Andy Gene Strickland – Right to a Lawyer

Andy Gene Strickland – Right to an Attorney

The US Constitution and the Immigration and Nationality Act clearly provide the right for a non-citizen who is detained the right to counsel without expense to the government.

Recently a study was conducted that found:

At over 40, or 20 percent, of the detention facilities called by our researchers in our study, no one ever picked up the phone or operators refused to answer basic questions about attorney access. This took place even after multiple calls during regular business hours to the facility phone number made publicly available by ICE or the facility itself.

At least 58 ICE detention facilities do not allow attorneys to schedule phone calls with a detained client at a certain date and time when the facility will make the detained client available for the call, preventing both routine and time sensitive communications necessary to representation.

Moreover, the ability to schedule an attorney-client call in detention does not guarantee that it will take place: At ICE detention facilities where attorneys reported they can schedule calls with detained clients, survey respondents reported that scheduled calls were not consistently honored at almost half (approximately 46 percent) of the identified facilities.

•Failure to Ensure Access to Legal Telephone Calls. Our study found pervasive issues with access to legal telephone calls in ICE detention:

• Legal calls are prohibitively expensive for detained immigrants. With only limited exceptions, detained immigrants must pay to make outgoing phone calls to counsel at the majority—approximately 85 percent—of the detention facilities for which we received responses.

At some facilities, detained immigrants are charged $0.21 per minute, and sometimes up to $0.40 per minute. These rates are especially burdensome given that many detained immigrants are indigent and the only opportunity to earn money is the “Voluntary Work Program,” where detained people earn $1 per day performing work to maintain the detention facility.

• Attorney calls with detained clients are plagued by poor-quality audio. Attorney surveys for over half of the 58 facilities for which we received responses reported experiencing poor audio quality on legal
calls with detained clients.

•Failure to Provide Access to Legal Video Teleconferencing. It is unclear how many ICE detention facilities actually provide legal video teleconferencing (such as by Zoom or Skype). Of the 68 detention facilities that reported availability of legal videoconferencing, only 12 of these facilities had information available on ICE’s website. Moreover, of those 68 facilities, we were unable to verify the existence of legal videoconferencing at 23 of those facilities, and ICE’s website had no information at all about 33 of those facilities.

Notably, four of the facilities that ICE has designated as having Virtual Attorney Visitation programs were unaware of the existence of the program upon inquiry by phone. Immigrants must pay to make outgoing phone calls to counsel at approximately 85 percent of surveyed detention facilities

•Unreasonable Barriers to Establishing Contact with Clients. Approximately 68 percent (38 of 56) of the facilities for which we received a response for this question have required attorneys at some point to provide an alien number (A-Number) to communicate with detained immigrants, even though ICE’s detention standards clearly state that detention facilities may not require legal service providers to submit a detainee’s A-Number as a condition of visitation.

This condition is problematic because attorneys who contact a client or potential client for the first time are not likely to know the individual’s A-Number.

•Delays in Legal Mail. Attorneys reported that at 11 facilities delayed deliveries of legal mail had caused them to continuously request extensions for deadlines from the court, to miss key filing deadlines, or that they had observed pro se detained immigrants missing deadlines because of difficulties with the mail system.

• No Email or Electronic Messaging Available. Very few ICE detention facilities provide any sort of electronic mail or messaging access to detained people. Of the 173 facilities for which we
have information,19 fewer than one in four (24.3 percent) facilities provided some sort of electronic
mail or messaging access to detained people.

Where electronic mail or messaging is available, it is run by private prison corporations, may be prohibitively expensive, and is not confidential.

• No In-Person Legal Visits. Eleven ICE detention facilities reported that they do not allow any in-person legal visits at all, despite ICE’s claim that “in-person contact visits remain available at the
request of the legal representative” in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although nine facilities reported suspending in-person legal visits because of the pandemic, two did not and merely stated that in-person visits were not allowed or had been “suspended indefinitely.”

•Arbitrary Delays or Denials for In-Person Legal Visits. Attorneys at nearly half (20 out of
42) of facilities for which we received attorney survey responses on this question reported
arbitrary delays or denial of access to their clients at the facility.

In-person client visits were denied or delayed because of failures by facility employees to accurately keep track of detain clients, inadequate staffing, or arbitrary and shifting attorney dress codes. Moreover, at several facilities, pandemic-related quarantine procedures prevented attorneys from being able to visit their clients.

