Get on the path to results with Gomez & Palumbo, your immigration specialists!
Gomez & Palumbo, LLC; has earned widespread respect among clients and the legal community for successfully representing clients with even the most complicated immigration cases. Gómez & Palumbo Law specializes in Immigration Law and the representation of both immigrants, non immigrants and United States citizens in reuniting with their loved ones. Our priority is to provide our clients with personalized service to fit their individual needs. Our team of skilled and experienced professionals will provide you with the transparent and honest legal representation you require. Our legal expertise and professional drive will ensure you unparalleled legal representation.
Our vision and mission is to provide our clients with personalized service to fit their personal needs. Immigrants are vulnerable because they don’t always understand the system of law in this foreign nation and we are here to help them in their journey to obtain legal status, to change status, to obtain naturalization or citizenship and to help them keep their legal status when they are in jeopardy of losing it or obtaining release from ICE custody when detained. We understand the difficulties of dealing with the many government agencies that service immigrants while applying for an immigration benefit for themselves or their relatives; therefore, we can provide the peace of mind that our clients need during the process.
The contributions of immigrants to the US labor force and economy have been well-documented. There is a comprehensive estimates on immigrant (foreign-born) workers in the United States, employed in “essential critical infrastructure” categories, as defined by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) (DHS 2020). It finds that immigrants in the labor force and age 16 and over, work at disproportionate rates in “essential critical infrastructure” jobs. In particular, 69 percent of all immigrants in the labor force and 74 percent of undocumented workers are essential infrastructure workers, compared to 65 percent of the native-born labor force.
If one thing is clear in immigration law is this; an immigrant in detention by ICE needs competent representation from an immigration lawyer that specializes in removal defense. The system of laws in the United States allows immigrant or people in general to represent themselves. However, representing yourself is the same as committing suicide. The system is hard to navigate even for experienced lawyers and the immigration courts nor DHS makes it easy for people who chose to represent themselves to do so competently. The time to fight for your case is while you or your family member is here in the US, even if that means being detained for a little longer. If you chose to give up and leave the country with an order of removal or voluntary departure, it will be much more difficult to ever enter legally. Know this important fact: there are cases not worth fighting for because it is a waste of money for you or your family. This is the reason why it is so important to obtain honest legal advice from a reputable lawyer or firm.
Reunification of families with their loved ones in the United States most often occurs through the immigrant visas process. US citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPR) are able to file a petition with United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS). You are also able to immigrate through an employer and your family may have the ability to immigrate with you. Once that petition is approved the person can apply for an immigrant visa through the National Visa Center. In the case of the spouse, minor children under 21 and parents of U.S. citizens (USC) there is no wait time for a visa number. Visa numbers are also a short waiting time period for the spouse and minor children under 21 of LPR's. The other categories: children over 21 of USC's, children over 21 of LPR's, married children of USC's and siblings of USC's all have to wait for a visa to become available. After a petition is approved, the relative has to wait for the visa to become available to start the application process.
Again, navigating the immigrant visa process can be challenging and there are people that after waiting for years for a visa to become available, their cases where closed because they made simple mistakes for lack of knowledge of how the process work.
Our firm has combined years of experience in dealing with immigrant visa and consular process. You need to trust this process to professionals who already know how to best get your loved one smoothly into the United States.
Asylum and Refugees
Refugee status or asylum may be granted to people who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, nationality, and/or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.
Refugee status is a form of protection that may be granted to people who meet the definition of refugee and who are of special humanitarian concern to the United States. Refugees are generally people outside of their country who are unable or unwilling to return home because they fear serious harm. For a legal definition of refugee, see section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Asylum status is a form of protection available to people who:
You may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of your country of origin or your current immigration status.
Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:
If you are eligible for asylum you may be permitted to remain in the United States. To apply for asylum, file a Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States. There is no fee to apply for asylum.
You may include your spouse and children who are in the United States on your application at the time you file or at any time until a final decision is made on your case. To include your child on your application, the child must be under 21 and unmarried.
Green Card for VAWA Self-Petitioner
Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by:
You may self-petition under VAWA by filing a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (Form I-360) without your abusive family member’s knowledge or consent. A person who files a VAWA self-petition is generally known as a VAWA self-petitioner. If your self-petition is approved and you meet other eligibility requirements, you may be eligible to apply to become a lawful permanent resident. For more information, see Battered Spouse, Children & Parents and VAWA Questions and Answers.
