Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are You in One of Immigration’s Targeted Groups?
{4:54 minutes to read} Among the many “hot topics” surrounding immigration these days, one is about people being rounded up and detained. There is an old cliché: When everybody's a priority, nobody's a priority. There are a lot of people who are priorities, but within that priority system, there are certain people in particular who are being targeted by immigration and need to be careful.

People with a Criminal Record
Anybody who has any kind of a criminal record is a target. The Administration talks about deporting drug dealers, gang members, rapists and child molesters, but the people they are picking up are people who have relatively minor offenses, such as DUIs or driving without a license.
People with Deportation Orders
People who have deportation orders are being picked up. Sometimes, these people don't even know they have deportation orders, they get stopped at some point in time and handed a piece of paper, which some can't even read. They are supposed to show up for court, but they don't. Ten years later, they get stopped by immigration.

One of the biggest problems with people who have deportation orders is that it is often impossible to get legal representation to them in time, meaning people who have existing deportation orders can be very quickly removed from the United States. In most cases, they do not have an opportunity to see a judge or speak to an attorney.
People Accused of Fraud or Misrepresentation
The government says they are going to target people who have any kind of fraud or misrepresentation to any government agency. This would include people who have used false green cards, who have gotten their driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers improperly, and perhaps, even people who applied for jobs when they shouldn't be working, making misrepresentations on I-9 forms or using different types of fraudulent documentation in order to get the jobs.
We have numerous reports of immigrants who are just traveling being stopped. People are being picked up outside their homes. They go to work or they take their kids to school in the morning, and they get stopped by immigration and detained.
If you are in any of these groups, you need to be very careful. Speak to an attorney to find out how to protect yourselves in the event you get picked by immigration.
If you are picked up, first and foremost, do not say anything to an immigration officer without first speaking to an attorney. You should have legal representation before you sign anything, say anything or agree to anything.
A lot of people are intimidated when they see an immigration officer, but there is no reason to be. Obviously, if you are stopped, you should have some form of identification, but if questioned about your immigration status, your answer should be, "Speak to my attorney." And you should have an attorney, a business card or a G-28, which is the immigration form that designates an attorney.
What If They Are Undocumented?
Many people don't understand that just because they are undocumented or illegal, doesn't mean they don't have any legal rights. There are legal options, Asylum-type applications and similar forms of relief available to them.
Some people have real opportunities to obtain residency or some kind of legal status in the United States, so they should get copies of all of their documents and go see an attorney.
Emergency Legal Services
We offer emergency legal services 24/7, so people who retain us to help them know that they can contact us at any time. We have an emergency line set up in English, another in Spanish, and another in Urdu. If someone gets picked up, a friend or relative should have our business card and call us, so we can have somebody there as soon as possible.
Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.

5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779 

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Bar or Ban: The Impact Could Be Devastating

Note: Since we created this article there have been numerous developments. Last week, President Trump issued his “reworked” Executive Order effective March 16. This order is substantially the same as the first one. Its legality is being challenged by a number of states.

{4:30 minutes to read} Although there is currently a nationwide stay in effect that blocks President Trump's Executive Order of Friday, January 27, the administration is said to be considering a reworking of the legislation that would allow individuals from the seven “banned countries” to enter the US if they had visas that were issued before the ban went into effect. The ban would impose a 90-day bar to non-immigrants from seven designated predominantly Muslim countries, including Iran, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, and Yemen. It also bans all refugees from anywhere in the world for 120 days, so you essentially have two bans or bars.
What we've come to learn since President Trump issued this Executive Order is that the ban does affect people who have certain types of temporary visas and who would normally be allowed to travel home and re-enter the United States; for example, students who are at the end of the semester and want to go home for the holidays or semester break.
Initially, there was some question as to whether it affected people traveling on green cards. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has since clarified that it does not affect people on green cards. For example, if you're an Iranian citizen who's a permanent resident of the United States, it apparently does not apply to you if you leave the United States and attempt to re-enter on your green card. Apparently.
The problem, of course, is that there is no way of knowing how and when Trump is going to affect these changes. For example, we have many clients from Pakistan. They are terrified. They have no way of knowing, if they leave the United States, whether he's going to change the rules while they're out of the country and make it difficult to impossible for them to come back.
When you can change the rules with the flip of a coin or with a tweet, there are no rules.
The second ban bars all refugees, many of whom have spent years in refugee camps, from entering the United States for 120 days.
Refugees are people seeking asylum from outside the United States. Their applications are generally processed through certain types of governmental organizations like United Nations sanctioned organizations. The ban does not affect people seeking asylum in the United States, but we are hearing that the DHS is in the process of tightening regulations to some extent, even for people in the United States.
At the present time, under an Obama order, people applying for asylum in the United States who were children get special preferences in terms of time. They go to the top of the list; however, we understand that is no longer going to be true. The administration has issued new directives to officers who are reviewing the asylum cases of people recently stopped from entering the US. The law requires these individuals to demonstrate a “credible fear” of returning to their native country. The administration is moving to significantly tighten the criteria for demonstrating a “credible fear” that is likely to result in many more applicants being turned away.
H-1B Visa
As my last blog explained, the President wants to change the regulations relating to H-1B visas, which may discourage technology professionals from coming to the US. If your goal is to stop US employers from exporting jobs abroad, and then you make it impossible for them to hire the professionals they need, where are we going?

There's no rhyme or reason to any of this. It's just crazy.

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.

5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779 

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Is the H-1B in Danger From the Trump Administration?

{2:48 minutes to read} H-1B season is upon us. H-1Bs are visas for professional workers. They are used primarily for high-tech companies bringing in computer programmers, engineers, etc.
The start date for the new visas is October 1st, the beginning of the government's fiscal year. You can apply for the visas six months before the start date, which is April 1st.
The limit on H-1B visas is 65,000 for people with bachelor's degrees, plus 20,000 for people with master's degrees. This limit is exhausted every year. Last year there were about 240,000 applications filed on April 1st for the 85,000 visas.
So this means applications have to be prepared, ready to go, and sent overnight mail on March 31st so they arrive on April 1st. In all likelihood, there will be a quarter of a million visa applications received on April 1st. This creates an intense scramble in the month of March to prepare these applications and have them ready on the very first day because if you send them late, you will get frozen out.
H-1B visas are a little controversial because the employer does not need to test the job market in order to hire someone on an H-1B visa. If the employer, for whatever reason, prefers a foreign worker over a US worker, he has the right to do that. The employer has to pay the foreign worker at least the prevailing wage—the wage he would otherwise be paying a US worker—or higher, so it's not a question of wages per se. It is, however, sometimes a question of preferring foreign employees whom the employer believes are more talented than competing US workers.
For the employers point of view, these high-tech companies argue that they need to be able to hire the best and brightest throughout the world without regard to whether they're Americans, etc. Because of this controversy, the Trump administration has been talking about changing the H-1B visas.
All the more reason why there is going to be an intense competition this year, to get those few visas, before Congress has a chance to change the law.

Mitchell C. Zwaik
Zwaik, Gilbert & Associates, P.C.

5014 Express Drive South
Ronkonkoma, NY  11779