U.S. Department of Homeland Security New Social Media Screening for Immigration Benefit

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement pilot program for Social Media Screening for Immigration Benefit, which began last August, uses social media screening in the visa issuance process and beyond. While the inspector general report was redacted, it revealed that the agency is using a “web search tool that specializes in social media data exploitation by analyzing social media data and funneling it into actionable information,” to “help identify potential derogatory information not found in government databases.”

The report redacts the duration of Social Media Screening for Immigration Benefit, but it is clear the test program involved more than a one-time check of public-facing social media posts.

The Citizenship and Immigration Service’s social media screening for Immigration Benefit was launched in April 2016. Under that pilot, USCIS screeners requested social media information from visa applicants, then checked the information against a tool developed by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency. USCIS concluded that the tool afforded a low “match confidence,” and that manual screening delivered better results. The IG report redacts data on the number of accounts USCIS was able to confirm using the DARPA tool, and the number it was not able to confirm.

Our recommendation is for anyone seeking an immigration benefit in the U.S. (whether non-immigrant or immigrant) to disable to close all social media accounts.   (more…)

Urge Congress to Extend Temporary Protected Status for Haitian Nationals

The Trump administration is considering ending Temporary Protected Status for Haitian nationals, rather than extending the program. Immigration Lawyer Gail S. Seeram has expressed grave concerns regarding this prospect. Not only would the elimination of TPS or Temporary Protected Status for Haiti nationals create immense hardships for close to 47,000 Haitian individuals who have lived in the United States under the program’s protection for more than seven years, it would also adversely impact the U.S. economy and workforce. Show Congress that AILA stands with Haitians by tweeting out your support and by asking members of Congress to urge DHS Secretary Kelly to re-designate TPS for Haiti.

Haiti continues to struggle and Haitian in the U.S. meet the criteria to continue receiving TPA protection.  The Haitian government is unable to meet the basic needs of its people, (more…)

New Phone Scam Targets U.S. Immigrants

If you receive a phone call that appears to come from the Canadian government’s Immigration, Refugee, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) Call Centre (1-888-242-2100), hang up! Scammers are altering their caller IDs to appear as if they are calling from the IRCC Call Centre. The scammers U.S Immigrants that their names and identities are under federal investigation. Sometimes they tell individuals that there is a legal case, an affidavit, and/or allegations against them.

If you receive a call demanding personal information or payment, hang up immediately. If you want to check your U.S. immigrants status, you may:

  • Make an InfoPass appointment at http://infopass.uscis.gov;
  • Use myUSCIS to find up-to-date information about your application; or
  • Call our National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 to ask if you need to do anything about your case or immigration status.

Remember, U.S. immigration officials will never threaten you or ask for payment over the phone or in an email. Do not give payment over the phone to anyone who claims to be an U.S. immigration officials. All requests for official payments will arrive on government stationery. In general, we encourage you to protect your personal information and not provide details about your immigration case in any public area. (more…)

5 Signs You’ve Found The Best Immigration Lawyer

Immigrating to the United States isn’t easy. Hiring an immigration attorney to help you is the best way to make sure you’ve followed all of the requirements and positioned yourself for a successful application process.

But hiring an immigration attorney is filled with its’ own challenges. How do you know if you’re hiring the right attorney? The tips below will help you make a decision and hire the best immigration lawyer possible.

