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Improper Entry and What it Means for You

By Peek & Toland on May 17, 2021

It probably seems like all we cover lately is endless information on immigration statutes, and that’s with good reason: 1) we’re an immigration law firm, and that’s our area of expertise, and 2) this information is topical, as we’ve seen a 300% increase in immigration-related arrests in the last month, much in thanks to an executive order from our governor.

And, because we all know that ignorance of the law is not an acceptable defense, let’s take another look at immigration statutes to best understand where the issues lie and how to avoid them. We’ve covered alien smuggling for a few weeks, but let’s delve into another statute: Title 8, Section 1325 of the U.S. Code (U.S.C.): improper entry by an alien.

So, what exactly is improper entry by an alien, and how can you avoid violating this statute?

To better understand what improper entry is, you can click the link above that will take you to the legal codes, which are chockfull of not-so-fun terminology, but for the sake of summation and to save you some sanity, improper is just a nice way of saying illegal. So improper entry equates to unlawful entry, which doesn’t just mean stepping foot across an unguarded border.

Let’s look at some examples of this very broad statute. Improper entry can include:

  • Evading inspection by U.S. immigration officials

Evading inspection doesn’t only mean extreme forms of avoidance, such as stowing away on a cargo vessel or digging an entry tunnel beneath the border. Avoiding a check-point is a sure-fire way to violate this statute.

  • Willfully giving false or misleading information to gain entry into the U.S.

We all know that lying to immigration or falsifying government documents is illegal, but what else?

If romantic comedies and perennial immigration tropes have taught us anything, it’s that you can marry a U.S. citizen and gain legal entry into the U.S… but only if it’s an authentic marriage. Anything less than true is marriage fraud and improper entry. Take a look at our Adjustment of Status Through Marriage blog to better understand the legal requirements to validate an immigrant marriage.

Another way you can be found guilty under this statute is by letting your visa lapse without checking in or filing the applicable paperwork to extend your stay. They had legal entry at some point, but they allowed their papers to expire.

This form of violation also pertains to helping someone else falsify their documents. Take, for instance, a business owner who has a friend whose work visa is soon to expire. So, like a good friend, the business owner fibs and says their friend works for them and files to extend the work visa. That may make you a good friend, but it also makes you a criminal in the eyes of the U.S. government.

  • Entering or attempting to enter the U.S. at any location other than one designated by U.S. immigration officers

This is the easy one, the one we all know about. Don’t cross the border unless it’s at a designated inspection location.

Legal Ramifications

We’ll keep this section short and sweet. Being caught committing any of these offenses or violating this statute in any way affects not only your wallet and freedom but your future, as well. These violations likely make a person inadmissible, thus jeopardizing any future legal entry into the U.S., even if you’ve been on your best behavior since the violation. 

These are only a few of the ways that the statute of improper entry can affect you and your loved ones, and we’ve painted those with some fairly broad strokes. If you have questions or want more information on this statute, please reach out to one of our trusted immigration attorneys at Peek & Toland. We’re more than happy to help you avoid legal trouble and secure a pathway to citizenship.

Adjustment of Status through Marriage

By Peek & Toland on May 13, 2021

Ah, wedding bells—congratulations! In addition to the toaster, bath towels, and such you receive as congratulatory gifts, as a newlywed, you can apply for a Permanent Resident Card (most commonly referred to as a Green Card).

You’ve taken your vows, made it through the spousal immigration process, and you’re on your way to citizenship, right? Not so fast.

Marriage + Green Card does not automatically = citizenship. If you’re seeking citizenship for your spouse, there are some important steps and caveats you need to know. Let’s take a look.

It’s a common misconception that citizenship is automatically granted to a foreign national who marries a U.S. citizen, but the truth is that it’s only a stepping stone on that pathway. A pathway with many other steps and requirements. I’m sure you’re aware of the various ways to adjust your status, but we’re looking closely at the route to citizenship through marriage.

So, what comes after getting a Green Card?

First, you must know that the initial Green Card you receive is a Conditional Green Card for two years. There are strings attached, that is why it’s called conditional. At the end of the two years, you’re due for a check-up. Now, this is not to be confused with a Visa renewal. We’re talking about the form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence. This is essentially an evaluation of your marriage after two years.

