Will I Lose My Immigration Status if I Get a DWI?

By Peek & Toland on August 22, 2018

Any type of arrest potentially can trigger deportation for an immigrant who is present in the U.S. Whether you are an undocumented immigrant or a legal immigration status, you could face deportation for an arrest, even if you never are convicted of the underlying crime. DWI charges are no exception. While no individual wants a DWI conviction on his or her record, the repercussions of a DWI potentially are much more severe for an immigrant, even if he or she is legally in this country.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) evaluates any criminal offense committed based on whether it is an aggravated felony or exhibits poor moral character. In some cases, the DWI is charged as a felony, which, in the state of Texas, can occur if it is your third or subsequent DWI arrest, if you had a child in the vehicle with you, if you were driving without a valid driver’s license, or if you were involved in a car accident at the time of the DWI that resulted in death, serious bodily injury, or property damage. If you are an immigrant facing felony DWI charges, you have a much greater chance of deportation than if you are facing a first-time misdemeanor DWI charge. Immigration authorities rarely will take action on your first misdemeanor DWI arrest.


Will I Lose My Immigration Status if I Get a DWI?

The repercussions of a DWI arrest for an immigrant also depend upon his or her immigration status and where he or she is in the immigration process. For example, if you are in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, the U.S. Department of State may automatically revoke your visa if you are arrested for DWI, which makes you ineligible for travel in the U.S. This is the case whether you have been convicted of DWI or not and definitely poses a problem if you wish to travel abroad and then reenter the U.S. If you do travel abroad, you generally must appear before an approved physician for an evaluation of alcohol and drug dependency in order to determine whether there is a health-based reason for inadmissibility to the U.S.

At Peek & Toland, we care about keeping your family together, whether that involves defending against deportation 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.

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Trump Aide Announces Potential for More Temporary Immigrant Workers

By Peek & Toland on August 21, 2018

A recent Reuters article quotes White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow as saying that the Trump administration is looking at ways to hire more temporary immigrant workers, at least in certain industries. This is largely because U.S. unemployment is at an 18-year low. For May, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that unemployment was at 3.8%. Due to these strong employment rates, it is likely that some U.S. employers are struggling to find qualified workers. This tight labor market can have the effect of slowing growth and lifting wages.

Just recently, the federal government made an additional 15,000 H-2B visas available for temporary non-agricultural workers to help with seasonal jobs related to summer tourism. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) received more visa petitions than were available in the first five business days of filing under the FY 2018 supplemental cap. Although USCIS continues to process petitions on behalf of workers exempt from the cap, it rejected any other petitions. The only American businesses that were eligible for these additional H-2B visas were those attesting that they likely would suffer irreparable harm without the ability to hire all of the H-2B workers requested in their petition.


Trump Aide Announces Potential for More Temporary Immigrant Workers

Many employers are complaining of an inability to fill jobs with domestic workers, including those in the trucking, sales, carpentry, and technology industries. This is partially because the visa process operated as a lottery this year, rather than first-come, first-serve, as it had in the past. This resulted in some employers being shut out of the visa process altogether. 

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.

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Family Preference Visas

By Peek & Toland on August 20, 2018

Family preference visas are available to certain relatives of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents. These visas are not for immediate family members, who generally fall within a different type of visa classification. More specifically, you may qualify for a family preference visa if you fall within one of the following categories:

·         Unmarried children of U.S. citizens who are older than 21 and their minor children

·         Spouses, minor children, and unmarried older children of legal permanent residents

·         Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children

·         Siblings of U.S. citizens and their minor children, if the U.S. citizen is over the age of 21

There are limits on the number of family preference visas per year; most family preference visas go to the spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents. Since there is so much demand for family preference visas, there can be a lengthy waiting period for individuals applying for them. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues these visas in chronological order according to when the U.S. sponsor files the visa petition. In some categories of these visas, where the number of approved petitions greatly outnumber the number of available visas, the waiting period can be several years. 

Family Preference Visas

To apply for a family preference visas, the U.S. sponsor must file a Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS. The U.S. sponsor must have a permanent residence in the U.S. and intend to remain living in the U.S. The sponsor must be at least 21 years old to sponsor a sibling or parent, and at least 18 years old to sign an Affidavit of Support, which is required for immigrant visas for spouses and other relatives.

