We are Immigration Attorneys practicing in Anchorage, Alaska. With more than 15 years of experience, we provide our clients with outstanding legal counsel and representation in all areas of immigration law. Please contact us to discuss how we can help you.
One of the most common errors that lead to problems with immigration client’s cases is that, at some point, they got their advice “directly” from USCIS, ICE or EOIR. These three (Immigration, Immigration Police and Immigration Judges) are government agencies, they are not there to provide advice to the public on their immigration process. It seems that the access that USCIS provides to its applications and the streamlining they have created is confused with an obligation for it to provide legal advice to its customers – the public. This could not be further from the truth. I am going to provide an example that will hopefully clarify this point. You have just stolen a million dollars, but you are not sure how long the police can go after you for the crime – after how many years will you not be prosecuted for the crime. So, after five years you walk into a police station and asked the police officer at the front desk that says “information” about your “case.” What do you think will happen? Well, most people do not realize this but when they walk into immigration and start asking questions about their particular situations they are placing themselves at risk of 1) getting detained, 2) having their case affected negatively and 3) simply getting the wrong advice. And, please, do not blame this on a negative “animus” against immigrants or something like it. For immigration, just like the police officer, if someone who broke the law shows up they may have to detain them. Also, like the police officer, immigration must keep a record of when your case was accessed and any information you provided – why wouldn’t they? Finally, immigration officers are there to provide information about what is happening with your case, not provide you with legal advice on your case. Therefore, it is not rare to see that a client has received incorrect advice from an officer that either does not have the experience or has a different legal position regarding your client’s case. So, next time you have a question about your case, think twice before going to immigration to ask it. Is it a question about what is happening with it or is it a legal question about your case? If it is the first one, by all means ask away. If it is the second situation, consult with an immigration lawyer about it.
Now, you will ask, how do I know the difference? If the questions is whether you or someone “can do” something it is a question that must apply immigration law to specific facts. It is a legal question. If it is “how” to do something it is generally not a legal question if no facts are applied. The problem is that ALL situations are different and that difference in the facts is going to require you to apply the law – again a legal issue. Finally, if the question is what is happening with my case, why is it taking so long, where is it being processed, etc… then immigration is a place where this can be found out. Remember there are online resources that you can use to find the situation of your case and other particulars that may help you. For example, you can go here to find about your case: CASE STATUS INFORMATION. In short, if you are not sure of whether the question is one to take to a lawyer, err on the side of caution and call a lawyer experience with immigration matters.
Immigration, Technology and Enforcement: It is a Brave New World
It is clear that immigration has increased its enforcement efforts in the Trump administration. None the less the Obama and W. Bush administrations also had a significant increment in the cases of removal or deportation from the United States. In the Obama administration the number of aliens that were deported was higher than ever before. In the W. Bush era the creation and activation of the Department of Homeland Security in 2003 led to a natural increase in removal cases. The common thread in all of the above is not a negative animus against immigrants, that could be said about the current administration, but not of the previous. The one thing that is a powerful, yet silent, cause behind the rise of enforcement action by immigration agencies is an exponential increment in the use of technology for the processing of cases. Just to understand what is happening, let’s look at the change of case processing over time in regards to fingerprints. In the past individuals were fingerprinted in carboard cards that were sent to the FBI and physically compared to one another without the certainty of inclusion in any type of database. Now fingerprints are collected electronically and immediately available for use and comparison by immigration. So, what does this mean for the average immigrant, including those individuals who already became citizens of the United States?
Using “preparers,” “notaries,” or “friends” in your dealings with immigration is, more than ever, not an option. Errors, misstatement and outright fraud, that usually take place with these individuals are things that WILL be seen and found. They are no longer things of the past – we are not dealing with paper files. We are in the world of electronic files where all information, biometric and biographical, is shared and corroborated. An omission or a misstatement by someone, like a “notario,” who does not have the preparation or credentials of a lawyer, can be deadly to an immigration case.
