Hogan and Vandenberg is doing a Free Know Your Rights workshop in conjunction with the Arab American Community Development Corporation (AACDC) this Friday from 2-4pm at 1501 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19122. Come with legal questions!
ATTENTION: The Know Your Rights workshop scheduled for this Friday at the Arab American Community Development Corporation (AACDC) has been canceled due to the snowy conditions here in Philadelphia. The event will be rescheduled to a later date - details to come.
Got legal questions??
Mark your calendars! John, in partnership with CAIR-PA, is doing a free "Know Your Rights" Presentation & Workshop tomorrow, Saturday February 13th, from 7pm-9pm at the Islamic Society of Delaware. The address is 28 Salem Church Road, Newark, DE 19713. For more info, please visit CAIR's website (http://pa.cair.com/) and scroll down to "Upcoming Events" - Hope to see you all there!
Important Alert: Hogan & Vandenberg's Philadelphia and Allentown offices are closed until Sunday 2/14 due to the Nor'easter and its aftermath. We are currently taking appointments for this Sunday at the Philadelphia office; Clients can call 610 664 6271 on Friday to schedule/reschedule. Thank you for you patience and understanding. Stay safe and warm!
Immigrants Traveling Should Be Prepared for Additional Questions at Newark and
Other Ports of Entry
Immigrants should be aware of credible reports about Customs and Border Patrol Inspectors ("CBP") at the Newark, New Jersey airport port of entry investigating certain H-1B nonimmigrants from India and certain H-1B petitioner companies. In addition, it appears that other visa types are being subjected to additional inspection, and persons with criminal convictions should not travel without first contacting our office or consulting with an experienced immigration attorney. Whether traveling through Newark or any other port of entry, immigrants - and the companies who employ them - should always make sure they carry proper documentation and that all publicly available information about the employer is accurate and up to date.
Employers and Employees Must Always Make Sure Filings and Documentation is On-Hand, Accurate and Up To Date
According to reports from the American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA"), in the case of the Indian H-1B visa holders, CBP sought determine if the employers or employees had committed fraud by submitting false information to USCIS. The officers questioned who the immigrants worked for, how their pay was computed, who paid their salary, their job duties, and what they were paid. In some cases, if CBP did determine that there was fraud, or that the employee was not being paid the correct wages, the immigrants were deported back to their home countries from the airport and their H-1B visas cancelled. Apparently, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ("ICE") and/or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") is investigating these and other companies for ongoing fraud.
If CBP finds fraud, they will make a decision what to do on a case by case basis. They can either allow the immigrant to withdraw his or her application for admission and return to their home country without a deportation order, or they will subject the immigrant to "expedited removal" to their country of origin. CBP gave the immigrants the opportunity to contact their consulate.
Note also that CBP officers in the above cases contacted the petitioner and/or current employer when clarification was needed. Employers whose employees travel abroad should be prepared for telephone inquiries from CBP officers at ports of entry to confirm the assertions made in the visa application and supporting documentation. Employers and employees should also be aware that CBP and USCIS officers frequently use Google and other publicly available web services to determine if the employer's filing is consistent with the information they publish on the web. So always keep your website updated and accurate.
In addition to H-1B's, CBP confirmed that they screen ALL employment-based visa holders to determine admissibility and ensure compliance with entry requirements. CBP in Newark Airport conducts random checks for returning L-1 and other employment-based visa holders. Based upon the initial check, if the person's admissibility is questionable, then he or she will be sent to secondary inspection for further interview. In some cases, if CBP discovers discrepancies in previously filed petitions, then the applicant may be asked to withdraw his/her application for admission into the United States or be subject to expedited removal.
Person's with Criminal Convictions Should Never Travel Unless Cleared By Their Immigration Lawyer.
CBP has also made clear that they intend to detain any returning U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident ("greencard" holder) who has a post-1998 criminal conviction. CBP at Newark airport in particular has adopted a mandatory detention policy for crimes that were committed after 1998, and this should be considered the norm for other airports and ports of entry as well. In the event that CBP cannot obtain a copy of the conviction record in twenty-four hours, the person may be released pending receipt of the record. Normally, however, the greencard holder will not be released unless there are medical or extenuating circumstances such as if the foreign national is traveling with children and there is no one to pick up the children, or when the person is a sole provider for United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident children.
If a person has an encounter with law enforcement, they should always contact their immigration attorney. We can assist to minimize or eliminate any immigration consequences of the crime. In addition, where crimes do not cause a problem for travel, our office can provide the immigrant with a documentation packet that will answer any questions CBP has about the matter and speed entry to the United States.
Accordingly, if an immigrant has any criminal convictions - no matter how many years in the past - they must speak with their immigration lawyer before they travel. Otherwise, they may go straight from the airport to jail.
Conclusion: Be Prepared.
Immigrants should always carry proof of their status and copies of immigration documentation with them when they travel. Both employees and employers should be aware of travel dates, and be ready for a potential phone call from CBP for additional information. Websites and other publicly available information should be up to date and accurate. Persons who have a criminal conviction or have had encounters with law enforcement - even if the charges were later dropped or expunged - must ensure that the offense will not subject them to detention upon entry. Best practice is to check in with your attorney before departure, and keep his phone number handy while traveling.
If you have any questions about this or any other issue, please contact us directly!
