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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:


  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.


  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.

The Expansion of the Provisional Waiver (I-601A): Allowing legal permanent resident spouses and parents to be qualifying relatives

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

The Expansion of the Provisional Waiver (I-601A): Allowing legal permanent resident spouses and parents to be qualifying relatives

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

August 4, 2016

On July 29, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released a new rule that expanded the program that allows people to apply for provisional waivers. This is very exciting because it will open the door for many more people to be able to get on the path to permanent residency.

What is a provisional waiver?

In US immigration law, the government creates reasons people are not eligible to adjust their status and become lawful. These are called Categories of Inadmissibility. One of these categories is unlawful presence into the US. A Provisional Waiver is a document that the DHS gives an immigrant that says, even though you have this Category of Inadmissibility, we will provisionally forgive you for it and let you apply for legal permanent residency. At first, immigrants, those who had entered illegally or couldn’t adjust status, had to remain outside the US the entire time that they were applying for the Waiver.

What is the old law?

Starting in 2013, DHS began allowing spouses and certain children of U.S. citizens to apply for these provisional waivers while in the United States. This only applied to immediate relatives. These people had to prove that they deserved a waiver because if they were not allowed to stay in the US, their US relative would suffer extreme hardship. This reform in 2013 helped reduce the amount of time that applicants had to wait outside the US. For someone going abroad to the Consular Interview already knowing that he will get a waiver reduces the wait time to weeks, as opposed to months or years. Ultimately, this helps families stay together and many more people were willing to apply.

How has the law been expanded?

First, this waiver is eligible to anyone who would be eligible for provisional unlawful presence waiver, including legal permanent resident or United States spouses or parents who would experience extreme hardship if the immigrant is denied the waiver or could not remain in the US. Next, someone with an outstanding removal order can file for the provisional waiver after getting I-212 approval if they otherwise qualify for the provisional wavier.

Who might be able to apply?

People who are barred due to unlawful presence and have a USC or LPR spouse or parent

 Next Steps?

            Consult a competent and experienced immigration attorney. Make sure you consult from an attorney who is eligible to practice law. Avoid notaries.

Find out if that attorney has experience filing waivers. This is a complex area of immigration law that is evolving, which shows why you need a good attorney. This reform goes into effect August 29, 2016. Schedule a consultation now to see if you are eligible.

Why consider hiring Powers Law Group?

  • Out of nearly a hundred of our provisional waivers since March 2013, only 2 were denied and upon opportunity to refile one of them, it was approved.
  • We have successfully completed waivers for clients from the following countries: Mexico, Philippines, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Nigeria, Lebanon, etc
  • We have had a same-sex provisional waiver approved.
  • We have worked with varied and difficult fact patterns and have been successful in establishing hardship for our clients.
  • We have staff specifically dedicated to waivers and have created a database of shared knowledge and the combined experience that helps us navigate a variety of waivers.
  • Because of technology, we are able to accommodate people who live in other states and other countries to help them through their waiver petitions. In many cases, we never meet our clients in person. But, we can also help those that are more traditional in their means of communication including those without internet or computers.
  • Many of our attorneys and our staff speak Spanish and therefore can assist many people without having to work against a language barrier. In fact, we have at least five languages spoken at our office.

6 Maneras para prepararse para la Acción Ejecutivo de Inmigración del Presidente Obama

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

6 Maneras para prepararse para la Acción Ejecutiva de Inmigración del Presidente Obama

Powers Law Group, P.C.

3 Junio 2016

El 18 de abril, la Corte Suprema escuchó los argumentos sobre el programa de Acción Diferida para Padres de Ciudadanos Estadounidenses y de Residentes Permanentes Legales (DAPA, por su acrónimo en inglés) y amplia el Programa de Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA, por su acrónimo en inglés). Anticipamos el resultado pronto. No espere al último momento para prepararse. Esto es lo que puede hacer ahora:

  1. Reúna los documentos que muestren que usted tiene un hijo o hija ciudadano o residente légale permanente.

Para DAPA, usted necesitará certificado de nacimiento de los niños ciudadanos estadounidenses o tarjeta de residencia de los niños LPR.

