Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘US Immigration Law’

18th December 2010

The United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service (USICE), an agency operating under the authority of the Department of Homeland Security, is tasked with enforcing the Immigration and Customs laws of the United States of America. This blogger recently came across a news release from the USICE which took note of the fact that an ICE investigation resulted in the conviction of a former FBI agent. To quote directly from the ICE.gov website:

DALLAS – A former special agent with the FBI in Dallas was sentenced on Wednesday by Chief U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater to two years probation and ordered to pay an $18,000 fine, announced U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks of the Northern District of Texas.

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), and the Department of Justice’s Office of Inspector General.

Ann Cox, 49, of Rockwall, Texas, pleaded guilty in September to the misdemeanor offense of unlawfully employing aliens.

According to documents filed in the case, from at least August 1997 until December 2008, Cox operated a Schlotzky’s Deli in Rockwall. While operating the deli franchise, she hired and employed individuals knowing that they were not either admitted for permanent residence in the U.S. or authorized to be employed. The documents name a total of six such individuals.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert E. Casey Jr. stated, “When FBI internal security procedures first detected the possibility that former Special Agent Cox may have committed this crime, I immediately referred this matter to our headquarters in Washington, D.C. Pursuant to established procedures within the Department of Justice, an investigation was then conducted by the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with the full cooperation of the FBI. While it is disappointing that an FBI special agent chose to break the law, it is important for citizens to understand that the FBI has an unwavering commitment to take appropriate action when transgressions are committed by its employees, the overwhelming majority of whom are above reproach in their professional and personal conduct.”

For those unfamiliar with matters pertaining to United States Immigration law, it should be pointed out the American authorities take immigration matters seriously and it is becoming ever more apparent that law enforcement agencies are stringently enforcing immigration regulations especially in the area of unlawful employment. As can be seen from the above quotation, intentionally employing undocumented immigrants is a serious matter that can lead to harsh legal penalties. For this reason, it is prudent to ascertain the lawful status of those being employed by a business in the United States in order to be certain that those employed in the US are either US Citizens, lawful permanent residents, or have been granted employment authorization by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).

For related information please see: US visa fraud.

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1st October 2010

Those who follow this blog frequently may take note of the fact that the administration carefully follows the issues associated with LGBT Immigration rights in the United States of America. In a recent posting by Melanie Nathan on the website LezGetReal.com it was noted that LGBT immigration legislation may be introduced in the US Congress quite soon:

Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey is expected to introduce comprehensive immigration legislation before the Senate adjourns this week for the midterm recess, according to Politico, and a source tells The Advocate that the legislation will be LGBT-inclusive.

In the past, there have been other attempts by Federal legislators to rectify the current legal restrictions placed on LGBT bi-national couples when it comes to the issue of obtaining US Immigration benefits. To continue to quote directly from LezGetReal.com:

There are an estimated 36,000 (minimum the number since the determination in the year 2000 – also not taking account of social media and current increase in internet meeting) Gays and Lesbians who are either American citizens or residents (all referred to as Americans for the purpose of this article,) who are in love and relationship with a foreigner. Gay and lesbians are denied equality under the Federal Immigration laws of this Country, to sponsor same-sex partners or  State recognized spouses for immigration (greencards) to the USA.

LGBT couples (and the appellation LGBT includes Bi-sexual and Transgender couples and individuals as well as Lesbian or Gay couples and individuals) are currently barred from receiving the same family based immigration benefits as different-sex couples. This restriction is imposed pursuant to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). DOMA prevents same sex couples (even those lawfully married under state law) from receiving recognition of their marriage in the eyes of the Federal government (and the benefits which may arise therefrom, including immigration benefits such as the K3 visa, CR1 visa, or IR1 visa or in cases where a couple intends to enter into a marriage in the USA: a K1 visa). There are those who argue that application of DOMA violates the doctrine of States’ Rights. At the same time, others point to the violation of the civil rights of the American Citizen (or Lawful Permanent Resident) petitioners whose Constitutional rights may be being violated through continued enforcement of DOMA. That said, the issue remains a highly charged political matter, to quote further from the aforementioned website:

So here we are – a Congress that may well go into lame duck, a Congress that failed to repeal DADT, that showed no compassion for the children of the immigrant DREAM ACT – and a UAFA barely in the conscience of leadership, unknown to mainstream America and also barely in the minds of our lesbian and gay sisters and brothers. The question is are we going to be in the Menendez Bill as a pawn, a promise or yet another wedge that will render Immigration Reform impossible in this political climate.

