Immigration Court Relief – Voluntary Departure

Voluntary departure is the lowest level form of relief from removal for individuals with no other avenue of relief. The departure of an alien from the United States without an order of removal. The departure may or may not have been preceded by a hearing before an immigration judge. An alien allowed to voluntarily depart concedes removability.

The advantage of voluntary departure is that no formal removal order will be entered against the individual, which means that such a person may be able to return to the United States sooner.

The requirements for applying for voluntary departure depend on whether you apply for it before or after the master calendar hearing. 

To apply for voluntary departure before, or at the master calendar hearing, an individual must: 

  • Waive and withdraw all other requests for relief; 
  • Concede removablility from the United States; 
  • Waive appeal of all issues; and 
  • Not have been convicted of an aggravated felony and must not be a security risk.

To apply for voluntary departure at the conclusion of removal proceedings, an individual must: 

  • Show that physical presence in the United States for one (1) year prior to the date the Notice to Appear was issued; 
  • Show good moral character for five (5) years prior to application for voluntary departure; 
  • Present a valid passport or other travel document that shows lawful entry into your country; 
  • Show clear and convincing evidence of intent, and financial ability, to leave the United States; and 
  • Pay a bond not less than $500 set by the Immigration Judge. 

Diversity Visa Info

The Congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 diversity visas (DV) annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

The visas are distributed on a regional basis, with each region sending fewer immigrants to the US in the previous 5 years receiving more diversity visas.  To receive a diversity visa and immigrate to the United States, winners must meet all eligibility requirements under U.S. law to qualify, and must be interviewed before the 50,000 green cards are distributed.

DV-2018 Program: Online Registration

DV-2018 Program: Online registration for the DV-2018 Program began on Tuesday, October 4, 2016 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT-4), and concluded on Monday, November 7, 2016 at 12:00 noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT-4).

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

International Travel as an LPR

This guide is intended for green card holders who wish to travel overseas.

What documents are needed?

When traveling overseas, you should always carry the following:

1.) your valid passport;
2.) state-issued identification;
3.) country specific visa (if required). Consult with the U.S. Department of State for country specific information about entry and exit.
4.) travel permit issued by USCIS if the travel is more than 6 months.
5.) valid and unexpired permanent residency card (green card)

When do I need to acquire a travel permit?

As per the basic rule of permanent residency, travel for over 6 months may break the continuous residence requirement and a green card holder may lose their status. If a permanent resident plans to remain outside of the U.S. for more than 6 months, s/he must acquire a Re-entry permit, Form I-131, Application for Travel Document, complete with supporting documentation, photos, and applicable fees. Such a permit is valid for two years from the date of issuance.

In order to apply, an individual must be in the U.S. and have his/her biometrics done at their local USCIS service center.

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

DHS Statement on DACA Deportee

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has released a press release regarding the deportation of DACA beneficiary Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez.

After a detailed records search, it was determined that Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez was approved for DACA starting in 2014 and had a DACA expiration date of Jan. 25, 2018. However, Mr. Montes-Bojorquez lost his DACA status when he left the United States without advance parole on an unknown date prior to his arrest by the U.S. Border Patrol on Feb. 19, 2017.  According to his interview with the Border Patrol, conducted in Spanish, he entered the United States on February 19, 2017, and he acknowledged that he understood the questions that he was being asked.  Departing the country without advance parole terminates the protections Montes-Bojorquez was granted under DACA.

The U.S. Border Patrol has no record of encountering Mr. Montes-Bojorquez in the days before his detention and subsequent arrest for immigration violations on February 19, 2017.  There are no records or evidence to support Montes-Bojorquez’s claim that he was detained or taken to the Calexico Port of Entry on February 18, 2017.  Prior to his arrest by the United States Border Patrol on February 19, 2017, Montes-Bojorquez’s last documented encounter with any United States immigration law enforcement official was in August of 2010, where he was permitted to withdraw his application of admission in lieu of receiving an Expedited Removal.

