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Discussion Points for Punto Legal –January 22, 2020

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1. Should I go back to Mexico to renew my visa?

I had an interesting conversation this week with a woman who was determined to renew her tourist visa, even though she had overstayed her visa for 8 years! Her first name was Karina. Karina got a tourist visa in 2010. She came to the U.S. in 2012 and stayed. She got married and had two U.S.-born kids. She was very anxious to go back to Mexico and try to renew her tourist visa for another 10 years. I had a hard time convincing her it was a bad idea. Here’s why it was bad idea.

First, a tourist visa does not give you a right to enter the United States. It only gives you the right to go to a port of entry and ask Customs and Border Protection to enter as a tourist. If they let you in, Customs and Border Protection tells you how long you can stay in the U.S.-normally 6 months. After six months, you are a visa overstay and you are accumulating unlawful presence. Second, if you live in the U.S. but go back to Mexico to apply to renew your visa, you have to lie to get a new visa. In other words, you have to tell the consular officers that you live in Mexico, when you actually live in the U.S. It is very easy for U.S. officers to use commercial data bases to find out you are living in the U.S. Third, if you go back to Mexico to renew your tourist visa, you are triggering a 10-year bar to entry to the U.S. This happens when you depart the U.S. with one or more years of unlawful presence in the U.S. Fourth, if you go back to Mexico to renew your visa and don’t return within 90 days, you interrupt the continuous presence you need to be eligible for cancellation of removal if you are ever put in immigration court. Finally, let’s say you go back to Mexico and actually renew your tourist visa. You come back to the U.S. Your tourist visa provides no protection after your permit expires.

2. February Visa Bulletin.

We have talked about the visa bulletin for a while. The February 2020 visa bulletin is out. The category of spouses and children of residents from Mexico is current. That means there is no wait list. The cut-off date for brothers and sisters of citizens from Mexico is way back; it is 15 January 1998. In other words, the Government is granting green cards to brothers and sisters of citizens from Mexico provided the U.S. brother or sister applied at least one day before 15 January 1998.

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.

4. 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.