The United States State Department released the most current visa bulletin for August 2013.
(http://www.travel.state.gov/visa/bulletin/bulletin_6028.html)

The report shows that the F2A category of Family-Based Sponsored Immigrant Visas is now current. So what does this mean for you and your family? If your spouse or child are not living with you within the United States and you wish to apply for an immigrant visa for them, you should do so now.

As always before you apply, it would be best to seek the counsel of an immigration attorney to be sure all eligibility requirements are met. If you or your family has any questions about eligibility or the process of applying feel free to call my office to speak directly to an Immigration Attorney. My phone number is (832) 409 0117. Alternatively you may email me at ANDREW@CHUNG-LAW.COM . Best regards and good luck!

Andrew

Comprehensive Immigration Reform is coming!

Some POSSIBLE highlights:
10 year track for immigrants in the United States before December 11 ,2011.

Some POSSIBLE lowlights:
Repeal of the availability of immigrant visas for siblings of US Citizens.

End of the Diversity Visa Program.

Please keep in mind that this bill has not passed yet and therefore is not Law.

If you wish to read more about the possible changes you can read more at the links provided below:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/senators-immigration-legislation-provisions/

http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?bc=6755|37861|25667|44052

I will be the first to admit that Immigration Law is very confusing.  Because of this you should be very careful about who you choose to help you with your case.  Once you chose an attorney take great care to ask questions and make sure that you understand exactly what the attorney is going to do for you.  While lawyers do have a professional responsibility to act in the best interest of our clients, not all attorneys will.  Such a case recently occurred in Colorado.  See http://www.cpr.org/article/Immigrants_Swindled .

An experienced and reputable immigration lawyer should be able to fully explain the requirements, the process, and most importantly the risks associated with filing immigrant or non-immigrant application.  With all of my clients, I try to be as honest and upfront about my concerns.  I also make it a point to make sure my clients understand the consequences of inappropriately filing an application or misrepresenting information.

In any event, please, please, please understand exactly what it is that your attorney is doing for you.  As the saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

 

Below is a link to a great article and commentary on the newly implemented I-601A waiver program that discusses some of the shortcomings of the new Program.

http://ailaleadershipblog.org/2013/03/07/stateside-waivers-some-families-still-left-out-in-the-cold/?fb_action_ids=10100770007540567&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

Today the House voted and passed the Senate’s bipartisan re-authorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Generally, VAWA provides funds for the protection of victims and the prosecution of perpetrators. VAWA aims to protect the spouses or children of a United States Citizen (USC) or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) , or parent of a United States Citizen, who is battered or subject to extreme cruelty.   With respect to Immigration Law, an individual who is a spouse or child of a USC/LPR or a parent of a USC, who is subject to this type of violence by the USC/LPR, may self-petition independently of the abusive USC/LPR.  For years this has been a valuable way for victims to free themselves of the violence.

One of the most notable additions to this act is an extension of VAWA remedies and protections to Native Americans and L.G.B.T. victims.  Previously, Native Americans and L.G.B.T. victims were not allowed to claim protection under VAWA.

So what does this mean for you?

If you are a victim of domestic violence from a USC/LPR you may be eligible to receive protection under this act now or in the near future.

If you believe you qualify under VAWA, please seek out qualified and experienced counsel.  Other qualified service providers include  (but are not limited to) Catholic Charities, YMCA international Services, or Tahirih Justice Center.

Sources:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carolyn-maloney/lets-renew-vawa-today_b_2778507.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Violence_Against_Women_Act
http://www.tahirih.org/
Kurzban’s Immigration Law Sourcebook

By Andrew, 02/28/13

 

 

One of the most common ways that citizens of other nations become lawful permanent residents (LPR)  here in the United States is through marriage.   Unfortunately, the process isn’t as easy as most people expect.  As a result many people have misconceptions on about the process and the rights conferred once they are married to a USC.  Below are five of the most common misconceptions I have heard.

1. Once I marry a United States Citizen (USC), I automatically become a United States Citizen.
Unfortunately, once someone marries a USC, they are NOT automatically a USC.  In fact they are not even classified automatically as a lawful permanent resident.  While it is true that anyone may marry a US Citizen, given it is properly recognized by the state in which you marry and not in violation of any state or federal laws, whenever and where-ever you please, the mere act of marrying a USC does not confer lawful immigration status let alone citizenship.  All persons attempting to immigrate by way of marriage must apply through either their local United States consulate or the appropriate USCIS office with the appropriate paperwork and documentation.  Nevertheless, if the spouse of a USC is qualified and satisfies all the requirements of the immigration petition, they will be able to receive their immigrant visa as soon as they are approved.

