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legal aspects you should know before marrying a foreigner

September 13, 2022

Love is accidental; out of nowhere, it can suddenly appear while visiting a relative abroad, on vacation during a Caribbean cruise, on a business trip, or even during a pilates class. No matter how or where you met “your soulmate,” love has no boundaries. That being said, your spouse’s immigration status and their process should not be a problem. Therefore, to help you build a future alongside your loved one, we will explain the top 3 legal aspects you should know before marrying a foreigner.       1) There is the K-1 Visa, for those who want to get married on U.S. soil. Whether you proposed on a trip to Paris or met your fiancé(e)’s family overseas and decided to have them as part of the proposal, where and how you proposed doesn’t matter that much. What matters is whether the wedding will be on U.S. soil or not. If so, as a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your fiancé(e) and apply for the K-1 visa to get married here. The K-1 visa, also known as a fiancé(e) visa, allows your future spouse to travel to the U.S. for marriage. The condition is that there must be an intention of getting married within 90 days of their arrival. We recommend your fiancé(e) doesn’t extend their travel period. In the unfortunate event you don’t get eloped during this time, your fiancé(e) must leave the country. Failing to comply can cause them to be deported and jeopardize their chances of having other immigration benefits. After getting married, your new spouse can later apply for an adjustment of status to become a U.S. permanent resident and receive a green card. Remember, the USCIS states that the marriage must be legitimate in which there is an intention that both you and your fiancé(e) are going to establish a life together and that the marriage is not to provide them immigration benefits.       2) K-3 Visa, for those couples that wish to get married outside the U.S. In the event you marry your fiancé(e) in their native country or outside of the United States, your partner can still enter the U.S. by applying for the K-3 visa. By having this visa category, your spouse is also eligible for an adjustment of status to become a permanent resident. With the K-3 visa, it is important to know that your partner must apply for it in the country where you got married. In addition, in order for your loved one to be legally qualified as a spouse, it is not enough to live together in the U.S.; you must legally elope. However, according to the USCIS, couples that have a material union in another country may qualify for the K-3 visa dependent on how each country defines common-law marriage. It is important to note that in polygamous relationships, only the first spouse is eligible for this visa.       3) Is it possible to get married on a tourist visa? When getting married to your partner that has a tourist visa, we recommend following a series of steps that will help avoid any legal problems. For starters, you should […]

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Can Immigration Officers check your social networks?

August 30, 2022

Can Immigration Officers check your social networks? If you’re currently applying for U.S. citizenship or residency, you may need to refrain from posting any controversial comments about the U.S. government or not uploading any pictures or tweets that may not show the best version of you. Since 2019, immigration authorities have been asking for the usernames and social media accounts of all applicants that desire to obtain their immigration visa, residency, or naturalization; as well as tourists that travel to the United States. Despite the fact that some organizations who fight for immigrant rights have argued that requesting applicants’ usernames and social media accounts is a violation of their privacy, and that checking this info could increase delays within the immigration system; the U.S. government has stated that this information is solely used to verify their identities while carrying out a background check to rule out possible security threats.   What is exactly this social media policy for immigrants? The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) usually requests applicants to give out a list of all their usernames on social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Additionally, they may also ask for other social media handles like Myspace, Pinterest, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitter, and TikTok accounts. When an applicant starts their immigration process, they need to provide the usernames of the social media accounts that they’ve been active in during the last five years. However, according to the DHS requirements, there is no need to share passwords. This requirement is only intended to find any “red flags”, and to go over personal information or posts that are easily accessible online. The application forms that the DHS asks for social media accounts are the I-485 (formerly known as the “Application for Adjustment of Status”), and the N-400 (known as the “Application for Naturalization”), as well as seven other official immigration documents.   How might your social media posts affect your immigration process? Essentially, the U.S. government assures that they request applicants’ social network accounts to see if there is any evidence of the applicant being a threat to national security, any close ties to known criminal organizations, or if they committed fraud with any personal information given on immigration forms. An example to make sure you’re not committing fraud is when you’re getting married to a U.S. citizen. You may ask yourself: do I want to prove I got married in good faith and not because I wanted to become a U.S. resident through a marital union? In this scenario, it is likely that immigration officials who review your application will take a closer look at you and your spouse’s social media accounts to confirm that your marriage is legitimate. Additionally, when you share your social media accounts with the U.S. government, you’re also granting them access to your photos, locations, dates of birth, or any relevant milestones published on your accounts, as well as other data that is normally shared on social media.   What can I do to protect the privacy of my social media accounts? Since the U.S. government has pledged that they only review any […]