Haitians have been granted Temporary Protected Status ("TPS")! Form I-821, Application for Temporary Status is available now (and must be completed with Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization) and provides Haitians in the U.S. with temporary relief for 18 months. To learn more, go to http://www.uscis.gov/ or for assistance with this very important process, call us for a consultation today.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Assistant Secretary John Morton today halted all removals to Haiti for the time being in response to the devastation caused by yesterday's earthquake. ICE continues to closely monitor the situation.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association ("AILA") has asked the Obama Administration to designate Haiti for TPS. See http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=30951
That effort needs shoring up with requests from individuals and organizations around the country. AILA has set up a portal through which you can send either an already prepared message to the White House, or personalize it to send. See http://capwiz.com/aila2/go/haiti
Please take the time to send a message supporting TPS. Please also pass this information on to friends, relatives, organizations and other entities who may want to support this effort.
Another recent success for the Philadelphia Office and one of its clients, V.B. from Bosnia/Herzegovina, came in the form of a granted B-2 visitor's visa this past Monday. After being denied this same visa twice before, V.B. was finally granted the visa this week by the Embassy in Sarajevo. He is now able to come to the U.S. to visit his brother and his niece, whom he has yet to meet. V.B., like so many others, has been traumatized by the war in Bosnia. This experience has truly empowered him and has served as a learning and growing experience for all parties involved. Success!
John Vandenberg recently received an especially kind and touching note from a client thanking him and the entire staff at Hogan & Vandenberg for their hard work on her case. We wanted to share this note with everyone:
"I wanted to give thanks for all the hard work you did for my adjustment of status. Not only did I get a full scholarship for school for my doctorate program, but I am also going back to Malawi in December after 12 years. You helped me have a good year."
We hope everyone is having this great of a start to the new year! Happy 2010.
In celebration of the new year and the opening of our new office, there will be no consultation fees for the entire month of January at the Allentown office!
In addition, every Wednesday this January will be deemed "Walk-In Wednesday." No appointments necessary for the Allentown office on Wednesdays this January.
New office in Allentown.
Firm Address - 601 N. 19th Street Allentown, PA 18104
As boy faces debilitating illness, parents face deportation
The disease likely to put 8-year-old Mohamed Ali Fathi in a wheelchair by his teens and end his life by 25 is in an early stage. When he runs, he falters. When he climbs stairs, he must press his palms against his thighs for extra lift.
Doctors at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia diagnosed him last year with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a genetic disease in which muscles progressively weaken. They say Mohamed is a potential candidate for forthcoming trials of an experimental treatment.
His future, though, is clouded by more than Duchenne's.
The boy is a U.S. citizen, born and raised in South Jersey. But just four months before his birth, his parents entered the country illegally. Now they face imminent deportation to their homeland, Algeria.
Djamel and Zahia Fathi used forged passports, then dropped the ruse once here, applied for asylum within the year, and were rejected. By stepping forward, they became a blip on the government's radar for eventual deportation.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which handles removals, does not keep data on illegal immigrants who give birth here, or the fate of children whose parents are forced to leave. Nonetheless, the agency acknowledges the dilemma.
"Having a U.S.-citizen child alone will not stop a removal," said Mark Medvesky, an ICE spokesman. "But we are aware of the issues it raises when we go into proceedings, and we try to be as sensitive as we can. . . . If someone has family members they can leave their children with, that's up to them."
The subject raises temperatures on all sides of the immigration debate.
"The parents themselves are not children - they knew what they were doing," said Mark Krikorian, president of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington nonprofit that advocates limiting immigration. "Whatever their objective was in coming here, they put their children in this situation."
The Fathis' supporters - lawyers, doctors, friends - have asked ICE to defer a deportation order so "Lil' Mo" can continue getting the care not available in Algeria.
"At this point, we are hoping [immigration officials] will exercise their discretion, and a little mercy, so the family can stay while Mohamed undergoes treatment," said their lawyer, John Vandenberg of Philadelphia.
At the moment, the Fathis, who live in North Wildwood, are scheduled to meet with immigration officials in Newark, N.J., on Dec. 8, when they must present travel documents proving they will leave the country by the end of March. Mohamed and his sisters, 5-year-old Imene and 6-week-old Laila, could remain here, but that would be impractical, supporters say.
"Should his parents get deported, Mohamed will go with them, and this will . . . significantly decrease the quality of his already short life," Hassan Salah, a Bridgeton, N.J., pediatrician, wrote in a Nov. 10 evaluation of Mohamed.
His condition demands "geneticists, pulmonologists, neurologists, metabolic disorder specialists, and physical and occupational therapists," Salah added. "To find doctors in Algeria who practice, and practice well, in all these specialties will be impossible."
Alan Tuttle, a Children's Hospital social worker assigned to Mohamed's case, said Duchenne's is "devastating" for every family, and the impending deportation compounds the stress.
"Leave Mohamed here? Or stay together as a family and leave the country? It's a horrible choice," he said. "Seems to me there ought to be some way to find a solution. Whatever the government's policies are on immigration, they should be flexible enough to meet these life-challenging, life-threatening issues."
Harvard Law School professor Deborah Anker is the author of Law of Asylum in the United States, widely recognized as the definitive textbook on the subject.
The Fathi case is "incredibly compelling," she said. "This child has a right to be with the parents and the right to have as much life as he can possibly have." Deporting the parents "is penalizing the child. It's unconscionable."
Krikorian, the limited-immigration advocate, sees a family who "cheated and are now demanding a benefit."
"I have a lot of sympathy for the kids," he said. "I have no sympathy for the parents. They've got to go back."