Articles Posted in Lawful Permanent Residents

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Congratulations! You recently got married and your new spouse is a U.S. citizen, but you are not. One of the first questions on your mind may be: how do I get my green card now that I am married to a citizen? The answer could be fairly simple—or quite complex. No matter what your situation, if you marry a U.S. citizen and want to adjust your status (become a lawful permanent resident) go see an experienced and trusted immigration attorney for a consultation. https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html

Many experienced and knowledgeable immigration attorneys may charge you a nominal fee for the consultation, but it is definitely worth it. Remember the old saying, “you get what you pay for,” well that is usually the case with free advice from attorneys. An attorney who charges you a consultation fee will likely spend more time preparing for and with you during the consultation. An attorney who gives you a free consultation may not want to spend anymore time with you or talking to you then they have too, remember, an attorney’s time and knowledge is their money.

Now back to how to try and get your green card now that you are married to a U.S. citizen. My guidance will start with the premise that you and your new spouse married for love and not solely for an immigration benefit—this is not a “how to engage in marriage fraud” piece. Still, be sure to document your new life together, or as we say in the field, gather evidence that you have “co-mingled” your lives. That means if you have not already open a joint bank account that you will put money into and use for marital expenses, do it now. Add each other to car insurance, life insurance, health, dental, vision insurance and retirement accounts. If you buy a house or apartment or condo, make sure both of your names are on the deed and mortgage. If you rent, make sure your existing lease is amended to add your spouse and any new lease has both of your names on it. Add your spouse to your credit cards or open new ones in both names. If you have utility, cable, and cell phone bills, add your spouse’s name. Every piece of paper, bill, or invoice that you can produce, post-marriage, that has both of your names and your marital address on it, will go a long way to convincing the immigration officers that your marriage is real and not solely for immigration purposes.

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This is a scary and surprising fact pattern that all to many green card holders find themselves in after a short or long trip outside of the country. No matter how long you have had your green card and how many times you have traveled outside the country in the past, on any given return trip, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers can stop you at the air or sea port, take your green card and try to deport you. The ugly truth is that until you become a U.S. citizen, immigration officers can come knocking at your door on any given day and try to detain and deport you for a variety reasons.

As usual, I am not trying to scare anyone with this blog, but I have seen it hundreds of times both as an immigration attorney here in Orlando and in my former role as a Senior Attorney with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (check out my webpage for more info: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html). If you have a green card and you think it can never happen to you, they will never take my green card and detain me and try to deport me, you could be sadly mistaken.

Whenever anyone (including green card holders) enters the United States and they are not a citizen, they run the risk of being forced to “seek admission” to the country just like every tourist, student, and other non-resident who comes to our border. Usually, if you have a green card, when you come back to the U.S., you get to show your foreign passport and green card, they ask you a question or two and you are then free to enter and return to your home here in the great United States. However, if you fall into one of many categories found in section 101(a)(13)(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, even if you have a green card, you will be deemed to be “seeking admission” and will be judged by the same standards as someone who has never been to the country before.

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If you have a green card and have been arrested in the past, you may have many questions about your immigration options. If I renew my green card will they find out about my record and deport me? If I file an N-400 and try to obtain my citizenship, am I eligible and if I am denied, will they try to deport me? What happens if I travel out of the country, even for a short trip? If I do nothing is that a good idea?

These are all common and valid questions and ones we deal with on a regular basis when doing immigration consultations in our office-for more information about how to schedule a comprehensive immigration consultation with our office, check out our webpage at http://www.slgattorneys.com

The only way to truly give a lawful permanent resident (LPR) accurate advice on what to do and what not to do when they have a criminal record is to find out everything there is to know about their criminal, immigration and family history. You should probably only rely on an experienced immigration attorney (like me: https://www.slgattorneysflorida.com/john-gihon.html ) to tell you your options.

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Receiving a deferred inspection appointment notice can be a scary and traumatic event. Deferred inspection usually comes after you have spent a few hours, or perhaps many in secondary inspection at a sea or airport. Your first thoughts may be, what is deferred inspection? Why do I have to go there? What does it mean that I am “inadmissible.” Can I bring an attorney to the appointment? Should I bring an attorney with me to my deferred inspection appointment?

I recently worked through these questions with a client who has been a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. for 50 years and was confused and upset at the fact that immigration officers were giving him a hassle for something that happened over a decade prior. Lets start with the basics of what is deferred inspection.

When you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States you enjoy many rights and privileges regarding working, traveling and living in the United States that non-green cardholders do not have. However, having a green card is not the same as being a U.S. citizen and that is very obvious when green card holders travel from and return to the United States.

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Last month I had the honor of speaking at the Florida Public Defender Association’s 30th Annual “Trial with Style Conference” in unfortunately rainy Fort Lauderdale. While in one of my former lives as a state prosecutor and I like to think I always tried my cases with style, during this conference I did not talk about anything specifically to do with trying a case.

