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    What Can You Do If you have entered the U.S. Without Inspection and you want to Stay Legally?

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): How Does it Pertain to Men?

    How Do You Receive Asylum in the United States?

    Border Crisis 101: Understanding the Who, What and Why of the U.S. Border Crisis

    Thinking of Investing in a Business in Chicago? Comparing E-2 Visas and EB-5 Visas for Foreign Investors

    Curious About VAWA in Chicago? Here’s an Introduction to the Violence Against Women Act

    What to Do if You Are Threatened with Deportation in Chicago

    What U.S. Immigration Reform Could Mean for Chicago Immigrants

    Obtaining a Work Visa in the United States to Work in Chicago

    Applying for Asylum in the United States and the Laws Behind It for Chicago

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    What Can You Do If you have entered the U.S. Without Inspection and you want to Stay Legally?

    By admin, LLC on August 27, 2014

    Though it is illegal to enter the United States without going through the appropriate legal procedures, many people do so every year. For illegal or undocumented immigrants who want to remain in the United States legally and become permanent United States residents, there are a number of available options. The ones that are most commonly used are:

    • Marriage to a U.S. citizen
    • Service in the U.S. military
    • Cancellation of removal
    • Seeking asylum
    • Seeking temporary protected status

    The procedures required for each of these is very different. Let’s take a brief look at each one.

    Marriage to a U.S. citizen

    Though those who marry U.S. citizens automatically become “immediate relatives” and are legally eligible to apply for a U.S. green card, doing so while illegal complicates the process. Much depends upon whether you entered illegally or whether you are simply past the expiration date of a valid visa. If the latter then you may apply for your green card under an exception and apply for an adjustment of status. If you entered illegally it is much more difficult to adjust your status, and only possible if your employer or a family member had filed an immigration petition or labor certification on your behalf before January 14, 1998 or if the petition or certification were filed between January 14, 1998 and April 21, 2001 and you were physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000. There are many other exceptions and methods of gaining a green card when you have gotten married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident that an immigration attorney can help you with.

    Service in the U.S. Military

    Illegal immigrants who have enlisted with the U.S. Armed Forces during World Wars I or II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Persian Gulf War or Operation Enduring Freedom are entitled to apply for U.S. citizenship if they served honorably and they enlisted while on U.S. territory.

    Cancellation of Removal

    Those who are arrested as illegal immigrants and who are about to be removed may be able to get a green card if they can prove that they have been in the U.S. for ten years or more, have been a person of good moral character during that time, that removal would represent a hardship to your family member or members who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents, and that you are not disqualified based on having committed a crime or specific immigration violations.

    Seeking Asylum

    People who are seeking asylum from persecution in their home country are able to apply to stay in the United States within one year of their illegal entry or the expiration of their legal stay. Proof of persecution must be provided, and must be based upon race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.

    Temporary Protected Status

    If you are in the U.S. illegally but your home country has been impacted by an environmental or natural disaster, a civil war or other issue that makes return unsafe, you may be eligible for Temporary Protected Status. This does not entitled you to apply for a green card, but does provide a specific amount of time during which you may stay legally and receive a work permit.


    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): How Does it Pertain to Men?

    By admin, LLC on August 25, 2014

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was first passed into federal law as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. Its intent was to end violence against women, and it allows an abused spouse or abused children of a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident to file a petition for a green card if the meet certain legal requirements. The reason for this was to prevent an abuser from using immigration status over the victim of violence. It is important to note that though the law is specifically named for women, its rules apply to men, women and children alike.

    Domestic violence is defined as abuse of a spouse, parent or child. Though it is not limited to married couples, for the purposes of obtaining immigration benefits the abuse must take place between married partners. Domestic abuse can involve physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse and mental abuse, as well as various forms of control, including threatening to call immigration authorities and having the spouse or child deported. Abuse can include hiding papers, preventing the person from leaving the house or learning to speak English, and socially isolating the person.

    Filing a petition for lawful permanent residency as a victim of domestic violence requires following two steps. First they have to submit and receive approval of their self-petition before their application for a green card can be adjudicated. If the person from whom the petitioner is seeking abuse is a lawful permanent resident then they are automatically placed into a preference category, and must wait for a visa to become available. If the abuser is a U.S. citizen then the green card is immediately available.

    The Violence Against Women Act has been criticized by many who believe that it is used fraudulently to gain access to the United States. Many men claim that immigrant women make false allegations of abuse in order to seek an easier way of getting a green card. This often puts men into the position of having to defend themselves against charges of abuse while their spouses or children get easy citizenship. Opponents of the VAWA have lobbied for additional language to be included in the VAWA that requires that immigration officials give consideration to defense evidence provided by the accused spouse.

