From the Desk of Julie C. Ferguson
Welcome to the August 2011 issue of the Julie C. Ferguson, PA Immigration News & Report. As always, thank you for your continued loyalty and support .
We have received a lot of positive feedback in response to our new Facebook fan page, Julie C. Ferguson, PA - Immigration & Nationality Law but we are still looking for more “fans” to click on the “Like” button. If you have not had an opportunity to preview our fan page, please take a moment to visit: www.facebook.com/jcfimmigration and check it out. Our fan page features up to the minute immigration and nationality news and announcements as well as important information about our firm and staff. We encourage you to become a fan by clicking “Like”
Julie Experiences the Harsh Reality of Living Undocumented
I had an unfortunate experience this month. A thief stole my purse, and with it everything that makes my life run smoothly on a daily basis -- driver’s license, check book, credit cards, house keys, car keys and the list goes on. Once the shock of being robbed subsided, the reality of what had happened set in. I cancelled my credit cards and blocked my bank accounts. Then I tried to renew my driver’s license online, but of course I couldn't without a functioning credit card. I thought I would take the Metrorail downtown to the bank, but realized I didn't have any money to buy the fare card. Once I finally got to the bank to check my accounts, the manager asked for my ID, but of course I didn't have any. I was in quite a predicament. I immediately thought of many people I know, many clients who face these situations every day. Without valid immigration status they cannot obtain a driver’s license. Without a driver’s license they cannot drive or open a bank account, or cash a check. I can say now from my personal experience - which doesn't even compare - that the situation is very depressing. I found myself feeling helpless and very vulnerable. I had to call in lots of favors, asking friends to buy me lunch, loan me money and drive me places. Of course, little by little I will be able to put these pieces of my life back together and reclaim my identity. But many people cannot. This has been one of the most unfortunate consequences of the crackdown on illegal immigrants in this country. We have slowly stripped them of their identities, their ability to drive and to open a bank accounts We have forced millions of people into the dark depressing shadows of society. Since when did America become so unforgiving? How is putting someone into this kind of indefinite limbo amnesty? America's immigration system needs changes; however it is an uphill battle, and we don’t need new laws to tell us now to treat human beings with dignity and respect. That effort is a crucial tenant of Julie C. Ferguson P.A. and an obligation we promise to all of our clients. We are always striving for improvements in the immigration system and want our clients to know that we are looking out for their welfare and will work restlessly to find solutions for their immigration dilemmas.
DHS Announces Reforms to Removal Process
DHS Announces Temporary Relief from Deportation for Many
This month we are highlighting the Obama Administration in our Friends of the Firm Column. On August 18, 2011, the Administration announced plans to cease deporting hundreds of thousands of immigrants currently in removal proceedings before immigration courts as long as they do not have criminal records. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has established a committee that will start reviewing all cases pending before the courts and begin to close the “low priority” cases. Decisions will be made on a case by case basis. Those whose deportations are suspended may request work permits, although these will not be granted automatically. DHS still has the discretion to continue deportation proceedings and officials made clear that the suspension of removal proceedings will not confer any particular status on these individuals or lead to permanent or temporary residence. Among the potential beneficiaries of this new policy are the young students hoping to get greencards under the bill known as the DREAM Act and gay and lesbian families. We have seen a record number of deportations these past few years and have been urging the Administration to stop targeting immigrants with no or minor criminal histories. This is a welcome step in the right direction.
