Often in the news, we see stories about undocumented applicants being arrested while attending their USCIS interviews. A lot of applicants wanting to apply for immigration benefits are worried about similar incidents happening to them. We will discuss the USCIS policies regarding to the arrest of an alien during the interview process below:
General rule - not arresting the alien even though he/she may be in the U.S. illegally
Per USCIS policy, as a general rule, any alien who appears for an interview before an USCIS officer in connection with an application or petition seeking benefits under the INA shall not be arrested during the course of the interview, even though the alien may be in the United States illegally. If the alien is ineligible for the benefit being sought, the interviewing officer should advise the alien that he or she will receive a written decision on the application or petition by mail. The officer may (at the officer’s discretion) also verbally advise the alien of the anticipated nature of the decision, what the alien’s available options might be (e.g. appeal the decision, renew the application in proceedings before the Immigration Court, etc.), when the officer anticipates the decision will be mailed, etc. The alien will then be allowed to depart from the office.
Note: This general rule applies only to adjudication scenarios. It does not apply to inspection scenarios (at ports of entry or during proceedings involving deferred inspection or completion of parole) or enforcement scenarios.
Exceptions to the general rule
In some cases, an illegal alien’s actions or situation may be so egregious as to justify making an exception to the general rule that those who appear voluntarily for an interview should not be arrested during the course of that interview. Such actions and situations include, but are not limited to:
USCIS published the national average processing times for select forms based on all USCIS office for FY2014 through FY2018, as well as for FY2019 up to October 31, 2018.
Drug offenses can carry serious immigration consequences. The possible consequences include deportation, detention, ineligibility for residency, loss of asylum, temporary and permanent bars to citizenship, and stiff federal sentences upon reentry.
The general ground of deportability is covered in INA § 237(a)(2)(B)(i) and 8 USC 1227(a)(2)(B)(i) which find that a violation of any law or regulation related to a controlled substance makes an alien deportable. In terms of deportability, some considerations to keep in mind would be whether the drug-related offense is a controlled substance offense or a drug trafficking aggravated felony.
Although the recreational use of marijuana has been legalized in some states such as California, the possession of marijuana is treated different under federal law, and especially in relation to immigration law. For immigration purposes, it is federal law that controls, and it remains a federal offense to possess marijuana. Do not think that it is fine to “blaze up” after hearing that the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (Proposition 64) was passed!
The definition of the term “controlled substance” is given in 21 USC § 802, and “Marihuana” is listed in Schedule I of part B of the subchapter.
Immigration law treats any marijuana-related activity as a crime, with harsh penalties, even if it is permitted under state law. In terms of what immigration consequences marijuana will bear, factors to take into account include the amount of marijuana, whether it was simple possession or distribution of the drug, whether or not it was for personal use, and the number of times a person has been convicted for possessing marijuana.
General Advice for immigrants ( From Immigration Legal Resource Center)
It can be difficult to understand what type of drug convictions would trigger deportability, and what an individual should do when charged with possession. There are a number of ways and possible exceptions that a knowledgeable and experienced attorney can use to advocate for clients in Immigration Court and to counter the many immigration consequences of drug offenses. The Law Offices of Sabrina Li, P.C. has successfully represented clients with convictions in their immigration cases in the past. Please do not hesitate to get in contact to discuss the possible legal options available to you.
Now that you have finally received your green card, you are free to travel outside the United States, and temporary or brief travel usually does not affect your permanent resident status. If it is determined, however, that you did not intend to make the United States your permanent home, you will be found to have abandoned your permanent resident status.
You may be found to have abandoned your status if you:
So what is considered an extended period of time? Here is the breakdown:
1. Stay outside of the U.S. for less than six months
Regulation provides that an Legal permanent resident returning from abroad doesn’t even count as applying to CBP for “admission” (i.e., CBP won’t question his or her qualifications to enter) if he or she meets the following requirements, among others:
2. Stay outside of the U.S. for more than six months but less than one year
A general guide used is whether you have been absent from the United States for more than a year. If you are a lawful permanent resident , you may leave the U.S. multiple times and reenter, as long as you do not intend to stay outside the U.S. for 1 year or more. However, please note abandonment may be found to occur in trips of less than a year where it is believed you did not intend to make the United States your permanent residence.( See the “touch down” rule we explained above.
