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Cleveland Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

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.

Some immigrants may qualify for OWF and DFA benefits

Foreign individuals living in Ohio may be eligible to receive Ohio Works First and disability financial assistance benefits. In order to qualify for OWF and DFA benefits, the individual must meet certain immigration requirements.

A person who has citizenship in the United States or is a non-citizen national qualifies for both OWF and DFA benefits. When determining who is a citizen, it is important to understand the legal definition of the 'United States." In addition to the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the United States for this purpose includes the American Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and Guam. Individuals from Swain's Island and American Samoa are considered non-citizen nationals who are also entitled to receive OWF and DFA benefits.

Does the United States allow dual citizenship?

Although many people in Ohio may mistakenly believe otherwise, the United States government does allow people to have dual citizenship, also known as dual nationality.There are several situations under which this could be the case.

People who are born in a foreign country to parents who are U.S. citizens can be citizens of both the foreign country as well as the United States, for example. Other examples include when people become nationals of another country through marriage while still retaining their U.S. citizenship, or foreign nationals who become naturalized U.S. citizens without giving up their citizenship of birth.

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.

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