Archive for the ‘ immigration ’ Category

What To Expect At A Stokes Interview?

Posted on: July 15, 2018 by in immigration
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When you tell people that you are in love, most people will probably believe you – except the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When you seek a green card for your foreign-born spouse, you’ll have to prove to the immigration authorities that your love is real.

A couple who claims marriage as their basis to acquire a green card must persuade immigration officials that their marriage is “bona fide.” How does the process work, and how can you convince the authorities that your love is for real?

WHAT IS MARRIAGE FRAUD? WHAT IS THE PENALTY FOR A CONVICTION?

First, it is imperative to understand that if someone enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading the immigration laws of the United States, that person may be prosecuted for marriage fraud.

A conviction for marriage fraud is punishable by as much as five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The law is applied to U.S. citizens as well as foreign nationals.

HOW CAN YOU BRING SOMEONE YOU LOVE TO THE UNITED STATES?

But if you’re genuinely in love, here’s how the process works.

If you are a U.S. citizen engaged to a foreign citizen, your fiancée or fiancé must first acquire a K-1, temporary visa that provides the visa holder with ninety days to marry the U.S.-citizen fiancée or fiancé and to apply for legal permanent resident status.

The process begins when the U.S. citizen files Form I-129F to ask USCIS to recognize a foreign citizen as the U.S. citizen’s fiancée or fiancé. Proof must be presented that the couple intends to marry within 90 days of the fiancée’s or fiancé’s arrival in the U.S.

WHY WILL YOU NEED AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY’S HELP?

Approval of Form I-129F is no guarantee that a K-1 visa will be issued. You should have an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney help you with the paperwork, because any errors or incomplete information on the I-129F may delay the process.

USCIS forwards approved Form I-129Fs to the National Visa Center, which will inform the U.S. citizen-petitioner that his or her fiancé or fiancée may now apply for the K-1 visa.

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) then conducts a background check on the fiancé or fiancée that includes fingerprinting and a consular interview, usually at a U.S. embassy or consulate in that person’s home nation.

If the DOS officer conducting the interview does not believe the romantic relationship is bona fide, no visa will be issued.

HOW DOES A K-1 VISA HOLDER OBTAIN A GREEN CARD?

When a K-1 is approved, and the marriage ceremony takes place within 90 days of the fiancée’s or fiancé’s entry into the U.S., the K-1 visa holder may then file Form I-485 to request a green card. USCIS will once again check the backgrounds of both parties and interview them.

The first interview for a green card is called an “adjustment of status” interview, because the visa card holder is seeking to change to lawful permanent resident status.

But if the interviewer suspects that the couple has no genuine romance and married only to get the green card, or if there are any other suspicions or discrepancies, a second interview is provided – and the couple is given one last chance to prove that their love is real.

This second interview is called the “marriage fraud” interview or the “Stokes” interview.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT A STOKES INTERVIEW?

At a Stokes interview, an immigration officer explains to the couple why immigration authorities were not satisfied with the first interview. The couple is separated and interviewed individually.

If you are the subject of a Stokes interview, you will be asked extremely personal and intimate questions. The two individual interviews are recorded and checked for discrepancies.

The couple is then interviewed together and asked to explain or clarify any discrepancies.

WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE A STOKES INTERVIEW?

If the immigration officer conducting the interview is satisfied by the couple’s explanations, a green card will be approved. If the officer is not satisfied that the marriage is bona fide, the green card will be denied.

Each case is unique. Every interviewer has his or her own interviewing style. The best thing you can do in a Stokes interview is to answer the questions as honestly and as conscientiously as possible.

You should prepare to answer some questions that many people would consider offensive. Try to answer the questions in a straightforward manner. If you do not know the answer to a question, say so.

WHAT WILL YOU NEED TO BRING TO A STOKES INTERVIEW?

