Know Your Rights : Undocumented Immigrants Have These Rights, Too

Know your rights. Everyone living in the U.S. has certain basic rights under the U.S. Constitution. Undocumented immigrants have these rights, too. It is important that we all assert and protect our basic rights.

If you find you have to deal with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or other law enforcement officers at home, on the street, or anywhere else, remember that you have the rights described in this factsheet. The factsheet also provides suggestions for what you should do to assert your rights.

  • You have the right to remain silent. You may refuse to speak to immigration officers.
    • Do not answer any questions. You may also say that you want to remain silent.
    • Also, do not say anything about how you entered the U.S. or where you were born
  • Carry a know-your-rights card and show it if an immigration officer stops you.
    • The card explains that you will remain silent and that you wish to speak with an attorney.
  • Do not open your door.
    • It is important to not open your door unless an ICE agent shows you a warrant. (They almost never have one.) To be allowed to enter your home, ICE must have a warrant signed by a judge. If an ICE agent wants to show you a warrant, they can hold it against a window or slide it under the door. To be valid, the warrant must have your correct name and address on it.
    • You do not need to open the door to talk with an ICE agent. Once you open the door, it is much harder to refuse to answer questions.
  • You have the right to speak to a lawyer
    • You can simply say, “I need to speak to my attorney.”
    • You may have a lawyer with you if ICE or other law enforcement questions you.
  • Before you sign anything, talk to a lawyer.
    • ICE may try to get you to sign away your right to see a lawyer or a judge. Be sure you understand what a document actually says before you sign it.
  • Always carry with you any valid immigration document you have.
    • For example, if you have a valid work permit or green card, be sure to have it with you in case you need to show it for identification purposes.
    • In addition, do not carry papers from another country with you, such as a foreign passport. Such papers could be used against you in the deportation process.
  • If you are worried ICE will arrest you, let the officer know if you have children.
    • And, if you are the parent or primary caregiver of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is under age 18, ICE may “exercise discretion” and let you go.

Know Your Rights Card

Know Your Rights Card
Print, Cut Out, Fold and Carry in your Wallet or Purse

Questions? Contact an Experienced Immigration Lawyer

If you or your family members have any questions about your immigration status, it is important to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer. Call immigration attorney Jessie M. Thomas at (214) 838-0045 or contact Law Office of Jessie M. Thomas office for answers.

More Factsheets to Help you Understand Your Rights at Home and in the Work Place

View online, download, or print and share with others

If ICE Comes to Your Work Place

If ICE Comes to Your Work Place

If ICE Visits Your Home

If ICE Visits Your Home

Consular Processing: A Path For Your Immigration Visa (Green Card)

Consular Processing | Law Office of Jessie M. ThomasConsular processing is one of two paths for obtaining an immigrant visa (green card) to the United States. The other path is adjustment of status.”  If the applicant is outside the U.S., the only path for immigrating to the U.S. is to use consular processing.

Consular processing refers to the process of applying for a visa through the U.S. consulate in a foreign country. Some applicants prefer consular processing over adjustment of status because it generally has a shorter processing time (about 4-6 months). What’s more, consular processing has a lower risk of refusal. Unlike USCIS officers, consular officers cannot refuse to issue a visa based on discretion. This means that the consular officer must have specific, factual evidence for denying an application. However, cases that are denied are generally non-reviewable. This means that it is a final decision.

The Law Office of Jessie M. Thomas offers full service legal counsel for consular processing. We guide your through every step in the process and ensure that you have a complete and thoroughly prepared application. We also help prepare you for your interview. Call us (214) 838-0045.

Examples Where Consular Processing May Be Chosen

  1. Ola is an Alien living outside the U.S. He is not eligible to apply for adjustment of status. Ola may only apply for consular processing.
  2. Katia is an Alien in the U.S. and is in a valid non-immigrant status. Katia may apply for either consular processing or adjustment of status after obtaining an approved immigration petition.
  3. Jose is an Alien living in Texas. Jose has an approved family-based immigration petition and a visa number is available. Because the time frame for adjustment of status based on a family-based immigration petition is long, Jose chooses to apply for consular processing for strategic reasons.
  4. Gunnar has an approved National Interest Waiver petition, but Gunnar’s H-1B is going to expire. Gunnar may apply either for consular processing or adjustment of status. Because applying for adjustment of status has the benefit of a work permit, Gunnar chooses to apply for adjustment of status.
  5. Lijuan has an approved National Interest Waiver petition. Lijuan was from China with a J-1 visa and it is very hard for her to get a J-1 waiver. Moreover, the immigrant visa number has a long backlog. Lijuan decides to go back to China to reside for two years to meet the home country residency requirement. After she resides in China for two years and her immigrant visa number becomes available, Lijuan may apply for consular processing.

Be certain to ask a prospective lawyer if their immigration service just includes the initial filing steps in the U.S. or whether they also include the critical consular processing steps. Prior experience working with the US consulate you will be dealing with is also highly valuable.