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What is TPS, and how do these authorizations benefit migrants?

July 29, 2022

The U.S. government has announced an 18-month extension of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Venezuelans. This action is a direct response to the petitions of various political and economic sectors that have asked the government to continue protecting those migrants that left Venezuela in 2014 due to the sociopolitical crisis they’re currently in. However, TPS does not only cover Venezuelans. Other migrants can also apply and benefit from this travel authorization document. But how? In our blog post, we will explain to you what exactly is TPS and how it helps those who benefit from this immigration process. What is Temporary Protected Status? Temporary Protected Status, or TPS, is an immigration program that the government provides to citizens in certain countries under particular circumstances that allow them to remain temporarily in the U.S. TPS was created by Congress as part of the Immigration Act of 1990 to protect citizens of certain countries that cannot return to their homeland because of: An ongoing armed conflict between their country and another nation or a civil war. Environmental disasters in their nation. Pandemics. Other temporary and extraordinary conditions. Which countries can apply for TPS? The Department of Homeland Security allows citizens of these countries to be potential beneficiaries of TPS:   Afghanistan Myanmar Cameroon El Salvador Haiti Honduras Nepal Nicaragua Somalia Sudan South Sudan Syria Ukraine Venezuela Yemen If you are a citizen or a stateless person that has resided in one of these countries, you are qualified to benefit from TPS. What are TPS’s benefits? Despite the fact that this immigration program does not grant permanent residency or any other immigration status, immigrants that are under TPS can benefit from a series of measures to help them incorporate their lives in the United States. Therefore, beneficiaries will be provided with: Protection from being deported. Remaining for a period of time in the United States designated by their TPS. An employment authorization document (EAD). An application for travel authorization. What criteria must I meet in order to be eligible for TPS? To become a TPS beneficiary, first, you must either be a citizen from one of the designated countries or a stateless person that has resided in these countries before immigrating to the U.S. In addition, you must have been residing or continually physically present (CPP) in the United States prior to the effective date of the most recent designation date for your country.  Although there are some exceptions in TBS that do not require you to be physically present in the U.S. at all times, the law allows beneficiaries to leave the U.S. for a brief period under innocent circumstances. However, all of these departures must be reported to the USCIS. Does TPS have to be renewed? Yes. Since this is a temporary permit, once you are granted TPS benefits, you must renew your status in each re-registration period to continue having your temporary protected status. This requirement applies to all TPS beneficiaries, including those who were initially granted TPS by immigration authorities, a judge, or the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA). If you’re a resident of these countries that is eligible for […]

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What is the Los Angeles Declaration and how does this affect migration?

