Immigration

Macarena Santos is a graduate of the University of Florida and Nova Southeastern School of Law. She is a member of the Florida Bar, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Florida Association Women Lawyers, and Broward County Women Lawyers.

Ms. Santos is a US citizen of Chilean descent. Her personal experience of witnessing her parent’s path to citizenship cultivated compassion and a desire to help others legalize their status and obtain United States Citizenship.

Ms. Santos was active in Immigration Law since her days in Law School. She worked as a Law Intern and Law Clerk in an immigration firm all three years of attending law school. Ms. Santos was the president of the Immigration Law Organization while attending Nova Southeastern School of Law. While being president she and other members organized a DACA drive for underprivileged individuals in the community. Ms. Santos was also a Staff Member of the International Citator and Research Guide 2014-2015, an International Journal at Nova Southeastern University- School of Law.

The Immigration practice at Bilu and Bilu is dedicated to all areas of Immigration Law. If you would like to schedule an appointment with Ms. Santos call the Law Offices of Bilu and Bilu at 954-596-0669.

Services Offered

  • Family Petitions
  • Fiancé Visas
  • Employment Based Petitions
  • H1-B Visas
  • O Visas
  • E2 Investor Visas
  • TPS (Temporary Protected Status)
  • Asylum
  • Deportation Defense
  • U-Visas
  • VAWA Cases
  • DACA
  • Consular Processing
  • Green Card Applications
  • Citizenship Application
  • Bond Hearings  and Much More! 

FAMILY PETITIONS

Do you have a Relative that you would like to be reunited with or remain with you in the US?

If you answered yes then the first step in reaching your goal is to file an I-130 Petition.

Who can Petition who in an I-130 Family Petition?

A US Citizen may petition for the following family members:

  • Spouse
  • Children (unmarried and Under 21)
  • Sons and Daughters (married and/or 21 or over)
  • Parents, if you are 21 or over
  • Siblings, if you are 21 or over

A US Permanent Resident may petition for the following family members:

  • Spouse (husband or wife)
  • Unmarried Children Under 21
  • Unmarried Son or Daughter of any age

Filing the Form I-130 is the first step in gaining a Green Card (Permanent Residence) for your Family Member. Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, establishes the Family Relationship that exists between you and your relative.

Sometimes the I-130 can be filed together with an application for Permanent Residence. When the Petitioner (US Citizen) is petitioning for an Immediate Relative then the application for Permanent Residence can be filed together.

PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE TO SCHEDULE A FREE CONSULTATION IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN FILING A FAMILY PETITION FOR A FAMILY MEMBER. 

FIANCE VISA

You are engaged – CONGRATULATIONS!!!!

Just one problem your fiancé is not a US Citizen and living outside the United States.

Not a problem here at the Law Offices of Bilu and Bilu we have many successful cases of uniting couples together through a Fiancé Visa.

Who can apply for a fiancé Visa?

Only a United States Citizen can petition for their Non-Citizen fiancé. A US Permanent Resident cannot petition for their non-citizen fiancé.

How to apply for a Fiancé Visa?

  1. The First Step in Applying for a Fiancé Visa is to fill out the Correct Form with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once USCIS approves your form you are one step closer in bringing in your Fiancé into the United States.
  2. Once USCIS approves your Application for your fiancé Visa they forward it to the consulate abroad in the country in which your fiancé resides.
  3. The consulate abroad ask for additional documentation, once the consulate receives the additional documentation the consulate schedules an Interview with your Non-US citizen fiancé.
  4. The consulate approves the fiancé Visa after the Interview.
  5. Your Non-Citizen fiancé comes into the United States with a fiancé Visa in K-1 Status.
  6. You and your fiancé have 90 days to marry. If you do not marry within 90 days your fiancé is no longer in status.
  7. After marriage your fiancé may apply for his/her Permanent Resident Card.

If you are recently engaged and your love one is a non-US citizen that resides abroad call our office to learn more about getting him/her to legally reside with you in the United States.

EMPLOYMENT BASED PETITIONS

I would like each dash below to serve as link to their proper page

  • H Visas                              
  • O Visas                                 
  • TN Visas                               
  • L Visa 
  • Religious Occupation
  • P Visa
  • I Visa
  H1-B H-2A H-2B
Who is eligible? Certain foreign professionals in “specialty occupations” Temporary Agricultural workers from certain designated countries Seasonal Non-Agricultural Temporary Workers
Duration Admitted for a period for up to three years; may be extended for up to six years Admitted for a period of approved employment, may be renewed for qualifying employment in increments of one year. Maximum allowed stay of three years. Admitted for one year, can be renewed twice for a total of three years.
May the Foreign Workers bring their spouses and children under 21. YES YES YES

No matter which H Visa you decide to apply for you need to have a US Employer file a Petition of your behalf. 

