* Dramatization
* Dramatization
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stampAs an El Salvador immigrant, if you are living and working in the USA under the El Salvador Temporary Protected Status, you must register again for your 10-month extension within the 60-day time frame that started on January 7, 2015 and ends on March 9, 2015. The extension you’re applying for will be valid from March 10, 2015 through September 9, 2016. If you do not submit your registration by this date, you could lose your TPS and also your right to work.

Applying for Re-registration

If you apply for re-registration online, you’ll need to fill out both the I-821 and I-765 forms. If you are submitting a paper application, you can use the mailing address listed in the Federal Register or on the TPS website that’s specific to your country.  Do remember that you won’t pay any fees unless you’re applying for the first time. First time applicants cannot file online and must submit a paper application, as well as the application fee of $50.

Requesting for the EAD

EAD is your Employment Authorization Document and you’ll need to request one at the time of re-registration.  Your new EAD will be valid through September 9, 2015.  If you already have an EAD that is due to expire on March 9, 2015, the USCIS understands that you cannot receive a new one as long as your old EAD is valid, which is why in this particular situation, the USCIS will automatically extend your present authorization so that it’s valid through September 9, 2015. All you need to do is to present your existing EAD with the expiration date of March 9, 2015 along with a copy of the pertinent Federal Register notice to your employer and relevant government agency to continue working.

Biometric Service Fees

The USCIS might require that you pay a biometrics services fee for getting your fingerprints taken. In some cases, they might also take your photograph and request a signature. For these services, you will need to pay a fee of $85, either by a check or money order. At the time of re-registration, whether you’re requesting an EAD or not, if you are 14 years or older, you will need to pay the fee.

Waiving Biometric Fees

Under special circumstances, you can request that the fees be waived. To apply for a waiver, you must submit a paper copy of the exempt request form by mail. The USCIS will then consider your request and if you meet the necessary conditions, grant you an exemption. Do remember that you cannot file this application online.

At Lyttle Law Firm, we understand that re-registering can be a somewhat complicated process, especially since all the paperwork must be submitted English. We’re here to assist you and your loved ones through the procedure, however. Contact us today so we can guide you through the steps you’ll need to take to make your re-registration as streamlined as possible.

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studyGoing to college is a costly pursuit. In addition to the inherent financial and intellectual challenges presented by the ambition, unfortunately students like Melvis Madrigal, a 20 year old who graduated from Robertson High School in 2013 with a 4.0 grade point average, find themselves facing an uphill battle just to continue their education past high school.

For a student like Madrigal, the current higher education system is not accessible, since someone’s citizenship status (or lack thereof) will ultimately determine the ease with which a respectable degree can be pursued. Madrigal is neither a legal resident nor a US citizen, despite living in Asheville for 14 years. He cannot obtain in-state tuition and he is not eligible to receive any form of financial aid from the government. “It has definitely created a huge hardship. And I know that it is not just me,” he said.

College tuition for out-of-state students is very high; in fact, it’s 3-4 times higher than in-state tuition. For many families, this alone makes college unaffordable.

Natalie Teague, an immigration attorney in Asheville, has found that there is an increasing number of students who have grown up in the state and been a part of the school system since kindergarten, yet lack the proper paperwork to pursue their educational goals due to restraints in existing legislation.  Many of them have demonstrated exceptional scholastic achievements, yet do not have the financial means to realize their ambitions.

Despite the efforts of various advocacy groups that have petitioned the state for changes in legislation, progress has stalled.  In 2013, a bill was proposed that would allow immigrant students to qualify for in-state tuition if they filled out an application to legalize their citizenship status.  It didn’t pass.

State Representative Chuck McGrady, R-Henderson, is opposed to changing immigration policies. He claims that many lawmakers will reject the bill because they don’t want to support benefits for undocumented students, while others feel that immigration is a federal issue and that interfering would set a bad legal precedent.  This same type of debate is taking place all over the country.

According to Alexandra Sirota, the Director of the Budget & Tax Center, there are currently only 20 states that offer in-state tuition to immigrant students.

