English | Español

Give Us a Call (616) 257-6807
Blog
English

We deliver the

RESULTS

you need at an

UNPARALLELED

quality and price!

Life after Deferred Action: What you need to know

Posted on: November 21st, 2012 by Meghan Moore No Comments

Have you received an approval of your request for deferred action in the U.S.? If so, congratulations. Read on for some important information about life after a grant of “deferred action.”

Know that “deferred action” is not lawful status in the United States. Your deferred action status does not grant you permanent residency nor does it create a pathway to obtain permanent residency or citizenship. However, it does mean that you have protection from being deported. You should not be detained by the Department of Homeland Security for simply being here without status.

Your deferred action status should be valid for two years. Because President Obama was elected to a second term as President of the United States, you will likely be able to renew your deferred action status.

The government has not announced the requirements for renewal yet. However, it is likely you will need to prove that you have been physically present in the U.S. since you received deferred action. You may want to consider retaining documentation of your presence in the U.S. (e.g., tax returns, pay stubs, correspondence, school documentation) to help you when you renew your application. You should also take into consideration your education status.

For purposes of renewal of your deferred action status, if you have already obtained your high school diploma or GED, you do not have to continue your education or take college classes. If you are currently taking college classes (after, of course, having earned your GED or high school diploma), you do not have to graduate college or obtain a higher degree in order to renew your deferred action status.

If you are currently enrolled in high school, you will have to show that you either graduated with your diploma or have made substantial measurable progress towards receiving your diploma in order to be considered for renewal. If you are currently enrolled in a GED program, you will have to show that you have obtained your GED certificate in order to be considered for renewal. It is likely that more specifics about the education requirement will be announced closer to the time that renewal is a possibility.

You must be aware that any criminal activity may affect your deferred action status and lead to removal (deportation) proceedings being instituted against you. It may also affect your ability to renew your deferred action status. Be sure to consult with an experienced attorney about how your criminal conviction may affect you as soon as you have been arrested or are faced with any criminal charges.

A grant of deferred action under this program makes you legally eligible to work in the United States. You should receive a work permit, or an “employment authorization document” in the mail. You can apply for a job right away. Be aware that if you show your new employment authorization document to your current employer, your employer may be suspicious that you were previously using false documents to work there. If your employer considers this to be a serious infraction, your employment could be terminated. Unfortunately, there is likely no recourse against the employer if you lose your job this way.

You are also eligible for a social security number. You should go to your local Social Security Administration office to apply for a social security number. When applying for your social security number, make sure to have your employment authorization document and your birth certificate or passport with you.

Deferred action does not grant you permission to travel internationally; it is a not a travel permit. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has stated that it may grant authorization to travel internationally for humanitarian, educational or employment purposes. You should be able travel within the United States without any problems.

Unfortunately, the Michigan Secretary of State has decided it will not issue a driver’s license to individuals with deferred action. Avanti Law Group is fighting this decision and working for a solution to this problem. If you live in another state, you may be able to obtain your driver’s license with your deferred action status.

Tags: , , , , ,

La vida después de la Acción Diferida: Lo que usted debe saber

Posted on: November 21st, 2012 by Meghan Moore No Comments

¿Recibió la aprobación de su solicitud de acción diferida en los Estados Unidos? ¡Felicidades, si es así! Lea esta información importante sobre la vida después de la “acción diferida.”

Tiene que saber que la “acción diferida” no es un estatus legal en los Estados Unidos. El estatus de acción diferida no concede residencia legal ni crea una vía para obtener residencia legal o ciudadanía. Lo que sí quiere decir es que usted está protegido contra la deportación. Los agentes del Departamento de Seguridad Nacional no pueden detenerle simplemente por estar aquí sin estatus legal.

El estatus bajo el programa de acción diferida es válido por dos años. Como el Presidente Obama fue relegido para gobernar cuatro años más, probablemente pueda renovarlo.

