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The Expected Expansion of the Provisional Waiver (I-601A)

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The Expected Expansion of the Provisional Waiver (I-601A)

By Board Certified Immigration Attorney Ruby L. Powers

November 4, 2015

The Provisional Waiver (I-601A) process currently allows certain people who are present in the United States to request from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) a provisional waiver for certain unlawful presence grounds of inadmissibility prior to departing from the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visas—rather than applying for a waiver abroad after the immigrant visa interview using the Form I-601, Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to expand eligibility for provisional waivers to include aliens in all statutorily eligible immigrant visa categories, including family-sponsored immigrants, employment-based immigrants, certain special immigrants, and Diversity Visa program selectees, together with their derivative spouses and children.  It also proposes expanding who may be considered a qualifying relative for purpose of the extreme hardship determination to include legal permanent resident spouses and parents.  This has a far reaching scope and is a refreshing positive change in light of deadlocked reform and executive actions being held in litigation all year.

Before the existing and more limited provisional waiver rule was implemented in March 4, 2013, many families had to be separated for 4 to 18 months to complete a legal permanent residency process via consular processing due to an illegal entry or other grounds of inadmissibility. Before the provisional waiver, clients might have been able to stay in Mexico only 4 months due to the generous pilot program in Cd. Juarez, Mexico or in some cases wait 18 months in Honduras or longer, if an appeal was sought and in other countries there were inconsistent waiting times. Obviously, there were hesitations for families to proceed with this process for legalization.

Then the idea of the Provisional Waiver was formulated as a way to allow certain family members to apply for the waiver in the U.S., and prevent waiting and separation times abroad. The concept was proposed in January 2012 and initially opened for Federal Register comment period on January 9, 2012 and again April 2, 2012. The rule was announced January 3, 2013 and began 60 days later, on March 4, 2013.

After the Provisional Waiver program began, the Law Office of Ruby L. Powers has been able to help countless families gain legal permanent residency for family members who only need to remain out of the country for 2 to 4 weeks, sometimes for less time, to complete their consular processing. From fiscal years 2013 to 2015, 74,439 waivers were filed and of those 44,198 waivers were approved and 18,773 waivers were denied.  It was such a success that the DHS would like to expand it to people in all statutorily eligible immigrant visa categories and expand the qualifying member for the waiver to spouses and citizens of legal permanent residents as well.

On November 20, 2014, DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson issued a memorandum, “Expansion of the Provisional Waiver Program,” directing U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to amend its regulations to expand access to the provisional waiver program, to provide additional guidance on the definition of “extreme hardship,” and to “consider criteria by which a presumption of extreme hardship may be determined to exist.”

Currently DHS is proposing to expand eligibility for provisional waivers to include as qualifying relatives, who can establish extreme hardship, an LPR spouse or parent, not just to U.S. citizen spouses or parents, as it currently stands.  This would be in the interests of encouraging eligible aliens to complete the visa process abroad, promoting family unity, and improving administrative efficiency. The expansion of the provisional waiver program would be a welcome change. The hardships suffered by preference category families, who face the same lengthy separation from loved ones when they seek legal permanent resident status, are as equally compelling as those suffered by immediate relatives. Opening up the provisional waiver process to these individuals will offer more measurable benefits to USCIS and DOS, will further facilitate legal immigration by encouraging a more sizable group to come out of the shadows, and comports with USCIS’s goal of alleviating unnecessary familial hardships.                 On July 22, 2015, the Federal Register opened a 60-day public comment period on the expansion of the provisional waiver which ended September 21, 2015. As we see, the previous provisional waiver had two comment periods and took a year of discussion that was noted to the public. In this case, the expansion was noted nearly a year ago on November 20, 2014 and we greatly hope the rule will be in place in early 2016.

Additionally, the new rule may have a more concise definition of extreme hardship, the standard one must meet for a successful provisional waiver.  This will allow legal practitioners to save their clients time and money by telling them what specific type of evidence is required to prove extreme hardship and accordingly streamline the process and shorten the processing times for cases filed meeting the new guidelines. Currently there are only a few cases that hold guidance and a large room for discretion which can cause varying results in the applications and outcomes.

If you may know someone who could benefit from this expanded provisional waiver, although it is not a rule yet, it is helpful to have a consultation with a qualified immigration attorney.  Ideally, learn if the attorney and their firm have extensive experience with waivers. It is important to plan in advance in case freedom of information act requests, FBI background checks, and collection of other documents are necessary. Additionally, in many cases certain processes would need to be started with requisite wait times before the waiver process may begin. In some cases, preparation, research and strategy take time. Once this rule is in effect, many people will be searching for help to see how it could benefit them.

