Danbury and New Haven Connecticut Immigration Lawyers - Law Offices of Michael Boyle - Updates
DREAM update: Forms and more rules available August 15; better rules on re-enrolling in school, crimes, and brief travel PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Boyle   
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 06:55

In a phone conference on Friday, August 3, USCIS Director Alexander Mayorkas announced additional information about the DREAM deferred action program, now called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Forms available August 15

Unfortunately, the forms for the program will not be available until August 15. More rules will be made public that day too. So it is impossible to apply now, and impossible to full out the necessary forms now. USCIS will accept applications beginning August 15.

Fees

USCIS fees for DACA will be $465: a $380 fee for work authorization and $85 for biometrics (fingerprinting). Fingerprinting at a USCIS office will be a mandatory part of the process.
Helpful clarifications on school enrollment, crimes and travel after entry

Education

The education requirement of the program (that you re in school, have graduated high school or have a GED) has to be met as of the date that you apply. So someone who is otherwise eligible who dropped out of school, but reenrolls or gets a GED before applying, will be eligible for the program. This is a great opportunity for people who dropped out to advance themselves academically and also get work authorization.

Crimes

While the criminal standard is still strict, the proposed definition of a significant misdemeanor is now more reasonable than USCIS suggested in a prior teleconference. The new definition is either:
a crime where the maximum sentence possible is between five days and one year;
is a DUI, domestic violence offense, sexual abuse or exploitation offense, burglary, gun offense, or drug sale offense.
or an offense where the sentence imposed required time in custody of more than ninety days.
While there is still a lot of danger in the definition, particularly DUI and domestic violence convictions being automatic prohibitions regardless of sentence, the new definition will not bare people with typical Connecticut first-offense shoplifting convictions where a suspended sentence or very short jail sentence was imposed. Assault Third Degree convictions with similar suspended or short sentences that do not involve family members or people you live or have been in a relationship with should also not automatically end your eligibility.
Conviction of a felony (a crime where the maximum possible sentence is over a year) still excludes someone from eligibility, as will conviction of three or more misdemeanors. Another bright spot is that a conviction for traffic offenses like driving without a license or registration will not be considered to be misdemeanors.
One important caution: being eligible is not a guarantee of being approved! This is a discretionary program, and if you have convictions, even convictions that do not automatically exclude you from the program, there is a chance that you will be rejected.

No appeals

Again, because this is a discretionary program, there will be no appeal if you are rejected.

Brief travel

"Brief, casual and innocent" trips outside the United States before August 15, 2012 will not stop you from applying. (Any travel outside the U.S. without special advance  permission from USCIS after August 15 will be fatal to your case.) So short, voluntary trips abroad of a month or less prior to August 2012 should not present a problem. However, you will not be eligible to apply if you left the country under an order of voluntary departure or removal. It is unclear what the status of trips of one to six months will be.

You must be illegal

To be eligible to apply you must have been out of status as June 15, 2012.

Getting put in deportation

Cases that are rejected that involve crimes, fraud, a threat to national security or public safety will likely be referred to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to start removal (deportation) proceedings. In the past many offenses, including DUI offenses, have been treated by the government as creating a danger to public safety.

Still a lot of uncertainty

There is still a lot of uncertainty, both about particular rules and features of the program, and also about the longer-term danger that Congress or a future president could change all these rules overnight. This program will be beneficial for many people, but it does not legalize anyone or create long-term security.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 07:00
 
DREAM ACT Deferred Action PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Boyle   
Friday, 15 June 2012 13:45

 

President Obama makes an important change for young people with no immigration status

On Friday, June 15, 2012, President Obama made the most important immigration announcement since he became President. His announcement lets young people of good moral character, ages 15 through 30, remain in the United States without fear of deportation and eligible to apply for employment authorization.
This is not a full-scale amnesty making these young people eligible for green cards. It simply makes use of discretion that the government already has, called deferred action,  to allow people with strong humanitarian equities to remain in the United States rather than be deported. It promises to make the deferred action process more open and more accessible than it has been in the past.

Who qualifies?

The person must be:
in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
at least 15 years old as of when they apply, but not 31 years old as of June 15, 2012;
in school, OR graduated from high school, OR obtained a GED, OR have been honorably discharged from the military or Coast Guard; and have five years of continuous residence in the United States as of June 15, 2012.

