Dear Friends of the Firm:
The scares and surprises of Halloween are just around the corner! We’ll make sure you aren’t scared or surprised in the immigration world, by providing you the following important updates.
Congress continues its budgetary deadlock, with all but “essential” government employees furloughed. We are monitoring closely the situation and its impact on our clients’ immigration cases. So far, immigration agencies are affected by the federal government “shutdown” in the following ways:
On October 3, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 60 into law, allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses California. AB60 seemed all but dead, until it was revived and approved by the State Legislature in its final hours. The new law will have a tremendous impact on undocumented immigrants in California, who will soon be able to drive to their jobs and children’s schools, as well as present government-issued identification for the purpose of obtaining marriage licenses and other benefits.
Undocumented applicants must prove identity, California residency, and other licensing requirements. The law makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of having the new license. It also explicitly prohibits using the license for criminal investigation, arrest or detention based on immigration status. The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, or sooner if the Department of Motor Vehicles is ready.
The U.S. Government is once again accepting entries for the annual Diversity Visa Lottery. This program makes available thousands of immigrant visas each year to foreign-nationals from countries deemed to have low rates of immigration to the United States. Citizens of some countries are ineligible for the lottery, though in some circumstances, an individual may be eligible instead based on his/her spouse’s or parents’ country of birth. Notably, Nigeria is no longer on the eligible countries list as of this year.
Unless an individual is undocumented, I generally recommend entering the lottery (after all, there’s no filing fee!). Registration instructions are available on the government’s website: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/types/types_1318.html. Carefully read all directions and follow the rigid guidelines when applying—each year thousands of applicants are disqualified for failure to follow the directions exactly.
Lottery winners can apply for green cards or immigrant visas if they meet certain criteria. Even if an individual wins the lottery, s/he may still not be eligible for a green card. We recommend that you hire a lawyer only after you are chosen as a lucky winner to help navigate the complex application process. Nevertheless, we are available if you would like to schedule a consultation regarding the lottery application process.
The government will accept lottery entries until November 2, 2013 at 12:00 noon, EDT. Good luck to you or your employees!
Want to be part of a friendly and growing immigration law firm? We are expanding and accepting résumés from excellent candidates for two open positions. Please spread the word! The position descriptions are at the end of this News Flash.
In an important effort to keep the conversation and momentum on immigration reform moving forward in the House of Representatives, a group of Democrats has introduced their version of the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act. It is primarily the same law adopted by the Senate earlier this year. Even after the government shutdown is resolved, the bill faces a difficult road in the House: Speaker John Boehner has already refused to consider the similar, comprehensive bill that was passed by the Senate and is expected to take the same stance regarding this bill.
Starting six months ago, immigrants were able to apply for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers. This procedure benefits individuals who are eligible to apply for a green card, but must also apply for a “waiver” because they have been in the United States unlawfully. Under the new process, eligible applicants can apply for a provisional waiver from within the U.S. before departing for an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.
According to current government processing times, applicants receive decisions regarding their provisional waiver applications approximately 100 days after submission. In the program’s first six months, the government approved approximately 59% of the waiver applications it received. The approval rate is expected to increase in the coming months—all of which is positive news.
Note: This publication serves only as general information and is not a substitute for consultation with an attorney who can assess the specifics of your case and inform you of the constant changes in law and policy. No attorney-client relationship is formed by the transmission of this information until a legal service contract has been signed by both of us.