DHS will formally announce this morning that it will offer deferred action to DREAMers.

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DHS will formally announce this morning that it will offer deferred action to DREAMers.

Preliminary information indicates that eligible applicants must:

Be 15-30 years old, and have entered before age 16
Have been present in the U.S. for 5 years as of June 15, 2012
Have maintained continuous residence
Have not been convicted of one serious crime or multiple minor crimes
Be currently enrolled in high school, graduated or have a GED, or have enlisted in the military
The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings as well as to those who apply affirmatively.

The White House is expected to make a formal announcement this afternoon at 1:15 EST.

AILA will provide further details today.

STARS Act Highlights Potential Pitfalls of Rubio DREAM Proposal

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

When news broke yesterday that a Florida congressman introduced an alternative version of the DREAM Act, many assumed it was Sen. Marco Rubio, who has been promising for months to introduce such legislation. In fact, the bill in question—dubbed the STARS Act—was introduced by Rep. David Rivera, a member of the House who introduced similar legislation (the ARMS Act) last January. Although Rivera’s proposals would benefit fewer people than the original DREAM Act, they would put qualified applicants on a path that would ultimately lead to permanent residency. From that perspective, they differ significantly from the proposal Senator Rubio has been discussing, which reportedly does not include a dedicated path to permanent residency.


Teen stuck in Mexico over ‘Leap Day’ error may miss graduation speech

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Law Leave a comment

By Miranda Leitsinger, msnbc.com

A teen who is slated to give the salutatorian speech at her high school graduation Saturday may miss the big event because of an immigration deadline that she missed by a day.


Almost-deported valedictorian Daniela Pelaez helps introduce immigration reform bill

Posted on by Ruby Powers in DREAM Act, Immigration Law, Legislative Reform Leave a comment

By James Eng, msnbc.com

A little more than two months after she came close to being deported, high school valedictorianDaniela Pelaez joined a Florida congressman on Capitol Hill on Wednesday as he introduced a bill to allow undocumented students to remain in the U.S. if they get a college degree.



Minorities now account for most U.S. births, census data show

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New 2011 census estimates due to be released indicate that ‘an important landmark’ has been reached in U.S. demographic evolution as longtime immigration growth ebbs, an expert says.

Associated Press

May 16, 2012, 11:06 p.m.

Mexican immigration to U.S. at a standstill, report says

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By msnbc.com staff and news services

WASHINGTON — Faced with a persistently weak economy, the number of immigrants flowing into the United States from Mexico has declined for the first time in decades, according to a study released on Monday.


In all, the Mexican-born population in the U.S. last year — legal and illegal — fell to 12 million, marking an end to an immigration boom dating back to the 1970s, when foreign-born residents from Mexico stood at 760,000. The 2007 peak was 12.6 million.

Wow, fees decreased??! Effective April 13, 2012, the Department of State will decrease the immigrant visa application processing fees for all immigrant visa categories.

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Important Notice – New Application Fees: Effective April 13, 2012, the Department of State will decrease the immigrant visa application processing fees for all immigrant visa categories. Fees paid on or after April 13, 2012 will reflect the new fee amounts. The National Visa Center will resend the Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee bill to those individuals who have yet to pay.

Immigrant visa application processing fees will be reduced to the following amounts:

  • Immediate relative and family preference visa applications– $230 per applicant
  • Employment-based visa applications – $405 per applicant
  • Other immigrant visa applications (including I-360) – $220 per applicant

For more information, review the Press Release and Fees for Visa Services.

Obama pledges immigration reform early in 2nd term

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Obama pledges immigration reform early in 2nd term

CARTAGENA, Colombia (AP) — In his most specific pledge yet toU.S. Hispanics, President Barack Obama said Saturday he would seek to tackle immigration policy in the first year of a second term. But he cautioned that he would need an amenable Congress to succeed.

“This is something I care deeply about,” he told Univision. “It’s personal to me.”

Obama said in the television interview that he would work on immigration this year, but said he can’t get support from Republicans in Congress. Obama also tried to paint his Republican presidential challenger, Mitt Romney, as an extremist onimmigration, saying that Romney supports laws that would potentially allow for people to be stopped and asked for citizenship papers based on an assumption that they are illegal.

“So what we need is a change either of Congress or we need Republicans to change their mind, and I think this has to be an important debate during — throughout the country,” Obama said.

Romney aides have said that the former Massachusetts governor supports laws that would require employers to verify the legal status of workers they employ.

“President Obama only talks about immigration reform when he’s seeking votes,” said Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul. “Then-candidate Obama promised to tackle immigration reform in his first year. More than three years into his term, America is still waiting for his immigration plan.”

