey and bolster your chances of success. Whether you’re confronting complexities or seeking peace of mind, legal representation can serve as a valuable asset on your path to becoming a US citizen.

You are now a Lawful Permanent Resident of the US. Here’s what that means:

Lawful Permanent Resident U.S. Permanent Resident Card frontCongratulations! You got your “green card”! A very important thing to remember is that you are now a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States. This means that you must reside in the US. What does “reside” mean? It’s different for everyone in terms of where someone owns property, where someone works, where a spouse or children live, where you hold your assets. However, for every Lawful Permanent Resident, it means that whatever you do with your life, most of your life is here in the US. 

Some people think that there is a magic “6 month” rule that allows you to maintain your Lawful Permanent Resident status as long as you don’t leave the US for longer than 6 months at any time. Not true. Each time you enter the US, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) looks at how long you were last outside of the US and also how many recent trips you have taken outside the US, where you have gone, and how long you have stayed out of the US and/or inside any other particular countries. If the pattern of your trips suggests that you spend more time outside the US (even if not 6 months at a time), CBP may ask you what you were doing outside the US, where you work and where the company is located, where your spouse lives, where your children go to school. Remember, CBP can ask you just about anything and if you do not answer, or do not answer in a way that a “resident” of the US would, then you may be referred to an Immigration Judge to prove that you do in fact reside in the US. For example, an LPR owns a house on Cape Cod and another in London. That LPR works for a US-based company, but works remotely. The LPR’s spouse does not have immigration status in the US, works full-time, in-person for a bank in London. The LPR’s two children attend private school in London. The LPR visits the US every month for a long weekend and stays with his US citizen sister in her big house on Long Island, New York. Each summer, for two weeks, the LPR and his family stay in their house on Cape Cod, and the LPR rents out the house the resent of the summer. That LPR may not be able to prove that he “resides” in the US, even though he is present in the US much more frequently than every six months. 

Another example: Your retired parents recently obtained their Lawful Permanent Resident status after staying with you for one year in the US. Your parents do not have jobs or property or assets in the US, but they own the home where your sister and her family lives, and in fact, your parents have lived in that home for the past 25 years. Now, your parents want to return to India to take care of your sister’s children full-time, permanently so that your sister and her spouse can work full-time. Your parents plan to come to the US for two weeks each December and each June, staying outside the US now more than 5 months and two weeks each time. After a year or so, this may be a pattern that will alert CBP to ask your parents questions about where they actually live. Our firm would advise your parents to come to the US much more frequently than twice a year for two weeks because this pattern seems more like a “tourist” than a “resident” of the US.

If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-272-7980) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Deadlines for I-751 Joint Petitions and I-751 Waiver Petitions

Deadlines for I-751 Joint Petitions and I-751 Wavier Petitions Renewing your conditional green card (or “removing the conditions on your residence”) requires you to file Form I-751 with your US Citizen spouse**. You must file Form I-751 in the 90 days before the expiration of your conditional card. Do not file it early–it may get rejected. If you file late (that is, after the expiration of your conditional green card), you will need to submit an explanation of why you filed late and convince USCIS that there was “good cause” for your lateness. 

**You will not be required to file Form I-751 with your US Citizen spouse if, if you were abused by your spouse, OR if you are divorced, or if your spouse has died, you can file a waiver application (still on Form I-751). There is no deadline for I-751 Waiver Applications. You can file them before the expiration of your green card (at any time) and you can file them after the expiration of your green  card (at any time). If you wait to file after the expiration of your green card, you run the risk that USCIS will notice that you have not filed and will send a notice of termination of your conditional residence status. If you receive a notice of termination of conditional residence status, you should file Form I-751 Waiver as a waiver as soon as possible. 


If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of people traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call (617-272-7980) or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

Protests Against Senate Parliamentarian Advisory

protesters marched the senateThe month began with promise. House Democrats worked on creating a pathway to citizenship through the budget reconciliation plan. This legislation aimed to allow about 8 million people (primarily Dreamers, TPS/DED holders, farmworkers, and other essential workers) to apply for green cards. Furthermore, the provision would invest $2.8 billion into U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, recapture unused green cards, and allow diversity visa lottery winners to reapply if they had been denied visas due to COVID or other travel restrictions. However, this past Sunday, the Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough advised against the immigration measure, ruling it inappropriate for inclusion.

Rejecting MacDonough’s ruling as an end to immigration reform via budget reconciliation plan, thousands of immigrants appeared in Washington to push back on Tuesday for a protest against the senate. Their march began in Banneker Park, by the Potomac River, stopped at the headquarters of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and ended at the Capitol Reflecting Pool. Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer talked to protestors outside the Capitol, promising them his continued commitment to the fight for a pathway to citizenship. At the same rally, Representative Ilhan Omar urged Schumer and the White House to disregard the advice of the Senate parliamentarian. The fate of the provisions is still unknown, but the people have spoken. Let’s hope their voices are heard and their demands for justice finally met.
If you need to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. We’ve helped hundreds of couples traverse the complicated immigration and citizenship process. We would love to help you as well.  Call 617-676-0503 or email hello@cambridgeimmigrationlaw.com to get in touch.

