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Blackwell Law Group, A Midwest Immigration Law Practice
Building Communities. Keeping Families Together.
Building Communities. Keeping Families Together.


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The House of Representatives Passes Two Immigration Enforcement Bills
Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted on two immigration bills: "No Sanctuary for Criminals Act" and "Kate's Law."  Both bills passed.  The votes followed party lines. Kate's Law Kate's Law is an effort to toughen the laws against those who re-enter...

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Travel Ban Implementation: Who It Affects
The Trump travel ban goes into effect today (June 29, 2017).   There are two parts to the ban: the ban the issue of visas to citizens of six designated countries and the ban on entries by refugees. During the ban, the US Department of State will be reviewin...

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The Supreme Court on Re-Opening Criminal Convictions to Prevent Deportation
While much attention has focused on the Supreme Court's decision regarding the travel ban, the Court also issued a decision on another immigration matter just days earlier on June 23, 2017:  Jae Lee vs. United States.   This decision has implications that a...

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Supposedly, the Department of Homeland Security is now focusing on "serious criminals" as the new emphasis for deportation.  The word "serious" is very relative.  

For example, I don't think a single conviction for drunk driving is a "serious" offense.  That doesn't mean I condone drunk driving; it just means that if a single drunk driving conviction is a person's sole criminal offense, that does not justify removal proceedings, especially if the incident
1) happened some time ago (e.g. more than 5 years ago),
2) did not involve any injury to a third party,
3) did not involve any damage to property not owned by the offender,
4) did not involve any crash into another vehicle,
5) did not involve any high speed chase, and
6) did not involve a blood alcohol level greater than 1.2 (0.8 being the legal definition of drunk).

Unfortunately, the government does not view it the same way.  Most long-term unlawful residents who are in removal proceedings are in proceedings because of a drunk driving conviction or a similar petty offense, e.g. simple battery.

Furthermore, even though the courts are deporting fewer people than in 2012, the waiting times for a trial are longer.  This more likely than not is because more and more people qualify for relief in the immigration court.  Congress created new relief called "cancellation of removal" in 1996.  To qualify, you have to prove you have been here more than 10 years (among other things).  More and more people have been here for more than 10 years.  In my practice, it is unusual for someone to tell me they entered the U.S. after 2005.

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I don't do many immigration court cases.  This is a choice and partly a result of the mess that immigration courts are in.  This article notes the courts are scheduling trial dates for 2019.  I wish I could assure people that was a typo, but it is not.  Trials are routinely being scheduled 4 years out.  This makes a mockery of due process.  I have one client whose trial date has been re-scheduled 3 times.  The next date is now for 2016.  Her life has been on hold for 5 years already. The government attorney has assured me that 2016 date will definitely get re-scheduled.  When I go to court, it is the court in Chicago.  That court had 8 judges until recently.  Now it is down to 6 judges, and has no plans to hire replacements.

Even if Congress refuses to pass immigration reform, please could Congress at least fund the immigration courts to the level needed to ensure people don't have to wait 4 years for their trial date.  The courts are as much a part of enforcement as policing the border.

USCIS has announced temporary protected status (TPS) is now available to citizens of Nepal who have been continuously present in the US since at least 6/24/2015.

TPS is a humanitarian program extended to citizens of countries that are undergoing a major crisis that makes travel back risky.  The crisis is often due to weather (e.g. hurricanes, typhoons, tsunamis) or earthquake but can also be a war.

Beneficiaries of TPS get work authorization and a driver license.  The government also commits not to place TPS beneficiaries into removal proceedings.

TPS programs always have very strict filing deadlines.  For Nepalis, the filing deadline is December 21, 2015.

If you know any Nepalis, please encourage them to seek TPS.  Blackwell Law Group is happy to help anyone who would like assistance from an attorney, no matter where in the country the person might be living.

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Disney World stepped into public controversy a couple of weeks ago when the New York Times published a story about how Disney IT workers had been laid off and expected to train their replacements.  Their replacements all came from a single outsourcing firm and were foreign workers on H-1B visas.  Public outrage has led Disney to cancel at least some of the layoffs.

The H-1B visa is very popular with recent foreign graduates from U.S. universities.  They come to U.S. to study and then (not surprisingly) want to continue to live and work here.  Because of waiting lists for employment-based green cards, the H-1B visa is just about the only way for them to continue to be in the U.S. while waiting to get to the top of the waiting list their green card. 

Although perceived as intended for high tech workers, the visa is for any job that requires a bachelor's degree or higher.  The high tech reputation arose because big IT companies make so many applications. 

Many small companies are shut out from applying for H-1B visas because of the cost.  In recent years demand for the H-1B visa has so far exceeded the supply that the government has resorted to a lottery to decide which applications to process.  The result is any employer wanting to seek an H-1B visa has to be resigned to the possibility it will pay attorney fees for preparation of the H-1B visa but never get an H-1B visa approved.  This makes it even harder for smaller companies to seek H-1B visas.

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 The H-1B visa is a popular way to work in the U.S., either on a temporary basis to gain work experience or while waiting to reach the top of the waiting list for an employment-based immigrant visa.

Unfortunately, the H-1B visa has been reduced to a lottery. Demand far exceeds supply.  This year, 172,500 people applied for 85,000 visas.

Fortunately, there is an alphabet soup of other non-immigrant visas that provide alternative ways to live and work in the U.S.  Each has its restrictions, but for those eligible, these other visas are often easier to obtain than the H-1B visa.

Join or watch this Hangout on Air as Attorney Sarah Blackwell gives an overview of your options.
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