3. Stay outside of the U.S. for more than one year but less than two years
If you plan on being absent from the United States for longer than a year, we suggest you first apply for a reentry permit.. Obtaining a reentry permit prior to leaving the United States allows a permanent or conditional permanent resident to apply for admission into the United States during the permit’s validity without the need to obtain a returning resident visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
4. Stay outside of the U.S. for more than two years
If you remain outside of the United States for more than 2 years, any reentry permit granted before your departure from the United States will have expired. In this case, we suggest you to consider applying for a returning resident visa at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A returning resident visa applicant will be required to establish eligibility for an immigrant visa and will need a medical exam. There is an exception to this process for the spouse or child of either a member of the U.S. Armed Forces or civilian employee of the U.S. Government stationed abroad on official orders.
Even after obtaining the reentry permit or Returning resident, you will still need to be prepared to be examined by an officer about your intent of residing in the U.S. permanently. The officer may consider criteria such as whether your intention was to visit abroad only temporarily, whether you maintained U.S. family and community ties, maintained U.S employment, filed U.S. income taxes as a resident, or otherwise established your intention to return to the United States as your permanent home. Other factors that may be considered include whether you maintained a U.S. mailing address, kept U.S. bank accounts and a valid U.S. driver’s license, own property or run a business in the United States, or any other evidence that supports the temporary nature of your absence.
What rights do I have if the inspecting officer does not accept my explanation?
When a permanent resident returns after a trip abroad, it is important for you to understand your rights. The most important of these rights is the right to a hearing before an immigration judge if their permanent resident status is questioned by the immigration inspector. Most visitors and other non-immigrants have no right to a hearing, and immigration inspectors have been known to try and encourage permanent residents to sign an abandonment of their green cards instead of requesting such a hearing. Once a person signs an abandonment, their permanent resident status is gone and extremely difficult to recover.If your evidence or explanation is not accepted by the immigration inspector, do not sign the form for abandonment and politely request a hearing on the question.
Ideally, always talk to an experienced immigration about your long-term stays out of the country before you leave. Your attorney can advise you the best arguments possible for demonstrating that you have not abandoned your residence and/or jeopardized their eligibility for naturalization. This is especially important when you have already spent significant time outside the United States. For your consultation, please call us at (213) 375-8096
P-1B is a classification of visa that would allow you to enter and stay in the United States temporarily (not exceed 1 year) to perform as a member of an entertainment group. Even though the visa only has 1-year validation, it is allowed to be renewed annually.
There are two essential criteria for intend applicant(s) to be qualify for the P-1B visa:
The key point for a successful application for P-1B visa is to demonstrate the qualification of the group you belong to. Evidence that your group is internationally recognized as outstanding in the discipline for a sustained and substantial period of time as demonstrated by evidence of your group's receipt of, or nomination for, significant international awards or prizes for outstanding achievement in the field, or evidence of at least three of the following:
Note that Individual entertainers not performing as part of a group are not eligible for this visa classification. If you are a solo entertainer, P-1B would not be appropriate for you.
Our law offices have been successful assisting many clients obtaining P-1B visas. The Approval Notice below is one of our recent approvals. In this specific case, we filed the petition on June 14, 2017, our client’s petition was approved within 13 days. With the knowledge and experience of our attorneys , your application process would be just as easy! For more information, please call to schedule your consultation : 213-375-8096.
Getting an employment-based green card is a multiple step process and it generally takes several years to get it. Here is a brief introduction of the process.
Step 1: Perm
Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) is the system used for obtaining labor certification and is the first step for certain foreign nationals in obtaining an employment-based immigrant visa (“green card”). This is also known as PERM labor certification (LC). The labor certification is a determination that there is a shortage of American workers who are willing and able to by the DOL perform the offered job. That is accomplished by the employer advertising the position in the newspaper and other media.
Before filing an application, the employer must conduct specified recruitment activities.
Step 2: Immigrant Worker Petition
After the labor certification is approved by the DOL, an Immigrant Petition related to the labor certification should be filed with the USCIS before the expiration of the labor certification. The certification has a validity period of 180-days and expires if not submitted to USCIS within this period. This phase currently takes about three to five months.
At this stage, the employer will need to demonstrate the company’s ability to pay the prevailing wage, which may require submission of company’s financial statement or tax returns.
USCIS (Citizenship and Immigration Services) Premium Processing option is also available for this phase for an extra $1,225 in filing fees. Premium Processing cases are reviewed by CIS within 15 working days.
