Who is Exempt from the new public charge rules?

Who is exempt from the new “Public Charge” Rules?

Are you worried about the new public charge rules?

Please don’t worry!

We will be providing plenty of information during the next few weeks to help you understand the new rules and how you can overcome them.

First, we want to discuss who is NOT affected by the new rules. If you have any of the following types of cases, the new public charge rules DO NOT apply to you:

1) Refugees, asylum applicants, and anyone applying for residency as a refugee or asylee;
2) Cubans who are applying for residency after one year in the USA;
3) Special Immigrant Juveniles;
4) DACA and TPS applicants;
5) U Visas, T Visas, and anyone applying for residency after having a U or T visa;
6) Anyone applying for residency under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA);
7) Anyone applying for Cancellation of Removal;
8) Anyone who is already a lawful permanent resident (so long as you don’t leave the USA for longer than six months);

In other words, for these types of immigrants, using public benefits does not count against you. (There are other exempt case types, too, such as for Iraqi and Afghani interpreters, but those listed here are the most common for our clients.)

Also, receipt of WIC and CHIP will NOT count as “public benefits” for ANYONE under the new public charge rules, and benefits for U.S. citizen children do not count against you. If you have used WIC or CHIP for yourself and/or your children, do not worry! This does not mean that your case will be disapproved.

Even under these new rules, if you can show that you and your family work hard (as almost 100% of our clients can), then we feel very hopeful that the new public charge rules will not keep you from achieving your goal of having lawful status in the United States.

Next week: We’ll send information about steps you can take to improve your financial status for immigration purposes.

In the meantime, if you have questions about how the new rules affect you and your case, please call us at (512) 633-1785, find us on Facebook, or email us at [email protected].

 

Live in Central Texas? Apply for naturalization NOW to vote in 2020!

In the fall of 2019, we began to see processing times for naturalization applications in San Antonio drop dramatically. Recently, those applications have been filed, processed, and approved within 6 months – and some in as few as four months! If this continues, then eligible applicants could  apply in January and February of this year and have their citizenship in time to register and vote in the 2020 elections!

To be eligible for naturalization, you must: 1) Have been a Lawful Permanent Resident for five years (or three years if you’re married to a U.S. citizen); 2) Have been in the United States for at least half the time you have been a resident; 3) speak, read, and write English (unless you’re over 50 and have been a resident for at least 15 years – or qualify for another type of exception); 4) learn U.S. history, civics, and government; and 5) be a person of good moral character.

If you need an assessment of your eligibility for citizenship, please call us at (512) 633-1785 or email us at [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help you. We want all of our clients to become U.S. citizens and VOTE!

This is how we change our government in 2020

Welcome to 2020! We hope your holidays were peaceful and full of the love of family and friends.

We at WGV are truly thrilled to welcome the new year. This year holds huge promise for our clients, our country, and our values, but ONLY if we all work together to make a change in our government in the November elections. This is a fact: in the United States, the number of people who don’t vote is much larger than the number who do. This means that, if everyone who is eligible to vote actually does vote, our government – and our country – will look much different.

Please understand: We at WGV are not interested in petty partisanship or political bickering. Rather, we want to see a government – regardless of party – that promotes just, fair, and humane policies for citizens and immigrants alike. We want a government that serves us rather than exploits, jails, and deports us. The current administration has used our clients’ suffering as a tool for their own political and personal gain. This is unacceptable to us, and we will do everything we can to ensure that the November elections put people in power who have integrity, compassion, and courage with respect to our country’s immigration policies.

To that end, we will be working hard in the coming months to make sure that every U.S. citizen we know is properly registered to vote. Our receptionist, Cristina Arellano, will become a Deputy Voter Registrar this month, so she will be able to assist any and all of our U.S. citizen clients with voter registration – right at our front desk. If you are a U.S. citizen and you need to register to vote or check your voter registration, please email Cristina so that she can contact you when it’s time to complete the process. Please note that if you have moved or changed addresses, you need to register again at your new address!

We are committed to working every day this year toward a more just and humane United States. Will you join us?

Forget “Freedom of Speech”! Be careful with your social media posts!

Many people have a poor understanding of what is meant by “freedom of speech” in the United States. There are many legal limitations that apply to “freedom of speech” and this is especially true for non-citizens. Therefore, if you have an immigration case, please know that the government will be scouring your social media pages, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, What’sApp, and many others. PLEASE do not post anything online that could put your case at risk, such as comments about drugs, crime, or violence, or even jokes that could be seen as degrading toward any group such as women, members of a particular religion, or minorities. And for heaven’s sake, DO NOT post pictures of yourself engaging in illegal activity! After you become a citizen, you can exercise freedom of speech more fully, but until then, please follow the “Grandma Rule”* with your social media activity (*if your grandmother would like it, it’s probably o.k.)!