Obtaining a green card depends on a successful Stokes interview. Bring to the Stokes interview any document that may be pertinent, including:

1. your marriage certificate
2. birth certificates
3. visas
4. passports
5. entry records

You will also need evidence that you are in fact a “bona fide” married couple. That evidence may include:

1. joint bank and insurance statements
2. proof of joint assets and liabilities
3. a copy of your residential lease
4. affidavits from reliable witnesses
5. any other evidence that the marriage is bona fide

Depending on your case, other documents may be requested. Make copies of everything that might be considered evidence.

WHY IS A STOKES INTERVIEW CONDUCTED?

A Stokes interview is required when immigrations officials are dissatisfied with your first adjustment of status interview or when they have any other suspicions whatsoever.

The authorities probably suspect that your marriage may not be bona fide, so your interviewer will be looking for a reason to deny your green card request. Answering even one question wrong could be disastrous.

A Stokes interview is also quite stressful and frustrating. That’s on purpose. You need to prepare yourself, be careful, and be emotionally composed.

If you appear to be tense, frustrated, or defensive, your interviewer may interpret those reactions the wrong way – as a sign that you are being dishonest. If there’s tension between you and your spouse, that might also be interpreted the wrong way.

WHEN WILL YOU RECEIVE YOUR GREEN CARD?

You may also feel some aggravation after a Stokes interview, because it may take some time to receive a final approval or denial of the green card. You will need to have some patience. If an additional investigation is conducted, you might be waiting for months.

Authorities might even visit your home – unannounced – as part of their investigation.

If you are scheduled for a Stokes interview, the best way to be prepared is to work with a qualified immigration attorney. Your attorney can review your documentation and even conduct a “mock” Stokes interview to help you prepare for the real thing.

A Stokes interview is serious. You must be prepared, and you must get the legal help you need. That is your right.

Do You Have The Proper ID Documents?

Posted on: June 15, 2018 by in immigration
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What’s the best form of identification if you are an immigrant in the United States? Keep reading, because your ability to board an airplane or even to enter a federal building may depend on the identification card that you carry.

If you are an immigrant in the U.S., you need identification that is compliant with the federal government’s “Real ID” standards? What is “Real ID” and what are those standards? Here’s an explanation.

The United States does not issue or require an “official” federal identification card, so state-issued driver’s licenses, by default, are the accepted, official form of identification in the U.S. The states also provide similar, “official” ID cards to individuals who don’t drive.

WHAT IS THE REAL ID ACT?

Before the federal Real ID Act of 2005, every state established its own rules for issuing driver’s licenses and ID cards. The Real ID Act now sets the requirements for driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes.”

“Official purposes,” as defined by the Department of Homeland Security, include boarding commercially operated airline flights and entering federal facilities and nuclear power plants.

The law also gives the Secretary of Homeland Security unlimited discretion to require Real ID-compliant identification for any other purposes.

WHEN WILL YOU NEED A REAL ID-COMPLIANT CARD OR LICENSE?

To fly commercially from January 22, 2018 through September 30, 2020, anyone with state ID that does not comply with the Real ID Act (unless the state has received an extension) must present other ID acceptable to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Identification documents accepted by the TSA include valid U.S. passports and military IDs. As of June 2018, however, almost every state has either received an extension or is already issuing ID cards and driver’s licenses that are Real ID-compliant.

And beginning on October 1, 2020, the federal government will require your driver’s license or identification card to be Real ID-compliant if you wish to use it as identification to board a domestic flight, to enter a military base, a nuclear power plant, or most federal facilities.

If you do not apply for a federal compliant Real ID driver’s license or ID card, you will receive a federal non-compliant card with the words “Federal Limits Apply.”

Beginning on October 1, 2020, that non-compliant card cannot be used to board a domestic flight or to visit a military base, nuclear power plant, or certain other federal facilities.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO OBTAIN A REAL ID-COMPLIANT CARD OR LICENSE?

To acquire a Real ID compliant driver’s license or ID card, you must present proof of identity, your Social Security number, and proof of residency to your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles.

