What’s the Immigration Law Behind a Policy of Separating Children from Parents at the Border?

By Greco Neyland | June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

This year U.S. immigration laws, processes, and policies have dominated the headlines. We started 2018 with a divisive debate on how or whether to protect the young Dreamers under DACA. Since we’ve seen issue after issue emerges from the press and White House. Immigration in the Headlines and Under the Radar Just in the past six months, we’ve discussed overhauling the entire U.S. immigration policy. We noted an uptick in the number of people deported from the U.S., and a drop in the number of people detained at the U.S. border, followed by a steep rise in the number of individuals attempting an illegal border crossing. We heard the Trump Administration announce the end of Temporary Protected Status for Hondurans in the U.S., on top of earlier announcements to end similar protection for people from Haiti, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Sudan, and Nepal. Less noticeably, a California immigration lawyer has seen changes to student visas, policy shifts towards legal foreign workers, and the end of asylum for victims of domestic violence. All of these policy and legal changes have an impact on how easy or difficult it is to navigate the U.S. immigration system. Currently, it’s complicated and unreliable, and the advice of a California immigration lawyer even more valuable. What Are We Talking About Today? Now, the country is fully focused on another issue. The Trump Administration announced that in April and May nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the U.S. border. These migrant families were separated on the basis of the parents’ undocumented status in the U.S. What laws and policies are behind these headlines and how can they impact other immigrants and migrants in California? When Did a Policy of Separating Families Begin? The dilemma of how to deter illegal immigration on the U.S.’s southern border with Mexico is nothing new. Past presidents have faced the same question and developed different policies to try and curtail and contain the issue. However, neither Republicans nor Democrats have relied on the same rhetoric or strict policies as the Trump Administration. Soon after his inauguration, President Trump’s team…

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What Does It Take to Get an Entertainment Visa in California?

By Greco Neyland | June 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

Musicians and artists from around the world dream of coming to California for concerts or performances. Each year, thousands of these creative individuals put in their application for an entertainment visa from the United States government, but only a small percentage are approved. Working with an entertainment visa lawyer can assist with this process, but if you are seeking one of these elusive visas to perform in California, you should understand the entertainment visa process. The steps to obtain an entertainment visa in California are specific and detailed. Even when you meet all the eligibility requirements, your entertainment visa can be denied by the United States Department of State. For example, if you don’t follow the immigration process, including the order of payment, application and supporting documents, then your application will likely be rejected. What do you need to know for a successful entertainment visa application? Here’s what it takes. #1: Meet Each of the Eligibility Requirements of an Entertainment Visa? There are several different visa schemes for an entertainer to come to California. All entertainment visas are issued for a set and limited duration; often, approval of the visa is tied to your performance at a specific event. Each of these visa schemes has different eligibility requirements that an applicant must meet. If you can’t show evidence of meeting or exceeding each requirement, your visa won’t be approved. Throughout this process gathering your supporting documents is essential, a step that requires additional support from a California immigration lawyer. The first entertainment visa is the O1 visa. Only individuals can apply for this visa, not performing groups or bands. This visa scheme is meant to allow international performers of a very high caliber perform in the United States. A performer or artist must show they have an extraordinary ability in his or her field that is demonstrated by a high level of achievement in the individual’s home country. Groups, teams, bands, and dance troupes apply under the P visa scheme for performing or playing in the United States. While eligible to groups, the P visa has its own set of…

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What Actually Happened to the 1,500 Missing Immigrant Children?

By Greco Neyland | May 30, 2018 | 0 Comments

Over the weekend an immigration story was shared across the U.S. It was a story that certainly caught the attention of more people than an immigration lawyer in California. In social media posts and news outlets, there were reports that the U.S. government, specifically the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), had “lost” nearly 1,500 immigrant children. The various posts and reports escalated from Friday through Sunday, with much uncertainty as to the exact status of these children or how the government managed to lose track of their whereabouts. Then, as Monday came to a close, people were left with many questions and a lot of concern over government policy regarding minor children crossing the U.S. border. People were asking a wide range of questions from, “How do you lose that many vulnerable children?” to, “What immigration policies led to this problem?” These questions were politically and socially important to answer. Also, learning the truth behind who these 1,500 children were and the circumstances behind their disappearance in the U.S. would shine new light on other procedures unfolding the current U.S. immigration policy. The Original Story of These 1,500 Children The original story about these missing 1,500 children broke back in April. Over a month ago, the Acting Assistant Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services testified before the U.S. Senate. As part of this testimony, Steven Wagner stated that the Office of Refugee Resettlement, a division of HHS, did not know the whereabouts or location of 1,475 children who arrived in the U.S. as unaccompanied minors. More specifically, The Acting Assistant Secretary stated, that the Office of Refugee Resettlement could not, “determine with certainty,” the whereabouts of these unaccompanied minors. This inability to locate the children was more an inability to reach their current caretakers, who may or may not be undocumented individuals themselves. Soon after this testimony, the New York Times reported the story of 1,500 unaccompanied minors, who arrived at the U.S. border, were placed with family members or sponsors in the country, and now could not be accounted for. One Month Later a…

