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.

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DACA – It’s time to have a talk about Life Under the Trump Administration.

by W. John Yahya Vandenberg

With the election of Donald J. Trump, it is a good time to find out if you or your family member is eligible for something better than Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”).  There are three reasons we should talk.

First, it’s a good idea to find out if you qualify for something new.  For some if you it has been years since we had our initial consultation; perhaps something about you or your trumprelationships has changed.  Also, no one knows exactly what President Trump will do about undocumented immigrants after he is sworn in as President on January 20, 2017.

However, he has told us what changes he wants to make.  President-elect Trump has said he will end Obama’s “Executive Actions” — and DACA is an Executive Action.  But no one knows when, or even if, he’ll do it.  So we are still filing DACA renewals as early as we can.  There doesn’t seem to be much downside.  If your DACA is ending in 6-9 months, TELL ME.  We should give it a shot. If you didn’t file already, we should discuss and see if it is the right choice for you.

Second, it seems inevitable that President Trump will make life harder on the immigrant community once he becomes President.  It would cost billions of dollars to deport all undocumented immigrants, so many don’t foresee mass deportations as a viable option.  But there is a sense that his administration might just try to make it so hard to live life normally that some would decide to leave on their own.  So, for instance, his

Secretary of State Kris Kobach voter fraud
Kris Kobach, Trump Transition Team Member, Potential U.S. Attorney General

Administration, in the words of transition team member Kris Kobach, could crack down on employers of undocumented immigrants, or he could make unlawful employment a serious offense.  Can’t legally work, can’t drive – this would be enough pressure to convince some undocumented immigrants to leave on their own.  Ending DACA, or just letting the program die out by not allowing renewals after he is President, might also accomplish this. So we try should try to find an alternative before he officially becomes President.

 

Third, now is the time to plan, not panic.  DACA’s are already doing so many things right – you don’t have a criminal record, you graduated from high school (or are studying to do so) or college, and you’ve probably got at least one job keeping you busy.  photo-of-dreamers-graduating

If Trump is smart, he’ll figure out a way to keep you here, legally. He has already stated that his first priorities are deporting criminal undocumented immigrants and building a wall.  THEN, Trump has stated, he will decide what to do about the “terrific people” who are in the U.S. without status (he actually said you DREAMERs and DACAs are terrific!).  A number of commentators feel like real Comprehensive Immigration Reform is on the horizon, though it’s probably going to make things tougher for most, rather than easier.  In order to be harsh on some groups (most likely persons with a criminal record), Congress could try to soften and sell it by helping some immigrant groups.  DACA’s and DREAMER’s are probably a group who could finally win big.

Problem is: when?  And what if he doesn’t?  We don’t know when anything will happen.  But we know that if President Trump leaves the system we have in place for the time being, many of you could be able to maintain your current status, or get something better.

So I want to hear from YOU.  To get the conversation started, here are 27 questions:

  1. Have you gotten married?  Even if your spouse has DACA, or even if they don’t have legal status, perhaps they have a way to stay in the United States that would also give you status.
  2. Are you now married to a U.S. Citizen or U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident (“green card holder”)?
  3. Does a parent, spouse, or child expect to become a US citizen or get a green card soon?
  4.  Do you have a U.S. citizen child?
  5. Do you have a spouse, parent, or child who has severe mental, medical, or emotional disability?
  6. Have you or a family member (parent, spouse, child) been a victim of crime in the United States, and cooperated with the police in any way?
  7. Have you ever in the United States had to call the police for help?
  8. Have you ever been forced to work exceptionally long hours without a break and/or 7 days a week without a break and you were not free to stop, quit, or leave?
  9. Have you ever been forced, coerced, or tricked into having sex or doing sex industry work like stripping or working as an escort?
  10. Did any relative or employer ever file a petition for you, your mother, or your father before April 30, 2001?
  11. Do you have spouse, parent, or child who is in the U.S. Military (including the Reserves), or who is an honorably-discharged veteran of the U.S. Military?
  12. Do you have a spouse, parent, or child who intends to enlist in the U.S. Military, or would do so in order to help you legalize your status?
  13. Has anyone in your family (like a parent, spouse/partner, or child) ever hit, pushed, choked, or otherwise physically or mentally harmed, threatened, insulted, controlled, or otherwise abused you, your parent, or your child?
  14. Before you came to the US, were you, your family, or members of a group you belong to (including LGBTQ) targeted by a government, people, or gangs trying to hurt, scare or recruit you?
  15. Are you afraid to return to your native country because the government, people, or gangs might target you because of your race, religion, national origin, political opinion, or because you belong to a certain group, including your family, clan, or because you are LGBTQ?
  16. If you are under 21, do you live away from your parent or parents, or would you choose to, because they have abused, abandoned, neglected, or similarly mistreated you?
  17. Do you have an employer who is willing to sponsor you for a work visa or a green card?
  18. When you came to the United States, did you come using a visa?
  19. When you came to the United States, did you come using fake papers, or the papers of a family member?
  20. When you came to the United States, were you “waived in” without having to show any papers?
  21. If you came to the U.S. and were not admitted by Customs, and were never caught by Immigration, do you have a reason to return to your country using Humanitarian Parole to visit sick/elderly relatives or participate in an educational or business opportunity?
  22. Were you or your parents born in El Salvador or Guatemala, and did you or your parents enter the US before September 19990?
  23. Was your spouse born in El Salvador or Guatemala and entered the US before September 1990?
  24. Were either of your parents US citizens when you were born?
  25. Were any of your grandparents US citizens when your parents were born?
  26. Have you been here at least 10 years, and were not caught at the border coming in?
  27. Do you have a field of research or a skill in which you are one of the best?