However, if you have never held a green card, and if you do not have a U.S. birth certificate, you’ll need other documents, and you’ll need to act right away. An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can help.

The states have made considerable progress in ID card security since the Real ID Act took effect in 2005. More than 90 percent of U.S. drivers now hold licenses from states that have either satisfied the law’s requirements or have received deadline extensions.

If you’re an immigrant in the U.S., or if you hire immigrants at your U.S.-based business, and if you have questions about Real ID or any immigration-related legal matter, take your questions to an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney, and get the answers you need – right away.

Should Recipients Of H-4 Visas Fear Losing Their Businesses And Jobs?

Posted on: May 18, 2018 by in immigration
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The Trump Administration says that it is planning to revoke the eligibility of certain H-4 visa holders to seek employment or to hold a job in the United States.

For decades, although H-4 visa holders were allowed to live with their H-1B spouses in the United States, they could not work or obtain a Social Security number.

HOW WERE THE RULES FOR H-4 VISAS CHANGED IN 2015?

But in 2015, the Obama Administration extended eligibility for employment to the H-4 dependent spouses of those H-1B visa holders who are seeking employment-based lawful permanent resident (LPR) status – a green card – in the United States.

Currently, qualified H-4 dependent spouses need to file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) with supporting evidence and a filing fee to obtain a Form I-766, Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Under the current rules, an H-4 dependent spouse may work or seek work in the U.S. after USCIS approves the Form I-765 and issues the EAD.

At least, that’s how it has worked since 2015.

WHAT IS THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN?

But in April, the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) indicated that USCIS is moving forward with a plan by the Trump Administration to eliminate employment authorization for H-4 visa holders, although no date has been proposed or set.

USCIS director Lee Cissna told the Senate Judiciary Committee in April, “our plans include proposing regulatory changes to remove H-4 dependent spouses from the class of aliens eligible for employment authorization, thereby reversing the 2015 final rule that granted such eligibility.”

USCIS has granted over 100,000 employment authorization documents to H-4 visa holders since the rule was changed in 2015.

WHO IS OPPOSING THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION’S PLAN?

One libertarian think tank – the Cato Institute – strongly disagrees with the Trump Administration’s plan. Their senior immigration policy analyst, Alex Nowrasteh, told CNN that the plan is “shortsighted.”

Nowrasteh said, “Money earned is money spent. It increases economic output, economic growth and more jobs for more people in the U.S.”

“Immigrants are typically attracted to growing regions and they increase the supply and demand sides of the economy once they are there, expanding employment opportunities,” Nowrasteh told CNN.

Nowrasteh also insists that H-4 visa holders are not taking jobs from anyone here in the United States. That view directly contrasts with the view of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has said that authorizing employment for H-4 visa holders “hurts American workers.”

The Department of Homeland Security has additional plans for other changes to the H-1B visa program. One proposal would narrow eligibility for the H-1B visa “to increase focus on truly obtaining the best and brightest foreign nationals.”

WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS OF H-4 VISA HOLDERS?

That’s lofty rhetoric, but the fears and concerns of visa holders like Alpa Gajera are somewhat more down-to-earth.

Gajera, a native of India, is in the U.S. with an H-4 dependent visa. Her husband is a Canadian software engineer who holds an H-1B visa and has been waiting for a green card since 2012.

In 2015, when employment eligibility was extended to H-4 visa holders, Gajera invested almost all of the couple’s assets to obtain two Rising Roll Gourmet Café franchises in Atlanta.

Business has flourished, and all six of Gajera’s employees are U.S. citizens. She plans to open two more outlets, but if her authorization to work is revoked, all of those plans will screech to a halt.

“I’m very concerned,” she told CNN.

Somewhat different fears and concerns are emerging for an immigrant doctor – an allergist in New Jersey – who may have to stop treating hundreds of patients. She asked CNN not to reveal her name.

