Musings on Immigration

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How to Prepare for a Fiancé Visa Interview

A visa interview at the U.S. consulate in an intending fiancé’s home country is the crucial step in an intimidating process. Many couples attempt to navigate the process on their own, however after a few years of experience I have come to realize that the fiancé petition and consular processing is one of the more complex immigration processes and is best handled by a seasoned immigration attorney (lest you turn completely grey before your fiancé can even get to the States - not very attractive for wedding photos).

Here are some things to keep in mind as you prepare for the interview process.

  1. Make sure you are completely familiar with your I-129F visa petition. It’s been a few months since you’ve filed it. Review it and even bring it with you to your interview.
  2.  Double check that all the requirements are met by the consulate and you bring everything you will need with you to the interview. Some consulates have their own unique requirements, so be sure to verify that you have checked all the boxes. Make sure to bring the original medical test (very important), copy of security clearance, copy of the interview notice, copy of birth certificate (originals should have been filed). It would help to bring the entire visa application along with original documents has been filed in advance of your interview with the consulate. Also remember to bring your valid passport, keeping in mind it should be valid for at least 6 months beyond intended date of entry into the U.S.;
  3. Take extra documents that evidence your relationship with your fiancé that you may have. Recently taken photos, skype records, social media posts, any wedding planning evidence, etc. You should have already submitted these in advance, but take anything that you have not submitted or that is more recent. Also be sure to take a copy of the visa application package that you have submitted just in case;
  4. Try to arrive to the consulate early and make sure you are completely prepared. Do not make any arrangements to travel, dispose of property, or resign from employment until your visa is approved;
  5. Practice some interview questions beforehand with your fiancé. This is your chance to REALLY get to know him or her, some questions can be detailed. Here are some sample question:
    1. When did you meet your fiancé?
    2. How did you meet your fiancé?
    3. How long have you known each other?
    4. Who proposed to whom?
    5. What made you decide to get married?
    6. Have you ever been to the United States?
    7. Have you met your fiancé’s parents?
    8. How do your parents feel about your fiancé?
    9. Where and when was your fiancé born?
    10. Does your fiancé have siblings? Where do they live?
    11. Where does your fiancé work?
    12. Where does your fiancé live?
    13. What is your fiancé’s phone number?
    14. When did your fiancé divorce?
    15. Describe your wedding plans.
    16. Did you bring proof of any wedding planning?
    17. Describe your life plans subsequent to your wedding.
    18. How have you maintained your long distance relationship? 

Once prepared, you can relax and go with the flow. If the interview goes well, the immigrant will typically receive his or her visa within a few days. However it can take a few weeks if there are added security checks (the uncertainty is not fun if you’re wedding planning but welcome to the world of U.S. immigration law). If approved your immigrant visa is valid for up to six months from date of issuance unless your medical examination validity expires sooner. Plan to arrive to the U.S. before your visa expires.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that while the fiancé visa process can be stressful and daunting, it is good training for a happy marriage – if you can get through this together without strangling someone, you can get through pretty much anything!

¿Puedo viajar fuera de Estados Unidos si mi solicitud de tarjeta verde está pendiente?

La respuesta corta es "depende". En general, viajar fuera de Estados Unidos mientras esté pendiente su solicitud de tarjeta verde se considera abandono de la solicitud. Esta regla general está sujeta a algunas excepciones claves.

En primer lugar, los solicitantes de tarjeta verde de los L-1 o H-1B (con visas válidas) pueden viajar mientras que su aplicación está pendiente de aprobación: (1) que están regresando a los Estados Unidos para reanudar el trabajo con el mismo empleador y (2) estar en posesión de un visado válido de L o H. Dependientes de la visa L-1 y H-1B los titulares también pueden viajar mientras sus solicitudes de residencia estén pendientes si los dos criterios antes mencionados se cumplan.

En segundo lugar, los titulares de visa K-3 y K-4, cónyuges de ciudadanos estadounidenses y sus hijos menores de edad, también pueden viajar si están en posesión de una visa K-3/K-4 vigente a su regreso a los Estados Unidos.

Finalmente, los solicitantes de la tarjeta verde en posesión de la "libertad condicional avanzada" permiso de viaje de USCIS, puede viajar mientras esperan la adjudicación de su tarjeta verde. Libertad condicional anticipada y autorización de empresas de trabajo temporal ofrecen al solicitante en un documento (formulario i-766) para los solicitantes de la tarjeta verde.

Al considerar el viaje durante la aprobacion de su solicitud de tarjeta verde, o cualquier otra inmigración presentación, es importante buscar al Consejo específico de un abogado de inmigración.