You may have taken vows of a lifetime commitment to your spouse, but Immigration needs a bit more than your word to verify the validity of your marriage and ensure you are abiding by the terms of your residency. 

Let’s first take a look at the timeline for this verification process.

As I mentioned, this verification comes at the end of the two years. It’s incredibly important you do not miss that deadline, as failure to meet the deadline has serious consequences for your likelihood of earning permanent residency and much less citizenship. You can begin the filing process as early as 90 days before the end of those two years.

So, better late than never really is not an acceptable sentiment in this process. It’s more of an “early bird gets the worm” type of deal, and you’re so much better off if you start this process as soon as possible.

I-751: More Than Filing a Form

As we mentioned, Immigration will not just accept your original vows or your word on your marriage status. They want evidence. This process is much like re-applying, as you have to provide significant materials to prove the validity of your marriage.

Honestly, it’s quite a lot, and an experienced immigration attorney can help you collect and prepare the necessary evidence to satiate Immigration’s inquires and check all of their boxes.

The good news is while Immigration is processing this form, you’re able to keep accumulating time here. And if you don’t know, after three years of permanent residency and having met all of the immigration requirements to validate your marriage, you can file for naturalization.

So, while it might seem like an arduous process (and, it is), it has the potential to lead to citizenship.

 I Do, then I Don’t—Now What?

Everything we’ve discussed here so far pertains to marriages that remain happily intact, but we all know that not every story has a fairytale ending. So, what if you’re no longer happily married? What if you’re separated or have started divorce proceedings? You still have options, albeit much more complicated ones. If you’ve not met the marital conditions of your permanent residency, you may still potentially keep your residency, but you need to talk to a lawyer.

As always, our experienced immigration attorneys would love to speak with you about your options and help secure your path to citizenship, so reach out to us if any of this applies to you or someone you know. Continue to follow along with us on social media, where we will continue to dissect the aspects of immigration that are important to you.

Niz-Chavez v. Garland: New Defense Against Deportation

By Peek & Toland on May 12, 2021

Knowing and asserting your rights is something we can’t stress enough in any legal situation. The same is true for immigrants who are facing removal proceedings. We could speak endlessly about immigrants facing removal proceedings and the rights guaranteed to them throughout the process.

These guaranteed rights and whether procedures were properly carried out are a foundation for a great defense against removal. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at one of those defense strategies based on a recent Supreme Court Ruling. This decision is going to affect everybody who is facing removal proceedings.

Removal Proceedings?

Removal proceedings—you probably know them better by the term deportation. This term was changed from deportation to removal proceedings, likely in an attempt to sound more friendly and less severe.

So what are removal proceedings, exactly?

Any instance in which an undocumented person is apprehended by immigration and detained, whether it be due to an arrest for an alleged crime committed or any other violation, removal proceedings is the next step. For removal proceedings to lawfully begin, immigration must provide the apprehended undocumented person with a Notice to Appear document (“NTA” for those familiar with this process).

If you’re not familiar with NTAs, let’s get acquainted now. NTAs have several items of note that contain important details, such as your name, date of birth, country of origin, and the alleged crime for which this person is being held. The note on the NTA that we want to look at today is one of the most important: court information.

The court location and date and time of the proceedings should be listed on your NTA. Now, we say should because the problem is with it not always being there. As a matter of practicality over the past 20 years, immigration has been flexible with that requirement. Many NTAs are issued without that pertinent information, and therein lies the problem.

They’d often say that the relevant court information would later come in the mail. But, that’s an incomplete document, right? Right!

 So, what’s to be done about incomplete NTAs?

Well, in 2018, the Supreme Court heard this exact argument about the unlawful distribution of incomplete NTAs in a case called Pereida. In the Pereida Decision, the Supreme Court concluded that an NTA missing those required court dates is deemed defective notices. Good news, right?

 Wrong.

Remember, this was in 2018 when we were under the Trump Administration, which had a reputation for being unreasonably harsh and playing fast and loose when it came to immigration. The Trump Administration and its Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, did not find the Pereida Decision very pleasing, so they circumvented the Supreme Court’s decision by reinterpreting the decision through the Board of Immigration Appeals, an alternative to Supreme Court immigration. So, this seemingly black-and-white decision became rather gray, but that’s where the Niz-Chavez v. Garland ruling comes into play.

