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Los Angeles Immigration Law Blog

California Attorney General tackles undocumented migrant status

Immigration is well known to have been the foundation of the success of the United States. By nature, every American has roots in some other country. People from other countries and citizenships can be found in states throughout the nation. With California’s proximity to the Mexican border and the Pacific Ocean, it boasts a robust level of immigration activity. One of the elements of immigration law is that anyone in the United States from another country without proper approval or documentation can be considered a criminal.

This concept was not supported by the Attorney General of California in a recent interview. The Attorney General referenced homicide as one form of criminal action. She then clearly differentiated having an undocumented immigrant status from that. Her calls to rethink the criminal label for people in this category received both praise and critiques. Groups such as the Coalition for Human Rights of Los Angeles were supportive of the belief that a criminal conviction should not be achieved simply for being an undocumented migrant.

The DREAM Act, simplified

If you’ve been in the United States since you were a child, you have probably heard many different types of advice on your immigration and naturalization rights. Some people may have told you that you can easily achieve citizenship after reaching adulthood, while others might have said you can attend UCLA or another college in California. There is some confusion surrounding the DREAM Act and other legislation that is meant to help undocumented immigrants stay in the U.S. At Ronzio & Associates, we understand the complexities of immigration law and how they can affect you.

Many people may not realize that the DREAM Act (officially named the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act) actually never passed into law. The act was originally introduced to Congress in 2001 and has since had several attempts to reintroduce it.

Understanding deportation and removal as an immigrant

People who enter California or other states from foreign countries can do so for many reasons. Those wishing to stay in the country for extended periods of time may wish to become citizens while others prefer to retain their nationalities and obtain residency in the United States. In either case, there are certain laws that must be followed in order to receive the approval to be in the U.S. and to remain here once approval is granted.

Any violation of immigration laws can result in an order of deportation, formally called removal. This process is managed by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement department. In 2014 alone, this group removed close to 316,000 immigrants from the United States according to the ICE website. These removals included persons convicted of criminal charges as well as those trying to enter the United States illegally.

Suite of new bills proposed to aid illegal immigrants

Illegal immigration has long been a challenging topic in the United States. With its proximity to the Mexican border, it is a top of special interest to Californians. Over the years, the state’s lawmakers have outlined various approaches and philosophies pertaining to illegal immigration. Some legislatures have vowed to crackdown on this activity while others wish to provide greater assistance to those seeking naturalization, permanent residency or other status within California.

Recently, a group of legislators in Sacramento introduced a suite of bills designed to give greater opportunities and assistance to illegal immigrants in California. Some of the bills include AB 900 which would give special visas offering humanitarian relief to a large number of undocumented youth. Two bills focus directly on making it harder for Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to remove illegal immigrants. One stipulates that persons who complete substance rehabilitation programs may not be deported.

Understanding the immigrant visa process in California

Some people who enter California from other countries do so for only short visits, such as vacations or business-related travel. Others may come to work here for designated time periods but intend to return to their countries after the term of employment is completed. In these situations, non-immigrant visas would be required as the visitors are not seeking residency or ultimate naturalization.

For a person wishing to come to the United States and make California home, a different type of visa is required called an immigrant visa. There are specific types of immigrant visas based upon the reason that qualifies a person for this status. The process of filing for such a visa will require detailed information and filing of states documentation. These include:

· Special labor certification applications for both temporary and permanent status must be filed with the Employment and Training Administration department within the U.S. Department of Labor.

· Full completion of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services paperwork requesting status as a legal permanent resident.

· Documentation providing details about the candidate's professional references, educational background and job or career qualifications. This would also apply for investors, entrepreneurs, performers, athletes or others with special abilities.

Understanding non-immigrant visa types

There can be many reasons that a person may wish to come to the United States from another country. Additionally, California sees immigrants from multiple countries in the world. Those who have obtained visas to enter the country do not all have the same type of visa. There are different visas designed for different situations and understanding these can be important for anyone seeking time in the U.S.

There are three forms of visas that pertain specifically to employment and that can cover extended stays in the country. These are:

· An L visa which is used for executives being transferred to the U.S. by their companies.

· An H-1B work visa which is used for people who work in very specialized fields and jobs.

· The H-2B and H-2A visas designed for temporary work including in agriculture.

People who trade or invest in relation to a treaty with the United States may be granted an E visa for this purpose.

Employment eligibility changes for nonimmigrants and spouses

Throughout the year, numerous people enter the United States with the intention of working or going to school temporarily. If you are one of the many married nonimmigrants in Los Angeles with an H-1B work visa, you should know that the Department of Homeland Security is changing eligibility requirements for some family members who have H-4 visa status. This has the potential to improve family immigration for those wishing to extend their stay in our country past the six-year limit for H-1B visas. The attorneys at Ronzio & Associates have a thorough understanding of how these recent changes can affect you and your family.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, these changes become effective May 2015. They are meant to extend the eligibility of certain dependent spouses with H-4 status to obtain legal employment, if their nonimmigrant spouses with H-1B visas are working toward obtaining permanent residency. For example, say that you are a doctor who moved to the country to work temporarily, but now you wish to work toward permanent legal status. Your wife may be eligible to legally get a job and contribute to your family’s income.

Detention centers often thought of as inhumane

Many families who are applying for immigration status in the United States are attempting to escape unspeakable conditions in their home countries. Some illegal immigrants arriving in Los Angeles, particularly women and children, continue to suffer as they’re held in detention facilities while authorities process their cases. Advocacy groups have spoken out in defense of these immigrants, who may face prison-like conditions in immigration detention centers.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 429,000 immigrants were held in detention facilities throughout the U.S. in 2011, reportedly a record number. Advocates claim that it’s not necessary to hold many of these individuals and families while they await deportation or legal residency proceedings. It’s believed that the majority of those escaping torture, abuse and other injustices pose no threat to our society. Additionally, advocates claim that incarcerating immigrants in these facilities are an unnecessary drain on taxpayer money.

Common Types of Fraud Against Immigrants

When families immigrate to Los Angeles from another country, it’s understandable that they’ll want to become legally documented as soon as possible to avoid the threat of deportation. Unfortunately, many businesses or individuals won’t hesitate to defraud immigrants who are just looking for a better opportunity in life.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, new immigrants face numerous challenges, from language barriers to cultural differences. These challenges can make it easy for dishonest people to take advantage of them. In some cases, this can backfire and cause an innocent immigrant to lose immigration status.

Qualifications allowing you to apply for asylum or refugee status

Many immigrants leave their home countries in hopes of a better life in the United States. There are numerous valid reasons to want to relocate to America. Unfortunately, some people flee their countries because of the threat of oppression or bodily harm. If you are being persecuted or fear persecution because of your race, gender, religion or other factors, you may be eligible to apply for asylum or refugee status. The attorneys at Ronzio & Associates have a full understanding of asylum law and can help if you and your family are fleeing to this country for your own safety.

What does it mean to be a refugee or to gain asylum? These two terms are similar, but differ in when you apply. You would apply to the United States for refugee status before you’ve left your home country; however, if you’ve already reached U.S. borders or come into the country, you would need to apply for asylum status. If approved, both of these would allow you to remain indefinitely in the country, as well as to work and to apply for a green card.

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