With Congress Refusing to Act President Obama Pursues Executive Action to Reform US Immigration Laws

June 30th, 2014 No comments
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama said on Monday he would take executive action to reform the U.S. immigration system after hopes of passing legislation in Congress officially died.

Republican John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, told Obama last week that his chamber would not vote on immigration reform this year, killing chances that a wide-ranging bill passed by the Senate would become law.

The collapse of the legislative process delivers another in a series of blows to Obama’s domestic policy agenda and comes as he struggles to deal with a flood of unaccompanied minors from Central America who have entered the United States.

It also sets up a new battle with congressional Republicans, who accuse Obama of going beyond his legal authority to take executive action on issues such as gay rights and equal pay for women and men.

Obama chided House Republicans for refusing to bring immigration reform to a vote and said only legislation could provide a permanent fix to the problem.

“I take executive action only when we have a serious problem, a serious issue, and Congress chooses to do nothing. And in this situation, the failure of House Republicans to pass a darn bill is bad for our security; it’s bad for our economy, and it’s bad for our future,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden.

“America cannot wait forever for them to act. That’s why today I’m beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress.”

The president directed Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to move enforcement resources from the U.S. interior to the border to promote public safety. He said he asked his team to prepare recommendations on other actions he can take unilaterally by the end of the summer.

Joint I-751 Approved for Riverside Couple; No Interview Requested

June 23rd, 2014 No comments
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We received another I-751 Approval without an interview. We represented this couple in obtaining the husband’s marriage-based green card in 2011. Because the marriage was less than two years old at the time of the adjustment of status, he was issued a conditional permanent resident card with a two year expiration date. When it came time to petition for the removal of conditions, we represented them again.

We provided USCIS with substantial evidence to show their relationship was still viable and entered into in good faith. We provided over a hundred pages of evidence. After only a few months, we received the approval notice for the I-751. Unlike the adjustment of status process in which USCIS must conduct an interview with the married couple, the I-751 process does not require an interview. If the USCIS officer charged with reviewing the I-751 is satisfied that the evidence proves good faith marriage, the officer can waive the interview and approve the case. If the officer remains unconvinced, s/he can schedule an interview.

Over the last 18 months, all of our joint I-751 petitions have been granted without an interview. If your conditional permanent residency is expiring in the next six months, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will help you understand the process and assess how we can help you.

Chile Joins Visa Waiver Program

June 13th, 2014 No comments
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Beginning March 31, 2014, Chileans meeting the criteria of the Visa Waiver Program may travel to the United States for business or tourism, for up to 90 days, without a visa.

The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of participating countries to travel to the United States without a visa for stays of 90 days or less, when they meet all requirements explained below. Travelers must be eligible to use the VWP and have a valid Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) approval prior to travel.

Chile is the first and only country from South/Central America to join the Visa Waiver Program.

July Visa Bulletin Shows Employment-Based Second Preference Jumped

June 11th, 2014 No comments
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The Department of State released the July 2014 Visa Bulletin. The Employment-Based Second Preference, which covers members of professions holding advanced degrees and aliens of exceptional ability, jumped for Indian nationals. The June 2014 bulletin show processing for May 2004; however, the July 204 bulletin jumped to September 2008. This date could retrogress soon, so aliens with EB2 priority dates before September 2008 should consult their immigration attorneys to see about filing for adjustment of status as soon as possible.

If you are considering a visa petition based on family relationship or employment, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you and help you better understand your options and the overall process.

Joint I-751 for Irvine Client Approved After Only Four Months

June 4th, 2014 No comments
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We just received great news that one of our Irvine clients was approved for removal of conditions on permanent residency. We filed the I-751 form with USCIS in late January about ninety days before her conditional green card was set to expire. We provided evidence that the couple lived together and although they do not have any children, we provided documents showing that they’ve worked with fertility specialists. We included over a hundred pages of evidence to support a finding of good faith marriage. We represented these clients with the marriage based adjustment of status process two years ago, so we knew exactly what had been filed previously in their case.

