What Changes Has the Federal Government Made to the E-2 Investment Visa?

By Peek & Toland on August 14, 2018

The main purpose of the E-2 investment visa is to allow individuals to enter the U.S. as nonimmigrants to develop and direct operations in businesses in which they have invested. Additionally, employees may enter the U.S. to serve a business in an executive or managerial capacity or to fill an essential role in the business operations. All individuals seeking this type of visa must be of the same nationality or citizenship as the E-2 enterprise sponsoring them and the foreign country must have a treaty with the U.S. An E-2 visa can also can include the spouse and children of the principal applicant. Unlike some other visas, E-2 visas are renewable indefinitely in two-year increments and have no degree or wage requirements. There is no limit on the number of E-2 visas that the federal government may issue, and E-2 visa applicant spouses also can apply for unrestricted work authorization.

The length of time necessary to process an E-2 visa has largely depended on the U.S. Consulate that is reviewing the visa application. Under premium processing, the visa application procedures move much more quickly, but the non-premium processing of the application can take months. In particular, if the visa application pertains to a more recently created entity, one with lower at-risk to total cost ratios, or a non-management employee, there may be additional delays in processing.

What Changes Has the Federal Government Made to the E-2 Investment Visa?

Since the advent of Trump’s Buy American, Hire American Executive Order, however, U.S. consular officers are taking closer looks at all types of business and investor visas. More specifically, officers are trying to determine whether E-2 visa applications are fraudulent in any way and if the business will displace any American workers. E-2 visa applicants now can expect rigorous questioning about their business enterprise. Nonetheless, the U.S. is continuing to approve E-2 visas, at a rate of about 36,000 per year.

If you or a family member is dealing with an immigration law issue, we may be able to help. As experienced Texas immigration attorneys, we have the knowledge needed to help you navigate through the often-complex process of obtaining a visa. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our skilled immigration lawyers and learn how we can assist you.

What is Resisting Arrest Under Texas Law?

By Peek & Toland on August 13, 2018

Resisting arrest is a crime under Texas law that occurs when you fail to submit yourself calmly and willingly or otherwise cooperate with an arrest. More specifically, you may commit the crime of resisting arrest if you intentionally obstruct or prevent a police officer from carrying out a search or arrest, through the use of force. As a result, there are several types of conduct that might lead to charges of resisting arrest, which can be a Class A misdemeanor or a second-degree felony charge. If you used a deadly weapon in the commission of the offense, then it may even be charged as a third-degree felony. The following situations may result in resisting arrest charges in the state of Texas:

·         You run away or attempt to escape from police.

·         You try to distract police officers or hide to avoid getting arrested.

·         You act in a verbally or physically threatening manner to a police officer.

·         You attempt to help another person resist arrest.

 

What is Resisting Arrest Under Texas Law?

Whether you face a misdemeanor or a felony charge largely depends on the severity of your resistance to the arrest. If you act in a particularly violent manner toward police, you are likely to face a felony rather than misdemeanor charge.  Both misdemeanor and felony resisting arrest charges can result in fines and jail time; even a misdemeanor conviction for resisting arrest can result in a fine of up to $4,000 and up to one year in jail. Additionally, there are related charges that may accompany a resisting arrest charge, including evading arrest and failing to identify.

If you have been charged with resisting arrest in the state of Texas, there are some defenses available to you. Perhaps your arrest was unlawful, or the police officer did not clearly identify himself or herself as a law enforcement officer. You could have been acting in self-defense or you may be facing false allegations altogether. Whatever the case may be, our criminal defense attorneys will be here to represent your interests in any criminal charges that you are facing.

The criminal defense lawyers of Peek & Toland have handled the legal defense of countless individuals who are facing criminal charges, including charges of resisting arrest. We are here to protect your rights and advocate on your behalf in order to get the best outcome possible in your case. Call our office today at (512) 474-4445 to set up an appointment with our criminal defense attorneys today.

How You Can Get Into Legal Trouble Using Social Media

By Peek & Toland on August 12, 2018

Social media seems to be everywhere in our lives, and we all have those “friends” who like to share way too much information on one social media platform or another. Unfortunately, some individuals are simply asking for legal trouble when they post certain information and pictures online. As a result, our recommendation is that you avoid social media altogether in these situations, particularly if you are suspected of a crime or facing criminal charges.

For instance, far too many people like to post pictures of themselves partying online. Whether you are using illicit drugs or drinking, telling the world that you are doing something illegal is not smart. For example, pictures of you drinking alcohol when you already are on probation or facing charges for DWI is not smart. Likewise, if you are suspected of drug activity, posting your whereabouts and pictures of you partying with other known drug users can lead the police right to your door.