Furthermore, we would like to warn you and others about the use of people who practice law without a license. In Texas, people often called ‘notarios’ frequently persuade people needing immigration legal services that the process is simple and an attorney is not needed. In the process, they are acting illegally by providing legal advice without a license and many times put people in difficult situations that are hard to correct.

The Law Office of Ruby L. Powers has had continued success with waiver and provisional waivers reuniting families from many countries.   I regularly speak locally and nationwide on the topic of waivers and am regularly consulted by other attorneys on problem cases. We have a team with many years of immigration, consular processing, and waiver experience specific to this article’s topic. We pride ourselves in quality service and helping guide clients through the arduous process to a reunification, peace of mind, greater financial and emotional stability and an improved life in the United States.

The November Visa Bulletin. What you need to know!

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Immigration Law Leave a comment

As of October 2015, DOS began issuing a visa bulletin with dual charts for each immigrant visa category. First chart reflects “Application Final Action Date” and the second chart reflects “Dates For Filing.” Applicants ought to refer to the second chart, for the date when an application for adjustment of status or NVC process may be filed; while the first chart refers to the date when a visa will actually become current and issued. This was usually done for diversity lottery visas. Advantages for being able to file an application for example a year before the visa is actually available, lies in the fact that applicants would be able to obtain work permit while they are waiting for the green card visa availability.

This new visa bulletin dynamic has caused issues/chaos and lawsuits are pending and now Government agencies are giving different policies related to its implementation. In fact, USCIS has announced that, approximately one week after DOS releases the Visa Bulletin each month; it will post an announcement on its website to inform adjustment of status applicants whether they can rely on the “filing dates” chart or the “final action dates” chart in the Visa Bulletin to determine when they can file their applications. In its announcement, USCIS states: “Unless otherwise stated on our website, the Application Final Action Date chart will be used to determine when individuals may file their adjustment of status applications.” This means that the benefits accorded by the dual charts visa bulletins might not be granted if the USCIS visa bulletin shows different charts. Read more at:

By Claudine Gasana

Immigration Attorney at Law Office of Ruby L. Powers

Obama poised to announce go-it-alone plan on immigration Thursday

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U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the end of the G20 summit in Brisbane November 16, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the end of the G20 summit in Brisbane November 16, 2014.

(Reuters) – President Barack Obama is set on Thursday to outline a controversial plan to relax U.S. immigration policy and grant relief from deportation to as many as 5 million undocumented immigrants in a go-it-alone move that will deepen a partisan divide with Republicans.

Sources close to the administration said the rollout would include a televised speech by Obama on Thursday night laying out the plan followed by a trip to Las Vegas on Friday to build support. Nevada is home to the highest proportion of undocumented immigrants in the country.

The White House declined to comment on the specific timing of the announcement but officials have made clear Obama was planning to take executive action soon. Some conservative Republicans have threatened to try to thwart the immigration move by imposing funding restrictions in a must-pass spending bill, which could conceivably raise the possibility of a government shutdown.

Frustrated by years of congressional inaction on what most in Washington agree is a broken immigration system, Obama is planning to issue a reprieve from deportation that will cover some parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents.

That initiative would expand on a 2012 executive order by the president that gave relief from deportation and work permits to undocumented children brought to the United States by their parents.

There is also expected to be a border security element and Obama will act to help companies hire and retain high-skilled workers from abroad, the sources said.

“We’ve identified a number of ways that we will (fix the system) which the president will speak to in the coming days,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said at a National Press Club event on Wednesday.

Obama’s move, coming little more than two weeks after elections in which Republicans seized the Senate, is certain to provoke a backlash and House of Representatives Republicans are weighing a range of responses.

Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, said in a statement: “If ‘Emperor Obama’ ignores the American people and announces an amnesty plan that he himself has said over and over again exceeds his constitutional authority, he will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue and many others.”



Obama Immigration Order Said to Include Parents of Citizens

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His executive action could be announced in a television speech Thursday night, according to a person familiar with the planning.

Nov. 19 (Bloomberg) — President Barack Obama plans to issue as soon as tomorrow a reprieve for undocumented immigrants whose children were born in the U.S., part of an order that would shield between 4 million and 5 million from deportation, according to people familiar with the proposal.

