To Be Legal 04-29-19

In this episode:

How do large numbers of undocumented immigrants enter the US. How to extend legal stay into the US? Why no immigrant should go to an interview with immigration alone in the Trump administration? All this and more answered by speaker, published author, and immigration attorney Andrés Mejer

Transcription

Good morning and welcome to The English version of our weekly radio program para ser legal today we’re going to be dealing with three main subjects. First how do large number of undocumented immigrants enter the US. Second how to extend if you entered the US legally. How do you extend it. How do you stay in the US longer than the time that you were allowed to do so. And 3 the third. Why should no immigrant attend an immigration interview under the Trump administration without an attorney. I’m going to give you some horror stories. So my name is on this method. I’m a speaker published author and immigration attorney.

I lived in Chile twice in Israel twice in the US twice. I came to the States as a child not speak in English. I moved to Israel as an adult not speaking Hebrew. If there is a mistake an immigrant can make. I’ve done it at least once I became an immigration attorney to help people like you avoid the mistakes that my family made.

So segment number one how do large number of even of undocumented immigrants enter the United States. Well this is kind of a trick question because they actually enter legally. They come through a port of entry usually an airport. It could be at a border where they present themselves and they present a passport or a visa and they enter the US and they’re given a certain period of time turned to the US. Now just last week President Trump promised to crack down on illegal immigration. He signed a new order telling giving giving Department of State and Department of Homeland Security four months to do something about legal immigrants overstaying their visa. That’s the key. They enter legally. They were given three months six months nine months. Usually it’s about a hundred days or less to enter the US and then they violate the terms of their visa by staying past the amount of time they’re allotted to. Now I’m not talking about a day or two. We’re talking about well staying indefinitely. So what are the consequences if you stay past your a lot of time. Well if we’re talking about a couple of days and you have a documented reason probably none. Typically if you stay more than six months and you leave there shouldn’t be any consequences as long as you explain why you overstayed. Now doctors issue what the hospital gave birth sick relative. You know you got a document you got to present something when you try to come back. If you stay over a year excuse me if you stay over 180 days over six months you can’t come back for three years. Even I know even if your visa is for three years five years or ten years it doesn’t matter because when you try to come in the agent the customs border patrol will put you on a plane and send you back. They’ll deny you entry. So if you stay over six months you can’t come back for three years. If you stay over a year you can’t come back for 10 years. Now between 2016 and 2017 there are one point two million foreigners who overstayed their visas. Nearly half of the 11 undocumented immigrants entered the US legally and overstayed those visas. Hey my family was one we came to the US in nineteen eighty one. We were given six months and here we are over thirty years later. It’s an exaggeration. We actually left and came back a couple of times in between them because you know we could make up our minds what country to live in. But all kidding aside my family had an opportunity to gain legal status in 86 thanks to President Reagan.

We applied we were all to be approved that we got our green card. That is not true for everyone. Matter of fact that’s not true for the majority of immigrants. We have 11 million undocumented immigrants because in the past 17 18 years there has been no way for them to normalize their legal status. Now illegal immigration or undocumented immigration is at historic lows. And but the majority of new undocumented immigrants are entering legally and overstaying.

Why is that.

Because for the past 5 6 years even under Obama you know the apprehension rates at the southern border have gone up up and up and Trump is only in increase. Well actually it doesn’t meet Obama’s numbers but he is deporting more people than Obama did you know a common misconception. They called Obama the deporter in chief because of the number of people that he was deporting. There were there were significant numbers much more so in Obama’s eight years. He deported more people than the combined number under both Presidents George Bush eight years and President Clinton’s eight years according to other reports in the past year 210000 entered illegally. That means they did not present themselves at the port of entry but four in ten thousand entered legally and over state. So Trump executive order. Again all the everything he does through executive orders and things for whatever reason unable to pass any legislation gives Department of State and Department of Homeland Security for months to come up with a plan to reduce this. In the meantime there’s things that he’s supposed to do that they’re supposed to do immediately like punishing countries who a majority or a large number of their visa entrants overstay. Now the majority of it seems we focused on Africa at least from my reading of the memorandum. But in the end how effective that’s going to be since Africa isn’t isn’t sending the majority of immigrants into the US but we’ll see what the plan is going to be in four months. One thing’s for sure it’s going to make things difficult for a lot of people including some that you know have been coming going for years. Legally there’s going to be problems at the airports.

So you just need to be prepared.

So that was question number one for those of us who just joined us. We discussed how large numbers of undocumented immigrants enter the US. The answer was through airports through ports of entry. I know surprising. Second issue that we’re dealing with today how to extend your stay if you entered legally. Now there’s a number of different ways. So first of all look if you if you did not enter legally obviously it’s very difficult to extend a illegal entry into illegal entry. It’s possible. Marry a U.S. citizen.

