In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq. discusses a new California law called AB-60 enacted in 2015 which grants undocumented immigrants the ability to apply for a California drivers license.

Overview:

Beginning in 2015, the California DMV began issuing AB 60 driver licenses, which are available to California residents regardless of their immigration status. This change became effective on January 1st, 2015.

AB 60 driver’s license can be used for personal identification and gives undocumented immigrants the right to legally drive in California but does not grant any other privileges. An AB 60 driver license looks the same as a regular driver’s license except for one feature. In the right corner, there is a pre-printed notation “Federal Limits Apply”.

If you want to obtain an AB 60 driver license, you need to prove your identity and residency in the State of California, pass the knowledge tests and behind-the-wheel driving exams. In order to apply for AB 60 driver’s license, you need to make an appointment or visit DMV office.

The identification information and residency address you provide when applying for AB 60 driver’s license does not become a public record. Even if you are unlawfully present in the US, the DMV may not disclose this information except when requested by a law enforcement agency as part of an investigation.

You do NOT have to provide a Social Security Number in the AB 60 application. Please do NOT use any SSN number that was not legally assigned to you as it is a federal crime. DMV will check legitimacy of your information and has a right to forward the SSN for verification.

You can find more information here and read our AB 60 frequently asked questions here.

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In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick answers one of your most frequently asked questions: I have a minor US Citizen child. Can I get a green card?

Overview:

This is a very common question. This question comes to us from a Chinese national who is currently in the United States on an H-1B Visa. This person asks: Can I get a green card based on the fact that I have a minor US Citizen child that was just born in the US?

In this situation because the child is under the age of 21, your child cannot file a petition for permanent residence on your behalf based on the fact that you have a minor child born in the United States. This is a very common misconception. Your child can only file for your immigration benefits once they reach the age of 21. A child must be at least 18 years old in order to petition for immigration benefits for their siblings, and then the sibling must wait for a visa number to become available based on the visa bulletin. You cannot obtain a green card just by having a US Citizen child. If you are in the United States on a visa you must find another way to remain legally in the United States until the US Citizen child reaches the minimum age or find another way to obtain a green card through employment. Parents of US Citizen children, residing in the United States unlawfully, can obtain cancelation of removal for their parents to shield them from deportation/removal proceedings. In this case the child does not need to be 21 years or older.

For more information about this topic please contact our office.

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In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick answers one of your frequently asked questions: I stayed overseas after my green card expired. Can I renew my green card?

Overview: 

This is a very important question that we often receive from our followers. Although the green card is a permanent resident card, there are certain rules you must follow to maintain your permanent resident status. If you leave the United States for more than one year, without obtaining a re-entry permit (a document that would preserve your residency), you may risk losing your green card.

In this particular situation, a person who has been out of the country for three and a half years is now at risk of losing their permanent resident status. There are two issues that arise with this situation. The first issue is that it is not going to be possible to renew the green card from overseas. Secondly, even if the green card had not expired, trying to re-enter the United States after such a long period of absence could be a problem. This is because the presumption is that you have abandoned your permanent residency, having been out of the country for so long.

Generally, persons who have stayed overseas for more than a year, but who maintain a valid unexpired green card, may apply for re-entry to the United States by applying for a returning resident visa called SB-1 at a U.S. Consulate overseas. To be successful, you must prove that you had circumstances that were beyond your control requiring you to stay overseas. This may be difficult to prove if you have stayed overseas for a prolonged period of time. The less time you spend abroad after the year, the easier it will be to obtain the SB-1 visa. You must also show that you are not abandoning your permanent residency.

If your green card has already expired and you are overseas, it will be very difficult to re-enter the United States, especially if you have stayed overseas for a prolonged period of time. In this situation you should consult with an attorney to discuss your options based on your situation.

Recap:

  • If you leave the US for more than a year without getting, for example, a reentry permit you may lose your green card.
  • Two issues: not possible to renew it overseas and it could mean you abandoned your residency.
  • Three years is considered a long time; card now is deemed abandoned. Best thing to do is to consult an attorney.
  • If your green card has not yet expired and you have stayed overseas for more than one year, you may be able to apply for the SB-1 Returning Resident Visa.

