Missing Tara O’Connor, a Great Immigration Lawyer

by W. John Vandenberg

I miss Tara O’Connor.

We lost a great Immigration Lawyer this year. Tara was one of my first role models as an attorney. I met her when I was a law student, clerking at the Law Office of David E. Piver. Tara was an incredible Immigration Lawyer. Diligent, knowledgeable, and creative, she never hesitated to answer my questions about business immigration. She had an incredible sense of humor, and was an amazing writer. You were a lion in your fight against cancer, Tara, and you are dearly missed.

If you are a friend of Tara’s, or would like to say “thank you” for her help in obtaining immigration status, you can do so by making a donation for the care and education of her two sons. Send a check, payable to the Tara S. O’Connor Donation Account, to:
National Bank By Mail
(Chase)
PO Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

Post-script, February 10, 2015

Updates from the Family

An update on the Pennsylvania Service–

DETAILS: Tara’s Memorial & Gathering April 25

10:30am–Memorial Mass at St. Patrick’s in Malvern.
Immediately following, the family will be traveling for a private interment of Tara’s ashes. We will meet everyone at the gathering between 1 and 1:30.

The gathering will be at The Lamb Tavern (AKA The Porch Restaurant at the Lamb) in Springfield. They are prepared to receive our guests immediately following the memorial service, even though the family will be arriving later.

We are so looking forward to our family and friends, and feeling Tara with us on her 43rd birthday.

An update on the “Tara S. O’Connor Donation Account”–
Thank you to all who have contributed to this fund. The financial support is truly making a difference, as Morgan looks to continue to raise his boys in their home in Flagstaff. I had indicated previously that we hoped to get an electronic transfer up-and-running for this account, but unfortunately, the bank is not making it easy–or reasonable!–to do so. So, please use the address below to mail your donations.
Tara S. O’Connor Donation Account
Mail these checks to:
National Bank By Mail
(Chase)
PO Box 36520
Louisville, KY 40233-6520

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…

Stateside Waivers: A Year of Improvements

By Katelyn M. Hufe, Esq.

Last year’s AILA Conference in San Francisco came just 3 months after USCIS launched the provisional waiver program.  Now, USCIS has had over a year to work out kinks in the program.  The result: a 62% application approval rate, increasing clarity in standards and procedures, and the reopening, review and approval of several wrongfully denied applications.

For those of you who may not be familiar with the program, the March 2013 provisional waiver program aims at reducing hardship on families who are separated from their loved one during the waiver process.  Thousands of people unlawfully present in the U.S. require a waiver in order to get their green card through their spouse, child, or parent.

Before, those people had to return to their home country for many months in order to complete the process.  With the new (or year old!) program, people can apply and wait for a decision while here in the United States, and, if approved, return to their home country for a very brief period to obtain their immigrant visa.  Financially and emotionally, this program has been a life raft for families hanging on in a sea of harsh and unstable immigration processing.

Fast forward to June 20, 2014 at the AILA Annual Conference in Boston, and where are we? Well, 62% of applications are being approved, and USCIS has been requesting additional evidence in 31% of cases.  The government has a backlog of 12,695 cases.  USCIS has an impossible goal of completing cases in 90 days (which earned a crowd chuckle), but, more realistically, does try to make decisions within 6 months (although, as many of us know from experience, this often drags out to 8 months to a year).

Finally, we had 2 important takeaways from the conference panel:

1) While USCIS was routinely and inappropriately denying applications where an applicant had minor criminal issues (including, as I learned, traffic tickets!), this problem seems to have been remedied.  USCIS has provided new training and guidance to employees and even reopened many of these denied applications to grant waivers in those cases, and;

2) Through the hard work of AILA, we now have access to USCIS power points, procedures, and checklists that tell us EXACTLY what USCIS is looking for in these application packets.  This information tells us precisely what information and documentation we need from our clients and helps us to do everything we can to get applications approved.

In short, it’s been a good year for the provisional waiver program.  Things are running more smoothly, and AILA lawyers are more equipped than ever to file winning applications.  Let’s hope for a year of even more improvements by the time the AILA 2015 Annual Conference in National Harbor, MD rolls around!

And, as always, feel free to reach out to us with any questions or to learn more about the waiver program.

 

Some good news — citizenship has staying power!

This just came in from the LA Times.  Really positive to see that there is real, hardheaded progress towards comprehensive immigration reform.  About a month ago, AILA had our monthly chapter meeting in Philadelphia.  Sen. Bob Casey came to give a short talk on what he was seeing on Capitol Hill, and after him a former Congressional Staffer, Richard Phillips gave us some advice on working with our representatives.  In his mind, the sequester was going nowhere and there would not be an agreement (he was right!), gun control was going nowhere (more and more looks like he’ll be right), but Comprehensive Immigration Reform was likely to actually happen.  The more stories I see like this, the more optimistic I feel: Senators Agree on Path to Legal Status for Illegal Immigrants.

Welcome to the Immigration Law Monitor

Hello, and welcome to our blog.

The Immigration Law Monitor, published by Hogan & Vandenberg LLC, is meant to keep folks up to date on the goings-on within the sphere of immigration law in the United States and around the globe.

Our partners, W. John Vandenberg of the Philadelphia, PA office (Bala Cynwyd, to be exact) and Rick Hogan of the Wilmington, DE office are experts in their field, focusing solely on immigration.

W. John Vandenberg (left); Rick Hogan (right)

The firm offers innovative legal solutions for immigrants, their families, and global businesses as well.

Check out our website for more information and stay tuned for updates!