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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Documentation for Asylum Cases

Every year, thousands of people leave their native countries and seek asylum in the United States after suffering or fearing future torture and persecution back home due to their race, religion, nationality, political opinion or membership in a particular social group (including being gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual).

Historically, as long as asylum seekers’ stories were credible, immigration judges were likely to grant asylum even if they lacked certain types of documentation. That changed when the REAL ID Act of 2005 was voted into law.

REAL ID Law of 2005

Passage of the REAL ID Act of 2005 established stricter documentation guidelines for all immigrants including asylum seekers. Now immigration judges may require more than just a credible story from the asylum application in order to grant asylum. According to the law:

  • Asylum seekers must comply with requirements to submit supporting documentation on asylum applications or other information for relief as provided by law, regulation, or instructions on the relief application form.
  • The immigration judge will determine whether or not the testimony of an applicant or witness is credible and persuasive, and will refer to specific facts demonstrating satisfaction of the burden of proof. The immigration judge shall weigh credible testimony along with other evidence of record. Under the Real ID Act, credible testimony alone may not be enough to win your case if the immigration judge determines that there was documentary evidence available which you could have submitted to the court, but did not do so.

The Power of Secondary Documentation

The Los Angeles-area immigration attorneys at Nalbandian Law handle more asylum cases than any other single type of immigration law. Recently we represented an asylum applicant who had been severely beaten and injured by the opposition political party back home.

Under the stricter guidelines of the Real ID Law, our client didn’t have the required documentation the judge needed to grant asylum. Specifically, our client didn’t have medical records documenting his injuries, nor did he have a card showing his membership in the persecuted political party.

In spite of these problems, Nalbandian Law was able to obtain secondary documentation from witnesses in his native country that supported our client’s credible story.

The documentation included a detailed letter from a neighbor who treated our client’s injuries. The letter further explained that when the neighbor tried to get a copy of our client’s party membership card at the local political office, the party official refused, saying he could only give the card directly to our client. We presented an additional letter from another witness who stated that he had been to political demonstrations with our client.

Other law firms may not have pursued alternate ways to obtain secondary documentation as we did; others may not have taken our client’s case. Yet thanks to our supportive documentation from credible witnesses, the immigration judge was satisfied and granted our client asylum.

The Problem of Missing Documents

Amidst the haste and turmoil of fleeing their native country, asylum seekers may be unable to bring all the documents they’ll need to support their asylum plea. It is important to provide immigration court with valid reasons why documents are missing. Additionally, having secondary documentation from witnesses like relatives and neighbors can make the difference between asylum being granted or refused.

Call 818-244-0310 today and talk to the immigration experts at Nalbandian Law, an experienced law firm in the Los Angeles metro area. We know exactly what USCIS is looking for in a winning application. We’ll review your situation and determine if you have a valid case for asylum. If you do, our careful preparation and thorough documentation will ensure you have the best possible chance of being granted asylum.

DACA Renewals, Los Angeles Area

Guidelines for Approval

It’s been two years since President Obama introduced a new immigration policy known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). On that pivotal day in June 2012, the president announced that undocumented youth who had arrived in the United States as children would be allowed to remain and work temporarily under the new DACA program.

By the end of 2013, nearly 522,000 requests for DACA were approved and nearly 16,000 were denied. The biggest group of DACA recipients were born in Mexico while much smaller groups of recipients were born in Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, South Korea and 16 other countries.

What Happens if You Don’t Apply for DACA Renewal?

After your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) expires, you won’t be able to work legally in the US. And after your DACA expires, you’ll be back in the same position you were in before the DACA policy was introduced. You’ll be living under the constant threat of deportation should you be picked up by immigration authorities.

DACA Renewal Guidelines

The DACA Renewal policy gives you the opportunity to renew your two-year deportation reprieve and work permit for another two years if you qualify.
Released in February 2014, the new guidelines apply exclusively to DACA recipients who were granted DACA status through U.S. Customs and Immigration Services before August 15, 2012 while they were in detention or in removal proceedings. Guidelines for those granted DACA after August 15, 2012 have not yet been released

In order to qualify for DACA renewal, undocumented youth must meet several of the requirements of the original DACA program:

  • AGE
    Must have been under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 and must have entered the U.S. before age 16 and continuously lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
  • EDUCATION
    As a DACA recipient, you must meet one of the following requirements: a) Graduate of a U.S. high school or earned a G.E.D. (General Equivalency Degree); b) Enrolled in school, or c) Honorably discharged from the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces

You will not qualify for renewal if you have a felony conviction, a significant misdemeanor, or three or more other misdemeanors during your deferred action period.

DACA Renewal Application Process

You may apply for DACA renewal beginning 120 days before the expiration dates on your current DACA and employment authorization document (EAD).

Decisions Are Final

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services makes DACA Renewal decisions on a case-by-case basis, and all decisions are final. If you are denied renewal, you don’t have the right to contest the decision. You can’t file a motion to reopen or reconsider nor can you file an appeal.

A Word of Caution

Don’t underestimate the difficulty of preparing your DACA Renewal application. A negative decision means you will no longer be able to work legally in the U.S. And, once again, you face possible deportation.

Protect yourself from these terrible consequences. Call (818) 244-0310 today and seek the advice of immigration experts at Nalbandian Law, an experienced law firm in the Los Angeles metro area. Your DACA Renewal process will have greater success because we know exactly what USCIS is looking for in a winning application. Our attorney will review your case and determine if you qualify for DACA renewal. If you do, our careful preparation and thorough documentation will ensure you have the best possible chance of success.

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Mr. Nalbandian was the lawyer who handled my wife's Green card case. Thanks to him everything went well and at very timely manner. I would recommend him with most confidence.

- Jose Garcia, CA