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USCIS announced a new rule today that will allow certain H-4 dependent spouses of H-1B workers to apply for work authorization. Beginning May 26, 2015, H-4 dependent spouses who fall into one of two categories may apply for an EAD. This is not blanket eligibility for all H-4 spouses. However it will come as welcome relief to those who are in line for US permanent residence and whose spouses have been stuck in the backlog with them, unable to get permission to work. (2/24/2015)

Here are five things you need to know about President Obama’s new program designed to offer temporary relief and work authorization to undocumented parents of US citizens and permanent residents. President Obama’s announced administrative relief has created some confusion about who might be eligible for expanded DACA and the new DAPA program. This consumer alert offers a one-page summary of eligibility. Click here for Spanish. (12/23/2014)

The President Announces His Executive Action (11/26/2014)
President Obama’s announcement has engendered partisan debate and controversy, with many alleging his actions amount to a grant of amnesty and will prevent any opportunity to enact immigration reform in the upcoming years. We support enactment of major reform legislation, the only way to provide lasting change. However, Congress has not been able to pass a bill and it appears unlikely the new Congress will do so either. The President’s executive action is a step in the right direction. We warn people to be wary of scams by unscrupulous notarios.

Tune In: The President Addresses the Nation on Immigration Reform (11/19/2014)
President Obama will lay out the executive actions he’s taking to fix our broken immigration system. Watch him live at 3 pm. HST on November 20, 2014.

Vox: Nine Facts That Explain Why President Obama is About to Help Millions of Immigrants (11/18/2014)
Vox reports that on one level, the President’s impending announcement is the end of a process that started in March 2014. On another level, however, it is another phase in the development of an immigration system that’s been transformed over the past twenty years. The article goes on to explain how we got to this point and why immigration policy looks so different from how it did back then.

2016 Diversity Visa Program Registration Now Open! (10/08/2014)
Registration is now open and will close at noon EST on November 3, 2014. Applicants must submit entries electronically during the registration period. We encourage applicants not to wait until the last minute to enter, as heavy demand could result in website delays.

Supreme Court Ruling on Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) Should Give Equal Immigration Rights to Lawfully Married Same Sex Couples (posted 6/25/2013).
DOMA forced many bi-national same sex couples to choose between staying together but leaving the US, or splitting apart. Now, those couples should be able to benefit from our immigration system, keeping American families together. President Obama issued an immediate directive to the Attorney General to “work with other members of my Cabinet to review all relevant federal statutes to ensure this decision, including its implications for Federal benefits and obligations, is implemented swiftly and smoothly.”
The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano also issued a statement to press confirming that DHS is “working with our federal partners, including the Department of Justice, [to] implement today’s decision so that all married couples will be treated equally and fairly in the administration of our immigration laws.”

Winners of the 16th Annual American Immigration Council Creative Writing Contest (posted 6/11/2013) The American Immigration Council announced that the first place winner of its Community Education Center’s 16th Annual ‘Celebrate America’ Fifth Grade Creative Writing Contest is Erin Stark of Enetai Elementary School in Bellevue, Washington. Her poem entitled What Would You Miss About Immigrants? was chosen from among thousands of entries nationwide. The piece asks what one would do if immigrants stopped coming to the United States.

Would you miss their art,
Painting, literature, and music.
Plays, sculpture, and design?…..
Immigrants are coming every day.
They bring recipes, celebrations, talents, and skills.
Variety is what they bring with them in every way.
USA would be bland without immigrants,
Now our nation is colorful and the joy is infinite.

To read the rest of the winning entry click here.

USCBP rolls out new arrival/departure record process for nonimmigrants. (Posted 05/20/2013) Foreign visitors (including those on temporary work visas and student visas) arriving in the United States via air or sea no longer will receive paper Form I-94 arrival/departure records. Instead, they will have to access their arrival/departure records information online here. US Customs & Border Protection (CBP) announced in April that it will roll out this new electronic process at the end of April and it went into effect in Honolulu in mid-May. With the new CBP process, a CBP officer will stamp the travel document of each arriving nonimmigrant traveler. The admission stamp will show the date of admission, class of admission, and the date to which the traveler is admitted. Travelers also will receive on arrival a flier alerting them to go to the website for their admission record information. Hirota & Associates strongly recommends printing out your Form I-94 record as soon as you arrive home from the airport, before you forget. For more information, please see the USCBP Fact Sheet.

