Archive for the ‘ immigration ’ Category

What To Know About The Deportation Process

Posted on: December 18, 2018 by in immigration
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The possibility of deportation – also called “removal” – raises a number of important questions and concerns for immigrants who are in the United States. In the fiscal year 2018 (which ended on September 30th), more than 250,000 immigrants were deported from the U.S.

What are the reasons why immigrants in the U.S. might be deported? How does a deportation proceeding work? Precisely who is in danger of being deported? How can an immigration law firm help?

FAQ #1: FOR WHAT REASONS MAY SOMEONE BE DEPORTED?

What are the legal grounds for deportation? Someone might be subject to removal from the U.S. if that person:

1. has violated his or her visa’s terms and conditions
2. is deemed to pose a danger to the general public
3. has been convicted of a crime
4. entered the U.S. without proper documentation

FAQ #2: HOW DOES A REMOVAL PROCEEDING BEGIN?

A deportation proceeding can sometimes begin with an arrest. Whenever an immigrant is arrested for a crime, it’s possible that the immigration authorities may initiate a removal procedure.

deportation after arrest

In other cases, an immigrant who is targeted for deportation will be sent a Notice to Appear in immigration court. Any immigrant who may be at risk for removal must be advised and represented by an immigration lawyer. Get an attorney’s help at once.

If you’re sent a Notice to Appear, you must appear at every scheduled hearing. If you don’t, an immediate Order of Removal may be issued. The first deportation hearing is “procedural.” At that hearing, the process and the law are explained. An “evidentiary” hearing is then scheduled.

At an evidentiary hearing, an immigration judge will listen to and consider the evidence presented by both sides.

FAQ #3: WHAT IF THE CHARGES AGAINST YOU ARE MISTAKEN OR FALSE?

If you receive a Notice to Appear, it should explain why you are being considered for deportation. Read it carefully and share it with your immigration lawyer. It is possible that the government’s allegations against you are mistaken or false.

Were you wrongly arrested and charged with a crime? An immigration attorney can help. Even having the same name as another person could bring you to the attention of the immigration authorities, but a good immigration lawyer can bring order quickly to that type of confusion.

FAQ #4: HOW CAN YOU FIGHT DEPORTATION?

If you are the subject of a removal procedure, you will have several options. Your immigration lawyer will explain your options and will work diligently to help you remain in the U.S.

immigrant rights

What options may be available to you?

1. If your spouse, your child, or at least one of your parents is a U.S. citizen, you may request a visa on the basis of that family relationship.

2. If you have been in the United States for at least a decade, and you help to support your immediate family members, it is possible to have a deportation proceeding canceled if your removal would cause one or more family members to suffer exceptional hardship.

3. If you’ve been persecuted or if you are fearful of reprisals in your home country because of your ethnicity, race, political opinion, religion, or your participation in a certain group, you can request asylum. Asylum status in the U.S. qualifies you to acquire a green card.

4. You may also qualify for “withholding of removal,” which is similar to asylum, except that withholding of removal is temporary and it does not make you eligible to acquire a green card.

5. A prosecutor has “prosecutorial discretion” simply to drop the removal procedure. If you have no criminal history, your immigration lawyer may be able to persuade the government to use prosecutorial discretion to allow you to remain in the U.S.

FAQ #5: IS “VOLUNTARY DEPARTURE” A GOOD OPTION?

If a skilled Las Vegas immigration attorney reviews your case and concludes that you are probably going to be deported, “voluntary departure” is one of the options that you should take into consideration.

You may ask the immigration authorities to consider that your departure from the U.S. is “voluntary,” and a removal will not be listed on your immigration record.

But to remain in the U.S., you either must:

1. prove that the charges against you are not true (your lawyer will know what evidence you need and how to acquire it)

2. persuade authorities that you should be permitted to remain in the U.S. despite the allegations

FAQ #6: HOW WILL AN IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM HELP YOU?

