marriage-based visa

The pathway to United States citizenship involves many complex options and, at times, confusing criteria. Immigration law in the United States is continually evolving and changing and can cause a lot of tension for immigrants trying to figure out how it all works. Applying for a green card based on a marriage can seem like an easy procedure. However, there’s a lot to understand to this process of marriage-based visas, and it can be the difference between an approval and a denial.

What is a Marriage-Based Visa?

The marriage-based visa is one option for an immigrant to apply for a green card. It is based on their marriage to a U.S. lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen. There are some common misconceptions when it comes to marriage-based visas. Most individuals tend to think that it’s an automatic ticket to U.S. citizenship, and it just involves filing some paperwork. However, the overall application is still a long and tedious process with an intense petition undertaking.

What are the Requirements to Obtain a Marriage-Based Visa?

The process of filing for a marriage-based visa is pretty straightforward. However, the overall operation comes with its hurdles and requires applicants to prove that their marriage is real and valid. To qualify for this specific visa, you will need to show the following:

  • You are legally married to a U.S. Citizen or a U.S. lawful permanent resident.
  • Your marriage is real and not fraudulent. Specifically, you are proving that your marriage is not just done for a green card.
  • Documentation of your spouse’s lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship.
  • Proof that neither of you is married to someone else.

The Process:

To prove that you qualify for this visa, you will need to submit to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) the required Form I-130, along with proof that your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, and that you have a bona fide marriage. Once USCIS approves the I-130, you will be required to pay specific fees and fill out additional paperwork that the National Visa Center (NVC) will need. Once the NVC receives all your documentation, your case will be sent to a U.S. consulate located in your home country, where you will be required to obtain a medical exam by an approved doctor and attend an interview.

If everything is complete, you will receive your immigrant visa and will be able to present it at the U.S. border to receive a stamp in your passport indicating your green card status. This whole process can be tedious and stressful, that’s why if at any point you have questions or concerns don’t hesitate to call experienced professionals that can walk you through it and answer any questions that you may have.

Does a Criminal Record Affect this Process?

During your application process for your marriage-based visa, you will encounter questions that involve your specific criminal history. The government wants to know any interactions that you have had with law enforcement and will want you to provide detailed information. You should to indicate any charges or arrests that you had, even if they have been dismissed. Having a criminal history may complicate your overall process, but they will not automatically cause your case to be denied. Although, there are three significant crimes that most likely cause inadmissibility and should be discussed with an attorney before proceeding with your filing. They are:

  1. Crimes involving an Aggravated Felony
  2. “Moral Turpitude” Crimes
  3. Illegal Drug Crimes

How Do Marriage-Based Visa’s Affect Immigrants and the Country?

There have been countless discussions on marriage-based visas, and their impact on the United States. However, the common theme in these discussions is how beneficial this visa is to overall economic U.S. growth and the country’s diversity. It’s an opportunity to expand the U.S. borders and bring in immigrants with skills that will be valuable to the people of the United States and U.S. economy.

Contact Immigration Law Group!

Obtaining a marriage-based visa can be a daunting process that can cause a lot of headaches for a couple. But, with Immigration Law Group, our knowledgeable and experienced staff can make this process a lot easier and less stressful. We will answer any question and help you prepare your submission. If you need any further information or would like to schedule a meeting, contact us today.

non-US citizen

Starting a business can be an invigorating process that can yield high dividends. It’s an enticing opportunity that many want to be involved in. However, with the continually evolving political climate, the issue becomes whether a Non-U.S. Citizen can own a business in the United States?

What Rights Do Non-U.S. Citizens Have?

The U.S. Constitution includes provisions that describe the rights of its “citizens” and the “persons” in the country. This “persons” terminology is a term that was created to apply to everyone in the United States. Specifically, it means that everyone (permanent residents, visitors, and even illegal immigrants) in the United States should have equal rights when it comes to specific U.S. laws. These rights include the following:

  • The right to legal counsel
  • Freedom of speech
  • The right to peaceful assembly
  • Freedom of religion
  • The right to bear arms
  • The right to education
  • The ability to seek a government’s assistance without punishment or reprisals
  • The right against unreasonable searches and seizures
  • The right to have due process of law
  • The right to have trial by jury

Can Non-U.S. Citizens Open a Small Business?

