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north carolina immigration lawyersAs a nation of immigrants, the United States has long offered sanctuary, harboring foreign persons from across the globe that are persecuted or fear persecution from their native country. More than 3.1 million refugees have been admitted to the United States since the Refugee Act of 1980. Petitioning for asylum, permanent residency, and citizenship can be complex, timely, and worrisome; however, it is attainable. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States welcomed 625,400 new citizens in 2020. Adept immigration lawyers can guide undocumented residents to citizenship without fear of deportation or retribution.

Differences between Refugees and Asylum Seekers, and What is a DED?

The only difference between refugees and asylum seekers is the legal definition of residency. Refugees are unable to return to the native countries that they have escaped due to famine, war, or political, personal, or religious persecution. They have yet to enter the United States. To attain legal entry, refugees must apply for refugee status. Asylum seekers, known as asylees, have also fled their countries of nationality and meet the definition of refugee but are residing in the United States.

In recent years, Venezuelans have suffered alarming human rights violations due to a tumultuous political regime. The Bolivarian Revolution, led by Hugo Chávez and now by Nicolás Maduro, has created a refugee crisis. Effective January 20, 2021, President Trump issued a Deferred Enforce Departure (DED) program that protects Venezuelans residing in the United States from deportation. These undocumented residents are eligible for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). An EAD qualifies them to receive public benefits and legal employment. Although the DED is temporary, an immigration lawyer can help extend or establish permanent residency. 


FL immigration lawyerIf you married a U.S. citizen and currently hold a conditional two-year Green Card, you and your spouse must file a joint petition for removal of conditions during the 90 days before your current status expires. If your petition is approved, you will be granted a 10-year Green Card. But what happens if you get divorced before the conditions are removed? You may still be able to get an unconditional 10-year Green Card if you meet certain qualifications.

Who Gets a Conditional Two-Year Green Card?

The main paths that lead to a two-year green card include:

You marry a U.S. citizen abroad and, while still living abroad, apply for an IR-1 immediate relative/spouse immigration. If your marriage is less than two years old when your visa is granted, you will receive a CR-1 conditional two-year visa. If your two-year wedding anniversary has passed by the time your visa is granted, you will receive an IR-1 visa good for 10 years.


Florida provisional waiver lawyerThere are many different situations where immigrants may need to address issues related to inadmissibility. Immigration officials may determine that a person is inadmissible to the United States due to issues such as criminal convictions or violations of the laws related to immigration. In some cases, immigrants may be able to apply for waivers of inadmissibility allowing them to enter or remain in the U.S. For those who are inadmissible because they have remained in the United States without authorization, provisional unlawful presence waivers may allow them to gain legal immigration status.

Qualifying for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers

Unlawful presence in the United States refers to any time spent in the country without legal authorization, such as remaining in the country after the expiration of a temporary visa or entering the country illegally and living in the U.S. without documentation. Unlawful presence can lead to restrictions on a person’s ability to re-enter the United States in the future. A person who stays in the U.S. without authorization for between 180 days and one year will be inadmissible for three years after the date they departed the country. For those with unlawful presence of more than one year, a 10-year bar to admissibility will apply.

Immigrants who are currently in the United States unlawfully may be concerned that if they leave the country, they will be restricted from proceeding with the legal immigration process. However, immigrants may qualify for provisional unlawful presence waivers that will allow them to leave the U.S. and pursue an immigrant visa through consular processing. To be eligible for a provisional unlawful presence waiver, a person will need to meet the following requirements:


Orlando immigration lawyerThere are many reasons why people from other countries may plan to come to the United States to ensure that they can remain safe from harm. Those who believe that they are in danger of persecution or who have a credible belief that they will be harmed or killed may apply for asylum after they enter the U.S., which will provide them with protection from deportation. In recent years, many immigrants have struggled to receive asylum protections, but new changes to immigration rules and policies may make this process easier and ensure that immigrants can receive the protections they need.

Biden Administration Plans to Lift Public Health Order Affecting Asylum Cases

During the administration of President Donald Trump, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) implemented a public health order known as Title 42. This order took effect in March of 2020, and it was meant to prevent the possibility of COVID-19 infections being spread by immigrants entering the United States. Under this order, immigration officials were allowed to expel undocumented immigrants without the requirement to follow standard procedures, even in cases where immigrants were seeking asylum. 

