Help for Immigrant Families During COVID-19

We are currently living during uncertain times due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Millions of people have been affected by falling ill, losing their jobs, and overall the uncertainty of not knowing when everything will get better. Amongst the ones affected are immigrant families who have been struggling to receive medical assistance due to the financial burden it will cause and also not having access to financial resources due to their immigration status. Many have lost their jobs leaving them without any financial resources to stay afloat. They find themselves in desperate times not having the funds to buy food, pay their bills or their rent, just like many of us. 

Stimulus Check

In April, millions of Americans received a stimulus check of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child. However, this stimulus bill did not include immigrant families or spouses of Unites States Citizens even though they pay billions in taxes each year. According to Americas Voice Education Fund, immigrants paid $405.4 billion in taxes in 2017, including an estimated $27.2 billion in taxes paid by undocumented immigrants. Immigrant families have found themselves at a loss and alone with the lack of resources they have to aid them during this pandemic.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak and the lack of resources the immigrant community has access to, California Governor Gavin Newsom, made a decision to help the immigrant community by providing financial assistance through the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI).  California is providing state funded assistance one time to undocumented adults who are ineligible for other forms of assistance, including assistance under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and pandemic unemployment benefits, because of their immigration status. 

The California Department of Social Services has selected twelve immigrant-serving nonprofit organizations to help individuals apply for and receive this disaster relief assistance in their region. An undocumented adult who qualifies can receive $500 in direct assistance, with a maximum of $1000 in assistance per household.

This assistance means a lot for immigrant families. It is rewarding to witness our governor and many non-profit organizations coming together to aid the immigrant community during this pandemic crisis.

Frequently Asked Questions Answered by California’s Department of Social Services

Who do I contact to apply for the disaster relief assistance for immigrants?

If you live in the County of Los Angeles/Orange please contact:

  1. CHIRLA (213) 201-8700 or (213) 395-9547
  2. CARECEN (213) 315-2659 (LA County ONLY)

If you live in the County of San Bernardino/Riverside please contact:

  1. San Bernardino Community Service Center (909) 521-7535 or
  2. TODEC Legal Center (888) 863-3291

If you live in San Diego County please contact:

  1. Jewish Family Service Center of San Diego (760) 206-3242

If your county is not listed please visit this page to see the full list of organizations based on your county https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesou…/immigration/covid-19-drai.

How can I apply for assistance if I am undocumented?

CDSS published the list of the nonprofit organizations that were selected to administer the disaster relief assistance in the various regions of California here: COVID-19 Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants. Individuals who are interested in applying for this assistance should contact the nonprofit organization listed for their county from May 18- June 30th

Interested applicants must contact the organization for their county directly to inquire about assistance availability. The nonprofit organization will assist individuals with the application process, confirm their eligibility, and deliver a payment card to approved applicants. Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis.

Funding is limited, and disaster relief application services and assistance are not guaranteed.

How do I qualify for the Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)?

Eligible individuals must be able to provide information that they:

(1) are an undocumented adult (person over the age of 18)

(2) are not eligible for federal COVID-19 related assistance, like the CARES Act tax stimulus payments or pandemic unemployment benefits; and,

(3) have experienced a hardship as a result of COVID-19.

What documents do I need to apply for DRAI?

You must provide information/documents to verify your:

  1. identity,
  2. home/mailing address,
  3. and show you have been affected by COVID-19. 

Contact the organizations listed for your county or region for more information about the application process and the documents required (CHIRLA).

Will receiving assistance from DRAI affect my possibility in obtaining my residency (green card) in the United States?

This disaster relief assistance is not means-tested and is one-time assistance. The federal government does not list this assistance as a public benefit for a public charge consideration. However, USCIS has not issued specific guidance related to this assistance.

If there are questions about immigration status and this assistance project, please contact Franco Law Group at 213.200.1505 to schedule your consultation with an immigration attorney. Consultation is offered at a discounted price of $25.

If I am approved for DRAI how will I receive the funds?

If a person is found eligible and their application is approved, the nonprofit organization that helped them apply will provide additional information on how they will receive their payment card either through in-person pick-up or through the mail.

When is the last day to apply for DRAI?

Applicants will be considered on a first come, first served basis. The $75 million in direct assistance will be distributed to individuals with approved applications beginning on May 18, 2020, until the funding is spent or until June 30, 2020, at the latest.

