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.
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.
Remember to keep in mind that 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.
You can become a citizen of the U.S. after having your green card through the naturalization process. There are some usual eligible paths to citizenship: live in the U.S. for 5 years, be the spouse of a U.S. citizen, be in the military or have a family member in the military, or have citizen parents. If you are already living in the U.S., you must have a green card before applying for citizenship. After filing for citizenship, you will need to take the naturalization test, which will include speaking, reading, and writing in English.
To apply independently to be a naturalized citizen, you should be over 18 and have been living in the U.S. with a green card for at least 5 years. For these 5 years you should have been living continuously in the U.S. to be eligible.
To apply to be a naturalized citizen as the spouse of a current U.S. citizen, you need to have a green card for at least 3 years while living with your spouse. If your spouse is working outside the U.S. but is a citizen, you can still file for citizenship as the spouse of a citizen.
Children of U.S. citizens are eligible for citizenship if they meet the requirements. For the purposes of the citizenship process, a child is anyone 18 years old or younger and who is not married. If you are the child of a U.S. citizen and are already living in the U.S., you can automatically get citizenship if at least one parent has citizenship, you are 18 years old or younger, and you are still in your parents’ custody.
If at least one of your parents is a citizen and you are under 18 but living outside the U.S., you are also eligible for citizenship. To be able to apply for citizenship as a child of a citizen living outside the U.S., at least one of your parents has to have been a citizen for at least 5 years. Also, you must have entered the country legally to be eligible to apply for citizenship as the child of a citizen. To enter legally, seek help with filing for a green card or visa.
Some military members, veterans, and their families can apply for citizenship. There are different paths to citizenship based on when your time served happened, separated into peacetime and wartime. If you are eligible to apply for citizenship, you can then file for citizenship as a military member, which includes veterans. Spouses and children of military members can also apply for citizenship if their family member is already a citizen. This process can also be done for families living overseas with active military members.
There are several steps to apply for a green card, also known as permanent residency, if you believe you qualify through a job opportunity in the United States, and if you are an employer, you may help sponsor an employee for permanent residency.
If you live outside the U.S., you must go through a consular processing where you will be issued a visa, if available, when your petition gets approved. If you reside in the United States, you can obtain a green card by adjusting your status.
There will be several documents required when filing for your petition. Supporting documents include evidence of inspection during entry into the United States, copy of approval notice by the USCIS, proof of employment offer, two colored passport photos, biographic information, medical examination, affidavits, and other forms pertaining to your eligibility.
U.S. citizenship provides many rights, but also involves many responsibilities. Thus, the decision to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization is important. By becoming a U.S. citizen, you gain many rights that permanent residents or others do not have, including the right to vote. To be eligible for naturalization, you must first meet certain requirements set by U.S. law.
Requirements to be eligible for naturalization include being age 18 or older, being a permanent resident for a certain time period, having good moral character, having a basic knowledge of the U.S. government, having continuous residence in the U.S., and being able to communicate English (with some exceptions).
So when is it possible to apply for naturalization?
One may be able to apply for naturalization if he/she is at least 18 years of age and have been a permanent resident either for at least 5 years, at least 3 years (during which you have been in a marriage relationship with your U.S. citizen husband or wife), or have honorable service in the U.S. military. Certain spouses of U.S. citizens and/or members of the military may be able to file for naturalization sooner than noted above.
To learn more about the naturalization process and take the first step in applying for U.S. citizenship, contact attorney Phillip Kim for specialized help tailored to your needs.
The fiancé(e) visa was designed to allow couples a window of time to unite in the U.S. for the purpose of getting married. The K-1 non-immigrant visa, or fiancé(e) visa, is for soon-to-be spouses of U.S. citizens who want to travel to the U.S. to join their partner. Because this visa is only intended to give you enough time to travel legally to the U.S. to marry, the fiancé(e) visa is for short-term, non-immigrant purposes. Fiancé(e)s do not qualify as relatives who are eligible for green cards as the family member of a citizen or resident. In order to change your status to permanent U.S. resident, you and your partner must get married.
If you are the fiancé(e) of a current U.S. citizen, the fiancé(e) visa can give you up to 90 days to perform your marriage ceremony in the U.S. After this 90 day period, fiancé(e) visas expire.
