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Immigration

Monday, April 15, 2019

Tips for the Immigration Interview

To become a U.S. citizen, you must either have been born in the U.S. or go through the naturalization process. To be eligible for naturalization, several requirements must be met, including residing in the U.S. for a specific amount of time prior to filing. Once you have determined that you meet all of the requirements for naturalization, you may complete the application and file it with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

After reviewing your application, a USCIS officer will contact you to schedule an interview. In the interview, the USCIS officer will ask you questions specific to your application and may also ask more general questions. When preparing for the interview and during the interview itself, make sure to follow these helpful tips:


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Friday, March 15, 2019

The Fiancé Visa: The Basics

The K-1 nonimmigrant visa is commonly referred to as the fiancé visa. The fiancé visa exists to allow United States citizens bring a foreign fiancé to the United States to be married. To bring your fiancé to the United States, you must first file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. Once the Form I-129F is filed, it will be reviewed and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) will likely request evidence or completion of any details that are missing or incorrectly filled out. After the petitioner (the U.S. citizen filing the Form I-129F) has responded to any requests for evidence or additional information, the USCIS will deliberate on the decision and then notify the petitioner whether the petition has been granted. Same sex couples should note that they can apply for a fiancé visa in light of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling against the Defense of Marriage Act.


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Friday, February 15, 2019

Deportation: Extreme Hardship and the 601 Waiver

If you have illegally resided within the United States (“U.S.”) for more than one year, you will likely receive a 10-year reentry ban. This ban means that you cannot return to the U.S. for a 10-year period. Similarly, if you have been deported for reasons of crime or immigration fraud, you will also receive a reentry ban, although this ban could be permanent in certain instances. If you have been deported, or are being deported, you may be able to claim extreme hardship and file an application for a 601 waiver. The 601 waiver may allow you to remain in the U.S. or legally reenter the U.S. despite being inadmissible.

When considering a 601 waiver application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) policy manual requires the officers to “make extreme hardship determinations based on the factors, arguments, and evidence submitted. The extreme hardship must be shown in relation to a qualifying relative – not just to the applicant. A qualifying relative is a member of your immediate family (e.g., daughter, son, mother).

Overall, the USCIS officer must consider the totality of circumstances when determining the presence of extreme hardship. While there is no express identification of what constitutes extreme hardship, such circumstances may include:


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Monday, January 14, 2019

An Overview of Illegal Reentry in the United States

Illegally entering the United States, or remaining within the United States without legal status, is a civil offense that carries penalties of removal and potentially fines. However, illegally reentering the United States is a criminal offense punishable by fines and imprisonment. The following sections will define illegal reentry, explain the penalties associated with illegal reentry, and identify common defenses to charges of illegal reentry.

What is Illegal Reentry?

Under Title 8 U.S.C. Section 1326, it is illegal for someone who “has been denied admission, excluded, deported, or removed or has departed the United States while an order of exclusion, deportation, or removal is outstanding, and thereafter,” to enter or attempt to enter the United States. Thus, illegal reentry is being in the United States after the United States government has taken an affirmative action to exclude or remove the alien.  


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Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Felonies and Immigration Status

For those legally residing within the United States on a visa or green card, being convicted of a crime can have dire consequences. In some cases, a conviction can revoke your right to remain within the United States, and potentially bar your future return. If convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, you may face deportation but can fight that deportation order via the legal system. However, if the conviction is for a crime of moral turpitude or an aggravated felony, you are  generally ineligible to contest the removal order.

Crimes of Moral Turpitude

Crimes of moral turpitude are crimes generally deemed to go beyond basic moral standards of society. Unfortunately, there is no definite list of crimes of moral turpitude. However, courts have found crimes involving deceit, fraud, and the victimization of to be crimes of moral turpitude. Specifical offenses found to be crimes of moral turpitude include carrying a concealed weapon without a license, abusing a child, committing wire or bank fraud, perjury, tax evasion, and mail fraud.


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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Studying in the United States

The United States boasts some of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world and for many international scholars, it’s the dream of a lifetime to come study at one of them. Unfortunately, acceptance into a school isn’t enough to allow a nonimmigrant to commence studies in the U.S., they also must obtain the appropriate visa. Generally speaking, there are two different types of visas available to students: the F-1 visa and M-1 visa. The desired course of study and the type of school determines which will be needed. An F-1 visa is required to attend university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory or another academic institution (including a language training program). While an M-1 visa is generally required for study at a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution.


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Friday, March 30, 2018

Returning to the United States after Deportation

Each year, hundreds of thousands of individuals are deported from the United States. For many of these people the dream of living and working in the U.S. is far from over. Unfortunately after deportation, the path to reenter and live in the U.S. is incredibly difficult. Depending on the reason for removal and number of violations, a deported individual may have to wait several years before reentry or they may be permanently banned from ever returning to the United States.


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Monday, February 12, 2018

How to Get A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver


Under current law, many immigrants are required to travel abroad and apply for an immigrant visa from their home country before they can return and become lawful permanent residents of the U.S.  Immigrants in the United States illegally, however, may be barred from returning to the United States for either three years or ten years under Section 212(a)(9)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.  

