At Oakland Law Collaborative, we help immigrants take full advantage of legal opportunities to live and work in the U.S. through both defensive and affirmative applications for relief.
Deportation Defense and Family Immigration Lawyers
Oakland Law Collaborative members Law Office of Aliya Karmali, The Community Law Office (Gabriela Lopez), and Flynn Law Office provide a range of immigration services from removal and deportation defense to family based immigration, including asylum, Deferred Action, waivers of inadmissibility and criminal bars, U-visas for victims of immigrant crime, family petitions, adjustment of status, citizenship, and cancellation of removal. We also do related appeals before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
** We are also able to provide consultations regarding the new Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) program for administrative relief, announced by President Obama on November 20, 2014. Do not contact a notary or non-licensed provider to begin your case, as the application will not be ready until May 2015. **
We ensure that motions before the Executive Office of Immigration Review (EOIR) and applications before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are thorough and received in a timely, efficient manner.
Immigration – An Overview
Immigration law covers the procedures for entering the US, determines who is and is not eligible for entry, sets the rules for obtaining citizenship and deporting foreign nationals who violate US immigration or other laws. Immigration attorneys assist foreign nationals seeking to come to the US to study, travel, conduct business and work. They also help employers complete the application and certification processes to employ foreign workers for permanent and temporary positions.
Basic Immigration Laws
Since the first immigration act was passed in the 1950s, immigration law in the U.S. has undergone many important changes and revisions. Changes in immigration law affect employers, visitors, students, business travelers and others seeking to live, work or travel to the U.S.
Government Agencies and Their Duties
More than one US government agency is involved with implementing and enforcing US immigration law and policy. Given the complexity of US immigration law, it is important to understand which federal agencies are involved with which types of immigration matters.
Those wishing to relocate permanently to the U.S. and those desiring to visit the US for a temporary amount of time must apply and be approved for a visa prior to traveling to the country. There are many types of visas, and it is essential that the foreign national applies for the correct class of visa.
Removal occurs when the federal government formally removes an alien from the country for violation of U.S. immigration or other laws. Once deported, an alien may lose the right to return to the United States, even as a visitor.
Entered the U.S. Unlawfully?
Provisional Waivers of Inadmissibility
If you or your spouse entered the United States unlawfully, you face many obstacles in obtaining a green card. Whether you are now seeking asylum or faced significant hardships in your home country causing you to enter the U.S. unlawfully, Oakland Law Collaborative can help. We will carefully examine your situation and provide you with realistic answers regarding your options and the steps you need to take to solidify your resident status.
There are several hardships that are options for those completing a 601 waiver, including:
- Fear of persecution or physical harm in home country
- Need for specialized or ongoing health care treatment within the U.S.
- Financial reasons including loss of business in home country or future employability within the U.S.
- Desire to be near immediate relatives (spouse, children, parents, etc.) already living in the United States
A more complete conversation about the hardship waiver can be completed through a detailed discussion with an attorney at our firm. Schedule a consultation with a lawyer at Oakland Law Collaborative to discuss your unique situation and learn more about your options from an experienced lawyer.
Can I Be Deported if I Have a Green Card?
Even if you have a green card and have been in the United States for a number of years, it might still be possible to be removed from the country. If you feel that your resident status is at risk, or you are facing deportation proceedings, it is important to contact a skilled attorney as soon as possible. We can immediately begin working on your defense and fight to protect your freedom.
It is possible to be removed from the U.S. and have your reentry barred for a number of reasons, including:
- Felony conviction
- Marriage fraud
- False statements on any immigration document or during an immigration interview
- Violation of any of the terms and conditions of your green card
Facing Criminal Charges?
If you are convicted of a deportable offense, you might face prosecution in immigration court. In some cases, the judge has the authority to begin deportation proceedings and have you removed from the United States, even if you have a green card.
Not every criminal conviction can get a legal alien deported from the U.S. Minor misdemeanors such as traffic violations will not usually affect your resident status. There are several different types of criminal offenses that can potentially get you deported, including:
- Drug crimes
- Firearm crimes
- Domestic violence
Immigrants must be concerned with not only facing the stiff penalties that a criminal conviction brings, but also the serious possibility of being involved in deportation proceedings through immigration court following the conviction.
