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Clarification of the Extreme Hardship for Waivers of Inadmissibility effective December 5, 2016

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

November 21, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Clarification of the Extreme Hardship for Waivers of Inadmissibility effective December 5, 2016

The USCIS issued policy guidance on determinations of extreme hardship to qualifying relatives required for certain waivers of inadmissibility. This guidance becomes effective on December 5, 2016.

This clarification is a positive for both clients and practitioners because it promotes consistency in the adjudication of waivers and will also assist practitioners in preparing waivers that will likely get approved because the standard has been clarified.  As we have seen in the past, as the submission of waivers increases, USCIS hires and trains adjudicators quickly. Now with more clarified guidelines, it will lead to more consistent results all around.  We are grateful for this much awaited clarification.

In this policy, the USCIS:

  • Lists the waivers of inadmissibility that require a showing of extreme hardship to one or more qualifying relatives.
    • These include waivers of inadmissibility for:
      • 3- and 10-year unlawful presence bars;
      • Crimes involving moral turpitude, multiple criminal convictions, prostitution and commercialized vice, and certain serious criminal offenses for which the foreign national received immunity from prosecution;
      • A controlled substance violation relating to a single offense of simple possession of 30g or less of marijuana; and
      • Certain types of immigration fraud or willful misrepresentations of material fact
    • Clarifies that an applicant may establish extreme hardship to a qualifying relative who:
      • Intends to either relocate to the country where the applicant will reside, if denied admission; or
      • Separate from the applicant and remain in the U.S.
    • Clarifies that for hardship to qualify as “extreme,” it must involve suffering or loss that is greater than the hardship that usually results from denials of admission.
      • This means that extreme hardship involves showing more than just:
        • Family separation; economic detriment; difficulties of readjusting to life in the new country; the quality & availability of educational opportunities abroad; inferior quality of medical services & facilities; and ability to pursue a chosen employment abroad.
      • Clarifies that extreme hardship is dependent on the individual circumstances of each particular case.
      • Provides a non-exhaustive list of factors that USCIS may consider when making extreme hardship determinations, including:
        • Family Ties and Impact
        • Social and Cultural Impact
        • Economic Impact
        • Health Conditions & Care
        • Country Conditions
      • Discusses particularly significant factors that often weigh heavily in support of finding extreme hardship to qualifying relatives, including:
        • (1) Qualifying Relative Previously Granted Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant Status, T Nonimmigrant Status, or Asylum or Refugee Status
        • (2) Qualifying Relative or Related Family Member’s Disability
        • (3) Qualifying Relative’s Military Service
        • (4) DOS Travel Warnings
        • (5) Substantial Displacement of Care of Applicant’s Children
      • Clarifies that factors, individually or in the aggregate, may be sufficient to meet the extreme hardship standard.
      • Clarifies that hardship to two or more qualifying relatives may rise to the level of “extreme” in the aggregate, even if no single qualifying relative alone suffers hardship that by itself is severe enough to be “extreme.”

 

 


USCIS Publishes Final Rule For Certain Employment-Based Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Visa Programs

Posted on by Ruby Powers in State and Local Immigration Rules Leave a comment

WASHINGTON— USCIS has published a final rule to modernize and improve several aspects of certain employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa programs. USCIS has also amended regulations to better enable U.S. employers to hire and retain certain foreign workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions and are waiting to become lawful permanent residents. This rule goes into effect on Jan. 17, 2017.

Among other things, DHS is amending its regulations to:

  • Clarify and improve longstanding DHS policies and practices implementing sections of the American Competitiveness in the Twenty-First Century Act and the American Competitiveness and Workforce Improvement Act related to certain foreign workers, which will enhance USCIS’ consistency in adjudication.
  • Better enable U.S. employers to employ and retain high-skilled workers who are beneficiaries of approved employment-based immigrant visa petitions (Form I-140 petitions) while also providing stability and job flexibility to these workers. The rule increases the ability of these workers to further their careers by accepting promotions, changing positions with current employers, changing employers and pursuing other employment opportunities.
  • Improve job portability for certain beneficiaries of approved Form I-140 petitions by maintaining a petition’s validity under certain circumstances despite an employer’s withdrawal of the approved petition or the termination of the employer’s business.
  • Clarify and expand when individuals may keep their priority date when applying for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence.
  • Allow certain high-skilled individuals in the United States with E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, L-1 or O-1 nonimmigrant status, including any applicable grace period, to apply for employment authorization for a limited period if:
  1. They are the principal beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140 petition,
  2. An immigrant visa is not authorized for issuance for their priority date, and
  3. They can demonstrate compelling circumstances exist that justify DHS issuing an employment authorization document in its discretion.

