IN the first two weeks of the Trump Administration and with a quick stroke of a pen, the country was swept up in a whirlpool of Executive Orders the tangled mangled web of which we are still trying to make sense. What is happening? What does it mean for me and my family? What’s going to happen tomorrow? The honest answer: we do not know.
What is happening? Let’s focus on the “travel ban.” On January 27, 2017, the President signed the Executive Order entitled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” This Executive Order issued a 90-day travel ban on immigrants and non-immigrants from designated countries, a 120-day ban on U.S. refugee program, and an indefinite suspension of Syrian refugee admissions, among other things. At the time of this writing, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is scheduled to hear arguments from Justice Department lawyers and opposing attorneys for the states of Washington and Minnesota about whether to restore the ban, according to Reuters.
As of February 2, 2017, there were unconfirmed rumors of plans to expand the travel ban to other countries including Egypt, Philippines, Columbia, and Venezuela. However, the Department of State confirmed that there is no information that supports such a rumor.
Okay, so what? What does all this have to do with me? If you are reading this article, chances are you yourself are a non-citizen. If you or anyone you know is a non-citizen undocumented immigrant, or non-citizen lawful permanent resident, the following may apply to their situation. It is important to consult with an experienced and licensed immigration attorney who will be able to guide you through the options available to you under evolving U.S. immigration laws.
Application for Naturalization. We encourage lawful permanent residents (LPR) who are eligible to apply for Naturalization to do so without delay. If you have been a permanent resident for 5 years, or if you have been a permanent resident for 3 years, have been married for to a U.S. citizen spouse for those 3 years and continue to live in marital union with said U.S. citizen spouse, please consult with an immigration attorney regarding your eligibility to apply for naturalization.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) still available. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) established in 2012 continue to be an available option for those who are eligible to apply. An individual is eligible under DACA if the following requirements are met: (i) you were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; (ii) came to the U.S. before your 16th birthday; (iii) have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; (iv) was physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012 and at the time of making the request for DACA; (v) entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012; (vi) is currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a GED, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.; and (vii) has not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to security or public safety.
Provisional Waiver of Unlawful Presence still available. The Provisional Waiver of Unlawful Presence was introduced in 2013. The Provisional Waiver waives the unlawful presence ground of inadmissibility for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens who are physically present in the United States, and the waiver is based on the extreme hardship the U.S. citizen spouse or parent will suffer if the waiver is not granted. Recently, the Provisional Waiver was expanded to include those who have approved family-based or employment-based immigration petitions, special immigrant petitions, or if they are beneficiaries of the diversity visa lottery. As well, legal permanent spouses or parents are now included as qualifying relatives for purposes of extreme hardship.
Negative consequences of Criminal Convictions. It is and has always been the case that a negative criminal conviction will have serious consequences, the worst of which is deportability, for an individual who is not a U.S. citizen, even if s/he is a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). If you are a non-citizen and you are facing a possible criminal conviction, it is best to consult both with a criminal attorney and with an experienced criminal immigration attorney who handles deportation defense before pleading to anything in criminal court.
Google is no substitute for a licensed, experienced, immigration attorney. Know your rights, and know your options, and be wary of notarios and those who are not licensed to practice law.
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Atty. Lilli Berbano Baculi is an associate attorney with Chua Tinsay & Vega, A Professional Legal Corporation (CTV) – a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Philippines. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (619) 955-6277; (415) 495-8088; (916) 449-3923; firstname.lastname@example.org. For general information visit www.chuatinsayvega.com.