If you need more information or are concerned about your social media presence, email us or call us at 512-633-1785 to make an appointment.

WGVs Best Advice for Immigrants in 2018: Leave your foreign ID at home!

As the Trump Administration has made good during the past year on its promise to pursue mass deportations of immigrants – both documented and undocumented, we have been forced to become more creative in our strategies for protecting our clients.

Consequently, as strange as it may sound, WGV is now advising all clients NOT to carry ANY form of foreign identification which may identify you as the citizen of any country besides the USA. This includes passports, consular IDs, voter registration cards, driver’s licenses, or any other document issued by a foreign, non-USA government or agency.

The reasoning for this advice is as follows:

  1. A foreign identification does not provide you any legal benefit or protection – it does not authorize you to live, work, or drive in the United States;
  2. If you are detained by police or immigration, you must state your name, your date of birth, and your address. If you are in possession of an identification document of any sort, you will be asked to show it and it may be confiscated from you;
  3. If you give the police or DHS agents a foreign identification document, you are admitting that you are a citizen of a foreign country;
  4. If you do NOT give the police or DHS any identification, and you do not say that you are from a foreign country, then DHS cannot prove you are from a foreign country;
  5. If DHS cannot prove that you are not a citizen of the United States, then they cannot deport you.

Therefore: If you are detained by police or immigration agents, state your name, age, and address, and in response to any further questions, simply state, “I would like to speak to my attorney.” The only way to avoid showing a foreign ID in this circumstance is to not have it on your person or in your car.

Even without a foreign ID document, you may still be detained by DHS.

Leaving your foreign identification at home does not guarantee that you will not be arrested, detained or even deported. Especially if you are arrested for a criminal offense, the likelihood that you will be detained by immigration is very high. However, if you do not give a foreign ID to police when you are arrested, then they cannot pass it to DHS. This will put you in the best possible position to be successfully defended by your immigration attorney when the time comes.

Conclusion: LEAVE YOUR FOREIGN ID AT HOME!

If you have questions or would like additional information, call us at 512-633-1785 and schedule a consultation.


 

Planning to Travel Internationally? We suggest you leave your electronics at home

International travel and customs regulationsSmart phones. Tablets. Laptops. It’s hard to imagine life without them anymore. However, if you’re about to travel across an international border, you should know that your devices will likely be subject to searches by Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Whether you’re a U.S. citizen or not, your electronics are not anonymous safe-havens for your personal information. The Department of Homeland Security has recently expanded searches of electronic devices and other personal belongings for anyone – citizen or non-citizen – trying to enter the United States.

Can I refuse to allow DHS to search my belongings?

The sad reality is that even United States citizens have almost no right to refuse searches by CBP upon entry to the United States. Citizens, however, cannot ultimately be denied entry to the U.S., while any noncitizen may be at risk of being turned away or even detained if she refuses to allow a search of her personal effects, including electronic devices.

The law generally allows DHS to conduct searches of travelers’ personal effects if there is a reasonable cause to suspect inadmissibility. While CBP directives regarding searches of electronic devices date back to at least 2009, CBP has notably ramped up its searches of personal devices since the beginning of the year. By some accounts, such searches are reaching unprecedented levels, surpassing in one month the total number of searches conducted in previous years. Horror stories about CBP searches of smartphones and laptops have flooded the news. Even U.S. citizens have not been immune to these invasive searches of personal data.

How can I protect my personal information?

DHS has clarified that for U.S. citizens searches of devices will be limited to the information “physically resident” on the device. Searches of social media, “cloud” information, or any other data that is maintained by a third-party server will not be permitted without a warrant. While this clarification is small comfort, it does provide a blueprint for U.S. citizens on how to safeguard information from invasive searches at the border: Save it in the cloud and be certain when travelling that private information is cleared from your devices.

Non-citizens are of course far more vulnerable. They may be denied entry for refusing to cooperate with a search. Even lawful permanent residents may be subject to arrest and detention. The current administration has even announced the inclusion of social media handles as part of a non-citizen’s alien file. See Notice of Modified Privacy Act System of Records, 82 Fed. Reg. 43556 (Sept. 18, 2017). The administration has hinted that, for non-citizens, they may search all social media accounts, files, and records, whether “physically resident” on the device or not.

Thus, the best advice for citizens and non-citizens alike is to leave devices at home, and keep any sensitive information in the cloud or on an external hard drive that you do not take with you.

Consider purchasing a temporary flip phone for use on trips. Arrange for use of a computer at your destination so that you do not have it with you when crossing the border. Buy an old-fashioned book or magazine and leave that tablet behind. If you must travel with a computer or other device, transfer all sensitive information to the cloud or an external hard drive and disconnect it before you leave. Oh, and remove all your social media apps. Your Facebook friends will be there when you get back.

For questions or additional information about protecting your rights at the border, contact our office at 512-633-1785 or [email protected].

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