Step 3: Consular Processing Abroad or “Adjustment of Status”
The last and final step in the permanent resident process is an application filed by the foreign national. The foreign national’s immediate dependents (spouse and children) may also join the foreign national employee at this step in the process and file their own applications as the employee’s dependents.
Each case is given a priority date based upon when it is first filed with USCIS. This priority date is the foreign national’s “place in line” for an immigrant visa for someone from their birth country as they become available. If the foreign national employee’s priority date is current, the adjustment of status application may be filed with USCIS concurrently with the I-140 Petition. If the priority date is not yet current due to quota backlogs, then it may be several months or years before the individual may file the last phase in the permanent resident process. The attorney will track priority dates and prepare this filing.
The USCIS currently charges a $700 filing fee per I-140 Petition.
STATUS WHILE IMMIGRANT PETITION IS PENDING
During this entire process, the sponsored employee and his/her family, residing in the U.S., should maintain their valid nonimmigrant (temporary) status. However, the applicant (as well as his/her dependents) are eligible to apply for work authorization upon filing for adjustment of status in the U.S.
The most recent memo issued by white house on February 20, 2017, greatly expanded the DHS’s authority to deport of millions of undocumented immigrants. Almost any undocumented person now can be detained and deported, regardless if he or she has any criminal record.
For many couples who undergo the process of filing a petition for a spouse , the task can prove to be intimidating and confusing. While you and your spouse bear the responsibility of presenting clear and convincing evidence that you entered into their marriage in good faith, it is still important to make sure that you do not feel obligated to answer questions that would amount to a gross invasion of privacy. If an officer, for instance, asks you if the marriage was consummated on the wedding night, feel free to object, and ask the officer to move on to the next question. A couple’s sex life is their personal business, and a husband and wife may prove that their relationship is not a sham through other evidence. If the interview officer insists that you have to answer, you can ask to speak to this officer's supervisor.
An experienced attorney can help you navigate through the interview process, it is always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney prior to the interview.
What is TN Status/ Visa?
The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) created special economic and trade relationships between the U.S., Canada & Mexico.The non-immigrant NAFTA professional (TN) visa allows citizens of Canada & Mexico, as NAFTA professionals, to work in the US in pre-arranged business activities for U.S. or foreign employers.
· A citizen of Canada or Mexico;
· Profession must be on the NAFTA list: https://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/employment/nafta.html;
· The position in the US must require a NAFTA professional;
· Applicant will work in a pre-arranged full-time or part-time job for an employer. Self-employment is not allowed;
· Applicant must possess the qualifications, meeting the specific requirements, education and/or experience of the profession.
A Canadian citizen would need a TN visa if he / she resides in a 3rd country with a non-canadian spouse and/or children. If such a Canadian citizen plans to enter the US as a NAFTA professional, he/she must 1st procure a TN Visa so that the dependent spouse/children may apply for the derivative TD visa.
When can I apply for a TN Visa?
Unlike H-1B visas, there is no quota on the number of TN visas which may be issued every year, therefore it can be obtained any time of the year.
Canadian applicants may apply directly at a border post, and get their TN visa immediately. Mexicans would have to apply at a consular post, but they may renew at border posts.
Pros and Cons of TN?
An advantage of the TN visa is that it may be renewed indefinitely in 3 year increments.
one limitation of TN is that it is not a “dual intent” visa, Another disadvantage is that your dependents, which would be in the US on TD status, are unable to obtain work authorization.
Why do you need to hire an Attorney:
Applying for TN visa / status requires preparing different documents for different positions and involves complex processes. An experienced Immigration attorney could help you complete appropriately to maximize your chances of getting the TN visa / status. Missing documents, deadlines and inappropriate process will get your TN application denied.
Police investigations, arrests and convictions for prostitution, pimping and human trafficking are on the rise.
This can be seen in two recent news stories – 5 San Gabriel Valley residents were recently arrested under suspicion of a large human trafficking ring spanning numerous countries and a second large sting involving over 200 arrests in the Sepulveda Boulevard and Lankershim Boulevard corridors in the San Fernando Valley.
Getting arrested for these types of offenses can lead to quite serious consequences, including jail, prison, probation, asset forfeiture and even deportation.
What Our Clients Are Saying
"Sabrina was always very responsive when I called her or sent her email. She is always there to help me. She is very resourceful, and gave me advice on more than just my case. She helped me to get through the most difficult time in my life. I would highly recommend her."- Natalie