DOJ DHS Joint Letter ICE Arrests

This week, DHS Secretary Kelly and US Attorney General Sessions wrote a joint letter on behalf of their respective agencies to California’s Chief Justice in response to her request for ICE to cease arrests of undocumented aliens in court. 

Kelly and Sessions denied that request. 

See the letter below (published by EliseFoley).

VAWA FAQs

This guide should provide guidance and assistance for eligible VAWA applicants.

What is VAWA?

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows spouses and children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents to self-petition for permanent resident status, without the abuser’s help or knowledge.

What are the eligibility requirements?

To self-petition for permanent residency under VAWA, an individual must:

Show that s/he lived with a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse;
Show that s/he was battered or subjected to extreme cruelty during the marriage;
Show that s/he entered the marriage in good faith;
Show s/he is otherwise qualified for admission; and
Show that s/he has good moral character.

Is VAWA gender specific?

No, males or females can apply for VAWA if s/he can demonstrate the eligibility criteria.

Does a divorce or a pending divorce to the abuser impact the case?

No, you may file Form I-360 if the marriage was terminated within 2 years prior to the date of filing, if you can demonstrate a connection between divorce and abuse.

What if there is no connection between the divorce and the abuse?

A battered spouse who cannot demonstrate such a connection may be eligible for battered spouse cancellation of removal if you 1) meet the other requirements to self-petition, 2) been physically present in the United States for 3 years immediately preceding the filing of the application and 3) must demonstrate that your removal from the United States would result in extreme hardship to you or your child.

What if I am still married to my abuser?

You may file a Form I-360 if you are still married to your abusive spouse.

What if I remarry?

If you remarry before the approval of the I-360, your case will be denied. Remarriage after the approval will not invalidate the approval.

What if my abusive spouse applied for an immigrate petition for me?

If you are the beneficiary of a Form I-130 filed by the abusive spouse, parent or child, you will be able to transfer the priority date of the Form I-130 to the Form I-360.

What if my case is denied?

If your petition is denied, you may file a Notice of Appeal along with the required fee at the Vermont Service Center within 33 days of receiving the denial. Once processed, the appeal will be referred to the Administrative Appeals Office in Washington, D.C.

What happens once my case is approved?

After USCIS approves your I-360, you can prepare your application to adjust your status. If the abuser is a U.S. citizen, then you are eligible to apply as soon as your I-360 has been approved. If the abuser is a permanent resident (green card holder), you will have to wait for a visa to become available in order to apply for your green card.

Will the abuser learn of my petition?

No, VAWA petitions are confidential and the government does not contact the abuser to confirm your allegations, but instead reviews your evidence to determine whether you meet the eligibility criteria.

Citizenship Interview Tips

This guide should provide helpful tips for citizenship eligible applicants.

Arrive Early

On the day of your interview, be sure to arrive 15-20 minutes before the scheduled time to account for any potential delays.

Know the Directions

Before the day of your interview, drive to the site beforehand so that you are familiar with the drive and parking options.

Bring copies of documents

The interviewer will review Form N-400 so while you are waiting, review the entire application and remember dates of travel.

Think before answering

Before answering the “Yes or No” questions at the end of the application, understand the content of each question before answering. In some instances, the interviewer may attempt to question your understanding of the question so do not quickly answer “yes” or “no” before proper comprehension.

Be prepared with employment or marriage details

If your green card was marriage or employment based, be sure to know the dates, times, locations, addresses, and occupational details for all as the interviewer will likely want to confirm the basis of your eligibility for citizenship.

Remain calm

If you do not understand a question, do not hesitate to ask the interviewer to slow down or repeat the question.

Be honest

If you have ever committed a crime and are unsure how to answer, always be honest with your background regardless of what you believe will be the outcome. If you have committed a crime of any nature, bring certified copies of criminal docket sheets with the final disposition of the case.

Medical Grounds of Inadmissibility

This guide provides guidance for applicants who may be inadmissible to immigrate to the United States due to medical reasons.

Grounds of Inadmissibility under Sec. 212. [8 U.S.C. 1182]

Any alien who is determined to 1) have a communicable disease of public health significance; or 2) has failed to present documentation of having received vaccination against vaccine-preventable diseases, which shall include at least the following diseases: mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus and diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B and hepatitis B, and any other vaccinations against vaccine preventable diseases; or 3) to have a physical or mental disorder and behavior associated with the disorder that may pose, or has posed, a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others, or 4) to have had a physical or mental disorder and a history of behavior associated with the disorder, which behavior has posed a threat to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others and which behavior is likely to recur or to lead to other harmful behavior, or 5) who is determined to be a drug abuser or addict, is inadmissible.

Communicable Diseases as Defined under Sec. 212. [8 U.S.C. 1182]

Applicants who have communicable diseases of public health significance are inadmissible. These include:

Gonorrhea, Leprosy, infectious, Syphilis, infectious stage, Tuberculosis (TB), Active–Only a Class A TB diagnosis renders an applicant inadmissible to the United States. Under current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, Class A TB means TB that is clinically active and communicable.