  1. Reúna documentos que muestren su identidad

Puede incluir su pasaporte de país de origen, un certificado de nacimiento con foto, o identificación militar con foto, o cualquier documento de inmigración con su nombre y foto.

  1. Reúna documentos que muestren su presencia en los EE.UU. continuamente desde el 2010

Sugerimos 3-4 documentos para cada año. Ejemplos incluyen recibos de pago, documentos de impuestos, contractos de alquiler, recibos de electricidad, agua, cable, y registros escolares.

  1. Reúna los antecedentes, Verificación de antecedentes de FBI, y presente una aplicación para FOIA (Ley de Libertad de Información) si usted tuvo problemas con inmigración anteriormente.

Para DAPA y DACA, usted necesitar de mostrar que no será una amenaza para la seguridad pública. Reunir estos documentos le ayudaran a un abogado a verificar que usted califica para este beneficio.  

  1. Encuentre un abogado de confianza

Obtener consejos incorrectos puede ser perjudicial. Asegúrese que usted reciba consejo de un abogado de inmigración respetable y con experiencia. Tenga cuidado con notarios y estafas comunes. Lea aquí para entender quien esta calificado para ayudar a inmigrantes con documentos.

  1. Manténgase informado

Lea más información en USCIS.gov y entérese sobre las últimas noticias sobre la Acción Ejecutiva

6 Ways to Prepare for President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

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6 Ways to Prepare for President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

By Board Certified Houston Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Powers Law Group, P.C.

June 2, 2016

On April 18, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments on Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA), and we are anticipating their answer soon. Don’t wait until the last minute to prepare. Here is what you can do now:

  1. Collect documents showing proof of U.S. Citizen or LPR son or daughter

For DAPA, you will need either your birth certificate or green card of your child or children.

  1. Collect documents proving your identity

These can include passport from country of origin, birth certificate with photo ID, school or military ID with photo, any US immigration document with your name and photo.

  1. Collect documents showing you were in the U.S. continuously since 2010

We suggest 3-4 documents per year. Examples include financial documents such as pay stubs, tax records, rental contracts, mortgage documents, vaccination records, bills, school records.

  1. Collect criminal records, FBI background checks, and file a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) if you had an encounter at the border or any prior immigration issues.

For DAPA and DACA, you will need to show that you are not a threat to public safety. Gathering these documents will help an attorney verity that you qualify for this benefit.

  1. Find an immigration attorney you trust

Getting the wrong advice can hurt. Make sure you are getting advice from a respectable and experienced immigration attorney. Beware of notarios or other common immigration scams. Read here to learn more about who is authorized to help immigrants file documents.

  1. Stay up to date

Research more information on USCIS.gov and keep an eye out for any updates regarding Executive Action.

President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration – Update – May 2016

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, immigration bill, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions Leave a comment

President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration – Update

By Board Certified Houston Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

Powers Law Group, P.C.

May 23, 2016

On November 20, 2014, President Obama announced a series of executive actions to limit illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay taxes in order to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.

The two initiatives, most important to many immigrants, include expanded DACA and DAPA:

  • Expanding the population eligible for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to people of any current age who entered the United States before the age of 16 and lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and extending the period of DACA and work authorization from two years to three years.
  • Allowing parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to request deferred action and employment authorization for three years, in a new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (DAPA), provided they have lived in the United States continuously since January 1, 2010, and pass required background checks.

Due to a federal court order initiated from the state of Texas from February 16, 2015, USCIS was not able to accept requests for the expansion of DACA on February 18, 2015 as originally planned and suspended implementation of Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The court’s temporary injunction, issued February 16, did not affect the existing DACA. Individuals could continue with requesting an initial grant of DACA or renewal of DACA under the original guidelines.

The federal court order litigation escalated to the Supreme Court. On April 18, 2016, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in United States v. Texas. There are only eight justices, normally nine, currently on the bench after Justice Alito Scalia’s February 2016 passing. If there is a tie of 4-4 at the Supreme Court, then the case will be sent back to the 5th Circuit, which will maintain the unfavorable ruling for immigrants.  It is believed Justice Scalia’s death will not affect the decision as he would have ruled against it anyway.

