Articles Tagged with immigration

Can divorce affect your immigration status? If your U.S. Visa was granted because of your spouse’s application, you may find yourself wondering what could happen if you and your spouse separate or get a divorce. The answer varies depending on how far along you are in the immigration process.

Approved visa petition (USCIS Form I-130): Form I-130 is a form submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services by a U.S. citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident petitioning for a close relative (here, a spouse) who intends to immigrate to the U.S. Approval of the petition does not create status and if you divorce at this point in the process, you will not be able to proceed toward U.S. immigration.

Conditional Residence: If you used your spouse’s status to gain immigration status to the U.S. within two years of your marriage, you are a conditional resident.  Conditional Residence is a two-year green card given to a spouse whose marriage is less than two years old. To become a permanent resident, you and your spouse will jointly file a Form I-751 within the final 90 days of your conditional residence green card. Form I-751 is a petition to remove conditions on residence. If you divorce after being granted conditional residence but before filing Form I-751 to remove conditions, you may be able to get a waiver of the other spouse’s signing requirement, but you will have to show that the marriage was bona fide (genuine).  This is to ensure that the marriage was in good faith and not entered for the sole purpose of fraudulently obtaining a green card. Proving that the marriage was not fraudulent can be a daunting task and you will likely need an attorney’s help the specific evidence you will need to get a waiver of the spouses signature.

Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) and other traffic offenses have unique consequences for immigrants in the United States whether they have been lawfully admitted or not. While all crimes may be considered by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in removal proceedings, certain crimes carry more weight. Crimes involving moral turpitude (CIMT) may render an alien inadmissible or deportable depending on their status. DWI offenses may also lead undocumented immigrants to receive higher priority for removal proceedings.

The Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) has defined crimes involving moral turpitude as conduct that is inherently base, vile, or depraved, contrary to the accepted rules of morality and the duties owed other persons, either individually or to society in general. Crimes involving moral turpitude require an element of intent that is absent from ordinary DWI cases. Intent for CIMT must be at least recklessness (knowingly endangering another’s health or safety). However, the addition of an aggravating factor such as driving with a suspended license or with a child in the car or the commission of an additional crime such as using illegal drugs is usually enough to trigger a CIMT. (It should be noted that illegal use of a controlled substance is another, separate, ground for inadmissibility, see 8 USC 1227(a)(2)(B)(i) and 8 U.S.C. § 1182(a)(2)(A)(i)(II))

Certain traffic convictions such as Driving While Intoxicated may also lead to higher priority by DHS with regards to apprehension, detention and removal of undocumented immigrants. Because of the high volume of undocumented immigrants in the United States, DHS has created a priority system designed to streamline removal and prioritize the removal of aliens that pose a “threat to national security, border security and public safety”.

Jose vargas - handcuffs

Jose Vargas, an undocumented but decorated journalist, was detained Tuesday morning in a McAllen, Texas airport.  Mr. Vargas, a Pulitzer-prize winning writer born in the Philippines, who most notably covered the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 with the Washington Post, has most recently written about the current immigration climate and the experiences of undocumented immigrants who were brought here as young children by their families.  Jose was brought by his grandparents when he was twelve years old with what he thought was his very own green card, leaving his mother, his half-siblings, and his childhood in the Philippines behind. It was not until he turned 16 and attempted to get his driver’s license that an employee at the department let him know that his green card was not real.  Jose had no idea that he came without documentation.  He carried a green card with him for years believing it was valid because his grandparents gave it to him.  In the CNN documentary “Undocumented,” Mr. Vargas discloses the devastation and shame he experienced over the years following this revelation.  It highlights the feelings that many undocumented individuals experience who were not aware of their undocumented status.  To “fix” his situation, Mr. Vargas was determined to outwork the reality of his situation.  He gave false information to every employer he has ever had and has accomplished great successes in the journalism field in the process.  However, his work ethic has never been able to cure his undocumented status, something over which he had no control.

There are no confirmed facts as to the grounds for Jose’s current detention although it is hard to imagine that it does not involve his undocumented status.  After the publicity of his status through his documentary, it was only a matter of time that a traveling journalist such as himself was detained at an airport where all persons much show valid identification to board a flight, especially in a border town like McAllen, Texas.  Under stated federal procedure, if a person is not able to show valid identification, he or she may fly if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is able to verify the person’s identity.  It may be at this stage that Mr. Vargas’s name flagged Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or if he used his false credentials in getting through security.  However, his troublesome situation may bring much desired publicity to the situation of millions of young adults in America.  Perhaps this will be the event that changes the fate of immigration reform for undocumented childhood arrivals who have been dubbed DREAMers.

