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DUI and Immigration Status

The last thing you want to do if you are applying for citizenship is get a DUI. Even if you're in the country legally on a visa or green card, immigration officials may deport you or downgrade your status on the basis of a criminal conviction, especially for a felony. Here's what you need to know about a how a DUI conviction could affect your immigration status. DUI and Deportation If you are a foreign national, a DUI might not necessarily lead to deportation. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) generally considers a number of factors with regard to the penalties faced by an immigrant to the U.S., and deportation is generally reserved for aggravated felonies like battery, theft, filing a fraudulent tax return, and failure to appear in court. Of course, if your DUI is charged as a felony, you could run the risk of deportation. A DUI could become a felony if you have had prior DUI convictions, had an extremely elevated blood alcohol concentration, had children in the car, were driving on a suspended or revoked license, or caused death or injury in a car accident. Status Update Even if you do not get deported, your immigration status could be altered after a DUI conviction. If you're a legal permanent resident, you could be deported or detained during removal proceedings, or be barred from becoming a naturalized citizen in the future. Refugees and asylees could be deported after a criminal conviction, even if they would be in grave danger in their home country, and a conviction may result in the inability to obtain legal permanent resident status.Non-citizens with temporary lawful status (including individuals with nonimmigrant visas and those with temporary protected status) could lose that status and be removed from the country for any felony conviction or two or more misdemeanor convictions. And because undocumented immigrants are not authorized to be in the U.S., any criminal offense can result in deportation. In some legal proceedings, like immigration or deportation proceedings, even an expungement of a DUI may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction. To know for sure how a DUI will affect your immigration status, contact a local DUI attorney today. Related Resources: Don't face a DUI alone. Get your case reviewed by a lawyer for free now. (Consumer Injury) Can Your U.S. Citizenship Be Revoked? (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Can a Guilty Plea Affect My Immigration Status? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) Which Crimes Can Get Legal Immigrants Deported? (FindLaw Blotter)
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#USImmigrationLaw: What Can a Notario Do and Not Do?

A notario, or notary public, is not a lawyer and cannot practice law in the United States. Confusion about what a notary public can do in the US is common for many immigrants, however, because in some other countries, notaries can act as attorneys. Not so here. But some notary publics take advantage of immigrants, leading them to believe that a notary can advise them on the law. Do not hire a notary to handle your immigration matter -- for that you need a lawyer. Here is what a notary can and cannot do for you. Community Resources A notary can help with immigration matters but only to a limited degree. Probably the person has been in the community, or at least the country, for some time, and knows where to go for help. As such, a notario may be able to direct people to the appropriate resources, such as lawyers or immigration clinics, or a notary can offer translation services and assist in filling out forms. But remember, the notary is not a lawyer. In the US, lawyers must complete three years of legal education after college or university and pass an extensive exam that covers many areas of the law. This training enables a lawyer to understand the system, its principles and the language of the law, and to take responsibility for people's important legal matters. Becoming a notary requires a license but it is much less difficult to obtain than a law license and much more limited in what it allows the notary to do -- practicing law is not included. Here, a notary can witness and sign documents for official purposes. A Helping Hand So if you do know a notary public and trust that person, consider asking them to recommend an attorney or to accompany you to any meetings as a translator if necessary. But do not put your case in a notary's hands. If the notary charges less money than a lawyer -- and they usually do, but not always -- it is because they have not invested in any legal training and are not qualified to work as a legal representative. Do not be a victim of someone else's schemes when what you need is help making your dreams com true. Consult with qualified counsel. Talk to a Lawyer If you're applying for an immigration benefit, or just considering it, talk to a lawyer. Many immigration attorneys consult for free or a minimal fee and will be happy to talk about your situation. Get reliable help from an expert. Related Resources: Find Immigration Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory) Helping a Family Member Get Legal Status (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Getting a Green Card (FindLaw's Learn About the Law) Becoming a US Citizen (FindLaw's Learn About the Law)
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Legal How-To: Appeal a Restraining Order

Retraining, protective, or stay away orders can arise in a multitude of situations, from business arguments to domestic disputes. And fighting a restraining order can take many forms, depending on the type of order involved and the particular circumstances of your case. Most restraining orders are orders from a court, and therefore can be appealed. It may not be easy to get a restraining order amended or overturned, but it's not impossible. Here's what you need to know if you're appealing a restraining order. The Right Response Normally you should receive notice that a restraining order has been filed or requested against you, and how you respond to the restraining order can make all the difference. If you receive the notice in court, be respectful and try to avoid any outbursts -- you may not be able to win your case right then and there, but you can certainly do some damage. So let your attorney make any in-court legal arguments. If you receive notice through the mail or in-person delivery, most states provide a form or instructions for responding to the restraining order. For instance, California provides an information sheet answering questions from how long the order will stay in place to how it could affect a green card or citizenship. Make sure you follow any instructions and don't violate any temporary orders before you have the chance to appeal. The Right Hearing You will either file a response to the restraining order, or, more likely, be asked to attend a hearing. Most courts will set a hearing date to discuss the order; if not, you may be able to request one. Don't miss your court date -- this may be your only chance to appeal the restraining order. Prior to your court date, you should begin gathering evidence that supports your side of the story. Make sure you have any witnesses, recordings, or documents ready to go on your court date. Your attorney should be able to tell you what you'll need. If your hearing has already come and gone, and you want to amend or end a restraining order, you may have to file an appeal and request another court date. Just as you did with your original hearing, make sure you have any evidence of compliance with the original order and any change in circumstances since the restraining order was first filed. An experienced attorney will your best resource for appealing a restraining order -- contact on e near your today. Related Resources: Browse Criminal Defense Lawyers by Location (FindLaw Directory) Details on State Protective Order Laws (FindLaw) What is a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) What Proof Do You Need for a Restraining Order? (FindLaw Blotter)
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Who Qualifies for an H-1B Visa?