Adelanto and Otay Mesa Detention Centers During COVID-19

Immigrants held at detention centers such as the Adelanto Detention Center and the Otay Mesa Detention Center live in fear for their lives for being at risk of contracting the Coronavirus due to the tight quarters they find themselves in. Many of them have health issues and do not have access to quality medical resources to protect them if they were to fall ill with COVID-19. 

On May 6, 2020, CBS 8 reported the 1st COVID-19 related death of a detainee at the Otay Mesa Detention Center.  According to NBC Bay Area on May 15, 2020, ICE listed on their website that there are 149 infected detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center, the highest known in the country’s sprawling network of immigrant detention facilities.

According to the agency, the Adelanto Detention Center, reported 4 detainees with COVID-19. On May 14, 2020, an employee with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) working at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center tested positive for COVID-19.

To protect the health of immigrant detainees at detention centers nationwide and more specifically the Adelanto Detention Center and the Otay Mesa Detention Center, civil rights organizations such as the Human Right’s Watch, ACLU, and the National Immigrant Justice have pressured ICE and federal judges to release detainees in order to protect their health.

Thanks to their efforts on May 5, 2020, a federal judge ordered immigration officials to immediately reduce the number of detainees at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center amid the coronavirus pandemic. (Desert Sun

Due to the loss of the 57 asylum seeker that died at the Otay Mesa Detention Center due to COVID-19, a San Diego federal judge ordered that a group of “medically vulnerable” detainees at the Otay Mesa Detention Center be screened for release amid the COVID-19 outbreak at the facility (CBS 8).  

We have to continue pressuring ICE agencies and federal judges to continue releasing detainees in order to protect their lives.

How to contact a family member that is detained at the Adelanto or the Otay Mesa Detention Center?

If you have a family member detained at the Adelanto Detention Center this is how you may get in contact with them:

If you need information about a detainee that is housed at this facility, you may call (760) 561-6100 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. When you call, please have the individual’s biographical information ready, including first, last and hyphenated names, any aliases he or she may use, date of birth and country of birth.

If you need to get in touch with a detainee you must call (866) 348-6231 and leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number and a telephone number where you can be reached. He or she will be given your message.

Detainees cannot receive incoming calls. If you need to get in touch with a detainee to leave an urgent message, you must call (760) 561-6100 and leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number and your name and telephone number where you can be reached. The detainee will be given your message (Adelanto Website).

If you have a family member detained at the Otay Mesa Detention Center this is how you may get in contact with them:

If you need information about a detainee that is housed at this facility, you may call (619) 671-8700 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. When you call, please have the individual’s biographical information ready, including first, last and hyphenated names, any aliases he or she may use, date of birth and country of birth.

Detainees cannot receive incoming calls. If you need to get in touch with a detainee to leave an urgent message, you must call (619) 671-8724 and leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number and your name and telephone number where you can be reached. The detainee will be given your message (Otay Mesa Website).

Are you in need of an immigration attorney? 

If you or a loved one has been placed in immigration detention it is imperative that you consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible. You may reach Franco Law Group at 213.200.1505 to schedule an appointment. Our office hours are Monday-Friday from 10 am to 6 pm.

Our attorneys have experience with detainee cases at the Adelanto and Otay Detention Centers, as well, as out of state detention centers. We have an office located in Los Angeles at 5601 E. Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90022 and in San Diego at 402 West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101.

The Impact of the Coronavirus on Immigration

Coronavirus Impact

The Coronavirus has brought a lot of uncertainty and panic to our communities. Living in the unknown can truly be stressful and scary. For example, not knowing if you have been exposed to COVID19, not knowing when all this will get better, not knowing if tomorrow you will be told that there is no work, not knowing how you will pay your bills, and not knowing how you will feed your family. We have witnessed our communities go into extreme panic over supplies by stocking up because it is uncertain how long this pandemic will last. Walking into stores and seeing empty shelves has definitely been a scary sight. The Coronavirus is affecting many people financially (businesses closing or people losing their jobs) and emotionally. Our health care providers are putting their health at risk in order to treat individuals sick with the Coronavirus and all while Immigration Officers (ICE) continue to terrorize the immigrant community.

