Nov
20

Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder, and the Threat of Deportation Stronger – Understanding the Effect of Omission in Visa Applications

The journey from visa applicant to American citizen can be long and arduous. At best, it takes years, and in some cases, decades. So, receiving a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court after your naturalization interview is incredibly frustrating. After applying, often multiple times, for a visa, finally receiving it, arriving in the United States, and spending years as a green card holder, the next step should be simple: you file your N400, attend your interview, swear the oath, and become a citizen. However, many applicants stumble at this last step and find themselves facing...

Nov
14

The Scarlet W Plate - Understanding Whiskey Plates and New Options in MN

Whiskey Plates – or Not?  When charged with a DUI in Minnesota, you face “collateral” consequences even before you are convicted – during that time of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.  Your driver’s license will be revoked.  In certain first-time situations or subsequent offenses, your license plates may be impounded or your vehicle forfeited to the State.  If your plates are impounded, you may need to get “special registration plates,” often called “whiskey plates,” on any car registered under your name during the period of impoundment.  These plates...

Nov
14

Moving Forward After Loss: What Happens if the Petitioner Passes Away while the Case Remains Pending

Moving Forward After Loss:  What Happens if the Petitioner Passes Away while the Case Remains Pending?  During the COVID-19 pandemic, families across the globe are facing loss in record numbers. Faced with this reality, many US citizen and Lawful Permanent Residents who have filed for loved ones now wonder: if my relative passes while applying for me, what happens then?  Does my petition pass away too?

Overview of Section 204(l) Relief

Years ago, the answer to this question was “yes.” Now, however, when the qualifying relative passes away before the applicant receives their green...

Oct
4

Why Is My Case Moving so Slowly - Understanding the USCIS Tortoise

Why Hasn’t Your Case Been Decided Yet? Nationwide, you and millions of families, businesses, and individuals applying for immigration benefits are waiting longer for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and approve applications and petitions.  It has been a difficult time for many and created undue stress.  Many people have had issues with their employers, and the constant shifting of standards has only created confusion.

Based on previously available USCIS data, in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, an average case took about five months to process. In FY2020, an average...

May
16

The Longest Mile – the Status of Pending U Visa Applications 2021

A person can qualify for a U visa if they have been the victim of certain, generally felony-level, crimes.  They must cooperate in the investigation and/or prosecution of the crime.  The victim must also have suffered significant harm because of the crime. 

Congress created U visas in 2000 through the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act.  Congress established a pool of 10,000 U visas each year.  Notably, family members of U visa applicants do not count toward the 10,000-visa limit.  The quantity of U visa applicants has exploded, especially since 2013, as more people...

Mar
23

Stay of Adjudication Is a Ticket to Deportation - Johnson v. Minnesota

When a defendant in a criminal case pleads guilty in Minnesota, the law provides for several options as to what happens with that guilty plea.  One possibility is that although the defendant has admitted guilt, the judge does not adjudicate that person guilty – a Stay of Adjudication.  The Stay of Adjudication will be in place for a certain length of time, during which time the defendant will likely need to complete some terms of probation (such as classes or programming, community service, not picking up any new charges), but if those terms are successfully completed, then at the end...

Mar
14

May I Go? Traveling While Naturalizing

Many people ask whether they may travel internationally once they have filed their applications for naturalization. The answer is that, generally, yes, a lawful permanent resident may travel outside the United States while their naturalization application is pending. 

However, there are very clear limitations.  First, if a lawful permanent resident is absent from the US for more than 180 days in a single trip at any time, it can restart the clock that runs toward eligibility for naturalization.  This applies whether a person has already or not yet applied for naturalization.  A person...

Feb
28

The PTO Pandora's Box - the Evolution of Handbook Disclaimers in Minnesota

Minnesota state law has never had a requirement for employers to offer paid time off, much less pay out paid time off upon a separation from employment. But since the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Lee v. Fresenius Med. Care, employers that had a PTO policy in place had to at least follow their own policy. 741 N.W.2d 117 (Minn. 2007). That decision, and related decisions elsewhere, led many employers to include disclaimers in their policies stating that the policies did not create any binding agreement and that the employer was free to change the policy and benefits at any...

Feb
26

Toxic Enhancement - DWIs and Mandatory Minimums

In Minnesota, a DWI is classifed as an enhanceable offense.  Enchanceable means is that each time you are convicted for a DWI the penalties get more serious. In fact, Minnesota law mandates jail penalties and actual confinement depending on the number of prior DWI convictions or alcohol related loss of driver’s license and the timing of each offense.[1]

First time offense: there is no mandatory jail time if it is first time offense.  A court will usually order a sentence, but often will stay the sentence (pause) the in custody portion if a person completing probation and programming. ...

Feb
22

Beware the Wolf v. Oestreich at the Door - A Lesson in Managing Legal Custody and School Decisions

For parents going through a divorce or separation, one of the first questions that comes to mind is the designation of custody. Minnesota law labels two types of custody of children – legal and physical. Legal custody is defined by Minn. Stat. § 518.003 as “the right to determine the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.” Physical custody is defined as the routine daily care and control of the child and can also include the designation of one parent’s home as the primary residence of the child.

Most separated parents in Minnesota share...

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