santa ana


A “green card” is the document that establishes Legal Permanent Residence of a non-citizen in the United States. After a period of time, green card holders (permanent residents) can petition for Citizenship by presenting proof of eligibility, taking a test, passing an interview, and taking an oath to the United States.


Immigrating to the United States can be a complicated process with long waiting periods depending on the type of petition you file. With strict procedures and eligibility requirements, as well as numerous complex forms, the process can be daunting and even overwhelming. It is important to have the knowledge of an experienced immigration attorney that strategically prepares and reviews each case individually for optimal results. Many make the mistake of attempting to “save money” and prepare the forms on their own, however, this is a HUGE mistake because they are not knowledgeable as to the effects of entries and departures, prior deportation orders, criminal history, prior petitions, and overall nuances that can affect your process. 

  • Improve your chances of being admitted to the United States.
  • Obtain Legal Permanent Residency.
  • Process temporary stay options.
  • Defend against violations of immigration law.
  • Avoid a deportation.

At Ayala Law Group APC, we can guide and counsel you during each stage of the immigration process. Here are some ways we can help.


The purpose of your intended travel and other factors will determine what type of visa is required under immigration law. As a visa applicant, you will need to establish that you meet all requirements to receive the category of visa for which you are applying. When you apply at a U.S. embassy or consulate, a consulate officer will determine based on laws, whether you are eligible to receive a visa, and if so, which visa category is appropriate. 

NATURALIZATION lawyers in santa ana, ca

If you have resided as a Lawful Permanent Resident in the United States for 5 years, or if you are married to a United States Citizen and have been in the Country for 3 years, you may be eligible to apply for Citizenship.

It is essential to review any and all criminal history on your record prior to applying for Naturalization, no matter how old the conviction. USCIS will look at ALL of your criminal history when you apply for Citizenship. Many mistakenly assume that because a conviction was more than 10 or 20 years old, that it magically erased or will not affect them. That is an incorrect assumption, you must thoroughly review your entire record to assure that you are eligible. We often begin by engaging in thorough questioning, obtaining your fingerprints from the California Department of Justice, and fingerprints from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). It is important to disclose all convictions on your application and not risk fraud or denial of your application. We will help you with this process and prepare you to take your Naturalization exam. 


A family member who has obtained U.S. Citizenship or Legal Permanent Residency may petition for Lawful Permanent Residency for their qualifying relatives. Based on the relationship between the individual and the U.S. Citizen, a different priority date will apply. Whether you are petitioning for a direct relative (spouse, parents, or children) or any other family member (relatives of preference), we can help you determine the family members eligibility and the requirements for your petition. 


We can assist you in a variety of ways to apply for Legal Permanent Residence (green card). If you are outside the United States, it is called the “Consulate Process” (see below) and if you are already in the country, it is called “Adjustment of Status.” Obviously, there are many questions and variables that come into play when deciding which route to take. Strategy will be determined on a case by case basis. 

For Adjustment of Status, ideal candidates are those that either entered legally with a visa or are protected under INA § 245(i). INA § 245(i) is an avenue to adjust your status if you were the beneficiary of previous petition filed on or before April 30, 2001. The rules are complex and must be evaluated on a case by case basis, but the basics for you to understand is that you can possibly become a LPR without having to leave the country or requiring a waiver. If you were previously petitioned on or before April 30, 2001 and need assistance in figuring out the next steps, contact us for help. 

If you last entered with a visa (i.e. B1/B2 visa), you may be able to adjust your status under INA § 245(a), that is, you were “inspected and admitted or paroled.”  This means that you last entered the United States through a port of entry with a valid visa or parole document. In this situation, you may need an immediate qualifying relative to petition you if you overstayed the visa or parole period. There are many provisions that may pose as barriers to adjusting status, therefore an individual case analysis is required by an experienced immigration attorney. Contact Mr. Ayala for a thorough review of your case! 

If you or a member of your family is in the United States Military, please contact us to discuss special eligibility options. 


If you are outside the country, your Visa application will be made through the consulate process at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. 

But also, if you are inside the United States and your entered without inspection or parole and are not INA § 245(i), you may need to leave the country and go through consular processing, as well as obtain a Waiver, because you accrued unlawful presence in the U.S. and have a 10 year bar. The waiver will essentially “forgive” the 10 year bar if USCIS finds that it would cause extreme hardship to your qualifying family member. Please seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney for more information. 


