Archive for the 'Green Card' Category

What is the difference between an employment authorization document and a greencard?




What is the difference between an employment authorization document and a greencard?

Immigration attorney answers your questions about work permits and greencards

What is the difference between an employment authorization document and a greencard?



What is the difference between an employment authorization document (EAD or work permit) and a greencard (lawful permanent residence)?

Earlier this week, a client’s question took me completely by surprise. The client said to me, if I have a work permit, why do I need a greencard? Sometimes, as an immigration lawyer, I forget to discuss some of the basic benefits and drawbacks of a client’s current status and the benefits and drawbacks of obtaining a greencard or naturalization. The differences between a work permit and a greencard are very important and certainly worthy of your attention.

A work permit is merely a TEMPORARY card that allows you to work legally in the U.S. temporarily. You cannot obtain a work permit by itself. A work permit is a benefit of some sort of underlying status.

For example, you cannot come to the U.S. and simply apply for a work permit just because you want to work in the U.S., you have to have an underlying right to obtain a work permit, some sort of employment visa or other ground. Accordingly, when the basis for your work permit finishes, your work permit also terminates. For example, if you have an employment visa and your visa expires, your work permit (which was obtained on the basis of that visa) also expires and you are left without the ability to work in the U.S.

By contrast, with a greencard, you are always allowed to work legally in the U.S. Your greencard is valid for ten years but even if the greencard card itself expires you are still considered a lawful permanent resident (“greencard holder”).

While a work permit is temporary, a greencard is considered permanent (note, it is possible to lose your greencard if you abandon the U.S., commit certain crimes, consider yourself a nonresident for tax purposes, or other grounds). A greencard is considered permanent because you will have it indefinitely unless you do something wrong deserving of losing it. This is in contrast to a work permit, which will terminate when the underlying basis expires.

Additionally, a work permit does not give you a basis to apply for naturalization (U.S. Citizenship). You must first be a lawful permanent resident (greencard holder) to apply for naturalization. Only U.S. Citizens can vote and unlike both holders of work permits and greencards, U.S. citizens generally can never be deported from the U.S. Again, only lawful permanent residents have the ability to qualify for naturalization, being the holder of a mere work permit is not enough.

For any questions, call us at (916) 613-3553 so that we can schedule a consultation.

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Published by: The Ranchod Law Group





















Greencard vs. U.S. Citizenship FAQ




Greencard vs. U.S. Citizenship

Green Card FAQ

Greencard vs. U.S. Citizenship FAQ

Ultimately, many of our clients desire to become lawful permanent residents (greencard holders) or U.S. Citizens. Each status carries its own benefits. Here we will address the more common questions we hear in our practice from new greencard holders and naturalized U.S. Citizens.

Do I need a work permit?

Greencard holders and U.S. Citizens do not need a work permit to work legally in the U.S. As a greencard holder or U.S. Citizen you can prove your ability to work lawfully in the U.S. by showing an unrestricted Social Security card and your unexpired permanent resident card, US passport, or naturalization certificate, as applicable.

Do I need a travel permit to travel outside of the U.S.?

Greencard holders and U.S. Citizen do NOT need a travel permit, please see below for further details as applicable:

Greencard holders: In general, to travel to another country you will need to present a passport from your country of citizenship or your refugee travel document, and you will need to present a valid, unexpired greencard to return to the U.S. You must also pay attention to whether the foreign country you are visiting has any additional entry/exit requirements (such as a visa).

Note that as greencard holder you may be found to have abandoned your status as a lawful permanent resident if you spend too long abroad or otherwise indicate that your travel abroad is not of a brief or temporary nature. Please see our prior post on that topic.

U.S. Citizens: As a U.S. Citizen, you can travel abroad with your U.S. Passport. U.S. Citizens can remain abroad without restrictions and without fear of losing their U.S. Citizenship.

Can I vote?

Greencard holders CANNOT vote. Only U.S. Citizens can vote.

Do I have to file taxes?

Yes! Filing taxes as required is mandatory for both greencard holders and U.S. Citizens. Others in temporary status who work in the U.S. are also required to file taxes.

Can I ever be deported?

Greencard holders can lose their greencard status and face deportation. A common reason a greencard holder can be deported is for certain criminal convictions. U.S. citizens, provided there was no fraud in obtaining the U.S. citizenship, do not need to fear deportation.

Can I be a dual citizen?

Generally, you can keep your home country’s citizenship even if you become a U.S. Citizen. Some countries however, do not allow dual citizenship. Please contact us at (916) 613-3553 to schedule a consultation so that we can advise you as to your specific situation.

If you are interested in becoming a lawful permanent resident (getting your greencard) or becoming a U.S. Citizen we encourage you to contact us at (916) 613-3553 to discuss your options. We can schedule a meeting at our offices in Sacramento or San Francisco or we can meet telephonically or via Skype if you are not in the area. We are available for all of your immigration needs.

Written by:

Published by: The Ranchod Law Group





















Deportations, Illegal Presence, and Your Greencard






At Ranchod Law we handle many cases of individuals with issues related to previous deportations and illegal presence (being present in the U.S. without legal status). The effect of your prior immigration violation/s depends on what exactly is the violation and when it occurred.

Previously we covered the scenario of Luis. Luis entered and exited the U.S. illegally prior to April 1, 1997, but was back in the U.S. by April 1, 1997, and hadn’t left since the pre-April 1, 1997 entry. We explained that Luis, provided that he otherwise qualifies, should be able to obtain his greencard. As we will see below, the April 1, 1997 date is often critical in determining your potential immigration relief because April 1, 1997 was the date that a law called the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) became effective.

Now, let’s examine the case of Nora. Nora resided in the U.S. after entering illegally but left the U.S. within 180 days after April 1, 1997. Nora has not reentered the U.S. since returning to her home country. Now, Nora has a relative in the U.S. who is willing to sponsor her for her immigrant visa. Lucky for Nora, because she left the U.S. with 180 days after April 1, 1997, provided she otherwise qualifies, she should be able to immigrate to the U.S. without a problem. Like Nora, generally if you departed the U.S. within 180 days after April 1, 1997 or prior, and have not since reentered the U.S. illegally, you should be able to immigrate to the U.S. legally and obtain your greencard.

Finally, if you were deported at any time and reentered after April 1, 1997, you face a “permanent” bar. When we use the term “permanent bar” we are referring to a law called Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 212(a)(9)(C)(i)(II). This law provides that if you have been removed (deported) from the U.S. and come back, or attempt to come back, illegally, you are barred from coming back for ten (10) years. There is no waiver of this bar. To come back, you must get a special permission and otherwise qualify. Because of the long period and the unavailability of a waiver, we use the term “permanent bar.”

The above three scenarios are fairly established in the law. As a note of caution, however, please remember that changing even the smallest of facts can alter an immigration case entirely. Dates and methods of entry into the U.S. are of critical importance. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your prior removal (deportation) from the U.S. or your illegal presence in the U.S. we urge you to contact us at (916) 613-3553. We have seen uninformed individuals receive federal prison sentences for their immigration violations. Don’t let this happen to you! If you are honest with us about your immigration history we can confidentially advise you as to your options. We have offices in Sacramento and San Francisco and clients all over the world.

Published by: Ranchod Law Group






















Entering and Reentering the U.S. Illegally – Is 245i a solution?





At both our Sacramento and our San Francisco offices we often meet individuals who have entered the U.S. illegally via the border on more than one occasion. In specific circumstances, it is actually still possible to get your greencard. Take the following scenario:

Luis is a hardworking family man. In the early 1990s, Luis crossed the border into the U.S. as a young man in search of a better future. Since then, he has lived and worked in the U.S. except for two times that he returned to Mexico. Once, shortly after his arrival, he returned to Mexico during the holidays and a second time in 1996 to see his ailing mother. Luis has resided in the U.S. since prior to April 1, 1997. Luis does not have legal immigration status in the U.S. but it is possible for him to get his greencard. Here’s how:

The first possible method for Luis to get his greencard is by virtue of a law in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) called 245(i). If you are the beneficiary of a petition (I-130) filed by a family member OR filed an application for labor certification on or before April 30, 2001, AND if you were physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000 you may be able to obtain your greencard even though you entered illegally multiple times, as long as you were in the U.S. before 1997. Let’s say, for example, that Luis had a U.S. Citizen sister or if Luis had married a U.S. Citizen. If either of these women filed a petition (an I-130) on or before April 30, 2001, since Luis was in the U.S. on December 21, 2000, he could possibly get his greencard using the law called INA 245(i). Additionally, Luis doesn’t even need to use the same I-130 to get his greencard. His sister or his wife could have petitioned for him originally but now he can use a new petition (let’s say he has a U.S. Citizen son who is over 21) to get his greencard.

INA 245(i) is a complex law with numerous components so if think you might qualify please contact one of our offices. If you apply for your greencard without actually being eligible you could be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings so it is best to consult with us to ensure eligibility.

With the above option, note that the multiple illegal entries are before 1997. This date is important because a law called the Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act (“IIRIRA”) became effective on April 1, 1997. Immigration law has many little nuances and with the right information you may be able to achieve your dreams rather than face deportation. Confide in our knowledge and experience to help guide you in your immigration matters – (916) 613 3553.
















Useful Information for those Traveling Abroad with a Greencard







Lawful permanent residents (greencard holders) can generally travel outside of the United States without difficulty. However, if you want to remain outside of the U.S. for a continuous period of six months or more, it would be wise to apply for a reentry permit prior to leaving the U.S.

Applying for a Reentry Permit

A reentry permit basically gives you permission to be outside of the U.S. while keeping your greencard valid. Your initial permit is usually valid for two years and can be renewed.

You must be in the U.S. to apply for your reentry permit. (If you are already outside of the U.S., please contact us to discuss your options). After you submit your application, you will receive an appointment to have your fingerprints taken. If you cannot go to your appointment, we can request a new appointment on a different date and time. After you have your fingerprints taken, you can choose to leave the U.S. and have your permit sent to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

If your circumstances require it, you may apply for your reentry permit while in the U.S., then leave the U.S., return back to the U.S. to have your fingerprints taken, and then leave again and receive your permit abroad.

It is important to let us know your traveling plans at the time of your application.

Obtaining a reentry permit is very important because if you leave the U.S. for six months or more, when you try to reenter the U.S. you may be deemed to have abandoned your greencard (residency). Even shorter periods of time outside of the U.S. can be problematic if you are considered to have taken up residence abroad.

You can, for example, abandon your greencard by failing to file income tax returns while living outside of the U.S. for any period of time or if you declare yourself a “nonimmigrant” on your tax returns.

A reentry permit does not guarantee reentry into the U.S. but is certainly very strong evidence of your intent to remain a resident.

Also note that if you have a criminal conviction, you may have difficulty reentering the U.S. (regardless of a reentry permit) and you could even be detained and placed in removal (deportation) proceedings. For this reason, we suggest that if you’ve had any encounter with law enforcement to consult with us prior to leaving the U.S.

Traveling abroad after getting your greencard can be a positive experience if you are well advised and prepared. We encourage you to contact us prior to traveling abroad. You can visit us at our Sacramento or San Francisco offices or call us at (916) 613 6553 from anywhere in the world
















How can 245i help me get a green card?





I entered illegally! Can I get a greencard?

At Ranchod Law we are proud to have helped countless individuals legalize their status after having entered the U.S. illegally. If you entered illegally by committing immigration fraud (for example, by using a fake passport or visa at the airport or at the border or another point of entry into the U.S.) please refer to our article on that topic from last week. If you entered illegally by crossing into the U.S. via a border undetected (entered without inspection) then this article is for you! Typically an individual who entered the U.S. illegally cannot apply for adjustment of status (the process by which an individual obtains their greencard in the U.S.) but in this article we will discuss two possible ways to obtain your lawful permanent residency (greencard) even if you entered illegally.

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 245(i)

One way to obtain your greencard if you entered the U.S. illegally is by virtue of a law in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 245(i). If you are the beneficiary of a petition (I-130) filed by a family member OR filed an application for labor certification on or before April 30, 2001, AND if you were physically present in the U.S. on December 21, 2000 you may be able to obtain your greencard even though you entered illegally. In consultations at both our Sacramento, Santa Clara, and San Francisco offices we’ve had clients sheepishly bring up a long ago filed petition and we want to jump with joy because that long ago forgotten petition is often the key to obtaining a greencard for someone who would otherwise have no hope. Generally, obtaining your greencard under this law will require you to pay an additional fee of $1,000.00, a small price to pay for legalizing your status. INA 245(i) is a complex law with numerous components so if think you might qualify please contact one of our offices. If you apply for your greencard without actually being eligible you could be placed in removal (deportation) proceedings so it is best to consult with us to ensure eligibility.

The New Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver

A second way to obtain lawful permanent residency after having entered the U.S. illegally concerns the new provisional unlawful presence waiver which came into effect in March of this year. If you entered the U.S. illegally and you are the immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen you may be able to apply for a waiver which would allow you, after approval of the waiver, to return to your home country for the purpose of your interview and return with your immigrant visa. Unlike with INA 245(i), discussed above, you will have to depart from the U.S. but your time abroad should not be too lengthy.

Ranchod Law has filed numerous unlawful presence waivers and we can help you too. Contact us for an appointment, you may be eligible for this form of relief.

Criminal Waivers





This is a continuation of the line of posts in which we are discussing waivers in adjustment of status cases. Adjustment of status is the process by which an individual who has a temporary status (a B visa or an F visa, for example) or no status (has an expired visa) can adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident (“greencard”). Again, for purposes of this line of posts we are assuming you qualify for adjustment of status (a greencard) and we will be looking solely at waivers. We encourage you to contact our office to confirm that you do in fact qualify for a greencard and to discuss your need for a waiver.

Many times individuals assume that since many years have passed since their last serious encounter with the law that they do not need a waiver. This is simply NOT true. In fact, even if it has been a long time since your last conviction, if you require a waiver your greencard could be denied and, even worse, you could be placed in removal proceedings. However, if at least 15 years have passed since the conviction at issue, it is easier to obtain a waiver.

It you are convicted of a crime or crimes which require waiver and you apply before fifteen years have elapsed, we must prove on your behalf that your qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative (spouse, child, or parent) would experience extreme hardship if your case was denied. We have extensive experience handling cases meeting this threshold from both our San Francisco and Sacramento offices. If, however, fifteen years have elapsed since your conviction, we will not need to prove “extreme hardship,” instead, we only have to prove that you have been rehabilitated, and that approval will not be contrary to the national welfare, safety, or security of the U.S. It is generally easier to prove rehabilitation instead of extreme hardship.

Remember that although you may have been convicted of a petty crime in the last fifteen years you can still prove just rehabilitation instead of extreme hardship if the crime you are seeking a waiver resulted in a conviction at least fifteen years ago. For example, lets say you were convicted of burglary fifteen years ago and since then you’ve been convicted of a DUI. You can still seek a waiver proving just rehabilitation instead of extreme hardship because the conviction for which you are seeking a waiver, the burglary, occurred fifteen years ago. This example is taken from the actual case of Miguel (name changed to protect privacy), worked on by a member of Ranchod Law. Miguel came in on a student visa but violated the terms of his visa by working without permission (authorization). His family needed money in his native country. Miguel was arrested for stealing tools from a home and pled “nolo contendere” (no contest) to burglary. He served probation. After many years out of status, he met and married a U.S. Citizen. Even though fifteen years had past since his conviction for the burglary, Miguel needed and successfully obtained a waiver and his greencard. Even though Miguel had been convicted of a DUI in the fifteen years since his conviction for burglary, he was able to prove just rehabilitation and not extreme hardship. Miguel no longer has to live in fear of being illegal. For more information about DUI and other petty crimes please refer to our previous post on that topic.

We can build your case by showing that you have not had any serious trouble with the law recently, that you are contributing to society (by working, educating yourself, or by volunteering or community service), and that you have ties to society, via your family and community (friends, coworkers, neighbors, religious organization, etc.) Because no two cases are exactly alike and because we have extensive experience with a variety of cases, we encourage you to contact our office to discuss your need for a waiver and the possible strengths we could highlight in your case.

