Trusted Knoxville Immigration Attorney
Creating options for families and their futures in East Tennessee
Congratulations on your decision to become a U.S. citizen! Let us help you start your new life on the right foot. America is a nation of immigrants. It’s what makes us one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The path to America can be difficult, however, when you’re still learning the laws and customs of your new home. If you feel a little anxious or confused, that’s okay – we’re here to help you through the immigration process, and answer all your questions.
When you need help with immigration, Attorney Patrick Slaughter is here for you. Our Knoxville-based office serves immigrants and their families from around the globe, and we want to help you too. We’re genuinely excited to help you on your path to living and working in Tennessee (or anywhere in America). When we don’t know an answer, we tell you – and then we get to work finding it out.
Talk to the Knoxville immigration attorneys at LaFevor & Slaughter today. You can trust in us to help you at every step, and we’re proud to take this journey with you.
Handling a variety of important immigration issues
We handle every immigration claim there is, from helping you understand complex forms to fighting for your rights when your status is in jeopardy. When you’re looking into becoming a citizen or obtaining a visa, not only is it difficult finding the right information, the paperwork involved can drive a person batty. Let us ensure your case moves through the process properly and efficiently. You can rely on LaFevor & Slaughter for help with:
- Compliance with State and Federal Immigration Laws
- Temporary Visas
- Permanent Residency, Visas and Green Cards
- Naturalization and Citizenship
Above all, we don’t want you to worry about the immigration process. This is what we do, and this is why we’re here – to help you achieve your personal and professional goals. Let’s get to work.
IMPORTANT NOTE! On Wednesday, April 22, 2020, President Trump signed a proclamation suspending entry into the United States of certain immigrants who present risk to the U.S. labor market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 outbreak. The proclamation was effective at 11:59 p.m. EDT on Thursday, April 23. It was continued by President Trump on June 22, and will expire on December 31, 2020, unless continued. Applicants for immigrant visas covered by the proclamation, including Diversity Visa 2020 (DV-2020) applicants, who have not been issued an immigrant visa as of April 23 are subject to the proclamation's restrictions unless eligible for an exception. No valid visas will be revoked under this proclamation.
Compliance with state and federal immigration laws
The federal government has almost complete control of immigration laws, but Tennessee has passed a few laws of their own. It’s important you know these laws, not only so you can make informed decisions about your life in the U.S., and to help protect you from unknowingly breaking any of those laws.
What are Tennessee’s immigration laws and policies?
Tennessee follows the federal guidelines for immigration. It requires proof of residency or citizenship for:
- Employment eligibility
- Obtaining a driver’s license
- Voting (citizens only)
Tennessee also reserves the right to revoke the business license of any company which knowingly hires immigrants who has entered the country illegally, or who cannot prove their status. More, the state requires officials at local jails to report anyone who may be in violation of immigration laws, and to run their fingerprints through the federal database. This is regardless of the arrestee’s status, as part of the “Secure Communities” program. The Tennessee State Highway Patrol also cooperates with any federal officials in terms of immigration violations.
Morton Memo on prosecutorial discretion
Even immigration laws have exceptions to the rule, and prosecutorial discretion is one of them – well, kind of. Prosecutorial discretion allows U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to not enforce immigration laws in certain circumstances. The Morton Memo outlines these types of cases, calling for immigration officials to essentially ignore people whose families all live in the United States, who are upstanding members of their community, and who have not committed a major crime.
Prosecutorial discretion is not a law, but it does allow ICE officials some leeway when determining who should be brought in for violating a visa, or for breaking an immigration law. The Morton Memo also asks that crime victims and witnesses be treated with discretion, because it’s against ICE law to start removal proceedings against those groups. Our Knoxville attorneys can help if you feel your or a loved one’s rights are being violated.
America affords immigrants the opportunity to visit our country for business or pleasure, and to stay for an extended amount of time. However, there are a lot a temporary visas, and you might not know which one is the right one, and on top of that, there’s a whole set of rules that govern each one. We can figure out your particular situation and help you make choices that are best for you.
What are the types of non-immigrant visas?
The main difference between a non-immigrant visa and a permanent visa is that non-immigrant visas are temporary – basically, you’re allowed to work or visit America (or another country) for a set amount of time. A permanent visa, or green card, allows you to stay here almost indefinitely.
Most visitors apply for:
- B1 visas. These are business travel visas, which allow you to meet with an estate agent or a client. They are not employment visas, so you cannot earn money on a B1 visa.
- B2 visas. B2 visas are tourism visas. If you’re taking a long vacation or holiday, or if you need a medical procedure not available in your home country, a B2 visa allows you to stay a bit longer.
- B1/B2 visas. Mixing business and pleasure? The B1/B2 visa option is for you.
- H-1B visas. These are for people who work in specialty occupations. Fashion models typically travel on H-1B visas, as do people who partner with the Department of Defense.
- H-3 visas. These are education visas, available to students and researchers who cannot obtain certain types of training in their home countries. An H-3 visa may also be used by people seeking additional practical education to work with children with disabilities.
Visas are incredibly complicated – there are different rules that govern each group, and not everyone is eligible. Don’t worry, though! We help you determine which visa category is right for your needs. Then, we help you with your application and your documentation, and can file an appeal if your visa application is denied. We’re with you every step of the way.
Permanent residency, visas and green cards
When you’re a permanent resident of the USA, you get a lot of privileges that people with temporary visas don’t. Immigrant visas (or “green cards”) allow you to stay in the United States indefinitely, and afford you many of the same rights as a United States citizen.
