Author Archive

What Are Grounds For Deportation From The United States?

Posted on: January 20, 2018 by in immigration
No Comments

The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 sets forth a number of grounds for the deportation (also called “removal”) of persons who are not citizens of the United States.

You’ll learn the legal grounds for deportation, and you’ll also learn where you can get help if you or someone you love is at risk for deportation.

Persons are removed from the U.S. primarily for three reasons.

If you are in this country without legal authorization, if you have been convicted of a crime, or if you have committed any kind of fraud, you are at risk for deportation.

You could be taken into custody by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and deported without a hearing – sometimes within 24 hours of being arrested.

An immigrant is in the U.S. without legal permission if he or she:

  • did not obtain permission to enter
  • was inadmissible at the time of entry or at the time of adjustment of status
  • has had his or her admission terminated or revoked
  • did not maintain the status under which he or she was admitted
  • was noncompliant with any term or condition of entry
  • intentionally assisted or encouraged another immigrant to enter the U.S. unlawfully
  • obtained a visa or another legal document through fraud

WHO HAS THE RIGHT TO A DEPORTATION HEARING?

Lawful permanent residents – that is, green card holders – and those who hold certain visas including K-1 fiancé/fiancée visas or F-1 student visas have the right to a deportation hearing, and they have the right to appeal a deportation decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals.

Anyone who is scheduled for a deportation hearing should seek the representation and advice that a Las Vegas immigration attorney can provide.

Which crimes can get someone deported?

  • drug crimes
  • firearms crimes
  • aggravated felonies
  • domestic violence
  • crimes of “moral turpitude”

A crime is “particularly serious” under the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 if it is an aggravated felony punishable upon conviction with a prison sentence of five or more years.

For the purposes of immigration law, a “conviction” includes more than findings of guilt and more than guilty or no contest pleas.

It is important to understand what is considered a “conviction” by immigration authorities.

WHAT ELSE IS CONSIDERED THE EQUIVALENT OF A CONVICTION?

A conviction that has been expunged, or a conviction that has been vacated after the completion of a pretrial diversion program, for example, may still be considered a criminal conviction by immigration authorities.

That’s why it is imperative for anyone who is an immigrant in the U.S. to fight any criminal charge or accusation – with an attorney’s help – and to avoid accepting any plea bargain that would constitute a conviction for a deportable crime.

In fact, confessing to the authorities anything at all that might constitute a crime – even as part of a plea bargain arrangement – might be considered grounds for removal.

By law, an immigrant could even be removed for intentionally failing to notify immigration authorities about moving to a new address, but if that is the only violation, an immigration attorney can probably help an immigrant avoid deportation.

CAN YOU BE DEPORTED FOR DRUG ABUSE – EVEN WITH NO CONVICTION?

Immigrants who are known to abuse drugs and immigrants who are addicted to any controlled substance may be deported even without a formal criminal conviction for a drug crime.

Any immigrant who attempts to commit a drug crime or who conspires to commit a drug crime – other than a single charge of possession of thirty grams or less of cannabis for personal consumption – may be removed, even if that individual is not himself or herself a drug user.

A DUI conviction – even a misdemeanor DUI conviction with no damages or injuries – can also make an immigrant deportable.

If you entered the United States on a student visa, a work visa, or a tourist visa, you absolutely must avoid driving under the influence.

Even if you already hold a green card, it could possibly be revoked as the result of a DUI conviction.

Many types of fraud are also grounds for removal, particularly any fraud that involves immigration itself, including:

  • a fraudulent marriage solely to acquire a green card
  • falsely representing U.S. citizenship to acquire employment or a government benefit
  • altering, forging, or using a forged document to acquire a government benefit

CAN U.S. CITIZENS EVER BE DEPORTED?

Citizens of the United States who were once immigrants cannot be deported, with one exception; if someone used fraud to acquire a green card and then to obtain U.S. citizenship, that person may be removed.

If you are at risk for deportation because of alleged drug use, a DUI conviction, or a fraud allegation, an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can review your case, protect your rights, and advocate on your behalf before the immigration authorities.

When the immigration authorities decide to deport someone, they will usually conduct an investigation, make an arrest, and schedule a removal proceeding.

The immigrant will receive a “Notice to Appear” from ICE.

At a removal hearing, an immigration judge will hear arguments from both the immigrant’s lawyer and from lawyers representing the immigration authorities and arguing for the immigrant’s deportation.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY HELP?

If you should receive a Notice to Appear for a removal proceeding, an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can investigate your circumstances and options, provide honest legal advice, prepare you for your appearance before an immigration judge, and work for the best possible resolution of your case.

Receiving a Notice to Appear does not automatically mean that you will be deported.

Every case is different.

Particularly if you are a battered spouse, or if your deportation would impose an economic hardship on your family members here in the United States, tell your immigration attorney at your first consultation.

Experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva sums up what immigrants need to be aware of to avoid the risk of deportation: “Stay clear of criminal charges. Do not drive without authorization. Pay your parking and other tickets. Do not get into domestic violence confrontations. Do not claim to be a U.S. citizen until you actually take the oath.”

The details of U.S. immigration law are changing and evolving almost daily, so it is imperative for anyone who faces possible deportation to speak with a good immigration attorney before appearing at any immigration hearing or accepting any “deal” from the government.

The threat of deportation can be frightening and intimidating, but a good immigration attorney will see to it that you are fully informed regarding the law and that your legal rights are fully protected.

