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Stamford, CT immigration visa lawyer

The United States House of Representatives has passed a bill that increases the per-country cap for family-based immigration visas and employment-based visas. The bill is called the Fairness for High-Skilled Immigrants Act (HR 1044), and it is designed to allow more skilled workers into the United States. The bill increases the limit for family-based visas for people from a single country from 7 to 15 percent of all visas issued in a single year, and it eliminates the 7 percent cap on employment-based visas. If passed by the Senate and signed into law by President Trump, this bill would be a particular boon to the Silicon Valley tech companies, such as Google, Apple, and Facebook, who often look abroad for employees. 

Why Is the Bill Under Scrutiny?

While the bill has widely been lauded as a sound and wise measure to increase the availability of visas for high skilled workers, it has also faced sharp criticism regarding its secretive nature. In most bills that are presented before either chamber of Congress, there is usually time allotted for debate and amendment. However, enough Republicans joined the Democrat-held House in giving the necessary votes for this bill to pass without discussion. Some people have claimed that this was more of a political ploy aimed at embarrassing the current White House administration, which has attempted to limit immigration to the U.S. 

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Stamford, CT United States green card lawyer

The U.S. immigration process to become a legal resident is among the most complicated in the world. Those people who want to come to the United States for education, health reasons, work, or to be with family have many hurdles to overcome. The process to become a lawful permanent resident and get a Green Card can be particularly tedious. When applying for a Green Card, many applicants feel left in the dark as to what stage their application is in. This can cause undue stress to honest people who want to come to the United States and contribute to American society. Thankfully, those immigrants who apply for a Green Card have a way to check on the progress of their application.

My Case Status System

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides an electronic system for checking on the status of a Green Card application called “My Case Status.” This is an online program that can be accessed from any personal computer or mobile device. By going to the My Case Status webpage and entering in the case receipt number (a number that includes three letters followed by 10 digits), a person can view the most recent notifications regarding his or her application. However, it is important to note there can be a delay in notifications shown on the system.

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Stamford, CT deportation defense lawyer

In the course of immigrating to the United States, there is a strong likelihood of interacting with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. For a lot of people, talking with a law enforcement officer can be a stressful and nerve-racking experience. For an immigrant transitioning to life in the U.S., an encounter with an ICE agent can be particularly daunting, and many people may worry about the risks of deportation. If you or a family member ever need to speak to an ICE agent for any reason, there are a few tips to remember to make these interactions go smoothly:

  1. Be Professional and Polite: The men and women of ICE are law enforcement personnel who have to follow set guidelines, the legal code, and a strict code of ethics. Part of this code of ethics is a standard of politeness, so when interacting with ICE, it is essential to be polite as well. Do this by remembering that most of your interactions with an ICE agent will be routine. This means that if an ICE agent approaches you to talk, it most likely is not because he or she suspects you of any wrongdoing. However, if you have a hostile or uncooperative attitude, this may cause the agent to become suspicious. Many misunderstandings can be avoided by simply being polite and kind to the officer.
  2. Do Not Resist or Be Aggressive: If you are approached by an ICE agent or police officer, do not resist him or her, even if you believe that your rights are being violated. If a law enforcement officer requests that you provide documentation, you are required to do so. However, if the agent begins to ask for additional documents or asks you unusual questions, do not be alarmed. Inform the agent that you are invoking your right to remain silent and that you will not answer any further questions without having your attorney present.
  3. Know Your Rights: If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you have most, if not all, of the rights afforded to American citizens, and other immigrants also have rights that should be protected. If you are ever approached by an ICE agent, know that you have the right to remain silent, and you cannot be searched without a reasonable cause. If ICE comes to your home, remember they cannot enter your residence without either your consent or a search warrant. In any situation, you will always have the right to an attorney.

Contact a New Canaan Deportation Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one are immigrating to the United States, it can be a long and complex process. Meeting with law enforcement can cause feelings of anxiety, but it is best to remain calm and collected. If you are concerned about the possibility of being detained or deported, or if you believe your rights were violated by ICE, the compassionate Darien immigration lawyer at Gonzalez Law Office, LLC can provide the legal help you need. We will examine the circumstances of your case, work to protect your rights, and help you avoid deportation. Contact us at 203-323-1440. 

