Russian Speaking NY Immigration Lawyer

Delivering Solutions For Your Future

Immigration in America, USA flag

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Third Travel Ban

October 17, 2017

Federal Judge Blocks Trump’s Third Travel Ban

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Today, on October 17, 2017, A Federal Judge in Hawaii blocked President’s Trump Third Travel Ban.  The third version of an Executive Order that was supposed to go into effect tomorrow, did not work. The judge stated that, sufficiently, this third executive order suffers from the same drawbacks that the previous two did: they are discriminatory and are too broad.  Interestingly, this Third Ban was supposed to cover North Korea and Venezuela.

What is going to happen next is that the parties are likely to meet again in the US Supreme Court.

So far, the human rights activists have won!

 

 

US Asylum System is Under Attack

October 16, 2017

US Asylum System is Under Attack

Author: US Asylum Attorney Alena Shautsova

The US asylum system has saved the lives of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of people who would have been tortured, humiliated, beaten, arrested and deprived of all possible freedoms and rights in their home countries.  The system is structured to have two tracks: an administrative (or affirmative) and a judicial (or defensive). It does not provide any interim benefits, except for an employment authorization after six months from the filing of the first application. It also establishes a crucial deadline: one year since entry, that an applicant has to meet in order to file for asylum in the US.

Yet, many, including Attorney General Jeff Session criticize the system. They state that the US allows too many applicants in, and provides them with an opportunity to “game” the system.

The US Asylum system and many of its parts are built on the International Conventions. The most crucial document here would be the 1951 Refugee Convention.  In 1967 followed its Protocol. It is not only the US, but virtually all the countries in the world that drafted and joined this Convention and the Protocol recognizing one huge issue: there are people in the world who need the protection of countries other than the ones they were born in. It happens that not all world leaders and not all people in the world are playing by the rules. There are places with great evil, and we cannot just turn our backs on brothers and sisters and little children that suffer from deprivation and persecution. Hence, the countries agreed to recognize that status of refugees, people who do not want to, or are unable to, to return to their home countries to some very serious reasons.  Therefore, the US, asylum seekers or Immigration attorneys did not invent “asylum.” It is all based on a long history of humankind and International norms.

What differs from country to country is the way various governments implement the International norms. Some, provide financial benefits to the seekers before their applications are decided. Some, allow only an administrative path, without a judicial review.  Some, are not parties to the Convention at all and there is no opportunity to apply for asylum in those countries at all.

What is different about the US, is that it allows one to claim or apply for asylum at the US border, before they enter the country. The procedure is known as a “credible fear” interview. A person comes to the border, surrenders herself to the border agents and states that she would like to seek asylum in the US. Such a person is usually detained. Then, such a person has an interview with an Immigration officer who determines if such a person has a “credible fear” of returning to their home country. If the answer is positive, the person is freed from the detention (often on bond) and can present her claim in the US Immigration Court. In court, an Immigration Judge decides if such a person’s claim will be granted.

Further, in the US, under the Real ID Act, an asylum seeker must present evidence to corroborate his/her claim or provide sufficient explanation if such evidence is missing.  The government, and the Immigration Judge (“IJ”), both challenge the evidence and make sure that the applicant’s testimony is consistent and credible. If the IJ denies a person’s claim, he/she can file an appeal.

Attorney Gen. Sessions recently stated that the US Asylum system is being gamed. It is unclear what exactly he referred to. The US Asylum system is built partially on International law and partially on principles of due process and access to justice.  To deny asylum seekers a fair and just opportunity to save their lives in the US due to fear of fraud, would be the same as to execute every person charged with a crime without giving them a chance of due process and the presumption of innocence.

Finally, the US has very serious consequences for those who file false asylum claims: if a person is found to file a false asylum claim, he/she will be forever inadmissible into the US.