Obama’s executive action could be announced in a television speech tomorrow night, according to a person familiar with the planning who asked for anonymity. Obama is tentatively scheduled to fly to Las Vegas on Friday, where he’d discuss his immigration actions at a school.

Obama’s executive actions would expand eligibility for his 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program that has given protection to 600,000 child immigrants.

The planned action, which the White House says is a partial fix for the U.S. immigration system, may improve Obama’s standing with Hispanics after he presided over a record number of deportations and damage his chances of working with Republicans in Congress on other policy matters.

The idea behind his strategy is to cover categories of immigrants that would be politically difficult for Republicans to oppose, because that would involve separating parents from their children, according to a Democratic aide familiar with the matter.

Family Unification

By centering his plan on family unification, Obama is seeking to drive a wedge in the Republican Party, which includes members who support what the president is doing even if they oppose his use of presidential powers to achieve it.

Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said Obama was abusing his power and instead should have worked with Republicans.

“There is nobody who’s abused the authority to issue executive orders more than the current occupant of the White House,” he said. Obama is undermining Republican support for “common-sense immigration bills,” he said.

A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said Obama was behaving as an “emperor” and ignoring the will of the people. “He will cement his legacy of lawlessness and ruin the chances for congressional action on this issue –- and many others,” Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an e-mail.

In an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released today, 48 percent of Americans oppose Obama taking executive action on immigration while 38 percent support it. About 14 percent have no opinion or are unsure. The poll was conducted Nov. 14-17 and has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.

Tech Workers

Obama will also expand a program that gives work permits for up to 29 months to foreign graduates of U.S. universities with degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, according to the people, who requested anonymity before a formal announcement. That provides more workers to fill high-tech jobs.

The administration already broadened eligibility for the program in 2012 by increasing the qualifying fields of study.

The executive action will include enforcement measures and changes to legal-immigration procedures, the people said.

The president’s action is expected to stop short of including the parents of children brought to the U.S. illegally, called Dreamers, the people said. Senate Democrats were pressing the White House to cover this group under the current plan.

Power Grab

Republicans are vowing to try to block the executive action, arguing that it’s an unconstitutional power grab that will poison the environment for bipartisan compromise in the new Congress, which they will control.

A group of at least 60 House Republicans is pushing to use a government funding bill to deny the president the money needed to implement his plan. Congress must approve funds by Dec. 11 to keep the government open or risk an interruption similar to last year, when Republican demands to defund the president’s health-care law led to a 16-day partial shutdown.

Democratic lawmakers have been urging the president to be bold with his plan. They cite the failure of the Republican-led House to take up a bill the Senate passed last year with bipartisan support creating a path to citizenship for many of the nation’s estimated 11 million unauthorized immigrants.

Republican Split

Republicans are split on the immigration issue generally. Some say the party must take steps to ease its stance against undocumented immigrants while others consider them lawbreakers who don’t deserve what many of them label amnesty.

National demographic shifts, particularly in competitive states such as Nevada and Florida, make the support of Hispanic voters critical to both political parties.

Republicans have already begun to temper some of their threats over shutting down the government to stop Obama.

Earlier yesterday, Boehner and his allies said they’re reviewing alternatives to using a funding bill to fight the executive action, including retroactively canceling money in 2015 for any action taken by Obama.

Republican Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a Boehner ally, said many members “understand what was done in October of last year is not the appropriate way going forward.” Court challenges also are a possibility, he said.

‘More Thoughtful’

“The conference is trying to be a lot more thoughtful,” Cole said. “Our aim is to shut down what the president is doing, not to shut down the government.”

The White House began sharing both policy and messaging plans yesterday with outside groups and Democrats on Capitol Hill. In addition to arguing that Obama has the legal authority to revamp the immigration system, the White House says Congress can step in at any time with legislation.

“There is a very simple solution to the perception that somehow the president is exercising too much executive authority, and that’s for Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to permanently fix the system,” according to White House talking points, which were obtained by Bloomberg.

“If they get that done, the president looks forward to signing it into law — superseding the actions he’s taken on his own to fix as much of the system as he can.”

The number of people who would be protected from prosecution depends on how the executive action is structured and whether it requires the undocumented parents and spouses of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to have been in the country for five years or 10 years to qualify.

3.3 Million Parents

The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that a five-year threshold would protect 3.3 million parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents. It also would provide a reprieve for 1.2 million spouses, a set that overlaps with the group of parents. The figures would be much lower — 2.5 million parents and 910,000 spouses — if the bar was set at 10 years, according to the institute.