If the government targets you for deportation, you will very much need an attorney who has substantial immigration experience to scrutinize the facts in your case and to suggest the most effective way for you to fight deportation.

It is important to note that immigrants with legal representation prevail in their deportation hearings far more frequently than immigrants who go to these hearings without having an attorney to help them.

deportation with a lawyer

In deportation proceedings, the government will not appoint a public defender to represent you. You must take the initiative to contact an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as you receive a Notice to Appear.

An immigration attorney knows the apprehension and anxiety that you and your loved ones can face when removal becomes a threat. Your attorney will answer your questions, address your concerns, and provide step-by-step guidance throughout the procedure.

You should rely on your attorney’s judgment and experience. An immigration lawyer routinely handles immigration cases and will know how to argue and negotiate effectively on your behalf.

FAQ #7: CAN A DEPORTATION ORDER BE APPEALED?

Even if an immigration judge orders your deportation, you may still have options. You have thirty days to appeal the ruling to the Board of Immigration Appeals, and if you do not succeed there, your attorney may recommend taking your case to the U.S. Court of Appeals.

If you’ve worked hard to build a life of opportunity and hope in the U.S. for yourself and your family, you can’t let that hard work go to waste. But the threat posed by deportation is real.

effects of deportation

Deportation closes businesses, splits apart families, and destroys dreams. If you receive a Notice to Appear, there is no reason for you to panic, but you must obtain a reliable immigration attorney’s advice and representation at once.

Immigration law in the U.S. is quite complicated, and a good immigration lawyer’s help is your right. In fact, your future could depend on it.

Federal Judge Upholds Right To Seek Asylum

Posted on: November 26, 2018 by in immigration
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Using exceptionally strong language, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California has blocked the Trump Administration from denying the right to seek asylum to persons who cross the southern border between official ports of entry.

Judge Tigar’s court order, issued on November 19, will temporarily prohibit the Trump Administration from enforcing a policy the White House had announced ten days earlier.

The Trump Administration would have prevented immigrants who are entering the U.S. between legal entry ports from requesting asylum status.

WHAT IS THE LAW?

Judge Tigar directly accused the Trump Administration of trying to rewrite the immigration laws. Federal law clearly provides that all persons arriving at any point at the U.S. border have the right to apply for asylum. Not all are eligible for asylum, but all have the right to seek it.

For decades, this nation has recognized the right of asylum as spelled out by federal and international law. Refugees may apply for asylum when they reach the United States, or they may apply for refugee status while they are still outside of the U.S.

“Whatever the scope of the president’s authority,” Judge Tigar wrote, “he may not rewrite the immigration laws to impose a condition that Congress has expressly forbidden.”

The judge added that asylum seekers will be at “increased risk of violence and other harms at the border” if the Trump Administration’s plan is allowed to go into effect.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Judge Tigar’s temporary order is effective nationally and will remain operative through December 19th, when Judge Tigar will conduct a hearing, or until further order of the court.

Lee Gelernt, the Deputy Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Immigrants’ Rights Project, told CNN, “There is no justifiable reason to flatly deny people the right to apply for asylum, and we cannot send them back to danger based on the manner of their entry.”

HOW CAN YOU LEARN MORE?

If you need to apply for asylum or refugee status in the United States, or if you are an immigrant or an employer and you need to learn more about asylum and the rights of asylum seekers, contact an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney at once.

A good immigration lawyer can address your concerns and explain how immigration laws apply to your personal situation. If you are seeking asylum status, a work visa, a family visa, or a green card in the United States, a good Las Vegas immigration lawyer can advise and help you.

WHO QUALIFIES FOR ASYLUM STATUS?

If you seek asylum status in the United States, you must meet these three requirements:

1. You must demonstrate that you reasonably fear persecution in your home country.

2. You must prove that you would be persecuted based on your race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or particular social group.

3. You must prove that your home country’s government is either actively engaged in the persecution or unable to control the actions of those who are.

As we approach the end of 2018, U.S. immigration law has probably never been more confusing.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY HELP YOU?

