Is it Propaganda? 26-Dec-2016

I expect  many of you do not know as you sit at your breakfast table[1] with your I-Phone, LG or Moto, I’ve got some news for you:

            You are a separate market that gets a filtered news or information.

Part of our law firm advertising program is using the internet. We design our own websites. For a long time, we have known that our Mobile product is entirely different from our Desktop and Tablet product. We make sure that the mobile (cell phone version) works well. We do little but accomodate the small screen.

What I noticed recently, with some discomfort, was that the Immigration News and Reference Materials available to me on the net were different depending on the device I was using. Whether that is using a link to disguise the lack of legitimacy of a source or just saying different things to different groups based on device use is concerning.

[1] Or on the train, or in McDonalds or . . .



VOA (Voice of America) reports that in an interview Trump Advisory Counsel Member Luis Quinones says there will be a softer stand for those who are of the American Spirit:

VOA:                        There are rumors of mass deportations, kids are scared, mothers are scared.

Quinones:             They are lies. The president-elect asked us to be in a conference call he said, “Tell them there won’t be mass deportations.” The criminals will be deported. We will also deport those who abuse their tourist visa. If you stay here and pay taxes and Social Security and you are building a retirement, we will smooth the process to allow them to be part of the labor force. If you commit a crime, you will be in a database and we will find you.

VOA November 18, 2016.

While the above is old, we have not seen any retrenchment from this position. We spoke of who should be most concerned in our prior post, this adds some more definition and makes clear, postorder, preorder or as a visitor overstay, criminal behavior will be a problem

A politician’s promise is like a used car saying the car he is trying to sell you is the best in the world.

For those who are not inured in the life cycle of a Presidential Candidate to a President, the one thing that can be counted on is the Promises and Positions of the campaign are always forgotten after the presidential candidate becomes President. The one that comes immediately to mind is Republican George Herbert Walker Bush promise “Read my lips: No new taxes.” One would presume the reality of running the government brought about the change to being a tax and spend Republican.

The more telling stand change was Republican president Ronald Regan (perhaps better known as a union buster ) cut taxes his first term. Then, after his second term was won, by sophisticated changes in tax laws and regulations, raised taxes a lot. Perhaps again a dose of reality catching up with the empty promises.


President elect Trump made a lot of promises during his campaign. The ones that most concern my immigrant clients is those that promise to send home those who do not have legal status. With today’s president elect’s immigration policy, it is likely to be the same. You can not, under the present structure, send home between 2,000,000 and 30,000,000 people quickly, if at all. That may not be the end of it though.

Who Runs Our Immigration System?

Day to day control of the Immigration System is most effected by the Attorney General. (Ignoring the Secretary of DHS and the Director of USCSI) The Attorney General’s actions do not have an immediate check and balance as the other actions of the  President do — he can pretty much just do it.

President Elect Trump has nominated Senator (R-AL) Jeff Session to be Attorney General. As Mr. Sessions is a senator, we see little chance his nomination will be blocked. Because of the Attorney Generals control over the official interpretation of Law in the immigration field (remembering Chevron) he is a powerful actor in Immigration.

Ranking of Risk – my opinion only

  • Final Order based on serious criminal act
  • Final Order based on less serious criminal act – Assault, Intoxicated Driving etc.
  • Final Order , subsequent criminal act
  • Criminal act (new in list)
  • Final Order
  • Final Order with proven relief or really good equities

Conclusion and Recommendation

If you do not have a Permanent, secure, status in the United States, you should be concerned. You should, not later, but today, start taking steps to have a more secure position.

Reflect on time being a valuable resource. It takes time to put any plan in place. If your attitude is I will wait, what will you do if you are still waiting and are involved in a Traffic Stop? A workplace visit? Someone looking for someone else but finds you? You may not have time then

Time is an asset, you should visit with an immigration professional and check out your options before it is too late!



Our New President – What will he do on Immigration? #1

Our New President – What will he do on Immigration? #1

We have all heard the rallying cry of “send them all home,” but as a practical matter, this just can not be done. Whether you believe that are 11,000,000 or as some have said, 30,000,000 this is not an easy project, and it is an act that will have a profound negative effect on our economy. So, it is my opinion that “Send them all home!” has about as much meaning as a reality TV star saying “your fired!”

General Advice

If you have an Immigration Problem, you need a plan and some available relief. While it is not possible to give good and specific advice in a writing like this, here are a few hints which are applicable to almost all who have Immigration trouble.

