Monday, 24 February 2014 03:13
With 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the US, immigration
reform never ceases to be topical. President Obama is anxious for
immigration reform, and has told Congress he wants to sign the relevant
law this year.
One major part of the reform document, the DREAM Act, will give children
of illegal immigrants an opportunity to function as US citizens.
The Dream Act is geared to protect around 1.8 million illegal immigrants
-brought to the US under age 16 - from deportation. To qualify, the
undocumented individuals must have lived in the US for at least 5 years, be
under age thirty one, and meet other criteria. Through this plan, they can
eventually become citizens, after going through a rigorous 6 year process.
Other measures are included in the immigration reform proposals to
prevent these innocent individuals from being punished for what was
beyond their control.
However, the US still has a long way to go towards reforming immigration,
especially with many young people caught in a sort of no-man’s land.
In several states, including Florida, children of illegal immigrants are
required to pay out-of-state tuition to colleges in states where they reside.
This is regardless of the fact that they are born in the US, and actually are
Around three years ago, Wendy Ruiz, a Miami Dade College student, and
daughter of an undocumented immigrant, sued the state of Florida for the Deborah Gordon
right of qualifying for the tuition waiver. She’s a Florida resident who was
born in the US, yet she was paying up to $5,000 per semester in
out-of-state tuition costs. Other students throughout the US are also in this
For the thousands of young people like Wendy, immigration reform is
overdue! Being the child of an illegal immigrant does not only have
negative effects on education, but on mental wellness as well. According to
the American Psychological Association, these children tend to live with
uncertainty and may suffer from fear, anxiety, and depression. Some are
separated from their families because of deportation, and put into the
welfare system. Some of these youth turn to destructive behavior, including
In some aspects, not reforming immigration is like a crime. The United
States government has a responsibility to be there for the greater good of
its people, and punish those who disobey the law. However, innocent youth
shouldn’t have to suffer for the actions of their parents, they deserve a
chance to make the best out of their lives.
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 19:23
Immigration reform was a hot topic in 2013. Support for reform, including legalization, more hi-tech visas and increased border security gained momentum early in the year, resulting in the historic passage of Senate Bill 744 Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act on June 28, 2013.
This was the first such major immigration overhaul bill to be passed in decades, and was due in large part to a Democrat-controlled Senate, with the support of several key Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. However, it takes both sides of Congress to pass a bill which the President can then sign into law, so the ball was thrown over to the Republican-held House, where it has been ever since.
Speaker of the House John Boehner controls which legislative bills are allowed to be voted on, which essentially controls which bills can be passed by the House. Until recently, Boehner followed the “Hastert Rule”, a policy which required Republican majority support before any bill could be brought to the floor of the House for a vote. This was generally seen as Boehner’s concession to the House “Tea Party” members who vehemently oppose any immigration reform which would provide for any form of legalization of immigrants.
In frustration, on October 2, 2013, Democrats in the House introduced their own immigration reform bill which closely mirrored the Senate bill. In efforts to push Speaker Boehner to bring the new bill to the floor for a vote, House Democrats and supporters have held rallies; marched on the Capital; been arrested by Capital police; attended “sit-ins”; gone on “hunger strikes”; held protests and prayer vigils outside Speaker Boehner’s home; embarrassed Boehner by following him around town to his favorite restaurants; and attempted to reason with him about the urgent need for reform, with media cameras blazing. This has all made life quite miserable for Boehner, who fundamentally agrees with Democrats, but had feared reprisals from the “Tea Party” and possible loss of his speakership if he defies them. But times change and the pressure on Boehner from the “Tea Party” which lead to the 2013 government shutdown and backlash against the Republican Party has taken its toll.
Boehner has recently openly criticized Tea Party members for taking the Republican party down the wrong road and as a consequence, has now hired a well-known immigration reform advocate, Rebecca Tallent, former director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center to spearhead his roadmap to getting immigration reform done in 2014.
Will immigration reform get done in 2014? Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to know for certain, but there are reasons for optimism. Fed up with Tea Party opposition, House Speaker Boehner has recently made it known that he intends to move on immigration reform in a “piecemeal approach,” by pushing through a series of smaller version bills, each dealing with specific components of the Senate bill. For instance, there could be separate bills for the Dream Act, Increased Border Security, Hi-Tech visas, and some form of legalization for undocumented immigrants which may or may not include a “pathway to citizenship". The general feeling among Republican proponents of legalization is that it is better to take care of the legalization issue in the least controversial way to improve its likelihood of passing. Then, at a later time once the “dust has settled” and conservatives are more comfortable with the issue, new legislation can be introduced to provide some negotiated “path to citizenship.”
