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Posts Tagged ‘Orange County’

Naturalization Approved for Huntington Beach Client with Extensive Travel Abroad

November 15th, 2013 No comments
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One of our Naturalization clients from Huntington Beach was approved earlier this week. He had been a permanent resident for over eight years, but just recently decided to naturalize. He met all of the requirements for naturalization, but there was an issue with establishing physical presence in the United States. For the last four years his employer has required him to travel abroad extensively. Over the last year, he typically spent 30-40 days in Central America, then returned to the US for two weeks before traveling again.

One of the requirements for naturalization under INA 316(a) is that the applicant prove that during the five years immediately preceding the filing of the N-400 the applicant has been physically present in the United States at least half the time. Although physical presence and continuous residency are interrelated concepts, they are distinct requirements for naturalization.

In our case, the client wanted to naturalize soon because his frequent travels would eventually make him ineligible to naturalize. In 2008, he did not travel abroad much at all, so he accumulated substantial time in the US. However, in 2012 and 2013, he was spending only one quarter of his time in the United States. When we filed the naturalization case in June, we calculated that he had spent just over 800 days outside the United States. There were 1,826 days in the last five years; therefore, in order to be eligible to naturalize, we had to prove that he spent no more than 913 days abroad.

The naturalization interview was scheduled for September, but our client could not attend, so we rescheduled. The week before the naturalization interview, we recalculated his time outside the United States (because he had traveled abroad since we filed the N-400 with USCIS). After checking and rechecking every passport stamp, flight itinerary and other documents, we concluded that he had spent exactly 913 days outside the United States – half of the last five years.

At the interview, the USCIS officer (who I had worked with on many other cases) looked over the travel records and we answered questions about recent travel. I discussed and explained section 316(a) with the officer and he agreed that my client was just barely eligible to naturalize. At the end of the interview, the case was approved, and my client should receive the oath ceremony notice early next month.

My client was very pleased with the outcome. He looks forward to taking his citizenship oath and possibly filing visa petitions for some family members still living abroad. If you are considering the naturalization process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will meet with you and discuss the facts and law involved in your case so you can be better informed on your options.

Head of American Bankers Association Calls For Republicans to Support Immigration Reform

November 11th, 2013 No comments
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WASHINGTON — The head of the American Bankers Assn., who is a former GOP governor, made a strong pitch Monday to his fellow Republicans to support  the bipartisan Senate immigration reform legislation by invoking party hero Ronald Reagan.

Frank Keating, president of the group since 2011, said in a Times opinion article that Reagan would say “it’s time to open the doors” to immigrants to boost the economy.

Conservatives were wrong to oppose the Senate legislation, supported by President Obama, that would overhaul the system and provide a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people in the country without legal status,” Keating said.

“Unfortunately, too many conservatives — though they aspire to walk in Reagan’s footsteps — have forgotten that immigration reform is the most Republican of causes,” wrote Keating, a self-described Reagan Republican who served as governor of Oklahoma from 1994-2002.

“We cannot support open borders for trade but not for people,” he said in the article, titled “What Would Reagan Do?”

“We cannot make America stronger and more prosperous by excluding tomorrow’s talent and industry.”

Keating, an influential voice in the financial services industry in Washington, joins the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups in trying to push House Republican leaders to take up the immigration reform legislation that passed the Senate in June.

Many House Republicans oppose the comprehensive Senate bill, which includes a controversial  13-year path to citizenship for qualified immigrants.

U Visa Approved for Westminster Client Based on Victim of Domestic Violence; VAWA not available

November 11th, 2013 No comments
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We recently received an approval for one of our U visa clients from Westminster. Her husband was physically violent with her on several occasions, but in 2011 he was arrested by the Westminster Police Department for domestic violence. He ultimately pled guilty to California Penal Code 273.5. While the criminal case was pending, the client came to us to inquire about VAWA or a U visa.

In order to pursue VAWA, the applicant must prove to USCIS that she is married to a US citizen or permanent resident who has been physically abusive or emotionally cruel. In this case, the client’s husband was not a permanent resident or US citizen, so VAWA was not an option.

For U visa eligibility, the alien must prove she has suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying crime. The test for substantiality involves many factors including, but not limited to, the nature of the injury suffered and the severity of the perpetrator’s conduct. In this case, we included a detailed personal statement from the client regarding the pain – physical and emotional – that the abuse caused. We also had one of our psychologists interview her and write a report for us.