What are the benefits of a green card?
Green card status – in other words, lawful permanent status – provides a host of valuable benefits. It gives you the right to:
- Apply for financial aid and pay in-state tuition at colleges and universities
- Eligibility for Social Security retirement benefits
- Eligibility for certain tax benefits
- Hold dual citizenship with their native countries, if you wish
- Petition for your spouse and/or relatives to come to the United States (under certain circumstances)
- Remain in the U.S. indefinitely (with some exceptions)
Permanent residents are granted almost all the same rights and privileges as American citizens, and many find it easier to get insurance or a mortgage. A permanent resident is free to visit other states and other countries, hold a full-time job for the remainder of their career, and live anywhere they want. Temporary visa holders, on the other hand, must seek permission to work or travel in the U.S. – and often cannot do both.
What is the green card lottery?
The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program (DV Program), sometimes called the “green card lottery,” allows up to 50,000 people from countries with lower immigration numbers to come to America as green card holders. There are also a small number of “winners” who are pulled from people in the U.S. on temporary visas, or whose immigration status is otherwise legal. The DV Program can be complex, and it’s always a smart idea to seek assistance from a skilled immigration attorney before you apply. Attorney Slaughter can help you determine your eligibility and assist you through the application process.
One other important thing about the Visa Lottery. You really have to have your application in by October 1st. There’s a limited number of visas available, and just because you received the letter saying that you have been selected, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually receive the visa. Applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Processing of applications begins on October 1, so you really need to make sure that your application is there and ready to go. If not, you will likely miss out.
Naturalization and citizenship
The choice to become a U.S. citizen is an important one. Once you have decided to pursue naturalization – and all of the benefits and responsibilities that come with being a U.S. citizen – you have a lot to do to prepare. We can help you with that.
How does the naturalization process work?
Naturalization can be a long process, but it’s worth it and we can help. The first thing you want to do on your path to citizenship is fill out the Form N-400, Application for Naturalization with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The USCIS provides a worksheet to first help you figure out if you’re eligible, and we’ll go through the sheet with you to ensure every box is checked.
Once the Form N-400 has been filed, you can begin to prepare for your Naturalization Test.
What’s a citizenship test like?
There are a number of tests you must take if you wish to become a U.S. citizen. Citizenship tests aren’t easy, but you can go in feeling confident, prepping for these tests with study guides, practice groups, or even flash cards. Before the test, though, you must interview with the USCIS. They’ll ask you things about your life here in America, review your documentation (like ID cards or reentry permits) and your application, and discuss your moral character (that might sound ominous, but don’t worry – we’ll explain all that).
Once they determine that you’re willing and able to take the oath to become a U.S. citizen, you’ll take two tests:
- The civics test may have questions about American history or the U.S. government. There are 100 questions on the test, but your interviewer will only ask you ten. You must answer six of those questions correctly in order to pass the civics exam. The USCIS supplies different types of free study guides to help you prepare – these will help a lot and we highly recommend them.
- The other exam you must pass is an English exam. You’ll be asked to prove that you can read and write one sentence in English. Your interview counts as the spoken portion of the exam. This test is simply to show that you can understand English speakers and that they can understand you.
If all goes well, you may be allowed to take your oath the same day as your interview. If you can’t take it that day, you will be sent a notice letting you know the date and time you should return to take your oath.
Immigration attorneys helping solve your problems
In some immigration cases, issues can arise that require additional steps on your behalf. Don’t panic. We can help you if:
- You’re asked to return for a second interview
- Your documentation and your application do not reflect the same information
- You miss your interview time
- Your application is denied, and you need to file an appeal
The appeals process is complex, and it’s so much easier when handled by dedicated immigration attorneys. If your application for naturalization is denied and you don’t resolve the issue quickly and correctly, you may face removal from country – the worst-case scenario. We inform you of your rights, and help you through the appeals process.
How can a Knoxville immigration lawyer help me and my family?
Just like you, we want what’s best for you and your family, and we offer you support and counsel to help make those dreams come true. Attorney Slaughter always answers or returns your calls – even if you call at night – because communication is the cornerstone of our practice.
There are many rules regarding whether or not an immigrant may be removed from the States. We assist immigrants facing removal by reviewing their cases, filing appeals and fighting for justice on their behalf. We also help families with immigration bonds when their loved ones are being held in custody by ICE, and defend you when you’re faced with Cancellation of Removal. We’ll go to both Memphis and Atlanta to ensure that your case is handled correctly.
We also offer help understanding and filling out I-130, I-485 and I-589 forms, which can be a nightmare for anyone to figure out if you’ve never done it before. We handle all claims involving an adjustment of status, and explain what you need to do to remain in compliance with State and Federal regulations.
More about immigration
- Meet Jin Park, the First DACA Recipient Rhodes Scholar in History
- What is Asylum, and Who Can Claim It?
- Diversity Visa 2020, aka “Green Card Lottery,” Now Open
- How Long Can Undocumented Immigrant Families Expect to Live in Detention Centers?
- Efforts Underway to Limit Legal Immigration
Helping immigrants along the exciting path to a life in America
The road to citizenship is exciting, and you probably have a lot of questions. The Law Offices of LaFevor & Slaughter serve the legal needs of the immigrant population of Tennessee. If you have any questions about the immigration process, we’re proud to help you. Give us a call at call us at (865) 637-6258 or fill out this contact form to see how one of our Knoxville attorneys can help you achieve the American Dream.