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Discussion Points for Punto Legal –April 17, 2019

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1. Ted Hess & Associates.

We have had a change at Ted Hess & Associates. Immigration attorney Fred Hartman has moved on. He has been replaced by Sam Crary. Sam speaks Spanish; has 7 years of criminal trial experience; and will handle our immigration court cases. Kristin Bohman and I remain the firm. Together we have 20 years of immigration law experience. Kristin, who also speaks Spanish, is overseeing the process of fixing papers, U visas, and waivers. We also have 5 Spanish-speaking legal assistants who a combined total of 20 years of immigration experience. We try hard to be the "go-to" law firm for the Latino community for fixing your papers, waivers, and U visas. We also try to be affordable by offering installment payment plans. If you have the opportunity to fix your papers, we want your business.

2. May Visa Bulletin.

The May 2019 visa bulletin is out. The cut-off date for spouses and children of residents from Mexico is 1 May 2017; last month it was 15 Feb 2017. The cut-off date for brothers and sisters of citizens from Mexico is 8 Feb 1998; it has not moved for several months.

3. I-751’s and I-751 Waivers.

I have met two men in the past month who have had been put in deportation proceedings because they did not file to remove the two-year condition on their permanent resident cards. Both men had married citizens, but they had not been married to the citizen for two years when their green card was issued. Therefore, they got a conditional, two-year green card. This means they had to file a joint petition with their spouse to remove the condition and get a 10-year green card. In both cases, the marriage fell apart, and they did nothing at the two year point. What happens then? If you don’t do anything, the immigration service will terminate your permanent residence status and put you in immigration court. Sounds like that would be the end of permanent residence status, right? But, no. You can pursue a waiver. You pursue a waiver and keep your permanent residence if you can show one of the following things:

· The marriage was entered into in good faith, but the marriage was terminated by divorce.

· The marriage was entered into in good faith, but your spouse was extremely cruel to you.

· The termination of your permanent residence would result in an extreme hardship to you.

4. I-693.

I had a question this week about the immigration medical exam for an immigrant fixing his papers in the U.S. He had received a letter from the USCIS telling him he had not submitted a medical exam with his applications and would have to do submit a medical exam at some point in the future.

Almost all applicants for adjustment of status must submit a medical exam at some point in the immigration process. The primary purpose of the exam is to screen immigrants for TB and sexually-transmitted diseases. It also requires that you get certain vaccinations up to date. The medical exam is now valid for 2 years. Now you have three options for submitted the medical exam. First, you can send it in with your application to fix your papers. Second, you can take it to the interview and give it to the interview officer. Or, you can submit it after the interview when you get a request for evidence.

5. Adam Walsh Act.

When I talk to people who want to become permanent residents, I ask them about their criminal history because certain crimes can require waivers or prevent you from immigrating. Sometimes the U.S. relative who is petitioning for his spouse or children wants to know if his criminal history is relevant to the process. I tell them that we have fixed papers even where a citizen -petitioner was in prison. But there is one exception to this rule. A law entitled the Adam Walsh Act, which was passed in 2006. It imposes immigration penalties on U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are convicted of certain crimes against minors. A U.S. citizen who is convicted of a "specified offense against a minor" may be prevented from filing a visa petition on behalf of a close family member. The law provides an exception only if the immigration service makes a discretionary decision that the citizen or permanent resident petitioner does not pose a risk to the petitioned relative despite the conviction. Here is an example: Hector is a U.S. citizen who pled guilty in 2005 to soliciting a 17-year-old girl to engage in sexual conduct. In 2017 he submits a visa petition on behalf of his immigrant wife. Immigration authorities will run a background check on his name to discover the prior conviction. His visa petition will be denied, unless he is able to obtain a waiver based on proving that he is not a danger to his wife. "Specified offense against a minor" includes offenses that are not extremely serious, such as false imprisonment. It is defined as an offense against a victim who has not attained the age of 18 years, which involves any kind of sexual activity with a child.