Additionally, U visa applicants must prove to USCIS that the alien possesses credible and reliable information establishing that he or she has knowledge of the details concerning the qualifying criminal activity. A certifying official with a qualified certifying agency must attest to the applicant meeting this requirement.  A certifying agency is a federal, state or local law enforcement agency, prosecutor, judge or other authority, that has responsibility for the investigation or prosecution of a qualifying crime or criminal activity. Who qualifies as a certifying official depends on the agency involved. In the present case, we used the district attorney’s office, and they singed off on the U visa petition.

The U visa applicant must prove that she has been helpful, or is being helpful with the investigation and prosecution. Once again the certifying agency/official must sign off on this requirement. Our client was interviewed by the police and cooperated fully with the prosecution of her husband.

When we filed, we included the I-918, supplement B, a signed statement from our client explaining the circumstances surrounding the crime and other evidence to support the U visa application.

We filed the U visa petition with USCIS in Vermont over one year ago, and we just now received the approval notice. The daughter of our client was also approved for U visa status as the unmarried child under 21 years of age. Our client received work authorization and she will be eligible to adjust status to permanent resident in three years.

If you are a foreign-born victim of a serious crime, contact The Nunez Firm to inquire about the U visa process. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the process and whether you can benefit from a U visa.

 

Clarifying the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 and INA 216 Regarding Conditional Residents and Form I-751

October 31st, 2013 No comments
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The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 was enacted because of Congress’s growing concern over aliens seeking permanent residence in the US on the basis of marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident. Congress heard several accounts from US citizens who had been victimized by ex-spouses who married for the sole purpose of obtaining a marriage-based green card. Similarly, government adjudicators offered accounts of couples (a US citizen and foreign born spouse) acting in concert to obtain permanent residency for the alien spouse either as a friendly agreement or as a financial arrangement. (There was also a movie starring Gerard Depardieu and Andie MacDowell.) In such cases, the couple would dissolve the marriage shortly after the alien’s marriage based green card was approved.

In response to these concerns, Congress passed the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 adding INA 216, which created a conditional residence requirement for aliens who acquire permanent residency based on new marriages. Under INA 216 conditional residents  must petition USCIS (then called INS) approximately two years after obtaining the green card. The alien spouse and US citizen must file and I-751 and provide evidence that the couple was still married and conducting themselves as would be expected of a married couple. Section 216 also included a waiver provision as Congress acknowledged that in some circumstances it would be inappropriate to terminate the alien’s residency and deport the alien merely because the marriage did not last. (For more on the I-751 process . . .)

Wedding rings and money

INA 216’s conditional residency requirements apply to:

  • Any alien who, based upon a marriage to either a US citizen or lawful permanent resident obtains permanent residency within two years of such marriage, and
  • Any child of such alien who also obtains permanent residency through his or her parent’s marriage within two years of the marriage.

NOTE: The crucial date when calculating the two years of marriage is at the time of adjustment or admission. For example, if the alien files the I-485 when the alien has been married for one year and six months, but the adjustment interview (and approval) does not occur until after the second anniversary, the alien is not subject to INA 216. Likewise, if the alien consular processes and the visa interview occurs when the marriage is one year and eleven months old, but the alien is not admitted into the United States until after the second anniversary, the alien is not subject to the conditional residence requirements of INA 216.

INA 216 does not apply to the following:

  • a special immigrant classification
  • a refugee or asylee classification
  • a preference classification other than second preference
  • any other provision of the INA, or any other law, which allows dependents to accompany or follow to join a principal alien

Under the Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act, USCIS is required to notify the alien of his/her duty to file the I-751. USCIS must notify the alien on two separate occasions: first, at the time an alien acquires conditional residence; second, approximately ninety days before the second anniversary of the date on which the alien obtained conditional permanent resident status. USCIS will notify the alien of the I-751 requirement at the last known address. However, failure by USCIS to notify the alien does not relieve the alien of his duty to file the I-751. If the alien fails to file the joint I-751 during the ninety days preceding the expiration of the two year green card, his/her status is automatically terminated.

A conditional permanent resident whose I-751 remains pending for an extended period of time may file the N-400 application to naturalize even if the I-751 has not been adjudicated.

If you are approaching the I-751 filing time, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will help you better understand the process. We have represented countless I-751 clients whether they were filing jointly or based on one of the waiver options such as good faith marriage or victim of domestic abuse.

 

O-1 Visa Approved for Rock Musician in Orange County, California

October 7th, 2013 No comments
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An O-1 visa was approved for a musician client of our who is originally from England, and now resides in Huntington Beach. We filed the I-129 and O-1 packet with USCIS in August and utilized premium processing. We received an approval within two weeks, and scheduled the visa application interview in England shortly thereafter.