The good news is that the United States not only welcomes foreign business, but it will most likely continue to do so into the future. That’s why incorporating a business as a Non-U.S. citizen is not only doable, but the procedure is not as daunting as some may think.  However, there are specific provisions that Non-U.S. citizens need to consider, which can interfere with their plan of opening up a business that is headquartered in the United States. These rules state that without the proper visas, Non-U.S. citizens will not be able to live in the United States, work for the company in the United States, or be able to receive a salary from the company.  That’s why a Non-U.S. citizen must discuss all their options with a professional before proceeding with any business plan.

Types of Business Non-U.S. Citizens Can Open:

  • Corporation (C-Corp)
  • Limited Liability Corporation (LLC)

Additional Business Requirements:

  • When opening a business in the United States, annual tax returns are required.
  • A U.S. address is not required to incorporate a business in the United States. However, most states will require incorporation renewals each year.
  • A Non-U.S. citizen cannot obtain a salary from the United States-based company; however, they can receive payment from a branch that is located in their home country.
  • Certain Visa’s can make the process of owning a business in the U.S. more accessible, and they should be considered when starting this process. However, you will need to discuss them with a professional to see if you are qualified for either of these visas.
    • E2 Visa (most accessible for entrepreneurs) and L1 visa

How Will This Change Affect Immigrants and the Country?

Allowing Non-U.S. citizens the opportunity to start and grow a business in the United States, is crucial for not just encouraging immigrants to invest in the United States, but also for the United States’ continuous economic growth. These companies are employing millions of U.S. citizens across the country and putting money back into the nation’s economy. Some may fear that these companies will hurt the U.S.

However,  their overall impact on the people and the country’s economic health is not only positive but also a vital driving force in improving the local commerce. These companies have a rippling effect on the United States with their ability to contribute money to not only small towns and schools, but also bring in consultants, managers, and other employees, who, in turn, will provide additional jobs. Their ability to continually grow the economy is why the people and the country are so eager for these types of investors to invest continuously.

Call Immigration Law Group

Living this American dream of owning a business in the United States is possible, even as a Non-U.S. Citizen. However, to fully grasp all the options and avoid any issues, it is critical to hire professionals that are not only experienced in this field but can navigate the ever-changing immigration laws. With Immigration Law Group, you will have a dedicated team that not only will help you make this business dream a reality but provide you with all the options that can set you up for a lifetime of success. For more information, contact us today.

new visa policies

U.S. work and student visa policies have been changing since time immemorial. However, President Donald Trump proposed a change in immigration policies. These changes restrict non-US citizens and immigrants permanently or temporarily from studying, living, and working in the United States.

According to the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP), the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) data analysis shows that the denial rates for H-1B visa petition has risen from 6% to 32% in 2015 and mid 2019 respectively. This is as a result of the USCIS raising the standards of approved H-1b petition.

What Visa Policies Are Changing?

The most affected policy is the H-1b visa. The policy changes are aimed at improving and streamlining of the allocation of the H-1B visa. This will be achieved by slicing the administrative burden of processing the application, and to transform the selection process in favor of U.S. applicants holding master’s degrees.

The other proposed changes refers to the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program, which allows international students under the F-1 study visas to freely work in the USA for only 12 months. The changes might limit them from receiving work authorization.

Another proposed change involves the H-4 work permit program allowing H-1B visa holders’ spouses to work in the United States. Trump’s administration will not give work permit to these spouses.

How Do New Visa Policies Impact Immigrants?

1. Decline in jobs for international students

A study by NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) showed that the number of employers in the U.S. planning to hire international students dropped to 23.4% in 2018 after years of consistent growth that reached 34.2% in 2015.

2. Increase in immigration fees

The cost of becoming a U.S citizen will be 83% more expensive, and it will raise the application fees required for legal permanent residency from $1,022, to 2,915 and the citizen application fee from $640 to $1,170.

