Immigration Lawyers Advising Clients on Public Benefits

In its continuing efforts to block undocumented immigrants from obtaining lawful permanent residence in the U.S. the Trump Administration is proposing new rules regarding family members obtaining government benefits such as food stamps, medical benefits etc.

John Carrico
Lead Immigration Attorney
Family Visa and Immigration Services

On October 10, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) finally posted a revised “public charge” rule in the Federal Register. The rule would force immigrant families to choose between vital services, such as medical care, and legal permanent residency, by drastically altering the process and criteria for determining whether a person is “likely to become a public charge.” Under the new guidelines, anyone who uses more than 15 percent of the poverty line in specified public benefits based on their household size could be deemed a public charge. This comes out to $2.50 per person, daily, per family of four.

By calculating “public charge” this way, even immigrants who are 95 percent self-sufficient could be found ineligible for permanent residence. In addition, DHS plans to measure an immigrant’s likelihood to use federal, state, or local safety net programs “depend[ing] on the particular facts and circumstances of each case.” Some factors it will consider are: one’s age, marriage, income, and being uninsured with a medical condition requiring extensive treatment. However, what is missing from the proposed rule are practical guidelines as to how USCIS adjudicators will weigh these factors.

If finalized as drafted, this vague new rule will only continue to bring pain and fear to immigrant families, while harming public health and failing to benefit the U.S. economy. Americans and immigrants alike should tell the administration why this rule is bad for our country. Public comments will be accepted until December 10, 2018.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

Immigration Lawyer’s Predict Rise in Deportation Hearings

This blog expands on yesterday’s on a change in policy by the Trump Administration to add new categories of those who DHS and ICE will place in Deportation Proceedings. Now the list will include those applications, petitions or immigration benefits that were denied. In prior administrations, particularly the Obama Administration, denials of applications for immigration benefits, where no serious criminal violations or fraud and/or misrepresentation were alleged, rarely resulted in Deportation Proceedings. That is changing now.

John Lee Carrico, Esq.
Lead Immigration Attorney
Family Visa and immigration Services

According to USCIS, the January 25, 2017 Executive Order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” provides support to USCIS authority to initiate removal proceedings against any individual who is removable.
The new NTA guidance mandates USCIS to issue an NTA upon denial of an application, petition, or immigration benefit request where the applicant, beneficiary, or requestor is removable except in very limited circumstances.
The new guidance mandates USCIS to issue an NTA to every person who is “not lawfully present” in the United States at the time an application, petition, or request for an immigration benefit is denied. This is particularly significant because USCIS is simultaneously attempting to re-define “lawful presence” more narrowly via policy memo that will take effect on August 9. The NTA memo and the “lawful presence” have to be read together
New policy will draw agency resources away from threats to national security and public safety by requiring USCIS to issue an NTA in cases when it may not be necessary. Past policy required USCIS to refer most cases to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to make that determination.
Prosecutorial Discretion, a cornerstone of America’s judicial system for centuries, allowing for the efficient and effective prioritization of cases, has been relegated to the dust bin; it is a thing of the past.
The memos do not change policy regarding issuance of NTAs in cases where it is required by statute or regulation, in cases involving national security concerns, in cases involving criminal conduct that renders a person removable, and in cases involving fraud or misrepresentation. In those cases DHS will continue to issue NTAs.
In addition to issuing an NTA when fraud or misrepresentation is part of the record (which USCIS has long had the authority to do), USCIS will now issue an NTA when there is “evidence of abuse of public benefit programs.” This change must be read in conjunction with the administration’s impeding changes to the public charge rule.
A separate DACA-specific memo appears to keep the same general policies for DACA requestors that were in place before the issuance of the 2018 NTA memo, directing USCIS to consult the 2011 NTA memo to determine whether to issue an NTA in a DACA case or refer a DACA case to ICE.
The guidance also instructs USCIS officers to defer to ICE and CBP regarding the timing of NTA issuance to former TPS beneficiaries after the country’s TPS designation ends.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