Such employment authorization may only be renewed in limited circumstances and only in one year increments.

  • Clarify various policies and procedures related to the adjudication of H-1B petitions, including, among other things, providing H-1B status beyond the six year authorized period of admission, determining cap exemptions and counting workers under the H-1B cap, H-1B portability, licensure requirements and protections for whistleblowers.
  • Establish two grace periods of up to 10 days for individuals in the E-1, E-2, E-3, L-1, and TN nonimmigrant classifications to provide a reasonable amount of time for these individuals to prepare to begin employment in the country and to depart the United States or take other actions to extend, change, or otherwise maintain lawful status.
  • Establish a grace period of up to 60 consecutive days during each authorized validity period for certain high-skilled nonimmigrant workers when their employment ends before the end of their authorized validity period, so they may more readily pursue new employment and an extension of their nonimmigrant status.
  • Automatically extend the employment authorization and validity of Employment Authorization Documents (EADs or Form I-766s) for certain individuals who apply on time to renew their EADs.
  • Eliminate the regulatory provision that requires USCIS to adjudicate the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, within 90 days of filing and that authorizes interim EADs in cases where such adjudications are not conducted within the 90-day timeframe.

For more information, visit the Working in the U.S. page or read the rule in the Federal Register. USCIS plans to host a national stakeholder engagement regarding this final rule. Visit this page to sign up for an email alert to receive the invitation from the USCIS Public Engagement Division.

For more information on USCIS and its programs, please visit www.uscis.gov or follow us on Twitter (@uscis), YouTube (/uscis), Facebook(/uscis), and the USCIS blog The Beacon.


USCIS to Welcome International Entrepreneurs

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Trends, Investment Immigration Leave a comment

USCIS Proposes Rule To Welcome International Entrepreneurs

Powers Law Group, P.C.

November 5, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

USCIS proposed a rule on August 26, 2016, which would allow certain international entrepreneurs temporary permission to be in the United States, known as parole, so that they may start or scale their businesses in the United States. The rule was open for comment for 45 days until October 10. See notice here.

Under this rule, the DHS may parole, on a case-by-case basis, eligible entrepreneurs of startup enterprises. The entrepreneur must demonstrate that his or her parole into the United States would provide a significant public benefit through the substantial and demonstrated potential for rapid business growth and job creation.

It appears this proposed rule would be ideal for investors with start-ups, those from non-E-2 countries, and/or for those who don’t have the capital for the EB-5 program.  It has great promise and is very welcomed in the immigrant and investor community.

An applicant must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • The applicant’s startup was recently formed in the U.S. within the past 3 years;
  • The applicant possesses a substantial ownership interest (15 percent or more) in the startup and has an active and central role in its operations; and
  • The startup has either:
    • (1) received substantial investment from U.S. investors with established records of successful investments; or
    • (2) received substantial awards or grants from certain Federal, State, or local government entities.
      • In the alternative, an applicant who partially meets one or both of the above criteria, may be considered for parole if he or she provides additional reliable and compelling evidence of the startup’s substantial potential for rapid growth and job creation.

If granted, parole would provide a temporary initial stay of up to 2 years, which may be extended up to an additional 3 years only when the entrepreneur’s startup continues to provide a significant public benefit, as evidenced by substantial increases in capital investment, revenue, or job creation.

Other things to consider:

  • The entrepreneur will have work authorization, but limited to the specific start-up listed on the application.
  • Parole may also be granted for the entrepreneur’s spouse and children, and spouses may apply for work authorization.

This proposed rule will not take effect until the final rule is published in the Federal Register.


2016: Cosas por considerar para aplicantes de Asilo

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Asylum, Immigration Trends Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

Octubre 3, 2016

Por la Abogada certificada en Inmigración Ruby, L. Powers

Asilo es la protección legal otorgada por el gobierno de los Estados Unidos, hacia una persona que pueda demostrar que tiene un “motivo bien fundamentado para temer por su vida” basado en su raza, religión, nacionalidad, opinión política, o por pertenecer a un grupo social en particular. Mucha gente no sabe que el asilo es una opción para entrar y permanecer en los Estados Unidos cuando ciertos requerimientos son cumplidos. Si el asilo es una opción viable para usted, es importante recordar que el tiempo es crucial, ya que las aplicaciones para asilo deber de ser archivadas dentro del primer año de su última entrada al país. Aunque, hay algunas excepciones a la fecha límite de este año, la cual incluye que se demuestre que las circunstancias han cambiado o existen circunstancias fuera de lo común, tome en cuenta que puede tomar tiempo el poner en orden recolectar y poner en orden todos los documentos apropiados para presentar un caso bien fundamentado, así que planee con tiempo.