Niz-Chavez v. Garland

Here we are, two and a half years later, and the Supreme Court rules on this issue again, essentially reconfirming what we know to be relatively straightforward: an incomplete NTA, one issued without all information completed, is defective. But what does that mean, and why does that affect so many people?

Remember how we mentioned that immigration has routinely issued incomplete NTAs over the last years? Everyone who received an incomplete NTA is deemed defective. Therefore, you now have a few new defense strategies against their pending removal.

It’s imperative to speak with a well-practiced immigration attorney because they could convince a judge to toss out your case entirely if your NTA was defective.

What’s more? The additional defense of continued accumulating time is an option. Cancellation of removal requires the person to have been in the U.S. for a minimum of 10 years. So, because that NTA document is deemed defective, it didn’t stop the accumulation of time here for the undocumented person to whom it was issued.

 In short: a defective NTA could erase removal. 

At Peek & Toland, we’re pretty excited about this news and the possibilities it makes available for our clients and the immigrant community. If you are in removal proceedings or need to know how this ruling might give you additional defenses and a chance to stay in the U.S., please reach out to one of our trusted immigration attorneys. We’d love to talk to you about your options.

Continue to follow along with us on social media as we continue to cover the latest immigration news that affects you.

Collateral Effects of Alien Smuggling: A Case Study

By Peek & Toland on May 7, 2021

Alien smuggling is a topic we’ve covered in some detail recently, and it’s still worth mentioning again because it is so prevalent and can affect you and your loved ones in a way you’d probably not considered.

When discussing criminal charges and hypotheticals, it can be difficult to place ourselves in those positions and imagine the lingering effects that criminal charges can have on our life and the lives of others. So we wanted to drive home some aspects of alien smuggling through a real-life, practical, understandable account one of our clients had to endure.

We represented a recent high school graduate and his mother in defense of alien smuggling charges. It might sound crazy, but we’re about to tell you how they were affected by alien smuggling having no knowledge they were committing a crime. 

This hard-working, loving mother and her son are U.S. citizens. Like many parents to high school graduates in the U.S., this mother wanted to help him in his new chapter of life, so she did so by co-signing the loan for her son’s new truck. We all know that co-signing a loan for a car makes you legally responsible for the payments, and any missed payments can wreck your credit. But, did you know that as a co-signer, you can also be affected by some illegal activity committed in the car for which you co-signed?

When this mother decided to put her credit and name on the line for her son’s new truck, she had complete faith in him to make the monthly payments on time. Unfortunately for this mother, her son made some missteps that had nothing to do with payments. Instead, it lead to his life and his mother’s life being negatively affected.

You see, her son decided to help out a friend with a ride, so he met his friend at a McDonald’s near a border town and picked up his friend. It came as quite a surprise when these two young men were pulled over by the police, resulting in our client being charged with alien smuggling. This charge and its lingering effects are difficult enough to fight, as it is, but it gets worse. Alien smuggling has such a broad statute on forfeitures, his car (the one co-signed for by mom) was seized. Any vessel used in commission of the crime of alien smuggling will be seized.

So, not only did our client have to tell his mother that he’s been arrested and will require legal defense, but he also had to relay that his mother’s name and credit were in dire trouble as a result of his actions.

Despite this poor decision, our clients were wise enough to seek an experienced criminal defense and immigration counsel from us at Peek & Toland. We were able to get all charges dismissed successfully, and their truck returned to them. This was not without an emotional and financial burden on the family.

We are experts in this area of law and understand how quickly these things can happen. If this happens to you or someone you love, you have just a short window of time to respond with available defenses. If you have any questions about forfeitures and alien smuggling statutes, please give us a call here at Peek & Toland. We’re always glad to help.

Immigrant Sponsorship and the Legal Implications

By Peek & Toland on May 6, 2021

What does it mean to sponsor an immigrant? In the U.S., sponsorship of people or events is fairly commonplace, but the sponsorship of an immigrant is much more involved than your run-of-the-mill PTA or a fútbol club, as you can imagine, but how in-depth the commitment of immigrant sponsorship might surprise you.

The premise of the immigration sponsorship is pretty straightforward. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident agrees to sponsor an immigrant entering the United States and does so by completing an Affidavit of Support, or an I-864 form, for the immigrating person. This is also the process for co-sponsoring an immigrant, but we’ll get to that later. First, let’s take a look at what is required to sponsor an immigrant, and then we’ll take a deeper dive into what sponsorship means for you. 

