Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Ask the Attorney: I had an interview on my naturalization application eight months ago, and still have not received a decision. What can I do?

If you have been interviewed on a naturalization application, permanent resident application, or even have a petition that has been pending for an unusually long period of time, you do have options. The best option many times is to sue the immigration service. By suing immigration you are forcing them to make a decision on your application, often within three to six months.

Some people worry that by suing immigration they are in some way angering the individuals who are deciding their case. This is not true. Immigration will not take “revenge” on you for suing them by denying your application. They cannot deny your application unless they have a valid reason for doing so. If you or someone you know are in this situation, contact zwaik.com for more information.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Report Finds that ICE Needs Better Information in Order For Detention to Meet Legal Mandates

In responses to the recent publicity regarding the number of detainees who have died in immigration custody over the last several years, ICE has announced that it will attempt to revamp the current system. As a result, ICE released information on all of it’s current 32,000 detainees to the Migration Policy Institute. The Report by MPI discovered that ICE has a lot of work to do in order to adhere to the laws on bond, parole, and the types of individuals who should be detained.
The report reported that 58 percent of detainees did not have criminal records. This is surprising considering mandatory detention laws are intended to apply largely to criminal aliens. The report found that the most serious convictions for 20 percent of detainees were for traffic related offenses, and that more than 400 detainees without criminal records had been held for a year or more. The report also found that 950 persons had been detained for more than six months after receiving a final removal order, despite a Supreme Court decision holding that removal in most cases must occur within six months. Also, and equally surprising is that ICE is detaining these non-criminal detainees at an average cost of $141 per night compared to the $13 per night it costs to hold detainees at an alternate detention program.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

NY Times Reports on the Atmosphere of Ethnic Hatred in Suffolk County

A report issued on Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks hate groups around the country found that there is currently an environment of racial intolerance and ethnic hatred in Suffolk County Long Island. The report also found that this atmosphere of hatred has been fueled by local anti-immigration groups and some Suffolk county public officials.

The Center’s report is a result of several months of investigations on Long Island. The report not only relied on news media accounts and public records, but also extensive interviews and statements from local residents. Based on this extensive investigation, the report found that “Latino immigrants in Suffolk County live in fear, and that political leaders in the county have done little to discourage the hatred, and some have actively fanned the flames.” The Report cited disturbing instances of immigrants being beaten with baseball bats, attacked with BB guns, and being run off the road while riding bicycles.

Monday, August 31, 2009

New Guidance for Surviving Spouses of U.S. Citizens Who are Eligible for Deferred Action and Work Authorization

USCIS today issued guidance for surviving spouses of U.S. Citizens who just recently were granted immigration benefits. Surviving Spouses of U.S. Citizens who died before the second anniversary of their marriage are now eligible for a temporary program which will allow them to remain and work legally in the United States. This new program extends these benefits to spouses who were married to, but not legally separated from their spouse at the time of their death; did not remarry; and are currently residing in the United States.

The program allows for the surviving spouses to include their qualifying children in their deferred action request. To be considered a “qualifying child” of a surviving spouse, the child must be younger than age 21, or otherwise qualify as a child when the deferred action request is submitted; currently reside in the United States; and be unmarried.

Eligible Applicants will need to submit the Form I-360 with the requisite $375 filing fee as well as the Form I-765 with its $340 filing fee. For help in determining if you qualify for this benefit, go to www.zwaik.com to contact your local immigration lawyer.

Newsweek Reports that “Immigrants Make More Jobs Than They Take”.

In a 15 page article titled "What You Need to Know", Newsweek reports that contrary to what often appears to be public opinion, immigrants actually create more jobs than they take. The article reports that the most skilled jobs in technology and engineering actually generated more than $52 billion in sales in 2005. The article also reports that the least skilled workers more than repay their costs in schools and health care. Two highly respected Australian economists studied the issue for the Cato Institute and found that the "net impact on U.S. households from tighter border enforcement is unambiguously negative". They found this to be true because even low skilled immigrants expand the economic pie and create jobs further up the ladder. In fact the study shows a $250 billion difference between the most and least restrictive immigration policies.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Head of Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced No More Quotas:

John Morton recently appointed head of ICE, announced that he has terminated the quota system on the often criticized program designed to arrest immigrants who have failed to leave the United States after being issued a deportation order. He also stated that he planned on making more changes to the program soon.

