March 2011 Archives

March 28, 2011

Homeland Security Suspends Deportation of Japanese Nationals -- for now

Bridge Cables.jpgImmigration lawyers at Los Angeles' Law Offices of J Craig Fong have learned that, in view of the massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan and the related devastation, clean-up, possible radiation concerns, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has temporarily suspended removal of Japanese citizens who may have been ordered deported.

It is expected that ICE will be deporting Japanese nationals again, as soon as conditions in Japan stabilize. Should you have questions about this, or any other immigration or nationality law concern, please do not hesitate to contact us. --jcf

March 25, 2011

AIT Temporarily Suspends Visa Services

Taiwan Flag.jpgThe immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong in Los Angeles have recently learned that the United States' American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) temporarily closed its visa section as of 18 March 2011, in order that personnel at AIT can assist US diplomatic staff in nearby Japan.

US-Taiwan diplomatic relations are unique, and there is no US Embassy in Taipei. The AIT oversees US interests in Taiwan, handles liaison with the Taipei government, and issues US visas.

For those who may have had immigrant and nonimmigrant visa interviews at AIT after 18 March 2011, AIT is instructing that you visit the AIT's visa processing website to reschedule.

Emergency matters should contact the AIT website directly and follow instructions there.

There has been no indication as to when the visa section will re-open for general business. If you have questions about this or any other issues relating to immigration and nationality law, please contact us. --jcf

March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor: a lesson in transmission of US citizenship

Eliz Taylor.jpegWith today's passing in Los Angeles of Hollywood film star, Elizabeth Taylor, the sometimes-sentimental immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong want to examine the question of citizenship. Miss Taylor was born in London, England in 1932 to US citizen parents. So: was she a citizen of the US? or the UK? or was she a dual citizen?

Under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution, the general rule is that "all persons born ... in the United States [and in certain territories] are citizens of the United States." This rule has been a part of American law since 1868. This aspect of the fundamental rule of the Constitution is today under attack by radicals who do not want the children of undocumented aliens to become citizens. However, Elizabeth Taylor was born in England, so we do not yet have our answer.

Miss Taylor was born in 1932, the daughter of two US citizen parents who were living in England. As a general proposition, a child born in wedlock, outside the USA, to two US citizen parents, automatically acquires US citizenship at birth. Immigration and Nationality Act ยง301.

Although there is much in the storied history of Dame Elizabeth and her renunciations and reacquisitions of US citizenship which would not apply to most people, this general rule still applies. Because the UK uses essentially the same rule about place-of-birth as we do, Dame Elizabeth had both US and UK citizenship.

The rules are different, however, if say:
- only one parent was a US citizen at the time of the child's birth, or
- the child is born out of wedlock to a US citizen mother and foreign father, or
- the child is born out of wedlock to a US citizen father and foreign mother, or
- the child is born at a time when other technicalities of the rules had to be met first.

The rules of acquisition of citizenship are quite complex. For example, a child born out of wedlock in, say, Japan, on 1 January 1953, to a US citizen father and a foreign mother acquires US citizenship if: (a) the father was physically present in the US (or a US possession) for at least ten years prior to the child's birth, five of which were after the age of fourteen. Honorable US military service, employment with the US government or intergovernmental international organization, or as dependent unmarried son or daughter and member of a household of a parent in such service or employment, would be included, and (b) the child's paternity can be established before the child's 21st birth day, by the legitimation law of the father's or the child's residence or domicile.

Now: take another child, born in the same hospital, on the same day, but let's suppose that this other child was born out of wedlock to a US citizen mother and a foreign father. This child automatically acquires US citizenship if: the Mother is physically present in the USA (or a US possession) continuously twelve months at any point prior to the child's birth.

To make matters worse, the US Congress has periodically changed the rules that are in effect. Many of the rules about aqcuisition that were in effect for a child born in, say, 1940 are NOT the rules that were in effect in 1950. And other changes took effect in 1952, and again in 1986.

There are many people who are, or who can claim, US citizenship and may not even be aware of it. For those seeking more information about transmission and acquisition of US citizenship, the immigration and nationality attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong will be glad to answer your questions.

And to Miss Elizabeth Taylor: thanks for your contribution to film. You will be missed. --jcf

March 19, 2011

Expedited Processing for Japanese Nationals Affected by Earthquake and Tsunamis

The USCIS this week provided information on the types of immigration applications for Japanese nationals who are affected by disasters caused the earthquakes and tsunamis last week. In limited circumstances, the USCIS can expedite the processing of the following types of requests/cases:

  • requests for extensions or change of non-immigrant status even if the request is made after the applicant's stay has expired
  • re-parole of individuals who have already been granted parole by USCIS
  • expedited processing of advanced paroles
  • expedited adjudication and approval for requests for off-campus employment in the case of F-1 students suffering economic hardship
  • expedited employment authorization

  • If you or someone you know is eligible for these services, please contact the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong for assistance in making these applications to the USCIS. ---ecf

    March 11, 2011

    USCIS Announces Relief for Japanese and Other Nationals Stranded in US Because of Earthquake and Disaster Abroad

    seisomograph.jpgThe immigration lawyers at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong in Los Angeles have many, many Japanese clients. In response to the devastation caused by the earthquake around Sendai, Japan yesterday, the US Citizenship and Immigraiton Services (USCIS) issued an advisory to Japanese nationals and others who cannot return to their home countries due to earthquake and tsunami disruption in the Pacific region. This is of particular importance to those who are here on visitor visas (B-1 or B-2), visa waiver, or other non-immigrant visas such as H-1B, L-1A, L-1B, E-1, E-2, F-1, J-1, M-1, etc.