Immigration Lawyers See Deportations Increasing

Under prior Presidential administrations, Notices to Appear (NTA’s) in Immigration Court were issues to undocumented immigrants convicted of certain crimes as well as legal residents. And under the Obama Administration an NTA could be dismissed if one had U.S. citizen, or Legal Resident family here and the criminal conviction was a not a felony or serious misdemeanor. This was done by way of Prosecutorial Discretion. Our immigration attorneys represent individuals who are placed into removal proceedings and also represent people filing for relief from removal or filing applications to adjust status to permanent residence or those

Under the Trump Administration, Prosecutorial Discretion has essentially ended and the Immigration Court System is experiencing long backlogs with an increase in Notices to Appear. Below is a description of a new policy just announced by USCIS, DHS and ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement):

On July 5, 2018, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published new guidance, dated June 28, 2018 regarding the issuance of Notices to Appear (NTA). USCIS will take an incremental approach to implement the June 28, 2018, policy memo:
· Starting October 1, 2018, USCIS may issue NTAs on denied status-impacting applications, including but not limited to, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status.
· An NTA is a charging document that is issued to foreign nationals who are deemed “removable” from the United States.
· People who receive NTAs must appear before an immigration judge to determine whether they should be removed from the United States (which carries significant penalties), or whether they are entitled to some type of relief from removal, allowing them to remain in the United States legally.
· The new USCIS NTA policy is a dramatic change from more than a decade of consistent practice, that will divert scarce USCIS resources and needlessly force a massive number of individuals into our already overburdened immigration court system.
· In 2003, when DHS was created, Congress purposefully separated the enforcement functions and the service functions of the legacy INS into three components: CBP (border enforcement and inspections); ICE (interior enforcement) and USCIS (adjudication of immigration benefits).
· Prior agency guidance appropriately shifted NTA issuance to the interior enforcement arm of DHS. With ICE largely responsible for issuing NTAs, USCIS could focus primarily on benefits adjudications, its primary responsibility.
· The new guidance turns USCIS into a third enforcement component of DHS. An NTA will be issued and the person will be forced into the court system, preventing them from departing the U.S. even if they want to
· The new policy could also sweep foreign students into court. USCIS recently changed its requirements for students, who already face confusing regulations, that will render many of them out of status, even though they were following longstanding policy.
For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

USCIS Attacking Green Cards at Naturalization Interviews

USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) in the process of reviewing N400, Naturalization petitions for U.S. citizenship and is now looking at reviewing old applications for lawful permanent residence to determining if green cards were granted improperly. Our immigration lawyers take a close look at each applicant for naturalization to make sure they will not have issues at their interviews. In addition, we almost always have an immigration attorney present at any USCIS interview.

USCIS has always reviewed N-400 applications through fingerprinting the applicant and conducting a careful interview of their immigration history and history of arrests and convictions. However, now under an administration focused on deportations and removals, USCIS are reviewing old applications for permanent residents to determine if they were granted permanent residence through fraud, mistake and misrepresentation or despite not being a person of good moral character.

If USCIS discovers fraud or arrests that were not disclosed previously or if there was a mistake in granting someone their residency, ICE could place that applicant for US citizenship into deportation proceedings and they could face removal in immigration court.

The Los Angeles Times reports that a USCIS team in Los Angeles has been reviewing more than 2,500 naturalization files for possible denaturalization, focusing on identity fraud and willful misrepresentation. More than 100 cases have been referred to the Department of Justice for possible action.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

Immigration Lawyers Sue DHS to extend TPS

Immigration Lawyers Sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to extend Temporary Protective Status (TPS) and protect from deportation El Salvadorans, Haitians, Nicaraguans and Sudanese. TPS for these countries is otherwise is scheduled to be terminated in 2019. Our immigration attorneys have looked into many other options for our clients who are at risk of losing their TPS status but may have other ways to obtaining legal status in the U.S. as permanent residents. Other options include I-601A waivers of inadmissibility, adjustment of status through INA Section 245(i), adjustment of status based on visa entries, cancellation of removal, military parole in place and asylum.

The plaintiffs filed a class action suit and motion for preliminary injunction to force the government to preserve TPS for more than 200,000 individuals, stating that TPS terminations was unconstitutional and violated the Administrative Procedure Act.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

Immigration Lawyers Protecting Clients from USCIS

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) is now, under its new director turning a service agency into a law enforcement arm of the Trump Administration’s Deportation efforts. It has become more essential than ever to ensure adequate representation through a qualified immigration attorney as more undocumented immigrants and legal residents are at risk for deportation and/or being detained by ICE.

