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California to Become “Sanctuary State.” What Does It Mean?

In early October 2017, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation that would vastly limit who state and local law enforcement agencies can hold, question and transfer at the request of federal immigration authorities. The bill, Senate Bill 54, will take effect in January, making California a “sanctuary state.”

Opponents of the bill have blasted it as “unconscionable,” including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The bill contributes to an ongoing national debate on how much authority cities and states have when creating policy to prevent local officers from enforcing federal immigration law. Gov. Brown, in a signing message in support of the bill, noted that the bill does not actually prevent or prohibit Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from doing their jobs. President Trump’s immigration chief disagrees, saying it would hinder federal agents in their work and lead to at-large arrests in local neighborhoods and at work sites.

What SB 54 Does and Does Not Do

There are over 2 million estimated illegal immigrants in the state of California alone. SB 54 prohibits law enforcement agents from asking about a person’s immigration status as well as participating in any program that uses them as immigration agents. The bill does not prevent immigration agents from interviewing inmates in jails and does allow ICE access to law enforcement databases. The state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is exempt from many of these restrictions. Local law enforcement will also have access to an expanded amount of criminal conviction types to share and transfer.

The bill is likely to face legal challenges from opponents.

Sweta Khandelwal is located in San Jose, CA, and she has helped many deserving immigrants achieve their goal of becoming US residents/citizens. Contact the the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal today.

Administration Announced Important Step In Attracting the World’s Best and Brightest Entrepreneurs

On August 8th 2016, the Administration announced (https://www.uscis.gov/news/news-releases/uscis-proposes-rule-to-welcome-international-entrepreneurs) an important step in attracting the world’s best and brightest entrepreneurs to start the next great companies and create jobs here in the United States. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is proposing (https://www.uscis.gov/sites/default/files/USCIS/Laws/Articles/FR_2016-20663_793250_OFR.pdf) clear criteria to identify on a case-by-case basis entrepreneurs who would provide significant public benefit to the United States, based on factors including the entrepreneur’s ownership stake and leadership role; the growth potential of the startup; competitive research grants from federal, state, and local government agencies; and investment by qualified American investors. The proposed rule would allow such entrepreneurs to remain in the United States for an initial period of up to two years, and allow these individuals to apply for one additional period of up to three years contingent on meeting certain additional benchmarks.

Changes may be in-store for the Visa Waiver Program

the-tourist-1479443Travelers from certain countries who to come to the U.S. may enter without obtaining a visa. This process is called the Visa Waiver Program because in certain situations when traveling to the U.S. for a short period of time the visa requirement is waived. The Visa Waiver Program applies to citizens and nationals of 38participating countries. However, after the Paris attacks that occurred last monthU.S. legislators are considering tightening up the Visa Waiver Program. The proposed changes could make it more difficult for some to visit the U.S. It is likely that the ease of travel for those currently covered by the Visa Waiver Program will change and now many may be required to undergo stricter security checks before traveling to the U.S.

What is the Visa Waiver Program?

The Visa Waiver Program allows visitors who are citizens or nationals of 38 participating countries to come visit the U.S. for up to 90 days for tourism or business. The 38 participating countries include Australia, Belgium, France,Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom amongst others. Those who come to the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program are generally also permitted to travel to Canada, Mexico or nearby islands and be readmitted to theU.S. Although the program attracts tourists because of the ease traveling without acquiring additional documentation, there is a strict 90 day stay and visitors may not overstay the 90 days.

What are the proposed changes?

Congressmen have suggested some reforms to the Visa Waiver Program and theseproposals could be incorporated into a bill that may be voted on in Congress. Oneproposal is increased information sharing between the U.S. and countriesparticipating in the Visa Waiver Program. Visitors may be required to submitfingerprints and photographs before traveling to the U.S. Those coming from Syriaor Iraq could face even stricter requirements, which may include anyone whotraveled to either of those countries in the past 5 years. Electronic passports mayalso be part of the changes. To pay for the increased security measures, the price ofthe visa waiver could be increased from the current price of $14.

These restrictions have been suggested after the Paris attacks because the allegedperpetrators were French and Belgium nationals. French and Belgium are two ofthe 38 countries that are eligible for a visa waiver. Those driving the visa waiverchanges argue that as the visa waiver program currently stands, the attacks couldhave easily happened in the U.S. if the attackers chose to come to the U.S. and easilyentered on a visa waiver. While the Visa Waiver Program has increased tourism andutilized by many for easy travel to the U.S., the recent attacks at home and abroadcould impose additional barriers for those who use the Visa Waiver Program totravel to the U.S.

