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© Copyright 2016 Law Office of Mary K. Neal, LLC. This website is attorney advertising material. General information on this website should not be relied on as legal advice for any specific issue. Use of this website does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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As our government scrambles to find some way to handle the thousands of desperate migrant children and families from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador slipping across our southern border, we should remember the past.  Seventy-five years ago, in June of 1939 another wave of desperate migrants was pleading for entry to our country. There were no visas available because of strict quotas on immigrants, and legislation that would have allowed more of these migrants into the country had died in Congress.  President Roosevelt and his Department of State declined to extend any extraordinary relief, instead sending a letter to the migrants that they must "await their turns on the waiting list."  We turned away boatloads of migrants, Jewish families fleeing Nazi Germany, and sent them back because they did not fit our immigration priorities. Of the 938 passengers on one ship, the St. Louis, more than 250 died in the Holocaust.

As an American, I am not proud of that moment in ...
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As media reports show fighting in Slovyansk, Donestsk, and even Odessa, Ukrainian citizens in the United States fear for their friends and family, and for their own safety should they need to return.  Many are anxiously hoping that the United States government will declare Temporary Protected Status for their nation.  Unfortunately, while the civil unrest in Ukraine has grown, the U.S. government position regarding the Status of Ukrainians in our country has not changed since my blog post of last month**Updated February 17, 2015, still no TPS for Ukraine**

Even though there is no TPS designation yet for Ukraine, some attorneys (and most certainly some non-attorneys) are offering TPS-related service to Ukrainians in anticipation of a future designation.  Below is my response to an inquiry about such services today:

Temporary Protected Status is available only for citizens of the few countries for which the U.S. government has designated.  As of today (May 7th) the govern...
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Visas for Entrepreneurs?

From Robert Morris to Levi Strauss to Sergey Brin, immigrants have built the businesses which built our nation from colonial times to the current day.  The immigrant shopkeeper and restaurant owner are stock characters in American movies, literature, and TV.  Here in Chicago, more than 27% of all businesses are owned by immigrants, according to statistics from the American Immigration Council, with immigrants going into business at a higher rate than those of us born in the U.S.

Given the history, prevalence, and cultural influence of immigrant entrepreneurs, most people assume that any person with a strong work ethic, a bright idea, and some money to start things off could come to the U.S. and start a business. The Obama administration has also been promoting the idea of entrepreneur immigration, through an "entrepreneur in residence" program which brought in business leaders to advise immigration bureaucrats on policies and practices to support entrepreneurs...
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Categories: Business Immigration

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With the Russian takeover of Crimea and political turmoil throughout Ukraine, many people are asking whether the United States will grant asylum or protected status to those affected by the conflict.  

Unfortunately for Ukrainian or Russian nationals who fear returning to the region, there is not any organized program to provide protected status in the United States at the time of this update (Updated October 1, 2014).  As yet, our government has not declared Temporary Protected Status for Ukraine, nor has the United Nations High Commission on Refugees begun operations in the region.

Asylum is one option for Ukrainians or Russians in the United States who fear persecution at home.  However, people should be careful not to fall prey to immigration consultants who promise easy results or who claim that "everyone" from the area will get asylum. As I have written before when conflict erupted in Syria, asylum is a very personal form of relief. Each person much make his or her own case as t...
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With the intractable disagreements about the Affordable Care Act stalling any productive budget action by Congress, the Federal Government is likely to shut down at midnight tonight. What will this mean for the many thousands of immigrants, potential immigrants, foreign workers, and businesses waiting for government action on visas applications, petitions, and other immigration matters?

To a large extent, it depends on what agency is responsible for the matter,    (see sidebar "Who's in Charge?") and whether the matter is considered 'essential."  If this shutdown follows past protocol, here is what we can expect for different matters:

Visa Applications before U.S. Consulates Abroad (Department of State)

All visa processing will likely shut down except for diplomatic visas and life-or-death matters.  Unless you are waiting for Humanitarian Parole for urgent medical treatment, you will probably need to reschedule any visas interviews that fall on days the government is shut down.  Phone ...
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With harsh new laws persecuting sexual minorities threatening the Winter Olympics and thus making headlines even on ESPN, petitions demanding that the U.S. grant asylum to LGBT Russians are circulating on the internet.  The good news for any lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender Russian living in the United States is that you may already be eligible for asylum.  For asylum claims, sexual identity or sexual orientation is considered a "social group," so a person who is persecuted based on sexual identity or orientation may make a claim for asylum.

The first recognition of sexual minorites as a protected class came in 1986, when a Cuban "Marielito" was granted withholding of removal by an immigration judge who determined that he must not be deported back to Cuba because he was certain to face imprisonment and mistreatment as a registered homosexual. The case was appealed, and the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the judge's decision, in Matter of Toboso-Alfonso in 1990. (Decision a...
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