    From time to time, the US government permits citizens from certain countries to remain in the USA -- even after their visas or landing permits have expired -- due to emergency circumstances in the home country. This special designation -- which is called Temporary Protected Status (TPS) -- is made by the US government. At the present time, Japan has not yet been designated a TPS-eligible country by the US government.

    However, the USCIS advisory, issued at 5:35pm today advises that people should visit their local USCIS office if they have overstayed their I-94s or will become an overstay because they cannot now return to their homes in the Pacific. In certain cases, the USCIS may allow for an additional 30 days be granted in order to depart without facing unlawful presence or other serious immigration violation. USCIS will likely control such applications with high scrutiny and enforcement. We do not recommend that Japanese citizens go to USCIS to obtain assistance without first consulting an immigration attorney.

    Call the immigration attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong. We are in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles. We can help you with this process. If needed, we can provide legal representation if you are facing overstay issues, unlawful presence, or other potential violations such as unauthorized employment because of the devastation in Japan and the Pacific. --ecf

    March 11, 2011

    Earthquake in Japan: Tsunami Warnings for Hawaii and West Coast

    Japan: an 8.9 earthquake has rocked Japan today, marking the most powerful earthquake in Japan's recorded history. This quake is the fifth most powerful in the world since 1900, says the U.S. Geologic Survey. Tokyo reports massive aftershocks. Narita Airport, Sendai Airport remain closed, although Haneda Airport has reopened already. The immigration attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong who practice in business immigration, family-based immigration, removal defense and appellate work extend sympathy and concern to all our Japanese clients and those with family and friends abroad who are affected by this devastating disaster.

    Over the years, the immigration attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong have worked proudly in the Japanese immigrant community, having represented multinational executives and managers for some of Japan's largest corporations, professors providing invaluable research and teaching in top U.S. universities, professional employees working in companies based in Little Tokyo and in Japanese American non-profit organizations, and of course, countless individuals and families of Japanese descent.

    With early reports of the death toll, the true damage the earthquake has caused remains unknown at this moment. We do know that this earthquake may cause tsunamis powerful enough to engulf or wash over small islands in the Pacific causing more damage and posing continued danger to those in the Pacific. For clients wishing to return to Japan in the weeks to come, please call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong for guidance on how to check the US Department of State for travel warnings and other restrictions. ---ecf

    March 8, 2011

    Congressional Hearings: Making immigration more difficult for Muslims

    Congressional hearings will soon take place to "highlight and investigate" the threat that radical Islam might pose to the USA. These short-sighted hearings, called by republican Congressman Peter King of New York, are supposed to merely investigate the question; however, many people -- including the immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong in Los Angeles -- are concerned that the hearings will be an excuse to demonize Muslims and others of middle eastern origin and create a climate of suspicion and hatred.

    Already, immigration lawyers here at the Law Offices of J Craig Fong have noticed that several cases we are handling -- involving persons from predominantly Muslim countries -- have been side-tracked, investigated, and in other ways delayed by US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). These cases have been unnecessarily subjected to delays, and there has been no explanation forthcoming from USCIS. Simply more and more delay.

    There is no doubt that the US must investigate threats to national security; however, to do so in a way that broadly demonizes the faithful of any particular religion, nationality, or ethnicity is wrong. This is what was done to Japanese-Americans during World War II, and it should not be repeated in 2011. --jcf

    March 3, 2011

    PERM Labor Certifications - DOL Says Stricter Scrutiny Ahead

    Over the years, the business immigration attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong have reported on PERM processing times, which have varied at just several days to several weeks to over a year for initial adjudication. Currently, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification "OFLC" is reporting that initial adjudications are being completed in less than a month, which is a welcome relief for those on H-1B, H-1B1, TN, E-3 or other status where they may be running out of time to complete the labor certification process.

    In terms of an update, the OFLC released it's annual performance report on FY2010 just this week. As many of you might know, the PERM application (Form ETA9089) is set to expire in June 2011, and the new form will be much longer and detailed (possibly 20 pages long as opposed to the current 10 pages). The annual report also makes this statement: "OFLC will apply stricter scrutiny to applications." In addition, the Department of Labor also announced that they will propose that employers pay a user fee to fund the PERM, H-2A and H-2B programs. Many people seeking PERM have already dealt with issues of eligibility on those dreaded Request for Evidence (RFEs) for nonimmigrant statuses and now the hurdles to filing a successful PERM case have also increased. It is more important than ever to prepare your PERM case early with an experienced immigration attorney especially one who will take the time to explain what employers and applicants should expect throughout the pre-filing and adjudications period for PERM, because be it slow or fast, OFLC is implementing much stricter scrutiny on all applications. For a free initial consultation on a PERM case, call the attorneys at Law Offices of J Craig Fong. --ecf 577.jpg,