El gobierno todavía no ha anunciado los requisitos de renovación, pero probablemente usted tendrá que comprobar que ha estado presente físicamente en los Estados Unidos desde que recibió el estatus de acción diferida. Seria una buena idea guardar los documentos que prueban su presencia en el país (por ejemplo, declaraciones de impuestos, talones de cheques, correspondencia, documentos educativos) para cuando renueve su solicitud. También debe tomar en cuenta su estatus educativo.

Para renovar su estatus de “acción diferida,” si ya se graduó de la escuela secundaria o tiene un diploma GED, no es obligatorio continuar su educación ni tomar clases universitarias. Si asiste actualmente a la universidad (después de haber obtenido su diploma GED o bachillerato, por supuesto), no tiene que licenciarse ni obtener un título superior para renovar su estatus.

Si asiste a la escuela secundaria, tendrá que demostrar o que se graduó o que ha progresado significativamente en sus estudios para obtener el diploma. Si está inscrito/a en un programa de GED, tendrá que demostrar que ya obtuvo su diploma de GED. Probablemente publiquen más detalles sobre los requisitos educativos cuando se acerque el periodo de renovación.

Debe ser consciente de que cualquier actividad penal puede afectar su estatus de acción diferida y provocar el inicio de un proceso de deportación en su contra. También puede afectar su habilidad de renovar el estatus de acción diferida. Asegúrese de consultar un abogado de experiencia para saber cómo su condena penal puede afectarlo/a, tan pronto como sea arrestado/a o cuando haya un cargo en su contra.

La acción diferida le permite trabajar legalmente en los Estados Unidos. Recibirá un permiso de trabajo o un “documento de autorización de empleo” por correo. Puede solicitar un trabajo de inmediato. Tenga en cuenta que si usted muestra ese documento de autorización de empleo a su empleador actual, él/ella podría sospechar que usted le había proporcionado documentos falsos en el pasado para poder trabajar allí. Si su empleador considera que su comportamiento constituye una infracción grave, podría despedirlo. Desgraciadamente, si pierde su trabajo de esta forma, probablemente no tendrá ningún recurso contra su empleador.

Usted también reúne los requisitos necesarios para tener un número de seguro social. Debe ir a la oficina local de la Administración del Seguro Social para solicitarlo. Asegúrese de llevar su documento de autorización de empleo y su acta de nacimiento o pasaporte cuando vaya a solicitar.

La acción diferida no le concede permiso para viajar al extranjero; no es un permiso de viaje. El Servicio de la Ciudadanía e Inmigración de los Estados Unidos (USCIS) ha dicho que puede otorgar autorización para viajar al extranjero para fines humanitarios, educativos, o laborales. Puede viajar dentro de los Estados Unidos sin problema alguno.

Por desgracia, la Secretaria de Estado de Michigan decidió que no expedirá licencias de conducir a los individuos con acción diferida. Avanti Law Group está luchando contra esta decisión y trabajando para resolver este problema. Si usted vive en otro estado, posiblemente pueda sacar una licencia de conducir con su estatus de acción diferida.

Tags: , , , , ,

Mitt Romney Would Not Continue Deferred Action Program

Posted on: October 3rd, 2012 by Meghan Moore No Comments

Since Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was announced by the Obama administration in June 2012, Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney has remained largely silent on the issue. At most, what we got for him was that he had a better “plan” for immigration if he is elected.

Earlier this week, the Denver Post elicited a response from Candidate Romney which indicated he would not revoke work permits issued under the DACA program if he were president.

Today, Romney’s position was clarified by his campaign. If elected, Mitt Romney would not continue the DACA program. While he would not revoke work permits, he would not grant any requests for deferred action after he takes office on January 20, 2013.

What would this mean for DACA applicants? If Obama is elected, the program will continue for at least four years. If Romney is elected, the DREAMs of the million youth who potentially qualify for this program will be dashed.

Is applying for deferred action before November the right decision for you or your son/daughter? Do you have another option for immigrating to the U.S.? We encourage you to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine the right path for you.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Eight Things You Need to Know about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Posted on: August 16th, 2012 by Meghan Moore No Comments

It’s here. Finally, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has opened its doors to receive applications from an estimated 1.4 million undocumented youths who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, have completed high school, obtained a GED, or are in school, and who have a limited criminal record.