In addition, the institute reported, 520,000 undocumented immigrants would be shielded by an Obama order that changes eligibility for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by eliminating the maximum age of 30 and changing the age of arrival to under 18.

Houston Business Journal 2014 40 Under 40 Group

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40under40 Group4 002

Left to right: Aimee Woodall, President, The Black Sheep Agency; Jane Henry, CEO, Xcution; and
Ruby L. Powers, Founder and Managing Attorney, Law Office of Ruby L. Powers P.C.

Have you been using E-Verify more than 10 years? If yes, please download the new “Historic Records Report” before December 1, 2014.

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On January 1, 2015, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin disposing of E-Verify records that are over 10 years old in accordance with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) records retention and disposal schedule (N 1-566-08-7).   USCIS is required to dispose of E-Verify records 10 years old and older to minimize security and privacy risks associated with U.S. Government retention of Personal Identifiable Information (PII). Accordingly, as of January 1, 2015, USCIS will begin disposing of E-Verify case records whose last transaction occurred on or before December 31, 2004.1 In order to retain case information, E-Verify employers may download and save the new  “Historic Records Report.” This Report will ONLY BE AVAILABLE from October 1 through December 31, 2014.  Program Administrators may download the Historic Records Report from E-Verify. The report contains information about transactions in each E-Verify case created on or before December 31, 2004. If the employer was not using E-Verify before that date, the report will not have any case information. Under its ongoing NARA obligation, USCIS will dispose of E-Verify records annually. On January 1, 2016, USCIS will dispose of records created on or prior to December 31, 2005 and this process will continue in subsequent years.  E-Verify recommends that employers annotate Forms I-9 with the E-Verify transaction number.   Employers may want to retain the Historic Records Report with the corresponding Forms I-9.

For guidance on downloading the Historic Records Report, see the “Questions and Answers” and

“Instructions for Downloading” on the E-Verify public website (

Post-Arrival screening measures put in place by CDC for Travelers from 3 countries affected by Ebola

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On October 22, 2014, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that public health authorities will begin active post-arrival monitoring of travelers whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea.  These travelers are now arriving to the United States at one of five airports where entry screening is being conducted by Customs and Border Protection and CDC.  Active post-arrival monitoring means that travelers without febrile illness or symptoms consistent with Ebola will be followed up daily by state and local health departments for 21 days from the date of their departure from West Africa.  Six states (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia), where approximately 70% of incoming travelers are headed, have already taken steps to plan and implement active post-arrival monitoring which will begin on Monday, October 27.  Active post-arrival monitoring will begin in the remaining states in the days following.   CDC is providing assistance with active post-arrival monitoring to state and local health departments, including information on travelers arriving in their states, and upon request, technical support, consultation and funding.

See more at

My experience with the women and children at Karnes County “Residential” Center

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September 26, 2014

My experience with the women and children at Karnes County “Residential” Center

On Friday, September 19, 2014, one of my small firm’s associate attorneys, the office manager, and I visited the Karnes County “Residential” Center in Karnes City, Texas for the first time. The Center was converted for the purpose of holding women and children on August 1, 2014. We were there for six hours and visited around 15-16 women. I am writing this note to express the great need for attorney volunteers and to inform attorneys of what they can expect upon arriving at Karnes.

I would like to echo the sentiments expressed by other attorneys who have been volunteering in Artesia, New Mexico. I am dismayed at the lack of access to information for the clients from the courts about their own cases and the large amount of deserving people in desperate need of representation being forced through the rigor of the US immigration system on their own, with their young children in tow, at a rapid and surprisingly expedited pace. Many of these immigrants speak predominantly Mamean or Quichean and yet have been conducting their credible fear interviews in Spanish. If the error is caught and challenged, this often turns into another round of credible fear interviews with the requisite wait time. Others prepare themselves as much as possible only to find out that their bond is too high to be paid, way above the national average of $5,200.

