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#USImmigrationLaw: What Does Changed Circumstances Mean?

Asylum is a form of humanitarian relief available to people who face persecution in their home countries based on specific criteria. Although affirmative asylum applications must be filed within one year of arrival in the United States, changed circumstances are an exception to the general rule.

A person may leave home and experience changes in their personal circumstances that make it impossible to safely return, or conditions in a country may transform, becoming dangerous. Immigration law recognizes that in some situations, changed circumstances necessitate filing an asylum application after the one-year deadline has passed. Let's consider.

#USImmigrationLaw: Affirmative and Defensive Asylum Applications

Asylum is a humanitarian form of immigration relief. It is available only to those who have experienced particular kinds of persecution. There are two types of asylum applications, affirmative and defensive. They are similar but arise under different circumstances.

An affirmative asylum application is for a person who comes to the U.S. and actively seeks relief within one year of entry in the country. Defensive asylum applications are for people who are placed in removal proceedings and seek to remain in the country, defending against deportation with a humanitarian claim. Asylum claims are complicated, whether affirmative or defensive, so let's consider the basics.

#USImmigrationLaw: What Is a Sham Marriage?

A sham marriage is a union that was entered into fraudulently for the purposes of obtaining immigration benefits. If you get married because you want to become an American, and that is the basis for the marriage rather than a love story, your marriage is a sham.

Not every person who marries a US citizen can obtain a green card and citizenship ultimately. Those who marry for the benefit exclusively will be denied if their fraud is suspected and uncovered. The consequences could be dire, including deportation and incarceration.

You got a visa so that you could enter the United States lawfully and return without trouble. But now the clock is ticking and your visa is about to expire, and you're wondering what happens if you stay here anyway.

The consequences of overstaying a visa can be very severe or quite minimal, depending on your circumstances. Of course, your best bet is to try to extend a visa before it expires, and you do have that option, generally speaking. Let's see what else you can do.

#USImmigrationLaw: What Issues Will Affect My Visa?

If you want to come to the US or sponsor someone else's presence here, you should be aware of certain issues that can affect visa receipt. But you should also know from the start that for many rules there are limited exceptions, so depending on individual circumstances what might normally be a bar to receiving a visa could be overcome.

Every immigration case is unique and relies on specifics. Although there are general rules, don't assume you have no options. Speak to an immigration lawyer and let them help, or even meet a few attorneys and compare proposed plans. For now, let's consider general issues that affect a visa.

#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.