Immigration FAQs

General FAQs

What is a United States Visa?



A U.S. Visa is a document that allows citizens of a foreign country to enter the United States for a specified period of time.  A citizen of a foreign country who wants to enter the United States must first obtain a U.S. visa, which is placed in the traveler’s passport.  A traveler's passport is a travel document issued by that traveler’s country of citizenship.  Some international travelers may be eligible to travel to the United States without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel. Different countries have different Visa requirements when traveling.  U.S. Citizens do not need a U.S. Visa for travel.  However, when planning to travel abroad, they may need a foreign Visa to enter a foreign country.  The United States has various types of Visa available for entry.  Contact an experienced immigration attorney to help explore all Visa options.

What kind of VISA will I need to enter the United States?


The reason for your travel, along with some other factors,  will determine what type of visa you require under U.S. immigration law. You will need to establish that you meet all necessary requirements when you apply. There are two types of visa categories.  Nonimmigrant visas and Immigrant visas.  Each category has many different types of visas.  

Some types of Nonimmigrants visas are:

   i. B-1 Visa, or Business Visitor Visa
  ii. B-2 Visa, or Medical Treatment Visitor Visa
 iii. H1-B Visa, or a visa that applies to specialty occupations in fields requiring highly specialized knowledge

Some types of Immigrant Visas are:

   i. K-3 Visa, or visa for the spouse of a U.S. Citizen who is awaiting the approval of an I-130 petition
  ii. E-2 Visa, which is an employer sponsored visa for professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability 
 iii. K-1 Visa, which is for the fiancé of a U.S. Citizen

What is a U.S. Work Permit?


A U.S. work permit is a photo identification card issued by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  It is also called an Employment Authorization Document or EAD.  With a work permit, foreign nationals living in the United States will be able to apply for and acquire any legal jobs in the United States until their work permit expires. If you are a foreign national and have obtained a work-based Visa that has been sponsored by a U.S. employer, you do not need to apply for a separate work permit in order to work in the United States.  A work permit is not a Visa and it does not give you any status in the United States.  Having a work permit does not mean you have a green card, nor does it mean you are a permanent resident.  Having a work permit does not protect you from deportation if you no longer have legal status in the United States. 

What is a Green Card?


A Green card is also called a Lawful Permanent Resident card.  The term also refers to an immigration process of becoming a lawful permanent resident in the United States. The green card serves as proof that its holder is a lawful permanent resident (LPR) and has been officially granted immigration benefits, which include permission to reside and take employment in the United States.  A green card holder is not a citizen.  Under certain criminal circumstances, greed card holders can have their LPR status revoked and can be deported.  There are many ways in which an immigrant can become eligible for a green card.  The application for a green card is quite complex and involved. Green card holders are permitted to travel in and out of the United States at will without the fear of barred entry.  Certain criminal circumstances could prevent a green card holder from re-entry into the United States.  Be sure to contact an experienced immigration attorney when attempting to obtain Lawful Permanent Resident status or a green card.

What is a CIMT?


CIMT means Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude ["CIMT"].  A CIMT has been  defined as a depraved or immoral act, or a violation of the basic duties owed to fellow man, or, a “reprehensible act” with a mens rea of at least recklessness. Traditionally, a CIMT involves intent to commit fraud, commit theft with intent to permanently deprive the owner, or inflict great bodily harm, as well as some reckless or malicious offenses and some offenses with lewd intent.  Any CIMT convictions might actually make a non-citizen inadmissible and/or deportable.

i) How can someone be deportable base on a CIMT conviction?
Permanent residents, refugees, F-1 students and other noncitizens with lawful status are at risk of being deported when convicted of a CIMT because they could lose their legal status in the United States. Most undocumented persons are not harmed by a deportable conviction, with certain limited exceptions.  

ii) How can someone be Inadmissible based on a CIMT conviction?
An undocumented person who wants to apply for any form of immigration relief will become inadmissible, and therefore ineligible for relief, based on certain convictions.  In addition, a permanent resident can also become inadmissible based on certain convictions.  This would mean that if they ever traveled outside the US, the could be barred from returning. 