No doubt you have heard that this process, called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), will lead to a two year permit and has a government fee of $465. But what else have you heard? Here are some things you should know about this process whether you are applying or not.

1. Deferred action for childhood arrivals is a change in the application of existing policies. It is not a change in the law nor is it a new law. A law requires the introduction of a bill into Congress, debate on the bill, enough positive votes on the bill so that it passes, and referral to the President so it can be signed into law. The DREAM Act has been introduced into Congress multiple times since 2001. It never passed. It was not signed by any president. The current DACA program is not the DREAM Act. It is policy only. Theoretically, just as the Obama administration implemented this policy to grant deferred action to certain individuals, a different administration could retract the policy.

2. Deferred action is not legal status. It is not legal residency. It is not citizenship. Unfortunately, it is also not a path to any of those things. It is simply a temporary agreement by DHS not to deport you.

3. Deferred action is not new. DHS has been granting deferred action to certain people (for example, immigrant survivors of domestic violence married to U.S. citizens) for years. For the most part, obtaining deferred action has required a significant showing of hardship and sympathetic factors, and most people who obtained it were already in deportation proceedings.

4. You will not accrue “unlawful presence” while you are in deferred action status. The accrual of unlawful presence normally begins when you turn 18 years old. If you apply for DACA before you turn 18, you will not begin to accrue unlawful presence until your period of deferred action runs out. If you apply for DACA after you are 18, you stop accruing unlawful presence when your application is approved. This is important for anyone who may have to leave the United States in order to apply for permanent residency. Unlawful presence in the U.S. can trigger certain punishments upon departure from the U.S. which require difficult waivers to cure. So if you can avoid any periods of unlawful presence while you are in the U.S., all the better.

5. You may be eligible for DACA even if you have a final order of deportation. Note this is different from having been previously been deported. If you have any type of deportation history, you should speak with an experienced immigration attorney before applying.

6. This is a discretionary process. The government has been clear that certain criminal convictions will disqualify you; and others will simply be considered in whether to grant deferred action. Your criminal history is not determinative but rather one factor the government will consider in deciding whether to exercise its discretion positively in your case.

7. There is no appeal if your application is denied. See #6. This is a discretionary process, which means that the government can deny you for any reason. We certainly hope that DHS will exercise its discretion in a meaningful and consistent manner but have no guarantee this will happen, and there is no way to appeal a substantive decision we think is wrong.

8. You may be able to obtain a driver’s license. Keep in mind that each state has its own rules about eligibility for drivers’ licenses so a grant of deferred action will not guarantee you a driver’s license.

The DACA program has the incredible potential to change lives (for the better, we hope) and encourage you to consult with an experienced immigration attorney about before embarking on this process.

Tags: , , , ,

Do I Need an Attorney to Apply for Deferred Action?

Posted on: August 8th, 2012 by Meghan Moore No Comments

I’ve received many phone calls from people wondering whether they need a lawyer to apply for Deferred Action under Obama’s policy. I cannot and will not answer that question for them. The decision on whether to hire a lawyer is extremely personal. I have no doubt that there are non-lawyers who have the time, knowledge and know-how to navigate our complex immigration laws for their own cases. This is wonderful.

However, for as many of those individuals there are who can do it on their own, there are ten times as many who cannot and should not attempt to apply and understand the U.S. immigration laws and policies without the assistance of a competent, experienced immigration attorney.

In the past few weeks, I have consulted with 1) many people who, unfortunately, actually do not qualify for deferred action because of what they thought was a simple criminal conviction, 2) several people who were immediately eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency (a far better, and permanent, option than deferred action), and 3) people who, based on my professional assessment, will have a near impossible time getting their applications approved without serious attention paid to the type and quality of documentation that is provided to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to prove they meet the requirements.  Without having consulted with an attorney, these youngsters would have wasted precious time and money (or, sadly, more) on this application.

For further information, I will direct you to this article which addresses my concerns about the blatant and irresponsible misdirection that is floating around our communities. Is hiring an immigration attorney for a deferred action application for everyone? No. But given the complexity of the law and the risks that this process carries, I encourage you to consult with a knowledgeable immigration attorney before assuming this risk on your own.