During Mr. Montes-Bojorquez’s detention and arrest by the United States Border Patrol on February 19, he admitted to agents that he had illegally entered the United States and was arrested.  He later admitted the same under oath.  All of the arrest documents from February 19, 2017, bear Montes-Bojorquez’s signature.  During his arrest interview, he never mentioned that he had received DACA status.  However, even if Montes-Bojorquez had informed agents of his DACA status, he had violated the conditions of his status by breaking continuous residency in the United States by leaving and then reentering the U.S. illegally.  Montes-Bojorquez’s Employment Authorization Document is only for employment and is not valid for entry or admission into the United States.

According to our records, Mr. Montes-Bojorquez was repatriated to Mexico on February 20, 2017, shortly after 3:20 p.m.

Derivative Citizenship Info

Derivative citizenship is citizenship given to children through the naturalization of parents or to foreign-born children adopted by United States citizen parents, if certain conditions are met.

The Child Citizenship Act (CCA) is the current law that includes guidelines for children that were born outside the US, but who automatically become US citizens if certain conditions are met on or after February 27, 2001

Under the CCA, a child automatically acquires U.S. citizenship on the date that all of the following requirements are met:

  • At least one parent is a US citizen, whether by birth or naturalization
  • The child is under age 18
  • The child is currently residing permanently in the US in the legal and physical custody of a US citizen parent
  • The child is a lawful permanent resident

The ​Child Citizenship Act (​CCA​)​ applies only to those children born on or after February 27, 2001, or those who were under 18 years of age as of that date. Persons who were 18 years of age or older on February 27, 2001​,​ do not qualify for citizenship. For such persons, the law in effect at the time the last condition was met before reaching 18 years of age is the relevant law to determine whether they acquired citizenship.​


For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

ACICS Loss of Accreditation & Impact on STEM OPT

USCIS has released a press release regarding the impact of ACICS loss of accreditation and how certain students applying for English Language Study and 24-month STEM OPT may be affected:

On December 12, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) announced that it no longer recognizes the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) as an accrediting agency. This determination immediately affects two immigration-related programs:

SEVP will provide guidance to affected students in notification letters, should their schools’ certification be withdrawn. However, students enrolled at an ACICS-accredited school should contact their designated school officials (DSOs) immediately to better understand if and how the loss of recognized accreditation will impact the F/M student’s status and/or immigration benefits application(s).

If an ACICS-accredited school voluntarily withdraws from SEVP certification or cannot provide evidence in lieu of accreditation for programs listed on their Form I-17, international students at these schools will have 18 months to:

  • Transfer to a new SEVP-certified program;
  • Continue their program of study until the current session end date listed on their Form I-20 (not to exceed 18 months); or
  • Depart the United States.

After this 18-month grace period, SEVP will terminate the SEVIS records of any active F/M student at an ACICS-accredited school who has not transferred to an SEVP-certified school or departed the United States. Please note, this guidance applies equally to all F/M students—regardless of program of study and the 18-month period is valid for English as a Second Language (ESL) students as well.

ACICS-accredited schools will be unable to issue program extensions, and students will only be allowed to finish their current session if the ACICS-accredited school selects to voluntarily withdraw its certification or is withdrawn by SEVP. If a student’s ACICS-accredited school is able to provide evidence of an ED-recognized accrediting agency or evidence in lieu of accreditation within the allotted timeframe, the student may remain at the school to complete their program of study.

For more information, contact ALO at 978-905-9992.

Why Apply for U.S. Citizenship?

This guide is for eligible green card holders that are considering applying for citizenship.

Eligibility of U.S. Citizenship

Permanent residents may apply for citizenship upon being a permanent resident for 5 years, or upon being a permanent resident for 3 years if they have been married to a U.S. citizen spouse for at least 3 years.