If your case is denied, you are usually given an opportunity to appeal within a very specific period of time. Therefore, time is of the essence! Do not wait because you can miss an appeal deadline. 

A case can be denied for a number of reasons. Whether you should appeal should be reviewed and advised by an immigration attorney. Determining the probability of a successful appeal can be decided by you and your attorney. 


The DACA program was approved in 2012, during the Obama Administration, granting 2 year work permits for those who meet certain guidelines. A person may request DACA if they were: 

  1. Under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; 
  2. Came to the United States before reaching their 16th birthday; 
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; 
  4. 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; 
  5. Had no lawful status on June 15, 2012; 
  6. 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 
  7. 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.

An immigration attorney with experience in preparing DACA applications will be able to advise and help you collect, present and complete all the requirements to request or renew your application.


Many undocumented immigrants fear deportation and are scared to report crimes to Law Enforcement. Because of this fear, undocumented individuals endure years of abuse with no means of protection because of their concerns with immigration. In order to alleviate this fear and to promote immigrants in reporting crimes, USCIS has created a way to help these victims of crimes through a U-Visa. 

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is set aside for victims of certains types of crimes who have suffered physical or emotional (mental) abuse, and were helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal conduct. 

The qualifying criminal activities include abduction, abusive sexual contact, blackmail, domestic violence, extortion, false imprisonment, female genital mutilation, felonious assault, fraud in foreign labor contracting, hostage, incest, involuntary servitude, kidnapping, manslaughter, murder, obstruction of justice, peonage, perjury, prostitution, rape, sexual assault, sexual exploitation, slave trade, stalking, torture, trafficking, witness tampering, unlawful criminal restraint, and other related crimes that have any similar activity where the elements of the crime are substantially similar. 

Your family members may also qualify if you were a victim of a qualifying crime. If you are under 21 years of age, you may petition on behalf of your spouse, children, parents, and unmarried siblings under the age of 18. If you are 21 years of age or older, you may petition on behalf of your spouse and children. 

A U nonimmigrant visa when approved will get you a work permit for four (4) years and after three (3) years you will have the ability to apply for Legal Permanent Residency. If you were the victim of a crime, you must have an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who will help you process your U-Visa application.


Most immigration procedures are long and do not allow departure from the United States. If you must travel during this time, our experienced immigration lawyers will help you apply for the necessary permit before traveling and meet the extensive list of necessary requirements.


If you are in deportation proceedings or have criminal history that is hindering your ability to change your legal status, there may be ways to attack your prior criminal convictions (this is called post-conviction relief). 

A lot of people do not realize that impact that a conviction can have on their future until it’s too late. They might think that just because they did not get jail time, and only paid a fine and completed probation that the case is off their record or “done.”  However, there are long-term and perhaps unanticipated consequences to all convictions, especially with immigration. For many non-citizens, a criminal conviction can lead to deportation, denial of naturalization, and exclusion from the United States. Other criminal convictions can make individuals ineligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Residence status. 

We can assist you in filing a Penal Code Section 1016.5 motion to vacate a conviction or 1473.7 motion to vacate. A way to explain this to a non-attorney is by stating that when a non-citizen accepts a plea of guilty and prior to their admission of guilty, were not advised of the immigration consequences of the conviction, then the conviction and plea of guilty is legally invalid because it was not knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily made. Similarly under 1473.7, even if the Judge advised of the immigration consequences, your attorney did not explain or you did not meaningfully understand and appreciate the immigration consequences of your plea. The law on this is extremely complex and application varies from case to case. You must consult with an attorney to determine eligibility. 


You deserve to have an advocate that develops an individualized case strategy for your circumstances.


We will walk alongside you throughout this process to make sure that you meet all the necessary deadlines, steps, and requirements.


One of the things our clients value most is that we help them understand the processes.


Contact our team of knowledgeable and experienced criminal and immigration lawyers today and we will develop a strategy specifically for your case and circumstances. 


I don't wish any family what we had to go through, but I would definitely recommend that the Ayala office handle any immigration issues with excellent results as they did for us.
Oscar O. C.


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