Categories and Questions for Extreme Hardship

Categories and Questions for Extreme Hardship

Applicants wanting to become lawful permanent residents who need to request a provisional waiver of the unlawful presence grounds of inadmissibility may be able to use form I-601A, the Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. FValdezLaw has compiled this deck to provide guidance for writing a declaration as part of the I-601A application.

This deck includes a breakdown of topics upon which immigrants and qualifying relatives should touch when scripting a proclamation for the I-601A. The questions included in the deck help clients think about extreme hardship and other positive equities relevant to establish extreme hardship.

Do you have a question about your immigration situation? You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.

This document is not intended to substitute specific advice which is relevant to all the facts and circumstances of your unique case. FValdezLaw recommends you seek a detailed legal consultation for that purpose.

USCIS reaches cap for 2018 H-1B Visas

USCIS reaches cap for 2018 H-1B Visas

On April 7, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that they reached the congressionally mandated 65,000 cap for H-1B Visas for the fiscal year 2018. In addition, USCIS has received “a sufficient number of H-1B petitions” to meet the 20,000 Visa U.S. advanced degree exemption, also known as the master’s cap.

H-1B is an annual visa lottery for high-skilled immigrant workers. Only 65,000 visas are available for immigrants with undergraduate degrees. There are another 20,000 visas available for those with graduate degrees from U.S. colleges and universities. As reported by news media, this represents just “0.0004 percent of the 160 million Americans who make up the nation’s workforce.”

What does this mean and how might it affect you?

USCIS will not be accepting additional H-1B petitions for the fiscal year 2018 except for cap-exempt petitions. Exemption from the cap limitations include H-1B workers who are petitioned for or employed at an institution of higher education (or its affiliated or related nonprofit entities), a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are not subject to this numerical cap. For all others, the new petition filing period will open on April 1 of next year.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration revealed that it also would pause premium processing for H-1B Visas this season (which normally begins in April). This has left foreign employees and those that employ them in a legal purgatory – waiting. In prior years, premium processing for an extra fee to USCIS would be completed within 15 days. Now legal immigrants and their U.S. employers must wait months to know whether they can start their jobs on October 1, 2017.

Do you have a question about your immigration situation? You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.

SB-4: What Texas Senate Bill 4 Means for Immigrants

SB-4: What Texas Senate Bill 4 Means for Immigrants (fvaldezlaw.com)SB-4: What Texas Senate Bill 4 Means for Immigrants

Although a federal judge recently blocked President Trump’s Executive Order to defund “sanctuary cities,” the State of Texas has passed its own version of the Order. SB-4 passed the Texas Senate in early February 2017 and the Texas House two months later amidst community concerns and protests. It was signed into law by Texas Greg Governor Abbott in early May 2017.

The high-priority, controversial bill makes it legal for law enforcement officers to request the immigration status of anyone they detain or arrest. The bill also penalizes law enforcement and elected officials who don’t cooperate with requests from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Penalties include up to a year in jail and fines from $1,000 to $25,500 a day.

Senate Bill 4 doesn’t go into effect until September 1, 2017, but community members and immigrant advocates across the country have expressed a concern over its passing. Advocates fear that rogue officers will work closely with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) which will lead to more deportations and family separation. All people of color could become more vulnerable to racial profiling and requests from law enforcement to prove their immigration status.

Senate Bill 4 already has perpetuated fear of law enforcement in the Hispanic community. Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo recently reported that the number of Hispanics reporting rape has reduced 42.8% and the number of those reporting other violent crime has reduced 13% since last year. When immigrants and people of color do not feel comfortable reporting crime, everyone becomes less safe.

Many questions remain surrounding Senate Bill 4 and legal challenges from El Cenizo, Maverick County were filed and lawsuits from El Paso County and Austin are expected. Although law enforcement officers have the right to ask for immigration status, it is unclear what they will then do with that information. Another concern is that some officers might call ICE directly and detain individuals until they arrive. This will lead to unlawful detention and open law enforcement agencies to potential litigation. The city and county legal challenges hopefully will stop Senate Bill 4 before its implementation on September 1st.

