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Miami Immigration & Naturalization Law Blog

Experienced immigration defense attorneys

Our immigration law attorneys at Kurzban, Kurzban, Weinger, Tetzeli and Pratt, P.A., are prepared to help individuals in Florida who are facing possible deportation from the United States. Whether your case involves criminal convictions or allegations of immigration law violations, we are ready to put our extensive knowledge of immigration defense strategy to work in an effort to help you stay in the country.

Depending on the type of crime that was allegedly committed, a non-citizen's immigration status could be seriously affected. For instance, if you were charged with an aggravated felony you could be barred permanently from naturalization. Moreover, some misdemeanors might be considered as aggravated felonies under immigration law. Due to the complexity of these cases, you might want to consider hiring legal counsel to defend you at immigration court hearings.

What is Temporary Protected Status and am I eligible?

Florida residents may have heard of the term Temporary Protected Status used by immigration officials when a country has been struck by a natural disaster or an armed conflict has broken out. The designation is issued to a foreign country by the Secretary of Homeland Security when it would be unsafe for its citizens to return home or conditions are such that their return would be impractical.

When a country has been designated as having Temporary Protected Status, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security may not detain any of its citizens who are in the U.S. due to their immigration status. Individuals who are not citizens of one of the countries affected by such events may also be protected by Temporary Protected Status if they previously resided there.

What are the requirements of the naturalization test?

Individuals in Florida who want to obtain citizenship may be concerned about the administration of the naturalization test that must be passed. The testing is conducted in order to determine whether an applicant has successfully met the requirements for knowledge of U.S. government and history as well as the English language. The English language portion assesses an applicant's ability to understand the language. An applicant must be able to speak, read, and write the language proficiently. A civics test is administered to measure knowledge of history and government issues and facts.

These tests can be taken twice by an applicant. If the first exam is not passed, a re-examination interview is offered. If a candidate for citizenship does not pass any portion of the exams after both attempts, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will deny the individual's application for naturalization. A hearing related to a denial may be requested by the candidate, and officials are required to re-administer the failed sections of the exams in this situation. Failure to attend a second exam or to take the tests during attendance at an exam or hearing are considered failed attempts.

Can I help my son or daughter get a Green Card?

In immigration matters, children of naturalized U.S. citizens are granted special priority. The law makes a distinction, though, based on the marital status and age of the child involved. That is, unmarried children under 21 years of age are categorized as immediate relatives, while married children and children over 21 are placed in the family preference category. Immediate relatives living in Florida or elsewhere have a simpler path to permanent residency because an unlimited number of visas have been made available for people who meet the requirements of the category. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens need not wait for a visa number and may begin the process of securing permanent residency by filing Form I-485 at the same time that the citizen sponsor files Form I-130. Other forms may be required as well.

Those in the family preference category, on the other hand, must usually wait for a visa to come available. For a family member who is in the U.S., the citizen sponsor should file Form I-130 first, and then the parties must wait for approval and for the relevant priority date to come current. When that happens, the family member may file Form I-485.

What is a K-1 visa?

U.S. immigration law provides a prescribed way for American citizens, both in Florida as well as elsewhere, to be able to bring their significant other from a foreign country into the United States in order to get married. To facilitate this, the foreign-born fiancé of a U.S. citizen must apply for and obtain a K-1 visa. If that individual has children, they may then apply for K-2 visas based on their parent's status.

A K-1 visa allows the person to travel to the United States in order to marry their intended spouse. The marriage must occur within 90 days of the fiancé's arrival. It is a non-immigrant visa and must be applied for while the fiancé is outside of the United States prior to his or her arrival.

Does your firm's success hinge on employment immigration?

Employment immigration is a critical resource for many Floridian firms. Companies use it to add talent to their workforces, gain fiscal benefits and explore vital new modes of operation. It's critical that your firm employs employment immigration correctly in order to derive the results you desire while avoiding the negative consequences of failing to stay compliant with the law.

Part of our mission is to disabuse you of the notion that employment immigration is a simple road to corporate riches. While it bears significant potential, you must learn not only to observe the laws that govern you but also select the best kind of employment immigration program or status for your firm and its employees. Choosing from the extensive range of visa classifications is not to be taken lightly; for instance, certain visa category holders may have to go through extra steps to petition for permanent residency status. In the end, it's essential to consider your future needs as well as your current motivations.

Employers must follow strict standards when hiring immigrants

Since Florida is a popular destination for immigrants, it is imperative that employers keep tabs on the legal status of those individuals who are working for them. The state's immigration law statutes make several requirements of employers when it comes to verification and storage of workers' data.

Both federal and state laws require that employers verify the status of all employees through the use of an I-9 form. This document must be completed within 72 hours of an individual's employment and includes important information, such as the person's Social Security number, name, birth date, and proof of immigration status. These forms may be filled out and stored by employers in electronic formats as long as the records are maintained in a safe, secure, and accurate fashion. At any time, the government must be given access to the required I-9 records kept by all employers.

Immigration concerns as families fail to report

As a state affected by the massive immigration of young families into the country earlier in the year, Florida is dealing with its share of the individuals who have been released into communities. Although those released have been instructed to report to immigration agents, representatives of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement have noted that only 30 percent have followed through. Reports were made confidentially as ICE met with advocates who are working on policy development, but an audio recording of the meeting in question was obtained.

Reports do not clarify the number of immigrants released with such instructions. However, it is estimated that more than 40,000 may have failed to comply with the requirement to report to immigration officials. Deportation has been directed for more than 800 of these individuals, but only 14 of these people have complied with orders to report since May. ICE has clarified that many individuals may be in the process of reporting and that many deportation cases are still in progress.

Some of the ways to obtain a green card

A majority of green card applicants in Florida have a family member legally residing in the United States or a job offer from a U.S. emplolyer. However, there are some other ways that immigrants without a family member or job in the United States can apply for permanent residency.

One of the most well-known ways to apply for a green card without a job or family in the country is through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program. This program is commonly referred to as the 'Green Card Lottery" and provides as many as 50,000 green cards each year to people from countries that have few immigrants already living in the United States. In addition to this program, there are also paths to obtaining a green card for citizens of certain countries like Cuba, Nicaragua and Afghanistan.

United States deporting fewer immigrants

Individuals in Florida who wish to remain permanently in the United States may be interested to learn that deportation numbers are dropping. In 2014, the fewest number of immigrants since at least 2007 will be deported from the country. This will be the case despite the fact that President Obama is delaying until after the November 2014 elections the implementation of policies that could lead to even fewer deportations.

From October 2013 through July 2014, deportations occurred at a rate 20 percent lower than the previous year and 25 percent lower than the year before that. The total number of immigrants who have been deported since President Obama began his presidency is more than 2 million, but he says that immigration reform is on its way. Some of that reform has already taken place. Since 2011, the administration has focused on deporting criminals or individuals who may be a threat to national security. The court system has become so backlogged that it can take several years for an deportation order to become final for individuals who are not in these categories.

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