The administration of President Joe Biden has kept Title 42 in place, and since this rule was implemented, around 1.7 million people have been deported. However, the Biden administration has announced that it plans to lift Title 42. Officials believe that this rule is no longer necessary to protect public health. Following this change, more migrants will be able to enter the United States and apply for asylum.


Orlando deportation defense lawyerA foreign citizen whose presence in the U.S. depends on a visa or green card must avoid actions that could attract the attention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and result in deportation from the U.S. Being convicted of a crime, such as driving under the influence (DUI), can result in your being detained by ICE officers. 

What Are the Responsibilities of ICE?

ICE handles a variety of issues related to immigration, including:

  • Preventing terrorism;
  • Combating international crimes such as drug and weapons trafficking;
  • Identifying and removing aliens who have committed crimes and therefore present a risk to public safety; and
  • Arresting aliens who have entered the U.S. illegally or have committed some type of immigration fraud.

What Kinds of Crimes Can Lead to ICE Arrests and Deportation?

A summary of some recent ICE arrests provides a good overview of the types of activities that lawful permanent residents (LPRs) and temporary visa holders should avoid:


Orlando Immigration LawyersMany immigrants to the U.S. are dependent on a parent, spouse, or sibling to sponsor them for a family-based visa. Sponsorship is a bigger responsibility than many people realize. The sponsor must file an affidavit of support for the immigrant, which is a legally enforceable contract that commits the sponsor to financially support the immigrant until they have either become a U.S. citizen or have been credited by the Social Security Administration with 40 quarters of paid work (10 years). 

If an immigrant sponsored by a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder accepts means-tested public aid, the sponsor may be required to repay the cost of those benefits. Means-tested public aid programs include:

  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which provides financial assistance to help pay for food, shelter, and utilities for families with dependent children; 
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps; and 
  • Medicaid, which provides health care coverage to low-income people.

What Happens if a Sponsor Dies Before the Immigrant Gets Their Green Card?


Orlando immigration asylum attorneyThere are many reasons why people around the world may need to flee their home countries and determine how they and their families will be able to live where they will be safe from harm. Civil wars, political upheaval, criminal activity, natural disasters, and other emergencies may force people to seek safety elsewhere, including by immigrating to the United States. In these situations, people may be able to receive refugee or asylum protections, even if they would not otherwise qualify for immigration. By understanding when these types of protections are available, those who are looking to escape dangerous situations and begin a new life in a safe country can take steps to apply for and maintain a lawful status in the U.S.

Who Is Considered a Refugee?

People who are currently outside of the United States may apply for entry into the country as refugees if they meet certain qualifications. Section 101(a)(42) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) defines a refugee as someone who has left their home country or the country where they most recently resided and are unable or unwilling to return to that country. A person’s reasons for their reluctance to return to their home country must be based on fear of persecution, and they will need to provide evidence that they have experienced persecution or are likely to experience persecution because of a protected status. These statuses may include their race, nationality, or religion, or because they are a member of a certain group, such as a political party or social group. A person may be disqualified from receiving refugee status if they have engaged in the persecution of others, including inciting violence, ordering reprisals, or assisting in actions against people based on their protected status.

A person who qualifies as a refugee and who has not resettled in another country may apply for entry into the United States for themselves and their immediate family members (which are generally limited to their spouse and any unmarried minor children). A person may receive a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) from the United Nations, the U.S. embassy in the country where a person is currently located, or certain non-governmental organizations. Some immigrants may also qualify as refugees because they are in a group designated for “special humanitarian concern” by the president of the United States or USRAP. After receiving a referral and being approved as a refugee, a person will be able to travel to the U.S., receive authorization to work, and begin the process of applying for a Green Card.


Florida immigration lawyerIn the course of immigrating to the United States, there is a strong likelihood of interacting with an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent. For a lot of people, talking with a law enforcement officer can be a stressful and nerve-wracking experience. For an immigrant transitioning to life in the U.S., an encounter with an ICE agent can be particularly daunting, and many people may worry about the risks of deportation.