Prior to filing the visa petition with USCIS, we obtained a no objection letter from the American Guild of Musical Artists in New York.

For O-1 visas, the alien may not self-petition. A US employer or agent must file the petition. If the beneficiary alien will work concurrently for more than one employer during the same time period, each employer must file a separate petition with the service center having jurisdiction over the area where the alien will perform services, unless an established agent files the petition. If the O-1 changes employers, the new employer must file a petition with the service center having jurisdiction over the new place of employment. In this case, our client had his US booking agent sign the Form I-129 petition. The regulations specify required documentation when an agent acts as the petitioner for the O-1. With musicians and other performers, it is common to have the US agent act as the petitioner, because they arrange the short-term employment for the artist.

MH900382763

In order to obtain an O-1 approval, we must provide USCIS with evidence that the musician possesses sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in his or her particular field and that the alien is coming to work in that field. Generally, USCIS wants to see major awards given to the beneficiary, significant critical acclaim, good reviews, recommendations from experts and colleagues in the field, record of high salary, and other evidence that shows the alien’s ability is extraordinary. USCIS wants to see that the alien has sustained international and national acclaim and a demonstrated record of high level accomplishment, achievement or distinction.

The maximum time period for an approved O-1 is three years, and we received the full three years in this case. The beneficiary is permitted to enter the US up to 10 days before the validity period begins. One year extensions are available as well.

Once the case is approved by USCIS, it is forwarded to the appropriate consulate for processing. In this case, London. The client attended the consular interview in London and everything went smoothly. He plans to start performing in the US later this month.

If you are considering an O-1 petition, contact The Nunez Firm. We have helped musicians, dancers and other artists obtain O-1 visas, and we can assess whether the O-1 petition is a viable option for you. Managing attorney Jay Nunez has a well deserved reputation for helping his clients achieve their immigration goals.

Naturalization Approved for Huntington Beach Client Under INA 319(a) Based on Spouse of US Citizen for Three Years

October 5th, 2013 No comments
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We recently received the good news that one of our Huntington Beach clients was approved for naturalization. Although the client has been a permanent resident for ten years, we filed the N-400 under INA 319(a). The client had a criminal conviction that occurred four years ago, and we wanted the statutory time period to be three years as opposed to five years.

Under INA 319(a), a lawful permanent resident may apply for naturalization if he has been married to a US citizen for at least three years, and the couple has been living in marital union for three years. The permanent resident must be a lawful permanent resident for at least three years. The benefit of the INA 319(a) is that it shortens the continuous residency requirement and good moral character requirement to three years.

There is more work involved in a 319(a) case because we must prove the couple has been living together. USCIS officers scrutinize these cases more than normal N-400 cases.

The interview went relatively smooth. We provided substantial evidence regarding the marriage. The officer asked many questions about the criminal conviction and we provided the necessary conviction records; however, I had to explain to the officer why my client was eligible to naturalize under INA 319(a). Eventually, I asked to speak to a supervisor who I had worked with many times previously. She agreed with my assessment and the officer eventually approved the case.

If you are considering the naturalization process, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. We handle many naturalization proceedings every year including complex cases involving criminal convictions and routine naturalizations involving clients that want to ensure that everything will go smoothly. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to discuss the facts involved with your case and whether naturalization is a viable option for you.

Form I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver Approved by USCIS for Orange County Client

October 1st, 2013 No comments
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We just received an approval notice for the I-601A Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver that we filed a few months ago. The client currently lives with his wife and two children in Costa Mesa, California. He hired us several years ago to handle the I-601 process; however, due to family complications and economic factors, they held off on moving forward with the I-601 for a long time. When the new I-601A process was announced, we decided that would be a better choice. The new I-601A process went int effect earlier this year, and a few months later we filed for our client’s I-601A provisional unlawful presence waiver.

At the time of filing, we knew this would be a strong case. The US citizen wife had a serious medical condition. The couple had two US citizen children together. The wife could not take care of the the two children without the support, emotional and financial, of the husband. Our client had never been in trouble with the law, and the facts of the case were sympathetic. Our goal was to accurately convey the seriousness of the wife’s situation and explain why she would experience extreme hardship if her husband was not allowed to live in the United States.