You need Available Relief

Things that will help

  • Citizen or Permanent Resident Spouse will help
  • Equities (things that make you look more valuable) stuff will help – children, public service, church, temple or mosque participation. And US Born Children.
  • Lack of recent criminal activity coupled with evidence of rehabilitation
  • Paying US Taxes (if you are being paid cash, you can still and are required to pay taxes)

If you do not have any relief available and your only reason to be here is you like it, you should be concerned.

Final Order Aliens

If you have been to Immigration Court and have been ordered deported (removed) and your removal has either not been appealed or has been affirmed by the BIA, you are a final order person. There are many many final order persons in the United States. Immigration telling them to leave does not equate to the final order person being gone.

The foremost tool to urge folks to leave is disinformation and misinformation including threats. When a person voluntarily leaves, it costs the government nothing, so there is an incentive for the governments urge this action.

Reasonable Fear

If you come from a country where you will face harm, not just poverty or discomfort, but harm, you are not likely to be removed. You have to say something and under present policy, you will be given a reasonable fear interview.  The United States does not send folks back to face death because of Religion, Political Opinion, Ethnicity, National Origin or Social Group. Even if you have failed at Political Asylum, if you still have a reasonable fear, you should try.

Ranking of Risk – my opinion only

  • Final Order based on serious criminal act
  • Final Order based on less serious criminal act – Assault, Intoxicated Driving etc.
  • Final Order , subsequent criminal act
  • Final Order
  • Final Order with proven relief or really good equities

What About Trump’s day 1 promise to remove 2-3 M?

Trump has said he will remove 2,000,000 to 3,000,000 criminal aliens on his first day.  To get this number, he likely has counted every alien with or without a final order who has any criminal history. TRAC (Transnational Records Access Clearinghouse) that there are only about 174,000 criminal deportees (those with final orders) – this is the top two categories above. All without Final Orders who are not arriving aliens will be entitled to our Statutorily and Constitutionally (5th Amendment) provided due process. Due today means months if not years of litigation, if there is any relief available – no quick trip to the airplane.


Conclusion and Recommendation

If you do not have a Permanent, secure, status in the United States, you should be concerned. You should, not later, but today, start taking steps to have a more secure position.

Reflect on time being a valuable resource. It takes time to put any plan in place. If your attitude is I will wait, what will you do if you are still waiting and are involved in a Traffic Stop? A workplace visit? Someone looking for someone else but finds you? You may not have time then

Time is an asset, you should visit with an immigration professional and check out your options before it is too late!


Trump on Immigration Nov-13-2016


VIRGINIA BEACH, VA - SEPTEMBER 06: Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pauses during a campaign event September 6, 2016 in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Trump participated in a discussion with retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Trump On Immigration

Based on recent words.  13-Nov-2016 – 68 days till inauguration.

Trump has said that he will deport or jail 2-3 Million criminal aliens immediately.

There are many levels of criminal offenses.  Traffic violations such as Unlicensed Operation are criminal here in Massachusetts and so is driving while intoxicated.  But criminal offenses are on a continuum from regulatory offenses which are bad on their face – like selling drugs, child molestation, and murder.
Does this mean only people who have a deportation order based on a criminal act, or does it mean Visa Overstays that have been caught driving while intoxicated?  Another thing that is very important is that in Massachusetts, many criminal defendants over the years have been told that a Continued Without a Finding (CWOF) is not a conviction.  While it is not a Conviction for State Law purposes, it is a conviction for Immigration purposes.

This was included in a BBC World item on 11/13/2016 based on an interview and included Trump’s voice.

Citizenship and Selective Service

Are you under 26 years old?

Or saying it another way, have had your 26 birthday?

If you are a non-US citizen Immigrant, this is important to you.


The United States requires all men between the ages of 18 and 26 to register for selective service. As it is a legal requirement. Not doing it is a sign of not having Good Moral Conduct.[1] It is easy to register. There is an on-line process (SSS stands for Selective Service System) which works if you have a Social Security number (not an ITIN). If you do not have a Social Security number, you still must register on paper using the web available form or one available at each and every US Post Office. Please also see “Automatic Registration” below.

Who is exempt?

