Saturday, April 28, 2012

Some claim that it has never been easier to go through the application process to apply for US citizenship. However, many of those who make that claim, also make their living selling their services to people seeking US citizenship and immigration.

The country of the United States of America was founded on the principle of having open doors and open arms to the nations of the world, inviting all to come and partake of the many benefits and advantages of being an American citizen.

But, it should also be noted that recent political issues and agendas, most particularly those which have come to a boiling point since the attacks on the US on September 11th, has created a political climate in which there is considerable controversy and divisiveness. As such, it has created more challenges in the process of US citizenship and immigration.

Even with the political turmoil on U.S. soil regarding US immigration policy, the fact remains that there still is a process in place for those who are wanting to emigrate from their homeland and become a new US citizen.

Assisting those in the process of attaining US citizenship and immigration status are a number of different companies that offer US immigration help and services for a fee. The fees and the services vary greatly, so it may take some diligent research on the part of the hopeful immigrant to find just the right services that can facilitate their needs, while still being affordable.

There are also many of these services that have an attorney on staff or on retainer for consultation. He or she is available to help with the United States immigration law which is often confusing and complex and which changes frequently as the political winds change with public opinion and new security concerns.

The best businesses that are available to assist people in navigating through the maze of details and paperwork that must be taken care of in the pursuit of permanently staying in the US, are those who help to educate their emigrant clients in the process. They can outline for you the best and quickest way to become a US citizen. The best of these services have well-designed systems in place which have been developed over many years of helping people gain the status of American citizen.

One of the best ways to find the right service for this major undertaking is to talk to people who have used a service of this kind and who have successfully gained their status for permanently living in the US. Any reputable immigration services company will have a list of clients who can attest to the quality of assistance they received.

Part of the system that these companies have in place will help their clients prepare in many ways for naturalization. One of the key components of this preparation is getting ready to take the US citizenship test which every applicant for US citizenship and immigration must pass.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

For many people not in the business of immigration law practice, the New York Immigrant Representation report, which was published in the Cardozo Law Review, is an eye-opener into the world of deportation proceedings. Some of the issues the report addresses are the impact of the transfer of detained immigrants to far off jurisdictions on the immigrants' ability to hire immigration counsel, inadequate legal representation, high bond amounts, and a high number of self-represented non-citizens.

The number of foreign nationals representing themselves in immigration courts is appalling. (Unlike in criminal proceedings, non-citizens are not entitled to an appointed attorney in deportation proceedings.) According to the report, in New York City, 60 percent of detained immigrants and 27 percent of non-detained immigrants do not have the benefit of an immigration attorney's expertise during the removal process.

The study only looks at removal, or deportation, cases that come before immigration judges. It does not address the number of individuals who seek immigration benefits from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or Consular Offices abroad where an unsuccessful outcome can damage the person's life as seriously as a removal from the country. Is inability to unite with one's spouse in the United States less hurtful than separation with one's spouse as a result of a deportation order? Nevertheless, more and more applicants handle immigration petitions on their own. The above study finds that, between 2000 and 2010, the number of unrepresented individuals has doubled.

Some foreign nationals dive into the maze of immigration law and procedure by themselves because they cannot afford hiring immigration lawyers; others chose to represent themselves because they believe they can handle it. The deceitfully simple immigration forms lure many pro se applicants into trouble. Some mistakes, including those involving strategy and presentation of evidence, may not be corrected.

We all know about the benefits of hiring professionals to deal with our problems, be it an electrician to repair a shorted wire, a medical doctor to treat a health issue, or an attorney to resolve a legal trouble. The New York study confirms the value of professional services: immigrants who were placed in deportation and who hired an immigration lawyer had successful outcome in 67 percent of cases; those who represented themselves were successful in only eight percent of cases. This data shows the importance of informing non-citizen applicants about the benefits of employing licensed professionals to assist them with immigration petitions.

Friday, April 20, 2012

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is keeping up with the times by streamlining their application and naturalization procedures for military personnel. This applies to those on active duty and recently discharged.

Generally speaking if you are in one the following areas of service, you will qualify: Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, Army, some members of the National Guard (ask an immigration lawyer about this) and the selected reserve of the Ready Reserve.