3. Fewer students applying for colleges in the U.S.

According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), enrollment of new international students in the United States has reduced by 6.6% between 2017 and 2018, and has continued to go down.

This is not favorable for the economy or the universities as well because international students pay higher fees that native Americans. For instance, in 2017, the students contributed up to $42 billion to the economy through board and room, tuition among other expenses. That’s why some colleges have reclassified economic majors into STEM degrees.

4. Foreign tech workers are moving to Canada

As a result of the proposed changes, most large corporations may be forced to relocate their jobs abroad. For example, Microsoft had announced a huge expansion in Canada planning to build new headquarters in Toronto and hire 500 more employees.

In addition, the Canadian government invited skilled people in the computer and tech related fields to sign up for permanent residence under the Express Entry Program. Out of the 86,022 invites sent in 2017, Indians got 42%, China behind by 9%, Nigeria received 6% and Pakistan got 4%. The number of Indians admitted in 2016 was 9,584, which rose to 26,340 in 2017.

Do Changing Visa Policies Affect the U.S.?

Change in visa policies has pushed highly skilled foreigners out of the U.S. significantly reducing innovation. As a result, foreign affiliate employment has increased due to the increasingly strict restrictions on the H-1B visas. Multinational firms are likely to establish new foreign affiliates outside the U.S., especially in fields where services can be off-shored.

Contact Immigration Law Group!

Looking for an immigration lawyer? Well, look no further! At Immigration Law Group we have top-rated immigration lawyers to help you obtain U.S. citizenship and visas. Contact us today to help you become a lawful permanent U.S. citizen.

migrant protection protocol

Under the current political administration, many of the established immigration laws, like the Migrant Protection Protocol, are being profoundly altered and scrutinized to limit the number of people arriving at the US- Mexico border. Because of these new policies, there has been constant chaos for vulnerable asylum seekers. It is leaving thousands of migrants to deal with dangerous conditions, family separations, and a terrible health environment.

What is the Migrant Protection Protocol?

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) are actions implemented by the U.S. Government. It states migrants that are entering illegally or seeking admission without proper documentation into the United States from Mexico must wait in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings. Per the regulation, Mexico will be required to provide the asylum seekers humanitarian protections during this period.

What are the Dangers of the MPP?

This intention of the MPP policy was to create a more efficient and orderly immigration system. Instead, this new regulation requires migrants to wait for months or years in dangerous camps while their case is processed. Many of these migrants are already fleeing terrible conditions, only to be required to stay in camps that have become life-threatening and treacherous.

This new asylum policy has led these migrants to live in some of the most dangerous cities located at the Mexico border. Thus, resulting in a wave of kidnappings, sexual assaults, and rapes. Many criminal organizations have seized opportunities from this new MPP policy by abducting these endangered asylum migrants waiting at the border. They have kept them hostage until their families pay thousands of dollars for their release. Not only is crime a massive issue for these immigrants, but health concerns are also on the rise, as the health conditions at these camps continue to worsen. Without clean water, many immigrants must use the polluted Rio Grande to take care of their essential needs. This usage has resulted in many rashes and a plethora of other health problems.

The whole premise of the MPP was to reduce threats of life and protect vulnerable populations. This objective has been gravely missed. Ideally, the program would have found ways to increase capacity at the ports of entry or improve the detention programs. Rather this policy has led to expanding our asylum system’s current inefficiencies and creating dangerous conditions. As the enforcement of the “Remain in Mexico” program continues, it leaves thousands of migrants to handle the immigration crisis on their own while ultimately putting their lives, safety, and health at risk.

How does the MPP Affect Immigrants and the U.S.?

Under the MPP policy, it makes it nearly impossible for migrants to obtain asylum when they reach the United States. Instead, it leaves these individuals to handle terrible conditions, chaos, and a lot of suffering.  However, it is not only the migrants that are hurting under this regulation.

With the additional border security required under this policy, its forced thousands of U.S. federal employees to work without pay. This policy has created an immense burden for many U.S. officials and has created an overall legal and humanitarian nightmare. Not just an immigration issue, the MPP policy has become a disaster for people and the country as a whole.