Come aplicante de asilo, usted califica para aplicar para un permiso de trabajo 150 días después de mandar su aplicación para asilo. Después de aplicar para un permiso de trabajo, puede tomar de 1 a 3 meses para el fallo (aprobado o negado) de el permiso. Una vez que se reciba la autorización de trabajo usted puede aplicar para obtener un número de seguro social y  una licencia de conducir, o si ya cuenta con una, renovarla.

Actualmente, le está tomando dos años a la oficina de Asilo en Houston para agendar entrevistas,  ya que procesa aplicaciones de Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, Nuevo México, Utah y Wyoming. En primavera del 2016, una oficina auxiliar abrió sus puertas en Nuevo Orleans procesando aplicaciones de Louisina, Arkansas, Mississippi y Tennessee. El bufete de Powers Law Group tiene experiencias con ambas oficinas.

Usted debe de tomar en cuenta que no solamente la aplicación y la preparación son importantes, sino también su preparación para la entrevista. Algunos abogados no incluyen ese servicio en sus cuotas legales, así que es importante que su caso sea asesorado por un abogado con experiencia en cuestiones de asilo y una vez que lo haya contratado saber qué servicios están incluidos.

Powers Law Group tiene un amplio historial representando clientes de varios Estados para casos de Asilo en Estados Unidos (con la oficia de asilo), los cuáles han sido satisfactoriamente aprobados, así como también cuenta con experiencia en caso defensivos  (corte de inmigración) incluyendo: Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, Syria. Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Pakistan, Nepal, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, China y más. Si usted está interesado en aprender más acerca del proceso de asilo, por favor agende una consulta con nosotros.


Tiempo de espera para el proceso de  el perdón provisional de estadía ilegal: tendencias actuales

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601A Waivers, I-601A waivers, Immigration Trends, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

Octubre 3, 2016

Por la Abogada certificada en Inmigración, Ruby L. Powers

En el bufete de abogados de Powers Law Group, tenemos una extensa experiencia en perdones, hemos preparado y presentado un gran número de perdones provisionales desde el comienzo del programa en Marzo del 2013 y esperamos poder archivar más con la reciente expansión que se dio en Agosto del 2016.

Actualmente, el proceso para el perdón provisional de esposo (a) peticionario (a) para el miembro de la familia que califica, está tomando de 18 a 24 meses para ser finalizado. A continuación se provee un desglose detallado del tiempo de espera para el tiempo de espera para el perdón provisional.

  • Paso uno: I-130 Petición para el miembro extranjero:
    • 5-7 meses, puede tomar más tiempo si la demanda aumenta.
  • Paso 2: Centro Nacional de Visa ( National Visa Center) Parte I:
    • 1 mes después de que la tarifa ha sido recibida
  • Paso 3: El perdón provisional es archivada:
    • 7 meses para el fallo (adjudicación)
  • Paso 4: Centro Nacional de Visa( National Visa Center) Parte II:
    • 2-3 meses para el fallo ( adjudicación)
  • Paso 5: Cita para la visa/ Conectar la aprobación del perdón con el Consulado de los EE.UU. y obtener la visa.
    • 1-3 meses para la notificación de la entrevista, dependiendo del correo del consulado.

 

Por favor tome en cuenta que estos tiempos de espera son estimados basados en las recientes tendencias de espera de el gobierno y no se toma en consideración el tiempo que le tome al cliente y al abogado preparar el caso. Aunque, esto puede percibirse como un proceso tardado, es una inversión a futuro. Nuestros clientes nos han agradecido el que los hallamos alentado a completar el proceso, ya que un al obtener éxito en el proceso y poder regresar a EE. UU con un permiso de residencia, le permitirá obtener un permiso de trabajo, un número de seguro social y una licencia de conducir. Una exención provisional le da el alivio y seguridad de que usted se encuentra legalmente en el país y con un camino hacia la ciudadanía.

Por favor llame para una consulta si usted desea que su caso sea revisado para ver si usted o su algún miembro de su familia califican.

