2009 Newsletter

Lawyers Dedicated to Serving the Immigrant Community

In This Issue

Introduction by W. John Yahya Vandenberg, Esq.

Immigration: It’s More Than Just Filling Out Forms by Umar Abdur Rahman, Esq.

Criminal Convictions May Have Harsher Consequences for Non-Citizens by Antonio J. Gil, Esq.

John Vandenberg

By W. John Vandenberg, Esq.

We are very excited to present Hogan & Vandenberg’s first newsletter. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide regular updates on issues of interest to our clients.

That’s a difficult task. Our clients range from cancer researchers to wood floor entrepreneurs, from Sudanese asylum seekers to students seeking to study at some of the best colleges in America. So we’ll start off with a little of everything. Perhaps future issues will focus on business, others on litigation. But we hope that everyone can take something from these short and timely monthly updates.

Employers have been buoyed by the continued availability of H-1B visas. For the first time in three years, these coveted professional visas can still be had well into November and perhaps later, depending on usage. Yet there may be a price. Increased scrutiny by Congress seems to have encouraged the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service (“USCIS”) to investigate a random selection of about 20,000 H-1B employers. These inspections usually entail speaking to the H-1B employee and ensuring he or she is properly employed at the stated job, and earning the stated wages. But longer-term, these inspections may set a foundation for more regulation of the H-1B visas. If you’d like more information about these inspections, contact me.

Students also seem to be having an easier time, as more students are obtaining F-1 visas through changes of status. In the current economic downturn, it’s no surprise that schools are actively reaching out to cash-paying foreign students. At the same time, however, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) is actively seeking out those students who drop out without notifying their International Student Advisor. Students who need to reduce class loads should carefully consider the consequences. Students who drop out should do likewise.

One of most frequently-asked question at this time is “when will the immigration laws change?” All information points to 2010 as the earliest we will have any chance of Comprehensive Immigration Reform (“CIR”). The Leaders of both houses of Congress agree that CIR is a priority. What such new legislation will look like is a matter of contention. Main points will likely include raising the numbers of visas for critical workers and family members seeking to unite with spouses, parents and children. Another important reform, long overdue, would be to finally pass the DREAM Act, a law that would allow immigrants who came to the USA as children to obtain a green card by going to college or enlis ting in the armed forces. We’ll keep you informed on this issue.

We hope you enjoy our newsletter. If you have any immigration questions, please contact us directly. Our job is to help employers, families, and individuals with all their immigration-related legal needs, and we are committed to earning your trust and your business.

Abdur Rahman

By Umar Abdur-Rahman, Esq.

Immigration: It’s More Than Just Filling Out Forms

It can not be overemphasized that what you place on immigration forms and what you say to an immigration officer can have huge consequences for you, your family, and your employees. The vast majority of our time at Hogan & Vandenberg is spent doing immigration right the first time. However, a portion of our time is spent trying to fix mistakes made by immigrants, their families, and employers who thought “It’s just a form so I can do it myself.” The simple rule is that immigrants must never take chances when it comes to immigration matters.

For example, when an immigrant marries a U.S. citizen and has been married for less than two years at the time they obtain their greencard, they only receive a two-year “conditional” greencard. Within 90 days of the expiration of the conditional greencard, the immigrant and spouse must jointly petition to “lift the conditions” and obtain a full, ten-year greencard. The petition needs to be accompanied with documentation that demonstrates that a bona fide marriage was in existence at the time the applications for the foreign spouse were made. A good faith marriage that ends in divorce, however, can still satisfy the requirements for a positive grant of the full greencard if the immigrant can provide sufficient supporting documentation and help an interviewing officer understand the circumstances of the marriage and divorce.

Just last week, I received a phone call from one of our clients thanking us for helping him get his permanent resident card. This client retained our firm from the outset and now he is on the road to one day becoming a citizen of this country. This is especially heartwarming because he very easily could have failed. His marriage to a U.S. citizen wife had ended, and they had just finished a bitter divorce. Yet he was able to obtain the full greencard despite the demise of the marriage because we were able to assemble sufficient evidence to demonstrate it was a good faith marriage. The forms were filled out truthfully and competently, and the supporting documentation explained the circumstances of the divorce. Our hours of in-office preparation helped the client to understand the interview process, and effectively communicate his circumstances to the officer. This holistic approach made the difference in his life, his future, and his family’s future.

If you really like this country and wish to remain here, you owe it to yourself and your family to seek good legal counsel in all immigration matters.