Articles Posted in Citizenship

There is no question that, going through history, the United States of America is and always will be a country of immigrants. This country was built from people coming from overseas and making a life in a foreign land. However, as the long-simmering and controversial debate over immigration continues to be a focal point in presidential debates, it may surprise some of you to see the successful companies founded by American immigrants.

Google Inc., for starters, was co-founded by Sergey Brin, a Russian immigrant, in 1998. Brin moved to the United States at age 6 in the thick of the Cold War in 1979 and went on to become one of the richest men in the country. AT&T was founded by Scottish immigrant in Alexander Graham Bell, who was also the inventor of the telephone and investment firm Goldman Sachs was founded by a German immigrant named Marcus Goldman.

Immigrants have left a huge mark on American shopping as well. Immigrants from all over the world started companies such as eBay (Piere Omidyar, France), Radio Shak (Theodore and Milton Deutschmann, England), Kohl’s (Maxwell Kohl, Poland), Big Lots (Sol Shenk, Russia) and Nordstrom (John W. Nordstrom, Sweden).

Among other famous companies founded by immigrants are the entertainment provider Comcast (Daniel Aaron, Germany), Yahoo! (Jerry Yang, Taiwan), Colgate (William Colgate, England), Sara Lee (Nathan Cummings, Canada), the chemical company Dupont (E.I. du Pont, France).

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1215912_paper_chain_in_the_dark.jpgBefore the Child Status Protection Act was enacted in 2002, children who turned 21 while their permanent residence applications were pending were no longer considered children for immigration purposes and could no longer get a green card as an immediate relative. This circumstance is known as “aging out.” Foreign national children of U.S. citizen parents are eligible to obtain permanent residence (or green card) as an immediate relative. A child is defined by the Act as an unmarried person under age 21. Many people were aging out as a result of the huge backlogs and long processing times, and Congress enacted the CSPA in order to remedy this.

Thanks to the CSPA, once a U.S. citizen parent files a visa petition (Form I-130) on behalf of the child, the child’s age freezes for immigration purposes. Therefore, if the child becomes 21 while the petition is pending, the person is still considered to be a child and is still eligible for permanent residence. If a permanent resident parent becomes a naturalized U.S. citizen, the child’s age freezes on that date. For a child with a pending application for permanent residence based upon a preference classification, the CSPA allows the time the application was pending to be subtracted from the child’s biological age.
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maze.pngStarting a business can be difficult. Sometimes an initial investment and a dream aren’t enough to create permanent jobs (or even profits for the entrepreneur); success is often the result of trial and error. However, in the case of EB-5 investing, the potential for changes in business plan add an extra dimension of difficulty. The issue originates in filing procedure. A business plan must be submitted as part of the petition to start the process, before the immigrant begins conditional residence. USCIS will then expect that the business plan included in the original petition is followed in order to fulfill the job creation requirement to receive unconditional permanent residence.

The expected timeline for an EB-5 investor (that doesn’t use a regional center) appears straightforward. A business plan must be drafted and $1,000,000 (or $500,000 for Target Employment Areas) must be secured. The investor then files the I-526 petition with this information, its approval implying that USCIS thinks the plan is feasible. Once this happens, the immigrant undergoes the normal process for obtaining a green card, though the one received at this stage is only good for two years. During those years, he or she must follow the approved business plan and create at least ten full time W-2 positions. If this has happened by the end of two years, the immigrant investor will receive approval on the I-829 petition to remove conditions on residence.

While many investors have been able to do this, in part thanks to competent legal counsel, the expectation seems somewhat unrealistic. It rests on the apparent assertion that it is possible to successfully predict two years’ worth of economic activity (with no chance to course-correct as needed). USCIS holds that in order for the investor to stay eligible for successful immigration, there cannot be any “material changes” made to the approved business plan. (The term “material changes” lacks specific definition; unfortunately giving USCIS the ability to decide what it means on a case-by-case basis.) This makes things much harder for immigrant investors. Of course, one will be in good shape if the business plan can be followed lucratively enough to sustain 10 permanent jobs. Short of abandoning the project, however, this leaves someone whose EB-5 business is in need of improvements to the original plan with two options: either report the deviations in the petition to remove conditions–or don’t. USCIS has implied that both of these increase the chance of denial.

file7651336773992.jpgWe filed a naturalization case last year that presented us with two very serious issues. The first was that our client had voted in an election without being a US citizen. And the second was that she had a burglary conviction when she was young. Both of these violations not only may prevent a person from becoming a US citizen, they also may render the person deportable from the United States.