The I-601A process was implemented by President Obama to reduce the time that families are separated due to consular processing. With the I-601 process, the alien would travel to his home country to process at the consulate. The consular officer might take weeks or months to review the case, and the alien would remain out of the US during that time. If the case was denied, the alien would stay in the home country for ten years. Under the I-601A process, the alien can apply for the waiver while in the United States. If the I-601A is approved, the alien travels to the home country to process the immigrant visa and likely remains separated from his family for a week or so. Then, he comes back to the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

There are several differences between the I-601A process and the I-601 process, and it is important to fully understand the intricacies of each before deciding which path to pursue. With our client, he will now move forward with the visa application process and coordinating his trip to Ciudad Juarez for the consular interview. If you are considering the I-601A process and consular processing, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you during a confidential consultation so you can better understand the process and decide which options are best for you.

Adjustment of Status Approved for Asylee Client in Fountain Valley

September 23rd, 2013 No comments
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We received an I-485 approval for a Fountain Valley client of ours. He was granted asylum in 2010 based on his fear of returning to his home country. In order for an asylee to adjust status to permanent residency, he must show that he has accumulated one year of continuous physical presence. There is no longer a cap on adjustment approvals for asylees and refugess. Asylees must 1) apply for adjustment; 2) be physically present in the US for at least one year after being granted asylum; 3) continue to be a refugee with the meaning of INA 101(a)(42); 4) not be firmly resettled in another country; and 5) be admissible to the US as an immigrant under the Act upon examination for adjustment.

Certain grounds of inadmissibility do not apply for asylees including public charge, labor certification and immigrant documentation requirements under INA 212(a)(7)(A). Drug trafficking, national security and terrorism grounds cannot be waived. Other grounds such as criminal convictions can be waived, and the asylee should apply for the waiver using Form I-602.

The spouse of an asylee and children under 21 years of age are eligible for derivative asylum status. They may adjust status to permanent residency independent of the principal asylum applicant provided the principal continues to qualify as a refugee and the spouses remain married.

If political conditions in the asylee’s home country during the pendency of the adjustment application so that the person no longer fears persecution, adjustment may be denied, and the denial is not appealable. However, the applicant can have the application renewed in subsequent removal proceedings.

During the pendency of an adjustment application, the asylee may travel abroad, however he should not travel back to his home country.

In this case, our client did not have any grounds of inadmissibility that applied, and the political conditions in his home country were still hostile. He feared returning to his home country. The case was approved without an interview, and our client is now a lawful permanent resident.

If you are contemplating an asylum application or adjustment of status, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. Managing attorney Jay Nunez will personally meet with you to help you better understand the process.

I-485 Application to Adjust Status Approved for VAWA Client in Anaheim; Green Card Issued

September 13th, 2013 No comments
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I recently attended an adjustment interview at USCIS Santa Ana with a VAWA client of mine. Her I-360 was approved earlier this year when the Vermont Service Center found that she was victim of domestic abuse after entering into a good faith marriage with a US citizen. When we filed the I-360 with the Vermont Service Center, we also filed the I-485 application for adjustment of status to permanent resident. After the I-360 was approved, the file was transferred to the local Santa Ana office because Anaheim Hills, where my client resides, is located in Orange County.

At the interview, the officer asked questions about my client’s immigration history, criminal history, etc. I had prepared my client well for what she should expect at the interview, and, although she was somewhat nervous, she did great. Because the issue of domestic violence and good faith marriage had already been determined, the officer did not ask any questions in that regard. The officer approved the case on the spot. The green card will be sent to our office because, as is the case with most VAWA cases, USCIS does not want to send important documents to the applicant’s residence.

If you are foreign born and the victim of domestic violence, contact The Nunez Firm to schedule a consultation. We handle many VAWA cases every year, and managing attorney Jay Nunez can help determine whether the U visa or the VAWA process is the better option for you.

List of U Visa Crimes that Qualify Under Immigration and Nationaly Laws

September 11th, 2013 No comments
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Here is a list of crimes that will qualify a foreign born alien for a U visa provided the individual meets all other U visa requirements:

Abduction
Abusive Sexual Contact
Blackmail
Domestic Violence
Extortion
False Imprisonment
Genital Female Mutilation
Felonious Assault
Hostage
Incest
Involuntary Servitude
Kidnapping Manslaughter
Murder
Obstruction of Justice
Peonage
Perjury
Prostitution
Rape
Sexual Assault
Sexual Exploitation
Slave Trader
Torture
Trafficking
Witness Tampering
Unlawful Criminal Restraint
Other Related Crimes

The other related crimes option should not be disregarded. It is possible to argue that a crime is substantially similar in severity and therefore should qualify the applicant for a U visa.

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