    Immigration advocates have worked hard to defeat these actions, in large part because the VAWA already requires that the temporary visas require certification from a law enforcement officer, and point out that it is far more common for abusers to utilize the abused spouse’s fears of being deported to keep them from reporting the abuse that they suffer. They also point out that immigration officials are generally looking for fraud in visa applications of all kinds, whether it’s an application for asylum, a marriage visa or a domestic violence case.


    How Do You Receive Asylum in the United States?

    By admin, LLC on August 20, 2014

    The border crisis that is currently going on in the United States has raised numerous questions about who is eligible to apply for asylum, and whether the United States’ rules about asylum are applicable to the tens of thousands of children who have crossed the southwestern U.S. border. Those who are trying to bring the surge of undocumented, unaccompanied children to a halt are insisting that if the children are in need of protection then they should be seeking asylum before they leave their own countries, but that is not the way that U.S. law works.

    Under the current United States law, those who wish to come to the United States seeking humanitarian protection have two options – asylum and refugee status. Those who want to seek refuge in the United States apply for that status in the United States embassy in their home country, while asylum is sought once the person has already entered the United States. The reason that asylum has been made available is that it provides a safety net for those fleeing persecution without having time or means to do so within the legal process.

    When a person enters the United States under these circumstances and they apply for asylum, they cannot be sent back to their home county by the United States or it would be a violation of international law. However, in order to be awarded asylum status the applicant has to be able to prove that they qualify as having been persecuted as a result of race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group. In the case of the children flooding over the border of the United States, the persecution that they are fleeing is largely from criminal gangs and drug violence, and it is unclear as to whether this meets the standards that have been set for qualification for asylum.

    The question that has come into play with regard to the unaccompanied children coming from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala is whether these children have been persecuted according to the definitions established by immigration law. The persecution that the children face does not come from the government, but instead from criminal gangs. The U. S. government’s Board of Immigration Appeals has indicated that they cannot approve asylum claims based on fears of persecution by a gang, but humanitarian groups feel otherwise – the UNHCR’s guidebook for child asylum indicates that “the recruitment by a non-state armed group of any child below the age of 18 years would be considered persecution.” Of particular concern is the ability of the children’s governments to provide them with protection.

    Many hope that the children will be able to be granted asylum status based on the fact that the gangs have targeted their relatives – in this case their parents – which would mean that they are being persecuted because of their membership in a social group – a classification that qualifies. Most of the children entering the United States are not seeking asylum. Instead they are applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.


    Border Crisis 101: Understanding the Who, What and Why of the U.S. Border Crisis

    By admin, LLC on August 18, 2014

    The 2014 United States border crisis is also being called the children’s immigration crisis, and that is because the dramatic surge in the number of immigrants illegally crossing over the Mexican-United States border is largely made up of unaccompanied children. These children have been identified as coming from what is known as the Northern Triangle of Central American. This region is made up of the countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, an area that has been torn apart by violence in recent months. The crisis has presented the United States Border Patrol and Immigration Services with tremendous challenges, and has come to represent a political and humanitarian crisis.

    The surge of illegal immigrants across the border has been ongoing for the last several years, and each year the numbers increase, but the unprecedented volume that has been seen in 2014 is largely a result of high murder rates and severe impoverishment in Honduras, as well as increased drug trafficking in all three countries. According to Mexico’s Citizen Council for Public Safety and Justice, the city of San Pedro Sula in Honduras boasts the world’s highest murder rate, and the majority of the children who have travelled into the United States have come from that city.

    In the last several months an estimated 63,000 children have travelled across the southwestern border of the United States. This number represents more than double that of the year before. The children have been sent by their parents in order to escape the violence and extreme poverty in their own countries. Many send the young people in the belief that the United States has relaxed the laws regarding undocumented or illegal immigration, or that the country will take special care of children.

    In response to the rise in the number of unaccompanied, undocumented minors, the Obama administration has sought funding from Congress to deal with what the president has called an “urgent humanitarian situation.” Additionally, they have established a new branch of AmeriCorps that will provide attorneys and paralegals for the children who will need assistance in navigating the deportation process. Multiple agencies have joined forces to form the Unified Coordination Group with the goal of ensuring that the minors are being cared for and fed, while temporary shelters are being provided at military bases, churches, and community centers. The need for direct supervision has become more urgent since accusations of abuse and neglect of the children have been raised.