Remember it IS the American who lacks the Equality – and is being discriminated against.  ALL Americans in committed relationships, except gays and lesbians,  have the right to remain in the USA with the person whom they love.

It is not the immigrant per se, who has the right, as immigration is a privilege afforded a foreigner; it is the American who has the right and it is indeed a Civil Right and a Human Rights issue.

The UAFA noted above is an acronym for the Uniting American Families Act, a bill that has, in different forms, been floating around the US Congress for some time. One of the major proponents of this legislation is Representative Jerrold Nadler who has repeatedly supported and introduced legislation which would give equal immigration rights to LGBT couples. It is interesting that the above cited piece brings up the issue of the American Citizen’s rights with regard to US Immigration matters. Although foreign nationals do not necessarily have the same rights under the US Constitution as Citizens there is no doubt that Americans are protected by the provisions of the Constitution. It is this authors opinion that this situation may very well be ultimately decided by the US Courts rather than the US legislature as there are currently two cases pending in two different circuits which could result in the full or partial repeal of DOMA. With regard to immigration, DOMA compels the US Federal government to restrict US family immigration benefits to different-sex couples. Notwithstanding that jurisdictions such as Massachusetts allow same sex marriage. Therefore, the Federal government may be in violation of the “Full Faith and Credit” Clause of the US Constitution by failing to provide equal immigration benefits to same sex couples married in a jurisdiction in the US where such unions are lawful.

Whether the issue of LGBT immigration rights will ultimately be resolved in the US Courts or the US Congress remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the issue has many implications from both a legal and political perspective.

For related information please see: Same Sex Visa.

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19th September 2010

This author has frequently discussed the myriad problems that Immigrants can face when dealing with an unlicensed American immigration “agent” or “specialist“. American law and Federal Regulations are clear regarding the issue of who is allowed to provide legal services in matters arising before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) specifically; or any of the other agencies which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only licensed attorneys from the United States of America are able to provide consultations about US Immigration matters for a fee. Furthermore, only an attorney licensed by the Highest Court of least one US State, Commonwealth, or outlying territory is allowed charge fees to represent clients before DHS, including USCIS.

Unfortunately, there are some unauthorized organizations throughout the world claiming to be able to provide advice and assistance in American Immigration matters. The internet has proven to be a great tool for those wishing to research matters pertaining to United States Immigration. Meanwhile, it has also provided a platform for some operations which claim legal expertise without appropriate training or licensure. Such individuals and entities ought to be avoided at all costs since information transmitted to such individuals and entities may not be protected by the usual legal protections accorded to communications conveyed between an American attorney and their client. Furthermore, one who is not legally trained or not licensed to provide legal services in a given jurisdiction or about a particular subject cannot provide effective counsel nor lawful confidentiality to those seeking their assistance. This can be especially important to those conveying sensitive information about a case pending before an immigration tribunal, agency, US Embassy, or US Consulate abroad. Those engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the aforementioned manner are thereby placing their own interests, as well as those of their unsuspecting “clients’”, in jeopardy.

When comparing the costs of legal service it is important to understand the pivotal role of licensure when making a decision to retain counsel. No licensed legal professional is likely to have a problem with prospective clients shopping for a reasonably priced service with a professional that they feel comfortable dealing with. In general, licensed American attorneys find that competition with other professionals makes for a healthy and prosperous business environment, but to compare the services of a licensed American immigration attorney with one who is not licensed to practice law creates a false comparison as US law is clear that those without licensure cannot provide the services which they claim they can provide in an immigration context. In short: one cannot compare a legal service with an illegal service from a price standpoint as an illegal service provider simply cannot provide such services at any price.

For further information please see: licensed lawyer. To learn more about US Immigration from Southeast Asia please see: US Immigration Law Thailand.

