The HMA Law Firm is proud to announce the opening of our new office located in Tysons Corner, VA! Our new location will officially open on April 20th, 2015.
United States Citizenship & Immigration Services announced on April 13th, 2015 that the H-1B Cap for 2015 had received more than 233,00 petitions for H-1B Specialty Occupation Worker visas as of the the initial filing allowance date of April 1st, 2015 until April 7th, 2015.
On April 13th, 2015, United States Citizenship & Immigration Services conducted a computer-generated selection. USCIS started with the 20,000 allotted spots available for those with advanced degrees, the remainder of petitions with advanced degrees were then counted against the general 65,000 spots available.
USCIS will begin sending notifications in the coming days to the attorney on record or petition employer in the coming days. Selected petitions will be issued the official receipt notice, Form I-797C, starting this week and into the coming weeks. Cases that were not selected in the lottery will not receive a notice. The entire filed petition along with filing fees will be returned to the attorney of record or directly to the petitioning employer.
Was your petition selected? We eagerly await results.
ICE issued an Notice to Appear (NTA - the charging document for initiation of removal (deportation) proceedings) for an alleged alien. The NTA failed to allege alienage, and instead alleged that the person "illegally entered the US by wading across the Rio Grande River near the Presidio, Texas port of entry on 1/15/15 with the intention of going to Dodge City, KS to reside and seek employment."
This individual's date of birth? 1/4/15. That's right. 11 days old. Waded across, somehow, with the intent to seek employment in Dodge City. His mother, by the way, maintains that the child was born on the US side.
I really wouldn't know what to say if this were my case. "Your Honor, we'd like a speedy bond determination. My client has deep ties to the United States, having lived here his whole life. I'm happy to brief the issue, but may we have a brief recess? It's my client's naptime."
If any non-government attorney brought a case this frivolous, they'd face sanctions by the Court and quite possibly the wrath of the Bar. Yet ICE carries on. Not long ago, another ICE attorney in Seattle, Jonathan M. Love, knowingly submitted, and maintained, a clearly forged document in an attempt to deprive a deserving man of deportation relief. Other immigration attorneys report that despite the fact that Judge Hanen's temporary injunction did not reach Obama's executive action memorandum on prosecutorial discretion, ICE has been refusing to follow it.
"But we are a country of laws. The laws need to be followed. We can't reward lawbreakers!"
Pot, meet kettle.
See the redacted "Baby NTA."
Our firm is proud to announce yet another approval for an individual who entered the United States of America prior to the age of sixteen as a grant of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This individual arrived after turning 15 years of age but lacked sufficient proof to establish residency in the U.S. She was not in school. She had barely worked. She didn’t know too many people when she had first entered the United States of America. She came to our office with little evidence and even less hope.
“Do you really think this will work for me? Do you think that I will be granted Deferred Action?” she asked with fear, nervousness and a sense of defeat already in her voice. We assured her of her eligibility and qualifications; the biggest obstacle to overcome was determining what documentation we would have available to submit. Our client did not have much to show her years living in the United States. A common issue we see with our clients applying for deferred action is the ability to show, through proper documentation that they have been in the United States prior to the age of sixteen and before June 15th, 2007.
She came to our office with photographs of her at the local mall during the holiday season and was able to recall the year of the photograph. With a little bit of investigative work, we were able to contact the mall’s holiday decorators. We wanted to prove her presence in the United States by affirmatively showing, with the assistance of the mall decorators, that the decorations on the Christmas tree in the background of her photograph were of the same year required to prove that she had entered the U.S. before the age of sixteen.
With Deferred Action for a Childhood Arrival, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services place a great burden of proof of the Applicant to prove their residency in the U.S. prior to the age of sixteen. Obtaining affidavits (formal statements) can be a form of proof but is a last-ditch effort. Along with our proof of her presence at that specific mall, at that specific time of year but the specific decorator, we affirmatively proved our client was without a doubt, in the U.S. and therefore was eligible to be granted Deferred Action.
Unfortunately, the mall decorators were unable to determine who set up the tree that specific year. But it didn't matter: we were able to show that we did our due diligence.
Our firm prepared a strong Memorandum of Law with our filing to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services along with all of the affidavits of due diligence and other proof of her presence in the United States.
We are proud to welcome our newest Grantee of Deferred Action with three years of valid employment authorization and he ability to live in the United States of America without the fear of deportation hanging over her head at every turn.
Do you think you are eligible for Deferred Action for a Childhood Arrival? Contact our office today to see if you qualify!
[Editor's Note: Despite Judge Hanen's ruling of February 16, 2015, people that qualified under the first DACA announcement in June 2012 are NOT affected and still able to file. They must meet the original requirements, not the "expanded DACA" requirements.]
What makes an undocumented alien "undocumented?" Most people would think, correctly, that it means being present in the United States without permission. It follows, then, that an alien who has permission to be here is "documented." You don't need to be an immigration lawyer (and I am one) to understand this.
