Category:Immigration Law


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 »


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 »


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