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IL immigration attorneyImmigrants who are hoping to live in the United States and those who are already present in the country may encounter a variety of issues that will affect their legal status and their ability to obtain the necessary visas or Green Cards. One issue that may arise during the immigration process involves inadmissibility, in which immigration officials determine that a person is not eligible to enter the U.S. Fortunately, this will not necessarily prevent a person from immigrating to the United States, and waivers of inadmissibility may be available in certain situations.

Applying for Waivers of Inadmissibility

While there are multiple reasons why a person may be inadmissible, waivers may be available if a person meets certain requirements. These requirements include:

  • Inadmissibility for health-related reasons - If a person is inadmissible because they have been diagnosed with an infectious disease such as gonorrhea, syphilis, or leprosy, they may qualify for a waiver if they are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder or if they are applying for a visa under the Violence Against Women Act. A person who is inadmissible because they have not received required vaccinations may receive a waiver if they can provide evidence they are opposed to vaccinations because of sincerely-held religious beliefs. Those who are inadmissible due to physical or mental health disorders that are associated with harmful behavior may be able to receive a waiver if they can provide a complete medical history that includes findings about their current condition and details treatment that is available in the United States that is expected to reduce the likelihood of future harmful behavior.
  • Inadmissibility based on criminal convictions - Waivers may be available for those who are inadmissible due to crimes of moral turpitude, controlled substance violations, prostitution, or multiple criminal convictions that resulted in prison sentences of at least five years. In general, a waiver will be available if at least 15 years have passed since the criminal activity in question, although waivers may also be available in other situations.
  • Inadmissibility based on unlawful presence - A person who remained in the United States illegally for between six months and one year will be inadmissible for three years, while a person who was in the U.S. illegally for more than one year will be inadmissible for 10 years. However, these immigrants may qualify for waivers in some cases.

In many cases, a person may qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility if they can show that being denied admission to the United States would result in extreme hardship for an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder. A person who is not currently in the United States or who is applying for an adjustment of status may file Form I-601 to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. Those who are currently in the U.S. may file Form I-601A if they have already applied for an immigrant visa and would be inadmissible due to unlawful presence.

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IL immigration lawyerThere are many different types of issues that can affect a person’s legal status as an immigrant to the United States. People who have entered the U.S. on an immigrant or non-immigrant visa or who have received a Green Card through adjustment of status may face deportation based on a number of factors, including certain types of criminal convictions. An experienced immigration attorney can help immigrants understand the types of convictions that may cause a person to be deported and the options for addressing these issues.

What Types of Crimes Make a Person Deportable?

Immigration laws are meant to protect the health and safety of those who live in the United States, and immigrants who commit offenses that may cause harm to other people may be subject to deportation. Some offenses will automatically lead to deportation, while others may lead immigration officials to detain a person and initiate removal proceedings because they believe that a person presents a risk of harm to others.

Generally, deportation proceedings may address the following types of crimes:

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DuPage County immigration attorneyA recent decision by a Texas federal judge has dealt a blow to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program in the United States, which currently provides protection for hundreds of thousands of immigrants. With the judge’s ruling that the program is illegal, the program will no longer be accepting new applicants, and the status of those who are currently in the program could also come into question.

The DACA Program

In 2012, then-President Obama created the DACA program in order to provide a reprieve from deportation for undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country as children. Many of these Dreamers–a term frequently used to refer to those protected by DACA–are now adults. Since the program was created, more than 800,000 Dreamers have been accepted.

In 2018, then-President Donald Trump tried shutting down the program, but was barred from doing so by a number of legal actions. In 2020, the U.S. Supreme Court finally ruled that the Trump administration could not dissolve the program since it had failed to provide a sufficient justification to end the program.

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Itasca IL immigration lawyerIn January, the Biden administration announced plans for the U.S. Citizenship Act of 2021 with the goal of implementing significant immigration reform. The bill was formally introduced in both the House and the Senate in February and is currently working its way through the legislative process in both chambers. The bill contains hundreds of pages of legalese, as most congressional bills do. The goal of the bill is much more direct: “To provide an earned path to citizenship, to address the root causes of migration and responsibly manage the southern border, and to reform the immigrant visa system, and for other purposes.”

