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Cleveland Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Obtaining permanent resident status in the U.S.

Some Ohio residents may be interested in the way permanent resident status may be obtained in the United States. At this time, federal law allows foreign nationals to apply at the U.S. consulate in their home country or by petitioning for an adjustment of status when already in the United States.

Visa availability varies by category. Individuals in certain categories may need to wait until visas are open to them. If visa openings exist, the foreign national may file Form I-485 at the same time as the petition for permanent status. This concurrent filing may be open to those whose relatives are U.S. citizens.

An overview of immigration detainers

Ohio law enforcement agencies may encounter situations in which U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement may desire to take into custody an individual who has been held in a facility at the local, state or federal level. Immigration detention notification is accomplished with an immigration detainer on Form I-247. The notice accomplishes several goals, including notification of intent to assume custody, request for information about an impending release of an alien, and request for an individual to be held beyond the intended release date so that ICE can assume custody.

The purpose of these detainers is to allow ICE to remove criminal aliens from the country who have been held in custody by law enforcement personnel. There may be cases in which an individual's presence in the United States may be important, such as when a candidate for removal is to be prosecuted or serve as a witness in another case. In such situations, it is important for law enforcement personnel to inform ICE.

Military naturalization eligibility and process

Some members of the military in Ohio are eligible to become naturalized U.S. citizens due to their service. To be eligible, people must serve or have served in a branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. Service eligibility is based on service in the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard or National Guard.

Military members have a streamlined naturalization process, and many of the physical presence and residence period requirements do not apply. If the member has separated from the military, the separation must have been an honorable one. Service members must demonstrate a good understanding of English and U.S. civics. Those who have served during peacetime or have recently separated from the military following peacetime service must be lawful permanent residents, must have served honorably for a year or longer and either have applied while still in the service or within six months of separation.

Family-based immigration requirements

Immigration law allows U.S. citizens in Ohio and around the country to petition for family-based immigration visas for certain types of family members. Some of these visas are unlimited, while others are limited to a certain number of allowable visas issued per year across the country.

For immediate family members, U.S. citizens can petition on behalf of their spouse, their unmarried children who are younger than 21, for a parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 and for an orphan that was either adopted in another country or one that the U.S. citizen intends to adopt within the United States. Family members who qualify as the immediate relatives of the U.S. citizen in these categories are not limited by fiscal year visa number limits.

Deportation in Ohio

In Ohio, any individual that breaks criminal or immigration laws and lack legal U.S. resident status may be subject to federal deportation. When deportation occurs, the removed individual's ability to reenter the country legally may be diminished.

Individuals that are subject to deportation include anyone who is residing in the U.S. illegally, who has entered the country under false pretenses, who has been convicted of certain criminal charges or who does not possess current legal status to reside in the U.S. The legal process of deportation affords individuals certain rights, including the right to contest the removal. Grounds for dispute could be based on constitutional or procedural arguments.

An outline of the process for seeking asylum in the United States

Ohio residents may be interested in some information about the process of applying for asylum in the United States. Following this application process properly can allow a person persecuted in another country to enter the U.S. along with their family and eventually seek permanent residency status.

The process begins with the fee-free application for asylum, which must be filed with US Citizenship and Immigration Services. This application must be sent within one year of the asylum seeker's entry into the country. Their spouse and any children under 21 years old may also be included on this application. Children and spouses may also be added to the application at any time until the USCIS makes their final decision. One year after asylum is granted, the person may then file for permanent residency status. Each family member that has been allowed into the country must file their own application for residency.

Many new immigration guidelines underway

Individuals in Ohio and throughout the country stand to benefit from a new immigration plan introduced by President Obama on Nov. 20 as well as a number of proposed changes from various agencies. Millions of individuals may be affected by new plans that will allow many parents of citizens and permanent residents to remain in the United States and keep highly skilled immigrants in the country as well.

Other aspects of U.S. immigration law reform proposed are extensive and complex and deal with entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers. Among these provisions are employment authorization for spouses of individuals who have the H-1B visa, greater stability for workers who have employment-based petitions and clarification on what is meant by a "same or similar" job in petition guidelines.

Getting a visa as a foreign student in Ohio

Foreign students who wish to study in the United States must have a student visa prior to beginning their studies. They will be granted either an M-1 visa or an F-1 visa depending on what they want to study. Those who are enrolling in a vocational or nonacademic training course will need to get the M-1 visa. Everyone else will have to get the F-1 visa.

Generally, students cannot study in the United States with a tourist visa. However, it may be possible for someone in the country with a B visa to enroll in short-term classes for recreational purposes. An exception to the rule is if a student is taking classes from home and must enter the United States for a short time to complete a program's requirements. Even if the stay is a short one, a student wishing to complete a program based in the United States must still get the F-1 or M-1 visa.

Consequences of felony convictions for immigrants

Immigrants in Ohio and throughout the United States should be aware of laws regarding felonies and immigration status. One important point that many individuals may not be aware of is that some offenses that are misdemeanors in certain jurisdictions can be considered aggravated felonies for purposes of deportation.

While the class of offenses categorized as aggravated felonies includes serious offenses such as murder and drug trafficking, they also include such offenses like failure to appear in court and filing a fraudulent tax return. Furthermore, unless specifically stated otherwise, these offenses are retroactive. In other words, after Congress adds an offense, an individual who has permanent resident status may be deported for having committed the offense in the past.

The impact of crime on an immigration case

Immigration can be challenging enough for an individualin Ohio who is dealing with an unfamiliar culture and a new language. Understanding the laws of the land can also create difficulties, especially if you find yourself on the wrong side of a situation. Because immigration law requires that a petitioner have a good record with regard to conduct and character while seeking residency or citizenship, a misunderstanding that isn't handled properly could create serious complications for your entire immigration case.

In some cases, activities deemed to be crimes can result in deportation. It is important to learn the laws in order to avoid such situations as you seek permanent status in the country. However, there may be instances in which you believe that the activity in question is something that would help your case. Examples include falsely claiming citizenship, marriage fraud or violations of protection orders. Additional activities that could result in deportation include crimes against children, stalking, domestic violence, drug or weapons offenses, and smuggling other non-citizens into the country.

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