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New Canaan immigration lawyer ADP DACA

On June 4, the American Dream and Promise (ADP) Act of 2019, which was put forth by Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-California), was passed by the House of Representatives. If signed into law, this act would significantly alter U.S. immigration law by providing legal status for immigrants previously given protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. However, the bill faces several more battles in the Senate before its potential arrival at the Oval Office for its signing.

The Background of the Act

For almost two decades, the U.S. Congress has failed to pass the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. This bill was targeted at providing legal status for hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who entered the United States as minors. Due to Congress’s failure to provide a fix for this problem, the Obama administration in 2012 created DACA as an executive order to remedy this crisis. Under DACA, any minor having entered the United States since June 2007 before they turned 16, and who lived continuously in the country since then, was given the right to live, study, and work in the U.S. temporarily. However, this action came under intense scrutiny, and many legal experts claimed that the President’s actions were unconstitutional. In 2017, the Trump administration ended registration for the DACA program, and by 2020, the “dreamers’” legal status will expire.

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Stamford immigration attorney asylum

The United States and Mexico have come to an agreement regarding the flux of asylum seekers from South American countries to the United States. Last week, American and Mexican diplomats settled on a deal known as the “Stay-in-Mexico” agreement, which states that migrants who are seeking asylum in the United States will remain in Mexico while awaiting their hearing in U.S. immigration courts. During their stay in Mexico, immigrants will have access to jobs, healthcare, and education. The agreement came about after the United States threatened to impose tariffs on Mexican goods.

The Background of the Deal

Immigration has exploded over the last several months, putting added stress on immigration facilities in the United States. In response, the United States requested that Mexico share the burden and provide facilities on its sovereign soil for the migrants while they await their asylum hearing. Additionally, the United States demanded that Mexico observe international law that required asylum seekers to seek asylum in the first country they enter after leaving the land they were fleeing. Initially, Mexico provided some support, but when the caravans of migrants began to increase, the United States threatened its southern neighbor with tariffs. These tariffs would increase each month if they did not take more drastic measures. Last week, U.S. and Mexican diplomats met in Washington, D.C. where productive talks were held, and a resolution to the tensions was solidified.

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Stamford immigration lawyer

The U.S. State Department will now require applicants to provide additional information when filling out their visa application forms. This additional vetting is a part of a more significant effort by the State Department to both increase national security and provide greater clarity to the visa application process. As of June 2019, when visa applicants fill out their visa application form, they will be asked to provide all the social media profiles, email accounts, and phone numbers they have used in the last five years. In addition, applicants must submit information regarding previous international travel, any deportation statuses, and whether any family member has been involved in terrorist activity.

The Background of the Decision

In previous years, visa applicants were not asked this additional information unless it was believed that extra scrutiny was required, such as when applicants originated from regions where terrorist groups were known to be active. However, with the flood of immigrants into Europe and other areas around the world from these areas, there has been a growing fear that members of terrorist cells will seek to use what have traditionally been secure immigration and travel routes to enter the United States.

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Stamford immigration asylum lawyer

In the upcoming Supreme Court case Hernandez v. Mesa, the high court will determine whether asylum seekers have Fourth Amendment protections. What makes this case particularly interesting is that it involves a federal agent causing harm to an asylum seeker while the asylum seeker was in another country. If SCOTUS rules in favor of the plaintiff, then asylum seekers will be granted additional legal protection. However, such a ruling could also negatively impact the ability of immigration enforcement offers to maintain order.

The Background of the Case

In 2010, a United States border agent shot and killed a 15-year-old asylum seeker. The incident occurred while the border agent was on the United States side, and the asylum seeker was on the Mexican side of the border. According to the agent, the 15-year-old was throwing rocks at him and his fellow agents to distract them from a smuggling operation. Feeling threatened, the agent fired his weapon and unfortunately struck the asylum seeker. The boy’s family, on the other hand, claim that their child was playing a game with his friends of running up to the border fence then running back. Regardless of whether this situation was self-defense or a mistake, the loss of young life is tragic.