Breakdown of the Bill

If it passes, the new law would create the largest immigration legalization program in United States history. Some of the key highlights of the bill include the following:

  • Many undocumented immigrants would be eligible for lawful prospective immigrant (LPI) status if they were physically here in the U.S. on or before January 1, 2021. LPI status would allow them to stay in the country lawfully, be eligible for social security cards and work authorizations, and travel outside the U.S. and be readmitted as long as the time away does not exceed 180 days. They would also be able to renew their LPI status every six years; however, if the individual passes a national security and criminal background check and pays taxes, they would be eligible for lawful permanent residence (LPR) status in five years. It is estimated that this new rule would apply to about 11 million undocumented immigrants. Other immigrants who would also be eligible for LPI status are those who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic at jobs that are deemed “essential critical labor or services,” temporary protected status (TPR) recipients, and temporary agricultural workers classified as H-2A.

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Itasca IL immigration lawyerPresident Biden has announced that his administration will be limiting the number of immigration arrests that take place at courthouses. According to the new policy, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents will no longer have the authorization to carry out routine arrests at courthouses.

ICE agents will still be able to arrest individuals in cases in which matters of national security are at risk or the individual poses a threat to public safety. They will also be able to arrest an individual who is the subject of an active pursuit or if there is suspicion the individual may destroy evidence.

Addressing Fears of Law Enforcement

The policy of immigration arrests at courthouses was put in place by the Trump administration and allowed ICE agents to make routine immigration arrests at federal, state, and local courthouses. The practice is believed to have caused many people to avoid cooperating with law enforcement or attending court hearings. Many undocumented immigrants were fearful of confronting domestic abusers or testifying at trials because they feared being arrested by ICE agents and then facing deportation charges.

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Itasca immigration attorneyWith registration for H-1B visas approaching in March, it is important to understand eligibility requirements and the process for obtaining them. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the H-1B is a visa in the United States that allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. Typically, these jobs require specialized knowledge and a Bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience. The average duration is three years, but they can be extended to six years in some cases, after which the visa holder may need to reapply. Immigration laws limit the number of H-1B visas that are issued each year, so for those foreign nationals seeking an H-1B visa, it is important to properly complete the registration.

Bodies of Work

The H-1B nonimmigrant classification applies to individuals who wish to perform duties in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit, the ability for a Department of Defense (DOD) research and development project, or services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability.

H-1B specialty occupations can be performed in the following fields: 

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DuPage County immigration attorney DACA

A federal court recently ordered full reinstatement of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that was created under the Obama administration, which protects undocumented immigrants who are brought to the United States as children from deportation. This ruling reverses the decision of the outgoing Trump administration, and it will help many people, including a large number of Indian immigrants. President Trump’s administration tried ending DACA in 2017, but the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the attempt. DACA allows those individuals with unlawful presence in the United States after being brought to the country as children to defer deportation for two years and become eligible for a work permit in the United States. Often referred to as “Dreamers,” DACA recipients cannot have any felony or serious misdemeanor convictions on their records. In addition, it only applies to those who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and who have lived in the country continually since 2007.

The Details for Dreamers

More than 600,000 immigrants are enrolled in the DACA program. Per President Trump’s orders last September, DACA was set to end March 5. The administration immediately stopped taking new applications for DACA and accepted renewals for approximately one month. They were hoping the deadline might pressure Congress to come up with a substitute for DACA. In the meantime, two judges have ordered the current administration to accept renewals again. Since DACA is granted for a two-year period, some immigrants will not see their DACA benefits end right away.

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Itasca immigration lawyerAfter being passed by Congress and signed by the President on October 1, 2020, a new law will make USCIS’s Premium Processing service more efficient for those who are going through the U.S. immigration system. Previously, employers and individuals could experience long and unpredictable processing times before receiving USCIS benefits. This expedited processing service allows an applicant to pay an additional fee and receive expedited processing of the petition within a designated timeline. Under the new legislation, USCIS will make Premium Processing available for almost all employment-based immigration and non-immigrant petitions, as well as petitions for their dependents, and petitions for an extension or change of visa status. Premium processing provides expedited processing for the Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker and the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. These forms guarantee processing in a period of 15 calendar days to immigrants who would like to use the service. If that time frame is not met for any reason, the USCIS will reimburse an individual for the cost of the premium processing service fee and proceed with expedited processing.

New Legislation Aims to Expedite the Process

In addition to the opportunity to pay USCIS for faster service, the new processing update will be expanded to cover new immigration categories. The employment authorization document (EAD) is one example of the processes that can be greatly affected. USCIS used to have a 90-day limit on processing the applications, but these have slowed to six months or longer in certain service centers.

