On June 23, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court deadlocked in a 4 to 4 split in the long-awaited case, United States v. Texas, effectively upholding the lower court’s injunction halting the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of a new program known as Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA). The original DACA program remains in place.
The decision was just nine words long: “The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided court.”
The case, United States v. Texas, No. 15-674, concerned a 2014 executive action by the president to allow as many as five million unauthorized immigrants who were the parents of citizens or of lawful permanent residents to apply for a program that would spare them from deportation and provide them with work permits. The program was called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents, or DAPA.
The court did not disclose how the justices had voted, but they were almost certainly split along ideological lines. Administration officials had hoped that Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. would join the court’s four-member liberal wing to save the program.
The case hinged in part on whether Texas had suffered the sort of direct and concrete injury that gave it standing to sue. Texas said it had standing because it would be costly for the state to give driver’s licenses to immigrants affected by the federal policy.
Chief Justice Roberts is often skeptical of expansive standing arguments. But it seemed plain when the case was argued in April that he was satisfied that Texas had standing, paving the way for a deadlock.
White House officials had repeatedly argued that presidents in both parties had used similar executive authority in applying the nation’s immigration laws. And they said Congress had granted federal law enforcement wide discretion over how those laws should be carried out.
But the court’s ruling may mean that the next president will again need to seek a congressional compromise to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws. And it left immigration activists deeply disappointed.
In their Supreme Court briefs, the states acknowledged that the president had wide authority over immigration matters, telling the justices that “the executive does have enforcement discretion to forbear from removing aliens on an individual basis.” Their quarrel, they said, was with what they called a blanket grant of “lawful presence” to millions of immigrants, entitling them to various benefits.
In response, Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. told the justices that this “lawful presence” was merely what had always followed from the executive branch’s decision not to deport someone for a given period of time.
Speaking at the White House, President Obama described the ruling as a deep disappointment for immigrants who would not be able to emerge from the threat of deportation for at least the balance of his term.
“Today’s decision is frustrating to those who seek to grow our economy and bring a rationality to our immigration system,” he said. “It is heartbreaking for the millions of immigrants who have made their lives here.”
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Summary of Executive Action Obama Announced
Today, 11/20/2014, President Barack Obama announced broad executive action to offer temporary relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants.
“If you’ve been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you’re willing to pay your fair share of taxes – you’ll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation,”
The most controversial aspect of the president’s executive order allows as many as five million undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S., including the undocumented parents of children born here. Those parents will be able to request deportation relief and work permits for three years at a time, provided that they register, pass background checks, pay fees, and prove that their legal resident or citizen child was born before the date of the executive order.
The plan also protects more so-called “DREAMers” — young immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children. Previously, individuals were eligible for deferred action if they were born after 1981 and entered the country before 2007. That date is expected to change to January 1, 2010, with no age limit.
Obama noted that the move would not grant undocumented immigrants citizenship or the right to remain in the country permanently. And he said that he will still push for a legislative solution
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While relatives of U.S. citizens often find a path to legal status, relatives of green card holders can also apply for a green card. If you are related to a permanent resident or green card holder, you might be eligible to petition for a green card.
A green card holder may apply for his/her spouse and children (unmarried, any age) to come to the U.S. legally. As a relative of a permanent resident, you will be placed in a category known as “family second preference”. Because the number of visas given out to family preference applicants annually is limited, you will be placed on a wait list. When a visa number is available, it will be assigned to you.
If you are in the U.S., the process of applying for a visa will be the same as that of relatives to U.S. citizens. If you are already in the U.S., your relative must file Form I-130. When it is approved, you must wait until the priority date in the family preference category becomes current. The priority date is the date when the I-130 is properly sent. When it becomes current, you can file the I-485 which will allow you to adjust your status. Eventually, the adjustment process will result in your status as a permanent resident.
For the most part, the application process must be completed by the green card holder. First, he/she must file Form I-130 and provide USCIS with proof of his/her status as a legal permanent resident. Documents and evidence of the relationship between the green card holder and immigrant must also be included. Examples of evidence include birth and marriage certificates. If you and your family member do not share the last name, you must show proof of the legal name change. More specific details can be found on the forms that need to be filed.
