Category Archives: Immigration Law
Congrats to Arizona for voting in a moderate republican who understands that enforcement only immigration policy doesn’t make sense and that most of Arizona’s anti-immigration laws are unconstitutional, un-American and unworkable. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/10/us/politics/russell-pearce-arizonas-anti-immgration-champion-is-recalled.html
Renewing a Greencard is a fairly simple process in most cases. If your Greencard is about to expire or it has been lost or stolen you can get a new Greencard by filing form I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. The form can be found here- http://www.uscis.gov/i-90 . It is important that you read the instructions carefully before filing and include the necessary supporting evidence and fee of $450. The process takes approximately 3 months. A few weeks after the initial filing, you will receive a receipt notice showing that your application and fee has been accepted and to wait for further notices. The next notice will be an appointment notice for biometrics (fingerprints). This will be scheduled about a month or two after the initial filing. After your biometrics are complete, unless there are any problems, your new card should arrive in the mail about a month later.
If you have ever been arrested or convicted of a crime or believe that you may have somehow violated the conditions of your lawful permanent resident status and need to replace or renew your Greencard DO NOT do so without first speaking with a qualified immigration attorney. If prior crimes or actions were in violation of your lawful permanent resident status then filing form I-90 or any form with USCIS could place you in removal proceedings. Seek out the aid of an immigration attorney who can best advise you on what your next steps should be.
If you received a conditional two year lawful resident card (Greencard) based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen and the two years is about to pass, DO NOT file form I-90. In this case you will not need to renew your Greencard; you need to file form I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence. This form requires significant evidence of a bona fide marriage and must be filed within the 90 day period prior to the expiration of your conditional residency card. It is advised that you work with an attorney in filing this petition, especially if you have divorced your spouse or are contemplating a divorce.
If you are thinking about renewing your Greencard then it is likely that you have had your card for more than 5 years and may be eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship. Consult with an immigration attorney to find out if you are eligible for U.S. Citizenship, as this may be a better option than continually renewing your Greencard.
Remember, in addition to obeying all U.S. laws, Lawful Permanent Residents must always have their Greencard, must always renew it when necessary and must advice USCIS of new addresses within 10 days of moving. Addresses can be changed by filing form AR-11 or online at http://www.uscis.gov/ar-11 .
This post is about an earlier immigration policy change. To read about JULY 2012′s announcement on deferred action and work permits from certain YOUTH read my June 19th blogpost President Obama’s New Immigration Policy.
Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions about Obama’s new immigration policy. Some are under the impression that there is a new law granting legal status to undocumented immigrants. This is not the case. No new law has been enacted and anyone who tells you that they can get you a green card because of what President Obama has done is likely lying to you. The American Immigration Lawyers Association has provided the following Consumer Advisory about what the new policy is and isn’t.
What the new policy is NOT:
The Obama Administration announcement is NOT an amnesty, it is NOT about granting legal status, and is NOT something that you can sign-up for!
The Obama Administration made very clear that the announcements do NOT provide any way to apply for a work permit or EAD nor is there a new way to apply to remain in the United States. The change announced is not about giving people work permits or legal status. The announcement applies ONLY to cases already in the system, ensuring that low priority cases do not continue to clog up an already overburdened immigration court system.
WARNING! Do NOT believe anyone who tells you they can sign you up for a work permit (Employment Authorization Document EAD) or get you legal status based on the Secretary Napolitano¡¦s August 18, 2011 announcement! Anyone who says that is not to be trusted! There is NO Safe way to turn yourself in to immigration and there is NO guarantee that your case will be considered low priority ANY person who comes into contact with immigration authorities may be arrested, detained or even removed.
Only a QUALIFIED IMMIGRATION LAWYER can evaluate your case and tell your about your rights. Do NOT seek legal advice from a notario or immigration consultant. For more information about avoiding immigration scams go to http://www.StopNotarioFraud.org
What the new policy IS:
The Obama Administration announced the creation of a high-level working group made up of Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice officials who are to do the following:
Review all cases already pending before the immigration courts. Those that are considered low priority may be administratively closed. Those that are considered a high priority will be prosecuted more aggressively.
There are no rules or guarantees that a particular type of case will be considered a low or high priority. Recent guidelines are helpful, but no one can tell you if your case is a low priority–only immigration authorities will make that decision.
In the future, immigration authorities will review the cases people before they are placed in removal proceedings. Those that are low priority may not be referred to the immigration court.
Create department-wide guidance to help USCIS, CBP, and ICE agents and officers make better, more consistent decisions about who to place in removal proceedings.