In order to qualify for a family preference visa, the applicant must have a passport that will be valid for at least 60 days following the issuance of the visa, submit completed medical forms that include a vaccination record, and submit certain documents, such as a birth certificate, marriage certificate, military records, and police records. Applicants also cannot have a past conviction for drug trafficking, submit any fraudulent documents, or previously have overstayed a visa.

When you are facing immigration difficulties, you may not know where to turn. 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.

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What You Need to Know About Animal Cruelty Laws in Texas

By Peek & Toland on August 19, 2018

While some people do not consider animal cruelty to be a terribly serious criminal offense, the state of Texas actually has very harsh laws when it comes to animal cruelty. The reality is that if you take what you – and many others – might consider to be a very fair and reasonable action toward an animal , such as shooting your neighbor’s dog that acted viciously toward your child, you could face criminal charges with very severe consequences. In fact, if you used a deadly weapon during your alleged act of animal cruelty, you could face a jail sentence ranging from a minimum of two to a maximum of ten years in prison, and a $10,000 fine. If you are under the age of 18 and convicted of animal cruelty, you also must undergo counseling.

The animal cruelty laws in the state of Texas are very broad in scope, but apply only apply to domestic pets, livestock, and animals under the care or control of a Texas facility. They do not apply to circus animals, wild animals, zoo animals, and animals being used for testing in lab facilities.

What You Need to Know About Animal Cruelty Laws in Texas

Many types of conduct can lead to animal cruelty charges. Some actions such as depriving animals of water, food, or shelter or abandoning an animal, may lead to misdemeanor animal cruelty charges. Other acts of animal cruelty, such as intentionally torturing animals, may result in felony animal cruelty charges. Animal cruelty charges also may result from cruelly transporting or confining an animal, poisoning or killing an animal, seriously injuring an animal, using the animal in fighting or as a lure in a race, or seriously overworking an animal.

At Peek & Toland, we are dedicated to protecting your rights and defending you from animal cruelty or 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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What Do I Do if My Visa is Denied?

By Peek & Toland on August 18, 2018

Whether you are attempting to get a visa to enter the U.S. as a student, worker, patient seeking medical treatment, or tourist, the rejection of your visa application can be very costly. As a result, there are some steps that you take if your visa application is denied by the U.S. government. Keep in mind that you can continue to submit new visa applications, so long as they contain new evidence that may help support your application.

One of the most common reasons for the rejection of visa applications is a lack of necessary information or documents. For example, you may need to furnish information in your visa application showing why a visa is necessary for you or evidence that you have strong ties to your home country so that you will not overstay your visa and remain in the U.S. with no legal immigration status. To provide this information, you may want to provide proof in your visa application about those ties to your home country, including any business interests that you have there, the presence of immediate family members, property that you own and maintain, a permanent residence located there, and major possessions, such as a vehicle. If you lack evidence of strong ties to your home country, immigration officials may conclude that you have no reason to return to your home country, and thus are at risk of remaining in the U.S. illegally.

What Do I Do if My Visa is Denied?

You also must specifically indicate in your visa application the dates and the specific amount of time that you plan to remain in the U.S., if possible, as well as evidence that you have sufficient funds to support yourself during your stay in the U.S.

If the U.S. government denied your visa application for a reason that you cannot change, you may consider applying for a waiver of ineligibility. These may be available to visa applicants in some situations and can help prevent applicants from denied again for the same reasons that they were denied before.

Whatever your situation may be, you will need skilled legal assistance to fight for your rights and work toward a resolution of your immigration visa matter. There are a variety of strategies that may apply to your immigration case; it is our job to explore those options and determine which is the best strategy for you. The Texas immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland know how to help you navigate through the maze of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and get the relief that you need. Take the first step today and secure the future of your family in the U.S. Contact our office today at and set up an evaluation with one of our highly skilled Texas immigration lawyers.

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What’s the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment?

By Peek & Toland on August 17, 2018

While both sexual assault and sexual harassment are illegal types of sexual misconduct, there are distinct differences between the two. Sexual harassment is a civil matter that often arises out of employment-related disputes and does not always constitute criminal conduct. On the other hand, sexual assault is a criminal offense under Texas law.

What’s the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment?

The federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits gender discrimination in workplaces with 15 or more employees, such as sexual harassment. Additionally, Texas law prohibits discrimination in all workplaces. Violations of these laws carry civil penalties and typically result in an award of monetary damages for the victim, which the employer may pay; the employer also may fire or demote the perpetrator of the sexual harassment. Sexual harassment consists of unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other sexually-based actions that are:

·         so “serious and pervasive” as to create a “hostile work environment”, or

·         made a condition of hiring, maintaining employment, or receiving a job-related benefit by a person in a position of authority over the victim

In some cases, sexual harassment does constitute criminal conduct. Potential criminal offenses that might arise out of sexual harassment include disorderly conduct, public lewdness, indecent exposure, and even sexual assault.

Sexual assault is a serious criminal offense; at a minimum, sexual assault is a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. Under Texas law, this criminal offense encompasses a wide range of non-consensual sexual contact. 

If you find yourself charged with sexual assault, sexual harassment, or any other type of criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced Texas criminal defense attorneys can offer you. The consequences of a sexual assault or sexual harassment conviction can be serious, no matter what type of criminal charges you may be facing. As a result, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for adults who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

Posted in Uncategorized

DHS Announces Termination of TPS for Honduran Immigrants

By Peek & Toland on July 12, 2018

The Trump administration recently announced that it would be terminating Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for the roughly 57,000 Honduran immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for years. Many Honduran immigrants entered the U.S. following a 1999 hurricane that wreaked havoc on the country; the U.S. granted these immigrants TPS, which allowed them to legally live and work in the country on at least a temporary basis. According to the Trump administration, conditions have sufficiently improved in the Hondurans since that time for the immigrants to return to their native countries. Honduran officials, however, have objected, claiming that conditions in the country have not improved sufficiently to repatriate some 50,000 people, particularly after almost half of them have lived in the U.S. for almost 20 years; many of these immigrants also have had U.S. citizen children during their residence in the U.S. Other advocates claim that the current conditions in Honduras are actually worse than when the immigrants left in 1999.

DHS Announces Termination of TPS for Honduran Immigrants

The Honduran immigrants have until January 5, 2020, to leave the U.S., or they become subject to deportation. The decision to end TPS for these immigrants is only the latest in a string of announcements cancelling TPS for various immigrants displaced from their native countries due to natural disasters or violent conflicts. These decisions involve immigrants from Nepal, Haiti, and El Salvador. Meanwhile, Honduras remains as one of the violent and dangerous countries in the Western Hemisphere, and recently has experiences significant unrest in the wake of a contested presidential election. The state of Texas undoubtedly will feel the impact of these decisions, as it is the state with the second highest number of residents from Honduras, El Salvador, and Haiti who have had the benefit of TPS until recently.

If you or your family is facing the termination of TPS or deportation for any reason, 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 immigration court proceedings. Call us today at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment with one of our deportation defense lawyers, and learn how we can assist you.

Posted in Immigration, Uncategorized

Immigrant Workers Plentiful in Healthcare, Education Fields

By Peek & Toland on July 5, 2018

With all of the recent focus on U.S. immigration in recent months, statistics show that immigrants make up significant portions of workers in both the healthcare and education fields. From educated professionals to relatively unskilled workers, immigrants fill many roles in these sectors that Americans may be unwilling or unable to fill.

The Pew Research Center found that following the retail sector, educational services was the biggest employer of lawful immigrants (8%). The positions occupied by immigrants include service positions, such as dining hall workers and janitors, as well as more skilled positions, such as professors.

Similarly, in 2015, almost 17%, or 2.1 million, of the 12.4 million people working in the U.S. healthcare field were immigrants. The market for healthcare workers is steadily growing, due in large part to the overall aging of our country. As a result, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the healthcare sector will add 2.3 million jobs by 2024. Immigrants working in the healthcare sector are overrepresented, relative to their share of the total workforce, in highly skilled medical positions (28%), such as nurses and doctors, and in low-skilled healthcare workers (24%), of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides.

Immigrant workers plentiful in healthcare education fields

Foreign-born healthcare workers come to the U.S. under many different temporary and permanent visa categories. These visa categories include H-1B (specialty occupations), H-2B (nonagricultural workers), H-3 (trainees), TN (Mexican and Canadian professionals under NAFTA), J-1 (exchange visitors), and O-1 (individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement). Of course, immigrant healthcare workers also can enter the U.S. through family or employer connections, or through humanitarian protections.