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Waivers in Green Card Cases: Immigration Fraud






Recently, we have discussed waivers for criminal issues in adjustment of status cases. Adjustment of status is the process by which an individual who has a temporary status (a B visa or an F visa, for example) or no status (has an expired visa) can adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident (“greencard”). Those posts represented a variety of typical situations we see on a regular basis in both our Sacramento and San Francisco offices. Please contact our office to discuss how your encounter with law enforcement, arrest, or conviction can affect your immigration status. In addition to waivers for criminal issues, it is very common to need a waiver for immigration fraud. For purposes of this post, we are assuming you qualify for adjustment of status (a greencard) and we will be looking solely at the waiver for immigration fraud. We encourage you to contact our office to confirm that you do in fact qualify for a greencard and to discuss your need for a waiver.
Common scenarios of immigration fraud or misrepresentation include using a passport/visa belonging to a friend or family member, a fake visa for your passport, a fake passport and visa, and altering the dates on your visa. These are simply a few examples; there are many ways to commit immigration fraud. If you have committed immigration fraud or misrepresentation you will need a waiver. This is true even if you did not actually make it into the U.S. with the fraudulent passport or visa.
In discussing the above examples, we are referring to individuals who used a foreign fraudulent passport or their own passport with a fraudulent visa. If you pretended to be a U.S. Citizen on or after September 30, 1996, you CANNOT obtain a waiver. There is a narrow exception for individuals with parents who are or were U.S. Citizens if the individual lived in the U.S. prior to turning 16 and the individual reasonably believed that he or she was actually a U.S. Citizen.
If your immigration fraud did not involve pretending to be a U.S. Citizen, you may be able to obtain a waiver. In order for your waiver to get approved, we will have to prove on your behalf that you have a U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent and that your spouse or parent would suffer extreme hardship if your case was denied. Note, that unlike with the waiver for criminal issues, you cannot use extreme hardship to a child for purposes of a waiver based on immigration fraud (unless you are a VAWA self-petitioner). We can only argue regarding the extreme hardship to your child insofar as that hardship would affect your U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.
Please contact our office to discuss your specific situation and your need for a waiver. We have the experience to build the best case possible.

Sponsoring your parents and/or children for greencards





At the Ranchod Law Group we have relationships with our clients over the course of several years. First, we may help the client with a temporary visa (an H1B or a L visa, for example). Second, we’ll obtain the client’s greencard (lawful permanent residency). Next, we’ll obtain the client’s U.S. citizenship (naturalization). Finally, we will help the client in sponsoring his or her parents or children abroad for immigrant visas (greencards) to the U.S. If you’d like to discuss whether you qualify for your greencard or naturalization, please contact our office. By means of this article, we wish to focus our attention on sponsoring your parents or children for greencards after you have obtained your US Citizenship.

Sponsoring parents or children for greencards

While as a lawful permanent resident you were not able to petition for your mother or father, as a U.S. Citizen you CAN petition for your parent as long as you are 21 years of age or older. Additionally, a parent of a U.S. Citizen is considered an “immediate relative” and therefore does not have to wait for a visa number. The process of bringing your parent over to the U.S. from filing the petition to approval to having your parent enter with their immigrant visa is rather fast.

Bringing Children to the U.S.

In regards to bringing your children to the U.S., the process and waiting times differ depending under which of the following categories your child/ren fits:

  1. Unmarried child under age 21: Like the parent of a U.S. Citizen, the unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S. Citizen is considered an immediate relative and does not have to wait for a visa number. The process for a U.S. Citizen to bring over their unmarried under age 21 children is also quick
  2. Unmarried child age 21 or older: If your child is not married but over age 21, you will have to file a petition for your child and then after approval, your child will have to wait for a visa number to become available. Currently, the U.S. Department of State is giving immigrant visas to the cases from September 2006. If from Mexico, then September 1993, and if from the Philippines, then January 2001. Hence, if your child is not married but over 21 than there will be long wait for him or her. You may want to contact us to discuss obtaining a different type of temporary visa for your child. When your child does finally come to the U.S., he or she may also bring his or her own unmarried children under the age of 21
  3. Married son or daughter of any age: If your child is married, regardless of age, your child will have to wait for a visa number to become available. Currently, the U.S. Department of State is giving immigrant visas to the cases from December 2002. If from Mexico, then May 1993, and if from the Philippines, December 1992. Again, you may want to contact us to discuss obtaining a different type of temporary visa for your child. Also, when your child does finally come to the U.S., he or she may also bring his or her own spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21