 Who Can Sponsor an Immigrant?

We’ve already established that someone sponsoring an immigrant coming to the U.S. must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. It goes without saying that the sponsor must be a legal adult (18+ years of age) currently living in the U.S. Additionally, there are financial responsibilities tied to the sponsorship of an immigrant and, as such, sponsors are required to earn a certain amount of money to be eligible to be a sponsor.

Generally speaking, someone sponsoring an immigrant will have to be financially well off, but there are options to accommodate sponsors who do not meet the financial income minimums, and that is in the form of co-sponsorship. The financial requirements are in place due to the legal responsibility placed on sponsors and co-sponsors to ensure that the immigrants do not become a public charge. 

With that understanding, a sponsor or co-sponsor is financially obligated to provide for the immigrating person they are sponsoring. We can take a closer look at the legal implications involved with signing the Affidavit of Support.

Affidavit of Support and What it Means for Sponsors

Signing an Affidavit of Support is more than just government red tape. It is a serious, legally binding venture that should be taken with careful consideration and complete trust in the immigrant you plan to sponsor. Remember that financial responsibility we just discussed? It’s not just a formality. You are agreeing to be financially responsible for an immigrating person until they:

  1. Become a legal U.S. citizen or resident.
  2. Die.
  3. Have a 10-year record of legal work demonstrated through their work record and a tracked history of payment with contributions to our tax system in the U.S.

This legally enforceable document, the Affidavit of Support, means that failure to adequately provide for the immigrant you sponsor can lead to the immigrant or the U.S. government bringing legal action in court against you. Though you may be a law-abiding legal U.S. resident, the law places the burden and obligation on the sponsor much more than it does the immigrant.

‘Til Death Do You Part

Many of the Affidavits of Support that we see are through marriage. A couple in love, floating on promises of hope and happiness in the future, make what seems like an obvious and easy decision to bring their partner to the U.S. Building a life together and relying on one another for prosperity and wellness in the U.S. is common practice for most marriages, and it’s definitely true in cases of immigration sponsorship in couples. While all of that sounds great, reality and statistics tell us that marriages don’t always end up with fairytale endings.

While your marriage can be annulled and absolved with some legal proceedings with the stroke of a pen, your legal commitment to a sponsored immigrant knows no end. So, marriages may not be until death do you part, but Affidavits of Support definitely are forever.

Even in financial ruin or bankruptcy, a sponsor can still be bound by sponsorship commitments, so treat lightly and cautiously.

Sponsoring an immigrant, especially someone you love, can be truly wonderful and life-changing for the best, but it is a commitment and a legally binding one that should only be entered into after careful consideration and legal guidance from a trusted and seasoned immigration attorney. 

If you are considering becoming a sponsor for an immigrant and would like to review your particular circumstances and receive guidance on the requisite paperwork and qualifications, we are happy to help. Please reach out to us. Please continue to follow our social media channels for breakdowns and alerts on the immigration processes that affect you and your loved ones.

What Does the Alien Smuggling Statute Include?

By Peek & Toland on April 30, 2021

We’ve covered some basic tenets of alien smuggling, including some of the many actions that can land you in hot water under the broad scope of alien smuggling. But what do you need to know if you or someone you know is facing charges for this offense?

Any good and experienced immigration and criminal defense attorney is well aware of the varying factors that can make or break a defense for alien smuggling charges, so let’s look at a few here:

 We Are Family

So, maybe you’ve been charged with alien smuggling for giving someone in your family with no status safe harbor or a ride, and your first response is, “We are family!” Well, that might be a classic and catchy tune that Sister Sledge brought to us a few decades ago, but it is not a plausible defense for fighting alien smuggling charges. 

I know we’ve covered this aspect of alien smuggling before, but it’s important to stress. We understand the desire to help a family member and how difficult it can be to deny assistance to someone you know and love. Though we recognize the significance of family, the U.S. government does not have an appreciation for the value of family when it comes to justifying alien smuggling, unfortunately.

 Less Is More

Like most everything in life, especially criminal charges, there are degrees of severity. The number of mistakes you make have different levels of consequence. This is very much true when it comes to alien smuggling. It is applicable in your defense when we look at how many people without status you may have helped come here unlawfully. 