In this announcement Morton stated that their top priority in the fugitive operations program will be to concentrate on convicted criminals. This announcement is a break from the policy in recent years which lead to the widely publicized home arrests, and sweeps which were often accused of violating individual’s constitutional rights. A report by the Migration Policy Institute shows that 74% of the nearly 97,000 people arrested by those teams between 2003 and 2008 did not have criminal records.

Morton stated in his announcement that hard quotas don’t make sense, and that he is not signaling in any way that we are not going to enforce the law against noncriminal fugitives.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DHS to Drop Enforcement of “No Match” letters

The Obama administration has decided to drop the enforcement of “no match” letters proposed by the Bush administration. In response to an injunction issued in by the Northern District Court in California, DHS will amend its previous policy of “cracking down” on employers who ignore no-match letters from Social Security. Instead they will focus on efforts to enforce employers’ compliance with verification requirements by increasing “raids’ on suspected violators and encouraging online verification programs. These programs are designed for employers to check the documents or status of their workers by imputing the information into an online system that will check the information and determine its validity.

A “no match letter” is a notice sent by Social Security when their records show a discrepancy between a person’s name and social security number submitted by employers on their W-2 Forms and the information in SSA databases. If Social Security finds the combination is not a match, then they send no match letters in order to inform the employer of the mismatch. There are many reasons why a person’s information my not “match-up” including name changes, clerical error’s, or invalid social security numbers.

In August of 2007, DHS took the position that receipt of these letters required the employer to undertake verification procedures or risk criminal prosecution. Two weeks after DHS announced their now policy, the district court granted a restraining order, preventing DHS from enforcing the policy. The Court found that these notices were unduly prejudicial, and that DHS exceeded its authority in their interpretation of the anti-discrimination laws.

As a result of the Court’s decision, and due to DHS’s improvement of their online verification system, DHS has announced they will rescind their August 2007 No-Match Rule. This means employers should no longer feel obligated to respond to these no match letters, but should instead concentrate on orientating themselves with these new online verification programs.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Ask The Attorney

I have a girlfriend in Brazil and we are thinking about getting married. What is the best way to bring her to the United States?

U.S. immigration law permits a U.S. citizen to obtain a fiance visa for a foreign national to come to the U.S. The visa (a "K-1") requires the individual to come to the U.S. and marry the sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The procedures call for the filing of an application with the USCIS, which when approved is forwarded to the U.S. consulate in the fiance's home country. The fiance is interviewed by the consulate and issued the visa to come to the U.S. After the couple are married in the U.S., the foreign born spouse files an application for a green card in the U.S. It generally takes about 6-8 months between the filing of the initial application with USCIS and the issuance of the K-1 at the consulate. After arrival in the U.S., it will take another 4-6 months to obtain approval of the green card.

For more information about obtaining a fiance visa visit us www.zwaik.com

Friday, July 24, 2009

Obama administration extends asylum to battered women:

The Obama administration recently overturned the Bush administration, and created a new policy which permits women who have been victims of domestic and/or sexual abuse to receive asylum in the United States. This policy will allow women who are currently in the United States, or women who are hoping to escape to the United States, to apply for refugee or asylee status based upon this abuse.

In order to qualify for asylum, abused women will need to show not only that they were abused in their home country but that their country either has a culture of tolerating abuse, or that the government is incapable of protecting them. The women will also need to prove that they are unable to escape the abuse in their own country.