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Posted on in Immigration

Stamford immigration lawyer

In the United States and across the entire world, immigration and immigration laws have become a heated and widely discussed topic. In the past few weeks, the White House has proposed a bill that would change the United States immigration system into a merit-based one. But what does this mean, and how will it affect individuals and families who are seeking to enter the United States through family-based immigration? If you or someone you know is looking to migrate to the United States, you should speak to a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to find out how these changes will impact you.

A Merit- and Point-Based System

The proper way to look at these proposed changes to immigration is that it is not about reducing immigration, but rebalancing it. As the American immigration system stands now, a wide variety of people across a substantial social and economic spectrum can gain admittance to the United States. Under the new proposed changes, individuals who are young, healthy, well educated, and speak English will be given priority. Whether a potential immigrant meets such criteria will be determined using a point system. Such individuals will be required to do a more intensive citizen test before being given admittance to the United States.

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Fairfield County immigration lawyer

In most of the world, same-sex relationships are not given the same recognition and equality as heterosexual marriages. Only 21 countries have legalized gay marriage and offer refuge for homosexuals fleeing persecution in their own country. The United States is a mixed bag when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. While many states still have anti-sodomy laws, recent court decisions have ruled in support of the LGBT community. In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruling of The United States V. Windsor, SCOTUS ruled that the DOMA Act (The Defense of Marriage Act) was unconstitutional. President Obama directed then Homeland Secretary Janet Napolitano to review all same-sex couple immigration and visa requests on the same grounds as opposite-sex couples.

With DOMA now unconstitutional, gay, lesbian, and transgender couples are given equal recognition as hetero-couples. The significance of this is that if a U.S. citizen marries, or wants to marry, a foreign national of the same sex, they can petition for them to come to live in the United States. 

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Stamford, CT immigration lawyers

Each year, thousands of asylum seekers come to the United States to seek refuge due to danger in their native country. The U.S. has traditionally been seen as a haven for those fleeing victimization. However, the process of seeking asylum is complicated. Applications are often denied by U.S. Citizens and Immigration Services (USCIS), forcing them to go through what is known as defensive asylum processing with the Executive Office of Immigration Review.

Regardless of what immigration method is chosen when attempting to immigrate to the United States, you want to enlist the services of a dedicated immigration lawyer you can trust. Skilled legal guidance is essential in navigating the difficult and time-consuming processes in place, and the barriers that can serve as a deterrent.

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Am I Eligible to Remain in the U.S. Under Temporary Protected Status?Millions of people lawfully enter the U.S. each year to stay for a limited time on a student, work, or visitor visa. When it is time to return home, most go willingly so as not to overstay their visa and risk being denied an immigration visa in the future. But what if their home country has changed dramatically for the worse in their absence? Armed conflict, a natural disaster such as a hurricane, or some other type of danger such as an Ebola outbreak could make it unsafe for a person to return. If this happens to you, you may be eligible for Temporary Protected Status.

Who Qualifies for Temporary Protected Status?

You can apply for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) if your home country has been designated “unsafe for return” by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. As of April 2019, the following countries are on the list:

  • El Salvador - due to a series of earthquakes beginning March 2001.
  • Haiti - due to a 7.0-magnitude earthquake in January 2010.
  • Honduras - due to Hurricane Mitch since January 1999.
  • Nepal - due to a devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake in April 2015.
  • Nicaragua - due to Hurricane Mitch since January 1999.
  • Somalia - due to extreme violence since September 2012.
  • Sudan - due to ongoing armed conflict and extraordinary conditions since November 1997.
  • South Sudan - due to political instability and armed conflict which began when the country gained independence from Sudan in 2011 and which continues to cause severe food shortages.
  • Syria - due to armed conflict since August 2016.
  • Yemen - due to armed conflict and food shortages since March 2017.

To be eligible for TPS, you must have entered the U.S. prior to the TPS start date for your country and maintained a continuous residence in the U.S. since the most recent TPS designation date. 

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Avoid Deportation by Immigration and Customs EnforcementA foreign citizen whose presence in the U.S. depends on a visa or green card must avoid actions that could attract the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and result in deportation from the U.S. Being convicted of a crime, such as driving under the influence (DUI), can result in your being arrested by ICE officers. 

What Are the Responsibilities of ICE?