U.S. Supreme Court Okays Trump’s Travel Ban

Posted on: December 22, 2017 by in immigration
No Comments

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court approved – at least for now – a travel ban that prevents most individuals from Yemen, Somalia, Chad, Iran, Libya, Syria, and North Korea, as well as some individuals from Venezuela, from traveling to the United States. If you or your family or employees are affected by the travel ban, keep reading. You’ll learn the details of the court’s decision, and you’ll also learn what you may need to do if you are impacted by the travel ban.

The travel ban approved by the Supreme Court – again, at least for now – includes precise travel restrictions that vary from nation to nation. The travel ban does not apply to lawful permanent residents – that is, green card holders – from those eight nations, nor does it apply to dual nationals who are traveling on the passport of the non-restricted nation.

Although Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the Court’s approval of the travel ban is “a substantial victory for the safety and security of the American people,” the Court’s action is being widely criticized by a number of legal, immigration, and pro-Muslim activist organizations. The American Civil Liberties Union, for example, was one of the first groups to express its disappointment with the Supreme Court’s action.

IS THIS THE END OF THE TRAVEL BAN CONTROVERSY?

However, the Supreme Court did not end the travel ban controversy. Rather than hearing arguments and rendering a formal and final ruling, the Supreme Court order merely lifts the injunctions – imposed by federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii – that were preventing immigration authorities from enforcing the travel ban. This keeps the legal issues alive and allows pending legal challenges to the travel ban to continue proceeding through the courts.

The federal judges in Maryland and Hawaii both cited discrimination as the reason for their decisions – but they found different kinds of discrimination. Judge Derrick Watson said from Hawaii that the September travel ban illegally discriminates against persons based on their nationalities. In Maryland, Judge Theodore Chuang determined that the travel ban illegally discriminates against persons on the basis of their religion.

Judge Watson and Judge Chuang both exempted from the travel ban those travelers who have a credible claim to a “bona fide” relationship with a person or entity in the United States, as the Supreme Court required in June 2017 when the justices considered an earlier version of the travel ban.

But the two judges interpreted those with “a credible claim to a bona fide relationship” to include grandparents, grandchildren, brothers- and sisters-in-law, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and cousins. However, after the Supreme Court’s action, most of these individuals will – at least for now – be banned from travel to the United States.

WHEN WAS THE CURRENT TRAVEL BAN FIRST ISSUED?

The specific travel ban considered by the Supreme Court in December was issued by the White House on September 24th. That is the third version of a travel ban that President Trump promised prior to the 2016 election. The first version of the travel ban generated chaos and triggered a number of protests when it was briefly and awkwardly implemented in January 2017.

Most of the critics of the travel ban, as well as several federal courts, have contended that the travel ban is discriminatory because it predominantly targets Muslims. The Supreme Court’s action in December, however, leaves open the possibility that provisions of the travel ban may eventually be revoked by federal appeals courts or by the Supreme Court itself.

The Court offered no reason why the injunctions were lifted, and it noted only that two of the justices, Ginsburg and Sotomayor, had dissented from the decision. By including North Korea and Venezuela in the third version of the travel ban, the Trump Administration has tried to counter the charge that the travel ban is discriminatory, although its critics would argue that those nations were included only to make a discriminatory travel ban seem less discriminatory.

WHAT DISTINGUISHES THIS TRAVEL BAN FROM EARLIER VERSIONS?

The travel ban issued in September is much more clear and concise than the original travel ban that was issued in January 2017. The September travel ban spells out the reasons why each nation is on the travel ban list, provides for several very narrow exceptions, and addresses the lack of cooperation with the United States by the nations on the list.

The travel restrictions are not precisely the same for every nation, and the travel ban still allows immigration officials to issue waivers to individuals on a case-by-case basis. Nevertheless, many here in the United States and around the world continue to presume that the Trump Administration’s travel ban is primarily an expression of prejudice against Muslims.

In separate legal proceedings subsequent to the Supreme Court’s action, attorneys on both sides of the travel ban presented arguments in December before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Seattle, and other lawyers argued before the full U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond.

WHEN WILL THE TRAVEL BAN MATTER FINALLY BE RESOLVED?

It’s probable that those courts’ decisions have already been handed down by the time you are reading this, but whether they uphold or reject the travel ban in whole or part, their decisions will certainly be appealed to the United States Supreme Court, which conceivably could issue a final decision on the travel ban before the Court’s current term ends in June 2018.

No one can know what will ultimately happen regarding the travel ban, but the best result would be a decision that points all parties toward a just resolution while maintaining our nation’s historic commitment to immigration and diversity. For now, if you or your family or employees are affected by the travel ban, do not hesitate to obtain advice from an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

If you have questions about the current travel ban or any other aspect of immigration law, let an attorney provide the reliable legal advice and services you need. If you are applying for a visa or a green card, or if you need help bringing employees or a family member to the U.S., arrange to consult a skilled Las Vegas immigration attorney who routinely handles these matters on behalf of immigrants, their employers, and their families.

Attorney Margo Chernysheva Speaks At AILA Investors Summit

Posted on: December 12, 2017 by in AILA
No Comments

 

Las Vegas immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva, the founder of MC Law Group and the Chair of the Nevada Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), recently spoke at the 2017 AILA EB-5 Investors Summit, which was held at the Aria Resort & Casino Hotel in Las Vegas on December 8th and 9th.

The EB-5 investor visa program encourages international investors to make investments that will create jobs in the United States. In recent years, U.S. developers are increasingly turning to EB-5 capital for project funding, and the number of EB-5 investors and their families immigrating to the U.S. has climbed considerably.

However, some problems have also emerged with the EB-5 investor visa program, so the need for immigration attorneys in the U.S. to provide information and to work together on strategies for effective representation of regional center and international investor clients has never been more urgent.

WHAT WAS THE PURPOSE OF THE AILA INVESTORS SUMMIT?