Publicado por Keith Jensen 


Despite attempts by media outlets and politicians to create mass hysteria and fear regarding the “flood of dangerous Syrian refugees” headed our way, I remain calm.  Mainly I am calm because I understand (at least in general terms) the vetting process that refugees must undergo before they ever set foot in the U.S.  I also understand that this is a slow trickle, not an unmanageable flood of refugees.  I am also comforted by the history of U.S. refugee resettlement, and that while no systems of checks is 100 percent perfect, that history shows that our system is exceptional at weeding out threats.  In fact, off the top of my head, I can think of seven things that scare me more than Syrian refugees.
  1.       Hamburger Helper Hand.  I still have nightmares about that little bastard even as an adult.  Seriously, the thing can be hiding anywhere and jump out and grab you at any second.  When I had to use the bathroom at night when I was younger, I would jump from the second bunk and hit the ground running so he couldn’t grab my leg.  He could be under your bed or desk just waiting to grab your leg, or even worse, he could be hiding behind the toilet just waiting for the right moment to pounce.
  2.      Heights.  I don’t think I’m alone in this one.  Few things make me immediately nauseous and dizzy like being more than ten feet off of the ground.  Ziplines, glass elevators, the swing rides at fairs, and ski lifts all suck.
  3.      Compressed Air.  I don’t know if I have suppressed memories of balloons or bike tires exploding in my face when I was little or what, but I feel my blood pressure rise every time I have to inflate a tire, balloon or ball. 
  4.      Electricity.  I guess this has more to do with electrical wires.  I didn’t always have this particular fear, but I have had trouble forgetting a shock I received while trying to fix an outlet in an apartment I lived in.  Ever since then, even if you show me you turned off the breaker, I will still get shaky if I have to start manipulating wires.
  5.      Bus Without a Bathroom.  This fear goes back to elementary school.  I was mortified when, in front of everyone, I had to ask a bus driver to stop somewhere so I could pee while on a fieldtrip.  Ever since then, if I step foot on bus to go somewhere with a group of people and don’t see a bathroom, I’m in trouble.  Chaperoning my kids on their fieldtrips brings back a rush of memories and fear.  This fear was later reinforced when I had bad falafel when driving across Israel on a bus with no bathroom, and had to force the driver to make an emergency stop in a particularly dangerous spot in the West Bank.
  6.      Flying.  I don’t care how many times people try to explain the physics of flight, or how turbulence is just like driving down a bumpy road in a car, I will never understand or be comfortable with a huge heavy airplane floating above the earth at hundreds of miles per hour.  It does not make sense!
  7.      Floating Band Aids at Swimming Pools.  What was the band aid covering?  Was it a small blister or paper cut, or was it a herpes sore or a chicken pox scab?  Did it float close to my mouth?  I’m breaking out in cold sweats just thinking about this.

There is a lot of good information out there on the refugee resettlement process and the history of refugee resettlement in the U.S.  Political talking points are designed to draw attention, often by fear or outrage.  Throughout the debate I hope that we can make sure we get the facts from all sides before coming to our own conclusions.  Here are two articles that I recommend.  CATO and WAPO We may not come to the same conclusions on every point, but at least we will be informed in coming to our own conclusions.  

I Missed My Hearing in Immigration Court--Is Everything Over for Me Now?

No; but the reason you missed your hearing is important. Most of the time (at least in Atlanta, where our firm is), if a person does not show up to his or her hearing, the Immigration Judge will order this person removed (or deported). A person who is removed without having attended his hearing has an in absentia order and only exceptional circumstances will make the Immigration Judge reopen that person's case and continue proceedings. 

Examples of what can be considered "exceptional circumstances" are: lack of notice (the Court sent you a hearing notice in the mail but you did not get it and it is not your fault), ineffective assistance of counsel (your attorney at the time did not communicate to you the date of your hearing and as a result, you missed it), medical issues (for example, you happened to be in the hospital the day of your hearing and there was no way you were able to physically attend). 

How do you know if the Court did in fact mail you a copy of your hearing date? By reviewing your file in immigration court or searching your immigration history with the Department of Justice (the department that oversees the immigration courts). An attorney can help you with all this. If you had a bad attorney who did not tell you of your court hearing, talk to a second attorney who may be able to help you by explaining your situation to the judge (these types of motions to reopen--as they are called--are easily denied if you don't follow the specific guidelines set by the Court for them). Similarly, if you had medical issues and missed your hearing, an attorney can help you get your entire medical record and effectively argue to the Court that your case warrants a second chance in Court. 

On the other hand, if you missed your court hearing because you simply forgot, you changed your address but never notified the Court, or you simply did not want to attend your hearing, you may have a very difficult time getting a second chance in Court. People who have very sympathetic factors like sick children, U.S. Citizen spouses who have filed petitions, etc., may alleviate some of these negative factors. 

If you or someone you know missed a hearing in court, have him contact an attorney who can determine if reopening is an option.

Johanna Cochran, Associate Attorney

FAQs on Syrian Refugees, From an Immigration Attorney's Perspective

On Monday, Georgia Governor Deal, as well as 30 other States, called for a moratorium on Syrian refugee resettlement into their States. And just moments ago, lawmakers in the House voted to essentially halt a program aimed at resettling Syrian refugees, a bill that President Obama has vowed to veto, stating on Monday that the U.S. is fully capable of vetting refugees, adding that the Syrian refugees are themselves the victims of terrorism and “slamming the door in their face would be a betrayal of our values.”

This news has sparked much debate and controversy, and needless to say has also fueled anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States.  Let’s take a moment to discuss. Here are some questions I get quite often:

·         Question: What is a refugee?
·         Answer: It is important to understand that refugees are a special category of immigrants, unlike any other. A refugee, as defined by the Refugee Act of 1980 (which was an amendment to the earlier Immigration and Nationality Act), is any person who is outside their country of residence or nationality, or without nationality, and is unable or unwilling to return to, and is unable or unwilling to avail himself or herself of the protection of, that country because of persecution or a well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion into the United States’.  This is a very narrow definition, and does not include the thousands of immigrants who enter our borders daily through a variety of other methods, whether temporarily as students or visitors, or permanently as greencard holders.  An individual may enter the U.S. on a visitor visa and then apply for asylum once here, for example. 

·         Question: But refugees pose a security threat because they’re not really vetted, right, because of the urgency that makes fleeing their countries imminent?
·         Answer: Not at all. Refugees are the most security vetted immigrants to the United States. After being designated refugees, refugees go through several months of screening, often over a period of up to two years. Security screenings are rigorous and involve the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, the Department of Defense and multiple intelligence agencies. Then if they go all those hoops (and they are still alive), Immigration and Customs Enforcement can enforce the laws against them if there are any violations once they’re admitted. Chances are if there is someone who intends to harm this country, they are not going through the screening process just outlined, and I would argue that it is in the interest of national security to allow individuals entering the country to be thoroughly vetted.
Further, what we are debating over is 10 thousand individuals, but a vast majority of refugees are women and children. Since most refugees enter with their families, we are talking about 2000 families (assuming an average of 5 people per family).  Compare that with the rest of the world, primarily Turkey and Lebanon, and we are taking just a drop in the bucket.