5 Signs You’ve Found The Best Immigration Lawyer

  1. They’ve Been Referred by Someone You Trust. The best immigration lawyer for your situation may be one that has helped one of your friends or family members with their immigration situation. You will be able to get an honest and unbiased report about the attorney from your friend and you’ll know the exact outcome of the situation. At the very least, referrals are a good place to start your search even if you don’t end up using the same attorney.
  2. They are 100% Devoted to Immigration Law. There are many, many areas of law in which an attorney can specialize. For the best results, you want an attorney that devotes 100% of his/her practice to immigration law. This helps ensure that the attorney will have the background, knowledge, and resources necessary to handle even the most complex of immigration cases. You can check their credentials with the State Bar Association and the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
  3. They Have Experience With Your Type of Case. Equally as important as being devoted to immigration law is having experience with your specific immigration issue. The most experience they have with your issue, the better. Some immigration attorneys specialize only in certain areas of immigration law. Others handle many areas of the law. You want to hire an Orlando immigration attorney that has experience with your particular need.
  4. They Will be Accessible to You. The last thing you want is to hire an attorney to handle your immigration case and then be kept in the dark about the progress of your case. Hire an attorney that will be accessible to you, whether that is phone, email, or face-to-face meetings. This can be hard to judge, but you could pay attention to how the receptionist or office staff treat you and/or other clients (Are they rude? Do they express an interest in talking to you?) or how quickly your initial phone call or email is returned. Be sure to ask about accessibility including how and how often you will hear from the attorney.
  5. They Make You Feel Comfortable. You will be trusting your attorney with some very private information at a very stressful time in your life. You must feel comfortable speaking to them honestly and you must trust that they are acting in your best interests. Does he/she listen to you? Explain things in ways you understand? Show empathy for your situation? It’s okay to trust your gut if it’s telling you that this is not the right attorney for you.

Contact our Orlando Immigration Attorney for Advice and Representation

Hiring an immigration attorney does not have to be intimidating or confusing. All it takes is a little bit of time and research to find out as much as you can about the attorney before you sign any contracts.

Orlando immigration attorney, Gail Seeram, handles all types of immigration cases from asylum and work visas to green cards and deportation issues. Contact the Law Offices of Gail Seeram 1 (407) 292-7730 for a free initial consultation.

The United States Issued 2,155 EB2 Visas For Exceptional Abilities In 2016. Do You Fit The Criteria?

The EB2 Visa is a special type of permanent work visa for immigrants. Also referred to as the Advanced-Degree Holders and Aliens of Exceptional Ability Visa, the EB2 is open only to individuals in certain professions.

Applicants are categorized as either “Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees” or “Persons of Exceptional Ability.”   

Criteria for the EB2 Visa

To qualify for an EB2 Visa you must have:

  • An Advanced Degree, An Exceptional Ability, or a National Interest Waiver.

Advanced Degree Requirements: The job that you apply for must require an advanced degree and you must possess such a degree or its equivalent.

Exceptional Ability Requirements: You must be able to show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”

National Interest Waiver: You may qualify for a National Interest Waiver if you can demonstrate that you have both exceptional ability and that your filling of the job is in the best interest of the United States. Best interests may impact the national economy, cultural interests, educational interests, or U.S. welfare.

Once you have met one of the above criteria, you must also:

  • Have a sponsoring employer.
  • Have the employer file a Petition for Alien Worker for you.
  • Have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor.

(more…)

Trump Order to Cut Aid to Sanctuary Cities Blocked by Court

A judge in San Francisco, William H. Orrick of United States District Court,temporarily blocked President Trump’s executive order to cut federal funds from sanctuary cities that limit their cooperation with immigration enforcement.  The judge wrote that the president had overstepped his powers with his January executive order on immigration by tying billions of dollars in federal funding to immigration enforcement. Judge Orrick said only Congress could place such conditions on spending.

The ruling on Trump order to cut aid to sanctuary cities blocked by court applies nationwide and was another judicial setback for the Trump administration, which has now seen three immigration orders stopped by federal courts in its first 100 days. 

The maps shown above are based on data collected by the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, specifically looking at jurisdictions that limit how much the local police cooperate with requests from federal authorities to hold immigrants in detention. (more…)

Trump H-1B Executive Order

Below is a brief analysis of Trump H-1B Executive Order titled, “Buy American, Hire American” Executive Order, signed by President Trump on 4/18/17.