A number of federal courts are now considering a number of cases generated by the Trump Administration’s policies, and there is no way to know what Congress, the White House, or the Supreme Court may do in the immediate weeks and months ahead.

It’s a rapidly changing situation. If you need help sorting out the confusion, reliable legal advice, or legal help with any aspect of immigration, contact an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney right away.

Ninth Circuit Court Of Appeals Gives New Life To DACA

Posted on: November 24, 2018 by in immigration
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The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was launched by President Barack Obama in June 2012. In September 2017, the Trump Administration announced its intention to shut down the program. But thanks to the federal courts, DACA is still alive.

DACA has provided work authorization and protection from deportation to roughly 785,000 immigrants known as the “Dreamers” – young immigrants who entered the U.S. as children with their parents. These young people have lived almost their entire lives in the United States.

The Trump Administration was scheduled to end the DACA program in March 2018, but the courts blocked that effort, and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is keeping the DACA program alive, at least for now.

WHAT ARE THE DETAILS OF THE NINTH CIRCUIT COURT’S RULING?

Early in November, a panel of three federal judges with the Ninth Circuit Court upheld a nationwide preliminary injunction issued by a lower court. That injunction temporarily prevents the Trump Administration from shutting down the DACA program.

The Ninth Circuit Court is ordering the Department of Homeland Security to continue accepting DACA renewal applications. The Ninth Circuit Court’s order blocks the Trump Administration from ending DACA – at least until pending litigation determines the program’s ultimate fate.

It is important to emphasize that the Ninth Circuit Court has not “saved” the DACA program, and in fact, no one should try to guess what will eventually happen to the DACA program and the Dreamers.

WHERE CAN DREAMERS GET THE LEGAL ADVICE THEY NEED?

Having the advice of an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney – and following that advice – is the wisest move right now for any immigrant and for any business that employs immigrants.

A good immigration attorney can address your concerns and help you make sense of the rapidly-changing immigration laws and court rulings.

Back in February, several proposals were considered in the U.S. Senate to provide the Dreamers with some kind of legal status, but the lawmakers could not come to any agreement. No one can say what a new Congress – or a new Supreme Court – may do in 2019.

WILL THE SUPREME COURT MAKE A FINAL DETERMINATION ABOUT DACA?

For a second time, the Trump Administration has asked the Supreme Court to review and rule on the DACA cases. A first request was rejected in February 2018.

However, after the Ninth Circuit Court’s most recent action, some observers now say that the Supreme Court may consider the DACA matter as early as the spring of 2019. Or it may not. The Supreme Court might instead decide to let the Ninth Circuit Court’s ruling stand.

WHAT SHOULD DREAMERS AND THEIR EMPLOYERS DO NOW?

For now, the Dreamers and their U.S. employers may continue to operate under the DACA program.

The Department of Homeland Security will keep accepting renewal applications for DACA, and “Dreamers” with current employment authorization documents (EADs) may retain their employment until the expiration dates of their EADs.

The federal courts are considering a number of immigration issues, and Congress in 2019 will consider a variety of immigration proposals. The president could issue another executive order regarding immigration – at any time.

WHAT HAS NOT CHANGED?

For the average person, the immigration laws have probably never been more perplexing. What has not changed, however, is your right to have a good lawyer’s help.

Employers and DACA beneficiaries who have questions or concerns regarding DACA or any other immigration matter should seek sound legal advice – and seek it promptly – from an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney. That remains your right.

How To Get A Green Card

Posted on: November 19, 2018 by in immigration
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If you are an immigrant in the United States, or if you are planning to come to the United States, and if you are ready to become a lawful permanent resident – that is, if you are ready to apply for a green card – what will you need to know, and what will you need to do? Can a Las Vegas immigration law firm help?

A green card holder (that is, a lawful permanent resident) is an immigrant who is authorized to live and work permanently in the U.S. As proof of that status, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services gives that immigrant a lawful permanent resident card commonly called a green card.