Hispanics are an increasingly important voting bloc in presidential elections. Obama won a sizable majority of the Hispanic vote in the 2008 election and his campaign is hoping for similar results this November.

Obama spoke to Univision, a network widely watched by Latinos in the United States, while in Colombia for the Summit of the Americas.

Foreign-Filed I-601 Waivers: New Procedure starting late Spring/Early 2012

Posted on by Ruby Powers in Consular Processing, I-601 Waivers, Immigration Law, Immigration Trends, Legislative Reform, Processing of Applications and Petitions 2 Comments

In a teleconference on March 9, 2012, USCIS announced plans to transition all usually foreign filed I-601 applications for unlawful presence, criminal, misrepresentation, and other kinds of inadmissibility waivers to one central Lockbox filing location in the U.S. The practice now is to submit the waiver filing with the USCIS office connected to the foreign consulate. The current process has resulted in a lot of delays and longer wait times for a final decision at certain consulates who have less adjudicators available to decide the waivers. In theory, this will be better for applicants if they can reduce the average wait time and the efficiency of adjudication.


Please note: This new process Foreign-Filed Waiver Lockbox procedure has nothing to do with the provisional waiver process that should be in effect by late 2012 and proposed earlier in the year.


What this new process would do:


Procedural change


Waiver applications can only be submitted to the Lockbox in the US after the applicant has attended the immigrant visa interview abroad at the consulate and the consulate officer determines that the applicant is eligible to file a waiver. The waiver would be filed with the Lockbox, in Phoenix, which forwards the petition to the USCIS Nebraska Service Center for adjudication. USCIS expects to train 26 officers on waivers to handle the expected increased workload.


Proposed Benefits to this new process:


  • Should be faster for applicants – Goal is adjudication in 6 months.  They also hope a new centralized place to submit the foreign filed waivers should stop great variations on processing times at different consulates; overseas offices cannot grow easily – some USCIS offices abroad only have one officer to decide these case and the backlogs created are inevitable.  In contrast, service centers are huge (can pull staff from other units) and can respond quickly to increases in receipts of applications to avoid backlogs. 14 officers will start at NSC and will add more for a total of 26 to handle over 23,000 waivers submitted each year.  Right now there are 4 adjudicators in Mexico and in some cases 1 in other offices.
  • Case status info will be available online through USCIS’s website once the application is filed and receipted. This is a great addition and only available currently with some offices.
  • All cases will be adjudicated in order of being received.
  • Process applies to all I-212s (Advance Permission to Reapply After Removal Packages) filed with Inadmissibility Waivers as well. I-212 waivers can be sent to the Lockbox or still filed with the local offices.
  • E -notification will be available – if you provide email address – can get receipt number emailed to you.
  • Implementation of this new policy is expected in late spring, early summer 2012, around Memorial Day.


Other important notes:

  • Estimates of 23,000 waivers per year with 26 adjudicators allows 885 waivers to be reviewed per adjudicator per year. 885 waivers in 252 business days in a year is an average of 3.5 waivers per day, per adjudicator, or about 2.5 hours spent on each case. A great improvement on certain offices now with 1 adjudicator.
  • Concurrent I-130 and I-601 filing is not available.
  • The concurrent I-485 and I-601 filing procedures will not change – Follow the local filing instructions.
  • Applicants cannot apply from Havana – must file with intrasection there (only 10 cases a year)
  • There could be certain situations overseas where USCIS offices are available and could be faster for expedites than lockbox decisions which are expected to take no more than 6 months on average.
  • Transition period for CDJ (Juarez) cases – between 75-79% are filed at CDJ. Now takes two months to review if instantly approvable. If not, the case referred to another office to adjudicate.  For the first six months of this new process, the applicant will have the choice to file at a Lockbox or at CDJ. After this, will then all go to Lockbox filings. So the CDJ Pilot Program will be over within 6 months of this procedure coming in effect.
  • As of today’s teleconference, USCIS is not sure if it will be transferring pending cases from consulates at the time the new procedure becomes effective or if USCIS offices abroad will continue to decide those pending cases.
  • Refiles as the Lockbox if the NBC denies the case will be available if the applicant chooses this route instead of appealing the denial to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office which could take over a year.
  • LockBoxSupport@dhs.gov – for questions and to inquire about the lockbox status.
  • The main reason the waivers will be rejected will be for lack of signatures (must be original), lack of proper fees, and missing information like name, address, and DOB.  Must follow directions for submitting form with most recent directions.
  • Do not file the waiver before the interview or it will be denied.  An applicant may not file the waiver until they are given permission at the visa interview.
  • Officers conducting the visa interview will send inadmissibility and case information visa an electronic database to the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) so adjudicators will have the case information readily available.
  • If waiver submissions are duplicated (ex: one foreign filed and one US filed), the duplicated waiver will be sent to NSC so one officer will adjudicate the two waivers.
  • Additional evidence should be sent to the NSC, not to the Lockbox.
  • Not all of the officers are experience adjudicators, but they will be receiving training. If outside support is necessary, the support team will also receive training before they start adjudicating.
  • Applicant will receive decision by mail.
  • If waiver is denied and person chooses to refile instead of appeal, they applicant will not need a second interview but will be able to send a new waiver to the Lockbox.