“I’m not taking away a job from a U.S. citizen because there’s already a shortage in my specialization,” she said. “There’s already an ongoing shortage of allergists in the country at a time when allergy-related conditions are increasing.”

WHAT HAS ACTUALLY CHANGED?

At the moment, however, except for some pronouncements from Trump Administration officials, nothing has actually changed for H-4 visa holders.

It is important to stress that no “official” policy change has been announced.

Existing EADs (employment authorization documents) are not being revoked. USCIS is still approving EADs for H-4 visa holders, and it is still renewing their existing EADs.

H-1B visas are offered to international workers with specialized knowledge. In the U.S., they are hired as programming analysts, software engineers, and scientists.

WHAT CAN H-4 VISA HOLDERS OFFER?

Many of their spouses hold professional degrees and in fact qualify for similar positions. Prior to 2015, the prohibition on employment for their spouses – H-4 visa holders – created, in effect, a vast pool of wasted talent.

If the 2015 policy change is reversed – and H-4 visa holders are again prohibited from working or seeking employment – every U.S. citizen will again be deprived of the H-4 visa holders’ important talents and skills.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP?

Should H-4 visa holders attempt to switch to an H-1B or to some other visa? While no one should act in haste or in panic, it is a good idea for H-4 visa holders to review and consider their options.

H-4 visa holders and their employers should not hesitate to seek the insights and advice of an immigration lawyer.

Legal complications almost always arise in immigration-related employment matters, and employers must have someone they can trust to provide accurate answers to their immigration questions and concerns.

A good immigration attorney can also review an employer’s records and policies and provide advice about visas, visa petitions, and employer compliance.

WHAT IS THE ONE CERTAINTY REGARDING IMMIGRATION?

If you hire international employees to work for your company in the United States, or if you hold an H-4 or an H-1B visa and you have any questions or concerns regarding your visa or status, obtain the sound legal advice that an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can provide.

It remains to be seen whether or not H-4 visa holders will be allowed to work in the U.S. in the future.

The one certainty, however, is that immigration is changing, and that every employer and visa holder will need accurate and up-to-date immigration advice. Do not fail to get the help and advice that you need.

H-1B Visa Cap Surpassed For Fiscal Year 2019

Posted on: April 11, 2018 by in immigration
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No more H-1B visas will be available for fiscal year 2019.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that the number of H-1B visa applications has already surpassed 65,000 – the number of H1-B visas authorized each year by Congress – for fiscal year 2019.

USCIS has also received more than enough applications for the additional 20,000 H1-B visas set aside for those applicants who hold at least a master’s degree.

H-1B visa petitions are accepted every year beginning on April 1st.

This is the sixth consecutive year that U.S.-based employers have requested more H1-B visas than the federal government issues, and the cap, for the sixth year in a row, was once again reached in the first week of April.

WHAT HAPPENS TO PETITIONS RECEIVED AFTER THE CAP WAS REACHED?

The H-1B visa applications that were received by USCIS after the cap was reached will be returned to the senders.

The accepted applications will become part of a lottery process. By June, the visa applicants who have been randomly chosen for review will be notified.

All applicants who are approved for H-1B visas will be able to start work on October 1st, 2018.

Employers – and their international employees – who have any questions regarding the H1-B visa or lottery should speak to an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney at MC Law Group.

PRECISELY WHAT IS THE H-1B VISA?

The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant work visa that authorizes U.S.-based employers to hire international employees for up to six years – if a qualified U.S. citizen or resident is not available to take a specialized position.

An H-1B visa must be requested by the U.S. employer, not by the prospective employee. Workers who are hired on the basis of an H-1B visa must have earned at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent.

WHAT ARE THE OTHER H-1B REQUIREMENTS?

Both the U.S. employer and the international employee must satisfy exacting qualifications before an H-1B visa petition can be approved. It is a lengthy, complicated visa petition and a tricky, difficult application process.