Tags: , , , , ,

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals: USCIS (finally) announces additional information for DACA

Posted on: August 3rd, 2012 by Meghan Moore No Comments

On a stakeholder call today, August 3, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced specific information pertaining to Obama’s announcement regarding Deferred Action for Dream Act eligible students. The Department of Homeland Security has dubbed this process DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). The main requirements remain the same.

To qualify for this discretionary benefit, you must prove:

1. You came to the U.S. before reaching your 16th birthday
2. You have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
3. You were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
4. You entered without inspection before June 15, 2012 or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012
5. You are currently in school, have graduated or obtained your certificate of completion from high school, have obtained your FED, or you are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard of Armed Forces of the United States
6. You have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors, and no not otherwise pose a threat
7. You were present in the United States on June 15, 2012 and you are present at the time you apply for deferred action

USCIS will begin accepting applications on August 15, 2012. Applications, together with a filing fee of $465, will be filed with a “lockbox” at USCIS. The government was unwilling to state a processing time but confirmed its interest in completing this process as efficiently as possible and with as much integrity as possible.

Some very important, and surprising, factors:

• Individuals who have been granted deferred action under this policy may apply for a permit to allow them to travel outside the U.S. for humanitarian, employment or educational reasons
• Identifying information about the requestor as well as about their immediate family members will not be shared with ICE unless fraud, serious criminal issues and public safety are an issue

Additionally, USCIS announced that you would accept the DACA applications for those people in removal proceedings so long as the person isn’t in ICE detention. This is a relatively significant departure from process they have previously announced.

Call Avanti Law Group today for more information on this important process. 616-257-6807.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Self-Defense in Michigan; A review in light of the Trevyon Martin incident

Posted on: March 28th, 2012 by admin No Comments

In light of the recent tragic incident in Florida, where a young man was shot and killed in what law enforcement is calling self-defense, more attention is now being given to Michigan and our self-defense laws.  As many may be aware, in Florida there Is a “stand your ground” provision, which means that you are not obligated to attempt to escape a situation before you utilize deadly force.  Here in Michigan, the rules are very similar, and have been since 2006 when the Governor signed into law what is called the “Self Defense Act.”

Setting aside any of the debate of the Florida case and the potential charges, racial issues, and current public outcry, the letter of the law here in Michigan is absolutely clear.  You do have the right to defend yourself, with deadly force, if you honestly AND reasonably believe that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent imminent death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault.  It is important to note that this fear must honest and reasonable.  Often, when a self-defense claim is made at a trial, the dispute is about whether a reasonable person in that situation would feel that death or harm is imminent.  This requires a jury to “get into the mind” of the shooter, which can be difficult since everyone is made up of different experiences and background.  What this means is that you may be in a situation where you find deadly force to be necessary, and you honestly and reasonably believe you are in danger, but a jury disagrees.

Interestingly, in a further attempt to protect your right to self-defense, it is the responsibility of the Prosecutor to overcome a claim of self-defense beyond any and all reasonable doubt.  What this means is that if you claim self-defense, you don’t have to prove it.  The Prosecutor must prove that it is NOT self-defense.  This is a very important protection, and it confirms how important it is that each of us be able to defend ourselves from death, great bodily harm, or sexual assault.

What changed in 2006 is that prior to the Act being signed, you could not make a claim of self-defense unless you first attempted to retreat from the situation and get away without using deadly force.  Now, similar to Florida, as long as you are not engaged in criminal activity at the time of the incident, and you have legal authority to be in that place, you are not required to retreat before using force.  This was true before, in situations where you were allowed to use deadly force in your home, but now it extends to everywhere you have the right to be.  This means that if you are at the mall, in a store, or on the street, you have the same rights once reserved for people in their homes.

Lastly, and because it seems to be a major issue in the Florida case of Treyvon Martin and George Zimmerman, it is important to note that if you are the initial deadly aggressor in an incident, you cannot then claim self-defense unless you clearly attempted to remove yourself from the altercation, and made it clear that you were stopping your assault and that the person continued it or escalated it.