Before this new legislation, USCIS guidelines guaranteed processing within 15 calendar days and the cost of premium processing was $1,440 for those applying for temporary visas. For immigrant applications, premium processing was available, with certain exceptions, for the employment-based (EB-1, 2, 3) visas.

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Itasca immigration lawyerThe path to U.S. citizenship can be complicated for someone coming from another country, especially when a language barrier is involved. There are various legal steps that must be taken to ensure legal entry to the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that oversees the country’s immigration and naturalization process. Obtaining lawful permanent resident (LPR) status means an immigrant will receive what is called a Green Card. This is an important step in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen through naturalization.

Grounds for Deportation

The U.S. government has the right to remove an undocumented immigrant from the country under certain circumstances. A criminal conviction is one of the most common reasons that an individual would be deported. While not all crimes are grounds for deportation, violent offenses in addition to the smuggling of undocumented immigrants into the United States may warrant an immigrant to be removed. These grounds typically include aggravated felony convictions or more than one conviction for criminal offenses that carry a jail sentence of more than one year. It is important to note that a jail sentence does not have to be served to warrant deportation or removal.

Below are a few of the criminal acts that can lead to deportation or removal from the United States:

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Itasca immigration lawyerPeople across the globe dream of immigrating to the United States for a better life. In some cases, they may have family members who are already in the country and want to join them. For some, seeking asylum here offers freedom from persecution. In other scenarios, individuals may come to America specifically for employment reasons. Regardless of the reasons, once an immigrant lawfully enters this country, he or she will likely need to find a job to support himself or herself. If someone has a family, it may be even more critical to find work. Building a new life in a different country can be daunting, and trying to find a job may be especially difficult. Below is some practical advice for finding work once you complete the immigration process. 

Understanding Your Work Options

If you want to work in the United States legally, you will need to gain official permission by obtaining a work visa. Through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal government offers various visas for different purposes. Some are for a temporary period of time, while others are permanent. Foreign nationals who wish to work in the United States for a short time would obtain non-immigrant visas. These documents are not necessarily intended to provide a path to permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship. 

Each year, the U.S. government offers a certain number of employment-based (EB) visas that allow workers to remain and work in the States permanently. The majority of EB visas are allotted for employees who possess specialized skills or whose work is considered valuable to the United States.

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The worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 has changed the way we live in just a matter of months. Local governments have issued “stay at home” orders and non-essential businesses have been closed for an indefinite amount of time. Individuals across the globe are practicing social distancing in an effort to flatten the curve for the number of new cases. Recently, the U.S. federal government announced the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The largest economic relief bill in U.S. history, the stimulus package will allocate $2.2 trillion in support to individuals and businesses affected by the economic plunge due to the virus. Those people who are in the midst of the U.S. immigration application process may be wondering how the CARES Act will affect their cases, especially in regards to the new Public Charge rule. 

Public Charge Rule 

Itasca immigration lawyerIn response to the coronavirus crisis, USCIS recently announced that the Public Charge rule cannot restrict access to testing, screening, or treatment of communicable diseases, including COVID-19. A Public Charge is defined as an individual who cannot support themselves through employment, financial assets, or assistance from family and instead relies on government benefits. According to U.S. immigration law, an individual who is considered likely to become a public charge is “inadmissible.” This means that they can be denied a Green Card or visa to be admitted into the country. The new Public Charge rule expands the types of publicly funded programs that are used to assess if a person is likely to become a public charge in the future. 

Certain immigrants who are residing in the United States, such as DACA recipients, may be eligible for the COVID-19 stimulus package payment that is on its way to families and individuals. However, some are concerned that this payment could be classified as a public benefit, which could influence a public charge determination later. 

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Posted on in Immigration

DuPage County immigrant visa attorney

When does the New Public Charge Rule take effect?

Adjustment of Status Applications filed on or after Monday, February 24, 2020 will be subject to the new rule.

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Posted on in Immigration

DuPage County adjustment of status attorney

On Monday, February 24, 2020, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is mandating the implementation of its new Public Charge Rule across the United States.

History

It has been part of immigration law since 1882 that those coming to the United States could not become a public charge, meaning that one emigrating to the United States could not expect the U.S. government to provide financial support to the intending immigrant. The term initially used was “professional beggars.”

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Itasca immigration attorneyThe U.S. immigration process can be a confusing and time-consuming endeavor. However, regulations, policies, and procedures are put in place to protect the country and its citizens from harm. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the federal agency that governs how a citizen of a foreign country can legally live and work in the United States or become a naturalized U.S. citizen. A foreign national who seeks to enter the United States must first obtain a U.S. visa. There are various visas available depending on a person’s circumstances and intentions. 

Opportunities Through Employment 

There are two main categories of visas — Nonimmigrant and Immigrant. Nonimmigrant visas are for traveling to the United States on a temporary basis. Immigrant visas allow foreigners to live permanently in the United States. 

One common type of visa is the H-1B. This is an employment-based, non-immigrant visa for temporary workers in the United States. Since it is a company-sponsored visa, an employer must offer a person a job and petition for their H-1B visa through the U.S. immigration department. The approved petition acts as a work permit that allows an individual to obtain a visa stamp and work in the United States for a specified amount of time.

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DuPage County preference-based visa attorney

The answer is maybe. There is a rule called cross-chargeability, which might help. Cross-chargeability allows the beneficiary of a preference category visa petition to be assigned to a country other than that of his or her birth for visa bulletin purposes. This rule allows cross-chargeability between one spouse to another spouse, from parents to their children, and on rare occasions based on the place of habitual residence. Note that children may derive alternative chargeability through their parents, but parents cannot derive from children.

The reason to allow children and/or spouses with different birth countries to use cross-chargeability is to avoid family separation, which immigration law seeks to avoid even though it does not always seem that way. Let us see how cross-chargeability works.

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DuPage County family-based immigration visa attorney

As we all know, if you are the beneficiary of a preference category family-based immigrant petition, the wait can be long. It can be very long. And life goes on. However, no one wants to lose their place in line for eventual immigration to the United States and understanding the Visa Bulletin is key to maintaining your place in line. First, knowing what categories are available is important.

Note, however, those spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of U.S. citizens are considered Immediate Relatives and are not subject to wait for an available visa. This category is numerically unlimited.

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DuPage County preference-based visa attorney

Every month around the 10th of the month, the Department of State publishes the monthly Visa Bulletin, which lists the availability of preference-based visas for family- and employment-based categories.

You might have noticed that there are two tables for each category—Final Action Dates and Dates for Filing. USCIS will indicate every month which chart can be used. But first, what does each chart mean?

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DuPage County fiance visa attorney

These days, people often marry individuals who are not from the same country as them. The ease of travel and increase of students studying abroad has provided Americans with the opportunity to meet friends and possible life partners outside of U.S. borders. Marrying someone from a different culture can lead to an exciting life. Not only are you merging two cultures, but you also must decide where you will live. This can be a difficult decision to make, and many couples decide to remain in the U.S. Making the decision to stay in the United States and getting an approved visa are two different processes altogether. Wanting to stay in America and getting this approval is not as simple as booking a flight home. In these cases, you need the assistance of an experienced immigration attorney. 

The “Fiancé” Visa

Applying for and obtaining an immigration visa can be difficult. Before embarking on the long legal journey ahead of you, it is important to do research to find which visa applies to your situation. The visa for foreign fiancés marrying a U.S. citizen is known as a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. Before the application process can even begin, those couples who are planning on getting married in the United States must file a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. This is the first step in the right direction. This petition will allow your fiancé to legally enter the country before the marriage occurs.

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DuPage County immigration visa lawyer

No one can say definitively what future visa bulletins will look like, but Charlie Oppenheim, the U.S. Department of State’s Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division, occasionally provides some insight into visa number trends and we are sharing them with you.

Family-Based Preference Categories 

We have been happy to see the F2A (spouses and unmarried children under 21 years old of legal permanent resident) category across the board staying current recently, and the trend continues. Charlie reports that demand in this category remains low and there is no indication that a limiting date will be imposed in the near future. This is encouraging news!

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DuPage County immigration visa attorney

If you are the beneficiary of a family-based or employment-based visa petition that is subject to the preference categories (mostly everyone who is not an immediate relative—spouse, parent, or unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen), then you should know that Charlie Oppenheim is the Department of State’s Chief of Visa Control and Reporting Division. He is responsible for issuing the monthly Visa Bulletin. The monthly Visa Bulletin indicates visa availability for any given month.

Understanding Visa Availability

In the immigration process, visa availability is important because you cannot receive an immigrant visa (outside the United States) or get your green card (inside the United States) unless a visa number is available to you. When your petitioner files the I-130 or Labor Certification for you, the date the government receives the filing becomes your Priority Date—your place in line for a visa. The Visa Bulletin indicates visa availability by Priority Date.

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