Articles Posted in Family Visas

632241_44640241_12182011.jpgA campaign led by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) intends to educate immigrants, both documented and undocumented, regarding common scams purporting to be legitimate immigration services. The Unauthorized Practice of Immigration Law Initiative began in seven U.S. cities including Detroit, and includes advertisements and printed materials in both English and Spanish. Its website has educational materials available in at least fourteen languages. The USCIS has partnered with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) for this campaign. They are also engaging state and local agencies to improve communication and facilitate enforcement of laws prohibiting immigration scams.

USCIS offers a list of common scams targeting immigrants. People using the title “Notario Publico” sometimes rely on a difference in the meaning of that title between the U.S. and Latin American countries in order to lure immigrants from those areas. A “notary public” in the U.S. has basic authority to witness signatures and administer some oaths. In some parts of Latin America, the title refers to someone with lawyer-like credentials and authority, leading some immigrants to incorrectly think they have the authority to render legal services.
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US Immigration emblem.jpgThe Department of State has issued its Visa Bulletin for December 2011. The new bulletin shows a five month jump in the priority date cutoff in the EB-2 category for foreign nationals born in India and China. Persons in this category with a priority date of March 15, 2008 or earlier are now eligible for immigrant visas. Because of the five month jump, some people in the EB-2 category are now current who may not have been expecting it. Others may be unaware completely. Persons with pending or approved I-140s in the EB-2 category should double check their priority dates and contact the Law Firm of Shihab and Associates with any questions about their current eligibility for lawful permanent residency.

Unfortunately, the EB-3 category for China and India born foreign nationals only advanced one month from the current priority dates in the November 2011 Visa Bulletin. The EB-3 category remains stagnant, with the backlog for Indian born persons now over nine years. Some people with labor certifications qualifying them for EB-3 classification may now have the requisite years of experience or an advanced degree allowing them to now pursue an EB-2 classification. Persons interested a possible “EB-2 upgrade” should contact the Law Firm of Shihab and Associates for a consultation to see if they qualify.

Sometimes extreme situations can lead to immigration benefits that might not have otherwise been available. Last Friday, October 21, saw just such a situation, as reported in the Columbus Dispatch. A Cleveland immigration judge granted legal permanent residence, often known as a “green card,” to parents of a chronically ill teenager on humanitarian grounds. The teenager, born with a severely disabling set of birth defects, will turn eighteen soon and needs a guardian. Rather than risk deportation and the loss of their daughter, who is a United States citizen, the parents turned themselves in and petitioned the court to allow them to stay to care for her.

US_Flag_005_10252011.jpgJimmy Siglos and Rowena Gonzales came to the United States in 1992 on visitor’s visas from the Phillipines. They settled in he Columbus, Ohio area and never left, even after their visas expired in 1993. Their daughter, Jacky, was born in Ohio in 1994, making her a natural-born U.S. citizen. They feared that she would die if they returned to their country of origin. They have an 8 year-old daughter as well.
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A federal court of appeals blocked some parts of Alabama’s controversial new immigration law last week, but much of the law remains in effect. While this law only applies in the state of Alabama, it has influenced lawmakers and immigration reformers all over the country. Alabama’s law pits the federal government, which has authority over immigration matters under the U.S. Constitution, against a state government seeking its own reform. The outcome of this dispute, and the enactment and enforcement of the Alabama law, will have nationwide impact on immigration matters.

PIC108936143258_10142011.jpgThe law affects many aspects of government operations, including law enforcement, education, and the civil court system. It also saddles Alabama law enforcement with a duty to check people’s immigration statuses, and at times to determine whether a person is present in the United States legally. As any immigration attorney knows, this is a difficult determination to make, and law enforcement without specialized training in immigration laws may not be in the best position to do so. The Obama administration took Alabama to court to challenge its legal ability to legislate immigration matters, arguing that the Constitution grants that power exclusively to the federal government. A ruling from the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta last week gave partial victories to each side of the dispute.
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green card backlog2.jpgIf you filed an employment-based adjustment of status (I-485) application between July 1, 2007 and August 17, 2007, you were definitely not alone. Approximately 325,000 adjustment (I-485) applications were filed during this period. This is because the visa bulletin briefly became current for all employment-based visa categories, except “other workers.” Since the visa bulletin retrogressed, many of these adjustment applications reverted to a “pending” status. Many of our clients have asked what they can do in this frustrating situation.