The right to defend yourself is critically important, but often misunderstood.  If you find yourself in a situation where you need to defend yourself with deadly force, you cannot just assume that law enforcement will agree.  Any time a person dies as the result of the actions of another, investigations of the most serious nature are triggered, with the most serious of penalties.  A self-defense case can be misunderstood, and result in murder charges and murder convictions, even when a valid defense is present.  Decisions you or your loved ones make in the minutes after any such incident can change the course of a life.  If you or a loved one find yourself in a situation like this, call the experienced lawyers at Avanti Law Group at 616 257-6807 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

 

The Fiance(e) Visa

Posted on: March 17th, 2012 by Meghan Moore 1 Comment

By Attorneys Christian Montesinos and Meghan Moore

Let’s face it, relationships are difficult. Arguments as simple as “whose turn is it to do the dishes?” can elevate quickly to a life or death situation. Difficulty is one of the few things that all cultures have in common when dealing with relationships. In every part of the world you will find couples falling in love, arguing, and deciding how to spend their lives together in quite a similar fashion.

So now that we have agreed that relationships are a beast all their own, why burden them more with distance? If your significant other just so happens to be the person you have always longed for but he/she lives abroad, there is a way to have him/her be with you in the United States. I’m talking about the K-1 visa.

The K-1 visa, or Fiance(e) visa as it is commonly referred to, is a special kind of non-immigrant visa designed to allow U.S. citizens the opportunity to bring their foreign national fiancé(e) living abroad to the United States in order to get married.

Of course it goes without saying that if your fiancé(e) is already legally in the United States, or if you wish to marry him or her abroad, you do not need to file for this visa. Assuming you do not fall within these two categories, the K-1 visa may be right for you. In order to qualify to apply for a K-1 visa for your fiancé(e):

1. You must to be a United States Citizen;
2. You must intend to marry your fiancé(e) within 90 days of him/her entering the United States;
3. You and your fiancé must both be free to marry each other and any previous marriages must have been legally terminated (i.e. divorce, death, or annulment); and
4. You must have met your fiancé in person at least once within 2 years of filing for the visa.

Once the visa has been issued and your fiancé enters the United States, you must marry your fiancé within 90 days. Upon your marriage, your new spouse can petition for permanent residence and will be allowed to remain in the United States while the application is pending.

What about your fiancé(e)’s children? If your fiancé(e) has children (minor unmarried children under 21 years of age), they may qualify for a K-2 visa.

Can your fiancé work? Current law allows your fiancé to apply for a work permit when he or she enters the U.S. However, because that work permit will only be valid for the duration of the validity period of the K-1 visa (six months from the date of issuance), it may be a wiser option to apply immediately for permanent residence status and submit an application for a work permit at that time. This will save you the extra fee (you will only need to pay the fee for the permanent residence application, which includes the application for a work permit) and will get you a work permit that is valid for one year.

What if you haven’t met your soon-to-be spouse in person yet? With the invention of the internet and social media, it is not uncommon that couples have not yet met in person. If in fact you have not met your fiancé in person, do not fret. The “meeting” requirement can be waived if you can show that meeting would result in extreme hardship to you, or if meeting would violate strict long-established customs of your of your fiancé’s culture or social practice.

Avanti Law Group, PLLC has a team of attorneys specializing in immigration law who are ready to unite you and your loved one so that distance does not have to be an issue. All it takes is one phone call and you will be that much closer to washing the dishes with your fiance.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Portable Devices Now Subject to Warrantless Searches

Posted on: March 8th, 2012 by admin No Comments

In what is becoming an all too familiar pattern, another Court has determined that our privacy rights are trumped by law enforcements need to obtain information immediately and without a warrant.  The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals has just ruled that law enforcement can, upon arrest and without seeking a warrant from a judicial officer, search the contents of your cell phone in the search for evidence.  As has too often been the case, the Court’s decisions do nothing to confirm those rights to protection from illegal searches and seizures.    The right of protection from government search and seizure is quickly turning into the right of the government to have complete access to our persons and property.