 

If you answer “Yes” or “Maybe,” then we should talk, because you may have an opportunity to obtain lawful status.  If you are already a client of Hogan & Vandenberg, call my office, there is no additional fee to figure out if we can make your situation better.  If you are not already a client, contact the office and schedule a consultation.

Even if none of the above apply to you, be sure to “like” our firm on Facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/hvlawgroup/  ) so you can get regular updates about immigration law. And if you have a friend or family member who needs our assistance, please have them contact us.

It is finished….

By W. John Vandenberg

It’s finished for this year, folks.  USCIS announced that they have completed data entry for all H-1B petitions received for Fiscal Year 2016.  Now USCIS will start mailing back all the H’s that were not accepted due to the lottery.

That said, unless you Premium Processed, no reason to give up hope quite yet.  We received a Receipt Notice for one of our regular processing clients, and the filing fee checks didn’t even cash as of today.

So, hope lives on for a few more days.  After that, the thick packages will start making their way back home…

Philadelphia and New Jersey USCIS Office CLOSED on January 27, 2015

The USCIS District Offices and Application Support Centers in Philadelphia, Mt. Laurel, and Newark will be CLOSED on Tuesday, January 27, 2015.

Everyone needs a snow day, now and again 🙂

العمل التنفيذي للرئيس أوباما: مالذي يحمله المستقبل؟

كتابة: جون يحيى فاندِنبِرغ

ترجمة: دعاء صباغ

يالهذهِ الليلة! في حالة أنك لم تتمكن من الاطلاع على الخبر الجديد، بإمكانك قراءة تصريح الرئيس على الرابط التالي:

http://m.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/11/20/remarks-president-address-nation-immigration

مالذي يعنيه هذا القرار بالنسبة لجميع المهاجرين في الولايات المتحدة؟ بدون شك، نحن وغيرنا من المحامين والمهاجرين، بالإضافة إلى دائرة الهجرة والجنسية بالولايات المتحدة، نحاول تحديد ذلك تماماً. الخبر السيّء هنا هو أننا جميعا لا نعرف تفاصيل هذا القرار حتى الآن. والخبر الجيد هو أننا جميعاً لا نعرف التفاصيل عن القرار حتى الآن أيضاً. سوف أتحدث عن هذا لاحقاً.

أما بالنسبة للوقت الحالي، فهذا ما نعرفه حتى اللحظة:

  

العمل المؤجل للوافدين في مرحلة الطفولة (أو مثل ما يسمى بالإنجليزية اختصاراً: داكا): ليس هناك عمر محدد لتقديم الطلب: فطالما أن مجيء الشخص للولايات المتحدة كان قبل عمر السادسة عشر، وقبل تاريخ ١\١\٢٠١٠، فإن الشخص مؤهل تحت هذا القانون. إذاً، إذا كنت قد قدمت إلى الولايات المتحدة في عام ١٩٩٣، كالصحفي والمهاجر خوسيه أنطونيو فارغاس، فأنت مؤهل للداكا (أنا متأكد أن محاميه الآن يستعدون لإنهاء إجراءات ترحيله!). هذا بالتأكيد سوف يوسع نطاق البرنامج. وبمناسبة الحديث عن توسيع نطاق البرنامج، إذا كان طلب تقديمك في حالة الانتظار أو أنك لم تقم بالتقديم حتى الآن، فسوف يوافَق على طلب تقديمك لمدة ثلاث سنوات، ولكن ليس الآن. هذه أخبار جيدة لكثير من الشباب والشابات الذين يستحقون ذلك حتماً.