·         Question: Do States have the legal authority to prevent refugee resettlement in their State?
·         Answer: The short answer is NO, States cannot unilaterally block resettlement. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, the President has explicit statutory authorization to accept foreign refugees into the United States. The federal government’s power to admit refugees was created in order to provide a permanent and systematic procedure for the admission to the U.S. of refugees of special humanitarian concern and governors do not have the legal authority to determine who lives in their States. However, while immigration matters remain exclusively a federal concern, in reality we must recognize that while States may not prevent refugees from entering their borders, they play a large role in the distribution of federal funds to non-profit organizations that serve refugees, and curtailing such funds would make it very difficult for them to resettle.  Further they can try and put pressure on the federal government to amend immigration laws to restrict refugees or somehow subject them to increased security measures.  

·         Question: If they don’t have the authority to stop Syrian refugees from entering their states, why are these governors even trying?
·         Answer: Because they can. It’s not the right thing it’s the politically popular thing, and it’s an unfortunate way to govern. Public officials should instead avoid knee-jerk reactions that only politicize tragic events such as that in Paris last Friday. Misplaced blame creates an atmosphere of fear. Instead we should stand in solidarity with the Syrian refugees who are themselves victims of ISIS.

·         Question: Even if refugees are not terrorists, they will at the least commit crimes, take our jobs, and otherwise harm our economy.
·         Answer: This is a myth. Refugees, and I would argue that Syrians immigrants specifically, are among the most educated, hardest working immigrants. They are professionals and business owners, and at the local level provide increased demand for goods and services. Countless studies have shown that welcoming refugees has a positive or at least neutral effect on the host community’s economy and wages. A long list of innovative and important Americans were once refugees, including former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Jerry Yang of Yahoo. Steve Jobs of Apple was himself the son of a Syrian migrant. 

·         Question: Syrians are just taking advantage of the generous refugee laws in our country and the general insecurity in their country and using it as an easy way to immigrate to the United States.
·         Answer: We tend to miss the point sometimes. Syrian refugees are refugees, which mean they are fleeing FOR THEIR LIVES. They are not trying to come to the U.S. to benefit from the prosperity we enjoy, but rather the security we take for granted. Indeed the Syrian refugees would much rather be home than in a strange country. They flee with nothing more than the clothes on their back, leaving behind everything they’ve built over the course of their entire lives, only to have to start from scratch. Syrian refugees are fleeing exactly the kind of terror which unfolded on the streets of Paris, only they have been confronted by violence just like this for almost five years. They do not bring terror with them. Rather, they are fleeing it.

The Syrian crisis has been called the greatest humanitarian disasters of recent times. The image of the body of a young boy washed up on the shores of the Turkish beach echoed around the world last September has become a symbol of the world’s failure to act, humanity’s failure to help. I happened to be on vacation on the exact same beach where the boy’s body had washed ashore, exactly one year before. I cannot even imagine that the beautiful sea that I admired from my cabana on the beach has become a place where you can witness such heart wrenching images.  
Innocent civilians, many of whom are young children, have experienced the worst trauma and torture. The tragic irony is by blocking resettlement is to victimize a people that are attempting to flee the same monsters we fear, sending a message that only plays into the hands of those whose aim is to divide us.  Whether legally or morally, this is not the American way.

Can I Travel Outside the U.S. if My Green Card Application Is Pending?

The short answer is “it depends”. Generally, traveling outside the United States while your green card application is pending is considered abandonment of the application. This general rule is subject to a few key exceptions.

First, green card applicants in valid L-1 or H-1B status (with valid visas) may travel while their application is pending if: (1) they are returning to the United States to resume employment with the same employer and (2) they are in possession of a valid L or H visa. Dependents of L-1 and H-1B visa holders may also travel while their green card applications are pending if the two above-mentioned criteria are met.

Second, K-3 and K-4 visa holders, spouses of United States citizens and their minor children, may also travel if they are in possession of a valid K-3/K-4 visa upon their return to the United States.

Lastly, green card applicants in possession of “advance parole” travel permission from USCIS, may travel while they await the adjudication of their green card. Advance parole and temporary employment authorization are provided to the applicant in one document (Form I-766) for green card applicants.

When considering travel during the pendency of your green card application, or any other immigration filing, it is important to seek the specific counsel of an immigration attorney.

El soltero que podría FALLAR en una entrevista de inmigración

Si vives en América, entonces es probable que estes por lo menos vagamente familiarizado con el programa de televisión de la realidad americana popular, el soltero. La serie, que se estrenó primero en ABC en 2002, gira en torno a un soltero y una piscina de chicas disponibles para él. Durante el transcurso de la temporada, el soltero se supone que debe trabajar en la eliminación de posibles "candidatas" y proponerle matrimonio a su selección final. Y es un trabajo duro. El soltero somete a una serie de fechas y retos y mientras tanto él tiene que ganar no sólo una docena de señoritas y a los millones de espectadores, pero también tiene que centrarse en la elección de su "alma gemela". Y por supuesto el proceso de eliminación no estaría completo sin una cuota de drama y conflicto, cuanto más mejor (para la clasificación de ratings). Es toda diversión y juegos para los fanáticos del show que disfrutan de participar en el proceso, el Soltero que debe a quien y a quien no debe elegir. El episodio final de la temporada por lo general termina con una "ceremonia entregando la última rosa" donde el bachiller elimina al finales tres mujeres y propone su selección, regalarle la rosa final. La premisa del show esta en mostrar bajo la enorme presión para tomar la decisión más grande de su vida y tan públicamente y en un corto período de tiempo.

