Jun
24

USCIS Is Broke for All the Wrong Reasons

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says it’s out of money and they want immigrants to pay for it even though the agency’s misplaced priorities and expenditures are to blame.   Within the last several years, the Trump administration has inappropriately changed the mission of the agency.  In 2019 , the controversially Trump appointed Acting  USCIS Chief , Kenneth T. (Ken) Cuccinelli, , declared USCIS as “a vetting agency, not a benefits agency.”  Consequently, the agency has invested a majority of its resources into what they’ve mislabeled as “vetting” and...

Apr
15

Up in Smoke - Legalized Marijuana and the Loss of Immigration Status

Although legalization of marijuana is becoming more prevalent throughout states, the use and sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Because immigration benefits are controlled by federal law, this differential could pose serious inadmissibility, removability, and good moral character issues for noncitizens living and working in states where marijuana is legal. Even if a noncitizen possessed, used, or sold marijuana in accordance with state law, his or her lawful immigration status, or ability to obtain lawful immigration status, could still be in jeopardy.

In states where...

Feb
23

Credible Fear Interviews and the Third Country Transit Rule

For individuals seeking asylum in the United States, arriving at the US border may signify the end to their physical journey; however, it also marks the beginning of a longer legal journey navigating the credible fear screening process and, more recently, the “third-country-transit asylum eligibility bar.” Think of the credible fear screening process as the key to a locked door – if the individual can obtain the key (a positive credible fear determination), then he or she can “enter” the United States and apply for protection. But, if an individual cannot obtain the key (a...

Jan
18

When Is a Person a Good Person? USCIS' Evolving Character Standard

When is a person a good person?   The law is rather clear.  However, USCIS continues to engage in a campaign to rewrite the law to get it getter authority to deny otherwise qualified applicants for naturalization.    This is part of the administration's vigorous effort to slant the law against approving an application instead of toward approving an application.   The latest twist ignores years of litigation that established clear boundaries for who can and cannot prove whether they are a person of good moral character.   

When making the decision to apply for naturalization, there...

Jan
18

Can I Ever Get Out? Pursuing Release from Custody

Every year there are hundreds of immigrants who languish for months and often years in county jails or private detention facilities awaiting deportation. Some are seeking asylum; others are legal residents. Many have criminal records for crimes committed years ago, some decades ago. Most are appealing their removal orders, and the vast majority have never had a chance to argue their release in front of an immigration judge. They are denied the opportunity for a “bond hearing,” where the judge would determine whether they are a flight risk or a danger to the community. Many beg for the...

Jan
18

H-1B Lottery Registration – A Viable Solution or A False Promise?

The H-1B visa filing process will undergo a dramatic shift in 2020.  Employers are now required to participate an H-1B lottery registration prior to submitting the actual H-1B petition. This is a major change from previous years where the H-1B lottery was conducted based on the submission of the H-1B petition itself. The new system benefits employers and beneficiaries by reducing the initial cost of the H-1B process.  If the government does not select the employer to participate in the fiscal year filing opportunity, the employer avoids the cost of preparing a full H-1B needlessly. ...

Dec
28

Relief at Last - Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness

A law that has been more than a decade in the making finally made it through Congress at the end of 2019.  Section 7611 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020 included a long-awaited form of relief unique to Liberians.  The section, identified as Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness, addresses the needs of Liberians who have been caught in the vicious cycle of TPS and Liberian DED for the last twenty years.  It is a one-time reprieve that addresses the long-suffering Liberian community.

Notably, the provision does not require that the qualifying Liberian ever...

Mar
17

Automatic Voter Registration - A Siren Song for a Future Deportation

The 2020 presidential election is already dominating news headlines. Since mid-January, politicians and public figures have been announcing their candidacy in rapid succession. Such political fervor is arguably good for the democratic process, as it brings important issues to the forefront. It also prompts campaign organizers to align supporters and so focuses attention on the voter registration process.

Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) is a policy intended to streamline the way Americans register to vote. AVR uses an electronic “opt-out” registration system, whereby an individual is...

Jan
29

Deportation by Speculation - the Rise of the Reason to Believe Charge

ICE has shown lately that it is becoming more willling to use any tool at its disposal to impact a removal proceeding.   One such trend has been the  notable increase in charging under section 212(a)(2)(C)(i) of Immigration & Nationalty Act.  This charge of removal or deportation is known by its standard, a “reason to believe” that an individual is knowingly involved somehow in drug trafficking.  This legal charge gives the government a powerful tool to try to keep a person in custody and bar him or her from staying in the United States.

In the bond and detention context, it is an...

Jan
29

The Mystery of the U Visa Wait Time Solved

The U.S. Congress created U non-immigrant status (the U visa) in October 2000 to help victims of certain crimes who have experienced extreme mental or physical abuse and were helpful to law enforcement of government in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.  The U visa bestows clear benefits, when granted: The applicant—and any qualifying family members included as the applicant’s derivatives—can work and reside in the United States lawfully for four years; but after having U visa status for three years, the Applicant can apply to become a lawful permanent resident...

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