Call today to schedule your immigration consultation 954-385-0157 or email: BAlvarado@Blandon-Law.com.

Blandon Law Immigration

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DREAM Again

     The House of Representatives and the Senate are once again considering the DREAM Act.  Under that law, thousands of foreign nationals who were brought into the U.S. as children and either study or join the military can obtain legal status.
    There are differences between the two versions of the law which must still be negotiated.  Click through to the analysis of AILA.  However, because of the wide appeal of this bill, it is expected to become law soon.  Supporters include the military and the universities.  In fact, even Janet Napolitano, the head of the Department of Homeland Security, wants to see the bill become a law as soon as possible.  Read the New York Times story here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Suing Immigration: Delays + Injustice = Lawsuits

Citizenship. The Citizenship and Immigration Service must decide whether to approve a naturalization case within 120 days. If it does not, the immigration law firm of Blandon Law will sue them and obtain results. On more complex cases, Blandon Law works with a team of other immigration experts highly experienced in federal court immigration lawsuits.

This is true even if the attorney did not represent the legal permanent resident at the naturalization interview. The response to a number of the Firm’s lawsuits (with the appropriate follow up by the immigration attorney) has been the delivery of a Naturalization Oath ceremony letter sent directly to the legal permanent resident in the mail. What seemed to be insurmountable matters are suddenly quickly resolved.

Removal of Conditions. Immigration should decide the Application to Remove the Conditions on Residency (Form I-751) during a reasonable time. Unfortunately, too often, CIS takes over two years to decide these cases. That is a huge injustice when foreign nationals have separated because of abuse or divorce. After so much time, the evidence of a valid marriage is old and Immigration is likely to request new evidence which, by then, simply is not available. A denial of Form I-751 results in the foreign national being sent to Immigration Court to defend against deportation. To insist that Immigration decide the Form I-751, Blandon Law files successful lawsuits when CIS takes more than a year to approve the removal of conditions application.

Asylum. Depending on the reason for the denial from the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA), a foreign national may be able to file an appeal directly with the Court of Appeals. The federal courts are strict adherents of the law and take Immigration Judges and the BIA to task if cases are not ruled upon according to established case law. If a client has been treated unfairly, litigation is the most efficient method to obtain justice.

For help with your complex case, call 954-385-0157.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Porting to New Employer -- Case with First Employer Must be Approved

     Immigration recently published a case which affects foreign nationals who wish to become residents based on employment.  There are two parts to such a case:  the employer's petition and the foreign national's application for residency.
     The law says that a petition filed by an employer remains "valid" if over 180 days pass from the date the application for residency is filed.  It is not uncommon that Immigration takes more than 180 days to process a foreign national's application for residency. 
     In the past, foreign nationals were pleased with this law because many interpreted it to mean that they could change employers and "port" to a new job if Immigration did not decide the case within 180 days.
    Not so. 
    In this new case, Al Wazzan, Immigration has decided that in order for the foreign national to obtain residency, the first employer's petition must be approved.  This is a terrible decision because years after a foreign national no longer works with the first employer, the first employer may decide to withdraw the petition, sell or close the business.  If this happens, according to the new case, the foreign national will not obtain residency.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Apply Now to Save Money

     The US Citizenship and Immigration Service has decided to adjust fees for immigration applications and petitions. Fees will be increased by a weighted average of about 10 percent but will not increase the fee for the naturalization application. The new fees will go into effect on November 23, 2010.  

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Republicans block DREAM Act

     The Republicans in the Senate yesterday unanimously voted to block the fiscal 2011 defense authorization bill (S. 3454).  Click through for the story from the New York Times.  As a result, the DREAM Act will not be considered in Congress.  It was to be added as an amendment to S. 3454.
     The DREAM Act is a law which permits persons to obtain residency if they were brought to the U.S. before they were 16 years of age, if they have been here over 5 years, and if they attend college or join the military.  It was a win-win for the children and for America.  Without such a law, America is effectively educating children in its public schools and then sending them abroad to become workers for other countries.  We're training our competition.
     The Republicans voted strictly on party lines. 
     

Monday, September 20, 2010

Congress could consider DREAM Act this week

      Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced his intention to include the DREAM Act in the major defense bill scheduled for floor action this week. The DREAM Act will allow persons who were brought into the U.S. as children to legalize their status so long as they study in college or enroll in the armed forces.
     The version of the Defense Authorization bill that passed the House of Representatives in late May did not include the DREAM Act provision. If the Senate passes their version of the defense bill with the DREAM Act intact, it will still need to survive the conference committee reconciliation and then come back before each chamber for a final vote.
     The DREAM Act would not be the only controversial amendment debated during action on the defense bill. A repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, which would allow gay and lesbian service members to openly serve in the military, will be included in the massive bill. The repeal has already passed the House in their version of the bill. The last time the Senate voted on the DREAM Act was in 2007, as a stand-alone measure, when it came 8 votes short of overcoming a filibuster.
     Part of this information was obtained through the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Secure Communities

     Enforcement of existing immigration laws has become one of the top priorities for the Dept. of Homeland Security.  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is expanding their system of identifying, detaining and removing foreign nationals with criminal records.  The initiative is known as Secure Communities.
     When persons are arrested, local law enforcement agencies obtain their fingerprints.  These fingerprints will now be used, together with ICE's database, to determine the immigration status of the persons arrested.  If they are here without authorization, they will be detained and placed in removal proceedings before an Immigration Judge.  Although ICE claims that its first priority is to remove dangerous criminals, the evidence may indicate otherwise.  Click through to the New York Times editorial.
     To avoid losing precious rights, detained foreign nationals must hire attorneys immediately.  There are new cases every day that might help foreign nationals avoid removal.  Only an attorney can represent foreign nationals before an Immigration Judge.
    

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Rules for Visitors Who Want to Become Students

    Recently, the Citizenship and Immigration Service published a memo reminding foreign nationals about the regulations to become a student if they entered as a visitior in B-1 or B-2 nonimmigrant status.  If they would like to enroll in classes, they may apply for a change of status to academic (F-1) or vocational (M-1) student status if they: have not yet enrolled in classes, have unexpired status, and have not engaged in unauthorized employment

     Enrolling in classes while in B-1/B-2 status will result in a status violation. Foreign nationals who have violated their nonimmigrant status by enrolling in classes are not eligible to extend their B status or change to F-1 or M-1 status. These regulations provide no exceptions.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Deportation When Drug Conviction Vacated

    Foreign nationals can be removed from the United States when the Attorney General "knows or has reason to believe" that they have been trafficking in any controlled substance.  Unlike other reasons to have someone removed from the United States, this law allows foreign nationals to be removed based on conduct even when there was no criminal conviction.  In the past, Immigration has used the "reason to believe" law to remove foreign nationals even when the drug convictions were vacated.
     Fortunately, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals just ruled in Garces vs. Attorney General that when a foreign national has been convicted for trafficking in controlled substances and that conviction has been vacated, there is not enough evidence to justify a "reason to believe" removal.  This is true even though the arrest report describes the foreigner’s involvement in the drug trafficking.     
     So in several states including Florida, police reports even when coupled with a conviction that is later vacated, are not enough to have someone deported on these grounds. 
     This is not legal advice as your case may have the risks and benefits that are not apparent.  For the strategy to meet your immigration goals, contact (954) 385-0157.

