Diversity Lottery Is Open: Questions on the Diversity Visa

By Greco Neyland | October 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

Today is an important date for many individuals hoping to immigrate to the United States. October 3rd marks the first day that applicants can register for the 2020 Diversity Lottery. Despite being the source of some debate, and vast criticism by the current administration, the Diversity Lottery, officially called the Diversity Lottery Visa Program, will begin accepting applications for Green Cards in 2020. Registration continues through November 6, 2018, and 50,000 Green Cards available for foreign nationals with the right eligibility requirements and a bit of luck. However, it is possible that this will be the last enrollment period for the Diversity Lottery, as the President has promised to only sign an immigration bill that eliminates this important path to legal residency in the United States. In this post, our team at Greco Neyland will answer several questions about the Diversity Lottery and the future of the program. #1: What Is the Diversity Lottery? The Diversity Lottery Program was created under the Immigration Act of 1990. The program’s goal is to offer an immigration path to individuals from countries with a historically low number of immigrants to the United States. Individuals selected in the lottery are given an immigration visa called a Diversity Visa. As the Diversity Visa is a permanent visa, it amounts to a Green Card in the United States. The Department of State is responsible for administering the Diversity Lottery, which is truly a lottery program. Registrants submit their information to the lottery system and applicants are chosen at random for approval and receipt of a Diversity Visa. #2: How Many People Register for the Diversity Lottery? Historically, the Diversity Lottery Program has been incredibly popular across several countries. There are estimates that anywhere between 10 million and 20 million people register each year. That makes the process extremely competitive, and it is imperative that an individual submit a complete registration packet with the assistance of an immigration lawyer. Of the roughly 10 million registrants expected for 2020, only 100,000 are randomly selected in a lottery format. Then upon review of these 100,000 registrants, 50,000 are awarded Green…

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How Recent Court Decisions Are Restricting Deportation Hearings

By Greco Neyland | September 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

If you are detained in the United States as a suspected illegal or unlawful immigrant, your right to access the United States legal system and due process is incredibly important. Through a series of hearings and the right to legal counsel, an undocumented or illegal immigrant has an opportunity to show a claim for asylum or other reason to remain in the United States. However, the United States courts have made a series of recent decisions that are incrementally restricting the ability of judges to have independence in deportation hearings. These decisions are backed by statements from the United States Attorney General, and together reflect a consistent and serious shift in restricting deportation hearings across the United States. In today’s post, we are taking a look at two decisions in the past 30 days alone that could impact the deportation hearings of your family, friends, and loved ones right here in California. Changing the Standard for Postponing Cases All judges have some latitude to postpone a case, hearing, or appearance. The ability to reschedule a case isn’t tied to deportation hearings, and judges of all types and courts can decide deferment is required or fair. For example, in a criminal case, a judge may issue a continuance because new evidence was uncovered or a surprise witness was brought to the prosecutor’s attention. This postponement is legally called “issuing a continuance.” A recent ruling substantially reduces the discretion of immigration judges to issue a continuance in deportation hearings and other immigration cases. Instead, immigration judges are asked to employ a multifactor-balancing test that can consider only specific factors and grant relief only when the test is met. This removes a great deal of judicial independence, in particular when the circumstances of the case don’t meet the strict definition of good cause under this new case. So, how does this ruling impact people appearing for deportation hearings and other immigration cases? It could limit your options on hearing dates, reasons for continuation, and the ability of your immigration lawyer to make a creative argument for postponement. It also means your immigration judge…

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Green Card Marriage Interview: What Does the Government Ask?

By Greco Neyland | September 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