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11th September 2010

The United States is an interesting country to analyze from the standpoint of immigration. Immigrants coming to the United States have provided the engine for economic growth throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. However, in recent years there have been those who have questioned US Immigration policy as spotty enforcement and a lack of clear Comprehensive Immigration Reform measures have left some feeling as though major change to the system is necessary for legal, political, and economic reasons. One aspect of US Immigration that some Americans fail to take into consideration when researching American immigration policy is the so-called “business argument”. Many feel that skilled immigrants can provide a much needed boost to the US economy particularly in economic areas where companies in United States are not as technically proficient compared to companies abroad. To quote a recent posting on the Financial Times website:

[T]he “business argument” for an increase in skilled immigrants is being politically sidelined because of the failure of the federal government to resolve the status of the more than 11m illegal and undocumented immigrants living in the shadows, and the unwillingness – not the inability – of the government to enforce current immigration laws.

This seeming lack of political will on the issue of Comprehensive Immigration Reform may stem from the current lack of a clear Immigration policy enshrined in American law. The United States Immigration system has not seen a large scale reform in many years and this has lead to systemic inefficiencies in dealing with real time issues. However, this author believes that American Citizens and American lawmakers have the ability to craft sound immigration policies. To quote the aforementioned publication further:

A world power – founded and built by immigrants – that has prospered, in large part due to its immigrant intake over the years, must do better than depend on an immigration policy that condones “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Once a rational and comprehensive immigration policy is properly forged – and, more importantly, enforced – one hopes that business’s demand for additional skilled immigrants will be an integral part of it.

The idea of a “don’t ask, don’t tell” US Immigration policy is a bit controversial as there are laws on the books which speak directly to issues such as unlawful presence in the United States, but the enforcement of such laws is difficult as the problem of undocumented immigrants in the US has become ubiquitous and therefore difficult to deal with. Overcoming this problem will likely result in an overall benefit to the US economy as Comprehensive Immigration Reform could pave the way for legitimate business immigration to the USA.

The benefits which can be accrued to the American economy’s favor should not be underestimated. Foreign direct investment in the United States economy will likely come from immigrants who wish to invest in American business while maintaining lawful status through utilization of some form of US visa. Meanwhile, skilled technical labor from abroad would make the US economy that much more attractive to foreign and domestic investors and increase the likelihood of future American technological innovation: which has consistently remained the American economy’s “Ace in the Hole” when making comparisons to other economic areas around the globe.

For related information please see: E2 visa or EB5 visa.

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9th August 2010

Those who keep up with Immigration news have no doubt noticed the increasing tensions that have been caused by problems along the Southwestern Border of the United States. In a recent announcement distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association it was noted that a new Senate Bill was passed which could provide new funding for increased border security initiatives. To quote the announcement directly:

On 8/5/10, with hours left before the beginning on the August recess, the Senate passed a $600 million emergency spending bill aimed at increasing border security. The bill, titled the Emergency Border Security Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010, was passed by a voice vote.

Senator Schumer (D-NY), along with several Democratic colleagues, introduced the Border Security Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2010 (S.3721) and used it as a substitute amendment to H.R. 5875, a bill passed by the House of Representatives on 7/28/10. Further action is required before H.R. 5875, as passed by the Senate, can be sent to President Obama’s desk for signature.

It is unclear at this point if the House of Representatives, which is set to return for a short two day session on 8/09/10, will take up the Senate measure or whether they will wait until September…

In response to the passage of this Bill, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, made the following statement:

“I commend the Senate for passing the Southwest Border bill to add important, permanent resources to continue bolstering security on our Southwest border. These assets are critical to bringing additional capabilities to crack down on transnational criminal organizations and reduce the illicit trafficking of people, drugs, currency and weapons. Over the past eighteen months, this Administration has dedicated unprecedented personnel, technology, and resources to the border and we will continue to take decisive action to disrupt criminal organizations and the networks they exploit. I encourage the House to act quickly on this bill to strengthen our historic border security efforts.”

The final resolution remains to be seen, but there are many who feel strongly about this issue and it is likely that the subject of undocumented immigration will remain controversial heading into the upcoming Congressional elections. That said, Comprehensive Immigration Reform may still be on the horizon notwithstanding bills passed in an effort to deal with the current issues along the US-Mexican border.

For related information please see: Comprehensive Immigration Reform. For information about bringing a loved one to the United States with proper documentation please see: K1 visa or US Marriage Visa.