Friday, July 30, 2010

America Needs Immigrants, Report Confirms

     The Immigration Policy Center just issued a detailed state-by-state report analyzing the economic impact of immigrants.  Intelligent debate about immigration must include recognition of the following:
  • Immigrants, Latinos, and Asians account for large and growing shares of the U.S. economy and electorate. Overall, immigrants made up more than 12% of the U.S. population (or nearly 38 million people) in 2008, and more than 43% of them are naturalized U.S. citizens meaning they are eligible to vote. 
  • In 2008, Latinos and Asians accounted for nearly 20% of all Americans and wielded $1.5 trillion in consumer purchasing power. 
  • The businesses they own had sales and receipts of $549 billion and employed 3.7 million people at last count. 
     This last item is my personal favorite tying the need for immigrants directly with the American goal of improving our economy.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Web Site of Immigration

     For many reasons, including financial constraints, some foreign nationals prefer to file applications with the Citizenship and Immigration Service on their own.  General information on immigration benefits and the applications -- including instructions -- is available at the CIS web site
     Foreign nationals especially file applications for the following matters without the assistance of an attorney:
  • Renewal of a green card
  • Naturalization without arrests or substantial time outside the country
  • Petitions for immediate blood-relation family members (children and parents)
     Other cases, however, can be delayed or denied if filed improperly or without the required evidence.  That is why I strongly encourage foreign nationals to begin their research at the CIS web site.  After learning about various options, an attorney can provide the best strategy to efficiently meet their immigration goals.  In legal matters, an educated consumer is the best client.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Unlicensed Practice of Law

     Elizabeth R. Blandon, Esq., has been appointed by the Supreme Court of Florida to serve on the local Unlicensed Practice of Law (UPL) committee, effective August 1, 2010. 
     The purpose of the UPL program was best explained by the Supreme Court as follows:
     The reason for prohibiting the practice of law by those who have not been examined and found qualified to practice is frequently misunderstood.  It is not done to aid or protect members of the legal profession either in creating or maintaining a monopoly or closed shop.  It is done to protect the public from being advised and represented in legal matters by unqualified persons over whom the judicial department can exercise little, if any, control in the matter of infractions of the Code of Conduct which, in the public interest, lawyers are bound to observe.
     Unfortunately, foreigners -- who do not understand the American legal system and the obligations of immigration attorneys -- are easy targets for paralegals and notarios.  As recently as last month, a scam artist was arrested for allegedly stealing thousands from the unwary.  See the full story at this link.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Floridians: Does He Represent You?

     Attorney General (and candidate for Governor) Bill McCollum is adding Florida to a list of states supporting the Arizona immigration law.  McCollum announced the plan to join with other states supporting the Arizona law against legal challenges by the Obama administration.
     Mr. McCollum, Republican, is using a legal issue to advance his political career.  "I support the current law in Arizona, and I support efforts to see a similar law brought to our state. Seeing no action or leadership from the federal authorities, Arizona has every right to move to protect its citizens, and for this they are being sued by the President," said McCollum.
     The lawsuit against Arizona was filed by the federal government -- not specifically President Obama -- because it is contrary to the Constitution for one state to make immigration policy.  It is the same as if Alaska, by itself, declared war against Russia or declared that only persons over 30 years of age can vote.  States simply do not have that power.  Arizona's argument is that its laws are consistent with the federal immigration laws. 
     Click through to the full story in the Miami Herald.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Attention Guatemalan Women

     Women from Guatemala who have been in the United States for less than a year should consider applying for asylum if they fled their homeland due to violence. 
     The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that Guatemalan women could apply for asylum because of the high murder rate of females in that country.  More than 3,800 Guatemalan women have been murdered since 2000 and fewer than 2 percent of the crimes have been solved, according to the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies at the University of California, San Francisco.
     Asylees obtain employment authorization, a drivers license and one year after their case is granted, they can apply for legal permanent resident status, which allows them to work and stay in the country legally.
     Because violence against women extends throughout Central America, the Court's ruling will also be of significant benefit to females from other countries, such as Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador.
     To obtain legal advice and see if you should apply for asylum, contact the Firm at 954-385-0157.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Federal Government Sues Arizona

      Yesterday, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against the State of Arizona because of its recently passed immigration law.  The DOJ was joined by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State.
      According to
Arizona's law, law enforcement authorities who suspect that someone is a foreign national in the Unites States without authorization must ask for immigration documents.  Law enforcement officials including the Chiefs of Police of Phoenix and Tucson explained that this new law will greatly decrease their ability to effectively police their communities.  This is because victims of, or witnesses to, crimes will be less likely to contact or cooperate with law enforcement officials.  Also, the Chiefs of Police were highly concerned because this new law would require them to reassign officers from critical areas such as violent crimes, property crimes, and home invasion. 
      As the Department of Justice explained, immigration law is a topic that is best addressed by Congress and not by individual states.  The top Republicans of Arizona claim their state’s law is needed to remove illegals.  Click through to story. 
Ironically, Republicans are the ones preventing comprehensive immigration legislation from becoming laws in Congress. Click through to that story.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

President Obama Defines His View on Immigration

     For those who ask me when immigration reform will become a reality, I have one answer:  yes, we can. 
     President Obama will call for comprehensive immigration legislation and the importance of keeping the border secure at a public address this morning.  His speech is at the American University's School of International Service in Northwest Washington.  Information from the White House is available here.
     Immigration reform is a hot button political issue because the idea of punishing persons who are in the country without authorization seems common sensical many.  On the other hand, most voters who personally know persons who have been here without authorization for many years support a program giving them the right to earn legal documentation.  It must be remembered that most "illegals" pay taxes, have U.S. citizen children and are law-abiding members of their communities.
     Immigration reform is important to Hispanics in the Democratic base, who will play an important part in the outcome of the mid-term elections.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Visa Bulletin and Priority Dates

