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Discussion Points for Punto Legal –December 11, 2019

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1. Tips for New Year.

Number 1. If you can fix you papers in the United States, that is, adjust your status to lawful permanent resident, do it quickly. You may be able to beat the $1000 fee increase and probability that the “public charge” rule will come into effect. Number 2. If you have DACA, renew your DACA for another two years to stay ahead of a Supreme Court decision allowing President Trump to end DACA. If you have El Salvador TPS and a citizen spouse or 21-year-old child, travel to El Salvador with an advance travel permit so that you can fix your papers in the United States.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit removed the hold on the public charge rule today. This means we are one step closer to the public charge rule. If you can adjust your status, I suggest you move quickly beat the new rule.

2. Developments with the Immigration Fraud Bar.

The Immigration and Nationality Act has a bar for fraud. It reads: Any alien who, by fraud or willfully misrepresenting a material fact, seeks to procure (or has sought to procure or has procured) . . . admission into the United States . . . is inadmissible. I have recently had to deal with a several cases involving what immigration authorities consider to be fraud. You should know about these examples.

Here is the first example: Alma comes to the U.S. with a tourist visa in 1997. She starts working in hotels in Vail. She gets married and has two children in the U.S. Her kids go to Eagle County schools. She has unquestionably established a permanent residence in the U.S. Her employer decides it wants to use a temporary worker program, H-2B. The employer arranges for Alma to go back to Mexico and sign a visa application to back to U.S. as a temporary worker. Is that immigration fraud? The immigration authorities say yes. It is immigration fraud. Alma had to list a Mexican address for her residence and pretend that she lived in Mexico. Otherwise, she could not have returned with a temporary work visa. If Alma now wants to get a green card through her 21-year-old daughter, she may be hit with a fraud bar. But since she does not have a U.S. spouse or parents, she cannot get a waiver.

Here’s another example of potential immigration fraud: Jaime is a U.S. citizen. His girlfriend, Veronica, lives in Mexico. They want to get married. Veronica gets a tourist visa from the nearest U.S. consulate. It has a 6-month authorized period of stay. Veronica comes to the U.S. 11 days later Jaime and Veronica get married. They go to their immigration interview. “Immigration” finds Veronica committed immigration fraud. Why? Because of a new, unwritten 90 day rule. The 90 day rule says if you do something inconsistent with your tourist status, you have committed immigration fraud. Now Veronica needs to get an expensive waiver. If she had come to a good immigration lawyer shortly after the marriage, he would have advised Veronica to go back to Mexico and immigrate from there. Then there would be no fraud bar.

3. New Spanish-speaking criminal defense lawyer.

We have a new Spanish-speaking criminal defense abogado. His name is Brian Roche. Brian is fluent in Spanish. He has seen a lot of criminal cases as a public defender in Denver. And he served as prosecutor in Eagle County. Working as a prosecutor actually makes you a better defense lawyer. Now you can hire a lawyer who is ready to defend you and explain everything to you in Spanish.