Before visiting Karnes I had already tried to convince myself that my firm wasn’t going to take any cases, we had already taken a UAC pro bono case in Houston, but only help as much as possible for the short period of time that we would be there. My law office is 3.5 hours away from the Center and I have a growing firm and two small children under 4 years old at home. However, once I realized how much these women needed adequate representation, I changed my mind and ended up taking a case of a woman and her two children fleeing from El Salvador where she was a victim of severe domestic violence and gang violence. I volunteered for the case even before I arrived at the Center. Things move quickly in Karnes. I learned of the client’s situation on Thursday from a fellow volunteer attorney. On Friday, I met the client, took her information and submitted motions with the court and by Monday, had a telephonic bond hearing via San Antonio. In taking the case I believed that it would be granted some leeway as I was a pro bono attorney who had just taken the case. However, I realized in conducting the hearing that the immigration judge had high expectations and required a thorough I-589 and statement with supporting documentation before granting a favorable decision. I now have one more week to prepare an I-589 and translate the client’s statement in hopes that it will meet the requirements meanwhile also learned about the 52-page motion from the trial attorney on how the family is a national security risk. Oh, and I am still 3.5 hours away from my pro bono client. It appears that in some cases the judges conduct mini-merits hearings for bond hearings, requiring pro bono attorneys to prepare in several days what they would usually have months to prepare for an asylum hearing.

The team of volunteer pro bono attorneys, the Karnes City Immigrant Family Pro Bono Project, supporting Karnes is amazing. They were all communicating and trying to help triage the cases as quickly as possible. I got a list of names from various members of the project the day before our visit with some instructions on what to do and handout materials to use as a guide. While there, I talked with other volunteers who helped answer questions.

Before going to Karnes it is important to get any paralegals or translators cleared in advance by the facility regardless if the person had been cleared somewhere else before. The attorney must fax a signed letter (I believe on letterhead would be ideal), a copy of the person’s driver’s license and social security card to Officer Acosta at 830-254-2975. I was told that it is helpful if someone calls them at 830-254-2500 about fifteen minutes after the fax is sent to confirm that the fax was received. It is said that pre-clearance should be faxed 48 hours in advance of going to the Center. We brought a copy of the clearance with us so there would not be any questions when we arrived. Though the clearance letter states it is valid for a year, I am told that the clearance letter must be brought every time that a paralegal or translator goes to Karnes.

We stayed in a hotel about 30 minutes away the night before so that we could get started as soon as possible the following day but traveling and visiting the Center could be done in one day if necessary from San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, for example. The Center is open from 8:00am to 8:00pm.

Upon arriving at Karnes we had to wait for thirty minutes to an hour for the detainees to be called into the waiting area. On the day which we visited the supervising officers had initiated a new policy we learned about mid-day which limits an attorney to only see five people per day and it is limited to the persons on the sheet of paper that has been filled out upon arrival. If a detainee passes you a note that a fellow detainee needs to see an attorney that detainee’s information has to be faxed in to the center before being able to see them. I figure you could use e-fax from your computer. In the end, I challenged this new policy and they let us see all the women on our list without any problems after that. We were grateful because that confusion was stressful as we were trying to work as fast and diligently as we could. I would just caution a volunteer to be prepared for policy changes without notice.

It is a requirement that cell phones and wallets be left in lockers for which we were provided a key at the entrance of the Center. There are a few vending machines attached to the waiting area and they require quarters or dollars. You cannot give food to the detainees.  In six hours, I drank one bottle of ice tea for my caloric intake. My staff and I were running on empty. We didn’t want to waste time to eat. You could run to your car or locker for snacks. I don’t think there are a lot of restaurants in town.

There is a large waiting area with approximately six adjoining private consultation rooms. Each consultation room has a table and chairs. Laptops and wifi hotspots are allowed. There is a unisex bathroom in the waiting area.  We were lucky enough to be able to use a printer brought by another pro bono attorney there at the time. Even the most basic of printers and copier can go a long way when you have no other options. A mobile scanner would be a great addition since a detainee’s documents are so critical for them to possess and yet share with potential volunteer help. Detainees are able to access email accounts if they already had created them previously though I am not sure that many of them would know how to check their email account if one was set up for them by a volunteer. It would also be helpful to bring plenty of I-589’s and forms in Spanish for the pro se client.

We had been told going in that attorneys were allowed a phone to call an interpreter. When I was entering the private consultation rooms, all of the landline phones were taken out. When I asked the guard which phone we were supposed to use to contact the interpreter, I was first told we can’t use phones.  Then I pressed the issue with the help of another volunteer attorney who had been working at the facility on know your rights presentations. In the end, after talking with the supervisor, he told me that we could use our own cell phones only for that purpose. I was escorted to the locker to get my private phone and call the interpreter for whom I had been given for Mamean. While I was walking back, the supervisor said, you might not be able to get reception because a lot of staff say that their phones don’t work in the building.  Luckily, my cell phone worked and I was able to reach the volunteer interpreter. But this could make contacting an interpreter difficult. For Quichean, I used a 12-year old girl who was also detained but happened to speak both Quichean and Spanish. She had to be called to my consultation room from her classroom.