Contact Us

To discuss the visa waiver program, other visa options or any other immigrationissue contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal has over 10years experience in immigration law. The Law Firm of Sweta Khandelwal can assistwith business and family immigration matters.

Cited Sources:
Visa Waiver Program, U.S. Department of State

State Governors’ Opposition towards Syrian Refugees Fleeing to U.S.

Due to conflict and civil war there are reportedly 12 million Syrians fleeing Syria and seeking refuge in other countries. President Obama announced that the U.S. will expand the amount of Syrian refugees admitted and would admit 10,000 refugees to the U.S. over the next 12 months. However, after the terrorist attacks in Paris last week, some have taken steps to make it more difficult for Syrian refugees to come to the U.S. Republicans in Congress voted to make it more difficult for Syrian and Iraqi refugees to enter to the U.S and U.S. governors have begun to openly state that they will not welcome Syrian refugees. CNN reported that Syrian refugees are not welcome in 31 U.S. states.

Many state governors do not wish to have Syrian refugees entertheir states

In the aftermath of the attacks on Paris, there was a report that one of the suspects was a Syrian refugee. In response, several U.S. governors announced they would not support any reform by Congress to admit more Syrian refugees and other governors have flat out announced they would not allow Syrian refugees in their state. Over 31state governors have taken to twitter or other media outlets to voice their opposition to allowing Syrian refugees to enter the U.S. However, legally speaking, it may not be possible for States to directly prohibit the refugees from seeking Asylum in the U.S., nor is it possible to prevent the entry of refugees in their respective states.They can, however, make it tough for refugees to settle in and assimilate with the local population by not providing them with the necessary facilities/incentives.

California appears open to admitting Syrian refugees

California has taken a neutral status and has not made a statement that it will not allow Syrian refugees to come to California. Attorney General Kamala Harris has reportedly stated that keeping immigrants out is a scary trend. She also noted that at the same time we must be vigilant. California is a state made up of many immigrants and minority groups. Of all the Syrian refugees who migrated to the U.S.since 2012, about 11% of them have settled in California.

Refugees and Asylum in the U.S.

Refugees who come to the U.S. make seek refugee status or an asylum. Refugee and asylum status is granted to those who demonstrate that they have been persecuted or have a credible fear of persecution on account of race, religion, nationality,membership in a particular social group or political option. These immigrants maybe able to gain refugee status or be granted an asylum. Granting the refugee status must also be of humanitarian concern of the U.S.

Asylums are granted to those who meet the definition of refugee, are in the U.S. and are seeking entry. Those who are granted asylum are permitted to remain in theU.S. and may also include a spouse and children on the application for asylum as well. Once granted an asylum, the applicant may work in the U.S. This process can be detailed can complicated. Consulting an attorney is a good idea to ensure the application is correctly and promptly field.

Contact Us

To discuss any immigrant issue contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandewal to speakto an experienced immigration attorney. Attorney Khandewal is an experiencedimmigration attorney and has practiced immigration law for over 10 years.

Cited Sources

More than half of the nation’s governors say Syrian refugees not welcome,November 19, 2015, Ashley Fantz and Ben Brumfield

Refugees & Asylum, November 12, 2015, USCIS

 

Visa Options for Artists and Entertainers

While the U.S. offers several different types of visas for foreigners coming to the U.S., some of the less discussed visas are those for artists and entertainers. P and O visas are available to artists and entertainers coming to the US to work, teach or learn. The P visa is available to artists and entertainers who coordinate with reciprocal foreign exchange programs or are coming to the U.S. to teach a unique or cultural art form. The O-visa is available to artist and entertainers that can demonstrate an extraordinary ability and level of skill in the field. These visas also have a corresponding visa that is available for dependents.

P-2 Visa

artist-at-work-2-1529089The P-2 visa was created for artist and entertainers coming to the U.S. temporarily to perform. To obtain this visa, there must be a reciprocal exchange program between the U.S. and a foreign organization. There must be a program outside the U.S. that This reciprocal exchange agreement must be government recognized and the skill set of the entertainer must be similar to the performers or artists taking part in the exchange program outside of the U.S.

P-4 Visa for Family Members

Spouses and dependants may obtain a P-4 visa. This allows the entertainers family members to travel to the U.S. along with the P-2 visa holder.

P-3 Visa

A P-3 visa is available to artists or entertainers coming to the U.S. to teach, coach, develop or represent a unique or cultural tradition; such as a dance or musical performance. This visa can only be usedfor education purposes, such as furthering an understanding and development of the art form.