In these uncertain times, immigration attorneys need to share information and insights with their colleagues. The 2017 AILA EB-5 Investors Summit provided an opportunity for sharing information and insights by featuring panel discussions that included experts in the fields of immigration law, securities, business law, and economics.

AILA panelists focused on legal and policy analysis, due diligence, compliance, enforcement, and ethical considerations, with the goal of improving the ability of immigration attorneys to help their regional center or investor clients navigate increasingly complicated legal and business challenges.

As part of a panel that discussed the topic “EB-5 Bootcamp: Practical Tips On Filing Your First Case,” immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva shared – primarily for the benefit of newer immigration attorneys – legal insights and practice pointers for filing an EB-5 petition for the first time.

Attorney Chernysheva also discussed a number of the obstacles that immigration attorneys and their EB-5 investor clients routinely must overcome. Audio recordings of the panel discussions from the 2017 AILA EB-5 Investors Summit are now available for purchase from the AILA website.

WHAT DOES THE EB-5 INVESTOR VISA OFFER?

EB-5 status creates permanent U.S. residency for investors who create jobs in the United States (and their immediate family members). The investment amount is a minimum $1,000,000 in most regions or a minimum $500,000 in targeted rural or high-unemployment regions. The investment must create at least ten full-time jobs. The EB-5 visa does not require a sponsor or a labor certification.

Determining an international investor’s best immigration option is never easy. The experienced immigration attorneys at MC Law Group help investors by offering experienced counsel, sound legal insights, and aggressive representation. Our practice includes business and employment immigration and investment and trader visas.

HOW CAN MC LAW GROUP HELP YOU?

If you’re petitioning for an EB-5 investor visa, we can help. Attorney Margo Chernysheva’s practice focuses on all aspects of immigration law including business, investor, and family immigration. With offices in Las Vegas, Glendale, California, and Guangzhou City, China, MC Law Group represents clients around the world.

MC Law Group provides proven and reliable legal guidance to investors, entrepreneurs, and employers regarding all matters related to U.S. immigration law. Call us today at (702) 258-1093 – or email us – to schedule a free consultation with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

How To Get An Immigration Work Permit Or Authorization In The U.S.

Posted on: November 23, 2017 by in immigration
No Comments

The United States admits international workers in a variety of job categories, but an international worker must have authorization to be employed in the U.S. Different terms and conditions have been established for each employment category. If you are an immigrant in the U.S., or if you’re planning to arrive here, keep reading to learn how to obtain employment authorization – and to learn what can happen if you don’t.

The very first thing to understand about employment authorization is that you must not confuse applying for a “work permit” with applying for a “work visa,” which is a far more complicated procedure. If you are an immigrant and you are already in the United States, you may need an experienced immigration attorney’s advice regarding your application for employment authorization – that is, for a work permit.

WHO MAY AND MAY NOT BE REQUIRED TO OBTAIN A WORK PERMIT?

Your employment goals and your residency status in the U.S. determine if you need a work permit and if you qualify for one. For example, if you already have lawful permanent resident status – that is, if you are a “green card” holder – you are already authorized to work in the U.S., and you do not need to apply for an employment authorization document (also known as an “EAD” or “work permit”).

If you don’t know your residency status or if you are not absolutely sure, resolve the matter with help from an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney, and resolve it before you apply for an employment authorization document. Your immigration attorney should also review or help you complete Form I-765 (“Application for Employment Authorization”) to avoid any mistakes, misunderstandings, or unnecessary delays.

Applicants who are completing Form I-765 must determine their “eligibility category.” The instructions for the form list dozens of categories – ten pages’ worth – and you’ll also need documentation that proves you belong to a particular eligibility category. The instructions indicate which documents you will need to attach. Again – and this cannot be stressed strongly enough – do not hesitate to seek an immigration attorney’s help with Form I-765.

WHAT MUST YOU INCLUDE WHEN YOU APPLY FOR WORK AUTHORIZATION?

Employment authorization applicants are required to attach a copy of your arrival-departure record, a copy of a federally-issued ID, two passport-style color photos, and the filing fee. Depending on your eligibility category, you must provide a basis for your eligibility for EAD. You may also be asked to submit additional forms and documentation.

As of 2017, the filing fee for Form I-765 is $410. In most cases, you must also pay an $85 biometric services fee, for a total of $495, if you belong to one of several eligibility categories. When your Application for Employment Authorization has been received by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it typically takes about three months to process the application.

You will be contacted through the mail if your Form I-765 was returned because of any inaccuracies or mistakes, if it has been denied, or if it has been approved. If your employment permit application is returned simply because you failed to include something, you will be allowed to revise and resubmit the application. It the application is denied, discuss your options with an immigration attorney.

FOR HOW LONG IS AN EMPLOYMENT AUTHORIZATION DOCUMENT VALID?

EADs are typically granted for a one-year duration. Thereafter, employment authorization document renewals cannot be applied for more than 120 days before the current authorization expires. You may apply for a replacement EAD to replace a stolen, lost, or mutilated EAD or an EAD that was issued with inaccurate information.

If your EAD card includes inaccurate information that is not a USCIS error, you’ll have to complete a new Form I-765, pay another filing fee, and attach the inaccurate employment authorization document to the application. If your EAD card has inaccurate information because of an error that was made by USCIS, a new Form I-765 and a second filing fee will not be required.

The EAD is a standard credit card-sized plastic card with a number of security features. It includes the card holder’s name, date of birth, gender, immigrant category, nation of birth, a photo of the individual, and an 8 or 9-digit registration number. Also printed on the employment authorization document are its terms, conditions, and expiration date. The EAD card should not be confused with a green card.

