Articles Posted in Firm News

gus_m_shihab.jpgGus M. Shihab, Esq. founder of The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA, has been named Top Lawyer in Columbus CEO Magazine. This is the third edition of Top Lawyers in CEO Magazine. Martindale-Hubbell provided a list of local attorneys who have attained “AV” ratings–the highest available. The rating is given only to attorneys who have at least 10 years in practice, and who fulfill a variety of other criteria.

Almost 1,250 lawyers in Franklin and contiguous counties are AV Peer Review Rated. The entire list, as provided by Martindale-Hubbell, appears in the April issue of CEO Magazine. For more information about Martindale-Hubbell, Martindale-Hubbell’s Peer Review Ratings or the listed attorneys, visit www.lawyers.com.

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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On March 13, 2011, the USCIS issued a policy memo on the new fee waiver guidelines. The lawyers at The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates are available to answer any questions about fee waivers under the newly issued memo.

The final rule establishes a new fee schedule for immigration-benefit requests and amends the regs governing fee-waiver eligibility. Our clients may now use a new Form I-912, Request for Fee Waiver, to facilitate the fee-waiver request process. The form has been available since Novermber 23, 2010. Only forms listed in AFM Chapter 10.9 are eligible for a fee waiver. Please refer to AFM Chapter 10.9 by accessing the USCIS website found here.
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USCIS issued an advisory on Friday, March 11, 2011 that Japanese and other foreign nationals from the Pacific stranded in the U.S. due to the earthquakes and tsunami devastation in the Pacific who have exceeded or are about to exceed their authorized stay in the U.S. may be permitted up to an additional 30 days to depart. Please click here for the advisory alert.

USCIS states that if you are in the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and you are at the airport, you should contact the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) office at the airport. Otherwise visit your local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Click here to find your local office. Bring your passport, evidence that you are stranded (such as an itinerary for the cancelled flight), and your I-94 departure record.

_ 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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_ a a congress.jpgWill 2011 finally be the year that Congress and the President fix the broken immigration system? The short answer: probably not. But that doesn’t mean that Congress will stand idly by. The Columbus Ohio Immigration Lawyers of The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates have clients throughout the United States that could be affected by the legislation of the 112th Congress. This article outlines the anticipated Congressional agenda for immigration in 2011, and focuses on several topics relating to employment based immigration where Congress is anticipated to act and highlights the need for comprehensive immigration reform in a slow economic environment.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) Outlook
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) anticipates that the 112th Congress will enact patchwork legislation with an emphasis on border security and interior enforcement which will not comprehensively fix the broken immigration system. AILA Ohio Chapter Chairperson, Gus Shihab and AILA anticipate these bills would cause severe hardships to immigrants and their families, run up costs to the DHS budget, and slow economic recovery. American businesses, communities and families are all affected by the immigration system, which regulates the flow of foreign labor, foreign exchange students and family members to the U.S.
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_ a b toronto consulate.jpgEffective February 1, 2011, the U.S. Consulate in Toronto has implemented a new procedure to schedule appointments for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. The new system will require applicants to pay the fee and schedule an appointment prior to submitting the completed E-2 application to the consulate. This new procedure will affect many of our clients in Columbus, Ohio, who routinely renew their E-2 visas at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. While the law remains the same, the procedures for a proper E-2 visa package have changed substantially. This article addresses the new procedures for an E-2 visa.

Required Documentation for Treaty Investor (E-2) Visa
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Effective February 1, 2011, the U.S. Consulate in Toronto has implemented a new procedure to schedule appointments for the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. The new system will require applicants to pay the fee and schedule an appointment prior to submitting the completed E-2 application to the consulate. This new procedure will affect many of our clients in Columbus, Ohio, who routinely renew their E-2 visas at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto.

The New E-2 Application Procedures
To obtain an E-2 visa at a U.S. Consulate in Toronto, the applicant must first prepare the E visa application and supporting materials. Once the application is assembled, the consulate now requires applicants to schedule an appointment online at http://canada.usvisa-info.com/ or by calling 647-955-3736 (from Toronto) or 1-877-341-2441 (from elsewhere in Canada or from the U.S). The online scheduling system requires the applicant to set up a profile for each person needing a visa, including dependent children. The required fee ($390 USD) also must be paid at the time of making the appointment. Once the appointment is scheduled, the applicant must assemble the documentation following the consulate’s guidelines rigidly. The list of documents needed are provided below.