Articles Posted in Green Cards

On July 31, a federal court in California issued a ruling in an immigration class action lawsuit. That ruling has created nationwide impacts, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services authoring an update to its USCIS Policy Manual. That update, which will align with the court’s July 31 ruling, deals with special immigrant juvenile (SIJ) status, the 180-day timeframe for adjudicating an SIJ petition, and the provisions within the Department of Homeland Security’s regulations regarding tolling of that 180-day deadline. This new development is potentially significant in many ways, one of which is to remind anyone with questions about SIJ status to seek out answers from a knowledgeable and fully up-to-date Maryland immigration lawyer.

SIJ status is available to certain immigrants who have been the subject of state juvenile court proceedings regarding abuse, neglect, or abandonment. The way to initiate a request for SIJ status is to file a Form 360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

An immigrant can obtain SIJ status if he/she (1) “has been declared dependent on a juvenile court or legally committed to the custody of an individual or entity” and (2) cannot viably reunify with one or both parents “due to abuse, neglect, or abandonment.” Additionally, (3) an administrative or judicial proceeding must have deemed “that it would not be in the juvenile immigrant’s best interest to be returned to the juvenile immigrant’s or parent’s previous country of nationality or country of last habitual residence,” and (4) the DHS “consents to the grant of special immigrant juvenile status.”

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Many foreign workers who work legally in the United States do so with a non-permanent visa such as an H-1B. Some foreign workers, however, work in this country on a permanent basis, holding what’s called a PERM visa. The federal government makes roughly 140,000 of these visas available each year. The application process is complicated and time-consuming, and successfully acquiring one of these visas requires skill and attention to detail. To give your PERM visa request the best chance of success, don’t delay in reaching out to a knowledgeable Maryland PERM immigration lawyer.

On June 1, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) made an important change to the ETA Form 9089 (PERM certification) application and case management process. Now, all PERM applications go through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) portal. The department also clarified that all applications filed before June 1 will continue to proceed through the old portal, as the old portal will remain functional.

In connection with the transition of PERM applications to the FLAG, the OFLC also introduced a new ETA Form 9089. The new version is a “smart form,” which means that, if an applicant previously filed a prevailing wage determination through the FLAG portal, that applicant can link that determination to his/her PERM application.

The “prevailing wage determination” is a critical step along the path to obtaining a PERM certification. In this context, a “prevailing wage” is the average wage earned by “similarly employed workers” in your specific line of work. To complete this step, your employer has to fill out Form ETA-9141, called the “Application for Prevailing Wage Determination.”

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LGBTQ+ people face many serious challenges. LGBTQ+ people in countries outside the U.S. often face especially dire risks, as being “outed” (or even just failing to conform to traditional gender norms) may place a person at risk of beatings, whippings, or even violent death. For those folks — both those who are LGBTQ+ or even those who are perceived to be — asylum may be a viable option. Achieving a favorable result in your asylum application is often an intricate and complicated process and one where it’s well worth your while to have an experienced Maryland asylum lawyer on your side.

In discrimination law, there exists something called “perceptive discrimination.” This refers to discrimination against workers (or job candidates) because they are perceived to be a member of a protected class. Discrimination because someone is an actual member of a protected group is illegal, but discrimination imposed because the employer believed the worker/applicant was a member of a protected class is just as illegal, even if the target, in fact, wasn’t a member of that group.

One place where perceptive discrimination comes up with some frequency is sexual orientation discrimination. The law recognizes that workers may not be punished because they’re gay — or because a decision-maker thought they were gay. Both situations are wrong, regardless of the target’s actual orientation.

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Immigration law, like most areas of the law, has certain hard-and-fast deadlines. For example, the age cut-off for obtaining Special Immigrant Juvenile (SIJ) status, which is one potential basis for obtaining a green card, is the applicant’s 21st birthday. Sometimes, an applicant may be pushed to the brink of that deadline through forces outside their control. For those applicants who find themselves facing unavoidable last-minute applications, recent court decisions may offer some good news. As with any sort of immigration filing, a skilled Maryland immigration lawyer can provide invaluable assistance as you pursue an SIJ application… whether or not you’re up against the deadline.

To receive SIJ status, a juvenile must file USCIS Form I-360 and establish that he “has been abused, neglected or abandoned by one or both parents making reunification with those parents impossible” and that return to his native country is not in his best interest.

Generally, the basis for meeting the first of these required criteria is a declaration of dependency by a state court judge. This creates a major challenge for some SIJ applicants: they must meet a strictly enforced deadline (the date of their 21st birthday) but they also are at the mercy of factors outside their control; namely, the speed at which the state court adjudicates its dependency case docket.

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For many immigrants, obtaining their green card likely included significant time, a substantial amount of money, and a lot of paperwork. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that simply obtaining a green card often isn’t the final chapter in your immigration journey. If you decide to remain in the United States for more than a decade, you’ll typically need to obtain a replacement green card, which is its own bureaucratic (and time-consuming) journey. Whether you’re seeking your initial green card or a replacement green card, an experienced Maryland green card lawyer can help you as you navigate the process to avoid errors that can cause needless (and potentially costly) delays.

When your initial green card is approaching its expiration, you have to file an “Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (Green Card),” or U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-90. While getting your initial green card takes a lot of time, the wait time for a renewal green card after you file your Form I-90 typically is shorter, but still often spans several months. To accommodate the possibility that your initial green card might expire while you’re waiting for the government to approve your Form I-90 and provide you with a new green card, you had an extra 12 months from the date of your Form I-90 receipt notice (a/k/a Form I-797, Notice of Action.) To travel abroad, reenter the U.S., or obtain new employment, you simply present your expired green card alongside your Form I-90 receipt notice.

Recently, though, Form I-90 processing times began stretching beyond the one-year mark, creating a need for the USCIS to take action. That action came on September 28, when the USCIS announced that, effective September 26, it was automatically expanding the extension period for those permanent residents waiting on the government to process their I-90 forms.

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