ICE Agents Detaining Individuals in the City of Bell Garden, CA

Recently the Los Angeles Times reported that ICE agents targeted residents from the City of Bell Gardens, CA to complete their deportation orders. These agents are completely ignoring the restrictions by the Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, to prevent and contain the spread of the Coronavirus. The ICE agents stated that they are taking precautions and have the resources to protect themselves from the virus but that won’t stop them from “protecting the public by getting these criminal aliens off the street and out of our communities,” said David Marin, the director of Enforcement and Removal Operations for ICE in L.A (LA Times). It is utterly disturbing how ICE agents continue to torment, terrorize and prey on individuals at a very vulnerable time for our communities. ICE agents are literally monitoring when a person leaves their home to figure out a good time to catch them out of their homes. Many people are worried and scared about getting infected, having a roof over their heads, and feeding their families. The last thing they think about when they are running out of their homes to buy food or go to work is getting detained by ICE.

On Monday, it was announced that the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez and all US embassies in Mexico will be closed as of March 18, 2020.  Immigration offices in Los Angeles are also closing but ICE agents have lost their sense of humanity and continue to torment the immigrant community during this most vulnerable time. The City of Bell Gardens has reached out to Congresswoman Lucille-Roybal to advocate and demand that ICE agents stop their deportation orders given the vulnerable state the community is facing.

Know your Rights

Please remember that you still have your 5th Amendment rights under the United States Constitution, which are the following:

  1. The right to remain silent
  2. The right to an attorney

If an agent arrives to your home please remember:

  1. Do Not Open the Door
  2. Remain silent, you do not need to answer any questions
  3. Do Not sign any documentation

Please know that no one can enter your home without a warrant signed by a Superior Court Judge.

SWAT Agents being deployed to Sanctuary Cities to Serve Deportation Orders

It is insane and absurd the measures this administration is taking to continue terrorizing the immigrant community. According to the New York Times, “Among the agents being deployed to sanctuary cities are members of the elite tactical unit known as BORTAC, which acts essentially as the SWAT team of the Border Patrol. With additional gear such as stun grenades and enhanced Special Forces-type training, including sniper certification, the officers typically conduct high-risk operations targeting individuals who are known to be violent, many of them with extensive criminal records.” Is this really necessary? Does this administration really see immigrants as a danger to this country?

 

Even former commissioner of Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) and former chief of police in Seattle, Gil Kerlikoswke, labeled this attempt as “a significant mistake”, and continued to state, “If you were a police chief and you were going to make an apprehension for a relatively minor offense, you don’t send the SWAT team, they’re trained for much more hazardous missions than this” (New York Times).

 

It is unbelievable to witness the persecution of immigrants when all they want is the best for their families and achieve the “American Dream.” During this terrible climate, one can’t help but to think of the Holocaust, where Jews were persecuted with severe brutality.

 

If you are living in a sanctuary city such as: Chicago, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Houston, Boston, New Orleans, Detroit and Newark, N.J. please remain calm and do not let the news scare you.

 

Please remember that you still have your 5th Amendment rights under the Unites States Constitution, which are the following:

  1. The right to remain silent
  2. The right to an attorney

 

If an agent arrives to your home please remember:

  1. Do Not Open the Door
  2. Remain silent, you do not need to answer any questions
  3. Do Not sign any documentation

 

Please know that no one can enter your home without a warrant signed by a Superior Court Judge.

 

 

To read the full story by The New York Times please visit: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/14/us/Border-Patrol-ICE-Sanctuary-Cities.html?smtyp=cur&smid=tw-nytimes

 

ICE Agent Shoots Innocent Man During Deportation Order

It is outrageous to see what ICE agents can get away with. Today an ICE agent shot an innocent 26 year old by the name of Eric Cruz who saw his neighbor being tackled to the ground. The ICE agent did not identify himself so Mr. Cruz went to his neighbor’s rescue where he was confronted by the agent and later shot in the face. This incident could have easily been prevented if the officer had identified himself.

ICE agents typically dress in casual attire without anything that identifies them as an ICE agent. Therefore, to most they look like normal people. In this incident that could have been the case where Eric Cruz thought his neighbor was being attacked by a normal everyday person.