The Peek & Toland immigration attorneys are here to assist you with coming to and remaining in the U.S., whether you are a worker in the healthcare or education sector or another industry altogether. We are here to represent your interests and provide you with the legal help you need in this type of this situation. Our experienced and skilled immigration lawyers know how to gather documentary evidence in support of your case and guide you through the complex U.S. immigration system. Schedule an appointment to meet with us today and learn how we can help you with your immigration matter.

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What is a Grand Jury and How Does It Work?

By Peek & Toland on June 27, 2018

Most people think of a jury as the individuals selected to make a decision about a court case after hearing testimony and evidence presented at a trial. A jury trial can involve either criminal charges or a civil court case. A grand jury, however, is not the same as a regular jury; it is a panel of 12 citizens who review felony criminal charges to decide if the state has probable cause that a defendant committed the criminal offense, which is a requirement to go forward with the case. A grand jury does not decide a person’s guilt or innocence after hearing evidence. Instead, it determines by a vote whether probable cause exists to issue an indictment, which is a formal accusation of a crime; after a grand jury issues an indictment, the District Attorney can proceed with prosecuting the criminal charges. If the grand jury does not find probable cause, then they vote to issue a no-bill, which usually results in the District Attorney dismissing the case. However, if a grand jury votes to issue a no-bill, it still also can vote to issue an indictment on a lesser-included charge, such as one that would be a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

What is a Grand Jury and How Does it Work?

Grand jury members come from a randomized list of registered voters in the county in which the crime occurred. Jurors cannot have a felony conviction or a misdemeanor conviction involving moral turpitude, such as a crime involving dishonesty or fraud. Individuals also cannot have any pending criminal charges at the time that they serve on the grand jury. Grand jury members serve for a term, which is usually about three months, and may have to appear in court as much as a few times each week. Grand juries may hear state criminal cases in state court and federal criminal cases in federal court.

Whether you are indicted by a grand jury or simply charged with a criminal offense, you need legal advice that only experienced criminal defense attorneys can offer you. The consequences of a criminal conviction can be serious, no matter what type of criminal charges you may be facing. As a result, you should immediately contact a skilled defense lawyer for help if you have been accused of a criminal offense. Peek & Toland provides strong legal representation on a regular basis for adults who are charged with various crimes. It is our priority is to represent your interests and protect your rights.  Call us at (512) 474-4445 and schedule an appointment to speak with us today.

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What Do I Do if My Conditional Residency is About to Expire?

By Peek & Toland on June 14, 2018

If you are an immigrant who has married a U.S. citizen, you are likely to have received permanent residency on a conditional basis, which means that it has been less than two years since your marriage occurred. As a result, your residency will expire two years from the date that you received it, unless you take action to remove the conditions from your residency.

To remove the conditions from your residency, you must file the proper application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 90 days prior to the expiration of your residency. This application form that you must file is Form I-751, Petition to Remove Conditions of Residence; you and your U.S. citizen spouse must sign and jointly submit this form. In order to do so, you must provide evidence that you are still married and that you are in a bona fide marriage.

What Do I Do if My Conditional Residency is About to Expire?

If you have divorced or your marriage has been annulled within two years of receiving your conditional residency, you still will need to file a Form I-751. However, you also will need to ask for a waiver of the joint filing requirement. The most common reasons to ask for this waiver include divorce after a bona fide marriage, abuse or battery by your spouse during a bona fide marriage, and a showing of extreme hardship if you must return to your country of origin. If you can provide evidence of a bona fide marriage, then USCIS often will grant your waiver. However, if evidence shows that your marriage was merely a business transaction designed to avoid immigration laws, or that you were the cause of your divorce because you committed adultery or abandoned your spouse, then USCIS may deny your request for a waiver.

If USCIS denies your request to remove the conditions from your residency, for whatever reason, or refuses to waive the joint filing requirement, you are likely to become subject to deportation. The immigration attorneys of Peek & Toland have the experience that you need when you are facing deportation charges. We will determine the facts and evidence that are relevant to your case, evaluate your options, and help you decide the best course of action for your situation. It is our goal to place you in the best position possible to achieve your goals. Contact our Texas immigration attorneys at our office today and learn how we can assist you and your family through this difficult situation.

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