Monthly Archives: August 2012

Today’s the Day! USCIS Accepting DREAM-Act Deferred Action Applications

It’s August 15th, the forms have been created and the procedures announced.

Now all U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)  has to do is deal with the anticipated flood of applications for “deferred action” from young undocumented immigrant students and graduates in the United States. This temporary status will give them protection against deportation and a work permit. Up to 1.7 million people may qualify for the program, and news reports describe excitement as many prepare to apply.

Given USCIS’s history of slow action on applications, however, I wouldn’t advise these students to look for an immediate job — maybe not even a holiday temp job. For one thing, all applicants must undergo background checks, in which they’re called in for fingerprinting and the results are run through an FBI database. That alone typically adds weeks to any immigration application process. (But let’s hope I’ll be pleasantly surprised.)

For more information on the deferred action eligibility and application procedures, see Nolo’s articles, “Who Qualifies for Deferred Action as an Immigrant Student or Graduate,” and  “Deferred Action for Young Immigrants: Application Process.”

Why Rachel Weisz Needed U.S. Citizenship

According to MSN‘s rather tabloid-y “Movie News,” Actress Rachel Weisz “now admits she applied for [U.S.] citizenship to ensure she would not be stripped of her permanent residence status if she decided to move back to Britain.”

Shock and horror! Okay, it’s not exactly a showstopper of an “admission.” In fact, it sounds to me like Ms. Weisz is getting better legal advice than some green card holders, who operate according to various myths like, “I can keep my green card as long as I visit the U.S. every six months.”

The truth of the matter is that once a person receives U.S. lawful permanent residence (a green card), that person is expected to actually reside, otherwise known as live, in the United States. If a green card holder’s main home is in another country, it doesn’t really matter how much time the person spends there — the U.S. authorities can deny reentry to the U.S. and cancel the green card on grounds of abandonment of residence.

So, ironically, becoming a U.S. citizen will allow Rachel Weisz to spend less time in the United States. But don’t worry — having recently spent $11.5 million on a New York penthouse to share with new husband Daniel Craig, Ms. Weisz will probably be spending plenty of time here.

For details on abandonment of residence, see the articles on Nolo’s website under, “After Getting Your Green Card: How to Keep It.”

Frustrations of Dealing With the Immigration Bureaucracy

When I first started writing about immigration law matters for Nolo, my editor was always after me for overusing the word “should.” You “should” get a receipt notice from the Immigration Service Center, I would say; the immigration authorities “should” process your application within several weeks; you “should” be called in for an interview.

The trouble was, telling readers that any of these things “will” happen flies in the face of reality, both then and now. A recent “success story” by California attorney Carl Shusterman provides a great illustration of why. As you can see from the article (“Success Story: Appeal Granted After Misplaced File and Misinformation” — scroll down to item five), some of the bureaucratic craziness that this applicant had to put up with included:

  • USCIS denying a waiver request with no mention of, and therefore no evidence that the agency had considered, the facts of the case and the evidence submitted
  • a denial letter that said on one side that the applicant could appeal — while saying on the other side that she could not
  • USCIS misplacing her case file after she had submitted an appeal, and
  • a year-long wait for transfer of the file to the appropriate office.

Fortunately, the story has a happy ending: The file was finally located and the waiver granted. But the frustration, and long hours of legal work that must have gone into this were no doubt intense — and well known to anyone who practices immigration law. It’s part of why I got out of active law practice. And it’s a big part of why any immigration applicant should think seriously about hiring an experienced attorney.