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Broad Outline of Senate Immigration Agreement Emerge

by JP Sarmiento on April 15, 2013

Post image for Broad Outline of Senate Immigration Agreement Emerge

Below are six key points regarding the Senate’s priorities in immigration reform.

  • Fortifying the borders and other domestic enforcement measures for the next 10 years.
  • Continuous surveillance of close to a hundred percent of the United States border and 90 percent effectiveness of enforcement in high-risk sectors.
  • Provide $3 billion for the Department of Homeland Security to come up and carry out a five-year security plan. While the officials are preparing to present the plan within six months, there would be no room for any provisional legal status for any illegal immigrant.
  • Worker verification system to be required, mandatory for all employers within five years.
  • DHS also asked to create an electronic system to ensure that foreigners leave when their visas expire.
  • For those who meet all the requirements and background checks, a provisional status for 10 years will be given. This allows them to work and travel but not to remain permanently; only then will they be allowed to apply for green cards.

Source: The New York Times

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Post image for Marriage After Deportation Immigration Proceedings are Initiated

What is the difference between the I-130 Petition process in cases that are based on marriage to a US Citizen, between one where the marriage occurred before or without deportation proceedings being initiated and one where the marriage occurred after?

For both, there is a burden to show that the marriage is bona fide, but that burden is higher when the marriage occurred after deportation proceedings were initiated. Below is a list of some major differences.

  1. 485 filing

The first difference is on when you can file the I-485 green card application. If you entered legally and are not in removal proceedings, the I-130 and 485 could be filed simultaneously. Thus you can also file the I-765 work permit application together with it.

If you are placed in removal proceedings and the marriage occurred after, it is the I-130 that is filed first. Then you wait until that finally is approved, in the meantime seeking continuances with the Court while the I-130 is pending.

You cannot file a work permit 765 application while the I-130 is pending in a situation where the marriage occurred after deportation proceedings are initiated, because you still could not file the I-485. I-765s in these cases are approvable based on a pending I-485.

Once the I-130 is approved, you then can either seek termination of the case and then file the 485 green card application and 765 work permit application simultaneously with CIS once the case is terminated, or, should you seek adjustment with the Court, file the adjustment of status application with Court and file the work permit application with CIS.

  1. Bona Fide Marriage Exception Letter

As a primer, I-130s are not approvable when the marriage occurs after removal proceedings are initiated BUT they can be if a bona fide marriage exception letter is included plus proof of a bona fide marriage.

This is very important.

I have seen cases where couple would consult after an I-130 denial where an officer denied a seemingly bona fide marriage (some with kids even) simply because that one page letter was not included.

  1. Higher chance of Separation at Interview

There is also a higher chance that the couple would be separated at the interview. InNew York they undergo what’s called the Stokes interview. More questions are typically asked, and the interviews generally are longer. They would ask one person questions in private first, then ask the spouse separately, before checking if the answers match.

  1. More (evidence, time)

There is also “more” of a bunch of stuff.

More evidence is needed, so I ask for more joint documents, a lease, more affidavits, more pictures, more joint bank statements etc.

More interview questions are usually asked. More time is involved because the I-130 and I-485 are not filed simultaneously.

Ultimately though, if the marriage is bona fide, there should not be any reason why these I-130s can’t be approved. But again, it depends on how you prepare for the filing, and on how you prepare for the interview.

That said, it’s very important to have as much evidence as possible, and to be as prepared as possible to answer questions about your relationship.

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Post image for Jeb Bush Promotes Book on Immigration and Replies to Critics

Republican and former governor of Florida, Jeb Bush has been promoting his new book, “Immigration Wars: Forging an American Solution.” Early critics have said that his book is the exact opposite of his longtime position on immigration.

Fellow Republicans are complaining that Mr. Bush has shifted his support, from one of conservativeness to something more open to a path to citizenship, by calling Congress to welcome some form of legal status short of citizenship. Amidst confusion on what Mr. Bush’s real stand on immigration is, he stressed on “Face of Nation” that he supports a path to citizenship and further explained that his main premise is to make it easier and less costly for those entering the country legally, rather than having them come here illegally anyway.

Mr. Bush was also quick to encourage Republicans to accept a deficit-reduction deal with Mr. Obama, one that purports to cut the budget along the lines of government sequestration.  This is quite the opposite of Representative Paul D. Ryan’s views during his appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” when he reiterated his opposition to the government’s recent deficit-reduction strategies. Mr. Ryan is keen on addressing the issue, paving the way towards a balanced budget, by reducing Medicare, Medicaide and federal pensions.

While Mr. Ryan ‘enjoyed the experience’ when he was a Republican nominee for vice president in 2012, Mr. Bush, on the other hand, quips that he is not even thinking about it.

