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Kentucky Immigration Law Blog

How do I help a relative obtain asylee or refugee status?

If you are a refugee in Kentucky or have obtained asylee status within the last two years, then you may have the option of petitioning for a relative's asylee status. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Department, the relative in question must be your spouse or a child who is unmarried and was under the age of 21 when you were granted your own status.

Your first step is to file the I-730 petition, which is the Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. Be sure you have all documentation collected and ready to send upon your first filing to ensure that it is complete and ready to be processed. You will receive notification via postal mail as confirmation of its receipt or a request, if necessary, for additional information.

Asylum applicants can refile for changes in circumstances

If you are seeking asylum in the U.S., getting here is half the battle, because you can only apply once you are in the country. If you don’t apply upon arrival and are now living in Kentucky or elsewhere in the U.S., you must file your application within one year. This is sometimes much easier said than done, however. The U.S. limits the number of refugees receiving asylum each year to 45,000, and beyond that, there are several additional reasons your application may be denied.

The Dept. of Homeland Security notes that you have one year upon arrival to file Form I-589, the application for asylum. Not filing within that timeframe is reason enough to bar you from receiving it. You may also be barred if an immigration judge or board of appeals has denied a previous application unless you can show that your situation or circumstances have changed.

Understanding refugee quotas

Every year, people from all over the world looking to flee their countries of origin will often attempt to come to Louisville or other cities in the U.S. seeking asylum. Their reasons for wanting to leave their countries may vary; some may be trying to escape religious or ethnic persecution, while others may want to get their families out of areas involved in military conflicts. Whatever their motivations may be, these refugees have often viewed the United States as a safe haven. Officials in the U.S. have typically been willing to accept them, yet only to a certain point. 

Refugee admissions are not counted towards the number of spots allotted annually to people wanting to come to the U.S. as immigrants. Thus, while the U.S. government has shown a desire to help refugees escape the hostile situations they are in, it also recognizes the need to not allow the number of such entrants to overwhelm its admission resources. For this reason, legislation has been enacted that caps the number of refugees the U.S. will accept every year. The guidelines regulating these numbers were established by the Refugee Act of 1980

What happens to my conditional status after a divorce?

The process to obtain your conditional status was long and arduous, and it may have interfered with your wedding plans on more than one occasion. However, once achieved, you and your new spouse began your new life in the United States. That may have included finding a job and perhaps having a child.

When you married a U.S. citizen and obtained your conditional residency status, you expected to live in Kentucky with your spouse for many happy years. However, things may not have worked out as you planned, and now your status is in question. As you approach the two-year anniversary of your marriage, you know that your conditional status is due to expire. However, can you remove the conditions on your status even if you are no longer married to your spouse?

What can I expect during the naturalization process?

Whether you are applying in Kentucky or any other state, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, known as naturalization, is the same across the board.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, once your naturalization application has been accepted, you will be notified for the collection of any biometrics, if needed. This includes your photograph, fingerprints and signature. Once collected, your fingerprints will be sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI, so a background check can be conducted.

I am a permanent resident of the U.S. Do I need a reentry permit for travel?

If you are an immigrant living in Kentucky and are working toward legal citizenship, you may fall under the category of a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. Many would-be citizens have this status so they can live and work in the States as they wait for citizenship. If you plan to return to your homeland for an extended period of time, having a reentry permit ensures you can return to the U.S. without losing your status as a permanent resident.

According to the federal Citizen and Immigration Services, if you are a permanent resident and set up house outside the U.S., your resident status may be considered abandoned. If you are gone for a year or more, your permanent resident card becomes invalid. By obtaining a reentry permit before you leave, you are confirming your plans to return and that your absence should not be considered abandonment.

Is the U.S. removing immigrant human rights violators?

Yes. The United States does have procedures in place whose purpose is to prevent entry by those who have committed atrocities against other humans or engaged in other human rights violations. It also has processes for removal should authorities learn that a person living in the United States was previously a violator. However, it can take many years for the process to play out and for the subject to avail him or herself of due process rights prior to removal. Immigration and Customs Enforcement recently reported on one such instance where a person who had lived legally in the United States was investigated and ultimately deported in early January, 2018 based on government findings of a serious nature.

2006 discovery of false statements

What is the diversity program and can I use it to get a visa?

Since it is a random drawing, whether you, residing in Kentucky, can secure a visa through this program will depend on more than just your diversity. The application process requires some planning and document gathering, as well as adhering to a deadline for the year in question.

However, here is some information that you may find useful.

Am I eligible to become a citizen through naturalization?

You may be able to become a United States citizen via the naturalization process in Kentucky if you meet certain criteria. First, before becoming a citizen, you must have been a green card holder for a certain amount of years. In other words, you have to have secured legal permanent residency, first and foremost.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, one path to naturalization is when you have five years of such permanent residence here in the United States. If you have, then you will want to check some additional requirements to see if they apply.

What happens if I overstay my visa?

If you entered the United States through one of the dozens of temporary visa programs, you likely had a particular reason for coming to this country. Such visas cover professions such as athletes, religious workers, students, skilled laborers and those with extraordinary talent in a variety of industries. Because of the limited number of visas offered each year, you can consider yourself fortunate to have obtained your permit to come to Kentucky and work.

The terms of your visa also included an expiration date, and immigration law demands that you leave the country on or before that date. Missing the deadline results in severe penalties. If you know you will not be leaving the United States before your visa expires, it is important that you take the appropriate steps to avoid these penalties.