Immigration


How to Appeal a Deportation Order

Immigration

When a person lives in the United States but does not have legal authorization to be here, he or she may receive a notice from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. This notice may inform the immigrant that he or she may be deported. If you have received a notice of removal, an experienced immigration attorney may be able to assist you with your case.

Reasons for Removal

Individuals may receive removal notices for a variety of reasons. For example, they may have committed a crime, and law enforcement authorities may communicate their illegal status to the USCIS. A person may be scheduled for removal if he or she was caught entering the country illegally. A person may also receive this type of notification if he has overstayed his visa or his green card expired.

Fighting Deportation

There may be a number of defenses which apply to deportation order appeals. A person may contest that he or she committed a crime. This may require the person to plead “not guilty” and proceed with a trial. Another option may be to plead guilty and argue that the immigrant made this plea to avoid being convicted of a more serious offense, such as one involving moral turpitude.

If the deportation order was issued because of problems with an immigrant’s documents, the immigrant can ask the court for a waiver. This type of legal strategy can help a person reapply for a visa or green card in order to have legal status in the United States. A cancellation of deportation order may be available in limited circumstances. To be eligible for this relief, an immigrant must be able to prove that he or she has lived in the United States continuously for at least 10 years and that removal would pose an undue hardship on his or her family who are U.S. citizens.

Appealing Deportation Orders

Once the USCIS makes a decision on a case, the immigrant can appeal it if the decision adversely affects him or her. The appeal is made to the Board of Immigration Appeals. If this appeal fails, an immigrant may be able to appeal again to the United States Court of Appeals.

Assistance from an Immigration Attorney

Immigration laws are often quite complex and complicated. A skilled immigration attorney can assess the merits of the case and a defendant’s probability of success. Other options may be preferable to being deported, such as choosing to voluntarily depart from the country and to legally reenter at a later time.

Contact Madrid Law at 713-877-9400 to get more information on appealing deportation orders.

What is a Green Card?

Asylum | Immigration

Although a green card is similar in appearance and size to a driver’s license, this special document provides much more important rights to immigrants. It provides legal status for an immigrant to be in the United States. While a green card does not give a person full citizenship status, it does get this person one step closer to full citizenship.

Acquiring a Green Card

A person may acquire a green card through a variety of methods. An employer may offer a person a full-time job in the United States which may qualify him or her for a green card. Being engaged or married to an American citizen may also qualify a person for permanent residency. Some individuals acquire this status through family members who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Political reasons provide another basis for qualification. A person may seek asylum due to dangerous conditions in his or her country or if he or she is a victim of certain crimes. Other applicants qualify because they are health care providers, religious workers or military or government officials.

Benefits of Having a Green Card

In addition to living legally in this country, a permanent resident acquires other rights. He is legally eligible for employment. Within a few years, the permanent resident can also apply for citizenship. In addition, he has the right to visit his country of origin without any restrictions being imposed on him.

Responsibilities of Permanent Residents

Acquiring a green card also signifies that the person accepts specific responsibilities, including agreeing to obey all American laws. A person who has permanent residency may still be deported from the country if he is convicted of certain crimes. Green card holders must also pay income taxes. Males who are 18 to 25 years old must register with the Selective Service.

Conditional Green Cards

Some green cards are granted on a conditional basis for the first two years. An applicant who has a conditional card can apply within 90 days of the card’s date of expiration to make the card permanent. In many cases, the government approves the application. However, a person may be denied if he or she has violated the law or any terms of the green card.

Assistance From an Immigration Lawyer

Immigration laws are often complex and complicated. Each immigration case is often based on a unique set of circumstances. An immigration attorney can assist individuals who would like to acquire permanent resident status. He or she can review each basis that a person has for this status.

To learn more about getting a green card, dial 713-877-9400 to get a free consultation from Mario Madrid.

What is Required for Temporary Protected Status (TPS)?