2. I can get married to a United States Citizen and all of my immigration issues will be solved.

As discussed in misconception #1, immigrants seeking to become LPRs or USCs are required to submit proper applications and documentation.  While there are a few issues that may be overcome by waivers or explanations, certain events in a person’s history may keep them from becoming a LPR or USC, despite the fact they are legally married to a USC.

3. The process for applying for extended family (not immediate family) will be short.

Unlike applying for an immediate relative spouse or minor children, the application process for extended family, including siblings and cousins, is not as quick. Siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, and in some cases parents must apply through the preference system.   This process takes considerably more time than an immediate spouse petition.  Under the preference system, some preference categories are allowed to receive their immigrant visas more quickly than others.  For more information on the preference system please click here or to view preference category wait times please click here.

4. Once I get married to a United States Citizen, I can stay in the United States.  

Unless you have properly filed or are filing for adjustment of status or an immigrant petition, it may be unwise to stay past your visa period without properly adjusting.   Even though USCIS may allow a visa overstay to adjust once they are married to a USC, it is still prudent to follow the rules and attempt to do things as USCIS has prescribed.  Alternatively, those who entered the US without inspection or have been convicted of certain crimes may not be able to stay in the US lawfully.  Even after marriage.  If this is the case you may still have some options, but it is of the utmost importance that you seek out legal counsel to help guide you through the process.

5. Once I get married to a United States Citizen, I can not be deported from the United States.

Even if you are married to a USC, if you have not property adjusted your status, if you have entered illegally, if you have committed certain crimes, or if you have have committed immigration fraud you may be subject to deportation despite being married to a USC.

The immigration process is long and confusing.  Even some of the smartest people I know have underestimated the process and held one or all of these misconceptions.   Please know that you are not alone, and you do not have to go through the process by yourself.  If you have any questions or would like to retain my services please feel free to contact me by e-mail and let me know your issue or submit a question here.  In any event, please if you have any questions regarding your immigration status, please seek either my help or the assistance of a qualified immigration attorney.  Do not take chances with your immigration status.

by Andrew Chung, 02/05/2013

I get a lot of questions asking how a United States Citizen can apply for their spouse to
join them in the United States. So I waringsnted to write up a short post talking about this issue.

During a consultation the first questions people ask are:

    “What forms do I need to fill out and file?”
    “How long will it take?”

 

    “How much will it cost?”

Admittedly, finding out the answers to these questions can be difficult.  Every case is different and I would not advise anyone to attempt to navigate the immigration process on their own.  Doing so could result in delay, or worse a denial.  It is better to file once with a competent attorney and being successful versus filing on your own, receiving a denial, and having to apply again.  That being said below is a short and sweet overview of the process, timeline, and costs associated with a United States Citizen applying for lawful permanent residency for their spouse.


 

WHAT FORMS DO I NEED TO FILL OUT AND FILE?

The myth that one can become a United States Citizen just by marrying one is just that.  A myth.  Every immigrant must go through some process to obtain the right and privilege of living in the United States.

Unfortunately that process is not always as easy as it initially seems.  Every case is different and may require different forms or different supporting documents.  While many of these forms are common to the process, the information required and the supporting documents to these forms may need to tailored by your immigration attorney to give your application a chance at approval.  For this reason alone, I would always recommend at least seeking an initial consultation with a competent attorney before you proceed.

Without further adieu, here are the standard forms required for a petition by a United States Citizen for their Immediate Relative Spouse:

Form I-130 and Instructions:
Form I-130 is the petition you file to notify the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service that you wish to have your spouse come to the United States.

Form I-485 and Instructions:
Form I-485 is the form your spouse files to adjust their status to one of a number of categories and is the form that can result in a Green Card.

Form I-131 and Instructions:
Form I-131 is known as a travel document.  This is generally only used for foreign spouses who are currently present in the United States.  This document allows for travel outside the United States.  However even if you have obtained an approved I-131 you should consult your immigration attorney before attempting  to travel outside the United States.

Form I-765 and Instructions:
Form I-765 is a request for employment authorization. If approved, this form allows your foreign born spouse to obtain an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).  After obtaining an EAD, your spouse will be authorized to work.

Form I-864 and Instructions:
Form I-864 is an attestation that you will be able to financially support your spouse and will not require the assistance of the Government to do so.

Once again, every case is different and you may be required to submit other forms or additional documentation.  It is strongly recommended that you hire a competent immigration attorney to assist you in deciding how, what and when to file.


 

HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?