To read or watch the full story by ABC News please visit: https://abc7.com/ice-agent-shoots-undocumented-man-in-face-brother-in-hand-in brooklyn/5908029/?ex_cid=TA_KABC_FB&utm_campaign=trueAnthem%3A+Trending+Content&utm_medium=trueAnthem&utm_source=facebook&fbclid=IwAR3hWuCFQGu8YBPjC4v7Sy7b91gGmHHAJiWIUlsLcsTLMOyStIGvtj0Fils

New Immigration Court in Van Nuys

On Monday, December 9, 2019, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) also knows as the Immigration Court opened another location in the city of Van Nuys. According to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), “the Van Nuys immigration court will serve cases from Kern, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, and Ventura counties, and parts of the Los Angeles County.” It is very important to check the location of your next immigration court hearing to find out if your hearing has been moved to Van Nuys. We do not want anyone to be affected by missing their immigration court hearing due to this change. To check the location of your next immigration court hearing please call the Automated EOIR System at 1-800-898-7180.

Yesterday, December 12, 2019 we had the opportunity to visit the immigration courthouse. As of now, there are 6 courtrooms at the new Van Nuys immigration court. The following courtrooms are assigned to the following judges: courtroom #3 is assigned to The Honorable Tara Naselow-Nahas, courtroom #5 is assigned to The Honorable David Burke and courtroom #6 is assigned to The Honorable Carlos Maury.

Please find below the information for the Van Nuys Immigration Court:

LOCATION: 6230 Van Nuys Blvd. 3rd Floor, Suite 300
Van Nuys, CA 91401
HOURS OF OPERATION: 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday
TELEPHONE: 818-904-5200

If you have an immigration hearing coming up in Van Nuys please seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney now!

To read AILA’s official notice please visit: https://www.aila.org/infonet/eoir-to-open-new-immigration-court-in-los-angeles

DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals)

If you are a DACA recipient, please seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney now. Do not wait until the Supreme Court makes a decision on DACA’s fate.

If you’re among the 700,000 young adults uncertain about their future with DACA, call us today!

On Tuesday, November 12, 2019, the Supreme Court held oral arguments. We are expected to hear the ultimate DACA decision as late as June of 2020 or as early as January of 2020. Please continue your support by participating in events, and by writing to your congress members. We will continue our relentless fight to protect and defend the rights of our immigrant community!

One Year Under President Trump and Expectations for 2018

NEWSLETTER – January 2018

 

Written By Attorney Sergio A. Perez of the Franco Law Group, APLC.

 

One Year Under President Trump and Expectations for 2018.

                                        

The year 2018 is now upon us and, as expected, the first year of Donald J. Trump’s presidency brought several changes that have been detrimental to immigrants.  The first of these changes were the implementation of executive orders and policies that eliminated enforcement priorities and prosecutorial discretion.  Under President Obama, immigration authorities were directed to prioritize their enforcement and prosecutorial efforts, with immigrants deemed to be threats to public safety and national security being the highest priorities.  However, under President Trump, any person in the U.S. without authorization is an enforcement priority and is subject to detention and possible removal.  President Trump also implemented the so-called Muslim travel bans which have been partially blocked and partially upheld by the federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.  Additionally, on September 5, 2017, the Trump administration announced the elimination of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which gave temporary lawful status to certain immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, commonly called “Dreamers”.  (The elimination of DACA is currently being litigated in the courts.)  The Trump administration also took aim at Temporary Protected Status, or TPS.  This is a designation which gives temporary protection from removal to eligible immigrants from certain countries who cannot be repatriated due to ongoing armed conflicts, environmental disaster or other extraordinary and temporary conditions that exist in their countries of origin.  In September of 2017, the Trump administration announced that the TPS designation for Sudan would be removed.  Then, in November of 2017, the administration announced the removal of the TPS designations for Nicaragua and Haiti.  Consequently, approximately 1,000 Sudanese, 2,500 Nicaraguans and 59,000 Haitians will be subject to removal if they do not obtain another form of legal status or leave the U.S. when their TPS ends – November 2, 2018 for Sudanese, January 5, 2019 for Nicaraguans and July 22, 2019 for Haitians.

 

Just days into the new year, on January 8, 2018, the Trump administration continued to undo protections for immigrants by announcing the removal of the TPS designation for El Salvador.  Now, approximately 200,000 Salvadorans with TPS have until September 9, 2019 to obtain another form of legal status, leave the U.S. or be subject to removal.