Source: The New York Times

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Mass Release of Detained Immigrants Tied to Impending Cuts

by JP Sarmiento on February 27, 2013

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Republicans are angered by the decision of the government to release hundreds of detainees from detention centers around the country to save money. In spite of the assurance of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement that those who were released are non-criminals and low-risk offenders, Republicans, like Rep. Robert W. Goodlatte, believe the administration is endangering American lives.

Further, even after the release of these detainees, the charges are still not dropped for these people. Although there may be no other detainees who will be released this week, immigration officials are giving a heads up on more possible releases depending on how budget negotiations would turn out in the coming days.

Source: The New York Times

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Post image for Terminating Removal Proceedings After I130, 360, and other Petition Approvals for CIS Adjustment

Let’s say you are in removal proceedings due to an overstay. Maybe you have an asylum application with the immigration court, or a cancellation of removal application, and during proceedings you got married to a US Citizen, or are the beneficiary of another I-130 petition, or even an I-360 self-petition.

And let’s say you are not otherwise inadmissible – no criminal record that would disqualify you from permanent residency, never had a false claim to US Citizenship (such as checking that you are a US Citizen on the I-9 form). And if not for removal proceedings (245i may have to apply in certain circumstances), would have been eligible for adjustment of status.

For those that get married in good faith after removal proceedings were initiated, it’s possible for you to be the beneficiary of an I-130 immigrant petition filed by your US Citizen spouse. You have to take note that the burden is higher when the marriage occurred after removal proceedings were commenced, and I-130s in this route are only approved if that higher burden is met.  A bona fide marriage exception letter must be included as well as evidence of your bona fide relationship. It is common for the husband and wife to be separated at I-130 interviews in these cases. Some undergo what’s called the Stokes interview also, which is an intensive interview session where both parties are separated.

But what if the I-130 is approved? Or if there are other petitions approved, which are current, and which makes you eligible for adjustment but for removal proceedings.

Of course there are many factors involved, and the results depend on whether the DHS agrees and of course whether the Immigration Judge agrees too. Usually when the DHS agrees or does not oppose termination, the Immigration Judge will grant termination, but it’s never a certainty. Some Judges would still want the adjustment of status adjudicated in Court, which is fine. Some though would actually be happy to terminate it, as it lightens their docket.

Our firm has done a couple termination cases recently on situations similar to the above (case for asylum or other relief pending, legal entry overstay, married a US Citizen or beneficiary of other types of petition, family or otherwise).

So one thing that could be done is the filing of a Request to Join in a Motion to Terminate with the DHS, in which after they agree, the Joint Motion would then be filed with the Immigration Judge. Proceedings will then be likely terminated for you to apply for adjustment of status with the CIS. Procedurally that is the proper way to do it.

A Motion to Terminate filed with the Immigration Judge with service to the DHS will still yield on the DHS’s response on whether they oppose or not.

And in both instances above, not just the I-130 approval should be attached, but also as much of the I-485 supporting documents (and the 485s itself) to show the applicant’s eligibility.

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McCain, Obama to Meet on Immigration Tuesday

by JP Sarmiento on February 25, 2013

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U.S. Sen. John McCain and some other lawmakers are set to sit down with President Obama on the immigration overhaul of the nation’s system. Part of the discussion would be the significant disagreements between some members of a bipartisan group of eight and the president in the issue. But Senator McCain, who is a member of the said bipartisan group, is still optimistic about the success of this possible legislation that will push forward the path to citizenship for illegal immigrants in the country.

The meeting between President Obama, Sen. John McCain and some of the members of the bipartisan group of eight on Tuesday will address aspects where the senators and the president disagree in some principles of the proposed legislation. It is noted that the president promised that he will give some room for lawmakers to discuss the details among themselves and come up with the right legislation. Now, the president would like to sit down with the senators and try to work out on the details of immigration reform.

Source: ABC News

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Post image for Asylum Referrals to Immigration Court: A Denial? What Next?

What happens when you filed an asylum application yourself, and after your interview, you get placed in removal proceedings and your asylum application is referred to the immigration court? Is that a denial? What should you do next?

You may feel that you are being deported, or that your case has no chance of winning at all. But that’s not really the case.

You can think of it as an opportunity to present your case better in Court. Maybe there were some elements you missed. Maybe you failed to support your case further initially.

We had a couple of cases recently, one for a client from Cameroon and another for a client from Ethiopia, where both filed their initial CIS asylum application themselves. No attorneys. Their cases were denied at the CIS level and referred to the immigration court, and then they retained our firm. And ultimately they had an opportunity to present their case better, and fortunately the Immigration Judge granted their cases.

One good thing about having your case in immigration court is that you have an opportunity to present your case through questions initially asked by your own attorney. So if there are any specific details or events that you want emphasized, the attorney can zone in on those in direct examination.

