Articles Tagged with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services

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”.

USCIS issues “Parole in Place” for Military family members

On November 15, 2013, USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) issued a policy memorandum to all its field offices regarding the treatment of alien spouses, children and parents of current and veteran members of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The Department of Defense is concerned that active members of U.S. Armed Services and Reserves and those who have previously served face stress and anxiety because of the immigration status of family members in the U.S.  Because immigration issues can affect a service member’s military preparedness when called into duty and the lives of those veterans to whom the U.S. has made a commitment, this memo was issued amending the effect of parole on an alien’s ability to adjust.

The purpose of the memorandum is to ensure that each field office consistently adjudicates parole requests made by above-mentioned aliens who entered without admission or parole with the ultimate goal of “minimiz[ing] periods of family separation, and to facilitate adjustment of status within the U.S. by immigrants who are spouses, parents, and children of military members.”  The memo amends the USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual (AFM) concerning the effects of parole on an alien’s inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 212(a)(6)(A)(i).

(El artículo siguiente puede ser leido en español al final de la versión en inglés.)

What the Government Shutdown Means for Your Immigration Issue: Because the U.S. Government fiscal year ended September 30, 2013 without a new appropriations bill passed by both houses, multiple federal agencies and departments will be affected.  Because immigration matters are federal in nature, they will be particularly affected by the “government shutdown” and delays will be felt in the multiple branches which adjudicate and administer U.S. immigration laws.

Posted below is a summary of contingency plans and issued statements from federal departments and agencies regarding current government actions and services that are relevant to the field of Immigration Law.

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