Call today to schedule your immigration consultation 954-385-0157 or email: ERBlandonLaw@aol.com

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.

General Frequently Asked Questions

Call today to schedule your immigration consultation

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