The more, the merrier is not the case here, as the penalties for alien smuggling are proportionate to how many people you’ve assisted. In short, more is more, not less.

 If Breaking the Law, Follow the Law…?

Ok, this one sounds a bit silly, but it’s actually true when it comes to your defense of alien smuggling charges. If you’re going to break that law, be sure you’re following the rules of the road.

Believe it or not, there are harsher penalties for alien smuggling if you and your passengers are apprehended while not wearing seatbelts or while speeding. It’s a general rule that any and everything you can do wrong can be held against you, even if those missteps have nothing at all to do with the primary charge you are facing. So, use those turn signals and obey the speed limits in everything you do because law enforcement is always ready to tackle “related” charges.

 Age Matters

It’s counterintuitive to most people to deny a child assistance, as children are so much more vulnerable than adults. It’s precisely because of that vulnerability that alien smuggling charges for transporting children are much more severe than if you were to be apprehended while assisting undocumented adults. Again, while we stress the importance of not putting yourself in jeopardy with criminal actions, the age of your passengers in an alien smuggling criminal defense case is noteworthy.

Not Just Transportation

We’ve talked about physically transporting undocumented persons or helping them find safe housing, which can both place you on the wrong side of a criminal defense case. Another very common crime under alien smuggling is employing undocumented persons. If you are a business owner who knowingly hired someone who does not have legal status, you are at risk for alien smuggling charges.

The same is true when it comes to false documents. The use of false documents does not just mean a forged or fake document, but it also means lending someone your ID that an undocumented person fraudulently uses. Even though these two means of helping undocumented may not directly involve your presence, you are liable if the person you employ or helped with documents is apprehended.

These are some of the many ways this broad statute can result in trouble for you and your family. 

If you are a business owner questioning your potential vulnerability under the law, you’re an individual who might be in trouble, or perhaps you have a family member or friend with questions about this broad statute and potential criminal charges, please reach out to us at Peek & Toland. 

We have long-handled immigration criminal defense cases and are well-equipped to defend your case, as well. Continue to follow our social media pages and this blog to keep up-to-date on the immigration issues that affect you and your loved ones.

Could I be guilty of Alien Smuggling?

By Peek & Toland on April 27, 2021

If you’ve paid any attention to the news cycle, you’ve likely seen extensive coverage of the U.S.-Mexico border and the influx of immigrants attempting to cross the border unlawfully, and you might be wondering how that affects you and the immigrant community.

While national and state agencies in Texas have previously been unable to agree on best practices for handling border safety, there is a more united front from law enforcement. There has been a 300% increase in the volume of arrests for alien smuggling just in the last 60 days. Most offenders found guilty of alien smuggling receive imprisonment as punishment.

What is Alien Smuggling?

If you are a member of the immigrant community, the term “alien smuggling” is something you’ve heard, and it could be something in which you’ve participated, whether you realize it or not.

For those not familiar with terms associated with unlawful border crossing, alien smuggling is defined as any act in any way at any time that assists somebody with the unlawful entry into the United States.

If that sounds like a pretty broad definition to you, that’s because it is, which is why it’s important to fully understand what alien smuggling is and how you can be charged with this crime.

Let’s take a look at four key factors to remember about alien smuggling to keep yourself and your loved ones in a safe space.

1) Family Ties Do Not Matter

We regularly hear a common misconception amongst those charged with alien smuggling, and that is the idea that assisting a family member in unlawful crossing is defensible. That’s not the case. It doesn’t matter if you’re legally in the U.S. and your family needs help or reprieve coming to the U.S. unlawfully. It doesn’t matter if you’ve known this person your entire life and know that they are good people. Their connection to you has nothing to do with defending yourself against alien smuggling crimes.

2) Financial Gain Is Not a Factor

We all know about paid coyotes who assist immigrants with unlawful passage over the border, but what if you’re helping someone out of the goodness of your heart with no financial gain? 

Short answer: it’s still a crime.

While profiting or not from alien smuggling can affect the degree of sentencing, it does not absolve you from the crime, money or not. 