    Though many are voicing the opinion that the children are being sent to the United States as a result of a relaxation of border enforcement, most of the children who have been interviewed have indicated that they are being sent to escape from rising gang and drug violence. Though it is unclear what the disposition of their cases will be, the United States is ensuring that they are treated fairly and represented by attorneys throughout the process.


    Thinking of Investing in a Business in Chicago? Comparing E-2 Visas and EB-5 Visas for Foreign Investors

    By admin, LLC on July 29, 2014

    There are several different types of Visas which allow legal immigrants to live and work within the United States. Individuals may qualify for legal status based on one or more of these documents. It is important to understand the nuances of each to accurately determine for which to apply. Both E-2 Visas and EB-5 Visas have similar properties and apply to immigrant investors. A closer look will help you determine which is appropriate. You may also choose to seek assistance from a qualified law firm.

    Introduction to the E-2 Visa
    The E-2 Visa allows an individual to enter the United States for work when he or she will be controlling an investment. The investment must be substantial and varies by industry. For new companies, this amount must be sufficient to start the business and capitalize on it.
    The E-2 Visa must be renewed every five years, with no limit on the number of times one can do so. Upon conclusion of the business venture, the individual must leave the country or apply for a change in legal status. Applicants must provide required documentation, pay a specific fee, and submit to an interview process.
    Spouses and dependent children are assigned an E-2 Visa for the duration of the primary holder’s residency. Spouses may also apply for employment authorization as part of their Visa. Additional stipulations may be attached on a case by case basis.

    Introduction to the EB-5 Visa
    The EB-5 Visa allows for foreign investors to receive a green card when meeting specific requirements. The investment must be in the amount of $1,000,000 and create jobs for at least ten individuals, not including the investor or family members. In targeted unemployment areas, such as in rural areas or those where unemployment rates are high, the investment requirement is $500,000.
    Additionally, the investor may choose to create a new startup or invest in an existing enterprise. Designated Regional Centers may be of assistance and include third party management of investments. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services maintains a list of approved centers, but does not endorse or recommend specific locations. It is up to the investor to research and contact each to determine which is most appropriate for his or her investments.
    The EB-5 Visa is valid for two years. During a 90-day period prior to the expiration of the Visa, the holder must demonstrate that the requirements have been met and maintained. Some individuals may qualify to apply for legal permanent resident status. Dependents, including spouses and children, may enter the country under the same terms as the primary Visa holder.

    Seeking Legal Assistance for a Visa
    Only you can choose which of these Visas is right for you, but the application process for either the E-2 Visa or EB-5 Visa is complex. Individuals seeking assistance in working with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services should contact a qualified lawyer. Additionally, those applying for naturalization or legal permanent resident status may need help from an immigration attorney.


    Curious About VAWA in Chicago? Here’s an Introduction to the Violence Against Women Act

    By admin, LLC on July 24, 2014

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was initially passed in 1994 as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and signed into law by United States President Bill Clinton. The law faced a legislative upheaval over the next decade, during which certain provisions were struck down and reauthorized. If you or someone you know is a victim of abuse, it is important to know your rights and seek appropriate help from a legal office.
    Who Is Eligible

    In spite of the name for this law, the VAWA is not exclusive to women only. The law has protected men since its inception, although men are generally less likely to report domestic abuse. In 2013, President Barack Obama signed a reauthorization of the bill that was all-inclusive. This updated version of the law provided equal protection for gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals, as well as Native Americans and immigrants.

    You may qualify to file a petition under the VAWA if you are:
    • A man or woman abused by a spouse who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
    • A spouse whose children are abused by anyone
    • A parent abused by your child
    • A child abused by your parent or other individual

    What is Covered
    The details of the VAWA cover a wide range of services to which individuals may have access. They include, but are not limited to:
    • Violence prevention programs in your community
    • Protection for individuals evicted from their homes due to domestic violence
    • Victim assistance services and hotlines
    • Assistance for victims with disabilities
    • Special programs for immigrants and specific ethnicities
    • Legal assistance programs for victims of domestic violence
    • Identity protection inside and outside of court

    These services can be further elaborated on by a qualified legal office or other emergency assistance personnel. Legal and undocumented immigrants may qualify for asylum. This is a legal means of staying in the United States to avoid any type of persecution in another country.

    When to Seek Help
    Those who are facing deportation or are seeking asylum should contact someone immediately. Unauthorized immigrants can be victims of gender-motivated exploitation upon entering the country, while working, or in their own homes. This problem is exacerbated when the individual depends on another for financial support or legal status. Nobody should suffer in silence or face this process alone.

