Immigration Law Blog

 

Credit Building Tips for Los Angeles Residents

Whether you are a recent immigrant to the United States or you have been here for a long time, you can take steps to build positive credit. Having a high credit score will help you with your financial decisions in the future, whether you need to take out a loan to go to college or apply for a mortgage to purchase a home.

Many individuals, both immigrants and native-born Americans alike, do not know how to build their credit. If you are not sure where to start with building your credit, apply the following tips to your everyday life.

Consider a Secured Credit Card

If you do not have sufficient credit to qualify for an unsecured credit card, apply for a secured credit card. A secured credit card is a credit card that an applicant can obtain by putting down a sum of money as collateral with the lender. That sum of money then becomes his or her credit limit. For example, you can apply for a secured credit card with a $500 credit limit with the bank by giving the bank $500 in cash to use as collateral. Because of this collateral, anybody can open a secured credit card and begin building positive credit.

Pay your Bills on Time

Your rent, your utility bills, your credit card bills, and any other bills you have need to be paid on or before their due dates. This is key to building and maintaining positive credit. With credit card bills, it is possible to pay less than what is due, known as the “minimum payment.” This amount is printed on your credit card bill, but do not let yourself get into the habit of only paying the minimum payment each month – allowing your debt to accrue will actually cost you more money in the long run because you will need to pay interest on the balance you carry on your credit card.

Pay your Bills in Full

This goes with the issue above – not only should your credit card bills be paid on time, they should be paid in full. Alongside the issue of having to pay interest on debt accrued, you can also lose track of how much you owe to your lender and reach the point of “maxing out” your credit card.

Become an Authorized User on Another Person’s Card

If possible, you can also build your own credit score by becoming an authorized user on somebody else’s card. This other party could be your spouse or another relative, such as a parent or a sibling. Establish an agreement with this other party beforehand. As an authorized user of their credit card, you are not legally obligated to pay for the charges you make – they are. Discuss how you will reimburse him or her before you become an authorized user.

Work with a Skilled Immigration Attorney

Having a strong credit score can help you immensely when you need to take big steps with your finances. For guidance with the legal issues that can accompany these steps or other types of help during the immigration process, contact immigration attorney Joshua L. Goldstein at The Law Offices of Joshua L.Goldstein, P.C. today to set up your legal consultation.

Using FOIA to your Advantage

In the United States, you have the right to request important information from the federal government under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). As an individual working through the process of becoming an American citizen, you could be required to use this right at some point, especially if you run into legal issues when applying for a work visa or green card. This is because it is possible that there is background information about you in your immigration record that somehow complicates matters like this. Find out what information is available to the federal government by filing a FOIA request with the aid of an experienced immigration attorney. If the United States federal government has information about you that it can potentially use against you, you have a right to know about it.

How to Seek Information Under FOIA

Your immigration file contains information that can be of significant value to you. However, you can also potentially run into issues with obtaining this information if you came to the country before 1982 or if the information in your record has been redacted, or blacked out, because it contains the names of government officials or individuals other than yourself.

Before you start working with an attorney or contacting government agencies, determine which information you need. This will determine the agency with which you file your request and how you file it.

Once you determine the information you need, or if you determine that you need to see your entire immigration file, you or your attorney will make a formal request to the correct agency. This might be the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), or the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Along with your request, you will need to provide your reason for seeking the information. Your attorney can help you craft this statement and, if necessary, request that the officials handling the request expedite it if you are in a situation where your life, health, or safety is at risk.

Generally, a FOIA request takes five to six weeks to complete, sometimes up to 80 days. When you request that your case be expedited, you can expect to receive your file within 20 days to one month. If you are in need of more immediate information, your attorney can provide a detailed statement of how your life, health, safety, or liberty is at risk to have the request handled in an even quicker manner.

Work with a Boston Immigration Attorney

If you need to file a FOIA request, work with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the steps you need to take and help you understand the information you receive as a result of your request. To start working with immigration attorney Joshua L. Goldstein, schedule your legal consultation with The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., today.

How to Succeed in Los Angeles: Tips for Latinos

Moving to a new country is a significant milestone in your life. After working through the complicated processes of getting your paperwork in order, starting a job, and finding a house or apartment, you will likely find yourself still dealing with the struggles of assimilating to a new culture. Minor issues, such as difficulties related to the language barrier or cultural expectations that are unfamiliar to you, can complicate even simple tasks like applying for a job or conducting a bank transaction.

Keep the following tips in mind throughout the immigration process. By preparing yourself for the challenges you will face in Los Angeles, you can make them much easier for yourself.

Immerse Yourself in the Latino Community

Los Angeles is a large, culturally-diverse city. It is home to many different ethnic groups. Find other people who immigrated from your home country or those who simply share your language to ask questions and seek advice about any issues you face. You can find others in LA’s Latino community at church or at community events. Make an effort to be an active part of the community, and you will have connections who can help you when you need it.