New Americans in Hawaii (posted 05/09/2013) The American Immigration Council’s Immigration Policy Center released updated information about New Americans in Hawaii, highlighting the demographic and economic impact of New Americans in each state. According to the new information, nearly 1 in 5 residents of Hawaii are immigrants, and more than half of them are naturalized U.S. citizens who are eligible to vote.

Why does America deserve a common-sense immigration process? Maile M. Hirota explains. (Posted 4/24/2013)

The bi-partisan Senate leadership’s proposal is a substantial step in the right direction toward fixing our broken immigration system. (Posted 04/18/2013) Our country desperately needs a common-sense immigration process. We are encouraged by the following proposed changes to the family-immigration system:

  • Eliminates the family backlog over a period of ten years.
  • Redefines “immediate relatives” to include spouses and minor children of permanent residents, allowing an expedited process not subject to numerical caps on green cards.
  • Allows parents of U.S. citizens who immigrate to the U.S. to bring their minor children with them, keeping families together.
  • Permits family members awaiting green cards to work and live in the U.S.
  • Allows other family members to visit the U.S. for up to 60 days per year.

But these proposed changes are a dramatic departure from America’s value of family unity:

  • Eliminates the “F4” visa category so that U.S. citizens will no longer be able to sponsor their brothers and sisters.
  • Places an age cap on the “F3” visa category so that U.S. citizens can sponsor only those adult married children who are thirty years old or younger.
  • Continues to exclude LGBT couples and families from sponsoring their loved ones for family reunification.

Thus, we urge the following actions of our community:

  1. Current law allows U.S. citizens to petition to sponsor your brothers, sisters, and adult married children. This may change if the Senate’s immigration proposal is signed into law. The Senate bill in its current form eliminates the sibling visa category, so that U.S. citizens would no longer be able to sponsor their brothers and sisters for green cards. U.S. citizens also no longer would be able to sponsor their adult married children who are 31 years of age or older. This still is a proposal and is not yet law, so if you are a U.S. citizen and would like to sponsor your brother, sister, or adult married child for green cards, you should consider whether to do so now.
  2. Call Senator Mazie Hirono at 808-522-8970 or 202-224-6361. Senator Hirono is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee which will be reviewing the immigration bill, and thus will play an important role in the legislative process. Urge her to continue to be a champion for immigrant families and to preserve the ability of brothers, sisters, and adult married children of all ages to immigrate to the U.S.
  3. Be careful of advertised services for immigration relief. There currently is no new immigration law and no application process for getting legal status in the U.S.
  4. Start gathering your documents to show that you have been in the U.S. since at least December 2011.
    • The Senate bill currently proposes a cut-off date for legalization of December 31, 2011. This date may change. It is important that in the meantime, you start to compile your documentation to show that you were in the U.S. in December 2011 and that you have been continuously present in the U.S. since then. You will need to show that you continue to reside in the U.S. until the time that you apply for and receive legalization.
    • We do not have details about the type of documentation the government might require, but here are some possible examples: utility bills, bank statements, school records, signed letters from clergy, medical records, phone bill statements, employment records, credit card receipts, school records, and other documents that list your name and the date.

The Senate bill has arrived! (4/17/2013)
The Senate’s “Gang of Eight” has introduced the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act” in the 113th Congress. The bill is 844 pages long and no doubt will invite weeks of debate on many of its provisions. The bill is the culmination of months of work by a biSenators and their staff.

President Obama grants rare immigration-related pardon (posted 3/03/2013)
President Obama granted seventeen pardons on March 1, one of them to Honolulu resident An Na Peng, represented by Maile M. Hirota. Ms. Peng legally immigrated from China and sought the pardon to avoid the possibility of being deported. The presidential pardon granted to An Na Peng is the first immigration-related pardon in more than a decade.