ICE responsibilities include:

  • Preventing terrorism;
  • Combating international crimes such as drug and weapons trafficking;
  • Identifying and removing aliens who have committed crimes and therefore present a risk to public safety; and
  • Arresting aliens who have entered the U.S. illegally or have committed some type of immigration fraud.

What Kinds of Crimes Can Lead to ICE Arrest and Deportation?

A summary of recent ICE arrests provides a good overview of the types of activities that lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and temporary visa holders should avoid:

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New Federal Guidelines Proposed for Public Charge InadmissibilityOne of the biggest concerns for people seeking to immigrate to the U.S. is the chance that they will be ruled inadmissible for one reason or another. U.S. authorities might reject your application for an immigration visa because of your criminal history, medical issues, or the risk that you will be unable to financially support yourself and wind up living on government assistance, which would make you a “public charge.”

Definition of Public Charge Inadmissibility

In simple language, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) defines a public charge as a person who is primarily dependent on the government for food, shelter, and similar basic needs. A person deemed likely to become a public charge will not be admitted to the U.S. nor will an adjustment of status be granted to them.

However, current immigration law is vaguer on defining whether an immigrant may become a public charge. The Immigration and Naturalization Act is the governing federal law. Section 212(a)(4) states that “Any alien who, in the opinion of [U.S. immigration authorities] is likely at any time to become a public charge is inadmissible.” The law further states that the following factors should be used to determine whether a person applying for admission to the U.S. or adjustment of status is likely to be financially self-sufficient: age, health, family status, assets, education, and work skills.  

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Immigration Sponsorship: Financial Obligations and MoreMany immigrants to the U.S. are dependent on a parent, spouse or sibling to sponsor them for a family-based visa. Sponsorship is a bigger responsibility than many people realize. The sponsor must file an affidavit of support for the immigrant, which is a legally enforceable contract that commits the sponsor to financially support the immigrant until they have either become a U.S. citizen or have been credited by the Social Security Administration with 40 quarters of paid work (10 years). 

If an immigrant you sponsored accepts means-tested public aid, you can be sued and ordered to repay the cost of those benefits. Means-tested public aid programs include:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, and utilities for families with dependent children; 
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps; and 
  • Medicaid, which provides health care coverage to low-income people.

What Happens If A Sponsor Dies Before the Immigrant Gets Their Green Card?

If you are immigrating to the U.S. on a family-based visa, and your sponsor dies before you receive your green card, there is still a chance that your application for immigration can be approved. 

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What If I Get Divorced Before I Get My 10-Year Green Card?If you married a U.S. citizen and currently hold a conditional two-year green card, you and your spouse must file a joint petition for removal of conditions during the 90 days before your current status expires. If your petition is approved, you will be granted a 10-year green card. But what happens if you get divorced before the conditions are removed? You may still be able to get an unconditional 10-year green card if you meet certain qualifications.

Who Gets a Conditional Two-Year Green Card?

The main paths that lead to a two-year green card include:

  • You marry a U.S. citizen abroad and, while still living abroad, apply for an IR-1 immediate relative/spouse immigration. If your marriage is less than two years old when your visa is granted, you will receive a CR-1 conditional two-year visa. If your two-year wedding anniversary has passed by the time your visa is granted, you will receive an IR-1 visa good for 10 years;
  • You come to the U.S. on a K-1 fiancé visa, get married within the required 90-day period, and apply for adjustment of status to obtain a green card. If your green card is granted before your second wedding anniversary, it will be a conditional two-year green card; or
  • You come to the U.S. on an F-1 student visa or other temporary visa and get married while in the U.S. While still in the U.S., you apply for an adjustment of status to obtain a green card. If your green card is granted before your second wedding anniversary, it will be a conditional two-year green card. 

U.S. immigration authorities established the two-year conditional period to deter marriage-fraud schemes wherein people pay a U.S. citizen to marry them in order to immigrate to the U.S. 

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How Does a Visitor Visa Overstay Affect Future Immigration?Most U.S. immigrants have family members who come to the U.S. on temporary visas for vacation or to attend school. However, if those family members overstay their required departure date, they could find themselves in trouble with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Some visa overstays can render a person legally inadmissible to the U.S. for several years and unable to qualify for an immigration visa, although a waiver of inadmissibility may be possible in some cases. 

