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Troubles with Immigration 800 number

April 23, 2014

Author: New York Immigration Attorney  Alena Shautsova

Have you tried to access your Immigration  case information via 800- number recently and got conflicting information or did not get through at all?

Do not worry: you are not the only one. EOIR alert that it is currently experiencing a systems outage involving several computer applications including eRegistration and the telephonic case information system (the 1-800 phone number). EOIR hopes to have the situation resolved in the near future!

How can you get your information in the meantime? Try calling local Immigration court, go there or contact your attorney!

US Supreme Court Rejects Arizona Appeal in Immigration Cases

April 23, 2014

The US Supreme court declined to review the ruling that barred police from arresting people who harbor those living in the United States illegally.

The provision was struck by the 9th Circuit  last year as an unnecessary one because there is Federal law imposing punishment for harboring illegal immigrants. If the State law provision was allowed, it would authorize the State police to enforce the law.

Read more:


Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants

April 21, 2014

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

Driver’s License for Undocumented Immigrants

One of the problems that undocumented immigrants face in this country is that they cannot legally drive in the US: they do not possess necessary documents to receive state issued licenses.  The Real ID Act which demanded that the immigrants present certain documents verifying identity and immigration status before a driver’s license can be issued, placed millions of persons into disrepair: they choices became to either drive in violation of the laws and risk obtaining criminal convictions for which they can get deported; or not to drive at all and for many it would mean loss of significant income.  The activities opposing the Real ID Act created a website called Real Nightmare:

However, almost a decade later, more and more states came to conclusion that it is better and safer to issue license to immigrants than force them to find sometime not so legal solutions to the problem.

Recently, another U.S. territory : Washington D.C. announced that it will issue driver’s license to the undocumented for “limited purpose”:

“The Limited Purpose credential also requires a one-time validation of source documents when applying for your DC Limited Purpose driver license or identification card. The driver knowledge and road tests will be required for all applicants applying for the Limited Purpose driver license. First time DC applicants must be a resident of the District of Columbia for at least 6 months. Applicants must have never been issued a social security number, previously been issued a social security number but no longer eligible, or not be eligible for a social security number. The Limited Purpose driver license/identification card may not be used for official federal purposes, and it will be marked to reflect this requirement. You must schedule an appointment
to obtain a Limited Purpose credential. Prior to your DMV appointment for a Limited
Purpose driver license, be sure to study and review the Driver Manual in preparation for the knowledge test. If you fail the knowledge test, you will be required to make another appointment.”
So, to receive this document, a person would have to pass the road test and the theoretical portion of the test as well.   The DC DMV will accept foreign birth certificate and foreign passports as proof of identity! Here is the link to the DC DMV that explains the procedure and requirements:

H1B Premium Processing Time

April 19, 2014

Author: New York Immigration lawyer Alena Shautsova

H1B Premium Processing Time

Many H1B applicants are nervous: the fees for premium processing were paid but they have not heard anything back form the USCIS. Should they think of other options? Should they want? Does it mean their applications were denied?

Actually, it is totally normal not to hear anything back by this time. USCIS will start adjudicating Premium Processing petitions beginning April 28, 2014.

While it is always good to have a back up plan, H1B processing right now is actually on track.

I-9 compliance : it is for everyone!

April 18, 2014

Author: New York Immigration Lawyer Alena Shautsova

I- 9 compliance I-9 is the form that should be filled by everyone who accepts employment in the United States. It is used by US government to determine if employers comply with prohibition on hiring people without work authorization. The form has to be filled out by the employee no later than the first day of employment; it is also has to be completed by the employer, no later than the third day of employment.

There is also something called E-verify: it is an electronic program which allows employers to confirm if an employee is allowed to work in the US. While it is not the electronic I-9, it does call for a lot of similar information. There are companies that must participate in E-verify, and there are companies and organizations that choose to do so. In any event, form I-9 still must be completed.

What is the importance of I-9 form? An employee should be aware that if he or she lies on the form regarding his or her Immigration status, it can be used by the DHS later: for example, an employee in hope to get a job may check off “citizen of the US” as a filed for employment eligibility. This conduct actually triggers permanently inadmissibility into the US, as somebody who claims to be a US citizen while he is not, cannot get legal in the US.

For employers: form I-9 compliance is being checked recently more and more often. The fines for violations of the form are thousands of dollars for one violation and also may cause charges of document fraud and discrimination.

The USCIS has pretty helpful resources on the topic:

In addition,  you may use our website page to learn I-9 and E- verify basics:

Adjustment of Status for Family Members

April 2, 2014

Author: New York Immigration attorney

Adjustment of status for family members

Family based immigration is one of the most common ways of getting legal immigration status in the US.  Parents can sponsor their children, siblings can sponsor siblings and children can sponsor parents. Stepchildren can sponsor their parents, and so do parents: they are allowed to sponsor their stepchildren.

However, for each of the above situations there are its own limitations. The success of adjustment of status for a family member depends on the immigration status of the relatives, their age (in case of a children) and marital status.

The following family members cannot sponsor each other: uncles/ants and nephews and nieces; grandchildren and grandparents; cousins.

It is best if a person consults with an experienced immigration attorney before he or she starts the process of sponsoring. One of the most common misconceptions is that a U.S. citizen parent can sponsor his or her child who is in the United States even if the child lost his or her immigration status. This may work only if the child qualifies as an immediate family member of the sponsoring party. It means the child is under 21 years old at the time of the adjustment of status, or the child’s age froze when the parent “filed” for him and now the child is physically older, but for legal purposes the child is still under 21.

In all other situations, a child will not be able to get adjustment of status or green card while in the US, if he or she overstayed the immigration status.

