Jamaica Magazine

Immigration: Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: An eighteen year old has a green card but now has a criminal conviction. Will he be approved for his U.S. Citizenship?
Answer: This is a very common question. We receive numerous calls per week regarding the impact of a criminal conviction on immigration benefits. The answer to this question is yes and no. Whether or not the criminal conviction will have an impact really depends on the individual’s criminal conviction. Not every criminal conviction will disqualify someone from acquiring citizenship. However, it is important to note that some criminal convictions will trigger a denial of citizenship and in some cases certain criminal convictions will revoke an individual’s green card status and result in deportation. Consequently, if an individual has any criminal history it is best that he or she consult an immigration attorney prior to submitting the application. To learn more about the impact of criminal convictions on immigration benefits please see my article at: http://www.jamaicans.com/articles/immigration/PermanentResidenceYourSpouse-3.shtml. If you have additional questions, you may contact our firm to learn more. 

Question 2: Can a grandmother file for her grand kids in special circumstances?
Answer: This is also a very popular question. In these cases the biological parents are either unable to take care of their children or the parents have lost their immigration status. In these circumstances it is understandable that the grandparents who reside in the United States should want to step in and sponsor their grandchildren for permanent resident status. Under immigration laws grandparents cannot file directly for their grandchildren. Grandparents can only acquire legal status for their grandchildren in two ways. The first way is that grandparents can file for their children (parents) and the grandchildren may benefit as a derivative. This means that the grandparent would file for their child (parent) and the grandchildren can ride along on the parent’s petition. The second option is that the grandparent can petition for the grandchild only if the grandparent adopts the grandchild. Consequently, the grandchild will now be deemed to the “child” of the grandparent. Please note that there are specific requirements that must be completed regarding the adoption in order for the grandchild to obtain immigration benefits. You may learn more about the immigration adoptions by contacting our firm.

Question 3: Can I file for a stepchild?
Answer: Petitioners (United States citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents) may petition “file” for a step-child to become a permanent resident provided that the marriage that created the step-parent relationship occurred before the child’s eighteenth (18) birthday. This is the first step. Once this requirement has been met Immigration will also take into consideration other factors to ultimately determine if the step-child is currently able to receive immigration benefits. Again, in order to determine eligibility it is best to consult an immigration attorney to get a complete analysis and a complete answer to your questions before filing an immigration petition for a step-child.


Disclaimer: This article is a broad overview of immigration benefits. This article is provided as a public service and is not intended to establish an attorney-client relationship. Any reliance on the information contained herein is taken at your own risk. The information provided in this article should never replace informed counsel when specific immigration-related guidance is needed.  

About the Writer:
The Law Office of Safiya Byars is now The Byars Firm, Inc. Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica.  Attorney Byars’ shows her clients the best ways to get their cases approved while reducing processing times and avoiding immigration red flags that result in delays, denials, and deportation.  Her office is located at 160 Clairemont Avenue, Ste. 200, Decatur, Georgia 30030. Attorney Byars handles all immigration matters, deportation defense, family law, and criminal issues. Attorney Byars can be reached at 404-992-6506/678-954-5809 or via email at: [email protected].

About the author

Safiya Byars, Esq

Safiya Byars is the founder and senior partner of the Byars Firm. Attorney Byars serves as the Chair of the Family Immigration Continuing Learning Education and the Vice-Chair of the Immigration Law Section of the State Bar of Georgia. She is a native of Kingston, Jamaica. The Byars firm is located at 3720 Chamblee Dunwoody Road, Suite D2, Chamblee, Georgia 30341. The Byars Firm handles Immigration, Family, and Estate Planning matters. We can be reached at 678-736-5600 and email: [email protected].