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Posts Tagged ‘DHS

The Importance of Maintaining Your Lawful Permanent Residence (LPR) Status

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Lawful immigrants work hard and wait for years to obtain a lawful permanent residence (LPR) status or a green-card.  Many, however, forget the important requirement of maintaining their lawful permanent residence status on obtaining the long-awaited green-card.  This article discusses the factors that can be viewed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers (CBP) as abandonment of LPR status and provides pointers on how to preserve your green-card.
In today’s globalized economy many immigrants, after receiving a green card, decide to take up career opportunities abroad on a short-term basis or decide to return to their home country for a few years to take care of their ailing parents.  Whether you have obtained a green card through employment or a family, it is essential to understand the factors that may lead to a determination of abandonment of LPR status.
Some green card holders incorrectly believe that as long as they enter the United States within a 12-month period they will not be at risk of losing their green-card. Although it is generally true that a green-card can be presented at the port-entry after a temporary absence abroad, not exceeding 12 months, it is not an absolute rule. So, the fact that a green-card holder enters the United States each year, within the 12 month-period from the last departure, may not be sufficient and s/he could still be found to have abandoned his or her LPR status. On the other hand, a green-card holder who lives outside the United States for over a year is not regarded as automatically abandoning his or her green-card either.
This may sound very confusing but in essence whether one has abandoned his or her LPR status or green-card turns on “intent” of the green-card holder rather than solely on length of time outside the United States. To determine abandonment, officials consider factors such as reasons for extended or frequent absences from the United States; family or property ties abroad; business ties abroad; conduct while outside of the United States, such as voting in foreign elections; and failure to file U.S. Income tax returns. Intent of the LPR is a key factor and the courts will look at whether the LPR had intent to return to the United States as a home or place of employment.
Based on case law, green-card holders that have taken up permanent residency or citizenship in another country or green-card holders that have taken up employment or been long-term students outside the United States have not had positive results. On the other hand the courts have been more understanding to green-card holders who needed to remain overseas with family members who were under political threat and to those that needed to care for their terminally ill family members.
If you, as a green-card holder, plan to take a lengthy trip remain outside the United States it is prudent to seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney and to plan preservation of your green-card. Filing for a re-entry permit before your departure from the United States, is one such option. Although, a re-entry permit does not guarantee your return in to the United States, it is always a good idea to get it, whether or not you intend to remain outside the United States for longer than a year as it minimizes the risk of aggressive questioning at the port of entry and indicates to CBP that your trip abroad was of temporary nature and you had an intent to return to the United States at the end of your stay abroad.
In addition, it is fitting to mention here that if you as a LPR or green-card holder intend to live or work outside the United States for an extended period and your ultimate goal is to naturalize and become a U.S. Citizen, you should also seek legal advice on the impact it can have on your eligibility for naturalization.  LPRs who stay away from the United States for extended periods also run the risk of being disqualified from naturalization.

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Written by MithrasLaw

May 3, 2010 at 11:44 am

What do the Heightened Air Security Measures Mean for You?

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In light of the December 25th incident, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), which governs security on airports and on airplanes in the United States, issued a directive and has implemented new security measures, effective January 2010.
This new directive requires passengers flying into the United States from anywhere in the world who hold passports issued by or traveling from or through nations that are state sponsors of terrorism or other countries of interest be required to go through enhanced security screening which includes a full pat-down and extra scrutiny on carry-on baggage. The new security directives also increases the use of enhanced screening technologies and mandate threat-based and random screening for passengers on U.S. bound international flights.
The four countries that have been classified as state sponsor of terrorism are Cuba, Sudan, Syria and Iran. The other 10 countries of interest are Afghanistan, Algeria, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and Yemen.  Passengers from other countries not listed as state sponsors or countries of interest could also face enhanced or random screening.
If you have flown in the last couple of months, you have certainly seen or experienced heightened security at airports and on airplanes.  Not only have most airlines have limited carry-on baggage to one bag and one personal item such as a backpack, purse, or laptop but many airlines are now requiring passengers to remain seated in the last hour of flying time and mandating that passengers cannot access carry-on baggage, or have personal belongings or other items on their laps. This means that if your flight is 90 minutes or less you may not be able to leave your seat at all or for that matter access your personal belongings!
Also, the new security measures require airlines for all flights departing from any foreign location and traveling to the United States to have passengers go through secured areas for additional security before boarding, in addition to the normal screening.
The security measures and guidelines that were in place before January 2010 , such as the Liquid 3-1-1 rules, and standardization of acceptable identity documents continue to exist, and will be enforced.  All this heightened security has taken the joy out of air travel and made it more cumbersome, unpredictable, and stressful. What can you do as a passenger to get through the security line faster?