     The spouse, parent and children (under 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen are known as immediate relatives. They can apply for residency at the same time that the U.S. citizen sponsors them.  Family-sponsored foreign nationals who are not immediate relatives must wait until the "priority date" becomes current.  This means that the family member must first petition the foreign nationals and then, when the date of that petition is "current" on the Visa Bulletin, the foreign nationals may apply for residency.
     The Visa Bulletin changes monthly.  A petition filed five years ago will not necessarily take five years for the priority date to become current.  Recently, the CIS Ombudsman reported that during 2009 and part of 2010, usage of family-based visas has been exceptionally low, especially among spouses and children of green card holders (F-2A preference category). A significant number of family-based visas may go unused in FY 2010. 
     Therefore, priority dates in this category will be processed much faster than in other years.  For legal advice on your case, please schedule a consultation.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Good News

     Life is good.  It really is.
     I wanted to share a few happy stories from Blandon Law today.  The first is that a foreign national spouse was recently approved for legal permanent residency based on her marriage to a U.S. citizen.  That's what usually happens to our spouse sponsor cases -- they are approved.  What makes this approval particularly special is that the client was approved without having to undergo an interview with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service.  The Firm prepared her paperwork so well that CIS is mailing the green card to her directly.  It should arrive within a month.
     Another bright spot is that word is getting out about immigration benefits available to children.  Parents and guardians should see an immigration attorney about benefits for their children as soon as possible.  Click here for an article about children, written by this attorney and published this month in Flair magazine.  It is at page 42.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Detention and Enforcement Tougher in Next 4 Years

     Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is the enforcement division of the Department of Homeland Security, the agency which provides immigration benefits through the Citizenship and Immigration Services.  ICE just released its strategic plan for the next four years.  See the full news release here.   
     ICE's plan is to obtain tougher laws within the next several years to that they can increase enforcement against illegal employment.  They also intend to invest more of their resources to remove foreign nationals who enter the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, but then overstay the visit.  Finally, they would like to solicit proposals and develop at least four regional detention facilities.  This is so they will have a place to keep those foreign nationals they intend to detain.
    This strategic plan is a clear message to foreign nationals:  get your immigration status in order now before the penalties toughen up.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Immigration to Increase Fees

     The Citizenship and Immigration Service will increase the fees for applications and benefits shortly.  Although it is only a proposal at this time -- click here to read more -- such "proposals" seldom fail to become realities.
    The price to apply for a green card — given to foreigners to live and work in the U.S. permanently — would go from $930 to $985. The cost to replace a lost green card would go from $290 to $365. And an application to become a temporary resident would rise $420 to $1,130.
     Fortunately, the fee to become a U.S. citizen may not increase.  It is currently $595.  The right to become a citizen was given special consideration by the Citizenship and Immigration Service.
     In 2007, when the naturalization fees increased the last time, the number of filed applications increased dramatically just before the increase went into effect.  Since then, however, in part due to the poor economy and the higher fees, the number of filed naturalization applications has declined.  See New York Times story on this issue here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Gender Change in Passports and Birth Certificates

     Beginning June 10, when a passport applicant presents a certification from an attending medical physician that the applicant has undergone appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition, the United States passport will reflect the new gender. 
     Sexual reassignment surgery is no longer a prerequisite for passport issuance. A Consular Report of Birth Abroad can also be amended with the new gender.    
     Passport issuing officers at embassies and consulates abroad and domestic passport agencies and centers will only ask appropriate questions to obtain information necessary to determine citizenship and identity.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Does Visa Waiver Prevent Residency based on Marriage?

     The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows foreign nationals from designated countries to enter the United States without applying for a visa.  Greece was recently designated, for example.  The full list of countries is available by clicking here.  VWP foreigners can visit this country for up to 90 days at a time.
     In exchange for this ease of travel, VWP foreigners waive several rights.  Among these are the right to a full removal proceeding before an Immigration Judge, with the exception of applying for asylum.
     Of course, humans being human, sometimes VWP foreigners fall in love, decide to marry, and wonder how they can remain here legally. 
     Foreign nationals who wish to become legal permanent residents while remaining in the U.S. must undergo the adjustment of status process with the Citizenship and Immigration Service.  Marriage-based adjustment is only available to VWP foreigners if they are petitioned by U.S. citizen spouses, parents or sons or daughters (over 21 years of age).  However, because VWP foreigners give up the right to Immigration Court, they risk removal if the adjustment of status application is denied.  Removal results in a 10 year penalty during which time the foreigners cannot return to the U.S., even if married to a citizen.
     Consular processing with the Dept. of State may be a better option for VWP foreigners in some situations.  To obtain legal advice in your case, call and schedule a consultation.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Taxi Service or Subway Value?

     Yesterday, I represented a client in New York City. The taxi and subway reminded me of the two ways foreign nationals can obtain immigration benefits: the service of an attorney or the value of filing applications on their own.
     A taxi driver takes clients to their destination as quickly as possible, answering questions along the way, and pointing out options of places they might wish to explore. Likewise, an immigration attorney finalizes the applications and supporting documents, answers foreign nationals' questions during the process, and explains ancillary benefits (such as employment authorization, travel permits and family members' benefits).
     On the other hand, a subway is a better value than a taxi. Unfortunately, a subway takes much longer to get to the destination. In addition, when riders are lost, they rely on strangers for information -- or misinformation. Worse, riders go towards a specific destination without knowledge of other options available to them.  Not to mention the rat that might be found along the way.
      When foreign nationals consider filing a case on their own as a way to save money, I am reminded of the subway system. Their immigration benefits may be delayed, the information obtained from strangers may be inapplicable (or simply wrong) and ancillary benefits may be overlooked.
     Sometimes, foreign nationals who try to file on their own also find an unscrupulous notary or "immigration consultant" along the way.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

An Immigration Specialist

     As of June 1, 2010, I am a Board Certified Immigration and Nationality Lawyer. 
     Today I received confirmation of my achievement.  In this manner, the Florda Bar, the association of the state's attorneys, identified me as a specialist in my practice area. As it reads on the Bar web site:  "Certification is the highest level of evaluation by The Florida Bar of competency and experience within an area of law, and professionalism and ethics in practice."
     There are about 50 certified immigration attorneys in Florida.  My name will be added to the public list of certified immigration attorneys on June 1st.
     I am humbled by this honor.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Becoming Legal Despite Prior Fraud

     Foreign nationals who are the spouses, parents or children of a U.S. citizen (USC) or legal permanent resident (LPR) and who enter the country without a valid immigrant visa may be allowed to avoid removal and remain legally in the U.S.  This is known as the fraud waiver.
     In some cases before the Immigration Court, foreign nationals are facing removal (deportation) because the Citizenship and Immigration Service later discovers that the marriage to the USC or the LPR is a fraud.  Upon discovery, Immigration terminates the legal status and places the foreign national in removal proceedings.
     The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Vasquez v. Holder, recently held that foreign nationals in this situation are eligible for the fraud waiver, as a humanitarian gesture.
     In order to obtain the fraud waiver, and remain legally in the U.S., foreign nationals must have: (1) the required familial relationship, (2) entry with a visa, and (3) been otherwise admissible.  There is NO requirement that the foreign nationals demonstrate hardship to themselves or to their USC or LPR family  members.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Creativity