June 29, 2022

On June 10, 2022, over 20 American and Caribbean countries gathered at the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles to commit to working together in creating safe conditions and reinforcing frameworks to protect migrants.  These commitments are the basis for the creation of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, which also builds upon other international immigration instruments such as the 1984 Cartagena Declaration and the 2018 Quito Process. Although the agreement is not binding, the Los Angeles Declaration is a step forward in properly managing the migration waves that occur in the Americas. Events such as the 2010 Haiti Earthquake, and the diaspora of Venezuelans due to their country’s economic situation, add to the flows of Central American immigrants that are fleeing their homelands to move to North American countries. What exactly does the Declaration of the Americas consist of? The 20 countries that signed the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection were: Argentina Barbados Belize Brazil Canada Chile Colombia Costa Rica Ecuador El Salvador United States Guatemala Haiti Honduras Jamaica Mexico Panama Paraguay Peru Uruguay The White House has stated that the countries “are committed to protecting the safety and dignity of all migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons, regardless of their migratory status, and respecting their human rights and fundamental freedoms”. This declaration has established to work on promoting four major issues: Stability and assistance for communities of destination, origin, transit, and return. Legal pathways for migration and international protection. Humane migration management. Coordinated emergency response. With this shared approach, the signatory countries commit to investing and supporting countries that have received large numbers of migrants and refugees such as: Belize, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. But what exactly did the U.S. government commit to? How does the Los Angeles Declaration impact migration to the United States? Due to their high number of deportation cases, the United States was the country that proposed the Los Angeles Declaration. One of the talking points of the Los Angeles Declaration was the U.S. government announcing three commitments that aim to help migrants. The U.S. government announced the aid of 65 million dollars to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help American agricultural companies that hire temporary workers from Northern Central America under the H2-A visa program. Additionally, the U.S. government also announced that they will provide an additional 11,500 H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers for Haitian and Northern Central American citizens. According to the White House, this new number of visas “represents a three-fold increase from this year”.   Reunification of Haitian and Cuban Families The U.S. government has also pledged to increase the number of referrals to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for Haitians. Additionally, the United States will resume and increase its participation in the Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program, in which certain eligible U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor family members for parole, which is to enter the country and temporarily stay with an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. The White House also announced that the Department of State will intensify its efforts to […]

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How to Pay National Visa Center (NVC) Fees Electronically

May 9, 2022

If you are researching how to pay the National Visa Center (NVC) fees, CONGRATULATIONS! That means your petition has been approved, and you are continuing your U.S. immigration process. To begin, the most common way to get to this point is through an approved family petition. For example, an approved family member could be your U.S. citizen child over the age of 21, your U.S. citizen, or permanent resident spouse who files an approved I-130 petition on your behalf. When the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves an I-130 petition, USCIS sends the approval to the National Visa Center (NVC), and the NVC generates the immigrant visa. As long as the priority date on the I-130 petition is current, you can submit your visa application on the NVC website. Here are the steps you need to take to pay your NVC fees: 1. Get Your Case Number and Invoice ID The NVC should have sent you a notice about your visa called “Notice of Immigrant Visa Creation.” This notice contains an NVC Case Number and an Invoice ID Number.     Note: The NVC case number will contain the initials of the city where you will do your Consular Processing. For example: ⦁ BGT: Bogota, Colombia ⦁ CDJ: Ciudad Juarez, Mexico ⦁ GTM: Guatemala City, Guatemala ⦁ GYQ: Guayaquil, Ecuador ⦁ SNS: San Salvador, El Salvador 2. Go to the Necessary Website to Make Payments Once you have your case number and invoice ID, go to the following website: and click on the box that says, “I have read the terms of the Privacy Act Notice.”   3. Enter your Case Data where Instructed Once you have checked the box that says, “I have read the terms of the Privacy Act Notice,” enter your NVC Case Number in the box that says “Case Number.” Then enter your Invoice ID Number in the box that says “Enter the Invoice ID Number that the National Visa Center sent you.”   4. Establish that You Are the Applicant Once you have entered your NVC Case Number and Invoice ID Number, select the “I am the APPLICANT” option from the drop down menu.   5. Fill In the Security Code Once you have entered your NVC Case Number, your Invoice ID Number, and select “I am the “APPLICANT,” enter the security letters and numbers you see on the screen to establish that you are a real person and not a bot. In this example, they would be “DA6DN” but everyone has a different configuration. Once you have entered that information, click the button, “Continue.”   6. Go to the Summary Information Screen Once you have pressed “Continue,” the following screen will appear: At this point, you are ready to make payments. Be sure to have your payment method available. If you leave the page open for more than a few minutes without activity, the page automatically reverts to the home page, and you will have to enter all your information again. 7. Enter your Payment Information To make the first payment, click on the link that says, “Pay Now” under the […]

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4 Things to Know About Deferred Action for Medical Reasons