For more information about the SB-1, please contact our office.

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In this segment, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick tells you all about the visa bulletin. Who is it for? How does it work? Why do we need it? For more information about the visa bulletin, please click here.

Overview: 

What is the Visa Bulletin?

The Visa Bulletin exists due to congressional numerical immigrant visa limitations for family-sponsored and employment-based preference categories established by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The visa bulletin is for foreign nationals wishing to immigrate to the United States through a relative or employer. Family-sponsored preference categories are limited to a minimum of 226,000 visas per year, while employment-based preference categories are limited to a minimum of 140,000 visas per year. The Visa Bulletin is a useful tool for aliens to determine when a visa will become available to them so that they may apply for permanent residence.

You can check the status of a visa number by checking your priority date on the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin published every month. A priority date is the date when your relative or employer properly filed the immigrant visa petition on your behalf with USCIS (Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative or Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker).

Family-sponsored preference categories

Family based immigrant visas are divided into preference systems and priority dates. This refers to one of the various categories under which an individual qualifies for U.S. residency, and must wait for a visa to become available.

  • First Preference: unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. This category refers to the adult children of U.S. citizens or those who have reached the age of 21 years prior to issuance of the immigrant visa;
  • Second Preference: a) spouses and children under the age of 21 of U.S. permanent residents; b) unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21 of U. S. permanent residents;
  • Third Preference: married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;
  • Fourth Preference: brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

Employment-sponsored categories

  • First Preference:  Priority Workers:  28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.
  • Second Preference:  Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability:
  • Third Preference:  Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers
  • Fourth Preference:  Certain Special Immigrants
  • Fifth Preference:  Employment Creation: not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers (EB-5)

For more information regarding the immigrant process for family members and the Visa Bulletin please click here. For a legal consultation please contact our office to speak with our legal consultants.

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In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq., explains the F-1 student visa application process by examining a successful student visa case. For more information about the F-1 student visa please click here. For a free first consultation please contact our office.

Overview:

A student visa is a good option for foreign nationals who wish to enroll in a short course of study that is more than 18 hours per week. The F-1 visa is a temporary visa that allows a foreign national to pursue their academic studies and/or enroll in a language training program. First time student visa applicants must attend an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate abroad if they are living outside of the United States. Please note that each U.S. embassy and consulate has its own interview procedures for student visas. Please visit the website of the U.S. embassy or consulate near you for more information.

Requirements for a student visa

To qualify, an alien must meet the following requirements:

  • The student must be enrolled in an academic education program, not a vocational-type program;
  • Educational institution must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
  • The student must be enrolled as a full-time student at the institution;
  • The student must be proficient in English or be enrolled in courses leading to English proficiency;
  • The student must have sufficient funds available for self-support during the entire proposed course of study; and
  • The student must maintain a residence abroad which he/she has no intention of giving up
  • The student must demonstrate that they have legitimate obligations to return to their home country by providing sufficient proof of ties home such as a letter of future employment, proof of assets, proof of insurance payments, etc.

For more information about this program, please contact our office. 

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In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq., discusses the K-1 visa and the requirements to apply. For more information about the K-1 visa please click here. For a free first consultation please contact our office.

Overview:

  1. In order to apply for the K-1 non-immigrant visa, the petitioner must be a United States Citizen. Legal Permanent Resident “Green Card” holders of the United States are not allowed to obtain a K-1 Visa for their foreign fiancee.
  2. Both the petitioner (U.S. citizen) and the beneficiary (foreign fiancee) must be free to marry. This means that if either has been previously married he or she must be either divorced or widowed, or else the marriage must be legally annulled. A valid divorce that took place in a foreign country qualifies as legitimate for U.S. immigration purposes. You must be prepared to provide documented evidence of any divorces that have taken place (final divorce decrees from the authorized legal entity).
  3. The petitioner and foreign fiancee must have the intent to marry within 90 days of the foreign fiancee’s arrival in the U.S.
  4. The petitioner and foreign fiancee must have met in person within two years prior to filing the fiancee visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. There is a hardship waiver available for this requirement, but it is extremely difficult to obtain. The fact that the petitioner is too busy with his work, children, sick parent, etc. will not be adequate to obtain the waiver. To qualify for a waiver, most often there is a medical condition that prevents the US citizen from international travel.
  5. The U.S. citizen petitioner must meet a minimum income requirement as outlined on Form I-864P, describing the poverty level set by Congress every year. If the U.S. Citizen petitioner DOES NOT meet the income requirement, they must obtain a joint sponsor. For more information about the poverty guidelines and affidavit of support please visit our website.