 

Past statements from President Trump and his administration give us an idea of what other changes immigrants and their advocates can expect in 2018.  First, the Trump administration has stated that it is considering removing the TPS designation for Honduras.  If this happens, approximately 57,000 Hondurans who currently have TPS will be faced with the same circumstances as their Sudanese, Nicaraguan, Haitian and Salvadoran counterparts.  Additionally, on January 4, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated that he will review a practice called administrative closure.  This is a practice used by immigration judges to administratively close cases to allow immigrants in removal proceedings time to pursue immigration benefits outside of the immigration court.  If Attorney General Sessions orders the end of this practice, 350,000 immigration court cases which are currently administratively closed could be reopened.

 

The Trump administration has also been critical of the diversity visa lottery and what it calls “chain migration”.  The diversity visa lottery gives visas to persons from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S.  “Chain migration” refers to family based petitions by which U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents can petition for eligible spouses, children, parents and siblings.  Indeed, the Trump administration has stated that it wants to eliminate or severely limit these immigration benefits with the goal of cutting yearly lawful immigration to the U.S. by half.  However, unlike the changes mentioned above, President Trump cannot unilaterally end or limit the diversity visa lottery or family based petitions as this would require changes in the law.  For this, Congress would have to act first.  The Trump administration and Congress are currently engaged in immigration reform discussions.  However, the outcome of these discussions remains uncertain as they have been overshadowed by President Trump’s widely reported and vulgar comments of January 11, 2018 regarding Haiti, El Salvador and African countries.

 

Immigrants who have been affected by the Trump administration’s changes, or who might be affected by the administration’s expected changes, are encouraged to speak with a qualified immigration attorney to discuss their legal options.  The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to discuss your case.  Please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at (213) 200-1505.

Do Not Delay In Applying For Immigration Benefits

NEWSLETTER – December 2017

 

Written By Attorney Sergio A. Perez of the Franco Law Group, APLC.

 

Do Not Delay In Applying For Immigration Benefits.

                                        

Immigrants who are fortunate enough to be eligible for immigration relief should not delay in applying for those benefits.  Indeed, a delay could result in an immigrant no longer having a particular benefit available due to changes in personal circumstances, eligibility requirements or in the elimination of a particular immigration benefit entirely.  The reasons that immigrants delay vary from person to person.  However, the most common reasons observed by the attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are the costs of application fees, the need to take care of other personal matters first, and simple indecision or a lack of motivation.  However, as recently happened with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, a benefit can become more difficult to obtain or be eliminated altogether through changes in laws and government policies.

 

One case involving a prospective client of our firm, whom we will call Alex, illustrates this point.  Alex is a young undocumented immigrant from Guatemala who was eligible to apply for DACA.  Alex was determined to apply for this benefit but decided that he first needed to focus on other personal matters.  Alex was then in a car accident.  Although Alex was uninjured, his car needed costly repairs that further delayed Alex’s plan to apply for DACA.  Unfortunately, in September the administration of President Donald J. Trump announced the cancellation of DACA.  Further, only new applications filed by September 5, 2017 would be accepted and processed.  Alex did not apply for DACA by that date and his future in this country is now uncertain due to his undocumented status.

 

In another case, a woman whom we will call Jenny approached our firm to discuss her immigration case.  Jenny is an undocumented immigrant from Mexico.  Twenty years ago, Jenny’s U.S. citizen sister offered to file a petition on her behalf.  At the time, the wait time for a U.S. citizen sibling petition to be processed for a beneficiary from Mexico was approximately 10 years.  Jenny decided that she did not want to wait that long and declined her sister’s offer.  Now, 20 years later, Jenny wanted to see if there was anything she could do.  Jenny regretted not accepting her sister’s offer as her petition would have been current 10 years ago.  Also, the processing wait time for her sibling petition category is now approximately 20 years.  Thus, Jenny would have to wait that long for her petition to be processed if her sister were to file an application on her behalf now.  Despite that, Jenny should proceed in having her sister file the petition because there could be changes that could affect her case.  For example, a change in the law or policies could possibly make the wait time shorter.  Also, if Jenny’s sister dies before a petition is filed, Jenny will no longer be eligible for that immigration benefit.

