New Rules for Life Under the Trump Administration

by W. John Yahya Vandenberg

So, as you know, President Trump is rapidly issuing Executive Orders. Some of these orders are having major impacts on immigrants and other persons who are not (yet) U.S. citizens.

In light of these developments, we have the following recommendations for persons who are not U.S. citizens:

1. If you are undocumented, then you should be sure that at least two trusted individuals know your name, date of birth, country of origin, “A number” (if you have one), and have the contact information for our office.

2. If you are a U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (greencard holder), student, visitor, or in other lawful status, carry a copy of your green card, I-94 card, or other proof of legal status with you.

3. If you are here on a student, visitor, exchange, or temporary worker status, CONSULT WITH ME before traveling out of the U.S.  I am NOT telling you to violate or overstay your status.  I’m saying that your legal status today may not be the same as it was on January 25, 2017.  There have, as I’m sure you know, been some changes.

4. If you are from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, or Somalia, it is highly likely you will not be able to return if you leave the U.S. It doesn’t matter if you have a greencard or a refugee travel documents – do not leave the United States.  If you need to go, CONSULT WITH ME.  Otherwise, no one can say with certainly when — or if — you will be allowed back in.

5. If you have DACA, CONSULT WITH ME before traveling on an Advance Parole. There is a chance that in the next week or so there will be no more Advance Parole for DACA’s.  And you could get stuck outside the US without a chance to come back.

6. If you have a pending I-589 asylum application, I-360 application (VAWA/victim of abuse or Widow/Widower petition, or Religious Worker) or I-485 adjustment of status application, carry a copy of the receipt with you AND give a copy to a trusted person.  And do NOT leave the United States if you are from one of the seven countries.

7. If you have a valid social security card, driver’s license, and/or work permit, carry that with you and give a copy to a trusted person.

8. If you are not currently in status (meaning that you do not have a valid non-immigrant or immigrant visa) for any reason, and have been in the U.S. for more than two years, GET PROOF TOGETHER NOW PROVING YOUR PRESENCE. Proof could be bank statements, phone bills, rent receipts, your signature on your children’s report cards, or other documents. Carry a copy of these documents with you (or keep them in your car), and give a copy a trusted person. Do NOT carry with you any document that says where you were born. This is because it is possible that the new Trump Executive Order could mean that undocumented persons who have been in the U.S. for less than two years could be subjected to “Expedited Removal” without the right to see an Immigration Judge and fight your deportation in Immigration Court.  If they can’t prove where you were born, then we may be able to get the deportation thrown out of court.

9. If you are afraid of being persecuted in your home country and have not yet filed for asylum, CONSULT WITH ME as soon as possible to analyze your asylum case.

10. If you have children: first, THEY HAVE THE RIGHT TO GO TO SCHOOL.  Do not pull your children from school because they don’t have any status in the United States.  The Supreme Court states they have the right to their education, no matter their status.  And generally, ICE stays away as a policy matter from churches and schools.

Second, your children  should always have the name and contact information of a trusted person, and the trusted person should have your information. To be clear, I do NOT believe that ICE will go to schools. But if you get picked up by ICE while the kids are at school, they are going to need a safe place to go after school.  They may need to call your friend to get there.

11. If you do not have a license, consider carefully whether you really need to drive or not. Right now, Philadelphia seems safe. The counties – Montgomery, Bucks, Delaware… I am not so sure. Trump’s Executive Order appears to give police officers to ask about immigration status. You could be taken in and turned over to ICE.

12. If you are in a car which is stopped, only the driver has to present a license. Any passenger should only give his/her name and not answer any other questions. Ask if you are free to leave; if so, leave calmly.

13. If you are stopped by police on the street, you have to give them your name and where you live. Ask if you are free to leave. If not, consider yourself under arrest.

14. If you are arrested, repeat clearly that you want to remain silent and you want a lawyer. Do not answer ANY questions other than your name and your address. Call me, or someone you trust, and tell them to call me.

15. If someone comes to your door saying “Police, open up” DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR. Ask the officials if they have a WARRANT, to pass it under the door. Take a photo of the warrant and send it to me or other trusted person. If the warrant is not signed by a JUDGE or MAGISTRATE and does not have your name and address on it, you do not have to open the door. Don’t answer any questions.

These are difficult times we are entering.  If it makes you feel any better, it’s not the first time a government has scapegoated immigrants.  We’re here for you, and will fight for your rights.


Can Love Survive Borders?