US DHS announces new policy to help “DREAMERS” (posted 6/15/2012)
The Obama administration announced today that it will offer indefinite reprieves from deportation for young immigrants who were brought to the country as minors and meet other specific requirements. The move, a bold response to the broken immigration system, temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for youths who would qualify for relief under the failed DREAM Act, giving Congress the space needed to craft a bipartisan solution that gives permanent residence to qualifying young people. In a statement from the White House, President Obama said the policy was “the right thing to do,” calling DREAMers “Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every way but one: on paper.” ICE FAQ here

This is real. But not all young people will qualify. We are still waiting for details. Until more information is available, we note that qualified applicants will have to prove physical presence in the US as of 6/15/2012. If you have a valid ID, get something notarized today. Take a photo of yourself with today’s newspaper. Get a receipt with your name on it. There are lots of ways to prove your presence here.

New ABA Video Helps Immigrant Detainees Understand Their Rights (posted 04/30/2012). To help ensure America’s commitment to justice for all, the American Bar Association Commission on Immigration has produced an updated version of “Know Your Rights,” an educational video for the more than 400,000 men and women being held in immigration detention facilities across the USA every year. Click here to view a preview of the video. To view the entire video, go here.

Board of Immigration Appeals Guts Legal Protection for Immigrants Under Arrest (posted 08/16/2011)In a precedent decision, the Board held that noncitizens need not be informed of their right to counsel or warned that their statements can be used against them until after they have been placed in formal deportation proceedings. As a result of last week’s ruling, noncitizens under arrest will now be even more vulnerable to pressure from interrogating officers, and immigration judges will face greater difficulty determining whether statements made during questioning were truly voluntary. Read the ruling here

DHS Terminates Secure Communities Agreements with States, Continues to Implement Program (posted 08/12/2011)
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provoked outrage from immigration groups when it announced the termination of Secure Communities Memorandum of Agreements (MOAs) with state and local governments. DHS initially entered into MOAs with state officials as a way to encourage voluntary participation in Secure Communities, an enforcement program which runs the fingerprints of individuals booked in local jails through federal databases. Last October, however, following attempts by local jurisdictions to terminate their MOAs, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano announced that Secure Communities was not a voluntary program after all. DHS’s latest about-face this week has only further angered immigration activists, many of whom are calling on DHS to end the program. Read the article here.

Growing Up As A US citizen With Undocumented Parents (posted 07/14/2011)
Millions of families in the United States consist of both US citizens and undocumented immigrants. One 16 year old girl shares her story of growing up in the US with parents and an older sister who have no legal status here, illustrating some of the complexities of the debate over immigration. Read or listen to the story here

Hope for Undocumented Military Spouses (posted 07/13/2011)
For more than a decade, people who entered the United States without inspection have had little hope in fixing their immigration status from within the United States, even if they have immediate relatives who are US citizens. The same is true even if their spouse is active-duty military. During this time of war, a little-known provision of US immigration law has given hope to some families. Read the article

Winners of the 14th Annual American Immigration Council Creative Writing Contest (posted 6/03/2011)
Over 6,500 entries came in to local contests across the country and the quality of submissions was inspiring. The winning entries from each local contest were sent to the AIC National Office and were screened by a panel of immigration attorneys, authors, and classroom teachers. The scores from this panel were used to select the top five entries which were sent to celebrity judges.

This year’s judges were Randi Weingarten, the President of the American Federation of Teachers; Henry Cejudo, Olympic Gold Medalist; Gerda Weissman Klein, Author and recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom; and Senator Daniel Inouye.

Grand Prize Winner
Maya W.
Castelar Elementary of Los Angeles, California
Read the Winning Entry

2nd Place
Fiona L.
Oyster Bilingual School-Washington, DC

3rd Place
Hannah H.
La Jolla Elementary-San Diego, California

Honorable Mentions
Miranda B.
Hopkins Elementary- Boston, Massachussetts

Daniel P.
Wayne Tanaka Elementary- Las Vegas, Nevada

All Winners by State
Call Hirota & Associates, LLLC at 808-587-9600 or contact us online.