Como un abogado de inmigración, yo nunca he sentido el deseo de ver al soltero (realmente no hay falta de drama y conflicto en mi vida no me apetecen más.) Pero después de mi entrevista de inmigración más reciente, no pude evitar preguntarme cómo los matrimonios de el soltero terminan cuando se cierran las cortinas y el espectáculo. Por supuesto no todas las series de el Soltero terminaron con una propuesta y un matrimonio, pero yo apuesto que las parejas felices que casadas después del  breve show – aunque riguroso – no serán capaces de pasar las en una básica entrevista de inmigración. Las preguntas que llegan diariamente a las parejas casadas con el fin de evaluar la buena fe de su relación serían deshacerse de incluso la más avezada pareja felizmente casada.

De hecho, quiero dar una sugerencia para una secuela de El Soltero. "Ustedes realmente son casados" show, inspirado en los cientos de entrevistas de inmigración que he visto. ABC, si buscas drama y conflicto para su próxima show televisivo, no busque más. Para un toque adicional, tratar de separar a la pareja y la comparación de sus respuestas. Sólo para dar una idea, aquí hay algunas preguntas que usted podría oír (la mayoría de estas la hemos oído anteriormente):

1. Cuál es el nombre de tu suegra
2. A qué hora tu marido va a trabajar y cuánto es su jornada
3. Cómo se escribe el nombre de la ciudad en donde su esposa nacio
4. Que comiste en la cena el jueves pasado
5. Cuáles son los nombres de los amigos más cercanos de su marido
6. Qué día hace 3 años se mudó a su segundo Apartamento
7. Quien propuso matrimonio a quien
8. Cuántas citas pasaron antes de decidirse a casarse
9. Por qué decidió casarse
10. Qué día y mes su esposa ingreso por primera ves a Estados Unidos hace diez años
11. Cuál es el nombre de tu suegro
12. Qué tipo de torta  se sirvió en la boda
13. Cuántos relojes de alarma programa en la mañana
14. Cual es la comida menos favorita de su esposa
15. Alguna vez ha tenido una discusión que dio lugar a que uno de ustedes durmiese en otra habitación
16. Qué hiciste para celebrar el cumpleaños de su marido el año en que se casarón
17. Lo que tu esposa escucha en el coche
18. Qué empresa ofrece su servicio de TV por cable
19. Cuando termina su actual contrato de arrendamiento
20. Cuántos hijos quieren tener
21. Cuando es la última vez que fue a una cita y lo que hicieron
22. Quien pasa la mayor parte de tiempo en la cocina
23. De qué color son las cortinas de tu cocina
24. Cuanto fue lo más tarde que los invitados se quedaron en su boda
25. Donde guarda el papel higiénico de repuesto
26. Cómo le gusta su marido tomar su café, cuántas tazas él toma

Yo he estado casada por 11 años pero te puedo decir de hecho que mi esposo no sabe dónde guardamos el papel higiénico de repuesto y no tengo ni idea de lo que tenía para cenar ayer por la noche, no importa la semana pasada. Me imagino que alguno de los concursantes en el soltero que literalmente se reunieron en conjunto requerirá de toda una vida para aprender la respuesta a estas preguntas (si el matrimonio dura ese tiempo) - y aun así algunos no pueden y nunca sabran – pero eso está totalmente bien porque no son inmigrante. Si eres un inmigrante que busca una tarjeta verde basada en su matrimonio con un ciudadano americano, usted no puede permitirse el lujo de no saber cada pequeño detalle sobre su cónyuge. Así que adelante, inmigrantes o no, si está casado o con su cónyuge haga la prueba de ver si se pasa una entrevista de inmigración! Lo más probable es que el soltero fracasaría definitivamente.

Publicado por Hiba Ghalib

The Bachelor Would FAIL At An Immigration Interview

If you live in America, then it’s likely you’re at least vaguely familiar with the popular American reality television show, The Bachelor. The series, which first debuted on ABC in 2002, revolves around an eligible bachelor and a pool of available bachelorettes. During the course of the season, the single bachelor is supposed to work on eliminating potential “candidates” and propose marriage to his final selection.  And it is hard work. The bachelor undergoes a series of dates and parties and in the meantime he has to win over not only a dozen young ladies and the millions of viewers, but he also has to focus on choosing his “soulmate”.  And of course the elimination process is not without a fair share of drama and conflict, the more the better (for the ratings). It’s all fun and games for fans of the show who enjoy getting involved in the process, weighing in on the bachelor and who he should and shouldn’t choose.  The final episode of the season typically ends with a “rose ceremony” where the bachelor eliminates the final three women, and proposes to his selection, presenting her with the final rose.  The premise of the show places this bachelor under immense pressure to make the biggest decision of his life, and so publicly, and in a short amount of time. 

As an immigration attorney, I have never felt the desire to watch The Bachelor (there really is no lack of drama and conflict in my life for me to crave more.) But after my most recent immigration interview, I could not help but wonder how The Bachelor marriages end up when the curtains are drawn and the show is over. Of course not every series of The Bachelor ended with a proposal and a marriage, but I propose that those happy couples who married after a brief – albeit rigorous – courting session will likely not be able to pass the most basic of immigration interviews.  The questions that get asked daily to married couples in order to assess the bona fides of their relationship would throw off even the most seasoned happily-married couple.  