•Lack of Contact Visits. Over a third of facilities do not allow for “contact” visits or have any in-person visits between attorneys and detained clients. Contact visits are important to ensure
clear communication, to support language interpretation, and are the preferred method of in person legal visitation.

•Lack of Confidential Settings for In-Person Legal Visits. Attorney respondents at several facilities reported that in-person visits do not take place in confidential settings, impeding clients’ ability to share sensitive details important to their cases and destroying the attorney-client privilege.

•Prohibitions on Computers and Phones for Legal Visits. About half (56 percent) of ICE detention facilities for which we could gather information allow attorneys to bring laptops for legal visits; only 21 percent of ICE detention facilities for which we have information allow attorneys to bring cellphones into legal visits.

Andy Gene Strickland agrees that these are problems that can be corrected with aggressive lawyering. Get help now!

Contact: St. Petersburg Immigration Lawyer

Ukrainian Humanitarian Parole And New Regulations

 

Andy Gene Strickland – New Regulations for Ukrainian Humanitarian Parole:

The USCIS has announced new procedures to “fast-track” humanitarian parole for Ukrainians.  Its as simple as going online to the USCIS website and filling out an affidavit of support form: I-134.  Certain Ukrainian citizens, and certain non-Ukrainian immediate family members,24 who were physically present in Ukraine as of February 11, 2022 and have a U.S.-based supporter are eligible for this process.

The process is triggered when a prospective supporter files a Form I–134, Declaration of Financial Support, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) through an online portal. USCIS will review that form in order to verify and vet the information submitted. Once USCIS determines that the Form I–134 includes sufficient evidence of financial support, the relevant Ukrainian beneficiary will be notified and will be prompted to submit any additional required information.

To be eligible, the Ukrainian beneficiary must possess a valid Ukrainian passport, or if a child without their own passport, be included in a parent’s passport.

At this time, only children traveling with a parent or a legal guardian will be eligible for Uniting for Ukraine. Individuals who are not eligible for Uniting for Ukraine may make an appointment at the nearest U.S.Embassy or consulate for additional information about available options.

The Ukrainian beneficiary also must clear biographic and biometric background checks, and will need tomeet public health requirements, including, as appropriate, proof of required vaccinations, as determined by DHS’s Chief Medical Officer, in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Pursuant to these requirements, Ukrainian beneficiaries must demonstrate proof of first doses of measles, polio, and COVID–19 vaccines and must complete a screening for tuberculosis for all individuals two years of age or older.

These requirements may be adjusted in accordance with evolving public health needs; the most up-to-date requirements will be available at www.dhs.gov/ukraine.

2. Processing Steps For Humanitarian Pardon In the Ukraine

Filing and confirmation of financial support: The process is initiated when a supporter—either an individual or an individual acting on behalf of an organizations—files a Form I–134, Declaration of Financial Support, online using the myUSCIS platform. This declaration must include biographic and
financial information on the supporter, and biographic identifying information on the Ukrainian beneficiary.

The individual who submits and signs the Form I–134 must be a U.S.-based person in lawful status, a parolee, or a beneficiary of deferred action or Deferred Enforced Departure. The individual can, however, represent an organization. If the individual is acting on behalf of an organization, and if that organization is providing the financial or other services to support the Ukrainian beneficiary, this information should be provided as part of the evidence submitted with the Form I–134.

USCIS will conduct background checks on the supporter to protect against exploitation and abuse and to determine the supporters’ financial suitability to support beneficiaries. If the supporter is approved, USCIS will notify the Ukrainian beneficiary electronically with an invitation to create a myUSCIS account. Ukrainian beneficiary account registration: Following USCIS’s approval of the named supporter, the Ukrainian beneficiary will receive an electronic communication from USCIS with instructions on how to set up an account with myUSCIS and other next steps.

The Ukrainian beneficiary will be required to confirm their biographic information on myUSCIS and attest to completion of all other requirements, including the required vaccinations and screening listed above. Vetting and Clearance: Biographic information provided by the prospective Ukrainian beneficiary will be vetted against national security and law enforcement databases.

The my USCIS system will transmit biographic information for Ukrainian beneficiaries directly to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and into CBP’s Automated Targeting System (ATS) for vetting.

Only Ukrainian beneficiaries who complete all the requirements, including vaccinations, and clear the vetting of their biographic information will receive the necessary advanced authorization to travel to the United States to seek parole Once vetting is complete and advance authorization to travel has been approved, Ukrainian beneficiaries will receive a notification in myUSCIS in an automated manner.

Cleared individuals will be authorized to travel via commercial routes to the United States for a period of 90 days. Carriers utilizing CBP’s Document Validation program will be able to access this authorization to facilitate generation of a boarding pass. Carriers who are not participants
in the Document Validation program will utilize manual verification mechanisms to generate a boarding pass.

Read about: Ukrainian Immigration Options

Ukrainian Immigration Options

DHS Efforts to Assist Ukrainian Nationals:

Reposted by Andy Gene Strickland from the DHS website:

Following Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
is providing support and humanitarian relief to Ukrainian nationals in need both in the United
States and abroad. To protect Ukrainians residing in the U.S., the Secretary of Homeland
Security designated Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months.

This will allow Ukrainians here since March 1, 2022 to stay and apply for employment authorization in the U.S. To provide pathways to the United States for Ukrainians seeking refuge, DHS is
working to expand current legal pathways and develop new programs. We are coordinating our efforts closely with our European allies and partners who are on the front lines of this humanitarian
crisis.

Legal Pathways for Eligible Ukrainians

While we expect many Ukrainians will choose to remain in Europe close to family and their homes in Ukraine, the United States has announced plans to welcome up to 100,000 Ukrainians
and others fleeing Russia’s aggression through the full range of legal pathways. In particular, the
U.S. is focused on welcoming eligible Ukrainians who have family members in the United States
and is committed to protecting the most vulnerable.

The United States is working with European Union and our partners to ensure a well-coordinated, global humanitarian response and will update this fact sheet periodically with additional program information.

Temporary Protected Status

Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas designated Ukraine for Temporary
Protected Status (TPS) for 18 months. This new designation will enable Ukrainian nationals
(and individuals without nationality who last resided in Ukraine) who have been residing in the
United States prior to March 1, 2022, to remain here during the designated period and apply for
employment authorization, so long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Once published in the Federal Register, instructions for applying for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document will be available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
website. Information on how to apply for TPS and an Employment Authorization Document can
be found here: www.USCIS.gov/tps.

Asylum

Ukrainian nationals currently in the United States who are not able to return to Ukraine because
they have been persecuted or fear that they will be persecuted on account of their nationality,
race, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion, generally may apply
for asylum. These applications should be filed with USCIS if they are not currently in removal proceedings. Information on how to apply for asylum in the U.S. can be found here:
www.USCIS.gov/asylum.

U.S. Refugee Admissions Program

The U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) is an inter-agency effort involving several
governmental and non-governmental partners, both overseas and domestically, whose mission
is to resettle refugees in the United States. The U.S. Department of State’s (DOS) Bureau of
Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) has overall management responsibility for the
USRAP and has the lead in proposing admissions numbers and processing priorities.

Within DHS, USCIS has responsibility for interviewing refugee applicants and adjudicating
applications for refugee status. Through its cooperative agreements with Resettlement Support
Centers (RSC), PRM handles the intake of refugee referrals from the United Nations High
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), U.S. embassies, and certain non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) as well as the prescreening of cases and the out-processing of individuals
for travel to the United States. The U.S. Government currently has a Priority 2 direct access
program for Ukrainians under the Lautenberg Program for Certain members of Religious
Minority Groups in Eurasia and the Baltics. This category includes Jews, Evangelical Christians,
and Ukrainian Catholic and Orthodox religious adherents identified in the Lautenberg
Amendment, Section 599D of Title V, Pub. L. No. 101-167, as amended, with close family in the
United States.

USCIS will continue to process existing refugee cases involving Ukrainian nationals that are in
the USRAP pipeline and will conduct interviews and adjudicate new cases as they are presented
to us. For information on the USRAP, please see Refugees | USCIS.

Humanitarian Parole

Individuals may request parole for themselves or on behalf of another individual who is outside
the United States based on urgent humanitarian or significant public benefit reasons. Parole
allows an individual to temporarily enter the United States and apply for employment
authorization, but it does not confer immigration status or provide a path to lawful immigration
status.