     Practicing law is not an activity limited to books.  An immigration lawyer uses creativity to help clients achieve their goals.  The following are stories of two of Blandon Law's clients:
     A homosexual man was denied asylum because he did not apply within one year after arriving in the United States.  However, he did not "come out" until he had been living in the country for several years.  By arguing that "coming out" is similar to a religious conversion -- for which asylum is regularly granted -- an Blandon Law is helping the foreign national become a legal permanent resident and eventually a citizen.
     Likewise, another foreign national was denied asylum because she entered the U.S. when she was one year old.  Now that she was 16 years old, she likewise did not apply within one year of entering the U.S.  Although young age can be considered a type of legal incapacity which permits late filing, the Citizenship and Immigration Service disregarded this reasoning.  This author presented the case before an Immigration Court and argued that the young woman faced the likelihood of future persecution because of a recent change in her personal circumstances.
     Do not put aside your dreams because another notary, consultant or attorney refuses to try.  Do not ignore what may be possible.  Call the office to schedule a consultation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Services Offered

     Blandon Law provides many immigration services for clients.  Read on about the different kinds of cases and the different types of evidence we work with every day. 

     For Clients Residing in the United States

• Extension or change of status
• Application for Asylum
• Labor Certification
• Petitions for Relatives or Employees
• Waivers to allow Residency
• Residency/Green Cards
• Naturalization and Citizenship
• Relief from Deportation/Removal

     For Clients Residing Abroad
• Nonimmigrant Visas – Visitor, Employees, Students
• Immigrant Visas – Green Card when Client Enters the U.S.
• Labor Certification
• Petitions for Relatives or Employees
• Waivers to allow Return to U.S. after Deportation/Removal

     One of the most valuable services Blandon Law provides is assistance in Organizing Documents to prove the case. Evidence is everything. Clients will need to provide the originals of the following documents so that Blandon Law can represent them best:

    Work-Based Immigration
Proof of ability to pay prevailing U.S. wage
Existence of employer
Need for foreign worker, known as Labor Certification
Employee’s education and experience

     Family-Based Immigration
Proof of ability to support the Foreigner (tax returns, employer letters)
Proof of relationship (birth, marriage and divorce certificates)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Lawyer Fees

     Generally, the Firm works with a flat fee pricing schedule. The initial consultation charge of $80 is applied toward the total legal fee, which is determined at that first meeting depending on the complexity of the case.
     You pay for a specific service based on the amount of time deemed necessary to perform the service, which remains constant regardless of the actual time needed to complete the service. In this manner, the Firm uses its time to provide legal service instead of working on outstanding invoices. At your request and without additional charge, the Firm can provide an environment-friendly electronic version of your file, communicate through e-mails instead of phone calls and refer you to other providers (accountants, attorneys, insurance agents, real estate professionals and translators to name a few.)
     We make every effort to please you. If you are satisfied with the Firm, refer two friends or family members who may have need of immigration services. If you are not satisfied, let us know immediately so that we may remedy your concerns.
     For the convenience of our clients, we accept checks, cash, MasterCard and Visa. Interest free financing is available, as are discounts if you make full payment at the beginning of the case. Clients enjoy a complete range of flexible and affordable options, including monthly payments determined by their ability to pay.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Immigration Benefits for Victims

     The journey to any immigration goal starts with a first step. Although victims know they need professional advice, they resist entering the law firm of an immigration attorney. Retelling their horrors seems like an impossible task.
     As this article explains, immigration law allows temporary status, legal permanent residence (LPR), or expedited citizenship based on past harm. Whether this harm was suffered through abuse or persecution, an immigration professional can only help the foreigner if she is willing to help herself. Make the call. Tell the story. Allow the attorney to do the rest.
     At Blandon Law, we assist victims of violence, abuse and persecution by providing confidential one-on-one consultations. It is understood, accepted and assumed that a victim will have a difficult time reliving these events. For that reason, there are no additional fees because a victim needs to schedule several consultations. The Firm also recommends mental health professionals to assist victims with the consequences of the harm they suffered. Finally, the Firm works hand in hand with these professionals to develop the evidence that will be used to obtain the immigration benefit.
     Citizenship. A spouse or child who obtained LPR status because of battering or extreme cruelty can apply for citizenship after three years, not the usual five. This exception applies even if the “child” was 21 years old or older at the time s/he became a resident.
     Legal Permanent Residence. Victims can obtain legal permanent residence through various laws. Under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a spouse, parent or child who is subject to extreme cruelty or is battered may file a self-petition for LPR status. Abused spouses of Cubans – who obtain LPR through the Cuban Adjustment Act – need not live with their abusers if they are not yet divorced. They can also self-petition if the abuse was the cause for the divorce.
     When a victim is being deported, she may also be eligible for residency by applying for cancellation of removal. The abuser must be a spouse or parent who is or was a citizen or LPR. The parent of a child who was victimized can also become a resident through cancellation.
     Likewise, an asylee who has lived in the United States for one year can apply for LPR status. Several requirements for residency do not apply to victims and asylees. These include the affidavit of support and the requirement that the foreigner must maintain lawful presence prior to becoming a resident.
     Temporary status and work authorization. Even victims who are not related to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents may be eligible for temporary status. A foreigner who is helping the law enforcement authorities with the prosecution of a crime including domestic violence is eligible for U status. Victims of human trafficking, where abuse is the daily occurrence, are eligible for T status.
     A foreigner can also obtain work authorization and temporary status if they fled their home country because the government was unable or unwilling to protect her. Asylum can be applied for directly with the Citizenship and Immigration Service. Otherwise, if a foreigner is in the process of being removed from the United States, asylum is also a defense to that deportation. In many cases, victims refuse to apply for asylum because the horror of a denial and deportation is greater than the fear of remaining illegal. Perhaps the authorities were counting on this fear when they imposed an arbitrary one-year deadline for asylum. The fact that a victim does not wish to (or cannot muster the courage to) provide information relating to the persecution suffered is not an excuse for failing to file within one year after arrival.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Making Children Legal Before They Become 18