For international couples, the first test of their relationship might not be doing the dishes or taking out the trash. It is likely that the first hurdle to a happy future is actually permanent residency approval by the United States government for a spousal Green Card. A spousal or marriage Green Card is necessary for a foreign husband or wife to live in the United States indefinitely and could even be required if you just plan to visit from time-to-time. However, the United States government is tough on sham marriages that are arranged just for the foreign spouse to obtain permanent residency in the United States. The crackdown on fraudulent marriages makes it tougher on legitimate couples to go through this important immigration process. In particular, couples worry about the Green Card marriage interview that is mandatory before a foreign husband or wife is allowed to enter or remain in the United States as a permanent resident. Our team at Greco Neyland in L.A. covers several of the questions the U.S. government typically asks in this Green Card marriage interview. Questions on the Length of Your Relationship The United States government thinks that one sign of legitimacy of a relationship is time. The longer a couple has been dating or engaged, the less scrutiny over the intent and purpose of the relationship. Therefore, many of the questions in a Green Card interview will focus on how long you’ve known, dated, and wanted to marry your future spouse. Some of the specific questions asked during your marriage interview will include: How long have you known your future spouse? When and where did you meet? Did you start dating right away? How long have you had a romantic relationship? When did you decide to get married? How long have you been engaged? All of these questions help an immigration official establish a timeline of your relationship. It is also a way for the government to test the truthfulness of your answers at the onset. Lying about the length of your relationship will not improve your chances of approval for a Green Card.…

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Is It Becoming More Difficult to Obtain a U.S. Entertainment Visa?

By Greco Neyland | September 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

As the New York Times reported back in 2012, the U.S. system for obtaining an entertainment visa has long aggravated foreign performers. As the 2012 article indicated, the frustration with the requirements and approvals of an entertainment visa extends to all types of performers and foreign nationals. A flamenco dancer, orchestra, and rock theatre troupe were all named. The article also found that the number of applications for entertainment visas to the U.S. was steadily dropping. Entertainers in 2018 are facing many of the same complications and frustrations as six years ago, and possibly more. Performers and other artists are experiencing a higher rate of denial for the O and P visas, including artists that apply as ballet troupes, orchestras, and culturally unique performances. Under new policies and direction on approving any entertainment visa, it could be that 2018 is the toughest year yet to put on a show in the U.S. What Are the Requirements for an Entertainment Visa? At the onset, it is incredibly important to realize that approval for any O or P entertainment visa can take several months. Therefore, even if all qualifications and requirements seem in order, it is necessary to submit an application well before your intended date of travel. You can speak with a Los Angeles visa lawyer regarding the typical timeframe for visas from your country. Provided time isn’t going to bar your approval, there are several requirements any applicant for an entertainment visa must meet. An entertainment visa is only approved for a specific event, performance, or competition – in the case of athletes – and for a limited duration. The length of the visa is typically tied directly to the dates and times of the performance. Therefore, an applicant must have a detailed schedule of events and contracts for their time in the U.S. Often proving intent to remain in the U.S. on a temporary basis requires more than just an itinerary. For example, the eligibility requirements for a P visa to the U.S. are higher than any O visa. As evidence of a temporary visit to the U.S., P…

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Making the Switch from Student to Worker as a U.S. Visa Holder

By Greco Neyland | August 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

Many foreign students come to the U.S. just for the opportunity to study. A vast number of these students decide to return to their home country after graduation, where their education in the U.S. and command of the English language can add credence to their degree. Alternatively, some students want to remain in the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis. Among the millions of students that come to the U.S. each year, several thousand make the decision to stay and work for a U.S. employer. These jobs are obtained through internships, co-ops, and a good deal of hard work. There are actually several legal paths a foreigner can take from student to worker, with some being more common and easily accessible than others. What Happens the Day You Complete Your Course of Study? On the day of graduation, you are unlikely to see visible signs of the change in your immigration status. There won’t be an immigration official knocking on your door or the threat of deportation looming in your near future. In fact, foreign students in the U.S. on the F-1 visa are granted up to 12 months of time to complete practical training in the U.S. following their graduation. However, if you don’t start preparing for your shift from student to a worker in the U.S., you could find the options limited as the actual day draws near. You must complete specific forms and gain appropriate approvals to remain in the U.S. legally, once you are no longer a student. Applying to do Optional Practical Training Most foreigners that come to the U.S. for college or university encounter the opportunity for Optional Practical Training or OPT long before graduation. Students on the F-1 visa are able to spend time working or engaged in training opportunities before graduation and often take advantage of the OPT visa to complete summer internships or co-ops. An L.A. immigration lawyer will assist students throughout the school year to obtain this particular right to work. However, the other option for practical training is acceptance into a training program after graduation. In total, an…

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An LA Visa Lawyer Explains: How Does the J-1 Visa Help You Train in the U.S.?

