Know Your Rights and Family Preparedness Plan
A New Jersey Immigration Attorney Can Help You Prepare
Everyone – both documented and undocumented persons – have rights in this country. Make sure you, your family members (even children), housemates, neighbors, and co-workers, regardless of their immigration status, know of their right to remain silent and all of their other rights if ICE or the police come to your home, neighborhood or workplace.
Make a Child Care Plan
Every family should have a Family Preparedness Plan. While it is our hope that you never have to use your plan, it is a good practice to have one in place to help reduce the stress of the unexpected. Everyone should create a Family Preparedness Plan, regardless of immigration status. However, because of the additional challenges immigrant and mixed status families face, we have additional advice for immigrants.
Have a plan so that a trusted adult can care for your child if you cannot. This plan should include:
- Emergency numbers
- Important contact information
- Caregiver’s Authorization Affidavit
- Folder with important documents
Frequently Asked Questions
What if the police or law enforcement agents come to question me?
Beyond giving your name and address, you are not obligated to talk to the police, FBI, ICE, or any other law enforcement agent or investigator. You do not have to let police or other law enforcement agents into your home or office unless they have a search warrant. Request to see the warrant! Without an official search warrant issued by the court, you should not be afraid to say that you want to consult an attorney before speaking to authorities. However, do not try to physically interfere with the police or agents, even if the search is illegal, or you will likely be arrested.
If the police show you a valid search warrant, ask if you are allowed to watch the search and if so, watch and take notes including names, badge numbers, and from what agency the officer comes. Have friends act as witnesses and give this information to your lawyer. If the police stop you on the street, ask why you are being detained and, if you are not under arrest, walk away freely.
Anything you say to the police, FBI, ICE, or any other law enforcement agency or investigator can be used against you. Avoid having a conversation with a police officer or law enforcement agent and do not respond to his or her accusations. If you are nervous and cannot speak, tell the agent to contact an attorney. He or she must stop asking you questions the moment you announce your desire to have him or her consult your attorney.
What if I am not a citizen?
You do not have to reveal your immigration status or answer any questions. Foreign nationals arrested in the United States have the right to call their consulate or to have the police contact their consulate about their arrest. (Non-citizens who are victims of domestic violence must speak to an expert in both immigration law and domestic abuse law.) Do not speak to ICE, even over the telephone, before speaking to an immigration attorney.
Every non-citizen, independent of their immigrant status, has the following rights:
- The right to speak to an attorney before answering or signing anything;
- The right to a hearing before an immigration judge;
- The right to have an attorney at the hearing and at any interview with the immigration service (however, non-citizens do not have a right to a government-paid attorney);
- The right to ask for release from detention by paying a bond if you qualify
If you’ve found yourself in a scenario where you are being pressured by ICE or another United States federal agency, call our offices as soon as you can at (800) 909-8129.
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Q:I live in the US and I am marrying a US citizen. How can I get a green card and become a permanent resident?
A:Assuming you have entered the US with a visa or are protected by an old law called 245i, you may be eligible to adjust status to receive a green card from within the US. If you have been illegally present for more than 6 months, you cannot travel until the green card is in hand. Current processing time is about 5-7 months.
Q:I am a fiancé(e) of a US citizen and I am living outside the US. How can I enter the US to marry?
A:Your fiancée must apply for a Fiancée Visa, also known as the K-1 Visa. The visa is for parties who have physically met within the past two years, have an intent to marry, and can document a relationship together. The visa is only for those who are residing abroad and cannot be used if the alien is in the US. The application is filed from within the US and when approved, will be forwarded to the American Consular where the alien fiancée will apply for the visa and be interviewed by an officer - usually about 8-12 months from the date of filing.
Q:I live outside the US and I married a US citizen. How can I come to the US to live?
A:To enter the US after a marriage to a US Citizen, you would go through Consular Processing. Paperwork would be filed in the US and forwarded to the embassy abroad to schedule an interview. The processing time frame from start to finish is between 9-11 months, depending on the embassy abroad. The process is document-intensive and requires careful attention to detail.