News and Articles
The Department of Homeland Security has finalized its rule expanding the I-601A provisional unlawful presence waiver. The rule will be published tomorrow (July 29, 2016) and will become effective on August 29, 2016.
The expansion allows ALL those with approved, current and fully paid immigrant visa petitions to apply for a waiver of unlawful presence (three or ten year bars) IF they can establish that denial of the waiver would result in extreme hardship to a U.S. citizen OR Lawful Permanent Resident spouse or parent. The waiver may extend to derivative beneficiaries of the immigrant visa prinicipal beneficiary.
Please call our office today if you believe you may be eligible for the expanded waiver or if you want more information!
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently issued an important en banc (full panel) opinion in favor of the Law Offices of Haitham E. Ballout and its client. The case significantly impacts persons seeking relief from deportation based on the likelihood that they will be tortured in their country of origin. Our client in this case was repeatedly tortured by corrupt police officials in Mexico who were forcing him to participate in their criminal enterprise. However, an Immigration Judge and the Board of Immigration Appeals found that he could not be saved from deportation by receiving relief under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) because he had failed to prove that it was impossible for him to safely relocate somewhere in Mexico, a standard that had been advanced by the Ninth Circuit.
In its March 27, 2015 opinion, the Ninth Circuit reversed course and clarified that petitioners seeking relief under CAT are NOT required to prove that it is impossible for them to safely relocate within their country of origin. In so doing, the Court overruled four prior cases which it found were not in line with the federal statute implementing CAT. The outcome of this case had serious implications for protecting people from torture, and we are pleased that the Court reached a reasonable conclusion.
Read the full opinion: Maldonado v. Holder, Jr.
Torture ruling offers home to Bay Area immigrant via SF Chronicle
Obama just finished announcing his executive action plans regarding immigration reform and here is what we know so far:
- He will increase border security resources
- He will make it easier for highly-skilled workers and graduate students to obtain visas
- He will extend deferred action eligibility to parents of U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents who have been in the United States for at least 5 years, successfully pass a criminal background check, and accept tax liability. Approved applicants will not obtain any affirmative legal status, they will merely be safe from deportation and authorized to work in the United States. Similar to Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), this will be known as Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA).
- He will remove the age cap on DACA, so that persons of any age who otherwise meet DACA requirements are eligible to apply.
- He will extend I-601A Waiver eligibility to LPR parents and spouses, and seek clarification on the definition of "extreme hardship."
He reiterated that deportation priorities should be "felons not families," and that hard-working, law-abiding immigrants should be offered the opportunity to "get right with the law."
In the months ahead, the relevant government agencies will begin to implement Obama's Executive Action, and our office will immediately release any and all information regarding application procedures as it becomes available. We congratulate Obama on taking this important step toward a more just, functional immigration system, and we hope this spurs Congress to revisit comprehensive immigration reform with an eye toward fairness and compromise.
Please feel free to contact us with any questions about Obama's announcement and what it means for you.
Read More: AILA's 8 Points on the President's Immigration Accountability Executive Actions via AILA
Executive Actions on Immigration via USCIS
Obama has indicated he will announce his immigration reform executive action plan on the evening of Thursday November 20, 2014, during a live television address. Watch live and then check out our website on Friday morning for an explanation of what it all means.
Since elections concluded last week, President Obama has been steadfast in his insistence that he will address immigration reform before the year's end by way of executive orders as a result of Congress' foot-dragging. While no one can be sure of the details of the executive orders slated to issue by December 2014, the president's recent commentary on the subject leads our office to hope that his orders contain the following forms of relief:
(1) Reintroduced, renewed or expanded 245(i) eligibility, or analogous relief, which would allow eligible family-members of U.S. citizens to pay a penalty for having entered the United States without inspection in order to obtain a green card without having to depart the U.S.
(2) Expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)-like relief to persons without a criminal record who have resided in the U.S. for a substantial length of time, such that they can file a form similar to the I-821D and, if eligible, obtain work authorization and avoid deportation. Like DACA, this would not confer any affirmative immigration status, but it would allow eligible applicants to remain in the United States and work without fear of removal.
(3) Relaxed I-601, 212(h) waiver eligibily for the three and ten year unlawful presence bars, and waiver eligibility extended to the permanent bar, so that persons who are inadmissible due to accrued unlawful presence can more easily adjust status without having to remain outside of the U.S. for a prescribed period of time.
Stay tuned to our website for updates on the impending executive action!