  • Requests need to be made in writing and sent to the Lockbox.
  • Expedite request requirements will be the same as before.
  • No notification will be provided if denied
  • Cases needing immediate attention to adjudicate the I-601 will have to be discussed with eh consulate interviewing officer.

This is a positive step in streamlining how waivers are adjudicated and we hope that the decreased wait time will allow families to be unified faster than before.


Ruby L. Powers – I-601 Waiver Attorney – Houston Immigration Attorney



How to not to be fooled by US Immigration Law

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How to not to be fooled by US Immigration Law

Immigration law is not always logical. I remember before I was an immigration attorney I thought there could be no way the U.S. Government would keep foreigners who married US citizens from living in the country. “That is crazy!” I thought. My husband and I, before I was an immigration attorney, also didn’t know that mail from the US Department of Homeland Security would not be forwarded even when we had temporarily forwarded our mail for summer internships. That was an expensive mistake.  Now, I know differently but only with time, education, and experience.

As an immigration attorney with a firm that provides solely immigration law services, I help people in may situations, some routine and some complicated.  Many consultations start with people filing immigration papers on their own, or with a notario, and then getting to visa appointments to find out surprisingly that they need waivers. Or, consultations where people are shocked, just like I was beforehand, that there would be complications for certain foreign-nationals to getting approved their visas or green cards if they were married to a US citizen.  Some file the wrong documents or the wrong forms completely.  Some don’t realize their criminal past will affect their immigration future.  There are a lot of policies that aren’t obvious from the instructions forms and not everything on the internet is true.  I wanted to pass on some tips I hope will help people navigate their immigration law experience:

  1. What I suggest from being a US immigration attorney, from going through the process myself with my husband before I was an attorney 10 years ago, and all the consultations I have had, is for families embarking on an immigration process to get a legal consultation with a competent immigration attorney before starting any immigration law process.
  2. Do your research; consult with an immigration attorney with a good reputation, good reviews, and experience in the area you need help.
  3. Don’t try doing the process yourself without getting a consultation or at least doing some strong research at the minimum.  So many times I see people in my consultations having done a lot on their own and making many mistakes, losing filing fees, and in some cases their actions are impossible for me to correct by the time they seek help.
  4. Don’t just go to the cheapest person or attorney because you think you can’t afford anything else.  You might be surprised, an attorney who charges for a consultation, might actually have very reasonable prices. The attorney who gives free consultations, might not be the best option or the cheapest. From what I see a lot of the time, trying to save money by cutting on quality of legal service, almost always comes back to haunting the client and requiring that they hire someone to fix the mess created before.  I am saying this from years of experience watching actual cases and learning about them in consultations.
  5. Similarly, PLEASE, PLEASE, do not go to a ‘Notario’ or someone who says it is just a form and they help you fill out forms. They are not bound by a State Bar, they don’t have to deal with the legal repercussions, and they don’t know the law.
  6. If something happened in the past and you don’t have records for it, you might consider applying for FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) response. You need to know what the Government knows.
  7. Don’t listen to what you have heard from others about immigration. Your brother’s wife’s uncle’s neighbor’s cousin’s friend’s case is not exactly like yours.  A lot of times you hear things from others and want to rely on that to make your decisions. It like a horrible game of ‘telephone’ but often the facts are so different there is no way to compare the cases and their outcomes.
  8. If you do take matters into your own hands, please make copies, keep copies of everything you file and send anything to the US Government with a tracking service.  This will empower you and also your future attorney if you need help in the future. Like I usually say, you need a copy of everything the Government has until you become a US citizen so keep a file available, scan it, maybe even email it to yourself in a secure file to have it ready in case of emergency.
  9. If you ever get a response from the Government with a deadline, please seek legal counsel ASAP.  In many cases, if you don’t respond or don’t respond properly, the case will be denied and you could be sent a Notice to Appear for immigration court proceedings.
  10. If you have had a consultation or two or three and they have similar conclusions, they are probably right. If one consultation sounds too good to be true after listening to others that weren’t so hopeful, bring up those issues and confront the attorney with your concerns. If there is nothing to do at the time, get a consultation every year or whenever you hear of major changes in laws, there could be a change that helps your situation.

By Ruby L. Powers, Houston-based US Immigration Attorney