HOW CAN YOU BECOME A LAWFUL PERMANENT RESIDENT?

There are several ways to become a lawful permanent resident. Most green card holders are sponsored by a relative or by an employer in the United States. Others qualify through refugee or asylum status. International investors may qualify on the basis of an EB-5 visa.

When you seek to become a lawful permanent resident, you will need the advice and assistance that an experienced immigration attorney can offer.

An immigration lawyer can determine if you qualify for a green card, walk you through the paperwork, and help you avoid any misunderstandings or mistakes that could delay your green card or cause your application to be rejected.

WHO CAN OBTAIN A GREEN CARD?

Most of the persons who seek a green card will belong to one of the categories listed below, but if you do not see yourself described here, you may still qualify.

The rules include a number of exceptions and exemptions, and in any individual case, you may need an immigration attorney’s help to determine if you qualify for a green card.

WHO CAN BE SPONSORED BY A FAMILY MEMBER?

You may qualify for a green card as the immediate family member of a United States citizen if you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, the child of a U.S. citizen, or the parent or sibling of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

If you are related to a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you may qualify for a green card as the spouse or as the unmarried child of that lawful permanent resident.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FIANCÉ OR FIANCÉE?

The fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen – and that person’s children – may qualify for a green card. You may also qualify if you are the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen and you were married to that person at the time of his or her death.

Finally, under the federal Violence Against Women Act, you may qualify for a green card if you are the abused parent of a U.S. citizen or if you are the abused spouse or abused under-age-21 child of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

WHO CAN BE SPONSORED BY AN EMPLOYER?

A green card may also be obtained through a range of employment-based immigration options. Many of these options require the sponsorship of a U.S. employer. The employer must intend to hire the foreign national on a long-term basis for a position that is not considered temporary.

If you currently hold an EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 visa, you may qualify to become a lawful permanent resident. A qualified immigration lawyer can help you through the process.

WHO ELSE MAY OBTAIN A GREEN CARD?

International investors who are approved for an EB-5 visa on the basis of an investment in a new or ongoing U.S. business or development project will automatically qualify for a green card along with their immediate family members.

If you have been granted refugee status or asylum status, you may apply for a green card after you have been physically in the United States for at least one year.

It is important to remember, as mentioned previously, that what is presented here is not an exhaustive list of everyone who may qualify to obtain a green card in the United States. Every immigrant and every immigrant’s situation is unique.

WHAT IS FORM I-485?

Form I-485 (“Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status”) is the form used by a person who is already in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

If you are outside of the U.S., you may apply at a U.S. consulate for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a lawful permanent resident. This path is known as “consular processing.”

WHAT IS THE GENERAL PROCEDURE FOR OBTAINING A GREEN CARD?

The steps you must take to apply for a green card will vary depending on your individual situation. However, this is the process for most applicants:

1. Usually, someone (a relative or employer who is considered your “sponsor”) must file an immigrant petition for you. In some cases, however, you may be able to file for yourself.

2. After USCIS approves the immigrant petition, you’ll file either a green card application (Form I-485) with USCIS or a visa application with the U.S. Department of State.

3. You’ll go to an interview and to a biometrics appointment to provide photographs, fingerprints, and your signature.

4. You’ll receive an approval or a rejection of your application. If you receive a rejection, discuss your next move and your other options with your immigration lawyer.

WHAT ELSE IS IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER?

A reputable Las Vegas immigration attorney can explain your rights and options and guide you through the green card process. An immigration attorney can advise you about the specifics of your personal situation, and you should also keep in mind these general recommendations:

1. You must complete every piece of paperwork thoroughly and accurately. A green card application may be delayed or even denied if anything is inaccurate or incomplete. A good immigration attorney can see to it that your paperwork is filed properly.

2. Expect delays: Documents get lost frequently. Make and store copies of all documents. When you mail anything to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), send it by certified mail with a return receipt. And have patience – a green card takes some time.