For those who have lost faith in Congress, in the end, there is still always the so called “Nuclear Option”. With this option, which the White House reserves as the ultimate fall-back, President Obama could expand the “Deferred Action” program (currently available to DREAMERS) which provides work authorization and a quasi-legal status in the U.S. to other immigrants, in an effort to provide a defacto legalization without the actual law to go with it.
So as 2014 progresses, stay optimistic and keep your fingers “crossed” as we look forward to immigration reform this year,
Question: I am a Canadian citizen and my boyfriend is a Canadian citizen with a U.S. green card as well. He is currently studying medicine in U.S. and we want to get married in 2015. We would like to know the current waiting times for him to get me sponsored. We would also like to know how long it will take me to get a work permit to work in the U.S. as I have a masters degree. Please let us know. Thank you.
Answer: If you wait until 2015 to get married, it will likely take two years or more. Right now, the estimate is one year, but as time goes by, it gets longer and longer. You won’t receive any work permit during that time because you have to wait until you actually immigrate to the U.S. as a U.S. Resident. Since you are Canadian, before you get married, you can always come to the U.S. to work on a TN work visa, but you need a job offer from a U.S. company here. Then, you can get married early, the immigrant visa petition can be filed for you and while you are waiting to immigrate you are working here legally on the TN. Please let me know if you would like our assistance in handling these matters for you.
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 14:58
While comprehensive immigration reform is in a temporary holding pattern for 2013, Republican Rep. Joe Heck hopes to “jumpstart” House action by releasing a draft of his own version of the Dream Act, which provides a pathway to citizenship for millions of young Immigrants brought to the U.S. at a young age by their parents.
In this new Republican version, young Immigrants who entered the U.S. by age 15 or younger, on or before December 31, 2011 and who meet certain eligibility requirements would be eligible to be granted conditional permanent resident (CPR) status valid for six years.
Immigrants granted CPR status would be granted work authorization and be eligible to receive Federal Perkins Loans, Ford Direct loans and participate in work study programs.
To be eligible, immigrants must have either a high school diploma or GED. In order to become a full permanent resident during CPR status, the immigrant must earn a college or technical degree, complete an apprenticeship, or serve a full enlistment in the military. Once permanent residency is granted, the immigrant may then naturalize to become a U.S. citizen.
Immigrants who have been convicted of a federal or state law carrying a maximum sentence of a year or more and others convicted of 3 or more offenses with an aggregate imprisonment of 90 days or more, are not eligible. The complete bill is expected to be introduced in the House before the end of 2013.
Meanwhile, over the Thanksgiving holiday, President Obama and Mrs. Obama paid a visit to "Fast for Families" hunger strikers camped out on the National Mall in Washington since November 12, calling for immigration reform. During their visit, the President told the crowd that “it is not a question of whether immigration reform will pass, but how soon."
On a similar note, House Speaker Boehner told reporters before the Thanksgiving holiday that immigration reform was “absolutely not” dead in the House of Representatives, but he said it won’t be dealt with on a comprehensive basis. “Is immigration reform dead? Absolutely not,” Boehner told reporters. “I believe that Congress needs to deal with this issue. Our committees are continuing to do their work. There are a lot of private conversations that are underway to try to figure out how do we best move on a commonsense, step-by-step basis to address this very important issue … because it is a very important issue.”
Read Draft Bill and Analysis by visiting www.Immigratetoday.com and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link.
IMMIGRATION QUESTION & ANSWERS
Question: I just became a U.S. citizen last week and now I want you to help me petition for both my father who is here in Florida visiting me, and my brother who does not live in the U.S. My question is whether I am allowed to sponsor both my father and my brother at the same time or do I have to wait until one case is complete before starting the other?
Answer: The good news is that you can file for both your father and your brother at the same time. Immigration regulations do not limit the number of family members you can sponsor simultaneously. However, you will still need to meet the financial affidavit requirements for the Affidavit of Support at the time when it is required. For your father’s case, the affidavit is required right away as part of filing for his Green Card. For your brother, it will only be required many years down the road when his case is being processed for immigrant visa issuance by the U.S. Consulate in his home country. Presently, the line for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens is about 12 years long. But don’t worry, if you do not meet the minimum financial income levels, you can always have a joint sponsor who does.