If you or someone you know needs legal counsel regarding immigration and education or another type of immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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rulingUnited States District Judge Andrew Hanen recently blocked President Obama’s executive action on immigration, temporarily delaying its implementation and leaving almost 5 million undocumented immigrants at risk of deportation.

Hanen, a federal judge based in Texas, which also happens to be a hotbed of immigration debate, stated that the White House’s policy does not comply with the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires prior commentary and notification before executive action is taken.  He also claims that the State of Texas will be damaged by the implementation of DAPA, and that the presidential order goes beyond the reach of prosecutorial discretion.  To date, a total of 26 states from across the nation have spoken out against the administration’s reform.

The Department of Justice has indicated that it will appeal Hanen’s decision, citing that the President’s order was well within his legal authority.

“The district court’s decision wrongly prevents these lawful, commonsense policies from taking effect,” read an official statement from the White House. Administration officials claim that both Congress and the Supreme Court approved the Federal Government’s authority when it comes to immigration policy in the United States and that this particular executive order is an extension of such authority. They are stark in their contentions that Obama did not break any rule, nor did he abuse his power.

The President expects the Texas Court order to be overruled and is making preparations based on that outcome, including working closely with Jeh Johnson, the Secretary of Homeland Security, who will be responsible for coordinating and implementing the reform measures.

“The Department of Homeland Security will continue with the planning because we want to make sure that as soon as these legal issues get resolved — which I anticipate they will, in our favor — that we are ready to go,” he stated.

Attorney General Eric Holder considers the obstructive order to be an “interim step,” in a legal process that has yet to be finalized. He assured reporters present at the National Press Club that this was the decision of only one Federal District Court Judge and that the Justice Department is currently reviewing the situation.

Obama’s unilateral action last November has earned the ire of Conservatives, who view it as unconstitutional and also a blatant abuse of power. Republicans have since waged a Congressional battle designed to de-fund the Department of Homeland Security, which would in turn prevent the implementation of Obama’s executive order.

If you or someone you know needs legal counsel regarding President Obama’s executive order, contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas today by visiting our website, or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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KobachUsing their influence over the Kansas Legislature, Conservatives have succeeded in restricting reproductive rights, lowering tax rates, and limiting the power of teacher unions. Countering Obama’s immigration reform has not been so easy, however. Determined to fight back against illegal immigration, Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has proposed a bill which declares the President’s executive action unconstitutional.

Kobach, like many Republicans, opposes the Federal Government’s initiative of halting the deportation of nearly 5 million immigrants. The new bill would prevent businesses that hire undocumented immigrants from deducting their wages from state income taxes. It would also restrict an immigrant’s ability to obtain state ID cards and driver’s licenses. Kansas is one of only 25 states that is challenging Obama’s executive action in a Federal Court in Texas.

Kobach claims that Obama abused his authority by issuing his executive order and that the state of Kansas will continue to treat undocumented workers as being in the United States illegally.

“I hope Kansas legislators will step forward and take the correct legal stand that Obama’s actions are illegal and unconstitutional,” Kobach said. The new legislation proposed by the Kansas Secretary of State is just one bill amongst many across the nation which has been designed to reverse the President’s decision.

Previous attempts at limiting immigration reform have proven to be unsuccessful, however, and Kobach hopes that 2015 will be ripe for proposing anti-immigrant legislation. The unpopularity of Obama’s executive order has already resulted in several court battles, stirring controversy at both national and state levels.

Kobach considers Kansas to be the sanctuary of the Midwest, and the only place in the five-state area that refuses to direct in-state funds to undocumented residents.

The Kansas Chamber of Commerce vehemently opposes his actions and is leading a statewide immigration reform initiative.. Three years ago, the organization supported a program that allowed guest workers to remain in the countryif they contributed to agriculture, or any other field of activity that was experiencing a shortage of labor. Chamber President Mike O’Neal feels that debates over immigrant labor often get out of hand, and that the issue is best left to the federal government.