Employment can help you but victim of violent crime if you’re here over 10 years and you have a child with severe medical condition if you are applying for for asylum if you’re a victim of a violent crime or you were in a abusive relationship with a green card or U.S. citizen spouse.

So there’s a number of that’s called valid Violence Against Women Act as a number of ways to convert a illegal entry into a legal residency. That’s not what I’m talking about today. We’ve talked about in others in other segments today I’m talking about what happens if you come in as a tourist for three months or six months and you have a need to overstay it or you decide for. Give an example let’s say I’m from Venezuela and my life’s in here and I have a visa because I’m a journalist. I mean entering in in and out of the U.S. for many years I need to get out of my country right now because the government is looking for me. I get on a plane I leave. I don’t make any plans about what’s going to happen in the future. I just know I have to leave. So I do that and I think well maybe I’ll be able to come back in two weeks we will come back in three weeks maybe in a month and all of a sudden. Things don’t change things don’t get better what am I going to do. Well I can apply to legally extend it. I can apply to change my status to something else. So let’s first talk about I want to extend my stay. So it’s a form I 539. It’s a change of status. So in this case I’m asking the U.S. government to extend my legally permitted stay to a greater amount for a space specified reason. It can’t just be you know I like it here. I want to stay longer. You could do that but you got to say well I’m attending this conference I bet on the East Coast. Now I want to visit the West Coast. Here are the dates and times. Here’s what I need. Here’s how much time I need. Here’s the reason why I’m doing it. There needs to be a stated purpose and it needs to be reasonable. It can’t be just because I want to you know I don’t think that would work under Obama.

You need to say a specified reason usually it’s for humanitarian reasons. It’s for job related U.S or it’s an education related reason. I’m giving a TV appearance I’m attending a conference.

It needs to be something that’s documented improvement and discernable here’s the amount of time I’m staying for. Here’s why. So I want to. I’m looking at schools another visa another way to extend your stay is to apply for a student visa.

So let’s say you entered the I enter the U.S. I’m given three months because I am from Spain. So I don’t have to apply for a visa just to get my passport. Automatically I get 90 days no more no less. I get 90 days. So I come in. I like it here. You know I’m visiting let’s say my cousins. It’s the summer and they convinced me you know why don’t you apply for some who’s here. I mean you speak English because you’ve been traveling at UCSF every year.

Why don’t you try take a year to study from college here. Well that’s interesting. So that summer I’m going to go around I’m going to go to to visit some schools. I’m going to apply let’s say I’m accepted now that I’m accepted. Well I need to change my visa. I came in as a tourist. Meaning it is my intention to come into the United States for a for a finite period of time nine days or less. And at the end of which I’m going to go back to my country where I’m a citizen. Now I want to change that too. I want to come and study in the U.S. for a finite period of time.

And at the end of that I want to go back to my country. So the school will not apply to change my status if I’m in the U.S. if I travel back to my country. Most colleges or universities have a foreign student department. They will apply for the for a form I 20 for me to enter the U.S. as a student. It’s not done by an attorney. It’s done by an employee who does know hundreds of these every year. That’s pretty much all they do. So if I’m outside the US the school will apply for me to enter the US with a student visa it’s called an F 1 visa but if I’m in the U.S. They won’t do that. You have to yourself or you or you will need an attorney. Now the form to do that is the same I five thirty nine we just spoke about the change of status. One form has multiple uses but here because it makes no darn sense you need to fill it out twice. I know that doesn’t make any sense but yeah you’ve got to do it twice and you have to pay to filing fees. The first is because you need to extend your stay from now until the semester begins. So if you entered in June and the semester begins in October I make it up. Right. So I made sure that’s more 90 days. So now you can’t just stay because if you overstay you can’t convert your status from a tourist to a student.