WHO MAY NEED AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY’S ADVICE?

An immigration lawyer can guide you step-by-step through the entire EAD application process. In fact, immigrants who are seeking work permits and the U.S. employers who hire them can both benefit by taking their legal questions and concerns about immigration and employment to an experienced immigration attorney and getting sound, accurate advice.

The EAD card allows you to seek and accept employment in the United States, but in some cases, if you only work for one U.S.-based employer, you may not be required to obtain an employment authorization document. For example, if you work in a specialty occupation, like engineering or programming, that requires specialized knowledge, you may be sponsored by a U.S.-based employer who has obtained an H-1B visa on your behalf.

One advantage of the H-1B visa program is that the sponsoring employer pays the application and processing fees. However, if the employment terminates, you’ll have to leave the United States, find another H-1B-eligible employer immediately and transfer your H-1B work visa, or apply and be approved for a tourist visa to remain legally in the U.S.

HOW SHOULD EMPLOYERS DEAL WITH REGULATIONS AND ENFORCEMENT?

U.S. employers with international employees should understand they may come under some scrutiny. Immigration regulations are aggressively enforced – particularly against employers. Nevertheless, employers have nothing to fear if they work diligently to keep compliant with the law. Immigration attorneys frequently advise employers regarding immigration-related concerns like I-9 forms, E-Verify, and EADs.

Immigration law is always confusing, and it’s always changing, too, so whether you are a U.S.-based employer or an international employee, you must have legal advice that’s accurate and up-to-the-moment. You have too much at stake to count on the unreliable advice offered by the television or the internet.

If you are a U.S.-based employer – or if you want to work for one – you can contact an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney from anywhere in the world for help obtaining work visas and work permits. And if you have any questions or concerns regarding work authorization in the United States, speaking with an experienced immigration attorney is exactly what you should do.

If A Dreamer Created A Business, Will It Have To Be Left Behind?

Posted on: October 19, 2017 by in immigration
No Comments

Since the end of the original DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program was announced in September, employers in the U.S. have wondered: Will they be allowed to keep the workers they hired legally under DACA? What about businesses owned by “Dreamers” – the immigrants protected by DACA, whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children? If you’re a Dreamer or an employer, keep reading.

The DACA program protected more than 700,000 Dreamers from deportation, and it allowed the Dreamers to obtain work permits and legal employment in the United States. Starting from September 5th, when the cancellation of the DACA program was announced, Congress has six months to resurrect the DACA program or to create an alternative. DACA’s future is unclear.

The future for Juan Martinez is also unclear. In Austin, Texas, the 27-year-old entrepreneur has launched a company that creates artificial intelligence. The end of DACA, however, could also mean the end of Juan’s dreams. “It’s critical to have a good immigration status,” Martinez, whose parents brought him to Texas from Mexico when he was four, told CNN. In this situation, an Immigration Lawyer in Texas can help.

HOW MANY “DREAMERS” OWN BUSINESSES IN THE U.S.?

More than one in twenty of the Dreamers who were protected by DACA have started their own businesses in the United States. Among Dreamers who are over age 25, that number grows to eight percent, according to a survey conducted recently by United We Dream, the National Immigration Law Center, and the Center for American Progress.

For now, Dreamers and their employers in the U.S. can get the specific and personalized legal advice they need by consulting an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney. Amid all of the current confusion regarding immigration, compliance with the law remains absolutely imperative.

In New York, the DACA program helped Mostafa Ghonim follow his dream. After working at several catering and hospitality jobs, Ghonim has launched a business that helps New York City hotels staff special events. He has more than twenty employees. Ghonim’s father and uncle owned businesses in Egypt, so it “was the one thing I was always exposed to,” he told CNN.

WHAT HAPPENS IF CONGRESS DOES NOT ACT?

If Congress takes no action, Ghonim and the others protected by DACA may lose the legal ability to take a job or start a business in the United States. That includes 23-year-old Daniela Velez. She works and attends school in New Jersey, where she also operates a small business selling take-home kits for physics labs at Rowan College, where she received her associate’s degree.

Ms. Velez uses a 3-D printer to make the physics kits, which allows students to attend classes online when they cannot attend the school’s physics lab courses on campus. Unless Congress acts, Ms. Velez could be forced to leave the U.S., but returning to her native Venezuela – a country struggling with a political and economic crisis – is no option. Going back “means fighting for my life,” Ms. Velez told CNN.

Thus, the concerns of employers and Dreamers are genuine. Sara Itucas is a client solution specialist with TriNet, a California-based human resources agency that serves a number of businesses that have hired Dreamers. “From an employer’s standpoint,” Ms. Itucas says, the Dreamers “are qualified workers and valuable members of the team.”

ARE DACA EMPLOYEES STILL AUTHORIZED TO WORK IN THE U.S.?

If Congress does not act, the DACA program ends on March 5, 2018, but a DACA participant’s work authorization will stay effective until it expires. If there is no renewal or alternative to the DACA program, when a Dreamer’s work authorization expires, that person will not qualify to seek or take a job in the United States.

A Dreamer who is presently employed under the DACA program can check his or her I-795 Approval Notice and look at the bottom of his or her Employment Authorization Document to find the date that your work authorization expires. It’s now too late to take any advantage of the original DACA Program. Final applications were received in September by the Department of Homeland Security.

WHAT ARE BUSINESS LEADERS SAYING ABOUT THE END OF DACA?

Dreamers and immigration activists are not the only ones who want to retain some parts of the DACA program, which President Obama first established back in 2012. In September, more than four hundred U.S. business leaders signed a letter to the president and Congress which insisted that Dreamers play a vital role in the U.S. economy.