ـ هناك الكثير من المهاجرين الذين يقدمون طلبات معاملة الداكا إلى مكتبي ولهم أبناء يحملون الجنسية الأمريكية، ردّي لهم كان بأني لا أستطيع مساعدتهم تحت القانون. ولكن الليلة الماضية غيرت إجابتي! إذاً، بالنسبة للمهاجرين الذين قدِموا إلى الولايات المتحدة منذ الأول من شهر بناير للعام ٢٠١٠، ولديهم أبناء يحملون الجنسية الأمريكية أو البطاقة الخضراء (الجرين كارد)، فهم الآن يدخلون تحت قانون العمل المؤجل للوافدين في مرحلة الطفولة أيضاً.

ـ مهاجرون أكثر سوف يكونون مؤهلين للتقديم على طلب الإعفاءات المؤقتة. يوم الأربعاء الماضي قمت بالحديث مع شاب حاصل على الداكا ووالدته ليست مواطنة أمريكية ولكنها تحمل الجرين كارد. هناك احتمالية كبيرة لهذا الشاب في أن يحصل على حالة قانونية من خلال والدته. ومن الآن حتى حصوله على ذلك، هو يعيش ويعمل ويسافر، والفضل هنا يعود لقانون داكا.

ـ يبدو أنه هناك أخبار جيدة للمهاجرين المخترعين: يبدو أن دائرة الهجرة الأمريكية سوف تقوم بإصدار قوانين جديدة بخصوص أصحاب الأعمال القادمين للولايات المتحدة للاستثمار. هذا يشمل أصحاب الأعمال الذين تمكنوا من الحصول على فرص للاستثمار في الولايات المتحدة، أوالذين يستطيعون إثبات أن التقنية التي يحملونها سوف تخلق وظائف في الولايات المتحدة.

ـ من المحتمل أن تنخفض الرسوم التي يتطلبها طلب التقديم للحصول على الجنسية، وسوف يتمكن حاملي الجرين كارد من الدفع بواسطة بطاقات الإئتمان. هذا انتصار سيضع حملة الجرين كارد على الطريق للحصول على الجنسية.

إذاً، هذا مالدينا حتى الآن، ولكن يبدو أننا سوف نستقبل شيئاً جديداً كل ساعة من دائرة الأمن الداخلي الأمريكية للمساعدة على فهم المدى الذي سوف يصل إليه هذا العمل التنفيذي الجديد. ولكني أريد إنهاء هذا المقال ببعض التحفيز والتشجيع، بالإضافة إلى الحث على أخذ الحَيطة والحذر.

باستثناء المستفيدين من الداكا، لا شيء من التغييرات المذكورة أعلاه قد حدثت بعد. هذا يعني أنه ليس هناك مكان لتقديم وثائق الطلب. وليس هناك أنموذج لتعبئته. ولا أحد ينبغي عليه دفع مبالغ لأي خدمات حتى معرفة وفهم كيفية تطبيق هذا العمل التنفيذي تماماً. الرجاء من الجميع، احموا أنفسكم وأحبائكم من الاحتيال. لا تأخذوا نصائح من أشخاص غير محامين، وبصراحة، أنا لا أعتقد أنها فكرة جيدة أن تأخذ نصائح خاصةً بقوانين الهجرة من أي أحد باستثناء أفضل محامي الهجرة الذين يمكنك العثور عليهم.

الأخبار الجيدة هو أنه بالرغم من أن الكثير من المهاجرين لاينطبق عليهم هذا العمل التنفيذي، فهو ينطبق عليهم بشكل غير مباشر. وبهذا أقصد أن الرئيس قد أمر دائرة الهجرة والجمارك الأمريكية بالتركيز على الإرهابيين والمجرمين وعابري الحدود بشكل غير قانوني مؤخراً. إذا كنت أنت أو من يهمك أمره من المهاجرين الذين ليسوا إرهابيين أو مجرمين أو عابري حدود بشكل غير قانوني مؤخراً، فاحتمالية الاعتقال من قبل دائرة الهجرة والجمارك الأمريكية ضئيلة جداً. هذه أخبار جيدة، لأنها تعني أنه كل يوم من يعمل بجد لن يعتقل أو يرحّل؛ هذه أيضاً أخبار جيدة لأن المجرمين والإرهابيين سوف يرحّلون من البلاد. هذا يعتبر نصرا لجميع الأطراف.