El Departamento de Inmigracion Anuncia Reformas al Proceso de Deportacion
Este mes destacamos la administración del Presidente Obama en nuestra columna de “Friends of the Firm” (Amigos de la Firma). El 18 de Agosto de 2011, la Administración anunció planes de cesar la deportancion de cientos de inmigrantes que ahora están en proceso de deportación en la corte de inmigración con tal que no tengan antecedentes criminales. El Departamento de Homeland Security (DHS) ha establecido un comité que empezará a repasar todos los casos pendientes en la corte y a cerrar los casos de “baja prioridad.” El comité hará las decisiones en una base de“caso por caso.” Los individuales que obtengan deportaciones suspendidas podran aplicar para permisos de trabajo, aunque los permisos no vayan a ser otorgados automáticamente. El Departamento todavía tiene la discreción a seguir con el proceso de deportación contra cualquier individual y los oficiales dejan en claro que la suspensión de deportación no va a conferir ningún estatus legal ni un camino a residencia permanente o temporal. Entre los beneficiarios potenciales de esta nueva táctica son los estudiantes jóvenes que esperan a obtener tarjetas de residencia bajo el proyecto de ley que se llama el “DREAM Act” y las familias gay y lesbianas. En los últimos años, hemos visto el numero más alto de deportaciones y hemos incitando a la Administración a dejar de elegir como blanco inmigrantes que no tienen antecedentes criminales o que solo tienen un crimen menor. El anuncio de la Administración es un paso en la dirección correcta.
October 28, 2011 Deadline for Widow(er)s filing I-360s
Prior to 2009, the law required widow(er)s self-petitioning for permanent residence status to be married at least two years to their deceased spouse prior filing a petition. This law was repealed in 2009. However, there is an important deadline for widow(er)s whose spouse died prior to October 28, 2009 and who were married less than two years. Applicants in this category must file their I-360 by October 28, 2011. This form can be filed concurrently with the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status to Lawful Permanent Resident. Children of widow(er)s under the age of 21 are eligible to be included on the I-360 form. It is important to note that remarriage after the spouse’s death removes eligibility to self-petition as a widow(er).
Department of Homeland Security Prioritizes Investor Visas to Jump Start Economic Growth
In light of the recent tumultuous debt ceiling talks and a heated national conversation about America’s job market and sluggish economic growth, the Department of Homeland Security (DOH) has announced measures that will remove barriers for investor visas to allow innovative entrepreneurs to pour foreign capital into a needy U.S. economy. Experts estimate that the EB-5 Investor Program, which was established in 1990, has generated greater than $1.5 billion in capital investments and approximately 34,000 American jobs since its inception. New improvements to the EB-5 program are expected to be implemented by early September that will streamline USCIS intake and review processing of visas. These additions were proposed in May and received substantial support from USCIS stakeholders. One such measure will allow increased access to expedited processing for certain regional center projects and petitions. There will also be increased direct communication between applicants and USCIS officers as well as an optional interview with a panel of USCIS experts to clarify and mend issues that may impede an applicant’s success. The EB-2 visa, which is generally for foreign workers with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences, or business, has been made more accessible for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own business in the U.S. If entrepreneurs can demonstrate that their business will serve the national interest of the country, they can obtain a National Interest Waiver in the EB-2 category. The National Interest Waiver exempts entrepreneurs from demonstrating that they have received both a job offer and a Department of Labor certificate in order to qualify for the visa. Additionally, clarifications for self-employers in the H1-B category were made stating that beneficiaries who are the sole owner of the petitioning company may establish a valid employer-employee relationship to meet the visa’s requirements by structuring their company in a manner inclusive of self-governance. One example of accomplishing this is by establishing a Board of Directors that has authority over the entrepreneur and can make hiring/firing decisions. DOH also announced the extension of premium processing to multinational executives and managers applying for residency. In the coming months, USCIS will be soliciting feedback from stakeholders on how they can better serve the interests of entrepreneurs and new companies as they continue to make proactive adjustments to investor visa processing and opening the doors for a new wave of foreign investors and entrepreneurs.
In the visa bulletin for the month of September we see a notable movement in both the family-sponsored preference and employment–based preference categories. The most significant movement within the family based preference category is the movement in the second preference category for spouses and children (under 21 and unmarried) of lawful permanent residents, moving forward from July 22, 2008 to December 1, 2008 for all countries of chargeability except Mexico. For those from Mexico who fall within this category the visa numbers available have moved forward more than 3 months.
In the employment based category we see a slight movement in the third preference category — unskilled workers, moving from May 1, 2005 to August 1, 2005 for all country of chargeability except for China, India, Mexico and the Philippines for which the movement was only a few days. For more information on the rest of the categories, please visit our website at www.jcfimmigration.com.