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8th June 2010

A frequent topic on this blog is same sex marriage and the intersection of that issue with US Immigration law. Currently, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) effectively prevents Federal recognition of Same Sex Marriages when adjudicating US Immigration petitions. Therefore, different sex couples who are validly married in a jurisdiction in the United States can petition for Immigration benefits if one of the partners is foreign national. This is not the case for same sex couples as same sex partners are currently barred from obtaining US Immigration benefits based upon a bona fide same sex marriage. This issue is being widely discussed in US Immigration circles. An example of this discussion can be found in the most recent edition of The Voice, a publication promulgated by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA). The following is an excerpt from a recent article discussing LGBT immigration issues:

“At present, gay and lesbian marriages are recognized in 10 countries. The Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, and Sweden recognize marriage equality uniformly throughout their territories.5 Same-sex marriages
also are recognized in some parts of Argentina and Mexico.6 However, DOMA closes the door to same-sex marriage recognition under any federal law, including the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). So for those couples who have united legally in one of the many countries stated above, DOMA would keep federal immigration laws from legally recognizing those unions upon their immigration to the United States.

Many courts have found that the language of DOMA is clear and unambiguous. But can DOMA be struck down? In addition to suits filed in Massachusetts,8 at least one other high-profile case in California, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, D.Ct.N.D.Cal. case 3:2009cv02292 (filed May 22, 2009), is currently challenging the constitutionality of discrimination against same-sex marriages more generally. If such a case were successful, it might lead courts to strike down DOMA and all anti-gay state marriage amendments, presumably resulting in the clear recognition of all bona fide same sex marriages in the United States.”

Although there are many legal obstacles in the path of equal Immigration rights for same sex couples, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel as a repeal of DOMA would create an opening that could be exploited by advocates for same ex immigration. To quote the aforementioned article:

“In a world without DOMA, U.S. immigration law would clearly recognize the same-sex marriage of a couple residing in a U.S. state that recognizes the marriage. It is also highly likely that the marriages would be recognized for residents of other states with no laws prohibiting same-sex marriage.”

Although repeal of DOMA may not be a perfect legal solution from an Immigration standpoint, a repeal of DOMA in conjunction with the adoption of a statute such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) would likely be an optimal solution to the current legal impasse.

For more information please see: Same Sex Visa.

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6th June 2010

In a recent news release from the American Justice Department it was announced that a US Border Patrol Agent has plead guilty to charges that he assaulted a Mexican National and thereby violated that individual’s civil rights. To quote the press release:

U.S. Border Patrol Agent Eduardo Moreno pleaded guilty today in federal court in Tucson, Ariz., to a federal criminal civil rights charge for assaulting a Mexican national who was in his custody, the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona announced today. Sentencing has been scheduled for Aug. 12, 2010.
The underlying incident occurred on May 10, 2006, while Moreno was on duty at the U.S. Border Patrol Processing Center in Nogales, Ariz. During the plea proceedings and in documents filed in court, Moreno admitted that while escorting the victim at the center, he kicked the victim, struck him in the stomach with a baton, threw him down to ground, and punched him, all without any legitimate law enforcement reason to use force. As a result of the defendant’s actions, the victim suffered bodily injury.


“We place a great deal of trust in federal law enforcement officers, and the Civil Rights Division will aggressively prosecute any officer who violates the rights of others and abuses the power they are given to perform their critical duties,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.


Moreno faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. An additional count in the indictment of making a false statement to federal agents will be dismissed under the plea agreement. This case was investigated by agents of the FBI and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Office of Professional Responsibility. The case is being jointly prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sandra Hansen of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Arizona and Trial Attorney Edward Chung of the Civil Rights Division.

This is an unfortunate incident which some feel is symptomatic of an overall problem in the area of US Immigration. Many advocates are calling for Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR), if for no other reason than to clarify the finer points of US Immigration law, procedure, and regulation. Hopefully, by creating a discourse about immigration many of the problems plaguing law enforcement agencies and local communities can be adequately addressed to the satisfaction of all concerned.

This author applauds the efforts of the American Justice Department as they seek to make the rule of law binding upon individuals in the USA, government agencies, and government agents alike.