This page provides specific information for aliens in the United States who want to apply for lawful permanent resident status as VAWA self-petitioners.
U Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Domestic Violence and Other Crimes
Immigrant victims of certain crimes who have been helpful in a criminal investigation or prosecution may qualify for a visa that can lead to a green card. The ILRC’s practice manual entitled The U Visa: Obtaining Status for Immigrant Victims of Crime is a comprehensive explanation of the law and application process that also includes sample materials and practice tips.
Principal Petitioner: You must demonstrate all of the following: A. You are a victim of criminal activity designated in section 101(a)(15)(U)(iii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Such activity is defined as being the victim of one or more of the following or any similar activity in violation of Federal, state, or local criminal law:
T Visa: Immigration Relief for Survivors of Sex or Labor Trafficking
Human trafficking survivors may be eligible for lawful status, employment authorization, and a potential path to permanent residency, but they are a unique population with diverse and resource-intensive needs.
In order to qualify for Adjustment of Status the following requirements must be present in the United States.
In most cases with some exceptions the applicant must have been:
Special immigrant juveniles (SIJ) and other special immigrants are not exempt from this requirement. However, statutory provisions expressly state that these special immigrants are considered paroled for adjustment eligibility purposes. Accordingly, the beneficiaries of approved SIJ petitions meet the inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled requirement, regardless of their manner of arrival in the United States. Certain special immigrants also meet this requirement such as victims of domestic violence under VAWA or U-Visa recipients applying for Adjustment of Status.
The Adjustment of Status is a complex process because it is a series of applications filed all together to obtain immigration benefits. If the Adjustment of Status is through a USC spouse, it is further complicated by having to prove that the marriage was entered into in good faith and not to obtain an immigration benefit. People lack the ability to understand the importance of the requirements and often times apply pro-se or with the help of a non-lawyer get into a lot of trouble for entering into a process without knowing what is required of them during the process. Some people underestimate the importance of using the help of a professional who specializes in immigration law to help them with their immigration matters until they are in trouble.
A waiver of inadmissibility is necessary when you have issues that make you ineligible to receive a visa. The visa could be to immigrate to the United States or for temporary reasons. The most common waivers are, waiver of inadmissibility for unlawful presence, waiver for misrepresentation to a government official, waiver for fraud, waiver for having committed a crime involving moral turpitude and waiver for deportation/removal. It is very important to know and understand if you need a waiver and if you qualify to obtain the waiver. For must waiver you have to have a qualifying relative exept for the waiver of deportation. For the waiver of inadmissibility or waiver of misrepresentation you need to have a parent or spouse who is an LPR or a USC to qualify you for the waiver. For the 212H waiver, you have to have a parent, child or spouse who is a LPR or USCI to qualify you for the waiver. A waiver is a complicated and complex legal process. We have helped hundreds of people who needed a waiver of inadmissibility obtain legal status through a waiver. We take a lot of pride in the kind of work we do and consider that the success of our practice in the area is due to working on these cases with a team approach from the firm and the clients seeking out service. For this team approach, it takes educating the clients on what is required of them to present a winning case.
If you are in the United States and need the protection of a juvenile court because you have been abused, abandoned or neglected by a parent, you may be eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) classification. If SIJ classification is granted, you may qualify for lawful permanent residency (also known as getting a Green Card).
Be under 21 years of age.
Only at the time you file the SIJ petition (Form I-360).
Be currently living in the United States. You cannot apply from outside the country to come to the United States on SIJ classification. Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
Be unmarried. This means you either:
Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
Have a valid juvenile court order issued by a state court in the United States which finds that:
Note: Some juvenile courts may only be able to issue a juvenile court order if you are under 18 years of age.
Both at the time you file the SIJ petition and at the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
EXCEPTIONS: You do not need to currently be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court that issued your order if the court’s jurisdiction ended solely because:
Be eligible for USCIS consent. This means that you must have sought the juvenile court order to obtain relief from abuse, neglect, abandonment or a similar basis under state law and not primarily to obtain an immigration benefit. At the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
Have written consent from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)/ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to the court’s jurisdiction if:
At the time USCIS makes a decision on your petition.