If you are outside the U.S., you must undergo the process of consular processing. This type of processing occurs when USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an I-130 that has been approved. When the Department of State issues you the visa, you can travel abroad and will become a permanent resident when you enter the U.S.
Many families are under the impression that an approved I-130 means that an applicant has been granted a benefit or change in status. This is not true. If USCIS accepts and approves the visa petition, it means that you are now in line for a visa number. If you belong to a first preference category, you will be issued a visa right away. If not, there will be a longer wait.
If you have any questions about preference categories, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, or how to obtain a visa, please contact Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim.
Democratic Assemblyman Manuel Perez introduced a legislative bill in California that would have a serious, positive impact for many hardworking immigrants here. The bill is known as the California Agricultural Jobs and Industry Stabilization Act of 2012.
Also known by its more formal name of AB 1544, this bill would allow certain working immigrants to work legally in California. If an immigrant has been working for at least 150 days and is making true efforts to learn the English language, then, for a fee, that same immigrant may qualify for employment authorization papers. Not only the immigrant, but his or her spouse and children may also be eligible to obtain permission to live in the United States legally. Of course, any criminals would not be permitted to apply for legal status under this bill. If the bill is passed, all applicants must send in a fingerprint and background check.
This law demonstrates the importance that hard working immigrants have for the Californian economy. Currently, California has a $37.5 billion agricultural economy that rests on immigrant workers in fields who spend long hours harvesting and picking crops. If immigrants were not willing to endure the heat, long hours, and back breaking labor, then California’s agricultural economy would sink because US citizens would be less willing to take on these jobs.
In addition to agriculture workers, immigrants also take on other types of jobs like domestic services including housekeeping and janitors, as well as work in many fast food restaurants. This new bill would also apply to these immigrants.
So far, AB 1544 has been passed by the Assembly of Labor and Employment Committee by a majority vote. Now, an appropriations committee must approve the bill. After that, it will reach Assembly floor where assembly members will vote on whether or not to pass the act.
The bill faces certain obstacles. For example, it is not enough if the California state legislature approves the bill. The federal government must also approve the bill. Also, those who support the bill must find a way to prove that the difficult jobs that are taken by immigrants would not be taken by American workers. The employment rate in California is 11%; in order for the bill to pass, it must be proven that those unemployed Americans in California would not accept the jobs that immigrants currently take.
There are high hopes for AB 1544. The California economy cannot afford to lose its labor force, and the reality is that the agricultural sector relies on labor that immigrants offer. Even if this bill does not make it past the federal government, it will still have an important impact on our immigration policies. Other states may realize the impact that immigrants have on their economies, prompting further action from state assemblies to increase pathways to legalization for immigrants.
There are many ways to obtain a green card as a worker. Some of the categories that may be approved for a worker’s green card are: offer of permanent employment, entrepreneurship, investment, special or particular skills. There are also certain fields of work currently allowing green card applications as workers. If you have a job offer for permanent work, you can apply for your green card from both inside and outside the U.S. but the procedure does differ.
If you are living in the U.S., you must first submit a petition for status as an immigrant worker. After your petition there is a waiting period for a visa. After your visa becomes available, you can apply for your green card as a permanent worker. Your ability to prove your eligibility as a permanent worker with a job offer will aid in the green card process.
If you are not yet living in the United States, submit your petition as a worker from your country of origin. After your application is submitted, there will be a waiting period for an available visa. Once your visa is approved, you may travel to the U.S. for residence.
For more information on obtaining a green card, contact immigration attorney Phillip Kim.
There are multiple ways to get a green card as a relative of a U.S. citizen. As the spouse, unmarried child, or parent of an adult citizen (over 21 years old) you qualify as an immediate relative. Green cards for immediate relatives are unlimited, so there is no waiting for a visa as an immediate family member. Receiving a green card will allow you to live and work in the U.S. as a permanent resident.
If you are already in the United States, to receive a green card, you will file need to file for permanent residence. Second, you will petition for your status as an immediate relative of a citizen. For immediate relatives of U.S., these two steps can be done at the same time or you can submit your petition and then file for residence.
