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July 2010 Archives

Can you avoid deportation by marrying a U.S. Citizen?

The answer is yes . . . and no.  Let me explain.First, if you get married after the government has initiated deportation proceedings, you will have to overcome the presumption that your marriage is sham and that the only reason you got married was to avoid being deported.  Before you can even apply for your green card, you'll have to prove by "clear and convincing" evidence that your relationship was entered into in good faith, and not under marriage fraud.Many people get green cards through marriage.  However, the process for getting a green card through marriage while facing deportation is totally different.  You'll have to file a stand-only I-130 visa petition and specifically request, IN WRITING, an exemption based on a good-faith marriage.  And you can file your I-485 visa petition, if, and only if, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approve your I-130 visa petition.Finally, even if USCIS grants and approves your I-130 petition, you are still under scrutiny.   You'll have to have an adjustment of status interview before an Immigration Judge who will independently review whether your relationship is a fraud.    This hearing is generally adversarial.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is represented by experienced trial attorneys skilled at the art of cross-examination and  will convince the presiding Judge that your marriage is a fraud.   USCIS doesn't take marriage fraud lightly.   If you are caught, the penalties are severe; you’ll be barred from future visa petitions and face criminal fines of up to $250,000 and five years imprisonment.Here’s the bottom-line:  if you are required to appear in Immigration Court and considering marriage as a way to avoid deportation, you should consult with an effective immigration lawyer with considerable experience in courtroom advocacy.  Call me at 713.850.0066 to discuss your immigration case.

USA Immigration from the Philippines

I recently spoke at a seminar in Manila , Philippines about immigrating to the USA.  I discussed the various ways that Filipinos can come to the USA to live, work or invest.Many Filipinos come to the USA on the B-2 visitor/tourist visa. Sometimes they decide they would like to stay and work or live, but are not familiar with how to do that. There are many ways that an individual can change their status once they are in the USA. For example, they could legally switch to E-2 investor, or H-1B worker status. Other options include F-1 student status or L-1 intracompany transferee. There are many possible options for changing status.I also spoke about the EB-1 extraordinary worker visa, for individuals with extraordinary abilities. I met numerous people in the Philippines who could put together meritorious cases in this category, such as doctors, professors, singers, and others. The good thing about the EB-1 is that no sponsor is required, there is no quota problem, and if approved, the person gets an immediate green card to immigrate to the USA.  Some of the job titles that I have had approved for my clients in this category included math teacher, english teacher, flower arranger, physician, car body painter,  geologist, Laotian wedding dress maker, fashion consultant, astronaut, computer expert, etc.I also discussed the E-2 investor and immigrant investor categories. These categories allow individuals to come to the USA based on an investment in a business or enterprise. For those with money to invest and a business plan, it is a very realistic way to get immigrant or non-immigrant status in America.I plan to continue visiting the Philippines to meet with clients and remain available for consultations which can be scheduled via email at [email protected] .

H-1B working visas still available

The immigration service continues to accept H-1B visa applications for specialty occupation jobs (those that require a bachelors degree). The quota opened at 65,000 visas on April 1, 2010, and prior to the recession, the quota would be exhausted by April 2. However, this year (and last year), work visa numbers continue to be available well-past April. In fact, the latest count from the government shows that only 23,500 visa numbers have been requested by sponsoring employers, since April 1, 2010.  The current quota is for H-1B jobs with a start date on or after Oct 1,2010, which is the new fiscal year for work visas.

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