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Immigration

Friday, March 15, 2019

What is the National Interest Waiver?

The national interest waiver is an individual petition under the US’s second preference program for the employment-based immigrant visa (the “EB-2”). The EB-2 visa allows individuals to work in the U.S. based on their specific employment-related skills. To qualify for the EB-2 visa, individuals must have either an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability. To qualify for advanced degree eligibility, the applicant must possess a baccalaureate degree plus five years of progressive work experience in that field. Alternatively, an individual may show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. “Exceptional ability” is defined as “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”

To meet the criteria for exceptional ability, at least three of the following must be met:


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Friday, March 1, 2019

What is the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for issues pertaining to immigration laws. It is an administrative appellate body that reviews decisions made by United States immigration courts and district directors of the Department of Homeland Security, among other departments. The Board of Immigration Appeals is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

What are the Powers of the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals has the authority to review and potentially overturn decisions made by immigration courts, the United States’ Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. While the Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for immigration law, it is not the highest authority. Some decisions made by the Board of Immigration Appeals can be appealed to the United States’ Court of Appeals, and then potentially to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Who Makes up the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is authorized to be comprised of up to 21 Board Members with a Chairman and Vice Chairman. A current list of Board Members can be found here.


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Monday, February 25, 2019

The Basics of Naturalization

For many, becoming a U.S. citizen is a long-awaited dream come true. However, the process of naturalization can be complicated and is often not well-understood. As an overview, the first step is to assess your eligibility to apply for naturalization. If you’re eligible, then you will need to file an application for naturalization. After the application has been assessed, you may be invited to attend an interview and then to take an English and civics test on U.S. history, government, and other areas deemed necessary to assimilate. The following subsections will address each step in more detail.

Eligibility

To apply for naturalization, you must first meet several eligibility requirements set out by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”):


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Friday, February 15, 2019

Gaining Citizenship Through Your Parents or Birth

There are four primary methods of becoming a U.S. citizen: (1) being born on U.S. soil, including U.S. territories, (2) being born to American parents, (3) at least one of your parents becoming a naturalized citizen, or (4) becoming a naturalized citizen by living in the U.S. legally. This post will focus on the first three methods of obtaining U.S. citizenship.

Being Born in the U.S. or in a U.S. Territory

Many individuals who were born within the U.S. or a U.S. territory but have lived abroad their entire life may not realize that they are still U.S. citizens. If you were born within the U.S., you instantly receive U.S. citizenship. However, birth in a U.S. territory, such as Guam or the Virgin Islands, does not automatically grant U.S. citizenship. Individuals born in a U.S. territory may be granted citizenship if one or both parents were U.S. citizens and physically present in the U.S. or one of its territories for a continuous period of at least one year at the time of birth.


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Monday, February 4, 2019

An Overview of the Citizenship Test

Being born in the United States (“U.S.”) is not the only way to become a citizen, although it is certainly the simplest method. For those who weren’t born in the United States, the route to becoming a U.S. citizen is termed “naturalization.”

To be eligible to become a citizen through naturalization, you must meet the following requirements at the time of filing the application for naturalization:


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Monday, January 28, 2019

What is the Board of Immigration Appeals

The Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for issues pertaining to immigration laws. It is an administrative appellate body that reviews decisions made by United States immigration courts and district directors of the Department of Homeland Security, among other departments. The Board of Immigration Appeals is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

What are the Powers of the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals has the authority to review and potentially overturn decisions made by immigration courts, the United States’ Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of Homeland Security. While the Board of Immigration Appeals is the highest administrative body for immigration law, it is not the highest authority. Some decisions made by the Board of Immigration Appeals can be appealed to the United States’ Court of Appeals, and then potentially to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Who Makes up the Board of Immigration Appeals?

The Board of Immigration Appeals is authorized to be comprised of up to 21 Board Members with a Chairman and Vice Chairman. A current list of Board Members can be found here.


Read more . . .


Friday, January 18, 2019

Tips for the Immigration Interview

To become a U.S. citizen, you must either have been born in the U.S. or go through the naturalization process. To be eligible for naturalization, several requirements must be met, including residing in the U.S. for a specific amount of time prior to filing. Once you have determined that you meet all of the requirements for naturalization, you may complete the application and file it with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”).