3. Do not become a victim. Criminals target immigrants. Anyone who offers to sell you a green card is violating the law, and any green card that you obtain in that manner is fraudulent and useless. Work only with a skilled U.S. immigration attorney.

HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY HELP?

An experienced immigration lawyer can address your concerns, guide you through the green card process, and help you reach your other goals in the United States. Every immigration process takes time, so get started as early as you can.

If you have any questions about green cards or any other immigration matter, obtain the advice of an immigration attorney as quickly as possible. A good attorney’s help is not only your right, but your future could depend on it.

Getting An Immigration Work Permit Or Authorization In The United States

Posted on: November 14, 2018 by in immigration, visas
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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.

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 Las Vegas employment 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 a skilled 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 a qualified 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 a Las Vegas immigration law firm 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.

How To Petition For A Sibling To Become A Legal Permanent Resident

Posted on: October 13, 2018 by in immigration
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If you’re a United States citizen, and you’re 21 or older, you may request to have your siblings (sisters or brothers) live in the U.S. as lawful permanent residents (that is, as “green card” holders).

But who legally qualifies as a sibling? How long does it take to bring a sibling to the U.S.? How much paperwork is involved? What will it cost? And will you need an immigration attorney to help you?

WHO IS CONSIDERED A SIBLING?

For immigration purposes, siblings are defined as persons who have at least one legal parent in common. You are not required to be related “by blood” to your sibling, who may be a stepbrother, a stepsister, or an adopted brother or sister.

Only U.S. citizens may petition to bring their siblings to live permanently in the United States. Lawful permanent residents may not. To launch the process, you should consult first with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

A good immigration lawyer will review – or help you complete – the all-important I-130 form so that no mistakes or misunderstandings unnecessarily delay the process.

Your attorney will also review the other necessary documents and explain how the immigration laws apply to your family’s own circumstances.

WHAT MUST BE INCLUDED WITH AN I-130 PETITION?

Here’s what must be submitted to USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) in order to bring your sister or brother to the United States as a lawful permanent resident:

1. the I-130 form filled out completely and accurately
2. a copy of your birth certificate
3. a copy of your sibling’s birth certificate
4. proof of your U.S. citizenship (if your birth certificate does not prove citizenship)
5. a fee (as of 2018) of $535 payable by money order, personal check, or cashier’s check

WHAT OTHER DOCUMENTS MAY BE REQUIRED?

The birth certificates should indicate that you and your sibling share at least one parent:

1. If your sibling is related to you by adoption, you must also submit a copy of the adoption decree indicating that the adoption took place before the adopted child’s 16th birthday.

2. If your sibling is related to you through a stepparent, you must file documentary proof that the previous marriages of the biological parent and/or stepparent were dissolved legally and a copy of the marriage certificate of the biological parent to the stepparent.

3. If your sibling and you have the same biological father and different mothers, you must also file a copy of the marriage certificates for both marriages and documentary proof that any other marriages involving any of the parents were legally dissolved.

If your own name or your sibling’s name has changed from the name indicated on the birth certificate, you will need a copy of the document that proves the name was changed legally and indicates why: an adoption decree or a marriage certificate, for example.

HOW LONG WILL IT ALL TAKE? HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM HELP?

Unfortunately, a sibling may not immigrate immediately to the United States while your I-130 is pending. Quite frankly, in some cases, the wait can be years – literally – but everyone’s situation will be different. That’s one reason why an immigration attorney’s insights can be so invaluable.

An immigration lawyer will help you avoid any unnecessary delays and will ensure that the process is moving as quickly as possible for you and your brother or sister.

If you are finding it difficult to obtain a legal document that you need, like an old marriage certificate, your immigration lawyer may be able to help.

WHEN SHOULD YOU SPEAK WITH AN IMMIGRATION LAWYER?

If you have a sister or a brother who wants to live in the United States, it might be wise to consult an immigration attorney right now about beginning the process.