Sounds simple enough, right? Apparently not.
On Dec. 2, 2014 Delegate David I. Ramadan (R-Loudoun) introduced a bill (HB 1356) to deny in-state tuition to, as the Post reported on Jan. 2, "some undocumented immigrants." But the bill itself, as also reported by the Post, denies in-state tuition to holders of temporary protected status (TPS) and deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA.) Senator Richard Black's (R-Loudoun) nearly identical bill (SB 722) would have further denied in-state tuition to grantees of the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program which isn't even effective yet (though we are hopeful a preliminary injunction halting it will be eventually lifted.) Thankfully, Sen. Black's bill was defeated by the Senate on January 20, 2015.
TPS and DACA grantees are not undocumented. They have the right to be here, and to work here. They do not accrue unlawful presence. Their immigration benefit, while temporary, is also indefinite. They have the right to apply for a work permit, known officially as an "employment authorization document." TPS, DACA and DAPA are humanitarian and family unification benefits. Authority has existed for years as part of the federal immigration law.
TPS is granted to nationals of those countries the Secretary of Homeland Security designates as unsafe for return. Countries with TPS designations include El Salvador, Honduras, Somalia, Syria, and most recently, Ebola-stricken Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
DACA is granted to those aliens who entered the US before the age of 16 who meet other continuity of presence and educational requirements. Both require relatively clean criminal records, with forgiveness for only one misdemeanor.
So let me put this into perspective. The new bill would deny in-state tuition to a Salvadorean teen who's been in the United States lawfully since the age of 4. Or a Syrian college student who was forced to flee her country for daring take part in an anti-government demonstration. Or a Somali youth who refused to join the Al Shabab terrorist group. All who would be in the United States with the blessing of the federal government, working legally, and paying taxes with their own valid social security number. Yet they would be locked out of a fair chance to pursue education and contribute to Virginia.
Let me repeat: TPS and DACA grantees are NOT undocumented!
Our immigration law at its core protects the vulnerable, upholds the great welcoming tradition of America, and values family unity - despite Judge Hanen's abhorrent ruling agreeing with certain states that immigration policy used to be "profamily."
Del. Ramadan and Sen. Black apparently believe their constituents spoke in a clear voice that they wanted a ban on in-state tuition. My simple question to these lawmakers is: If the existing Virginia law already pretermits an undocumented immigrant from receiving in-state tuition, why are you targeting two of the most vulnerable groups of documented immigrants?
Hassan M. Ahmad, Esq.
United States Citizenship & Immigration Services held a Public Service Engagement conference call with Mariela Melero, Associate Director of Customer Service and Public Engagement on Tuesday, January 13th, 2015 in order to address policy changes and updates in regards to the Deferred Action for a Childhood Arrival program. As of right now, there will not be any additional changes from the initial Executive Action announcement made by President Obama on November 20th, 2014 but we do have minor updates from the USCIS Directors as to what we should expect:
1. Individuals who entered the United States of America on or prior to January 1st, 2010 and are filing for Deferred Action for a Childhood Arrival will still need to prove residence in the U.S. as of June 15th, 2012; the residence date in the United States has not changed.
2. The prior age limit to a potential Applicant was thirty one years of age. The new Executive Action now allows an individual to apply regardless of their current age. The individual will still need to have been in the United States of America prior to the age of 16 and will have to have been in the United States of America prior to January 1st, 2010 and be able to show residency in the U.S. on June 15th, 2012.
3. All Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival initial requests and renewal requests will now be granted deferred action and employment authorization for a period of three years rather than the prior two years for all approved requester's who submitted their applications as of November 20th, 2014.
4. The expectation of Deferred Action for a Childhood Arrival expansion to open up for new eligible applications is tentatively Feburary 18th, 2015; 90 days from the date of President Obama's Executive Action announcement.
5. The required forms will be the same. Deferred Action for a Childhood Arrival requires individuals to file the Forms I-821D, Form I-765 and Form I-765WS along with all supporting documentation. There will be no increase in the current filing fees of $465.00.
As policy updates and regulations continue to be announced, our firm will be posting regular updates for any/all changes to the Deferred Action for a Childhood Arrival program. Additionally, there will be a Public Service Engagement for the new Deferred Action for a Parent Arrival on January 22nd, 2015. Our firm will be attending that engagement and will have updates shortly after. Please check back again soon for additional updates.
Faisal Z. Khan
E-Verify is an Internet-based system that can be used by an employer to confirm employee identify and employment eligibility of job applicants before hiring them. The system compares information from an employee's Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification (which every employer is required to have every employee fill out), to data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records.
Upon completion of the form I-9, the employer uses E-Verify to confirm the information provided on the Form I-9, which is usually based on documentation provided by the employee. E-verify provides instant results for the employer and displays case results within a few seconds of submission.
