IMMIGRATION LAW: HUMANITARIAN RELIEF

Temporary Protected Status; INA §244

TPS established a safe haven in the U.S. for nationals of foreign state (or if stateless of person habitually resided in the foreign state) if the AG, after consultation with appropriate government agencies, determines with respect to that foreign state that:

  • there is an ongoing armed conflict within the state posing a serious threat to the personal safety of the country’s national if retuned there
  • there has been an earthquake, flood, drought, epidemic or other environmental disaster resulting in a substantial disruption of living condition in the area affected; the foreign state is unable temporarily to handle the return of its nationals and the foreign state has affirmatively requested designation
  • there exists extraordinary and temporary conditions in the foreign state that prevent aliens who are nationals from returning safely.

Humanitarian Parole, INA §212(d)(5)(A)

Humanitarian parole is an extraordinary measure, sparingly used to bring an otherwise inadmissible alien into the United States for a temporary period of time due to a very compelling emergency.

The Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may temporarily parole any alien applying for entry into the United States based on urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit. Humanitarian parole is granted on a case-by-case basis, at the discretion of the Secretary of DHS.

Humanitarian Reinstatement, INA §213A(f)(5)

After the death of a petitioner a visa filed on your behalf in the past may still be valid. The petition is automatically revoked pursuant to federal regulations when the petitioner in a family based petition passes away. However, pursuant to the same federal regulations, the Attorney General may in his discretion reinstate the approval of a family based visa. The Attorney General may exercise favorable discretion where “for humanitarian reasons revocation would be inappropriate.” 8 C.F.R. Sec. 205.1(a)(3)(i)(C). Such an exercise of discretion is not automatic; it requires the beneficiary to affirmatively request and document why such humanitarian relief should be granted. Such a request is known as “humanitarian reinstatement.”

IMMIGRATION LAW: VICTIMS OF CRIME / DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

U Visas; INA §101(a)(15)(U)

The U Visa is available to certain victims of crimes. The U Visa allows temporary legal status and work eligibility in the United States for up to four years. The U Visa is a non immigrant visa available to 10,000 people per year.

An applicant must show:

  • She or he has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of qualifying criminal activity
  • Possesses credible and reliable in that he or she has knowledge of the details concerning the qualifying criminal activity upon which his or her petition is based
  • Has been helpful, is being helpful, or is likely to be helpful to a certifying agency in the investigation or prosecution of the qualifying criminal activity; and
  • The qualifying criminal activity occurred in the U.S., in U.S. territories or possessions, or violated a U.S. federal law that provides for extraterritorial jurisdiction

Qualifying Criminal Activity (one or more of the following or any similar activities in violation of federal, state, or local criminal laws:

  • Abduction
  • Blackmail
  • Domestic violence
  • Extortion
  • False imprisonment
  • Felonious assault
  • Female genital mutilation
  • Hostage
  • Incest
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Kidnapping
  • Manslaughter
  • Murder
  • Obstruction of justice
  • Peonage
  • Perjury
  • Prostitution
  • Rape sexual assault
  • Sexual contact
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Slave trade
  • Torture
  • Trafficking
  • Unlawful criminal restraint
  • Witness tampering
  • Attempt, Conspiracy or solicitation

T Visas; INA § 101(a)(15)(T)

T Visa allows certain victims of human trafficking to remain in the United States if they agree to assist law enforcement in testifying against the perpetrators. A total of 500 T visas are available per year.

T Visas are available to persons who:

  • who have been subject to severe trafficking (the use of force, fraud, or coercion for sex trafficking or involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery)
  • who are physically present in the U.S.
  • who are physically present in the U.S.
  • who the Attorney General and the Secretary of DHS agree have complied with a reasonable request by Federal, State or Local law enforcement authorities to assist in the investigation or persecution of such trafficking or in the investigation of crimes where acts of trafficking are at least one central reason for the crime; and
  • who would suffer extreme hardship involving unusual and severe harm upon removal

Laws that Enacted Provisions for Victims of Domestic Violence

  • Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994
  • Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000
  • Torture Victims Relief Reauthorization Act of 2003
  • Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003
  • Violence against Women and DOJ Reauthorization Act of 2005

IMMIGRATION LAW: NON-IMMIGRANT VISAS

Non-immigrants enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time and are restricted to the activity consistent with their visas. These type of visas are less restricted and more readily available.