In fact, I want to throw out a suggestion for a sequel to The Bachelor. The “Are you Really Married” show, inspired by the hundreds of immigration interviews I’ve witnessed.  ABC, if you are looking for drama and conflict for your next show, look no further.   For an added twist, try separating the couple and comparing their answers. Just to give you an idea, here are some questions you could hear (most of these we have heard first hand):

  1. What is your mother in law’s last name
  2. What time does your husband go to work and how long is his commute
  3. How do you spell the name of the city where your wife is from
  4. What did you have for dinner last Thursday
  5. What are the names of your husband’s closest friends
  6. What day 3 years ago did you both move in to your second apartment
  7. Who proposed marriage to whom
  8. How many dates did you go on before you decided to get married
  9. Why did you decide to get married
  10. What day and month did your wife first enter the U.S. ten years ago
  11. What’s your father in law’s middle name
  12. What kind of cake did you serve at the wedding
  13. How many alarm clocks do you set in the morning
  14. What is your wife’s least favorite food
  15. Have you ever had an argument that resulted in one of you sleeping in another room
  16. What did you do to celebrate your husband’s birthday the year you got married
  17. What does your wife listen to in the car
  18. What company provides your cable TV service
  19. When does your current lease end
  20. How many kids do you want to have
  21. When is the last time you went on a date and what did you do
  22. Who does most of the cooking
  23. What color are the curtains in your kitchen
  24. How late did the guests stay at your wedding
  25. Where do you keep the spare toilet paper
  26. How does your husband like his coffee; how many cups does he drink

I have been married for 11 years but I can tell you for a fact that my husband does not know where we keep the spare toilet paper and I have no idea what I had for dinner last night, never mind last week.  I imagine any of the contestants on The Bachelor who literally met on set will require a lifetime to learn the answer to these questions (assuming the marriage lasts that long) - and even then some may never know – but that’s completely fine because they’re not immigrants. If you’re an immigrant seeking a green card based on your marriage to a U.S. citizen, you cannot afford not to know every little detail about your spouse.  So go ahead, immigrant or not, if you’re married, quiz your spouse and see if you would pass an immigration interview! Chances are The Bachelor would definitely fail.

DAPA, Obama, la Corte Suprema de Justicia y la Política

En Noviembre de 2014, después de una derrota en las urnas y con la izquierda perdiendo poco a poco su legado político, Obama anunció una serie de memorandos de política DHS que, cuando se implementen, reorganizaran sus prioridades de deportación (después de convertirse en el Presidente de la deportación con deportados de más de 2,5 millones) y crear sistema formalizado de acción diferida a largo plazo residentes indocumentados (la columna vertebral de gran parte de nuestro sector de servicio) para obtener permisos de trabajo (DAPA). Obama al parecer prefirió hacer este cambio de política por memo, argumentando que no eran cambios "sustanciales" a la regulación y por lo tanto no necesitará pasar por el proceso de reglamentación de ley de procedimiento administrativo (APA) formal (que tarda aproximadamente 6 meses, o menos, hecho correctamente).

Abogado del estado general, dirigido por una demanda de Texas trajo una serie de teorías de la novela, argumentando que se no se trataba de ningún cambio de política simple, sino más bien una solución sustantiva con enormes beneficios y enormes costos para los Estados. Mucho de eso fue una pura exageración, pero cuando se escoge al juez correcto y la suerte en el Tribunal de apelación de derecho, incluso hipérbole puede detener un presidente. La corte de distrito detuvo programa DAPA de Obama, y el 5 º Tribunal de circuito de Apelaciones, por segunda vez, confirmó esa decisión. Por supuesto, a cualquier persona que entiende los asuntos, sabía que los jueces y esta decisión más reciente no sorprenden en absoluto. Sabíamos que este caso se dirigía finalmente a la Corte Suprema. La única pregunta era si la Corte Suprema escuchar este caso en el término de 2016 y decidir en medio de las elecciones presidenciales, o si sería diferida hasta el término de 2017.

Parece que el 5to circuito ha dado a Obama suficiente tiempo para presentar su caso ante la Corte Suprema. Y que el Tribunal Supremo tendrá probablemente este caso, dada las teorías legales de novela propugnadas por el 5to circuito al defender la medida cautelar detención DAPA. Y, cuando se emita una decisión en este caso, probablemente en finales de junio de 2016, la Convención del partido republicano probablemente estará acabando y se estará iniciando la Convención Demócrata. ¿Puedes imaginar un mejor momento para comenzar a procesar los casos DAPA?

En cuanto a mí, creo que el Tribunal Supremo anulara el 5to circuito, probablemente por unanimidad, o en una decisión de 8-1. Los temas son muy claros aquí. Un estado puede crear una lesión, afirman que la lesión fue causada por una política del poder ejecutivo y luego demandar para detener esa política diciendo que resultaron heridos. Entre otras teorías legales novela será en placa de la Corte Suprema.

Todo lo que dijo, Obama, podría mañana publicar un Reglamento propuesto o de emergencia en el Registro Federal y dentro de seis meses DAPA en efecto, y esta demanda sería discutible. Usted pregunta, ¿por qué Obama no haría eso? Después de todo, si lo hubiera hecho cuando el estado de distrito como la medida cautelar, tendríamos DAPA hoy. La respuesta está, claramente, en la política. Que no sean dinero, la respuesta es casi siempre política. Alguien dijo una vez que dio demasiado crédito a Obama ser maquiavélica. La realidad es que no necesita ser Maquiavelo para ver este despliegue. En medio de una elección presidencial, cuando los candidatos del partido republicano están gritando y vilipendiando a los inmigrantes, los demócratas pueden llegan con caras largas y lamentablemente explicar a votar inmigrantes--ver Obama intentó, pero los republicanos grandes, malos nos impedían ayudarle. Esta es la línea estándar de Obama y lo usó en 2008 y 2012, y funcionó. Hillary será (y ya ha comenzado) usando para el 2016.

Lo triste es que el partido republicano, es como Charlie Brown va a patear el fútbol, cae en la trampa cada cuatro años, porque se niega a ignorar la eugenesia, la población y minoría anti-inmigrantes en el GOP y simplemente fija la ley de inmigración. Si el partido republicano hace antes de las elecciones, tal vez, podrían dejar de ser el partido de la minoría nacional en las elecciones presidenciales. En este momento dado la política del partido republicano, es no contar con este suceso.

Por último, a esos millones de inmigrantes que hay será eventualmente beneficiados con DAPA, y sus empleadores (sí todos ya están trabajando y pagando impuestos)—a mantener la fe. Esta es una pelea que eventualmente va a ganar. Hasta entonces mantener pruebas de su buen carácter moral. Seguir pagando sus impuestos. Que cuiden de sus hijos y cónyuges. Y esperar a que el Congreso de los Estados Unidos para que finalmente pongan a la realidad que sin estos trabajadores, gran parte de nuestro sector de servicio se derrumbaría.