It is thought that since the case has a mixture of issues not only immigration law but also on legal points of standing and executive power, that the case might be favorable to the Administration and immigrants with a 5-3 holding and possibly a narrow decision on use of executive power. Listening to the justices during the oral argument, it didn’t seem like they believed that Texas would be so inconvenienced by issuing driver’s licenses to all people who are approved DAPA and expanded DACA as an undue burden. This was the main reason Texas said it contested the President’s actions.  One concern is that one state can’t just challenge the President’s executive power when they want to and put the process on hold. Another concern is that the President’s executive powers not to be broadened more than allowed in the Constitution.

The results of the Supreme Court case should be released by mid to late June 2016. According to recent history, USCIS normally takes about 60 days or so to implement new programs. For example, the initial DACA was announced June 15, 2012 and started August 15, 2012. At an April 2016 American Immigration Lawyers Association conference in Washington, D.C., USCIS officials stated they couldn’t plan for DAPA and expanded DACA but they could think about it. They also stated it normally takes USCIS about 6 months to locate, hire, and train personnel. These announcements were not what immigration attorneys wanted to hear due to the limited time available before the next President takes office.

Considering we might learn the Supreme Court ruling in mid-June and wait until mid-August for implementation, we are very close to an unpredictable November election putting in place a new President by January 2017. The rest of 2016 will be very interesting as timing is crucial and we have already waited a year and a half since the President’s November 2014 announcement.

For many interested in applying if DAPA or expanded DACA were to be approved, they should collect evidence of residence since 2010, proof of their children’s birth certificates and/or statuses (for DAPA), and their criminal and immigration history if they have any.  As potentially 3.7 million are awaiting the results, it would be best not to wait until the last minute to collect items that can sometimes take weeks or months to obtain.

For more information:

American Council on Immigration

USCIS on Executive Action

The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Asylum Attorney

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Powers Law Group, P.C.

May 10, 2016

By Texas Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

When applying for asylum it is important to have an experienced immigration attorney guide the applicant through the process. The asylum process can be very confusing and intimidating to an individual who is not familiar with US law and has never navigated through the system. Because asylum has such important implications regarding the health and safety of individuals who cannot return to their country due to threats of bodily harm and death, it is imperative an attorney is available to guide them through the process for the following reasons:

  • An experienced attorney knows how to best present the individual’s claim for asylum. The attorney knows the officer’s expectation and he or she will know the best way to approach the case.
  • An attorney will be able to spot any weaknesses in the case and can advise on the best way to approach the case to highlight all the strong points in each specific case.
  • The attorney will be able to help with any communication concerns when getting to an asylum interview. The attorney will take the time to prepare the client for what will happen and provide him or her with a clear understanding of the process.


Because asylum is a specialty area of immigration law and not every immigration attorney has experience with asylum. When choosing your attorney and consider the following criteria:

  • The attorney’s reputation and standing with them State and immigration bar
  • How much experience with asylum (affirmative and defensive/court) the attorney and their firm has
  • Whether the attorney has experience with your country and/or your particular social group


Remember that is very dangerous to choose and attorney based solely on legal fee. We have often seen people mislead about their expectations of service with other attorneys. When a fee is presented also ask if that includes interview attendance and interview preparation. Be cautious of whom you hire and remember to consider the attorney’s experience and reputation in conjunction with expected legal fees.

At Powers Law Group, P.C. we have more than 8 years of affirmative and defensive asylum experience representing clients from countries such as Venezuela, Pakistan, Iraq, Nepal, Rwanda, Syria, El Salvador, Zimbabwe and Nigeria to name a few. Many clients hire us from the states that have interviews in the Houston and the new, New Orleans, Asylum offices. We can represent clients remotely via email, phone, mail and Skype. We have staff that speak English, Spanish, French, Swahili, Kinyarwanda, Vietnamese, and Russian.

To learn more about Asylum review our website at: http://www.rubypowerslaw.com/services/asylum/