Call Immigration Law Group!

Under the current Trump Administration, immigration policies are continually being changed.  It’s more important than ever to have qualified professionals working on your immigration case.

With Immigration Law Group, you can be confident that you are getting the best legal services specific to your case. If you have an immigration question or would like to discuss your immigration case, contact our dedicated and experienced staff today.

sanctuary states

Sanctuary state is a term that takes on many different meanings in this politically charged atmosphere. However, the bottom line for both political sides is that these areas are places where illegal immigrants are protected. Nonetheless, the similarities end there and the confusion behind these immigration laws begins.

What Is A Sanctuary State?

A sanctuary state is defined as a municipal jurisdiction that limits its cooperation with the federal immigration enforcement agents, in order to protect illegal immigrants that have come to this country to start a new life and make a living. But, this safeguard does not apply to those immigrants that have committed severe crimes. Within most of these sanctuary states, the sanctuary policies try to limit the degree in which the local police cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) relative to immigration enforcement. This doesn’t mean that these states do not cooperate with ICE, rather allows them to have discretion to deny certain ICE requests. 

Why Are Sanctuary States Being Threatened?

In this current political environment, there have been many threats against sanctuary states, including from President Trump. He tried to issue an executive order which would strip municipalities of federal dollars if they shielded illegal immigrants. Even though his actions were unsuccessful, the fight against these states carries on. Recently, the President made threats to transport illegal immigrants detained at the border to sanctuary areas to carry out his immigration crackdown. He was hoping it would cause chaos which would further his political stance.

In addition, to these Presidential push-backs, certain states have begun taking measures into their own hands against sanctuary policies. These states have begun adopting their own “anti-sanctuary state” laws. These laws make it illegal for local law enforcement agencies and local governments to uphold policies that limit cooperation with federal immigration authorities. This makes it harder to protect these illegal immigrants. As the pushback and threats against sanctuary states continues to grow, confusion and the effects of these policies are felt by all. 

How Will This Affect Immigrants/People/Country?

Worry of job displacement, economic decline, and violence increase is constantly on the forefront behind the “anti-sanctuary” policies. However, as more data is released, studies continue to show the positive effect that immigrants have on our country. Implementing these “anti-sanctuary” policies can have detrimental effects on not only the illegal immigrants, who will be forced to return to their dangerous countries, but to the United States who will miss out on all the benefits that these immigrants can bring to the country.

Boost Local Economy:

As more people arrive, their demand for goods, housing, and other services increase. Therefore, an increase in demand results in an increase in supply and an increase in the local economy.

Creating Opportunities:

As Nobel laureates in economics have stated to President Trump, “immigrants are far more likely to work in innovative, job-creating fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math that create life-improving products.” These immigrants, not only create opportunities for our country and the people that live in it, but boost the overall economy.

ICE Statistics:

The path for these illegal immigrants remains unclear, but the fact is, their effect on this country is profound. Data collected by ICE shows these stats in regards to the country’s economy, crime, and labor when illegal immigration is taken into account:

  • Crime is statistically significantly lower in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.
  • Median household income is higher in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.
  • Consistent with higher median household income, poverty is lower in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.
  • The labor force participation rate is higher in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties. 
  • Unemployment whether measured by total unemployment or white unemployment—is lower in sanctuary counties compared to non-sanctuary counties.

Let Us Help!

With all the confusion and divisiveness today in immigration law, it is imperative that when dealing with an immigration issue, you call the experts. With Immigration Law Group, you know you’ll get professionals that understand today’s immigration culture and can handle any immigration challenges. If you have any immigration questions or concerns, contact us today!

interior checkpoints

Since the fateful 9/11 event, it’s sad to say that the US is no longer that “promised land” foreigners resorted to easily. Consequently, border patrols have changed forever. The situation doesn’t go well for immigrants given the increase in detentions, family separations, and fleeing individuals being turned away at interior checkpoints. So, what hope do immigrants have? Does it mean being an immigrant is criminal and you lose all your rights? Keep reading on to discover your immigrant rights and how we can stand with you. 

What Are Interior Checkpoints?