What this means for those who have contact with law enforcement, is that if you are arrested for any reason, the police have the right to not only search your immediate surroundings, but to actually pick up your cell phone and begin a warrantless search of its contents.  In this day and age, this includes access to emails, text messages, social networks, and files that you may carry on your portable device.  The justification put forth by the Court is that it is possible that a defendant, or friend of a defendant, could remotely access the item and destroy the evidence.  In effect, the Court is saying that fear of a remote possibility of some sort of “hacking”, which has never actually occurred in the knowledge of this writer, supersedes your right to privacy in your portable device.  With our entire life being kept on these devices, this should be of great concern.  This is coupled with the news that Michigan State Police have access to devices that are able to download and clear an entire portable device in minutes, and even has the ability to bypass passwords.

Decisions like this may be a function of a Judiciary that is technologically inept, as Judges who attain these decision making positions are not likely to be steeped in the technology culture.  There seems to be no consideration to the idea that a law enforcement officer could simply turn the device off, making it inaccessible to remote hacking, and protecting the information contained therein.  Instead, they leave it to the discretion of an officer on the street to decide just how much searching without a warrant is acceptable.

The possibility that law enforcement may obtain some incriminating information without a warrant and probable cause protection should always be a concern.  What was once a clear protection against such searches has rapidly eroded and will likely continue to erode as situations arise where fear of technology overcomes common sense and the principles contained within the Bill of Rights.   You can protect yourself with a few easy and simple steps.  Be sure to set up a password protection on your phone as soon as possible.  This is important for many reasons, including protection from theft or from leaving it behind.  Placing a password or pattern protection on your device should also protect your phone from being subject to an immediate search without a warrant, which may be an invaluable protection as law enforcement continues to overstep its bounds.  As so much of our lives continue to be placed on these devices, it becomes ever more important to set up protection.

If you find yourself in a situation where you are facing an intrusion by law enforcement into your portable electronic device, don’t hesitate to call the lawyers at Avanti Law Group at 616 257-6807 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.   We are experienced in technology issues, and are prepared to help.

 

Two Major Developments in 4th Amendment law

Posted on: January 24th, 2012 by admin No Comments

One of the foundations of the freedom of this Country is the right to be from illegal seizures of our person or property, as guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment.  In a previous article, we have covered the basic protections afforded to everyone here by the Constitution.  Recently there have been two major developments that drastically impact those protections; one nearly erasing that protection while another swings the other way completely.

The NDAA, or National Defense Appropriation Act is a bill that was recently signed into law by President Obama.  The basic purpose of the Act is to provide the authorization for Congress to fund the military for the following year.  The problem is contained in section 1301, which according to many legal scholars, would allow for the indefinite detention of American citizens or anyone else that is deemed to support terrorist organizations.  This detention can last until the “end of hostilities”, which can mean forever, and can take place without a trial or conviction of any sort.  The fear, then, is that if anyone including a citizen is labeled as a supporter of terrorism, then the Federal Government can place you in a federal or military prison with no legal contact and no means of pleading your case.  This is in direct contradiction to the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, but there has been little outcry against the signing of the bill into law by the President.

However, on the flip side, the United States Supreme Court just recently threw out evidence that was obtained in a drug conspiracy investigation because the federal government placed a GPS monitoring device on a vehicle without a warrant.  The Court held that it was a violation of the 4th Amendment protection against illegal searches to place the device on the car and track the movement for over a month.  The evidence that was obtained as a result of the illegal activities of law enforcement was then found to be unusable in trial against the Defendant, and so the strongest piece of evidence can no longer be used at trial in that case.

These are two major developments in 4th Amendment law just taking place in the past two months, and are a prime example of how rapidly things can change, even when you are dealing with protections that are hundreds of years old.  It is vitally important that you keep up with the law as it changes, and even more important that your lawyer doesn’t fall behind.  If you find yourself in a situation where you or your property are being affected by some illegal intrusion by law enforcement, don’t hesitate to call the lawyers at Avanti Law Group at 616 257-6807 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.