The agency has adopted a zero tolerance policy for incomplete USCIS petitions, including those to file applications for lawful permanent residence, naturalization and citizenship, as well as petitions and visa on behalf of family. USCIS and the Trump Administration are also looking into setting up a program to De-Naturalize and take away citizenship of former lawful permanent residents as well as severely restricting asylum applications.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

Immigration Attorneys Protect the 10 Year Rule in Deportation Matters

One of the elements in contesting deportation proceedings is to prove the respondent has been continuously present in the U.S. for a minimum of 10 years prior to the issuance of a Notice to Appear (NTA). In addition, in Cancellation of Removal matters for non-residents, one must prove exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to US citizen children or a U.S. citizen of Lawful Permanent Resident spouse, were the respondent, or undocumented individual, to be removed from the U.S.

Our immigration lawyers keep up to date on current changes and policies in immigration law and policy so as to help our clients regarding any recent updates for their immigration cases.

The U.S.Supreme Court has held that a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court not containing the date and time of the hearing does not cut off the 10 years presence required to grant the person the right to contest deportation. A putative notice sent to a nonpermanent resident to appear at a removal proceeding that fails to designate a specific time or place for that proceeding does not end the continuous residence period calculation necessary for possible cancellation of the individual’s removal. This was the holding of a recent U.S. Supreme Court case in the matter of Pereira v Sessions.

The rationale underlying the Court’s decision broadly affects both ongoing and closed cases initiated by defective Notices to Appear. However, on August 31, 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a precedent decision in Matter of Bermudez-Cota limiting the reach of Pereira v. Sessions to the stop-time rule.

On June 21, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Pereira v. Sessions, that the service of a defective Notice to Appear does not cut off eligibility for cancellation of removal. The rationale underlying the Court’s decision broadly affects both ongoing and closed cases initiated by defective Notices to Appear. However, on August 31, 2018, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) issued a precedent decision in Matter of Bermudez-Cota limiting the reach of Pereira v. Sessions to the stop-time rule.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

Immigration Attorneys Prevail before Federal Judge

Immigration lawyers convinced a federal court to allow parents whose children were detained at the border and separated from their parent or parents to reapply for asylum a second time and remain in the U.S. until an asylum interview is conducted. According to current law, if the adjudicator determines the family has a credible fear of returning to their home country, they would be entitled to an immigration court hearing with the abiltiy to apply for work authorization while their asylum claim in pending.

Our immigration attorneys in Las Vegas and Reno, Nevada prepare our clients for asylum interviews and prepare I-589 asylum applications for clients from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and other countries in South and Central America and all over the world. When one applies for asylum and the application is pending for over 150 days, one is entitled to request employment authorization in order to legally work in the United States.

Our immigration attorneys also represent clients in Immigration Court on cancellation of removal, waiver of inadmissibility and many other family immigration cases and removal defense.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

Immigration Lawyers Applaud CA Health Care for the Undocumented

The state of California has announced a proposal to become the first state in the nation to offer full health coverage to undocumented adults, even as the Trump administration intensifies its crackdown by separating families at the border and has opposed California cities such as San Francisco who are deemed “sanctuary cities” for undocumented immigrants. Our immigration attorneys are constantly up to date in changes in immigration law and policy.

The proposal would build on Governor Jerry Brown’s 2015 decision to extend health coverage to all children, regardless of immigration status.

For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here. 

6 States Sue to End DACA

Six states, mostly in the South and led by the Texas Attorney General, have filed a suit alleging the President did not have the executive power when President Obama signed DACA into law in 2012. Meanwhile, California and other states have also sued to keep DACA open but contending that President Trump does not have the power to end DACA. The Department of Homeland Security has less than 90 days to clarify their position and, if not successful, this suit may even allow those who have never filed DACA to file initial requests.

Our immigration attorneys are keeping up to date so that we can continue to help our clients who are Dreamers, hopefully including those who have never been able to initially file for DACA. For a free consultation, contact our immigration lawyers in Las Vegas at (702) 836-9003 or in Reno, Carson City and Northern Nevada at (775) 826-2099. You may also contact our lead immigration attorney via email by clicking here.