 

VAWA and ILLEGAL ENTRY

October 8, 2017

VAWA and ILLEGAL ENTRY

Author: VAWA Attorney Alena Shautsova

VAWA stands for “Violence Against Women Act” and essentially allows certain non-citizens to obtain a green card by sponsoring themselves if they were in a qualifying relationship with a US citizen or a permanent resident.  So, VAWA provisions may be used not only by married women but by men, children and certain parents.

One of the advantages of VAWA is that not only it allows a person to sponsor her/himself, but it also “erasers” certain grounds of inadmissibilities, and sometimes even works to waive the permanent bar!

For example, a VAWA beneficiary may receive a green card or adjust her status to one of a permanent resident even if she/her entered the US illegally. The VAWA self-petitioner is not required to show a “substantial connection” between the qualifying battery or extreme cruelty and the VAWA self-petitioner’s  unlawful entry. Also, a VAWA beneficiary who spent in the US more than a year illegally and then left the US and returned back illegally may avoid the permanent bar imposed on regular applicants in similar circumstances, if they qualify for a waiver  under INA 212(a)(9)(C)(iii). No waiver is available for non-VAWA petitioners. 

VAWA petition is, however, not helpful for K visa entrants. There is a mistaken approach that if a person entered the US on a K-1 (fiance) visa, he/she will be able to receive a green card if qualifies for I 360. This is not so yet.  I 360 may be granted, and automatically a person will get a deferred action – protection from removal, but not the green card. The adjustment of status for most such persons will be denied.

Now, persons who are abused or battered but do not have the required connection with a US citizen or a permanent resident, cannot benefit from the VAWA laws.  For example, if X had to flee El Salvador due to a violent husband, she will still be required to demonstrate that she has a legal entry or parole into the US before her application for a green card is granted.

 

Family Immigration: Who You Can Sponsor

September 30, 2017

Family Immigration: Who You Can Sponsor

Author: US Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

The US Immigration laws contain very specific and strict rules as to which family members can  be sponsored (applied for an immigrant visa or green card) by permanent residents (LPR) and US citizens (USC).

All groups of relatives are organized by specific groups, and each group has its own priority.  The priority depends on the status of the petitioner (the sponsor) and the age and marital status and familial relationship of the beneficiary. Each group has its own wait time. Only “immediate relatives” of the USC do not have to wait in the line.  Parents, spouses, and children under 21 years old of USC are immediate relatives.

WHO CANNOT BE SPONSORED:

The US laws do not allow for sponsorship of uncles, aunts, grandparents, and even stepparents in certain situations. Likewise, friends, very good friends, cousins,  aunts and uncles who “were like mothers…fathers…” but actually did not complete the adoption process by the time the person turned 14 years old, also cannot be sponsored.

Permanent residents cannot sponsor their married children, parents or siblings.

US citizens cannot sponsor for a green card their fiances. They can only invite them on a K visa, but will have to complete the process in the US by submitting an application for a green card. Permanent residents cannot invite their fiances at all. They have to be married to the person and apply for an immigrant visa for a spouse of a permanent resident and wait in line for about 2 years.

WHO CAN BE SPONSORED

US citizens can sponsor spouses, children under 21, and parents without additional wait time. Unmarried sons and daughters (over 21); married sons and daughters and siblings may also be sponsored. But for each of these categories, there is an additional wait time after the petition is approved. In case of a sibling immigration, that wait time is about 10-12 years.

LPR can sponsor spouses and children under 21; sons and daughters (over 21 but unmarried olny).

A petition US citizen is filing for his/her parents is good only for parents. Young siblings (little brother or sister) cannot be included in the same petition. In such situations (let’s say a sister is only 10 years old, and would have to stay in China if a mother is sponsored to the US), a mother or father, once they become permanent residents, would have to file for the unmarried, little sister. (Sometimes, it is possible to apply for a parole for a child who would have stayed behind).