Unfortunately there is no definite way to tell how long it will take to receive a decision on your application.  However, USCIS provides us with some dates and times that allow us to approximate the processing times.  The processing times can be found here at the Department of Travel website.

In comparison to spouses of Lawful Permanent Residents, Spouses of United States Citizens generally have a much shorter wait time.  This is because immediate relatives of United States Citizens have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa to become available for them to immigrate.  Nevertheless, the process may still take more than a year to complete.


HOW MUCH WILL IT COST?

Currently filing fees for the I-130 and I-485 are $420 and $1070, respectively (as of 02/13).  Applicants should be warned, that USCIS is notorious for changing fees. So please be sure that the filing fees are up-to-date.

Attorney’s fees are a whole other beast.  Attorney’s fees can range anywhere from just under $1000 to well over $2000.  Experience and qualifications of the attorney, the time required for the petition, and the complexity of the case are just a few of the factors that play a role in establishing Attorney’s fees.


CONCLUSION

Trying to bring over your foreign spouse can be a scary and confusing process.  Hiring a competent attorney is a good way to ensure that you are on the right track and also a way to make things simpler.  Even though Attorney’s fees can seem expensive making the decision to hire a competent immigration attorney can save you money, time, and a whole lot of heartbreak.

If you have any comments or questions please feel free to call or email me.

 

Best Regards,

Andrew

 

iStock_000012938662Medium

A new law coming into effect March 3, 2013 will allow spouses of United States Citizens to apply for an unlawful presence waiver.   This means that spouses of United States Citizens who are unlawfully present in the United States may no longer have to fear the three year and ten year bars that were triggered with unlawful status.  The waiver’s goal is to “[reduce] the amount of time that U.S. citizens are separated from their immediate relatives who are in the process of obtaining an immigrant visa.”

Tentatively, USCIS reports: “In order to obtain a provisional unlawful presence waiver, the applicant must be an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, inadmissible only on account of unlawful presence, and demonstrate the denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to his or her U.S. citizen spouse or parent. USCIS will publish a new form, Form I-601A, Application for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver, for individuals to use when applying for a provisional unlawful presence waiver under the new process.”

While this may help a number of unlawfully present spouses, the waiver’s effectiveness will likely be dictated by how USCIS adjudicators apply the extreme hardship requirement.  Nevertheless, the exact language of the waiver is still in the works, so we will have to wait and see how the waiver develops.

Source: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis/menuitem.5af9bb95919f35e66f614176543f6d1a/?vgnextoid=dc9af51016bfb310VgnVCM100000082ca60aRCRD&vgnextchannel=68439c7755cb9010VgnVCM10000045f3d6a1RCRD

GreenCardSampleFINALGreen Card. I-551. Legal Permanent Resident.

Getting a Green Card is a major step towards getting Citizenship in the United States.  For many, receiving their Green Card is a huge relief.  It means they have reached the home stretch.  For every immigrant who has obtained their Green Card there are many more who are still in the process or who have not begun.   If you are reading this, you already know it can be a long and complicated process.  So where should You start?

DISCLAIMER: The following is the first post in a series that will explore the different ways immigrants may lawfully obtain green cards.  The posts are intended to be an educational and are do not constitute legal advice.  Many times an immigration issue may be more complex than it seems.  In any case, seeking the advice of a knowledgeable and competent Immigration attorney is almost always a good idea.  So please, if you are in need of immigration advice, please either make an appointment with me or seek the advice of another competent immigration attorney.

What things in my past will affect my chances of getting a Green Card?

The character requirements for obtaining a Green Card are what blindside many people when applying.  If you have a criminal history of any kind, you should seek the assistance of a competent Immigration Attorney.  Some criminal history may be permissible as long as the acts are of a nature and a kind permitted by USCIS.  It is always in your best interest to be cooperative and truthful when speaking with your attorney, Government Agents, or when filling out your forms.  While having some criminal history may not prevent you from applying for your green card, lying about your history will.

Other things from your past that may affect your chances of getting a Green Card include but are not limited to, failing to file taxes, lying to obtain government aide, lying about your immigration status, helping others to illegally immigrate to the United States, affiliation with certain parties or groups, and committing immigration fraud.  You may be required to disclose this information on your application or to an immigration agent at your interview.  So be honest when you are consulting your attorney.  If you know something from your past will eventually come to light, tell your attorney.  Doing this may just save your chances at getting a Green Card.

The next article will discuss Family-Based Immigration, Employment-Based Immigration, Refugee Status, and Asylum.  Please come check back with us next week!

Best Regards,

Andrew