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Your Road Map from Undocumented Immigrant to U.S. Citizen

May 20, 2023
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If you are living in the United States without status, we know life can be tough for you. Chances are, being undocumented affects almost every aspect of your life, including the jobs you can get, the places you can go and whether you can buy a home or drive a car. It affects whether you qualify for some benefits in the United States, including Social Security. It means you always have that worry in the back of your mind about what will happen if you are deported. Worst of all, however, is when your status makes you feel like you must simply endure abuse from the people in your life – whether a spouse, a child or even an employer – just because they have status and you do are not.  

Please know two things:  

  1. You are not alone.  
  2. This does not have to be your life.

Eagan Immigration is here to help you find your path from immigrant to U.S. citizen as quickly as possible.  

At Eagan Immigration, we have a wide variety of practice areas, which means we’re experts in finding the right way to help you gain legal status in the United States. Many of our clients are people who have been told by other immigration attorneys that there is nothing to be done, and that there is no way for them to get status. But where other firms see insurmountable obstacles, Eagan sees unique challenges. And there is nothing we like better than a challenge.  

Eagan Immigration specializes in handling a variety of immigration petitions, including self-petitions based on abuse suffered at the hands of a U.S. citizen or LPR relative (VAWA), visas for the victims of human trafficking or labor trafficking (T Visas), and visas for the victims of a crime (U visas). If you have a family member who is serving the United States’ armed forces, we can help you apply for one of two potential programs that will protect you from deportation and allow you to work legally in the United States. We also handle marriage or family-based Adjustment of Status (AOS) cases, among others. When the time comes, we can even help you apply for naturalization as a U.S. citizen!  

Think you won’t fit in to any of these categories for an immigration petition? You might be surprised. Tell your story to Eagan and we’ll identify any possible avenues for you – often ones others have overlooked.  

So what’s the first step on your path to citizenship? 

It all starts with picking up the phone! The best way to determine your possible routes to citizenship is calling us at our Virginia office for an easy, low-pressure conversation. From there, we’ll take your through your options that could very well get you a green card or U.S. citizenship sooner than you think. Here’s what that route might look like:  

  1. You call Eagan Immigration and speak – in your native language – to one of our receptionists, who will explain our process and get you signed up for a consultation.
  2. You provide basic information about yourself during a scheduled consultation with one of our legal team, who will then bring that information to one of our eight attorneys so they can analyze your options. Afterward, you’ll receive a call back from our team describing what our attorneys think your best choice is for applying for legal status in the United States, as well as detailed information about costs and payment plan options. Once you’ve made a decision about what works best for you, things will start moving even more quickly on our end!  
  3. It is time to speak with a case strategist! Your compassionate case strategist will ask you questions about your specific situation in a long phone call, no need to come into the office. For many types of petitions, we will be writing up an account of your specific story to use as evidence in your case. You’ll also work with documents specialists, who will help you to find all the information you need so that we can put together a strong case for you. At Eagan, we make this process as simple and painless as possible; you can even text us photos of documents if needed. Trying to do it all yourself can be intimidating, but with us on your side you do not have to worry about missing anything.  
  4. We submit your petition, and the waiting begins. After we’ve got all the information we need from you, we’ll submit your petition. Our goal is always to get these out the door efficiently because we know you want to get your status as soon as possible. The amount of time you’ll wait for a final decision is going to vary a lot depending on the type of petition we’re filing for you; often this can take more than two years. That may seem like a long time, but there’s good news: before your petition is even approved, some other life-altering documents could be coming your way.  

Receiving Your Documents 

  1. Prima facie case notice. Receiving this document is great news because it means that USCIS has looked over your application and, without making a final decision, agreed that it appears you have met all the requirements for approval in the future. With this letter, you can often become eligible for a variety of different forms of assistance such as food and housing assistance.  
  2. Employment authorization document (EAD card). This document means that, perhaps for the first time, you will have legal authorization to work in the United States! If you’ve been stuck in a poorly-paid or abusive environment because you were scared you would not find another job, you now have the freedom to look for work elsewhere without fear. You can make a better living and save for your future. For some types of petitions – such as VAWA or family-based AOS – you could have an EAD card within six to 12 months of applying.  
  3. Advanced Parole. For many undocumented immigrants, among the most painful aspects of living without status is not being able to return to your country of origin to see family. That changes once you receive advanced parole. With this document, you can leave the United States without fear of being unable to return. In some cases, you could receive this document within six to 12 months of applying. A family reunion could be closer than you think.  
  4. APPROVAL OF YOUR PETITION. Of course, the real question will always be: how soon will I receive my green card? How soon can I naturalize as a citizen? This question depends entirely on the type of petition we’re submitting on your behalf, as well as current waiting times for USCIS. However, you can rest assured that Eagan will do its best to submit everything as quickly as possible on our end. From then, it is just a matter of waiting to receive these life-changing documents. 

This month we want to walk you through the story of one client, who begins her journey without documents and later becomes a citizen of the United States. Check back later this month to read more, and, perhaps, see how you might get started like she did.  

Starting a new journey is always going to be intimidating, but as the saying goes, “the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Let Eagan be the one by your side as you begin it. Talk to an immigration specialist today at 202-709-6439.