Immigration law changes all the time, and some of the most recent changes have not benefitted immigrants and their families. Immigration based on family relationships has been a particular target for criticism, and Congress could impose even more restrictions in the months ahead.

If you’re thinking about uniting your family in the United States, the best time to get started is right now.

Let an immigration attorney help you complete Form I-130 – or at least review it – before you submit the form to USCIS. It’s twelve pages long with another twelve pages of instructions – comparable to an income tax form – but immigration attorneys handle I-130s on a routine basis.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?

Several weeks after you submit the I-130 petition, you should receive a notice from USCIS telling you to check with the USCIS website for a status update. Look for a receipt number in the upper left corner of the notice – that’s the number that you’ll need when you go online.

You can also sign up to receive email updates about the progress of your I-130 petition. It may take a few months, but USCIS will eventually approve – or in rare cases, deny – your I-130 petition for your sister or brother.

An approval is good, but unfortunately, it doesn’t speed things up. Your sibling is placed on the waiting list when USCIS first receives your I-130 form.

WHAT IF YOUR I-130 IS DENIED?

If your I-130 petition for your sister or brother is denied, USCIS must explain why in writing. If you receive a denial, speak with your attorney about the denial and about re-filing the I-130 or appealing the denial. Your attorney will know the best way to move forward constructively.

Approved I-130s are sent by USCIS to the National Visa Center (NVC) for additional processing.

HOW IS THE FINAL DECISION MADE REGARDING THE GREEN CARD?

After the I-130 is approved, your sibling will eventually receive a request to attend an interview at a U.S. consulate in his or her home country. That’s where a decision will be made regarding the approval or denial of the green card.

If you need to acquire a green card or any type of U.S. visa for yourself or for a member of your family, get the legal advice and help that you need – right away – from an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney.

A good immigration lawyer can review your legal, familial, and employment situation, explain your options, help you avoid unnecessary delays, and if necessary, represent you and advocate on your family’s behalf. A good attorney’s help is your right.

Can Divorce Affect The Immigration Process?…It Depends

Posted on: August 17, 2018 by in immigration
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A divorce is never easy, and a divorce is inevitably accompanied by some type of trouble. For almost everyone, a divorce can be emotionally turbulent. For many, a divorce means financial trouble. If you’re a parent, a divorce means parenting problems and possibly a custody battle.

And if you are not a US citizen yet, you may need the help of an immigration lawyer because it may also affect your immigration status in the United States. For example, if you are waiting for your adjustment of status filed through your US citizen spouse; or you are already a conditional lawful permanent resident in the United States – a “green card holder” with a 2 year conditional period; or if you are a spouse of someone who qualifies for an immigration visa or adjustment of status; or if you are in the U.S. as the spouse of someone holding a non-immigrant visa, it’s quite possible that a divorce will cause some very negative immigration consequences for you.

A divorce could mean the revocation of your lawful permanent residency, and in some cases, removal from the United States – but not in every case.

WILL A DIVORCE PREVENT YOU FROM ACQUIRING A GREEN CARD?

But even the immigration authorities know that sometimes a marriage fails, so do not conclude that a divorce or an annulment of your marriage means that you cannot obtain a green card.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), however, may investigate your marriage a second time for any evidence of marriage fraud.

What happens when an immigrant gets a divorce will depend to a great extent on the immigrant’s status when the divorce is finalized.

If a relative in the U.S. has submitted an I-130 visa petition on your behalf and that petition is pending when your divorce is finalized, you may no longer be qualified.

WHAT ABOUT NON-IMMIGRANT VISA HOLDERS – AND THEIR SPOUSES?

Experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva explains that if you divorce while you are in the United States as an asylee or with a non-immigrant visa, your spouse may lose his or her immigration benefit because of the divorce.

For example, let’s say that your spouse is employed in the United States and holds an L-1A non-immigrant intracompany transferee visa.

You accompany your spouse to the U.S., and you hold an L-2 visa – which is dependent on your spouse’s status. If you and your spouse divorce, you lose your immigration status the moment that the divorce is finalized, and you’ll have to leave the United States or apply for your own independent visa.

