How can I tell if I am working with a real lawyer?

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 How can I tell if I am working with a real immigration lawyer? Do not end up like the victims of immigration scams in this sad story of someone who pretended to be an immigration lawyer and scammed immigrants out of thousands of dollars,  see immigration scam.  Howard Seidler promised a green card and a social security number, but took the money and never filed anything. This is all too common where people are desperate for immigration papers and vulnerable to immigration scams. When you pay someone to file an immigration application make sure you are working with a real lawyer.

How can you tell if the person you are working with is a real lawyer?

1. Lawyers are required to register with the bar association in each state where they practice. You can check the attorney registration on-line to see if your lawyer is registered.  In New York State you can search attorney registration to see if the name is listed.

2. For immigration lawyers you can also check the website for the American Immigration Lawyers Association to see if your lawyer is a member of AILA.  The American Immigration Lawyers Association is a valuable resource for immigration lawyers and for the public. Lawyers, who are members, receive  daily updates on new developments in immigration. Members of the public can access the public AILA website for information on immigration,  and for information on immigration lawyers who are members of AILA.

As the old saying goes, if something is too good to be true, it probably isn’t. When you file an immigration application you need to be sure that you are eligible to apply and that the information on the application is true.  If you are not eligible, or the information on the forms is not true, you could be deported, or even worse, prosecuted for filing a false form and then deported.

 How can I protect myself from immigration scams?

1. Ask for a copy of everything that you sign

2. Check to see that your immigration lawyer is registered with a state bar association.

3. Check to see if your immigration lawyer is a member of AILA.

4. Be careful if anyone filing applications for you guarantees that your application will be approved.  Lawyers are not allowed to make these kinds of promises.

5. If you are undocumented (sometimes called illegal) be even more careful.  In most cases immigrants who are  in the US without immigration papers, or  who have entered without papers (or with false papers) cannot stay in the US to apply for immigration status.

6. One exception to #5 above, is for people who entered the US before June 15, 2007 without papers and were under the age of 16 when they entered.  In that case, Two-Year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) might be a possibility. For  more information on this see DACA Now.

7. Don’t listen to anyone who says they can file an application now for undocumented parents of US citizen or permanent resident children.  There is a new program for undocumented parents, but it is on hold while it is being challenged in court.  There is also an expanded form of DACA (Three-Year DACA) that may become available for those who have lived in the US without documents since June 1, 2010. This program is also being challenged in the courts and is not yet available.

Remember, it is you who will pay the price if you are working with a scam artist.  You may lose more than your money if the scammer files papers for you that include false information. If you cannot afford to pay for a consultation with a lawyer there are some programs that may be able to help you for free.  In the New York City area you can contact, LawHelpNY .  In the Syracuse, NY area you may be eligible for a free immigration consultation, contact the Volunteer Lawyers Project of Onondaga County to make an appointment. Be careful out there!

 

 

 

New Immigration Rule for Dependents of International Students

Good news for international students – Husbands, wives and children of F-1 and M-1 international students who have  F-2 or M-2 status, may now study part-time at USCIS certified (SEVP) schools.  The enrollment must be for less than a full course of study.  If those in F-2 or M-2 study want to study full-time they are still required to apply for a change of status to F-1 or M-1.

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H-1B Cap Reached

 

USCIS announced today that it has reached the H-1B Cap for 2016, including both the general category and the cap for advanced degree holders. USCIS will use a lottery system to select H-1B petitions that will be processed for a start date of October 1, 2015. USCIS cannot yet announce the date of the lottery due to the large number of H-1B petitions received.   Petitions not selected by the lottery will be returned along with the filing fees.

How to Avoid Immigration Scams

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It is very important to be careful of immigration scams.  We expect that in the next few months a new kind of immigration application may become available to those who are undocumented and meet the requirements for a new  expanded kind Deferred Action.  Click here for tips on how to prepare for this new program. There is nothing you can file now for this new program.  Be careful of following the advice of anyone who tells you that you can apply now. You may not only waste your money, you may end up committing fraud, and or getting deported.

For more information on how to recognize an immigration scam go to Immigration Scams.

Some people may be able to apply for Deferred Action under the Program under the old program.  For information on the  old program go to  Who Can Apply for DACA (Deferred Action) Now.