    Abuse is often not well-documented because victims fear retaliation. If you or someone you know needs help with legal counsel under the Violence Against Women Act, contact a qualified attorney. A lawyer will listen carefully to you and explain all of your options.
    In many cases, a U Visa is an option. This legal document allows an individual to live and work in the United States without fear of deportation while assisting in the investigation and prosecution of a criminal case. If specific qualifications are met, this document is valid for up to four years and can be extended when the criminal case is still be conducted.


    What to Do if You Are Threatened with Deportation in Chicago

    By admin, LLC on July 22, 2014

    Immigration has become a controversial topic in the United States, and many people are unsure about what could happen to them. Others may choose to prey on this insecurity, threatening deportation if the individual does not comply with certain demands. However, a person cannot simply have another deported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a branch of Homeland Security, is responsible for handling this process, and many factors go into the decision. If you or a loved one has been threatened with deportation, knowing what you can do is the first step.

    1. Do Not Respond to Threats.
    Persons who entered the country legally may be threatened by an employer, a spouse, or a stranger posing as someone with the power to remove them from the country.
    When an individual enters the country legally through the guest worker program, he or she receives the appropriate paperwork. However, many employers take these documents for safekeeping and later refuse to return them. If the individual loses that job – either by leaving or being fired – he or she can be deported.
    Often strangers posing as IRS agents or other government entities may call and ask for personal information over the phone. Government business is generally done through the mail and personal information like social security numbers and bank account details should never be given out over the phone.
    If you have been threatened with deportation by anyone, it is important not to respond to them. Each case must be weighed on an individual basis. It is important to know your rights and seek appropriate legal advice.

    2. Know Your Rights.
    Everyone in the United States has rights that are protected by the Constitution. Before determining whether an individual is to be deported, he or she must receive a court date and appear before an immigration judge. The case will be fairly assessed and follow due process. Individuals will be represented by an attorney and given opportunity to plead the case for remaining in the country.
    If a person has reasonable expectation that he or she will not be safe upon returning to the home country, he or she may be permitted to stay. Additionally, if an employer has broken the law, that will also be taken into consideration. There are several other factors that can affect an immigration case. The goal of the government is to deport those who have committed crimes and pose a potential threat to the United States.

    3. Seek Help from a Lawyer.
    If you or someone you know has been threatened with deportation, it is important to seek assistance from a lawyer. Contact a law firm that specializes in this field. An immigration attorney is experienced in these situations and can provide the assistance needed. Your case will be heard on an individual basis before a final decision is made. According to the law, persons who cannot afford to hire a lawyer will be provided one by the government for their immigration case.


    What U.S. Immigration Reform Could Mean for Chicago Immigrants

    By admin, LLC on July 17, 2014

    Immigration reform in the United States has been a controversial topic for several years. Through multiple presidential administrations, the government has attempted to change policies to raise the rate of legal immigration, and at the same time, lower the rate of illegal immigration. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 made it illegal to hire illegal immigrants. Further reforms were passed in 2005 and 2006 and in recent years, individual states have attempted to create their own policies. As the issue comes to a head, it is important for those affected to understand what this means and when they should seek help from an immigration attorney.

    Immigration Reform
    The White House website breaks down current President Barack Obama’s immigration reform plan into four basic proposals. The first is to strengthen border security by giving local law enforcement officers the tools they need to reduce crime and apprehend individuals who pose a threat to the country. The second point is streamlining legal immigration. This would include offering work visas to foreign business owners, graduate students studying math and science, and family members of citizens.
    The third point is to create a path to earned citizenship for those who qualify. Undocumented immigrants would have a legal way to become citizens through a multiple-step process. The fourth and final point in this proposal is that of streamlining the legal immigration system. This would establish a simple policy for legal immigration that can be followed by anyone who meets the requirements.
    Before an immigration reform bill passes and becomes law, the policy is likely to change many times. It must pass in both the Senate and the House of Representatives before being signed by the president.

    Possible Outcomes
    If proposed legal immigration reform policies are passed, it will affect an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States. For many, the future remains uncertain. The bill creates a path to citizenship that may take an average of 13 years to complete.
    Immigrants on the path to citizenship will need to meet a number of requirements. Before applying, it is a requirement to be able to speak, read, and write English. Applicants must demonstrate fluency or be enrolled in appropriate classes. Immigrants will also need to provide documentation of their activities for the past number of years. This includes paperwork on where they have lived and worked. Bank statements and school records will also be admissible.