If you're interested in filing paperwork for an H-1B visa -- a temporary work permit the U.S. government issues to highly skilled foreign workers -- make sure to submit your paperwork sooner rather than later. The application season begins April 1. But before all else, you need to get familiar with the process and find out whether you qualify for an H-1B visa. Here are five basic requirements to apply for an H-1B visa: You must have an employer-employee relationship with the petitioning employer. In general, a valid employer-employee relationship is determined by the extent to which the U.S. employer has control over the H-1B worker -- namely, whether the U.S. employer can hire, pay, fire, supervise, or otherwise control the work of the H-1B worker. You have a "specialty occupation." H-1B visas are granted to foreign nationals who will work in the United States in a "specialty occupation." On a very general and basic level, you must meet two requirements. First, the job must require a specific bachelor's degree -- such as accounting or engineering -- or the equivalent in combined education and experience. Second, you (the foreign national employee) must have a relevant degree or the equivalent. Though it sounds straightforward, it can actually become pretty complicated. Specific wage payments. Employers must pay H-1B employees a certain wage. Your employer will need to file a Labor Condition Application with the Department of Labor to certify that you will pay the sponsored H-1B employee the higher of the "actual wage" at your workplace or the "prevailing wage" in the industry, whichever is higher. You must have an H-1B visa number. H-1B visas are capped at 65,000 visas each fiscal year, and they go quickly. You must have an H-1B visa number available at the time of filing the petition, unless the petition is exempt from the visa cap. The first 20,000 petitions filed on behalf of workers with a U.S. master's degree or higher are exempt from the cap. Those employed by an institution of higher education, a nonprofit research organization, or a government research organization are also exempt from the cap. You must apply for a visa/admission. Once your employer's Form I-129 petition has been approved, you must apply with the U.S. Department of State at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for an H-1B visa (if a visa is required). You must then apply to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for admission to the United States in H-1B classification. For additional guidance on the H-1B visa process, you might want to consult an experienced immigration attorney near you. Related Resources: U.S. Visa Overview (FindLaw) Employment Based Visas (FindLaw) H-1B Visa Application Window Opening in April (FindLaw's Free Enterprise) 1st Green Card for Gay Spouse Approved (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
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5 Questions to Ask an Immigration Lawyer

For people from foreign countries who want to stay in the United States or become a citizen, what are five questions to ask an immigration lawyer before you hire one? Although it's not required that you hire an immigration attorney when filing for citizenship or a green card, an experienced immigration lawyer can help clarify laws to make sure that all your paperwork is filled out and filed correctly. If you're facing an immigration-related legal issue -- such as deportation -- you'll also want professional legal help by your side. If you decide to hire an attorney, here are five questions you may want to ask an immigration lawyer to see if he or she is the right fit for you: What types of immigration cases do you handle? Immigration lawyers handle a variety of cases involving issues such as work visas, green cards, asylum, family law, and citizenship, just to name a few. Some may focus on a particular area of immigration law, so you'll want to ask about their experience and expertise. What are your fees? A very important question to ask an immigration lawyer is what his or her fees are. For some more straightforward cases, like filling out a visa application, the lawyer may charge a flat fee. For more complicated cases, like obtaining citizenship for people who illegally immigrated to the country, the lawyer may charge an hourly fee. Which documents should I bring to our initial meeting? Immigration issues usually require lots of evidence, so ask your attorney what you need to bring for your first meeting with him or her. For example, to apply for citizenship, some of the items you may need to bring include a green card, documents showing any name changes, and copies of your tax returns for the past three to five years. Do you speak my language? If English isn't your first language, you might want to ask an immigration lawyer if he or she speaks your native language. This will help facilitate your understanding of the law and the attorney's understanding of your issues. If your matter involves depositions, court appearances, or documents written in another language, ask whether you'll need to hire an interpreter or translator for your case. How will you update me about my case? An unfortunate side of immigration is that visas expire or people get deported. This can make it difficult for clients to keep in touch with their attorneys. So it's important to ask your immigration lawyer how they'll update you about your case if you're no longer in the country. Some may choose to communicate via email or could use video chatting technology, like Skype or Google Hangouts. It's always good to ask your immigration lawyer as many questions about your case as you can, because it can help them understand your goals better. To learn more about immigration-related legal issues, check out our comprehensive section on Immigration Law. Related Resources: How to Become a U.S. Citizen by Marriage (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) How to Apply for Asylum or Refugee Status (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) 5 Common Reasons to Deny U.S. Citizenship (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life) The FindLaw Guide to Applying for Your Green Card (FindLaw - Free Download)
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