Interior border checkpoints are permanent and tactical inspection points throughout the country’s borders. Here, Border Patrol Agents stop vehicles and ask motorists to identify themselves and verify their residence status. Permanent checkpoints have permanent infrastructure while tactical ones don’t have permanent structures and are located on secondary roads.

Legally, these interior checkpoints should be located within a “reasonable” distance that stretches 100 miles from all US borders and coastlines. Funnily, over 200 million Americans live within this stretch, comprising two-thirds of our national population. For instance, most of America’s most densely populated cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles fall within this belt.

What Are Your Rights as an Immigrant at Checkpoints? 

So, what rights do you enjoy when immigration officials stop you at these checkpoints? Here are your rights and nobody can or should suspend them.

  • You should only respond briefly to a question or a couple of them and produce documents that prove you are in the US legally
  • Border point inspections shouldn’t injure you
  • The officers should not search your vehicle, its occupants, or conduct a visual inspection beyond what they can see
  • No Border Patrol official should stop and check your vehicle because of your ethnicity or extend the search on racial grounds
  • The law allows you to record checkpoint officials and ask them to identify themselves using badge numbers and other relevant information
  • You have the right to remain silent and answer questions before an immigration attorney irrespective of your citizenship of immigration status. However, your silence might delay the process although it doesn’t give them an outright right to detain, search your properties or arrest you
  • An officer can’t arrest and detain you without “reasonable suspicion” and if they do, they must explain the facts that inform their decision

How Does This Affect Immigrants/People/Country? 

The manner in which immigration officials conduct their job has negative consequences on US citizens and immigrants. Below are some of them:

  • Immigrants risk possible arrest and detention
  • Immigrants could be deported 
  • Illegal immigrants risk possible jail terms
  • Potential abuse of the patrols especially after 9/11 since we have militarized border patrol processes and immigration agents use unnecessary force against harmless and armless civilians 
  • Border Patrol Agents have increased the number of spying technologies at border points. Consequently, they are gathering sensitive information about US citizens and compromising their privacy within the 100-mile stretch where two-thirds of us live

Why Call Immigration Law Group?

  • A proven track record
  • Extensive knowledge of US immigration laws
  • Affordable legal representation
  • Competent and skilled immigration attorneys
  • Sound legal counsel on all immigration matters

Get Help Today!

Is your dream to live or work in the US becoming a nightmare due to immigration laws? If it is, you don’t need to suffer alone when we are here. We can set up an in-person consultation at one of our office locations. Moreover, we are available for consultation by phone or online via Skype. Contact us today because with Immigration Law Group, you will never walk alone.

Portland Immigration Lawyer

The cost for becoming a United States Citizen might become 83 percent more expensive. The Trump Administration is attempting to raise the application fees from citizenship to legal permanent residency.

Last Thursday, USCIS announced the proposed price hikes, in their statement “current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.”  The citizenship application fee is currently 640 dollars, the proposed price hike would make the fee 1,170 dollars. The legal permanent residency fee is currently 1,220 and USCIS is attempting to raise it to 2,195.

The proposed price hikes would have a major affect on immigration. There are also price hikes for Asylum, Temporary Protected Status Beneficiaries, and DACA recipients. DACA renewals would go from 495 dollars to 765 dollars. The administration is also seeking to transfer $207.6 million of USCIS funding and divert it to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Advocacy groups are pressing people who are eligible to apply as soon as possible. USCIS and the Trump Administration must place the proposed price hikes in a comment period, the period ends on December 16th.

These price hikes have very little blocking their way to becoming a reality. Congress is really the only option to prevent the price hikes from becoming implemented.

The time to apply for your green card or citizenship application is now!  Don’t wait until the fees increase a substantial amount more than they already are.  Feel free to contact us with any questions.

On Saturday, Federal District Court Judge from Portland, Oregon, ruled against the Trump Administration’s attempt to curb legal immigration. The proposed policy would require immigrants to prove they have the financial resources to obtain health insurance if approved for a Visa.

 

Judge Simon issued a nationwide temporary restraining order that prevents the United States Government and the Trump Administration from carrying out this new policy. The Policy was planned to go into effect on November 3rd.