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Change to the OPT Visa and What an LA Student Visa Lawyer Thinks New Applicants Need to Know

By Greco Neyland | May 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

The F-1 visa is the most common visa for foreign undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. students to study and take courses in the United States. Admittedly, the number of F-1 visa applicants and approved students has dropped consistently in recent years, with 2017 one of the lowest years for applicants since 2000. Yet, this remains an incredibly popular educational opportunity for students around the world. In 2017 there were over 393,000 applications processed and approved for foreign students. Why Do F-1 Visa Holders Need an OPT Visa? An LA student visa lawyer can assist foreign students wanting to study anywhere in California. However, students choosing this route to foreign study commonly encounter a major problem. The F-1 visa has strict requirements around working, internships, and practical experiences. This can limit the depth of knowledge an F-1 student gains and also hinders financial advancement. The solution to this working problem is simultaneously holding an OPT visa; a process that can be facilitated by the same LA student visa lawyer. The OPT visa officially titled the Optional Practical Training visa, allows an F-1 student to accept employment, with a private or public entity, in his or her major area of study. A Chinese student working towards masters in mechanical engineering can work at an LA engineering firm. Alternatively, a Korean student studying computer programming can work at a digital agency as a front-end developer. What are the Types of OPT Visas? There are actually two types of OPT visa, and as with other student and working visas, it is important for an LA student visa lawyer to help an overseas student apply for the right one. The pre-completion OPT is a visa for students that want to work before completing their program or study in the United States. The pre-completion OPT can be used to get a summer job or work during a school semester. However, an F-1 student must have completed one full year of study before applying for a pre-completion OPT visa. The post-completion OPT is designed for students that want to gain work experience after their chosen program or schooling…

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The Top Questions Asked at a U.S. Port of Entry

By Greco Neyland | May 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

By working with a California immigration lawyer, you applied for a visitor visa and it was successful or you were able to obtain a visa through the Visa Waiver Program. You have a flight purchased, hotels booked, and big plans to travel through the United States. All of the highlights in California are on your list, including Yosemite, Hollywood, La Jolla in San Diego, and the wine country of Napa. Now, as you pack and finalize other details of a holiday in the U.S., there is just one major hurdle before your passport is stamped and the road trip or city exploration begins – immigration at a U.S. port of entry. You can’t visit the U.S. without speaking to a U.S. immigration or customs officer. Even U.S. citizens are required to speak with an immigration officer, even if briefly, before returning home. These important individuals are tasked with reviewing all of your documentation for entry to the U.S., verifying its accuracy and your reason for visiting, and ultimately admitting you to the country. During this process, a U.S. customs officer can ask you a variety of questions. What questions should you prepare to answer during the immigration process at the airport or other port of entry? These six questions are often asked. #1: What Is the Nature of Your Visit? As part of your U.S. visitor visa application or request for a visa waiver, you are required to answer questions about your reason for visiting the U.S. Alternatively, if you are coming to the U.S. for a purpose other than holiday, visiting friends or family, or approved business reasons, you had to provide evidence of employment sponsorship or university admittance to obtain one of these visas. A U.S. customs officer can question your purpose for arriving in the U.S. In many instances, the officer is looking for confirming the information on your visa. For example, you say you are studying when entering the U.S. on an F-1 visa student visa. However, this question should be simple for any non-immigrant to answer. Therefore, if a person shows nervousness or hesitancy in the…

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5 Tips for Getting Your U.S. Visitor Visa Approved

By Greco Neyland | May 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

If you are coming to the United States for a holiday, friend’s wedding, or to visit family, you may need a visitor visa to enter the country. Currently, only citizens from 38 countries can enter the United States without a visitor visa under the Visa Waiver Program. This means even if you are just in the United States for transit reasons, you’ll need a visa before reaching a port of entry. Provided you are eligible for a U.S. visitor visa, for example, that you have a valid reason for visiting the United States and don’t have criminal convictions, receiving visa should be a straightforward process. To further ensure that an applicant is approved smoothly, a California immigration lawyer follows these six tips #1: Prepare All Documents and Information Before Applying The most important part of the U.S. visitor visa process is the application form. On this document, you will state pertinent information, such as your purpose for visiting the United States, your immigration status, travel history, and other personal information. The U.S. Consulate representative who reviews your application will rely heavily on this document when considering your application for a visitor visa. However, this isn’t the only document you need for a successful application. Receiving a U.S. visitor visa can require supporting documentation, including evidence of employment, property ownership, and other ties to your home country. Through these documents, an applicant wants to establish that his or her visit is for a legal, legitimate visitor purpose and there is no risk of the individual remaining in the United States. A California immigration lawyer helps clients prepare and submit this documentation along with the online application. #2: Strictly Follow the Procedural Guidelines While a U.S. visitor’s visa is frequently for a shorter duration than employment visas or student visas, it is still a detailed process. Each year a substantial number of visitor visas are rejected for procedural problems alone. While it is possible to resubmit these failed applications, this extends the overall process and delays the start of your trip to the United States. Instead, you want to ensure that your…