Save Money

Moving to a new country is expensive, especially moving to a city that has a high cost of living like Los Angeles. If you are not careful with your finances, you can find yourself in debt very quickly. This can make it extremely difficult to build positive credit, which can in turn make it impossible to buy a home in the future, if this is a goal of yours.

Make Sure your Immigration Paperwork is Correct and Up-to-Date

If you are not yet a citizen of the United States, be sure that your necessary paperwork to complete the naturalization process does not lapse. Allowing your files to expire can put you in a difficult position, at best inconveniencing you and at worst, putting you in a position where you could be deported. Work with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that all of your paperwork is up to date.

Build the Skills you Need to Work in the U.S.

Finding and maintaining a job in the United States is so much easier if you have a strong command of English. Other skills that can help you include computer and customer service skills. Find conversation groups for English learners at your local library or community center. These venues often also provide instruction in other vocational skills, such as computer literacy.

Work with a Los Angeles Immigration Attorney

Adjusting to life in a new city and country is not easy. However, you can lessen the burden by seeking guidance from an experienced Los Angeles immigration attorney. At The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., we are dedicated to working with recent immigrants to smooth out the naturalization process and resolve any issues they face. Contact our firm today to discuss the issues you are facing during your legal consultation.

DAPA hits the Supreme Court: an immigration lawyer’s analysis

For immigration lawyers and millions of people in the U.S. hoping and dreaming for DAPA and other immigration options, this summer’s expected Supreme Court decision will be profoundly life-changing.

Background on the DAPA case

In 2013, the Senate passed S.744, a bipartisan Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill that would have taken steps toward fixing a number of problems with the current immigration system. But Republicans in the House of Representatives killed this bill.

In response, on November 20, 2014, President Obama issued his Immigration Accountability Executive Action. The goal of this was to provide common sense fixes to certain problems and inspire Congress to take more sweeping action.

This executive action included an expansion of the previously implemented Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, and the announcement of a new program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA).

These are both deferred action programs that provide eligible individuals with temporary administrative relief from deportation and permission to work.

Expanded DACA

The DACA expansion includes: the elimination of the upper age limit (meaning individuals born before June 15, 1981 who are otherwise eligible, could now apply); the change of entry date from June 15, 2007 to January 1, 2010; and an extended validity period. DACA grants will be for three years, instead of two.

DAPA

DAPA, the new program, is targeted at immigrant parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents and similarly provides a 3-year period of relief from deportation along with permission to work.

To be eligible for DACA, applicants must:

  • Have lived continuously in the U.S. since January 1, 2010;
  • Have been present in the U.S. on November 20, 2014;
  • As of November 20, 2014, had a son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident;
  • Not have had lawful immigration status on November 20, 2014 or at the time of application for DAPA; and
  • Not have been convicted of certain crimes.

According to the Brookings Institute, 4 millions people may be eligible for DAPA.

Republican launch partisan lawsuit against DAPA

Republicans in Texas and 25 other states brought a challenge to this executive order in federal court, specifically seeking to block the expansion of DACA and the implementation of DAPA. The Republican-led states argued that the President’s exercise of discretion was an unconstitutional overreach.

Then, on February 13, 2016, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly. With his passing, there are now only 8 justices on the Supreme Court. And Republicans in the Senate have refused to hold hearings and vote on any Obama nominee to replace Scalia.

Possible outcomes of DAPA case

A loss for immigrants

The worst outcome would be a 5-3 decision striking DAPA as an an unconstitutional use of executive authority. Such a decision would have implications far beyond the death of DAPA.

A loss in this case could prevent or limit future presidents from taking action on immigration matters. This outcome would mean that, having blocked legislative action, Republicans would have killed executive action as well. Immigration gridlock would continue for the foreseeable future.

A tied decision would be a loss

With 8 sitting justices, a tie is a theoretical possibility. When a Supreme Court case is decided with a tie, the lower court’s decision stands, but no precedent is set.

In the DAPA case, a tie would reaffirm the conservative Fifth Circuit’s decision, allowing a nationwide injunction on DAPA, but the expansion of DACA to remain in place.

A win for immigrants

The Supreme Court could affirm the legal validity of DAPA. If so, millions of people could begin filing DAPA application.

This is the outcome that the American Immigration Council predicts and the one that I’m hoping for. In this view, the Republican-led states lack standing and the Executive branch has wide discretion to implement and enforce immigration laws. This would also allow future presidents to take executive action on immigration and other contexts.

Immigration Lawyer ready to help with DAPA

Our office will be keeping a close eye on what happens with DAPA. We are hopeful for a positive result, and as soon as we have more information, we will provide it to you on our website and through our newsletter.

