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  • Recent Posts

    4 Serious Penalties for Overstaying Your Visa

    What Jobs Qualify You for an H1B Visa in the US?

    What Qualifications Do You Need for a K3 Spouse Visa?

    Steps to Quickly and Legally Get Your Fiancé to the US with a Fiancé Visa

    Were You Inspected By a US Immigration Officer? What You Can Do If You Entered Without Inspection

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA): How Do VAWA Requirements Pertain to Men?

    What Is Asylum? How Do You Receive Immigration Asylum in the US?

    US Border Crisis: Understanding the Who, What, and Why of the Border Crisis

    Immigrant Visas: Comparing E2 Visas and EB5 Visas for Foreign Investors

    Understanding VAWA Law: The Violence Against Women Act in Chicago

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    Chicago Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

    4 Serious Penalties for Overstaying Your Visa

    By admin, LLC on September 30, 2014

    Temporary visas allow people to reside in the United States for a fixed time period, but it is crucial to keep an eye on the visa’s restrictions and expiration date. If you stay past the allotted dates, you could wind up being deported or find yourself subsequently banned from reentering the country. There are a few exceptions, waivers, and petitions you may qualify for to lessen the impact of your overstay, but first, it is important to understand the potential consequences. Here are the four most common penalties of overstaying your visa:


    1. Visa is Voided

    Applying for a visa extension is common, but the process must be started well before the visa is due to expire. Immigration law is extremely strict, so visas are considered invalid even if they have only expired by one day. In addition, overstaying your visa means your visa will be automatically voided. An expired visa restricts you from requesting a renewal or extension.


    1. Barred from Applying for a New Visa

    To recap, a voided visa is non-renewable. Instead, you will be directed to return to your country of nationality and request a new nonimmigrant visa before being reconsidered for admittance to the United States. Those with voided visas are no longer allowed to travel to the closest country’s U.S. consulate; rather, they must return to their home country. There is a slim exception to this rule, meant for “extraordinary circumstances,” which could allow you to apply for a visa by way of a consulate in a different country.


    1. Given Restricted Status

    Persons with unexpired visas may request an extension of stay, but overstay cases may not. In most situations, it is also not possible to change your status if your visa has expired, such as an immigrant or another nonimmigrant status. If you are facing overstay, time is of the essence. Consult with a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to investigate your options. If your visa has not yet expired, having an extension or status adjustment petition on file will maintain your status through the expiration date without overstay consequences.


    1. Blocked from Reentering the U.S.

    Perhaps the biggest fear of foreign nationals living in the United States is a risk of being barred from reentering the country due to a visa overstay. This is possible if you remain in the country on an expired visa but leave before beginning official removal procedures. Overstaying your visa for more than about six months but less than one year could warrant a three-year ban. If you overstay the visa by more than a year, then you could be barred from the country for ten years. At the end of the three- or ten-year bar, you would then be eligible to apply for another nonimmigrant visa to return to the U.S.


    In accordance with immigration law, there is a specialized waiver that could allow you back into the U.S. without the bar, but the requirements are strict. If you have a spouse or a parent who is a citizen or an otherwise legal permanent resident of the States, and who would face extreme hardship if you left the country, you might be eligible for the I-601 waiver. Talk to an immigration lawyer to discover if your family’s circumstances might qualify you for this exception.


    What Jobs Qualify You for an H1B Visa in the US?

    By admin, LLC on September 29, 2014

    Depending on your occupation, you may be eligible to live and work in the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, the H-1B. This visa is temporary and limited to specialized occupations, but you may want to consider applying for H-1B status. Keep reading to learn more about H-1B eligibility.


    Understanding the Requirements

    As with any branch of immigration law, the applying for a visa can be difficult or confusing. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division lists an array of guidelines and exceptions, but the basic requirements are clear. To qualify for an H-1B visa, you must have a bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, or foreign equivalent in the field of your occupation, such as, for example, accounting or graphic design.