WHAT IF YOU DIVORCE WHILE YOUR GREEN CARD REQUEST IS PENDING?

If an immigrant has applied for adjustment of status – that is, for a green card by submitting Form I-485 – but has not yet been interviewed for adjustment of status at the time the divorce is finalized, the I-485 application may be denied, and/or the interview may be canceled.

Immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva explains that if your divorce is finalized while Form I-130 or Form I-485 is pending or during “I-130/counselor processing, divorce means the end of the benefit eligibility.”

DO YOU QUALIFY UNDER THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT (VAWA)?

However, under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), an immigrant may qualify to become a lawful permanent resident if that immigrant is a victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by:

1. a U.S. citizen spouse or ex-spouse
2. a U.S. citizen parent, son, or daughter
3. a lawful permanent resident spouse, ex-spouse, or parent

Attorney Chernysheva explains that if your case “is a VAWA case, you will need to be divorced to receive the benefit.”

When an immigrant is approved for a green card prior to marriage, if that marriage ends in divorce, the immigrant’s lawful permanent resident status probably will not be at risk, but if that green card holder later seeks U.S. citizenship, immigration authorities will take a closer look.

CAN CONDITIONAL RESIDENCY STATUS BE REMOVED AFTER A DIVORCE?

If you are an immigrant who was married to a citizen of the U.S. for less than two years when your green card was approved, you received “conditional” residency status. You request the removal of conditional status – and a green card – by submitting Form I-751.

However, the I-751 is a joint form that needs to be signed by both spouses.

If you divorce while your residency status is conditional, you may have difficulty obtaining a green card. In fact, when you submit Form I-751, you may be required to include proof that the marriage, although it was short and ended in divorce, was not fraudulent. The proof may include:

1. joint bank account statements
2. children’s birth certificates
3. a mortgage or rental agreement signed by both spouses
4. statements from marriage counselors or therapists that the marriage was not fraudulent

According to Las Vegas immigration attorney Margo Chernysheva, if you can prove that your marriage was legitimate, you will probably have no difficulties when you submit Form I-751 requesting the removal of conditional residency status.

Attorney Chernysheva says that your divorce “may or may not affect the process as it depends on many factors, but mostly it should not if the marriage was entered into for reasons other than immigration and was a bona fide marriage.”

HOW DOES DIVORCE AFFECT NATURALIZATION?

When you are a green card holder, and you apply for U.S. citizenship, USCIS reviews your immigration file and takes a closer look at the information in that file regarding your marriage.

A divorce or annulment, while your citizenship application is pending, will probably trigger a full re-examination of the case for any indication that your marriage was fraudulent.

When you submit Form N-400 to apply for U.S. citizenship after a divorce, you may need to produce documents to prove that your marriage was not fraudulent.

The 3-year path for spouses of U.S. citizens and the 5-year path for other lawful permanent residents are the two standard ways that adults become U.S. citizens.

Even though immigration authorities will already have abundant information about you, at this stage, they may require more recent and relevant documentation about your marriage and its legitimacy.

Attorney Chernysheva explains that, “If applying for N-400 (naturalization) under the 3-year provision, divorce or even separation will affect eligibility. If it is under the 5-year rule – no.”

If USCIS is not persuaded that your marriage was legitimate, you could conceivably face removal proceedings.

WHAT IS THE WISEST THING AN IMMIGRANT CAN DO AFTER A DIVORCE?

Immigration difficulties are often an unfortunate result of divorce, but in any of the situations discussed here, the wisest thing you can do is to obtain the advice – and if necessary, the representation – of an experienced immigration attorney.

It doesn’t matter what your immigration status is – you have the right to an attorney’s help. If you are dealing with any immigration matter related to a divorce, get that help immediately. Nothing is more important than your future.

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? Also, how can a Las Vegas fiancé visa lawyer help?

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. This is where a Las Vegas immigration law firm can help.

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.