A permanent resident may be able to bring his/her family on something called following to join provision, without the need of a separate application/ petition to be filed by the family members if  the relationship existed prior to obtaining the permanent residency, and the green card was obtained under certain categories (DV lottery, employment,  sibling immigration, etc). There is no statutory time period during which the following-to-join alien must apply for a visa and seek admission into the United States.  However, if the principal has died or lost status, or the relationship between the principal and derivative has been terminated, there is no longer a basis to following to join.  As an example, a person would no longer qualify as a child following to join upon reaching the age of 21 years (unless they qualify for the benefits of the Child Status Protection Act, see 9 FAM 502.1-1(D)) or by entering into a marriage.  There is no requirement that the following-to-join alien must take up residence with the principal alien in order to qualify for the visa. (See 9 FAM 502.1-1(C)(2).)  The term “following to join” also applies to a spouse or child following to join a principal alien who has adjusted status in the United States.

If you have quesitons regarding sponsorship ofr various family members, please contact us at office@shautsova.com or 917-885-2261.

Republicans Propose a Bill to Help DACA Kids

September 26, 2017

Republicans Propose a Bill to Help DACA Kids

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

On September 25, 2017, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) introduced the SUCCEED Act. It is a new law that aims to solve DACA kids’ challenge. The Succeed Act would authorize cancellation or removal and adjustment of status for children known as “Dreamers.”

The proposed law authorizes the government to grant cancellation of removal for those kids who qualified for DACA benefits with a benefit of CONDITIONAL PERMANENT RESIDENCY. The young person has to either earn a high school degree or be enrolled in an educational institution or has served or be enlisted in the US Armed Forces.  In addition, the person should not have certain inadmissibility or deportability grounds be applicable to him/her; should have paid his/her taxes; should not have any felony convictions; a significant misdemeanor; or criminal convictions totaling in incarceration for at least 1 year. The applicant should not have an order of removal/deportation unless he/she remained in the US legally after such an order, or the order was issued before the person’s 18th birthday.

The Act also proclaims that a person who violated the conditions of such residency will be ineligible for any other Immigration relief except for Withholding of removal and Relief under CAT.

This conditional residence status can be terminated if a person is not working for at least 1 year while not attending a school; if he/she became a public charge; gained status as a result of fraud or misrepresentation; etc. If such conditional status is terminated, a person will be subject to an expedited removal.

Only after 10 years, a person will be able to apply for the actual green card, the one without the condition. And once such a person is a permanent residence for 5 years, he/she will be able to apply for citizenship.

This proposal is not the law yet. It is just a proposal that might be a possible solution for the DACA  beneficiaries.

 

Interviews for Green Card Process Will be More Frequent

August 29, 2017

Interviews for Green Card Process Will be More Frequent

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Several months after President Trump took office, it can be said that Immigration enforcement is steering in the direction of tightening the rules and enforcement. So far, the regulations and laws have not been changed much, but  was is changing is the way the laws and regulations are administrated.

For example, USCIS has recently announced that it will start calling for interview all employment based green card applicants, as well as derivative asylum applicants ( form I 730). Previously, such applications were decided on paper without meeting of the applicants. Now, an interview will be a must. In addition, USCIS stated that it will also expand the interview for other types of permanent resident applications.

Another change that came is that now, advance parole (form I 131) has to be applied for and received in the United States. If a person leaves the United States prior to receiving the approval, such an application will be considered abandoned.

President Trump administration is also likely to end DACA program. It is unclear how this program will be ended: with or without a grace period, with or without referring all beneficiaries to ICE…

It means, that now then ever, an applicant will have to gt prepared for the interview to make sure that he/she will be able to overcome any and all doubts an officer have and prove his/her eligibility. A preparation for an interview starts with reviewing of the eligibility requirements, documents, and of course, a consultation with an attorney who will try to foresee and prevent likely issues.  It is important to choose an attorney who is familiar with the recent USCIS “trends” and who can advocate for her client zealously.