 

According to New York Times Reporter Aimee Ortiz “Mr. Trump’s Oct. 4 proclamation ordered consular officers to bar immigrants who could not prove they had health insurance or the ability to pay for medical costs once they become permanent residents of the United States. The president had justified the policy on the grounds that immigrants were more likely to be uninsured, and that costs associated with this care are passed on to the American people in the form of higher taxes, higher premiums, and higher fees for medical services.”

 

This policy, along with other Immigration based policy changes the Trump Administration has tried to roll out has been constantly stopped by Judges before it reaches the implementation stage.

 

Ortiz reports “Lawyers from Justice Action Center, Innovation Law Lab and the American Immigration Lawyers Association argued that the policy was “plainly illegal” and that it would cause immediate and irreparable harm.“This new requirement rewrites our immigration and health care laws,” the lawyers wrote in a motion seeking a temporary restraining order. They noted that the policy could effectively bar up to 375,000 “otherwise qualified immigrants each year.””

 

The Justice Action Center also stated “We’re glad that the court understands the importance of preventing the health care ban from taking effect tonight, but this is just the first step, Esther Sung, a senior litigator at the Justice Action Center, said on Saturday. The impact of this ban is just huge. Hundreds of thousands of people would be affected,” she said. “Two out of three intending immigrants every year might not be able to join their families. It’s outrageous that the Trump administration is trying to slip this by people without them noticing.”

 

The Supreme Court will be taking on a number of major cases that will have major implications. They will be hearing cases that deal with LGBTQ, guns and DACA.

There are currently 800,000 young immigrants within the DACA system. Their fate is in the hands of nine justices. The Supreme Court will be deciding on the 2017 decision made by President Trump to end the DACA program, they will be evaluating the legality of the decision.

DACA was a program created by President Obama in 2012 using his Executive Authority. The program allows undocumented immigrants who do not have a criminal record and who are attending school, to pay a fee and register with the United States Government. They would be allowed to receive a temporary waiver to be allowed to work and live without fear of deportation. DACA recipients are required to renew their status every two years. 

President Trump claims he can end the program via Executive Decision purely because the program was created by Executive Order.

Immigration public charge Update on Visa Applicants Portland, Oregon

The Public Charge Rule is set to go into affect on October 15th. The new policy has received many challenges, both in court and with Immigration advocates. Critics of the new rule have claimed “The new rule — which critics say makes the definition of “public charge” so vague and all-encompassing that it will effectively favor only rich, white immigrants — drew swift rebuke from dozens of state and local governments, attorneys general, public health organizations and immigrant advocacy groups after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services formally announced the policy in September.”

The USCIS has refused to comment on the on-going legal battle between the courts and the Trump administration. Washington Post writer Abigale Hauslohner reports  “Is expected to decide next week on whether to block the rule from taking effect.”

Another Federal Judge in Olympia, Washington is going to hold a separate hearing on the same piece of policy. The lawsuit was filed by a coalition of 13 different states. Judges in New York, Maryland and Illinois will also be making decisions on this policy.

If the policy goes into effect, according to Hauslohner “the new public-charge rule, immigrants who are in the United States legally and use public benefits such as Medicaid, food stamps or housing assistance — or have at one time used public benefits, or are deemed likely to someday use public benefits — could be considered “public charges,” rendering them ineligible for green cards.

The new criteria provide “positive” and “negative” factors for immigration officials to weigh as they decide on green-card applications. Negative factors include whether a person is unemployed, dropped out of high school or is not fluent in English.” Hauslohner also reports “Critics say the rule is likely to reduce legal immigration by slashing eligibility for family-based visas, the leading type of legal immigration to the United States, particularly from low-income countries in Africa and Latin America. They say it could also lead to more deportations as huge numbers of immigrants see their applications denied.”

Hauslohner states “The lawsuits argue that the new “public charge” definition deviates substantially from more than 100 years of legal interpretation. They say it will cause significant harm to the health and well-being of immigrant families, as well as the institutions that service them, by leading many to abstain from seeking public benefits that they or their children may need.”