Call our office to schedule a free consultation if you have a US Employer that would like to file a Petition on your behalf. 

Religious Occupation 

R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

For those whose job involves Religion the best route may be to file for a Religious Visa.

Who qualifies for a Religious Visa?

An individual whose job is in religious in nature, such as priest, nun, pastor, monk. The foreign national must be employed for a least part time (average of at least 20 hours per week)..

Who does not Qualify for an R Visa?

Occupations that include primarily administrative or support positions such as janitors, maintenance workers, clerical employees or fund-raisers or similar positions solely involved in soliciting donations do not qualify for an R Visa.

What kind of duties must the foreign worker be involved in?

Religious occupations are defined as occupations who duties must:

  • Primarily relate to a traditional religious function;
  • Be recognized as a religious occupation within the denomination; and
  • Be primarily related to, and clearly involve, inculcating or carrying out the religious creed and beliefs of the denomination

Process

A prospective or existing U.S. employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, on behalf of foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States as a nonimmigrant minister, or a religious worker in a religious vocation or occupation.

At a glance Form I-129 may look like a simple Form to Fill Out, however there is many supporting documents that can be overwhelming for a lay person to gather and organize. At the Law Office of Bilu and Bilu we take care of not only filing out the I-129 Form but also putting the I-129 Packet together so that you have the best chances that USCIS approve your R-1 Religious Visa. 

Special Immigrant Religious Workers

A foreign national may obtain Permanent Resident Status as a Special Immigrant Religious Worker.

The special immigrant religious worker is under the employment-based fourth preference (EB-4) visa classification.

How do I know if I qualify as a special immigrant religious worker, the foreign national must:

  1. For at least the two years immediately preceding the filing of the petition have been a member of a religious denomination that has a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States.
  2. Be coming to the United States to work in a full time (average of at least 35 hours per week) compensated position on one of the following  occupations:
  • Solely in the vocation of a minister of that religious denomination;
  • A religious vocation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity; or
  • A religious occupation either in a professional or nonprofessional capacity.
  1. Be coming to work for a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States, or a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination in the United States
  2. Have been working in one of the position in paragraph two continuously for at least two year period immediately preceding the filing of the petition. 

Process:

A U.S. employer, or the worker on his or her own behalf, must file Form I-360, to request special immigrant religious worker classification.

I think I qualify as a Special Immigrant Religious Worker, what next?

The next step is to contact an Immigration Attorney. An Immigration Attorney will guide you and your employer in filing the proper paper work and evidence in order to have a successful case.

O- Visa

Do you have an extraordinary ability in your country that no other possesses? Have you been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements?

If you answered yes to the question above you may qualify for an O-Visa.

What is an O Visa?

The O-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the individual who possesses extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, or has demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in the motion picture or television industry and has been recognized nationally or internationally for those achievements.

O Visas are broken down in the following way:

O-1A: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, business, or athletics

O-1B: Individuals with an extraordinary ability in the arts or extraordinary achievement in motion picture or television industry

O-2: Individuals who will accompany an O-1, artist or athlete, to assist in a specific event or performance. For and O-1A, the O-2’s assistance must be an “integral part” of the O-1A’s activity. For an O-1B, the O-2’s assistance must be essential to the completion of the O-1B’s production. The O-2 worker has critical skills and experience with the O-1 that cannot be readily performed by a U.S. worker and which are essential to the successful performance of the O-1.

O-3: Individuals who are the spouse or children of O-1’s and O-2’s.

If you possess extraordinary ability in one of these areas give our office a call to schedule a consultation so that we can help you obtain your O Visa.

P Visa

Are you coming to the US to temporary work as an athlete, artist, or entertainer?

The P Visa is your visa.

The P classification is divided into six categories:

  1. P-1A: Three categories of athletes
  2. P-1B: Members of an internationally recognized entertainment group
  3. P-2: Artist or entertainer under a reciprocal exchange program
  4. P-3: Artist or entertainer in culturally unique program
  5. P-1S/P-2S/P-3S- Essential support personnel
  6. P-4 : Spouse and unmarried minor children of P-1, P-2, or P-3 nonimmigrant

Call our office to schedule a consultation to learn more about P-Visas. 

TN Visa (TN NAFTA PROFESSIONALS)

Are you an accountant, engineer, lawyer, pharmacist, scientist, or teacher and a citizen of Canada or Mexico (other professions apply)?

You may qualify for a TN Visa.