There are some requirements you need to meet prior to becoming a US citizen. Those requirements are be of good moral character, know the English language and the US government and history and take the oath of allegiance.

If you are qualified, then you are exempt from other naturalization rules - including residency and a physical presence in the US. One thing to note about his area of immigration law is that if you are discharged from the Armed Forces for any reason other than under "honorable conditions" before serving five years, you may have your citizenship revoked.

You might not know this, as it is another consequence of 9/11. Immigrants who have served active duty on or after 9/11 are able to file for immediate citizenship under the special wartime provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act. This section also covers other veterans. Ask a knowledgeable immigration lawyer about this.

The other section that may be applicable in your circumstance is if you have already been discharged. To qualify for citizenship the requirements are: honorable service of at least one year, permanent resident status, have filed your application within 6 months of leaving the service or while still in the service.

There are other areas of immigration law that will apply to you and your special circumstances. To find out what those are, you need to speak to an attorney familiar with the laws who will assist you during your application process. Immigration law changes all the time and doing things for yourself will not always work.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One thing is certain about the future of US Immigration: the process is constantly changing. This article looks briefly at the past year and the issues that have arisen in the field of US Immigration.

American immigration rules are subject to constant changes. However in recent years the rate of change has accelerated greatly. Some attribute this to the organizational changes made to the Immigration system itself. At one time, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was under the jurisdiction of the United States Attorney General. Now United States Immigration matters are dealt with under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security.

Further compounding the changes to the Immigration system are the proposed changes to be made to Immigration law should recently proposed changes be made to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Under the current provisions of the INA same sex couples are not allowed to petition for Immigration benefits based upon marriage to a same sex partner. There have been numerous recent attempts to repeal this restriction. At the time of this writing, none of the proposed legislation on this issue has been passed by either House of the Legislative Branch of the United States Federal Government.

Recently, a bill was proposed in the US Congress that would make sweeping changes to the American Immigration system. Commonly referred to as "Comprehensive Immigration Reform," or "CIR" for short, this initiative seeks to rectify perceived injustices in the current United States visa process. The ultimate impact of the CIR movement remains to be seen.

An interesting aspect of the current Immigration environment within the past year is the increasing attention that immigration fraud is getting from the New York Attorney General's office. This attention to fraudulent activity has been most apparent in the current Attorney General's attitude toward those who would take advantage of the lack of consumer sophistication on the part of the immigrant community. This endeavor to thwart illegal activity should be embraced by the community at large.

When this article was written, the K1 visa was still a highly utilized travel document for those traveling to America in order to re-unite with a fiance. Also, the K3 marriage visa is still commonly used by those with an alien spouse. Those interested in filing for a K-1 or K-3 visa should look into filing a well-founded I-129f petition.

USCIS: The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service is the main adjudicator of K visa applications and it is in their position as adjudicators that the American Department of Homeland Security pre-screens virtually all family based visa applicants to ensure that they are both eligible for benefits and do not pose a foreseeable threat to the United States. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Service offers one more layer of security as it is their responsibility to inspect and admit aliens at ports of entry in America.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A recent consultation paper released by the LSB has proposed that dramatic reforms need to take place regarding the regulations placed on companies that offer UK Visa and Immigration advice and services. The changes are likely to have a massive effect on the industry sector and for the general public, as the Government looks to shutdown bogus operations that scam people out of thousands of pounds by claiming to be able to obtain UK Visas for vulnerable and desperate people.

What does this mean for the general public?

The LSB says that current regulators are not doing enough to protect the public from bogus companies claiming to provide UK Visa and Immigration advice and services, who actually go on to take money from a number of clients never to be heard from again often leaving people in desperate situations, severely devastated and out of pocket.

Since the collapse of regulatory agencies such as the RLC and IAS, much of the responsibility for regulating advisory services has fallen on the Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC). The LSB report claims that the OISC is a flawed system and needs a dramatic overhaul or disbanding altogether.

Other qualifying regulators across England and Wales, available to the public at present, include: the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and ILEX.

Should any of The LSB's proposed changes get passed by officials the outlook of the regulatory system could be completely transformed. The paper put forward by the LSB has proposed a number of options such as making UK Visa and Immigration and advice a reserved legal activity. To the general public this means that all UK Immigration work would be restricted to Solicitors, Barristers and ILEX members.