    When to Seek Help
    Planning ahead is the wisest course of action, even when the future is uncertain. People can take action now by gathering information and keeping good records. Officials warn of potential scam artists posing as immigration companies before reform has passed. Each individual will receive a day in court that includes due process procedures. For minor children, this includes representation by an appointed advocate. If you or someone you know may be affected by the passing of U.S. immigration reform, it is important to seek legal assistance from a qualified, licensed immigration attorney.


    Obtaining a Work Visa in the United States to Work in Chicago

    By admin, LLC on July 15, 2014

    For foreign nationals who are interested in finding work in the United States, the process of obtaining a work visa can be both complicated and competitive. The number of employment-based immigration visas that are granted during the course of each year changes based o United States immigration law, though the average number hovers at around 140,000.  One of the most challenging aspects of the process lies in identifying exactly which of the five categories of temporary nonimmigrant visa you need. The different classifications are based upon the type of work that you are qualified to do.


    In order to apply for an immigrant visa, it is first necessary to have your prospective employer apply for approval of labor certification from the United States Department of Labor. Once this is approved the employer must file an I-40 form, which is an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.  This is true for every category of worker other than for those who are in the first preference category, those with extraordinary capabilities.


    The five different categories of employees that can apply for immigrant visas are:


    • E1 – Priority Workers

    This group is made up of three separate categories, including those with extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; those who are outstanding professors and researchers; and those who are multinational managers or executives who have worked for at least one of the previous three years for an overseas affiliate of a U.S. employer in a managerial or executive capacity.


    • E2 – Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

    This group is made up of two separate categories, including those with an advanced degree or a baccalaureate plus five years in the profession, or persons who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.


    • E3 – Skilled Workers, Professionals and Unskilled Workers

    This group is made up of three separate subcategories, including skilled workers whose jobs require at least two years of training or work experience, professionals whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a United States university or the foreign equivalent; and unskilled workers capable of filling positions that do not require specialized training or experience, but whose work is neither temporary or seasonal


    • E4 – Certain Special Immigrants

    This group has many subcategories, including broadcasters, religious leaders, employees or former employees of the U.S. government, and many others.


    • E5 – Immigrant Investors

    This group represents those who have made capital investments into businesses in the United States which will create jobs for United States workers.


    Each category of applicant must gain approval of their petition from the USCIS, who then sends the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) where a case number will be assigned. Upon notification from the NVC the applicant will complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agency and will pre-process the case, instructing the applicant to pay the appropriate fees. Once paid, the NVC instructs the applicant to provide the documents necessary to process the case.



    Applying for Asylum in the United States and the Laws Behind It for Chicago

    By admin, LLC on July 8, 2014

    The United States lead the world in the number of applications it receives and approves for asylum. Though the number of applicants that are permitted entrance can change each year, those who seek this type of refuge account for approximately ten percent of the country’s total annual immigration, and since World War II there have been more than two million refuges accepted.


    The laws that have enabled and defined U.S. asylum as well as the procedures that it entails are the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, which together define what a refugee is, and the Refugee Act of 1980 which was passed by the United States Congress, and which both reconfirmed the already existing definitions and established the Office of Refugee Resettlement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services.


    In order to apply and qualify for asylum in the United States a citizen of another country must prove that they have a “reasonable fear” of being a victim persecution in their own country in the future. That fear does not have to be absolute – in fact, and applicant can indicate that their fear is as minimal as having a ten to fifteen percent likelihood of persecution, and still qualify for asylum.  The applicant also needs to be able to show that the persecution that they fear would happen if they returned to their home country. This can be established by demonstrating past persecution. Disproving the existence of the possibility of persecution can only be proven by showing that either a) the circumstances in the person’s home country have changed substantially or that b) they could live in a different region of their country without having the same fear. Persecution is generally defined or interpreted on an individual basis.


    The final requirement of asylum law in the United States is that the persecution is based upon one or more of several specific factors. These factors may be the person’s race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a specific social group. If the person is in fear of persecution for more than one of these factors, they must select one as the primary reason for their fear. It also must be shown that the persecution that they fear is being perpetrated by either the government of their country, or a group that the government has proven unable or unwilling to exercise control over.


    There are certain factors that can preclude asylum being granted. These include having been convicted of an aggravated felony, support of a terrorist group or having assisted in persecuting another person or group of people. People may also be barred from asylum if they could have chosen to reside in a country other than the United States before coming to this country, if they waited ore than a year for applying for asylum, or if they have previously had an application for asylum denied.


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