If you or someone you know needs legal counsel regarding President Obama’s executive order, contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas today by visiting our website or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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ImmigrationpapersAs a result of President Obama’s executive order late last year, roughly 4 million undocumented immigrants will remain in the US and be eligible to seek legal employment. The future of this action is shrouded in uncertainty, however, since congressional Republicans vehemently oppose the initiative. Many state leaders have also pledged to block the legislation in federal court. The resulting clash may lead to yet another government shutdown.

Estimates show that the Department of Homeland Security will run out of funding on February 27th, due to budgetary insufficiency. Congress is attempting to pass a new funding bill which will extend the agency’s funding past the upcoming deadline, but there is a great deal of gridlock in Congress as it relates to Obama’s immigration reform.

The first stage of Obama’s plan is an extension of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which was slated to start Wednesday. It covers immigrants that entered the US as infants. If the immigrant has graduated from a high school in the US and has no criminal record, he/she may apply for a United States work permit.

Currently, there are over 600,000 people that are eligible for this protection. Initially, the program only applied to immigrants that are under the age of 31.  That age cap was extended in December. With the extension, an additional 300,000 people will be eligible for work permits.  Another part of the legislation will stave off deportation for three years, which applies to the undocumented parents of legal permanent residents and United States citizens. This program will most likely begin in May.

Undocumented residents from across the nation are searching through their old high school records and transcripts, preparing their applications. “I will no longer have to leave home every morning wondering whether I’ll make it back or not,” said Adriana Salas, 23. “I want to be able to work legally and give my family a better life. In my heart, I am already a U.S. citizen,” added the young immigrant, who has aspirations of becoming a physician.

Applicants for the controversial DACA program must pay a $465 application fee in order to be considered. A bill was passed in January which now makes it illegal for the Department of Homeland Security to use this revenue to enforce Obama’s immigration reform. Republican’s in the House of Representatives view Obama’s executive action as a power grab, as well as an abuse of executive authority.

If you or someone you know would like legal counsel regarding the DACA program or need assistance on another type of immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website here or calling us today at 512-215-5225

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taxAfter President Barack Obama’s executive action in November 2014, many immigrants were granted certain unilateral protections.  The executive order issued Social Security numbers for many undocumented residents, preventing their deportation and allowing them to seek legal employment. The initial decision sparked controversy amongst members of Congress, particularly amongst Republicans who regained control of the both the House of Representations and Senate during mid-term elections late last year.

In 2015, a new policy could allow immigrants to apply for up to $24,000 in tax credits. The total amount of credits received would ultimately depend on the size of the family in question. This is taking place during a critical time when Congress is trying to pass a bill that would increase the budget for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which also happens to be responsible for immigration control, amongst many other things. The Associated Press has confirmed that the bill must pass before February 27th, prior to the scheduled shutdown that stands to reverse Obama’s program. “I think these amnesty rewards, and that’s what they are, need to be stopped,” said Rep. Sam Johnson, R-Texas.

Those who support the program claim that many immigrants pay taxes and that they should receive the same benefits as everyone else. According to Chief Actuary Stephen Goss, immigrants paid close to $100 billion in tax revenue over the past decade. Many claim that this current situation is unfair, since tax-paying undocumented workers are largely ignored by most federal initiatives such as federal loans or food stamps.

As a result of the President’s executive action, taxpaying workers would be eligible for Social Security benefits only after a decade of paying their taxes. If they can meet income requirements and provide proof of earnings, however, immigrant workers would receive Earned Income Tax Credits immediately.

Conservative lawmakers are vehemently opposed to the administration’s policy. They claim it is an abuse of power and the tax break will provide an additional burden for law-abiding taxpayers. In addition, right-wing representatives from Ohio and Kansas have stated that the President’s executive decision can lead to vote fraud, since a large number of illegal voters would overwhelm their state’s capacity to verify eligibility.

Republicans have attempted to repeal Obama’s executive order while still trying to fund the Department of Homeland Security operating budget on multiple occasions. The bills have failed three times because they couldn’t get past the Senate though. If current funding attempts are not successful by February 27th, the DHS will most likely shut down.