By W. John Yahya Vandenberg & Guest Writer Wei “Keira” Peng

Mixed Race Wedding

As immigration lawyer, I often meet with Americans who are dating or who have already married a person from another country. These consultations have recurring themes, such as “does my loved one have to leave the country?” and “Can they obtain status to stay in the United States legally?” These are questions that depend on each couple’s specific facts.  And the answers are sometimes simple, sometimes complex, and sometimes I just have to advise them to be a good spouse/parent, and come see me when immigration law changes!

While we can assist you if you already have a spouse or potential spouse, we can’t help clients find spouses.  But Wei “Keira” Peng does help clients find spouses, good ones. Wei is the founder of WeLove LLC, and is a certified Health and Wellness Coach. We had the chance to ask her about dating a person from a foreign country. We hope this is helpful!

JV: So, Keira, any tips for meeting the right person, in the right way, for the right reasons?

KP: Absolutely! The internet! With cultural/political advances, lovers across borders are coming closer every day.  Empowered by new technologies, people from around the world are able to find each other, fall in love, and stay in love in unprecedented ways. I started WeLove as one answer to assist professional Asian females to succeed in on-line dating. My colleague, Jason Sherman, CEO started the global video dating app Instamour, which is working to break down the traditional barriers that separate people from each other.

JV: Best advice to succeeding on a dating website?

KP: Get a coach! A coach helps you save time, condensing years of other peoples’ successes (and failures!), and ensures that you represent yourself best to avoid heartbreaks – and horror stories!

JV: Got any horror stories to share?

KP: That’s where Instamour comes in. Kristin LaSalle, the co-founder of Instamour, was stalked and attacked by a “blind date.”  This motivated her to start Instamour with Jason, to create a better, safer dating environment for men and women.  The internet allows dating with a greater degree of safety, compared to a blind date, or a date where you hardly know the person.

JV: Tips to look your best?

KP: Have great pictures, preferably taken by a professional. They should highlight the best of your physique. Beware of selfies! Post a selection of photos highlighting your face, your physique, and activities that you do with friends so potential suitors can see you’re not a sociophobe. Have a fun, engaging profile that highlights the best of your personality (be creative!). And tell the best version of your truth, meaning never lie, but shine that spotlight on the best moments of your life. Be positive! You may not go to a tango competition every day, but highlight these activities to help a potential suitor understand what they’re getting when they date you.

JV: Negatives – disclose them, or spin them?

KP: Save’em for the date! Haha! But seriously, a dating site is not the place to disclose that you are a recovering… whatever. It’s the place for you to make yourself interesting enough that a potential suitor would want to get to know you better, and give you the opportunity to present your true self.

JV: True self – what if that means telling a potential suitor you are a foreigner? Or perhaps that you don’t have status?

KP: For as long as I’ve been here in America, the guys I dated seldom failed to ask me about my ‘status,’ and I’m not talking about just whether I’m single or married! While I can understand the U.S. Citizen’s concern over getting taken advantage of, it doesn’t take away the sting, and it almost always start the relationship with a bad taste. So, to save myself the embarrassment and to start the relationship on the right foot, I’ve learned to address the concern myself before the relationship gets serious. I “come clean” about my intentions, that I’m not just dating a guy for a Green Card. Even though I’ve learned to treat it matter-of-factly over the years, it’s still not the most comfortable conversation to have. And the guys usually don’t really know what to say other than “Sure,” “Ok,” or, “Alright…can we go to your apartment now?”…Sigh.

Mixed Race Couple Suspicion 2

JV: What would be the right response?

KP: I totally melted at my last boyfriend’s response. He chuckled, and then held my hand, “Oh boy, I was more thinking like ‘ok, even if she doesn’t like me, maybe I can still offer a Green Card to keep her…’ – of course that was just kidding!…In all seriousness, sweetie, I’m not too worried about it and you shouldn’t worry about it either – if it comes to the point where we need to make a decision, then we’ll see how much we are really attached; and if I can’t let go, that means I really like you…so I won’t (let go)…anyways, it will be a happy problem to have.”

How I loved that guy for it! Alas, we both did let go – for other reasons and for the best, but he’ll always keep his Best Answer Ever Award! I would encourage Americans to learn from him if you don’t want to alienate your foreign-born sweetheart on this very tricky, very special topic.

[ File # csp5954020, License # 2432021 ] Licensed through in accordance with the End User License Agreement ( (c) Can Stock Photo Inc. / nruboc

JV: Do borders, distance, and nationality kill love?