Past Convictions & Expungements
In some circumstances, a criminal conviction can have devastating effects on an individual’s ability to remain in the United States. Many times, people will seek to have the charge expunged, or removed from his or her record. Once deportation becomes a reality, an expungement can do little to protect your status. It is necessary to contact a lawyer as soon as possible so we can protect your criminal record and preserve your resident status.
At Oakland Law Collaborative, our attorney has a great deal of experience helping clients with past convictions and expungements. An illegal immigrant who is convicted of a crime must go through a special post-conviction relief process. This process entails opening the original case, and working to get the conviction changed or vacated in a manner that complies with immigration law.
In 1994, section 245(i) of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act provided an opportunity for undocumented foreign nationals (described as “aliens” in immigration statutes) to obtain permanent resident (green card) status. The amnesty program was extended twice and ended on April 30, 2001. Although there currently are no active immigration amnesty programs, those who are the beneficiaries of an approvable petition filed prior to the April 30, 2001 deadline may still be able to adjust their status to permanent residency with the payment of a penalty. Under certain grandfathering provisions, section 245(i) also continues to be relevant for children of those who obtained 245(i) amnesty.
The 245(i) amnesty programs provided a legal path to permanent residency for millions of undocumented immigrants, without requiring them to return to their home countries. Many of these people had been living, working and paying taxes and Social Security in the United States for many years. Most of them entered the U.S. without permission or stayed beyond the expiration of their visas. Today, many impending immigrants wishing to gain legal entry into the U.S. must return to their home countries and go through consular processing.
Today, many people wishing to enter the U.S. must first return to their home countries to complete an application for permanent residence (green card) or an immigrant visa through a U.S. consulate abroad.
Often, those who are required to complete consular processing may already be in the U.S. without permission. At Oakland Law Collaborative, we understand that you may now be married to a U.S. citizen and wish to stay in the country. However, in many instances such as these, returning to your home country is required to make your presence in the U.S. legal.
While there is no guarantee that you will be able to re-enter the U.S., our experienced immigration attorneys will work to ensure that all of your required documents are filed with the USCIS accurately and in a timely manner. We will also work with the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC), ensure your file is sent to the appropriate U.S. consulate (embassy) and prepare you for the consular interview, which can play a critical role in obtaining a visa.
Green Card — Family-Based
At Oakland Law Collaborative, we help individuals and families obtain lawful permanent residency (LPR) through family-based green cards. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge needed to answer your questions and facilitate your permanent residency application, including removal of conditions if you already have LPR status on the basis of a recent marriage to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
There are several different options available for families wishing to adjust a family member’s status in order to obtain a green card, including:
- Married to a U.S. citizen
- Parent sponsored by a U.S. citizen child (child must be over 21)
- Unmarried son or daughter of U.S. citizen
- Married son or daughter of U.S. citizen
- Spouse or unmarried child sponsored by a green card holder
- Unmarried son or daughter of green card holder (child must be over 21)
- Brother or sister of an adult U.S. citizen
We are prepared to communicate on your behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) throughout the green card application or green card renewal process. Only a certain number of family-based green cards are approved each year, and individuals who fall into priority categories have preference
If your husband or wife has entered the United States illegally and does not have a valid immigration status, it is wise to seek the counsel of a skilled lawyer for help. It is possible to file an I-130 petition to protect your spouse and your marriage.
If you are a United States citizen, you can file an I-130 petition, also known as immediate relative petition. The department of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will carefully examine your petition to ensure that:
- You are a U.S. citizen
- You and your spouse are legally married
- Your marriage is bona fide
After your petition is approved and moved forward through the process, you will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. Embassy.
Adjustment of Status
Each year, thousands of foreign nationals already living in the United States will apply for an adjustment of status. Many individuals find the process confusing and frustrating. An experienced immigration attorney can help people better understand the proper steps to take.
