Category:Immigration Law


How Will Divorce Affect Your Immigration Status?

Posted on March 4th, 2015, by Susannah Nichols in Divorce, Immigration Law. No Comments

Going through a divorce can be stressful enough without the added element of marriage-based immigration issues. While all your time and energy may be focused on terminating your marriage, you cannot neglect how this change in your relationship may or may not affect your ability to remain in the United States after your divorce. Here are answers to ten questions which commonly arise when divorce and immigration intersect:

Will separation from my spouse affect my immigration benefits? Generally, no. Physical or legal (court-ordered) separation from your spouse does not constitute a termination of your marriage and will not affect your immigration status. In some states, an extended legal separation may convert into a divorce after a period of time. In these instances, your immigration status would be terminated if it is dependent upon your marriage.
Will my divorce affect my non-immigrant status? If your … Read More »


Is Virginia Larceny an Aggravated Felony for Immigration?

Posted on January 28th, 2015, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

In my immigration practice, one of the most common issues I come across is a theft-related crime in the background of my immigrant client. Whether a non-citizen is applying for a green card, a green card holder is coming back into the country after a trip abroad, or a green card holder is applying for naturalization, a theft-related conviction can have dire consequences.

Recently, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit took a closer look at Virginia’s grand larceny statute, Virginia Code § 18.2-95, to see if grand larceny in Virginia constitutes a theft “aggravated felony” for immigration purposes. To be deemed an aggravated felon for a theft conviction, the immigrant must have been convicted of an actual theft offense that carries with it a term of imprisonment of at least one year. In Omargharib v. Holder, Mr. Omargharib, … Read More »


President Obama Announces New Immigration Plan

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

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a new plan for executive action on immigration, which will offer temporary relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants. The highlights of the plan include:

Deferred Action. Under the new plan, undocumented immigrants can receive work permits if they satisfy ALL of these criteria:

Entered the U.S. before January 1, 2010;
Not in any kind of lawful status as of November 20, 2014;
Have a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder);
Do not have various convictions, ties to gangs or terrorism, etc.; and
Do not present other factors that negatively affect a granting of deferred action.

DACA. DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is a program announced in 2012, which allows certain individuals to receive work permits and be safe from deportation. President Obama’s new executive action expands the DACA program … Read More »


Gubernatorial Post-Conviction Relief and Immigration

Posted on September 16th, 2014, by Jennifer Varughese in Immigration Law. No Comments

As I detailed in Chaidez Case Limits The Reach Of Padilla and Post-Conviction Relief And Immigration Consequences, the area of post-conviction relief is a hot topic for non-citizens living in the U.S. Generally speaking, post-conviction relief is the means by which one convicted of a criminal offense seeks help in the form of a conviction modification or even the vacating of the conviction itself. The result in my Virginia Supreme Court case, Commonwealth v. Morris, unfortunately reduced the time in which one may try to collaterally attack a conviction in a Virginia court.

What about the issue of elected officials modifying a conviction in some manner? Is this a plausible means of relief in Virginia and beyond? In Sharma v. Taylor et. al., we will see exactly how a federal court views post-conviction relief in the naturalization context. My client in this case … Read More »


When Are State Crimes Aggravated Felonies for Deportation?

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

The words “aggravated felony” can be overwhelming to see if you are in removal (deportation) proceedings. Aggravated felony is an immigration term used to reference a particular type of state or federal crime. Although the word “felony” is included in the term, the underlying criminal conviction could be classified as a misdemeanor and still qualify as an “aggravated felony.”

The following are some of the criminal convictions which can be qualified as aggravated felonies in immigration court:

Murder, rape, or sexual abuse of a minor;
Drug or firearm trafficking;
Any theft or violent crime for which the defendant received a sentence of at least one year (including any suspended sentences);
Any crime involving fraud or deceit where the loss to the victim was over $10,000; and
Any conviction for attempt or conspiracy to commit an aggravated felony.

As discussed in our discussion on Deportation or Removal, there are various avenues available … Read More »


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 »


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