Requirements of U.S. Citizenship

The following requirements must be met for individuals holding a green card for at least 5 years:

Be 18 or older
Be a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the Form N-400
Have lived within the state, or USCIS district with jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence, for at least 3 months prior to the date of filing the application
Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for at least 5 years immediately preceding the date of the filing the the application
Be physically present in the United States for at least 30 months out of the 5 years immediately preceding the date of filing the application
Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
Be able to read, write, and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics).
Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law

Benefits of U.S. Citizenship

Voting: Only U.S. citizens can vote in Federal elections. Most States also restrict the right to vote to U.S. citizens.
Petitioning for Family: Citizens generally get priority when petitioning to bring family members permanently to this country.
Traveling with a U.S. passport: A U.S. passport allows you to get assistance from the U.S. government when outside the United States.
Working as a Federal employee: Most jobs with government agencies require U.S. citizenship.
Becoming an elected official: Many elected offices in this country require U.S. citizenship.

Responsibilities of U.S. Citizenship

To become a U.S. citizen you must take the Oath of Allegiance, which includes the following promises:
Give up all prior allegiance to any other nation or sovereignty;
Swear allegiance to the United States;
Support and defend the Constitution and the laws of the United States; and
Serve the country when required.

USCIS to Issue Redesigned Green Cards & Work Permits

USCIS announced a redesign to the Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) and the Employment Authorization Document (EAD) as part of the Next Generation Secure Identification Document Project. USCIS will begin issuing the new cards on May 1, 2017.
These redesigns use enhanced graphics and fraud-resistant security features to create cards that are more highly secure than the ones currently in use.
The new Green Cards and EADs will:

  • Display the individual’s photos on both sides;
  • Show a unique graphic image and color palette:
  • Green Cards will have an image of the Statue of Liberty and a predominately green palette;
  • EAD cards will have an image of a bald eagle and a predominately red palette;
  • Have embedded holographic images; and
  • No longer display the individual’s signature.
  • Also, Green Cards will no longer have an optical stripe on the back.

Some Green Cards and EADs issued after May 1, 2017, may still display the existing design format as USCIS will continue using existing card stock until current supplies are depleted. Both the existing and the new Green Cards and EADs will remain valid until the expiration date shown on the card.

TPS Termination for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone

USCIS has released a press release, which reminds beneficiaries of Temporary Protected Status for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone of the upcoming May 21, 2017 Termination:

USCIS is reminding the public that the designations of Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone terminate effective May 21, 2017. 

To provide sufficient time for an orderly transition, the Department of Homeland Security gave beneficiaries under these three designations 8 months advance notice of the expiration by publishing 3 notices in the Federal Register on Sept. 22, 2016 (one for each country). These notices urged individuals who did not have another immigration status to use the time before the terminations became effective in May to prepare for and arrange their departure from the United States or to apply for other immigration benefits for which they may be eligible.
Although TPS benefits will no longer be in effect starting May 21, 2017, TPS beneficiaries will continue to hold any other immigration status that they have maintained or acquired while registered for TPS. Individuals with no other lawful immigration status on May 21, 2017, will no longer be protected from removal or eligible for employment authorization based on TPS.
TPS-related Employment Authorization Documents issued under the Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone designations are only valid through May 20, 2017, and will not be renewed or extended.
After reviewing country conditions and consulting with the appropriate U.S. government agencies, former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson determined that conditions in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone no longer support their designations for TPS. The widespread transmission of Ebola virus in the three countries that led to the designations has ended.

Case Delays & Remedies 

Pursuant to the Adminstrative Procedures Act, if an I-485 adjustment of status or citizenship application is being unreasonably delayed, an individual may file a Writ of Mandamus to force U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make a decision on the application. Not only is the duty of USCIS to adjudicate a petition a mandatory one, courts have upheld that the duty should also be completed within a reasonable time period.

This suit must be filed in the federal district court with jurisdiction over the director of the local USCIS office that has delayed the decision on the application. The court may grant or deny the application, or send the case back to USCIS for a decision.
For more information about these services, please schedule a consultation at 978-905-9992.