Deseo que sólo podríamos dejar de jugar política con la vida de los pueblos.

DAPA, Obama, the Supreme Court, and Politics

November 2014, after a stinging defeat at the polls, and with little left to lose in his political legacy, Obama announced a series of DHS policy memos that, when implemented, would rearrange his deportation priorities (after becoming the Deportation President with more than 2.5 million people deported), and create formalized system of Deferred Action to help long term resident undocumented people (the backbone of much of our service sector) to obtain work permits (DAPA).  Obama apparently preferred to do this policy changes by memo, arguing that they were not "substantive" changes to regulation, and thus did not need to go through the formal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) rulemaking processing (which takes about 6 months, or less, done properly).

State Attorney Generals, led by Texas promptly brought suit, under a series of novel theories, arguing that this was no mere policy change, but rather a substantive fix with massive benefits and enormous costs to the states. Much of that was pure hyperbole, but when you can pick the right judge and luck into the right appeals court, even hyperbole can stop a President.  The District Court stopped Obama's DAPA program, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, for the second time, upheld that decision.  Of course, to anyone who understood the issues, and knew the judges, this most recent decision is no surprise at all.  We knew that this case was eventually headed to the Supreme Court.  The only question was whether the Supreme Court would hear this case in the 2016 term and decide it right in the middle of the Presidential election, or whether it would deferred until the 2017 term.  

It looks like the 5th Circuit has given Obama enough time to file his case with the Supreme Court.  And, that the Supreme Court will likely take this case, given the novel legal theories espoused by the 5th Circuit in upholding the injunction stopping DAPA.  And, when they issue a decision on this case, likely in late June 2016, the GOP convention will likely have just ended and the Democratic Convention will just be starting.  Can you imagine a better time to start processing the DAPA cases?

As for me, I believe that the Supreme Court will overturn the 5th Circuit, likely unanimously, or in a 8-1 decision. The issues  are very clear here. Can a state create an injury, claim that injury was caused by an executive branch policy, and then sue to stop that policy saying they were injured.  That among other novel legal theories will be on the Supreme Court's plate.

All that said, Obama, could tomorrow, publish a proposed or emergency regulation in the Federal Register, and within six months DAPA would be in effect, and this lawsuit would be moot.  You ask, Why would Obama not do that? Some argue that the 5th Circuit's decision on the "substantive" changes in the DAPA memo (completely made up by the 5th Circuit) bars the administration from proceeding on rule making. I am not sure I agree.  I believe Obama could publish the proposed regulations and that would force the states to sue again in another matter.  After all, if he had published the DAPA regulation when the District Court created the injunction, we would have DAPA today.  The answer lies, clearly, in politics. Other than money, the answer is almost always politics.  Someone once said that I gave too much credit to Obama being Machiavellian.  The reality is, you do not need to be Machiavelli to see this unfolding. In the middle of a presidential election, when the GOP candidates are screaming and vilifying immigrants, the Democrats can come in with long faces and sadly explain to voting immigrant communities--See Obama tried, but those big, bad Republicans stopped us from helping you.  This is the standard Obama line, and he used it in 2008 and 2012, and it worked. Hillary will (and already has started) using it for 2016.  

The sad part is that the GOP, like Charlie Brown going to kick the football, falls into the trap every four years, because it refuses to ignore the eugenics, anti-population and anti-immigrants minority in the GOP and simply fix immigration law.  If the GOP would do this before the election, they, perhaps, could stop being the national minority party in presidential elections.  Given GOP politics at this time, don't count on this happening.  

Finally, to those millions of immigrants out there would will eventually benefit from DAPA, and their employers (yes they all already are working and paying taxes)--Keep the faith. This is a fight we will eventually win. Until then keep evidence of your good moral character.  Keep paying your taxes.  Take good care of your children and spouses.  And wait for the Congress of the United States to finally catch up to the reality that without these workers, much of our service sector would collapse. 

 I wish we could just stop playing politics with peoples' lives.  

The Four Rules to Live By in Immigration Interviews

When I meet with couples to prepare for an adjustment of status interview, I begin by explaining that there are four rules, that if followed will help the interview go off without a hitch.  Though I usually charge for this valuable information, I have decided against my better judgment to share the four rules (I call them the platinum rules) for adjustment interviews that all clients should live by at immigration interviews.

1.     If you do not know the answer to a question the officer asks, or do not remember the answer, say that you do not know or remember – do not guess at the answer.  If you are wrong this could lead to trouble in that the officer may think you are lying if your answer contradicts a prior answer, or the truth.  Officers will not likely hold it against you if you simply can’t remember.  Having a bad memory is not a ground for denying your application.
2.     Do not help each other answer the questions.  Without fail, one person in the relationship will forget an important date, place or name, and the wife will, out of frustration or anger, try to intervene and assist the poor stupid man.  This is a big no-no.  Officers get very annoyed/angry when the person who is asked a question does not answer the question, or gets help from the spouse.  I have seen interviews stopped and spouses separated when one spouse tries to help the other answer a question.  Avoid this like the plague.
3.     Answer only the question you are asked, and do it clearly and concisely.  For instance, if the officer asks what color the sky is, you would answer “blue.”  You would not proceed to ramble on about the different shades of blue, or the pretty color orange the sky often takes at sunset.  If the question an officer asks can be answered by stating either yes, or no, say yes or no.  Officers are not amused by rants.  They have a job to do and people waiting.  Further, the officer is not your priest taking a confession – listen carefully to the question and answer that question.  As a side note, you should have told your attorney everything, and nothing is worse than learning about criminal issues at the interview.
4.     Do not ask the officer questions.  If you do not understand a question, simply state that you do not understand the question.  I was recently in an interview where the officer simply asked the client for his social security number.  The client had previously worked illegally, but at the time had acquired a work permit and a valid social security number.  When the client was asked for his social security number he asked the officer, “Do you want my valid social security number, or the fake one I used before.”  Things did not go smoothly for this client.  DO NOT ASK THE OFFICER QUESTIONS.  Save them for the attorney after the interview is over.