The case was approved without an interview. The couple is happy with the outcome and looks forward to visiting the wife’s family this summer. If you have a conditional green card and the expiration date is set to expire in the next six months, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the process.

O-1 Visa Reissued by Consulate in Sydney After Client Loses Passport and Visa

June 2nd, 2014 No comments
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One of our clients lost his passport and O-1 visa a few months ago. The O-1 visa is reserved for aliens with an extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, business, athletics, education, motion picture and television. He originally obtained the O-1 based on his musical abilities and his work with well-known rock bands in Orange County. When he lost his passport and visa, he became unable to enter the US. We had him file a police report and apply for a new passport. Once he had the passport, we schedule him for a consular interview in Sydney, Australia. He provided all the evidence we originally filed for the O-1 along with an updated itinerary and proof that he was still touring with his band in the US. Everything went smoothly with the consular processing and he was issued the visa. He should be landing in the US within the next couple days.

If you are considering the O-1 visa process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you and help you better understand the standard of proof for the O-1 visa and whether your case is viable and worth pursuing.

I-824 Granted For Los Angeles Client; Next Step Consular Processing for Daughter in Manila

May 28th, 2014 No comments
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We recently filed an I-824 for one of our clients in Los Angeles. She was approved for VAWA using an I-360. A couple months ago, she adjusted her status to permanent resident based on VAWA and received her green card. When an alien is approved for VAWA, her dependent minor children become eligible for immigrant visas and green cards. Her daughter still lives in the Philippines, so we filed the I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Case asking USCIS to transfer the file to the National Visa Center (Department of State) so they could forward the case to the US consulate in the Philippines. Then, we can process the daughter’s immigrant visa through consular processing.

We hope the consulate in Manila will receive the file in the next couple months so we can get the daughter reunited with her mother as soon as possible.

If you are interested in immigrating a family member to the US from another country, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you during a confidential appointment and help you better understand your options, the process and what to expect.

Three Different Standards (Definitions) of Extraordinary Ability for O-1 Visa

May 26th, 2014 No comments
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The O-1 Visa, often called the superstar visa, is for foreign-born persons of extraordinary ability. Individuals with an extraordinary ability in sciences, arts, business, athletics, education, motion picture and television are eligible for an O-1 visa; however, the standard for proving extraordinary ability depends on which subcategory the alien qualifies.

Three different standards exist for proving extraordinary ability: 1) Science, educational, business or athletics; 2) Arts; and 3) Motion pictures and television. If the alien claims extraordinary ability in science, education, business or athletics, the alien must demonstrate sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise and is coming to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. Under this category, “extraordinary” is defined as a level of expertise indicating that person is one of the small percentage who have risen to the very top of the field of endeavor. Scientists, researchers, professors and physicians can qualify under this category of O-1. Additionally, CEOs, CFOs, executives, entrepreneurs, investment bankers and athletes can qualify.

To qualify, the aline must show that she has received a major, internationally recognized award (such as a Nobel Prize), or she can satisfy the evidentiary requirements by meeting three of the following lesser criteria:

  • membership in an association requiring outstanding achievement
  • published materials written by others about the alien
  • lesser national or international prizes or award
  • participation as a judge of the work of others
  • authorship of books or articles
  • high compensation or salary
  • original contributions of major significance
  • employed in a critical or essential role for a distinguished organization

If the alien claims extraordinary ability in the Arts, the alien must still prove sustained national or international acclaim and recognition for achievements in the field of expertise and is coming to the US to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability. However, the definition of extraordinary  is different. The alien must prove distinction – a high level of achievement in the field of arts evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered to extent that a person described as prominent is renowned, leading or well-known in the field of arts. The O-1 visa for Artists can work for visual effects artists, animators, architects, graphic designers, fashion designers, stylists, make-up artists, musicians, photographers, chefs, dancers, sound engineers, choreographers, music producers, and writers among others.