Asylum | Immigration

Temporary protected status (TPS) is a form of protection that can be granted to a person living in the United States who is a citizen of another country that the U.S. government has labeled as in turmoil. This includes countries in the midst of an armed conflict, a natural disaster or a variety of other unusual and transient conditions that result in an unsafe environment. As temporary status, TPS is valid for a set amount of time and is not equivalent, nor does it entitle one, to a green card or any other type of visa.

Which Nationalities Are Eligible for TPS?

A current list of eligible countries can be found in the Federal Register. In recent years, TPS has been awarded to citizens of these countries:

  • Somalia
  • Rwanda
  • Liberia
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Bosnia
  • El Salvador

How Many People Receive TPS Each Year?

The government has neither a minimum nor a maximum limit on the number of persons that can be given asylum each year. However, there are limits on the number of refugees that are allowed to stay in the U.S. This number is per country and is set by the president of our country. Temporary protected status is currently restricted to those from a particular set of countries, but does not have a limit on the number of individuals.

The Application Process

Refugee and asylum application approval may take months or over a year. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, however, has the power to grant temporary protected status in as little as two to three weeks. If your country is listed on the Federal Registrar (see above) and you are not subject to any of the criteria barring you from temporary protected status, you may fill out Form I-821 (or Form I-821A) to initiate the application process.

Legal and Work Status

Persons granted TPS are legally employable and may reside in the U.S. until the termination of the period of time. Temporary protected status does not, however, help individuals to gain permanent residency in the U.S. If a country is removed from the Federal Register, any individuals holding temporary protected status will have their citizenship status reverted to its previous state.

Is It Necessary to Hire an Immigration Lawyer?

An immigration lawyer, while not strictly required, may be very helpful in guiding you through the process and paperwork. Many are experts in the technical and logistical aspects of the process and are therefore good resources for advice and guidance.

For more information regarding temporary protected status, speak to Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

How to Seek Asylum in the United States

Asylum | Immigration

When foreigners feel threatened in their own country, they may seek asylum here in the United States. According to Webster’s Dictionary, asylum refers to “a place of retreat and security”. Those who are persecuted because of race, religion, political beliefs or membership in a particular social class are eligible to apply. The persecution can come from the government or from a special-interest group that is acting outside the law if officials are “unable or unwilling” to control that group of people.

Steps to Take

Those who would like to seek asylum in the United States need to come here first in order to apply. It’s not necessary to enter by legal means in order to do so. Upon arrival, an individual has a twelve-month time period in which to apply for legal asylum, and filing such a petition can halt the removal process at least temporarily.

Individuals who were unable to bring their spouse or children can file a form I-730 along with their petition for asylum. This form is used to request permission for family members to be allowed entry into the United States. Children who are younger than 21 years of age and unmarried may be included on this petition.

Asylum Hearing

An asylum hearing is presided over by a federal judge. During this hearing, the judge will hear testimony concerning the petitioner’s fear of persecution; witnesses may also be called to testify on that individual’s behalf. If the petition is granted, the applicant will be granted permission to remain in the country. Should the petition be denied, an appeal may be filed so that the case can be heard by another federal judge.

Those who file false asylum petitions can be removed from the United States and permanently barred from entering it. Even if persecution can be proven, applicants may be denied the right to stay in the United States if they have a significant criminal history or otherwise pose a threat to national security.

Obtaining a Green Card

One year after being granted asylum, a petitioner is eligible to apply for permanent residency or “green card”. If family members were also granted asylum, each one will need to fill out a separate application.

The process behind filing for asylum or a green card can be complicated and is therefore best left to an experienced immigration attorney such as Mario Madrid. For a review of your asylum case, consult with Madrid Law at 713-877-9400.

Immigration Consequences in Criminal Cases

Immigration

For many, the consequences of a conviction go beyond conditions of probation, time incarcerated, and fees. Those who plead guilty in a criminal case and are not citizens of the United States face various immigration consequences that range from removal from the United States to the inability to re-enter the United States. These consequences are laid out in the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Chapter 8 of the United States Code.

