Wednesday, October 25, 2017

USCIS Rule Change Affecting H1-B Renewals

The Trump administration is looking to curtail the ability of foreigners to live and work in the United States. In furtherance of this effort, the Administration is making many changes through executive orders and policy memos and not seeking legislation or working with Congress.

The latest tactic affects holders of the H-1B visa favored by tech companies, as well as other work visas, who are seeking to extend their stays.

Under a new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services policy issued Monday, foreigners applying for a visa extension will no longer be given “deference” if their job descriptions haven’t significantly changed. This means that regardless of how long a foreigner has been in the country, immigration officers must review the application as if it were new.

It is the first significant policy change ordered by Lee Francis Cissna, who was sworn in as director of the immigration agency this month.

It’s significant that the change is being made retroactively to people already living in the country and not just to new visa applicants, said William Stock, president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Extensions are common for H-1B visas, which are heavily used in Silicon Valley to employ foreigners with specialized skills for a three-year period. It is a common path for an H-1B holder to apply for extensions — in one- to three-year increments — until they receive permanent residency through a green card.

Previously, if a foreigner’s job description was unchanged, immigration officials would approve the extension under a 2004 rule that instructed them to “defer to prior determinations of eligibility,” except in extreme circumstances.

“By eliminating deference to prior decisions, it opens the door (for officials) to say, ‘I’m changing the rule now, and you didn’t comply with it two years ago when it wasn’t a rule — but, tough,’” Stock said.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

YouTube Video of Our Office

The Mira Law Group had a video produced that was posted on YouTube. I am seen several times and also interviewed by the filmographer.

Here is the link:

Introduction to Mira Law Group, APC

Monday, August 1, 2016

USCIS Expands Eligible Aliens for I-601A Provisional Waivers

>Effective August 29, 2016, a new class of individuals may be eligible for a provisional waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility based on the accrual of unlawful presence in the United States. The newly released rule is intended to encourage eligible individuals to complete the immigrant visa process abroad while promoting family unity.

This rule will allow who are present in the United States to request a provisional waiver of these grounds of inadmissibility before departing the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visas from USCIS. This changes the requirement for individuals that would instead apply for a waiver abroad after their immigrant visa interviews using the Form I-601. An approved provisional waiver will help facilitate immigrant visa issuance at DOS and also reduce the time that applicants are separated from their U.S. citizen or LPR family members.

If you or someone you know believe you may be affected by this new change, contact our office to schedule a free initial consultation at (510) 437-9998.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

ICE To Conduct Deportation Raids Beginning in 2016 New Year

The Washington Post reports that their sources tell them Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") is planning deportation raids beginning in the new year. ICE, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, has begun preparing for a series of raids that would target for deportation hundreds of families who have flocked to the United States since the start of last year, according to people familiar with the operation.

This is to be a nationwide campaign, carried out by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents as soon as early January, and would be the first large-scale effort to deport families who have fled violence in Central America, those familiar with the plan said. More than 100,000 families with both adults and children have made the journey across the southwest border since last year, though this migration has largely been overshadowed by a related surge of unaccompanied minors.

The ICE operation would target only adults and children who have already been ordered removed from the United States by an immigration judge, according to officials familiar with the undertaking, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because planning is ongoing and the operation has not been given final approval by DHS. The adults and children would be detained wherever they can be found and immediately deported. The number targeted is expected to be in the hundreds and possibly greater.

The proposed deportations have been controversial inside the Obama administration, which has been discussing them for several months. DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson has been pushing for the moves, according to those with knowledge of the debate, in part because of a new spike in the number of illegal immigrants in recent months. Experts say that the violence that was a key factor in driving people to flee Central America last year has surged again, with the homicide rate in El Salvador reaching its highest level in a generation. A drought in the region has also prompted departures.

The pressure for deportations has mounted because of a recent court decision that ordered DHS to begin releasing families housed in detention centers, according to the Post. Immigration advocates expressed concern about the plan.

"It would be an outrage if the administration subjected Central American families to even more aggressive enforcement tactics," Gregory Chen, director of advocacy for the American Immigration Lawyers Association, told the Washington Post.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Ninth Circuit Issues Favorable Decision in Petition for Review for Najarro-Portal

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued their memorandum on December 7, 2015, finding that the Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals had erred in failing to grant Mr. Najarro-Portal deferral of removal under the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel and Unusual Treatment in Case number 13-73958.

The opinion can be found here: Ninth Circuit Memorandum

Friday, November 27, 2015

Interesting Newspaper Article from Utah - "Activist makes app to help ‘dreamer’ undocumented immigrants"

Utah immigration activist, Deyvid Morales, 24, is using his often-in-Utah-headlines immigration battles to write free smartphone apps to help fellow undocumented immigrants.