If you or a family member ever need to speak to an ICE agent for any reason, here are a few tips to remember to make these interactions go smoothly:

  1. Be Professional and Polite: The men and women of ICE are law enforcement personnel who have to follow set guidelines, the legal code, and a strict code of ethics. Part of this code of ethics is a standard of politeness, so when interacting with ICE, it is essential to be polite as well. Do this by remembering that most of your interactions with an ICE agent will be routine. This means that if an ICE agent approaches you to talk, it most likely is not because he or she suspects you of any wrongdoing. However, if you have a hostile or uncooperative attitude, this may cause the agent to become suspicious. Many misunderstandings can be avoided by simply being polite and kind to the officer.
  2. Do Not Resist or Be Aggressive: If you are approached by an ICE agent or police officer, do not resist him or her, even if you believe that your rights are being violated. If a law enforcement officer requests that you provide documentation, you are required to do so. However, if the agent begins to ask for additional documents or asks you unusual questions, do not be alarmed. Inform the agent that you are invoking your right to remain silent and that you will not answer any further questions without having your attorney present.
  3. Know Your Rights: If you are a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you have most, if not all, of the rights afforded to American citizens. Other immigrants also have rights that should be protected. If you are ever approached by an ICE agent, know that you have the right to remain silent, and you cannot be searched without a reasonable cause. If ICE comes to your home, remember they cannot enter your residence without either your consent or a search warrant. In any situation, you will always have the right to an attorney.

Contact an Orange County Deportation Defense Attorney

If you or a loved one are immigrating to the United States, it can be a long and complex process. Meeting with law enforcement can cause feelings of anxiety, but it is best to remain calm and collected. If you are concerned about the possibility of being detained or deported, or if you believe your rights were violated by ICE, the compassionate Orlando immigration lawyers at the Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC can provide the legal help you need. We will examine the circumstances of your case, work to protect your rights, and help you avoid deportation. Contact us at 407-955-5000


Orlando immigration attorneysObtaining an Immediate Relative (IR) visa for your foreign spouse can be a challenging process. Typically, the waiting time to receive an IR visa is very short, but there is the potential for something to go wrong. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) scrutinizes every spousal application, requiring both partners to provide a great deal of personal information. If the application or documents are not filled out correctly, this can put the visa application and your future happiness in jeopardy. To avoid any bumps in your road to marital bliss, be sure to follow these straightforward tips:

1. Provide Clear Proof That Your Marriage Is Legitimate

Unfortunately, foreign nationals sometimes do use marriage as a pretense to gain entry to the United States. As such, the U.S. State Department sets a high standard for documents that authenticate your marriage. Among the most trusted documents to use as validation of your wedding is an official marriage certificate from the United States, Canada, the Commonwealth of countries that are former territories of the British Empire, or the European Union. Many couples, if they are married in a foreign country, will get a marriage license in the United States before beginning the application process for the visa.

2. Present Evidence That Your Spouse Is Not a Security Concern

With rising national security threats, the United States has begun requiring all visa applicants to submit all social media accounts, email addresses, past travel history, and all the addresses in which they have lived going back five years. Additionally, spouses seeking to live in the United States have to provide information about their family and close contacts. This extra scrutiny has made the process much more difficult. To demonstrate that your spouse is not a national security risk, be sure to gather all relevant information. Provide information even on accounts not currently used. Also, provide an official police record from every country in which your spouse has lived throughout the past several years.


Orlando VAWA petition lawyersForeign citizens who live in the United States may face a number of different situations that can affect their legal status, and they may be concerned about the possibility of deportation. Because of this, some victims of abuse may be reluctant to come forward and report these issues to law enforcement. However, those who have suffered abuse may have options that will allow them to avoid deportation and maintain legal status in the United States. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) provides protections in these cases, and it may allow victims to receive Green Cards and ensure that they will not be required to leave the U.S.

Who Qualifies for VAWA Protections?

While the title of the Violence Against Women Act indicates that this law applies to women, it also provides protections for anyone who has suffered abuse, including men, children, or people who are transgender or non-binary. A person may apply for a Green Card through VAWA if they were abused by a spouse, parent, or child who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.

To be eligible for VAWA protections, a person must demonstrate that they have a qualifying relationship with their abuser. An applicant may be married to a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder, or they may file an application within two years after the termination of their marriage through divorce or death. Children may also qualify if they were abused by a parent who was a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and parents may qualify if they were abused by a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder child who is at least 21 years old at the time when an application is filed.