     When a foreign national enters the U.S., it is for a period of authorized stay. Children have an advantage because although that time limit may expire, a child does not have unauthorized presence while under 18 years of age. In other words, children cannot be “illegal.” This article discusses several options for children to avoid penalties for becoming illegal.  If nothing else, they may be able to leave the U.S., obtain permission to return while abroad (if the visa has expired) and return in legal status. For example, a Venezuelan child whose heritage is Greek or Italian can leave the U.S. even if she has been here without permission for several years. Then, she returns on her European passport (Greece recently became a member of the European Union) under the Visa Waiver Program. The child does not even have to apply for a visa.
     Step-child of U.S. Citizen. The petition by a U.S. citizen for a step-child (defined as the child of the foreign spouse if the couple married before the child was 18 years old) is independent from a petition for the child’s foreign parent. In other words, even if the foreign parent divorced, a U.S. citizen can still help a foreign child obtain legal permanent residency (LPR) so long as the relationship between the US citizen and the child continues. Of course, with LPR status, the child can live, work and study in the U.S.
      Removal of Conditions, if residency was obtained more than 90 days after the residency of the foreign parent, does not depend solely on the strength of the parent’s marital relationship. This is important because when a foreigner obtains LPR status before the second anniversary of the marriage, Immigration requires the filing of another application and proof that the parent’s marital relationship is still valid. This is not possible where the foreign parent and the US citizen have divorced or are separated.
     Victims of Abuse, whether physical or mental, who have suffered at the hands of a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident can obtain status in this country. If the child obtained legal permanent residence based on a parent’s marriage to the abuser, she can apply for citizenship after three years instead of five. This exception applies even if the “child” was 21 years old or older at the time she became a resident.
     An abused child can also apply for legal permanent residency by herself. She does not need a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Immediate legal status is also available to victims of domestic violence through a status known as the U visa.
      An Adopted Foreign Child has the same rights as a natural child of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. The child must be adopted before she is 16 years of age and there is also a requirement that the parent have two years of living with the child as well as two years of legal custody.
     If the LPR or US citizen is Adopting a Brother or Sister, the child can be adopted until the age of 18. These cases are sometimes complicated because the natural parent lives with the adoptive parent. When that is the case, Immigration places the burden on the adoptive parent to demonstrate that it is a real parent/child relationship.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Optimism

     Martin Luther King, Jr. did not spread his message of racial harmony by saying "I'm tired of this white/black separation."  Instead, he projected a dream for a better tomorrow.  Gandhi did not say "It's this little man against England."  He exclaimed the bold idea that a single man could be the change he wanted to see in the world.
     These leaders set an example for all who want comprehensive immigration reform this year.  In the spirit of another great leader, President John F. Kennedy, "Ask not when the law will be changed.  Ask how you can change the law today." 
     An estimated 70% of foreign nationals who are in the U.S. without authorization have a family member who is a U.S. citizen.  The answer is for these U.S. citizens to let their representatives know that simple changes will allow hundreds of thousands of persons to become legal, obtain identities, drive with licenses, pay taxes and contribute to society.  (To send a quick e-mail to your Congressperson, click here.)   
     Currently, a foreign national who has been claimed by a family member cannot become a legal permanent resident because traveling abroad -- to obtain the immigrant visa -- triggers a 3 or 10 year bar to reentering the U.S.  Before this 3/10 year bar existed, foreign nationals travelled abroad, obtained immigrant visas and returned to the U.S. and their new legal lives. 
     The 3/10 year bar can be amended or repealed.  Smile.  Make it happen.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Nonimmigrants -- Visitors, Students and Trainees

      Nonimmigrants enter the United States for a temporary stay. They are restricted to the purpose of their entry. The Firm assists foreigners to obtain visas abroad even when waivers to inadmissibility are needed.
      The most common visa is for visitors, whether for pleasure or business purposes. In addition to tourists, this visa facilitates the entry of foreigners who are coming to the U.S. for commercial transactions but not for gainful employment. They may negotiate contracts, remain involved in litigation, consult with clients, and discuss business with associates. A person in the U.S. with a visitor visa may also study, if such activity is part of their work or recreational activities.
       Students can enter the United States on visas for academic (F visa) or vocational work (M visa). The institution where the foreigner will study determines the type of visa. Generally, a student with an M visa is studying either at a community/junior college, a vocational school or a business school (other than language instruction). If a student enters the U.S. to study at a private school and then transfers to a public school, the immigration law exacts a harsh penalty. The student will be barred from entering the U.S. for a period of five years. The Law Firm assists foreigners with initial admission, transfers, and reinstatement concerns.
      Like students, trainees can apply for different categories, each with its own requirements. Exchange visitors (J visa) are entering based on the sponsorship of a program that has been substantially reviewed by the Department of State. The maximum period of time that the foreigner can remain is 18 months, unless she is an intern (12 months) or is learning about agriculture or hotel/tourism (12 months). When a foreigner is coming to the U.S. to join a program within a company, she applies for an H-3 visa. The company must demonstrate that it is training, not employing, the foreigner. For example, successful H-3 programs usually involve training foreigners in the U.S. for future employment with an affiliate abroad.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

When Good Fences Don't Make Good Neighbors

     At least one thousand persons cross the Mexican-U.S. border each day without authorization (click here for story). Anti-immigration proponents have a uniform proposed solution to illegal immigration:  enhanced border security.  Contrary to what might at first appear to be common sense, higher fences and more border guards will NOT decrease the tide of illegals.  The following facts -- released by the American Immigration Lawyers Association -- explain why:
     FACT: Increased border security and the construction of border fences have done little to curb the flow of immigrants across the United States border. Instead, these policies have only succeeded in pushing border crossers into dangerous and less-patrolled regions, and increased the undocumented population by creating an incentive for immigrants not to leave.
     FACT: Building a wall along the entire 2000-mile southern U.S. border would be prohibitively expensive. According to a study by the Cato Institute, rather than acting as a deterrent to those attempting to cross the border, increased enforcement has only succeeded in pushing immigration flows into more remote, less patrolled regions, resulting in a tripling of the death rate at the border and decreased apprehensions, and creating a dramatic increase in taxpayer money spent on making arrests along the border (from $300 per arrest in 1992 to $1,200 per arrest in 2002).
     FACT: Most experts agree that the decline in the number of unauthorized immigrants is closely linked to the US recession and not to border security programs. Studies have found that historically, recessions affect unauthorized workers disproportionately, as they are more likely to work in industries that are sensitive to business cycles, such as construction, manufacturing, and hospitality. Additionally, statistics show that in 2009, there were 50% less apprehensions at the border than in 2006, a sign that there is less incentive for people to come to the US during recession.
     In conclusion, the best way to keep illegal immigration at bay is to enforce the existing laws on employers of unauthorized workers.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Recovering Immigration Documents After Flood or Other Disasters