The law provides a list of offenses in which a conviction of that offense will trigger removal from the United States and/or the inability to re-enter the United States. It is important to note that receiving community supervision, which includes probation and deferred adjudication, as a sentence is considered a “conviction” for these immigration purposes. This list of crimes include:

i.  Aggravated felonies

ii. Crimes of moral turpitude

iii. Two or more crimes of moral turpitude

iv. Failure to register as a sex offender

v. Crimes involving a controlled substance or a firearm

vi. Crimes of domestic violence, stalking, or violation of protection order

vii. Crimes against children

viii. Human trafficking

 

An offense is considered an aggravated felony for these purposes if it relates to one of the following:

a. Murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor

b. Illicit trafficking of controlled substance

c. Illicit trafficking in firearms or destructive devices

d. Money laundering

e. Firearms and explosive devises

f. Crimes of violence, theft, relating to racketeer influenced corrupt organization, gambling, or document fraud—if the sentence imposed involves at least one year confinement

g. Ransom or demand for receipt of ransom

h. Child pornography

i. Prostitution, slavery, and involuntary servitude

j. National intelligence

k. Fraud, deceit, or tax evasion—in which loss exceeds $10,000

l. Alien smuggling, unless for an immediate family member

m.Failure to appear, if the underlying sentence is punishable by at least 5 years

n. Commercial bribery, counterfeiting, forgery or trafficking in vehicles where the identification numbers have been altered and the term of imprisonment is at least one year

o. Obstruction of justice, perjury, subornation of perjury, or bribery of a witness if the term of imprisonment imposed is at least one year

p. Failure to appear pursuant to a court order to answer to or dispose of a charge for which a sentence of two years may be imposed

q. An attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above offenses

r. Crimes of moral turpitude, if committed within five years of admission into the United States and the offense could result in a sentence of at least one year

 

If the offense is considered an aggravated felony, as listed above, the individual with the conviction will be ineligible for most forms of discretionary relief from removal and re-adjustment of status.

 

Although this is currently the law, federal immigration law is constantly changing. Therefore, a conviction of a any misdemeanor or felony offenses carries the risk of removal or inadmissibility.

What is the Green Card Lottery?

Immigration

One way for individuals to obtain permission to enter the United States is through the Diversity Visa Program, also known as the Green Card Lottery. This program seeks to increase immigration numbers among some of the lesser-represented nations of the world, with the majority of countries being named by the U.S. State Department as eligible nations of origin.

Restricted to People of Certain Nationalities

Countries that have had less than 50,000 immigrants during the previous five years are placed on the U.S. State Department’s list. When figuring the number of immigrants, tourists or those who are temporary entrants are not included in the number. Applicants must usually be born in one of the eligible countries in order to be considered; however, in some instances, they may be eligible if a spouse or one parent was born in an eligible nation.

Qualifications and Requirements

In addition to being from an eligible country, lottery applicants must also meet certain educational and work experience requirements. Applicants must have completed high school or that country’s equivalent of such or have at least two years of work experience during the past five years. Those two years of work experience must have been in a trade that required two years of education or on-the-job training.

How to Apply for the Lottery

Those who are interested in the Diversity Visa Program must first fill out an application on the U.S. State Department’s official website. As a part of the application process, interested parties will be required to provide recent photographs. There is no fee to file this application.

The U.S. State Department will randomly draw winners from the pool of eligible applicants. Those who are initially selected will then be placed into another pool from which the finalists will be drawn. Government officials will randomly select applicants from the pool of finalists until the annual quota of 50,000 visas is obtained.

Those who win the lottery drawing will be eligible to obtain visas for themselves and their immediate family members. Individuals who would like to check the status of their Visa lottery can do so on the official website of the State Department. Information is never sent via email or snail mail.