  • On April 18, 2017, President Trump signed a new Executive Order, “Buy American and Hire American.” In the “Hire American” portion of the order, Trump announced he was directing DOL, DOJ, DHS, and DOS to review the current laws governing the H-1B program and suggest changes to prioritize the most skilled and highest paid positions. The President also indicated he was directing federal agencies to review all visa programs and take prompt action to crack down on fraud and abuse in order to protect U.S. workers.
  • Although it was signed with ceremonial flair, the Executive Order will have no immediate impact on H-1Bs. Many of the changes to the H-1B program contemplated by the Administration would require legislative action or rulemaking and would take time to go through the necessary processes.
  • Though additional measures to combat fraud could be implemented more quickly, documented instances of fraud in the H-1B and other temporary visa programs are actually quite low. Most employers that utilize the H-1B program do so honestly and because they need the skills and talent of a particular worker, and those who don’t can be rooted out by the current anti-fraud provisions and programs.
  • In addition, contrary to recent rhetoric, H-1B visas do not generally act as a mechanism to replace American workers. Instead, U.S. businesses use the H-1B to gain access to the sought-after skills of foreign professionals, many of whom graduate from U.S. universities, to complement the U.S. workforce. These foreign professional workers greatly benefit U.S. businesses, U.S. workers, and the economy.
  • H-1B visas do not drive down wages for American workers. In fact, some studies show a positive impact on overall wages. On average, H-1B workers actually earn higher wages than similarly employed U.S workers.
  • H-1B workers do not reduce U.S. employment rates; rather, they fill employment gaps and expand opportunities for all U.S. workers. Additionally, the unemployment rate for occupations that use H-1B visas is very low as compared to the national unemployment rate.
  • U.S. businesses do not seek H-1B workers in order to save money; the fees and costs associated with filing a successful petition are high enough that most employers use the H-1B because they cannot locate a qualified U.S. worker to fill the position.
  • Our immigration system is critical to all geographic and industry sectors, not just Silicon Valley. H-1B workers help transform state and local economies across the nation, from B (more…)

DACA recipients are now being targeted for deportation

Washington Post reports that attorneys on behalf of Juan Manuel Montes Bojorquez, a 23-year-old DACA recipient, filed a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act on Tuesday demanding that the federal government turn over all information about his sudden removal from the United States in February 2017. Montes was stopped by a Border Patrol agent while walking to a taxi station in Calexico, California; having accidentally left his wallet in a friend’s car, he had no identification on him. Hours later, immigration officials walked Montes across the border, leaving him in Mexico. The case heightens existing concerns that DACA recipients are now being targeted for deportation, despite President Trump’s pledges to “show great heart” toward them.

Juan was brought to the United States by his family when he was 9 years old. He had graduated from high school and was working while finishing community college at the time he was picked up. He was nearly finished with his welding degree.

DACA recipients come forward, file paperwork, receive background checks, and pay fees. In exchange, they receive work authorization and a promise that the federal government will not summarily deport them. We don’t know what happened to Juan Manuel, but we are deeply concerned that his basic rights have been violated.   (more…)

Green Card New Design – Effective May 1, 2017

The Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) has been redesigned as part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project. The new cards will be issued on May 1, 2017.

These redesigns green card use enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features to create cards that are highly secure and more tamper-resistant than the ones currently in use.

The new green card designs demonstrate immigration’s commitment to continue taking a proactive approach against the threat of document tampering and fraud. They are also part of an ongoing effort between USCIS, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enhance document security and deter counterfeiting and fraud.

The Redesigned Cards

The new Green Cards and EADs will:

  • Display the individual’s photos on both sides;
  • Show a unique graphic image and color palette:
    • Green Cards will have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominately green palette;
    • EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a predominately red palette;
  • Have embedded holographic images; and
  • No longer display the individual’s signature.

Also, Green Cards will no longer have an optical stripe on the back. (more…)

Immigrants Facing Deportation in NY will have Access to Free Counsel

Undocumented immigrants in New York who can’t afford a lawyer and are facing deportation will soon have access to free legal counsel.  The New York governor’s office said last week that it is allocating $10 million in its fiscal 2018 budget toward creating a legal defense fund “to ensure all immigrants, regardless of residency status, have access to representation.”

 Unlike U.S. citizens, undocumented immigrants facing deportation don’t have the right to free legal counsel.

Called the Liberty Defense Project, the funding is part of a public-private partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Ford Foundation. So far, the non-profit organizations have contributed $1.5 million, making the total funds available $11.5 million. (more…)