Unlike activists who focus on the humanitarian aspects of immigration, many business leaders take a pragmatic approach which focuses on the economic impact of DACA and its cancellation. For example, the letter from the business leaders emphasizes that 65 percent of the Dreamers have purchased a car and 16 percent have bought a home in the United States.

That economic activity ends if an alternative to DACA isn’t established quickly. Moody’s Analytics projects that five years after DACA, the nation’s gross domestic product will decline by $105 billion unless DACA continues or a similar program is implemented. Mark Zandi, an economist at Moody’s, calls the end of DACA “a significant blow to businesses already struggling to find educated and skilled young workers.”

WHAT ARE THE PROPOSALS TO REPLACE THE DACA PROGRAM?

If Congress wants to help the Dreamers before their protection expires, several pending pieces of legislation could accomplish the task. The “Dream Act,” for example, is being sponsored by Senators Dick Durbin of Illinois and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. The Dream Act offers many of the same protections as DACA and also creates a path to citizenship or permanent legal resident status.

The “Recognizing America’s Children Act” is being sponsored by Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida, and like the Dream Act, it would restore many of the provisions of DACA and create a path to citizenship or permanent legal resident status. The “Hope Act” is sponsored by Representative Luis Gutierrez of Illinois. It has 112 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives.

The Hope Act would provide the quickest path to citizenship. Those eligible could apply for conditional permanent residency, valid for up to eight years, and after three years, they could apply for lawful permanent residence status. After a total of five years, they could then apply for U.S. citizenship.

So what will be the final fate of DACA, and what will happen to the Dreamers? It’s too early to know. Until Congress acts, however, Dreamers and their employers should take no risks and should rely strictly on the sound legal advice that an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can provide.

Important New Changes To Several Immigration Procedures

Posted on: September 10, 2017 by in immigration
No Comments

During the summer, significant changes have been made to several important immigration procedures, including a new requirement for in-person interviews for all employment-based adjustment of status applicants. The J-1 exchange visitor visa program may also be targeted for substantial change. The changes in both areas are outlined below, but if you are affected in any way by any of the recent changes in immigration laws and procedures, you should discuss the details of your own situation personally with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

In August, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that in-person interviews will now be required for employment-based adjustment of status applicants (that is, those filing Form I-485, “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”). Employees in temporary nonimmigrant status who have submitted an I-485 application to adjust their status to permanent residence will now be required to appear at a local USCIS office for an in-person interview prior to the final approval of the permanent residence application.

WHEN WILL THE NEW INTERVIEWS BEGIN?

In-person interviews will also now be required for individuals filing a Form I-730, the “Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.” The interviews will be phased in beginning on October 1st. Applicants in the two categories were not previously required to appear for in-person interviews with USCIS, although in-person interviews have been a standard requirement for marriage-based adjustment of status applicants.

In fact, USCIS personnel have not conducted interviews for employment-based I-485 applicants in more than fifteen years. USCIS so far has provided no guidance regarding the format of the new interviews, and there has been no word or indication that USCIS offices will obtain additional personnel, training, or funding to support the additional work that the interviews will generate. The lack of new funding or personnel will probably mean even more delays for scores of foreign nationals employed in the U.S. who are awaiting permanent residence. Many have already waited for several years.

HOW MIGHT THE J-1 EXCHANGE VISITOR VISA PROGRAM BE CHANGED?

Possible changes may also be in store for the J-1 exchange visitor visa program. This is a program which offers cultural and educational exchange opportunities in the United States to about 300,000 foreign visitors each year through a variety of programs in cooperation with the State Department. J-1 exchange visitor visa program participants have been predominantly entrepreneurs, students, and professionals who want to improve their English, build personal and business relationships, and learn more about the United States.

The changes to the J-1 program that are being suggested by the Trump Administration are reported to include a reduction in the number of available J-1 visas, the elimination of some intern and trainee programs, and more audits and site visits – that is, heightened enforcement of the J-1 program’s terms and conditions. At this time, however, no changes have been formally made to the J-1 program by the State Department.

2017 has been a year of many changes – often confusing and chaotic changes – in the overall immigration picture. If you’re confused, you are not alone. Even more changes should be expected in the coming months. An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can help employers, families, visa holders, and visa applicants meet their legal challenges, stay in compliance with the law, understand what the changes mean for your own situation and circumstances.

“Dreamers” May Be At Risk Unless Congress Acts

Posted on: September 9, 2017 by in immigration
No Comments

Over the next two years, almost 800,000 young and undocumented immigrants may lose their protection from deportation. The final decision will be up to Congress, because the Trump Administration is pulling the plug on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy, established by the Obama Administration in June 2012. The end of DACA, announced on September 5th by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, may disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives. If you have been approved for protection under the DACA policy, you may need the advice of an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney in the weeks and months to come.

However, the Trump Administration has given Congress six months to step up and save or revise the DACA policy. President Trump said, “We will resolve the DACA issue with heart and compassion – but through the lawful democratic process – while at the same time ensuring that any immigration reform we adopt provides enduring benefits for the American citizens we were elected to serve.”

WHICH IMMIGRANTS ARE PROTECTED UNDER THE DACA POLICY?

Thus, for at least six months, the young immigrants who are currently protected by the DACA policy will not lose the ability to live, to study, or to work in the United States. Since the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy was first implemented by the Obama Administration in 2012, more than 785,000 “Dreamers” – young people originally brought as children to the United States by their families – have been approved for protection. Many of those young people have never spoken a language other than English and have never lived in any nation other than the United States.

