At the Law Office of Rosy H. Cho, we are dedicated to helping men and women throughout San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area communities find creative and effective solutions to their immigration legal problems. Over the course of her career, Ms. Cho has built a solid reputation for zealous advocacy, conscientious and committed representation, and strong client-centered relationships.
Family Based Immigration
The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho is committed to using all available tools to bring families together. We have helped hundreds of people obtain lawful permanent resident status in the United States, and have helped even more obtain visas for spouses, children, fiancé(e)s, and parents. We will evaluate your situation, explain all the options, meticulously prepare your petitions, and do our utmost to overcome any obstacles that may stand in the way of obtaining lawful status.
A U.S. citizen may petition for:
- Fiancé or Fiancée
- Children (including stepchildren and adopted children under certain circumstances)
- Parents (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age)
- Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age)
A legal permanent resident may only petition for:
- A spouse
- Unmarried children
If you entered the United States with a visa, the quickest way to obtain lawful permanent residency (a “green card”) may be through a petition filed by a U.S. citizen spouse or adult child, or by a U.S. citizen parent if you are under 21 and unmarried. These are adjustments based on what are commonly referred to as “immediate relative” visa petitions.
All other categories of family petitions are subject to various delays based on the number of people ahead of your in the “line” for a visa number. These lines are subject to move up or backwards each month based on the number of visas in each category filed each month. Changes in the status of the petitioner and the age of the family beneficiary will affect the length of wait and may even disqualify a beneficiary already in line. Thus, it is important that you fully understand how this system works and that the petition is carefully monitored.
Some situations can present serious problems for the family visa applicant. If the visa applicant entered the United States unlawfully, is living in the U.S. without status, or has been convicted of certain types of crimes, a family visa application may be denied. If you entered the U.S. unlawfully, you may not be eligible to adjust your status in the U.S. and may have to apply for an immigrant visa abroad. The process can pose many pitfalls and barriers and only a qualified and knowledgeable attorney can ensure a smooth process.
The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho understands how even the simplest family-based petitions can go awry and will carefully assess all the factors to craft the best strategy for you and your loved ones.
Deportation and Removal Defense
There are many grounds with which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may try to remove or deport an individual from the United States. A person may be subject to deportation or removal based on unlawful entry, overstay after the expiration of a visa, misrepresentation or fraud, or a criminal record.
If you or a family member is facing removal or deportation, it is critical that you hire a knowledgeable and experienced attorney. The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho has built a well-earned reputation for tenacious advocacy on behalf of its clients in Immigration Court, the Board of Immigration Appeals and before the Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals. We will carefully examine the charges against you or your family and create the best defensive strategy.
Possible forms of relief may include:
- Cancellation of removal for lawful permanent residents and non-residents;
- Adjustment of status based on a marriage and other family petitions;
- Waivers of Inadmissibility– for unlawful presence, criminal charges, or fraud and misrepresentation (sometimes referred to as hardship waivers);
- Asylum applications as a defense to removal;
- Petitions for U-visa (victim) status;
- Requests to exercise prosecutorial discretion to administratively close cases;
- Motions to suppress and terminate proceedings.
Whether you qualify for one of these or other forms of relief requires a very fact-specific analysis that takes into account not only the individual circumstances but also the current state of the law. The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho has a proven record of success in defending individuals against deportation and removal and has played a part in keeping together countless families.
Immigration Detainers and Custody
Following a criminal arrest, you may be subject to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Detainer, commonly referred to as an “ICE Hold.” This means that the criminal detention facility (county jail or state prison) may detain you for up to an additional 48 hours following your release from criminal detention for ICE to take you into their custody.
Once in ICE custody, your case will be assessed if it is determined that you are subject to removal, you will be placed in immigration court removal proceedings. At the same time, ICE will determine whether you are subject to mandatory detention or can be released on supervised release or upon a posted bond. It may be possible to challenge a finding that you are subject to mandatory detention; it is also possible to request a bond redetermination hearing before a judge at which you may ask the judge to reduce the bond amount set by ICE.
The steps you take immediately following criminal charges and upon ICE detention can have a critical and lasting effect on whether you are ultimately successful in defending yourself against deportation or removal. Accurate analysis of your options and quick action can sometimes be the difference between removal and successfully winning your case. The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho can help you navigate the complex and stressful road from criminal custody through to successful conclusion of your removal proceedings.
Immigration Consequences of Criminal Convictions
Immigration laws impose harsh sanctions on noncitizen individuals who run afoul of the law. The consequences of criminal convictions to your immigration status are constantly changing through changes in the law or policies made by the courts and government agencies. Therefore, it is especially important that you consult with an experienced immigration lawyer before accepting any plea agreement. The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho has advised many individuals facing criminal charges as well as criminal defense attorneys to craft a plea that best minimizes the immigration consequences of your criminal conviction.
Naturalization and U.S. Citizenship
American citizenship is the goal of many immigrants across the country. For some the process is relatively straightforward, and our role is to help you prepare a strong application and ensure you are treated fairly by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. For others, however, may face challenges and hurdles in the process. Sometimes, the application may even lead to the initiation of removal proceedings.
The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho has helped numerous clients overcome serious obstacles to obtain citizenship. We will:
- Determine your eligibility to apply for citizenship
- Identify potential problems and risks
- Recommend steps you can take to improve your chances of approval
- Educate you about the naturalization process
- Prepare your application
- Coach you for the citizenship test
- Represent you at the citizenship interview
The Law Office of Rosy H. Cho is well-versed with all the complications that may arise and we can find strategies to overcome the difficulties. A criminal record, even for a minor offense years past, may prevent a person from obtaining U.S. citizenship. An irregularity in a person’s visa history or attempted immigration fraud can also present a serious obstacle to obtaining citizenship or legal residency. We screen our clients carefully and will advise of any potential risks in applying.