Orlando detention bond lawyerPeople who have immigrated to the United States may be concerned about the possibility of deportation. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) may detain an immigrant for a variety of reasons, including a belief that a person has violated immigration laws, entered the U.S. without authorization, stayed after the expiration of a visa, or committed certain types of criminal offenses. In these situations, a person will usually want to be released from detention while their case is ongoing, and this will allow them to return to their home and maintain employment. In many cases, an immigrant will need to pay an immigration bond, and they will need to attend a detention bond hearing to determine whether they are eligible for this type of bond and set the amount that will need to be paid before they can be released.

Demonstrating Eligibility for an Immigration Bond

In some cases, ICE may set an immigration bond after a person is detained. If a bond is denied, a person may request a detention bond hearing. This hearing will be held before an immigration judge, who will review the facts of the case to determine whether a person is eligible to be released. In some cases, “mandatory detention” will apply, and a bond will not be available. A person may be subject to mandatory detention if they entered the United States unlawfully, if they are suspected of engaging in terrorism, or if they are accused of crimes of moral turpitude that are grounds for deportation.

During a detention bond hearing, the immigration judge will review the available evidence to determine whether a person presents a potential danger to public safety or the national security of the United States. They may consider a person’s previous criminal convictions and any accusations of wrongdoing, including claims that they have committed domestic violence, theft, or assault. The judge will also consider whether a person is a flight risk, meaning that they may attempt to avoid deportation by leaving the area and failing to appear for future hearings. 


Orlando immigration attorneysForeign citizens who are looking to come to the United States or who are already in the U.S. may sometimes need to deal with issues related to inadmissibility. Immigration officials may determine that a person is inadmissible because of issues such as health concerns, failure to meet vaccination requirements, previous criminal convictions, the likelihood that they will rely on public assistance, fraud or misrepresentation during the immigration process, or previous deportations or unlawful presence in the United States. In some cases, a person may qualify for waivers of inadmissibility. One reason why a waiver may be granted is qualification for Temporary Protected Status (TPS).

What Is Temporary Protected Status?

Conditions in a person’s home country may affect their ability to return to the country safely. The Department of Homeland Security may choose to designate certain countries for Temporary Protected Status because of conditions that would cause a person to be unsafe when returning to the country or because the country is temporarily unable to handle an increase in population. Some common reasons for TPS designations include civil wars or other armed conflicts, natural disasters, or extraordinary issues that affect people’s health and safety.

Foreign nationals currently in the United States who receive TPS protections cannot be deported. They may also be able to obtain authorization for employment in the U.S., as well as travel authorization that will allow them to travel to other countries and re-enter the United States. While TPS protections are temporary, and they do not grant any permanent immigration benefits, a person with this status may apply for a visa, adjustment of status, or any other immigration benefits that they are eligible to receive.


Orlando immigration lawyersIn many cases, immigrants who came to the United States as children are left in a state of legal limbo. While these immigrants may be undocumented, they may have lived in the U.S. for the majority of their lives without maintaining ties to their country of origin. A potential deportation could cause a great deal of difficulty for these immigrants and their families, and the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was created to address this issue. However, the status of this program has changed recently, and additional changes may be made in the future.

Status of New DACA Applications and Renewals in 2021

A ruling by a federal judge in July of 2021 has affected the processing of DACA applications. The judge ruled that the DACA program is illegal for multiple reasons, including the implementation of the program by the Obama administration without prior notification that would allow members of the public to provide comments. Due to this ruling, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot grant new DACA requests, but it may issue renewals for those who had previously received DACA protections. 

Proposed Changes to the DACA Program

To address the issues raised by the judge, the Department of Homeland Security has issued a new proposed rule for the DACA program, and it is currently inviting members of the public to comment on these issues. After consideration of comments, a final rule may be issued after November 29, 2021. 


Orlando U visa attorneysImmigrants in the United States who have been the victims of crimes will sometimes struggle to leave a dangerous situation. A person may be concerned about their immigration status, and they may worry that if they come forward and report a crime to law enforcement officials, they could face deportation. However, crime victims may be able to qualify for U visas that will allow them to be protected from deportation and continue living in the United States. Immigrants can work with an experienced attorney to ensure they meet all requirements for these types of visas, and they also may be able to take steps to receive a Green Card that will provide them with permanent resident status.