To avoid this bar, these foreign nationals must obtain a waiver of their unlawful presence when applying for an immigrant visa.  Seeking a waiver can lead to a Catch-22, however—leaving the U.
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Sunday, January 7, 2018

Should Employers Enroll in E-Verify? Pros and Cons

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA), offers E-Verify to help employers instantly determine an employee's eligibility to work.  Initial confirmations and "Tentative Non Confirmations" are available in as little as three to five seconds.

The voluntary Internet-based program works by comparing the information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, with Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records.  Instead of simply retaining I-9s on file in their own offices, employers who enroll in E-Verify must enter the I-9s of all new hires into the program's database.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using E-Verify.  Employers must weigh each and its relevance to their circumstances.

Five Benefits of Signing Up for E-Verify

 • While E-Verify is generally voluntary, some states require employers to use E-Verify, and it is mandatory for some federal government contracts.

 • E-Verify could become mandatory nationwide.  Adopting it earlier affords employers more time to become familiar with it and adapt.

 • E-Verify helps companies avoid hiring and training a person who turns out to be ineligible to work.  It can eliminate "No Match" letters from the SSA notifying an employer that an employee's reported social security number does not match government records.

• If an employer hires foreign nationals who recently received a degree in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, enrolling in E-Verify may make those workers eligible to work an additional 17 months without the employer having to file H-1B petitions on their behalf

•Although using E-Verify does not provide a "safe harbor" from prosecution, it creates a "rebuttable presumption" that the employer has not violated section 274A(a)(1)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("Unlawful Employment of Aliens").

Five Drawbacks of Signing Up for E-Verify

 • E-Verify is not entirely free.  Employers must allot time and resources to training and supervising staff to use the system and deal with the results of queries.  

 • E-Verify makes mistakes, issuing Tentative or Final Non-Confirmations for workers who are authorized to work, or stating “Employment Authorized” for workers who are not.

 • Tentative Non-Confirmations open employers up to new legal risks.  For example, employees have sued employers for discrimination for not providing proper notice and instructions for contesting a Tentative Non-Confirmation.

 • E-Verify can lead to liability for privacy and discrimination violations.  Federal and state laws require the safeguarding of I-9 information.  Employers must make sure that their staff does not intentionally or accidentally misuse E-Verify data.

 • Because the government can use E-Verify to mine data, it may find employers' hiring mistakes that otherwise would not have been discovered.  For example, employers enrolled in E-Verify must complete and submit I-9 forms by the third business day after a new hire's first day of work.  Consistently missing this deadline could trigger an I-9 inspection and fine.  Employers who are not submitting I-9s to E-Verify might never be caught in a slight delay in completing them.

 If you have encountered any of these issues in your past or current use of the E-Verify system, you would be best served by discussing the problems with an immigration law attorney as soon as possible.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Form I-9 Inspections

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires employers to verify the identity of their employees and their eligibility to work in the U.S.  To comply, employers must retain original I-9 Forms for current employees and, for former employees, keep them for at least three years.  These need not be submitted to the government but must be available for inspection.  From time to time, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) ask to inspect the forms. 


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Monday, October 16, 2017

Master Calendar Hearings

The first stage in the removal (deportation) of a foreign national is a Notice to Appear (NTA) at a Master Calendar Hearing.  The purpose of the hearing is not to reach a final decision on removal, but to obtain basic information about the case and create a schedule for it to proceed.  It also is an opportunity for the court to outline all of the legal rights available to the foreign national, including the right to answer charges, present evidence, examine witnesses and, if the respondent lacks counsel, make use of any free or low-cost legal service providers who may be available.

The Notice to Appear contains the date, time and location of the hearing, usually at least ten days later.  A fo

reign national (the "respondent") who receives a notice must attend in person, with or without an attorney.  Failure to attend, or even showing up late, can result in denial of an application and deportation "in absentia."  The respondent should bring the Notice to Appear and any official identification documents.  Family members can attend.

The Notice to Appear also contains allegations about the respondent's illegal status in the United States.  The respondent, with the help of an attorney if possible, should examine these allegations carefully and be prepared to deny them and correct any inaccuracies.

The Master Calendar Hearing itself is brief, though it may take hours for a case to be called.  When the respondent's name and Alien Registration Number are announced, the respondent and counsel, if any, appear before an Immigration Court Judge.  The court will generally provide an interpreter, if needed.

The judge may ask for basic information, such as name, address, and the languages the respondent speaks.  The judge then reviews the charges.  The respondent can deny some or all of the government's allegations and point out any factual errors regarding names, dates, places, or other details.  The respondent can designate—or refuse to designate— a "country of removal," i.e. where to be sent if deported.

The respondent can also state the basis of a claim for relief from removal from the United States.  These may include:

  • Asylum based on persecution in the immigrant's home country. 
  • Marriage to a US citizen.
  • Cancellation of removal for qualifying lawful permanent and non-permanent residents.
  • Adjustment of status from non-immigrant to a lawful permanent resident.
  • Voluntary departure.

At the conclusion of the hearing, the judge gives the respondent a deadline for submitting further applications or documents.  The judge may schedule another Master Calendar hearing for the case, or set a date for an individual hearing on the merits.  The respondent may ask for more time to retain an attorney, submit documents, or prepare for the next hearing.

If you have been notified that you will be subject to a Master Calendar hearing and are at risk of deportation it is imperative to hire an experienced immigration law attorney to protect your rights.


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