Should the Supreme Court uphold executive action on immigration, we will be here to help you prepare and file expanded DACA, as well as DAPA, applications. Come see us to discuss your immigration options. Meanwhile, let’s keep our fingers crossed!

2016: The Year Ahead in Immigration Law

Presidential Election

We’re in an election year and this election will have a big impact on immigration policy. The presidential campaigns are already going strong, and they’ve been pretty unusual and unpredictable so far.

On the Republican side, immigration has become a central issue in their campaigns. A number of the candidates have been speaking to and validating one of the worst characteristics in the American people – xenophobia. The messaging has gone past the point of offensive – it’s become racist.

Donald Trump has called for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S.; has said Mexicans coming into the U.S. are rapists, criminals and drug dealers; has indicated that he would deport the over 11 million undocumented people in the U.S.; has plans to end birthright citizenship; and has stated he wants to build a “real wall” to keep out immigrants on the U.S.-Mexican border. While Ted Cruz doesn’t go quite as far as Trump in his rhetoric, he supported Trump’s plan to stop all Muslims from entering the U.S.; wants to ban non-Christian Syrian refugees; also wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border; supports the mass deportation of undocumented immigrants; and has stated he would triple border protection, among other things. Instead of reaching out to immigrants and seeing their potential to add to and improve the United States, the Republican party candidates talk about immigrants using words of prejudice and paranoia.

On the democratic side, the two main candidates, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both support the rights of immigrants as well as the idea of Comprehensive Immigration Reform with a path to citizenship. They’ve spoken out against the hate that the Republican candidates have been selling. They have reaffirmed their support of President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform and have each taken a stand against the recent deportation raids conducted by the Obama administration.

he next President will impact the immigration system in a number of ways – he or she will affect what happens with Comprehensive Immigration Reform, detention centers for immigrant mothers and children, deportation raids, discretionary relief policies, and enforcement priorities. So, the question is, will the American people elect a President who glorifies hate and intolerance, or will the country choose a candidate who will defend the rights of immigrants?

Recently, with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, the Presidential election has taken on even more importance for immigration. There is now a vacant Supreme Court seat. President Obama will try to nominate a candidate in the remaining months that he is in office, but he is already getting a large amount of pushback from Republicans. Republicans are urging the Senate to delay the consideration and confirmation of any Supreme Court nominee until the next President is in office. With many important Supreme Court cases in the pipeline, including United States v. Texas (the case that will determine the legitimacy of Obama’s executive action on immigration), the appointment of a new Supreme Court Justice is critical. We’ll provide more updates and information on the United States v. Texas case and Justice Scalia’s potential replacements in our next newsletter!

Five Resume Tips for U.S. Immigrants

One of the first things you will probably do once you are in the United States is look for work. The job search process differs from country to country and once you begin your search in the United States, you might find that you are not receiving calls back or job offers. This could be because your resume does not fit with the standard American resume template or because it contains grammatical, syntax, or spelling errors. For guidance with the job search process as well as with any legal issues you face, work with an experienced immigration attorney.

Proofread

Having a native English speaker proofread your resume is an important step in writing a resume that will help you get the job you seek. Minor grammatical errors can reflect negatively on you and hurt your chance of being hired.

Research American Resume Templates

These can be found on the internet for free. It is important that you write your resume using a template that is appropriate for the type of job you are seeking and that you follow standard American conventions in it. For example, resumes in the United States do not include photographs or personal information like the applicant’s religion or marital status. In fact, it is actually illegal for your employer to ask you to provide this information.

Be Direct

Your resume should be straightforward and list your education, previous positions held, experience, and skills. This is all. It should not exceed one page for junior employees or two pages for senior employees. Employers only look at resumes briefly, so yours should communicate your skillset in a concise manner.

Provide Contact Information

Include your phone number and email address at the top of your resume along with your name. It is important that this information is easy to quickly locate for your employer – again, employers do not spend much time reading their applicants’ resumes, so you want to write yours in a way that it is extremely easy for an employer to determine if he or she wants to contact you, then shows him or her how to do so.

Be Honest

It might be tempting to exaggerate your accomplishments, but do not do this. Be honest about your skills and accomplishments in your resume. During an interview, you will be asked about the information included in your resume – if you cannot answer a question because it is based on inaccurate information, you will likely not be hired.

Work with an Experienced Los Angeles Immigration Attorney

When you are working through the legal aspects of living and working in the United States, such as ensuring that you can work in this country, seek help from an experienced immigration attorney. At The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., we are dedicated to working with recent immigrants to smooth out the naturalization process and resolve any issues they face. Contact our firm today to set up your initial legal consultation.

