Articles Posted in Uncategorized

Hotel.jpegParis Hilton — heiress, bon-vivant, and media magnet — was denied entry to Japan today due to her recent conviction for possession of cocaine in Las Vegas, Nevada. The immigration lawyers here at Fong & Aquino in the Hollywood area of Los Angeles often hear from immigrants and visitors who want to come to the USA after having been convicted under, or having admitted to having committed a violation of, any law or regulation relating to a controlled substance.

Although Japan’s immigration exclusion for drug offenders is strict, the US has similar restrictions, and any alien who has committed an offense more serious than possession of ≤ 30 grams of marijuana should NOT expect an easy time of getting into the USA. A waiver is available for very, very limited cases. We cannot be very encouraging to ANYone who has a prior drug conviction or admission.

Those who have been “cautioned” for marijuana possession in certain countries such as the UK and Australia should know that such “cautions” typically include the perpetrator’s admission of the underlying facts of the incident (e.g., the possession). Therefore, the perpetrator has admitted to having committed the violation, even if there was never a trial, a conviction, or other citation. –jcf

3pm, June 25, 2009 – I’m sitting in a legal practice seminar when across the table, an attorney whispers, “Michael Jackson just died.” Thanks to Twitter, instant messaging, texting, iPhones, PDAs, we got the news as it broke. We had also lost Farrah Fawcett earlier the same day, and Ed McMahon less than 48 hours before. It is a somber reminder – we are all mortal. Michael Jackson has been compared to this generation’s Elvis. Now the culturally significant question might now be: “where were you when the King of Pop died?”

I was attending a seminar on how to run a more efficient law office by automating the legal process to reduce attorney time spent on each case. While this might be okay for other law offices, it wouldn’t serve the mission of an immigration law office like Fong & Aquino where we work with clients who have such different and highly individualized immigration problems. Sure, maybe this method could work for some clients who have simpler, more straightforward cases but not for those who have very complex problems. I do agree that technology should help attorneys work more efficiently, but technology can’t replace the one-on-one time that an attorney needs to spend with a client, time spent listening. I couldn’t delegate that task to a computer – no way. My job is to help people achieve their immigration plans, their dreams. And doing so means you have to work closely with clients. The seminar became really irrelevant to me right then and there.

But what is relevant to me on the day Michael Jackson died, is that today, President Obama conducted the first of what will be many, many meetings beginning the long-awaited immigration reform debate. The New York Times ran a good article yesterday on how the political stage is set for this discussion. But it’s also important to ask ourselves, what we think immigration reform should to look like. Could we ourselves, have misperceptions about immigration or immigrants that we need to examine or change? Immigration reform is going to take place on the political stage, but conversations in all our communities need to take place, too. And it starts with ourselves, whether we are using myths to make judgments on immigrants or actual facts. –ecf

US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced today background check policy update affecting adjustment of status and waivers of inadmissibility cases delayed by long-pending background checks.  While USCIS has not changed its national security requirements, they did modify their existing guidance for some procedures that will affect the detention and removal of people.   

USCIS reported that nearly 50,000 applications for permanent residence are approvable but just awaiting an FBI name check which has taken more than 180 days.  Applicants with long pending cases can contact the USCIS through the 1-800-customer service number (1-800-375-5283) or make an INFOPASS appointment to visit their local CIS office.  The USCIS press release states that they will begin prioritizing these long delayed cases, requesting additional definitive FBI fingerprint checks.  Applicants who are unable to go to an INFOPASS appointment may also hire an immigration visa attorney to conduct the status check for them.
For many people awaiting final adjudication of their petitions, expect that USCIS may contact you to request that your fingerprints be taken again at a local application support center.  Keep in mind that the Department of Homeland Security may initiate removal proceedings if negative information is received through an adverse background check.