Quarantinable diseases designated by any Presidential Executive Order. Current diseases include: cholera, diphtheria, infectious tuberculosis, plague, smallpox, yellow fever, viral hemorrhagic fevers, severe acute respiratory syndromes, and influenza caused by novel or re-emergent influenza (pandemic flu).

Communicable diseases that may pose a public health emergency of international concern and for which the Director of the CDC has determined that (A) a threat exists for importation into the United States, and (B) such disease may potentially affect the health of the American public.

HIV

As of January 4, 2010, HIV infection is no longer defined as a communicable disease for purposes of admissibility to the United States. Accordingly, any immigration benefit adjudicated on or after January 4, 2010, even if the applicant filed the immigration benefit application before January 4, 2010 is not impacted by a positive test for HIV.

Waivers for Inadmissibility

A waiver is available under INA 212(g)(1) for INA 212(a)(1)(A)(i) (communicable disease of public health significance). These are available for an applicant who is
(A) the spouse or the unmarried son or daughter, or the minor unmarried lawfully adopted child of a United States citizen, or of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or of an alien who has been issued an immigrant visa, (B) has a son or daughter, who is a United States citizen, or an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence, or an alien who has been issued an immigrant visa; or (C) is a VAWA self-petitioner

Note that such waivers under INA 212(g)(1) are discretionary.

Medical Exam Requirements

This guide will provide general guidance for eligible immigrant petitions that require a medical examination.

I-693 Form

Generally, all applicants filing for adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident must submit Form I-693 completed by a designated civil surgeon.

Form I-693 is used to report results of a medical examination to USCIS. The examination is required to establish that an applicant is not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds.

Find An Authorized Doctor

The medical exam must be conducted by an authorized USCIS doctor or “civil surgeons.” Refer to USCIS website for a list of providers in your local area.

What to Bring to Exam

Bring the following to your medical exam: Form I-693; Government-issued photo identification; Previous vaccination records; Medical insurance card; Payment form.

The Exam

The exam will be done in two parts – some of the tests will be administered on the same day and you will need to go back to the doctor’s office 2-3 days after and have those tests read. Other portions of the exam will be done the same day and will be straight forward blood tests.

Post-Exam

After the exam, the doctor will complete Form I-693 and seal the form in an envelope for you to submit to USCIS. Do not open this form as USCIS will not accept any medical exams that have been opened or altered. Be sure to acquire a copy for your records from the doctor’s office.

Green Card Renewal Process

When do I renew my green card?
You should renew your Green Card if:
1) You are a Permanent Resident
2) Your card is valid for 10 years
3) The card will expire within the next 6 months or the card is currently expired.

How to Apply
Submit Form I-90 either by mail or online submission.

If by online submission: You must first create a USCIS online account to track and manage your case online and then submit following the instructions and providing the necessary evidence.

If by mail: If you submit a paper Form I-90 application, you will receive a USCIS Account Acceptance Notice in the mail with instructions on how to create a USCIS online account. The advantages of having a USCIS online account are that you can:
What if you are outside of the U.S.?
If you are outside the United States and your green card will expire within 6 months, you should file for your renewal card as soon as you return to the United States.

If you are outside of the United States when the card expires and you have not applied for the renewal card prior to your departure, you should contact the nearest U.S. Consulate, before attempting to file Form I-90 for a renewal green card for specific instructions.
What to do if your request is denied?
If your application is denied, you will receive a letter explaining the basis for the decision. While you will not be able to appeal the decision, you may file a motion to reopen or reconsider with the original office who adjudicated your case.

Adjustment of Status FAQs

This guide provides general answers to eligibility questions for adjustment of status.

What is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of status is an application filed by an alien who is physically in the U.S. to acquire permanent resident status after his or her immigration petition has been approved without having to go abroad and apply for a visa.

When I can adjust status?
When an immigration petition has been filed on your behalf, the visa becomes available and you are physically in the U.S., you can submit an application to adjust status. You are also able to adjust status simultaneously with the I-130 petition when you are the spouse of a U.S. citizen, despite a visa overstay.

Are there any bars to adjusting status even if you entered the U.S. with a visa?
Yes, if you entered the U.S. on a C1/D crew member visa, through the Visa Waiver Program, or you entered on a K1 finance visa and are adjusting status through a spouse who did not file the initial K1 visa petition, you are ineligible to adjust status in the U.S. There are some exceptions to this rule however – in regards to the Visa Waiver Program, an alien may apply for adjustment of status as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.

What is 245(i)?
Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act allows foreign nationals to adjust their status and become a permanent resident. To be eligible for 245(i), you must have been the beneficiary of a Form I-130 or Form I-140 immigrant visa petition that was filed with the INS on or before April 30, 2001, or have been the beneficiary of an application for labor certification filed with the Department of Labor on or before April 30, 2001.