To acquire an H-1B visa, an international worker first must have a job offer in a specialized field such as medical research, engineering, architecture, computer electronics, or a similarly specialized industry.

The pay offered by the employer must be consistent with compensation for similar jobs in the same geographic region.

WHAT ARE AN EMPLOYER’S OPTIONS?

While it is now too late to apply for an H1-B visa for fiscal year 2019, it’s never too early to begin work on H1-B petitions for next year – or to consider potential alternatives to the H-1B visa.

An experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney at MC Law Group knows how secure the H-1B visas that an employer needs – although employers must understand that because of the cap, not even one H-1B visa can be guaranteed.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

However, an MC Law Group attorney will also be familiar with several alternative visa options that may work equally well for some employers.

Every immigration procedure and visa application takes some time. Every visa applicant needs reliable legal insights and advice. That’s why you should contact us now at MC Law Group.

We are ready to help employers with their visa petitions, and we are ready to answer your questions and address all of your immigration and visa concerns.

USCIS Needs Your Current Mailing Address

Posted on: April 5, 2018 by in immigration
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Have you changed your address since arriving in the U.S? If you are an immigrant in the United States, it’s up to you to make absolutely certain that you are receiving the important immigration notices and documents you need – without delay.

It is absolutely imperative for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to have your correct mailing address at all times – and now, it’s actually more important than ever. Keep reading to learn why.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN BEGINNING IN APRIL?

Beginning on April 2, 2018, USCIS will destroy all Permanent Resident Cards, Employment Authorization Cards, and Travel Documents that are returned as undeliverable by the U.S. Postal Service.

Permanent Resident Cards, Employment Authorization Cards, and Travel Documents will be destroyed by USCIS after sixty business days if USCIS has not been contacted by the document’s intended recipient and if the correct mailing address has not been provided.

If you requested or expected an immigration document, moved, failed to receive the document, and it is destroyed, you will be looking at a long wait – and probably an additional expense – to replace that document.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER HELP YOU?

Immigrants in the United States may need the advice and legal services of an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney to help them understand precisely what the law requires and how to comply with it.

If you are an immigrant in the U.S., don’t hesitate to seek the legal help you need.

USCIS encourages every immigrant to report a change of address within ten days of relocating within the United States or any of its territories using the change of address procedures outlined at uscis.gov/addresschange. Exceptions include:

1. Diplomats
2. Official government representatives to an international organization
3. Certain nonimmigrants who do not possess a visa and who are in the U.S. for less than thirty days

WHERE ARE YOUR DOCUMENTS SENT?

If you are entering the United States on an immigrant visa, USCIS will mail your Green Card to the mailing address in the United States that you provided at the time of your immigrant visa interview or to the address you provided when you were admitted entry into the United States.

If you move after you arrive in the United States, please update your address. To avoid the inconvenience of extra waiting and additional cost, make sure that you always give USCIS your current mailing address.

Mailing address information may be used by and disclosed to U.S. Department of Homeland Security personnel and contractors or other agents who need the information to assist in activities related to providing status information on a pending immigration benefit application or petition.

WHY IS IT VITAL FOR USCIS TO HAVE YOUR ADDRESS?

In other words, it is very much in your best interests for USCIS to have your current, accurate mailing address. Immigration authorities may need to contact you for a number of reasons, including immigration benefits and changes in your immigration status.

U.S. immigration laws are complicated and confusing. Changes in the law are frequent. Staying compliant and up-to-date with the law can take a little bit of effort.

If you have any questions regarding compliance with immigration laws, call today and speak to an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney to have your questions answered.

DACA’s Termination Date Passes (Now What?)

Posted on: March 14, 2018 by in immigration
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What are the latest legal and political developments affecting the “Dreamers” – the nearly 785,000 young immigrants who were brought to the United States by their parents and have never known another nation as their home?