How You Can Get into Legal Trouble Using Social Media

Sometimes, you don’t even need to post pictures to get in legal trouble. Conversations with others on Facebook trying to sell off a bunch of “new” merchandise will likely cause law enforcement to target you for theft or possessing stolen property. Having a conversation about how you just bought a new gun with another individual on social media can give police the evidence that they need to arrest you for illegal possession of a gun or robbery. Even a conversation that seems to suggest that you have been involved in illegal activity may be grounds for you to become the target of a police investigation.

As you can see, social media can really get you in trouble with the law in some circumstances. When you are charged with any type of criminal offense in the state of Texas, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony charge, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to represent your interests from the very beginning of your case. We are here to evaluate the facts surrounding your case, present your options, and provide you with the strongest defense possible. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and set up an appointment to speak with our legal team.

Do I Have to Let Texas Police Enter My Home?

By Peek & Toland on August 11, 2018

When Texas police come knocking at your door, you might feel nervous, confused, or just caught off guard. As you quickly gather your thoughts, you may wonder if you need to let the police in, or if you even need to open the door. Do the police need a warrant to come into your home? What happens if you just don’t respond? Why are the police even at your door if you didn’t do anything wrong?

Police officers might appear at your door for a number of reasons. Sure, maybe they think that you committed a crime, but they also could be looking for someone else with the same name as yours or trying to track down a suspect who recently was in the neighborhood. Whatever the case may be, police are trained to respect your constitutional rights. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gives you rights against any “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The question is, what do these protections mean for you when police are at your door and demanding to speak with you?

Do I Have to Let Texas Police Enter My Home?

In very simple terms, you don’t have to let police into your home unless they have a search warrant. If they can show you a legally valid search warrant signed by a judge, you will have to let them into your home. However, even if they have no warrant, there are ways that police officers may try to legally enter your home. For instance, if you voluntarily consent to allow police in your home, their entry into your home is perfectly legal. This means that police may try to talk you into allowing them entry. Plus, even if you don’t give police permission to enter your home and they don’t have a warrant, there are times when they still can legally enter. All the police have to do is show “probable cause” to enter your home without a warrant. This means that if there is evidence that something illegal is going on in your home, such as a person screaming for help, or a person using illegal drugs in plain sight, the police then have probable cause to enter your home, warrant or no warrant.

An experienced Texas criminal defense attorney can help you build a strong defense against your criminal charges, regardless of the type of criminal offense involved. Taking steps to get you released from jail and fight for your rights at the beginning of your case is typically easier than waiting until your case may be too far gone to fix. Contact Peek & Toland at (512) 474-4445 today and see how we can help.

How Social Media Posts Can Hurt Your Criminal Case

By Peek & Toland on August 10, 2018

In today’s era of technology and social media obsession, it is not unusual for individuals to post updates on virtually every detail of their daily lives. This often results in an influx of information about people’s lives that can be damaging in some ways. It is bad enough to post about fights with your spouse, the latest family feud, and your adventures in online dating, but some people also feel the need to post information about their criminal activities and charges that they may be facing. The problem with posting on social media about your pending criminal case is that you could severely undermine your attorney’s efforts to resolve your case and compromise your defense to the charges.

 

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Criminal Case

Given the prevalence of social media, it is more likely than not that law enforcement officers, investigators, and prosecutors will be regularly examining your social media posts for information about you and to gather evidence to support criminal charges against you. GPS and the timestamps on posts can help the state track your location at a given point in time and see whom you were with at that time. What you think may be an innocent post about your daily activities or your views on a particular topic could end up as evidence against you in a criminal case. Therefore, the best policy is to avoid posting altogether while your criminal charges are pending, and it may be wise to simply deactivate your accounts, at least temporarily. Doing so will discourage you from posting information and possibly endangering the outcome of your criminal case.

The Peek & Toland criminal defense lawyers are here to assist you in building a strong defense against your criminal charges, no matter the circumstances. As you see from this post, however, posting any detail or information about your case on social media is not advisable in any situation, since it may harm your ability to resolve your criminal case in a successful manner. Trust us to represent your interests and advise you of the best course of action in defending your case. Set up an appointment to talk to us today and discover how we can assist you with your immigration matter.