What are the ramifications of a visa overstay versus entering illegally?
If you entered the U.S. illegally and are married to a LPR or USC, you are ineligible to adjust status unless Section 245(i) applies to you. If you entered the U.S. with a visa (not through one of the barred visas mentioned previously), and overstayed (even for more than one year), you are eligible to adjust status through marriage to a U.S. citizen. Note that marriage to a LPR does not qualify an alien to adjust status despite the same overstay.

Foreign Travel Tips

This guide should provide some helpful tips for foreign travel from the US.
1. Ensure updated travel documents

Before you travel, ensure that your passport, and green card and travel permit (if applicable) are valid and unexpired for at least three months prior to travel.

2. Ensure there are no bans of any sort prior to travel

The US government has issued an electronics ban from several countries in the Middle East flying into and out of certain airports. Before departing the US, confirm that you are not traveling through these destinations and if so, comply with the ban (i.e. All electronic devices larger than a cell phone must be checked into the cargo rather than being in carry on luggage).

3. Check with the Department of State for any travel warnings

Be aware of any Travel Warnings or Travel Alerts for your destination country, which describe risks to you and may affect your travel plans. Also check the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will be traveling for the latest security messages.

4. Acquire a visa to enter your destination

Much like US immigration law, foreign countries have visa requirements for travel. Check with the foreign embassy in the US for more information about applying for and acquiring the visa.

5. Bring medical documentation if applicable

Many countries have strict rules on carrying medicine into their country. For any prescription medicine, obtain your doctors prescription.

6. Make copies of foreign travel documents

Ensure you have at least two copies of all entry and biographical documents – one with you and each travel companion and the other with a trusted person in the US in case of any issues that occur during travel.

Naturalization Interview Tips

This post outlines helpful tips in preparing and attending a naturalization interview.

1. Attend Biometric Appointment
Go to your local USCIS field office at the specified date and time for your background check. Await follow-up notice of interview date.

2. Receive Interview Notice
Be sure to note the date and time of your naturalization interview. At this point, begin preparing for the Civics portion of the exam.

3. Study USCIS Materials
As part of the naturalization interview, you will be required to test proficiently in English & Civics. The English test has three components: reading, writing, and speaking. There are 100 civics questions, of which you will be asked up to 10 questions and you must answer correctly six of the 10 questions to pass the civics test.

4. Gather all required documents
You should bring the following documents with you to your interview – 1) green card, 2) passport, 3) interview notice, 4) reentry permits, 5) state-issued identification. You can also electively bring a copy of your application, previous leases or deeds to show continued residence, and tax returns to show compliance with filing your taxes.

5. Attend the Interview
Go to your local office at the specified date and time at least 30 minutes before your scheduled interview. At your naturalization interview, you will be required to answer questions about your application and background. You will also take an English and civics test unless you qualify for an exemption or waiver.

6. Decision
If your application is approved for citizenship, you will either be given notice of an oath ceremony for a later date or be given the opportunity on the same day. If a request for more evidence is issued, you will need to submit the documentation requested by the specified date. Finally, if you are given another opportunity to take a portion of your testing, attend the follow-up interview at the designated time and date after having prepared thoroughly.

Visa Waiver Program FAQs

General information re: the VWP, which allows for nationals from designated countries to enter the US for business or tourism without a visa for a 90-day period of time.

Participating Countries 

Nationals from the following countries are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program:

Andorra; Australia; Austria; Belgium; Brunei; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Iceland; Ireland; Italy; Japan; Korea, Republic of Latvia; Liechtenstein; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Malta; Monaco; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Portugal; San Marino; Singapore; Slovakia; Slovenia; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Taiwan; United Kingdom

Eligibility

In order to travel through the Visa Waiver Program, you must have authorization through the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to travel. ESTA is an automated web-based system to determine eligibility to travel without a visa to the United States for tourism or business. Further, as of April 1, 2016, you must also have an e-passport – an enhanced secure passport with an embedded electronic chip – to travel through the VWP. Finally, you must show proof of return travel within the 90 day allowance period.

Ineligibility

Persons who enter through the VWP are not eligible to extend their stay in any capacity and must return to their home country in order to re-enter legally. Some travelers may not be eligible to enter the U.S. visa under the VWP. These include those with any arrest records, criminal convictions, communicable diseases, or other grounds of inadmissibility. Such travelers must apply for a visa.

Adjustment of Status

Generally, those admitted under the VWP cannot adjust status under INA 245A, however there is an exception for immediate relatives – spouses, children (under 21 years of age and unmarried, and parents if the citizen is 21 years of age or older). USCIS issued a policy memorandum on adjudicating cases past the 90-day requirement for filing for AOS unless the applicant has been arrested, or convicted of an egregious public safety offense.