So instead you need to apply to extend your your tourist visa up until the beginning of the school year. Then you need to apply to change your status you fund both the same time the same five thirty nine and you say listen I want to change my status from a tourist to a student. Now often both will be approved. The problem is things are delayed so much and the Trump administration that it could be this semester has already begun before you’ve been approved. That’s a real challenge nowadays. But tourist to student is an option. Now there are many others. Let’s say I’m not busy. Let’s say I visit my cousin but I meet the woman of my dreams and we decide you know we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve corresponded. I come. She proposes. Imagine that or I propose in the spur of the moment you know the thought of leaving and not seeing her for over another year says you know what. Will you marry me and she says yes. Great. Now what what am I going to do. What am I going to do. I’m supposed to leave in two days. What am I doing. So my spouse can apply for me as long as my spouse is a U.S. citizen. I will be able to adjust my status in the U.S. within the span of about a year and I will get I’ll become a lawful permanent resident. So typically what happens is she when she files for me I get fingerprinted about two weeks later about two weeks after that. This is normal. This is the normal time period. But again there is nothing normal that Trump administration. So first I get the thank you notice. We accept your payment. Then two weeks later I get the biometrics notice. That’s why they’re gonna fingerprint me. Then it should be within two months. I get work authorization. It should be within three to five months after I get work authorization. I have an interview at the interview and we’ve talked about this process many times on this show at the interview. We go and the officer is going to determine two things really. One is this relationship legitimate meaning we only get married to give me an immigration benefit or is this a bonafide marriage which just happens to be at an immigrant rather than the principal reason for the marriage is because I’m an immigrant. Assuming the of we convince the officer that it’s legitimate that we love each other that this is you know this was inevitable then it’s Will. Am I admissible into the United States. Now there’s many things that could make me inadmissible for example crimes entries and exits in the US overstaying visas lying an officer like at the interview. There’s a number of reasons that could disqualify me from staying in the US and today disqualified means being placed in removal proceedings and deported back to my country. In this case we’re talking about Spain now. There are other options also an employment based petition. Let’s go back to my national example. I’m a journalist from Venezuela fleeing my country. I could apply for asylum but that’s long drawn out process. Maybe I don’t want to do that. Maybe I’m going to go and I’m going to get hired by a TV or newspaper that needs an expert on Venezuela. Hey that’s me. I lived it. I’m a journalist. I was reporting on it. My life is in danger because of it. So there’s a visa that’s available for that. Let’s say I’m Canadian or Mexican. Well I can apply under NAFTA as a professional. I still need an employer to sponsor me. There’s also an H would be a specialty occupation. I’m a journalist. I have a college degree. The problem with an H when B is is you have to apply any April the beginning of April. It’s a lottery. There’s only sixty five thousand that’s allowed. Another twenty thousand is reserved for M. holder. For those that have a match as a PDT program or more so it’s limited and it’s a lottery. I’m applying in April for a job starting in October so there are definitely limitations there. Now there’s also L-1 visa. That’s where my business was not mine. Where my employer is applying to move me because I’m an executive order manager from one office to another which happens to be in a different country. So all of those are options to extend a legal stay in the United States. I entered legally for reasons that I can document and prove I now want to change my status from a a temporary visitor to a more permanent visitor not necessarily permanent green card is but a student visa or NAFTA is not necessary or H1 B is not necessarily permanent. It’s just a longer period of time. So for those who just joined us I meant that it’s mechanism immigration attorney. We started off the show by talking about. How do a large numbers of undocumented immigrants into the United States legally. Segment number two we talked about how to extend that legal entry into United States. And we spoke we spoke about a family based petition like a spousal student visa. We spoke of how to change how to extend your status and also some employment based visas that can extend my stay in the United States. So for our last segment of the day I want to talk about why no one and I mean absolutely no one should go to an immigration interview without an attorney. I don’t care if this is if you’re applying for citizenship or you apply for a green green card or you’re applying for asylum. It doesn’t matter what it is you should not go. At all. If you don’t have an attorney you’re better off extending it. Nothing good is going to happen to you if you go there with an attorney. Now in past segment we talked about not exactly the same thing. If someone’s in removal proceedings if they have an attorney. Forty eight percent of the time they wait. If they don’t have an attorney four percent of the time. So you’re 12 times more likely to succeed if you have an immigration attorney. Now not all attorneys are the same. Some of them are better than others. Some of them you know I’d love to say that all immigration attorneys care and work hard and are diligent. But the reality is not all mechanics are the best. Not all soccer players are fantastic. Not all surgeons do the same job. Guess what. Attorneys are the same thing. Not all attorneys are made equal. Put that issue aside for the moment. I’m going to give you two examples of why. Unfortunate these are horrific. These are horror stories. These are two scenarios that could have been avoided had they gone to their interview with an attorney. First let’s talk about George. George been here for a long time. Twenty five years married to it to a US citizen entered the United States legally but overstayed their visa. That that’s what we’ve been talking about this whole program. So enter legally. Very important. Now.

About 15 years ago he went he purchased a birth certificate and passport from a Puerto Rican male. He used that. Documentation to go to Department of Motor Vehicles and apply for a driver’s license. And he said Yes I. I’m Paul Neb. That’s me. I’m joking. Thank you Paul Farrow for listening and for watching. But he came and he presented documentation saying he was someone other than who he was. Now the motor vehicles were suspicious for whatever reason we don’t know why officer came over put them into a room. Interviewed him and. Charged him with presenting fake documents. We don’t know what tipped him off.