To qualify for DACA protection, an applicant had to:

  • have entered the United States before his or her 16th birthday
  • have lived in the United States since June 15, 2007
  • be under age 31 on June 15, 2012 (that is, be born on or after June 16, 1981)

Since 2012, the DACA policy has allowed the Dreamers to live in the United States without fear and to acquire driver’s licenses, attend college, work, and pay income taxes. According to a recent study by the CATO Institute, deporting the nearly 800,000 people covered by the DACA policy would cost the United States more than $60 billion in lost tax revenue and would mean a $280 billion reduction in U.S. economic growth over the next ten years.

Temporary work authorization and temporary protection from deportation were the only benefits that the DACA policy provided to the Dreamers. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals offered them no path to citizenship in the United States and no path to legal permanent residence. The immigrants who qualified for protection under the DACA policy have been required to re-qualify every two years, and almost 800,000 renewals have been approved.

Those immigrants who are currently approved for DACA protection will retain their approved period of deferred action and their employment authorization documents (EADs) until those documents expire. Those who had initial or renewal DACA requests still pending on September 5, 2017, will have their applications processed and adjudicated. DACA beneficiaries with EADs that expire from September 5, 2017 through March 5, 2018 must submit a renewal application by October 5, 2017.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE DREAMERS?

Previous legislative attempts to protect the Dreamers have consistently failed in Congress, and while there is substantial support for the Dreamers and for the DACA policy in both parties, there is simply no way to predict at this time if a new Congressional initiative to save DACA – or to create something comparable to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program – would be a success or a failure. Listed here are the proposals that are now being offered for Congressional consideration:

Listed here are the proposals that are now being offered for Congressional consideration:

S. 1615/H.R. 3440: The Dream Act of 2017 is a bipartisan proposal offered in the Senate by Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Dick Durbin and sponsored in the House by Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Democrat Lucille Roybal-Allard. The proposal would give the Dreamers who meet its requirements legal permanent residence status in the United States.

H.R. 3591: The American Hope Act of 2017 would also give the Dreamers the chance to apply for lawful permanent residence in the United States. The proposal was introduced by Representative Luis Gutierrez and now has more than one hundred cosponsors.

H.R. 1468: The Recognizing America’s Children Act, offered by Representative Carlos Curbelo, would allow the Dreamers to apply for an adjustment of status.

If the Congress fails to take any action to protect the current DACA beneficiaries, more than 600,000 Dreamers will lose their protection from deportation over the next two years. It could happen. Since its beginning, immigration opponents have aggressively criticized – and have challenged in court – the Obama Administration’s DACA policy.

In fact, the Trump Administration’s decision to end the DACA program is itself a response to the attorneys general of ten states. In June, those officials gave the administration the option of ending the DACA program or defending it in federal court against the legal challenge they had prepared.

ARE THE DREAMERS NOW AT RISK?

There’s now some genuine concern that the personal information provided to the federal government by the DACA beneficiaries could be used against them – especially if the Congress fails to provide new protections. However, a Department of Homeland Security official told CNN that all of the information given to the government by the Dreamers will remain within the agencies of that department. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has administered the DACA policy, will provide information requested by ICE only “where there’s a significant law enforcement or national security interest,” the official added.

If you have previously qualified for deferred action under the DACA policy and you need legal advice now, or if you are a U.S.-based employer, you hire immigrants, and you have concerns regarding the end of DACA, make the call to speak with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney. The recent changes in U.S. immigration policy have been controversial and confusing, and they’re not over.

Hundreds of thousands of families and employers across the nation are being affected by these changes, but of course, every immigrant’s situation is different. Let an experienced immigration attorney provide the legal help and guidance that’s right for you.

U.S. Embassy In Russia Stops Issuing Nonimmigrant Visas

Posted on: August 29, 2017 by in visas
No Comments

The latest development in the diplomatic maneuvering between the United States and Russia came on August 21st, when the U.S. Embassy in Moscow announced that it will trim down the visa services it provides in Russia. The announcement was made in response to the Russian government’s recent reduction of the U.S. diplomatic staff in Moscow.

Russia also seized a warehouse and a resort complex in Moscow used by U.S. diplomatic personnel. Those moves by Russian officials were responses to new U.S. sanctions imposed on Russia – sanctions enacted in response to alleged Russian tampering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Nonimmigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals to enter the United States for temporary stays and include tourist, student, and work visas. The nonimmigrant work visas that will be affected are primarily L-1A and L-1B visas, H-1B visas, and E visas for intracompany transferees, skilled workers, and investors.

H-1B visas are offered to foreign workers in specialty occupations or jobs requiring “exceptional” skills or talents. L-1 visas allow U.S.-based employers to transfer executives, managers, or specialists to the U.S. for short-term business visits. E visas are granted to foreign citizens who desire to enter the U.S. for purposes linked to investment or trade.

WHAT ARE THE DETAILS OF THE U.S. EMBASSY’S ANNOUNCEMENT?

Details of the reduction of visa services to Russian visa applicants were disclosed in an August 21 “fact sheet” released by the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, which states: “As a result of the Russian government’s personnel cap imposed on the U.S. Mission, all nonimmigrant visa (NIV) operations across Russia will be suspended beginning August 23, 2017.

Visa operations will resume on a greatly reduced scale. Beginning September 1, nonimmigrant visa interviews will be conducted only at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. NIV interviews at the U.S. Consulates in St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, and Vladivostok are suspended until further notice.”

The visa interview at an embassy or a consulate is a legal requirement for almost all visa applicants, but exceptions can be made for diplomats, for official government travel, and – at the consular officer’s discretion – for a renewal within the same class of visa within one year of a visa’s expiration.

The consular officer may or may not require an interview for such a visa renewal. However, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow is continuing to process nonimmigrant visas without interviews for those applicants who qualify.