 


Things to Consider for Asylum Applications

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Asylum, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, pathway to citizenship, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

October 3, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Things to Consider for Asylum Applications

Asylum is the legal protection afforded by the United States government to a person who can demonstrate a “well-founded fear of persecution” based on race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. Many people do not know that asylum is an option to enter or remain in the United States when certain criteria are met. If asylum is a viable option for you, it is important to remember that timing is critical, as asylum applications must be filed within one year of your last entry. Although there are exceptions to this one year filing deadline, which include demonstrating changed circumstances or extraordinary circumstances, keep in mind that it can take time to gather the appropriate documents and prepare a strong case for submission, so plan accordingly.

As an asylum applicant, you are eligible to apply for work authorization 150 days after submission of your aslyum application. After applying for work authorization, it could then take 1-3 months for adjudication for the work authorization. Upon receiving work authorization you will be able to apply for a social security number and a driver’s license or renew it.

The Houston Asylum Office is currently taking about two years to schedule interviews, and processes applications from Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.   In Spring 2016, a sub-office of the Houston Asylum Office opened in New Orleans processing applications from Louisiana, Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Powers Law Group has experience in both offices.

You should remember that not only is the application preparation process important, but your interview preparation is equally as important. Some attorneys do not include this service as part of their legal fees, so it is important to have your case assessed by an experienced asylum immigration attorney and upon hiring the attorney, know which services are included.

Powers Law Group has a long history of experience representing clients from various countries for US asylum affirmatively (with asylum office) and defensively (immigration court) including: Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Pakistan, Nepal, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, China and more. If you are interested in learning more about the asylum process, please schedule a consultation with us.


Current Trends in Provisional Waiver Processing Times

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, I-601A Waivers, I-601A waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

October 3, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Provisional Waiver Processing Times: Current Trends

At Powers Law Group, we have extensive experience in waivers in general  and have filed many successful provisional waivers since the program’s inception in March 2013 and look to have more filed with the recent program’s expansion from August 2016.

Currently, the provisional waiver process is taking about 18-24 months to complete from start to finish for a spouse-petitioner/qualifying relative case.  Below is a more detailed breakdown of the provisional waiver processing times:

  • Step 1: I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
    • 5-7 months, could take longer when demand increases from the expansion
  • Step 2: National Visa Center Part I
    • 1 month after approval to receive fee bills
  • Step 3: Provisional Waiver Filing
    • 7 months for adjudication
  • Step 4: National Visa Center Part II
    • 2-3 months for adjudication
  • Step 5: Visa appointment/Connect Waiver Approval with U.S. Consulate & Obtaining Visa
    • 1-3 months for notice of interview depending on the consular post

Please note that these times are estimates based off recent trends in government processing times and do not take into consideration attorney & client preparation. Although this may seem like a lengthy process, it is an investment in your future. Our clients have been grateful for our encouragement to complete the process because successful completion and return to the U.S. with a green card allows you to obtain work authorization, a Social Security number, and a driver’s license.  With a provisional waiver you can have the security and peace of mind that you are in legal status with a path towards citizenship.

Please call for a consultation if you would like a review of your case to see if you or a family member might qualify.


Hechos que debe saber acerca de la expansión provisional para el perdón provisional de estadía ilegal

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

6 de septiembre, 2016

Abogada Certificada en Inmigración, Ruby L. Powers

 Hechos que debe saber  acerca de la expansión provisional para el perdón provisional de estadía ilegal

Efectivo a partir del 29 de Agosto del 2016, el Departamento de Seguridad Nacional (Department of Homeland Security) ha ampliado la elegibilidad del perdón provisional de estadía ilegal y realizo cambios adicionales al proceso del perdón provisional.

¿Que ha cambiado?

  • La clase de individuos quienes pueden ser elegibles para el perdón provisional se ha expandido
  • Bajo la nueva regla, la necesidad de calificar bajo ¨familiar inmediato¨ ya no será requerida. Lo cual significa que la persona puede aplicar por un perdón si tienen una petición aprobada basada en la familia, en el trabajo, una petición de inmigrante especial, o si es el beneficiario de la visa de diversidad por lotería.
  • La definición de ¨Familiar calificado¨ ha sido ampliada.
  • Bajo la nueva regla, para propósitos de establecer dificultad extrema, esposos e hijos residentes permanentes serán considerados como familiares elegibles.
  • La póliza inmigratoria de motivo para creer ha sido eliminada.
  • Sin embargo, información relacionada con otros motivos de inadmisibilidad podrían aun ser usados para negar el caso a facultad discrecional. Nota: esto incrementara el número de personas quienes podrían llevarse una desagradable sorpresa en el consulado.
  • La regla del perdón provisional que hacía a un individuo inelegible porque su entrevista de visa de inmigrante fuese programada antes de enero 3 del 2013, ha sido eliminada.
  • La Forma I-212 ha sido aprobada por USCIS, individuos con órdenes finales para ser expulsados, excluidos, o deportados del país serán ahora elegibles para el perdón provisional.
  • Individuos que han regresado a los Estados Unidos de manera ilegal después de ser expulsado del país, deberán de tener una orden de reincorporación, ya sea de expulsión, exclusión o deportación para no ser elegibles a esta exención provisional.