I only know the outcome now. He he hired a civil defense attorney. He went to court. He applied for what’s called pretrial intervention meaning he did not accept culpability. He was put on probation for a year. He completed their probation. His charges were dismissed. So now no convictions on his record whatsoever. He was arrested but he was not found guilty. Married to a U.S. citizen his spouse files for him or without an attorney. He goes to the interview. Again without an attorney with his wife. The officer says you know what. I believe you. You guys you guys have two kids this relationship is legitimate. Let me ask you some. Tell me what happened. You know in 2001. So George proceeded to explain. Well I bought this. From Puerto Rican Marc. I presented those documents to the pardon motor vehicle. In order to get a driver’s license and the officer asked Why why’d you do that. Well I really needed a driver’s license. Why do you need that. Well I needed. I had a job and I need to work and you know I just had to support myself and my family. I was sending money back home.

Needed a good paying job. I needed to get a good paying job. I need your driver’s license.

OK. Now let me let me see that I understand is correct. Do present a document for yours.

Yeah. You did that in order to get a benefit. Yes that benefit was material to. Correct. Yes. Well do you mind signing a document to that effect. Oh sure no problem.

By signing that document he now admitted to misrepresenting himself to be a US citizen. I mean there’s almost nothing worse in immigration. There is no waiver for that. Had he had an attorney none of those questions would have been answered. It would have been officer. He was not convicted. Well what about officer. He was not convicted does not answer any questions that affect period end of story. That’s what would have happened if I had been there or any decent immigration attorney would have been there. Instead he signed a document admitting that he misrepresented himself meaning he lied that he lied to a government agency saying he was a US citizen when he wasn’t.

That makes him inadmissible. Period. No waiver no solution. Today’s placed in removal proceedings and he does not. And that is a negative factor against him in any process a petition that he files totally unnecessary. He did know he did know where the officer was taking them. He didn’t know what the consequences of signing the document.

Now he could have said well hold on a second I’m sorry. You know I think I need an attorney I’m not gonna answer any questions that my attorney he didn’t do that either. So he came to us after the effect. We ordered all the documents we reviewed and realized you know I can’t fix this. There are some things I can’t undo. It’s unfortunate it’s terrible but that’s what happened. Now let me give you another example. Let’s talk about Maria. I know every male case is George every male case is Maria. I do that to protect my client’s privacy and confidentiality. I’m not going to share their intimate lives with their real names with you guys. I will give you case studies with George and Maria. So every case now that George Maria Maria three United States citizen children the oldest is twenty two The middle son is 19 and is a Marine. So she entered nine states illegally meaning she British she did not present itself at the border. She entered. She was not caught. She stayed. Well at least that’s what she claimed. So her son applies for her to get parole in place parole and places protection from deportation for immediate family members like parents of children who are serving the military. The idea is nobody should risk their life for the government while being afraid that their family is going to be deported while they’re serving. So she applied for parole in place. She asked when she entered United States. She said I entered once in 1986. She was approved.

With that approval she was now paroled into the United States. That means she was granted a legal entry with that legal entry per U.S. citizen daughter who’s over who’s over 21 years old can apply for her to get her green card to become a lawful permanent resident United States fine. Does that goes to the interview at the interview the officer asks her. When was your for your last entry. United States 1986. No no. I have to ones you asked and I think any six. Are you sure. Yeah. I never left the United States. So maybe you went in 1986. Yes. Did you ever leave. No. Did you ever re-enter. No. Are you sure. No. Turn then shows her a photo.

Is this you. I’m not sure. Well this came up with your fingerprints. Oh yeah that’s me.

Well can you explain to me how you were caught at the border in July 2000.

I’m not sure. Are you sure about that.

Because I’m on your document you just told me you only entered once when I asked you. You told me you only entered once and that was 1986.

And here you have 14 years later. What happened. Oh I left. What you mean you left. Well you mean you left the United States. Yes Senator our father was dying and although we did die and she buried her father. So all of that is understandable. The problem is she now just lied to us officer number one. That makes her inadmissible. Number two she entered the United States as an adult was here for over a year in 1997 left in 2000. She was here for at least three years as an adult without permission. She could not reenter for 10 years unless she applied and received a waiver. She didn’t do that. She was caught at the border sent back not deported just sent back. And then two days later she reentered United States. So now she’s inadmissible for what’s called multiple entries and there’s no waiver for that. Now she gets put in removal proceedings so all of that could have been avoided. Have you spoken to counsel. Has she been honest with her attorney and explained what our circumstances were. Because that petition should not have been filed. She should have stayed with prelim place period and be happy to do that a matter fact of the. The attorney should have requested all of her prior documentation to see if there’s any evidence of any entries and exits. It’s unfortunate but she’s now inadmissible United States and she might be placed in removal proceedings. So thank you for it. Thank you for watching. I’m under this method. And until next time.