Applying for a Green Card? Read this First

Immigrant green cards

The effect of the new Public Charge Rule is to deny the green card and visa applications of those immigrants who the government believes won’t be able to support themselves and their families. The new rule implements several changes to applications for green cards and visas, whether individuals are applying from within or outside of the U.S.

What the New Public Charge Rule Means for Green Card Applicants

The public charge rule enables the U.S. government to reject green cards and other types of immigrant applications to individuals who the government suspects will be unable to financially support themselves.

The new rule took effect on February 24, which means that immigrants now need to meet a more strict set of criteria that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will review. Specifically, immigration officers will determine if green card applicants are capable of supporting themselves and their families based on the results of a 20-factor test.

The government initially announced the new rule in August. Despite the fact that courts all over the country contested the rule, with five federal judges doing what they could to block the rule’s implementation, the rule has since come into effect. Subsequently, it’s important for green card applicants to understand what immigration officers will look for when submitting their applications.

Factors Included in the New 20-Factor Test

The 20 factors that the DHS will take into account when reviewing green card and visa applications will assess the applicant’s health condition, employment status, education, job skills, insurance, credit, age, and family size, among several other factors that immigration officers will consider when approving or denying applications.

Certain “negative factors” could lead immigration officers to deny green card applications. Some of these negative factors may include being either too young or too old, having certain medical conditions, having a large family, income levels below 1.25 times the poverty line, financial liabilities such as car loans and mortgages, being unemployed, and having a poor educational background, among others.

Meanwhile, there are other “positive factors” that could also influence immigration officers’ decision to approve or deny applications. These factors can include being insured, earning income above 2.5 times the poverty line, having a good credit history, having a good employment history and an existing job, and being highly educated.

Here’s How to Avoid Immigration Scams

Computer scam

Immigration law can be complex and difficult for many to understand, which is why there are many attempts to scam immigrants amid the confusion. In many cases, these self-proclaimed “immigration consultants” do what they can to manipulate immigrants into paying them for illegitimate services.

Thankfully, there are ways for immigrants to recognize scammers and avoid potential scams when going through the immigration process. The most important step for immigrants to take when trying to navigate the immigration process is to consult with qualified immigration attorneys who will be able to provide reliable representation.

How to Identify and Avoid Scammers During the Immigration Process

When immigrating to the U.S., there are certain clear signs that a scammer may be attempting to lure an immigrant and his or her family into a scam. These signs include:

1. Guarantees

It’s impossible for any professional to make a guarantee that they will secure a favorable outcome in an immigration case for immigrants. Even experienced and reputable immigration lawyers can’t make any guarantees. So, if a business such as an immigration consultancy advertises a “guarantee” of any kind, it’s important to turn elsewhere for more trustworthy services.

2. Bribes or “Hook Ups”

Another sign to look for is a potential “hook up,” which is a kind of bribe that a scammer may try to convince an immigrant to pay to manipulate the immigration system. However, while the U.S. immigration system isn’t perfect, it’s impossible to bribe the system and attempting at manipulation can lead to serious consequences.

3. Make Sure All Documents Are Signed by All Parties Involved

Immigration requires the completion of paperwork, all of which will be in English, including any forms, applications, or petitions that the immigrant will need to sign. Documents can be complex, and many immigrants don’t speak English as their native language, which means that it’s important to make sure that the third party providing the paperwork includes a signature along with a clearly printed name. If a consultant asks his or her client to seek any fake documents or if the consultant is providing all documents, it may be best to look for another professional to provide assistance with the immigration process.

Looking for these signs can help avoid potential scams and minimize the possibility of serious issues during the immigration process. It’s always best to research any immigration consultants or attorneys to determine if they’re legitimate before turning to them.

Final Order of Removal? Here’s What Immigrants Should Do

Business man thinking about immigration questions

After a final Order of Removal, immigrants and their families may be unsure about what to do. There are certain steps to take to avoid complications. The following steps are particularly important to know as aggressive enforcement continues to take place all over the U.S.

What Exactly Is a Final Order of Removal?

At the end of proceedings under section 240 of the Immigration & Nationality Act, an immigration judge’s Order of Removal will be finalized if:

  • The Board of Immigration Appeals dismisses an appeal;
  • The respondent waives an appeal;
  • The time allotted for an appeal expires before the respondent files an appeal;
  • The order is certified to the Attorney General or the Board on the date of the removal decision;
  • An immigration judge orders individuals removed in their absence;
  • An immigration judge decides to issue an alternate order of removal that also pertains to a grant of voluntary departure, if the individual remains in the country beyond the voluntary departure period or fails to post a voluntary departure bond amount within five business days.

Unless the order is final based on these circumstances, ICE is not permitted to enforce an Order of Removal, with the exception of expedited removal orders that may occur in close proximity to or at U.S. borders.

How the Appeal Window Can Impact a Final Order of Removal

If an individual reserved his or her right to appeal at the conclusion of the removal hearing, a 30-day “stay” will automatically apply to the Order of Removal, which gives people some time to file their Notice of Appeal. With the Notice of Appeal in place, ICE won’t be allowed to remove the individual. If not detained, it’s important to notify the Immigration Court of any change of address, and if there’s any failure to file a Notice of Appeal within the 30-day window, the Order of Removal will be finalized.

If individuals fail to reserve their right to appeal their immigration cases, the Order of Removal will become final on the date of entry by the Immigration Judge. In these cases, ICE could put the person into custody immediately following the hearing. This potential outcome makes it crucial to reserve the right to appeal, even if the individual doesn’t intend to appeal, as it will give him or her some more time to prepare before deportation takes place.

Following the Finalization of an Order of Removal

If an Order of Removal for someone becomes final, ICE will be directed to deport the person within 90 days. However, because of other priorities in place and a limited number of resources available to the agency, the deportation process can take much longer. Unless an individual receives direct notification from ICE, he or she isn’t required to take any action until ICE initiates the removal process.

For individuals who aren’t detained and put in ICE custody, the agency will send a “Bag and Baggage” letter, also known as Form I-166, which demands recipients to report to their local ICE facility at a specified time and date. When visiting the facility, individuals will be required to bring travel documents such as passports and others, and they will be permitted to keep one small piece of luggage to be used to contain their belongings during deportation.

Reporting for Removal in Immigration Cases

When required, individuals will need to report as directed with all documentation and luggage. ICE will then take the individual into custody or detain them until deportation takes place. In many cases involving countries with a large number of deportees, the process will be quick as mass deportation occurs on a weekly basis. For other countries that haven’t established diplomatic relations with the U.S. government, the process could be delayed.

If there is a delay either because of a country’s lack of diplomacy with the U.S. or another issue preventing expedited deportation, it’s important to speak with an immigration attorney for removal defense to help prevent ICE from extending the detention period.

Self-deportation is another option to prevent ICE from detaining an individual if an Order of Removal is finalized. If an immigrant chooses to leave of their own volition, they will be considered “deported.”

To learn more about what to do in the event of the finalization of an Order of Removal, it’s best to seek professional legal advice on how to proceed. Taking the right steps will help avoid any potential issues and detention during the removal process.

This Is Who Chicago Immigrants Really Are

immigrants avatar

Illinois, including Chicago, has seen an increasing number of immigrants, many of whom come from Mexico. Immigrants are now engrained in communities all over the state. In fact, one in seven Illinois citizens is an immigrant, while immigrants make up over 20 percent of business owners operating businesses in the Chicago metropolitan area.

Immigrants Are Integral in Illinois

According to stats gathered by the American Immigration Council, around one in seven residents in Illinois is an immigrant. One in eight residents is a native-born citizen in the U.S. with at least one parent who is an immigrant.

In 2015, 14.2 percent of the population was composed of 1.8 million immigrants, and Illinois alone was the home of immigrants composed of 863,196 men, 870,770 women, and 92,190 children. That same year, a majority of immigrants came from Mexico, India, Poland, the Philippines, and China.

By 2016, around 1.6 million people were native-born citizens with at least one parent who was an immigrant.

Almost Half of Illinois Immigrants are Naturalized with Varying Educations

In 2015, around 880,242 immigrants, or 48.2 percent, had become naturalized citizens, while another 326,135 immigrants qualified for naturalization that year, with around 73.2 percent of immigrants reported having spoken English either “well” or “very well.”

When it came to education in 2015, almost one in three immigrant adults had obtained either a college degree or pursued higher education, while one in four hadn’t obtained a high school diploma.

Undocumented Immigrants and DACA Recipients in Illinois

In 2014, around 24 percent of the immigrant population in 2015 was composed of 450,000 undocumented immigrants, which translates to around 3.5 percent of the total population in Illinois.

Another 817,066 residents in Illinois, including 343,532 of those native to the U.S., had at least one family member who was undocumented from 2010 to 2014.

In 2016, around 73 percent of immigrants eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) had applied for the program. Another 18,000 citizens in Illinois met all DACA requirements with the exception of educational requirements, and another 9,000 would become eligible once they reached a certain age.

Immigrant Workers

Around one in every six workers in the state is an immigrant, consisting of 1.2 million immigrant workers in 2015, or 17.9 of the overall labor force.

Keeping these stats in mind, the numbers have increased since and will continue to increase as more immigrants call Chicago their home.

ICE Agents Will Not Get help From Chicago Police

police officer

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) won’t receive help from the Chicago Police Department (CPD) because of restrictions placed on city officers and employees. However, ICE essentially manipulated the CPD into responding to its operations in order to bring them into the detainment process.

How ICE Caused CPD to Respond

In September 2019, as ICE detained Chicagoans following multiple immigration operations, ICE officers “tricked” the CPD into responding to its requests for backup.

The Chicago Welcoming City ordinance strictly prohibits police officers and other city employees from questioning citizens’ immigration statuses or notifying federal agents of undocumented immigrants. Regardless, ICE took steps to encourage CPD to violate that ordinance.

City officials, including Ald. Raymond Lopez, attacked ICE, specifically claiming that federal officers made a phone call to 911 to request backup during an immigration stop that took place in Back of the Yards, which led to CPD officers responding to the scene.

Regarding the incident, Lopez stated, “This was a bait call to get CPD out there … Unfortunately, CPD was manipulated by ICE.”

According to Mayor Lori Lightfoot, ICE agents’ call while serving a warrant gave the impression that they were in distress, causing the CPD officers to respond against protocol. The department’s First Deputy Sup. Anthony Riccio stated that officers left the scene once they became aware that the ICE agents weren’t in distress.

CPD’s Role in ICE Operations

Following the incident, Lightfoot stated that there would be efforts to “tighten the protocols to make sure that if there is a call that comes saying ‘Homeland Security’ that there are more questions asked before anyone is dispatched.”

The mayor also ordered Chicago officials to place more restrictions on the rules regarding when Chicago law enforcement officials are permitted to assist Department of Homeland Security agents in their efforts to enforce federal immigration law. Additional training or a new set of rules would also be developed in response to the incident.

Ultimately, these changes will help ensure that CPD remains uninvolved in ICE agent operations.

Remaining Silent During ICE Investigations

Erendira Rendon, the vice president of immigration advocacy at the Resurrection Project located in Back of the Yards and Pilsen, recommended that residents remain silent when facing ICE agents. Remaining silent can help prevent an arrest or, even if an arrest takes place, assist residents’ attorneys when building their case.