Parole is discretionary and issued on a case-by-case basis and should not be requested to
avoid normal visa-issuing procedures, inadmissibility waiver processing, or established refugee
processing channels.

Parole is not intended to replace established refugee processing channels.
In general, a refugee may not be paroled into the United States absent compelling reasons in the
public interest with respect to that particular refugee. Additional information about potential
qualification and necessary evidence for parole can be found here.

Special Situations and Expedited Processing

USCIS announced a series of immigration flexibility that may help people affected by extreme
situations, including the invasion of Ukraine.

USCIS is also proactively prioritizing the processing of certain applications and petitions filed by Ukrainian nationals. DHS will additionally suspend certain regulatory requirements for Ukrainian F-1
nonimmigrant students who are experiencing severe economic hardship as a direct result of the
ongoing armed conflict in Ukraine.

Any questions contact Andy Gene Strickland, immigration attorney St. Petersburg, FL.

Non-Immigrant Visa Interview Waivers by Andy Gene Strickland

 

Are you eligible to waive your non-immigrant visa interview?  By: Andy Gene Strickland

U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad are suffering from a terrible backlog and scheduling delays.  As a result of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Department of State has expanded the eligibility for a nonimmigrant visa interview waiver.

Andy Gene Strickland suggests that if you believe you are eligible for an interview waiver, you will need to review your local U.S. consulate’s website or appointment scheduling website to determine what is required to apply for a waiver.

Typically, consulates require you to schedule an appointment to drop off or allow you to mail in the following documents: DS-160 confirmation page, a valid passport, pre-paid courier packaging for passport/document return, the fee receipt, two passport style photographs, and the visa petition approval notice (such as Form I-797 approval notice).

Be advised: As procedures will vary from consulate to consulate around the world and the consulate has discretion to require an interview of any visa applicant, you should consult an immigration attorney to discuss how to file and whether you may qualify for a waiver.

As part of the application process for a visa to the United States, typically you have to complete an in-person interview at a U.S. consulate to show that you are eligible for the visa. However, some applicants may be able to get the interview waived.

Using this process is a convenient option for those applying in certain nonimmigrant visa categories or those renewing visas in the same nonimmigrant category and can reduce the hassle and anxiety of an in-person interview with a consular officer.

Andy Gene Strickland states that current timeline for a interview waiver is through December 31, 2022 for the initial nonimmigrant visa application of the following visa categories:

Applicant for F, H-1, H-3, H-4, academic J, L, M, O, P, and Q visas and were previously issued any type of visa; Applicant for a visa category included above, from a country that participates in the Visa Waiver Program, and previously traveled to the United States under ESTA authorization; Applicant for H-2 visa (temporary agricultural and nonagricultural workers).

Furthermore, Andy Gene Strickland asserts that in addition to the described visa types, you also need to apply at the consular post in your country of usual residence, and you were not previously refused a visa in any classification unless the refusal was overcome or ground for inadmissibility was waived

You may also qualify for an interview waiver, indefinitely, for a nonimmigrant renewal visa application if:

You are applying at the consular post of your usual residence; You have a previously issued U.S. visa in the same classification as the visa for which you are applying and your prior visa is still
valid or has expired within the last 48 months; Your prior visa is not annotated “Clearance Received” or “Department Authorization”; Your most recent visa in the same classification for which you
are applying was issued on or after your 14th birthday (For children under 14 years of age, interviews are rarely required.); Your most recent visa in the same classification for which you
are applying was not lost/stolen or canceled; and You were not previously refused a visa in any classification (with some exceptions).

As always, it is prudent to seek the advice of a professional attorney who practices immigration law to review the facts of your particular case.

Contact Andy Gene Strickland

Are You a Crime Victim? Perhaps U Visa Qualifying crimes?

 

Andy Gene Strickland, Immigration Lawyer Discusses the U-Visa/Victim of Crime Visa:

The U nonimmigrant status (U visa) is available to victims of certain crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and are helpful to law enforcement or government officials in the investigation or prosecution of criminal activity.  Immigration Attorney Andy Gene Strickland has filed a number of these visas over the past two decades.

In June 2021, due to long backlogs, USCIS outlined the process to determine whether a U-visa petition is bona fide. The bona fide determination process or (BFD) is used to grant deferred action and issue employment authorization to U-visa petitioners who are found to have bona fide applications.