Under these regulations the OISC would effectively become obsolete. However, the LSB would prefer to avoid this as it would also eliminate a number of services that provide genuine guidance on all matters concerned with UK Visa and Immigration.

The LSB would prefer to maintain consumer choice and a range of different options, rather than excluding companies based on who their accredited regulator is. What this could mean though is that the OISC becomes a qualifying regulator as opposed to a general regulator.

Abolishing the OISC altogether would have a dramatic effect on the industry sector, resulting in a number of organisations losing accreditation and being able to offer their services to the public without any regulatory measures in place to protect the public. In effect this would play more into the hands of bogus companies and individuals who look to exploit those who are desperate to obtain a UK Visa.

Perhaps a more sensible solution for the general public to report complaints is to reform or unify complaints procedures by referring people straight to the Legal Ombudsman in all UK Immigration cases. This seems like a more viable option put forward by the LSB.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

For sure anything that is illegal is definitely not the correct thing to do and same goes for immigration as well.

In the Perspective of the US law makers,CBE - (The customs and border enforcement), USCIS - (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services), and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) it is not just a negative act but also a criminal offence yet, on the other hand the impact of illegal immigration on US economy is quite bizarre.

Americans have enjoyed foreign and cheap labor for ages that date as back as world war second. As a matter of fact some experts even conclude that the habit of cheap foreign labor is inseparable from Americans and the maximum of this cheap labor comes to America in the form of alien immigrants.

Impact of illegal immigrants on US economy

The 80 per cent of the farm workers, the major part of agriculture industry are alien immigrants. Since the labor is cheap, all the products related to dairy and agriculture is comparatively cheap as well.

The cost that is paid to farm workers is less than $20 an hour and also the work is just seasonal. The work conditions on farm are severely tough as well and thus, majority of the Native Americans are not interested in such low paid tough jobs. The agriculture industry as of today fears that implementation of E-Verify might just break their back bones since cheap foreign labor will not be available and the natives will not work for such low jobs.

The small business owners enjoy cheap labor that is provided by illegal immigrants as well. It is believed by professional residents that the cheap labor provided by these immigrants cost them well paid jobs. However, some representatives of the government make a conviction that the economy of the country receives a major boost by the extension of gross domestic products as well as from the taxes.

The GDP of US shoots upwards due to illegal immigration. Over the years, there has been a consistent boost of Gross domestic products and it has grown over 10 billion dollars owing to alien immigrants which is of great significance. Undoubtedly, the workforce has increased due to these alien immigrants and this has led to more production, output as well as income of the sates be it agriculture or construction.

In a free market economy, the prices of goods and services are also affected by alien immigrants. However, before the price is set up, various things such as affordability, consumer's purchasing power and demand supply are taken into consideration by the manufacturers. The prices are adjusted according to the level of income as well as spending power of majority of consumers and the prices and profits can be kept in check due to cheap labor cost.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Generally, there are two ways that one may petition an alien to immigrate to the United States. The first way is through familial relationships, using what is known as "Family-Based Immigration." This is filed using a Form I-130 Petition. The other is through employment relationships under the category of "Employment-Based Immigration". These are filed using a Form I-140 Petition. This article discusses petitioning through Family-Based Immigration.

Filing a petition is the first step in the petitioning process. After filing the petition, one should file a Form I-485 adjustment of status application if the alien is already in the U.S. If the alien being petitioned is abroad, the petitioner must go through the immigrant visa Consular Processing in the country's U.S. Consulate office.

I am already legally in the U.S.; who am I entitled to petition?

If you are already in the United States, who you may petition depends on two things:

1) what your current citizenship status is
2) what the alien's relationship to you is

Regarding your current citizenship status, eligibility for petitioning depends on whether you are a U.S. Citizen or a Permanent Resident. Regarding the alien's relationship to you, eligibility depends on whether the person is an immediate relative or simply a close family member. The various categories for immigration visas are outlined below.

Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens

Aliens who are immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens receive the highest preference in terms of obtaining an immigration visa. An immediate relative is defined as either a spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, or parents, of a U.S. Citizen.

