Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Visas for Victims of Crime


Question: Are victims of crime(s) eligible for any immigration benefits?

Answer: In many cases, yes. Undocumented individuals in the United States may be afraid to report crime(s) to law enforcement officials because they fear that they will be handed over to ICE (Immigration Custom Enforcement) as soon as law enforcement will no longer need them. However, there are certain visas available to these individuals as long as they assist in the prosecution of the criminal(s).

Question: What is VAWA?

Answer: VAWA stands for Violence Against Women Act. If you are married to a United States citizen or Legal Permanent Resident and you are abused by him/her physically, mentally, and/or emotionally, you may be able to file for this benefit. Depending on how you entered the United States and when, you may be eligible to obtain your legal permanent residency without the help of your spouse. Children of the victim are also qualified. You may file for this benefit if you are still with the spouse, or if you are no longer with him/her. However, if you have been separated from the spouse, there is two year time limit to file for this benefit.

Question: What is the U Visa?

Answer: The U Visas is filed on Form I-918. There is a fee that the DHS (Department of Homeland Security – formerly known as INS) charges for this form; however, there is also a fee waiver available if the undocumented individual cannot pay the filing fee. However, there is no fee waiver available for the inadmissibility waiver. Victim must show that he/she is fully cooperating with law enforcement in regards to the criminal activity.

Question: What crimes qualify for a U Visa?

Answer: Rape, domestic violence, kidnapping, murder, extortion, felonious assault and false imprisonment.

Question: What documents need to be filed with the U Visa?

Answer: Certification is required in order to file for the U Visa. This certification can be obtained from a law enforcement agency (police department), the prosecutor’s office, or a judge. This certification must state the actual or likely significant assistance that the victim is doing in either investigation or the prosecution of the criminal. The individual signing the certification must have been involved in the event and he/she must have been the leading person on the case.

Question: What are the requirements of the U Visa applicant?

Answer: The applicant must show that he/she is the victim of substantial abuse, either directly or indirectly. The abuse could be physical, mental, or emotional. An example of indirect abuse would be if a child witnesses his father beating his mother. This child would also be eligible for the U Visa.

Question: What is the T Visa?

Answer: The T Visa offers relief to victims of severe trafficking while enhancing the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute the criminal. The victim must be physically present in the United States in order to qualify for the T Visa. The victim must also prove that he/she will endure extreme hardship if he/she is removed from the United States and that he/she is reasonably assisting in the investigation and prosecution of the criminal.

Question: What constitutes “severe trafficking”?

Answer: Severe trafficking is defined as the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision or obtaining of an individual for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery; OR, sex trafficking in which a commercial se act is induced by force, fraud or coercion, or in which the individual induced to perform such act has not attained the age of 18.

Question: What is required from the T Visa applicant?

Answer: A personal statement needs to be submitted with the application. This must be very detailed and it must include the five stages of the victim’s trafficking experience (pre-departure, travel/transit, destination, detention/deportation/criminal evidence, integration/reintegration). In addition to other things, the statement must also be very detailed in regards to dates, names, relationships, mental states, and specific occurrences of abuse.

Question: What is the S Visa?

Answer: The S Visa was established by the USA PATRIOT Act. This is a temporary visa and it may lead to legal permanent residency. The S-1 Visa is given to individuals who possess “critical reliable information” in regards to criminal activity, who willingly share this information and whose presence in the United States is or was at one time necessary for a successful prosecution of the criminal. The Forms are I-854 and I-539 and they may be filed by a law enforcement agency, state prosecutor, or U.S. Attorney. This person will receive a three year work permit.

For more information, call Attorney Monica Ganjoo for a consultation.

Ganjoo Law Offices currently offer a consultation with Attorney Monica Ganjoo in San Francisco, San Jose, or by telephone. The Staff of Ganjoo Law Offices speak a total of six different languages. For a consultation with Monica Ganjoo, call one of her offices below:

870 Market Street
Suite 340
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 495-3710

111 West St. John Street,
Suite 513
San Jose, CA 95113
(408) 975-0500

CSPA Benefits under New USCIS Guidelines


Question: What are the basic changes in the interpretation of the CSPA by USCIS?

Answer: The changes are:

1. It permits individuals who were ineligible under the prior policy to file a new application for permanent resident.
2. It also permits those individuals who were previously denied for CSPA to file motions to reopen without filing fee.

Question: What are examples of the changes in the CSPA that will be of benefit to beneficiaries and derivatives?
Answer: The following are the examples:
Example 1. No pending petition or application on 08/06/2002.
Pablo, a permanent resident, filed an immigrant visa for son Sony when he was 20 years of age and was approved before August 6, 2002. At that time USCIS determined that CSPA did not apply because Sony has no pending I-485 application as of August 6, 2002. Based on the new guideline Sony may file an I-485 adjustment of status or green card at the U. S. consulate as if it had been filed within one year of visa availability.
Example 2. Initially filed F-2A and Beneficiary did not file within one year.
Petra filed an immigrant petition for Sonia when she was 20 years of age. Petra naturalized after Sonia became 21 years. Based on prior guidance Sonia could not benefit under CSPA because she was initially filed under F-2A. Sonia did not file for green card because she was not qualified. Under the current guideline for CSPA Sonia may apply for green card even if she did not file I-485 within one year of visa availability.
Example 3. Derivative or dependent of Principal Beneficiary
Princes is the principal beneficiary of an I-140 petition filed by her employer. When the petition was filed Derek, her son, was 20 years and the visa is available. It took USCIS five years to approve the petition. Immediately after approval of the petition, Princes filed for adjustment of status. Derek can benefit from CSPA even though he is already 26 years of age because the one year filing requirement starts when the USCIS approved the I-140 petition.
Immigration News
1. Arizona immigration law is just the start of States legislating on immigration. It is time to work on your papers now.
2. We have just received approval from Administrative Appeals Office of I-601 Waiver for an applicant entered with an assumed name.
3. On March 17, 2010 we received an approval in Immigration Court of adjustment of status for a conditional residence whose status was terminated before.
4. On January 5, 2010, we received an approval in Immigration Court of an adjustment of status based on good faith marriage despite an age difference of 18 years.
5. We recently received a grant of asylum for the son of a victim of kidnapping by the NPA in the Philippines.
6. On Dec. 7, 2009, our client Ms. E was approved for a waiver of misrepresentation in the Immigration Court. In another case, on October 29, 2009, our request for waiver of misrepresentation for entering as single but actually married for our client Mr. D in Fresno, CA was approved by the Immigration Judge.
Tip of the Week
1. Petitioner’s death is not a problem if the beneficiary is in the U.S. when the petitioner died and at the time of adjustment of status.
2. Abused spouse of U.S. citizen or permanent residents can self petition even if there is a problem with the entry documents.
3. Denied I-751 application to remove condition on residence may be renewed in Immigration Court.
4. Income tax filing is required in the proposed legalization. Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) can be used for filing tax returns and is required before bank accounts can be opened. It is also needed by employers to charge to expense payment for contractual job. Our office assists clients in obtaining ITIN.

Crispin Caday Lozano is an active member of the State Bar of California and he specializes in immigration law. He earned his Juris Doctor at Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, California. He is also a CPA and a Bachelor of Business Administration Cum Laude graduate. His offices are located at 1290 B Street, Suite 203, Hayward, California 94541; at 17057 Bellflower Blvd. Suite 205, Bellflower CA 90706 and at 777 N. First St., Suite 333, San Jose, CA 95112. You can contact him at telephone number (510) 538-7188.