Fort Lauderdale Immigration Attorney

Dedicated Fort Lauderdale Immigration Lawyer

The outcomes of immigration issues can change your life or your business. If you are hoping to come to the U.S. for work or family, you want to bring an employee or relative to the U.S., or you are seeking to become a U.S. citizen, you should consult an experienced attorney about your options. At the Law Offices of Nishan C. Mahendran, P.A., we are dedicated solely to the practice of immigration law and litigation. Mr. Mahendran is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). Our firm handles matters such as temporary visas, permanent residency applications, citizenship, and asylum for clients throughout the U.S. and the world.

Immigration Overview

Federal law establishes rules for who can come into the country, for which purpose, and how long they can stay. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), enacted in 1952, is the primary immigration law. Section 208 of the INA addresses asylum and is included in 8 U.S.C. 1158. Immigration laws are enforced by three agencies that are part of the Department of Homeland Security: Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and Customs and Border Protection. Usually, foreign nationals need to seek permission to come into the country with a visa. An immigration attorney at our Fort Lauderdale firm can help a foreign national apply for an immigrant (permanent) or nonimmigrant (temporary) visa.

Temporary Visas

There are different kinds of temporary visas. Foreign nationals coming into the country for a certain stretch of time to work in a special occupation necessitating the application of highly specialized knowledge and requiring certain higher education courses to be completed may be eligible for the H-1B visa. Before an H-1B petition can be filed with USCIS, an H-1B employer needs to apply to the United States Department of Labor for a certification of a labor condition application. The employer is then able to file a Petition for Alien Worker plus the certification of a labor condition application with USCIS. However, as a worker with a temporary visa, the employment authorization is restricted to the particular employer that obtained the H-1B visa for you. You can also obtain an L-1 Intracompany Transferee Visa in order to work temporarily in the U.S. so that you can eventually get an employment-based green card.

Visitor Visas

The visa most commonly used to come into and stay temporarily in the U.S. is the visitor visa. There are two kinds of visitor visas: the B-1 Business Visitor Visa and the B-2 Tourist Visa. The B-1 visa is for visitors involved in commercial or professional activities, such as attending a conference, consulting with business colleagues, participating in a short-term training, negotiating a contract, or going through the U.S. for business. By contrast, our Fort Lauderdale immigration attorney can help you pursue a B-2 visa if the purpose of your visit is a vacation, going through a recreational course of study not involving a degree, visiting friends or family, medical treatment, or unpaid participation as an amateur in a contest or event. In order to qualify for the B-1 or B-2 visa, you will need to show that your intent in traveling to the U.S. is not to immigrate to the country. The amount of time that you can stay in the country on this type of visa can be extended.

Student Visas

If you are a foreign national who wishes to enter the country to study, you can apply for a student visa. There are different types of student visas. Each allows you to stay in the U.S. until you finish your study, as long as you continue to stay a full-time student. In order to obtain a student visa, you need to first be admitted to a school or other educational institution within the U.S. You can get the student visa abroad, or an immigration lawyer at our Fort Lauderdale firm can help you apply for it while you are in the U.S. in a legitimate non-immigrant status.

Green Cards

Obtaining a green card will allow you to live and work permanently in the U.S. Your circumstances will dictate the path that you should take toward getting a green card, formally known as lawful permanent residence status. Most often, somebody must sponsor you who is either a family member or an employer, but there may be situations in which you can file for a green card on your own. Once an immigrant petition is approved, and there is an available visa, you can file for a green card with USCIS or file a visa application with the Department of State. You will need to attend various appointments to obtain the green card, including an interview.

Family-Based Green Cards

Sometimes permanent residence status is obtained through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. Our Fort Lauderdale immigration lawyer has navigated the path to citizenship for many people who have family-based green cards. The citizen or permanent resident who is a family member will be the sponsor, and the foreign national will be the beneficiary of the petition. There are many steps that should be taken to obtain family-based permanent residence. At the outset, a family petition needs to be filed with USCIS for you by your relative. The next step is for the government to determine whether an immigration visa number is immediately ready. If you are already in the U.S., you can apply to adjust your status to lawful permanent resident status once a visa number becomes available.

Employment-Based Green Cards

You can also obtain permanent residence through a job opportunity that is permanent. The employer will be the sponsor or petitioner, and you will be the beneficiary of your employer’s petition. The process of getting an employment-based green card is lengthy. For most employment-based permanent residency applicants, the employer needs to file a Labor Certification form on the company’s and employee’s behalf with the Department of Labor. This process is called PERM. Before the employer files a PERM Labor Certification with the Department of Labor, it needs to comply with a strict set of rules about advertising the job to the American labor market. Certain managers and executives do not need to go through the PERM Labor Certification process.

Citizenship and Naturalization

An immigration attorney at our Fort Lauderdale firm can advise you on your options for obtaining citizenship. If you are an adult permanent resident, you can apply to be naturalized. You can also potentially acquire citizenship through your parents if you are underage. Generally, to be naturalized, you must be able to show that you are at least 18 years old, and you are already a permanent resident of the U.S. with a green card. Once an application for naturalization is filed, you will need to prove that you are a permanent resident who has lived in the country for a minimum of five continuous years before filing for naturalization. You usually cannot have had any absences from the U.S. that lasted a year or more. Alternatively, you can show that you lived in the U.S. for a minimum of three years prior to filing if permanent residence status was gotten through a U.S. citizen spouse.


You can apply for asylum if you have already come into the U.S. You must wait a year from the last time that you came into the U.S. to file an asylum application. An asylee is able to apply for permanent resident status within a year of being granted asylum. While asylum is sought within the U.S., you must apply for refugee status outside the U.S. A refugee is somebody who is unwilling or not able to go back to their home country due to past persecution or fear of future persecution, based on their nationality, race, political opinions, religion, or membership in a particular social group. If you do not qualify for asylum, but you are fearful of being tortured in your home country, you may be able to apply for withholding of removal under the UN Convention Against Torture.

Hire an Experienced Immigration Lawyer in the Fort Lauderdale Area

Whether you are concerned about applying for citizenship or securing a temporary visa to enter the U.S., you should discuss your situation with an attorney. The Law Offices of Nishan C. Mahendran, P.A. represents clients across the United States and around the world. Call us at 954-620-2028 or contact us by completing our online form.

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