If you or someone you know would like legal counsel regarding President Obama’s executive order or need assistance on another type of immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website, or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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attorneygeneral1During the first hearing since the Republicans retook control of the Senate, Attorney General Nominee Loretta Lynch pledged her commitment to working with Congress in a more bipartisan manner than her predecessor.  She confirmed the need for a new start, while trying to express her independence from President Barack Obama. She didn’t criticize the administration’s policy, however, which presently allows millions of immigrants to benefit from certain unilateral protections.

Distancing herself from current Attorney General Eric Holder was paramount, as he has faced mounting criticism in recent months. In fact, on multiple occasions, many accuse Holder of being contemptuous of Congress due to his close political ties to the president. Lynch was constantly asked to provide confirmation that her office would not mirror that of her predecessor.

“If confirmed as attorney general, I would be myself. I would be Loretta Lynch,” said the nominee.  Her confirmation is expected to be met with little resistance, thanks to the Republican’s eagerness to remove Holder from office.

Most Senators criticize Obama’s current immigration policy, which provides relief and work permits for over 4 million immigrants who are presently not in the country legally, stating that it is “a dangerous abuse of executive authority.” Lynch stood her ground, and although she claims she did not take part in the drafting of the legislation, she did call it “a reasonable way to marshal limited resources to deal with the problem.” She verified that the Department of Homeland Security is currently targeting the most dangerous illegal immigrants and added that she feels citizenship should not be a right for illegal residents, but a privilege that must be earned.

Lynch attempted to underline other issues where her opinions differ from Holder’s, particularly as it relates to the death penalty, which she supports. This sets her apart from her predecessor, whose faith in capital punishment was supposedly shaken in light of recent botched executions.

When asked about other polarizing issues such as recreational marijuana use, the nominee refused to endorse the president’s viewpoint that it is safer than alcohol. “I certainly think that the president was speaking from his personal experience and personal opinion, neither of which I’m able to share,” she said.

If you are need of legal counsel regarding immigration, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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hlsEmployers have been warned by the Justice Department to stop seeking additional work permit authorization documents from Salvadorans, who have been awarded Temporary Protected Status (TPS).  The announcement was made to coincide with the release of an educational video, which aims to remind employers that Salvadoran immigrants with TPS can continue working in the US, even beyond the original expiration date of March 9, 2015. The Department of Homeland Security extended this expiration date earlier in the month.

The “reminder” video features a conversation between two HR managers, who are seen debating the need for new work permits for employees whose work authorization documents are expiring soon.  The educational video highlights how new documents are not required in this particular case since the US government recently extended the work permit status for Salvadoran immigrants with TPS by another 6 months.

The video, released by the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration Relief Unfair Employment Practices (OSC), goes on to explain that requests for additional work permits can be seen as a violation of the anti-discrimination provision within the Immigration and Nationality Act. According to this act, employers must refrain from demanding unauthorized work related documents based on the citizenship status of an employee.

Vanita Gupta, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Civil Rights Division, recently said, “We hope this video will prevent discrimination against work-authorized immigrants and help employers across the country understand employment eligibility verification rules. Federal law prohibits discrimination in the employment eligibility verification process, and the Justice Department is committed to enforcing the law.”

Temporary Protected Status allows immigrants to reside and work in the US for a specific length of time. TPS is designated for immigrants from countries where living conditions are considered unsafe due to environmental disasters, armed conflicts or other extraordinary conditions.  Immigrants with this special status who are coming to the US hope to lead a more normal life by attaining suitable jobs until their residency status can be fully resolved. The TPS for Salvadoran immigrants has been extended through September 9, 2015.

If you or someone you know would like legal counsel regarding TPS or need assistance on another type of immigration issue, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas by visiting our website or calling us today at 512-215-5225.

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hearingThe future of thousands of immigrants remains unresolved following the cancellation of cases by the US court system. Due to the delay in hearings, immigration activists fear that many cases might not be cleared until 2019 – or later. The increase in cancellation of court hearings started last summer, heightening the risk of deportation for many immigrants.  Most of the cases involve mothers from Central America who have entered the United States with their children.

