Houses of Worship Become Sanctuaries for Some Illegal Immigrants

Anti-Trump Attitudes Increase on the Immigration Front

The New York Times is alerting us that houses of worship might just become the last line of defense in the new Trump era to come. As stated all throughout his presidential campaign, now President-elect Donald J. Trump has been envisioning a whole host of immigration measures aimed at making immigrants with uncertain status in the US subjects to deportation.

The New York times presents the moving case of Javier Flores Garcia, who has been put on notice for deportation. As he describes it, “my only crime is coming back” (crossing the border illegally from Mexico after having been deported nine times). Mr. Flores has a wife and three children that would face undue hardship if he leaves. He has found shelter in a Philadelphia downtown church. Its pastor, Rev. Rev. Robin Hynicka, explains his community’s gesture this way: “Jesus said we are to provide hospitality to the stranger.”

The article mentions that throughout the US, there are presently 450 houses of worship that offer sanctuary to people such as Mr. Flores.

To read the entire article, CLICK HERE.

Due Process and the Cuban Adjustment Act

Citizenship and the Trump Administration – “Time to File”

By Leslie I. Snyder and Lee H. Snyder

President Elect Donald Trump’s campaign rhetoric opposing most immigration and the relatively “simple” qualifying test (“wet foot dry foot” on US ground, etc.) should compel Cubans to file their applications for residence in the United States.

Potential applicants may include long term residents, individuals with previously denied cases, and those who entered the U.S. recently; extending not only those individuals who were born in Cuba, but also those who are married to Cuban nationals, are children of a Cuban parent, or even those have been arrested and convicted; in every effort to take advantage of the favorable laws currently in effect for Cuban nationals and current avenues of procedural due process through the administrative bodies and courts of the U.S.

The Trump Administration could decide to immediately repeal the “Cuban Adjustment Act”. Once the Act is repealed, either by Executive Order or otherwise, Cubans will no longer have the option to file for residence under this provision, and they could even face deportation and removal from the United States. Also, the immigration filing fees for all applications are scheduled to increase in less than one month — on December 23, 2016.  For example, currently an application for Cuban Adjustment on Form I-485 (official government website found at costs $ 1070 to file including the employment authorization document fees. After the fee increase, the filing costs for this application will be  $ 1,225.

The first step to becoming a U.S. citizen is to file for and become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.  In general, most residents other than Cuban nationals must wait 57 months to file for naturalization, after which time processing could take about 6 months for an interview. On the other hand, since the Cuban Adjustment Act was enacted, Cubans have had the added advantage of the “rollback provision” which has allowed Cuban residence to receive ‘roll back treatment” providing an accelerated path  to citizenship, as their effective date of “adjustment” to permanent residence can be deemed to be the day that they first arrived or were paroled into the U.S.  under Section 1 of the Cuban Adjustment Act, 80 Stat. at 1161, which provides, in pertinent part, as follows:

The status of any alien who is a native or citizen of Cuba and who has been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States subsequent to January 1, 1959 and has been physically present in the United States for two years, may be adjusted by the Attorney General, in his discretion and under such regulations as he may prescribe, to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if the alien makes an application for such adjustment, and the alien is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the United States for permanent residence. Upon approval of such an application for adjustment of status, the Attorney General shall create a record of the alien’s admission for permanent residence as of a date thirty months prior to the filing of such an application or the date of his last arrival into the United States, which ever date is later.

See Matter of Raul Carillo, 25 I&N Dec. 99 (BIA 2009) Interim Decision #3658

Lawful permanent residents under this provision of law can apply for citizenship under the “rollback” provision, as it is likely that this  avenue of lawful immigration for Cubans could be terminated by the new administration. Pursuant to the Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act of November 2, 1966, Pub. L. No. 89-732, 80 Stat. 1161 (“Cuban Adjustment Act”). The Cuban Adjustment Act (CAA), Public Law 89-732, is a United States federal law enacted on November 2, 1966. Passed by the 89th United States Congress and signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, the law applies to any native or citizen of Cuba who has been inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States after January 1, 1959 and has been physically present for at least one year; and is admissible to the United States as a permanent resident.

Will Cubans be stripped of due process by the new administration of the U.S.?  Only time will tell. In the meantime, time may be of the essence.

Beware of Immigration Scams!

When applying online for ANY immigration matter, you should always make sure that your application is being filled out at the official USCIS web site. There are more and more web sites purporting that they conduct legitimate immigration business, but a lot of them only mimic the USCIS pages, in order to coax users into believing they are paying the fees needed for their application, when in fact, they will pay the scammer and never have an application filed in the first place.
The only legitimate web address to e-file your immigration petition (highlighted in blue)

The only legitimate web address to e-file your immigration petition (highlighted in blue)

Avoid being a victim of this type of fraud by always checking the address of the web site where you are filing the application. Study the picture posted here with great attention. To date, this is the address (URL) where the online form filing with USCIS (eFile) is conducted. As a rule of thumb, do not attempt to file anything online without consulting with your attorney first!

US Citizenship Explained

US Citizenship, American Flag

United States of America. Citizenship is conferred upon swearing allegiance to the flag.

The first step to acquiring United States Citizenship and a U.S. Passport is usually acquiring lawful permanent residence in the U.S., through family, employment, or refugee petition or through the Immigration DV Lottery. In order to apply for a U.S. passport, you must first be a citizen, either by birth, application or as a matter of law.

Naturalization is the process that the U.S. confers citizenship upon a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:

  • A period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States;
  • Residence in a particular USCIS District prior to filing;
  • An ability to read, write, and speak English;
  • Knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government;
  • Good moral character;
  • Attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution;
  • Favorable disposition toward the United States;
  • An ability to pass the examination which is conducted in person at a U.S. Citizenship interview.