Let’s say a mother filed for the child when he was 22 and back then she was a permanent resident. Now she is a US citizen, and the child is 28. The child entered the country as a B1/2 7 years ago and fell out of status. Now, the child’s priority date on I-130 filed by the mother is current. The child files for adjustment of status, and at the interview gets denial. The denial is justifiable because an adult son or daughter of the US citizen (See: Who is a Child for Immigration Purposes ) is not an immediate family member of the US citizen and the gap in his or her status cannot be forgiven to such a child, and the child’ application will be denied and this person can be placed in removal proceedings.

Different categories of family members can be viewed HERE: VISA BULLETIN

Applying for adjustment of status can be costly. Consult with an Immigration attorney before starting paperwork:  call us at 917-885-2261.

They Give it: They Can Take it Back: How DHS Can Take Your Passport Away

March 14, 2014

They Give it: They Can Take it Back: How DHS Can Take Your Passport Away

Author: Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova

There are two main ways a person may obtain US citizenship: by being born in the US or its territory and via naturalization. Naturalization is a process of conveying US citizenship on an individual who originally held a different citizenship or was a person with no citizenship at all.

It has been said that there is no distinction between US born citizens and those who received citizenship via naturalization. However, one major distinction between the two kinds of citizenship does exist:  the second kind can be taken away from an individual even if he or she has been in citizenship status for decades.

This happened to Hzim who originally received his citizenship in 1989. Even though for decades he held the title of US citizenship and traveled overseas, in 2011, the US Department of Homeland Security decided to “take back” his citizenship, saying that they made a mistake in 1989…

The mistake was that somebody in INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services (USCIS used to be called this way)) did not check all the requirements for Hazim’s naturalization and mistakenly believed Hazim’s father conveyed his citizenship to Hazim…. Even though there was no Hazim’s fault in it all, and even though he did not lie to the US government in any way, the Federal Court, 2nd District said it cannot stop Immigration authorities from taking Hazim’s citizenship away over twenty years later…

Of course, despite the fact that they are taking his citizenship away, Immigration promised Hazim that there are Other means of correcting the situation, but it seems that Hazim should not be the one paying for someone’s lack of qualification and expertise…

That is why it is strongly advisable that everybody who is applying for citizenship, consult with an Immigration attorney to make sure Hazim’s story would not repeat itself.



March 6, 2014

Author: Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

The deadline to reopen cases based on DOMA is approaching.

In June, 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court held that  same sex marriages should be recognized for the purposes of Federal laws, and this caused expansion of the Immigration benefits to the same sex couples.

Subsequently, USCIS held that  all those received denials based solely on Section 3 of DOMA could file their motions to reopen the cases.

March 31, 2014 is  the deadline for requesting that USCIS reopen a petition or application based on a marriage between a same-sex couple that was denied prior to February 23, 2011. To request reopening, send an e-mail to USCIS at and note that you believe the petition was denied on the basis of DOMA section 3.


Crime of Moral Turpitude in Immigration Court and Record of Conviction

February 25, 2014

Author: Criminal Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova

Crime of Moral Turpitude in Immigration Court and Record of Conviction

Conviction of crime of moral turpitude may cause a permanent resident to be deportable if committed within 5 years from the date of admission.  (Date of admission is the date when an alien was admitted to the US or paroled, but does not restart when an immigrant adjusts his or her status as per Matter of ALYAZJI, 25 I&N Dec. 397 (BIA 2011)).

However, what a crime of moral turpitude is, is decided in almost every case separately. Why? Because the term of “crime of moral turpitude” is a term of art.  The Immigration and Nationality act does not provide a definition to it, and courts look at the conviction to determine whether  a particular offense falls under the category of a CMIT.

In doing so, the courts follow the following analysis: first, they look at whether the statute a person was convicted of is divisible or not divisible. A statute is not divisible when it describes only one way to commit a crime. If the statute sets out a list of alternative ways to commit the crime, and where some of these “sub-violations” categorically meet the federal standard while others do not necessarily meet this federal standard, then the statute is divisible.  A statute categorically meets federal standard when every violation of a particular criminal statute meets the generic federal definition.

If a non divisible State statute mimics the Federal definition, there is no reason to look at the record of conviction: the person will be found guilty of crime of moral turpitude for Immigration purposes. If not, the State statue includes acts that will not be punished under the Federal law, then the person will be “off” federal hook for Immigration purposes.

As for divisible statute: most likely the court will look at the record of conviction, which consists of criminal charge, the plea agreement, and any plea or sentencing colloquy. The record of conviction does not include arrest reports, the pre-sentence investigation, the testimony of witnesses, etc. Shepard v. U.S., 544 U.S. 13 (2005); U.S. v. Kovac, 367 F.3d 1116, 1120 (9th Cir. 2004).

In addition, currently, in several Circuits the courts are permitted to look beyond the record of conviction to see if the person committed a CMIT under the Matter of Silva-Trevino.  This might present a problem for an immigrant who, essentially, will have to be re-tried in Immigration court for the same conduct he was tried in criminal court in. The court may look at any necessary and appropriate evidence to determine whether the foreign national’s conduct did, in fact, involve moral turpitude.

If you have questions regarding Immigration court proceedings, call office of Alena Shautsova 917-885-2261.

March 2014 Visa Bulletin is Here

February 8, 2014

Visa Bulletin provides schedule for Immigrant visas for family and employment based immigration. The US government establishes a number of categories for immigrant visas and a certain number of immigrant visas available for each category. As a result, there is a wait time for people in each category to get their immigrant visa, except for those who qualify as intimidate relatives of US citizens (spouses, parents and children under 21  years old).

Each month the Department of State updates Visa Bulletin with current state of the wait time.

You may view the Visa Bulletin for March 2014 here.