By Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza
The year has gone quickly and much of the news for immigrants has been harsh. Non-citizens, and their families, are understandably facing the coming year with trepidation. But, we are a country of laws and the laws that provide avenues for relief for immigrants still exists. Some laws may change so those who are eligible for benefits for themselves or family members are advised to apply for them now. Here are a few possibilities.
The provisional waiver program is one of the most powerful tools for fixing previously unfixable immigration situations. Before this program came into place, persons who entered the country without inspection or as crewmen, or as fiancés but did not marry the fiancé petitioner faced an untenable choice. They could remain here without papers, even if they had options to become legal or they could leave the country and consular process while applying for an unlawful presence waiver of the 10-year bar. The process could take 6 months or more and there was no guarantee the waiver application would be approved. Under the provisional waiver program, the applicant applies and stays in the U.S. until the waiver is approved. The program has been rumored as a target of the Trump Administration and could be on the chopping block in the future.
While immigration law deadlines are important and it cannot be stressed strongly enough that those deadlines should be complied with, an opportunity is not always lost when a deadline has been missed. For example, people who get green cards on the basis of their recent marriage to a US citizen receive a conditional resident card that expires in two years. They must apply to “remove the conditions” before the card expires and if this is not done the conditional resident is subject to removal from the United States. In a recent case, however, RMZD attorneys were able to shepherd to a successful conclusion the application for a client whose conditional residence expired over a decade ago, proving that she married her now-deceased husband in good faith and merits permanent resident status. This client’s brand-new green card shows she has been a permanent resident since 2002—the date she became a conditional resident—which means she is eligible to apply for naturalization right away. Her journey to the verge of citizenship shows that it pays to consult a knowledgeable immigration attorney. Not every old case can be brought back to life, but doing nothing could be the worst mistake you ever make.
It is true that an outstanding order of deportation makes obtaining a green card in the U.S. virtually impossible. But what if you could lawfully get rid of your deportation order? Believe it or not, that is indeed possible for many people. There are many people that have viable paths to a green card, but do not take any action because they mistakenly believe that nothing can be done since they have deportation orders. That is just not true! Yes, the deportation order is an obstacle, but it may very well be possible to overcome this obstacle and be granted permanent resident status. Talk to an immigration attorney today about a “motion to reopen” in your case.
Criminal convictions can seriously jeopardize a non-citizen’s ability to remain lawfully in the United States but even here, there is hope. Waivers for grounds of inadmissibility or removability can result in an alien being able to obtain or retain their green card. They may even be eligible for citizenship. Positive changes have come down from appellate courts in recent years. Additionally, changes in California law have allowed those convicted of crimes to apply for post-conviction relief that, if granted, neutralizes the negative effects of the conviction. As a result, even those who have previously been told there is no hope may have hope. That is one good reason to check in with an experienced “crimmigration” lawyer to see if the changes benefit you.
In 2017, USCIS raised the bar for nonimmigrant workers such as H-1Bs and L-1As through heightened scrutiny over these petitions. Boilerplate Request for Evidence notices were routinely issued even on thoroughly prepared petitions. Small companies continued to face increasing difficulty when sponsoring their foreign workers. (Remember, an executive or manager from overseas companies coming to the U.S. to establish a small subsidiary would be eligible for a new office L-1A visa.)
For 2018, business people with immigration needs are strongly recommended to consult with an experienced attorney to evaluate their options given the lengthy waiting time for EB5 category and the toughening up of US’s immigration policies.
The United States is still the land of opportunity; make that opportunity yours in 2018!
From our family to yours – Happy New Year.