Visas for Temporary Visitors (B1/B2)

  • B-1 Visitor for Business
  • B-2 Visitors for Pleasure

Visas for Students and Trainees (F, M, J, H-3)

  • Academic Students (F Visa)
  • Vocational Students (M Visa)
  • Exchange Visitor (J Visa)
  • H-3 Visa – Temporary worker invited by an individual or an organization for purposes of receiving instruction and training other than medical in nature.

Visas for Business Personnel (H, L, E, I, O, P Q, and R Visas)

  • H-1B Professional Workers
  • H-2 Temporary Workers
  • L-1 Executives / Managers
  • E Australian Special Occupation Visa
  • I Representatives of the Media
  • O-1 Extraordinary Ability
  • P-1 Athletes & Entertainers
  • Q-1 Cultural Exchange
  • R-1 Religious Workers

Family-Related Visas for Fiancees, Spouses, and Children of U.S. Citizens and LPRS

  • K-1 Fiancee
  • K-3 Spouse of USC
  • V Visa (Spouse/Child of LPR)

Diplomatic and International Organization Aliens

  • Nato
  • TN trade under NAFTA
  • A and G visas

Miscellaneous

  • Extension of Stay
  • Change of Status
  • Transit, crewmen
  • Law Enforcement Visas

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!

Department of Homeland Security To Collect Social Media Data of All Immigrants

NEWSLETTER – October 2017

 

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

 

Department of Homeland Security To Collect Social Media Data of All Immigrants.

                                        

The Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) recently announced that, commencing October 18, 2017, it will begin updating its immigrant files by collecting social media data on all immigrants, and that the data collected will become part of an immigrant’s alien file, or A-file.  An A-file is the official government record of an immigrant who has had any interaction with the U.S. government as a result of being detained by immigration officials or by applying for an immigration benefit.  The new rule states that the data that will be collected includes “social media handles and aliases, associated identifiable information and search results”.  However, the rule is so broadly worded that it appears to apply to any person with a government A-file, including green card holders and naturalized U.S. citizens.  Understandably, privacy advocates are concerned that the rule is overly and unnecessarily intrusive, and DHS will likely face litigation as a result.

 

With such a broadly worded and unclear rule, many immigrants and their advocates want to know what kinds of social media activity they should and should not engage in.  Unfortunately, until DHS or the courts clarify or narrow the rule, there is currently no clear answer.  However, previous cases involving immigrants and social media can provide some guidance.  For example, social media posts that indicate that a person may be a threat to public safety or national security are clear red flags for DHS.  Indeed, on February 3, 2016, Emadeldin El-Sayed, a 23-year old Egyptian citizen who was in the U.S. on a student visa took to Facebook to express his opposition to then candidate Donald J. Trump’s plan to ban all Muslims from entering the country.  Unfortunately for Mr. El-Sayed, his post included the statements that he “wouldn’t mind serving a life sentence for killing this guy” and that he would be “doing the world a favor”.  A person who read the post reported Mr. El-Sayed to the FBI and he was arrested by immigration authorities, eventually agreeing to voluntarily depart the U.S. rather than be removed.

 

Most people’s social media posts are not so clearly red flags for the government and range from legitimate political opinions to harmless statements about what a person had for dinner.  However, our experience as immigration attorneys informs us that some seemingly harmless social media posts may be problematic.  For example, immigrants should be aware that any social media posts that contradict statements made in connection with an application for an immigration benefit in Immigration Court or with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services may lead to a finding that an immigrant lacks credibility and has provided false statements to the government.

 

Ironically, undocumented immigrants who have never been detained by immigration authorities and who have never applied for an immigration benefit have the least to worry about with regard to the new rule.  The reason for this is that such a person likely never had an A-file created for the government to update.  Nevertheless, undocumented immigrants should be mindful of their precarious status in the U.S. and, thus, should also be mindful of any social media activity that could bring that status to the attention of immigration officials.

 

The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to discuss immigrants’ concerns regarding the new DHS rule, and their immigration concerns generally.  Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys at (213) 200-1505.

President Trump Seeks To Cut Legal Immigration By Half

NEWSLETTER – August 2017

 

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

 

 

President Trump Seeks To Cut Legal Immigration By Half.

