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Chicago Immigration Law Blog

How can you help immigrant children adjust to their new home?

Your family has recently immigrated to a new country and have decided to make a home in Illinois. While you are excited to be in the United States and looking forward to seizing new opportunities, your drastic move required you to uproot your family and transplant them in a new place. Your children in particular, are going to need some time and plenty of support as they adjust to their new surroundings, home and culture. Fortunately, there are things you can do to help them ease into their new normal without compromising the importance of maintaining your own culture and traditions. 

According to The Learning Community, the challenges your family will face could be related to acquiring a job, finding housing, learning about how the educational system works and learning the English language. In your efforts to help your children cope and thrive in their new home, here are some of the things you can do:

  • Make learning the English language a priority. However, continue to speak your native language at home so your children can maintain their own heritage and culture. 
  • Be observant and teach your children to do the same. Watching how Americans do things can be a valuable way to learn about what behaviors are appropriate. 
  • Do not be afraid to ask other people for help. Introduce yourself and make friends who can provide support and give you valuable information about resources you can use. 

Chicago launches CityKey municipal ID program

It’s been a busy week at City Hall. The Chicago CityKey Program officially started and is even more popular than officials expected. The program, designed to put government-issued identification cards into the hands of all city residents, launched last week and has seen many residents waiting in line for hours to get a card.

Chicagoans have been in a particularly big rush to get the card since the first 100,000 are going to be free to get the program started. Residents shouldn’t worry, though, since the cost for the card after the first 100,000 is very small. There are also waivers available for people who are not able to afford the fee.

Migrants hopeful to cross border, could face detention

For many immigrants, the thought of making a new home in America, building a better life and finding protection for their families are some of the common goals they share. However, getting into the United States and acquiring legal citizenship requires time, attention and commitment. Immigrants who try to get into Illinois without following the designated legal process could face a variety of consequences including detention, deportation and fines. 

Most recently, large caravans of immigrants have been working to cross the border from Mexico into the United States against the wishes of President Trump. Many of the migrants say they are fleeing their home country because of unprecedented gang violence that is creating exponential danger for them and their families. Authorities warned immigrants that if they continue to make their way into the country, they could eventually face major consequences that will keep them away from their families for a long time.

Family preference visas explained

For the naturalized citizens or legal permanent residents living in Chicago, their ultimate goal may be to have the remainder of their families join them in the U.S. Immigrating can be a complex legal process, yet the good news for those who already have family living in America is that they have a built-in advantage when it comes to gaining legal admission. 

The Immigration and Naturalization Act caps the number of worldwide immigrants to the U.S. at 675,000 every year. However, no restrictions are placed on the number of immigrants that are immediate relatives of citizens ("immediate relatives" have been determined to be spouses, minor children and parents). Adult children of U.S. citizens as well as relatives of lawful permanent residents count towards the annual immigration limit. However, these parties' family qualify them for preferential treatment.

TN and E Visas in danger of extinction if NAFTA dies

These are uncertain times for immigrants in Chicago and across the country. Many of them are looking to start new lives and benefit from living in the land of opportunity. However, for them to remain in the country, they must not be here illegally. Recent changes to immigration laws under President Trump’s presidency is making the path to sponsorship and citizenship more challenging for some immigrants. 

Many immigrants and citizens are unaware that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is in danger of extinction. Individuals view it as a trade deal, not realizing that it could cost millions of immigrants the right to live and work in the country. Currently, NAFTA visas allow Canadians and Mexicans to remain in the United States while they work. It also allows Americans to live in and travel to Canada for employment and housing opportunities. The NAFTA agreement is a bargaining tool President Trump is using to justify increasing border security to prevent the flow of illegal drugs and immigrants into the United States. To take advantage of NAFTA, workers must apply and be approved for TN visas, while investors and treaty traders must be approved for E visas. 

Understanding your options if your visa sponsor dies

If you have worked hard to make your way to a new country and begin a new life for both yourself and your family, chances are you have spent considerable time making sure that your affairs are in order. However, sometimes things can happen suddenly which could prevent you from being able to maintain your temporary stay or could put you at risk of being deported. At Francis Law Center, we understand the risks that immigrants face, and we have been able to help many people in Illinois to work through the process of immigration. 

One of the potential problems you may face is figuring out how to maintain your visa if your visa sponsor dies. According to NY Daily News, if you are currently awaiting an immigrant visa, but your sponsor passes away, you still have a likely chance of getting sponsored. If you are able to provide proof that the deceased person was petitioning for you and that you are deserving of permanent residence, the USCIS may be willing to consider your case. In fact, in some cases, you may not even be required to demonstrate a humanitarian need, but simply provide proof of your deceased loved one's petition on your behalf. If you are a widow or widower of the deceased, your chances of getting a green card are even better. 

What happens if I overstay on a visa?

People overstaying their visas is a situation that the authorities in the Chicago area take seriously. Here at Francis Law Center, our attorneys are aware of how immigration agencies across the country are detaining and deporting foreign nationals who are in the country unlawfully after overstaying their visas. 

Many foreigners do not realize the dire consequences they face when they overstay their visas. They must keep track of the “admit until date” on their Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record to avoid complications, states FindLaw. Some visa types are ineligible for extension and renewal. Once the validity dates pass on their visas, they risk deportation and being banned from re-entry into the United States for several years. A 10-year ban is given to individuals who overstay their visas by 365 days or longer. The ban goes into effect on the expiration date of the visa. The penalty for overstaying 180 to 364 days on an expired visa is a three-year ban.

My visa petition was denied. What now?

Regardless of your reason for wanting to live in Illinois or elsewhere in the United States, receiving a denial letter for your petition may feel devastating. The notification may not be the end of the road, though. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you may still receive a favorable decision through an appeal.

If you are the beneficiary and the filer of your petition, then you may file the appeal. However, if someone else, such as a family member or employer, filed the petition on your behalf, that person will also have to file the appeal on your behalf. 

Which spouse visa is right for you?

There is nothing more important than bringing your family together and keeping it together. Across borders it often involves rules and regulations which are confusing and difficult to make sense of.

Marrying the partner of your dreams to start a life together in the United States can be very complicated. There are two different ways it can be done, either with marriage here or abroad. Both have their advantages, depending on your unique circumstances. In all cases, however, the process requires careful attention so that the happiest day of your life can become real.

Why citizenship is such a valuable goal for immigrants

When people make the decision to immigrate to a new place, they are often confronted with many critical decisions regarding their future. These choices require time and careful planning to determine that leaving their home country will indeed provide better opportunities to pursue a life that is pleasant, safe and rewarding. When immigrants are interested in making a home in Illinois, they will benefit exponentially from securing citizenship and learning more about the history and governance of the United States. 

According to the Los Angeles Times, citizenship is an incredibly important goal for all immigrants to make and work toward. Perhaps the most compelling reason for people to pursue citizenship is to acquire the freedoms and privileges that come with being a citizen. These include the right to vote, serve in government positions and complete jury duty if requested. Equally as important as being able to enjoy the benefits of citizenship for people who accomplish this feat, is being able to enjoy the fulfillment that comes from having responsibilities. 

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