     Immigration documents should be the last thing on the minds of victims of natural disasters.  When struck by a flood, such as the one which ravaged Nashville, Tennessee, many persons believe that such information will be easily retrieved from the databases of a government entity.  Well, retrievable yes, easily no.
     Like most government agencies, the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) provides the public with copies of its records.  A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request must be completed and mailed to the appropriate record keeping site.  On the other hand, determining where CIS keeps records -- and obtaining those records as quickly as possible -- is a job for an immigration professional. 
     Blandon Law provides this service for a minimal fee, which is determined based on the age of the records and the immigration proceedings.  For example, if a foreigner entered the U.S. as a student, was ever before an Immigration Judge, and later became a resident through marriage, different records must be requested from four different sites.
     Keeping in mind that these records include proof of legal status, proof of legal entry and proof of work authorization, however, the price is extremely reasonable.  The peace of mind is priceless.  Call 954-385-0157 if we can be of service to you.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Overcoming a Charge of Inadmissibility

     Whether a foreigner is entering on a nonimmigrant or an immigrant visa, she must demonstrate that she is eligible to be admitted into the United States. In addition, even if the foreigner is already within the United States but is applying to become a Legal Permanent Resident through Adjustment of Status, she must demonstrate that the grounds of inadmissibility do not apply to her. The most common grounds for denial include health-related grounds (such as communicable diseases or mental health), economic grounds (likely to become a public charge), criminal grounds (convictions or admissions to the acts), and violations of immigration laws (such as working without authorization during a prior visit to the United States).
     The grounds for inadmissibility are numerous and complicated. While a foreigner may know of a Legal Permanent Resident who has never been deported despite a marijuana conviction, for example, a foreigner who has ever been convicted of any controlled substance offense is inadmissible to the United States even on a visitor (B1/B2) visa.
     Blandon Law assists foreign nationals to obtain waivers of these grounds of inadmissibility. There are a number of waivers specifically written into the Immigration Act. The best known among these may be waivers for the bars for unlawful re-entry after removal, remaining in the US unlawfully for a specific period of time, or working without authorization. The waivers can be obtained at a port of entry such as an airport, an Immigration Field Office, an Inadmissibility Review Office, through Citizenship and Immigration Service or through a consulate or embassy abroad. Because the field of waivers is so complex, the single thing that is clear about waivers is that the advice of an immigration professional is vital. When the foreigner is not allowed into the United States or is not allowed to become a resident because of one of these grounds of inadmissibility, call Blandon Law.

Friday, April 30, 2010

REPAIR when broken

      Yesterday, on April 29th, Senators announced a proposal for immigration reform.  It is a relatively short, 26‐page “framework of concrete bipartisan ideas,” known as Real Enforcement with Practical Answers for Immigration Reform (REPAIR).
      The proposal seeks a workable middle ground on the following issues:

Border Enforcement
Enforcement of Immigration Laws in the Interior of the U.S.
Biometric Identification and Employment Verification
High Skilled Immigration, Immigration of Lower‐Skilled Workers , Promoting Family Immigration
Registration and Legalization Plan for Foreigners in the U.S. without Authorization

     Without such a federal overhaul, the fear is that states will independently create laws to deal with immigration problems.  This would be disastrous because immigration, at its essence, is the system of laws relating to how the United States deals with foreign countries and their citizens.  A clear example of this is that Mexicans are now boycotting Arizona as a result of that state's efforts on immigration.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Administrative Review -- AAO and BALCA

     The Administrative Appeals Office (AAO) is like an appellate court which is not bound by the decisions of the Citizenship and Immigration Service. There is no review of the denial of an extension of stay or change of non-immigrant status. However, the AAO does review many other decisions by Immigration.
     The Law Firm helps foreigners when the following types of cases are being reviewed by the AAO:

I-140 Employment-based preference petitions,
Revocation of approved petitions,
Applications for permission to reapply for admission into the US after deportation or removal,
Applications for waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility,
Petitions for temporary workers,
Applications for re entry permits, and
Naturalization

    The AAO does not review denied I-130 petitions as those are reviewed by the Board of Immigration Appeals. The I-130 petition is the petition by a US Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident for a foreign relative.
     In addition, the Firm helps foreigners with appeals to the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals. BALCA reviews denials or revocation of Labor Certifications. These decisions are made by a Certifying Officer. The Law Firm also represents employers when BALCA is reviewing a challenge to the prevailing wage, which is the minimum wage that a US employer must agree to pay a foreigner under the Labor Certification process. This minimum wage is set so that an employer cannot hire a foreigner for less money than she would pay a U.S. worker.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Happens if I Don't Win My Case at the Asylum Office?

     When the Citizenship and Immigration Service does not approve an asylum application, the Immigration Officer refers the foreign national to Immigration Court. Sometimes referral is the result of CIS not having jurisdiction over that type of case. For example, foreigners who apply more than one year after their arrival in the United States are often referred to Immigration Court. In that way, an Immigration Judge can determine whether the exceptions to the one-year deadline apply.
     The removal proceedings before the Immigration Judge are divided into two different types of hearings. At the Master Hearing, the foreigner's identity, removability and possible relief are discussed. If there are any questions as to whether the foreigner should be deported, the Immigration Judge schedules additional Master Hearings to discuss those issues. The evidence proving asylum is offered at an Individual or Merits Hearing. At this kind of meeting, the foreign national will provide testimony and will be cross examined by an attorney representing the Department of Homeland Security. The Immigration Judge will also question the applicant and review all documentary proof. More than ever, proof of persecution through documents -- as opposed to proof that is presented only through testimony -- is required to win an asylum case.
     Whether or not the foreign national wins the asylum case, an appeal can be filed later with the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). And if the foreigner does not win before the BIA, she may be eligible to appeal to the federal courts.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Must a Woman Take Her Husband's Last Name for Immigration?

     When residency is based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, foreigners do not want to make any mistakes.  That may be why I am often asked the question by foreign national women whether they must take their spouse's last name.  The unspoken statement is that they don't wish to, but they also don't wish to jeopardize the success of their case.
     Well, I'm here to say that experienced Immigration Officers don't care about the maiden-to-married name switch.  Retaining the maiden name is commonplace in the cultures of many countries, so an officer would be accustomed to that tradition.
     If there is any further question on whether to retain the last name, though, click through to Catherine Rampell's article this week in The New York Times.  A group of Dutch researchers recently published their findings that women who change their name at marriage make nearly $400,000 less over their lifetimes than women who do not. They are viewed as older, less educated and unmotivated compared to women who kept their names when they tied the knot.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Voluntary Departure Instead of Deportation