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2nd June 2010

This blog routinely discusses issues surrounding United States Immigration Law. However, this author must admit that we often fail to mention the human side of the Immigration and visa process. At the time of this writing the United States appears to be on the verge of making radical changes to the makeup of American Immigration law. This will likely occur through Comprehensive Immigration Reform of the US Immigration and Nationality Act and other pertinent legislation. The reasons for seeking reform vary depending upon the individual or organization. That said, the following excerpt from a news story posted on Yahoo.com poignantly elucidates the human aspect of the issues surrounding Comprehensive Immigration Reform (also known as CIR):

Seven-year-old Daisy Cuevas, thrilled to see herself on television with U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama, didn’t quite understand the predicament in which she had innocently placed her undocumented Peruvian parents. “She laughed, she jumped up and down. She was excited” after the encounter at Daisy’s suburban Washington, D.C., elementary school, the girl’s maternal grandfather, Genaro Juica, told The Associated Press. The TV appearance made the pigtailed second grader a voice of the estimated 12 million immigrants living in the United States illegally — and a source of pride for Peru’s president, who visits Washington on Tuesday. “My mom says that Barack Obama is taking away everybody that doesn’t have papers,” Daisy told the U.S. first lady on May 19 at the New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland. “Well, that’s something that we have to work on, right, to make sure that people can be here with the right kind of papers,” Michelle Obama replied. “But my mom doesn’t have papers,” said Daisy, a U.S. citizen by virtue of her birth. The color immediately drained from her mother’s face. She ran crying to call her parents in Lima, then went into hiding, fearful of being deported. These are tense times for people like Daisy’s mother, a maid who arrived in the United States with her carpenter husband when she was two months pregnant with Daisy. Daisy’s parents are fearful of U.S. anti-immigrant sentiment, which for many Latin Americans is epitomized by an Arizona law taking effect in July that gives police the right to demand ID papers of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has said it is not pursuing Daisy’s parents. Immigration investigations, it said in a statement, “are based on making sure the law is followed and not on a question-and-answer discussion in a classroom.” Nonetheless, Daisy’s mother asked the AP after the May 19 incident not to name her or her husband.

Many of those hoping for a “path to citizenship” for undocumented aliens in America feel that rectification of US Immigration policy can only be effected through reforming the Immigration laws. There are others who feel that the recently proposed CIR legislation does not go far enough in rectifying the inequities that currently exist under American Immigration law. A clarion call for further reform is especially noticeable from the LGBT immigration movement.

Hopefully, we will see Immigration reform soon, but in the meantime we may be able to learn something from this incident as it would appear that even children can see the “Equity Gap” that currently seems to exist in the realm of United States Immigration.

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29th May 2010

For those who read this blog on a regular basis a common theme is that of LGBT immigration rights. US Immigration law, under current regulations including the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), dictates that Same-Sex Bi-National Couples are legally precluded from receiving US Immigration benefits based upon a legally solemnized same sex marriage, civil partnership, or civil union. That said, in recent years, Congressional Representatives such as Jerry Nadler have introduced legislation, often referred to as the Uniting American Families Act or simply UAFA, that would provide a means of applying for Immigration benefits for same-sex “permanent partners.” In previous blog posts, this author has discussed Comprehensive Immigration Reform and how changes in American Immigration law may, or may not, change the current rules in order to allow bi-national same sex partners to apply for family immigration benefits. In a previous blog post, we discussed recently proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform legislation introduced by Illinois Representative Luis Gutierrez and how said draft legislation did not include provisions for same sex immigration benefits. On that note, the following was posted on the WashingtonBlade.com:

An influential pro-immigrant U.S. House member has endorsed including protections for LGBT bi-national couples as part of comprehensive immigration reform legislation. In a statement Thursday, Rep. Luiz Gutierrez (D-Ill.) said inclusion of language allowing LGBT Americans to sponsor foreign partners for residency in the United States is an important part of a broader reform bill. “Our efforts to fix our broken immigration system and protect basic civil rights are not truly comprehensive if we exclude same-sex couples,” he said. Standalone legislation that would enable an estimated 36,000 bi-national same-sex couples to stay together in the United States is known as the Uniting American Families Act. Proponents of the legislation have been seeking inclusion of UAFA as part of upcoming comprehensive immigration reform legislation in Congress. Gutierrez is schueduled to announce officially his support for inclusion of UAFA on Monday at a press conference in Chicago, Ill. Joining him at the conference will be Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) and gay Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.), who also support inclusion of LGBT couples in immigration reform. Late last year, Gutierrez introduced his own version of comprehensive immigration reform legislation that was seen an alternative to the working bill expected later. However, even though Gutierrez is a co-sponsor of UAFA, the legislation didn’t include UAFA-like language. According to the statement from Gutierrez’ office, the lawmaker’s recent announcement means he’s “recommitting himself” to inclusion of specific UAFA-like language as part of comprehensive reform…

