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Immigration Lawyers in San Diego County

Immigration is one of the most frustrating and confusing areas of federal law. Immigration laws are very complicated, and many of them are seemingly contradictory and do not make sense. On top of that, the executive branch of our government has issued numerous immigration-related executive orders in recent years, some of which have been upheld by the courts, while others have been struck down.

Keeping up with this complex web of laws and understanding how these laws are applied practically by immigration officers and the courts is a full-time job in and of itself. And trying to navigate the complexities of the immigration system on your own is wrought with potential pitfalls, with one small mistake potentially resulting in long delays and even the denial of your application.

The attorneys at Garmo & Garmo LLP have over 50 years of combined experience practicing immigration law. With this extensive experience, our attorneys continue to be at the center of the ever-changing landscape of immigration law. We have tried and appealed cases to the Board of Immigration Appeals, the 9th, 1st, 5th, and 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, and to the Administrative Appeals Unit (AAU). Our in-depth understanding of this area of the law gives our clients full confidence that we are well-equipped to bring their case to a successful conclusion.

The attorneys at Garmo and Garmo, LLP have helped thousands of clients from nearly every country in the world with cases involving all areas of immigration law. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Asylum,
  • Deportation & Removal,
  • Family Based Immigration (Green Card),
  • Employment Based Immigration,
  • Investment based visas,
  • Citizenship & Naturalization,
  • Temporary Visas including visitors, students, and professionals


Asylum may be granted to an individual who has a well-founded fear of persecution in his/her home country on account of race, religion, political opinion, nationality, or particular social group. The well-founded fear of persecution can be in the past or in the future. Foreign nationals who want to apply for asylum must be physically present in the United States or arriving soon. In most cases, the petition must be filed within one year of arriving in the country.

Asylum is a discretionary form of relief and the asylum officer or the court can use various different factors in determining whether the applicant deserves the relief he or she seeks. During a hearing, the officer will ask several questions to determine how the applicant has been persecuted or oppressed. Applicants with a well-prepared petition and substantial supporting documentation have the best chance of being granted asylum.

Deportation & Removal

Most people think that once they receive their permanent resident status, they could no longer be deported or removed from the United Sates. However, this is not necessarily the case. Since 1990, the U.S. has passed laws that greatly impact the consequences of a permanent resident alien. Currently, an alien may be removed from the U.S. for various reasons, including:

  • Conviction for a felony charge;
  • Conviction for two separate crimes involving moral turpitude (even misdemeanors and most drug offenses);
  • Unlawful presence (being in the U.S. without proper documentation or with falsified documents);
  • Expired visa or conditional permanent residence terminated.

Garmo & Garmo has successfully defended hundreds of clients facing removal from the United States. If you or someone close to you is facing deportation, contact us right away for a free consultation and case assessment.

Family-Based Immigration

This is the most popular method for people to come to the U.S. on a permanent basis. The two vehicles used for permanent immigration are adjustment of status (AOS) and visa processing. Adjustment of status occurs when someone is already in the U.S. on a temporary valid visa (such as visitor visa, student visa, or work visa) who wants to adjust their status to lawful permanent resident (LPR). Visa processing is for those persons outside the U.S. who want to immigrate to the U.S. after their visas become current.

Some family-based visa categories have numerical limits, while others do not. An unlimited number of family-based visas are given to immigrants who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. An immediate relative (of a US citizen) for the purposes of an uncapped family-based visa would include a spouse, parent (if the child who is sponsoring the petition is 21 years of age or older), or child (biological, adopted, or stepchildren) who is married and under the age of 21.

All other foreign nationals who want to come to the U.S. through a family-based visa are subject to annual numerical caps. This means that, after lodging their petition, they must wait until their “priority date” (the date their visa petition was lodged) comes up for processing. The wait time could be significant – several years or even decades in some cases – depending on the preference category of the visa you are applying for and your country of origin.

For visas with numerical limits, there are four family preference categories:

  • F1: Children of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older.
  • F2: Spouses and children (under the age of 21) of legal permanent residents (LPRs) and unmarried children of LPRs who are age 21 or older.
  • F3: Married children of U.S. citizens and any children they have who are not married and under the age of 21.
  • F4: Siblings of U.S. citizens who are 21 years of age or older.