If you are not yet living in the U.S., you must submit your petition for residence as a family member of a citizen first. After your petition is submitted, there is a waiting period for a visa to allow you to travel to the U.S. This process is the same for immediate and non-immediate family members of citizens.
Your status as a child will most likely be counted from the date of your petition, and that to keep the status of child you must be 21 years old or younger. Also, children under 21 must be unmarried through the green card process in order to count as immediate relatives. If you are the married child of a U.S. citizen you do not count as an immediate relative, but can still petition for residence as a family member of a U.S. citizen.
For more information and help with getting a green card, contact attorney Phillip Kim in Fresno, California.
The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act allows some people to get a permanent residence card regardless of history of illegal presence in the U.S. In order to be eligible for the LIFE Act, you need to have had a petition for alien worker or relative (I-130 or I-140) filed on your behalf before April 30, 2001. You can also qualify to get a green card under the LIFE act if you have or have had labor certification.
The I-130 can be filed by U.S. citizens and legal residents on behalf of a relative who hopes to immigrate to the U.S. The petition for alien relative demonstrates a relationship between the pending immigrant and a lawful U.S. resident. The citizen or resident relative petitioner does not need to be present in the U.S. to file the petition for alien relative.
The I-140 Petition for Alien Worker must be filed by a U.S. employer on behalf of a future employee wishing to become a permanent resident.
You can also use a labor certification to get Section 245 protection. Labor certification is given through the U.S. Department of Labor to skilled workers or to unskilled workers who will be performing unfilled jobs in the U.S. market. Labor certification is filed by a petitioner, your U.S. employer. If your petition for Labor Certification was revoked or denied by Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) at any time since you filed (before April 30, 2001) the LIFE Act may still allow you to use this petition to gain permanent residence.
Denial of your petition for labor certification does not automatically disqualify you from getting section 245 protection, as long as you filed before April 30, 2001. If your labor certification petitioner is no longer able to be responsible for your petition when you attempt to get a green card, you may still be eligible to be included. Examples could include the death of your petitioner, a divorce from your petitioner, your employer is no longer in business, and so on.
If you have petitioned for the proper immigration provisions or have petitioned for labor certification, you may be eligible to get a green card for permanent residence under the LIFE act.
For more information and help with petitioning for residence and other immigration services, contact immigration attorney Phillip Kim.
The Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act allows some people to change their status to permanent resident even if they would not be otherwise eligible. Protection under the LIFE Act is called Section 245 adjustment of status and it might be able to help you get a green card.
To get a green card under the LIFE act, someone needs to have petitioned for you as an alien worker or relative or have a labor certification filed before April 30, 2001. If you have one of these petitions in your name, you may qualify for a green card through the LIFE act. Section 245 needs you to have a visa readily available to you, so file your form when one becomes available. If you have a visa available and the proper certification (listed above) the LIFE Act can provide permanent residence regardless of unlawful presence in the U.S., working illegally in the U.S., or leaving the U.S. during your stay, which disrupts your continuous stay. This means you can file for Section 245 residence under the LIFE Act if you are currently present in the U.S. unlawfully or have been working without a permanent work visa.
In order to receive a green card under section 245, you must be admissible to the U.S. This means you should be careful not to trigger inadmissibility. For example, you should not depart the country after unlawful stay in the U.S. because you will be barred from re-entry. Look into INA law for instructions on avoiding inadmissibility.
Children and spouses of section 245 green card holders may also be offered protection from removal if they have been living in the U.S. and can be granted employment lawfully under your LIFE Act residence card.
You should check the dates that section 245 requires you or your family to have been in the U.S. because they are often changing. Always be careful to file the most current forms with the most current information to avoid delays in your application process.
For more information and help with getting a green card, contact immigration attorney Phillip Kim!
The TN NAFTA visa is meant for professional workers from Mexico and Canada. This visa allows Mexican citizens to come to the U.S. and work for at a professional job that meets NAFTA requirements. To learn more about those requirements, see our past articles.
You must have a TN NAFTA visa before entering the U.S.
The process of applying involves proving that your employment is on par with NAFTA requirements. Required documents are: Form DS-160 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application, $140), a valid passport, a 2×2 photo of you, and a letter or statement from your boss or future employer in the U.S. This letter should outline the following information: facts about your profession (stating that the profession requires someone with professional ability), evidence that you will be hired (how the employer will pay your salary, full time or part time), and a detailed statement, letter, or contract that explains the business activities that your employer will provide.
