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Stamford, CT immigration and visa lawyer

Obtaining an Immediate Relative (IR) visa for your foreign spouse can be a challenging process. Typically, the waiting time to receive an IR visa is very short, but there is the potential for something to go wrong. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) scrutinizes every spousal application, requiring both partners to provide a great deal of personal information. If the application or documents are not filled out correctly, this can put the visa application and your future happiness in jeopardy. To avoid any bumps in your road to marital bliss, be sure to follow these straightforward tips:

1. Provide Clear Proof That Your Marriage Is Legitimate.

Unfortunately, foreign nationals sometimes do use marriage as a pretense to gain entry to the United States. As such, the U.S. State Department sets a high standard for documents that authenticate your marriage. Among the most trusted documents to use as validation of your wedding is an official marriage certificate from the United States, Canada, the Commonwealth of countries that are former territories of the British Empire, or the European Union. Many couples, if they are married in a foreign country, will get a marriage license in the United States before beginning the application process for the visa.

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New Canaan refugee and asylum lawyerThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has begun the enforcement of a new rule for refugees and asylum seekers hoping to gain entry into the United States. The new rule requires that those seeking refugee status in the United States must first seek it in a third country before entering the United States. For example, an individual fleeing Guatemala must seek U.S. asylum in another country such as El Salvador, Mexico, or Honduras. This typically is done through petitioning the U.S. embassy in that country or another American government institution there. The DHS explained that the reason for this new rule is due to the sudden rise of asylum requests on the southern American border, which has caused Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainment centers to become overcrowded. The DHS issued this rule as a part of an effort to bring much-needed relief to the system. Additionally, the DHS stated the new standard for asylum seekers is reflective of international laws regarding refugees. 

Why Is the New New Rule Facing Criticism?

Many civil rights groups in the United States disagree with this new ruling. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit against the department claiming that such a rule is unlawful. Others have suggested that the refugee seeking asylum might be returned to the country from which he or she is fleeing by the government of the country in which he or she is living while waiting for the petition to be processed.

The new rule by the DHS is a part of the White House’s broader policy to reduce the amount of illegal, and legal, immigrants gaining access through the southern border. In the past year, not only have individuals from South and Central American Countries come to the U.S. border claiming asylum, but individuals from India and African countries have done so as well. The supporters of the new rule say that it is a necessary national security measure.

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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 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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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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Darien family immigration lawyer immediate relative visaCaring for one’s parents is a commitment from the heart for many people, and a moral duty for others. In any case, most people want to have their parents close to them throughout their lives. If you have chosen to make the United States your permanent home, you may wish to sponsor your parents for immigration through an immediate relative visa.

One of the stated goals of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is “to secure America’s promise as a nation of immigrants by uniting families.” USCIS makes it relatively easy for you to bring your spouse and children to join you in the U.S., and bringing parents over is also fairly easy.

Who Can Sponsor Parents for an Immediate Relative Visa (IR-5)?

If you are a U.S. citizen currently living in the United States, and you are at least 21 years of age, you can sponsor your mother and father for immigration using the IR-5 visa category. You will need to demonstrate that you have enough income and/or assets to support the immigrant(s) you are sponsoring. You will be required to accept legal responsibility for their financial support by signing an Affidavit of Support. You will also need your birth certificate proving your parent-child relationship.

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Posted on in Immigration

Darien, CT U.S. citizenship attorneyIn a previous post, we explained four benefits of U.S. citizenship. Here are four more benefits of taking the next step beyond lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to become a naturalized citizen

1. Gain Access to Federal Government Jobs

Agencies of the U.S. federal government (excluding the Postal Service) employ roughly 1.8 million full-time civilian workers throughout the country. Most federal government jobs require U.S. citizenship. 

Are you wondering if an LPR can serve in the United States military? The answer is yes, but opportunities may be limited due to security clearance requirements. 

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Westchester County immigration interview lawyerFrom the moment you decide you would like to immigrate to the U.S. until the moment you become a United States citizen, you will go through at least two in-person interviews with U.S. immigration officials. 

When Interviews Are Required During the Immigration Process

Many people first come to the U.S. on non-immigrant visas, such as F1 visas for college students or H1-B visas for skilled workers. In order to get those visas, the applicant must appear at a U.S. consulate in their home country for an in-person interview. When such individuals decide they would like to convert their temporary status to lawful permanent resident (green card) status, they often find an employer willing to sponsor them for an employment-based immigration visa, most commonly an EB-2 or EB-3 visa. An in-person interview is again required prior to issuance of an EB visa. 

Other people are able to become lawful permanent residents via a family-based immigration visa, often sponsored by a family member (parent, spouse, child, or sibling) who is already a lawful permanent resident or citizen of the United States. An in-person interview is required prior to the issuance of immediate relative (IR), family preference (F), and fiancé (K) visas.

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Stamford citizenship naturalization attorneyIf you have recently become a naturalized U.S. citizen, there are several steps you should take within a month or two of receiving your Certificate of Naturalization. 

Update Social Security With Your Citizenship Status

You should already have a Social Security number and card, because these are required to work in the U.S. When a lawful permanent resident (LPR) becomes a naturalized citizen, you must inform the Social Security Administration (SSA) of this change in status. To do this, take your Certificate of Naturalization to the nearest SSA office. It is recommended that you wait about two weeks after naturalization to do this.

There are several reasons why it is important to update your Social Security record. First, if you changed your name at your naturalization ceremony, you must officially inform the SSA of your name change. This is necessary to ensure that all of your employment records under different names remain linked together. 