Update on the Houston Immigration Court – September 6, 2016

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

September 6, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Update on the Houston Immigration Court – September 6, 2016

Due to an influx of women and children fleeing Central America since 2014, the Houston Immigration Court has been inundated with a spike in asylum and special immigrant juvenile cases resulting in a high case load to add to their already existing case load. In fact, of the 503,000 court cases pending nationwide, 40,000 cases are Houston cases. Of those 40,000 Houston cases, half of them have been set to a fictitious hearing date in November 2019.

To address this large case load, the Executive Office of Immigration Review has sworn in more judges nationwide. Hiring judges is a lengthy process due to vetting and background checks. At a recent AILA conference in Washington, D.C, the EOIR representative stated in many cases a Government employee has a faster track to being hired as a judge as they have already passed many of the required background checks.

During the last few years, we have had several immigration judges retire, relocate or one recently was taken off the bench.  Although Houston has already lost judges in the last few years and there has been an increase in the case load, the Houston court has been trying to catch up. The Houston Immigration Court gained three new judges in the summer of 2015 and 2 new judges in the summer of 2016. Houston downtown non-detained court has seven judges and the Houston detained court has three. In addition, Assistant Chief Judge Wagner Jr. also has a docket of active cases. This is still not enough judges for the case load and many more are planned to be hired.

At a recent American Immigration Lawyers Association/ Executive Office of Immigration Review liaison meeting, attorneys were informed of a few key points. The Court plans to hear many of the November 2019 cases before November 2019 and plans to reschedule many of those cases for 2016 to 2017. Any motion or activity for a case could trigger a rescheduling of the case to an earlier date. The most important point for clients and those with court cases in 2019 is not to wait until 2019 to have a plan or search for an immigration attorney. It is very likely all of those cases will be rescheduled to earlier dates.  Furthermore, with more judges to be hired, more office space for the courts will need to be found and it is very likely the new courtrooms won’t be located in the existing court locations.

For those in court proceedings, it is important to keep your address updated with the court and if you haven’t already, search out an experienced immigration law firm to prepare for your case.


Are you a foreign national in the US and worried you might get laid off?

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law, Immigration Trends Leave a comment

Are you a foreign national in the US and worried you might get laid off?

August 23, 2016

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers, Powers Law Group, P.C.

If you are a foreign national living in the US with a valid immigration status allowing work authorization, there has been fear in the Houston economy of layoffs related to the low oil prices for the last two years.  From the consultations that our firm has seen, here are a few observations and suggestions:

OBSERVATIONS:

  1. Companies are sending their expats back home or to other countries soon, if they haven’t already. In some cases they notify you of this in advance.
  2. Many times there are warning signs but an individual might only have one month’s notice of a lay off.
  3. Individuals with children in school and home owners usually need more than a month to pack up, leave the US, and make accommodations.
  4. It is generally easier to find work while in the US for a US-based job but due to the economy, the market is flooded with eligible US workers also searching for work.

SUGGESTIONS:

  1. If you think you might be laid off and you are in the US based on your work visa, get a consultation with an immigration attorney experienced in employment-immigration ASAP to consider your options, which might take time to put into place.
  2. Consider opening a business under your spouse or yourself if you or spouse are eligible for an E-2 visa. The list of countries eligible is long. Spouses are allowed to work in valid E-2 status.
  3. Have money saved up in case you need to pack and move your belongings and your severance package doesn’t cover moving costs. As you already know, international moving costs vary greatly and selling houses and cars take time and could come at a loss.
  4. Have your resume/CV and credentials evaluated as a possible National Interest Waiver

It is better to be prepared than having a consultation a week before you are supposed to be leaving the US.  We have experience with this and have been helping foreign nationals bounce back as quickly as possible but it takes planning and the right expertise.


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