أخيراً، ذكرت سابقاً أننا لا نعلم كل شيء بعد عن هذا العمل التنفيذي الجديد، ونحن على يقين بأن عدم علمنا بكل شي عن هذا العمل شيء جيد لأنه كلما كانت لدينا المساحة في الدفاع قانونياً عن زبائننا، كلما سنحت لنا كمحامين فرصة الدفاع عن زبائننا ومساعدتهم بشكل أفضل. ويجدر بالتذكير أنه في العام ١٩٨٦، قام الكونغرس الأمريكي بتمرير قانون هجرةٍ جديدٍ أعطى الملايين من المهاجرين الغير موثّقين فرصة البقاء في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية؛ لسوء الحظ، هذا القانون لم يشمل أفراد عائلة المهاجرين. ولكن في العام ١٩٩٠، استخدم جورج بوش الأب عملاً تنفيذياً لضم أفراد العائلة تحت ذلك القانون. أذاً، بغض النظر عما لدينا من معلومات حتى اللحظة، تذكّروا أنه دائماً ما ستئول الأمور إلى الأفضل مع معرفة التفاصيل.

Options for Entrepreneurs – Lookin’ to buy?

By W. John Vandenberg

Yesterday we had a chance to look a little bit closer on options for entrepreneurs – those coming to the United States for the purpose of starting a new business.

The good news is there are quite a few options available.  But the bad news is that not a lot of them fit.

So, here’s a list of visas that may fit for an entrepreneur:

– E-1/E-2 Treaty Traders and Treaty Investors

– H-1B/E-3

– B-1/WB Business Visitor

– L-1A/B

– O-1A for Extraordinary Ability

– F-1 OPT

– EB-1 Extraordinary Ability

– EB-5 Immigrant Investor

– National Interest Waiver immigrant visa

There are a lot of choices here.  And only a good immigration lawyer can tell you what may fit, and what doesn’t.  This is an area where law becomes an art, not a science.  And having experience in immigration, embassies, and the USCIS counts can mean the difference between an approval and a denial.  And a denial means your losing time and money, and maybe status.

One of the most exciting pieces of news is that the embassies are viewing Treaty Investors and Treaty Traders more favorably.  If the applicant is from a treaty country, this may be one of the best areas to start.  U.S. Embassies, in contrast to the USCIS, are realizing the importance of attracting entrepreneurs.  So they are willing to grant the E-1/E-2 visas so long as the applicant has the funds at risk, have a good business plan, and meets the requirements as set out in the Foreign Affairs Manual.

The E category is also good because it fits for IT start-ups.  In particular, the E-1 deserves a hard look.  It is based on trade, which must be systematic and continuous.  So you don’t need a large dollar volume, as long as its systematic and continuous.  It depends on what your business is, and what your trading activities are.  The E-1 doesn’t require a substantial investment, unlike the E-2. It requires substantial trade between the United States and the treaty country.  “Substantial trade” between the treaty country and the United States means “greater than 50%.”  And remember – this doesn’t mean 51%; it means, by definition, 50% plus a penny.  And this can be either from the foreign entity *or* the U.S. subsidiary.  Meaning that even if the foreign company does less than 50% trade with the United States, one can set up a U.S. subsidiary and trade with that subsidiary.  And the U.S. subsidiary WOULD BE conducting “substantial trade” with the overseas company, and therefore makes the application approvable.

Trading in what?  Technology.  Commodities.  Services.  That’s all covered by trade.  Which means an IT start-up in the UK that sells services to the United States would qualify.  And that often-auoted $100,000 investment amount just doesn’t count!  You can be a lean start-up and then get your company off the ground in the United States, with the ability to travel back and forth as necessary.

We’ll delve into this in more detail in a future post, but for now it’s good to hear that Embassies are bullish on E’s!

Unaccompanied Minors at the Border – What Next?

One issue that has come up at the Immigration Court Open Forum is what is happening with the children at the border.  This is a huge issue for the United States and immigration, with children coming to the border by the thousands.  There simply is not enough infrastructure to handle it.

According to the representatives present today, the following will try to ease the situation and help the children:

1) Non-profits in the major cities will receive grants so that they can handle the influx of unaccompanied minors and represent them.  This is very positive, as the children deserve representation.  (Well, ok, no… these children should be cared for, not sent to immigration court, but it’s a decent first step).

2) The children, who are now being sent to facilities across the United States which are able to care for them, will not receive a Notice to Appear until after 60 days.  This makes it easier to represent the children, as the Notice to Appear should be for the proper Immigration Court where the child is located, not where they were initially detained.

 

Overall, a very sad situation.  And how the USA deals with it will say alot about our sense of fairness as a society.  We’ll keep you up to date!