Tuesday, 03 December 2013 17:08
In a bold move, the Department of Homeland Security recently announced a significant policy change to provide status and work permits for many undocumented family members, including spouses, children under age 21 and parents, of U.S. citizen members of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Similar to the Obama Administration’s “Deferred Action” for DREAMERS, this new program will allow ‘Immediate Relatives’ of thousands of U.S. Armed Forces personnel to live and work in the U.S. legally without fear of deportation. This change in policy is seen as a humanitarian relief for service members to reduce their stress and anxiety about the immigration status of their family members. The program is officially called “parole in place” (PIP) and designed to provide a temporary work permit and status for renewable one-year periods.
Most importantly, recipients of the PIP program will not risk deportation due to their unlawful status. Many immediate relatives who qualify for ‘parole’ under this PIP program will also qualify to obtain a Green Card through Adjustment of Status. Qualifying family members who have not been convicted of a crime are those who entered the U.S. without inspection and are the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen who is an active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces, Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve or who previously served in the U.S. Armed Forces or the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve.
Some immigration experts believe that this may be the Administration’s first step in applying existing regulatory measures which can eventually be used to provide a broader application of legal status to millions of immigrants in the U.S.
This may also be a strong signal to the House of Representatives that its failure to pass immigration reform may force the White House to bypass congress and provide legalization through existing administrative policies. It’s a good first step, and hopefully, not the last.
IMMIGRATION QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
Question: My step-son is a U.S. citizen and he filed a I-130 for his dad. We received a file receipt starting with MSC. How long does he have to wait before he starts hearing anything.
Answer: Once your step-son receives the “receipt notice” (called an I-797 Notice of Action) from the USCIS, it can generally take the USCIS up to approximately four months to process and approve the case, then transfer it to the National Visa Center (NVC) for consular processing. Once the NVC receives the case, it sends out a notification that it is being processed, instructions on paying the Immigrant Visa and Consular processing bills and submitting the required financial and technical documentation.
Once all the required documents are received by the NVC, it transfers the case to the U.S. Consulate in the parent’s home country to schedule an interview. At that time, the parent will be directed to undergo the required medical exam and to attend the consular appointment. Once the consulate approves the parent’s immigrant visa, the new Immigrant Visa fee must be paid online before the parent immigrates to the U.S. The entire process takes about 6-8 months. Let us know if you would like us to help you in this process.
Question: My daughter and I received our temporary 2-year Green Cards through my U.S. citizen wife. Before our cards expired, my wife and I filed the application to make residency permanent for me and my 20-year-old daughter. But after filing the case, I got a letter from Immigration saying that my Green Card was extended for a year but not one for my daughter. I called Immigration and they said that she would not get a separate one. Even though I told them she needs that letter for her school scholarship and to renew her driver’s license. Is it true what Immigration is telling me?
Answer: When a child under age 21 is included on the parent’s I-751 Removal of Conditions application, only the parent receives the I-797 receipt, which extends U.S. Residency, Work and Travel Authorization for one full year. In order to receive a separate extension letter for a child, a separate I-751 application should always be filed. In this case, you should make an INFOPASS appointment and take your child’s passport, along with the I-797 receipt you received and copy of the application, in order to have the officer stamp her passport with a one year Residency extension. I hope this is helpful.
Question: I am a Naturalized U.S. citizen and I want to sponsor my adult daughter. If you file her case, can she still be approved for a Tourist visa at the Embassy? I'm hoping that she can come here in the U.S. and visit me regularly until she gets her green card approved. Thanks!
Answer: It is best for her to apply for a B-1/B-2 Tourist visa BEFORE you sponsor your daughter, that way, there is a slightly higher chance of her obtaining the B1/B2 visa at the Consulate. The issue for those applying for Tourist visas to the U.S. is always “immigrant intent”. The Consular Officer will want your daughter to satisfactorily prove that she does not intend to immigrate to the U.S. once the B1/B2 visa is issued to her. However, once she has the U.S. visa, and the immigrant petition is filed for her, she should be able to travel back and forth to visit you during the years she is waiting for an immigrant visa. Since you are a U.S. citizen and your daughter is over age 21 and single, she is in the family-based immigration category called “F1” for single, adult children of U.S. citizens. Currently, the waiting line is about 6-7 years long.