What happens to my immigration case during the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

On April 1, 2020, USCIS announced that they are extending their temporary closure date until May 3, 2020. USCIS is the immigration office that reviews applications of those seeking their U.S legal permanent residence card (also known as a “green card”) or U.S citizenship. Typically, they hold in person interviews and exams with the applicant in order to determine if they will obtain their U.S legal permanent residence card or U.S citizenship.

Due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus, USCIS announced on March 18, 2020 that they cancelled all interviews and visits to the USCIS immigration offices to protect everyone’s health and safety. Previously, they had announced that they would temporarily close until April 1, 2020 but since then they have extended their date to May 3, 2020.

You may ask yourself, “well what does that mean for my immigrantion case?” “Is it on pause or on hold during the pandemic of the Coronavirus?” To answer this question, no, your case is not put on hold during the pandemic of the Coronavirus. Immigration officers are still working and continue to review your application. Therefore, you may still continue working with your attorney to submit your application and if you don’t have an attorney and would like to begin an immigration case, please don’t hesitate and contact one of our Franco Law Group attorneys at 213.200.1505.

USCIS Resources

Using the following links you are able to:

Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) aka “Immigration Court”

On March 13, 2020 the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Los Angeles (also known as the “Immigration Court”) announced that they would be postponing all Master hearings as a result of the breakout of the Coronavirus. A master hearing is a preliminary hearing where you present your immigration case before an immigration judge.

Later on March 18, 2020 the Executive Office for Immigration Review also postponed all non-detained hearings. Therefore, the only hearings that are still scheduled are for those that are detained and are presenting a case before an immigration judge in order to fight for the right to stay in the United States.

Now, if you have a case that you are fighting before the Immigration Court you may wonder if your case is put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the answer is no. Your case is still active and still being reviewed. Therefore, you should continue working with your attorney to meet any deadlines you may have to submit documents and continue working to move your case forward. If you don’t have an attorney we have an experienced team of attorneys that can help. You may contact us by commenting below or calling our office at 213.200.1505.

As of now, the Executive Office for Immigration Review is not set to open until May 1, 2020. Therefore, any hearings after May 1, 2020 are still scheduled until further notice.

Any filings due during a court closure should be filed by March 30, 2020. Filing deadlines after March 30, 2020 remain in effect subject to the discretion of the immigration judge. There is no requirement that documents be filed in person. For all courts, parties are encouraged to file by mail or by ECAS where available (EOIR).

Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP)

If you are an asylum seeker in Mexico and you have a case pending under the MPP program, please know that currently all hearings presently scheduled through April 22 will be rescheduled. Any individual with an MPP hearing date through April 22 should present themselves at their designated port of entry on their previously scheduled date to receive a tear sheet and hearing notice containing their new hearing dates. The Board of Immigration Appeals are still reviewing immigration cases.

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!

What To Ask An Immigration Lawyer?

What To Ask An Immigration Lawyer?

A good immigration lawyer will make the immigration process easier by clearly explaining each step. An immigration attorney will guide you through the immigration laws and make the process easier to understand. Choosing the right attorney can mean the difference between the success or the failure of your immigration case. 

Here are some questions you can ask your immigration attorney before your you begin working on your case: 

 

  • What types of immigration cases do you and your law firm handle?

 

Immigration attorneys handle a multitude of cases that each have different processes and specific requirements. Immigration cases can include work visas, green cards, investment visas just to name a few. Having an immigration lawyer who has a firm grasp on immigration law and specifically your case can benefit you and your case’s outcome. 

 

  • What is your experience with immigration cases similar to mine?  

 

Because there are a variety of types of immigration cases covered by immigration law, each case involves a unique process with specific requirements and different issues can arise. Having an immigration attorney who has experience in cases similar to yours is extremely important to increase the possibilities of a successful outcome.

 

  • What do you need from me? 

 

Figuring out what your immigration lawyer will need from you for your initial meeting will insure that you get the most out of your consultation. Be sure to ask your immigration attorney what forms and other important paperwork they need from you to help aid the process.   

 

  • Why are you the best immigration lawyer for me? 

 

After learning about your immigration attorney’s experience with other immigration cases and cases similar to yours, this question is an opportunity for your attorney to give you final confirmation on how they will handle your case as well as to explain why you should hire that attorney specifically. 

Contact the Best Immigration Lawyers in Los Angeles

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