To receive this visa the applicants must have a sponsoring employer or organization. P-4 visa status is also available to family members of P-3 visa holders.

O-Visa

The O- Visa is for applicants that possess an extraordinary skill or ability in the fields of science, art, education, business or athletics. It is also available for those who can demonstrate an extraordinary achievement in film or television and has received national or international recognition in this area.

As part of the application process, the applicant must submit an advisory opinion from someone in the applicant’s peer group or by someone with expertise in the area. This advisory opinion will be considered by the USCIS when making visa approval determinations. This requirement may be waived if the applicant can prove that the appropriate peer group does not exist. This determination will be made after the USCIS has considered appropriate evidence supporting this claim.

O-3 Visa for Dependents

Alike many other visas, the O-visa also has an option for dependents. Family members of an O-visa holder may apply for an O-3 visa and accompany the O-visa holder to the U.S.

Contact Us

Artists and entertainers planning to come over the U.S. may consider several different visa options. To discuss the P or O visas, visas for dependents or any other immigration issue, contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal has over 10 years of experience with immigration law and is conveniently located in the Silicon Valley.

Cited Sources:

P-2 Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program, July 15, 2015, USCIS

P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program, July 17, 2015, USCIS

O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement, September 14, 2015, USCIS

 

Immigration Views of Democratic Presidential Nominee Hopefuls

Immigration always seems to be a popular area of debate centered around presidential elections. The candidates have differing views but all seem to agree that reform is needed. Below is a summary some of the immigration proposals and initiatives the three democratic candidates and Joe Biden, not an official candidate but rumored to consider running.

white-house-1225488-1Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton has been a leader in the democratic race for several months now. Clinton has allegedly stated that she would like to see immigrants have a path to citizenship. It is reported that she thinks undocumented immigrants should pay a fine to make up for illegal entry and be willing to pay any back taxes. She reportedly noted however that undocumented immigrants who committed a crime should not be allowed to stay in the United States.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders is a democratic candidate for the 2016 presidential race. On his website Sanders states that he supports “fair and human immigration.” He reportedly pledges that he will sign a comprehensive immigration reform into law in order to help the 11 million undocumented workers come out of the shadows. He also states that he is opposed to building a border fence as a mechanism to prevent undocumented immigrants from coming into the US.

More specifically he would work to reform immigration by expanding DACA, to include parents of citizens, parents of legal permanent residents and parents of DREAMERS. Going along with expanding DACA to DREAMERS, he would sign the DREAM act. Sanders also reportedly pledges on his website that he would authorize and increase funding for representation to guest workers who need legal protection against employers. Additionally, Sanders reportedly intends to increase prevailing wages and rewrite certain Trade Agreements.

Martin O’Malley

Martin O’Malley is a former Governor of Maryland and democratic hopeful for the presidential nomination. O’Malley reportedly intends to expand Obama’s executive action for immigration reform and urge Congress to create a bipartisan deal for comprehensive immigration reform. It is also reported that O’Mally’s immigration position includes providing deportation relief to millions of undocumented immigrants. O’Mally also allegedly has indicated that he supports an end to restrictions limiting health care access for undocumented immigrants. While he was Governor of Maryland he supported immigration reform by signing the DREAM act into law.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden has not announced his intention to seek the democratic nomination but there are rumors that he may be a contender. If Biden were to run it appears that he would be in support of a comprehensive immigration bill. He has indicated that he supports earned citizenship for undocumented immigrants residing in the country and he would support providing the 11 million undocumented US population with a path to citizenship.

Immigration issues can be serious and often speaking to an immigration attorney can be a good strategy. Contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal to discuss any immigration issue affecting your life. Attorney Khandelwal is an immigration attorney with more than 10 years experience in the immigration field.

 

Cited Sources:

A Fair and Human Immigration Policy,Bernie 2016

 

Immigration Views of Republican Presidential Nominee Hopefuls

With the race for the 2016 Presidential Nomination dominating the news and major media sources, the candidates’ views on immigration are surfacing. The views on the Republican side range from Jeb Bush’s reported support of comprehensive immigration reform to Donald Trump’s alleged plan of increased border security and mass deportation. Below are four of the republican nominees frontrunners and a summary of reported views and initiatives the candidates support in regards to immigration.

flag-1431943-mJeb Bush

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush is one of the leaders in the race for the republican nomination. Reports state that Bush has demonstrated support for “earned legal status” and that he would support moving the undocumented population out of the shadows if they agree to pay a fine, learn English and have a clean criminal record. Back in 2013, Bush was in support of a bill for comprehensive immigration reform and reportedly supported the DREAM Act, a proposed legislation that would grant conditional residency to undocumented immigrants who entered the United States as children. Bush also allegedly has indicated that building a wall at the United States border along with the mass deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants is not feasible or realistic.