A rejected employee has 8 days after rejection within which to file an appeal to demonstrate that he or she has the legal right to work. As an employer, it makes good sense to advise the employee about their rights. Otherwise the employer is then duty-bound to terminate the employee, or face sanction from ICE for knowingly hiring an undocumented worker.
The good news is that E-Verify is free and the fastest online service of its kind that verifies employees' data against millions of government records and provides results within as little as three to five seconds. For interested employers, follow this link to download the E-verify user manual.
It is important for businesses at risk to create a process for using e-verify, with templated and compliant notices given so that in case of an ICE audit, there is a written record of compliance. This can help avoid fees and lengthy court battles with OCAHO.
Many businesses are concerned - especially with the ongoing legislation to make e-verify mandatory - about these compliance issues and E-Verify. Indeed, in many states, it already is mandatory. Like almost anything related to immigration, E-Verify is controversial for its potential to reject properly authorized workers. Nevertheless, for businesses concerned about getting hit with an ICE audit or raid, knowledge about the system is key. Be proactive and protect your business.
Have you ever voted in any sort of elections as a Greencard Holder? If yes, then you may have sabotaged your chances of applying for US citizenship in the future by making a false claim to citizenship, because only a US citizen is entitled to register and vote. Green card holders (lawful permanent residents) have no such right. INA § 212(a)(6)(C)(ii) states “an alien who falsely represents, or has falsely represented, himself or herself to be a citizen of the United for a purpose or benefit under the Act is inadmissible.” INA § 237(a)(3)(D)(i) states “any alien who falsely represents, or has falsely represented, himself to be a citizen of the United States for any purpose or benefit under this Act (including section 274A) or any Federal or State law is deportable.”
The dangerous thing about this subsection is that there is no waiver. That means if USCIS finds that you did make a false claim to citizenship, you lose your green card, and there is no defense. You have to prove that the false claim was either recanted, or not a false claim as a matter of law.
On the form N-400, Application for Naturalization (citizenship), Questions 1, 2, & 3 under part 11, all pertain to making a false claim to citizenship by way of registering to vote or actually voting. Many people assume that the answer to question number 1 under Part 11 of the N-400 form is “No”, when it should in fact be marked “Yes” if you have ever registered to vote or voted.
Our firm has successfully won approvals and gotten citizenship for a series of our clients who made a “False claim to citizenship” by way of inadvertently registering or voting in elections. Many people have made the error of registering at the Department of Motor Vehicles by marking “Yes” to one of the questions on their application for a drivers license. Not knowing that one small oversight can create a huge problem in the future.
We can help. First, we have a process that entails several steps to get you successfully de-registered as soon as possible. And then we put a case together for you and argue that even if a false claim to citizenship has been, it has been recanted in a timely manner. If you fear that you you may inadvertently registered or actually voted, contact our firm as soon as possible. At the very least, you will want to check all voter rolls in all counties you have lived to make sure there is no record of you ever having registered to vote. But the time to do it is now. Every case is different, so if this c
And almost before it even started, FY2015 H-1B season is OVER.
USCIS announced today that the cap has been reached. All H-1B's received this week will be subject to a lottery. So far we don't know how many were received, but a lot of people are going to be very (and justifiably) angry.
Now the US can't tap into the worldwide talent pool for another 18 months. We need Congress to act NOW. Is this a sign of economic recovery? It is at least an indication. But one thing's for sure: it's a sign of how out-of-touch our immigration system is. There are clearly enough employers needing to hire foreign workers who are by definition highly skilled.
It does feel like 2007/2008 (and 2013) again. I hope Congressional action makes 2014 a different year.
A lot of our clients frequently use different addresses for different purposes. This may be because an address used is "more permanent," or another address is less reliable, or someone else lives at that address who cannot be trusted to keep important mail from USCIS or the immigration courts.
Many times, confusion over addresses is caused by a lack of understanding of what "residence" means for immigration purposes.
Here are the ground rules:
1. For immigration purposes, your address is where you sleep at night. It doesn't matter whether you intend to move out shortly, or whether it's just a "school" address, etc. If you sleep there, it's your address. Intent does not matter. See INA 101(a)(33). You cannot use a "care of" address as your own.
2. If you give an address to immigration at which you do not actually "reside," you are 1) giving false information which could result in denial of your immigration benefit, and 2) you are telling immigration that you do not always tell the truth. You might not have any intent to mislead immigration, but they will always think the worse of you for it.
3. If you do not change your address in the proper manner, then anything immigration sends you to the old address is considered valid, even if you don't ever receive it. Moreover, failure to update your address with USCIS is actually a deportable offense.
Bottom line: your address is very important. It builds credibility and it protects you from deportation.
Everyone's situation is different. Sometimes people do not have a fixed address. And there are different procedures for changing your address depending on your situation. As always, we are here to help you, so please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.
DISCLAIMER: If a blog post you read here contains case results, be advised that case results depend upon a variety of factors unique to each case. Case results do not guarantee or predict a similar result in any future case.
Hassan M. Ahmad, Esq.