Archive for the 'Immigration News' Category

Deferred Action Childhood Arrival, Renewals & Extensions in 2014

Renewal/Extension of Deferred Action as a Childhood Arrival

How to request and receive the renewal/extension without experiencing any lapse in your deferral or work authorization

In late May 2014, USCIS anticipates publishing the form you will need to file for the renewal/extension. We should submit your request about 120 days (or about 4 months) before your current period of DACA expires. This is also the date that your Employment Authorization Document (EAD or work permit) expires. Your expiration date is printed on the front of your EAD. If you file your request approximately 120 days before the expiration date of your current period of DACA, USCIS anticipates making a decision and adjudicating your employment authorization well before your current period of DACA and employment authorization expires. Moreover, if you have filed at least 120 days before your deferred action and EAD expire and USCIS is unexpectedly delayed in processing your case, USCIS may provide deferred action and employment authorization for a short period of time until your case is decided. For these reasons it is very important that as you look ahead to the expiration of your DACA and work permit that you contact our office as soon as possible at (916) 613-3553 to make arrangements for your re-application. It is not too soon to call!

Note that for your renewal/extension you will only need to submit new documents pertaining to removal proceedings or criminal history that you have not already submitted previously. You do not need to re-submit documents you already submitted. However, you should continue to keep copies of all papers that you used to get your original approval. If we filed your case we of course have a copy of everything filed on your behalf.

While some individuals look ahead to filing for renewals/extensions of their DACA, other qualified individuals have yet to apply. You may qualify for deferred action is you were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday; have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time; were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS; entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012; are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and you have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

If you are interested in renewing/extending your DACA or if you have yet to apply and think you might qualify please contact our Sacramento, Santa Clara and San Francisco offices at (916) 613-3553. Since the inception of DACA, we have successfully obtained DACA for countless individuals, you can confide in our proven track record of success.

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Published by: The Ranchod Law Group

Illegal Immigrants Driver’s License in California

In October we discussed the bill signed by California Governor Jerry Brown which will allow those immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain a driver’s license in California. We covered our top questions at that time and now we want to address two additional questions that keep popping up with our clients:

  1. Do I have to live in California to obtain the California driver’s license for illegal immigrants?
  2. Yes, you must reside in California to obtain a California driver’s license whether you have legal status or not. Traveling to California and pretending to live here just to obtain a driver’s license is illegal and you can face grave consequences for committing fraud. (Please note that this law will not go into effect until January 2015)

  3. Can I use my California driver’s license to drive in other states?
  4. Yes, you can drive outside of the state of California with the California driver’s license for illegal immigrants but be weary of the policies of other states regarding questioning those suspected of being in the U.S. illegally.

Contact us (916) 613–3553 regarding your immigration questions and concerns. We would be happy to advise you as to the best options available to you.

California Governor signs bill allowing illegal immigrants to obtain driver’s license

Yesterday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill which will allow those immigrants who are in the U.S. illegally to obtain a driver’s license in California. Ranchod Law, with offices in Sacramento, Santa Clara and San Francisco, is elated and supportive of this important change in the law.

Here are some of the top questions you may have about the new law:

When and how can I get my license?

California will begin issuing licenses to illegal immigrants no later than January 2015, but it could be sooner! The procedure for obtaining a license has yet to be announced but please check back for updates as the information becomes available. We do know, however, that all applicants will have to pass the written and driving test in order to qualify for their licenses.

Can I use the driver’s license in order to work?

Unfortunately, no, the driver’s license is exclusively for driving privileges and will not authorize you to work legally in the U.S. The driver’s license will carry a special designation on the front and a notice stating that the license cannot be used to prove eligibility for employment. Also the license is not an official form of federal identification and cannot be used to obtain public benefits (Medicaid, food stamps, etc.) and cannot be used board a plane.

Can I otherwise use the driver’s license as a form of ID?

See above response. Also, it isn’t clear whether local government offices, libraries, or banks will accept the license as identification.

Will having this driver’s license prevent me from being detained by immigration and deported?

Will having this driver’s license cause me to be picked up by immigration for being illegal?

Immigrants caught driving without a license can be arrested. Upon arrest, illegal immigrants are usually uncovered and transferred to the immigration authorities who can process the immigrants for deportation. By having a driver’s license, illegal immigrants cannot be arrested for driving without a license and this will prevent many individuals from being deported. Also the driver’s license bans discrimination and the law provides that the license cannot be used as a basis for arresting someone for being in the U.S. illegally

Ranchod Law Group is glad that California has joined the numerous other states (Oregon, Colorado, Nevada, Maryland, Illinois, Washington, New Mexico, and Utah) which are providing licenses to illegal immigrants. This change in the law benefits not only the illegal immigrants but also society at large. This is a developing story and we will update this blog in coming months as further details emerge.