This letter or contract will explain why you are entering the U.S. and your new job with the U.S. employer. The employer should also describe how long you plan to stay in the U.S. for, as well as your educational background and qualifications that show your status as a professional worker. Your employer must also explain that he or she complies with state law and DHS regulations that concern the business or place of employment. The employer should explain how he or she is going to pay your salary.
If you choose to bring your family with you, they will need to submit paperwork as well. Your spouse and any children under the age of 21 can join you in the United States. First and foremost, they must prove their relationship to you. They must also provide proof of their citizenship in Mexico and copies of your entry documents (in other words, the family must show that the TN NAFTA visa holder is obeying legal requirements). Also, the family does not have to have Mexican citizenship. They can be citizens of another country.
Your family will be allowed to study but not work. If you are already in the United States and want your family to join you, they will need copies of your I-94 papers (Arrival-Departure Record) to show that you are still maintaining your status.
Basically, all of this means that you must establish that the job you will be employed for is a legitimate one that belongs to a NAFTA list category. You have to show that your intended stay is only temporary (show that you have a stable home in Mexico). Your employer has to demonstrate that you, the applicant, meet all the minimum degree requirements for the job you are going to take. Degrees, diplomas, educational certificates, and professional licenses or membership to professional organizations are all examples of your educational status.
You should translate documents that are written in Spanish. And include validation of your documents by a credible outside source – there are some companies that offer professional validation of documents. You may need to contact one of these agencies.
Also show your work experience or business records if you were self-employed. All of these documents will help demonstrate that you are coming to the U.S. to work in a special field. One note: you do NOT need to prove that you are licensed to work in a certain field.
Every state has different laws relating to this issue. If you want to learn more, contact Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim. He has expertise in immigration law and can help you determine if the NAFTA Visa is the right type of visa for you.
If you are a professional worker, you have a lot of options when it comes to applying for a visa. EB-1, H-1B, and E-2 are just a few of the many visas available to you. The Phillip Kim Law Center seeks to educate you and let you know what options are available to you so you can take the right steps towards getting a visa and possibly citizenship.
This article will cover one type of professional worker status visa, the TN NAFTA Professionals visa. This visa is based on the NAFTA (North American Free Trade Alliance). It is a non-immigrant status visa that allows Canadian citizens to work in a business activity in the United States.
To be eligible for this type of visa, your profession must meet the requirements. First, your profession must be one that is on the NAFTA List: professions like accountants, engineers, lawyers, pharmacists, scientists, and teachers.
Secondly, the job you are going to do must require a NAFTA professional. Lastly, your position must be for a U.S. employer, for a position that is pre-arranged. You cannot pursue self-employment in the U.S.
There are other requirements you must meet: you must be a Canadian citizen (permanent residents are not eligible) and you must meet the qualifications of the profession.
The NAFTA agreement applies to Canadians and Mexicans. While Mexican citizens need a visa to come to the U.S. through TN NAFTA status, Canadians do not need to obtain a visa before coming to the U.S. If you still want a visa for documentation purposes, you can apply for one when you enter the U.S. Just apply at the port of entry.
But, if you are living in another country besides Canada and you want to bring your non-Canadian spouse or children with you, you will need to get a visa so that your family can eventually get TD-Visas (visas for the family of NAFTA professionals).
In order to apply, go to your consular office. If you are between the ages of 14-79, you will need to attend an interview. Make an interview appointment but be aware that there is a wait-time. In Canada the wait time usually lasts up to 2 days. They will conduct electronic fingerprinting at the interview as well so be prepared to submit that for an identity check.
Once you are in the U.S., you can stay with non-immigrant TN NAFTA status for up to 3 years. The cost of applying is $140. You can also apply for your family (spouse and children under the age of 21) to obtain TD visas. Having a TD visa will be beneficial to your family because they will be allowed to stay with you while you are in the U.S.
You will be required to submit extensive documentation with your application. Each case is different and unique. If you would like more information about your personal case, contact specialized Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim.