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Curbelo and Grayson Introduce the Venezuelan Refugee Assistance Act

Posted: November 9th, 2015 | Author: | Filed under: Immigration Reform, National News, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »
Rep. Carlos Curbelo

Two Florida members of Congress introduced a bill that would allow Venezuelans who arrived in the U.S. prior to Jan 1, 2013, to adjust status to permanent resident. No word on how likely this is to move forward.

Washington, D.C.—In response to the continued instability in Venezuela, Reps. Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) and Alan Grayson (FL-09), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) have introduced the Venezuelan Refugee Assistance Act, H.R. 3744, to provide immigration relief to Venezuelans that have long-resided in the U.S., unable to return to their homeland:

“For the past decade, thousands of Venezuelans were forced to flee the brutal Chavez dictatorship. The situation has not improved under his hand-picked successor, Nicolas Maduro. In the last few months alone we have seen countless examples of the regime’s thuggish tactics, unethical behavior, and lethal force. They’ve arrested top opposition leaders like Leopoldo Lopez and the Mayor or Caracas, and banned others from running for public office, like Maria Machado. They’ve also arrested over 3,000 opposition protestors in a riot that left dozens dead. This bill will help those Venezuelan nationals who have made a new home in the United States to remain here if they choose to since it is dangerous to return home.

Specifically, this legislation would address the issue by adjusting the status of Venezuelans that arrived in the U.S. prior to Jan 1, 2013 as long as they do not have a criminal record and were never involved in the persecution of others. They have until January 1, 2019 to register for adjustment.

I applaud the Venezuelan-American community in the United States for their continued efforts on behalf of the people of Venezuela and I stand in unity for their noble cause of justice and freedom and thank Rep. Grayson for his leadership throughout the years to help the Venezuelan people. I would also like to thank Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Wasserman Schultz for being original co-sponsors,” said Rep. Curbelo.

“I’m proud to join my Florida colleague Rep. Carlos Curbelo in introducing this important piece of bipartisan legislation. The political turmoil in Venezuela demands that the United States do everything in its power to protect those who have been able to escape to freedom in America. We cannot in good conscience force Venezuelans to return to a country where they face arrest, torture, and execution only because they oppose the government. Granting them permanent residence status is the best, most logical way to ensure their safety. I thank Rep. Curbelo for all he has done for the Venezuelan American community, and look forward to working with him to see this legislation out of committee and onto the floor for a vote,” said Rep. Grayson.

Rep. Curbelo will be holding a press conference regarding H.R. 3744 on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 in his Miami district office.


Improvements to USCIS Procedures

Posted: January 11th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , | No Comments »

(From USCIS Email)

As part of our ongoing commitment to improving customer service, USCIS has recently introduced new options for customers to obtain information and check on the status of their application electronically and has also expanded its call center hours.

We expanded the capabilities of two of our online tools, My Case Status and e-Request, to provide these more flexible options:

  • My Case Status now allows customers to view the current status of applications they submit, no matter which USCIS form they used. My Case Status now lets them track, through our Secure Mail Initiative (SMI), the mailing and delivery of USCIS-produced cards and documents. SMI permits customers to use our website to access the U.S. Postal Service tracking numbers of their documents.
  • e-Request now allows customers to inquire electronically about applications and petitions they submit to USCIS. They can use this tool to request a follow-up on their case status if they do not receive documents related to three of our most-used forms:
    •  Form I-485, Application to Adjust Permanent Residence or Adjust Status;
    •  Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization; and
    •  Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

In addition, USCIS is expanding operating hours at our National Customer Service Center to include Saturdays. Beginning Jan. 12, customers nationwide can call our toll-free number (800-375-5283) from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays to receive nationwide assistance for immigration services and benefits offered by USCIS. Our customer service representatives can answer routine questions on a wide variety of topics related to immigration services and benefits, including ordering forms, processing times, and information on local offices and civil surgeons. For individuals seeking answers to more complex issues regarding their case, we recommend calling the NCSC Monday through Friday for access to case adjudication officers.

More Deferred Action Announcement Q&A

Posted: June 26th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Deferred Action | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

There are thousands of people who will benefit from the new Deferred Action policy. Until the regulations and rules regarding the program are released in 60 days or so, we urge you to use this time to collect documents that will help prepare your case.

DO NOT apply without getting your criminal history (including juvenile delinquency adjudications) reviewed FIRST.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will conduct background checks, collect information from local law enforcement, and examine your criminal history, including arrest records and criminal warrants.  You risk having DHS and/or ICE detain and deport you, if you apply for deferred action without having your criminal history reviewed.

We do not know what kind of criminal history could bar you from the deferred action program announced by Obama last week. We know that convictions for a felony, a significant misdemeanor or three or more misdemeanors are bars to the program. Moreover, a person who immigration authorities consider a “public safety threat” or a “national security threat” will be barred.

What is a “significant misdemeanor”?

This is an unclear phrase. According to recent documents released by the government, it appears it will include offenses such as driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance (e.g. marijuana), obstruction of justice, assault and theft. Many of these crimes can subject you to mandatory detention. Do not assume that your misdemeanor conviction is not a serious misdemeanor.

What could count as a “public safety threat”?

We do not know. It could be that officials will look behind dismissed charges or juvenile delinquency adjudications to determine whether a person presents a public safety threat.  Juvenile delinquency adjudications any connections with gang activity or any action where the police stopped you and asked questions about gangs or gang membership any arrest or dismissed charge.

What could count as a “national security threat”?

We do not know. DHS broadly characterizes “participation in activities that threaten the United States” as a national security threat. This means it will not be limited to criminal convictions.

What should I do?

1. Get a copy of your record from whatever court your case was heard, including all juvenile delinquency adjudications. Try to get copies of police reports, a criminal history background check, or your “rap sheet.” Many states already have systems for you to collect your criminal history.  In many cases, you can find it on your local county website or state government websites. Make sure you get them from all states where you believe you may have been arrested or convicted.

2. Meet with a nonprofit organization, an immigration attorney or advocate experienced in deportation defense or the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. Make sure they review all your arrest information and criminal conviction documents. Do NOT consult “Notarios” if you have a criminal history.

For more information check out:

Important: New Visa Processing Fees

Posted: April 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , , , | No Comments »

Effective April 13, 2012 the Department of State will change some of the visa processing fees.

The fee for nonimmigrant visas H, L, O, P, Q and R will increase from $150 to $190.  The fee for B, F, J, and I visas will increase from $140 to $160.

The fee for E-2 fee (investor) visas will decrease from $390 to $270 per person and the fee for F-1 visas fees will decrease from $350 to $240.

Also, the fees for ALL of the immigrant (permanent residence) visas  will decrease,  some significantly.  The fee for an employment based immigrant visa will decrease from $720 to $405.  In contrast, the government fee to do an equivalent background check in the U.S. (adjustment of status) is $1,070 per person.

Check out the New Visa Processing Fees table to find out more.

USCIS Changes Look and Feel of Notice of Action Forms (Form I-797C)

Posted: April 4th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , , , , , , | No Comments »

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services  is changing the look of its receipt and approval notices (form I-797C).  These forms do not carry any immigration benefit or status.  As such, they will now be printed on plain bond paper to reduce the perception that they signify a change in immigration status.  In addition, by changing to bond paper, USCIS has estimated that it will save $1.1 million per year.

The change went into effect on Monday April 2, 2012.

New Look of USCIS Form I-797C

Click here to read more about the change in the look of Form I-797C on the USCIS website.

Supreme Court Rejects Retroactive Application of Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 (IIRIRA)

Posted: March 30th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: National News | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

A provision in the  Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 that stated that the law could be applied retroactively was rejected by the Supreme Court two days ago in their ruling on Vartelas v. Holder, No. 10-1211.  The provision stated that Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) who entered a criminal plea could not be allowed back into the United States after traveling abroad.  This provision was being applied to Legal Permanent Residents who had entered criminal pleas before the law was in effect.  The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against this practice citing the “deeply rooted presumption” against applying new laws retroactively.

Here is a link to the Supreme Court decision.

Region in Top 10 for International Home Buyers

Posted: March 28th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Investor Visas, Sarasota Immigrants | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The “Sarasota Herald-Tribune” has reported that Sarasota county is No. 4 in the country for foreign home-buyers.   In fact, five of the top ten regions for foreign home buyers are in Florida.  They include, “Lakeland-Winter Haven, Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Orlando and Miami-Fort Lauderdale. Tampa-St. Petersburg came in at No. 9.”  In Sarasota County 6.5% of homes are bought by someone from overseas.

Here are some figures:

6.7 percent of buyers were foreign in Sarasota County from May 2011 to January 2012, while 6.1 percent were from another country in Manatee County.

13.1 percent of new homes sold in Sarasota were to foreign buyers while 12.3 percent of existing condominium sales in Manatee changed hands to international buyers.

Most intriguing is this:

The percentage of buyers who pay in cash is even higher than domestic buyers, who in 65 percent of transactions handled by Michael Saunders made their purchase without a loan in 2011, she said.

Most of these foreign buyers come from Canada, with the UK coming in second.  The county is seeing a small increase in the number of home buyers from Asia and Latin America.