Musings on Immigration

Our Globally Recognized Team of Immigration Lawyers Sharing Knowledge and Providing Counsel on Immigration Issues that Affect You, Your Business and Your Family

What You Need to Know About the USCIS Fee Increase!

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decided that they’re not charging enough for application filing fees, so they recently published a notice proposing a fee increase.  I say “proposed” because the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) must first publish the proposal in the Federal Register and allow 60 days for the public to comment on the fee increase before it becomes a new rule.  So, now is the time to review and comment on the publication by clicking on this link,  As you will notice, there are only 60 days in which to make your feelings known, so please comment now because it expires on July 5, 2016!  The new rule will go into effect not less than 30 days after the comment period has ended.  Your voice will make a difference with the proposed fee increases because the comments help to formulate the final rule, so please make sure and visit the link! 

            Once you review the link, you will notice that some of the new fee increases are astronomical.  Pay particular attention to the new proposed fees for a travel document, EB-5 petition, an application for certificate of citizenship, as well as waiver forms in particular which are set to increase from $585 to $930!  If you are eligible for, or are considering filing any of these applications such as for a green card or naturalization, you should strongly consider doing so before this fee increase becomes final.   

                Please contact Danielle M. Claffey at 404.949.8151, or by email at with any questions.

Georgia Driver's License Rules Have Changed! - Adjustment of Status and Cancellation of Removal Applicants

The Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS) has changed its position on driver's licenses for certain immigrants and is now giving driver's licenses to immigrants who are applying for adjustment of status (a green card) or who have a cancellation of removal case pending with the immigration court. In September of 2015 DDS began denying licenses to immigrants in these categories but has changed its rule.

How Do I know if I Can Get a License?

If you don’t know what type of case you have pending with immigration, just look at the “category” on your work permit. If your category is (a)(12), (a)(14), (c)(8), (c)(9), (c)(10), (c)(33), you can get a license.

What Documents Do I Need to Bring to DDS to Get a License?

1) A valid, unexpired passport
2) A valid, unexpired work permit showing category (a)(12), (a)(14), (c)(8), (c)(9), (c)(10), (c)(33)
2) Your I-797C notice that states one of the following:

      a) Pending adjustment of status application (I-485) 

      b) Pending Cancellation of Removal (EOIR 42B) NOTE: If you have pending Cancellation of Removal, you MUST ALSO bring your I-797C receipt notice from your pending Adjustment of Status application (I-485). EVERY Cancellation of Removal applicant is sent an I-797C for an I-485.

      c) Pending asylum or withholding of removal (I-589)

      d) Approved DACA

      e) Approved Deferred Action (U visa applicants included)

      f) Approved TPS

What do I do if DDS says I'm not eligible for a license because of my immigration status?

Kindly ask to see a supervisor. The immigration documentation you have is very different from the type of documentation DDS employees usually review. Some employees might not know about the rule change or understand it. A supervisor is more likely to know the rules. If you are still denied a license and you are sure you have the right paperwork, apply at a different DDS office. If you are still denied, contact us!

Can I Get A License if I Am Completely Undocumented?

Unfortunately you cannot get a license in Georgia if you are a completely undocumented immigrant. But we are working on this and will continue to push for change!

- Anna Erwin, Esq.

One Reason Why A Trump Presidency Would Destroy Immigration To America

A lot has been said about Candidate Trump's statements regarding immigrants,"Mexicans," and "the wall."  Many people, especially recent immigrants and those that know them, have had a visceral reaction to these statements and consider Trump "anti-immigrant" and unfit to lead an immigrant nation.  But I have to tell you, these nativist statements are not the reason why a Trump Presidency would destroy immigration to America.  There is another reason; the overarching cause of Trump's march toward a walled America, isolated from the rest of the work, self focused, and limiting in integration and growth--Senator Jeff Sessions.

That's right.  Senator Jeff Sessions, the first Senator to hop on board the Trump express. You have to ask yourself, why would a sitting U.S. Senator, with a lot to lose, get so cozy, so early with a candidate in the primaries.  The answer is simple. Trump talked the talk that Senator Sessions understands. The dog whistle politics of nativism, limited population, and class separation.  Trump has repeatedly said, since Senator Sessions joined his campaign, that Sessions would be a fine Secretary of Homeland Security, and that he was also serving as his primary advisor on foreign affairs and nationalsecurity.  This fact, should deeply concern anyone who understands the background and beliefs of Senator Sessions.

Let's start off with the easy stuff. Then U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions (for the Alabama) was denied a Federal District Court Judgeship by the United States Senate in 1986 because he was accused of making numerous racial remarks and taking race based actions against members of his own U.S. Attorney office.  You might want to watch this video of SenatorTed Kennedy calling out Jeff Sessions on his actions and Sessions complete inability to respond to these allegations.  So, we know this-- Sessions has been found to have committed overt acts of racism in the past.

Subsequently, Sessions was elected as Attorney General in Alabama for two years and then won an election to succeed Democratic Senator Howell Heflinin 1996.  Senator Sessions's web page speaks volumes about his stance on the immigration issue, and if he were to become Trump's Secretary of Homeland Security, you would likely see massive changes in how our current laws and regulations operate in regards to legal immigrants.  These changes would not just be an increase in enforcement, but rather deeper and more troubling changes in a more limited legal immigration. 

From Senator Sessions's website he makes it clear that he wants to shrink legal immigration into the United States:
Senator Sessions is committed to immigration reform that serves the national interest – not the special interests – and that curbs the unprecedented flow of immigration that is sapping the wages and job prospects of those living and working here today." 
The reason he gives is the same reason de jure of the entire anti-immigration movement; to "protect the American worker."