KP: No, borders, distance, and nationality do not necessarily kill love. However, the insecurity and suspicion that comes with it, DOES. You can’t blame a foreign national for yearning for stability or feeling insecure about his/her status in America. It affects their dating lives, just like you can’t blame them for seeking love in the first place. You can’t blame U.S. Citizens for looking out for their own interests, and worrying about commitment for reasons other than pure love. But it takes trust to melt away insecurity, and it takes confidence to address suspicion. It is a two way street.

Big Colombian Family

Thanks, Keira! We hope this has been helpful to our readers. If you are in a relationship with someone from another country, and are looking for immigration answers, we are here to assist you. If you’re looking for someone, that’s a question for Wei!

HIV+? Wait here, please….

by W. John Vandenberg

We all know that HIV is no longer a ground of inadmissibility, meaning it can’t block you from getting a visa to the United States. But this year, in March of 2014, the CDC decided that persons with HIV must get a special TB test. And this particular test takes 6-8 weeks for results! The first step is to have a “sputum test” administered on 3 consecutive business days to get the process started. CDC.  Then they are going to wait 60 days to see if the cultures are positive.

We understand the reason for testing — TB is a serious disease.  And we understand that persons who are HIV+ may show a false negative.  But aren’t the x-rays determinative of an active TB infection?  And there is no reason that an HIV+ person can’t take the same TB test as everyone else.

So, for those who are expecting a loved one to process overseas who is HIV+, don’t worry — they’ll get home.  But just make sure you don’t purchase any tickets or flowers for the airport until they actually get here — two months later than just about everyone else…

Annual conference Highlights and Notes – Wednesday, Day 1

By W. John Vandenberg

Hello, Readers!  This week, Hogan and Vandenberg is at the American Immigration Lawyers Association (“AILA”) Annual Conference in Boston.  We’ll be blogging about the updates we learn while here.

Day 1 was Wednesday.  Since I’m on the AILA Philadelphia Executive Committee, we receive leadership training that includes legislative updates.

So, here’s the bad news.  Not a lot of optimism about Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”) (see my subsequent post).  Indeed, the number of recent posts from AILA regarding immigration reform have become fewer and farther between.  Not a good sign.  While in soccer and politics, anything is possible (what happened with Spain?!?!?!), it seems we’re not going to have big news for 2014.

But here’s something that may help YOU to change that.  You can become even more active, and AILA will give you the tools.  Even though you have to be an immigration attorney in good standing to join AILA, anyone can access their Congressional advocacy page.  It has a ton of useful information, including Immigration Politics.  It also has very useful information about each Representative and Senator, including their voting history on immigration bills and even personal history about her or him, which you can use for research and to find out ways you can get to know them better, such as reaching out to alumni or members of the same denomination.  Want to keep up on votes?  Want to learn more about bills that have made it out of committee?  Go here and put in your zip code — then you’ll learn more!

Wednesday was also a good day because I got a chance to give a presentation on Temporary Protected Status, which of course got into adjustment based on Matter of Arrabally.  Different USCIS District Offices are adjudicating these in different manners.  But regardless, it is clear that DACA and TPS recipients are benefitting greatly from advance parole as a way to visit their families and loved ones.  And, upon return, seek Adjustment of Status.

Looking forward, there is a lot of speculation that President Obama could go ahead and make some immigration reform if Congress won’t address it.  One way he could fix it and give relief to millions of families would be to issue Parole in Place (“PIP”) to undocumented immigrants.  This would allow thousands more to gain status through Adjustment, and would give them enough legal status to prevent deportation.  Unfortunately, so far, no word on whether this potential fix will become a reality.

Stay tuned for more updates!




February 2013 Visa Bulletin is out!

The Visa Bulletin for February 2013 is out. It’s a slog.

Family Categories (F-1 to F-4) moved a month or less. Tough news for families, especially the spouses and children of U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents.

For Employment-based categories, EB-1 remains current across the board. For other non-Indian or Chinese workers, the EB-2 category (advanced degrees) remains current, and the 3rd preference (skiilled workers) moved up a month, to 15March07. For Indian EB-2 workers, there is no movement; EB-3 workers saw it progress a week. For Chinese EB-2 workers, the new priority date is 15Jan08, showing a month progress; Chinese EB-3 workers got a month and a half of progress, to 15NOV06.

Congress, I think we can do better than keeping all these folks in line for years, working hard for the United States and our people and economy. They are playing by the rules, and give us their best skills and years. Give’em the greencard, let’em pay taxes, buy houses and goods, and raise their children here. That’s the story of American success, always has been.