On its website, the embassy in Moscow reports that, “Capacity for interviews in the future will be greatly reduced because we have had to greatly reduce our staffing levels to comply with the Russian government’s requirement.” The website adds that, “The U.S. Embassy in Moscow and three consulates will continue to provide emergency and routine services to American citizens….”

WHAT HAPPENED PRIOR TO THE U.S. EMBASSY’S ANNOUNCEMENT?

How did all of this happen? In July, Congress voted to impose new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea. President Trump signed off on those new sanctions early in August. The sanctions target parties that undermine U.S. cybersecurity, that invest substantially in Russia’s energy export pipelines, that conduct significant transactions with Russian defense and intelligence agencies, and that commit or assist in the commission of human rights abuses. Parties suspected of corruption inside the Russian government are also targeted. The sanctions include freezing assets, revoking visas, and a number of other punitive measures.

In response to the new sanctions, Russian officials have determined that the U.S. diplomatic corps in Russia cannot exceed the size of Russia’s own diplomatic corps – 455 – in the United States. That means the United States is relocating more than 700 diplomats and support personnel.

The U.S. Embassy’s announcement regarding reduced nonimmigrant visa services, which will make beleaguered U.S.-Russia relations even more embittered, means that Russian citizens who want to visit the U.S. as tourists, students, or as temporary workers may no longer apply at U.S. consulates in Russia outside of Moscow, and waiting periods will be lengthy.

According to the U.S. Department of State, the United States approved more than 182,000 nonimmigrant visas to Russian citizens in 2016, but now, with a substantial reduction in the embassy’s capacity to process visa applications, that number may drop dramatically and remain low for quite some time. “We will operate at reduced capacity for as long as our staffing levels are reduced,” the embassy reports on its website.

WHERE CAN VISA APPLICANTS TURN FOR HELP?

While no one can make the U.S. immigration system move faster, if you are applying for a U.S. nonimmigrant visa – from Russia or from any other nation – arrange as quickly as you can to speak with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

An experienced immigration lawyer in the United States can ensure that you meet all U.S. immigration requirements and will review your visa application to make certain that everything is accurate and complete – so that nothing on your end and no mistakes or misunderstandings unnecessarily delay or derail the processing of your visa application. Have some patience – every immigration procedure takes some time.

The United States admits international workers in a wide variety of jobs and job categories each year. Every foreign worker must have authorization to be employed in the United States. Some foreign nationals already have authorization for employment on the basis of their immigration status.

Others may need to apply individually; in most cases, an employer or prospective employer must file a work authorization petition on a prospective employee’s behalf. Every employment category entails different requirements and conditions, and any violation of a visa’s terms or conditions could result in a worker’s deportation or a denial of re-entry into the U.S.

If you are an employer who depends on nonimmigrant visas to bring foreign employees to the United States, you should be working with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney on a regular basis to help you keep up with the changes and stay in compliance with the law.

Whether you are a student in Vladivostok or an employer in Phoenix. Los Angeles, or Las Vegas, when you apply for a nonimmigrant U.S. visa, an experienced immigration lawyer’s advice and insights can be invaluable – and perhaps even more so in 2017, when the immigration rules seem to be changing unexpectedly and almost weekly.

Children And Immigration

Posted on: July 19, 2017 by in immigration
No Comments

If you are a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States, and if you have children or stepchildren outside of the U.S. who are not U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, how can you unite your family here in the U.S. and help your children or stepchildren become lawful permanent residents with a path to citizenship?

Like every immigration procedure, it’s complicated. If you want to bring children to the U.S. who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents, it’s best to start the process by obtaining legal help from an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

If your child is outside of the United States, you and your attorney launch the process of bringing the child or stepchild here by submitting a Form I-130 (“Petition for Alien Relative”) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with the required supporting documentation and the filing fee (currently $535 in 2017).

If you petition for more than one child, you must file separate I-130 petitions and fees for each. Your immigration lawyer can offer sound insights and advice, ensure that your paperwork is complete and accurate, and see to it that no misunderstandings arise which might unnecessarily prolong the process.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER YOU SUBMIT THE FORM I-130?

When a completed Form I-130 has been filed, USCIS will confirm receipt of the petition by sending you a Form I-797C (“Notice of Action”) in two to three weeks. If the I-130 has been filed improperly, USCIS may send you a Notice of Action denying the petition or a Request for Evidence that asks for additional documentation. A denial or a request for more information will needlessly delay the process, but an immigration attorney can ensure that your Form I-130 is prepared accurately and that all necessary documents are included with your petition.

A Form I-130 may be used for:

• natural-born children born to married parents
• natural-born children born to unmarried parents, but if the father is filing, he will have to prove legitimation or a bona fide parent-child relationship
• stepchildren, provided that a stepchild was age 18 or below when the parents married, and provided that they are still married

If you are a U.S. citizen petitioning for your child who is already in the United States, you and your child must file a Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”) when you file the Form I-130. For permanent residents, after you have filed Form I-130, you and your child may file a Form I-485 when a visa becomes available. Let an experienced immigration attorney help.

HOW IS THE TERM “CHILD” DEFINED BY IMMIGRATION LAW?

The marital status and age of children are key considerations in the immigration process, and the word “child” has a very precise meaning in immigration law. For immigration purposes, a “child” must be under 21 and unmarried when the Form I-130 is submitted and at the time the child is given a green card, although there are some exceptions for children who turn 21 while the process is pending.

An adopted child is also defined as a “child” by USCIS, provided that the child was adopted before the child turned 16 years old and provided that the child and adoptive parents met all of the other legal requirements for a valid adoption. In most cases, however, the process to petition for an adopted child does not use Form I-130, as explained below in the section on international adoption.