November 23, 2021

Several individuals present in the United States qualify for an immigration program called “Deferred Action.” There are several types of deferred action available to immigrants in the United States, but the focus of this blog is for those who are the caregivers of children, parents, or spouses that are United States citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents with severe medical conditions. Circumstances For Deferred Action  This type of Deferred Action is an excellent option for individuals and families without status who present these compelling equities:  a serious medical condition long-term presence in the United States close family ties   A Humanitarian Outlook  Under this type of program, individuals might request the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USICS”) to defer removal or deportation for humanitarian reasons. This kind of discretion is vital to maintaining a compassionate immigration system and a healthy society. It also helps to carefully use limited resources to deport those who present a danger. Historically, officials have considered the following factors: the likelihood of removal the presence of sympathetic factors the likelihood a large amount of adverse publicity will be generated because of the sympathetic factors whether the individual is a member of a class of deportable aliens whose removal has been given high enforcement priority If Deferred Action is granted, it is given in 2-year increments. While Deferred Action does not confer lawful status on an individual and does not provide a path to permanent residence or citizenship, individuals who have obtained deferred action are eligible to apply for employment authorization. Making a World of Difference Recently, our office helped a single mother of a four-year-old US citizen with severe Down’s Syndrome, intellectual disabilities, and heart defects.  Our client needed a driver’s license to be able to take her child to doctor appointments and therapy without the worry of immigration authorities detaining her. Thanks to the Deferred Action program, our client was able to obtain an employment authorization card and a Georgia Driver’s License. Our client is now focusing on the health of her child without being worried about deportation. Considering Deferred Action Options If you are the caregiver of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident child, parent, or spouse with severe medical conditions, you may want to consider this option. If you want more information about this type of Deferred Action, contact the attorneys Zambrano & Ruiz at 770-769-5820.

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4 Important Things to Consider When Applying for a Green Card

November 22, 2021

To begin, what is a green card? Officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, it is proof of a person’s lawful permanent residency in the United States. A green card demonstrates that the cardholder is living in the United States legally. The United States government has therefore granted the green card holder the authorization to live and work in the country permanently. There are several different ways that a person can apply to receive a green card so that they can be a permanent resident of the United States. The ways in which a person can receive a green card is through employment, holding the status of a “special immigrant” like a religious worker, or for humanitarian reasons like having status as an asylee or refugee or being a human trafficking or crime victim. These paths are just a few of the many ways one can obtain a green card. But one of the most common ways people can obtain permanent residency is through a family member. If the person seeking this status is an “immediate relative” of the citizen or permanent resident, then they could be eligible to obtain a green card through that relative. According to the United States government’s US Immigration and Citizenship Services, an immediate relative is defined as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, the unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen, or the parent of a U.S. citizen (21 years or old). Many times, this means that the family member can petition on their behalf. There are many people living in the United States and abroad whose parents have U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency. Clients frequently ask us during consultations if a parent with U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency can petition to obtain permanent resident status, or a green card, for their child. Generally, the eligibility criteria of the adult child hinges on whether or not they are married and whether or not they are under the age of 21. Please see a breakdown below to determine whether a family-based petition filed for a green card by your parent on your behalf is an option for you. My parent is a U.S. citizen. Can they petition to obtain a green card for me? Yes. An immigrant visa or green card is immediately available for the children of United States citizens. For immigration purposes, children are considered “unmarried people under the age of 21.” If you are over the age of 21 and unmarried, you are eligible to seek residency in this manner. This category is known as “first preference” or F1. Keep in mind that you will have to wait for your priority date to become current before you can apply for your immigrant visa, so it is not immediately available. If you are over the age of 21 and married, which is known as third preference (F3),  you are also eligible to seek residency and obtain a green card in this manner. You will also have to wait for your priority date to become current before you may apply for your immigrant visa. My parent is a […]

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ICE to stop detaining immigrants at two county jails under federal investigation

