Immigration Law Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Immigration and naturalization law is nearly impossible to navigate without a lawyer. While every case is unique, we at The Law Offices of Derek Lim are happy to answer some of the most common questions you may have about the immigration process. For answers to more specific questions, call our Fremont office at 800-769-3977 to get started with a free initial consultation.

What type of visa do I need to apply for?

While you may know that you need a family visa or a work visa, there are a wide range of specific visas that all serve their own purposes. If you are an investor, you may need an E1, E2 or EB-5 visa. To work here, you may need an H-1B visa or maybe an L-1 visa. There are even more options for family immigration and fiancé(e) visas. To determine which visa fits your unique situation, it is best to call an experienced attorney.

What's the difference between an E1 and E2 visa?

E1 and E2 visas are reserved for those who wish to trade or invest in the United States. While they are similar, there are distinctions. E1 visas allow people to come to the U.S. for substantial and continuing trade — but only if they are from countries with which the U.S. has a trade treaty. E2 visas are reserved for those who wish to invest a substantial amount of money in a U.S. business. There are more specific qualifications for each visa — to be sure which you qualify for, contact our offices.

If I'm fired and I'm here on a work visa, will I be deported?

If you are working in California on an H1-B visa, you are allowed to stay in the U.S. only if you are employed by a sponsoring employer. So technically, yes — you are at risk for deportation the moment you are terminated from that job.

However, there is often an unofficial grace period of up to 180 days before a deportation occurs that allows you to look for a new employer or apply for a new type of visa. If you are unable to find a new employer for your H-1B visa, you may be able to secure another kind of visa or at least extend your stay with a tourist visa.

Can I become a citizen if I have a criminal record?

This depends on a variety of factors, most importantly the criminal conviction itself. Many convictions will prohibit you from becoming a citizen — and some may get you deported. By working with an experienced immigration attorney, we can help you explore your options to determine if there is a way you can go through the naturalization process even if you have a criminal record.

How long do I need to live in the U.S. before I can become a citizen?

You must live in the U.S. for five years as a permanent resident before you can apply for citizenship, or three years if you are married to a U.S. citizen. You can begin filing up to 90 days before you meet this requirement. Even if you meet the time requirement, however, you must meet other qualifications as well. Make an appointment in our office to explore all of your options and develop a path to naturalization.