To apply for SIJ classification, you must have a valid court order issued by a juvenile court or probate and family court.
Valid State Court Orders
For establishing eligibility for SIJ classification, a juvenile court is a court in the United States that has jurisdiction under state law to make judicial determinations about the dependency and/or custody and care of juveniles. The title and the type of court that may meet the definition of a juvenile court will vary from state to state.
State juvenile courts issue orders and make decisions based on state law about dependency or custody; whether a juvenile has been abused, neglected, abandoned, or subject to similar maltreatment and consequently cannot be reunified with his or her parent(s); and the best interests of the juvenile. USCIS does not require that a juvenile court have the legal authority to place a child in the custody of an unfit parent in order to make a qualifying reunification determination for SIJ classification.
The court order and/or supplemental evidence submitted, however, must establish that the court had competent jurisdiction to make judicial determinations about the SIJ petitioner’s dependency and/or custody and care as a juvenile under the relevant state laws.
Although state courts have the authority to provide certain protections for children under state law, they do not have the authority to administer or enforce provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Only USCIS can grant or deny SIJ classification or lawful permanent residence (a Green Card).
Required Determinations in the State Court Order
The juvenile or probate and family court order must contain the required determinations made under relevant state law regarding dependency or custody, parental reunification and best interests. You must submit evidence of a reasonable factual basis for each of the judicial determinations and the relief from parental maltreatment ordered by the juvenile court.
After obtaining the court order making the special finding that you are a Special Immigrant Juvenile, you are able to file a petition for immigrant visa and after that petition is approved, you are able to apply for lawful permanent residence also known as a green card
Generally, a citizen of a foreign country who wishes to enter the United States must first obtain a visa, either a nonimmigrant visa for temporary stay or an immigrant visa for permanent residence. Citizens of qualified countries may be able to visit the United States without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program. All travelers coming to the United States under the Visa Waiver Program must obtain authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) system prior to initiating travel to the United States.
If you do not qualify for the Visa Waiver Program or are traveling to study, work, participate in an exchange program, or any other purpose that does not fall under a B visa purpose of travel; you will need a nonimmigrant visa. Also, if you are a citizen of a Visa Waiver Program country and your ESTA authorization was not approved, you will need to apply for a nonimmigrant visa.
A visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. A visa simply indicates that a U.S. consular officer has determined that you are eligible to apply for entry to the United States for a specific purpose.
A nonimmigrant visa is used by tourists, businesspeople, students, or specialty workers who wish to stay for a particular period of time in the United States to accomplish specific purposes. According to U.S. visa laws and regulations, most nonimmigrant visa applicants must demonstrate to the consular officer that they have strong ties to their country of residence and must show that they intend to depart the United States after their temporary stay. However, a U.S. consular office has complete discretion on whether to approve the visa or deny it. Once the visa is approved and you seek entry, a U.S. customs and border enforcement officer has also discretion on allowing you to entere the United States.
What is an affidavit of support? Form I-864, Affidavit of Support under Section 213A of the INA, is a contract an individual signs agreeing to use their financial resources to support the intending immigrant named on the affidavit. The individual who signs the affidavit of support becomes the sponsor once the intending immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident. The sponsor is usually the petitioner who filed an immigrant petition on behalf of the intending immigrant.
An affidavit of support is a legally enforceable contract, and the sponsor’s responsibility usually lasts until the family member or other individual either becomes a U.S. citizen, or is credited with 40 quarters of work (usually 10 years).
The following individuals are required by law to submit a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support completed by the petitioner to obtain an immigrant visa or adjustment of status:
Note: An individual listed above does not need to submit an affidavit of support if they can show that they EITHER:
When you sign the affidavit of support, you accept legal responsibility for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant(s), generally until they become U.S. citizens or are credited with 40 quarters of work. Your obligation as a sponsor also ends if you or the individual sponsored dies or if the individual sponsored ceases to be a lawful permanent resident and departs the United States.
Note: Divorce does NOT end the sponsorship obligation.
If an immigrant you sponsored receives any means-tested public benefits, you are responsible for repaying the cost of those benefits to the agency that provided them. If you do not repay the debt, the agency or the immigrant can sue you in court to get the money owed. Any joint sponsors and household members who allowed the sponsor to combine their income with the sponsor’s income to meet the minimum income requirements are also legally responsible for financially supporting the sponsored immigrant. In fact, any joint sponsor and household member is jointly or severally liable with the petitioning sponsor, meaning that the joint sponsor and household member are independently liable for the full extent of the reimbursement obligation and can be sued in court or be asked to pay the money owed, even if the petitioning sponsor is not sued or asked for money.