 

It is not only undocumented immigrants who should take action.  Lawful permanent residents, or green card holders, should also act if they are eligible to apply for citizenship.  Lawful permanent residents remain subject to the immigration laws of the United States.  As such, they may be subject to removal from the country for certain violations of the law.   However, statistics show that many green card holders who are eligible for citizenship, particularly those from Mexico, simply do not apply.  Indeed, the Pew Research Center reported this year that lawful permanent residents from Mexico are the least likely to apply for citizenship, with only 42% of those eligible applying for and obtaining citizenship between 2005 and 2015.  Among the most common reasons given for this by Mexican green card holders were a lack of initiative or time.  Needless to say, such indecision and lack of interest could be costly for a lawful permanent resident if she one day makes a mistake that results in her being placed in removal proceedings.

 

Immigrants are encouraged to speak with a qualified immigration attorney to determine if they are eligible for a particular immigration benefit, and to discuss the application requirements.  The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to discuss your case.  Please contact our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys at (213) 200-1505.

The U Visa – A Path to Residency for Some Crime Victims and Their Families

NEWSLETTER – November 2017

 

Written By Attorney Sergio A. Perez of the Franco Law Group, APLC.

 

The U Visa – A Path to Residency for Some Crime Victims and Their Families.

                                        

For many undocumented immigrants in the U.S., living in the shadows entails living with a fear of the police due to the possibility that a law enforcement officer may refer an immigrant to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE.  Indeed, fear of law enforcement authorities all too often results in immigrants being victimized by criminals who go unpunished because their crimes are not reported.

 

In 2000 the U.S. Congress determined that an incentive should be created to encourage immigrants to report crimes to the police without fear.  In that year, Congress enacted the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act which created a path to legalization called the U Visa for immigrant victims of certain crimes.  To qualify for a U Visa, an immigrant must first prove that she was the victim of one of the qualifying crimes enumerated in the law.  This is typically accomplished by presenting the report that was created by the police department or district attorney’s office that investigated or prosecuted the crime.  Second, the immigrant must prove that she suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been the victim of the crime perpetrated against her.  Third, the immigrant must have information concerning the criminal activity that took place.  Fourth, the immigrant must have been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.  This step requires that the immigrant obtain a certification directly from the law enforcement agency or district attorney’s office that investigated or prosecuted the crime which certifies the immigrant’s cooperation.  Fifth, the criminal activity must have occurred in the U.S. or violated U.S. laws.  Additionally, a U Visa applicant must prove that she is a person of good moral character.  Indeed, an applicant who has been convicted of a crime will likely have to also apply for what is called a waiver as part of her U Visa application.

 

In addition to being able to apply for her own legalization, a U Visa applicant can include certain family members in her application as derivative beneficiaries.  Specifically, U Visa applicants who are 21 years of age or older can include their spouses and children in their applications.  Applicants who are under 21 years of age can include their spouses, children, parents and unmarried siblings under the age of 18.  An immigrant who is granted a U Visa as a principal applicant or derivative beneficiary will receive lawful status and work authorization for a period of four years.  However, after three years of continuous physical presence in the U.S. as a U Visa recipient, the immigrant will be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence, or a green card.

 

The most common qualifying U Visa crimes encountered by the attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are domestic violence, felonious assault and sexual assault.  However, there are 28 enumerated qualifying crimes in all, as well as the related crimes of attempt, conspiracy or solicitation to commit any of the 28 listed crimes.  As such, an immigrant who has been the victim of any crime should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine if that crime makes the immigrant eligible for the U Visa.  Additionally, the U Visa application requirements do not impose a deadline based on how long ago a crime occurred.  Indeed, victims of qualifying crimes that occurred and were reported before the creation of the U Visa in 2000 can also apply for the visa.  Additionally, an immigrant who has been the victim of a recent crime that was not reported to the police should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine if the crime can be reported to law enforcement and how to go about doing so.

 

The Franco Law Group, APLC is happy to invite the public to our Immigration Forum being held tomorrow, Saturday, November 4, 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at which the main topic of discussion will be the U Visa.  The event will take place at the Maywood Center for Enriched Studies located at 5800 King Ave., Maywood, California 90270.  If you would like to attend, please RSVP by contacting the event coordinator, Ms. Cynthia Alcaraz, at (323) 303-3824 or Alcaraz@FrancoLawGroup.com.  We look forward to seeing you there!