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Cleveland Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

What crimes can remove a person's immigration status?

Some individuals in Ohio may benefit from understanding which crimes warrant removing someone's immigration status. First, it could be useful to know which federal agencies oversee criminal cases involving people who have certain immigrant statuses. The Department of Justice's Office of Immigration Litigation has authority coordinating and managing federal court immigration cases, and it also upholds the Immigration and Nationality Act and the authority of the Executive Branch. Other agencies involved in these cases include the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the Department of Homeland Security and the U.S Attorney's Offices.

According to the OIL, in any case in which an immigrant is facing criminal charges, the defense counsel, prosecutors and other parties involved should all possess a basic comprehension of immigration law. Charges that are considered grounds for removal upon a conviction include aggravated felonies, crimes of moral turpitude, offenses involving controlled substances and those involving firearms or destructive devices. In addition, convictions related to domestic violence, child abuse, stalking, neglect and child abandonment, treason, failing to register as a sex offender, violating a protective order, fleeing from an immigration checkpoint and falsifying documents may also result in the removal of one's immigration status.

What is the process of renewing a green card?

Ohio residents who need to renew a green card, also known as a permanent resident card, should generally begin with the Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card, known as Form I-90. Individuals who have a 10-year green card that has expired or is set to expire within six months must apply for renewal.

The application may be filed online or submitted by mail and the process varies based on the physical location of the applicant at the time the application is filed. It is generally best for a permanent resident to apply for a renewal card prior to leaving the U.S. if the current card is set to expire during the time he or she is outside the country. A person who is physically outside the U.S. when his or her green card expires and who did not apply for renewal prior to departure should contact a USCIS office, U.S. port of entry or U.S. consulate prior to filing Form I-90.

Department of State to accept entries for Diversity Visa program

Ohio residents who know of individuals seeking opportunities to obtain green cards may want to share information about the 2016 Diversity Visa program. While North American natives are typically not eligible for this program, individuals residing in or natives of many eligible countries are able to apply between Oct. 1 and Nov. 3. Winners of the drawing will need to verify their selection in the spring months of 2015 by checking online, and applications must be submitted during the 2016 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, 2015.

This program may be an excellent option for someone residing in the U.S. who is seeking an adjustment of status. However, participation in the lottery is restricted to those from countries listed as eligible. This may change each year, making it necessary to review updates prior to participation. Many nations in close proximity to the U.S. are excluded. However, residents of those nations might still be eligible based on marriage to an individual from an eligible country. Similarly, a native of an ineligible country might be able to participate based on parents' origins and residence at the time of a child's birth.

Ugandan gay rights advocate granted asylum in U.S.

Ohio residents may recall media reports in May about anti-gay legislation adopted in Uganda. One of the African nation's leading LGBT advocates has applied for asylum to remain in the United States. He said that the move was driven by fears about what would happen to him if he returned home. He received word about the status of his asylum application in a Sept. 11 letter from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The letter informed the activist that his asylum was approved pending the results of a mandatory background check.

The decision to seek asylum was driven by laws outlawing homosexuality in Uganda, which included a possible life sentence for violators. The law was overturned on a technical issue by a Ugandan court in August, but the ruling has been appealed by lawmakers. Laws targeting homosexual activity are still on the books in the country, and the future of the nation's LGBT community seems unclear.

Seeking asylum in the United States

Issues such as immigration and asylum may be of interest to residents of Ohio. People seeking protection in the U.S.may request asylum based on various types of persecution. These may include actions related to religion, race, nationality, political opinion or membership in a specific social group. An individual who is eligible to apply for protection may be able to remain in the country, but an application must be made within a year of arriving in the U.S.

Spouses and children under the age of 21 who are not married may be included in one's application for asylum. A child who is married or who is more than 21 years old must make an independent application. Form I-589 is the Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, the official document that must be completed and filed in seeking protection in the U.S. Fees are not required for filing. After being granted asylum, the recipient may make a petition to bring a spouse and children to the country if they are not already present. This must be completed within two years of receiving protected status.

Becoming a refugee

Individuals wishing to settle in Ohio as refugees will first need a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admission Program. This can be done from the individual's home country. There are several criteria for eligibility including being under threat of persecution due to religion, national origin, race, membership in a particular social group or political opinion. A refugee must not have persecuted others in a similar way.

U.S. immigration law allows spouses and unmarried children under 21 to accompany refugees, and occasionally other family members will be included as well. Refugees can get assistance in filling out their applications, and they will receive assistance with the paperwork as well as help in traveling to and settling in the United States. They are immediately eligible to work.

Spousal abuse to be considered for immigration requests

Ohio residents following immigration reform issues may be interested in a first-time decision of a government board to consider domestic violence in connection with asylum requests. The decision comes in response to a case involving a woman who fled Guatemala in 2005. She reportedly alerted police in her community about her abuse but received no assistance. She crossed into the United States illegally.

The board hearing the case determined that the woman was a member of a specific social group due to the fact that she was a married Guatemalan who could not leave an abusive relationship. The board determined that this fits with at least one of the criteria needed for an individual to be granted asylum. The Department of Homeland Security prosecutes cases involving deportation, and in this case, the department did not contest the argument allowing the case to be returned for a final ruling by an immigration judge. This is viewed as a significant action on the part of the government due to the fact that victims of domestic abuse may now be considered a protected class with greater opportunity for refugee status or asylum in the U.S.

Seeking protection from persecution through U.S. asylum

If you are an immigrant living in Ohio, it may be possible for you to seek asylum in the U.S. under certain conditions. For instance, under immigration law, people who are suffering certain types of persecution in their home country may be granted asylum. This includes persecution due to religious beliefs, race, nationality, political stance and ethnic background in their native country.

Perhaps you came to this country to escape persecution, but you do not have the required paperwork that would allow you to stay indefinitely without the fear of deportation. Once granted U.S. asylum, you do not need to feel threatened about the possibility of being deported, especially since returning to your home country may lead to dangerous consequences or even death.

Study indicates immigrants provide financial and economic boons

Illegal immigration can be a very culturally, politically and socially charged issue in Ohio. To help clarify some of the topics that are frequently brought up in discussions about immigration, many nonprofit organizations and government agencies compile data regarding immigrants’ impact on the United States. Often, this provides illuminating information about the contributions immigrants can make in this country.

A recent report from the Economic Policy Institute indicates that budgets at the federal level benefit from the work of undocumented immigrants. Immigration is also credited with providing economic boons under some circumstances.

ACLU sends Cuyahoga sheriff a letter regarding immigrant arrests

Immigrants in Cuyahoga, Ohio, face unique consequences if they are arrested, including deportation. If these immigrants are also being discriminated against by law enforcement officials, it can be very important that they have proper legal protection. To guard against this, sometimes national civil rights organizations will investigate allegations of systemic discrimination against immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union has sent letters to the Cuyahoga sheriff, as well as to six other sheriff offices throughout the state of Ohio. These letters allege that a sheriff in Butler County has held inmates for too long when he believed they were illegal immigrants. Reports do not indicate whether any evidence of this has been produced, or whether the ACLU is planning litigation based on these allegations.

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