Issue guidance on providing discretion in compelling cases for persons who already have a final order of removal.
In other words, the August 18th announcement was preliminary and nothing has been implemented yet. Any details about how the review process will work, what cases will be considered low priority or how to have a particular case considered have not been decided.
The best course of action is to consult an immigration lawyer or accredited representative, not to take action because a friend, neighbor or coworker encourages you to act.
An online directory of AILA attorneys is available at www.ailalawyer.com Even if a friend, neighbor or coworker encourages you to act, do NOT try to contact immigration authorities or fall for a scam! At this time, there is NO application to fill out, NO form that can be filed, NO filing fee that can be paid and NO guidance from immigration authorities AT ALL as to how the review of cases will happen. Eventually, as the government decides how to proceed, that information should be available from official government websites, such as USCIS.gov and USICE.gov, this website or the website of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, http://www.aila.org. To locate an immigration attorney, including searches by location, practice area and language skills, you can find an online directory of AILA attorneys at www.ailalawyer.com. The Announcement does NOT mean that all low priority cases will automatically be granted a work permit or EAD
The Administration¡¦s announcement said that if a case is administratively closed, the individual will be able to apply for a work permit (employment authorization document or EAD). But there are no details, guidelines or instructions on how to apply for an EAD, or who will be eligible for an EAD. Unless you are already eligible for an EAD under existing regulations and guidelines, you should not go to immigration and ask for an EAD, or apply to immigration for an EAD or you risk losing several hundred dollars in filing fees. More information on what an EAD is and how much it costs to apply for one is found below.
What are low priority cases?
The factors for determining low priority cases will likely be based on the June 17, 2011 memo on prosecutorial discretion. However, just because a case seems to fall into one or more of those categories, does NOT automatically mean that it will be considered low priority. The people reviewing the cases will be looking at the ¡§totality of the circumstances and each file will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. It is unclear how different factors will be considered and weighed. Given that there are approximately 300,000 cases pending, it is also unclear WHEN a particular case might be reviewed.
What is administrative closure?
Administrative closure applies only to an individual whose case is already before the immigration judge. When a case is administratively closed, it means that the case is no longer active and no action will be taken, including no future hearings, unless and until either the government or the noncitizen asks for the case to be made active again. A person whose case is administratively closed is still in removal proceedings. Administrative closure is NOT legal status. It is simply a temporary suspension of an immigration court case.
Will I get legal status from the Administration’s announcement?
No. According to the announcement, cases that are deemed to be of low priority will either (1) be administratively closed, or (2) no enforcement action will be taken. This is not an amnesty or legal status, but rather a temporary decision not to use limited government resources to deport low priority individuals.
The Administration has also stated that individuals whose cases are administratively closed will be eligible to apply for a work permit (or EAD). An EAD means that an individual can legally work in the United States and obtain a social security number for work. In some states, having an EAD also means you can apply for a drivers license or other identification). An EAD does not give a person legal status–it is just temporary permission to work.
What is an EAD?
An EAD or employment authorization document (also known as a work permit) is a temporary document that gives an individual permission to work lawfully in the United States. An EAD is generally valid for one or two years (though it is unclear at this time how long an EAD under this policy will be valid), and can generally be renewed. The application fee is currently $380, though individuals who can demonstrate financial hardship may be eligible for a fee waiver. An EAD is NOT an immigration status in and of itself.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.
American Immigration Lawyers Association
- First:(F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
- Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents
- (F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents
- (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents
- Third:(F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
- Fourth:(F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens
- First: Priority Workers
- Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability
- Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers
- Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants.
- Fifth: Employment Creation
|Family- Sponsored||All Chargeability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA- mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIP|
|Employment- Based||All Charge-ability Areas Except Those Listed||CHINA- mainland born||INDIA||MEXICO||PHILIPP|
|Certain Religious Workers||C||C||C||C||C|
Targeted Employment Areas/Regional Centers and Pilot Programs
I do not support the majority of Gov. Rick Perry’s policies; however, I do admire his support for in-state tuition for undocumented immigrants in Texas. It is clear, that Gov. Perry understands more about immigration than his fellow republican candidates. At a recent republican presidential candidate debate, Rick Perry said the following in regards to in-state tuition. ““If you say that we should not educate children who come into our state for no other reason than that they’ve been brought there through no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society.” The U.S. constitution requires that all school age children who reside in the U.S. be given access to public school in the U.S. regardless of immigration status. The U.S. Supreme Court case which finally decided on this ruling actually originated in Texas. However, there is no such requirement that these same children be allowed to attend public universities and receive in-state tuition. Those who argue against the practice say that it is unfair to U.S. Citizens from other states. What these individuals do not realize is that those U.S. Citizens already have the right to in-state tuition in their own state, while undocumented children are without any option. The majority of these children, know only the U.S., they were educated in U.S. public schools, speak English, act in every way like an American and generally know very little of their birth country. They had no choice in the way they entered this country. To deport them to a country they never knew would be cruel and provide no benefit to the U.S., but to allow them to become educated legal residents with the opportunity to be U.S. Citizens would provide tremendous benefits to the U.S. as educated productive members of society.
