Category:Immigration Law


Green Cards Through the Immigration Registry

Posted on July 21st, 2014, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

I recently handled the immigration case of an individual who has resided in the U.S. since the late 1950s. Having entered on a farmworker visa and then falling out of status once the visa expired, my client filed for a green card based on a little-known program in the U.S. called Registry. Quite simply, Registry allows for a person to obtain a green card (or permanent residency) if they can prove physical and continuous presence in the U.S. since January 1, 1972.

Other criteria for a green card through the Registry include that the individual is:

a person of good moral character;
not ineligible for citizenship; and
not deportable as a terrorist or inadmissible for engaging in Nazi persecution, genocide, torturous acts, or extrajudicial killings.

Importantly, the applicant must have proof of his/her continuous physical presence in the U.S. since 1972. Such proof includes: bills, … Read More »


Surge of Unaccompanied Children Crossing the Border

Posted on July 14th, 2014, by Susannah Nichols in Immigration Law. No Comments

Over the last few weeks, the recent upsurge of unaccompanied minor children crossing illegally into the United States has caught the attention of the media and protesters alike. Anti-immigration activists will predictably seek to frame this situation in the most political terms possible. But this is a case where, rather than arguing over invisible borders, we should act as adults seeking to protect the innocent.

In order to understand this recent influx of child immigrants, it is important to understand how we got here, how bad the situation is for these children, and what we are doing to address the issues.

How Did We Get Here?

In 2008, President Bush signed the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act into law. This Act set guidelines on how unaccompanied minors arriving from non-border countries should be handled. Minors qualifying under the Act are entitled to have a hearing … Read More »


H-1B Visa Alternatives

Posted on June 19th, 2014, by Susannah Nichols in Immigration Law. No Comments

If your H-1B petition was not selected in this year’s H-1B lottery, you are not alone. With over 170,000 visa petitions received, the allotted H-1B visas were filled quickly this year. USCIS conducted a random lottery to select petitions which would be considered for the available visas. Many employers whose petitions were not selected are left with job openings in need of qualified candidates. However, those employers do have additional options available to sponsor their foreign candidates.

Below is an overview of some non-immigrant visa alternatives for employers to consider:

O-1 visas (extraordinary ability). O-1 visas are for foreign nationals who are outstanding and widely recognized in their field. They should be considered within the very top of their field to qualify for this type of temporary visa. The specified fields which are available are limited, but include science, arts, education, business, … Read More »


Criminal Convictions and Fiance Visas

Posted on May 27th, 2014, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

In 2006, the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act (AWA) was signed into law. Among its more well-known features, the AWA revised requirements for sex offender registration. Lesser known, however, is the significant detrimental effect the AWA can have on U.S. citizens who seek to sponsor loved ones for fiancé/fiancée visas or other U.S. immigration benefits.

Perhaps it’s best to start with an example. Jack, a U.S. citizen, and Jill, a citizen of a foreign country, meet and fall in love. Jack and Jill get married. Jill needs a green card to either enter or remain in the U.S., so Jack files the requisite paperwork on her behalf. While their application is pending, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues a Notice of Intent to Deny letter, threatening to deny Jack’s petition based on an incident from his past … Read More »


Answers to Five Common Questions About ICE Holds

Posted on April 10th, 2014, by Susannah Nichols in Immigration Law. No Comments

I often meet with people concerned because an immigration detainer, commonly referred to as an “ICE hold,” has been placed on their loved one after a criminal arrest. When a non-citizen is arrested by local law enforcement, immigration officials may be alerted to their presence. Should Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) have “reason to believe” that an individual is not a U.S. citizen, they will investigate to determine if the person is subject to being removed (deported) from the United States. ICE will likely place an immigration detainer on the individual in local custody while they investigate the situation.

