Saturday, February 24, 2007

Immigration Consequence of a Criminal Conviction

This is a very brief summary of law regarding the consequences of a criminal conviction under the Immigration and Naturalization Act (“INA”). The INA allows certain non-citizens to live legally in the United States either temporarily or permanently. If a non-citizen takes some action that violates the conditions of legal residency, however, he or she becomes “removable”, that is, that he or she will be deported from the United States to his or her country of origin.

The law considers as reasons for deporting a non-citizen, among other, whether the person has committed a criminal act, has committed an immigration law violation, is a threat to national security or whether the immigrant would become a public charge.

INA sometimes allow removable non-citizens to obtain a relief from deportation. A removable person may be able to obtain certain “waivers” or pardons or may be able to obtain a “cancellation” of his or her removal or deportation. However, such waivers and/or cancellations are unavailable in certain cases and, in those cases that the remedy is available, it is within the discretion of the U.S. Department of Justice to grant a relief from deportation.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Immigration Interview: What to do?

DO prepare for the meeting. Bring copies all of your forms and all your document originals. You should be able to respond to questions about your forms without extensive referencing and confusion.

DO be prepared to answer personal questions if you are at an interview related to your marriage to a U.S. citizen.

DO follow the directions of the USCIS officer. If the officer wants to interview you and your spouse separately, that is perfectly appropriate.

DO listen carefully and answer only the question that the officer asks you.

DO bring an interpreter with you if you do not understand English.

DO dress appropriately for the occasion. This is an important meeting for you, and a good impression can't hurt.

DO remain calm. If you don't understand the question, ask the officer to rephrase it. If you really do not know the answer to a question, it is better to admit ignorance than make something up. It also helps to be prepared. If you know there is a part of your application that will raise suspicion, practice a truthful response.

DO show up on time. USCIS officers are notoriously difficult to reach and requests for changes in interview times are not well received. If you fail to show up for your appointment, you may have to endure a lengthy process to get another interview.

DO hire an attorney to accompany you if the thought of going through an interview alone is too overwhelming.


DON'T joke around with the USCIS officer. In particular, avoid joking or sarcasm related to drug dealing, communicable diseases, bigamy, or smuggling people into the country.

DON'T argue with your spouse or other family members in the middle of an interview. Agree before hand on what you will do if a disagreement arises during the interview.

DON'T argue with the USCIS officer. If the USCIS officer says part of your application is incomplete, ask for an explanation and attempt to remedy the situation by using the documents and forms you have brought with you.

DON'T lose your patience with the USCIS officer and refuse to answer questions. Questions that may seem inappropriate or unimportant to you are probably within the boundaries of what is allowed by USCIS policy. Just remember what the pay off is for going through with the interview.

DON'T lie to the USCIS officer. If you feel you have something that would be difficult to explain, hire an attorney. Your attorney should be able to defuse difficult situations during an interview.

List prepared by Findlaw for the Public (

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Violence Protection Act - U Visa

The Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act (VTVPA) intended to provide a special visa for victims of certain crimes to live legally in the United States. However, the Department of Homeland Security has yet to issue the regulations and to grant U Visas. For that reason, some victims of the specified crimes have been able to obtain a "U visa interim relief" which allows them to temporarily hold any action against them by the DHS and in some cases work legally.

The person interested in obtaining U visa relief should be able to prove, among other things, that he or she has suffered substantially as a result of being the victim of the specified criminal activity; that he or she possesses information about the criminal activity and is likely to help in the prosecution of said criminal activity.

Under VTVPA a victim of the following crimes may be able to obtain a remedy: rape, torture, trafficking, incest, domestic violence, sexual assault, abusive sexual contact, female genital mutilation, sexual exploitation, prostitution, peonage, abduction, kidnapping, slave trade, involuntary servitude, false imprisonment, blackmail, extortion, manslaughter, murder, felonious assault, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, perjury.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Your rights if "INS" detains you


It is Your Right…
If the Immigration Service arrests you:

· Do not answer any questions.

· Do not say anything about where you were born or how you entered the United States.

· Do not show any documents, except a letter from a lawyer. Above all, do not show any false documents!

· Do not sign anything, especially an Order of Voluntary Departure, without first talking to a lawyer.

· Tell the Immigration Service official that you want your hearing in the city closest to where you live where there is an immigration court (so that they do not transfer your case).

Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center – October 2006

If the Immigration Service comes to your home ...


You have rights ...

· Ask to see a Search Warrant. If the official does not show you one, you do not have to open the door.

· Do not sign anything, especially an Order of Voluntary Departure, without first talking to a lawyer.

· Do not answer questions. Do not tell them anything about where you were born or how you came to the United States.

· Do not show any documents if the officials do not show you a Search Warrant.

· Do not allow the official to enter your home. If you allow them in, you lose some of your rights.

Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center – October 2006

If you are working, do not panic ...


If the Immigration Service comes to your workplace:

· Do not run! It is better to remain calm. You can calmly leave an area where the Immigration Service has come.

If you are detained:

· Do not answer any questions. Do not say anything about where you were born or how you entered the United States.

· Do not sign anything, especially an Order of Voluntary Departure, before talking with a lawyer.

Prepared by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center – October 2006

Thursday, February 1, 2007


The current political winds have prompted a surge on "INS Holds. " An immigration detainer or immigration hold is a request by the U.S. Government to a state or local government for the local government not to release a detained non-citizen until the Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") is notified that the person is free to go on local charges. Once the non-citizen qualifies for local release from prison, and the ICE is notified, the U.S. Government generally has 48 hours to decide whether the person will go under federal custody. In most cases, the immigration authorities then issue a Notice to Appear, which is the document that formally begins deportation or removal proceedings.

In any case a person has been informed that there is an "INS Hold", it is important to consult with an immigration attorney to explore the remedies available to the person subject to the "hold" or detainer.