To qualify as an Artist O-1, the alien must prove that she has either been nominated or received a significant national or international award or prize such as a Grammy, or meet three out of the following criteria:

  • press/media coverage
  • significant recognition for achievements from organizations or experts
  • high compensation in relation to others in the field
  • prior starring roles in major productions
  • critical or commercial success

If the alien claims to have extraordinary ability in motion pictures and/or television, the alien must demonstrate a record of extraordinary achievement in motion picture and/or television productions and who is coming to the United States to continue work in the are of extraordinary achievement. Extraordinary is defined as a very high level of accomplishment in the motion picture or television industry evidenced by a degree of skill and recognition significantly above that ordinarily encountered to the extent that the person is recognized as outstanding, notable or leading in the motion picture or television field. This O-1 visa is primarily for actors, producers, directors, cinematographers, editors, writers, production designers, costume designers and set designers among others. In order to meet the evidentiary standard, the alien should prove that she has been nominated for or received a significant national or international award such as an Academy Award, Emmy or Golden Globe, or meets three of the following criteria:

  • press/media coverage
  • significant recognition from organizations or experts
  • lead or starring role for distinguished production
  • lead, starring or critical role for distinguished organization
  • high compensation in relation to others in the field
  • major critical or commercial success

At first glance, the O-1 would appear too difficult to qualify for unless the alien is well-known throughout the world. However, that is not always the case. The Nunez Firm has successfully represented up-and-coming artists in many fields of endeavor from music to ballroom dancing. If you are curious about the O-1 process and whether you may qualify, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the standard of proof and how it applies to you.

FOIA Reveals USCIS Training Materials on Adjudication I-601A Unlawful Presence Waivers

May 22nd, 2014 No comments
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A Freedom of Information Act request filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association revealed the standard operating procedures used by USCIS adjudicators when deciding I-601A unlawful presence waivers. Although I cannot recreate the entire 67-page manual here, some interesting points regarding the interpretation of the term “extreme hardship” included:

  • USCIS considers extreme hardship greater than common results expected when a family member is refused entry. Common consequences include family separation, economic detriment and readjusting to a new way of life among many others.
  • USCIS officers are advised to consider factors both individually and collectively. While hardship that is common to all experiences will not generally lead to a finding of extreme hardship, when assessed cumulatively, common consequences may lead to a finding of extreme hardship.
  • Extreme hardship does not need to be unique or unusual  and should not be confused with the higher standard of exceptional  and extremely unusual hardship.
  • Officers are advised to consider health considerations including ongoing or specialized treatment along with availability and quality of health care in home country. They should pay attention to long v. short term care.
  • Financial considerations are important – future employability, financial loss due to home sale or business sale, decline in standard of living.
  • Educational opportunities are a factor as well.
  • Close relatives in the United States and whether those relatives rely on the qualifying relative for financial or emotional support
  • Safety in home country – would the qualifying relative be safe there? Do they have family there?

Immigration Service Officers are advised to consider affidavits from the qualifying relative and other individuals with knowledge of claimed hardships, expert opinions, evidence of monthly expenditures, medical records, records of community involvement, official records supporting claims of family ties to the US, country condition reports for home country, and other evidence the applicant provides to support claimed hardships.

The applicant does not need to show that the claimed hardships are unique or unusual, but that the specific factors of the case are such that the hardships the qualifying relative would experience are greater than the common consequences of the bar to admission.

If you are considering the I-601A provisional waiver, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the process and whether we deem your case viable and worth pursuing.

For more information on the I-601A waiver, click here.

 

 

F2A Family Sponsored Immigrant Visas Regress Even Further for June 2014 Visa Bulletin

May 20th, 2014 No comments
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The family sponsored second preference (F2A) category regressed even further in the upcoming visa bulletin for June 2014. The F2A category includes the spouses and children of lawful permanent residents. In September 2013, the F2A category became current, meaning there was no wait time between filing an I-130 and filing for adjustment of status. Many spouses of lawful permanent residents rushed to file I-130 visa petitions concurrently with I-485 applications.

In the new visa bulletin the F2A category will further retrogress to May 2012. For those that filed their I-130 and I-485, this means they will need to wait much longer until the green card will be ready for processing; however, they will be able to renew work authorization until the priority date becomes current (in most cases).

If you are married to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you and help you better understand the process, fees and any complicating issues.

 

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