Here are three recent developments are important to the Dreamers right now:

1. Recent federal court orders will keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program for Dreamers alive and in place, for the moment.

2. Immigration activists are now targeting March 23rd as the next key date for Congress to take action.

3. DACA application processing delays could cause a loss of legal protection and the loss of work permits for thousands of “Dreamers.”

CAN DREAMERS STILL APPLY FOR RENEWAL OF DACA PROTECTION?

What’s important is that the 785,000 Dreamers who have previously been approved for DACA can continue to file applications for DACA renewals – while Congress is determining their fates.

According to Las Vegas immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva, “The Supreme Court has decided not to allow the Trump Administration to stop the renewals of the DACA applications.”

If you an immigrant in the United States, and you qualified for DACA protection, how does this Supreme Court ruling impact you? Keep reading – you’re about to find out.

ONE ATTORNEY’S INSIGHTS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Attorney Chernysheva explains that those immigrants who are approved for DACA “are currently protected and will be able to renew their work authorizations until the courts decide to change their position.”

She advises that anyone concerned for the fate of the Dreamers should “contact your congressperson and Senators to push for an actual immigration reform that would include DACA eligible individuals to receive a path to citizenship.”

March 5th was slated to be the final day of the DACA program, but a couple of unexpected court decisions have given the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program a new, extended life.

IF YOU HIRE DREAMERS, WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW?

According to National Immigration Forum Executive Director Ali Noorani, “The president … created a mess” by announcing the end of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Noorani told Bloomberg Law that “as a result, employers are faced with some really tough decisions in the time ahead.”

However, the most recent court rulings have eliminated the need for U.S.-based employers to let go of their DACA employees – at least for the moment.

HOW DID THE DACA PROGRAM ARRIVE WHERE IT IS NOW?

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program was initiated by the Obama Administration back in 2012.

The Trump Administration announced the scheduled end of the program in September 2017, and officials set March 5th, 2018, as the official last day for DACA.

Almost 20,000 of the Dreamers lost their DACA benefits after the White House made this announcement because they failed to apply for DACA renewal in the single month that was granted to them by the Trump Administration.

Recipients with work permits that were scheduled to expire before March 5, 2018, were permitted by the Trump Administration to file for DACA renewal, but only if they applied for their renewals before October 5, 2017. About 20,000 did not.

It was also after the September announcement from the White House that the federal courts began to take their own actions. Those actions are summarized below.

WHAT ARE THE RECENT FEDERAL COURT RULINGS REGARDING DACA?

In January, a federal court judge in California ordered U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to start accepting DACA renewal applications once again.

Another federal judge in New York subsequently issued a comparable order.

As a result, according to USCIS, more than 11,360 DACA participants applied for renewal in January 2018.

Both cases remain pending after the U.S. Supreme Court refused on February 26th to hear the Trump Administration’s appeal of the California judge’s order.

However, no one should read too much into the recent court activity. There is still no way to guess what will eventually happen to DACA and the Dreamers.

WHAT DOES DACA’S FUTURE LOOK LIKE?

Greg Chen, speaking for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told Bloomberg Law, “The court process is extremely unpredictable.”

The courts’ orders leave the DACA program operating for now, but those court orders could be overturned by other courts.

Furthermore, the court orders only cover those Dreamers who have already been approved for DACA protection. The courts are not requiring USCIS to accept any first-time DACA applications.

In February, the U.S. Senate considered several proposals that would provide the Dreamers with some type of legal status, but lawmakers were not able to agree on a plan.

Still, according to Greg Chen, “The remarkable achievement in the past six months … is the bipartisan momentum that has developed and gained steam to get a permanent solution for dreamers passed.”

Chen also explains that the next “target date” for legislation is March 23, when the current continuing resolution for financing the government runs out.

R.J. Hauman, speaking for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, told Bloomberg Law that it would be “extremely misguided” for Congress to reach a DACA deal in a “smoke-filled back room” and risk yet another government shutdown.