What is the grand jury?


The grand jury is a group of people called together by a jury summons to investigate a felony crime.  That group of people are called Grand Jurors.  The grand jurors are placed in a room and asked by a prosecutor to listen to testimony and consider various types of evidence, i.e. documents, videos, audio recordings.  Unlike at a jury trial, there is no judge present during a grand jury proceeding and only the prosecutor presents the evidence to the grand jurors.  The standard of proof during a grand jury proceeding is “more likely than not,” unlike the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used during a trial. The only purpose of the grand jury is to decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with felony charges against someone.   If the Grand Jury decides that there is enough evidence to proceed with felony charges against someone, this is called an "indictment."   The person has been “indicted”.  When a grand jury votes to indict someone, it means that one has only been charged with a felony crime.  The person has not been found guilty of any crime. Every criminal defendant may or may not testify in a Grand Jury proceeding.  A criminal defendant and his/her lawyer will review the facts of the case and make that decision when the time comes.

Do I need an attorney if I am innocent?


Every criminal defendant needs a criminal defense attorney. Innocent people can end up in jail.  Therefore, a good and experienced criminal defense attorney is needed to prevent a miscarriage of justice.  Your attorney will ensure that your rights are protected and that justice prevails. ​

Do I have to speak with the police after an arrest?


NO.  You are not required to give any statements to police officers or prosecutors following your arrest.  You have the right to remain silent and you should do just that.  No matter what law enforcement officers say to you in order to get you to speak to them, remember to exercise your right to remain silent and remain silent.  The reason you should remain silent is because anything that you say to any law enforcement officers can and WILL be used against you by the prosecution during your criminal trial.  Immediately after you have been arrested, if you choose not to make any statements to the police, you must inform the police that you do not wish to speak with them without a lawyer present. 

When should I contact a criminal attorney?


Immediately. As soon as you have been detained and arrested by a law enforcement officer, you should waste no time in contacting a legal professional.  The sooner you hire an attorney, the less likely you will incriminate yourself and the sooner your rights will be protected. 

What are the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer in New York?


If a law enforcement officer suspects that you have been driving while intoxicated, the officer has the right to choose which breathalyzer test they would like to give you once they have made an initial traffic stop.  The officer must give you a breathalyzer test within 2 hours of you operating a motor vehicle. If they discover that your blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) is at .08% or greater, the officer would subsequently have reason to arrest you for a DWI offense.  You can also be arrested for what is called “Common Law DWI” if your BAC is below .08%.

Although you can refuse to comply with standard field sobriety testing without consequences, such as the One-Leg Stand, if you refuse to submit to a chemical test, your license will immediately be suspended. By enlisting the help of a New York criminal defense attorney after failing a chemical breathalyzer test, or after refusing to take a chemical breathalyzer test, we can take steps to challenge the validity of your results, your stop by law enforcement, and your refusal to take the breathalyzer test. ​

What are the penalties for refusing a breathalyzer in New Jersey?


If you get arrested for a DUI, you have to take a Breathalyzer test. When you get your license in New Jersey, you automatically give your consent to take the Breathalyzer test in the event that you are stopped by the police.  This consent is known as "implied consent." If you are asked to take a Breathalyzer test and you refuse, you will be detained and brought to a hospital and the hospital staff may draw your blood. 

There are a few ways in which a person is said to have refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test.  When asked, you must expressly say “yes” or expressly agree to submit to the test.  If you respond with “maybe”, “I guess”, “I have no choice”, “whatever”, or just silence, all those things will be considered refusals.  Once it has been determined that you have refused to submit to a Breathalyzer test, the officer will charge you with Refusing to Submit.  Even if you refuse, you can and most likely will still be charged with the DUI.   So, you run the risk of being charged with both the DUI and the Refusal and will be facing two separate charges. 