The other naturalization requirements may be modified or waived for certain applicants, such as spouses of U.S. citizens, members of the military, adoptive and natural children, ministers, and certain other individuals.

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3 Steps for Preparing an Approvable Immigration Waiver

There are 3 steps involved in preparing an approvable immigration waiver:

Immigration waiver application

Prepare your immigration waiver carefully.

  1. You must first have a valid visa application or immigrant petition that is approved or approvable.  If filing a provisional waiver, you must first pay the entire immigrant visa fees prior to filing the waiver.
  2. If a waiver is requested prior to the denial of an application, you must look carefully at the reason for the ground of inadmissibility, which you are charged with.   You may attack this on its face. as in some cases, this charge should never have been  filed.
  3. You must file the relevant application (usually Forms I-601, I-601A Provisional Waiver or I-212) with a brief in support of the application explaining in a very detailed way all of the relevant reasons that your waiver should be ranted, including the effect that separation from your U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident family member would have on him or her, and also the effect on your U.S. Citizen or lawful permanent resident family member should he or she be forced to travel with you and live in your home country for 3 to 10 years, or more.

Read also: The Top 5 Reasons You May Need an Immigration Waiver for Your Case

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The Top 5 Reasons You May Need an Immigration Waiver for Your Case

approveWhen Visas and Waivers Mix

There are many reasons why an immigrant visa applicant might need a waiver in order for his or her visa or petition to be successfully presented and approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of State, or Customs and Border Protection.   The top 5 reasons to need an immigration waiver for your case, are as follows:

  1. You have overstayed your visa in the United States for more than six months recently or in the past, and you have unknowingly or knowingly triggered the bar to reenter the U.S.  by departing and traveling abroad. This means you will not be able to reenter the U.S. for 3 years or more unless you obtain a waiver.
  2. You have overstayed your visa in the United States for more than one year, and you have unknowingly or knowingly triggered the bar to reenter the U.S.  by departing and traveling abroad. This means that you will not be able to reenter the U.S. for 10 years or more unless you obtain a waiver.
  3. You have entered the U.S. illegally without a visa at all, and then departed the U.S., and triggered bar to reentry, or you have married a United States Citizen and wish to become a lawful permanent resident through that marriage and to apply while living in the United States for a provisional waiver stateside.
  4. You have committed fraud or a crime and now seek to become a lawful permanent resident through a family or business petition on your behalf.
  5. You have been deported or excluded from the U.S. and seek to renter or to obtain your residence in the U.S.

Get Help with Your Immigration Waiver

It is very important that you consult counsel to provide you with a detailed preliminary analysis of your case prior to filing any applications with the government.  The filing of a waiver is a multi-step process fraught with potential pitfalls.    Any filing with immigration could have serious consequences, and it is important to remember that even if you have a valid family or business relationship, any application can be denied by the government, especially in the examples noted above, as a visa is viewed as a privilege, not a right.

Most cases involving immigration decision -making involve tremendous discretion. This means that the examiner or officer looking at your case has a lot of authority but he or she must also follow the guidance of the immigration laws, regulations, and operations instructions and an attorney in most cases can represent you.

Sometimes the reason for the denial can be overcome by submitting additional evidence, writing a good brief (or letter) supported by factual evidence that overcomes the reasons for denial, or filing a waiver. A waiver can be defined as a discretionary pardon or forgiveness for an immigration or criminal violation.

Read also: 3 Steps for Preparing an Approvable Immigration Waiver

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Political Asylum in the United States of America

Political Asylum and Relief under the Convention Against Torture

Asylum is a form of protection granted to individuals in the United States who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. Individuals who meet this definition of a refugee and who are already in the United States or who are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry may qualify for a protective grant of asylum or safe haven and be permitted to remain in the United States as long as they are not barred from either applying for or being granted asylum. Individuals who are granted asylum are eligible to apply to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident after one year has passed

Political Asylum

Political can be a daunting effort

Unlike the U.S. Refugee Program, which governs applications made outside of the U.S. and thereby provides protection to refugees by bringing them to the United States for resettlement, the U.S. Asylum Program provides protection to qualified applicants who are already in the United States or are seeking entry into the United States at a port of entry. Asylum-seekers may apply for asylum in the United States regardless of their countries of origin and regardless of their current immigration status. There are no quotas on the number of individuals who may be granted asylum each year.

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Family Law – Help with Fiancé and Marriage Visas


Fiancé and Marriage and Visas

United States Citizens and Residents may marry and bring their respective spouses to the United States to live with them permanently.

United States Citizens may also petition for their fiancés to join them in the U.S.


Applications for fiancé or marriage visas are not automatic or absolute and require applications and evidence carefully documenting the nature and validity of the relationship, otherwise known as the “bona fides”. At Leslie Snyder, PA immigration offices, we have a long standing record of sifting to these intricacies successfully.

Immigrant Visas

Immigrant visas are immediately available for the spouse of a United States Citizen or Cuban national who is a lawful permanent resident of the United States. Applications are necessary, including the immigrant petition for alien relative and applications for adjustment of status, if the alien is currently residing in the U.S. and has entered the U.S. with a visa or visa waiver.

Fiancé Visas

Non-immigrant visas for the spouse of a U.S.Citizen (K-3) or for the fiancé of a United States Citizen (K-1) must be filed and the visa must be issued in the country where the fiancé is residing. After the visa process has been completed, and the visa is issued, the fiancé or spouse can travel to the United States, either to marry and then file the necessary applications in the case of the fiancé, or to await the processing of the immigrant visa case. Two petitions are required.

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