How Do I Know If I Overstayed a Visitor or Student Visa?

If you arrive in the U.S. by airplane or ship, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will stamp your passport with your admission date and required departure date, shown as the “admitted until” date. If you arrive by land, Customs will issue you a paper Form I-94/Arrival/Departure Record showing your required departure date. You can also look up your arrival/departure information online by your passport number, name, and birthdate.

Students with F1 visas will see “D/S” — duration of status — on their passport or I-94 form instead of a date. This means you can stay in the U.S. as long as you remain enrolled as a full-time student in an approved school that has submitted the required documents to Customs. When you graduate or otherwise complete your program of study, you must depart the U.S. within 60 days.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_Voluntary-Departure-Deportation.jpgIf you have received a Notice to Appear (NTA) in immigration court, it means that some agency under the Department of Homeland Security has started deportation/removal proceedings against you and that you are at imminent risk of being deported from the U.S. You probably have many questions.

How Do I Find a Lawyer Who Can Help Me in a Particular Immigration Court Location?

The law requires that you receive an NTA at least 10 days before a scheduled hearing, which may not give you a lot of time to get prepared. The NTA will provide the location of the hearing. There are currently 400 immigration judges in 63 immigration courts across the country.

If you have not worked with an immigration attorney before, look for one near where you live and near the court where you have been ordered to appear. For example, if you have been ordered to appear in immigration court in Hartford, Connecticut, and you live in a city in Fairfield County such as Darien or New Canaan, a Stamford attorney will be able to appear with you in court. Other nearby immigration courts are located in New York City and Napanoch, New York. An attorney who serves Westchester County clients can help you there.

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How Can I Sponsor My Niece or Nephew for U.S. Immigration and Permanent Residency?There are several ways that an American citizen can help a niece or nephew immigrate to the U.S. and obtain a green card, also known as lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Unfortunately, there is no immediate relative or family preference visa category that allows you to directly sponsor their immigration. Rather, you must consider one of these more circuitous routes:

1. Adopt an orphaned niece or nephew under age 16, making them an immediate relative.

The immediate relative (IR) category allows for the quickest path to immigration, as there are no annual limits on the number of IR visas. The IR category is available to the following relatives of a US citizen:

  • Your parent;
  • Your spouse;
  • Your unmarried child under age 21; or
  • An orphan under age 16 whom you have adopted outside the U.S. or will adopt once they reach the U.S.

2. Sponsor the parent of your niece or nephew for a family preference visa.

The family preference visa category allows U.S. citizens age 21 and older to sponsor the immigration of their siblings, subject to an annual quota of 65,000. The sibling petition can include the sibling’s spouse and minor children under age 21. 

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New Canaan asylum application lawyerYou may be granted asylum in the United States if you have suffered persecution in your home country due to your race, nationality, religion, political opinions, or membership in a certain social group, or if you have a “credible fear” of such persecution if you return to your home country.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes a distinction between the terms asylee and refugee. If you are applying for asylum from within the U.S. or at a port of entry, USCIS considers you an asylee or asylum seeker. If you apply from a location abroad, you are considered a refugee applying for admission. This article will only address the issues of asylum seekers.

How a Person in the U.S. Can Apply for Asylum 

If you have already entered the United States, you may be allowed to remain if you meet the criteria for asylum and are deemed admissible to the U.S. You must file Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, within one year after entering the U.S. The assistance of an experienced immigration attorney is recommended, because even a minor error in your application can result in processing delays or outright denial of your request for asylum.

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New Canaan deportation defense lawyer cancellation of removalNavigating the U.S. immigration system can be difficult and expensive at the best of times. However, if you entered the United States illegally or overstayed a visa, you are now in a particularly tough situation. Even if you have lived in the U.S. for years, got married, worked, and had children here, you could be caught by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at any time and find yourself facing a deportation order. If you find yourself in this type of situation, you must seek help from an experienced and trustworthy immigration attorney. 

In recent months, there have been many news reports of undocumented residents who have been deported and of others who have successfully fought their deportation. What makes for a successful deportation defense?

One option is called Cancellation of Removal

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