Immigration Q & A October 2013

Immigration Q & A

Immigration Q & A October 2013

Author by Edward Boreth

Q. I applied for my green card a few years ago. The case was denied. I just received a letter telling me that I need to go to Immigration Court. The letter does not state the time and date that I need to appear. What do I do now?

A. Unfortunately you have been placed in removal proceedings. You will now have to go to Immigration Court to fight deportation. You should receive another letter that will tell you the actual date and time of your hearing. If you do not, you may check with the Immigration Court’s automated phone system, by calling 1(800) 898-7180 and following the voice prompts. The letter that you received should state what the charges against you are – in other words, which immigration laws the government believes you have violated. You may contest the charges and you may also have defenses. But now that the government is actively trying to deport you, don’t try to handle this yourself. You will need an attorney knowledgeable in immigration laws. In any case, you MUST show up for court. If you do not come to the hearing, you will automatically lose your case and have an order of removal entered against you. Even if you have not found the right attorney, do go to the hearing. At the first hearing, many immigration judges will allow you some time to find an attorney, but don’t wait until the hearing to start looking for an attorney.

Q.I had my adjustment of status interview six months ago. The officer said my case was approved, but I have not yet received the permanent resident card. I have not moved addresses since the interview. What should I do?

A. There could be several reasons for you not receiving your card. Sometimes, the card production center has technical problems and the mailing of some cards is delayed. However, most cards are being mailed out within a few weeks of approval. Call the USCIS customer service center with your file number to determine whether you card has actually been mailed out or not. If the card has been mailed out to you, wait about 30 days before filing form I-90 for a replacement card. If you did not change your address from the date of the adjustment of status, you do not need to pay a filing fee with Form I-90. If you did move, you will need to pay the $450 filing fee for form I-90. You will also need to file Form AR-11(Change of Address) with USCIS .The post office has been instructed by USCIS not to forward documents such as permanent resident cards even if you have a mail forwarding order on file with your post office. You can file Form AR-11 electronically at www.uscis.gov and also update your address electronically with the Service Center by following the Change Your Address link. If you update your address online, it is important to keep the electronic confirmation that USCIS provides.

Of course, there is the possibility that your case was not actually approved. The officer may have indicated that he or she planned to approved it, but found a problem in the file or simply got transferred to another location before completing the approval process. Calling the customer service number will tell you if the case has not been approved and if it is still at the local office. Then you make make an INFOPASS appointment by going to the uscis.gov website. At the INFOPASS appointment, the local office information officer may be able to tell you whey the delay occurred.

Q. I have had my green card for 10 years now and would like to apply for US citizenship. However, a few years ago, I had a misunderdtanding which ended up with me being been arrested for theft. The case is closed now, but my friends tell me that I cannot get my citizenship because of the arrest. Is this true?

A.Immigration rules can be very complicated and this is a perfect example. Some people with theft arrests can get their citizenship, while others will face deportation. This is why you should always consult an attorney before applying for citizenship. You have not given me enough information to tell you what will happen in your case. First, I will need to know what was the outcome of the arrest. Were you charged in court, did you enter into a plea agreement, was the case dropped or did you have to go to a pretrial diversion program? An arrest does not count against you for immigration, only a conviction does. However, immigration counts some things as a conviction when the state does not. The value of the alleged stolen property may also make a difference in your case. I will also need to know the date of the arrest and the length of the sentence imposed, even if it was only a fine or probation. If the arrest was too close to the first time you came to the U.S., you may end up facing deportation. However, you must wait five years after a theft conviction before applying for naturalization. Of course, if you have more than one conviction, the result may be different. Do you find this confusing? Absolutely. The answer could be good or the answer could be very bad. That is why, as with any other criminal history, you should discuss your case in detail with an immigration attorney before you file for citizenship. I highly recommend that you obtain a certified copy of your court records to show to the attorney.

The advice in this column may not apply to your specific situation, even if it seems similar in nature. The only way to obtain legal advice is by speaking with a qualified attorney and reviewing your specific circumstances. If you have any questions, please call me at (954) 522-4115.

Edward Boreth is an immigration attorney who has practiced law for 18 years. He is a partner at Shapovalov & Boreth and a director of the Citizenship Clinic. He is also an avid cricket fan.