Lawyers specializing in immigration law fear that the delay may result in other problems as well. The verdicts of some cases could be affected when the evidence becomes outdated. With so many cancellations, there is also the possibility that witnesses may disappear or relatives sponsoring the individual may die. Unless the cases are cleared in court, basic necessities like green cards and work permits remain unattainable and families will have to wait longer to reunite with their loved ones.

The bulk of the cases are being handled by law firms in Denver, New York, Los Angeles and San Antonio. The Executive Office for Immigration Review recently said that the cases of over 415,000 immigrants are still waiting to be cleared in courts. David Simmons, a reputed immigration lawyer in Denver, said he has never seen so many cancellations during his 30 year career. He added, “There is no manoeuvrability. It’s as if we have no court at all.”

Maximiano Vasquez Guevarra, 34, who is one of Simmons clients, has gone through a very tumultuous period in his life since his case was cancelled. Guevarra, a native of Mexico, illegally entered the United States in 1998 and has been fighting deportation since 2011.  Immigration officials noticed him when he was charged with his second DUI. He is married to an American and is currently living in Denver with their 6 year old daughter.

Guevarra recently won an appeal to become a permanent resident in the US but needs to attend a hearing before an immigration judge one last time. Now that his case has been pulled from the docket, Vasquez can’t leave for Guanajuato to meet his brother, who is dying of kidney failure.

By moving the docket by four years, thousands of immigrants are now being inconvenienced and are fearful for their future. San Antonio lawyer Lance Curtright said, “This is their home, and they don’t know if they are going to be forcibly removed from it. And they are not going to get any resolution on that until 2019.”

If you or someone you know would like legal counsel regarding delays in your case or have another immigration issue you would like to discuss, please contact the immigration attorneys at Lyttle Law Firm in Austin, Texas today. You can also call us directly at 512-215-5225.

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crime-u-visaThe US Citizenship and Immigration Service has not processed any U-Visa applications filed after December 2013. This type of visa is often provided to immigrants and their close family members who are victims of serious crimes. The surge in number of U-Visa requests has created a huge backlog of applications, increasing nearly fourfold over the last 5 years. Last year, 26,000 applications were filed against a yearly cap of just 10,000.  Presently, individuals are required to wait, just to get on the waiting list. With demand for the U-Visa far outpacing the yearly cap, protection of the victims and close family members has become a concern.

Rosa,15, became pregnant after she was repeatedly raped by her step father for more than a year. Rosa and her mother entered the Unites States illegally and had been living in Modesto, California for the past few years. She was dropped off in her native town in Tijuana by her step dad, where she had to fend for herself without her mother by her side. After pressing charges against her step father, who is currently on the run from Mexican authorities, Rosa and her family became eligible to apply for a U-Visa.

Today, like so many other immigrants, Rosa, along with her new-born child, is looking forward to reuniting with her mother. But the recent increase in the number of U-Visa applications means she might have to wait for years before she is allowed to set foot on US soil again.  While immigration authorities have started allotting temporary work permits to people on the waiting list, only immigrants applying for U-Visas from the US are eligible.

The U-Visa program was introduced by the Congress in 2000 as part of the Violence Protection Act and Victims of Trafficking Act. The objective of the program was to help immigrants who were victims of violent crimes but scared to reach out to the police for fear of being deported.  To qualify for the program, an immigrant must be considered the victim of a serious crime. He or she is also required to provide certification from a credited law enforcement agency, which attests to the individual having helped or presently being helpful during the investigation.

Immigration lawyers are calling on Congress to increase the annual cap on U-Visas for immigrants. Asistant Co-Director Glen Pendleton recently stated, “Family members abroad desperately need to reunite with the primary crime victim, and the crime victim needs family support to heal and build a new life.”

Do you need advice on immigration law in Texas? If so, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Lyttle Law Firm.  We’re based in Austin Texas and well versed in all aspects of immigration. Call us today at 512-215-5225.