Steps for Consular Processing

  1. Determine Your Basis to Immigrate
    The first step in consular processing is to determine if you fit into a specific immigrant category. Most immigrants become eligible for a green card (permanent residence) through a petition filed on your behalf by a family member or employer. Others become permanent residents through first obtaining refugee or asylum status, or through a number of other special provisions.
  2. File the immigration Petition
    1. Family Based
      Family based categories require that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you. For more information, see our Family Based Green Card page.
    2. Employment Based
      Employment based categories most often require the intending U.S. employer to file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for you. Entrepreneurs who intend to invest significant amounts of capital into a business venture in the United States may file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur” on their own behalf. For more information, see our Employment Visa page.
    3. Special Classes of Immigrants
    4. Humanitarian Based
  3. Wait for a Decision on the Petition
    USCIS will notify the petitioner of a decision. If the petition is denied, the notice will include the reasons for denying the petition and any rights to appeal the decision. If the petition is approved, USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. See the USCIS Visa Availability & Priority Dates page for more information.
  4. Wait for Notification from National Visa Center
    The National Visa Center, which is responsible for the collection of visa application fees and supporting documentation, will notify the petitioner and beneficiary when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is about to become available. They will also notify the petitioner and beneficiary of when they must submit immigrant visa processing fees and supporting documentation. Check the latest Visa Bulletin.
  5. Attend Consular Appointment
    Once a visa is available or a beneficiary’s priority date is current, the consular office will schedule the applicant for an interview. The consular office will complete processing of the applicant’s case and decide if the beneficiary is eligible for an immigrant visa.
  6. Enter the United States
    If you are granted an immigrant visa (green card), the consular officer will give you a packet of information. This packet is known as a “Visa Packet.” Upon your arrival to the United States, you should give your Visa Packet to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. You will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer and if found admissible, you will be admitted as a permanent resident of the United States. This gives you the authority to live and work in the United States permanently.
  7. Receive Your Green Card
    You will be mailed your green card. If you do not receive your green card within 45 days of your arriving in the U.S., call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or visit your local office by making an InfoPass appointment.

An experienced immigration attorney can help determine if consular processing is the right option for you. Call the Law Office Jessie M. Thomas today (214) 838-0045.

K1 Alien Fiancé Visa Petition Can Reduce Separation Time

The glorious sun is shining bright. The smooth silky sky is the most beautiful shade of blue anyone has ever seen and every drifting cloud looks like blooming hearts. You’ve got that silly sucker smile strapped to your face and Your mind is stuck on 1 person day and night. You’re in love and You have never felt so alive!
Now your back home and the love of your life is back in his/her home and reality has struck and you realize that you are oceans apart from the only one you want to spend the rest of your life with. You are a U.S. Citizen…. and she/he is not….. You can’t imagine being separated for almost 1.5 years waiting for him/her to get a greencard via the Immigrant Visa petition before coming to the U.S. What could you possibly do now???

Well, this is where I, the managing attorney of The Law Office of Jessie M. Thomas, can assist.

Let me propose to you the K1 Alien Fiancé Visa Petition I-129F which generally takes less than half the amount of time. This also happens to be one of my favorite immigration subjects.

The K1 Alien Fiancé Visa Petition I-129F allows your foreign citizen fiancé to travel to the United States and marry you here. But there are some requirements that must be met.

First of all you must be a U.S. Citizen. This route cannot be used by green card holders and you must have met your fiancé face to face within the last 2 years prior to filing the K1 Alien Fiancé Visa Petition I-129F. In very limited circumstances USCIS can waive the meeting requirement. It is usually based on religious/cultural reasons or extreme hardship as the reason why you have not met your fiancé in the last 2 years. A very subjective test is used and you must be able to convince USCIS.

You must also show that you and your fiancé intend to get married within 90 days of his/her arrival- no excuses. If you both do not get married to each other within this timeframe then your fiancé (probably your ex-fiancé by that point) must leave the country immediately. Also note that your fiancé cannot change her mind and marry someone else while on this K1 fiancé visa that YOU filed for him/her.

You must be able to prove that you both are legally free to get married at the time of filing the K1 Alien Fiancé Visa Petition I-129F and that your marriage is legal in the United States in the state where you plan to get married.

Since the K1 Alien Fiancé Visa is also a high fraud category, government officials will be scrutinizing each K1 Alien Fiancé Visa Petition I-129F case that comes before them. Keep in mind that if these highly trained officials find out there is fraud involved you can be incarcerated for upto 5 years and/or be forced to pay a $250,000 fine. In short, do not use the K1 Fiancé Visa process illegally or in bad faith.

If you truly want to bring your fiancé to the U.S. as quickly as legally possible and you have a bona fide relationship with your fiancé then The Law Office of Jessie M. Thomas will guide you quickly and correctly from the K1 Alien Fiancé Visa filing to the NVC consular processing portion to the adjustment of status process until your fiancé gets the green card in hand.

USCIS fees are going to be increased from the current $340 to $535 on December 23, 2016. The legal fees for The Law Office Of Jessie M. Thomas are separate and will depend on the complexity of each individual case. However we offer one of the lowest fees around and offer flexible payment plans that most attorneys would never offer.

If you are interested in hiring the Law Office of Jessie M. Thomas to handle your K1 Alien Fiancé petition filing or any other immigration related filing, please contact us for a free evaluation and fee quote by visiting our website and filling out a Contact Us Form or by emailing ContactUs@StayLegally.com or by calling (214) 838-0045.

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