Those who are over 26 may not register. Those in valid non-immigrant status are not required to register (F students B tourists). Those are to common ones. Everyone, everyone else who is present must register – EWIs, Visa Overstays and Students who have or are out-of status– must register. It is free. If you don’t, you will have to wait 3 or 5 years after your 26th birthday to apply for citizenship.

What is Selective Service?

Selective Service is what the United States government calls conscription into military service – the draft. Through the first half of the 20th century we had conscription during war, when the war ended, it ended. After World War 2, you know, the one with Germany and Japan, it was kept in place until a brief period after the second Indochina war. In 1979, it came back and has stayed. Whatever it is, it is a rule that my delay your ability to become a citizen.

“Automatic” Registration

If came to the United States as a non-immigrant – a Student, a Tourist, a Skilled Worker or a Fiance – you very likely Registered for Selective Service when you signed your green card application, if you were over 18.

For many years, USCIS has included language in the I-485 for registration. I have never been able to verify the registration electronically, you just need to know it is there.

If you Consular Processed (processed at a US Embassy) as an Immigrant, you may have registered when you signed your application for an immigrant visa. If you were over 18 years of age, and you signed the old paper application – DS-230 – you would have registered. Again, I have never been able to verify the registration electronically, you just need to know it is there.

The newer electronic Immigrant Visa application – DS-260 – does not have the same provision for registration. It appears that the DS-260 was first used in a few locations in 2009 and today its use is universal.

In both of the above “automatic” registrations, the form that shows you registered is part of your alien file. You can get a copy of your alien file by filing a FOIA[2].


[1] Good Moral Character is required to become a US Citizen.

[2] Freedom of Information Act.

USCIS Proposed Fee Schedule

Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo.
Photograph of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security logo.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has published a new fee schedule. Overall, if approved as final, the fees will increase about 21%. The entire publication was in the Federal Register on 04-May-2016 under Department of Homeland Security. It is quite long, but we have provided below a summary of the more common fees for cases we deal with. The new fees are not in place yet and I do not expect them to be imposed until after July 5, 2016 comments close date.


Form Old Fee New Fee see below
I-485 985 1140 *
I-130 420 535
I-131 360 575 *
I-129F 340 535
I-90 365 485 *
I-102 330 445
I-539 290 370
I-601A 585 630 *
I-751 505 595 *
I-765 380 410 *
N-400 595 640 *#
N-600 600 1170
* In addition to the filing fee, there is an $85 Fingerprint/Biometrics Fee
# N-400 now has a 2 tier fee waiver process with different fees.

Fiance Visas Under Attack

Fiancé Visas have been around for quite a while. Today, the fiancé visa process seems under fire.

On December 2, 2015, there was an attack by a married couple on a holiday party in California. The woman was a recent immigrant who entered the United States as a fiancé, married and became a Green Card holder. As the investigation has gone on it has unearthed information that seems to indicate that she likely entered the United States with bad intentions toward the United States.

Many, even presidential candidates, have spoken of harsh restrictions on entry into the United States. They have even spoken of restricting entry based on national origin or religion. Most recently, there had been talk of a pause in the fiancée process (see New York Times “U.S. Visa Process . . .” ). Others have pointed out the popularity of the fiancé process (Politico “ ’ Fiancé visas’ off limits . . .“ )

While the New York Times article speaks affirmatively about the review of the last 2 years of Fiancé Visas that have been issued, it spoke in ‘maybe’ terms about a pause. In my office, we have a fairly steady flow of fiancé cases. We have not seen any signs of them stopping or being all sent to “administrative processing.” I will post again, it a trend seems to be developing.

When Congress created Fiancé Visas it was to speed up the unification of couples that intended to marry and to lower the monetary cost of the process. My perception of the process is that in many ways it is identical to the process for an Immigrant Visa, where the spouse enters as a Permanent Resident with a Green Card. In most respects, the are treated as Immigrant Visas, as the Beneficiary is not expected to return to the home country – they immigrate.

For some couples, the fiancé process is substantially faster and works well. For other, it is more or less the same as the spouse IV process, but with substantial risk of having to re-do and change to a spouse visa. Young people without prior marriages, children or immigrations histories do well and usually transit the fiancé process quickly. Age, age differences, past marriages, immigration histories all add to processing time.

With a fiancé visa, if the Embassy says ‘no’ and sends the case back, there is virtually no chance of reviving that fiancé petition. While an approved fiancé visa past its validity dates can be revalidated by a Consular Officer, once it is returned to the USCIS service center, it is USCIS policy not to revalidate or reaffirm. Immigrant Visas for spouses do not expire the same way and can be reaffirmed by USCIS.