Donald Trump

The current frontrunner in the republican race is Donald Trump. Donald Trump has been vocal about his immigration policies and has reportedly stated that he would support building a wall along the United States-Mexico border. Trump allegedly stated that he would attempt to make Mexico pay for this wall along the border. Trump also reportedly stated that he did not support birthright citizenship and he would attempt to deport the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. Trumps also reportedly stated in his immigration plan that he would make it harder for asylum and refugee seekers to stay in the United States.

Scott Walker

Republican potential Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has reportedly stated that it “makes sense” to grant citizenship to undocumented workers who are already present in the country. Other reports suggest that Walker would work to reduce the number of undocumented immigrants in the United States. Some news medias state that Walker had been in support of ending birthright in the past.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina, a former business executive, is a hopeful for the republican nomination. Reportedly she has indicated that she would support a path to citizenship for undocumented children but not adults. She has reportedly objected to comprehensive immigration reform but would pass bills one at a time in a series aimed at solving the need for new immigration laws. She is also reportedly opposed to amnesty but is in support of the DREAM act.

Immigration issues can be serious and complicated to navigate. Contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal to discuss any immigration matter you’re facing. Attorney Khandelwal has over 10 years of experience working on immigration cases and is located conveniently in the Silicon Valley.

Cited Sources:

How Realistic is Donald Trump’s Immigration Plan?August 20, 2015, John Burnett

How to a Renew Green Card

A green card is the documentation granted to lawful permanent residents (LPR) by the USCIS which demonstrates that the holder is authorized to legally work and live in the United States. Green cards generally expire after 10 years. If the green card expires, it must be renewed for the holder to continue to receive the benefits of lawful permanent residence.

avvo-1Things to watch out for
Expiration dates: The expiration date on the green card will determine the time tofile for renewal.

Helpful Tip
The expiration date is printed on the front of the green card and is easily found.

Timelines to keep in mind
– The type of green card dictates the timeline for renewal. Conditionalpermanent residents have different timelines for renewal than LPRs.
– Instead of 10 years, conditional permanent residents have green cards thatare only valid for 2 years. Conditional permanent residents should begin therenewal process 90 days before the green card expires.

– LPRs have green cards that are valid for 10 years. LPRs should begin therenewal process 6 months before the green card expires.

Process for Renewal
When it’s time to renew the green card, the applicant must first file an applicationfor renewal. This can be done online or by mail. The form for this process is Form I-90.

Replacing a green card
Sometimes green cards can be misplaced or stolen. In this case an application should be filed to replace the green card. The form for replacing a green card is the same form for renewing a green card, Form I-90. Replacing a green card should also be filed if it was issued to the LPR before the age of 14. Once the LPR reaches 14 years old, the LPR should file form I-90 for a new green card. However, if the LPR turns 16 years old before the green card expires, then the applicant does not need to file for a new green card upon reaching the age of 14.

Denials
Denials of green cards can occur. In this case a motion to reconsider the case or toreopen the case can be filed, which asks the USCIS to reconsider the denial. Thisprocess can be complicated but is an effective way to deal with a renewaldenial.

A green card is the LPR’s proof that the LPR is legally authorized to work and live inthe US. It’s important that the green card be renewed timely and kept current. Production of a currentvalid green card is the LPR’s proof of ability to live and work in the US on apermanent basis and receive other benefits given to permanent US residents. Todiscuss renewing a green card, filing a motion to reopen a green card case or anyother issue surrounding green cards, contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal.Attorney Khandelwal has 10 years experience as an immigration attorney and canassist with any green card issues.

Cited Sources:

Renew A Green Card, March 30, 2015, USCIS

 

Criminal Convictions Can Result in Serious Immigration Consequences

Criminal convictions are always accompanied with consequences. However the consequence for immigrant visa-holders can be dire. Depending on the nature of the crimes committed, immigrants can face deportation, inadmissibility or other visa problems. Serious crimes that involve violence or deceitful conduct such as aggravated felonies or crimes of moral turpitude carry heavy penalties. Any visa holder that is facing criminal convictions should consult with an attorney to determine how the conviction will affect one’s stay in the United States.
to-protect-and-serve-542937-mWhile there are many different convictions carrying different degrees of seriousness and penalties, here are a few of the most serious convictions that can lead to deportation, inadmissibility or other consequences

