Costa Mesa Criminal Defense And Immigration Law Blog

Becoming a dual citizen in the United States

Immigrants living in California may look forward to gaining U.S. citizenship, especially after navigating the immigration system and green card status for many years. However, they may wonder whether they can retain citizenship from their country of birth when seeking naturalization. Dual citizenship is not formally recognized in the U.S., but there is no law prohibiting it and immigration authorities have shown no interest in forbidding it. When a person is a citizen of two countries at the same time with the rights and responsibilities of both, he or she is a dual citizen.

There can be major benefits to dual citizenship, including easier travel and residency requirements in different parts of the world. However, there can also be complicated aspects of life as a dual citizen, such as maintaining tax filings in multiple countries. There are a number of ways that people can become dual citizens of the U.S., including being born in the U.S. while entitled to another citizenship based on parental nationality, becoming naturalized as a U.S. citizen while retaining original citizenship or being born to parents with two different citizenships.

Man renews citizenship pursuit after return to US

Many people in California and across the country were troubled by a deportation case involving a veteran of the Afghanistan war. The man, a US Army veteran, re-entered the country from Mexico on Sept. 23, 2019, nearly a year and a half after his deportation in March 2018. He is now pursuing his goal of citizenship after entering the country draped in one American flag and holding another in his hand. His deportation made headlines nationwide in 2018, especially as he had previously served two tours in Afghanistan in the army. He was forced to leave after his initial citizenship application was denied.

Federal immigration authorities cited the man's 2010 felony drug conviction, saying that it made him ineligible for naturalization. The man argued that post-traumatic stress disorder caused by his experiences in the military led to his drug addiction and the circumstances leading to his conviction. After widespread reports about the reason for his deportation, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker pardoned the man for the initial drug conviction. U.S. Customs and Border Protection gave the man a 14-day parole, allowing him to enter the country. He will have an appointment with immigration officials to pursue his citizenship claim.

When you should consult an immigration attorney for help

Depending on your legal status in the United States, there may come a point when you're dealing with immigration-related issues.

Rather than deal with these serious concerns on your own, it's best to consult with an immigration attorney for help. A legal professional understands the finer details of the law, including the steps they can take to assist you.

Applying for a fiancé visa to the U.S.

Many people in California who are planning to be married may wonder how they can bring their fiancé or fiancée to the United States. A fiance visa is an option for people planning to get married soon, and it is officially known as a K-1 nonimmigrant visa. In order to petition for a K-1 visa for a fiancé, people must fill out a Petition For Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F, and submit it to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The form is the first step towards obtaining a fiancé visa.

In order to be eligible for this type of visa, the U.S. citizen applicant and the prospective spouse must plan to marry within 90 days of the fiancé coming to the U.S. with the K-1 visa. In addition, the marriage must be valid and carried out for the purposes of maintaining a life and relationship together, not for other purposes such as securing residency or other immigration goals. After the marriage is completed within that initial 90 days, the immigrant spouse can apply for a green card in the U.S. Once the couple is married, the foreign spouse becomes eligible to be a permanent resident of the United States.

Trump policy to complicate immigration for some

An immigration policy announced by the Trump administration will make it more difficult for some military members and government workers living overseas to secure citizenship. The announcement was met with anger and confusion on the part of veterans' and immigrant advocacy groups in California and across the country, and the administration clarified that only a small number of people will be impacted by the policy change. The majority of children born to U.S. citizens while they work or serve abroad will still automatically be citizens.

Other groups will have to deal with a more complex application process. These people will be required to secure a visa to bring their children into the country prior to applying for citizenship. The impacted groups include parents who became citizens after the birth of the child, parents who are citizens but have never lived in the U.S. and parents who adopted a child while abroad. Citizens who have recently been naturalized and not yet completed the requirements to give automatic citizenship to their children will also have to go through the more complex process.

Can a criminal charge lead to deportation?

Becoming a United States citizen may be a difficult process that takes years to complete. After getting citizenship you may believe that you are safe from deportation—unfortunately, that might not be the case. Even with a visa or green card, you could be deported if you are convicted of a crime.

Not all crimes automatically lead to deportation, but some do.

"Public charge" changes worry immigrants

Many immigrants who are living in California are concerned about the potential impacts of the latest announcement from the Trump administration on immigration policy. While the administration has defended previous harsh regulations in the interests of promoting legal entry to the country, this change affects legal immigrants who are seeking to adjust their status and become permanent residents or obtain a new visa status. On August 12, the administration made it easier to reject green card applications by vastly expanding the definition of what is considered a "public charge".

Public charge regulations allow immigrants' applications for green cards or new visas to be turned down if the government believes that they will be dependent on government benefits. This is shown by referencing past access to benefits programs. Historically, public charge has been understood as applying to cash benefits only, such as Temporary Aid to Needy Families or Supplemental Security Income. In the administration's announced regulation, however, the definition of public charge is expanded to include food stamps, many forms of Medicaid and Section 8-style housing vouchers. According to the administration, it could affect almost 400,000 people seeking to become permanent residents. Advocates warn that the administration's estimates are deceptively low and that the change could affect millions of people.

Authorities raid marijuana grow operation in California

The recreational use of marijuana became legal in California when voters in the Golden State passed Proposition 64 in 2016, but cultivation and distribution of the drug is tightly controlled. Criminal organizations including Mexican drug cartels are said to flout these rules and operate large marijuana cultivation centers in many parts of California, and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are determined to stop them.

One investigation led to a raid on a marijuana cultivation operation near Crocker Mountain in Plumas County on July 31. Deputies assigned to the Plumas County Sheriff's Office SWAT team were supported during the raid by agents from the U.S. Forest Service and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Individuals representing the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting in Plumas County were also present. Community groups support law enforcement efforts to clamp down on illegal marijuana cultivation because these operations tend to use toxic chemicals to protect their crops and deprive local farmers of water.

Tips for the spousal immigration process

Some California residents may not realize how long the immigration process can be until they attempt to obtain a visa for a foreign spouse. Even the official time frames provided by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service can make it look as though the processing times are fairly reasonable. However, since getting permission for a spouse to live in the United States is generally a multi-step process, it can take longer.

A U.S. citizen uses an I-30 petition to sponsor a spouse, and this takes several months. Once this is in place, the spouse then has to either apply from outside the country to enter the United States or adjust the status to permanent residence. The entire process may take a year. A work permit can also take several months to obtain, and this can mean that one spouse is without income for several months.

Man sentenced to 15 years in prison for selling meth

On July 8, a California man was sentenced to 15 years in prison for possessing 14 packages of methamphetamine that had been disguised to look like burritos wrapped in foil. He was also ordered to pay a fine of $300 and serve five years of supervised release after he leaves prison.

According to prosecutors, on Feb. 3, 2018, the 48-year-old defendant was pulled over by officers from the Los Angeles Police Department after he was spotted driving his white Chevrolet Tahoe erratically and suspiciously in the Angelino Heights area. During the traffic stop, officers asked his permission to search the vehicle, and he granted it. While searching the floor behind the driver's seat, they found nearly 14 pounds of methamphetamine that had been wrapped up like burritos. The estimated street value of the drugs was believed to be between $27,000 and $40,000. Officers also found over $800 in cash and a loaded handgun in the SUV.

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