After reviewing your application, a USCIS officer will contact you to schedule an interview. In the interview, the USCIS officer will ask you questions specific to your application and may also ask more general questions. When preparing for the interview and during the interview itself, make sure to follow these helpful tips:


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Friday, January 4, 2019

Deportation: Extreme Hardship and the 601 Waiver

If you have illegally resided within the United States (“U.S.”) for more than one year, you will likely receive a 10-year reentry ban. This ban means that you cannot return to the U.S. for a 10-year period. Similarly, if you have been deported for reasons of crime or immigration fraud, you will also receive a reentry ban, although this ban could be permanent in certain instances. If you have been deported, or are being deported, you may be able to claim extreme hardship and file an application for a 601 waiver. The 601 waiver may allow you to remain in the U.S. or legally reenter the U.S. despite being inadmissible.

When considering a 601 waiver application, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) policy manual requires the officers to “make extreme hardship determinations based on the factors, arguments, and evidence submitted. The extreme hardship must be shown in relation to a qualifying relative – not just to the applicant. A qualifying relative is a member of your immediate family (e.g., daughter, son, mother).

Overall, the USCIS officer must consider the totality of circumstances when determining the presence of extreme hardship. While there is no express identification of what constitutes extreme hardship, such circumstances may include:


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Thursday, December 20, 2018

USCIS Expands Information Services Modernization Program to Key Field Offices

Please be advised that USCIS has begun expanding its Information Services Modernization Program across key field offices beginning November 13, 2018 to now include the Detroit office and the five Los Angeles District offices.  During the first quarter of FY 2019, USCIS will implement the program in the Great Lakes and San Francisco field offices and across all New York City area field offices (NYC (Manhattan), Queens, Brooklyn as well as Long Island and Newark).  In fact, it is expected that by the end of 2019, INFOPASS appointments will no longer be available at any local USCIS office.  Individuals living in the areas covered by the program can schedule an appointment by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center at (800) 375-5283.

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Monday, December 17, 2018

Master Calendar Hearings

The first stage in the removal (deportation) of a foreign national is a Notice to Appear (NTA) at a Master Calendar Hearing.  The purpose of the hearing is not to reach a final decision on removal, but to obtain basic information about the case and create a schedule for it to proceed.  It also is an opportunity for the court to outline all of the legal rights available to the foreign national, including the right to answer charges, present evidence, examine witnesses and, if the respondent lacks counsel, make use of any free or low-cost legal service providers who may be available.

The Notice to Appear contains the date, time and location of the hearing, usually at least ten days later.  A foreign national (the "respondent") who receives a notice must attend in person, with or without an attorney.  Failure to attend, or even showing up late, can result in denial of an application and deportation "in absentia."  The respondent should bring the Notice to Appear and any official identification documents.  Family members can attend.

The Notice to Appear also contains allegations about the respondent's illegal status in the United States.  The respondent, with the help of an attorney if possible, should examine these allegations carefully and be prepared to deny them and correct any inaccuracies.

The Master Calendar Hearing itself is brief, though it may take hours for a case to be called.  When the respondent's name and Alien Registration Number are announced, the respondent and counsel, if any, appear before an Immigration Court Judge.  The court will generally provide an interpreter, if needed.

The judge may ask for basic information, such as name, address, and the languages the respondent speaks.  The judge then reviews the charges.  The respondent can deny some or all of the government's allegations and point out any factual errors regarding names, dates, places, or other details.  The respondent can designate—or refuse to designate— a "country of removal," i.e. where to be sent if deported.


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Monday, December 10, 2018

Should Employers Enroll in E-Verify? Pros and Cons

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA), offers E-Verify to help employers instantly determine an employee's eligibility to work.  Initial confirmations and "Tentative Non Confirmations" are available in as little as three to five seconds.

The voluntary Internet-based program works by comparing the information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, with Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records.  Instead of simply retaining I-9s on file in their own offices, employers who enroll in E-Verify must enter the I-9s of all new hires into the program's database.

There are both advantages and disadvantages to using E-Verify.  Employers must weigh each and its relevance to their circumstances.

Five Benefits of Signing Up for E-Verify

 • While E-Verify is generally voluntary, some states require employers to use E-Verify, and it is mandatory for some federal government contracts.

 • E-Verify could become mandatory nationwide.  Adopting it earlier affords employers more time to become familiar with it and adapt.

 • E-Verify helps companies avoid hiring and training a person who turns out to be ineligible to work.  It can eliminate "No Match" letters from the SSA notifying an employer that an employee's reported social security number does not match government records.


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