Call us at 916-613-3553 with your questions or email us your questions which we will answer on this blog, and use this form to request a consultation now!

Immigration Reform Act

Immigration Reform: One Step Closer

The Long-Awaited Immigration Reform

Author: , at The Ranchod Law Group

Many of my clients who visit my Sacramento and San Francisco offices are asking me about the Immigration Reform.

Since the passage of the IIRARA in 1996(The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996), no single comprehensive immigration reform program has come so far in so little time. This not to say that the current “Gang of Eight’s” bill will become the law of the land, but there is a realistic hope that Democrats and Republicans will come to an agreement and will pass the long-awaited Immigration Reform Bill.

So, what steps should all potential eligible applicants take in the event the immigration reform bill were to pass? The answer varies, and will depend on whether the applicant has had any encounters with:

  • border patrol officials;
  • the immigration court system;
  • federal or state police officers.

For those who have had encounters with the authorities, it is recommended to seek the assistance of an experienced professional who would order a background check or Freedom of Information Act Request (FOIA) from the proper authorities to establish the obstacles, if any, the individual will encounter when attempting to obtain the lawful status under the potential Immigration Reform Bill. Of particular interest are those encounters with border patrol officials or the court system because the release of such records generally takes up to, and in many cases longer than, a year.

The potential applicants with no encounters with the authorities, should start gathering all the documentation possible to support their eligibility to apply for such lawful status, such as:

  • birth certificates of the entire family;
  • marriage and divorce certificates;
  • income tax returns of all the years filed;
  • vaccination records;
  • medical and dental records;
  • pay stubs.

Keep in mind that the list is not exhaustive, and only serves as reference.

Remember that those with their documentation in order, will be ahead of those who procrastinated because they will be ready and able to petition if the Immigration Reform Bill is enacted.

Contact us Today for more information and help on the your specific situation

The Ranchod Law Group

The Ranchod Law Group provides legal assistance in a variety of areas, all related to immigration specific aspects, with a focus on i-601 hardship waivers and:

  • Employment based immigration
  • Marriage Fiancee Visas, and family Immigration
  • Other specific Visa and citizenship issues

Visit us at one of our Offices:

Sacramento Offices
8880 Cal Center Drive #400
United States
Phone: (916) 613-3553
San Francisco Offices
760 Market St.
San Francisco,
United States
Phone: (415) 986-6186
Fax: (888) 891-7071
Santa Clara Offices
3333 Bowers Avenue Suite 130
Santa Clara,
United States
Phone: (408) 844-9197
Fax: (888) 891-7071

BREAKING NEWS: Unlawful Presence Waiver Finalized thousands could benefit!

What is an unlawful presence waiver? Do I need an unlawful presence waiver?

An individual who is present in the United States illegally for over 180 days but less than 1 year is barred from returning to the United States after departure for 3 years. Similarly, an individual who is present in the United States illegally for one year or more is barred from returning to the United States after departure for 10 years.

A typical scenario of an individual who needs an unlawful presence waiver would be one in which the individual enters the United States illegally and later marries a U.S. Citizen. Previously, that individual would have to leave the United States and apply for a waiver of the 3 or 10 year bar abroad in order to reenter the United States as a lawful permanent resident (i.e. with an immigrant visa or as a greencard holder). Now, with the unlawful presence waiver, that same individual can apply for the waiver here and after approval, return to their home country only to receive their immigrant visa. This significantly shortens the amount of time the individual must be separated from his U.S. family.

When can I apply?

USCIS (Immigration) will begin accepting application on March 4, 2013.

What is the process to apply for an unlawful presence waiver?

First, the individual must be the beneficiary of an immediate relative approved I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. The immediate relative category only includes spouses of U.S. Citizen, parents of U.S. Citizens who are at least 21 years of age, and minor children of U.S. Citizens.

After approval of the immediate relative approved I-130 Petition, the individual must pay the immigrant visa processing fee, and submit the unlawful presence waiver to USCIS. In his or her request for a waiver the individual will have to prove that their U.S. Citizen spouse or parent will suffer extreme hardship as a result of separation with the individual. The spouse or parent need not be the petitioner of the I-130 Petition but the spouse or parent MUST be a U.S. Citizen, status as a lawful permanent resident is not sufficient. Additionally, extreme hardship to your child is not sufficient.

If the waiver is granted, an interview will be scheduled in the individual’s home country and the individual must still leave the U.S. and apply for and receive an immigrant visa abroad before returning to the U.S. Normally at time of interview individual must also schedule a medical examination.

What are the requirements of an unlawful presence waiver? What are the criteria?