My topic was “Crimmigration: the intersection of Criminal and Immigration Law.” Let me preface this piece with the following caveat; not all immigrants are criminals (sorry Donald Trump) and recent research has shown that foreign-born residents are less likely to commit serious and violent crimes than native-born citizens.

That being said, this subject is of great interest to most criminal defense attorneys in Florida. Florida has the fourth-highest foreign-born population in the U.S. Almost 20% of all residents in Florida were born in another country. Because Florida is now the third largest state with a total population of over 20 million, that means we have roughly four million foreign-born people living in Florida. Florida is also top 10 in the country in crime rate. You combine all of these factors, and you see why criminal defense attorneys need to know immigration law.

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Over the last few months I had the opportunity to work with some fantastic immigration attorneys across the Southeast United States on a collaborative project. Our goal was to find, review and summarize every immigration-related and useful District Court and Circuit Court Case from the Eleventh Circuit and put them together in a newsletter. This was an enjoyable and educational experience. We expect to send out this newsletter every quarter and it will contain published and unpublished District Court cases from Florida, Alabama and Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

This would not be possible without the hard work of our multi-state team composed of Marshall Cohen, Roberta Cooper, Bruce Buchanan and myself, John Gihon. Here are the summaries of the District Court Cases for Alabama, Georgia and Florida. If anyone reading this newsletter has any suggestions, please contact me at John@slgattorneys.com or our editor, Bruce Buchanan at bbuchanan@visalaw.com

District Court Decisions

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Over the last few months I had the opportunity to work with some fantastic immigration attorneys across the Southeast United States on a collaborative project. Our goal was to find, review and summarize every immigration-related and useful District Court and Circuit Court Case from the Eleventh Circuit and put them together in a newsletter. This was an enjoyable and educational experience. We expect to send out this newsletter every quarter and it will contain published and unpublished District Court cases from Florida, Alabama and Georgia and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

This would not be possible without the hard work of our multi-state team composed of Marshall Cohen, Roberta Cooper, Bruce Buchanan and myself, John Gihon. Here are the summaries of the 11th Circuit Cases. If anyone reading this newsletter has any suggestions, please contact me at John@slgattorneys.com or our editor, Bruce Buchanan at bbuchanan@visalaw.com

11th Circuit Cases:

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There is a bill currently pending before Florida Senate that seeks to increase the maximum punishment for certain crimes committed by “illegal immigrants.” You can read the text of Senate Bill 150 here:

http://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2016/0150/BillText/__/HTML

Thankfully, there is no companion bill in the House. At first glance, many Floridians may think, “good, if someone is here illegally and commits a crime, they should face higher penalties.” But that gut reaction is wrong in this case, as the devil is always in the details. If you know anything about immigration law or have been following the protracted fights between the Obama administration and the federal courts over immigration, you know that the Federal Government and Federal Courts have a hard time interpreting and administering federal immigration laws themselves. What this bill proposes to do is to impose upon the Florida courts, prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys the additional time, financial and legal burden of determining the immigration status of a person before, during and after they commit a crime. This is much easier said then done.

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Finding yourself in handcuffs and under arrest is a traumatic experience for everyone. Many thoughts run through your mind, where will they take me, will I be able to get out of jail, can I afford a criminal defense attorney? One thought that should also be at the forefront for everyone arrested who is not a U.S. citizen is, how will this arrest affect my immigration status and will I be deported?

For non-citizens who are arrested, hiring a criminal defense attorney is just the first step in protecting your rights. While criminal defense attorneys in both state and federal court are charged by the U.S. Constitution with providing accurate immigration advice to their clients, in reality, this often does not happen. Criminal defense attorneys are often unable to give accurate immigration advice because they do not practice immigration law and have no idea what the effects of a given criminal charge will be for a client.

This is true because the criminal aspects of immigration law, or crimmigration is a very nuisanced, complicated, ever-changing and inconsistent area of law that even the most experienced immigration attorneys are often fearful of practicing. If immigration attorneys don’t know the immigration consequences of criminal prosecutions, how can your criminal defense attorney be expected to know them?

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This Friday and Saturday, October 16th & 17th, the Central Florida Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will host its 2015 Annual Immigration Law Conference in Orlando. This conference will feature leading immigration experts from across the United States and a sitting U.S. Congressman. The venue is the beautiful Omni Champions Gate Resort.

SLG has the honor of having two of its partners, Jeremy Lasnetski and John Gihon, selected to be panelists at the conference.

Jeremy was chosen to be the discussion leader on the U.S. Citizenship and Naturalization panel. This panel will cover topics including the acquisition of citizenship by birth abroad, derivation of citizenship through a naturalizing parent and the requirements and procedure for naturalization.