By Attorneys Devin M. Connolly & Nancy E. Miller
The year 2016 is upon us and it is time to look forward and make plans for the upcoming year. Will 2016 be the year you resolve your immigration problems? Will 2016 be the year you consult an experienced and knowledgeable immigration firm about your immigration rights in the U.S.?
Despite the “hold” placed on the implementation of DAPA and expanded DACA, the future for immigrants is still full of hope. Obtaining work authorization, permanent resident status, or even becoming a U.S. citizen is possible for many people. Unfortunately, many people are afraid to confront their immigration problems and seek help. Many mistakenly believe that their case is hopeless because they overstayed their visa or entered the U.S. under an assumed name or were convicted of a crime. Other people do not understand that being brought to the U.S. at a young age may help them, or that having U.S. citizen or permanent resident parents or children may help them obtain work authorization and other immigration benefits. Regardless of their individual circumstances, they have all created a life for themselves in the U.S. and they want to continue that life.
But problems do not resolve themselves. Continuing to live in the U.S. may only be possible by confronting the immigration problem. The first step is to consult a knowledgeable and experienced immigration attorney.
A good immigration lawyer will be able to tell the non-citizen what options are available to them. Relief is available for many immigration problems.
DACA is available for childhood arrivals – even if they dropped out of school or were convicted of certain crimes. DAPA is being reviewed this year by the U.S. Supreme Court and may become a reality by June.
DACA and DAPA protect against removal but do not lead to permanent lawful status. However, many other existing forms of relief do. For instance, non-citizens who entered the United States by means of a misrepresentation may be eligible for a waiver of that misrepresentation if they have a parent or spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The non-citizen must show that their parent and/or spouse will suffer “extreme hardship” if the non-citizen is forced to return to their home country.
Non-citizens who have criminal convictions may be able to obtain or keep their green cards if they have a parent, spouse, or son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who will suffer the requisite hardship if they have to leave. Changes in criminal law have opened doors that were previously locked to non-citizens who wished to either obtain or maintain their lawful permanent residence (or even become citizens).
Those who obtained their green cards by means of material misrepresentations may be eligible for a waiver if they have U.S. citizen or permanent resident parents or sons or daughters and can show that the favorable factors outweigh the unfavorable facts in their case.
Many countries are suffering political upheaval. This has caused many to flee for safety. Those seeking to enter or remain in the United States may be eligible for political asylum if they have or would suffer persecution as a result of their race, religion, ethnicity, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Those studying in the United States and intending to start their own business may be eligible for various types of business investment visas. Highly educated persons may be eligible for long-term nonimmigrant visas or green cards based on the skills they acquired in school or during practical training.
Hopefully 2016 will bring far reaching beneficial changes for immigrants. But remember that a person will not receive any benefits unless they apply for them, and they cannot apply for them unless they know they exist. Consulting with an experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorney will give a prospective immigrant the information they need to keep their resolution to resolve their immigration problems in 2016.