IF YOU ARE AN IMMIGRANT IN THE U.S., WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW?

USCIS is not now accepting new applications for DACA protection, but if you have had DACA protection in the past and you need to renew it, you may need an immigration lawyer’s help.

If you are an immigrant who does not qualify for DACA and you have any questions regarding your visa or legal status – or any other immigration concerns – seek an immigration attorney’s advice at once.

In its current form, the DACA program does not offer the Dreamers permanent lawful status or a path to U.S. citizenship, and it doesn’t qualify anyone for student aid or for any type of federal assistance.

WHERE CAN YOU TURN FOR HELP?

If you are a Dreamer, or if you hire Dreamers, and you need legal help or advice regarding DACA or any other immigration issue, let an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney help.

Immigration law has always been complicated and confusing. The system has needed comprehensive reform for years, and it still needs serious reform.

With the courts and Congress now actively looking at the DACA program and at the entire immigration issue, we can expect more changes and more confusion in the weeks and months to come.

Make certain that you have the sound legal advice you need from an immigration lawyer whose knowledge and experience you can trust.

U.S. Senate Fails Again To Provide A Solution For Dreamers

Posted on: February 19, 2018 by in immigration
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The hope of Dreamers is renewed with the new U.S. Supreme Court decision!

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government – at least for now – must keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program alive.

How will the immigrants known as “Dreamers” be impacted by the ruling? Here are the details.

HISTORY OF THE DACA PROGRAM

In September 2017, the Trump Administration rescinded the DACA program that protected 785,000 immigrant children from deportation and provided them with the right to work – renewable every two years.

Nearly 20,000 Dreamers lost their benefits following this announcement as they failed to apply for renewal in the month granted to them by the administration.

Several lawsuits filed in the Northern District of California were consolidated, and the U.S. District Court of San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction barring the Trump Administration from ending the DACA program while the lawsuit proceeds.

The order was issued by U.S. District Judge William Alsup in San Francisco on January 9, 2018, requiring U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to keep processing DACA renewals for Dreamers who have been approved for the program in the past.

WITHOUT THIS COURT RULING, WHAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED?

Had this decision not been rendered by the California Court, Dreamers would have begun to lose their benefits after the March 5th deadline. This decision gave new hope to Dreamers, and a light in the scary darkness they have experienced since the rescission of DACA.

The Trump Administration asked the Supreme Court to approve its plan to close down the DACA program by reversing a lower court order that is keeping DACA alive.

In February, a week before the March 5 deadline, the Supreme Court refused to reverse the lower court order, which compels the Department of Homeland Security to continue to accept DACA renewal applications.

This will give the 785,000 Dreamers, who had been approved before, the protection from deportation and the right to work legally in the U.S. for another two years.

IS THE DACA PROGRAM STILL ALIVE AND FUNCTIONING?

The California Court’s order, at least for now, remains in effect, so DACA remains alive. The 785,000 Dreamers who have been approved in the past can continue filing for renewal, while Congress decides their fate.

The Trump Administration’s original intention to close down DACA by March 5th won’t happen now, and the ultimate fate of the DACA program – again – remains to be determined.

However, it should be noted, the Supreme Court did not “save” DACA. Instead, the justices returned the case to the lower courts and said, “It is assumed the court of appeals will act expeditiously to decide this case.”

The ruling was expected. The Supreme Court rarely accepts requests to bypass the lower courts.

Although this might not be a total win for Dreamers, it still provides them with a “safe haven” for the next two years, as long as they file their renewal applications timely.

WHO QUALIFIES FOR DACA PROTECTION?

To qualify for DACA, an applicant must:

1. have entered the U.S. prior to his or her 16th birthday and lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007

2. have been under age 31 on June 15, 2012 (that is, born on or since June 16, 1981)

3. have no felony convictions, no “significant” misdemeanor convictions, and no more than two misdemeanor convictions of any kind

4. have completed high school or a GED, or be attending high school, or be honorably discharged from the armed forces

Dreamers were raised and educated in the United States. They know no other home.