Failure to marry or depart the U.S. within this 90 day period may put you in violation of immigration law and could initiate removal proceedings, which could negatively affect your residence applications in the future. To avoid any penalties, you should plan to marry your spouse within 90 days of your petition being approved.
In order for you or your fiancé(e) to qualify for the K-1 visa, the petitioning party must be a U.S. citizen. You and your fiancé(e) must also both be unmarried at the time of petition and must have met at least once in person within the last 2 years.
You can be granted a waiver on the meeting requirement if meeting would have caused either party extreme hardship or if your meeting would violate personal social, religious, or cultural customs. You must submit documentation of your relationship with your visa application and should also submit some sort of documentation if you think you are eligible to be excused from this requirement. If you met your spouse through an international marriage broker, you must include that information in your application and provide documentation of that fact.
Traditional religious or cultural matchmaking is not included in the term “marriage broker” and you do not need to disclose that information otherwise.
Children of fiancées who will be marrying a U.S. citizen may also be granted visa under K-2 non-immigrant status. You should include the names of any children you wish to travel with on your immigration forms. After your marriage, your children will be able to apply for permanent status in relation to you or your citizen spouse.
Your fiancé(e) visa can also allow you to be eligible to work. If you plan to work when you enter the U.S., file for employment authorization once you are present in the country.
If you and your fiancé(e) are eligible to be granted the K-1 non-immigrant visa, you can file with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After your petition is approved, you may legally travel to the U.S. for your marriage ceremony. When making wedding plans, keep in mind that the application will take some time to process and that further information may be necessary. You can find up-to-date information about the length of the review process with the USCIS.
For more information on immigration and help with getting a visa, contact immigration attorney Phillip Kim in Fresno, CA.
One of the most popular ways of becoming a U.S. citizen is through an immediate family member. When it comes to applying for a visa, immediate relatives are given top priority.
There are an unlimited number of visas available for family members. So, if you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you will not need to be waitlisted until a visa number becomes available. Usually, a visa should be available right away.
You are designated as an immediate relative if you are the spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen. As a child, you must be under the age of 21 and unmarried. If you are applying as the parent, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age.
You may apply for a green card either while you are in the U.S. or while you are abroad.
If you are currently in the U.S., you can complete the application process in one step: you file an I-485 and your U.S. citizen relative petitions with Form I-130. This must be done at the same time. Filing forms can be complicated, and one mistake could result in a rejection of your request. It is recommended that you seek the assistance of an attorney who is specialized in immigration to help you file these forms.
Sometimes, the petitioner (the U.S. citizen you are related to) files the I-130 early. In this case, you can still file an I-485 as long as the petitioner’s request has not been rejected. When you receive a Notice of Action that tells you that the I-130 has been approved, you can submit from I-485. You will have to include a copy of the receipt or approval notice.
If you are not currently in the U.S., but are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you have a different process to go through. First, the U.S. citizen must file form I-130 and it must be approved by USCIS. When USCIS approves of the petition, you must wait until they notify you that you are eligible to apply for a visa. When a visa is available, it will be issued to you. Once you have your visa, you can travel with it and you will become a U.S. permanent resident when you enter the U.S. If you fail to apply for a visa within one year after the Department of State has told you that you are eligible, your petition could be terminated. This entire process is known as consular processing.
Some conditions make it difficult for you to apply for a visa or green card through an immediate relative. In immigration, good timing makes all the difference. If you are applying as a child of a U.S. citizen, you must apply before you reach the age of 21. Once you pass that age, you will be moved into a different visa preference category that will make it more difficult to apply through a U.S. citizen parent. A visa may not be available to you immediately, and this will cause a delay in adjusting your status or processing your request for a green card. So, it’s important to begin the visa application process as early as possible.
On the same note, sometimes it is possible for a person to pass the age of 21 and still legally be called a “child”. Under the Child Status Protection Act, it is possible that USCIS will determine your age based on the date your parent files the I-130 for you. For example, if a parent files the form while the child is 20 years old, it may be possible to request that the child’s age be determined by that date.
Another factor that will make the immigration process lengthier and sometimes impossible is marriage. If you are under the age of 21, applying for a green card through a U.S. citizen parent, and married, then you no longer fall in the category of “immediate relative”. This means that your status will change from top priority for a visa to third priority, and a visa will not be available for you right away. It is important to keep USCIS updated on any change in your marital status after the I-130 has been filed and before you receive a visa or permanent status.