Usually when someone comes to my office, the decision to do fiancé or spouse is clear. Perhaps the weight will change with these new developments, perhaps it will not.


Caveat Emptor

The term caveat emptor is commonly used to emphasize the proposition that the burdens of failure are all allocated to the buyer. In an immigration context, caveat emptor is still an important principal. When you choose a representative in an immigration matter, you should be careful. If there are serious problems or if there is a question of fraud, the Petitioner or the Beneficiary are the ones that are punished.

The community I practice in has a wide spectrum and variety of folks that offer immigration services from the neighborhood guy that hand writes immigration forms to law offices like mine where we concentrate on immigration matters. We have no argument with anyone providing good services, but, even the flashy shops with a store front sometimes provide misguided services.

Areas with Problems

Fake Documents of all kinds (foreign and domestic), Fraudulent Fee Waiver Applications, Covering up prior immigration history and offering to do something that is not possible, reduced age birth certificates are all in the unethical practitioner’s took kit. Please note that this is not intended to criticize the honest practitioner.

Selecting a Practitioner

Generally, if you hire a lawyer, the lawyer will 1) act honestly and lawfully, 2) encourage you to comply with the law, and be listed as a lawyer by the state agency that regulates lawyers. Lawyers may be Notary Publics, but a Notary Public is not necessarily a lawyer. In the contiguous United States, there is no “Notario” credential, although it is an advanced credential for lawyers admitted to practice in Puerto Rico and some other Latin American countries. Lawyers always sign there forms – this could be chalked up to one is willing to take responsibility for what they have done.

When you go to the guy next door – say Cock of the Walk Immigration Services, Fiancée Services, or Joes Multiservices and Travel, you may not get the result you want. Some encourage fraud on the theory that you are unlikely to be caught. Some offer fake documents. Some just encourage you to cover up a marriage or prior immigration history. Most of these practices have become readily detectable during the last 10-20 years.

One thing that has changed over the last 20 years is Immigration is not a forgiving organization, they are a law enforcement organization. You can not say someone else is at fault to avoid being penalized – you are the one that will be punished.

Please be careful who you choose. If you get in trouble, most lawyers can and will help. Everyone is entitled to counsel, although less than 20% of Immigration matters have counsel. In Immigrations, sometimes you only have one chance to get it right, choose who helps you carefully.



Expert Report on Immigration

July brought us a report from the White House on Immigration called “Modernizing & Streamlining Our Legal Immigration System for the 21st Century.” It is a lengthy report authored by non-immigration professionals. High-tech professionals wrote it. Essentially, apart form crediting a few good attempts, it points out in many areas that the King has no clothes. I would commend it as a read that speaks of the future not of the present.

Like most reports from blue ribbon panels, it is sparse in condemnation and criticism. It also in some areas shows significant influence of interest groups.

Two things are worth paying special attention to:

Elis and the $165 Green Card fee got both praise and criticism.

  • Elis was praised as a step in the right direction.
  • The $165 fee was condemned as a disjoint process – another fee to pay at another time. (Example $420 with the I-130 to USCIS, $120 & $325 to NVC – DOS for reviewing your financials and processing an Immigrant Visa and $165 to USCIS to produce a Green Card)

There was a suggestion to “front load” the NVC DOS process so that most visa processing will occur during the first 3 fiscal quarters – October – June.

  • It does make sense, as it will leave more resources free for DV processing in the DV rush season.
  • The more significant effect on the immigrant base is that it is likely to cause some of the preference categories (F1, F2A, F2B, F3, F4) to become current earlier in the fiscal year. Pay those fees, submit those papers!


The Tax Man NEVER Calls (or Emails)




The IRS will never call you
The IRS will never call you

We have again started getting calls from clients who think they have gotten calls from the IRS (Federal Government Tax Collector) or Emails.  These are fakes trying to steal your money.

The IRS never uses email.  If you get an Email from the IRS, delete it.  It is someone trying to steal your money or information.  Do not reply, do not click on any links.

The IRS does not call and threaten to arrest you if you do not send money by MoneyGram or Western Union.  This is someone trying to steal your money. When the IRS contacts you, they write you a letter; if you don’t respond, they write another letter; If it is serious and you don’t respond, they send it Certified Mail.

Please call if you have a question.


The Law Man