10 Important Contacts and Terms
1. Immigration Law (sources):
2. Working with USCIS:
*website site map http://www.uscis.gov/sitemap
*avoid scams: http://www.uscis.gov/avoid-scams
*multi-lingual approach: ?
*all forms: http://www.uscis.gov/forms
*most used forms: http://www.uscis.gov/forms-information
*following progress of USCIS application or petition:
*finding USCIS estimated processing times:
3. Obtaining copy of personal government file:
4. Arranging in-person meeting with USCIS (INFOPASS) at Centennial CO or elsewhere:
5. Ascertaining Department of State classifications for green card processing and waiting times (Visa Bulletin); types of immigrant and non-immigrant visas:
*priority dates: http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/visa-availability-priority-dates
*visa bulletins: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin.html
*State Department forms: http://www.uscis.gov/non-uscis-forms
*using USCIS Electronic Immigration System (ELIS), incl. extension and change of non-immigrant status:: http://www.uscis.gov/uscis-elis/faqs/frequently-asked-questions-e-filing-using-uscis-elis
6. Family, incl. same sex marriage:
7. Employers: Learning about employer hiring requirements and guidance:
*types of employment visas: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/working-us
*categories of work permits (EAD): http://www.uscis.gov/green-card/green-card-processes-and-procedures/employment-authorization-document
*e-verify system: http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify/what-e-verify
*I-9 process: http://www.uscis.gov/i-9-central
* employer guidance materials: http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify/publications/manuals-and-guides/publications-manuals-and-guidesemployer
*seminars in Spanish: http://www.uscis.gov/es/e-verify/seminarios-virtuales
*materials in Spanish: http://www.uscis.gov/e-verify/publications/foreign-language-resources
*determining status of foreign national: Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE): http://www.uscis.gov/save
9. ICE detention:
*finding location of ICE detainee (use detainee’s A#, if available): https://locator.ice.gov/odls/homePage.do
(Note that, if you cannot locate an individual in the ICE locator database, it may be that the individual is being held in a non-federal facility or lock-up, such as a city or county jail, following arrest by local law enforcement. You would next want to inquire there.)
10. Immigration Court (Executive Office for Immigration Review):
* date, type of hearing and judge (must have Respondent’s A#): 800-898-7180
*court locations, rules, forms, FOIA, filing complaint: www.justice.gov/eoir
1. Adjustment of Status (leading to Lawful Permanent Residence, the green card), compared with Consular Processing (leading to the Immigrant Visa):
Any individual who is lawfully in the United States may interview here to gain the green card, formally known as lawful permanent residents. Otherwise the individual will interview abroad in order to gain an immigrant visa which, for all intents and purposes, permits the individual to enter the United States with all the advantages of lawful permanent residence.
The central concern of immigration law is the benefits and risks surrounding a foreign national in the United States (the statutory term for which is “alien”). If Americans find “alien” an odd or demeaning term, they should bear in mind that, when residing, visiting or doing business in Sochi, Shanghai, Cancun, Piccadilly or other place outside the U.S., they themselves are “aliens” there by virtue of that place’s own immigration law.
3. A-Number (Alien Number):
An identifying number provided to a foreign national by DHS, roughly comparable to a social security number, but never used for that purpose. However, many categories of foreign nationals in the U.S. are not assigned the A-Number, and the process for providing A-numbers to foreign nationals for ready identification remains in flux and may not always appear consistent.
While not every foreign national in the United States is provided an A-number, but once an A-Number is assigned to an individual, the number should continue to be associated with the individual for immigration purposes. An A-Number is regularly assigned in the following instances: removal proceedings, applications for permanent residence and applications for the work permit (EAD).
4. Department of State (DOS):
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is primarily responsible for federal control of immigration matters. However, in the immigration field DOS controls the issuance of immigrant and non-immigrant visas abroad through its embassies and consulates where visa interviews are conducted. DOS also maintains the four classifications (queues) whereby foreign nationals wait for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications.
5. Executive Order, compared to Statute:
Statutes are laws enacted by the Congress as bills and signed by the President, except in the unusual instance when a president vetoes a bill and Congress overrides the veto. On the other hand, Executive Orders do not directly involve the Congress. Presidents, acting alone, issue orders which states how the executive branch will exercise its power in enforcing statutes. A Congress strongly opposed to an Executive Order on the grounds that the order exceeds the President’s power has limited alternatives in challenging it.
6. Immigration Bureaucracy:
The former INS (Immigration and Nationality Service, now referred to as “legacy INS”) was replaced in the reform effort sparked by 9/11 which primarily invested the executive branch’s immigration enforcement efforts in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its three major arms: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Customs and Border Patrol (CBP).
7. Immigration Law:
That array of interlocking constitutional provisions, statutes, federal and administrative court decisions, executive orders, and federal regulations and guidance, as well as the practices of numerous governmental agencies with their memoranda of agreement which relate to the status, presence, and employment of foreign nationals (“aliens”) in the United States.
As the term “immigration” refers to a special, narrow aspect of the overall body of “immigration law”, one could reasonably ask why the field would not be more accurately known by the more comprehensive term “alien law”.
Immigration law by its nature and its place in American politics has always been evolving. The subject of immigration law made an important appearance in the Declaration of Independence’s listed grievances against the King, and crucially in the U.S. Constitution and its Bill of Rights in at least three prominent ways: (1) birth citizenship, (2) the federal government’s exclusive power in the field, and (3) the application of certain constitutional rights to any individual on American soil, regardless of authorization to be there.
8. Immigration Status:
The law contemplates that every foreign national in the United States will have an immigration status, such as lawful permanent residence or a non-immigrant visa. There are lawful means to be in the United States which are not in reality a form of status (comparable to temporary safe havens). Examples of the latter are DACA, temporary protected status (TPS) and humanitarian parole.
Therefore the term “to be in unlawful status” is incorrect. The correct term is “without status”, either because the foreign national originally entered the US without being inspected and never had status, or because the individual stayed after the authorized period of stay for the status had expired.
The most reliable way of knowing one’s status (and its duration) is to consult the individual’s I-94.
9. Unlawful Presence:
Essentially accrues for an individual in the United States while out of status. There are significant exceptions to the rule and an individual faced with this problem should consult a knowledgeable immigration law attorney. Most importantly, an individual upon leaving the United States after having accrued unlawful presence will “trigger” three or 10 year bars to reentry depending on the amount of time spent in unlawful presence.
A waiver is, in the immigration context, the forgiveness of some disqualifying act, such as unlawful presence or prior misrepresentation in the immigration context. An application for a benefit can include with it an application for a necessary waiver.