Local elected officials also can implement policies that will help to diminish the effects of Senate Bill 4. This includes but is not limited to a policy that would instruct law enforcement not to arrest individuals who only have a violation for driving without a license, allowing non-profits to provide know your rights presentations for immigrants held in county and city jails, and robust systems that monitor racial profiling. For example, the Mayor of Houston was presented with a number of recommendations for improving relationships with the immigrant community in a document presented to him by the Welcoming Houston Taskforce. The document provides several recommendations, however, recommendations 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11 and 12 would be the best place to start to better shield the community before September 1, 2017.

Learn more about organizing and advocacy efforts to resist Senate Bill 4 by watching the video below.

U.S. Citizen Petitioning for a Parent and the I-601A Waiver

“I’m a U.S. Citizen and I want to get papers for my parent.  Will my parent need a waiver?” FValdezLaw has compiled this deck to provide general information about how a U.S. Citizen can file a petition for their parent.  It also provides basic information about the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (I-601A).

U.S. Citizen Petitioning for their Parent and The Potential Need for a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (I-601A) from Frances Valdez

We are always available to answer your questions on this and any other immigration law topics. You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.

Do you have a suggestion for additional immigration law topics? Let us know!

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DISCLAIMER: The content of this PowerPoint is not intended to substitute a consultation with an attorney or legal advice which is relevant to all the facts and circumstances of your case. FValdezLaw recommends you seek a detailed legal consultation for that purpose. 

Ending 287(g) for a safer immigrant community

Ending 287(g) for a safer immigrant community (fvaldezlaw.com)In 2008, Adrian Garcia became the first Hispanic sheriff in the history of Harris County, Texas.  As sheriff, Garcia proceeded to preside over one of the largest 287(g) programs in the United States.  In June 2016, former Sheriff Ron Hickman renewed Harris County’s participation in 287(g).  After more than a year of organizing, having direct actions, doing electoral work, and building multi-racial coalitions, newly-elected Sheriff Ed Gonzalez took the first step towards fulfilling his campaign promise to end Harris County’s collaborations with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) by signing an agreement to terminate the county’s 287(g) program!

Rooted in the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, 287(g) is a voluntary agreement between Harris County and ICE where Harris County tax dollars paid for approximately 8 Sheriff Deputies to work as ICE agents in the jail. Varying estimates put the cost of the program at more than $500,000/year funded by the taxpayers of Harris County.

In addition to the economic impact, the Sheriff’s decision to end 287(g) is a good first step in a long process of criminal justice reform. This decision will help to strengthen trust between law enforcement and communities of color, especially as Houston’s many immigrants face daily threats to their continued presence in the U.S. This is an amazing victory for Harris County, United We Dream and many other organizations and allies who helped uplift the problems with 287(g).

On March 25, 2017, 18 Texas sheriffs in Galveston, Brazoria, Tarrant, Waller and other counties have expressed interest in entering a similar contract. As part of the 287(g) contract, each county would have to cover the funding to send staff to ICE training, for staff salaries and to provide office space, as Harris County did.  Frances Valdez is looking to support any residents of the counties expressing interest in 287(g) and is open to speak with them about how they can advocate against this issue.

New Travel Ban Halted by Federal Judges

New Travel Ban Halted by Federal Judges (fvaldezlaw.com)On March 6, 2017, President Trump’s administration issued a new executive order to replace the travel ban that went into effect on January 27, 2017 (and was halted by judicial decision).  The new order was set to into effect on March 16, 2017. This second order contained many of the elements of the first and it included all but one of the same countries included in the first ban. And the second order also was halted by judicial decision on March 15, 2017.

Although enforcement of the travel ban has been halted, if you are a Legal Permanent Resident, Visa holder, dual national, or immigrant of any status from one of the targeted countries, you may want to consult with an immigration lawyer before traveling outside the United States. These countries include: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Though Iraq was removed from the second travel ban, it was included in the first and immigrants from that country were subject to the effects of the first ban when it was enacted.

Do you have a question about your immigration situation? You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.

