Manikas Law September 2019

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September 2019

Criminal & Traffic Defense | Immigration | Personal Injury

Welcome Home Why Becoming a US Citizen May Be Vital for Your Family

Becoming a citizen of the United States is a tremendous feat and an incredible honor. But with busy family schedules, work, and hobbies, it’s easy for many to push citizenship further down on their task list. There are many benefits to becoming a citizen: obtaining green cards with no wait time for immediate relatives, not having to continually pay U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) filing fees, and the ability to obtain citizenship for children born abroad. But more importantly, you are guaranteed the many freedoms U.S. citizens enjoy every day, such as voting in presidential and federal elections, getting certain jobs reserved for citizens, and traveling abroad wherever and whenever you want, as often as you desire. However, the biggest, most important reason to become a U.S. citizen is to protect you from the possibility of removal from the country. The fact is that if you’re not a U.S. citizen, the U.S. government can deport you if they determine you meet one of the many, many grounds for removal. The reasons vary, and it doesn’t take much. If you travel abroad and the government feels you have been gone for too long, violated travel restrictions, or didn’t maintain sufficient contacts in the U.S., they can place you in removal proceedings. If the government believes your marriage is a fraud or believes you are using drugs, they can move to deport you — even if you are not convicted of a crime. As a lawful permanent resident and green card holder, you are afforded certain rights, but you and your family are not fully protected.

I’m often reminded of a client of mine who had been a lawful permanent resident in this country for 10 years, had a young family, and was the president and CEO of a company. His business partners wanted to take the company for themselves. They accused him of embezzlement as a scheme to force him out of the company so that he would forfeit his interest to them. Because he was not a citizen of the U.S., not only did he face criminal legal consequences, but he also faced deportation if he were convicted. Since the charges were pending, filing for citizenship was not an option. Thankfully, we got the charges dismissed, and our client was able to continue living his life in the country he called home. However, it is a good illustration of how the client left himself exposed legally by not applying for citizenship when he could have. Rather than only facing consequences in criminal court, he was also faced with the reality that if he were convicted in criminal court, he would then face removal proceedings in immigration court. He would be deported from the county and his family. It added tremendous stress to the situation — stress that could have been entirely avoided if he had become a citizen years ago. Many people believe they won’t ever face legal trouble, but the truth is you never know. Not only are people sometimes wrongfully accused, but there are also many good people in U.S. courtrooms who inadvertently made minor mistakes or engaged in conduct that they were unaware was unlawful. For example, I had a client who was flying from California to Ronald Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia. This client had severe ADHD, for which he was prescribed 90 pills each month. On this

trip, the client brought the pills with him, but when they were found in his bag at the airport, prosecutors charged him with possession with intent to distribute because they alleged the 90 pills were beyond what any normal person would need for personal use. Eventually, these ludicrous charges were dropped, but not without a fight. This is just one example of a simple misunderstanding that could have gone very wrong. Becoming a citizen takes work, but I help families do just that every day. Let me help with the process to ensure the paperwork is done correctly and the case is properly documented. This will give your citizenship application the best chance at success and limit the chance of green card revocation. Here’s the bottom line: Don’t file anything with the government without the help of an attorney, and don’t let a misunderstanding result in you being removed from your home. September for immigration consults who are former clients or referred by former clients. If you’re seeking to file a citizenship application, mention this article and Manikas Law will waive the consultation fee in August and

-Kyle Manikas

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