Crimes, convictions, marriages and deportations are no longer “forgotten.” If any of these things have happened in a case, they are not going to simply “disappear with time,” as some people think. Now, more than ever issues with such things are easily discovered and MUST, as has always been the case, be disclosed in your immigration proceedings. Not doing so may result in your deportation twenty years from now! For example, read about operation Janus where individuals who were not properly naturalized, be it for lying or fraud in their immigration process, are now being denaturalized. Also, if you are an immigrant who has an arrest or conviction and who has not yet naturalized, you are also exposing yourself to detention and deportation when traveling out and back to the United States. Simply put, your biographical history is now in the internet and ignoring it is not a solution.
The bottom line is this. We ARE living in the age of Big Brother and the U.S. government has the technology and the will to use it to enforce immigration laws. Remember, Facebook, Instagram, Etc.… collect and share information with third party databases who in turn provide information services for the Government. Your life is out there in the internet and immigration can get it. So, if you have issues with your immigration past, are having them now with immigration or the law, or think that you may have them in the future, consult or hire a competent immigration attorney who has dealt with cases like yours in the past.
It is hard to believe that the question “how will Immigration find out?” is still being asked by clients and relied upon by some lawyers. Not only is this line of thinking one that may jeopardize an attorney’s license, it is an almost assured way of ruining a case. In ANY immigration proceeding, be it your first or last, credibility is an essential part. Why? Because not only may your credibility support the case, in some instances it is the reason why you win it. For example, an asylum case may be granted solely upon credible testimony. (Asylum Credibility) At the same time, the moment credibility is lost with an adjudicator or opposing party, it is very likely that the case will follow the same path – no matter if it is USCIS, an Asylum Officer, or an Immigration Judge. So, advice.
First. Always disclose arrests, marriages, changes of address, travel to and from the U.S., etc… If for some reason your attorney tells you that such act or situation may be an issue: DEAL WITH IT up front. Trying to hide it or not disclosing it to a department of state consul, an immigration officer or a customs and border protection agent will eventually surface, destroy your credibility and create a disqualifier in the form of fraud. (Immigration Fraud Info) Further, remember that most things have waivers – few don’t, like a false claim to us citizenship (but even that may be salvageable!) – and it is better to disclose and request a waiver than to fail to disclose and, not only get your case on the path to assured denial, ending up with a fraud charge for which you may need a second waiver.
Second. Tell your immigration attorney and keep a record of what you said. Lawyers are human, they make mistakes, forget things, and cannot read minds. So, do not assume that your lawyer knows something in your case if you have not expressly told him or her about it. If you think something should be in everyone’s record tell your lawyer and let him or her guide you on that issue. Take it as a serious warning if your attorney even hints at not disclosing a fact or issue with your case. (This is not to be confused with what the government must prove in its burden in certain cases, but this is a very fine line which you must walk with care).
Finally, keep in mind the information that you have in the internet. It is public information in many cases. Google, Facebook, Instagram and other applications and social media services provide a summary of the information they have collected on you. (Ger your information) You may want to retrieve this information to have a record.
So, when dealing with immigration start from the idea that all negative information about you is in their hands. This leads to better preparation of cases and better results for you as you will not have to worry many years later if your citizenship may be revoked be cause of an undisclosed fact in your immigration history. (Denaturalization Cases) So talk your attorney or if you do not have one, get one. Good luck. For more information go to our main page.
Our Immigration Services
Who is Subject to Deportation?
Filing a Waiver to Avoid Deportation
Depending on your immigration status and the crime you are charged with, you may be able to avoid deportation by filing for a waiver of the grounds of removal. In considering whether to grant a waiver, an immigration judge balances the positive equities, such as family ties, employment history, and rehabilitation against the criminal conviction. As your attorneys we will appear with you before an immigration judge and will zealously represent you and fight to avoid deportation.
If the immigration judge denies your deportation waiver, our attorneys can file a petition to review your case before the Board of Immigration Appeals and U.S. circuit court of appeals.
The Deportation / Removal Process
Why You Need an Attorney?