May 25, 2021

The Biden administration has decided to stop detaining immigrants in a pair of county jails facing federal probes in Georgia and Massachusetts, calling the decision an “important first step” in a broader review of the nation’s sprawling network of immigration jails. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas on Thursday ordered U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to immediately terminate its contract with the Bristol County Sheriff’s Office in Massachusetts and to transfer the few remaining detainees elsewhere. He also directed ICE to rescind an agreement with the sheriff’s office that trained deputies to screen inmates arrested for crimes to see if they are also eligible for deportation. Mayorkas also directed ICE to “as soon as possible” sever its contracts with the Irwin County Detention Center in rural Georgia, a more complicated endeavor because the facility is county-owned but run by a private contractor. Federal officials chose the two facilities mainly because their detention rosters have shrunk and they are “no longer operationally necessary,” said a Department of Homeland Security official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s deliberations. Bristol is holding seven detainees out of nearly 200 beds; Irwin has 114 detainees out of almost 1,000 beds. [Immigration arrests fell in April to lowest monthly level on record] Both county jails are also under federal investigation for complaints of abuses against immigrants — allegations that remain open and unresolved — and those factored into Mayorkas’s decision, the official said. In a memo to ICE directing the changes, Mayorkas said his “foundational principle” is that “we will not tolerate the mistreatment of individuals in civil immigration detention or substandard conditions of detention.” Read More

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President Biden’s Top 5 Actions on Immigration

President Biden’s Top 5 Actions on Immigration

February 8, 2021

President Biden’s Top 5 Actions on Immigration President Biden has sent an immigration bill to Congress, but there is no telling when the bill will move forward. With that being said, President Biden has already issued numerous executive orders (EO’s) and directives regarding immigration that are beginning to take effect. These following 5 actions are set to create swift changes in the immigration system. 1. 100- Day Moratorium on Deportations: President Biden has directed certain immigration agencies, such as the Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to stop the deportations of certain noncitizens while these agencies review current enforcement policies. NOTE: Just as many of President Trump’s executive actions were fought in court, this directive is already seeing legal challenges. A U.S. District Judge from Texas has issued an injunction, stopping this moratorium. This injunction was issued on January 26th and lasts two weeks. 2. Revoking of Travel Ban On his first day in office, President Biden revoked an EO issued by President Trump that restricted travel from numerous countries including Belarus, Burma, Eritrea, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Nigeria, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Venezuela, and Yemen. 3. Suspending New Enrollments in the MPP President Biden has directed the Department of Homeland Security to stop enrolling asylum-seekers in the Migrant Protection Protocols Program (MPP). This program requires asylum-seekers arriving from Latin American countries to remain in Mexico while they seek asylum in the United States. There is still no official word from the White House on what will happen to those already enrolled and still waiting. 4. Halting of Border Wall Construction President Biden has issued a proclamation ending the National Emergency declared by a previous Proclamation issued by President Trump. With this proclamation, construction of the border wall has come to a halt. A plan is under development to redirect funds given for the wall. 5. Halting of Excluding Noncitizens from U.S Census President Biden has signed an EO that directs those in charge of completing the 2020 Census to include all residents regardless of citizenship or immigration status. This revokes two EO’s signed by President Trump that aimed to 1) Collect citizenship information through census questioning and 2) Exclude undocumented immigrants from representation.

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Proposed Biden Policies

January 17, 2021

Joe Biden has promised to lift the travel ban implemented by the Trump Administration on various majority Muslim countries on his first day of office. He has also promised to condemn violations of human rights against Uyghur Muslims in China and Rohingya Muslims in Burma. Biden will look to implement a 100-day freeze on deportations while his administration issues guidance narrowing who can be arrested by immigration agents. This guidance will focus on preventing “collateral arrests”. Biden has pledged to end the Migrant Protection Protocols policy implemented by the Trump administration. However, it remains unclear how the administration will handle the cases of thousands of asylum-seekers already waiting in Northern Mexico. Sources close to Biden’s team have said the administration plans to withdraw from all three agreements the Trump administration has made with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. These agreements allow rejected asylum-seekers to be sent to these countries.

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