U Visa Non-Immigrant Status
If you are a victim of a crime you may be eligible for nonimmigrant U visa status. The U visa confers nonimmigrant lawful status in the United States for up to four years while you assist law enforcement agents with the investigation of the crime. U visa status allows you and your immediate family to work and live in the United States. After three years, you may apply for lawful permanent residency in the United States.
To qualify, you must meet each of the following requirements:
- You must have suffered substantial physical or mental abuse as a result of having been a victim of a qualifying criminal activity. Qualifying crimes include murder, rape, torture, sexual exploitation, trafficking, extortion, obstruction of justice, false imprisonment, domestic violence, and felonious assault.
- You have information concerning the criminal activity.
- You have been helpful, are being helpful, or is likely to be helpful in the investigation or prosecution of the crime.
- The criminal activity occurred in and must have violated the laws of the United States.
Process to Obtain the U Visa
To petition for U nonimmigrant status, the victim or someone petitioning on the victim’s behalf must obtain a certification of helpfulness from a law enforcement agency, such as the police department, district attorney, or a judge. Other agencies such as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor also qualify to issue certifications.
A petition may also be submitted for eligible family members to obtain U nonimmigrant status using Form I-929.
Obtaining Lawful Permanent Residency
Those who have been granted U nonimmigrant status may file for lawful permanent residency after having been physically present in the U.S. for a continuous period of three years since obtaining the U nonimmigrant status. Family members who obtained derivative U status may also qualify for permanent residency. U nonimmigrant status cannot exceed four years; however, extensions are permitted upon certification by a certifying agency that the alien’s presence in the U.S. is required to assist in the investigation or prosecution of a qualifying criminal activity.
The United States provides asylum to persons who have a fear of persecution in their home country. If you have a fear that is well-founded and based on a protected ground, you may petition for asylum protection with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Alternatively, if you are in removal proceedings, you may ask the Immigration Judge to consider your application for asylum.
Eligibility Requirements for Asylum
Under current law, you must apply for asylum within one year of your arrival to the United States. If you have been in the U.S. over one year, you will need to show that a change of circumstances in your home country or in your own life has triggered your fear of return to your home country. You may also plead the existence of extraordinary circumstances which prevented you from applying within one year of entry.
To qualify, you must show that your fear of persecution is based on one of the following protected grounds:
- Political Opinion
- Membership in a Particular Social Group
What constitutes persecution is extremely fact-specific. Asylum adjudicators will determine what constitutes persecution on a case-by-case basis. Some of the recognized types of persecution include:
serious physical harm;
- coercive medical or psychological treatment;
- invidious prosecution or disproportionate punishment for a criminal offense;
- severe discrimination and economic persecution, and
- severe criminal extortion or robbery.
Establishing a Well-Founded Fear
In order to demonstrate a well-founded fear of return, you must establish that you have both a subjective and reasonable fear of returning to your home country. The subjective component requires that you demonstrate a genuine fear of persecution. To establish that your fear is reasonable, you must show that a reasonable person in the same circumstances would fear persecution. The United States Supreme Court has held that a risk of ten percent or more of persecution is sufficient to warrant a grant of asylum.
If you are afraid to return to your home country based on past persecution or fear future persecution based on one of the five protected grounds, call a confidential consultation with the Law Office of Rosy H. Cho. We have successfully gained asylum status for those who are most in need of protection.
Marriage for Same-Sex Couples
June 26, 2013 was a historic day for the LGBT community and for all persons who believe in equal rights. In two landmark decisions issued in one day, the Supreme Court furthered the rights and protections of traditional marriage to same-sex couples. As a result, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is, for all practical purposes, effectively dead.
In the next several months, we will get further information about how the federal government will enforce the new laws. The Obama Administration has already announced that it will act quickly to implement the Supreme Court rulings. This will include immigration benefits that were previously unavailable to same-sex couples.
What does this mean for same-sex couples in which one spouse is a foreign national?
If you were married or plan to get married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, including California, the United States citizen spouse can now petition for lawful permanent residency (a green card) for his or her foreign national spouse.
What are the requirements to apply for a green card?
Married gay and lesbian couples will still have to meet all the requirements under current immigration laws.
You will need to demonstrate that:
- The marriage is bona fide—that is, entered into in good faith and not solely for an immigration benefit
- The United States citizen spouse has sufficient income to sponsor his spouse (with some exceptions)
- The foreign-born spouse is not inadmissible –among other things, an unlawful entry, certain criminal convictions, misrepresentation or fraud may render a person inadmissible
Initially, the process may take longer than usual, but once the United States Citizen and Immigration Service get clear instructions, the entire process for couples who are both currently in the United States should take no longer than 4 to 6 months.
How does the process differ if one or both of you are residing outside of the United States?
If you are already legally married (that is, you married in a state or country that recognized same-sex marriage) you can still benefit from the change in the law even if one of both of you are living outside the United States. The process for containing residency must occur through a U.S. consulate abroad. The process can be a bit more complicated and generally will take longer.
If one or both of you are abroad in a country that does not recognize same-sex marriage, there are still ways you can take advantage of the change in the law. If the U.S. citizen spouse is living in the United States, she may be able to file a fiancé(e) petition (K-1 visa). Once the visa is granted, you will need to get married within 3 months of entry to the United States. If both of you are living outside the United States, you might want to explore the possibility of traveling to another country that provides marriage equality. A foreign marriage, as long as it is legal in that country, will be respected by the U.S. immigration authorities. Consular processing can then proceed from the original home country.
For further answers to your questions, check back to this site and to our blog. Updates will be posted frequently. You may also schedule a consultation by contacting the Law Office of Rosy H. Cho.