Law Office of Michael Tonder, P.C.

65 Pineville Road, Suite 2
Monroeville, AL 36460

P.O. Box 337
Excel, AL 36439‎



False claim of U.S. citizenship leads to nothing but trouble.

Here lately, I have had to break bad news to people seeking to adjust their status. It usually is because that person falsely asserted U.S. citizenship to their employer.

There is basically one cardinal sin in immigration. Never, EVER, claim to be a U.S. citizen if you are not one. This comes up a lot when an alien states on an I-9 Employment Verification Form that they are a U.S. citizen.  They eventually file for adjustment of status and USCIS reviews the documentation and notices that the applicant lied on the I-9.  USCIS takes this offense seriously and more than likely the applicant will be deported.   There are very few defenses if USCIS seeks to deport someone because they falsely claimed to be a citizen.

Please contact me if you have any questions about an I-9 form or adjustment of status.

I have a conditional green card and my spouse wants to leave me.

I often get calls with the following fact pattern.  A  U.S. citizen marries a foreigner (“spouse”).  The U.S. citizen sponsors the spouse and a conditional green card is issued.  Before it is time to remove the conditions, the U.S. citizen and spouse have a falling out.  Now the spouse is worried that the U.S. citizen will not help them remove the conditions on their conditional green card.  What can they do?

Hopefully, the couple will find a way to work things out. If they can’t, the spouse can still get the conditions removed without the help of the U.S. citizen.   If the couple divorces, the spouse can file a divorce waiver with USCIS.  The spouse will still need to show the marriage was entered into in good faith.  It will also help if the foreign spouse’s actions were not the cause of the divorce.

B-2 Visa

What is a B-2 visa?

A B-2 visa is a mechanism for someone to visit the United States for purposes such as tourism, vacations, visit relatives and/or friends, medical treatment, etc. A B-2 is not for employment. To obtain a B-2 an application must be completed with the State Department. An interview might be required at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the applicant lives. The consulate is looking for information that establishes that the applicant will not stay in the U.S. past their authorized stay. The consulate will consider such issues as

1. Does the applicant have strong ties to their country of residence? If so, it helps show that the applicant is likely to return home.
2. Are the applicant’s reasons for traveling to the U.S. legitimate activities relating to business or pleasure?
3. Does the applicant intends to enter the United States for a set period of time? The more specific, the better.
4. Are the applicant’s plans specific and realistic?
5. Does the applicant have adequate funds to avoid unlawful employment while in the U.S. Can the applicant afford their stay?
6. Is the period of time in the U.S. consistent with purpose of stay?

K1 Visa

K1 Visa.

What is a K1 Visa?  A K1 Visa is used to get a foreign fiancée to the U.S. in order to get married.   The procedure to obtain a K1 Visa is as follows:

First, the U.S. citizen petitions for the foreign fiancée via form I-129f.   The U.S. citizen will have to prove that he or she has met their foreign fiancée in person within the last two years.

Once USCIS approves the petition, it will send the petition to the U.S. Consulate where the foreign fiancée will apply for a nonimmigrant visa.  The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will notify the foreign fiancée to get a medical examination and also attend an interview.  The foreign fiancée will have to fill out many forms to submit to the Consulate.

If the application is approved, the foreign fiancée will be issued a visa to travel to the United States.  Once the foreign fiancée arrives in the United States they will be inspected and if granted admission, have 90 days to marry their U.S. Citizen fiancée.

Once married, an application to adjust status to a Legal Permanent Residence (LPR or Green Card holder) can be filed.

As with most immigration issues, the K1 Visa process can be very tricky.  If your fiancée is a citizen of another country and not currently in the U.S., please speak with an immigration attorney to insure the visa petition goes as smoothly as possible.

English Requirement

Recently, I spoke to a group of immigrants regarding obtaining citizenship.  The question that kept being asked dealt with the English proficiency requirement.  The audience was concerned about elderly immigrants who never received any type of education.  The audience wondered how such a person would ever pass the English Proficiency Exam and obtain citizenship.

If all the other requirements are met for citizenship, the person applying for citizenship must then pass an English Proficiency Test and Civic Test.  These test prevent many from applying for citizenship.  They think they are too old or uneducated to learn English.  Many of these people are not aware that if someone has been a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) for 20 years and is 50 years (20/50) or has been an LPR for 15 years and is 55 years old (15/55) then the English proficiency requirement can be waived.

Although the English proficiency requirement can be waived, the Civics test will still have to be taken.  There is a Medical Disability Exception to the civics exam.  Your doctor will need to fill out a form explaining how your medical disability prevents you from taking the civics exam.  If the person applying for citizenship is 65 years old or older and has been a LPR for at least 20 years (65/20) special consideration will be given for the civics test.

If you are a Legal Permanent Resident and wish to obtain citizenship, please contact an immigration attorney to review the requirements for citizenship.

Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude

I’ve had a handful of people ask me questions about renewing their green cards.  After reviewing everything I asked the person “have you ever thought about becoming an American citizen?”  I was surprised to hear that many did not know they could become a citizen.

The requirements for a green card holder to become a citizen are listed here.  The last requirement, good moral character, has tripped up many applying for citizenship.

The definition of good moral character is broad and the catch-all “Crimes Involving Moral Turpitude” (CIMT) has caught many immigrants off guard when applying for citizenship.  As stated in the regulations, a CIMT can bar citizenship.

To determine whether a CIMT has been committed, the state criminal statute where the crime was committed has to be examined.   Different states might have different requirements for a crime, although they are named the same. A thorough review of the statute is required.

Because the issue of CIMT can cause so much trouble, it is best to sit down with an attorney and discuss your legal history.  Write down every arrest, conviction, or any run in with the authorities you have had, when it happened, where it happened, and the outcome.  This will allow the attorney to research and determine whether you have a chance of gaining citizenship.

Good luck!

Immigrant v. Nonimmigrant

Immigrants and Nonimmigrants.

Noncitizens are generally placed into one of three categories: immigrant, nonimmigrant, or refugee.  Immigrants and nonimmigrants will be briefly discussed in this blog post.

What is an immigrant?  An immigrant is a noncitizen lawfully admitted to the U.S. with the intention of becoming a permanent resident. Usually, noncitizens seeking permanent residence fall into one of three classes: family sponsored, employment based, diversity immigrants, and refugees. Future blog posts will discuss these areas, among other things.

What is a nonimmigrant?  Generally, a nonimmigrant is someone who enters the U.S. only for a specified period and whose activities are limited by a visa.  There are numerous visas types covering individuals from students to famous international musicians.

Normally, a nonimmigrant visa must be obtained at a U.S. consulate.  If the consulate issues a visa, the nonimmigrant may then travel to the U.S., where a second review can take place.  Once the nonimmigrant is admitted at the boarder, he or she is given an I-94.  The nonimmigrant may then act within the limitations of the visa.  Many types of nonimmigrants can file for an extension of status to extend their stay and some may even change their status if conditions warrant.   Generally, when the visa expires the nonimmigrant is expected to leave the U.S.


Future blog posts will discuss the specifics for obtaining different types of nonimmigrant visas and how to adjust status.