Though these rules may seem like common sense, they need to be respected and reviewed with frequency.  And, of course it is recommended that you have an attorney present at interviews to make sure these rules are followed and to insure the officer is following the law and asking appropriate questions.
Does My Criminal Record Ever Go Away?

I get many questions about whether someone can erase their criminal record after completing probation or after the passage of a certain amount of time.

In the United States, your criminal convictions are never automatically taken off your record just due to the passage of time. If you have a conviction from 1999, that conviction will appear on your criminal record the same way in 1999 as in 2015. Nothing changes.

You may petition the court to withdraw a guilty plea or file a petition for habeas corpus to vacate your plea. These motions and petitions can be granted if there were constitutional or other issues with your plea. But there are strict time limits for these motion and petitions. A motion to withdraw a guilty plea almost always must be filed within the same "term of court." That could be two months or even one day after your plea. A petition for habeas corpus must be filed within 180 days after a conviction for a traffic offense including DUI, one year for misdemeanor offenses, and four year for felony offenses.

If you believe your rights were violated when you plead guilty or were found guilty, contact an attorney immediately!

Anna Erwin, Esq.
Associate Attorney

¿Necesito un abogado en mi entrevista con Servicios de Inmigración (USCIS)?

Esto dependerá en su mayoría de si existiesen factores negativos en su caso (por ejemplo: un historial inmigratorio complicado, un record criminal, asuntos de fraude, múltiples matrimonios o peticiones, etc.). Un abogado de inmigración es como una póliza de aseguranza: usted puede necesitarlo o no, pero si llegara a necesitarlo a la hora de su entrevista, estará agradecido de haberlo tenido con usted.

¿Que es lo que SI hace un abogado a la hora de la entrevista?
  • Un abogado prepara al cliente para la entrevista. En nuestra firma, nosotros usualmente hacemos una cita con nuestros clientes para explicarles el proceso, practicar series de preguntas hipotéticas que se les puedan preguntar en la entrevista, y verificamos que todos sus documentos estén en orden;
  • Un abogado clarifica preguntas hechas por el oficial de inmigración durante la entrevista;
  • Un abogado rectifica cualquier error o malentendido hecho en documentos sometidos anteriormente o hechos por algún abogado anterior;
  • Un abogado se asegura de que se lleve a cabo un protocolo propio a la hora de la entrevista (por ejemplo, que el oficial haga preguntas relevantes, que el oficial sea cortes con el solicitante, que los oficiales basen sus decisiones en evidencia substanciada, etc.);
  • Un abogado previene que un solicitante diga o haga algo que pueda dañar su caso.

¿Qué es lo que NO hace un abogado a la hora de la entrevista?
  • Un abogado no contesta las preguntas dirigidas al solicitante (la entrevista se trata del solicitante, no del abogado);
  • Un abogado no traduce por el solicitante (el solicitante debe proveer su propio interprete);
  • Un abogado no miente por el solicitante. Es importante recordar que, antes de que la entrevista empiece, el solicitante es jurado por el oficial y jura decir la verdad durante la entrevista, así que no es ético que el solicitante o el abogado mienta al oficial (y esto a fin de cuentas dañaria el caso de uno).

Incluso después de la entrevista, un abogado puede mantener comunicación con el oficial, responder cualquier requisito de evidencia adicional, y asegurarse de que todos los documentos importantes (como green cards y permisos de trabajo) sean enviados prontamente a los solicitantes.

Usted siempre puede hacer una cita para hablar con un abogado y determinar si usted necesita uno presente durante su entrevista.

Johanna Cochran, Abogada

Do I really need an attorney for an interview with Immigration Services (USCIS)?

It will largely depend on whether negative factors exist in your case (for example: a complicated immigration history, a criminal record, issues with fraud, multiple marriages or petitions, etc.). An immigration attorney works like an insurance policy: you may or may not need one at the time of the interview, but when you do, you will be glad you hired one.

What does an immigration attorney DO at an interview?
  • An attorney prepares the client(s) for the interview. In our firm, we usually meet with our clients to explain the process to them, go through a series of hypothetical questions that may be asked at the interview, and verify that all documents are in order;
  • An attorney clarifies questions asked by the officer during the interview;
  • An attorney rectifies any mistakes or misunderstandings from any previous filings done by the applicant or another attorney on behalf of the applicant;
  • An attorney ensures that proper procedure is taking place at the time of the interview (for example, that the officer is asking relevant questions, that the officer is polite to the applicants, that the officers are basing their decisions on substantial evidence, etc.);
  • An attorney can prevent an applicant from saying or doing something that could potentially hurt his or her case.

What does an immigration attorney NOT do at an interview?
  • An attorney does not answer questions for the applicant (the interview is about the applicant, not the attorney);
  • An attorney does not translate for the applicant (the applicant must  have his or her own interpreter);
  • An attorney does not lie for the applicant. It is important to remember that, before the interview starts, applicants always get sworn by the officer and asked to tell the truth, so it is unethical for the applicant or the attorney to lie to the officers (and this ultimately hurts your case).
Even after the interview is over, an attorney can follow up with the officer, respond to any requests for additional evidence from the officer, and make sure that all important documents (like green cards and work permits) are delivered timely to applicants.

You can always make an appointment to talk to an attorney and discuss whether you should hire one to attend an interview with you. 

Johanna Cochran, Associate Attorney

Una de las cosas que lo candidatos presidenciales del 2016 tienen en común sobre la inmigración corporativa — Tienen trabajo que hacer.