Because they are separate from the underlying criminal charges, ICE holds can create confusion both on the part of the detained individual as well as their family members. If you or a loved one are the subject of an immigration detainer, here are … Read More »


The Affidavit of Support in Immigration Law

Posted on April 1st, 2014, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

The Affidavit of Support is an immigration law document that places special obligations on an immigrant’s sponsor. It is very important that both those signing the document (i.e., U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents) and the sponsored immigrants understand exactly what an Affidavit of Support is, and what it means. It is also important that family law attorneys, who may see such documents in divorce proceedings, have a general understanding of the Affidavit of Support.

To aid in the understanding of sponsors, immigrants, and family law attorneys, here are answers to five frequently asked questions about the all-important Affidavit of Support:

What is an Affidavit of Support? The Affidavit of Support is a document an individual signs to accept financial responsibility for another person, usually a relative, who is coming to the United States to live permanently. Make no mistake, the Affidavit … Read More »


How to Help Your Criminal Attorney Protect Your Immigration Status

Posted on March 4th, 2014, by Eugene Oliver in Criminal Defense, Immigration Law. No Comments

Being charged with a criminal offense can be an anxiety-causing event for anyone. But immigrants charged with crimes face not only potential criminal punishments but also the potential impact on their immigration status from a criminal conviction. If you are an immigrant charged with a crime, here are four ways to help your criminal attorney protect your immigration status from the very beginning of your case:

Identify Your Status. It is crucial that you identify your immigration status for your criminal attorney as soon as possible. The immigration consequences of a criminal conviction can vary greatly depending on whether you are a lawful permanent resident, asylee, non-immigrant visa holder, completely without status, etc. If you are unsure of your status, make sure you bring copies of all immigration paperwork with you to the initial consultation with your criminal attorney. Immigration status should be the … Read More »


Immigration Court Delays: When Will Your Case Be Heard?

Posted on February 26th, 2014, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

Proceedings in present day immigration court present a very stark contrast. Many cases now drag on for many months or even years before being heard. But when an immigrant’s day in court finally arrives, overcrowded court dockets often leave the judge with only a few minutes to decide the fate of the immigrant and their family.

If you or a loved one are currently going through deportation (now known as removal) proceedings in immigration court, and have filed an application for relief, you are likely aware of the sometimes extraordinary length of time it takes to resolve a case. Lengthy delays for a trial (known as an Individual Hearing) are commonplace in many of the 50+ immigration courts located in 29 states.

Our local court in Arlington, Virginia currently has five immigration judges (often referred to as IJs), after losing one to retirement earlier in the year. Perhaps … Read More »


Guidance For Immigrants Filing Taxes

Posted on February 24th, 2014, by Susannah Nichols in Immigration Law. No Comments

Tax season can be a stressful time for anyone; for immigrants the process of filing taxes can often become overwhelming. Failure to properly file their U.S. taxes may negatively affect a non-citizen’s own immigration situation or the chances for a family immigration petition in the future. I too often discover clients either in immigration proceedings or who are petitioning for a green card for their spouse, who have been improperly filing taxes for years. Having to go back and amend tax returns from past years is a time-consuming and costly process, which can be avoided by the immigrant’s properly filing their taxes in the first place. To do so, immigrants must answer a few questions up front:

Are You a Resident or Non-Resident For Tax Purposes?

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you must first determine if you are considered a “resident” or “non- resident” alien … Read More »


Justin Bieber Faces Deportation

Posted on January 29th, 2014, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

Reports of pop star Justin Bieber’s recent run-ins with the law have dominated the news. Certainly, many young stars in the throes of fame find themselves in similar situations. What adds an extra wrinkle to Bieber’s situation, however, is the fact that, as a Canadian citizen, criminal activity can jeopardize his U.S. immigration status.

Bieber currently holds an O-1 visa. O-1 visas are given to those individuals who demonstrate “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, education, athletics, or the arts. Such ability in the arts means that the individual is renowned, leading, or well-known in their field of creative endeavor. Examples of O-1 visa holders include: NBA star Dirk Nowitzki, Israeli concert pianist Inon Barnatan, and Canadian author Jennifer Gould Keil. The O-1 visa holder is given an initial stay of up to three years, followed by extensions for one-year increments.

Bieber now faces a litany of criminal charges, including: … Read More »


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