 

When Donald J. Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency on June 16, 2015, he revealed his anti-immigrant intentions by declaring his opposition to undocumented immigration in his now infamous speech in which he stated of Mexican immigrants, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”  To the dismay of immigrants and their advocates, since taking office on January 20, 2017, President Trump has implemented major immigration enforcement changes which have ensnared many undocumented immigrants without regard to how long they have lived in this country and whether they are criminals or otherwise pose a risk to the United States.  However, President Trump has also been plagued by other issues which have tarnished his presidency thus far, including his inability to have Obamacare repealed, the unending allegations of collusion between his campaign and Russia, and plummeting approval ratings.

 

In what many observers consider an attempt to raise his approval ratings by appealing to his base, on August 2, 2017 President Trump unveiled a new immigration bill, the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act, which aims to radically change the legal immigration system.  Among the proposed changes in the bill are the elimination of most family based petitions with the goal of cutting yearly legal immigration to the United States by half.

 

Currently, the immigration system of the United States is largely based on family unification.  Indeed, U.S. citizens can, at present, petition on behalf of their spouses, fiancés(ées), parents, married and unmarried minor and adult children, and siblings.  Additionally, green card holders can petition on behalf of their spouses, and unmarried minor and adult children.  However, if the RAISE Act is enacted in its current form, U.S. citizens and green card holders would only be allowed to petition on behalf of spouses and minor children.  Further, U.S. citizens would only be able to petition for temporary visas for elderly parents in need of care.  The RAISE Act would also favor skilled workers who can speak English.  (Ironically, President Trump’s immigrant grandfather, Frederick Trump, would probably be unable to immigrate to the United States under the RAISE Act as he was a 16 year old, unskilled German-speaking immigrant who worked as a barber when he came to this country.)

 

It remains to be seen what action, if any, the Republican-controlled Congress will take on the RAISE Act.  However, the bill gives immigrants and their advocates a glimpse of what immigration benefits the Trump Administration may seek to remove in the future.  With that in mind, U.S. citizens and green card holders who wish to petition for a relative should do so sooner rather than later.  Indeed, if President Trump is ultimately successful in doing away with the family-based categories mentioned above, it is likely that petitions that were filed prior to a change in the law will be honored by the U.S. government.  Thus, having a petition filed and in the “waiting line” will help ensure that the petition will be adjudicated even after a particular family category is eliminated.  As such, U.S. citizens and green card holders who wish to petition for a family member should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine if such a petition is viable based on the facts that are applicable to the petitioner and to the relative for whom a petition will be filed.

 

The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to provide you and your family with a consultation.  Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys at (213) 200-1505.

I am undocumented, but my neighbor told me that I can apply for a work permit; is this true?

NEWSLETTER – July 2017

 

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

 

 

I am undocumented, but my neighbor told me that I can apply for a work permit; is this true?

 

There are many misconceptions in the immigrant community regarding immigration law, and in particular the law regarding employment authorization, or work permits.  Unfortunately, these misconceptions are widespread and are often perpetuated by well-intentioned friends and family.  However, one must never take any action regarding one’s immigration status based solely on rumors or information given by a friend or relative, unless, of course, that individual is a qualified immigration attorney.  Indeed, in the Trump era immigrants must be especially careful when applying for any immigration benefit.

 

As practitioners of immigration law, the attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC have heard a wide variety of misconceptions from clients regarding work permits.  These misconceptions include:

 

  • My neighbor got a work permit, so that means that I can, too;
  • If I turn myself in to immigration authorities, they will give me a work permit; and
  • I can get a work permit after living in the United States for 10 years.

 

A key fact regarding the first misconception listed is that every case is different.  Even though your neighbor qualified for a work permit, the facts of your case will likely differ and must be analyzed in order to determine if you are, in fact, eligible to receive employment authorization.  Second, immigration authorities will not give an immigrant a work permit if she turns herself in.  What will likely happen is that the immigrant will be detained by the immigration authorities, processed and placed in removal proceedings before the immigration court.  Some immigrants may qualify for a work permit after being placed in removal proceedings, but not because they turned themselves in.  Rather, an immigrant may become eligible for employment authorization because of the type of relief she is seeking from the immigration court, and because of the specific facts of her case.  However, if an immigrant has a pre-existing removal or deportation order when she turns herself in, the immigration authorities will likely enforce that order and the immigrant will be removed from the United States shortly after turning herself in.