His latest one seeks to help "dreamers" — immigrants who, like himself, were brought to the United States without papers as children by their parents — to find college scholarships.

It was inspired by a translating job he had at West Valley City's Granger High School, where he saw too many immigrants drop out "because they figure what's the point if college is not an option." But he knows college is possible because he managed to attend despite his own high-profile deportation fights.

It is his second smartphone app.

The first was designed to help undocumented immigrants who face detention and deportation. He developed it after he was pulled off a bus and detained by the Border Patrol in New Mexico — after he had received permission to remain in the country — and shouted out instructions to others about their rights.

"I can't be in every bus telling them their rights, but I could make something that would be like if I was in the bus and telling them what their rights were," Morales previously told The Salt Lake Tribune.

Now, he says, after developing his second app, "I'm not a writer. I'm not an artist. But there's a couple things that I can do, which is to organize information and make an app — and make it available for everybody. ... I'm looking for how I can help as many people as possible with what I have."

Morales' parents brought him to the U.S. from Mexico at age 9 without papers. His struggles and victories since then fuel his desire to help other undocumented immigrants.

He first landed in Utah headlines in 2011, when he had been traveling to start Bible school in Louisiana hoping to become a pastor. But immigration officials boarded his bus to seek people who were not U.S. citizens, and he was arrested.
He soon became a sort-of poster child for the plight of "dreamers," and was featured in several news conferences and news stories.

He tried to file a complaint against a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent for allegedly violating his civil rights by telling him not to speak publicly about his case or he would have his bond revoked and would land back in jail pending his deportation hearing.

Just before he expected to be deported, President Barack Obama issued an order to defer deportation of "dreamers" like him with clean criminal records — called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

Morales's new app is called DACA Scholars.

In 2012, after receiving official deferral from deportation, Morales was pulled off a bus and detained by immigration agents again in New Mexico — an incident that provided inspiration for his first app.

Meanwhile, Morales has been attending Salt Lake Community College. His experiences changed the focus of his studies from becoming a pastor to hopes of eventually becoming a civil-rights lawyer.

He is also working full time at the Mexican Consulate in Salt Lake City — doing such things as working with the U.S. Border Patrol to help find missing Mexican nationals. "With my history, it's a little bizarre that I'm now often working with the Border Patrol."

He had worked as a para-educator for a couple of years at Granger High, which included translating for families of troubled immigrant students. He said he was disappointed that students and parents alike "just felt like college was not an option for them because of their status," so "it didn't matter if they dropped out."

But he believes "education is essential for Latinos. It is the way to a better life."

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Governor Brown Sign Bill Designed to Help Immigrant Crime Victims By Mandating U-Visa Certification Standardization

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a bill designed to help undocumented aliens who are victims of violent crime. The new legislation introduces time limits on law enforcement's response to their U.S. visa applications in an attempt to standardize police forces' uneven treatment of applicants.
The federal government grants visas to undocumented immigrants who help law enforcement try to catch criminals. The so-called U visa allows the recipient to live and work in the United States for four years, but to apply, a victim must first ask local law enforcement to verify their cooperation.
California now becomes the first state to mandate that law enforcement sign U visa certifications in a particular time frame.
The new law requires California law enforcement to verify a victim's cooperation within 90 days, unless the agency can demonstrate that the victim was uncooperative. If the victim is in the process of being deported, the time frame shrinks to 14 days.
A Reuters investigation last year found vast geographic disparities in law enforcement approaches to this visa, with some agencies readily verifying cooperation and others stonewalling.

The report showed, for example, that law enforcement in Oakland, California had verified 2,992 immigrants between January 2009 and May 2014 compared to just 300 in Sacramento, California, which has a slightly higher population.
Congress has limited the number of U visas to 10,000 a year, and the program is heavily oversubscribed. In fiscal 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services received 24,768 applications from crime victims certified by local law enforcement.

If the agency determines an immigrant is eligible for the visa but the yearly cap has been reached, that person can still obtain protection against deportation and work authorization while joining the U visa queue.

California legislators unanimously passed the bill this year, and Brown announced on Friday that he had signed it.

Crimes covered by the new law include sexual assault, domestic violence, murder, prostitution, perjury, blackmail, kidnapping, obstruction of justice and fraud in foreign labor contracting.

The bill, created by Senate leader Kevin de León and Speaker of the Assembly Toni G. Atkins, is an attempt to boost immigrant trust in and cooperation with law enforcement. “Every time a criminal goes free because the victim fears deportation and the police, we are all a little less safe,” said de León in a published statement.