By Greco Neyland | August 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

The U.S. is an incredibly popular place for students and trainees to improve their skills and start a career. For a very long time, the U.S. has actively promoted its reputation as the most popular student destination in the world, with over 500,000 foreign students accepted under the F-1 student visa in the early 2000’s. Less is said about the opportunities for foreign nationals to gain valuable work experience in the U.S. The J-1 visa scheme allows foreigners to enter the U.S. as temporary workers, including in paid positions, for the purpose of training or cultural exchange. This could be new information to you, as an LA visa lawyer will encounter many people each year that doesn’t know this path to job training and experience exists. How does the J-1 visa work and what is the process for application? We’ll explain here in this blog post! What Is a J-1 Visa?  The J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that can be approved with the assistance of an LA visa immigration lawyer. Similar to other schemes for work and student visas, this means the J-1 visa doesn’t allow for permanent residency in the U.S. or offer a path to citizenship. Rather, a J-1 visa allows a foreign national to come to California, or elsewhere in the U.S. on a temporary basis. All non-immigration visas are approved for a particular purpose and specific period of time. It is illegal to engage in activities outside the scope of your J-1 visa. As an LA visa lawyer can tell you, more specifically, the J-1 visa is appropriate for non-immigrants that want to visit LA for a study or work exchange. Inherent in these experiences is the temporary nature of the program and the explicit purpose. Recipients of the J-1 visa and their hosts are expected to provide an explanation of the exchange program and receive approval on the explicit details of that program. Therefore, changes in the program are difficult to have approved or modified once the visa is issued. However, at the heart of the J-1 visa isn’t work or study. While these…

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ICE Hits a Record High for Worker Enforcement Actions in U.S.

By Greco Neyland | August 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

If you want proof that the government’s mentality and approach to immigration have shifted in the past 18 months, look no further than a recent report on actions by Immigration and Customs Enforcement or ICE. The National Law Review reported that between January 2018 and the first week of August, ICE served a record 5,200 enforcement noticed on business owners in the U.S. Many of these enforcement actions were carried out in California and required immediate action and assistance of a California immigration lawyer. Through these extensive enforcement actions, ICE made a total of 93 arrests. Each of these 93 people was accused of working illegally in the U.S. and detained. While the eventual fate of these individuals is unknown, it can safely be assumed that most were quickly served with deportation papers and removed from the U.S. Often, individuals detained through these actions aren’t aware of the option for counsel or ability of a California deportation lawyer to provide assistance. Enforcement actions show no sign of slowing during the last part of 2018. Therefore, it is time employers and immigrants become better educated with the enforcement powers of ICE, how to handle notice of an immigration audit, and what to do if you are detained or accused of working illegally in the U.S. How Does ICE Identify Individuals Working Illegally? There are several stats that indicate ICE is increasing the number of enforcement actions across several channels. For example, ICE has increased the number of arrests made at court hearings, hospitals, and county jails in California. Therefore, last week’s report that investigation and detection through employers aren’t shocking or unnerving, but it is still informative. In certain instances, employers are approached by ICE and fully cooperate with enforcement actions. This can include allowing ICE onto private property without a warrant or allowing ICE to stop employees as they report for work. In other instances, ICE must take additional measures to identify illegal immigrants in California. One means for starting these investigations is through an I-9 audit notice. It is these I-9 audit notices that hit record numbers at the…

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Complexities of Seeking Refugee Status in the United States