I remember our attorney Glen preparing both clients twice for hours prior to each of the individual hearings, with over a hundred questions each.

You see there are many issues involved in asylum applications, not just whether you were harmed or not. People simply focus on the harm they experienced, without tying it to other aspects of asylum law nor detailing the specifics of the event.

Is there a one year issue?

Are you part of a protected group?

Is the persecution related to you being part of that protected group?

Did the harm you or your family experienced rise to the level of persecution needed for asylum?

Is there a firm resettlement or relocation issue?

Are your supporting documents, the dates, places, and names listed on those, corroborating your testimony?

Are your supporting documents internally consistent with each other?

Is your written statement consistent with your testimony?

Is your claim detailed enough? Were there addresses, dates, names on every possible instance in your claim?

Maybe your initial claim had simply a month, but not a specific date.

Maybe your initial claim had simply a city, but not a specific address.

Maybe you did not specify how far the hospital is from the place you were persecuted. Or where it is located in the first place.

What is the name of the doctor?

Or how far and where was the police station is from where you were persecuted?

Any many others.

So take this as an opportunity for you to be more thorough in your claim. An opportunity to present it better, with more details and specifics. Asylum law is complex, with may issues and elements involved, aside from simply fearing returning home.

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Post image for Tech Sector Leads the Lobbying Charge for Immigration Reform

Other than undocumented immigrants with immediate relatives in the United States, the tech sector is believed to be one of those who will benefit from the proposed overhaul of the US immigration system. Marshall Fitz implied that with Democratic and Republican support coupled with the tech industry, comprehensive immigration reform might just have found its special formula that will make it across the finish line this time.

For the past years, it has been clear that the main issues of the nation’s immigration laws have greatly affected the technology sector. Dane Stangler, research and policy director at the Kauffman Foundation, agrees in saying that the nation must maintain a dynamic economy and embracing immigrant entrepreneurs is necessary.

Tech companies such as Microsoft, Oracle, Intel and Facebook are one in believing that there is a pool of highly-skilled immigrant workers in the U.S. that they want to tap into. This concerted effort of tech industry giants is poised to be one major factor in influencing comprehensive immigration reform.

Source: ABC News

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Post image for The White House Continues Working On Immigration Legislation of Its Own

Early drafts of a comprehensive bill that offers a pathway to citizenship to illegal immigrants has been developed by The White House.

President Obama let a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers come up with their own bill that not only focuses on a comprehensive immigration reform but also address border security. So far, the President is pleased with how things are working out on the road to an immigration system overhaul. But the White House is not taking any chances and is ready to take the lead if the bipartisan coalition will encounter more challenges in putting things in place for a proposed better national immigration system.

White House spokesperson, Clark Stevens, assures the nation that as the bipartisan coalition has the full support of the president, there’s no doubt that the President himself will push forward even if Congress fails to act.

According to USA Today, one of the things that are included in the president’s draft legislation is to allow immigrants to finally be permanent residents within eight years while they apply for a “Lawful Prospective Immigrant” visa.  Even if Mr. Stevens declined to comment on this, this idea has already been made evident during the president’s Las Vegas speech. In that speech, the president made clear that “there will be no uncertainty about their (illegal Immigrants) ability to become U.S. citizens provided that they meet the eligibility criteria.” If the information the USA Today was able to gather is true, some people, including Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida, believe the legislation to be “half-baked and seriously flawed.”

The President is giving Congress little room to debate on the matter but made it clear that he stands ready to introduce his own legislation if the situation calls for it.

Source: The New York Times

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Senate Panel Tackles Immigration

by JP Sarmiento on February 15, 2013

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The Senate Judiciary held its first hearing on immigration reform last Wednesday, February 13, 2013.  The hearing focused largely on border security and enforcement, with an entire panel devoted to just one witness — Secretary Janet Napolitano of the Department of Homeland Security. She said that border security was often used as an excuse to prevent meaningful changes.

Influential Republicans has praised Mr. Obama so far in his handling of immigration reform. Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s vice-presidential nominee last year, said the president’s was measured and constructive. “I thought on immigration he used the right words and the right tone, which tells me he actually doesn’t want to politicize this, which is conducive to getting something done,” Mr. Ryan said.

Given their losses in the November Congressional elections, Republicans in both the House and Senate have demonstrated a new openness to immigration changes that could finally lead to comprehensive immigration reform.

The four Democratic senators in the bipartisan group — Senators Michael Bennet of Colorado and Robert Menendez of New Jersey, as well as Mr. Durbin and Mr. Schumer — were to meet with Mr. Obama at the White House on Wednesday evening to discuss the group’s progress. Tentatively, they plan to introduce the bill in March.

Source: New York Times

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