DACA and Congress

Legislators have spent the last few weeks scrambling for solutions in the wake of a Texas judge’s July 16th decision ruling the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program (DACA) unconstitutional. While the decision has no effect on current DACA recipients (Dreamers), it has halted new applications. President Biden called the decision “deeply disappointing” and announced the U.S. Department of Justice’s plan to appeal the ruling. However, Biden also acknowledged in his statement that only Congress can ensure a permanent solution, and called upon the body to pass the American Dream and Promise Act in order to provide a stable path to citizenship for DACA recipients.
Congress has tried to meet rising pressures by introducing new policy initiatives in the upcoming budget reconciliation bill. This avenue would allow Senate Democrats to bypass the GOP with only a simple majority, as long as support among the Democrats is unanimous. The plan is not yet complete, but will likely include $120 billion to create a pathway to citizenship for Dreamers and permanent green card status for undocumented farmworkers and recipients of Temporary Protected Status. If successful, it would be a major win in immigration reform.
Unfortunately, legal restrictions make this venture unlikely. The Byrd Rule limits budget reconciliation bills to the realm of spending and taxes. If the Senate Parliamentarian rules that these immigration measures fall outside this scope, they will not be included. The possibility of this is still being debated. While the current Senate Parliamentarian was a former immigration lawyer, she has blocked many Democrat proposals before. It seems the only stable course of action now is the most undesirable to Congress — negotiation with the GOP.

Senator Bob Menendez and the Fight for the US Citizenship Act of 2021

Shortly after his inauguration, President Biden sent his progressive immigration bill to Congress. This bill, titled the US Citizenship Act of 2021, would offer millions of undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship. The following day, Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey held a virtual briefing on the act. The Senator is the highest ranking Latino in the United States Congress. He has a long history with immigration reform, and has been a life-long advocate for immigrants and the Latino population. He will be leading the legislative effort for the US Citizenship Act of 2021 in Congress. Menendez takes great pride in this fight. The Senator is already in talks with his colleagues, but he still faces strong Republican opposition. Regardless, Menendez remains optimistic. He believes in the power of immigrants. The Senator wants to make his case to Americans of all walks of life. Senator Menendez plans to emphasize why immigration reform is in the “moral, economic, and best interests” of the country. Throughout the briefing, Senator Menendez praised Biden’s commitment to reform and expressed optimism for the future of immigration reform under Biden. The US Citizenship Act of 2021 has yet to face a vote, and its future is still uncertain. During these next few weeks, it is leaders like Senator Menendez that will help shape the future of immigration law. It is a fight that must be followed.


Read Our Breakdown of the US Citizenship Act of 2021 Here: https://ellensullivanlaw.com/president-biden-sends-progressive-immigration-bill-to-congress/ 


Read About Senator Bob Menendez’s Briefing Here: https://www.menendez.senate.gov/newsroom/press/menendez-holds-virtual-briefing-on-us-citizenship-act-of-2021-and-his-role-as-the-lead-sponsor-in-the-senate 

Biden to Unveil Path to Citizenship for Millons!

Yesterday the Boston Globe reported: “President-elect Joe Biden plans to unveil a sweeping immigration bill on Day One of his administration, hoping to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. without legal status, a massive reversal from the Trump administration’s harsh immigration policies.”

I am thrilled by this news, and I will hold out hope that the Biden administration can get this initiative passed.

Contact your local, state, and federal legislators to let them know that you support a path to citizenship to our many neighbors who work with us, live near us, and add enormous value to our communities.


Filing for I-90 Will Automatically Extend Your Green Card for 12 Months!

Filing for I-90 Will Automatically Extend Your Green Card for 12 Months!


USCIS announced a new policy that will help green card holders whose green cards expire while Form I-90 is pending. This is great news, except that this policy should not be necessary because USCIS should be processing Form I-90 much, much, much quicker than the current processing times.

What does this all mean? When a person has a ten-year green and is six months away from the expiration of the card, that person can file Form I-90 to renew the green card. In recent years, Form I-90 would be processed in as little as one month, a reasonable amount of time for a basic document to be renewed for a person with lawful permanent resident status. In recent months, however, Form I-90 processing exceeds 6, 7, 8 months and more. Since a person cannot file Form I-90 more than six months prior to its expiration (unless the card was lost or had an error), then of course the person would end up with a pending I-90 and no unexpired proof of her green card status. To fill the gap between the green card expiration date and the receipt of a new green card, USCIS is provided a Receipt Notice for Form I-90 that serves to extend the green card by 12 months.

Unfortunately this policy only begins this month, so my clients who filed cases last year still have no approved I-90 and do not have a Receipt Notice that serves to extend their status. In those situations, we can call USCIS to request an in-person appointment at USCIS to get a stamp in the foreign passport or sticker on the green card to serve as proof of continued LPR status.

If you have a ten-year green card, you should consult with an attorney about whether you are eligible for US citizenship/naturalization. If you become a US citizen, you never need to worry again about your expiring green card!

See USCIS to Replace Sticker That Extends Validity of Green Cards | USCIS for more information about this new USCIS I-90 policy.

What is a Fiancé Visa?

Deciding to get married is a big step. But for couples who are citizens of different countries, it can be an even more complicated process. In the U.S., US citizens can bring a non-citizen fiancé to the United States to live. Once in the U.S., a non-citizen also has certain rights with the fiancé visa.

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