Crimes of Moral Turpitude
A crime of moral turpitude is a phrase to describe a broad category of crimes, but generally is described as a crime that “shocks the conscience, ” is dishonest or is contrary to society’s rules of morality. These crimes include murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, fraud, and aggravated assault among others. This triggers deportation as well as inadmissibility into the United States

Aggravated Felonies
Aggravated felonies are a group of offenses added to the Immigration and Nationality Act that carry some of the harshest immigration consequences. The crimes in this category vary from murder to theft crimes and conspiracy. These harsh consequences could include deportation without a hearing, ineligibility for asylum, ineligibility for cancellation of removal and ineligibility for voluntary departure. A person convicted of an aggravated felony could also face permanent inadmissibility following departure from the United States and significant penalties for illegally re-entering the United States. This category also carries mandatory detention following release from custody.

Firearm Offenses
Any crime involving illegal purchase, sale, exchange, ownership or possession of a firearm can result in a deportation. This can be extended to the firearm accessories as well.

Crimes against the State
Crimes against the United States or United States officers can result in deportation. These crimes include espionage, sabotage, treason, or conspiracy. Threats against the President also fall in this category.

Domestic Violence
Convictions of any domestic violence crimes can result in deportation. Child abuse, neglect and abandonment also can trigger deportation.

Violating a Protective Order
Protective Orders must be strictly complied with and a violation of the order can trigger deportation.

Fleeing an Immigration Checkpoint
Any immigrant that flees from an immigration checkpoint without complying with the checkpoint regulations is in violation of federal law and can cause deportation proceedings.

Falsifying Documents
Falsifying important government documents such as visas, permits or other admission documents can result in deportation.

Controlled Substance Offenses
Drug offense are taken seriously and depending on the specific statute violated, can result in deportation or inadmissibility.

These are just some of the offenses that could result in deportation or other immigration consequences. There are many other crimes that can also affect visa status. Whenever a conviction occurs the visa holder should be aware that immigration status may be affected as well and should seek out guidance on this issue.

Whenever deportation is a risk, an attorney should be contacted. The Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal can assist with any issue affecting immigration status. Attorney Khandelwal has over 10 years experience as an immigration.

Cited Sources

Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions, November 2010, Office of Immigration Litigation U.S. Dept. of Justice

Talks of Ending Birthright Citizenship

Generally, every child born in the United States is granted American citizenship. This is known as birthright citizenship. This policy has recently been the subject of scrutiny as many opponents of birthright citizenship have expressed desire to end this historic tradition. The main argument for ending birthright citizenship is the concern that children of undocumented parents can become American citizens if born in the United States.

kids-1166018-mRepublicans in Congress have argued that birthright citizenship can lead to birth tourism, where immigrants come to the United States solely to have a child in order to gain American citizenship. Bills have recently been introduced in the House and Senate, which propose an end birthright citizenship.

Those against ending birthright citizenship cite the 14th Amendment, which states people born in the United States are citizens of the United States. This amendment has been the authority used for many children born by illegal immigrants to gain American citizenship. The opposition claims the intent behind the 14th Amendment was not to allow children of illegal immigrants to be afforded this right.

Many other countries have already repealed birthright citizenship in recent years. In 2007 Australia repealed birthright citizenship and in 2005 it was also repealed by New Zealand and Ireland. The United States and Canada are the only two developed countries in the world that still recognize birthright citizenship. If the United States ended birthright citizenship it will be in good company with several other countries that have ended this practice.

However, if Congress decides to end birthright citizenship this would be a dramatic change in a long-standing tradition that has been in place since American government began. A change in this policy would rock the foundation that America was built upon.

Ending the birthright citizenship may also require every child born in the United States, including those born to United States citizens to apply for citizenship. This could burden the already clogged immigration system with the addition task of processing citizenship requests for every child born in the United States.

Failing to grant citizenship to children of undocumented parents will increase the number of undocumentedimmigrants. Unauthorized immigration to the United States is largely in the quest for jobs. While some immigrantsdo travel to the United States for the purpose of having their children on United States soil, automatic birthright is not as large of a motivating factor. An end to automatic birthright will not necessarily deter undocumented immigrants from coming to the United States to better their economic situation.

To discuss applying for United States citizenship or any other immigration question, contact the Law Office of Sweta Khandelwal. Attorney Khandelwal is an immigration attorney located in the Silicon Valley.

Cited Sources:

House Republicans Go After Birthright Citizenship, April 29, 2015, Huffington Post

Nations Granting Birthright Citizenship, August 6, 2014, Numbers USA

 





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