Petitioning for a stepparent

Finally, please note that a child over the age of 21 can petition for a stepparent. Likewise, a stepparent can petition for a stepchild as long as the stepparent married the child’s natural parent before the child’s 18th birthday. As an example of this latter case, we are currently representing a mother, a lawful permanent resident, who is married to a U.S. Citizen.

Because the mother married her husband while her child was under the age of 18, the U.S. Citizen husband can file a petition for the child as a stepparent just as any parent can file for any child as described above.
If you are interested in petitioning for your parent or child/ren, please contact our office to discuss processing times and documentation requirements (paperwork).

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Waivers in Adjustment of Status Cases Marijuana




In the next few weeks, we will be covering the topic of waivers in the context of adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is the process by which an individual who has a temporary status (a B visa or an F visa, for example) or no status (has an expired visa) can adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

A lawful permanent residency card is commonly called a greencard. Typically, individuals want to file for adjustment of status after marrying a U.S. Citizen. There are other reasons why you might be able to file for adjustment of status, aside from marrying a U.S. Citizen, and each reason has a variety of requirements.
To see whether you qualify for a greencard, please contact our office.

For this line of posts we will be assuming you qualify for adjustment of status and we will be looking solely at waivers.

Waivers and Criminal Issues

One common reason for needing a waiver is having had a criminal issue in the past. A conviction for even a small amount of marijuana will require you to obtain a waiver.

Take the case of Mark (name changed to protect privacy), for example.(*) Mark’s parents brought him to the United States when he was a child, with a visitor visa. He was a good kid and after graduating from high school he took work under the table (his visitor visa had long expired and he did not have authorization to work) at a paper factory. One day, after work, Mark and a few of his friends went to a park to smoke a little bit of pot (marijuana). A passerby alerted police and Mark and his friends were arrested. On the advice of his public defender, Mark pled “no contest” to possession of marijuana. He never served jail time. He never got into any further trouble and in fact married his high school sweetheart (a U.S. Citizen) and started a family. Mark was very surprised to learn that he would need a waiver for having smoked a mere joint in order to obtain his greencard.

“No Contest”: a Conviction for Immigration

Mark needed a waiver because pleading “no contest” is considered a conviction for purposes of immigration. Although the immigration relief available to individuals with drug convictions is extremely limited, thankfully there is a waiver for possession of less than 30 grams of marijuana.
In order to obtain the approval of Mark’s waiver we had to prove that Mark had a “qualifying U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative”. Such a relative includes a:

  • U.S. Citizen
  • lawful permanent resident
  • spouse
  • child
  • parent

Proving Extreme Hardship

Mark had two qualifying relatives, his wife and his newborn daughter. Additionally, we had to prove that Mark’s wife and/or daughter would experience extreme hardship if he was denied his waiver. We argued on Mark’s behalf that:

  1. Mark was the sole financial provider for his family
  2. Mark’s wife did not work
  3. If Mark’s wife were forced to reenter the workplace she would have no one to take care of their daughter
  4. Mark’s wife began seeing a therapist for her anxiety over Mark’s unstable immigration status
  5. Mark’s wife would not be able to accompany Mark back to his home country because she did not speak the language
  6. Mark’s wife had well controlled asthma but the air quality in Mark’s home country was poor and access to medical care was limited

Mark’s waiver was approved and he got his greencard. Today, Mark is a U.S. Citizen.

If you, like Mark, have a conviction for less than 30 grams of marijuana, or a different type of conviction, please contact our office to discuss whether you qualify for a greencard and whether you’d be a good candidate for a waiver.

(*) Examples are taken from actual cases worked on by a member of Ranchod Law Group.

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