Driving to purchase groceries, pick up the kids from school, or visit the doctor’s office are tasks most of us do without thinking twice. But for those who don’t qualify for a driver’s license, these everyday chores could be the source of great stress. Many states, including the District of Columbia, have prevented those without valid immigration status from receiving a license. The result has been many undocumented immigrants driving without licenses, which frequently means driving without insurance. This all changed last Tuesday, November 5th, when the D.C. Council approved a bill allowing the city’s undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses.
Estimates are that this new law will allow as many as 15,000 D.C. residents who are undocumented immigrants to receive licenses. Currently, 13 other states allow the undocumented to obtain licenses.
The bill as it was originally introduced to the D.C. … Read More »
When deciding the “best interests of the child” for purposes of a custody and/or visitation determination, Virginia courts look to Virginia Code Section 20-124.3. In large part, that code section asks Virginia trial courts to determine the mental and physical health of the parties and the child, the role each parent has played and will play in the child’s life, the ability and willingness of the each parent to support the child’s other familial relationships, the reasonable preference of the child, and any history of family abuse. Nowhere in the factors listed in Code Section 20-124.3 is the court explicitly asked to address the immigration status of either parent. However, immigration status can have an impact on your custody case if you, or your attorney, are uninformed, and immigration status can complicate the already difficult questions before the court.
Immigration Status … Read More »
Whether it lasts for a few days or several weeks, the federal government shutdown is already having an immediate impact on the U.S. immigration system. Here is a summary of the most recent updates from various immigration agencies and departments:
Department of Homeland Security.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) – detention and enforcement will continue.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – all offices are open, so green card, naturalization, asylum, and all other interviews will continue as scheduled.
Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR – Immigration Courts). Locally, the Arlington and Baltimore immigration courts are open but operations are limited. At this time, the courts are only hearing cases of individuals who have been detained.
Department of State. Embassies and consulates worldwide will continue to operate until their operating funds are depleted. This could result in … Read More »
If you or someone you love has been detained by Immigration officials you likely have many questions about the process. Non-citizens may be detained for violations of immigration law. Commonly these include: overstaying or violating a visa, entering the country illegally, or criminal convictions.
The detention process begins with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) finding that you have violated an immigration law. You will then be picked up by ICE officers and taken to a local facility to process. In the Washington, D.C. area, you would go to the ICE office in Fairfax, Virginia. There, you will be formally processed and ICE will decide if they are going to release you on bond (a legal agreement where money is paid and held by the government to ensure that you will attend future hearings), release you with a monitoring system, or transfer … Read More »
After learning of an increase in L-1 visa denials at this summer’s annual AILA Conference, our office began to see just how extensive these denials have become. As a reminder, an L-1 visa can be used by a U.S. company to bring foreign workers from an overseas branch, parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate. L-1 visas are divided into two categories: 1) L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager and 2) L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge. A brief summary of both types is provided below as well as some of the current issues with L-1B visas, in particular.
L-1A Visa – General Description
This visa allows a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from an affiliated foreign office to work in the U.S. It can also be used by a foreign company to send an executive or manager to the U.S. to … Read More »
The first medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C. opens this month. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have now legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes and two states have legalized its recreational use. Many people think that as long as they are abiding by state marijuana laws, they are free to partake. However, this is not always the case– especially for those who are non-citizens.
Whether or not use of marijuana is legal under state law where you live, your use of it may subject you to federal prosecution. This is because marijuana remains classified as a schedule I drug on the Federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Under immigration law, drug offenses– such as violation of the CSA– can carry serious consequences. For non-citizens (even green card holders), a drug possession or drug trafficking conviction could result in deportation … Read More »
Recently, I attended the 2013 AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) national conference in San Francisco. This conference brings together some of the best and brightest immigration practitioners nationwide. After attending numerous sessions, I gained new insight into a variety of topics. Below are some of the main highlights:
Nonimmigrants who are accustomed to receiving paper I-94 cards upon entry into the United States may be pleased to hear that Customs now issues paperless I-94s to those traveling by air or sea. The foreign national will be able to print a computer-generated copy of the paperless I-94 online here. It is a good idea to review the computer version for accuracy and then print and staple the I-94 into a passport.
During the Conference, on June 26th, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as … Read More »
Many families had a new reason to celebrate this July 4th holiday. On June 26th, the Supreme Court handed down its historic ruling in U.S. v. Windsor, giving many Americans a long-awaited sense of equality. In Windsor, the Court declared key provisions in the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”) unconstitutional. DOMA limited the definition of marriage for purposes of over 1,000 federal laws to a union between a man and a woman, depriving married same-sex couples from a host of federal benefits. Among the widest consequences of the Court’s DOMA ruling is that it opened up immigration benefits for same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriages are legal in some foreign countries and a growing number of U.S. states, yet prior to U.S. v. Windsor these marriages were not recognized under federal law. This not only had financial consequences, but also resulted in the separation of families. Under U.S. immigration law, … Read More »
I thought I’d take this opportunity to depart from my usual blogs on U.S. immigration law and procedure to showcase how immigration law works on the international stage. By now, many of you have heard of the former CIA official, Edward Snowden, who is facing a world of trouble for revealing a secret surveillance program run by the U.S. government. Lauded by some as a hero and denounced by others as a traitor, Snowden, a U.S. citizen, is now trying to do something that may sound peculiar at first – seek asylum in another country. Each year, scores of individuals come to the United States seeking asylum based on meeting a standard of past or potential future persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Is it possible, however, that the U.S. … Read More »
Receiving a notice to appear before an immigration court can raise many questions. You may have received this notice by mail or through an immigration official. This notice will contain the charges against you and the date, time, and location of your court hearing. The charges will explain why the government believes you are deportable. Some of the main reasons for deportation are criminal allegations or immigration violations including an illegal entry or a visa overstay. When you do receive a notice to appear, you want to make sure you do a few things to protect your stay in the United States.
First, make sure to attend your scheduled hearing. Ignoring the notice and not attending your hearing will only make your situation worse. If you fail to appear for your hearing, the government can have you ordered removed without your … Read More »