Adjustment (I-485) Switching: The Permissible Line-Jumping
This article addresses the issues of transferring I-485 applications (in a process called “I-485 switching,” transferring adjustment applications, or adjustment conversion) to a new or subsequent family or employment-based immigrant visa petition. Thousands of people are eligible for this benefit and didn’t even know it! These procedures are invaluable to aleviate the backlog created by the onslought of I-485 applications sent to the Service Centers in 2007. Properly done, you can dig your case out of the “blizzard of I-485” saving yourself and the Service years of pending paperwork and frustrating processing delays.
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Paper Pile.jpgAs the Democrats and Republicans of congress continue to negotiate a compromise to the federal budget that is set to expire Friday, April 6th, 2011 at midnight, immigration attorneys in Columbus, Ohio have turned their attention to how a government shutdown will affect the normal adjudication of visas. Visa applications, including employment based I-140 and H-1B petitions as well as family based petitions including I-130 and I-485 applications, filed in the United States are usually adjudicated at one of the USCIS service centers throughout the country. These service centers are staffed by immigration officers who adjudicate visa applications. These immigration officers are employees of the federal government and could be furloughed if the federal government shuts down for lack of congressional funding.

Historically, government shutdowns have resulted in delays for visa adjudication. The reason for the potential delay is based upon the wording of the federal Antideficiency Act. This law states that in the event of a governmental shutdown the only governmental employees that will be permitted to continue to carry out their work will be employees who prevent or respond to “emergencies involving the safety of human life or the protection of property.” The law goes on to state that “ongoing, regular functions of government the suspension of which would not imminently threaten the safety of human life or the protection of property” are not to continue their operations during a shutdown. Officers who adjudicate visas at the service centers will most likely not be deemed essential to the protection of safety or property and will be furloughed. With no-one to adjudicate visas, visa applications will be backlogged to some extent. However, other aspects of United States immigration policy will continue to be enforced. Customs and border patrol officials, for example, should remain active.
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_ a a a gold medal.jpgThis article is the second installment following up and providing a conclusion to the first segment which provides the final techniques utilized by the Columbus Immigration Lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates regarding the preparation of a Motion to Reopen/Reconsider or Request for Evidence (RFE) responses. Again this article focuses on the RFE response, but its techniques are applicable to any written brief or statement made in response to USCIS.

Critique the Request for Evidence Itself
A major component of drafting the response to an RFE is the need to critique the request itself. The immigration officer may not have developed the facts in a complete and accurate manner. It is your job to comprehensively develop those facts (often by use of affidavits). By showing inconsistencies and other problems with the facts, as developed by the immigration officer, you begin to establish credibility to your case. The Immigration Lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates are very experienced at analyzing the facts and respectfully presenting them correctly to the USCIS in an RFE response.
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_ a a a gold medal.jpgUSCIS provides minimal guidance regarding the preparation of a Motion to Reopen/Reconsider or Request for Evidence (RFE) response. Unlike other USCIS procedures, CIS does not require the completion of a form when filing an RFE response. This little guidance provides a wide range of possibile methods to responding to the RFE. This article presents techniques that the Columbus Immigration Lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates have implemented for preparing a successful responses to USCIS and focuses on the brief in support of an RFE response.

Prepare a Roadmap: Presentation Matters
While this might sound obvious, the most important element of the RFE response is drafting the response itself. Don’t spend all your time meeting with the client, gathering facts and conducting legal research. Too often, not enough time is spent on planning and presentation. Remember, an RFE has a strict deadline that often poses a tight timetable to prepare the supporting documentation and legal arguments. As the saying goes, “plan the work; work the plan.” This is an axiom the lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates live by. You must leave sufficient time to prepare a polished product. Preparing a polished written RFE response does not simply happen. It requires good planning, organization and writing.
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Red Tape.jpgSeeking to strike the “right balance” in the continual struggle between the freedom of commerce and public protections, President Obama has signed an executive order which mandates that all regulations be examined for internal conflict and cost efficiency. Columbus Immigration lawyers hope that the examination of regulations extends to titles 8 and titles 29 of the code of federal regulations which deal with aliens and nationality as well as labor. Employment based immigration regulations provide ample red tape for such a review of administrative law for efficiency. Perhaps the federal government could start striking a better “balance” by removing some of the restrictions from the H-1B and PERM programs which in many cases set up unnecessary barriers to the American dream for the world’s most highly educated professionals. Immigration lawyers can only “hope” for such a “change.”