At Oakland Law Collaborative, our immigration attorneys will carefully examine your situation and provide you with answers to even your most complex questions. We will explain the documentation that is necessary and even help you complete your forms and submit them.
Citizenship and Naturalization
According to the USCIS, naturalization may be attainable for legally admitted foreign citizens or nationals who meet requirements as set forth by Congress. The general requirements for administrative naturalization include:
- A period of continuous residence and physical presence in the United States
- Residence in a particular USCIS district prior to filing
- An ability to read, write and speak English
- A knowledge and understanding of U.S. history and government
- Good moral character
- Attachment to the principles of the U.S. Constitution
- Favorable disposition toward the United States
Contact our attorneys for guidance in any facet of the citizenship application process, including:
- Submission of the Application for Naturalization (form N-400) to the USCIS
- Fees, photos and fingerprints
- FBI background check
- Citizenship test
- USCIS interview
- Oath of Allegiance
We can help you understand how to obtain or assert citizenship in special circumstances such as:
- Son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
- Service in the U.S. military
We can also help you understand the responsibilities of U.S. citizens, including:
- Income tax filing requirements
- Eligibility for military service
Often, individuals require assistance to overcome bars or inadmissibility issues to remain in the U.S. or to enter the U.S. While there are waivers available to individuals who qualify, they can be difficult to obtain..
Section 212 of the Immigration and Nationality Act lists various grounds for which a person is ineligible to receive a visa or gain entry into the U.S. Some of these grounds include:
- Criminal conviction
- Status violations such as unlawful employment and unlawful presence in the U.S.
- Unlawful entry into the U.S.
- Former deportation or removal
To be granted a waiver, you typically must show that a parent or spouse will suffer an extreme hardship if you cannot live in the United States.
If you did not take the necessary legal steps in order to stay in the United States, you face serious consequences. It is crucial to seek the help of an experienced attorney who can provide legal advice and representation.
At the Oakland Law Collaborative, we understand that overstaying your visa can have devastating consequences on your ability to stay in the U.S. In many situations, the Department of Homeland Security will initiate proceedings that can result in your removal from the country (deportation). Contact our firm for a meeting to discuss your situation and learn more about our deportation defense practice.
If you were not able to avoid overstaying your visa by filing an extension, it is wise to contact a skilled attorney who can advise you on how you can avoid removal. We will examine your situation and all relevant documentation to help create a thorough and compelling case to present to the government.
Once your visa is expired, the government will only allow exceptions if it can be proven that:
- The length of the delay was reasonable
- Your nonimmigrant status was not violated in any way other than the time period
- You are not already involved in formal deportation proceedings
To learn more about how our firm can help you avoid deportation due to visa overstay, schedule a consultation with an attorney immediately. We understand the steps that are necessary and can guide you through the entire process from application to appeal. Trust us to fight for your freedom every step of the way.
At Oakland Law Collaborative, we assist refugees seeking asylum in California or at times other states the United States. Perhaps you left your country because of political instability or religious persecution. If so, you may be a candidate for political asylum.
Apply for Asylum Within One Year
No matter how you arrived in the U.S., it is important to apply for asylum within the first year that you are in the U.S., unless you are a minor or otherwise do not have legal capacity. Our immigration lawyers are well qualified to help you apply for asylum on time, in full compliance with all regulations and prerequisites necessary to qualify for asylum status.
VAWA — Violence Against Women Act
At Oakland Law Collaborative, we help battered spouses, children and elders obtain permanent residency status through the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). If you are not a U.S. citizen and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen spouse, parent or child, contact us as soon as possible for immigration relief through temporary visas (U visas and T visas) and green cards. Our attorneys have helped countless women, men and children improve their lives through various immigration options in Tulsa and throughout the U.S.
In the past, noncitizens married to U.S. citizens did not have options to leave or seek help after instances of abuse. Passed in 1994, the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) offers relief to spouses, parents and children of abusive U.S. citizens and permanent residents by allowing them to petition to adjust without assistance from a U.S. relative.