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Westchester County NY citizenship and naturalization lawyerMost people assume that a naturalized citizen of the United States has the same rights and permanent status as a citizen by birth. In most cases, that is true. However, there are some situations in which a naturalized citizen can be denaturalized and deported from the country. 

Grounds for Revocation of Naturalized Citizenship

According to section 340 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act, there are four situations in which a person’s naturalized citizenship may be revoked: 

1. Person concealed or willfully misrepresented a material fact. 

Put simply, this means that a person deliberately lied or withheld information on their application or in their interview for naturalization, and USCIS found out about it later. The lie must involve a “material fact,” meaning that the information could have influenced the USCIS decision on naturalization.

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New Canaan citizenship attorneyMany immigrants arrive in the U.S. with limited formal education. Other immigrants arrive with multiple degrees but are not fully fluent in speaking, reading, and writing English. Still others are well-educated and fluent in English but are age 50, 60, or older and have not had to memorize information for a test in many years. Any of these situations can leave an immigrant nervous about passing the English and civics tests necessary to qualify for U.S. citizenship by naturalization

If you are at all nervous about these particular requirements, you need not be. The tests are actually quite simple, and study aids are readily available to help you prepare. Some applicants may even be exempt from these requirements.

Exemptions From Test Requirements

You do not need to take the English test, but must take the civics test in the language of your choice if:

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New Canaan naturalization lawyerAfter overcoming many hurdles to achieve your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) of the United States and accumulating the required time—usually five years, you may be interested in applying for U.S. citizenship by naturalization. This can be a difficult step for some people, as it means giving up your loyalty to your old country in order to take up your new role as an American citizen. However, it is necessary if you want to enjoy all of the benefits of citizenship, such as freedom from the risk of deportation in all but the rarest of circumstances. 

If you are planning to become a U.S. citizen, there is just one more step to take before contacting an immigration lawyer and preparing your application for naturalization. You must make sure there are no remaining barriers that could cause your application for naturalization to be denied.

Checklist: 10 Reasons Naturalization Could Be Denied 

  1. Being unable to speak, read, and write basic English, unless you qualify for an age or disability exception.
  2. Being unable to demonstrate required knowledge of American civics, unless you qualify for a disability exception.
  3. Being unwilling to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. To become a citizen, you must renounce your allegiance to any other nation and swear your sole loyalty to the USA. You must also promise to support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States and to serve the country in military or non-military service when required.
  4. Failing to continuously maintain a permanent residence in the US for the required minimum time period (usually five years) since obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident status. This includes:
    • Taking a trip out of the U.S. that lasted for more than six months (more than 181 days) but less than one year (less than 365 days) and not being able to provide proof that the U.S. remained your permanent residence during that time.
    • Taking a trip out of the U.S. that lasted for one year or more since becoming a Lawful Permanent Resident and not meeting USCIS requirements for maintaining LPR status.
  5. Failing to meet the standard of “good moral character” during the required period of permanent residence. USCIS may also, at its discretion, consider your conduct prior to becoming a LPR. In addition to USCIS review of information provided on your application, the FBI will run your name and fingerprints against law enforcement databases. The definition of good moral character specifically excludes these categories of people (partial list):
    • Habitual drunkards
    • People who are currently on parole, probation, or suspended sentence for a criminal offense
    • People who have been incarcerated for 180 days or more
    • People who have admitted to or been convicted of prostitution or drug trafficking (other than a single offense of simple possession of 30 grams or less of marijuana)
    • People who have at any time in their life been convicted of an aggravated felony, such as murder, rape, child pornography, or another crime for which the court imposed a sentence of imprisonment for one year or more
  6. Failing to file a U.S. tax return and pay federal taxes owed. Certified copies of your tax returns for each year of the required LPR period must be provided as part of your application for naturalization.
  7. Failing to financially support your minor children who do not live with you.
  8. Failing to register with the Selective Service System if you are a male who lived in the U.S. during ages 18 to 25.
  9. Being a member of or associated with any totalitarian political party or terrorist organization.
  10. Committing immigration fraud; that is, willfully misrepresenting or concealing a material fact in order to obtain an immigration benefit. Examples of immigration fraud include:
    • Lying or omitting material facts on both written applications and oral interviews related to immigration
    • Entering into a fraudulent marriage
    • Falsely claiming US citizenship on an I-9 form to obtain employment

Consult a Stamford, CT Naturalization Attorney

When you are ready to take your final step toward citizenship and apply for naturalization, consult an experienced Fairfield County citizenship and naturalization lawyer. Gonzalez Law Office, LLC will review all possible barriers to your naturalization with you to ensure that your path to citizenship is as smooth as possible. Contact us at 203-323-1440. 

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New Canaan family immigration attorney sibling visaMany people who have successfully immigrated to the U.S. wish to help their siblings immigrate as well. One option is the family preference visa program, specifically, the F4 visa category. However, be aware that only 65,000 F4 visas are available per year. Once the sponsor’s petition is approved, the immigrant (known as the applicant) may have to wait 10 years or more for an F4 visa to become available.

Requirements to Sponsor Siblings for U.S. Immigration

You must be an American citizen and at least 21 years old in order to sponsor the immigration of your brother or sister. Your sibling may be of any age. You must also have sufficient income and/or assets to support the immigrant.

To begin the process, you must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). On a single form, you can name your sibling along with his/her legal spouse and your sibling’s unmarried children under age 21. Along with this form, you must provide sufficient documentation to prove your citizenship and your sibling relationship.

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