    In addition, you must have either 12 years worth of work experience or a mix of work experience and further education or degrees. The USCIS requirements operate on a 12-point system; three points for each year of educational studies and one point for each year of work experience.


    There are many exceptions and special circumstances, so it may be worthgoing over your options with the help of a specialized immigration lawyer. For example, your employer may choose to sponsor you for H-1B status, or you may have a qualified agency evaluate your experience and qualifications. Either of these could serve as recommendations to the USCIS and could help you obtain an H-1B visa. In special cases, you may be eligible even if you do not have a four-year bachelor’s degree.


    Is My Job a Specialty Occupation?

    In addition to establishing an employer-employee relationship, the job itself must meet certain criteria before you can apply for the H-1B visa. Your position should require a degree as a minimum requirement. This should be both required by the employer and common for the industry. You can consult the USCIS Occupational Outlook Handbook to help determine if your job typically requires a degree. If the handbook does not include your occupation, then you must prove that a degree would normally be required due to the unique and complex nature of your tasks.


    Qualified Jobs

    There are many fields and industries that have jobs that can qualify you for H-1B visa eligibility. The USCIS publishes a list of oft-approved occupations, whichcould be a good place to start. Keep in mind, however, that according to immigration lawyour bachelor’s or master’s degrees must be in the same specialized field of study as your occupation. For every broad occupational field, such as engineering, education, and business, your degree’s field of study needs to be focused and specialized.


    Examples of H-1B eligible occupations within the fields of math and sciences include auditors, accountants, chemists, biologists, financial analysts, computer programmers, and electrical, industrial, and mechanical engineers. Many fields of health services are also eligible, including physicians and surgeons. Social services include network administrators, teachers of all levels (primary, secondary, university), economists, and therapists. Many fine arts occupations may be eligible as well, including architects, artists, and graphic designers. If you are not sure if your job will qualify you for H-1B visa, visit the USCIS website or seek consultation with an experienced immigration lawyer.


    What Qualifications Do You Need for a K3 Spouse Visa?

    By admin, LLC on September 25, 2014

    No matter the nationality of your spouse or the nation in which you married, your husband or wife can immigrate to the U.S. with the proper visas long as you are a United States citizen. The K3 spouse visa is designed to shorten the amount of time that various immigration procedures and waiting periods would have forced you to live apart. You can help your spouse apply for a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, which will allow them to live in the U.S. while waiting for their immigrant visa to process. Here are four things to know about applying for the K-3 visa:


    1. Definition of Spouse

    Only legal spouses are eligible for the K-3 visa, not fiancés or family members. You must be husband and wife and have the proper documentation and marriage records. The act of cohabitating does not qualify, although common-law marriages may be eligible if they are allowed in that country. For the record, common-law marriages are now only recognized in nine American states.


    Same-sex couples can now file the I-130 or I-140 petition through the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division. In addition, you should know that a K3 Spouse visa could cover your children. With a K-3 visa application, your eligible children will receive K-4 visas that allow entry into the U.S.


    1. Immigrant Eligibility

    If you were married inside the U.S., you would apply for the K3 spouse visa on behalf of your spouse. If you were married outside the U.S., you must apply for the K-3 visa in that country. Keep in mind that K-3 spouse visas will allow your foreign-citizen spouse to reside in the United States while waiting for immigrant visa approval. Thismeans that, to be authorized for a K-3 visa, you must also be eligible for requirements of an immigrant visa. Your spouse will then subsequently apply to become a permanent resident. Submitting falsified documents or previously overstaying a visa may make you ineligible. If you have any concerns, contact an experienced and well-versed immigration lawyer for assistance.


    1. Requisite Documentation

    You and your spouse must bring a variety of documents and forms to your spouse’s K-3 visa interview. This includes the nonimmigrant visa application, DS-160, as well as passports, birth certificates, a marriage certificate, evidence of the relationship, and photos. In addition, at least one of you must provide evidence of financial support.


