How did you enter the U.S. (legal entry or illegal entry)??
Legal entry means that you entered the U.S. by applying for and receiving a visa at a U.S. consulate in your home country, and were inspected and admitted by a U.S. Customs officer at a U.S. port-of-entry. Illegal entry means the opposite, including entering with a fraudulent visa, or not inspected by a Customs officer at all.??
Your attorney must know how you arrived into the United States in order to access the available forms of relief available to you. This information will also provide your attorney with the expediency of the relief available to you. Additionally, depending on whether there are existing petitions filed on your behalf, you attorney will know whether this allows you to adjust your status in this country, require you to leave the country and file for a waiver, or apply for cancellation of removal, or the equivalant , prior to your first master calendar.
Do you have a prior Deportation order??
This may seem like an obvious disclosure; however, a significant amount of individuals assume that they do not have a deportation order against them, merely because they failed to attend a prior removal hearing, that they were not notified of the date of their removal hearing, or because they left the country before their removal hearing. ??
In fact, the opposite is true. And if you left the country prior to your removal date, and reentered the country illegally, you may be faced with dire consequences. Moreover, failing to inform your attorney of a prior deportation order, or the possibility that one may exist, will alter his or her capability to competently advocate on your behalf in front of an immigration judge. ?
When did you enter the country?
This inquiry is significant for a number of reasons. The last 10 years have included a myriad of statutory milestones pertaining to immigration law, and relevant here, to the forms of relief available to certain individuals faced with removal proceedings. ??
Other issues also include whether certain immigration laws apply to you retroactively, and if they don't, whether they serve as a form of relief in your case. Therefore, emphasize your date of entry to your attorney.
How long have you been in the U.S.?
This is perhaps the most basic question to answer when faced with a removal proceeding. Knowing the length of time you've lived in the U.S., continuously allows an attorney to assess whether additional forms of relief apply to you, including the relief of Cancellation of Removal.?
Do you have any immediate relatives in the U.S.??
This question identifies whether an immediate has filed a petition on your behalf, or whether they are willing to file a petition on your behalf (parent or otherwise). For an example if you have a petition pending, an Immigration judge may continue your case pending approval of the petition.
Do you have a petition pending on your behalf??
In addition to the reasons articulated above, the date the petition was filed may offer you additional forms of relief, if you qualify. One such example is the grandfather clause under 245(i). 245i was designed to help people who are presently in the U.S. illegally. This includes people who entered the U.S. illegally as well as people who entered with a visa but overstayed after their visa expired. To qualify, an employer or close family relative must have filed a petition for you by April 30, 2001. Additionally, you had to be physically present in the U.s. on December 21, 2000.
Do you have a conviction record??
And if you do, you must specify whether the offense is a misdemeanor or felony. Certain forms of relief may be barred to individuals with a criminal record, and certainly with those individuals with a felony record. You attorney must be informed of the conviction, sentence, and the fact surrounding your record. A competent attorney may argue in court that the elements were not met, or that the conviction is irrelevant to the forms of relief requested.?
What is your status in your native country??
Do inform your attorney of the country of your origin. An obvious reason for this is that you may be available to pursue asylum, defensively, or pursue remedies under the Convention against Torture. Additionally, your status (gender, sexuality, etc) may offer a passable avenue of asylum, if applicable. A competent attorney will be able to guide you with this process.
Have you served in the Armed forces??
This may seem odd to a few readers, but certainly should not be understated. Although your sacrifice, in itself, will not eliminate your removal proceedings, it may, in combination with other forms of relief, provide consideration to a trier of fact, in this case an immigration judge.?
When and where were you born??
This is important because you may be a U.S. citizen without knowing it. Some people born outside the U.S. may actually be U.S. citizens. There are laws and factors that control whether an individual born outside the U.S. is indeed a U.S. citizen. Such factors include: the child's date of birth; the parent's citizenship; the length of time the U.S. citizen parent resided in the U.S.; and whether the child resided in the U.S. in the required time. Other factors also including establishing a parent-child relationship, to establish citizenship. This is a complicated area of immigration law. Consult a competent attorney to handle this issue.
Additional resources provided by the author
Regarding asylum, please see below on the different types of asylum an applicant may pursue.
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