Tips:

1. Arrive on Time;

2. Avoid wearing loose or bulky clothing;

3. Avoid covering your head and face (unless for religious reasons) — avoid wearing a hat or sunglasses;

4. Avoid wearing too much jewelry that might set the alarm off on the metal detector;

5. Pack an organized carry-on-bag and layer clothes and electronic items;

6. Do not wrap gifts;

7. Follow the liquid rules: 3-1-1 for carry-on;

8. Pack coats and jackets in your checked baggage;

9. Do not pack oversized electronics (laptops, full-size video game consoles, DVD players and video cameras that use cassettes) in your checked baggage when possible;

10 Look at the prohibited item list on your air carrier’s website and make sure not to carry them;

11. Wear slip on shoes to make it easy to remove and put through the X-ray machine;

12 Avoid belligerent behavior, inappropriate jokes, and arguments.

Written by MithrasLaw

April 5, 2010 at 11:53 am

Posted in Immigration

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TRAC Report on Criminal Immigration Prosecutions

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The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) issued a report on trends in criminal immigration prosecutions. The report finds that the rate of reported prosecutions during the first three months of FY 2010 decreased by 8.8% compared to 2009 quarterly figures. If the prosecution continues at the same pace, the number of criminal prosecutions will reach 83,722 as opposed to 91,899 during FY 2009.  However, one should keep in mind that in 2009 prosecutions were at an all time high and when compared to five years ago when there were 37,614, the number of FY 2010 prosecutions are projected to be up 123 percent. The Obama administration has no doubt overall stepped up enforcement and criminal immigration prosecution.

Click here for the complete TRAC data.

Written by MithrasLaw

March 22, 2010 at 11:09 am

11 New Countries Added to the H-2 Visa Programs

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The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has issued a notice identifying 39 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H–2A and H–2B programs for the coming year. The H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant visa programs, allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary or seasonal jobs for which U.S. workers are not available

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has recently designated 11 new countries as eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B non-immigrant visa programs. These new countries are:

Croatia, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ireland, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, Norway, Serbia, Slovakia and Uruguay, which join 28 countries previously designated as eligible to participate in these programs.

It should be noted that the initial lists of participating countries for the H-2A and H-2B programs—published in December 2008—expired on January and that this notice does not affect the status of aliens who currently hold H-2A or H-2B non-immigrant status.

Now the following 39 countries are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs:

Argentina, Australia, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Honduras, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Lithuania, Mexico, Moldova, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay.

DHS has also said that it may allow a worker from a country not on the participating country list to be eligible for the H- 2A or H-2B program if such participation is in the interest of the United States.

Written by MithrasLaw

January 26, 2010 at 9:43 am

Effective Today Federal Contractors and Subcontractors Required to Use E-Verify

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Effective today Federal Contractors and Subcontractors will be required to use the E-Verify system, an electronic system to verify their employees’ eligibility to work in the United States, if their contract includes the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) E-Verify Clause.

Companies awarded a contract with the E-Verify clause on or after September 8 2009 will be required to enroll in E-Verify within 30 days of the contract award date.  E-Verify must be used to confirm that all new hires, whether employed on a federal contract or not, and existing employees directly working on these contracts are legally authorized to work in the United States.

The U.S District Court Judge Alexander Williams Jr. rejected an emergency motion for an injunction by U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups to delay the mandate while a federal appeal is pending. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business groups argue that that it is illegal for the government to extend E-verify to contractors through an executive order and that E-Verify will put greater liability on employers and employers will incur a cost burden to modify their payroll systems or existing personnel.

E-Verify,  which compares information from the Employment Eligibility Verification Form (I-9) against federal government databases to verify workers’ employment eligibility, is a free web-based system operated by the Department of Homeland Security in partnership with the Social Security Administration (SSA). The system facilitates compliance with federal immigration laws and helps to deter unauthorized individuals from attempting to work and also helps employers avoid employing unauthorized aliens. Although the the E-verify system will reduce hiring of illegal immigrants by verifying documentation it is not fool proof as it fails to verify identities of employees and thus illegal workers using the identities of other workers who are authorized to work in the U.S. could continue to do so.

For more information on the program see here:

Written by MithrasLaw

September 8, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Biometric Exit Procedures has began at Two U.S. Airports for Departing Non-U.S. Citizens

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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has began collecting biometrics-digital fingerprints-from non-U.S. citizens departing the United States as part of a pilot program at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County
Airport.

Non-U.S. citizens leaving the United States from Detroit and Atlanta airports should expect to have their biometrics collected before boarding their flights. U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers will collect biometrics at the boarding gate from non-U.S. citizens departing from Detroit; U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers will collect biometrics at security checkpoints from non-U.S. citizens departing from Atlanta. These pilots are expected to continue through early July.

US-VISIT plans to begin implementing new biometric exit procedures based on these pilots for non-U.S. citizens departing the United States by air within the next year.

Non-U.S. citizens departing the United States from all other ports of entry will continue to follow current exit procedures, which require travelers to return their paper Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) or Form I-94W (for Visa Waiver Program travelers) to an airline or ship representative.

Written by MithrasLaw

June 24, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Understanding the Employment Verification Process and Revised Form I-9 For Employers and HR Proffessionals

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The Form I-9 helps employers to verify that the individuals they hire are authorized to work in the United States. An employer is required to complete a Form I-9 for every new employee hired and prohibited from using the I-9 process to screen job applicants.

All employers are required by legislation to verify the identity and employment authorization of each employee they hire for employment in the United States after November 6, 1986, including non-citizens and nationals of the United States.

With increased Immigration enforcement by the Department of Homeland Security, understanding I-9 compliance and having established company procedures for tracking and maintaining I-9 compliance has become ever important for employers and HR Professionals. 

Employers can expect a revised Form I-9, which is likely to come into effect on April 3, 2009.

For more on employers’ obligations and differences between the current and revised Form I-9,  see our attorney, Hanishi Ali’s recent article published in the Indus Business Journal.

Written by MithrasLaw

March 18, 2009 at 4:58 pm

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