If you knowingly and willfully falsify or conceal a material fact or submit a false document with your Form I-864, we will deny your Form I-864 and may deny any other immigration benefit. In addition, you will face severe penalties provided by law and may be subject to criminal prosecution. The U.S. government may pursue verification of any information provided on or in support of this affidavit, including employment, income, or assets with the employer, financial or other institutions, the IRS, or the Social Security Administration.
If you include in this affidavit of support any information that you know to be false, you may be liable for criminal prosecution under the laws of the United States.
If you fail to provide notice of your change of address, as required by 8 U.S.C. 1183a(d) and 8 CFR 213a.3, you may be liable for the civil penalty established by 8 U.S.C. 1183a(d)(2). The amount of the civil penalty will depend on whether you failed to provide this notice because you were aware that the immigrants you sponsored had received Federal, state, or local means-tested public benefits. If the failure to report your change of address occurs with knowledge that the sponsored immigrant received means-tested public benefits (other than benefits described in section 401(b), 403(c)(2), or 4ll(b) of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, which are summarized in Part 8. Sponsor’s Contract, Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, Certification, and Signature of Form I-864) such failure may result in a fine of not less than $2,000 or more than $5,000. Otherwise, the failure to report your change of address may result in a fine not less than $250 or more than $2,000.
The following types of people do not need to file an affidavit of support:
If your relative is either a K-1 fiancé(e), a K-3 spouse, or a K-2 or K-4 child of fiancé(e) or spouse, you do not need to submit an affidavit of support at the time you file your Form I-129F petition. Instead, you should submit an affidavit of support at the time that your fiancé(e), spouse, or child adjusts status to permanent resident after coming to the United States.
If you filed an immigrant visa petition for your relative, you must be the sponsor. You must also be at least 18 years old and a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. You must have a domicile in the United States or a territory or possession of the United States. Usually, this requirement means you must actually live in the United States, or a territory or possession, in order to be a sponsor. If you live abroad, you may still be eligible to be a sponsor if you can show that your residence abroad is temporary, and that you still have your domicile in the United States.
Section 213A of the INA permits both a "joint sponsor" and a "substitute sponsor" in certain cases.
A joint sponsor is someone who is willing to accept legal responsibility for supporting your family member with you. A joint sponsor must meet all the same requirements as you, except the joint sponsor does not need to be related to the immigrant. The joint sponsor (or the joint sponsor and his or her household) must reach the 125% income requirement alone. You cannot combine your income with that of a joint sponsor to meet the income requirement.
If the visa petitioner has died after approval of the visa petition but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decides to let the petition continue, a substitute sponsor must file a Form I-864 in place of the deceased visa petitioner. In order to be a “substitute sponsor,” you must be related to the intending immigrant in one of the following ways:
You must also:
The substitute sponsor assumes all of the obligations of an I-864 sponsor.
You, the sponsor, should complete Form I-864 when your relative has been scheduled for an immigrant visa interview with a consular officer overseas or when your relative is about to submit an application for adjustment to permanent resident status with USCIS or with an Immigration Court in the United States. If you have a joint sponsor, they must also complete Form I-864. If you are using the income of other household members to qualify, then each household member who is accepting legal responsibility for supporting your relative must complete a separate Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member.
You are required to provide your U.S. federal income tax return for the most recent tax year as well as proof of current employment. If you were not required to file a tax return in any of these years you must provide an explanation. Failure to provide the tax return or evidence establishing that you were not required to file will delay action on your relative's application for permanent residence. If this information is not provided, this will result in denial of an immigrant visa or adjustment of status.
When you have completed the affidavit of support, compiled the necessary documentation, and had the affidavit notarized in the United States or before a U.S. consular or immigration officer, you should provide this packet of information to your relative to submit with his or her application for permanent resident status. If you are given specific instructions to file your affidavit of support directly with the National Visa Center, you should follow those instructions.