For more information about this program, please contact our office. 

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In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq., appears on NBC 7 San Diego News to talk about the EB-5 Investor Program. For more information about the EB-5 visa please click here. For a free first consultation please contact our office.

Overview:

The EB-5 program was started in the 1990s as part of a pilot program designed to bring foreign capital to the United States by encouraging foreign investors to establish a new business venture or invest in a regional center project. Today, the EB-5 program is a special immigration program designed for foreigners who are interested in investing a significant amount of capital in American businesses and industries, that will create thousands of new jobs for Americans. In this interview, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq. joins Diana Guevara and Interim President and CEO of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, Mark Leslie to discuss the advantages of participating in the EB-5 program.

Foreigners who have committed a large investment can become lawful permanent residents through this program by establishing a new commercial enterprise. Investors must provide full-time employment to at least ten U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, or other immigrants with employment authorization.

For more information about this program, please contact our office. 

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In this video, attorney Jacob J. Sapochnick Esq., discusses the requirements of naturalization and citizenship. For more information about the N-400 application for naturalization please click here.

Overview:

There are several reasons why you may want to become a U.S. Citizen. Whether it be to obtain a job or for purposes of family unity, our office can help you file the perfect application for naturalization. U.S. Citizens have certain immigration benefits that other individuals such as legal permanent residents and non-immigrant visa holders cannot exercise. U.S. Citizens can leave the country and spend time abroad without worrying about their immigration status. They can also immigrate their immediate relatives and other family members more quickly than permanent residents. These are only some of the benefits U.S. Citizens have.

There are strict and specific requirements to become a U.S. Citizen.

The most important requirements are as follows:

  • You must be able to speak the English language in order to take the Citizenship test although some exceptions exist.
  • You must be over the age of 18 to apply
  • Residency requirement. A person must be a U.S. resident for at least five years or three years if the person obtained their green card based on their marriage to a U.S. Citizen.
  • As long as four years and 9 months have passed since obtaining permanent residency a person can file their application for naturalization
  • You must be physically present in the United States for 30 months out of the 5 years preceding the application for naturalization
  • You must reside in the state or county at least 3 months before filing of the application for naturalization
  • You must be a person of good moral character at the time you are filing your application. If you have committed a crime, committed fraud, or misrepresentation this may preclude you from filing your application for naturalization. If you have received a DUI you may not be eligible to apply for naturalization.

If you have any criminal issues or other issues that may cause the immigration officer to question your good moral character, you should consult with an attorney before filing your application for naturalization.

Special Considerations for Military and other individuals 

Members of the armed forces receive special consideration when applying for citizenship. They are not required to meet all of these requirements

Individuals of a certain age who have spent a certain amount of years in the U.S. also receive special consideration for example they are exempt from the language requirement.

For more information please contact our office. 

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In this segment, attorney Jacob Sapochnick Esq., discusses an example of an I-601 Waiver. For more information about waivers of inadmissibility please click here.

Overview:

An I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility allows a non-citizen alien to immigrate to the United States, adjust their status to permanent residence, or seek admission to the United States in a nonimmigrant status, if certain grounds of inadmissibility, circumstances, or conduct prevent them from being otherwise admissible. The I-601 application applies to certain aliens who believe they are ineligible for admission to the United States based on certain grounds of inadmissibility.