L.A. Religious Groups Reach Out to Immigrants

In many religions, such as Catholicism, offering sanctuary to those in need is a key tenet. Now, religious groups throughout the United States are offering aid and sanctuary to recent immigrants from Central America. This is in response to the current wave of anti-undocumented immigrant sentiment sweeping through the United States accompanied by federal raids conducted by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) meant to crack down on undocumented immigrant populations inside the United States.

These raids often result in individuals being swiftly deported without proper trials or legal representation. Thus far, 120 people have been ordered to leave the United States in these federal raids. This type of raid and deportation can be terrifying and can break a family apart. If you are a recent immigrant or a family member of somebody who has recently come to the United States, it is important that you know your rights regarding deportation. Work with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that you fully understand these rights and can protect yourself if issues related to staying in the country arise.

The Scope of America’s Undocumented Immigrant Population

Since 2014, more than 100,000 people from Central America have entered the United States. These individuals come here for a variety of reasons, such as the following:

  • Escaping violence;
  • Leaving communities and nations corrupt with drug trafficking;
  • Seeking better economic opportunities for their families; and
  • Coming to be with family members who have already entered the United States.

How Do Religious Groups Help Immigrants?

Religious groups in Los Angeles and throughout the United States have a long history of backing progressive immigration law reform and providing aid for individuals and families who come to this country fleeing violence and seeking more stable lives. An example of this is the Sanctuary Movement, through which a network of United States border area churches offered safe places for refugees fleeing wars and oppressive regimes in South and Central America in the 1980s. This movement eventually led to pressure on the Reagan administration to pass the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, which granted new rights to America’s immigrant population.

Today, churches and other faith centers in Los Angeles are working similarly to pass pro-immigrant legislation like the DREAM Act. Even groups that traditionally back conservative legislation, like evangelical Christian groups, support such acts in the name of moral righteousness. Some of the ways these groups help the people they work with, aside from supporting progressive legislation, include welcoming them into their congregations, providing food, clothing, and basic necessities for them, and aiding them with assimilation to life in America.

Work with an Experienced Boston Immigration Attorney

When you need help with one of the many legal issues that recent and not-so-recent immigrants face, seek guidance from an experienced immigration attorney. At The Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C., we are dedicated to working with recent immigrants to smooth out the naturalization process and resolve any issues they face. Contact our firm today to set up your initial legal consultation.

Central American Families Rounded Up By ICE Agents

The wave of immigration into the United States, particularly from Central American countries, has come to a head: after a national enforcement action to target minors was issued, 121 Central American adults and children were tracked down and rounded up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents the first weekend of January 2016, made ready to be shipped back to their home countries.

Continue reading “Central American Families Rounded Up By ICE Agents”

Ted Cruz and Immigration: What to Expect if He Wins the Election

If there is one topic that Ted Cruz has flip-flopped on, it is that of immigration. Despite his extremely conservative ways, immigration is one issue that Mr. Cruz has always held a softer position on. In fact, the Texan has been a long-time advocate for expanding avenues for legal immigration into the United States, particularly for high-skilled workers.

But his once open stance on legal immigration into the U.S., including making more visas available for eligible immigrants, may have come to an end; Ted Cruz is now pushing for a halt on immigration, legal and otherwise.

Once an Advocate for Legal Immigration

Ted Cruz has been one of the few conservative republicans who has continuously advocated for immigrants’ rights over the course of his tenure. While never once using the word “amnesty,” Cruz’s political history includes him continuously saying that he wanted to expand legal immigration, and he even told reporters, quoted by CNN News, that he thinks “legal immigration is a fundamental pillar of our country,” and that he believes we should remain a nation that “”doesn’t just welcome, but celebrates legal immigrants around this table.” In the past, Cruz has also supported expansion of temporary guest workers permitted to come into the United States, as well as expansion of the number of green cards available.

Cruz Makes a Shift

While Cruz may have once been a proponent for bringing immigrants into the country, those views seem to have been tabled for now. In November, Cruz issued his immigration plan, which is even more conservative than legislation that has been proposed—and that Cruz has stood up against—in the past. To be sure, Cruz’s plan would:

  • Halt legal immigration until the rate of unemployment in the United States decreases;
  • End birthright citizenship – those born in the United States would no longer be considered U.S. citizens;
  • Suspend the H-1B visa program (visas for foreign workers) for 180 days with the intent of investigating allegations of abuse within the program.

The plan, to put it simply, is not one that lends much hope to immigrants—both documented and otherwise—living within the country, nor immigrants hoping to make the journey to the U.S.

How an Immigration Attorney Can Help You

If you are an undocumented immigrant currently living within the United States, you may have fears and questions about what your future holds, and what the future of U.S. immigration policy is. While both are unclear, the immigrations attorneys at the Law Offices of Joshua L. Goldstein, P.C. can advocate for you and for your right to remain within the country. For a case consultation where we can discuss your immigration status and how your right to remain here may be protected, call us today at 323-484-907.