If you or somebody you know who falls into this category, please contact zwaik.com for further guidance.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Immigration Reform After Senator Specter’s Switch

Immigration Reform After Senator Specter’s Switch
Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter stunned the political world on Tuesday by announcing he was switching his party affiliation from Republican to Democratic. The switch may create a “filibuster proof” Senate that will allow President Obama to more forward on key issues including health care reform, climate change and immigration reform despite possible Republican objections. Senator Specter has long been considered a friend to Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR.) He helped draft the doomed reform bill that died in Congress in the summer of 2007 and he renewed his support for CIR at a recent Spring Conference of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA.) To that extent, the party switch will not likely change the number of votes in favor of a reform package.

Nevertheless, Spector’s switch will permit the president to move aggressively on an immigration bill this year, as he has promised. And perhaps most importantly, it will likely encourage those who see CIR as the only realistic means of solving our current immigration mess.

Overall, Senator Specter's decision to switch parties is a good for CIR and good for immigrants.

For more information please visit us www.zwaik.com

Saturday, April 11, 2009

USCIS Reports 20,000 H-1B Visas Still Available

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reported today that approximately 45,000 H-1B cap-subject petitions and approximately 20,000 petitions qualifying for the advanced degree cap exemption had been filed since April 1, 2009, leaving 20,000 slots still available for fiscal year 2010. USCIS continues to accept advanced degree petitions stating that experience has shown that not all petitions received are approvable.

The H-1B visa allows U.S. employers to employ foreign workers who have a minimum of a U.S. Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and will be coming to the U.S. to perform professional caliber work at a prevailing wage established by the U.S. Department of Labor. Congress has established an annul numerical limit (or cap) of 65,000 for new H-1B visas and an additional 20,000 for foreign workers with an advance degree from a U.S. university. The government’s fiscal year begins October 1 and the law permits applicants to file petitions no more than 6 months in advance of the commencement date, thus resulting in an “earliest” filing date of April 1.

For each of the past two fiscal years, more than the maximum number of applications was filed during the first days of April, resulting in H-1B petitions “capping out” immediately. This year, due to the economic downturn, less than the maximum number of applications was received.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

USCIS Sets New Address For Filing Form I-90?

USCIS announced today that it had established a “lockbox” in Phoenix, Arizona for the future filing of I-90 forms. These forms are routinely used by permanent residents to renew expired “green cards” and correct erroneous existing cards.

The new rule requires applicants to mail the paper Form I-90 to:
The Phoenix Lockbox address is: USCIS, P.O. Box 21262, Phoenix, AZ 85036.

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS) Express Mail/courier deliveries, use the following address: USCIS, ATTN: I-90, 1820 Skyharbor, Circle S Floor 1, Phoenix, AZ 85034.

Applications sent to the wrong address will be forwarded to the Phoenix Lockbox facility for the first 30 calendar days after this notice is published. Forwarded applications will be considered properly filed when received at the Phoenix Lockbox facility. After the 30 calendar-day transition period, the application will be returned with a note explaining that it must sent to the correct address.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Ask The Attorney

I was a visitor to the U.S. and forgot to turn in my I-94 when I left the U.S. What should I do?

The I-94 is the small card (usually white) that is stapled into the passport of most non-immigrants coming temporarily to the U.S. It is the principal means by which DHS can track the people who enter and leave the U.S. If you failed to surrender that card when you left the U.S. , it means your departure was not properly recorded and DHS thinks you are still in this country. That can have dire consequences, including the fact that DHS may prevent you from re-entering the U.S. in the future, under the mistaken belief that you have previously violated U.S. immigration laws by overstaying.

If you failed to submit the I-94 when you left, you should send it to the following address:

1084 South Laurel Road
London, KY 40744

With the I-94, you should send proof of your timely departure from the U.S. This proof should include airline boarding passes, photocopies of passport stamps, and any relevant proof of your return to your home country -- including banking, school or employment records, credit card receipts, and other verifiable transactions. Your explanation should be written in English and you should keep copies of everything to show DHS officials when you return to the U.S.