The detainees wear plain clothes. The children attend school and there are toys in the waiting area for kids when they accompany their parents to the waiting room. There appears to be a playground in the backyard.

I would like to encourage my immigration attorney colleagues to take on one pro bono case or part of a case to help these victims. At this time there is a critical need for attorney representation for Immigration Judge reviews of Credible Fear Interview (CFI) denials, bond hearings and original filings of I-589’s.

All the detainees that we met with were victims of either domestic violence or gang-based violence. Many have entered prior to the September 2014 Matter of A-R-C-G, in which the Board of Immigration Appeals determined that married women in Guatemala who are unable to leave their relationship constitute a particular social group for asylum purposes.

The detainees seem to have a peaceful disposition, perhaps because they and their children are in a safe place with food and a roof over their heads. It really plays with your mind to see little babies and kids in the consultation rooms with the women in a detention facility, no matter what you name it.  You wonder if you should be allowed to talk about such horrible experiences in front of young impressionable minds. I know I wouldn’t want talk about these stories in front of my two young kids. Imagine that the moms have to have the young children with them when they do the CFIs.

Although there might be a hint of peace, there is also a sense of fear of the unknown because they know that if they are unable to convince someone of their story and the relatives of their plight, that they will have to return to their country in which their violent husband or the violent gangs will be there waiting for them or their children. The despair on one woman’s face in particular who has two children with her and her husband is detained in Miami whom she has had no contact with was unbearable. I spent more time thinking how can I really help this lady and debating about taking yet another case. Her husband was a police officer in El Salvador and had actively fought the gangs. In retaliation, her family was threatened and even her uncle was killed. She now faces a $15,000 bond. Her father in law can only afford to bond out her husband and not both sets of detained members. She said the judge didn’t ask about her story but asked if she used a coyote and how much she paid. Gratefully, I learned today she found pro bono representation.

Another woman has lacerations in her uterus from sexual violence from her husband. Her children regularly saw him beat her. One woman’s father threw boiling water on her causing an obvious scar on her arm, when she tried to run away from her abusive husband and go home. She is 18, married at 14, and has a 2 and a half year old. After six hours and 8 women’s stories, I started to mix up all the stories. They all seem to have abusive husbands, no support, and running away from gangs and somehow brought one to four kids with them traveling about 1,500 miles. Of course there is more to that but the violence and impunity they experience is heart-wrenching. At one point, without a tissue box in my consultation room, I thought to go get toilet paper from the bathroom to hold back some of the tears for the women and myself.

I have a love-hate relationship with this experience. I love that I am helping people, through advocating for them and empowering them to be able to advocate for themselves as best as they can. I am doing what I went to law school for. At the same time knowing that this situation exists and that it is happening cannot easily be ignored. There are feelings of guilt that I should be there taking on more cases or that I should volunteer there more often. One thing that I can do whether in Houston or in Karnes City is spread the word to other immigration attorneys that there are many deserving women and children who need legal representation or simply be given advice on how to best argue their own case and I guarantee that you will not regret the time you spend helping these families.

If you have any questions about volunteering at Karnes Residential Center contact Lin Lichtenberg with the Karnes City Immigrant Family Pro Bono Project at


Ruby L. Powers

AILA member and Karnes volunteer


EB-5 preference category has become “unavailable” for Chinese applicants as of August 23, 2014

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For the first time since the EB-5 program was created almost 25 years ago, the maximum number of EB-5 immigrant visas which are available for Chinese applicants for fiscal Year 2014 has been reached, while sufficient numbers for all other countries remain to ensure compliance within the annual Fiscal Year 2014 allocation.  A new allocation of about 10,000 visas will be available on October 1, 2014, which is the first day of Fiscal Year 2015. As a result, there will be virtually no impact on most China EB-5 visa applicants who complete processing within the next 6 to 8 months.


For more information refer to:

USCIS New H-3 Visa Policy Guidance

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On September 9, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued a policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to provide comprehensive guidance on the H-3 trainees nonimmigrant visa category. The new policy guidance consolidates previous guidance on the H-3 nonimmigrant visa category, to include guidance on the background, purpose, and legal authorities of the H-3 program. It also provides guidance on the H-3 program requirements, descriptions, and restrictions, and includes a list of forms and documents for the H-3 visa petition.

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