No More Parole for Children from Central America

August 17, 2017

No More Parole for Children from Central America

Attorney: Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

On December 1, 2014, DHS and the U.S. Department of State (DOS) announced that the U.S. Government would allow certain minors in El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to be considered for refugee status in the United States.  The program helped children to come to the United States if a qualifying parent was present in the US in a legal status.  At some point the program was expanded and helped to come  (1) The in-country biological parent of a qualifying child who is not legally married to the qualifying parent in the United States may apply, and the unmarried and under 21 years of age children and/or legal spouse of the in-country parent can also be included as derivatives of the in-country parent; (2) the caregiver of a qualifying child who is related to either the qualifying parent in the United States or the qualifying child may apply, and the unmarried and under 21 years of age children and/or legal spouse of the caregiver can also be included as derivatives of the caregiver; (3) the married and/or 21 years of age or older children of the qualifying parent (who is lawfully present in the United States) may apply, and (4) the unmarried and under 21 years of age children and legal spouse of the married and/or 21 years of age or older child can also be included as derivatives.

On August 16, 2017, the new administration cancelled the program. All those who were pre-qualified while in their country of origin will be notified that their registration would be terminated. This decision affects those who have not yet traveled to the United States. Those who were already paroled into the US, may remain here, their parole would not be terminated, and they will be allowed to submit form I 131 to be re -paroled while in the United States.

For those who got left behind overseas: they still may try regular Humanitarian parole route. More information on humanitarian parole may be found here:  http://www.russianspeakinglawyerny.com/humanitarian-parole/.

 

If you have questions regarding parole procedure and qualifications, call our office 917-885-2261.

 

Updates on Travel Ban: People v. Government

July 19, 2017

Updates on Travel Ban

Author: New York Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova

Travel Ban’s news is one of the most popular for the past months. It all started with President Trump issuing an order banning nationals of certain predominantly Muslim countries from coming to the United States, even if they held a US green card (permanent residency). Almost immediately, people reacted and filed Federal lawsuits, and in a blink of an eye the issue reached the U.S. Supreme Court.  Through litigation and the U.S. Supreme court ruling, the travel ban was modified, and finally reached its present version which affects all those who do not have any connections with a person or an entity in the U.S. (let’s say visitors for pleasure).  See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13769.

The ban currently is in place for nationals of the following countries: Syria (including refugees), Iran, Somalia, Libya, Sudan, Yemen.

Now, I am positive that many of you were following the news regarding the U.S. Supreme Court decision on the travel ban which held that those travelers that have real (or bona fide) relationship with a U.S. entity or person should be able to come to the US.  Right after the decision, the Department of State stated that a parent, a sibling, or a parent in law would be allowed in the US, but nephews, grandparents, cousins will not.

People “pushed back,” and very recently, a Federal court in Hawaii held that grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandchildren and cousins should be likewise scratched off the travel ban list.  Because an Executive branch of the government must follow the Judicial branch, the travel ban was again modified, and now  the DOS issued another clarification:

“In light of the July 13, 2017 U.S. District Court of Hawaii ruling regarding the definition of “close familial relationship” as that phrase was used in the Supreme Court’s June 26, 2017 order on implementing Section 2(c) of E.O. 13780, a close familial relationship is defined as a parent (including parent-in-law), spouse, fiancé, child, adult son or daughter, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, sibling, grandparents, grandchildren, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, aunts and uncles, nephews and nieces, and cousins. For this purpose, “cousins” are limited to first-cousins (i.e., each cousin has a parent who is a sibling of a parent of the other cousin). For all relationships, half or step status is included (e.g., “halfbrother” or “step-sister”). “Close familial relations” does not include any other “extended” family members, such as second-cousins.” See https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/news/important-announcement.html.

The Hawaii’s court also allowed refugees who were cleared by the Resettlment agency to come to the US.

The US Supreme Court clarified its decision on July 19, 2017 allowed the Hawaii’s court exemption as it relates to the family members, but blocked the refugees.

The issue is not over yet. The US Supreme Court intends to hear the matter in October if by then, the controversy is still in existence.