If you are convicted of a Refusal, your driver’s license will be revoked for at least seven months, you will pay between $300 and $2,000 in fines and fees and you will be required to participate in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center program for a minimum of 12 hours.  The penalties for Refusal are separate and can be in addition to any penalties that you might get for a DUI conviction. 

What are the categories of crimes in New York?


Crimes in New York are classified as petty offenses, violations, misdemeanors, and felonies according to the severity of punishment associated with the particular crime.

A felony is any serious crime punishable by imprisonment in excess of one year.  Felonies include arson, murder, rape, robbery, burglary, grand larceny, and many drug related offenses.  In addition to imprisonment, a convicted felon may lose their voting rights, be excluded from certain types of work, be prohibited from holding certain licenses, and can lose certain types of housing benefits. 
A misdemeanor is an offense that is considered less serious than a felony and is punishable by imprisonment of one year or less.   Misdemeanor offenses include petty theft, prostitution, criminal mischief and some drug offenses. Punishment frequently involves probation or community service, and a convicted defendant can lose some of his or her privileges.  Petty offenses include traffic violations and infractions of minor ordinances.


What are the categories of crimes in New Jersey?

Indictable Offenses – these are offenses carry a sentence of at least one year.  This is the equivalent of a Felony in New York.  Indictable offenses are broken down into different degrees:

   i. First degree crimes can include murder, manslaughter, and rape.

  ii. Second degree crimes include sex crimes, aggravated arson, 

      burglary, kidnapping, white collar crimes, and drug crimes.

 iii. Third degree crimes can include arson, some robbery offenses,

      possession of controlled substances, and some driving under the

      influence (DUI) offenses.

 iv. Fourth degree crimes include stalking, some robbery offenses,

      some DUI offenses, and forgery.

      (This is not an exhaustive list.) 

Disorderly person offenses/petty disorderly person offenses – these offenses are the equivalent of misdemeanors in New York.  If convicted of a disorderly persons offense, these crimes generally carry a maximum of 6 months in prison and up to $1000 fine.  If convicted of a petty disorderly person’s offense, these crimes generally carry a maximum sentence of 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.


I am not a United States Citizen will this affect the outcome of my criminal case?


If a person who is not a citizen of the United States is convicted of certain crimes, he or she can be deported. This includes lawful permanent residents living and working in the United States.   Pursuant to U.S. immigration law, if a noncitizen is convicted of an aggravated felony, a crime of moral turpitude or any one of a number of other listed crimes (such as violations of laws relating to domestic violence, controlled substances and firearms), he or she is at risk of removal or deportation. In addition to deportation, a conviction may adversely affect a lawful permanent resident's ability to become a United States citizen.  If you are not a United States Citizen, enlisting the help of an experienced  New York criminal defense attorney is important.  An experienced attorney can take steps to ensure that you are not removed from the United States, or otherwise lose your lawful status in this country.


What is the difference between probation and parole?


Probation is a type of criminal sentence that allows a person to stay in the community rather than serve time in prison.  You are required to comply with certain conditions, such as drug testing, regularly reporting to a probation officer, and to have no further contact with the criminal justice system.  Probation can be issued pursuant to misdemeanor or felony convictions.  Parole, also known as Supervised Release, is when a prisoner is released into the community prior to the end of their prison sentence.  Conditions of parole are similar to those of probation.  Parole can be permitted pursuant to felony convictions and prison sentences only.

How does someone get a criminal record?


In New York – once you are convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony crime, you will have a permanent criminal record of that conviction in the State of New York.  A person with a permanent criminal record in the state of New York cannot expunge that record.

In New Jersey – once you are convicted of an indictable offense, disorderly persons offense, or petty disorderly persons offense, you will have a permanent criminal record of that conviction in the state of New Jersey.  New Jersey has several rules that allows you to expunge certain crimes even after getting a permanent criminal record.  It is important to contact experienced criminal defense attorneys to help you identify and expunge any and all criminal charges that can be expunged.

We want you to know your rights and get the best representation.

Frequently Asked Questions