Process:

Canadian

If you are a Canadian Citizen you may apply for a TN Visa in two ways

  1. Apply at the border with a CBP officer and provide the following documentation to the CBP officer:
  • Proof of Canadian citizenship
  • Letter from your prospective employer detailing items such as the professional capacity in which you will work in the United States, the purpose of your employment, your length of stay, and your educational qualifications; and
  1. Have Employer file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS. Once approved by USCIS, Canadian Citizen may present approved application to CBP Officer.

Mexican

If you are a Mexican Citizen you are required to obtain your TN nonimmigrant visa in a U.S. embassy or consulate in Mexico. Once approved by the consulate you may present the Visa at the CBP- designated U.S. ports of entry or at a designated pre-clearance/pre-flight inspection 

I – Visa

Do you work for a Media Company in your country?

If you answered yes you may want to look into obtaining an I-Visa.

How do I know if I am eligible for an I- Visa?

You may be eligible for the I, Representatives of Foreign Media, nonimmigrant visa, if you:

  • Represent a foreign information media outlet (press, radio, film, or other foreign information media)
  • Are coming to the United States to engage solely in this profession; and
  • Have a home office in a foreign country

What occupation qualify under this category?

Occupations under this category include reporters, film crews, editors, and similar occupations.

Can my spouse and children come with me under this visa?

Any spouse and children under the age of 21 may accompany or follow to join an I nonimmigrant.

Contact our Office for more Information on I-Visas. 

L- Visa

What is an L- Visa?

An L visa is used for Foreign Companies that also have a similar Company in the United States or in the process of forming a company in the United States.

There are two types of L-Visas. The L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager and the L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized.

The L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager

The L-1A nonimmigrant classification allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.

The L-1A also allows a foreign company to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing an office in the US for those foreign companies that do not have an affiliated U.S. office.

L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge

The L-1B nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer a professional employee with specialized knowledge relating to the organization’s interests from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States.

The L-1B also allows a foreign company to send a specialized knowledge employee to the United States to help establish an office in the US for those foreign companies that do not have an affiliated U.S. office.

 Process

The employer must file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with fee, on behalf of the employee.

Family of L-1 Workers

Can my spouse and children accompany me?

The transferring employee may bring his or her spouse and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age. 

INVESTOR VISAS

  • EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program   (Separate link)
  • E- 2 Treaty Investors (Separate link)

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program

Are you interested in permanently residing in the United States?

Are you an entrepreneur looking to invest your money in the United States?

If you answered yes to these questions then EB-5 Immigrant Visa may be the visa that you are looking for.

Under this program, entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence) if they:

  • Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States; and
  • Plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers

All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise.

What is the required minimum investments are:

  • The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.
  • Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000. 

Process

The process begins with filing Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur. Following the approval of the Form I-526 petition, either:

  • File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS to adjust status to a conditional permanent resident within the United States, or
  • File DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, with the U.S. Department of State to obtain an EB-5 visa abroad to seek admission to the United States.

If you are interested in Investing in the United States call our office to help guide you through the whole process. 

E-2 Treaty Investors

What is an E-2 Visa?

An E-2 Visa allows foreign nationals to legally work in the U.S. if they are a national of a treaty country and will be investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business. 

Which countries are Treaty Countries?

Albania Finland Norway
Argentina France Oman
Armenia Georgia Pakistan
Australia Germany Panama 
Austria  Grenada Paraguay 
Azerbaijan Honduras  Philippines
Bahrain Iran Poland
Bangladesh Ireland  Romania
Belgium Italy Serbia
Bolivia  Jamaica  Senegal 
Bosnia and Herzegovina Japan Singapore
Bulgaria Jordan Slovenia
Cameroon Kazakhstan Spain 
Canada  Korea South Sri Lanka
Chile  Kosovo Suriname 
Colombia  Kyrgyzstan Sweden 
Congo-Brazzaville Latvia Switzerland
Congo-Kinshasa Liberia Taiwan
Costa Rica Lithuania  Thailand
Croatia Luxembourg Togo
Czech Republic Macedonia Trinidad and Tobago
Denmark Mexico Tunisia 
Ecuador Moldova Turkey
Egypt Montenegro Ukraine
Estonia Morocco United Kingdom
Ethiopia Netherlands Yugoslavia 

What is the required minimum investment?

There is no set number for an E-2 Visa. When investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business is required.

Can I bring my family with me?

Yes, you may bring your spouse and children (unmarried and under 21).

How long can I stay under an E-2 Visa?

You will be allowed a maximum initial stay of two years. Requests for extension of stay may be granted in increments of up to two years. There is no maximum limit to the number of extensions an E-2 nonimmigrant may be granted.

Call our office to learn how you can come to the United States with an E-2 Visa. 