Do Not Fall for Scams

Numerous scams exist with regards to the Diversity Visa Program. Many people claim to offer assistance filling out an application for this program, and may even set up websites that resemble that of the U.S. government.

Those who would like assistance applying for the Green Card Lottery should get a consultation with an immigration lawyer such as Mario Madrid. For an appointment, call 713-877-9400.

What are the Consequences of Overstaying a Visa?

Immigration | Visa

In 1996, immigration reform laws brought about many sweeping new changes. Serious sanctions for overstaying one’s visa in the U.S., even if only for a little while, were included in these changes. It is important for immigrants and foreign nationals to know the repercussions of overstaying a visa so that they can avoid doing so.

What Does It Mean to ‘Overstay a Visa’?

To overstay simply means to remain in a country beyond the time that is allowed. Individuals in any category of visitor can overstay regardless of whether they have immigrant or non-immigrant status. The time spent inside the United States is now carefully monitored, and new technology along with machine readable passports have made keeping track of immigrants easier than ever.

Possible Penalties of Overstaying a Visa

The penalties for overstaying a visa are steep and can include:

  • Being barred from returning for either three or ten years
  • Denied an extension of stay
  • Voiding current visa
  • Inability to obtain new visa
  • Denied change of status or inability to adjust status

Obtaining a New Visa

Those who have overstayed their visa may not apply for a new one by visiting a consulate. Instead, these immigrants must return to their home country in order to apply for one. Should it not be possible to obtain a visa there, applicants can go to a third country designated by the Secretary of State instead.

There is one exception to this restriction. Whenever “extraordinary circumstances” exist in that country, application for a new visa can be made at a consulate instead. A waiver must be obtained first before an appointment to fill out a new application will be granted by a consulate.

Waiver Against Three or Ten-Year Ban

A non-immigrant can apply for a general waiver to the three or ten-year ban for those who have been declared inadmissible to the United States. Waivers are available in many circumstances; however, applicants must usually meet certain criteria in order to be approved. Foreign nationals who are the child or spouse of a U.S. citizen are also eligible to apply for a waiver. These individuals need to show that their removal from the country will cause an extreme hardship to their family members.

Avoiding an Overstay

Certain measures are recommended in order to prevent an overstay including:

  • Being certain of a visa’s expiration date
  • Applying for extensions in a timely manner
  • Carefully documenting all departures

For those who are accused of overstaying their visas, the procedures involved in rectifying this situation can be overwhelming.

Those who have questions about overstaying a visa can contact immigration attorney Mario Madrid at 713-877-9400.

International Consequence of a DWI in Texas

DWI | Immigration

Having a criminal history, particularly a conviction for a DWI or DUI, can affect your travels to Canada. By having a conviction for either of these offenses, a person will become criminally inadmissible, and therefore, not allowed to enter Canada.

The Canadian Immigration Refugee Protection Act, in Section 36, lists the ways a foreign national can become criminally inadmissible into Canada. One of these ways in which a person may be refused admittance into Canada is if the individual has been convicted of an offense that has an equivalent offense in the Canadian Criminal Code.

The Texas Penal Code offense of Driving While Intoxicated is an offense that does have an equivalent offense in the Canadian Criminal Code, §253 “Operation While Impaired.” In addition, due to the Canadian offense of “Dangerous Operation of Motor Vehicles,” the problems with admissibility into Canada will remain even if someone charged with a DWI or DUI pleads guilty to a reduced charge.

There are avenues of relief for inadmissibility if an individual has been convicted of a DWI or DUI in Texas. One of these avenues is to argue against the equivalence of the Canadian and Texas offense.

An individual may also solve their admissibility problem by getting a Temporary Resident Permit. This can be done by showing a significant reason for the person to be in Canada. In addition, a person may find permanent relief from criminal inadmissibility by Criminal Rehabilitation. This permanent solution can only be done five years after all of the terms of the sentence have been completed.

Having a court date for an impending DWI charge is a serious matter. If you need to talk with an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney, contact us.

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