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Finding the Right Immigration Attorney for Your Asylum Case

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

 

Finding the Right Immigration Attorney for Your Asylum Case

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

January 3, 2017

Every asylum case is unique. Due to the nature of these cases it can be difficult to find the right attorney that can help you. It is advised to get an attorney to assist you with your case considering the complexity of the process. When inquiring with immigration attorneys, there are several things to consider. Here are some general tips or questions to keep in mind at your consultation;

  1. What is the approval rate of the attorney’s asylum applications?
    1. How many asylum applications has the attorney filed and what was the success rate for those applications?
    2. Are these cases affirmative or defensive (court)?
  1. How long has this attorney been in practice and how much of their practice is immigration law?
    1. Look into how long the attorney has been practicing law and how many of those years have been dedicated to immigration law
    2. Generally, if the attorney doesn’t practice a majority of immigration law, it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes in the law
  1. Does this attorney have knowledge of my country?
    1. Ask the attorney questions about your country. Gauge their knowledge of the current economic, political and social environment of your country.
  1. For affirmative asylum cases, will the attorney prepare me and attend the interview with me?
    1. Inquire if the attorney offers interview preparation and whether they will attend the interview with you
    2. You and/or your attorney may need to travel to the Asylum office that has jurisdiction over your case. Make sure to discuss travel arrangements for both parties in advance

When making your choice for an attorney, be cognizant of these factors as they will help you be more productive in effectively communicating and laying out your case before USCIS officials.

The Powers Law Group offers asylum immigration assistance.

  • Our firm has a high success rate for affirmative asylum cases
  • Attorney Powers has been practicing for 8 years and Attorney Muniz for 4 years
  • The firm has experience with clients from the following countries: Venezuela, Iraq, Iran, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, Rwanda, Pakistan, Nepal, Zimbabwe, El Salvador, China, Nigeria, Palestine, Angola, Turkey, Jordan, Palestine, Honduras, and more
  • As part of our services we include case development, application and supporting document submission as well as a legal brief, client preparation and attorney attendance to the interview

Why this is the Best Time to Apply for a Provisional Waiver

Posted on by Ruby Powers in I-601 Waivers, I-601A waivers Leave a comment

By Texas Board Certified Immigration Attorney, Ruby L. Powers

December 30, 2016

On December 5, 2016, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) published new policy clarifications regarding provisional waivers, making it easier for individuals to navigate the process of submitting waivers.

The policy guidance issued by USCIS explains and consolidates the extreme hardship standard that USCIS Officials must use in determining whether to grant the waiver.  Here are four changes that the new standards have brought forth:

  1. Aggregating Hardships
    • It clarifies that factors, individually or in the aggregate, can be sufficient to meet the hardship standard. In other words, one sole factor will not be determinative of the extreme hardship, applicants can present several factors, and taken together they can add up to extreme hardship.

 

  1. Separation or Relocation
    • Before officials required waiver applicants to demonstrate that the qualifying relative would suffer extreme hardship if they were to relocate to the applicant’s country, and they were to remain in the United States separated from the applicant. The new requirement allows an applicant to establish extreme hardship to a qualifying relative who intends to either relocate to the country where the applicant will reside, or separate from the applicant.

 

  1. Hardship to Other Non-Qualifying Relatives
    • Typically children are not qualifying relatives for the purposes of obtaining a provisional waiver. However, the new guidance allows for the USCIS Officer to take into account the indirect hardship that the non-qualifying relative, for example a child, will have on the qualifying relative. This is also known as derivative hardship.

 

  1. Particularly Significant Factors
    • USCIS has also set out some particularly significant factors that can be a basis on what could result in extreme hardship. The following are the factors given:

 

  • If the qualifying relative was previously granted Iraqi or Afghan Special Immigrant Status, T Nonimmigrant Status, or Asylum or Refugee Status.
    • The existence of this circumstance can usually demonstrate the significantly heightened risk that relocation to the country from which he or she received protection could result in retaliatory violence, persecution or other danger to the qualifying relative.

 

  • Qualifying Relative or Related Family Member’s Disability
    • The United States governments must have made a formal disability determination, and the applicant must show that the services available to the disabled individual in the country of relocation are unavailable or significantly inferior to those available in the United States.

 

  • Qualifying Relative’s Military Service
    • If the qualifying relative is an Active Duty member of any branch of the U.S. armed forced, denial of the applicant’s admission can cause psychological harm that can affect military preparedness, and this can rise to a level that would constitute extreme hardship.

 

  • Department of State (DOS) Travel Warning
    • If can demonstrate that the country of relocation is currently subject to a DOS country-wide travel warning and the qualifying relative would face significantly increased danger if they were to relocation that country with the applicant.