TPS (TEMPORARY PROTECTED STATUS)

What is TPS?

TPS is designated to a foreign county when conditions in the country are too dangerous to return to or where the country is unable to handle the return of its nationals adequately. Please note this is only temporary. Once conditions are better in the foreign country TPS will no longer be granted for those individuals.

The Secretary may designate a country for TPS due to the following temporary conditions in the country:

  • Ongoing armed conflict (such as civil war)
  • An environmental disaster (such as earthquake or hurricane), or an epidemic
  • Other extraordinary and temporary conditions

Individuals who are granted TPS are giving the following privileges:

  • Are not removable from the United States
  • Can obtain an employment authorization document
  • May be granted travel authorization

Countries Currently Designated for TPS

  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Nepal
  • Nicaragua
  • Somalia
  • Sudan
  • South Sudan
  • Syria
  • Yemen 

ASYLUM

How do I know if I qualify for asylum?

In order to be eligible for asylum you need to be seeking protection because you have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Nationality
  • Membership in a particular social group
  • Political opinion

How to apply for asylum?

There are two ways to apply for asylum. Affirmative asylum and defensive asylum. Affirmative asylum is applied through USCIS, when the individual is not in Removal Proceedings. A Defensive Asylum Application is applied through the court when the individual is in Removal Proceedings.

Both affirmative and defensive asylum is applied with Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year of your arrival to the United States.

Call our office to schedule a free consultation if you are in fear of returning to your country. 

DEPORTATION DEFENSE/BOND HEARINGS

Deportation/ Removal defense involves representing and advocating for immigrants facing deportation from the United States. This process involves appearing before an immigration judge in immigration court.

Bond Hearings are conducted when the foreign national is currently detained in a detention center. A bond is an amount of money that will allow a person to be released from detention. In order to be released on bond the court must find that you have some sort of immigration relief, not a flight risk and not a danger to the community.  

At the Offices of Bilu and Bilu we prepare a detailed Motion for Bond in order that you have the best chances to be released on Bond. Call our office if one of your loved ones are detained and you wish to release them on Bond.

U-VISAS (VICTIMS OF A CRIME)

Are you a foreign national and have been a Victim of a Crime in the US?

Did you help in the investigation or prosecution of the criminal activity?

If you answered yes to these questions you may qualify for a U-Visa.

You may be eligible for a U nonimmigrant visa if:

  • You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity
  • You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity
  • You have information about the criminal activity.
  • You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime
  • The crime occurred in the United States or violated U.S. laws
Abduction Obstruction of Justice
Abusive Sexual Conduct Peonage
Blackmail Perjury 
Domestic Violence Prostitution 
Extortion Rape
False Imprisonment  Sexual Assault
Female Genital Mutilation  Sexual Exploitation
Felonious Assault  Slave Trade
Fraud in Foreign Labor Contracting  Stalking
Hostage Torture 
Incest Trafficking 
Involuntary Servitude  Witness Tampering 
Kidnapping  Unlawful Criminal Restraint 
Manslaughter  Other Related Crimes (Includes any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar.) 
Murder  

Process

The First Step in obtaining a U-Visa is to get Form I-918, Supplement B, U Nonimmigrant Status Certification. The Supplement B must be signed by and authorized official of the certifying law enforcement agency and the official must confirm that you were helpful, and currently being helpful, or will likely be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the case.

Call our office if you have been a Victim of Crime so that we can help you prepare the necessary documents for a U-Visa. 

VAWA (VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT)

Are you married to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident?

Does your U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident Spouse physically or mentally abuse you?

Does your U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident Spouse control you?

If you answered yes to these questions you may qualify for VAWA.

Who is Eligible to file?

  • Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
  • Parent: You may file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
  • Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent.

Do I qualify if I am a man and I am being abused by my US Citizen Spouse or Permanent Resident Spouse?

Yes, regardless of the name of the act Violence Against Women Act, men qualify if they are being abused.

Do I qualify if I am in a homosexual relationship?

Yes, the Act serves both types of relationships.

Process:

In order to qualify for VAWA you must submit Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, including all supporting documentation.

At the Law Offices of Bilu and Bilu we not only prepare Form I-360 correctly for your case but we provide a detailed Legal Brief and ample amount of evidence so that your case be approved as quickly as possible.

Call our office now to learn more about VAWA. 

Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

Who qualifies for DACA?

  • Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, up to the present time;
  • Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  • Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012;
  • Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety

PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE HAVE BEEN A LOT OF CHANGES WITH DACA CALL OUR OFFICE WITH ALL YOUR DACA QUESTIONS.

  • Consular Process
  • Permanent Resident / Green Card Application
  • Citizenship Application