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#USImmigrationLaw: How Do I Do an Immigration Inmate Search?

If you know someone who is being held in immigration detention but you don't know where, you can search for them using an online tool. The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement division has an Online Detainee Locator System (ODLS) that you can use to find someone with only a minimal amount of information.

You can find someone by their A-number (short for alien registration number) and country of birth. This, according to ICE, is the best way to search. But even if you do not know the A-number, you can input a name and birth country and use the tool to locate an inmate in immigration detention. Let's consider what information the tool will provide, and what you will not find.

#USImmigrationLaw: What Is the US Visa Bulletin?

The US Visa bulletin is issued every month by the government to inform people with pending applications about visa availability. There are different bases for immigration, such as work and family, and some types of visas are limited. Not everyone can get them immediately, even if they qualify for the visa generally, so the bulletin basically lets people know where they stand in line.

Some family-based immigrant visa applications -- immediate relative petitions -- do not require a wait and are issued when the petition is approved. Others, like certain family visas and employment-based applications, are much more limited. Those who must rely on a visa becoming available should check the bulletin to determine when they can take the final steps required to obtain a visa.

#USImmigrationLaw: What Is Family Based Immigration?

There are different ways to legally immigrate to the United States and one of them is based on family relations. Citizens and legal permanent residents with family members have the option to sponsor certain relatives for visas under certain conditions in recognition of the importance of family unity.

Family-based immigration petitions generally fall into two major categories: immediate relative petitions and family preference petitions. Let's consider what they are, the differences between them, and who can apply.

#USImmigrationLaw: 5 Things to Know About a I-601 Waiver

There are many rules in immigration law that govern who can apply for what benefit and under what conditions. Then there are the exceptions, special situations when the government recognizes a general rule should not apply.

The 1-601 waiver -- commonly referred to as the 601 waiver -- is the name of the form of form used to ask the government to make an exception and grant you an immigration benefit although you are otherwise ineligible. When you apply for a waiver of grounds of inadmissibility, you are asking the government to consider the special circumstances that make it important for the general rules not to apply to you. Here are five things you need to know about applying.

#USImmigrationLaw: What Can a Notario Do and Not Do?

A notario, or notary public, is not a lawyer and cannot practice law in the United States. Confusion about what a notary public can do in the US is common for many immigrants, however, because in some other countries, notaries can act as attorneys.

Not so here. But some notary publics take advantage of immigrants, leading them to believe that a notary can advise them on the law. Do not hire a notary to handle your immigration matter -- for that you need a lawyer. Here is what a notary can and cannot do for you.

#USImmigrationLaw: Handling a Credible Fear Interview

If you have a credible fear interview, do not be afraid. This is an opportunity for you to tell your story to the immigration authorities, provide proof, and answer questions that will convince them you must stay in the US for humanitarian reasons. It is your chance to defend against removal.

This is important when it comes to an asylum claim, which is based on persecution at home. If you have a credible fear that you will be persecuted or tortured if you are forced to return, you will say so to an actual person with the power to help with your defensive asylum application. And you don't have to tell your story alone, or even speak English. You can have an interpreter to speak on your behalf and a lawyer to represent you.

#USImmigrationLaw: 3 Things to Know About EWI Immigration

Entry Without Inspection, or EWI, is a term of art in immigration law and it means what it sounds like -- that a person has entered the country without an inspection. Foreign nationals must get permission to enter the United States and must present themselves to an authority at a port of entry.

Even if you have a visa to visit, obtained before your travels, you must nonetheless inform American authorities of your arrival. Failure to present for inspection has serious consequences, and not just for immigration. Here are three key facts to know about entry without inspection.

#USImmigrationLaw: What Does Continuous Residence Really Mean?

To become a US citizen you will have to show continuous residence in this country. How long you must live here depends on the nature of your immigration application.

Because people's citizenship applications are based on different grounds -- for example: work, humanitarian grounds, or marriage to an American spouse -- the rules vary somewhat, and there are also limited exceptions to the continuous residence requirement. Let's look at the obligations, and when the clock starts ticking.

#USImmigrationLaw: What Will Affect My Citizenship Application?

You're applying for citizenship in the US and wondering what issues will impact your application. There are many factors that go into a final determination about whether to grant status, and an initial denial does not necessarily mean you have no chances of becoming an American. But there are some specific matters that will impact the determination. Let's briefly examine them here.

#USImmigrationLaw: 5 Tips for Your Stokes Interview

When you and your spouse go to a Stokes interview, be prepared to answer many detailed and difficult questions about your lives together, separately. Even couples who truly love each other can get very nervous about this kind of interview, and for good reason.

A Stokes interview is when you and your spouse are separately questioned by an immigration officer about all aspects of your marriage to prove that it is not a fraud. You will be notified in advance of the interview and informed of any documentation to bring. Here are five tips on how to prepare and handle it.