Country Condition Research is extremely important when putting together a strong asylum packet, for both affirmative asylum in front of the asylum officer and defensive asylum in front of an Immigration Judge. This post will help both asylum seekers and their attorneys.
Practice Telling Your Story – Find a friend that you trust and tell them your story. If you are going to be using an interpreter, have an interpreter present when you are practicing. Allow your friend to ask you questions and listen carefully to the questions that your friend asks as they may provide you with an idea of where your story is confusing or missing details.
Prepare an Outline – Prepare an outline of your story so that you can remember the main points and especially the names and dates. You will want to highlight all the instances of persecution no matter how small. It is also important to make sure that you understand the order that the events occurred. You should also re-read your application so you know what you put down.
Tell the Truth – You MUST tell the truth even if you think that it is not helpful to your case. If you do not, it will likely hurt you in the end. Sometimes omitting important facts is the same thing as lying. However, in some cases, it may be okay not to volunteer information unless asked. An attorney will help you decide when and when not to disclose certain facts.
Speak Slowly and Listen Carefully – Sometimes the Asylum Officer will be typing everything you say. If you speak quickly he or she may not hear something important. You will have to speak very slowly. You will also need to listen very carefully to his questions and try to answer his precise question first before elaborating.
Details – The officer will want to hear details. The more details you can provide the more likely he will believe your claim. He or she may have just read your asylum application that day, or maybe not at all, so you will have to treat the interview as if he is hearing everything for the first time.
Beliefs - Be prepared to talk about your beliefs especially the ones that your claim is based on. If you are claiming political asylum, it’s probably important that you can explain your political beliefs. If you are seeking religious asylum you should know something about your religion. You do not need to be an expert, but at least know enough for the officer to believe that you are a member of that religion or political party.
Snack - Have a snack before your interview, but not too much. You may be waiting for an hour and the interview may last an hour or more so you want to be comfortable.
Attorney - You really should be working with an attorney who has experience in asylum law. The application is just as important as the interview. An attorney will make sure that you have a strong application with a significant amount of evidence. Some asylum applications may be over 150 pages in length. An attorney will be able to best prepare you and attend the interview with you. At the interview an attorney will mostly stay silent but they may speak of if they feel that the asylum officer is out of line or if there is any miscommunication. An attorney can also ask you questions in front of the officer at the end in case there is important information that the Asylum officer forgot to ask you or you forgot to provide.
If you are filing for a green card based on Marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, USCIS requires that you provide evidence that the marriage is bona fide or genuine. The following tips will be helpful in proving this.
- Your marriage must be valid where the marriage took place. In order to document this you should provide a copy of the marriage certificate.
- Unless you have a valid excuse for living apart, it is expected that a married couple live together. In order to provide proof of this you should provide a lease agreement that has both of your names on it. If you own the home, the mortgage should include both names. Copies of joint utility bills such as water and electricity should also be included. If you do not have these or you would like to provide more proof, an affidavit of a friend or relative could also state that they know that the two of you live together.
- If the marriage is genuine it is likely that you have a romantic relationship. You can document this by including copies of love letters, Valentines day cards, photos of the two of you together and affidavits from friends or family. It is more helpful if these items show several different instances throughout the relationship and not just shortly before you filed the application
- Married couples are generally expected to commingle their finances. You should include copies of joint bank accounts, joint credit card accounts, and tax returns that have shown that you filed as a married couple.
- You should include letters from each of you and from two friends or family members that can attest to your relationship. They should explain how they know you, what they know about your relationship and that they believe your relationship to be genuine. It is helpful if they mention specific things they know to support their assertion, such as the fact that they have gone on double dates or that you have met each other’s families. Letters from U.S. Citizens and L.P.R.s are preferable to Foreign Nationals.
- You should include copies of photos. Do not just include wedding photos. Include photos from different events and time periods throughout the relationship. Include photos of the two of you alone and with each other’s friends and family.
- If either one of you have been previously married, you will need to include the divorce decree.