Employment-Based Immigration

Employment-based immigration is also a very popular method for workers to come to the U.S. and work, either temporarily or permanently. Some temporary employment visas include:

  • H-1B visas
  • Specialty occupation visas
  • L-1 – inter-company transferee visas
  • TN –Trade NAFTA Visas

Permanent employment-based immigration can be summarized into five categories:

  • E1: Priority workers.
  • E2: Professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability.
  • E3: Skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers (other workers).
  • E4: Certain special immigrants.
  • E5: Immigrant investors who are investing at least $500,000 in an enterprise that will create at least 10 American jobs.

Investment Based Visas

Investment-based visas can be temporary or permanent. For those countries that have treaties with the U.S., citizens of those countries can come to the U.S. on a temporary E-1 or E-2 investment visa. There is no minimum amount of investment; however, the investment must be “substantial”. If an alien wants to invest $1,000,000 or $500,000 in some cases, the alien can immigrate to the U.S. using an employment-based 5th preference (E-B5) visa.

Citizenship & Naturalization

The attorneys at Garmo & Garmo LLP have handled thousands of cases dealing with citizenship & naturalization. Typically, once an alien reaches four years and nine months of permanent resident alien status (Green Card), or two years and nine months if they are married to a U.S. citizen, they may apply for naturalization. There are other requirements and qualifications in order to apply for naturalization as well, including good moral character, residency, and the ability to speak, read, and write the English language.

Becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen provides several advantages over simply retaining legal permanent resident (LPR) status. For one thing, only U.S. citizens have the right to vote and have a say in who will be governing them. Secondly, citizenship puts you on more solid footing; as a U.S. citizen, you no longer have to worry about getting deported for certain criminal violations and other issues, and you are allowed to travel outside the country for extended periods of time without jeopardizing your status. Finally, as a U.S. citizen, you are in a better position to petition loved ones who also want to immigrate here.

Temporary Visas

There are many types of visas available to aliens who wish to enter the U.S. on a temporary basis. Some examples include:

  • B-1 Visitor visas
  • F-1 Student visas
  • H-1B Employment visas
  • TN – Trade NAFTA visas
  • J-1 Student exchange visas
  • P- Professional athlete and performer visas

Typically, to apply for any of the temporary visas, an alien must demonstrate to the U.S. government that they intend to return to their home country once their visa expires. In general, this is successfully demonstrated by establishing strong ties to your home country, such as close relatives (e.g., spouses and children) you are leaving behind, a family business in your home country you need to return to, etc.

Speak with a Skilled and Compassionate Southern California Immigration Attorney

Whatever type of immigration issue you are having, Garmo & Garmo LLP is ready to help! For strong legal guidance with all of your immigration needs, please call us today at 619-736-3935 or message us online to schedule your free consultation.

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Garmo & Garmo, LLP office update (January 4, 2021)

Garmo & Garmo, LLP’s physical office is open to assist you with your legal needs.  We are following the strict guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), State of California and County of San Diego.  Unless necessary, in-person meetings will not be held in our office.  Our office can conduct phone meetings or video meetings with clients/visitors.  Please note the local San Diego courts are open for most business operations. 

Please consider the following if you must come to our physical office:

  1. All clients/visitors must wear facial coverings at all times while in our office.
  2. All clients/visitors must practice social distancing while in our office.  This includes maintaining a minimum of six feet from our staff and others.
  3. For the safety of our staff and others, all sick clients/visitors may not enter our office.
  4. All clients/visitors will have their temperature taken when they enter our office.
  5. Please do not enter our office if you have any of the following symptoms:

    • Fever or chills
    • Cough
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fatigue
    • Muscle or body aches
    • Headache
    • New loss of taste or smell
    • Sore throat
    • Congestion or runny nose
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Diarrhea

We are closely monitoring the latest advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), State of California, County of San Diego and the local court system. We will update our policies as we receive new information.

We appreciate your patience and confidence in Garmo & Garmo, LLP’s ability to serve you.