The BFD process was created with the goal of conducting initial reviews of petitions for U nonimmigrant status more efficiently and providing eligible victims of qualifying crimes with employment authorization and deferred action while they await a final adjudication of their petition for U nonimmigrant status under the annual statutory cap.

u visa lawyer near me

The USCIS has stated that the determination of whether a petition is bona fide is based on whether the application is complete, including evidence and background checks, as well as whether there are any national security or public safety risks.  Keep in mind that this is a discretionary determination.

Once the USCIS decides that the U-visa application is bona fide, the applicant will be granted deferred action and will be eligible for work authorization for four years.  Qualifying family members are also eligible.  Again, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Service) has stated that the determination of whether a petition is bona fide is based on whether the application is complete, including evidence and background checks, as well as whether there are any national security or public safety risks. Keep in mind that this is a discretionary determination.

If a Form I-765 was not included with the initial application packet, a Bona Fide Determination Notice will be issued requesting that Form I-765 be submitted.  Once USCIS decides that the U-visa application is bona fide, the applicant will be granted deferred action and will be eligible for work authorization for four years.

Please keep in mind that a BFD does not guarantee that USCIS will grant your U-visa petition. You do not need to take any affirmative action if your U-visa petition is currently pending. USCIS will review cases and make determinations. Unfortunately, there are no timelines for how long USCIS will take to review a pending petition.

If you have any questions regarding this process or believe that you may be eligible for employment authorization as a bona fide U-visa petitioner, we encourage you to contact our office at Andy Gene Strickland at 727-323-8188.

Don’t want to call. Send an email on our contact page.

travel restrictions covid19

Immigration And Covid19 Restrictions On U.S. Travel and Entry

Immigration Lawyer Andy Gene Strickland discusses current COVID-19 travel to the U.S.

Read more about the current situation with seemingly ever-changing immigration issues resulting from COVID-19 and its mutations.

On October 25, 2021, President Biden issued a proclamation ending travel bans that restricted the entry of nonimmigrants present in China, Brazil, India, Iran, South Africa, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the Schengen Area.

The proclamation also created a new rule, effective November 8, 2021, that requires all adult nonimmigrant travelers entering the United States via air travel to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with limited exceptions.

However, with a new variant of this virus (Omicron) appearing the President reinstated the South African travel ban as well as a ban from other African countries.

Similarly, non-essential travel for fully vaccinated individuals across land and ferry borders will be permitted as of November 8. Essential travel for unvaccinated individuals across land and ferry borders will be allowed until January 21, 2022, at which time the vaccine requirement will be imposed for all travelers.

What Does Fully Vaccinated Mean?

You must have received a vaccine approved or authorized by the Food and Drug Administration(FDA) or World Health Organization (WHO), which currently includes the following vaccines: Janssen/Johnson & Johnson (SingleDose), Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Covishield, BIBP/Sinopharm, and Sinovac. You are considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the last dose of a multi-dose, or the first dose of a single dose, approved vaccine.  Receipt of doses from any two different approved vaccines is acceptable.

What Proof Is Required?

Before boarding a flight to the United States, adult nonimmigrant travelers must provide proof of vaccination via verifiable digital or paper records: This includes, but is not limited to, vaccination certificates or digital passes accessible via QR code (such as the UK NHS COVID Pass and the European Union Digital COVID Certificate).

Non-verifiable paper records: A paper vaccination record or a COVID-19vaccination certificate issued by a national or subnational level agency or by an authorized vaccine provide (such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vaccination card).

Non verifiable digital records: Digital photos of vaccination card or record, or a down loaded record or vaccination certificate from an official source(e.g.,public health agency, government agency, or other authorized vaccine provider),or a record shown on a mobile phone app without a QR code.

Airlines will verify that the form of proof includes a name and date of birth that matches other identification documents, is from an official source with in the country the vaccine was issued, and shows full vaccination. You must confirm with the airline if translation is required for documents not in English.

For land border and ferry crossings, CBP will require similar proof of vaccination and that the traveler attest to their reason for travel.

Immigration lawyer Andy Gene Strickland suggests you review the current U.S. policy in effect shortly before time of travel to the United States as this information changes often.