     Although the decision whether to risk deportation or apply for Voluntary Departure (VD) must be considered carefully, the latter might be part of a grander strategy for a foreigner to leave the U.S., obtain a visa abroad, and return to the country legally. VD avoids a deportation order, which punishes the foreigner with a definite period of years during which a she cannot return to the U.S. -- even if, for example, she is married to a U.S. citizen or has an employer willing to petition her.
      Either the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or an Immigration Judge (IJ) can grant VD.  DHS may grant VD up to a total of 120 days to a foreigner who agrees to depart the United States at her own expense.
     Once the foreigner has been caught and placed in removal proceedings, an IJ can grant Voluntary Departure either before the master hearing or at the merits hearing. If it is granted prior to the completion of proceedings, the IJ can grant up to 120 days. The foreign national must request no other relief, concede removability, and waive appeal.
     A foreigner may also apply for VD at the conclusion of a Removal Hearing. In that case, however, the Immigration Judge may grant no more than 60 days and the foreign national must meet certain conditions. The foreign national must have been physically present in the United States for at least one year before the issuance of the Notice To Appear (which begins removal proceedings), must be a person of good moral character for at least five years, must post a bond, must have the ability to leave at her own expense, and must not be deportable as an aggravated felon.
     An immigration professional will advise whether and when a foreigner should apply for VD. Never replace professional advice with the oral suggestions made by a DHS official or even an Immigration Judge.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Cancellation - Avoiding Removal and Becoming a Legal Resident

     An Immigration Judge has the power to cancel the removal, meaning cancel the deportation, of a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). This is possible if the LPR has been a resident for five years, has lived in the US continuously for seven years after having been admitted in any status, and has not been convicted of an aggravated felony.
     An Immigration Judge can also cancel the removal of a foreigner who is not yet a Legal Permanent Resident. If this type of cancellation is granted, the foreigner becomes a Legal Permanent Resident on the spot. The foreigner must have been physically present in the United States for at least ten years before applying for cancellation, must have been a person of good moral character for ten years, and must not have been convicted of certain offenses. In addition, she must establish that removal would result in exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to her US citizen or LPR spouse, parent or child. This is an extremely difficult burden as the Immigration Judge will be looking for something beyond the usual burden of separating family members. A great deal of evidence is required to prove hardship. 
     Because cancellation is a process that involves the organization of a great deal of evidence, knowing the proper legal argument, and having extensive experience with the particular Immigration Judge assigned to the foreigner’s case, it is vital to retain the right immigration professional when seeking cancellation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Labor Certification -- what it is and what it is not

     Labor Certification is the first step in a long process for a foreigner to obtain legal permanent residency based on employment. The employer submits information to the Department of Labor (DOL). Through labor certification, the DOL verifies that there are not sufficient U.S. workers available and that employment by a foreigner will not adversely affect the wages or working conditions of U.S. workers. Once an employer has a Labor Certification for a job opening, the employer can petition a foreign worker with Citizenship and Immigration Services.
     Labor Certification does not give the foreign employee any status in the United States. It does not give work authorization or permission to travel abroad. Fortunately, some jobs do not require a Labor Certification process at all. For example, foreigners with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers do not need the certification of the Department of Labor.
     The Labor Certification process affects whether and when a foreigner will be able to apply for residency. Although a Labor Certification for someone with only a bachelor’s degree level of education and experience might be approved, it would be wise to obtain a different kind of certification. At that level of education, the foreigner may not obtain residency for many years because visas are not available for persons with only a bachelor’s degree. In order to make sure that the Labor Certification is not only approved, but also approved in a way that will enable the foreigner to obtain legal permanent residency as soon as possible, please contact a professional immigration specialist.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I've Been a Resident Forever -- Why Should I Become a Citizen?

     There are many benefits to becoming a U.S. citizen, not the least of which is casting your voice by vote in the way this government is run.  Another excellent reason, though, is that naturalization places a foreigner out of the reach of the Citizenship and Immigration Service.  It is very difficult to denaturalize someone and deport her.  Until a person is a U.S. citizen, she is subject to the whims of laws relating to foreigners.  And if you think that's not frightening, read a part of the bill that the Arizona state legislature might enact:
     "Another provision criminalizes any long-term lawful permanent resident if he or she is on any public or private land in the state but not carrying his or her alien registration card. Thus, a green card holder who goes out to his front yard in his bathrobe on a Sunday morning to fetch the newspaper is a criminal if he doesn't carry his green card with him to the end of the driveway and back."
     This is from the blog of the President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  Immigration attorneys can only help those who want to help themselves.  I urge foreigners who believe they may be eligible for naturalization to apply at once.  If they have been arrested, analysis of eligibility by a competent immigration professional is a must.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Residency for Persons with Bachelor's Degrees

     Employment-based residency can also be obtained by foreign nationals with a bachelor's degree or the foreign equivalent. The Citizenship and Immigration Service maintains that a degree is required. Experience is not enough, regardless of the amount of years. 
     There are two main disadvantages to this category, which is known as third preference. First, a foreign national currently cannot apply for residency even if the employer's petition is approved. This is because applying for residency depends on visa numbers being available. Visa numbers are currently not available for third preference category foreigners. The Visa Bulletin changes each month. Because so many persons have at least a bachelor’s degree, visa numbers will probably not be available for some time. Second, the lengthy Labor Certification process is required for all foreigners in this category.
     To avoid these problems, Blandon Law tries to qualify the foreign national in a higher category. When that is not possible, the employer must demonstrate that the duties of the job require knowledge which can only be attained of a person with a bachelor's degree. At all times, the duties control. Therefore, Blandon Law assists employers and employees in gathering the required evidence and presenting it to Immigration in such a way as to prove that the degree is required.
     Call 954-385-0157 if we can help you.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Priority Workers

     Foreigners can become Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) based on employment under a preference system. Persons included in the first preference category, known as priority workers, obtain LPR status the fastest. This category is limited to persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers. In one case, a multinational executive received residency in less than forty days after applying. Priority workers also avoid the lengthy process of Labor Certification.
     The Citizenship and Immigration Service judges very carefully whether a foreigner applies for the first preference category. Thus, the Firm’s services include gathering, organizing and editing the evidence as needed. The Firm also presents legal arguments, when needed, that a foreigner is entitled to residency under this classification.
     Unlike other foreigners, an extraordinary ability worker does not need a specific job offer to apply for residency. However, the applicant must prove that she intends to pursue work in the United States in the area of her expertise. This extraordinary ability is demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim.
     An outstanding professor or researcher must be recognized internationally in the specific academic area. Foreigners seeking to qualify in this category must have a job offer either in a tenured or tenure-track teaching position, a position at an institute of higher education to conduct research, or a comparable position with a private employer.
     Finally, multinational executives and managers must have been employed for one year in the last three years by a foreign company which now seeks to transfer the foreigner to work for an affiliate or subsidiary in the United States. Managerial and executive capacity is specifically defined under the immigration laws.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Travel After Obtaining Residency