 

 

 

Employment for Husband or Wife of Some H-1B Workers


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Some husbands or wives of H-1B workers may file an application for permission to work in the US beginning May 26, 2015.

Who can apply?

  1. Must be in H-4 status and be married to an H-1B worker, and
  2. H-1B husband or wife must fit into one of the following groups:
    1. The H-1b worker has an approved I-140, but must wait to apply for a green card until an immigrant visa (green card) becomes available based on the Visa Bulletin (H-1B can file application for extension of status in three-year increments until he or she can apply for a green card, or
    2. H-1B  spouse can file application for extension of status in one-year increments because either a Labor Certification or an I-140 was filed for him or her before the end of the 5th year in H-1B status.

A husband or wife of an H-1B worker who meets the above requirements may file an Application for Employment Authorization on Form I-765 beginning May 26, 2015 with supporting evidence and a $380 filing fee.

What supporting Evidence is Required?

  1. Marriage certificate showing marriage to current H-1B husband or wife
    1. Evidence that shows H-1B husband or wife meets the above requirements for filing an application for extension of H-1B status beyond 6 years
  2. Entry Documents from Most Recent Entry to US
    1. I-94, either card (front and back) or printout
  3. Copy of most recent EAD
  4. If H-4 has never received an EAD, submit copy of government-issued identity document showing picture, name and date of birth, such as,
    1. Passport
    2. Birth certificate with a photo ID
  • Visa issued by foreign consulate, or
  1. -National identity document
  2. Two identical color photographs of yourself, taken within 30 days of filing your application

Warning!! No H-4 EAD applications will be accepted before May 26, 2015. Do not pay anyone to file an EAD application for you before that date.

 

 

 

 

H-4 Employment

Who Can Apply for DACA (Deferred Action) Now (Feb. 2015)?

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Requirements for DACA

Although the expanded DACA Program has been delayed, there is currently a program in place for those who meet the following requirements:

1. Under Age 31 on June 15, 2012

2. Arrived in US before 16th Birthday

3. Continuously Resided in US from June 15, 2007 to present

4. Entered  US Without Inspection (sometimes called illegal entry) before June 15, 2012

5. Currently in school, have graduated from high school, or have GED, or honorably discharged from military

6. Age 15, or older, at time of application

 

Complicating Factors that require careful evaluation before filing a DACA Application

1. No documents, or few documents, showing presence in US

2. Criminal Charges

3. Previous immigration application

4. Absences from US since June 15, 2007 ( or 5 years before filing)

Seek advice from an experienced immigration lawyer if any of the above complicating factors applies to you. 

 

Benefits of an Approved DACA Application

1. Protection from deportation for 3 years

2. Able to apply for permission to work in the US

3. Able to apply for a Social Security Number

 

Risks in Applying for DACA

1. If you apply, and you are not eligible, you could be deported.

2. Some kinds of denials, may make you permanently unable to file immigration applications in the future. For example, some kinds of criminal convictions may be a permanent bar to entering the US.

Some Children in Central America May Be Able Join Parents in US

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The Central American Minors (CAM) Refuee/Parole Program began accepting applications from parents in the US in December 2014 for unmarried children, under age 21 who reside in El Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras. This includes parents who are in the US under deferred action programs.  CAM is meant to provide  an alternative to the difficult journey that children have been making  on their own to join their parents in the US.  For more information on who is eligible for this program and how to apply, click on Central American Minors.

 

 

DACA Renewal

 

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Reminder to those who have already applied for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. If your approved DACA application is expiring, you may request that it be renewed.  USCIS recommends that renewal applications be filed 120 days (four months) before your period of deferred action expires.   To determine whether you are eligible to file an application to renew DACA, and for information on how to apply go to:  Renew DACA.

How does your immigration status affect your eligibility for health insurance?

March 14, 2014 Read the information provided by USCIS on the Affordable Care Act to find out if you are eligible for health insurance and what documents you would need to provide.

From: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  3/13/2014
Did you know that your immigration status may affect your eligibility for health care benefits under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
Open enrollment ends March 31, 2014. USCIS encourages you to visit www.healthcare.gov to learn more. The website includes helpful resources on:
• The most common immigration documents that you may submit when applying for health insurance;
• Health insurance options for your family;
• How your immigration status affects your eligibility for insurance; and
• How you can verify your citizenship and immigration status.
Go online today to find the information you need to apply for health insurance.