HOW DO YOU APPLY FOR DACA? AND WHO CAN HELP?

To apply for DACA protection, immigrants who qualify must pay a $495 application fee, submit several forms, and produce documents showing that they meet the DACA requirements.

DACA does not provide permanent lawful status or a path to citizenship, and it does not establish eligibility for federal assistance or student aid.

If you are a Dreamer and you need legal advice regarding DACA – or advice regarding any other immigration matter – an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can help.

As a number of courts consider DACA and other immigration issues, and as Congress considers a variety of related proposals, immigration law has perhaps never been more confusing.

Do not hesitate to seek the legal advice you need. Immigration laws are being strictly enforced in 2018, and anyone who is not in full compliance with those laws could be subject to deportation.

WHERE DOES THE FEBRUARY RULING LEAVE DACA – AND THE DREAMERS?

The February ruling by the Supreme Court leaves the fate of DACA, for the moment, pending before a California appeals court. Quick action by the appeals court is not expected.

February’s Supreme Court ruling also allows Congress more time to craft a legislative remedy, but so far, Congress has failed to reach any agreement regarding DACA and the Dreamers.

Earlier in February, the Senate considered three different options that offer a permanent solution for Dreamers.

A proposal that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for the Dreamers – but placed severe restrictions on legal immigration – secured a mere 39 votes.

Two other proposals were considered more moderate, but neither received the votes needed for passage.

Still, the issue is urgent, and Congress needs to act. Thousands have already lost their DACA protection, and thousands more will lose theirs in the months ahead.

WHO SUPPORTS DACA?

A CBS News poll released in January shows that almost nine out of ten adults in the United States – 87 percent – would allow the Dreamers to stay, provided they work or attend school.

The DACA program was established by the Obama Administration in June 2012 by executive action rather than legislation.

In 2014, President Obama announced a plan to expand DACA and offer its protection to more immigrants. That plan was ultimately rejected by the courts.

HOW MANY DREAMERS ARE PROTECTED BY DACA?

As of June 2016, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) had received 844,931 applications for DACA status, and 88 percent of the applications (741,546) had been approved.

Plans to phase out DACA were launched by the Trump Administration on September 5, 2017. At that time, the President gave Congress six months to come up with a new plan for the Dreamers.

Congress so far has failed. Without the Supreme Court’s last-minute ruling in late February, DACA would have ended on March 5th without any action by Congress to help the Dreamers.

CAN EMPLOYERS HELP THEIR DACA EMPLOYEES?

Researchers have demonstrated that DACA increases the wages and employment rate of DACA participants, and it reduces the number of immigrant households in poverty in the U.S.

How can U.S.-based employers help their DACA-protected employees?

Concerned employers should consult an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

An immigration attorney may be able to identify some helpful visa options for DACA employees, and an attorney can help with the paperwork needed to obtain an appropriate visa.

An immigration lawyer can also identify and assist with particular immigration difficulties that an individual employee may need to resolve.

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR THE DACA MATTER TO BE RESOLVED?

It may take months for the DACA issue to be resolved by the courts and for the Dreamers to learn their eventual fate.

And with Congress apparently unable to resolve the issue, immigration activists are already looking to this year’s midterm election and to a Congress that will not convene until 2019.

If you’re a Dreamer – or a Dreamer’s employer – you must have reliable advice regarding immigration law. Changes are coming, but there is no way to predict what those changes will be.

In the confusion of 2018, having the advice of a good immigration attorney – and adhering to that advice – is the best move that an immigrant or an employer of immigrants can make.

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

Posted on: December 22, 2017 by in immigration
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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.

What Are Grounds For Deportation From The United States?

Posted on: January 20, 2018 by in immigration
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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.

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

Posted on: October 19, 2017 by in immigration
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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.