    If either of you were in a previous marriage, you are also required to bring the divorce or the death certificates of any previous spouses. Your interviewing officer may request additional information or proof to show that your current marriage is sincere. Gathering and completing all of the required paperwork can be a daunting task, but a specialized immigration lawyer can guide you through the necessary steps.


    1. Medical Records

    In addition to the above-mentioned paperwork, your foreign-citizen spouse must also undergo a medical exam performed by a doctor approved by the USCIS. There are a few exceptions to this exam, such as if you previously filed for a K-2 fiancé/fiancée visa. A blood test may also be performed, and there are a number of required vaccinations. Being prepared and aware will help you navigate the K3 spouse visa process with ease.


    Steps to Quickly and Legally Get Your Fiancé to the US with a Fiancé Visa

    By admin, LLC on September 23, 2014

    Congratulations on your engagement! Now, how soon can your fiancé move to the United States with you? The many branches of immigration law thankfully include special visas for fiancés/fiancées. The K-1 visa will enable your future spouse to immigrate before your wedding takes place. Here are the steps to take to help your fiancé apply for a fiancé visa in Illinois:


    Understanding the K-1 Fiancé Visa

    If you decided to get married outside the U.S., your new spouse would have a couple of options. Your spouse could choose to apply for an immigrant visa, making it possible for him or her to enter the States as a legal permanent resident. Alternatively, your spouse could apply for a K-3 visa. This would enable him or her to move to the U.S. while waiting for an immigrant visa approval, limiting your time apart. Note that if you married outside the U.S., you must apply for the K-3 in that country.


    If your fiancé wishes to begin the immigration process before marrying, or if you both wish to marry in the United States, then you can apply for a K-1 fiancé visa on his or her behalf.The K-1 allows you to spend time together in the U.S. before marrying. Remember that only a U.S. citizen can petition to bring a fiancé to the States.


    There are a couple of immigration law stipulations that you must keep in mind. You and your fiancé must marry within 90 days of the arrival in the U.S. After that, he or she can then apply to become a permanent resident. In addition, before filing the petition you must have had at least one meeting face-to-face within the two years prior. There are certain exceptions for health problems or cultural wedding customs, so talk to your immigration lawyer if you have any questions.



    There are several basic visa eligibility requirements. K-1 applicants must undergo a medical exam, including a blood test and vaccinations, to rule out any communicable diseases. Criminals, drug addicts, anyone convicted of fraud, or persons who previously overstayed a visa are ineligible to apply. In addition, you must not furnish any falsified documentation throughout the process.


    Filing a Petition

    As the U.S. citizen, you will file a petition, form I-129(F), with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office requesting that your fiancé be admitted to the U.S. so that you can be wed. In addition, your fiancé must be willing to apply for a nonimmigrant visa on the understanding that he or she will then apply for an immigrant visa or permanent resident status.


    Preparing for the Interview

    Both you and your foreign-citizen fiancé must provide a vast list of required documents, including birth certificates, passports, and police certificates. You also need proof of a face-to-face meeting within the prior two years as well as evidence of your continuing relationship.


    Throughout the K-1 fiancé visa process, both you and your fiancé will become very familiar with the USCIS. Navigating the immigration process can be confusing and complex, so consider consulting with an expert immigration lawyer for guidance along the way.



    Were You Inspected By a US Immigration Officer? What You Can Do If You Entered Without Inspection

    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 were not seen by a US Immigration Officer and 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 Do VAWA Requirements 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.


    What Is Asylum? How Do You Receive Immigration Asylum in the US?

    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 immigration 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 immigration 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 immigration asylum. Instead they are applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status.


    US Border Crisis: Understanding the Who, What, and Why of the 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.


    Immigrant Visas: Comparing E2 Visas and EB5 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 Immigrant 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 Immigrant 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.


    Understanding VAWA Law: The Violence Against Women Act in Chicago

    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.


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