Texas Resettling Almost 80% Fewer Refugees

By Peek & Toland on August 9, 2018

The Texas Tribune is reporting that the state of Texas has resettled almost 80% fewer refugees over the past year. From October, 2016 to March, 2017, Texas resettled 3,518 refugees. By contrast, between October, 2017, and March, 2018, Texas resettled only 736 refugees. This is a big change from the past, as Texas historically has resettled a large share of refugees, due in part to a strong economy and the ability of refugees to find work. Now, however, the refugee resettlement program has slowed considerably, largely because of Trump administration policies aimed at stopping refugees from coming to the U.S. These policies include travel bans and extreme vetting measures for all individuals seeking to enter the U.S. Most of the few refugees who are being resettled in Texas are arriving on special visas from Afghanistan; on the other hand, the U.S. government has let only 11 Syrians into the country this year.

 

Texas Resettling Almost 80% Fewer Refugees

During his first year in office, Trump took immediate steps to halt the U.S. refugee resettlement program, in accordance with his campaign promises. Various groups have challenged his attempts at stopping the program in court, which has resulted in the Trump administration making more policy and bureaucratic changes that have substantially slowed down the program. For instance, there have been drastic budget cuts for the nine private organizations that have contracted with the government in past years to resettle and integrate refugees across the U.S. If refugee admissions to the U.S. this year continue as the current pace, the total number of resettled refugees is likely to number about 20,000, as opposed to the cap on the program, which is currently set at 45,000.

These efforts to significantly decrease the scope of the refugee resettlement program are seen as part of the larger agenda of limiting immigration to the U.S. in general. Although Trump’s actions reportedly have put him at odds with various government agencies, such as the Department of Defense and the State Department, conservative anti-refugee groups continue to complain that his actions have not gone far enough. 

The immigration lawyers of Peek & Toland have the experience and knowledge that are necessary to represent your interests when you are facing immigration court proceedings or any type of immigration law issue. We are here to gather evidence on your behalf, build a strong defense in your case, and develop the best strategy for achieving your goals. Take the first step by contacting us today and learning what we can to help.

Can My Green Card Get Revoked?

By Peek & Toland on August 8, 2018

Lawful permanent resident status, or a green card, enables you to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. With that said, lawful permanent residence is a privilege, not a right. As a result, there are some situations in which you can lose your green card and be deported, although these are not common situations. There are numerous grounds for deportation of a lawful permanent resident, including criminal activity, fraud, and abandonment.

Federal law lists various crimes for which a non-citizen may be deported. Most of these crimes involve moral turpitude, constitute aggravated felonies, or are certain drug-related crimes. Minor crimes, however, such as traffic violations, typically will not lead to deportation.

Can My Green Card Get Revoked?

You also may be deported if you intentionally abandon your lawful permanent resident status. Immigration officials may determine that you abandoned your status if you move to another country with the intent to live there permanently, remain outside the U.S. for more than six months (unless you intend it to be a temporary absence), or fail to file tax returns while living outside the U.S.

If you hold a green card and immigration officials determine that you lied or committed any type of fraud during the green card application process, you can be subject to deportation. One common example is marriage fraud. If immigration officials decide that you married a U.S. citizen solely for the purposes of getting a green card, you may be deported.

At Peek & Toland, we care about keeping your family together, whether that involves defending against revocation of your green card or another immigration-related matter. We will focus all of our efforts on standing up for your rights and representing your interests as you seek to remain in the U.S. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers know the best strategies for gathering evidence to support your case and navigating the complex rules of the U.S. immigration system. Allow us to handle your immigration case by sitting down with us today and discussing your case.

What is a Labor Certification Requirement for Some Visas?

By Peek & Toland on August 7, 2018

U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides for about 140,000 visas each fiscal year for individuals, and their spouses and children, who wish to immigrate to the U.S. and remain there permanently based on their job skills. For some visa categories, you are required to have a job offer from a U.S. employer. An employer also may be required to obtain labor certification if the employer wants to employ foreign workers based on their job skills or nonimmigrant temporary workers to perform services for which there are no qualified authorized workers available in the United States. Before a prospective employee can even qualify for a visa, the employer must successfully go through the labor certification process. To obtain labor certification, the employer must certify the following to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL):

·         There are insufficient numbers of currently available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill a particular position in a certain U.S. location.

·         Hiring a foreign worker’s employment will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers in similar positions.

The employer then submits the application to the U.S. Department of Labor, which must issue the approved labor certification.

 

What is a Labor Certification Requirement for Some Visas?

