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Legal Alert


This page will call attention, from time to time, to items that may be of interest to intending immigrants as well as non-immigrants with a view to highlighting common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid in the immigration process. It is not intended to provide legal advice on any particular individual matter.

Know Your Rights when ICE stops you in your Home, at Work, or in a Public Place:

The following pages give you some guidance on what to do if you have an encounter with anyone from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at your home, at the place where you work, or in a public place. The Guidelines were prepared by the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association of which Ms. Berry is a member and is not intended to give you legal advice on your particular circumstances. They are intended to be general guidelines only.

Know Your Rights Series

Applying for Asylum

To apply successfully for asylum in the United States, one must first qualify as a “refugee”. That is, one must show past persecution in one’s home country or a “well-founded fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”. One must be prepared to show a clear nexus between any harm one may have suffered in one’s home country and persecution on one of these statutory grounds. Filing a frivolous application for asylum may have seriously negative consequences including being ordered removed from the United States and being precluded from obtaining any immigration benefit from the U.S. government at any time in the future. July 24, 2009

Retaining Qualified Representation in Immigration Matters

One must be careful in who one retains to represent them in an immigration matter. Simply filling out and filing the wrong immigration form can have serious consequences for one’s self and one’s loved ones. If the person one hires is not authorized to practice law, for example, there may be no recourse to be had against that person for their improper representation. A good tipoff that something is not right is the charge of an exorbitant fee and a guarantee of good results within a very quick time. July 25, 2009

Nonimmigrant Religious Workers

Effective as of November 26, 2008, petitioners for R-1 nonimmigrant religious workers are required to file and have approved a formal petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. After this date, an applicant for a nonimmigrant religious worker visa will not be issued such a visa without the underlying approved petition.

The R-1 petition requests significantly more supporting evidence than was previously the case.

Premium (expedited) processing of R-1 petitions is now available in certain instances.
August 3, 2009

Prohibition of Discrimination based on National Origin or Citizenship Status

U.S. immigration law prohibits an employer from discriminating against certain lawful permanent residents and U.S. citizens in the hiring, recruitment or the discharge of the individual from employment on the basis of the person’s national origin or citizenship status. The prohibition covers requiring more or different documents than are lawfully required in order to show one’s identity or authorization to work in the United States or refusing to accept certain documents that are tendered for that purpose. Discrimination is permitted in certain circumstances and so it is important to obtain legal advice to understand fully one’s rights under the law. August 28, 2009

HIV Status No Longer A Bar To Acquiring Permanent Residence

Under new regulations of the Department of Health and Human Services, as of January 4, 2010, having HIV will no longer serve as a bar, by itself, to acquiring U.S. permanent residence or gaining entry to the U.S. as a visitor for example. Applicants who previously had their applications for residence denied on the grounds of their HIV status may be entitled to have their cases reopened for re-consideration. Posted: 11-12-2009

Selective Service Registration Requirement

All males between the ages of 18 and 26 residing in the U.S. as permanent residents must register for military service. An intentional failure to do so may result in the denial of further immigration benefits, most importantly, U. S. citizenship. Posted 11-12-2009

Abused Spouse

A Petitioner who files as an abused spouse must show that he or she has “good moral character” failing which the Petition will be denied. U.S.C.I.S. will require a criminal background check of the Petitioner as one of the initial steps in establishing a prima facie case.

Haiti Accorder Temporaire Protecter Status (TPS)

Devastazion trembleman de te ki pase an Haiti 12 Javie, Etat-Ini govenman a bay tou ayisian tempore protekte stati (TPS). Designazion fe moun kalifie ayisian pou rete e travay legal ici Etat-Ini pou diz-uit Mwa.

Qualifye pou TPS, li merite pou nou presente ke nou se ayisian, ke moun te abite ici pendan dat sa 12 Javie, 2010 et nou continie present jisqua 21 Javie, 2010. Tou Applican bezwan registre pandan registrazion period ki comanse an 21 Javie e fini an 20 Jile, 2010.

Nou ap assite tou ayisian nationals avek prepare e fil TPS applicazion pou yon ba pri, nominal pri.

Posted : February 15, 2010

Haiti Granted Temporary Protected Status

In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that took place in Haiti on January 12th, the U.S. government has granted Haiti Temporary Protected Status (TPS). The designation allows qualifying Haitians to live and work legally in the United States for eighteen months.

To qualify for TPS, an applicant must establish Haitian nationality, continuous residence in the U.S. since January 12, 2010 and continuous presence in the United States since January 21, 2010. Applicants must also register during the registration period which began on January 21st and ends on July 20, 2010.

We are assisting Haitian nationals with preparing and filing their TPS applications for a low, nominal fee.

Posted: February 15, 2010

United States Supreme Court Expands Right To Effective Assistance Of Counsel

On March 31, 2010, the U.S, Supreme Court decided in Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. ____ (2010) that criminal defense counsel must inform a client whether his or her guilty plea carries a risk of deportation. Failure to do so makes the representation constitutionally deficient. The Court held that where the deportation consequences of a plea are unclear, a criminal defense attorney need do no more than advise a non-citizen client that pending criminal charges may carry adverse immigration consequences. However, when the deportation consequences are truly clear, criminal defense counsel must give correct advice.

Legal Note: The Supreme Court decision does not mean that any non-citizen who received incorrect advice regarding the immigration consequences of a guilty plea will automatically avoid deportation. The non-citizen must also show that he was prejudiced by that advice which warrants that the guilty plea be set aside. That showing of prejudice must usually be made in the court – state or federal – where the guilty plea was made.