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Cleveland Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Obama administration changes policy on immigration detention

Ohio residents may have read recent news reports about conditions in the three family detention centers operated by federal immigration authorities. In addition to negative publicity, a number of lawsuits have been filed in federal courts alleging that detainees have been denied access to legal representation. These lawsuits and other pressures prompted a policy review by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and an Obama administration representative announced several changes on May 13.

Efforts will be made to improve living conditions at the immigration detention centers, which are located in Pennsylvania and Texas, and deterrence will no longer be considered a factor when decisions are made about whether detention is warranted. It was also announced that the cases of families who have been housed in the centers for 90 days or more will be reviewed to determine if release is appropriate.

Obtaining dual citizenship

Some Ohio residents may be interested in the prospect of obtaining dual citizenship. This may provide certain benefits as well as occasional disadvantages. Some individuals have dual citizenship from birth, and others need to apply for it.

Dual citizenship achieved at birth may happen when the child is U.S. born, and the child's parents are foreign nationals. Under such auspices, the child may be given citizenship to both the parents' native country and U.S. citizenship. Conversely, a child born of U.S. parents in a foreign nation may have dual citizenship in both the foreign nation and the United States.

Returning to the U.S. as a green card holder

Ohio residents who hold green cards are allowed to travel outside the United States. However, individuals cannot be abroad for more than 365 days. While the person may plan on returning to the U.S. within the allowed time frame, there are cases where medical problems may prohibit the person from traveling back. Because permanent resident cards are not a valid form of re-entry if the person has been traveling for longer than one year, individuals must use other means to gain re-entry.

The person who traveled abroad has two options. First, they can contact a U.S. consulate, submit their medical records and apply for a resident visa. Second, they can present their medical records to a U.S. Border Patrol officer and see if they will allow them to enter the country.

Green card process for widows and widowers of citizens

Federal immigration laws allow for non-citizen widows and widowers living in Ohio to apply for permanent resident status if they were married to a U.S. citizen when the citizen died. The application varies based on the facts of the case, but the applicant must always prove that he or she was legally married to the citizen in good faith.

In cases where the deceased spouse had previously filed a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, the widow or widower usually does need not do anything. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services automatically converts the I-130 into a Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, Form I-360. Unmarried children under the age of 21 may be included on the I-360 even if they were not listed on the original I-130.

Avoiding conviction of CIMT

In order to avoid the possibility of removal, Ohio immigrants must avoid being convicted of a deportable offense. The following rules apply to refugees, F-1 students, permanent residents and other individuals who are not citizens who have lawful status. If any individuals in these categories are facing conviction, the criminal defense should factor in potential immigration consequences related to the conviction.

A noncitizen can be deported for a conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude if he or she has been convicted of two or more such crimes since he or she was admitted to the United States or adjusted status. Another ground for removal under crimes involving moral turpitude is the conviction of one such crime within five years of admission that carries a maximum sentence of a year or more.

Seeking a fiancé visa before a marriage

Ohio residents who are planning their weddings often experience a great deal of stress along with their excitement, particularly when their future spouses are citizens of other countries. Many people have questions about what visas they may be eligible to apply for to ensure their spouses can enter and live in the United States legally.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services regulations state that U.S. citizens who are planning to marry foreign nationals can apply for fiancé visas. These visas allow people from other nations to stay in the U.S. as long as they plan to marry their fiancé within 90 days of entering the country. U.S. citizens applying for fiancé visas must be able to prove that they and their fiancé will be married within this time period and that both people are legally eligible to get married. If either or both parties were previously married, their marriages must have ended in divorce, annulment or the deaths of their former spouses.

Immigration matters in Ohio

Those who deal with immigration issues may find that the laws and forms involved in their situations can be confusing. This may be attributed to language challenges or to a lack of familiarity with the legal system. In either case, legal representation may be helpful to those from nations such as Thailand and Laos as they navigate the U.S. immigration system.

Those seeking permission to enter the U.S. legally may desire to do so for employment purposes. In such cases, there may be a need to coordinate efforts with both the employer and employee in question. The nature of employment may impact the forms required and background information to be submitted. Those seeking asylum due to persecution are faced with different requirements as they endeavor to demonstrate the type and level of persecution in question. If you are attempting to coordinate a transition from Thailand or Laos due to your hope to accept a job or your desire to join your loved ones who already reside in the U.S., it is helpful to have experience and guidance in the application process and throughout your transition.

Ohio green card renewal process

People who have green cards will occasionally need to apply to have them renewed. Renewal is necessary for permanent residents whose 10-year cards have expired or will do so within six months. In order to apply for a renewal card, people must submit a Form I-90 either online or via postal mail.

While people may think renewal is automatic, it is not. An application to renew a green card can be denied, and occasionally, one will be. If a person's renewal application is denied, he or she is unable to appeal the decision. Instead, they may then file either a motion to reconsider or a motion to reopen with the office that first issued the denial. The person must submit additional documents outlining new facts that would be presented if the case were to be reopened.

Applying for a replacement green card

Foreign-born individuals who are living in Ohio as legal permanent residents will need to replace their green cards before they expire. A conditional green card will expire after two years, and a green card without conditions will expire after 10 years. To apply for a replacement green card, a person must submit Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, by mail or online.

There are some situations when a green card will need to be replaced for reasons other than an upcoming expiration date. A person may require a replacement green card because the original was lost, stolen or damaged. If a green card that was previously issued contains false information, or if the information that is listed on a green card has changed, a new green card will need to be issued.

Obtaining a 601 waiver to avoid deportation

Foreigners living in Ohio who have been targeted for deportation might be able to remain in the country by applying for a 601 waiver. Also referred to as an extreme hardship waiver, the 601 waiver allows undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation if they can prove that their removal from the U.S. would cause an extreme hardship to a qualifying member of their family.

A 601 waiver may be used to defer a pending deportation or allow a person who has already been deported to reenter the U.S. Normally, a person who has been deported from the U.S. is unable to return for 10 years. Although a 601 waiver can waive a person's reentry ban while they are caring for a qualifying relative, the waiver does not guarantee that an individual will be granted legal permanent residency later on.

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