HOW LONG DOES ALL OF THIS TAKE?

After you submit the Form I-130, how long will it take until your child is allowed to enter the U.S.? It depends. The unmarried, under age 21 children of U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives” under immigration law. They qualify for a green card as soon as they can complete the application process.

The unmarried, under age 21 children of green card holders are considered “second preference” relatives. In this category, only about 87,000 green cards are granted annually, so your child may have to wait several years for a green card to become available.

CAN MY CHILD LIVE IN THE U.S. WHILE THE PETITION IS PENDING?

If you are a citizen of the U.S., when you file a Form I-130, your child qualifies at that time to apply for a K-4 nonimmigrant visa which allows the child to enter the United States while the petition is pending. It is not required – your child is allowed to wait outside of the U.S. – but a Las Vegas immigration attorney can help you apply for a K-4 visa to bring your child here sooner.

CAN YOU APPEAL A PETITION THAT WAS DENIED?

If the visa petition that you file is denied, the denial letter will tell you how to pursue an appeal and provide you with the deadline for filing an appeal. A good immigration lawyer can usually help by explaining why a petition has been rejected and by helping you with the appeal paperwork and the Board of Immigration Appeals. If you have to file an appeal, be patient. Every immigration procedure takes time.

WHAT ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ADOPTIONS?

Every year, scores of U.S. citizens adopt children from outside the United States. If you are adopting a child who was born in another country, it’s a complicated procedure. USCIS is responsible for determining the eligibility and suitability of the prospective adoptive parents and for determining the eligibility of the child to immigrate to the U.S. Two separate processes apply only to children adopted by U.S. citizens. A third procedure is available when the requirements for the first two procedures cannot be met.

• The Hague Process: If you submitted Forms I-800A and I-800 to adopt a child, then your child is from a country that has signed the Hague Adoption Convention, so the child will enter the U.S. with an IH-3 immigrant visa (if the adoption was finalized in a Hague country) or an IH-4 immigrant visa (if you finalize the adoption in the United States).

• The Orphan Process (or “non-Hague Process”): If you submitted Forms I-600A and/or I-600 to adopt, then your child is from a country that has not signed the Hague Adoption Convention, so the child will enter the U.S. with an IR-3 immigrant visa (if the adoption is finalized in a non-Hague country) or an IR-4 immigrant visa (if the adoption is finalized in the United States).

• The Immediate Relative Process: When a child does not qualify for the Hague or non-Hague adoption processes, you may file a Form I-130 on the child’s behalf. Parents must have two full years of legal and physical custody, and the adoption must be completed and finalized for the child to be eligible for the immediate relative process.

An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can provide parents, stepparents, and adoptive parents with the sound legal advice and insights they’ll need – as well as the legal services that will be required – to bring your child to the United States. Nothing is more important than your children, their well-being, and their future. You can ensure that future will be with you, here in the U.S., with a good immigration lawyer’s help.

Trump’s Travel Ban Reinstated

Posted on: June 30, 2017 by in immigration
No Comments

The Supreme Court recently reinstated certain portions of President Donald Trump’s controversial travel ban. As a result of the court’s decision, a revised version of the executive order officially went into effect at 8 p.m. EST on Thursday, June 29th. Here’s what you should know about how the revised executive order will affect travelers:

Who is banned from entering the U.S. under the revised executive order?

The executive order places a 90-day ban on individuals from six primarily-Muslim countries, including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Refugees traveling to the U.S. from any country will also be banned for the next 120 days. The only travelers that will not be denied entry under the ban are those that can establish a “bona fide relationship” with a person or entity within the U.S. Attending a university, working for a U.S. business, or visiting a close family member are all circumstances that would constitute a bona fide relationship, according to guidelines provided by senior officials.

However, the Department of State has clarified that only certain relatives will count as “close family members,” including a parent, fiancée, spouse, child, an adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or sibling, as well as stepfamily relationships. Other family members, such as grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and in-laws are not considered close family members.

Who is exempt from the ban?

The revised terms of the executive order do not apply to the following groups:

  • U.S. citizens
  • Dual nationals
  • Individuals who currently have a valid visa
  • Individuals who have been granted asylum
  • Green card holders
  • Visa applicants who were in the U.S. as of June 26th
  • Refugees who have already been admitted to the U.S.
  • Travelers who can prove a “bona fide relationship” with an entity or person in the U.S.

Will visas be revoked?

The Washington Post reported that over 100,000 visas had been revoked as a result of the initial executive order issued earlier this year. But, senior officials have confirmed that approved visas will not be revoked under the terms of the revised travel ban. In addition, previously scheduled visa application appointments will still take place.

The State Department and Department of Homeland Security reassured the press that there would not be chaos at airports across the country this time around because valid visas would no longer be revoked.

Will the revised travel ban be challenged in court?

There is no doubt that civil rights organizations, immigration advocacy groups, and other parties will challenge the terms of the revised in court. In fact, shortly after the travel ban went into effect, the state of Hawaii filed an emergency motion asking the federal judge who blocked the original travel ban to rule that the government cannot ban certain family members from entering the U.S. based on the narrow definition of a “bona fide relationship.” Experts predict that more legal action will be taken as travelers are denied entry under the conditions of the new ban.

Right now, only portions of the travel ban have been reinstated by the Supreme Court. The Court will issue a ruling on the remaining portions once it reconvenes for its next term in the fall.

If you or a family member has been affected by the revised travel ban that recently went into effect, seek legal representation from an experienced immigration attorney. There’s no time to waste—contact us today to discuss your case.