Eligibility for U Visas

Victims of certain types of crimes may be able to receive U visas that provide them with nonimmigrant status. Qualifying crimes include domestic violence, sexual assault, prostitution, kidnapping, stalking, extortion, and felony assault. A victim must be able to provide information about criminal activity that has affected them, and they must be willing to cooperate with law enforcement officials and assist with the detection or investigation of a crime or the prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of a criminal offender.

A person can apply for a U visa by submitting Form I-918 (Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If there are any issues that affect a person’s ability to be legally admitted to the United States, they may apply for a waiver of inadmissibility. They will also need to submit a signed certification from a law enforcement official that provides information about the criminal activity that has affected the victim and states that they have cooperated or are willing to cooperate in a criminal case. Any local, state, or federal law enforcement agency can complete a certification, and certifications can also be performed by judges or prosecutors. Certification can be submitted at any time during an investigation or criminal case or after a case has been completed. A victim may be eligible for a U visa even if the alleged perpetrator is acquitted or if charges are ultimately dropped or dismissed.


Orlando Green Card lawyersFor foreign citizens who wish to live in the United States, a Green Card is essential. This form of identification shows that a person is a lawful permanent resident, allowing them to live in the U.S., obtain employment, travel freely, and be protected from deportation. However, most Green Cards expire 10 years after they are issued, and immigrants may be concerned about the consequences they may face if they do not complete the renewal process. 

Fortunately, a person’s lawful permanent resident status will not be affected by the expiration of a Green Card in most cases. However, if a person has conditional permanent resident status after entering the United States on a fiancé visa, they will need to file a petition to remove the conditions on residence (Form I-751). Failure to do so may result in a person’s conditional residence status being revoked, which could lead to deportation. 

While most lawful permanent residents will not face deportation for failing to renew their Green Card, they may face a variety of other difficulties once their Green Card expires. Since a valid Green Card is needed for employment, an immigrant may not be able to obtain a new job in the United States, or they may be unable to obtain or renew a professional license that will allow them to work in their chosen career. A person may also be unable to obtain or renew a driver’s license until they have renewed their Green Card.


orlando immigration lawyersImmigrants who wish to come to the United States or those who are currently living in the U.S. will want to understand the potential issues that could affect their immigration status, including factors that could make them inadmissible or lead to deportation. Criminal convictions are one issue that can play a role in immigration cases, including convictions of “crimes involving moral turpitude.” By understanding the types of crimes that fall into this category, immigrants can be prepared to address these matters correctly.

What Is a Crime Involving Moral Turpitude?

While the U.S. immigration laws state that a person is inadmissible to the United States if they have been convicted of one or more crimes involving moral turpitude (also known as CIMTs), the specific offenses that fall into this category are not specified. However, courts have interpreted this law as referring to any types of offenses involving actions that are shocking, vile, or depraved. These crimes may include offenses such as:

  • Murder/homicide
  • Voluntary or involuntary manslaughter
  • Sexual assault
  • Aggravated assault
  • Robbery
  • Kidnapping
  • Domestic abuse
  • Animal cruelty
  • Fraud

CIMTs may also involve conspiracies to commit one of the above offenses, attempted crimes, or acting as an accomplice to another perpetrator. 


Orlando immigration lawyersRecently, news sources in the United States have been reporting on a humanitarian crisis on the border between the U.S. and Mexico. More than 14,000 people who originally came from Haiti have gathered on the south side of the Rio Grande River near Del Rio, Texas, and many have attempted to cross into the United States. The U.S. has closed the border with Mexico, and immigration officials are working to respond to this issue and determine what to do with migrants who have entered the country, as well as those who are hoping to do so.

Haitian Immigrants Hope to Claim Asylum or Receive Refugee Status

Many Haitians have fled their home country following a 2010 earthquake, and more have left in recent months after another recent earthquake and the assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. These events have led to political unrest that has caused many to fear for their safety. While some migrants left Haiti recently, others had been living in South America before making the attempt to come to the United States.

Because of the dangerous conditions in their home country, many of these immigrants are hoping to claim asylum or enter the country as refugees. However, the U.S. has taken action to deport many of these immigrants. In many cases, these deportations have been based on Title 42, a policy that was put in place by the administration of President Donald Trump. This policy allows for the removal of immigrants without a hearing in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in immigration holding facilities, and it has been upheld by the administration of President Joe Biden.

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