The visa categories for which labor certification is required include the following:

·         Second Preference EB-2 – persons who are holding advanced degrees in their professions or persons with exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences, or business (unless the applicant can obtain a national interest waiver)

·         Third Preference EB-3 – professionals, skilled workers, and other workers

As indicated above, there are circumstances in which an immigrant can request that labor certification be waived because it is in the interest of the United States. Waiver requests normally are granted to those individuals who have exceptional ability and whose employment would greatly benefit the nation. To qualify for a waiver, you must meet at least three out of several criteria, which includes evidence of a college degree or its equivalent in your area of exceptional ability, letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time employment in your occupation, membership in a professional association, and similar criteria.

Peek & Toland dedicates a large part of its practice to helping both individuals and businesses resolve their immigration-related issues. Immigration law is a complex, ever-changing area of the law that necessitates legal advice from experienced immigration lawyers who keep up-to-date with all relevant changes in law and policy. We will work with you to achieve the most positive outcome possible in your situation. Call our office today and set up a consultation with our skilled immigration attorneys today.

DOJ Institutes Quotas for Immigration Judges

By Peek & Toland on August 6, 2018

As part of its broader agenda to reduce a huge immigration case backlog, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced that it is setting quotas for immigration judges. More specifically, for immigration judges to get a “satisfactory” rating on their performance evaluations, they must dispose of at least 700 cases per year and have fewer than 15% of their decisions on those cases overturned on appeal. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, immigrations judges completed an average of 680 cases per year during the years 2011-2016.

The current backlog of immigration court cases is approaching 700,000, which, according to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, allows individuals who should be deported quickly to linger in the U.S. while they are awaiting a court date. Statistics have shown that depending on the nature of the immigration case and the court in which it is being heard, some immigrants wait years for an immigration court hearing date. Immigration judges handle all of these civil cases, which ultimately determine the fate of undocumented immigrants who are seeking to stay in the U.S. In other words, the judge decides whether the immigrant in question is entitled to a legal immigration status or another form of relief, or if the immigrant should be deported.

DOJ Institutes Quotas for Immigration Judges

In response, the National Association of Immigration Judges, the union that represents immigration judges nationwide, has criticized the new quotas as harmful to judicial independence and due process rights for immigrants. If forced to run through immigration court cases as if they were on an assembly line, judges may hastily decide life-and-death cases for immigrants to safeguard their own jobs.

When you or a loved one is detained, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to access the legal help that you need. At Peek & Toland, we are here to help you with your immigration case. We will devote all of our efforts to representing your interests, answering your questions, and calming your concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact Peek & Toland and schedule a time to meet with us today. We can help protect your rights and get you the relief that you need.

What Are the Differences Between DUI and DWI?

By Peek & Toland on August 5, 2018

While many people use these terms interchangeably, there is a distinct difference between DUI and DWI in the state of Texas. DUI, or Driving Under the Influence, refers to minor drivers who have any detectable amount of alcohol in their systems, whereas DWI, or Driving While Intoxicated, refers to an “intoxicated” person (either a minor or an adult) who is operating a motor vehicle in a public place. In order to be intoxicated under Texas law, you must either:

·         Not have the normal use of mental or physical faculties by reason of the introduction of alcohol, a controlled substance, a drug, a dangerous drug, a combination of two or more of these substances, or any other substance into the body, OR

·         Have an alcohol concentration (blood alcohol content/BAC) of 0.08 or more.

On the other hand, there is no minimum alcohol concentration required for a minor, or an individual who is under the age of 21, to be charged with DUI. So long as the police officer can smell alcohol on the minor’s breath, he or she can charge the minor with DUI. However, an officer routinely will ask a minor to undergo sobriety tests or a breath test to measure the alcohol level of the minor. Texas, like many other states, has a zero tolerance policy for minor consumption of alcohol while driving a motor vehicle, whether it be a car or a boat.

 

What Are the Differences Between DUI and DWI?

There are also major differences in the punishments for DUI and DWI. A first-time DUI conviction is a Class C Misdemeanor, which usually results in an order to pay court costs and a $500 fine, completion of an alcohol education class, and completion of 20 – 40 hours of community service, the mandatory suspension of your license for up to two years, but no jail time. Texas law considers DWI, however, to be a more serious criminal offense; DWI charges can range from a Class B Misdemeanor to a First Degree Felony. For a first DWI offense, you will face a term of incarceration ranging from 30 – 180 days, fines of up to $2,000, an additional yearly surcharge to maintain driving privileges, the mandatory suspension of your license for up to two years, and the installation of an ignition interlock on any vehicle you drive.

At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you from DWI and any potential criminal charges. We are here to investigate the facts surrounding your case, consider your options, and help you develop the strategy that is best designed to achieve a successful outcome in your case. Do not waste time attempting to handle legal matters on your own; contact our office as soon as you are charged with a criminal offense so that we can provide you with the help that we need.

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