Disqualifications

The person cannot have been "convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, [or] multiple misdemeanor offenses." Nor can an applicant be "a threat to national security or public safety." The significant misdemeanor definition is very broad and appears to include Connecticut shoplifting, assault, domestic violence or DUI. Anyone with any kind of conviction should speak to an experienced immigration attorney before applying.

I dropped out and don't have a GED, but I meet the other qualifications. Is there anything that I can do?

It's not clear. In a phone call on Monday, June 18, the government gave an unclear, but apparently negative answer: that you had to be in school, have graduated or have a GED as of June 15, 2012. We are waiting for clarification.

I have traveled outside the United States for visits since my entry. Do I still qualfiy?

We are not sure yet.

How will young people apply for deferred action?

We don't know yet. DHS will define the procedure within 60 days. (Someone who has an active case before an immigration judge may be able to take some action now and should consult with their attorney.)

What benefits will young people who are granted deferred action be eligible to receive?

Work authorization, initially for two years. A separate work authorization application will be required. (We don't know yet if you can do the two applications  together ot if the work authorization will come later.) They will also have freedom from deportation while they have deferred action and maintain good moral character. It may be possible to apply for travel authorization too, although that may create future problems for people who are 18 or older. We hope, but are not sure, that Connecticut DMV will issue driver's licenses to DREAM deferred action beneficiaries.

What about younger children?

Children under 15 will gain protection from deportation without having to do any application. They will not be eligible for work authorization.

Can young people who were deported or left under voluntary departure in the past come back?

That is not part of the June 15, 2012 deferred action policy memorandum, although the memorandum does not specifically preclude their participation in a similar program called humanitarian parole.

Could Mitt Romney undo this if he becomes President?

Yes. Important Republican politicians have already said that it should be revoked. The more successful the program is, the harder it will be to undo it, but there are no guaratees about how long it will continue. That is an important reason for citizens who are concerned about immigrant children to vote for President Obama's reelection.

I think I will be eligible form DREAM deferred action. What should I do today?

Gather copies of your high school transcripts (and diploma or GED certificate if you have completed high school).

Gather proof of how long you have been in the United States. If you came with a visa, find your passport and I-94 card (the little white card stamped in your passport). If you came across the border, get school records (elementary and high school) or medical records from when you first entered the United States. You may need to show proof of your continuing presence in the United States, so save records showing that you continued to be here after your entry and school graduation.

Preserve proof that you were here in mid-June 2012.

Because you will also need to show proof of economic necessity to receive work authorization, it would be a good idea to save your most recent tax return (or your parents' return, if you are their dependent and do not file on your own).

If you have been arrested, get certified copies of the disposition of your case from the local court where your case was heard and also from the Judicial Department Records Center in Enfield. This is especially important if the case was resolved in your favor. Get these records even if your case was decided as a youthful offender case.

Does the President have the authority to do this?

Absolutely. Deferred action has existed for decades. A few students in Connecticut (and some adults) have received it already. Mariano Cardoso, a Harford-area DREAMer is probably the best known recipient in Connecticut. Many victims of domestic violence have also beengranted deferred action. The work authorization eligibility has also existed for years.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 06:59
 
President Obama’s new Family Unity rule PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Boyle   
Tuesday, 10 January 2012 13:15

Immigration has announced new processing rules which will help applicants who must process their cases outside the United States because they need a waiver (immigration pardon) of their unlawful presence here, and who are married to a U.S. citizen or are the parent of an adult U.S. citizen

Quick advice

If you entered illegally across the border and are married to a U.S. citizen, or if you are married to a U.S. citizen or are the parent of an adult U.S. citizen and you have an approved, current (front of the waiting list) immigration petition (like an I-130 family petition), you should contact an attorney to talk about this program right away.

Other people who may want to learn more about the program include spouses and adult children of permanent residents, and adult children of citizens whose parents have not yet applied for them.

Questions and answers

What does the rule do?

It will permit applicants who need a waiver (immigration pardon) of their unlawful presence in the U.S. to get a decision on their waiver applications while they are still in the United States. This is a change from the current rule, which requires these people to apply for their waivers overseas, after having their cases denied at a U.S. consulate. By applying for a waiver here, an applicant will be able to stay with his or her family rather than facing months of separation.

Are waivers easy to win?