Yet there is no evidence that lowering legal immigration would protect or create more jobs for the native born.  In fact, the numbers bear out just theopposite, that legal immigration acutally creates more jobs for american workers. 

Sessions clearly opposes President Obama's DACA and DAPA program:  
"Sessions has also been a leading opponent of President Obama’s unconstitutional executive amnesties, which gives jobs and benefits to illegal workers at the expense of struggling families."  
By calling them "executive amnesties" (whatever that means) he tries to denigrate the process by which Obama is creating deportation priorities in light of Sessions's own failures to allocate sufficient funds to carry out Trump's $400 billion dollar promise (and Obama's attempt) to deport all of the undocumented. 

Senator Sessions has repeatedly sponsored legislation that both limits the rights of all immigrants to challenge their removal, and has called on both Republican and Democratic administrations to "enforce" immigration law, despite not actually sponsoring any bills in 20 years to increase funding to do so. 

Sessions also receives an A+ from the anti-population, nativist group Numbers USA on his ratings on reducing legal immigration to the US. 

With this understanding of exactly where Senator Sessions's beliefs are in the context of legal immigration, next imagine him and his minions implementing these policies as Secretary of Homeland Security.  And, you also have to know how Trump answered Jeff Sessions questions on legal immigration, featured prominently on the Numbers USA website
Question 4: A super-majority of GOP voters say immigration is too high. Every year, on autopilot, we let in another one million immigrants on green cards, 700,000 foreign guest workers, half a million foreign students, and 100,000 refugees and asylees. Historical precedent would be to reduce record-breaking immigration, rather than continuing to surge it beyond all historical precedent. Will you support legislation to reduce immigration numbers, and will you oppose legislation that would add to the number?
ANSWER: I will support legislation to reduce the numbers, and will oppose legislation to increase the numbers.  I have laid out a detailed plan to accomplish this goal on my website.  My suggested reforms include a requirement to give all open jobs to Americans first — instead of importing foreign replacements.
So, there you have it. Senator Sessions is the one reason why a Trump Presidency would destroy immigration to America.  If that is not enough for you, perhaps you can imagine the the following is a brief list of what we would certainly see in the administrative reduction of legal immigration to the U.S., if Jeff Sessions were the Secretary of Homeland Security:

  • The ending of Parole in Place enabling family members of US military members to adjust status;
  • The ending of DAPA and DACA, and the recreating of undocumented status for these groups;
  • The ending of Advance Parole as a lawful admission for adjustment purposes;
  • The limiting of EB-5 usage by revisions to processes and regulations that will make EB-5 Regional Centers difficult, if not impossible to operate;
  • The increase of unregulated scrutiny of H-1B, L-1, and E-2 applications for US and international business seeking to expand in the US;
  • The constricting of the interpretation of lawful presence and the expansion of what constitutes unlawful presence for adjustment and consular processing purposes;
  • The expansion of restrictive reading of existing law for individual immigrants with extraordinary and exceptional ability and national interest waivers;
  • The limiting of relief for minors under the Special Immigration Juvenile program; and
  • An increasing number of RFEs and denials for EB-2 and EB-3 immigrant visa applications in the context of education and experience requirements and ability to pay wages by a continuing shifting of interpretation of existing law.

This is only a partial list; many readers can imagine other shifts of interpretative process by a Sessions's lead Department of Homeland Security both in legal immigration processing, and also in the enforcement and admissions areas.  

At the end of the day, each of us votes as Americans on topics and issues that are most important to us.  That said. the immigration issue is an overarching concern that most Americans simply to not understand.  It is very easy to buy into the nativist "us v. them" rhetoric and to blame one's own problems and sufferings on the "other."  However, looked at  without bias, the only proper conclusion one can come to is that legal immigration has been the "thing" that makes America great.  Legal immigration at its current level still leaves millions of people in the "line." to get into our country.  And, legal immigration is the lifeblood for bringing people to the U.S. who create jobs, complete families, and stimulate our economic growth. Listening to someone like Senator Sessions, a shill for the non-conservative anti-immigration movement, is the exact opposite of what a real American leader (and the son of an immigrant) should do.   Following a Trump/Sessions presidency, my greatest fear would be a weakened America who's "shining city on a hill" has been tarnished and snuffed out by those who are afraid of the future, and those who are protecting a mythical past which never existed. Think about that when you are ready to vote.  

La Orden de la Corte Suprema por otorgar las licencias de Manejar, NO esta vigente todavia en Georgia!

Muchos saben que la corte en Georgia ordeno la produccion de licencias para las personas que le han sido negadas  porque sus permisos de trabajo tienen estas categorias (c)(9), (c)(10), o (c)(18).  Todavia esa orden no sirve porque no es una orden final, aqui el estado de Georgia tiene 30 dias para apelar. Si apelan esa orden no entrara en efecto. Ademas, esta orden solo afecta a las personas que fueron parte de la demanda original, NO PARA TODOS!. No hay una orden restrictiva.

Ademas, nuestro bufete de abogados ha inicado una nueva demanda con nuestros clientes, por gratis, pidiendo un orden restriictive general aplicables a todos, que quiere decir esto, i si la corte falla a nuestro favor todas las personas que le han sido negados licencias de conducir en el estado de Georgia bajo estos parametros van a ser beneficiados por la orden, no solo las personas que tomaron parte en la demanda orginal. 

La palabra final es esto: Ten pacienica con el proceso, y eventualmente yo creo que ganaremos!
Si quiere una copia gratis de la decision, haz un click aqui y imprimolo. Pero no malgasta su tiempo llendo a DDS, todavia esta decision no esta vigente a todos!