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Want to Put on a Show? How an LA Immigration Lawyer Helps You Get an Entertainment Visa

By Greco Neyland | April 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

Each year thousands of musicians, artists, comedians, and other entertainers visit the United States for shows. As a deeply cultural city, LA warmly welcomes these foreign entertainers and many are beloved by the American public. It would truly be a detriment to the arts and culture in Los Angeles to prevent or hinder talented entertainers from other parts of the world from visiting the United States. Yet, most performances have a commercial purpose or result in financial gain for the foreign entertainer. This is considered “work” under the United States immigration laws, an activity that requires a particular visa. Unlike most working arrangements, an entertainer is only in the United States for a very short period of time and outside the parameters of an organized company or business. In many other ways, working as an entertainer is unique from other employment situations. Recognition of the unique qualities of entertainment and performance work, the United States developed specific visas for performers, artists, and other entertainers. An LA immigration lawyer helps an overseas band or foreign comedian to obtain an entertainment visa through these six steps. #1: Discuss Your Past Work and Upcoming Trip   An LA immigration lawyer needs specific information about your prior work experience and recognition as an entertainer, in addition to the details of your upcoming performances in the United States. This more information you can provide, the better as an LA immigration lawyer uses your responses to identity the correct visa scheme for you. There are two broad categories of entertainment visas. The O visa has an easier approval process, but heightened eligibility requirements. You must be an artist of extraordinary ability to obtain an O visa. As well, an O visa is only granted for a specific event, concert, performance, or show and that must be specified on the application in step 4. On the other hand, P visas have a more rigorous application process, but open to a broader range of applicants. Bands and other recognized performance groups can apply under the P1 visa scheme, while artists participating in a reciprocal exchange quality under the…

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How the Supreme Court Decision on Deportation Impacts Californian Immigrants?

By Greco Neyland | April 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

On Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court ruled that a portion of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) was unconstitutional and, therefore, unenforceable across the United States. The decision restricts when an immigrant can be deported because of a felony conviction, and the 5-4 decision is expected to hinder many of the Trump Administration’s initiatives to step up the deportation of convicted criminals. Wondering what the Supreme Court found problematic about the INA? Interested in how they reached their historic decision? Want or know how the Supreme Court decision on deportation will impact California immigrants? Our team at Greco Neyland in Los Angeles has the answers. Questions of Crimes and Violence for the Supreme Court James Garcia Dimaya arrived in the United States in 1992 at age 13. He was a Filipino citizen, admitted to the United States as a lawful permanent resident, and lived California most of his life. Then in 2007 and 2009, he pled no contest to charges of burglary in a California state court. While no contest is different from a guilty plea, the result is often the same for defendants, with Mr. Dimaya considered a convicted criminal by the state and the federal government. As a result of these convictions, the federal government initiated deportation proceedings against Mr. Dimaya in 2010. The argument for deportation, as approved by a California federal judge, was his two criminal convictions. The judge ruled that under the INA, Mr. Dimaya’s burglary charges were deemed aggravated felonies and crimes of violence. Committing crimes of violence were grounds for removal from the United States under the INA. Specifically, the INA stated that conviction of any crime that has as an, “element the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against the person or property of another,” or “involves a substantial risk that physical force against the person or property of another may be used in the course of committing the offense,” were grounds for removal. When the deportation proceedings against Mr. Dimaya began, he argued that these standards utilized by immigration enforcement and immigration courts were unconstitutional. Eventually, this argument…

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To Ask or Not to Ask: Confirming Citizenship on the 2020 Census

By Greco Neyland | April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Last week, the Trump Administration requested a late addition to the 2020 Census. The Justice Department asked the Department of Commerce to add a question on this upcoming Census regarding citizenship, which was subsequently approved by the Secretary of Commerce. Specifically, the question would require individuals and families to confirm they are U.S. citizens, but will not require individuals to state if they are legally or illegally in the United States. The decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 Census has caused uproar from the Democratic Party and support, or silence, from most Republicans. However, beyond the political divisiveness and implications in Washington, D.C., adding this question to the Census could have a big impact on communities across the United States. Our California immigration lawyers answer the most important questions about a citizenship question on the 2020 Census, including why the addition is important, what impact it could have, and your options for completing the Census in two years. What Basic Census Information Should You Know? Every 10 years the United States government endeavors to count every resident in the United States through a questionnaire process called the census. The U.S. Census Bureau puts together a set of questions regarding residence, number of dependents and children in the household, and other specific household questions. The overall goal is to determine the exact dispersal of the U.S. population. Only one member of each household, the head of the household, needs to return the census by mail, or in 2020, in an electronic format. The U.S. Census Bureau broadly utilizes and charts the data, but it is illegal for the personal information and individual responses to be shared with other federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The results of the census are crucial for future government and equal representation. Based on the census data, the federal government determines how many seats each state is awarded in the U.S. House of Representatives. California specific information and regional data are also utilized to determine the distribution of federal funds. An estimated $675 billion in funds is divvied up for infrastructure and…

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