Immigration Overview


I. The Five Branches

II. Immigration & Criminal Law

III. Immigration & Family Law

I. The Five Branches

When applying for an employment-based application, both temporary and permanent five primary governmental agencies are involved.

Department of Labor - approves foreign nationals for petitions for work based on demand for labor in the United States and a demonstration that US workers are not negatively affected by the employment of foreign nationals.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services* - processes all immigrant applications and any petitions for benefits. Approval by the USCIS is required for most employment-based applications.

Department of State - issues visa stamp to workers at respective consulates and embassies. Post Sept 11 security risks generally set requirements for personal interviews and if deemed necessary possible security checks believed to be conducted by agencies as the FBI, CIA and BIS (Bureau of Industry and Security) agencies. Temporary work applications for strategic or sensitive industry require an additional "deemed export" license.

Customs and Border Protection* - all immigrants pass through the CBP. The CBP ensures compliance with all required parts of the application upon an immigrant's entry into the United States and encodes the immigrant's information into the US-VISIT system.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement* - ensures compliance with immigration laws within the US for both the immigrant and his sponsor. The USCIS and the DOL likewise play a role in enforcing laws.

* Part of the Dep't of Homeland Security

II. Immigration & Criminal law

The ICE and the USCIS likewise bear the primary responsibility for removing or denying reentry to non-citizens shown guilty of committing crime. No distinction is made between guilt entered by the court or by a plea or a nolo contendere. Given that the potential consequence of guilt to even minor crime is greatly increased when committed by an immigrant, plea bargaining should be exercised cautiously and may be most effective to reduce a conviction for an aggravated felony to a conviction for moral turpitude. A distinction is made between an aggravated felony and a crime of moral turpitude. Aggravated felony is more serious for a non-citizen than a crime of moral turpitude. Aggravated felony does not allow for relief from deportation except by gubernatorial or presidential pardon. Also the possible crimes that fall under the aggravated felony category are of greater range than for non-citizens. The number of possible crimes listed as aggravated felonies continually expands.

Moral turpitude is definable as base, vile, and depraved. However, a non-citizen who committed a crime of moral turpitude is still subject to deportation if the crime was committed within his first five years of residency. Past five years of residency, one crime of moral turpitude renders an alien inadmissible should he travel abroad, whereas two crimes will render him deportable. Relief is often available through voluntary departure, cancellation of removal, or asylum. Depending on the immigrant's status, and the crime involved, the relief potential differs. Length of residency is critical as cancellation of removal is offered only to those lawfully residing for seven years, five of which must be prior to the date of the deportable offense. Certain crimes, such as firearm offenses, though not necessarily aggravated felonies or of moral turpitude, will automatically render a non-citizen deportable. Should a deportation occur, the deportee is barred from re-entry.

III. Immigration & Family Law

One common form of entry into the United States is spousal sponsorship. Marriage for less than two years allows only for conditional permanent residency. By filing a joint petition than the foreign national may receive permanent residency status. If a divorce is about to occur then the foreign national must file a waiver of the joint petition obligation. In doing so the foreign national has to prove that the marriage was entered in good faith and not with intention of merely gaining entry into the US.

Separation does not allow the alien to file a waiver and may subject him to deportation. However an immigration judge can delay the deportation until a divorce is final allowing the foreign national to then file a waiver of the joint petition. The citizen spouse must agree to file the joint petition or to attend an interview with immigration officials, or else the spouse may lose conditional residency.

For immigration, the US Citizen or permanent resident spouse generally pledges an Affidavit of Support. In doing so he promises and shows himself capable of supporting his or her spouse. The pledge must be kept and if state sponsored support is required for the immigrant the supporting spouse is may have to reimburse the state. This obligation upon the sponsor remains until the immigrant performs 40 quarters or 10 years of work recognized by the Social Security program. Divorce does not end the sponsor's liability. Only the immigrant's death or reneging of permanent residency ends the obligation. When the foreign national applies for citizenship he must also demonstrate good moral character. Therefore, such things as adultery or a failure to pay alimony (court obligated support for a divorced spouse) and child support may be held against the applier.

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