You must: be 17 years of age or older; be the immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen (see above discussion); have an approved immediate relative I-130 Petition, have the Immigrant Visa case pending with the Department of State (DOS) and paid Immigrant Visa processing fee to the DOS; demonstrate extreme hardship to U.S. Citizen spouse or parent (see below); be physically present in the U.S. to file and provide biometrics (fingerprints); and NOT have been previously scheduled for an Immigrant Visa interview.

How can I show “extreme hardship?”

Extreme hardship can be a combination of multiple factors. You will want to include documentation regarding any health problem suffered by the U.S. Citizen spouse or parent, financial documentation, and personal considerations like the presence of other relatives in the U.S. and community ties. There may also be other special factors as a result of your specific condition and/or conditions in your home country. A qualified immigration attorney can guide you as to the types of documentation that would be most beneficial to your case.

What is the fee for filing an unlawful presence waiver?

The filing fee for an unlawful presence waiver is $585.00 plus an $85 biometrics (fingerprint appointment) fee (total: $670). Note this fee is after and apart from the I-130 Petition filing fee and the immigrant visa fee. Additionally, all USCIS fees are apart from the fees charged by your attorney to prepare your case.

How long will it take for my unlawful presence waiver to be approved or denied?

USCIS has not set processing time goals yet because it is unclear to USCIS just how many individuals will take advantage and apply under this new process.

What if I am in removal (i.e. deportation) proceedings or what if I have an order of removal (i.e. deportation) pending?

Anyone with a final order of removal, or who has been previously removed, will not be eligible for the new waiver process. Additionally, if you are currently in removal proceedings you also will not be eligible for the new waiver process. Note, if you fall within one of these categories although you may not apply for the new waiver process, you may have other forms of relief available to you and you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney.

Additionally, if you have had your removal proceedings administratively closed and your case has not been re-calendared you may file for an unlawful presence waiver.

Will having a waiver pending give me status?

No, a pending waiver will not give you legal status. You cannot travel outside of the United States while your waiver is pending and you will not receive an employment authorization document (i.e. work permit) while your waiver is pending. Finally, a pending waiver will not protect you from removal (i.e. deportation) proceedings.

What if denied?

You cannot appeal the denial of your unlawful presence waiver but you can reapply in order to have a second opportunity of an approval. Notices to Appear (the charging document that places individuals in removal i.e. deportation proceedings) will continue to be issued according to policy guidelines. It is very important to consult with a qualified immigration attorney to determine if you are at risk of being placed in removal proceedings.

What if I have other questions?

For more information, contact us today at one of our offices in:

Or call now at 916-613-3553 to schedule a consultation so that we may discuss your particular circumstances or email us at

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Leiba v. Holder: Aggravated felony bar in INA 212(h) inapplicable to those who were never “admitted”

The following is a brief discussion of the recent fourth circuit case of Leiba v. Holder. Said case is controlling in the states of Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia but can be used as a persuasive authority throughout the United States.

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) 212(h) is a law that permits individuals to request a waiver of certain criminal conviction/s. Hence, an individual who would otherwise be ineligible for adjustment of status (to become a lawful permanent resident or “greencard” holder) because of a criminal conviction or convictions can request a waiver of the conviction/s and obtain lawful permanent resident status.

INA 212(h) states in part as follow:

“No waiver shall be granted .. in the case of an alien who has previously been admitted to the United States as an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if … since the date of such admission the alien has been convicted of an aggravated felony.”

At first glance, this language would appear to bar lawful permanent residents who are convicted of an aggravated felony from seeking relief under INA 212(h). Aggravated felonies are typically the more serious convictions for instance, murder, rape, drug offenses, crimes of violence, and certain theft offenses, among other crimes.

However, Leiba v. Holder has held that an individual who enters the United States illegally and subsequently adjusts status to that of a lawful permanent resident while still in the U.S. and who does not exit and re-enter the U.S. is eligible to apply for relief under INA 212(h) even if convicted of an aggravated felony. The reasoning behind the holding of the Court stems from the Court’s definition of “admission.” The Court reasoned that if an individual entered the U.S. illegally and never subsequently entered the U.S. legally then the individual has never been “admitted” and as such the bar against aggravated felons cannot be applied. Note that the Court distinguished between the term “admission” and the phrase “admitted for permanent residence.”

The decision of Leiba v. Holder is extremely important for lawful permanent residents who have been convicted of an aggravated felony in that it opens an avenue of relief that would otherwise be unavailable to them. You should consult with a qualified immigration attorney to see if you may benefit from the holding of Leiba v. Holder and to prepare and argue the strengths in your specific case.

For more information, contact us today at one of our offices in:

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AB-540 Students and permanent residency: What’s the Affidavit Requirement About?

If you are an undocumented immigrant who attended high school in California and want to attend a California public community college, college, or university, you may qualify to be an AB-540 student.