We advised her that filing the N-400 application could be risky because she would be required to alert immigration authorities of things that could result in revocation of her green card and deportation. Although it may have seemed that these obstacles were insurmountable, we were able to analyze the specific facts of her case and draft a legal memorandum in support of her application.
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918333_u_s__capitol_building.jpgLegislation was introduced in the US Senate today that would give legal immigration status to young foreign nationals who came to United States as undocumented children. The bill looks similar to the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals introduced by the Department of Homeland Security this summer. It goes even farther as it ultimately offers permanent legal status and ultimately US citizenship.

The bill was introduced by three Republicans, Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, and Sen. John McCain. This shift in Republican immigration policy seems to come in response to the recent barrage from several political pundits and experts who have advised the Republican Party to reach out to the Latino community. However, it’s unlikely that Democrats will allow the Republicans to steal away their thunder on the immigration issue.
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320px-Garage_des_Nations_03_11.jpgTo commemorate World Refugee Day, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted special naturalization ceremonies at locations around the country beginning June 18, 2012. The new citizens are all former refugees who settled in the United States, most through USCIS’s process for refugee immigration.

World Refugee Day features events held around the world, coordinated by United Nations officials, intended to raise awareness of refugee issues and promote laws and cultural shifts to help refugee populations. It began with a resolution of the UN General Assembly on December 4, 2000. The first World Refugee Day occurred on June 20, 2001.
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320px-Border_Mexico_USA.jpgA complaint filed in May with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) demands investigations of alleged abuse by officials along the U.S.-Mexico border. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) references eleven cases involving allegations that agents of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) abused individuals seeking to enter the United States at various points of entry (POE’s), with acts of abuse ranging from unwarranted searches and detention to outright assault.

Most of the individuals in the reported cases are citizens or legal permanent residents of the United States. The complaint, which is an informal request rather than a lawsuit, requests investigations of the eleven individual cases and general investigations into the training and conduct of CBP officers. This issue affects more than just undocumented immigrants, as the alleged conduct includes people with legal immigration status nevertheless subjected to alleged abuse at the border.
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320px-Facebook_by_countriespng2.pngTwo United States senators, Democrats Charles Schumer of New York and Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, have introduced a bill that addresses the increasingly common issue of U.S. citizens who renounce their citizenship, sometimes in order to avoid tax obligations. The bill, known as the Expatriation Prevention by Abolishing Tax-Related Incentives for Offshore Tenancy Act, or “Ex-PATRIOT Act,” would create a presumption of intent to evade taxes for certain individuals who renounce their citizenship. The two senators specifically cited the case of Eduardo Saverin, a co-founder of the popular social networking site Facebook, as a motivation for the bill.

The 30 year-old Saverin, who was born in Brazil, moved to the U.S. in 1992 and became a naturalized citizen in 1998. He was one of the original founders of Facebook and was prominently featured in the 2010 film The Social Network, which presented a somewhat-fictionalized account of the company’s origins. Saverin moved to Singapore in 2009, where he has invested heavily in various businesses in Brazil, Asia, and the United States. He reportedly began the process of renouncing his U.S. citizenship in September 2011, and the Federal Register published a notice of his renunciation on April 30, 2012.
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Nanda_Devi_05202012.jpgA woman, originally from India, who acquired legal permanent residence through adoption by a U.S. citizen now faces deportation because of a series of technicalities in U.S. immigration law. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Utah recently ruled that the federal government could proceed with its efforts to deport her. Her case revolves around an unfortunate series of missed dates and premature filings, demonstrating the critical importance of understanding and following the strict timelines set forth by the government’s immigration authorities.

Kairi Shepherd was a three month-old orphan in India when Erlene Shepherd adopted her and brought her to Utah in 1982. She was the youngest of eight children Erlene Shepherd had adopted. She obtained legal permanent residence through her adoptive mother. Erlene Shepherd filled out the application to obtain naturalization for Kairi, but died of cancer before she could file it. Kairi was eight years old at the time. She never legally obtained citizenship due to the timing of a particular statute, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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Culture in vitroA disconnect between modern technology and American immigration and nationality law has emerged in Israel, where an American citizen living in Tel Aviv has abandoned her efforts to obtain U.S. citizenship for her twin daughters. The U.S. Department of State denied her application because of a law that applies to children born to a U.S. citizen “out of wedlock.” The case illustrates the often chaotic set of laws that determining who may become a United States citizen by virtue of birth.

Ellie Lavi, a Chicago native, conceived her two-and-a-half year-old daughters through in vitro fertilization at a clinic in Israel, using both a donor sperm and egg. The clinic implanted her with the fertilized egg, and she carried the twins to term. She does not know who the donors are, and therefore she cannot prove if either of them are, or were, United States citizens. The State Department has therefore refused to grant U.S. citizenship to the twins, viewing the sperm and egg donors as the “parents.” Based on that perceived biological relationship, the twins have no legal link to the United States.
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