You also must meet certain income requirements (whether you are a sponsor, a joint sponsor, or a substitute sponsor). You must show that your household income is equal to or higher than 125% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size. (Your household size includes you, your dependents, any relatives living with you, and the immigrants you are sponsoring.)
If you, the sponsor, are on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, and the immigrant you are sponsoring is your spouse or child, your income only needs to equal 100% of the U.S. poverty level for your household size.
If you cannot meet the minimum income requirements using your earned income, you have various options:
Sponsored immigrants may be ineligible for certain federal, state or local means-tested public benefits, because an agency will consider the resources and assets of the sponsor (and the sponsor’s household member, if applicable) when determining the immigrant’s eligibility for the means-tested public benefits program. This process is called “income deeming.”
For more information on income deeming, please see guidance issued for the following programs:
If the sponsored immigrant receives federal, state or local means-tested public benefits, the agency providing the benefit may ask the sponsor (and household member, if applicable) to repay the cost of those benefits.
If the sponsor (or household member) does not repay the cost, the agency can sue the sponsor (and household member) and obtain a court order for repayment. The Presidential Memorandum instructs such benefit granting agencies to seek reimbursement to the extent allowable under law.
For more information on reimbursement actions, please see guidance issued for the following programs:
Ministers and non-ministers in religious vocations and occupations may immigrate to or adjust status in the U.S. for the purpose of performing religious work in a full-time compensated position.
To qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, you must:
Full-time work is an average of 35 hours per week. Compensated may mean salaried or unsalaried.
A U.S. employer, or you on your own behalf, must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, to request special immigrant religious worker classification. Both you and the employing non-profit religious organization must satisfy the requirements listed below. If a petitioner believes that one of these requirements substantially burdens the organization’s exercise of religion, they may seek an exemption under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). A written request for the exemption should accompany the initial filing, and it must explain how the provision:
The petitioner bears the burden of showing that they qualify for a RFRA exemption and must support the request with relevant documentation. We will decide exemption requests on a case-by-case basis.
Supporting Documents Required for the Religious OrganizationSupporting Documents Required for the Religious Worker
Proof of Tax-Exempt Status
If the religious organization has its own individual IRS 501(c)(3) letter, the petitioner must provide a currently valid determination letter* from the IRS showing that the organization is tax-exempt.
If the organization is recognized as tax-exempt under a group tax exemption, the petitioner must provide a currently valid IRS group tax-exemption determination letter and documentation that the organization is covered under the group tax exemption. Examples include a:
If the IRS determination letter does not identify the organization’s tax exemption as a religious organization, then the petitioner must submit evidence establishing the organization’s religious nature and purpose. This may include, but is not limited to, the entity’s articles of incorporation or bylaws, flyers, articles, brochures, or other literature that describes the religious purpose and nature of the organization.
If the organization is affiliated with the religious denomination, the petitioner must provide:
Proof of Salaried or Non-Salaried Compensation
The petitioner must submit verifiable evidence showing how the organization intends to compensate the religious worker, including specific monetary or in-kind compensation. Evidence may include:
W-2 or certified tax returns. If IRS documents are not available, the petitioner must explain why and provide comparable, verifiable documentation.
Proof of Membership
The petitioner must submit:
If the denomination does not require a prescribed theological education, the petitioner must provide:
Proof of Previous Religious Work (Abroad or in the United States)
If the requisite previous employment was in the United States and the religious worker received salaried compensation, the petitioner must provide documents showing they received a salary. This documentation may include, but is not limited to, Form W-2 or certified copies of filed income tax returns reflecting such work and compensation for the prior employment.
If the requisite previous employment was in the United States and the religious worker received non-salaried compensation, the petitioner must provide:
If the religious worker received no salary but supported themselves and any dependents, the petitioner provide verifiable documents to show how the religious worker maintained support. This may include, but is not limited to, audited financial statements, financial institution records, brokerage account statements, trust documents signed by an attorney, or other verifiable evidence.
If the requisite previous experience was gained abroad, the petitioner must provide comparable evidence of the religious work.
* The IRS determination letter must be valid and cover the petitioning organization at the time the religious organization files Form I-360. A valid determination letter may include a letter that the IRS issued before the effective date of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, or may be issued under future Internal Revenue Code revisions.
** The religious denomination certification should be signed by an organization other than the petitioning organization, and attest that the petitioning organization is part of the same religious denomination as the attesting organization.