 

Another key fact to know about employment authorization is that it is not a stand-alone immigration benefit.  Rather, employment authorization is a benefit that is tied to some other underlying immigration relief, such as some asylum applications, Temporary Protected Status, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) or for certain immigrants who are under an order of supervision issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.  As such, an immigrant cannot only apply for a work permit without there being another underlying status or form of relief that makes that person eligible for employment authorization.  Consequently, the length of time a person has lived in the United States, the last misconception listed above, by itself, does not make a person eligible to receive employment authorization.

 

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of unscrupulous attorneys and notarios who take advantage of the widespread misconceptions that exist in the immigrant community regarding work permits.  Further, the consequences for submitting a meritless employment authorization application can be serious and can include the denial of the application and the immigrant being detained and placed in removal proceedings.  For these reasons, immigrants should consult with a reputable and qualified immigration attorney prior to applying for employment authorization, or any other immigration benefit, to determine if he, in fact, qualifies for that benefit.

 

The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to provide you with a consultation.  Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys at (213) 200-1505.

I have been ordered to appear in immigration court; what’s going to happen to me?

NEWSLETTER – June 2017

 

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

 

I have been ordered to appear in immigration court; what’s going to happen to me?

Immigrants in the United States face many circumstances that other people will never encounter. This often includes being ordered to appear in immigration court.  Understandably, receiving such an order can cause a great deal of anxiety for immigrants and their families due to their lack of knowledge as to what will happen at their hearing.  Having some familiarity with the immigration court process may serve to alleviate an already stressful situation.

 

What is going to happen at my first hearing?

The first thing to know about appearing in immigration court is what will likely not happen at your first hearing.  First, it is highly unlikely that you will be apprehended at the immigration court by Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, at your first hearing.  Second, it is also highly unlikely that you will be ordered deported at your first hearing.

 

Can I have an attorney with me at my immigration court hearing?

By law, persons in immigration court have the right to be represented by an attorney of their choosing.  However, unlike criminal court, the government is not obligated to pay for an immigrant’s attorney. This means that the immigrant must pay for her attorney, or hire an attorney who will represent her free of charge.  Normally, at the first hearing an immigrant may request time to find an attorney, and immigration judges will usually grant that extension.  However, if you do not hire an attorney, the immigration judge will eventually proceed with your case and you will have to represent yourself.

 

Who is going to be in the court besides me?

It is also helpful to know who will be present in the immigration court during your hearing.  First, there will be an immigration judge wearing a black judge’s robe and seated on the judge’s bench.  Second, and most importantly, you will be present at the hearing seated at a table in front of the judge.  If you have an attorney, she will be seated next to you.  At another table will be an attorney for the Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, whose role is to represent the government.  Also present will be an interpreter who speaks your native language if you do not speak English.  Lastly, the immigration court is technically open to the public and there are benches in the back of the courtroom for observers.  However, in reality, the persons seated on those benches will likely be other immigrants and their attorneys waiting for their cases to be called by the judge.

 

Then what will happen?

Once you and your attorney are seated at the courtroom table, the judge will introduce the case on the record by stating your name and case number.  She will then ask you to state your name and address for the record.  The judge will also ask the attorneys to identify themselves for the record.  Then, the judge will usually ask your attorney to respond to the charges made against you, which will differ for each individual.  Your attorney will also be asked to identify what immigration relief you will be seeking from the judge.

 

A typical immigration court case requires about four court hearings.  Also, hearings are usually scheduled several months apart. Thus, depending on the particular court at which you have to appear, an immigration court case may take anywhere

from one to three years to be completed.

 

What is most important to know regarding any immigration court hearing you have scheduled is that you must appear, even if you do not have an attorney.  Also, you must appear even if you do have an attorney.  Indeed, your attorney cannot appear for you; you also have to be present before the judge.  Unfortunately, an immigrant’s failure to appear at any hearing will result in an automatic order of removal.

 

The type of relief for which you are eligible from the immigration court depends on the specific facts of your case.  Also, the procedures and case length differs for individuals who are in ICE detention.  As such, immigrants who have been ordered to appear in immigration court are highly encouraged to speak with an experienced immigration attorney in order to evaluate the specific facts of your case and your relief options.  The attorneys of the Franco Law Group, APLC are available to provide you with a consultation. Please contact our office to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys at (619) 955-2024.