Read More: Obama Says He'll Use Executive Orders for Immigration Reform via NPR
White House: Obama will act on immigration despite GOP warnings to hold off via Washington Post
New rules for Chinese Student and Tourist Visas will take effect on Wednesday November 12, 2014. Previously only valid for one year, student visas will now be valid for five years and tourist visas will be valid for ten years. The length of validity concerns the amount of time the visitor can use the visa for entry to the United States, not the amount of time the visitor can spend within the United States. Still, relaxation of the visa rules should boost Chinese tourism in the U.S.
Read More: U.S. bid for Chinese tourists with extended visa deal via BBC News
The United States and China To Extend Visas for
Short-term Business Travelers, Tourists, and Students via U.S. Dept. of State
The New York Times recently highlighted the ultimately happy outcome of a young man's lifelong pursuit of U.S. citizenship. Born in Pakistan, Mohammad grew up with his uncle in Queens after losing his mother to cancer and his father to a heart attack. He first entered the U.S. at 8 years old with his mother so she could obtain cancer treatment. It took 22 more years and multiple close calls before Mohammad could finally call the U.S. his forever home.
USCIS has just announced the process for Deferred Action of Childhood Arrival (DACA) grantees to renew their DACA status.
DACA grantees must apply to renew their status within 150-120 days prior to the expiration of their current status. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT. Grantees who apply for renewal MORE THAN 150 days in advance will be rejected. Grantees who apply for renewal LESS THAN 120 days in advance risk falling into unlawful status and losing work authorization until their renewal application is adjudicated.
The renewal filing requires:
- Filing the NEW form I-821D Form
- Filing the I-765 and I-765WS Forms
- Paying the Biometrics and Filing Fees associated with the I-765 for a total of $465
- Change of Address Form if necessary
All DACA grantees are eligible to apply for renewal if:
- They have not departed the United States since August 15, 2012, except for travel with advanced parole
- They have no new arrests, criminal charges, or criminal convictions
If there has been no travel and no new criminal charges, no new documentation other than the forms is required for filing.
If a DACA grantee's DACA status expires, he or she may still file for renewal up to a year after exipration. However, they will accrue unlawful status from the date of expiration to the date renewal is granted. If more than a year has elapsed after expiration, a DACA grantee must restart the DACA process and submit all documentation required at initial filing.
If you are a DACA grantee and your expiration date is approaching, please give us a call for assistance with the renewal process.
IMPORTANT DEADLINE: If you are a same-sex couple and you filed an I-130 petition on behalf of your same-sex spouse BEFORE February 23, 2011 that was denied based on your same-sex marriage, the deadline to have your case reopened in light of the invalidity of DOMA is MARCH 31, 2014!
Please do not wait to contact us! If your same-sex I-130 petition was denied before DOMA was invalidated, you must move to reopen your case as soon as possible!
The Law Offices of Haitham E. Ballout are pleased to announce that we have recently received two approvals on same-sex marriage petitions filed through our offices. As soon as USCIS began processing same-sex marriage petitions, our offices immediately began assisting gay couples with marriage petitions. The first of those couples are now approved, and they can safely and legally spend their lives together here in the United States. We are proud to be at the forefront of this important work and we hope for still more approvals in the months ahead.
If you would like to petition for your same-sex spouse or fiancee, please do not hesitate to contact us today.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry confirmed that the Department of State would immediately begin implementing the Supreme Court's DOMA decision in evaluating visa applications by same-sex spouses. Now, same-sex spouses from other countries hoping to travel as a family will have their visa applications evaluated the same way as applications from different-sex spouses.
Same-sex spouses get equal visa treatment via SF Chronicle
It has recently been noted in the news that many young immigrants don't realize they are eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Remember: you don't have to be a high school graduate to qualify! If you got your GED, OR if you are currently in school, you may be qualified to apply for DACA. If you are unsure about your eligibility, please call us today! We can screen you for eligiblity over the phone and get you started right away.
Immigration Program Fails To Attract Eligible Applicants via NPR
Immigration Program Fails To Attract Eligible Applicants via Capital Public Radio News
American Immigration Council's Legal Action Center Releases Practice Advisory for LGBT Families in a Post-DOMA World
So Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was ruled unconstitutional: what now? What does this mean for all the binational LGBT couples? AIC's Legal Action Center released a practice advisory for immigration attorneys that are hoping to help binational LGBT couples navigate immigration benefits and relief in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on DOMA.
All eyes are on the House of Representatives to see what it will do now that the Senate has passed its own immigration reform bill. The cohesion and the drive that propelled the Senate bill forward has been lacking in the House, and many have wondered whether even piecemeal legislation will emerge. Lately, an increase in closed-door discussions has generated curiosity. What will result from these discussions, if anything, remains unclear, but offers some hope that a motivation to pass meaningful reform remains.