In the previous post in which this proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) legislation was discussed this author found it unfortunate that LGBT Immigration issues were not mentioned in the provisions of the draft legislation. That said, this author is happy to see that the issue of Same-Sex and LGBT Immigration rights is being discussed within the context of CIR. Should it come to pass, Comprehensive Immigration Reform will likely represent one of the most important changes to Federal Immigration law in, at least, the past 25 years. With this in mind, the fact that LGBT Immigration is currently being discussed within the context of CIR at least hints at the possibility that US Immigration law will be modified in order to grant benefits to those couples who, at the time of this writing, cannot be re-united in the United States in the same manner as so-called “different-sex” couples.

For further related information please see: US Visa Thailand, K1 visa, same sex visa or same sex marriage.

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13th March 2010

On many occasions, this author has discussed the issue of the unauthorized practice of law in the context of US Immigration. This problem has been significant in certain areas of the United States as well as abroad. Certain Immigrant groups are more susceptible to fraud than others as it can be difficult for some to decipher who is eligible to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and other agencies under the jurisdiction of the Department of Homeland Security.

Recently, USCIS had a collaboration session to discuss the issue of unauthorized individuals practicing law. The following is a quote from a release promulgated by USCIS’s Office of Public Engagement:

“Scope of the Problem:

  • The unauthorized practice of law encompasses various activities, including:


  • Applying for benefits on behalf of an immigrant who is ineligible for those benefits


  • Misrepresentation of facts in documents submitted to USCIS


  • Accepting an applicant’s money without ever submitting any documents to USCIS (this is the hardest to track because USCIS has no record of the unauthorized practitioner or documents submitted on behalf of the applicant)


  • Other examples include unauthorized practitioners who claim to be able to obtain labor certifications for employers
  • Primarily a “local issue of national scale”


  • Many unauthorized practitioners promise to expedite cases, and then take an applicant’s money and disappear – applicants are willing to pay more to an unauthorized practitioner than they would to a private attorney because they may believe that notary publics can provide premium services (stems from a difference between the role of notary publics in the U.S. and other countries)


  • Some attorneys lend their names and bar numbers to UPL practices – these attorneys can be disciplined for failure to supervise, but there is nothing that can be done to the unauthorized practitioners


  • Unauthorized practitioners sell forms through their websites and conduct phone consultations


  • There are companies overseas that claim to provide assistance with the “green card lottery”


  • In recent years, there has been an increase in internet-based scams


  • Unauthorized practitioners include ex-government officials, including previous employees of INS, USCIS, DHS, and DOS


  • Unauthorized practitioners often threaten to report applicants to USCIS or ICE when they complain about fees or lack of service


  • Most serious threat is mom and pop shops that advertise with flyers and in local papers or through referrals and hand out business cards advertising themselves as notary publics or attorneys


  • Applicants have an incentive to protect unauthorized practitioners because once an unauthorized practitioner is caught, all cases are reopened


  • Some therapists working with U visa applicants assist clients with preparing/filing forms”

Unfortunately one of the worst consequences of hiring an unauthorized representative is that the applicant’s case may be reopened and scrutinized if it is found that they were assisted by someone without authorization to practice US Immigration law. US immigration lawyers routinely “clean up the mess” caused by those without the knowledge base or ethical standards required to represent clients in American Immigration proceedings.  For this reason, it is always prudent to ascertain at the outset if an individual is really entitled to practice law. This can be learned by asking to see a copy of the individual’s US license to practice law in the Supreme Court of one of the 50 states or a territory of the United States. A Bar Association Membership Card can also shed light on an individual’s credentials. In the case of non-profit entities, a copy of a document confirming the organization or individual’s accreditation by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) may also be used to prove an ability to represent people before the Department of Homeland Security.

For those seeking advice about US Immigration from Thailand please see: US Lawyer Thailand or US Visa Thailand.

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