The filing process for immediate relatives of citizens is "streamlined", meaning that the petitioner can file all the paperwork at the same time. In addition, there is no limit to the number of visas that may be issued per year under this category. (Sponsors under the other categories must file specific papers at different time intervals, and there are limits to the number of visas issued per year). The categories and requirements for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are as follows:

  • Spouses of U.S. Citizens- the alien must be married to a U.S. citizen

  • Unmarried Children under the age of 21 years old of U.S. Citizens- the alien must be the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen; they must be unmarried, and under the age of 21. Adopted children qualify under this category

  • Parents of U.S. Citizens- the alien must be the parent of a U.S. citizen, and the U.S. citizen must be over 21 years of age.

Close Family Members of U.S. Citizens

Those not qualifying under the "immediate relatives" category may file under this category. These include unmarried children over 21 years of age of U.S. citizens, married children of U.S. citizens, and siblings of U.S. citizens. However, as mentioned above, petitions filed under this category are not "streamlined", and are subject to a limit as to how many visas may be issued per year. These are the petitions that are treated in the "Visa Bulletin" (see below).

Under this category, relatives of the citizen are classified into different "Preferences", for example, "First Preference, Second Preference", etc. The higher the preference, the faster the alien will be eligible for a green card. The preference categories are as follows:

First Preference: Unmarried children who are under 21 years of age of U.S. citizens- here, the alien must be a child of a U.S. citizen, and be over 21 years old

Second Preference: see below (Permanent Residents)

Third Preference: Married children of U.S. citizens- the alien must be a child of a U.S. citizen, and married.

Fourth Preference: Siblings (brothers or sisters) of U.S. citizens- To qualify as a brother or sister, both the citizen and the alien must be children of the same parent. The U.S. citizen must be over 21 years old.

Permanent Residents

If you are not a U.S. citizen but are a Permanent Resident (green card holder), you may only petition your spouse and unmarried children. This category forms the "Second Preference" category for aliens.

Second Preference 2A: Spouses, and children who are under 21 years of age of Permanent Residents

Second Preference 2B: Children who are over 21 years of age of Permanent Residents

Note: Children in this category must be unmarried; adopted children also qualify. Parents may also be petitioned if the permanent resident is over 21 years old.

How long is the wait?

After filling for petition, the alien still must wait a specified amount of time before they can come to the U.S. under a green card. The waiting periods and the number of visas issued vary depending on various factors such as country of origin.

To recap, if you are a U.S. Citizen, you may petition the following persons under the family-based immigration category, and the waiting period for green card eligibility usually is:

  • Your spouse (husband or wife): 6-12 months waiting period

  • Unmarried children who are under 21 years old: 6-12 months waiting period

  • Unmarried sons or daughters who are over 21 years old: 5 years

  • Married sons or daughters of any age: 8 years

  • Parents and siblings, if the petitioner is over 21 years old: about 6-12 months for parents and up to 11 years for siblings

If you are a Permanent Resident ("green card holder") the waiting periods for the following people are:

  • Your spouse: 5 years or longer

  • Unmarried sons and daughters: 5 years or longer if the child is under 21 years old and anywhere from 7-10 years if the child is over 21 years old.

What about fiancés?

Only U.S. citizens may petition a fiancé under a K-1 filling. Petitioning a fiancé involves several extra steps, mainly to prove that the couple has spent time with each other and are validly engaged. Some of these extra requirements include photographs of the couple together, travel tickets documenting that the citizen did in fact visit the fiancé, and other items proving time spent together.

The waiting period for obtaining a fiancé visa is typically about 3-6 months, though it may be longer depending on the circumstances. Once the fiancé visa is granted, the fiancé may enter the U.S. It should be noted that the couple must get married within 90 days after the fiancé enters into the U.S. After marriage, the fiancé is subject to several other conditions including filing for Permanent Residence status.

The Visa Bulletin

As stated above, the number of visas available, as well as waiting periods are subject to limitation and changes according to the month of application and the alien's home country. The U.S. Department of State issues a visa bulletin that outlines the details of these numbers based on category of preference. Again, the visa bulletin only deals with the types of categories mentioned above that are not "streamlined".

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