By Greco Neyland | August 3, 2018 | 0 Comments

Through the first half of 2018, the United States is on track to accept the fewest number of refugees in 40 years. This statistic represents both a recent change in the public’s attitude toward refugees and changes to actual policies. Both are driving down the number of refugees arriving in the United States, even as the number of refugees and displaced persons worldwide continues to climb. The decreasing number of refugees to the United States is a quantifiable representation of the difficulties foreign nationals faces to secure refugee status. How complicated is it for someone seeking refugee status in the United States to succeed and what can a Los Angeles immigration lawyer do to make this route to immigration possible? Who Is a Refugee? We should probably take a step backward and clearly define what is meant by the term “refugee.” The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says that a refugee is any person that was persecuted or fears persecution on the basis of race, religion, nationality, or membership to a political group. The formal definition of “refugee” is found in the Immigration and Nationality Act, passed by Congress in 1965. Practically speaking, this definition usually applies to individuals impacted by war, famine, or political unrest in their home country, and more importantly because of these events at home they are unable to return home. The United States, along with most other countries around the world, accepts refugees as a form of humanitarian aid. Individuals that are eligible as refugees, due to the above circumstances, are granted special protection in a foreign county, either for a limited period of time or as permanent residents. An individual becomes a refugee once displaced from his or her country of nationality, but it is possible to apply for refugee status while still at home. Who Is Successful in Securing Refugee Status? The United States imposes several eligibility and procedural requirements on a foreign national seeking refugee status. A Los Angeles immigration lawyer can help you navigate many of these hurdles or explain the likelihood that your case will qualify for review by…

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After the Deadline: What Happens to Families Deemed Ineligible for Reunification?

By Greco Neyland | July 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Summer 2018 will be remembered for many major stories on immigration and immigration policy. Several of these stories centered on events in California. Among these events are two crucial decisions by California judges. The first was a decision by Judge John Mendez in Sacramento, who made the initial ruling against the federal government in its takedown of California’s sanctuary laws. The second decision was by a judge in San Diego, requiring the federal government to reunite immigrant families separated at the border. It’s this second decision we focus on today, as the deadline to reunite these families came and went on Thursday, July 26th and 711 children weren’t reunited with their parents. These children remain in the custody of the federal government, deemed ineligible for reunification. From the perspective of a California deportation lawyer, we ask: what does the federal government mean by the term ineligible for reunification and what happens to these 711 children following this July deadline? Reuniting Families Separated at the Border Over a month ago, a U.S. district court judge in San Diego ordered the federal government to reunite minor children separated from their parents at the U.S. border. The judge imposed two deadlines on these reunifications. The initial deadline, set for two weeks ago required the government to reunite all children under the age of five. The latter deadline was yesterday, July 26th, when the government was required to reunite all remaining children in their custody. The federal government was able to meet this deadline for reunification, with one glaring exception. As of today, July 27th there are still 711 children in federal custody. The families of these children were deemed ineligible for reunification. It’s a term that the federal government has applied broadly to several different situations and circumstances. What Does the Government Mean by “Ineligible for Reunification?” In some instances, the federal government found criminal records for the individual claiming responsibility and guardianship over a child. While other guardians were deemed ineligible because DNA conflicted their story or proposed relationship to the child. The federal government concluded that these circumstances created safety concerns…

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Reality TV to Real-Life: How to Become 90 Day Fiancé

By Greco Neyland | July 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

Few things make better television than new romantic relationships. This is part of the thinking behind the TLC network’s reality/documentary show 90 Day Fiancé. The show follows several couples that have applied for or received a K-1 visa in the United States. This particular visa scheme allows an engaged couple to spend 90 days living in the United States before they must get married and change their visa status. The premise of the show is to chronicle the ups and downs, frustrations and happy moments, and the eventual marriage of these international lovers. As you watch the drama unfold, you can be fooled into thinking that the K-1 visa and concept of a 90-day fiancé is mere myth, designed for television ratings. This isn’t the case. Beyond the TV show, many real-life couples are contacting a California spousal visa lawyer and using the K-1 visa scheme to advance their relationship and legally marry in the United States. Unlike the TV show, many real-life couples make it through their 90-day trial period and to the altar. Which probably leaves you wondering, what are the requirements of the K-1 visa and how does the visa scheme work? What Is the 90-Day Fiancé Visa? Even before there was a television show, the K-1 visa was often nicknamed the 90-day fiancé visa because of its structure and requirements. It is a non-immigrant visa, which means that recipients of the K-1 visa are only permitted in the United States for a specific purpose and period of time. You can’t remain in the United States indefinitely and if your eligibility status for the K-1 visa changes, you must return to your country of origin. The specific purpose of a K-1 visa is to allow foreign fiancés of United States citizens to travel to the United States to get married. Under the conditions of the visa, the United States citizen and K-1 visa recipient must be married within 90 days of the recipient’s arrival in the United States. Immigration officials strictly enforce the 90-day timeframe, and if a wedding is called off or delayed, the foreign national…

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