3) Aiding and Abetting Counts as a Crime

“Anything you say or do can be used against you in the court of law” is a phrase we’ve covered and all know well, and it’s also true when it comes to alien smuggling. You don’t have to physically bring someone across the border to be charged with this crime. Remember that broad definition of alien smuggling we mentioned? It applies to any form of help given. Perhaps you sent money to someone unlawfully crossing. That’s a crime. Did you arrange housing for someone who crossed illegally? That’s a crime. You might have even picked up an undocumented person who crossed illegally from somewhere within the U.S. The onus is still on you, as that is assisting with their unlawful entry here.

With so many ways to be charged with this crime, it’s imperative that you’re extra careful when doing favors, like giving rides or assistance, even if it’s your family or a trusted friend who happens to be here illegally.

4) Knowledge is Power (and so is a good immigration attorney)

In the past, we’ve talked a lot about prior knowledge of a crime and how that understanding can play a big part of your defense. This is relevant to alien smuggling charges because the government must prove you had knowledge that the person you assisted did not have legal status here to charge you with alien smuggling.

Here’s where an experienced immigration attorney comes into play. Practiced counsel will know exactly how to present this defense in your case, even if you were apprehended physically bringing an undocumented person across the border.

In short, be careful of all of the ways you can be in the wrong for alien smuggling, and don’t lose hope if you or someone you know have alien smuggling charges against to fight. Please reach out to us here at Peek & Toland if you have any questions about these charges or are facing them—we’re well practiced and here to help.

Continue to check our social media pages and blog for updates and coverage of the topics that concern you and your loved ones.

Consequences of Using Fake ID or Social Security Number

By Peek & Toland on April 21, 2021

Remember the days of passing off fake IDs to get into a bar or buy alcohol before turning 21 years old? Now, there’s even more potential for authentic-looking fake IDs with the prevalence of Photoshop and access to professional printing tools. For some, using a fake is a rite of passage; however, using a fake ID is not the most brilliant move, even if the name on it isn’t McLovin.

There may be an entire market for fake IDs or someone else’s, but let’s take a look at why doing so has its severe consequences. 

 Using a Fake ID Can Mean Real Trouble

We’ve all made poor decisions, and the temptation of gaining early access to a bar or club by use of a fake ID can be enticing; but what if I told you doing so can put you at risk for incurring fines, probation, and even jail time in some circumstances? Still feel like you can’t wait to turn 21 before heading to the club?

Just having a fake ID or the ID of someone else in your possession sounds harmless. “I wasn’t going to do anything with it.” That sounds like a great defense strategy, right? Unfortunately not. The simple act of carrying the ID of another person can put you at risk for incurring a misdemeanor charge. Further, if authorities catch you using the fake or incorrect ID, congratulations, you’ve just committed fraud and are now eligible for felony charges. In short, think long and hard before paying for that fake or snagging your older cousin’s ID.

 What If It’s for Work and Not Play?

In our years of defending clients from all sorts of alleged crimes, we’ve seen it time and again that folks hoping to work hard and provide for their family through the use of someone else’s social security card or a made-up number are just as eligible for a felony charge as the college kid down the street hoping to score some beer with a fake ID, if not more likely to be charged. Not to mention, getting caught committing fraud (and that is absolutely what it is) can put your future in the U.S. in jeopardy if you’re not here legally or haven’t completed the path to citizenship.

There’s not much legal analysis or wiggle room to explain in the case of using fake or incorrect IDs. It’s really a matter of just don’t do it. If you can avoid using a fake or incorrect ID, please do so at all costs because the stakes are high. 

If you happen to find yourself caught in this particular circumstance or know someone who has, please reach out to us at Peek & Toland, as we have decades of experience defending clients in these circumstances. Good counsel can make all the difference in staying out of jail.

Continue to follow us on social media for all the immigration and criminal defense coverage on issues that are important to you, and let us know if there’s a particular topic you’d like to discuss. We look forward to continuing to serve you and our community in their paths to citizenship and defense.

Is a K-1 Fiancé Visa the Best Means of Entry?

By Peek & Toland on April 15, 2021

There is plenty of pressure already when selecting your spouse, the person with whom you plan to spend the rest of your life. There’s even more pressure to ensure you’re taking the correct steps and making the best decision when it comes to marrying someone from outside the U.S.

When you are looking at options for your significant other to come over to the U.S., there are other avenues besides the K-1 Fiancé Visa. Depending on your situation, there are other options that will allow your significant other to come to the U.S.

