AdobeStock_483211582-300x200If you have a family member seeking permanent residence in the U.S., you may be able to help them apply for a green card. A green card allows people with a legally recognized relationship to live, work and attend school in the U.S. without needing a work visa or a student visa. 

However, the process does not come easy and can take more or less time depending on your family’s specific situation and ability to meet specific eligibility requirements. Whether you are a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident looking to petition for a family member, there are options that may be available.

Here are some of the ways you can get started with helping your non-citizen family member to apply for a green card:

Florida Immigration Law Racially Motivated, According to Federal JudgeAdobeStock_269451886-scaled

Portions of Florida’s immigration enforcement law that was a priority for Republican governor Ron DeSantis has been struck down by a federal judge, according to a report published by the Associated Press (AP). U.S. Federal Judge Beth Bloom rejected the sections of the law banning local government sanctuary policies as well as those requiring local law enforcement to make best efforts to coordinate with federal immigration enforcement authorities. Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill, which was pushed as a priority for his administration, into law in 2019. The governor’s office told news outlets that it would appeal Judge Bloom’s decision.

This is not the first time DeSantis has been challenged on laws passed during his administration. Others include state orders to ban mask mandates in schools, new election rules making vote-by-mail more difficult, and limits on contributions to groups seeking to change the Florida constitution, among others. 

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Fee Exemptions, Streamlined Process for Afghan Nationals Resettling in the U.S.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has recently announced that filing fees will be exempted and application processing will be streamlined for Afghan nationals who were paroled into America for humanitarian reasons on or after July 30, 2021. This decision by the DHS will help to facilitate the resettlement of Afghan nationals in the United States by streamlining the processes of several requests including those for work authorizations, Green Cards, and other relevant services according to the federal agency.

Operation Allies Welcome

The Eleventh Circuit recently denied a petition for review of a decision of the Board of Immigration Appeals, effectively ending a Sri Lanka citizen’s asylum case.  In Senthooran Murugan vs. U.S. Attorney General, No. 19-13715 (August 24, 2021), a Sri Lankan citizen, Senthooran Murugan, fled Sri Lanka and entered the United States with the intent to seek asylum.  He was issued a notice to appear in removal proceedings and his case was heard before an immigration judge.

During the removal hearing, Mr. Murugan applied for asylum, withholding of removal and CAT (Convention against Torture) relief.  Mr. Murugan testified that he had been persecuted based on his membership in a particular social group (Tamils) and based on imputed political opinion.  Mr. Murugan testified that he had been arrested on three occasions in Sri Lanka and on one occasion he was held for four hours and slapped and kicked by soldiers.  Mr. Murugan testified that he thought he was going to die.

The immigration judge denied Mr. Murugan’s asylum, withholding and CAT claims and ordered him removed.  Mr. Murugan appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, who affirmed the immigration judge’s decision.  Mr. Murugan then appealed to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.

What is a Petition for Review?

             A petition for review (PFR) is a pleading that you may file in federal Circuit Court if you disagree with a decision regarding a removal or deportation order issued by the Board of Immigration Appeals or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. In most cases, you cannot appeal a decision of an immigration judge directly to the Circuit Courts, you have to appeal to the BIA first and then if you lose, you can file a PFR with the Circuit Court.

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Can I File a Petition for Review?

USCIS—the government agency that receives most of the country’s asylum applications—has opened a new office in Tampa, Florida. Before this happened, everyone who was not in immigration court and who applied for asylum in the entire state of Florida had to go to Miami for their asylum interview. Sure there were exceptions, on occasion, asylum officers would go to Jacksonville, Florida to conduct interviews, but those interviews were few and far between.

Now, people from Pensacola to Jacksonville to Tampa no longer have to make the long and expensive trip to Miami for an asylum interview. Now, people from the Tampa Bay area, parts of Central and all of North Florida will head to Tampa for their interviews to see if they will be granted asylum. This is great news for everyone involved. This will make it easier for asylum applicants to travel to their interviews, this will make asylum interviews happen more frequently for all Floridians as there are now two offices and more officers conducting interviews. This will also make it more cost-effective for asylum applicants to bring their attorneys to their asylum interviews.

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USCIS has not yet released all the details or the exact geographical boundaries for the Tampa asylum office. What we do know is they are already open as of June, 2021 and they are already conducting interviews. The office is in the same building as ICE, so if you have been reporting to the Tampa ICE office for check-ins and you are called for an asylum interview, you will go to the same building. The address of the office is 524 W Cypress St, Tampa, Florida, 33607 right near the Tampa International Airport.

What is Prosecutorial Discretion?

            Prosecutorial discretion is the authority of government immigration agencies to determine how to use its resources (tax payer’s money) to enforce the law. This means that ICE attorneys may choose not to pursue certain immigration enforcement actions, such as arrests, detentions, or deportations, in particular cases.

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How can Prosecutorial Discretion Help Me?

TPS is back for citizens of Haiti! USCIS announced that as of Friday May 21, 2021, Haitians in the United States may qualify for Temporary Protected Status, also known as TPS.

https://www.dhs.gov/news/2021/05/22/secretary-mayorkas-designates-haiti-temporary-protected-status-18-months

WHO WILL QUALIFY FOR THE NEW HAITIAN TPS?

The U.S. Supreme Court recently issued a decision in Niz-Chavez v. Garland that could help thousands of people who have been in the U.S. for over a decade and who do not have lawful immigration status. The exact people who are helped by this decision are people who are or were in immigration court removal proceedings and are eligible for a form of relief called Cancellation of Removal for Certain Non-Permanent Residents. This decision can help people who have been in the U.S. for more than a decade, have good moral character and who have a close relative who has lawful immigration status and who will suffer greatly if they are deported. There are other requirements for Cancellation of Removal which are outlined below.

WHO WILL BE HELPED BY THIS DECISION?

If you are or were in immigration court removal proceedings and you would be eligible for Cancellation of Removal, but immigration officers sent you a document called a Notice to Appear less than 10 years after you entered the U.S., this decision could be a game changer for your case. Why? Because in 2018, the Supreme Court said in a decision called Pereira v. Sessions that if the Notice to Appear you received does not have the time, date and location of your first Court hearing, then it is legally deficient. Why is that important? Because of something called the stop time rule. The stop time rule says that if you are otherwise eligible for Cancellation of Removal, but you are sent an NTA before you have been then the U.S. for the required 10 years, then you are not eligible for Cancellation of Removal. That is because receiving an NTA stops the clock on your 10 years of physical presence in the U.S., which is required to qualify for Cancellation.

If my N-400 Application for Naturalization (U.S. Citizenship) has been denied by USCIS, what should I do now, what can I do now? What chances do I have to still become a U.S. citizen?  What will happen next? Will I be deported? Do I lose my status and my green card?

These are all very common questions that lawful permanent residents ask themselves after they receive a denial letter after an N-400 citizenship interview. Receiving a denial letter from USCIS telling you that you will not become a citizen may be heartbreaking to people who have held a life-long dream to become a U.S. citizen. But an N-400 denial letter is often not the end of the road and there are many options available to people who receive an N-400 denial letter.

The first thing to remember is that you do not only get one opportunity to apply for U.S. citizenship. That’s right, even if you are denied, most of the time, you can reapply; you do not get just one bite at the apple. So depending on why you were denied, you may be able to wait a few days, months or years and apply again.

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