No, they are usually very challenging. You have to show that your U.S. citizen husband, wife or parent would suffer extreme hardship if you are denied the waiver. Immigration’s definition of extreme hardship is more “extreme” than how you or I think of extreme hardship. (Immigration typically considers the loneliness of separation of your close family and the economic differences between the U.S. and the developing world as "normal" hardship, not extreme hardship.) Even with a lawyer representing you, it can be very challenging to show extreme hardship and win a waiver.

 

Who needs a waiver of unlawful presence?

Adult (18 ½ or older) applicants who crossed the border without inspection need a waiver. So do most adults who overstayed by more than six months. (Exceptions to the overstay rule include people married to U.S. citizens who are applying for them, and many people who entered on F-1 student or J-1 exchange visitor visas. Many Canadians are exempt as well.)

What if I need another waiver also, like a waiver for having lied to Immigration or for having committed a crime?

Then you cannot use this program. Only the existing process of going overseas, being denied at the consulate and then applying for waivers overseas is available to you.

So who does this rule help? Is the help immediate?

The most obvious group are people who entered illegally across the border and are married to U.S. citizens. These people will be able to apply for their waivers under the program as soon as the new rules become final. In addition, adult children of U.S. citizens who either overstayed tourist visas or entered the U.S. without inspection will be able to benefit from the program once their cases are eligible to be processed. While marriage cases and applications by U.S. citizens for their children who are 18, 19, or 20 do not have waiting lists, applications for older children are subject to significant waits. This program does not exempt anyone from waiting their turn in the processing queue. So applicants who are over 21 whose parents applied for them at least seven years ago (ten years ago for married, adult children) will likely be able to take advantage of the new program quickly, while others will need to wait to use it.

Will the new rule improve my chances of winning a waiver?

On its face, the rule does not change the standard for deciding waivers. You will still have to show that your citizen spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if your waiver application were to be denied.

What if my spouse or parent is a permanent resident, does the new rule help me?

No, it only applies to relatives of U.S. citizens. Your relative might want to consider applying for citizenship, if he or she is eligible.

 

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2012 17:14
 
Renewing a Connecticut driver's license if you are not legal PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Boyle   
Sunday, 08 January 2012 11:01

Even if you do not have legal immigration status you can renew your Connecticut driver's license. (You cannot get a license for the first time if you are out of status, however.) Just go to DMV when your license is expiring and ask for a regular license. Do not ask for the new Connecticut Select license. If you are illegal and ask for a regular license renewal you will get it. If you ask for the Connecticut Select license you will end up with no license!

The Connecticut Select license is a higher-security license that will be used to enter federal office buildings and board planes. It requires proof of legal status. so if you are not in lawful status, don't ask for it. In addition, use common sense: if you have a final order of removal but were not deported and did not leave the U.S., you should not be going to DMV looking for a license. You are not supposed to be in the U.S, and are likely to be taken away by ICE if you ask for a license.

But for someone whose only problem is lack of a lawful immigration status, and who obtained a license in the past, it is possible to renew your Connecticut license. Just be sure to ask for a regular license, not a Connecticut Select license.

 
Drinking + Immigration = Trouble PDF Print E-mail
Written by Michael Boyle   
Friday, 17 June 2011 16:46

Don't have more than two beers if you want to get a green card, citizenship or bond The standards that Immigration uses to judge alcohol use have changed dramatically and silently. The laws themselves have not changed, but society's and the immigration decision maker's evaluation of what is OK have changed a lot.

A couple of DUIs used to earn a lecture and nothing more at a green card or citizenship interview and result in a slightly higher bond in Immigration Court. Today, it will often lead to the denial of a citizenship or green card case and the complete denial of bond or setting of a very high – $15,000-$50,000 – cash bond in immigration court. Lesser charges like drinking in public or related charges like assault and disorderly conduct will also be looked at closely to see if drinking was involved. At best, you may win your case after months of appeals, formal treatment and evaluations, and good conduct. At worst, you risk detention and deportation.

Don't think that having three or four or six beers is OK. Don't drive if you are drinking. If you get arrested for any of these offenses, make sure your criminal attorney talks to an immigration attorney before you plead. Follow whatever treatment or rehabilitation plan is offered and do more. Pay for private continuing evaluations, see a counselor or go to AA. And remember that you are a ticking time bomb: any further offense in a five-year period will almost surely trigger all the bad consequences I outlined. How you think of yourself is not what matters. ("I'm OK. I just drank a little too much that night.") What matters is what a conservative-living Immigration employee or immigration judge will think of you. Don't have more than two beers

 
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