Let’s take a look at some factors that play an enormous part in the steps you can take to bring your significant other into the U.S.

 Location! Location! Location!

We often talk about the importance of location in so many aspects of our legal practice. It’s most certainly a factor when looking at options to legally spend time and create a life with your significant other who is immigrating to the U.S. The keywords here are “immigrating to the U.S.” because the K-1 Fiancé Visa is intended to bring someone from outside of the U.S. This means that the K-1 Visa is not appropriate for someone who is already in the U.S. The Fiancé Visa is solely for those wishing to be married to a U.S. citizen, who are currently not in the U.S. 

Shows like 90 Day Fiancé make it seem as though the K-1 Fiancé Visa is the only way to make things work, but that is not the case. An experienced immigration attorney will assess your unique and specific situation and guide you down the best path that may or may not include applying for a K-1 Fiancé Visa.

Adjustment of Status

An option beyond a K-1 Visa is an adjustment of status. What does that mean? Adjustment of status is the process that you can use to apply for lawful permanent resident status when you are present in the United States. There are, of course, certain requirements that could make this an option for you and someone you hope to create a life with here in the U.S.

Our immigration attorneys will be able to assess your very specific situation and determine what’s best. Some of the considerations that are part of this decision are determining when a foreign national entered the United States, if they are currently outside the United States, whether they will be coming back anytime soon, and the purpose of any planned visits. There are many questions that an experienced immigration attorney will know to ask to ensure if you may get your permanent residence. 

It’s quite common to have clients call and say they’ve found no other options than the K-1 Fiancé Visa. However, we’ve been able to help them identify other means of entry. 

Therefore, before you waste immeasurable time and money applying for a K-1 Visa, please reach out to one of our experienced immigration attorneys here at Peek & Toland. We can guide you in the right direction. 

Be sure to continue tuning into our weekly coverage of the immigration issues that are important to you.

What Should I Say to the Police?

By Peek & Toland on April 14, 2021

As a defense attorney with over 20 years of experience, we know that what to say to the police is one of the most important, pressing decisions you can make. For many reasons, it could be the difference between freedom and a mess of charges against you. So, what is it that you should say to a police officer who has stopped you or has invited you to the station to chat?

Let’s take a look at that.

Mouth closed = case closed?

If the police want to talk to you to get your side of the story, even if you are innocent beyond the shadow of a doubt, it’s important to know that speaking to the authorities can mean placing yourself in hot water. Police officers have increasingly difficult duties. We owe them gratitude and respect for protecting citizens, but that doesn’t mean you owe them information or even cordial conversation that can lead to unforeseen trouble for you.

The very best thing you can say to police interrogating you is absolutely nothing at all unless you are asking for your attorney. I’ve seen clients, time and again, paint themselves into a corner with police because they were trying to explain or justify their actions or give information that they didn’t realize affected them. There’s a reason we have that ever-prized Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and we all need to understand the importance of utilizing that right.

Speaking to the police to defend or explain yourself or deciding to remain silent could easily be the difference between taking a mandatory ride in the back of a cop car and walking away freely. 

Friendly tactics are NOT your friend

We’ve covered in great detail the lengths to which officers are willing to go to gather incriminating evidence and information, so it’s imperative to remember that if you receive a friendly invitation to go into the police department “just to talk,” you should think twice. 

You see, until an officer actually places you under arrest, they don’t have to read you your right to remain silent. I’ve seen clients claim they weren’t read their rights and assume their arrest is invalid as a result. However, in actuality, that client gave up the information necessary for an officer to place them under arrest. At that point, they are aware that they have the right to an attorney and remain silent.

You always have the opportunity to remain silent when speaking with the police, so be sure to take it before it’s too late. It’s very common to see clients arrested for something that could’ve been completely avoided had they simply kept quiet.

 What if they need a response?

 Life can change in an instant, and you may find yourself in a predicament where there is evidence against you or you’ve perhaps been apprehended while making a mistake. You are correct to assume that there are questions to be answered, but that doesn’t mean those answers have to come from you.

An experienced and trusted defense attorney can speak to the police on your behalf and relay to them all the necessary information while not further incriminating you. Because of the extensive experience we have in this arena, we’re well-versed in what to say to law enforcement and exactly how to say it, so let your lawyer do the talking.

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