Be Prepared: Make a Plan

Be Prepared: Make an Immigration Plan (fvaldezlaw.com_Our hearts ache for the families affected by recent immigration raids. As President Trump’s administration continues to roll out its expanded deportation priorities, we encourage everyone to remain calm while also planning for the future. You should take steps to be prepared for any eventuality:

  • Consider meeting with an immigration attorney or accredited BIA representative to see if there are any legal immigration strategies available to you. If no remedies are available for your situation, begin thinking through and instituting a plan in the case of detention or deportation.
  • Make a copy of important documents and put them in one place. Make sure family members know where to find those documents.
  • Save money in case there is a need to hire an attorney or pay a bond. Make sure you or your designated representatives know how and can access that money.
  • Plan for your children’s well-being. Individuals with children should create a structure for who will take care of children in the event that parents are detained. Do not sign anything regarding you or your children without consulting with a lawyer. Consider getting a power of attorney in place so that a family member or friend can take care of your children in the event you are detained or deported.
  • Know your rights. Do not open the door unless officers have a signed warrant. You have a right to remain silent and ask to speak with an attorney. Do not sign anything without consulting an attorney.
  • Make informed decisions. For certain immigrants, detention in a federal institution is mandatory. These detainees will not be released before the completion of removal proceedings or the carrying out of a deportation order if their record shows a prior removal order and/or several different types of criminal issues. While detained, immigrants may be transferred from facility to facility, including to out-of-state facilities. Detainees could be transferred in the middle of the night without warning. Due to the stress some detainees choose to be released back to their home country; this is completely up to the detainee but please make sure they have been informed of the consequences of this decision by an attorney that represents the detainee.

Please be aware that being detained is very stressful emotionally and physically on the detainee, as well as the family and friends of the detainee. Empower yourself with the knowledge of your own situation and options to ensure that you understand your situation. Be careful, be prepared, and take care.

Do you have a question about your immigration situation? You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.

U.S. Citizen Petitioning I-601A Waiver for a Spouse

U.S. Citizen Petitioning for their Spouse with Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (I-601A)

“I’m a U.S. Citizen and I want to get papers for my spouse.  Will my spouse need a waiver?” FValdezLaw has compiled this deck to provide general information about how a U.S. Citizen can file a petition for their spouse.  It also provides basic information about the Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (I-601A).

Having trouble viewing the file above? Check out its source:
U.S. Citizen Petitioning for their Spouse
with Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (I-601A)

We are always available to answer your questions on this and any other immigration law topics. You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.

Do you have a suggestion for additional immigration law topics? Let us know!

Connect with us:

DISCLAIMER: The content of this deck is not intended to substitute a consultation with an attorney or legal advice which is relevant to all of the facts and circumstances of your case. FValdezLaw recommends you seek a detailed legal consultation for that purpose.

Updates about the Presidential Executive Order instituting travel restrictions

Updates about the Presidential Executive Order instituting travel restrictions (fvaldezlaw.com)

On Friday, January 27, 2017, United States President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order restricting travel from seven majority Muslim nations, “EXECUTIVE ORDER: PROTECTING THE NATION FROM FOREIGN TERRORIST ENTRY INTO THE UNITED STATES.” Over the next few days this travel ban caused chaos and confusion at U.S. airports as documented legal immigrants were detained, interrogated, and in many cases kept from legal counsel.

While the officials at the White House and Department of Homeland Security released several (sometimes contradictory) statements over the first few days, organizations and volunteer attorneys mobilized to assist the immigrants caught in this snare. Peaceful protests occurred across the nation as community members registered their displeasure for the travel ban.

This article provides information about the travel ban, its impact and the legal challenges surrounding it. Nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen were advised to speak with a lawyer before attempting foreign travel.

UPDATE: On Friday, February 3, 2017 Judge James Robart of Federal District Court for the Western District of Washington issued a nationwide injunction on the executive order. Specifically, it temporarily barred the administration from enforcing the 90-day travel ban and the limits on accepting refugees. As a result, legal permanent residents, visa holders, and dual nationality immigrants from the affected countries will no longer be detained from entering the U.S.

Do you have a question about your immigration situation? You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.

DHS makes changes to T Visa

DHS makes changes to T Visa for victims of human trafficking (fvaldezlaw.com)

DHS makes changes to T Visa for victims of human trafficking

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that it will make changes to the regulations that outline requirements and procedures for applicants seeking T nonimmigrant status (T visa). The T visa was created for and provides immigration protection to victims of human trafficking, and allows eligible victims to remain in the United States to assist in an investigation or prosecution of human trafficking.

After 14 years of running the T visa program, DHS is expounding upon the requirements of eligibility and making changes required by law. The public can provide opinions regarding these updates but must do so by February 17, 2017 by visiting the Federal Register.

Need more information on U and T status eligibility? You may contact us online, via email at fvaldez@fvaldezlaw.com or call us at (713) 861-2725 to receive a free consultation with FValdezLaw PC via phone, email or Skype.