I-601 Success Story 

Maria, a Mexican citizen, was brought to the United States unlawfully at only 3 years of age. She lived here in the United States all of her life. She attended high school and college in the United States. She and her US Citizen husband came to our office and told us that they wanted to legalize her status in the United States. We analyzed her case and told the couple that in order to legalize her status, they would need to file the I-601 waiver. We also discussed the risks associated with the I-601 waiver. When filing the I-601 waiver, the applicant (Maria) is required to leave the country. When an undocumented immigrant leaves the country, they run the risk of being barred from re-entering the United States. Maria and her husband decided to file the application despite these risks. Maria was able to file a waiver based on her marriage to a US Citizen, and the fact that she had no immigration violations other than the accrual of unlawful presence. Our office filed the I-130 petition. Once approved the petition was sent to the National Visa Center and Maria was assigned an interview in Ciudad Juarez. She attended the interview and as expected she was denied, because she entered the US unlawfully. After this, our office submitted the waiver one week later. The waiver submitted for this case was based on the extreme hardship Maria’s U.S. Citizen husband would suffer if she were removed from the United States or denied entry. This type of waiver involves collection of documents proving that the US Citizen husband has a legitimate claim of extreme hardship. In this case, we collected medical, academic, occupational, and financial documents to prove that if Maria were removed from the United States, he would suffer an extreme hardship since his life would be uprooted, and he would not be able to find similar employment abroad. The waiver also involves collection of documents proving that the undocumented immigrant is an exemplary individual such as academic transcripts, awards, honors, etc. It also consisted of medical and psychological evaluations proving that the US Citizen suffered from anxiety and depression. Affidavits and letters from family and friends were also included in support of the extreme hardship. Within one week of submitting the waiver package to the US Consulate in Juarez, the immigration officer reviewed the case and granted the waiver. When she returned to the embassy she was given her immigrant visa in her passport and was able to re-enter the United States. This is an example of a successful I-601 waiver case that was achieved with careful preparation and planning so that our client could achieve favorable results.

For more questions about the I-601 waiver please contact our office. 

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In this segment, attorney Jacob Sapochnick Esq., discusses the EB-5 visa program and Regional Center investments. For more information about the EB-5 program please click here.

Overview: 

What is EB-5?

The EB-5 is a visa that allows an immigrant to obtain permanent residence in the United States based on an investment in a new commercial enterprise. The amount of funds that must be invested will depend on whether the investor will be investing in a project through a Regional Center. Under section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. § 1153(b)(5), 10,000 immigrant visas per year are available to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise. To qualify for the EB-5 program, you must either invest half a million dollars in a Regional Center project or invest a million dollars in a new commercial enterprise (regular EB-5).

What is a Regional Center?

A regional center is a government designated program where investors invest up to half a million dollars together and throughout this process gain permanent residency. Currently, there are 864 regional centers throughout the United States, with projects in various different sectors including real estate, energy, export, wineries, etc. EB-5 is a popular program because investors are not required to physically or actively participate in the business they are investing in. They must however, invest funds into a new commercial enterprise or regional center and go through the necessary process.

Investors who are interested in a regional center project must be active in selecting a regional center. Attorneys cannot advise regional center clients on which regional center they should select. Attorneys can however provide general information and the pros and cons of working with a regional center. Attorneys can also warn individuals against making risky investments. Investors must do their homework and learn about the different regional centers and what type of project they would like to invest in. Attorneys cannot be actively involved in this process.

Typically once the regional center provides the agreement to the investor, the investor must sign the agreement and put down a deposit. Afterward, the application process for the EB-5 program begins

  1. First investors must complete the I-526 application. This application allows the investor to obtain a conditional 2-year green card. It is conditional because the government wants to ensure that the funds have been invested and all other requirements of the EB-5 visa program have been met during the first 2 years of the project. If the application is properly filed and the investment funds are legitimate and verified, the I-526 application should be approved within approximately 8 months of filing.
  2. Once the I-526 application is approved, the investor can proceed and file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence to apply for the permanent residence card. Once the green card application is properly filed it can take up to 6-10 months to receive the conditional green card.
  3. To remove the conditions on the green card, investors must submit the I-828 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions before their green card expires.
  4. What happens to the funds at the end of the process will depend from regional center to regional center. Generally, there are ways for investors to get their funds back by selling their share in the project, etc.

To learn more about other types of investment visas please click here. Please call our office for a free consultation.

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