A principios de esta semana, el Presidente Obama se manifestó en torno a dos asuntos de inmigración que vienen afectando a la Nación.  En primer lugar, se refirió al ingreso de menores que huyen de países de Centro América sin la compañía de un adulto. El Presidente envió así una carta al Congreso solicitando mayores poderes para enviar a estos menores de regreso a sus países de origen, bajo la figura del programa de expulsiones expeditas.

Por lo regular, la expulsión expedita o acelerada es reservada para los llamados “arriving aliens” (aquellos que están intentando entrar a los Estados Unidos a través de la frontera u otro punto de entrada legal, así como también aquellas personas que ingresaron recientemente a los Estados Unidos de manera ilegal). En ambos casos, puede que la medida dé inicio a un proceso de expulsión; sin embargo, antes de emitir la orden, un oficial de inmigración debe determinar que la persona es inadmisible en los Estados Unidos por al menos una de las siguientes razones:

·         Mintió o distorsionó la realidad con el objetivo de obtener documentos de ingreso o admisión a los Estados Unidos; por ejemplo, bajo la falsa pretensión de contar con ciudadanía estadounidense

Yesterday, President Obama addressed two immigration issues plaguing the nation.  First, to address the influx of unaccompanied children fleeing Central American countries, President Obama requested that Congress give him more authority to send these children back to their home countries under the Nation’s expedited removal program.  Ordinarily, expedited removal is reserved for “arriving aliens” (people who are attempting to enter the United States at a border or other lawful entry point and people who recently entered the United States unlawfully). They may be placed into expedited removal proceedings, but before issuing an expedited removal order, an immigration officer must determine that the person is inadmissible to the United States because he or she either:

  • lied or misrepresented a material fact, including falsely claiming U.S. citizenship, in obtaining U.S. entry documents or admission, or
  • does not have a valid entry document (such as a visa or border crosser card) or travel document (such as a passport).

As of Thursday morning, the Department of Homeland Security began accepting renewal applications for approved DACA applicants (deferred action for childhood arrivals).  The earliest expiration of DACA is in September 2014, but Secretary Jeh Johnson announced that the process to renew enrollment will begin today.  The Department of Homeland Security will begin adjudicating renewal requests immediately, and although application for renewal is now available, USCIS will continue to accept requests for DACA applicants who have not previously sought access to the program as well.

As stated on the Department of Homeland Security website, “DACA is a discretionary determination to defer removal action against an individual. Individuals in DACA will be able to remain in the United States and apply for employment authorization for a period of two years. Individuals who have not requested DACA previously, but meet the criteria established, may also request deferral for the first time. It is important to note that individuals who have not continuously resided in the United States since June 15th 2007 are ineligible for DACA.”

Requirements for a DACA renewal

A partir de la mañana de este Jueves, el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (DHS, por sus siglas en Inglés) comenzó a aceptar solicitudes de renovación por parte de beneficiarios del programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals o DACA, por sus siglas en Inglés).  La fecha de vencimiento más próxima en casos de DACA es Septiembre del 2014; sin embargo, el Secretario Jeh Johnson anunció que el proceso de renovaciones ya comenzó, y que el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional comenzará a conceder peticiones de renovación inmediatamente. Aún y cuando las aplicaciones de renovación ya están disponibles, USCIS continuará aceptando, además, peticiones por parte de individuos que previamente no habían procurado acceso al programa DACA.

Tal y como fue expresado en el sitio de Internet del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional, “DACA es una vía discrecional de diferir acciones que forzarían la salida de un individuo. Bajo DACA, individuos contarán con la posibilidad de permanecer en los Estados Unidos y solicitar autorización de empleo por un período de dos años. Individuos que no han solicitado DACA previamente, pero que reúnen los criterios establecidos, también pueden solicitar acción diferida por primera vez. Es importante destacar que aquellos individuos que no han residido de manera continua en los Estados Unidos desde Junio 15, 2007 resultan inelegibles para DACA.”

Requisitos para Renovación de Acción Diferida DACA

In what appears to be one of few fruitful recommendations to come out of either political party’s immigration rhetoric, the 3-and-10-year bar may be on the chopping block.  As of the end of last week, the Washington Times indicated that Rep. Labrador (R-Idaho) suggested a compromise with Democrats to ease the harsh punishment to immigrants who have accumulated unlawful presence in the United States.  Under the current law, undocumented immigrants who entered without inspection and have since accumulated unlawful time in the U.S. suffer a penalty if that accumulation of time exceeds either six months or reaches one year.  This provision affects roughly 25% of undocumented immigrants.  It has hindered those with lawful means of immigration from seeking such statuses without accomplishing its intention which was deterrence of unlawful immigration.