     Legal permanent residence is not permanent in the sense that it cannot be taken away. A foreigner can abandon U.S. residency by returning to live abroad, by remaining outside of the country for too long or by relinquishing it specifically.
     The Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) takes the position that a foreigner definitely abandons residency if she remains abroad for over one year. However, a person may lose her LPR status by remaining abroad even less time if CIS can prove that the foreigner had the intention of abandoning it.
     In one case, a Venezuelan national was placed in removal proceedings because she did not know this. She returned to her home country for only three months, for medical reasons.  However, she was questioned by authorities upon entry to the United States.  In response to “Why are you coming to the U.S.?” she told the officer that she was visiting her son. He asked her to write that statement and she did. Immigration tried to have her deported because a legal permanent resident does not “visit” her home.
     The Firm defended her in removal proceedings. She was able to remain legally in the United States, kept her residency and later applied for U.S. citizenship.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Consular processing v. adjustment of status

     Consular processing is the method by which a foreigner obtains a visa – either to come to the United States temporarily or permanently – in an embassy or consulate abroad. Although the Citizenship and Immigration Service (CIS) handles aspects of some visas, the Department of State generally controls whether a visa is issued. Consular processing is the preferred method of becoming a legal permanent resident when a foreigner is living abroad, is ineligible to adjust status, or the person prefers processing at the consulate for strategic or convenience reasons. For example, the Dept. of State schedules interviews at some consular posts much faster than CIS schedules adjustment interviews.
     Adjustment of status is a term used for becoming a legal permanent resident when the foreign national lives in the United States. That process is entirely controlled by CIS. Some persons are ineligible to adjust, including persons who were not legally admitted or persons who are not lawfully in the country. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Laws such as 245(i) permit foreigners to adjust status even if they entered illegally or remained without permission. Although these laws expired many years ago, some foreigners can still obtain the benefits as “grandfathered aliens.”
    To determine whether you are eligible for either consular processing or adjustment of status, call Blandon Law at 954-385-0157.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Relationship Between the Law Firm and the Client

     During each step of the processing of an immigration case, the Client and the Firm must work closely together.  The obligation of each at Blandon Law is described in general terms as follows:
  •  Start of Case
Firm – Reviews information and determines best approach to file case.
You – Provide information and documents needed. Ensure that whenever a copy is provided, the original is readily available.

  • Submitting Case
Firm – Prepares applications, organizes evidence, and presents legal argument for complex issues.
You – Wait for receipts, fingerprint notices, and collateral benefits that may be available if you are in the U.S., such as employment authorization and permission to travel abroad.
  • Processing of Case
The type of processing depends on whether the Client is in the United States or abroad. The Firm submits the case to the appropriate government agency, such as the Dept. of Labor, Citizenship and Immigration Services, or the Department of State. Cases that depend on visa availability will be held in abeyance for years.

Firm – Maintains communication with the Client and the government agency.
You – Provide anything requested by the Firm at the earliest opportunity.
  • Interview or Hearing
Firm – Provides representation at government meeting and until benefit is granted.
You – Provide originals and abide by the Firm’s guidance regarding preparation.

     Call the Firm at 954-385-0157 if we can help you achieve your immigration goals.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Can Companies in Financial Straits Hire Temporary Foreign Help?

     Companies sponsor foreigners to work in the U.S. either temporarily or permanently. If temporarily, the worker obtains a visa. If permanently, the worker obtains residency, which is the ability to live in this country legally. In either case, to protect American workers from losing their jobs to cheaper labor, companies must pay foreign workers the prevailing wage of the industry. Salary amounts are determined by the Department of Labor, and can be found in its Wage Library.
     Small companies in particular seem to be prime targets for requests for information by the government, which perhaps believes that hiring should freeze in this economy. The truth is quite the contrary. Persons who help businesses save money or those who help find new clients, like marketing professionals, are in great demand.
     So, if the bottom line of the latest corporate tax return is in the red, how can a company prove it has the ability to pay a new additional salary? The easiest evidence is payroll records demonstrating that the company is meeting its obligations to the foreigner. If the employee has not yet started with the company, the Citizenship and Immigration Service will rely on the net income or the net assets of the business. If either of these is greater than the prevailing wage, the company has demonstrated ability to pay. Finally, if the company is a sole proprietorship, the personal assets of the owner can be considered, including the equity in any real estate.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Supreme Court Protects Foreigner's Right To Counsel

     Yesterday, the Supreme Court held that criminal defense lawyers must advise their foreign clients about the risk of deportation if they accept a guilty plea. The Court recognized that current immigration laws impose harsh and mandatory deportation consequences onto criminal convictions, and that Congress eliminated from these laws the Attorney General's discretionary authority to cancel removal in meritorious cases.      The case, Padilla v. Kentucky, involved a Vietnam War veteran who resided lawfully in the U.S. for over 40 years. His criminal defense lawyer told him not to worry about the immigration consequences of pleading guilty to a crime, but that advice was wrong. In fact, the guilty plea made Mr. Padilla subject to mandatory deportation from the United States. The state of Kentucky said that Mr. Padilla had no right to withdraw his plea when he learned of the deportation consequence. Today's decision reverses the Kentuc-ky court.
     Those who pled guilty based on similar advice by a criminal defense attorney should call 954-385-0157.  The Law Firm may be able to file a Motion to Reopen to change the immigration consequences of that plea.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Board of Immigration Appeals

     Clients often wonder why one case is handled differently than another case.  The answer sometimes lies with the relationship between the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the Department of Homeland Security ("the Service" including the Citizenship and Immigration Service, Customs and Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement).
     The BIA reviews cases from Immigration Judges as well as those from the Service.  Based on BIA decisions, immigration attorneys advise clients how they might fair in an appeal.  The BIA decisions are also available publicly through the Virtual Library of the Executive Office of Immigration Review.
     The BIA wields great power as it interprets the immigration laws.  It is not bound by precedent decisions of the Service or policy memoranda that have not been incorporated into regulations.  In this way, the BIA is the first fighting ground where a foreigner's case has been handled by the Service or an Immigration Judge in a way that is contrary to law. 
     Interestingly, the Service is only bound by decisions that the BIA designates as precedent decisions.  Therefore -- even though BIA decisions express the correct interpretation of the law -- the Citizenship and Immigration Serice is allowed to (and does) decide other cases in a manner contrary to the BIA's explicit guidelines.  Likewise, Immigration Judges do make decisions that are contrary to BIA holdings.  The only course of action left for the foreigner, expensive as it may be:  appeal.
    

General Frequently Asked Questions

Call today to schedule your immigration consultation

954-385-0157 or email: blandonappts@aol.com