Articles Posted in Spouses & Fiancés

Sheriff Arpaio.jpgMiriam Mendiola-Martinez, a foreign national of Mexico, filed a lawsuit in Arizona last week against Maricopa County Sheriff, Joseph M. Arpaio alleging that she was mistreated while she was pregnant as an inmate in the Sheriff’s jail. She was six months pregnant when she was arrested in 2009 on charges of identity theft. The suit states that her Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights were violated by the MCSO’s infliction of cruel and unusual punishment, deliberate indifference to her serious medical needs, and disparate treatment. The lawsuit alleges that MCSO and Maricopa Medical Center’s unconstitutional policies, practices, acts and omissions, Ms. Mendiola-Martinez suffered immediate and irreparable injury, including physical, psychological and emotional injury and risk of death.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Mendiola-Martinez was undernourished at the jail due to what jail staff called a “special” pregnancy diet. These pregnancy meals consisted of items such as two slices of bread, two slices of cheese or ham, undistinguishable cooked vegetables, and an occasional piece of fruit. She was also given two small cartons of milk per day. This hardly seems to be enough food for a pregnant woman eating for two.
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A new film, “Like Crazy,” is making the rounds of film festivals, winning a top award at Sundance this year. It tells the story of two college students in Los Angeles who meet and fall in love. Jacob is an American, and Anna is a British exchange student. Anna overstays her student visa and then returns home to London. When she tries to fly back to Los Angeles, she finds herself barred by officials at the airport. This sets up the main action of the film, in which the two must find a way to continue their relationship despite the trans-North America, trans-Atlantic distance between them.

london3_10242011.jpgWhile the film primarily acts as a love story, it offers a glimpse of the issues faced by spouses, fiancees, and lovers who find themselves separated by immigration laws. An immigration lawyer certainly knows that these situations present complicated and emotional issues. Anna certainly made a mistake by overstaying her student visa. If she came to the United State on a J-1 student visa, for example, she may have been subject to a requirement that she return to her home country for at least two years, even if she did not overstay her visa period. J-1 visas typically allow a visitor to stay in the U.S. up to 30 days after their educational program ends, but they must then depart. Overstaying a student visa could lead to ineligibility to return to the U.S. for years.
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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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1275428_air_travel.jpgIf you have filed for a green card (I-485) and submitted a request for work authorization (I-765) and advanced parole travel document (I-131), and you must travel before your I-131 can be adjudicated in the normal processing time, you can request expedited processing of the I-131. This article addresses those expedited I-131 procedures:

You MUST Make a Request
Typically, anyone who files Form I-485 in the U.S. also files Forms I-765 and I-131 concurrently with the Form I-485. If you have found that you must travel before your Advanced Parole Travel Document Form I-131 can be adjudicated within normal processing times, you can call the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) or make an info pass appointment at your local field office. Here in Columbus, Ohio, infopass appointments are simple to make and are usually scheduled within 3-5 days.
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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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After passing through the House of Represenatives, the Senate has failed to deliver on passing the bipartisan DREAM Act. The DREAM Act stands for the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors and was drafted to provide a conditional pathway to legal permanent residence for certain unauthorized youth who, as children, were brought to the U.S. illegally if they can provide that they completed high school, have good moral character and complete at least two years of higher education or serve for at least two years in the U.S. military.

It appeared to all parties who have monitored this bill that the inability to pass the DREAM Act into law was chiefly due to politics. This bill can be seen as a litmus test for greater reform which worries and frustrates immigration practitioners. There is still hope for furtuer legislation however as interested parties such as the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and others will continue its efforts to lobby for the law’s passage because they see the Senate’s failure as nothing more than politics Continue reading

The Department of Justice announced that it has awarded $720,321 in grants to 13 organizations throughout the country to conduct public education programs for workers and employers about federal protections against immigration-related job discrimination. The grants range from $43,664 to $88,000, and are awarded by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices. Recipients will assist discrimination victims; conduct seminars for workers, employers and immigration service providers; and place advertisements in local communities through mainstream and ethnic media to educate workers and employers about their rights.