In negotiation, Rep. Labrador has indicated that in conjunction with easing the punishment for immigration violators, he and other Republicans seek to extend more lawful immigration benefits in the form of visas to non-immigrant students.  This offer comes by way of the Heritage Foundation, “a research and educational institution whose mission is to formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.”  House Republicans met at a Heritage Foundation forum to discuss immigration, a topic which has become quite controversial for the GOP in recent years.

But according to the Washington Times, Mr. Labrador’s proposal didn’t impress those who it referred to as “immigration advocates.”  These “advocates” say “they will only accept a broad reform package that covers all parts of the immigration debate.” Democrats want a monolithic bill that addresses all immigration grievances at once at the expense of any progress.  However, in effect, repealing the “3-and-10-year bar” to immigration will address both past and present hurdles that many current and future immigrants face.  It will remove the bar to entry on those individuals who are present in the U.S. and have lawful means of immigration but have remained here without seeking the benefit for fear of that bar upon departure.  Currently, these individuals can leave and only reenter upon receipt of their available visas immediately if the immigrant’s U.S. citizen family member has an extreme hardship.  Otherwise, he or she will endure a lengthy, and in the case of the 10-year bar, unbearable wait period.

En lo que aparenta ser una de las pocas recomendaciones fructíferas en la retórica de inmigración por parte de cualquiera de los partidos, la llamada “prohibición por 3 y 10 años” pudiese ya estar viendo sus últimos días. A finales de la semana pasada, el diario Washington Times indicó que el Representante Labrador (R-Idaho) sugirió un acuerdo con los Demócratas para suavizar la fuerte manera en que se penaliza a inmigrantes que han acumulado tiempo de presencia ilegal en los Estados Unidos. Bajo la ley actual, aquellos inmigrantes indocumentados que ingresen sin pasar por un punto de inspección y hayan acumulado – desde entonces – tiempo ilegal en los Estados Unidos son castigados si el tiempo acumulado excede los seis meses o alcanza el año. Esto lo que ha hecho es impedir que personas que cuentan con mecanismos legales de inmigración procuren conseguir su estatus legal; mas sin embargo, no ha logrado cumplir con su intención original de disuadir la inmigración ilegal en sí.

En negociaciones, el Representante Labrador ha indicado que además de simplificar el castigo a aquellos que violan las leyes de inmigración, él y otros Republicanos buscan extender mayores beneficios para la inmigración legal bajo la forma de visas a estudiantes no inmigrantes.  Dicha oferta llega a través de la organización Heritage Foundation, “una institución de investigación y educación cuya misión es formular y promover políticas públicas conservadoras fundamentadas en los principios de libre empresa, gobierno limitado, libertades individuales, valores Americanos tradicionales, y una fuerte defensa nacional.”  Republicanos de la Casa de Representantes estuvieron reunidos en un foro de Heritage Foundation para discutir el tema de inmigración, tópico que se ha convertido en uno de los más controversiales para el GOP en años recientes.

Pero de acuerdo con el Washington Times, la propuesta del Sr. Labrador no causó muy buena impresión en aquellos regularmente referidos como “defensores de la inmigración”.  Los llamados “defensores” dicen que “sólo aceptarán un paquete de reforma inmigratoria amplio, que incluya todos los aspectos del debate de inmigración.” Los Demócratas quieren un proyecto de ley monolítico que dé respuesta de una sola vez a todos los problemas de inmigración, a costa de cualquier progreso en una u otra área en particular. Sin embargo, el revocar o anular la “prohibición de entrada por 3 y 10 años” en inmigración permitiría salvar obstáculos pasados y presentes que muchos de los actuales y futuros inmigrantes deben enfrentar. Esto removería la prohibición de entrada a aquellos individuos que están presentes en los Estados Unidos y que, aunque cuentan con maneras legales de inmigrar, permanecen aquí sin buscar tal beneficio por temor a ser penalizados una vez que salgan del país. Actualmente, estos individuos pueden salir y reingresar al país tras recibir la visa disponible, pero sólo de forma inmediata si un familiar estadounidense del inmigrante enfrenta una situación de urgencia o adversidad extrema.  De cualquier otro modo, él o ella deberá sobrellevar un largo, y en el caso de la prohibición de entrada por 10 años, insoportable período de espera.

After much speculation, this week the Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from a 6th circuit ruling which denied a Tennessee family their asylum claim as religious “homeschoolers” who were forced to send their children to school in Germany against their beliefs.


When requesting asylum, an applicant “must demonstrate that he is unable or unwilling to return to his home country because he has been persecuted there in the past or have a well-founded fear that he will be persecuted if he goes back.” Additionally, “the reason [the applicant] has been (or will be) persecuted is connected to one of five things: race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or his political opinion.”

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