Finally, some situations we have come across specifically include:
A spouse has entered the U.S. with a different type of visa (sometimes a student visa or visitor’s visa)
The spouse of family member’s visa has expired and they are seeking a change in status or to apply for a green card through an immediate relative
Green card renewal – you can renew your green card whether it is expired or not. Past criminal convictions will affect your chances for obtaining a renewal.
If you have any questions about applying for a visa or green card through an immediate relative, please contact Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim.
In general, you may qualify for naturalization if you have been a permanent resident (green
card holder) for at least 3 years, have been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen
spouse during such time, and meet all other eligibility requirements under this section.
In certain cases, spouses of U.S. citizens employed abroad may qualify for naturalization
regardless of their time as permanent residents.
General Eligibility Requirements
● Be 18 or older
● Be a permanent resident (green card holder) for at least 3 years
● Have been living in marital union with the U.S. citizen spouse, who has been a U.S.
citizen during all of such period, during the 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing
the application and up until examination on the application
● Have lived within the state, or US district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of
residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
● Have continuous residence in the United States as a lawful permanent resident for at
least 3 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
● Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for
naturalization until the time of naturalization
● Be physically present in the United States for at least 18 months out of the 3 years
immediately preceding the date of filing the application
● Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of
U.S. history and government (civics)
● Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of
the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States
during all relevant periods under the law
Spouses of U.S. Citizens Employed Abroad
Generally, the spouse of a U.S. citizen who is employed by the U.S. government, including
the military, or other qualifying employer, whose spouse is stationed abroad in such
employment for at least 1 year, may be eligible for naturalization
In general, a spouse of a U.S. citizen employed abroad must be present in the United States
pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence at the time of examination on the
naturalization application and at the time of naturalization, and meet of all of the
requirements listed above except that:
● No specific period as a permanent resident (green card holder) is required (but the
spouse must be a permanent resident)
● No specific period of continuous residence or physical presence in the United States is
● No specific period of marital union is required; however, the spouses must be living in
Note: You must also establish that you will depart abroad immediately after naturalization
and that you intend to reside in the United States immediately upon the termination of your
Many people become permanent residents (get a green card) through family members. The United States promotes family unity and allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to
petition for certain relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. You may be eligible to get a green card through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent
resident, or through the special categories described below. For more information on the
categories below, Please Contact : Fresno Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim
There are two distinct paths through which you can get your green card. Many family members who are already in the United States may qualify for adjustment of status to
permanent residence in the United States, which means they are able to complete their immigrant processing without having to return to their home country. Those relatives outside the United States or those who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States
may be eligible for consular processing through a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad that has jurisdiction over their foreign place of residence. For more information on these processes, Please Contact :Phillip Kim
If Your Family Member is a U.S. Citizen
You may be able to get a green card as an immediate relative or as a family member in a preference category if your U.S. citizen relative files a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you. For more information on immigrant petitions, Please Contact :
◆ Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen
You are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen if you are:
◆ The child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen
◆ The spouse (husband or wife) of a U.S. citizen
◆ The parent of a U.S. citizen (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years or older)
◆ Family Member of a U.S. Citizen in a Preference Category
You are a family member of a U.S. citizen in a preference category if you are:
◆ An unmarried son or daughter (21 years or older) of a U.S. citizen
◆ A married son or daughter (any age) of a U.S. citizen
◆ A sibling (brother or sister) of a U.S. citizen
If Your Family Member is a Permanent Resident
You may be able to get a green card as a family member in a preference category if your
family member filed a Form I-130 on your behalf. For more information on immigrant
petitions, Please Contact :Fresno Immigration Attorney Phillip Kim
◆ Family member of a permanent resident in a preference category
You are a family member of a permanent resident in a preference category if you are:
◆ The spouse of a permanent resident
◆ The child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of permanent resident
◆ The unmarried son or daughter (21 years or older) of a permanent resident Green Card Through Special Categories of Family
You may also be eligible to get a green card if you:
◆ Are a battered child or spouse of a U.S. citizen
◆ Entered the United States with a K visa as the fiance(e) or spouse of a U.S. citizen or an accompanying child
◆ Obtained V nonimmigrant status
◆ Are a widow(er) of a U.S. citizen
◆ Are born to a foreign diplomat in the United States
For more information on “Adjustment of Status” and “Consular Processing” , Please