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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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DuPage County criminal defense lawyerThere is no doubt that domestic violence is a very real problem in Illinois and throughout the country. However, not all accusations of domestic violence are founded on truth. If you have been accused of domestic battery or another form of violence against a household or family member, you may be unsure of how to handle the situation. The state of Illinois takes domestic violence very seriously. Penalties for domestic battery may include heavy fines and jail time. It is important to take steps to protect your rights and avoid worsening the situation you are in.

Remain Calm and Do Not Retaliate Against the Accuser

Being falsely accused of hurting a current or former romantic partner, family member, or housemate is a very emotional experience to go through. Understandably, you may be shocked and angry that you have been accused of a crime that you did not commit. However, the most important step you can take is to remain calm. Do not confront the individual who has accused you of harming him or her. Any contact you make with your accuser may be used as an excuse for an additional allegation of abuse or violence.

Do Not Let Police Interrogate You Without Your Lawyer

When you are in a heightened emotional state, this is no time to talk to the police. Officers may try to ask you questions about the circumstances of the alleged altercation or your relationship with the accuser. Do not answer these questions without speaking to your lawyer first. Anything you say to the police may be used as evidence against you during future criminal proceedings. You have a constitutional right to decline police interrogation. It is important to take full advantage of this right.

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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 IL drug crime defense attorneyWidespread drug and alcohol addiction is an alarming problem in Northern Illinois and throughout the country.  It is estimated that 20.4 million adults suffered from substance use disorder in 2019 and over 70,000 individuals died from a drug overdose. Drug addiction destroys careers, fractures families, and creates a heavy burden on the U.S. criminal justice system. Criminal penalties for drug possession often include heavy penalties and long prison sentences. Proponents of House Bill 3447 say that individuals who are addicted to illicit drugs need treatment, not jail time.

Criminal Consequences for Drug Possession in Illinois

Most people know at least one person in their life who struggles with drug addiction. Many individuals who are addicted to substances wish to cease using the drug but find themselves unable to do so. Individuals who are caught with certain drugs may face life-changing criminal penalties including years or even decades in jail. Those convicted of drug-related offenses may find it nearly impossible to gain suitable employment and lead a lawful life after getting released.

Currently, possession of any amount of heroin, fentanyl, cocaine, or morphine is a felony offense in Illinois. The greater the amount of the substance in an individual’s possession, the more severe the consequences. For example, possession of less than 15 grams of heroin is a Class 4 felony punishable by up to 3 years in prison. Possession of more than 15 grams of heroin is a Class 1 felony punishable by 4 to 50 years in prison.

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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 criminal defense lawyerLaws are put in place to deter people from committing crimes that could harm others, themselves, or property. Depending on the nature of the offense, the criminal charges and subsequent penalties can be significant. In particular, violent crimes are treated differently than other criminal offenses, often carrying more severe punishments. However, in some cases, people may not even realize that certain actions constitute a crime, thus inadvertently committing them. For instance, “reckless conduct” is considered a violent crime in Illinois, but some may not even understand what actions can result in this type of criminal charge.    

How Is Reckless Conduct Defined?

Violent crimes can refer to a range of criminal offenses such as battery, sexual assault, armed robbery, firearm violations, and more. One such violent crime in Illinois is reckless conduct, which is also known as reckless endangerment. According to Illinois law, reckless conduct is committed when someone recklessly performs an act or acts that cause bodily harm to or endanger the safety of another person, or that cause great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to another individual. 

It is important to note that several reckless conduct acts warrant their own charge. For instance, the criminal transmission of HIV occurs when a person diagnosed with HIV knowingly participates in unprotected sex or donates blood, thus risking the lives of others. Another example is criminal housing management, which occurs when a building owner or manager fails to maintain safe conditions for his or her tenants. Common carrier recklessness can be prosecuted if an individual endangers the safety of others while operating a mode of transportation such as a bus, train, or taxi cab.

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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 criminal defense lawyerYou may have heard the terms manslaughter, homicide, and murder used simultaneously. However, they are actually separate criminal offenses in most states. According to Illinois law, involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another person. It results when an individual acts recklessly and that conduct leads to someone’s death. This is different than first-degree murder charges, which result from the intentional or knowing act that creates a strong probability of death or great bodily harm. Proving one’s mental state at the time of the crime requires a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can help avoid a conviction. 

What Are Considered Reckless Actions?

Various acts can lead to a manslaughter charge. For example, driving a vehicle in a reckless manner may be considered negligence in a car accident case. If the crash causes the death of a passenger or a pedestrian, that may lead to a criminal charge of involuntary manslaughter for the at-fault driver. Criminal negligence can also occur when a defendant fails to perform an act that he or she has a duty to perform. Parents can face manslaughter charges if they accidentally leave their child in a vehicle on a hot day, and the child dies. Another example would be a ziplining or parasailing guide or tour operator who fails to advise patrons on proper safety procedures, which causes a fatal accident. 

Illinois Punishments for Involuntary Manslaughter

The punishments for involuntary manslaughter can vary depending on the circumstances surrounding the death. Although this crime is committed without the intent to kill, it is usually litigated aggressively by the prosecution. Penalties can include fines, imprisonment, or even counseling. In addition, a judge generally considers any aggravating or mitigating factors when determining a defendant’s sentence. In most cases, manslaughter is charged as a Class 3 felony in Illinois, resulting in up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

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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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DuPage County criminal defense attorney search and seizure

Many different acts constitute criminal offenses in Illinois. In order to convict someone of a crime, however, there must be evidence that proves he or she committed the act. This proof often comes from items, fingerprints, or photographs taken at the scene of the alleged crime. The most common reason why evidence is suppressed, and charges are reduced or dismissed altogether, is due to an illegal search and seizure by police. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine if the evidence in your case was obtained through a legal search warrant. 

Different Types of Search Warrants 

The Federal Constitution’s Fourth Amendment gives Americans the right to “reasonable” search and seizures of a person and his or her property. The fundamental purpose of this legislation is to protect citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures by governmental officials. 

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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 traffic violations attorneyCoronavirus has affected millions of people all over the world. The global pandemic caused many non-essential businesses to temporarily shut down in states’ efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19. Here in Illinois, Governor J.B. Pritzker issued a stay-at-home order that has been in effect for the past several months. As a result, the typically congested Chicagoland area roads have been much emptier. However, despite fewer people commuting to work or for extracurricular activities, there has been an increase in the number of traffic accidents. Studies show there may be various reasons for these statistics, namely traffic violations.  

Illinois Moving Violations 

According to the National Safety Council (NSC), Illinois saw an 11 percent increase in traffic fatalities compared to the first three months of 2019. This is despite a significant decrease in the number of miles Americans drove as COVID-19 restrictions were put in place across the state. Not all motorists are intentionally committing a violation or driving recklessly, however. In some cases, some people may not have driven at all during the coronavirus crisis. Understandably, they may be a bit rusty behind the wheel while navigating the city streets or highways. With so much uncertainty on everyone’s minds these days, a driver can accidentally forget some of the rules of the road. In addition, something as simple as a burnt-out headlight or taillight can result in a traffic infraction. 

A few of the most common traffic violations Illinois drivers can be charged with include: 

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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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Itasca criminal defense lawyer domestic violenceUnfortunately, not every married couple lives happily ever after. Life can present its fair share of challenges, such as a job loss or the death of a close friend or relative, and these issues can put a significant strain on a relationship. Some spouses may turn to alcohol or drugs as a means of coping with stress. When controlled substances are added into the mix, arguments can escalate and even lead to physical confrontations in certain situations. According to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in three women and one in four men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. If you find yourself facing charges of domestic violence, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you. In some cases, the accusations may be based on false information or inadequate evidence.  

Illinois Domestic Violence Act

According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, it is a crime if a person hits, chokes, kicks, threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of a household or family member. Under the law, this can include the following individuals:

  • Family members related by blood

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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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DuPage County criminal defense lawyerLaws are put in place at the local, state, and federal levels in an effort to protect society. As technology continues to advance, existing laws may need to be amended to remain relevant and effective. More than 200 new laws went into effect in Illinois at the start of the new year, impacting a number of different areas. Some of this new legislation affects the fines and penalties for various traffic violations. If motorists choose to disregard or disobey any traffic law, they may be subject to criminal charges, depending on the circumstances.  

Punishment for Violating Scott’s Law 

Scott’s Law applies to Illinois motorists who pass any police or emergency vehicle that is stopped along the roadway. Scott’s Law requires drivers to slow down, switch lanes, and proceed with caution when approaching emergency or disabled vehicles on the side of the road. As of January 1, 2020, the fines and penalties for breaking the law increased. Now, the fine for a first offense is $250 and $750 for consecutive violations. The new law also established the Scott’s Law Fund, which hires Illinois State Police off-duty troopers to enforce Scott’s Law. Additionally, the fund develops educational materials to increase awareness of the law and the importance of driving safely. 

Fines Regarding School and Work Zones

In Illinois, and throughout the country, school zones have lower speed limits than other roadways to protect children. Speeding in a school zone can result in a traffic violation. As of January 1, 2020, the fines for illegally passing a stopped school bus doubled, from $150 to $300 for the first violation and from $500 to $1,000 for a second or subsequent violation. 

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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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Itasca property crimes attorneyThere are many acts that constitute a criminal offense in the United States. However, not everyone might know that certain actions that can result in an arrest, and they may be unaware of the potential punishments. In Illinois, a property crime is defined as the theft or destruction of another person’s property. Depending on the circumstances, the charges can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony, with varying penalties if someone is convicted. It is important to note that property is not just limited to a piece of land or a personal possession, such as a house, a vehicle, or expensive artwork. In some cases, intellectual property can be stolen, which refers to inventions, writings and artwork, designs, names, symbols, and images. Essentially, anything of value to the owner can be considered property.  

Examples of Property Crimes

There are many different types of property crimes according to Illinois law. These can include the following acts or behaviors: 

  • Arson

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