La inmigración es un tema caliente de la campaña, pero muchos de los candidatos presidenciales 2016 podrían pasar más tiempo de cepillar para arriba en la crítica cuestión de la inmigración corporativa.

1. Senador Bernie Sanders. a lo largo de su plan de inmigración, el senador Bernie Sanders constantemente enfrenta a los inmigrantes como un obstáculo para la lucha contra el desempleo. Dichas reclamaciones son sin méritos y contrario a los hechos reales.

En su plan de inmigración afirma que iba «substancialmente aumentar los salarios vigentes que los empleadores están obligados a pagar los trabajadores temporales. Si hay una escasez de cierto trabajo, los empleadores deberían estar ofreciendo salarios más altos, no inferiores. "

Esto es una simplificación de sonido que probablemente prueba bien con grupos de enfoque, pero no soporta a escrutinio fáctico. Un salario que prevalece es el salario medio ganado por los trabajadores con educación similar, experiencia, lugar de trabajo y obligaciones laborales. Los empleadores que contratan a ciudadanos extranjeros que poseen visas que requieren una imperante del salario ya más alto que el salario promedio de un trabajador en situación similar. [i]

Para ser claros, los empleadores que emplean a extranjeros con visas que requieren presentar información del salario prevaleciente, de hecho están pagando un "salario más alto, no menor" para usar el lenguaje propio senador Sanders.

Senador Sanders no propuso su método para elevar artificialmente los salarios vigentes desde el actual salario promedio para los trabajadores situación similar. Tener en cuenta que los empleadores regularmente ya pagan cuotas inmigración, que se renuevan periódicamente, incurrir en costos adicionales a los extranjeros empleados. [ii]

2. Senador Marco Rubio. "Hoy en día es necesario anunciar un trabajo durante 90 días antes de utilizar una de estas visas, yo doblare a que sea 180 días. "Hay que anunciar esto por 180 días a los trabajadores americanos.

Senador Rubio justificadamente ha recibido críticas por esta declaración que hizo en el Debate del partido republicano más reciente. Senador Rubio expuso su posición a los requisitos de reclutamiento doble así estaba abogando por visas adicionales durante una discusión y de ida y vuelta con Donald Trump en visas de H-1B.

Realmente hay ningún requisito de publicidad para H-1B y otras visas de no inmigrantes (excepto visas H-2B). ¿Senador Rubio dijo que aumentará reclutamiento requisitos para aplicaciones de PERM, visas H-2B o algo más? Sigue siendo confuso.

Senador Rubio ha expresado algunos entusiasmo por incrementar los límites para visas de no inmigrante H-1B, pero tendrá que soltar detalles adicionales antes de cualquier plan vaya más allá de meros puntos de discusión políticas.

3. Donald Trump. "Demasiadas visas, como la H-1B, no tiene tal requisito (requisito contratar trabajadores estadounidenses primero). En el año 2015, con 92 millones de estadounidenses fuera de la fuerza laboral y los ingresos que se derrumban, necesitamos empresas de alquiler de la piscina nacional de desempleados. Peticiones de los trabajadores deben ser enviados a la oficina de desempleo, USCIS no."

Teóricamente, no hay realmente nada legalmente mal con lo que dice aquí el Sr. Trump. Prácticamente hablando esto será una pesadilla, provocando desastrosos retrasos en el ya atascado sistema de aplicación de inmigración.

Como se mencionó anteriormente, las empresas que contratan a extranjeros no pagan salarios más bajos, de hecho todo lo contrario. Pagan salarios por encima del mercado para contratar a los empleados que quieren para sus negocios.

Agregar un requisito para anunciar posiciones antes de que puedan presentarse solicitudes aumenta el costo asociado con la contratación de extranjeros, disminuye negocio por retrasar los tiempos de arranque de los candidatos y las válvulas reguladoras de la economía, impidiendo que el país participe plenamente en una economía global.

Por un candidato que dice campeón de principios merito-crático, exponiendo la creencia de que es tiempo de América para ser administrados "como una empresa," su política de inmigración va en contra de esa narrativa.

Curiosamente, el Sr. Trump al mismo tiempo ha luchado por una expansión del programa de visas H-1B, indicando que debe "aumentar el número de visas H-1B si hay personas que son educados y talentosos y creando empleos". Este es un ejemplo de la doble voz política, que muchos le han criticado durante su campaña.

4. Hilary Clinton y el resto del campo. Como la mayoría de sus colegas en la carrera presidencial del 2016, ex Secretaria de Estado Clinton no ha sacado suficientes propuestas de políticas de inmigración sustantivas para justificar una discusión real aquí.

Ella ha presionado para un camino a la ciudadanía, pero con pocos detalles es difícil saber lo que significa en esta zona del campo de la inmigración. En términos de impacto inmediato en la inmigración corporativa, no es probable que tenga un impacto real, en lugar de otro a indocumentados extranjeros que están ilegalmente en Estados Unidos

En cuanto a los restantes candidatos del GOP, todos abogan por algún tipo de "seguridad fronteriza", pero propuestas sustantivas de falta que el campo de inmigración corporativa. Incluso alega política intelectualoide, propuesta de inmigración de Jeb Bush (disponible en el sitio web de su campaña en Español), carece de toda sustancia real para ser tomado en serio.

Esperar más de lo mismo de estos candidatos que parecen estar más dispuestos a conformarse con frases pegadizas que llega bien con grupos de enfoque, pero más a menudo que no están destituidos de abordar las cuestiones de fondo.

[i] 20 C.F.R. § 655.731
[ii] Por ejemplo cuesta un empleador $3.550 para presentar una solicitud de visa H-1B estándar con premium de procesamiento como lo hacen la mayoría de los empleadores. Incluso la visa tendrá que renovarse en 3 años y posiblemente anterior del empleado recibe una promoción o cambios de puestos de trabajo dentro de la empresa o es transferida a otra oficina. 

Publicado por Keith Jensen