 

 

FALSE CLAIM TO US CITIZENSHIP CAN BE EXCUSED

June 20, 2017

FALSE CLAIM TO US CITIZENSHIP CAN BE EXCUSED

Author: US Citizenship attorney Alena Shautsova

Many are already aware that false claim to US citizenship disqualifies them from any and all Immigration benefits in the United States, forever.  Such claims usually appear when one is trying to use a false US citizen passport to enter the United States, claims that he/she is a US citizen on I-9 employment eligibility verification form or fills out a form to obtain a US citizen passport (let’s say, in a postal service)…

However, some claims of US citizenship can be excused and will not be on one’s way to a green card. These are very rare occasions, and they have to fall squarely into an exception.

Specifically, a disqualifying claim to United States citizenship occurred when  (1) when there is direct or circumstantial evidence that a claim was made with subjective intent to obtain a purpose or benefit under the Act or under Federal or State law and(2) the claim actually affects or matters to the purpose or benefit sought. See Matter of Richmond, 26 I&N Dec. 779, 786-787 (BIA 2016). In the past the following “claims” to the US citizenship were recognized as the ones not obstructing a person’s ability to receive a green card: a claim to a US citizenship on an application for a small business loan (Hassan v. Holder, 604 F.3d 915, 928-29 (6th Cir. 2010)). In a 2016 case coming from the Board of Immigration Appeals, it was also recognized that a US citizenship claim during the application for a driver’s license is not the one to prevent one from obtaining a green card. Rodolfo Melendez Manriquez, A089 599 983 (BIA Nov. 25, 2016).

It means that if a person claimed to be a US citizen to “enhance” his /her chances to receive a benefit, but it was not necessary for a person to be an actual citizen to receive such a benefit, then a claim to US citizenship may be excused.

There are some other exceptions to the main rule. See: Claiming US Citizenship.

 

Incorrect Translation in Immigration Proceedings Can Cost you a Green Card

June 7, 2017

Incorrect Translation in Immigration Proceedings Can Cost you a Green Card

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Any person applying for US Immigration benefits (apart from those who are filing for citizenship without any waivers) can bring an interpreter with himself/herself for an interview. When choosing an interpreter, one has to  keep in mind that the quality of the interpretation often will affect the results.

I have once attended an interview for asylum when an interpreter that a client insisted on bringing with her, could not translate accurately the name of the month when the events occurred. The “controlling” interpreter who should have corrected the one in the room (during an asylum interview, the government turns on a telephonic system when a government interpreter is listening to the interpreter the applicant invited and corrects or at least is supposed to correct all inaccurate translations). I did not speak the language and could not catch the mistake until another client, who happened to use the same interpreter but who also knew a little bit of English realized that the interpreter had very basic knowledge of the language he claimed to be proficient in. I have seen translations of documents that incorrectly omit the most important part of the document (I happened to speak both languages and could notice the mistake).

When a mistake is caught early enough, it is possible to correct it, but sometimes a mistake can ruin a person’s chance for relief completely.  It happens because the government would try to argue that the person is lying when testifies inaccurately, or a person’s testimony can be translated to have a very different meaning than the person intended to give it to; or a judge may come to a different conclusion based on an incorrect testimony.

There is a recent case coming form the Board of Immigration Appeals that discusses a situation that arose during the Immigration Bond proceedings. The stakes during the Bond proceedings are serious: if a judge determines a person does not deserve a bond, the person will remain in jail until her Immigration case is decided.  In the case at issue, the judge denied the bond. The Immigration Judge relied on the interpreter’s translation of the phrase, finding that when asked why he drove after drinking the respondent answered “that it seemed easy.” The person’s answer, however, was supposed to have been translated differently than it was: the interpreter translated person’s statement in Spanish, “Se me hizo facil” as “that it seemed easy,” but the phrase is a Mexican idiomatic expression which should be translated as “I didn’t think about it” or “I didn’t really think about the consequences.” Luckily for the person, the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with him and now his request for bond will be re-evaluated. Matter of Hernandez, 8/4/16 BIA.

But it is not always the case. It means that when preparing your documents, you need to make sure you utilize professional services, that would not allow a sloppy job to interfere with your case.