 

  • Substantial Displacement of Care of Applicant’s Children
    • Depending on the facts of your case, if can demonstrate that either continuing one’s existing caregiving duties under new circumstances, or assuming someone else’s caregiving duties can be enough to rise to the level of extreme hardship.

 

Given these clarifications on what USCIS is looking for to determine extreme hardship if the applicant is denied entry into the United States, now is the best time to apply for a provisional waiver. If you believe you qualify for this relief, or have questions, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.

www.RubyPowersLaw.com

Source Used: USCIS Policy Manuel (Volume 9- Waivers)

 


Aclaración sobre la extrema dificultad por perdones de inadmisibilidad, entrada en vigor

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

Powers Law Group P.C.

Por la Abogada Certificada en inmigración, Ruby L. Powers

 Aclaración sobre la extrema dificultad por perdones de inadmisibilidad, entrada en vigor Diciembre 5, 2016.

USCIS (por sus siglas en inglés) emitió una política orientada, para determinar las dificultades extremas de los familiares que califican y se es requerido para algunos perdones de inadmisibilidad. Esta asesoría se hará efectiva el 5 de Diciembre, 2016.

Esta aclaración beneficia a ambas partes, a los clientes y a los practicantes ya que promueve consistencia en la adjudicación de los perdones y también asistirá a los practicantes al momento de preparar los perdones, que probablemente serán aprobados ya que el estándar ha sido aclarado. Como ya hemos visto en el pasado, el envió de los perdones ha aumentado, USCIS acelero la  contratación y el entrenamiento de jueces. Ahora con pautas más aclaradas, llevará a unos resultados más consistentes. Estamos agradecidos por esta aclaración tan esperada.

En esta política, USCIS:

  • Enlista los perdones de inadmisibilidad que requieren una muestra de extrema dificultad para uno o más de los familiares calificados.
    • Esto incluye perdones de inadmisibilidad para:
      • 3 y 10 años de presencia ilegal;
      • crímenes que involucren bajeza moral, varias condenas criminales.  prostitución, comercialización y viceversa y algunos ofensas criminales serias por las cuales el extranjero nacional recibe inmunidad de acusación.
      • una violación por substancia controlada, relacionado con una sola ofensa de simple posesión de 30 gramos o menos de marihuana; y
      • algunos tipos de fraude de inmigración o una mala representación voluntaria de hechos material
  • Aclara que un solicitante puede establecer extrema dificultad para un miembro de familia calificado a quien:
    • tiene la intención de trasladarse a el país donde el solicitante residirá, si se le niega admisión; o
    • se separa del solicitante y continúa en los EE.UU
  • Aclara que para que un caso de dificultad califique como “extremo,” tiene que involucrar sufrimiento o perdida mayor que las dificultades que usualmente resultan por la sola negación de admisión.
    • Esto significa que las dificultades extremas involucran el comprobar más que solo:
      • Separación de familia; daño económico; problemas para re-ajustarse a una nueva vida en el nuevo país; la calidad y disposición de oportunidades de educación en el extranjero; una menor calidad de servicios médicos y hospitales; y la habilidad de conseguir un empleo de su elección en el extranjero.
    • Aclara que las dificultades extremas son dependientes de las circunstancias de cada individuo y de cada caso en particular.
    • Provee una lista no exhaustiva de factores que USCIS puede considerar al momento de determinar dificultades extremas incluyendo:
      • Impacto en lazos familiares
      • Impacto en lo social y cultural
      • Impacto en lo económico
      • Condiciones de salud y de cuidado
      • Condiciones del País
    • Se discuten en particular factores significantes que frecuentemente tienen un peso mayor y asisten en la búsqueda de dificultades extremas para familiares calificados, incluyendo:
      • (1) Miembros calificados que han sido previamente otorgados un estatus migratorio especial Iraquí o Afganistán, T status de no inmigrante, asilo o estatus de refugiado.
      • (2) Miembros calificados o parientes con discapacidad.
      • (3) Miembros calificados con familia relacionada con el servicio militar
      • (4) DOS con advertencia de viaje
      • (5) Considerable eliminación de cuidado para el solicitante de un niño
    • Aclara que los factores, individuales o en conjunto podrían ser suficientes para satisfacer los estándares de dificultades extremas.
    • Aclara que las dificultades de uno o más de los familiares calificados puede subir el nivel de “extremas” en conjunto, aunque ninguno de los parientes a calificar sufra de dificultades por si solo suficientemente severas para ser “extremo.”

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.”

 

 


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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