Immigration Law

Immigration law is a complex area of practice. Large firms tend to focus on business and corporate clients while smaller solo practitioners often specialize in asylum cases or deportation defense.

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This bill recognizes America is a nation of immigrants and creates an earned path to citizenship for Dreamers, TPS holders, and essential workers. It also clears employment-based visa backlogs, recaptures unused visas, reduces lengthy wait times, and eliminates per-country caps.

Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)

An individual who is granted lawful permanent residence (LPR) or who holds a green card is an immigrant that has been legally accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant. LPRs can work anywhere in the country, own property, attend public schools and colleges and universities without special restrictions, and join the armed forces. They can also apply for citizenship after fulfilling certain requirements.

Many individuals obtain LPR status through employer sponsorship, though the majority of people are granted this status through family sponsorship. There are also pathways to obtain LPR status for people with unique jobs or skills that benefit the U.S. economy and for refugees from countries that the government deems to have been afflicted with human rights violations.

It is important for those in LPR status to remember that they are required to live in the U.S. for most of their lives, unless they have been able to satisfy immigration officials that they should be permitted to travel outside the country on a temporary basis. Any absence that is more than a year results in a presumption that the person has abandoned their LPR status. It is very difficult to overcome this presumption. In addition, if a noncitizen has LPR status and travels to another country, he or she must submit a Form I-407 to USCIS to abandon their status.

Unlawful Permanent Resident (UPR)

Unlawful presence is a specific sort of status violation that has very serious consequences. A noncitizen is considered to accrue unlawful presence when he or she is in the United States without being “admitted” or in a “period of stay authorized by the Secretary.” A noncitizen who has accrued more than 180 days but less than one year of unlawful presence may be barred from reentering the United States for three years; a person who accrues more than one year of unlawful presence is barred from reentering the United Stated for ten years.

The United States has a variety of laws that require deportation for people who are in unauthorized immigration status, irrespective of their family ties and length of time in the United States. The consequences of a removal decision are a severe economic and social disruption, residential instability, increased use of public benefits and, for children, psychological trauma, and even separation from their parents.

Despite this, many people in unauthorized immigration status have found ways to regularize their status. For example, marriage to a citizen generally opens up the possibility of a spousal visa sponsorship that allows an individual to remain in the United States. However, the law requires that a noncitizen be in lawful status at the time he or she files an application to adjust his or her status, which means that any periods of unlawful presence prior to filing an adjustment application are counted against him or her.

Naturalization

Citizenship can be obtained by following the naturalization process, which includes passing a civics test, an English language test, and a background check. A person who becomes a citizen is also required to renounce their prior citizenship. The requirement to renounce a former nationality is important because it helps protect people from becoming dual citizens, which may result in deportation if they violate the laws of their new home country or lose their U.S. citizenship.

The Constitution grants Congress the power to determine which foreigners become citizens, and under what conditions. It has been held by the courts that this power derives from various legal standings, including the Commerce Clause, the Naturalization Clause, and the Necessary and Proper Clause.

Until recently, many Americans saw no particular advantage to becoming a citizen other than the ability to work for the federal government. However, immigration law has changed significantly in the last 20 years. In 1986, the Immigration Reform and Control Act established a path to citizenship for those who had adjusted their status from illegal to legal. This led to a dramatic increase in the number of people who became citizens.

Among other things, becoming a citizen makes it easier to apply for a passport and opens the door to more visa-free travel around the world. It also entitles you to benefits such as Social Security and Medicare. Other advantages include the right to vote and being able to pass on your citizenship to your children, regardless of where they live.

Deportation

Deportation is the removal from a country of a non-citizen who violates immigration laws. The process involves a civil proceeding rather than a criminal trial. The government asserts grounds for removal and has the burden of proof. Unlike criminal cases, respondents (individuals who are subject to removal proceedings) do not enjoy constitutional protections. However, there are a number of exceptions to the rule. Even minor offenses may trigger deportation proceedings if they are labeled “aggravated felonies” under immigration law.

The government begins deportation proceedings by filing a notice with the immigration court that contains specific allegations against an individual. The individual then has the opportunity to respond to the allegations in a hearing with an immigration judge. If the government succeeds in showing that an individual is removable, it will win a final order of removal. If it does not, the case is terminated without prejudice and the government can file a new notice with a different set of facts for a second attempt at removal.

Noncitizens subject to removal can challenge the government’s case by raising constitutional or procedural arguments in removal proceedings. They can also apply for forms of relief from removal, including asylum and cancellation of removal. A noncitizen may also request a stay of removal to postpone their removal while they pursue an appeal or other motions to reopen the case.