The VAWA does not only apply to women. Any spouse, parent or child of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) can self-petition for permanent residency, as long as he or she provides evidence of abuse that took place in a relationship with their U.S. relative.
B-1/B-2 – Tourist Visas
Many people from around the world wish to visit the U.S. for a short period of time for pleasure or business reasons. At Oakland Law Collaborative, we assist those interested in obtaining B-1 or B-2 visitor visas. Contact our law firm to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer about your visa application. We will help you determine which visa best fits your needs and ensure your application is completed accurately, in a timely manner and in compliance with U.S. laws.
If you suffered serious mental or physical harm as a victim of crime, it might be possible to receive a U nonimmigrant visa from the United States government. The U visa was created for victims of crime who are willing to assist government officials in the investigation of the criminal activity they were a victim of.
The intent of the U visa and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) is to protect immigrants from serious crimes and provide valuable assistance to law enforcement officers who are investigating criminal activity. There are several requirements for U visa eligibility.
- You are the victim of qualifying criminal activity.
- You have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of criminal activity.
- You were helpful, are helpful, or are likely to be helpful to law enforcement in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
Requesting relief in immigration court, or applying for a visa or other benefit with USCIS are not uncomplicated processes. It is not uncommon for individuals to be denied in their requests. In these situations, it is wise to select a lawyer who understands the legal process and can guide you toward a successful resolution through appeal.
At Oakland Law Collaborative, our immigration attorneys understand that nothing is ever guaranteed. It is possible for your paperwork to be filled out correctly and submitted on time, and you still can get denied the relief or benefit you seek. That is why the government has created the appeals process. Through this process, we can examine your documentation, application and the government’s denial and develop a strong case for your appeal, whether before the BIA, Ninth Circuit, or Administrative Appeals Office (AAO).
Frequently Asked Questions about Immigration
Q: Which family members may sponsor someone for a US visa?
A: A US citizen may sponsor a spouse, parent, sibling, minor child or adult child (regardless of marital status) for an immigrant visa. Additionally, aliens with legal permanent resident status (or a “green card”) may sponsor a spouse or unmarried child.
Q: How can a foreign national gain legal permanent resident (LPR) status?
A: The two main ways a foreign national can gain LPR status is to be sponsored by 1) family member already living in the US as a citizen or legal permanent resident; or 2) an employer for a permanent, full-time employment position in the US. Foreign nationals also may be eligible to register for the diversity lottery and refugees may be able to resettle in the US or apply for asylum.
One of the main ways to become a legal permanent resident is through family sponsorship. A US citizen spouse, parent, adult child or sibling can sponsor you. If you have questions about the process for obtaining a green card, contact our office to speak with a knowledgeable immigration attorney.
At Oakland Law Collaborative, we provide comprehensive, personalized immigration legal services to international students, temporary immigrant workers, family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents and employers of international executives, consultants and specialists. The following information is provided as a courtesy and does not necessarily address your particular immigration situation.
Immigration Resource Links
Executive Office of Immigration Review: This is the official site for federal immigration courts around the country, responsible for enforcing U.S. immigration laws.
US Citizenship and Immigration Services: Main US agency responsible for implementing and enforcing US immigration laws. The Web site provides information and links to forms for applying for visas, acquiring citizenship, sponsoring employees and family members, green cards and more.
US Department of State: This State Department Web site provides information for acquiring permanent resident status in the US, including information on the different types of visas and how to acquire a family-based or employment-based visa.
Visa Bulletin: This site allows you to access priority dates and family dependence categories for immigrant visas.
National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild: This is a project of the Guild with resources for attorneys and immigrants alike, particularly those in removal proceedings.
Immigrant Legal Resource Center: This agency provides a significant amount of free information as well as practice guides for criminal defense attorneys and immigration practitioners alike.
The Florence Project: Located in Eloy, Arizona, this group provides representation to detained individuals, as well as resources for immigrants representing themselves in removal proceedings.
Legal Information Institute about Immigration: This set of resources maintained by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University provides an overview of immigration law.