Now that we’ve all sufficiently freaked out over Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration, it’s time to keep calm and focus on the Do’s and Dont’s. For those from the 7 banned countries (I’m sure we all know them by heart, but just in case, the countries are Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Yemen), I need you to listen to this advice, closely. I’m sorry to be bossy – it’s not my nature, but a lot is at stake here, namely, your life and your liberty.
- If you have any type of visa while here in the U.S. that is a non-immigrant visa, DO NOT TRAVEL outside of the United States at this time. This includes, holders of H-1B, F-1, J-1, O-1, L-1, H-3, and R-1 visas.
- If you have applied for a green card (Lawful Permanent Resident status) here in the U.S. and it is pending, do not travel out of the U.S. until your case has been approved and you have your card in your hand. If you absolutely must travel, first ask the question, “Must I really travel at this time?” “Really, really?” If the answer is “Hell, yes, I have to travel” then you MUST get an I-551 stamp in your passport before you leave. An I-551 stamp is proof of your Lawful Permanent Resident status. You can do that through an InfoPass appointment at uscis.gov. This only applies to people whose green card applications (I-485s) have been approved, not those that are pending. Don’t even travel on your advanced parole, please – you’re not yet a Permanent Resident! Just. Don’t. Do. It.
- If you are a Permanent Resident outside of the U.S. right now (or planning on traveling outside of the U.S. in the future), and you are re-entering the U.S., do not, under any circumstances, sign anything at your port of entry that would result in the abandonment of your green card. You’re probably asking, “Why would I do that?” The answer is you wouldn’t; there has been a rumor out there that some Permanent Residents are being asked to sign Form I-407 (or abandonment of Lawful Permanent Resident status). Maybe you’ve been out of the country for close to a year or even more than a year – it doesn’t matter. Don’t sign the I-407 – don’t be talked into it, bullied, or cajoled into signing the form. Ask to be referred to an Immigration Judge. Will you have to sit in secondary inspection longer if you exercise your rights? Yes. Maybe hours longer. You’ll most likely miss your connecting flight. It will be scary, and you’ll be tired, but don’t sign it. Please.
- If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, and you are eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship, please apply. This has been my battle cry since I started practicing law 18 years ago. Check out my blog post on the steps to take to apply for U.S. Citizenship. If you are a do-it-yourselfer, great! Do it. If not, hire an immigration lawyer, or go to an AILA-sponsored Citizenship Day where attorneys help you properly complete the N-400 application. Just get it done. Period.
- If you are on an H-1B and haven’t had the discussion yet of your employer sponsoring you by filing a PERM application/Labor Certification, have that conversation now. We really don’t know what the future holds, so try to secure yours by getting Permanent Residency through your job, if that option is available. My point is you need to be having that conversation with your boss or HR now.
I hope this list of things to do is helpful. If you have any questions at all, please reach out to us at (757) 464-9224 or contact us online. We’re here to help, and we know how to help. And if you think this info could be helpful to anyone, please share.
Radlyn Mendoza, Esq.
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