Immigration Consequences of a Criminal Conviction
What Criminal Convictions Subject a Non citizen to Deportation?
There are many crimes that would subject a non-citizen to deportation. Here are some examples:
Fraud or theft crimes with loss greater than $10,000 (sometimes fraud or theft offenses are called “crimes of moral turpitude,” since they reflect on your moral standards)
- Gun charges
- Drug offenses
- Money laundering
- DUI that results in injury of another person
- Felony assault and battery
- Crimes of domestic violence, even if the charge is misdemeanor battery
There is no guarantee that a criminal defense attorney who doesn’t have a background in immigration law will know the immigration consequences of a conviction. One of the most valuable services that Alaska Immigration Law Group provides is an initial consultation to review your criminal case and explain the immigration consequences.
Getting Released from Detention
When Your Case Has Been Denied
Helping You to Become a U.S. Citizen
Citizenship/naturalization is the legal process by which an immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen. If you would like to obtain U.S. citizenship for yourself or your child, we can help you every step of the way.
While one does not need the services of an attorney to become a U.S. citizen, an experienced attorney’s help can make sure the citizenship process is done correctly the first time and avoid delays or requests for evidence from USCIS as a result of missing documentation or an improperly filed application. A lawyer may also be able to help you overcome obstacles to immigration such as a past criminal conviction. A non-citizen’s past criminal record, no matter how far back in time it occurred, can bar an individual from naturalization and may lead to commencement of removal proceedings and the loss of permanent residence.
The ultimate goal for many immigrants to the United States is to obtain permanent residence. One way to reach that goal is to have a family member who is already a U.S. citizen or permanent legal resident sponsor and file an immigrant petition. These include spouses and children of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, and parents and brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
With the exception of immediate relatives — that is spouses, children, and parents of U.S. citizens — a limited number of family-based visas are available each year. As experienced immigration attorneys with years of experience guiding families through the immigration process we can review your case, file the proper petition and give you an honest appraisal regarding the outcome of your case. Mr. Olano, one of our attorneys, concentrates his practice exclusively on immigration law
Requesting a Prosecutorial Discretion
Helping You Obtain H-1B Temporary Visas
Helping Immigrants Get Out of Detention
What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?
Deferred action is a discretionary grant of relief by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It can be granted to individuals who are in removal proceedings, who have final orders of removal, or who have never been in removal proceedings. Individuals who have deferred action status can apply for employment authorization and are in the U.S. under color of law.
Over the past three years, this administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform the immigration enforcement system into one that focuses on public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system. The DHS continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, including individuals convicted of crimes with particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders.
However, the DHS will exercise prosecutorial discretion as appropriate to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as young children and those who meet other criteria. If you came to the United States as a child, are presently in high school, or already graduated, Our attorneys can guide you through the process of obtaining a deferred action, assist you with getting employment authorization and help with other immigration issues.
THE NATIONS LAW GROUP IS AN ANCHORAGE BASED IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM. OUR TWO ATTORNEYS, LARA E. NATIONS AND NICOLAS A. OLANO HAVE MORE THAN TWO DECADES OF COMBINED EXPERIENCE. DO NOT HESITATE TO LOOK AT OUR EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS SO THAT YOU MAY GET TO KNOW US AND SEE IF WE ARE A FIT FOR YOUR NEEDS. YOU CAN CONTACT US BY CALLING, EMAILING OR TEXTING US. IF IT IS AN IMMIGRATION EMERGENCY (YOU OR A FAMILY MEMBER IS DETAINED OR IS ABOUT TO BE DEPORTED PLEASE TEXT US AT ANY TIME HERE. REMEMBER YOU AND YOUR FAMILY HAVE RIGHTS, BUT SO DO ALL GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS – BEING POLITE AND COURTEOUS WILL TAKE YOU A LONG WAY IN LETTING ICE OFFICERS KNOW YOU WANT TO HAVE A LAWYER PRESENT FOR ANY INTERROGATION.