An AB-540 student is eligible to pay in-state tuition rather than out-of-state tuition in schools belonging to the University of California, California State University, and California Community Colleges systems. One of the requirements to be an AB-540 student is that you must file or plan to file an affidavit with the institution you attend. The affidavit must state that you will apply for legal residency as soon as possible.

If you are considering a path to permanent residency or citizenship, think of talking to a qualified immigration lawyer. Becoming a legal resident may make you eligible to receive scholarships, grants, student loans, and other types of financial aid, such as federal work-study jobs. This can help you lighten the financial burden while you are in school. It will also minimize the amount of debt that you will have after graduation. There is a big difference between planning for applying for legal residency and actually making steps toward that goal. Even if it takes months or years to change your status, the progress you make may lead to your becoming a legal resident upon graduation. If you are a legal resident, you will likely be much more attractive to employers.

An affidavit is a written declaration made upon an oath to a person authorized to administer an oath. An AB-540 affidavit usually consists of a written, sworn statement made to a college admissions office staff member. An affidavit may ask you to provide the name of the California high school that you attended, the dates that you attended, and your name, address, student ID number, and signature. California law does not allow the college or university to share information on the affidavit with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

If you have applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), note that a DACA application is not a step toward legal residency.

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What’s New with DACA-Dreamer Work Permit

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which took effect August 15, remains in place. As of October 12, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security granted deferred action to almost 4,600 individuals.

Most of the applications are coming from California. California is home to a number of enacted and proposed measures that support those eligible for DACA. On September 30, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill allowing those eligible for DACA to apply for driver’s licenses. Many other states, such as Michigan, will not allow those eligible for DACA to apply for driver’s licenses.

The Los Angeles City Counsel is considering creating a city photo identification card to help undocumented immigrants get access to banking services. Several California cities, including San Francisco and Oakland, allow any individual who can prove residency to receive an identification card, regardless of immigration status.

The processing time for DACA applications is faster than expected. As of October 1, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received 120,000 applications. This is less than half of the total number (300,000) USCIS planned to process by that time.

Several California school districts and county offices of education, including the San Mateo County Office of Education, created webpages or opened centers to issue transcripts for DACA applications.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defined DACA applicants and those granted deferred status through DACA as individuals not having a “lawful presence” in the U.S. Consequently, DACA applicants and those granted deferred status are ineligible for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.

Undocumented students remain eligible for University of California application fee waivers, but ineligible for CSU application fee waivers. Whitman College, a private liberal arts college in Washington state, became one of the first private colleges to cover application fees for undocumented students.  Contact our office at 415-986-6186 to learn more about your DACA options.

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How Immigrants help the California economy

Immigrants diversify and strengthen the U.S. economy through entrepreneurship, new skill sets, and hard work. In the United States, 24.3% of engineering and technology start-up companies were founded by at least one immigrant. In Silicon Valley, 43.9% of technology start-ups had an immigrant founder (Kauffman Foundation study 2012). In California, immigrants add talent to a wide range of fields, from construction to manufacturing to telecommunications. Immigrants composed 34.6% of the state’s workforce in 2010 (U.S. Census Bureau 2010). Throughout California and the South, thousands of immigrants and political refugees seeking U.S. citizenship perform grueling jobs in agriculture as well as the poultry and fishing industries.

The response from the federal government has been positive. Both Democrats and Republicans acknowledge that immigrants play a key role in stabilizing and growing the U.S. economy. In July 2012, the White House blog published a list of ten ways in which immigrants benefit the United States. The first two points focused on small business.

Immigrants are 30% more likely to start a new business in the United States than non-immigrants (U.S. Small Business Administration 2012). In 2007, immigrant-owned small businesses employed 4.7 million people. These businesses generate more than $776 billion per year (Fiscal Policy Institute 2007). The profits from immigrant-owned small businesses have a ripple effect. They increase the earnings of Americans who have more than a high school diploma and boost the demand for local consumer goods.

Immigrants also benefit the U.S. by helping an aging population meet its medical needs. Immigrants are almost twice as likely as U.S.-born workers to practice as physicians and surgeons. Immigrants make up a quarter of the workforce in the three fastest-growing job categories: home health aides, nursing aides, and personal-care aides (Brookings Institute study 2012).

The reason that immigration issues hit close to home in the San Francisco Bay Area is because approximately one in three residents is an immigrant (Fiscal Policy Institute 2012). Almost everyone has a close friend, business associate, or family member who settled in the United States. When you consider the many roles of immigrants whom you know, from father to artist, and engineer to janitor, it’s clear that immigrants are one of the reasons that the U.S. continues to be exceptional.

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H1B cap exempt announcement

To find out more about the recent H1B cap exempt announcement, please read the post on our J1 Visa Waiver blog: Doctors who are not on J1 and are on H1b residency may need to apply for a cap exempt job

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