Information on Afghanistan – what you need to know

Hundreds of Afghan families and individuals wait to board evacuation flights out of Kabul, Afghanistan.

 

Disclaimer: The following message is not offered as official legal advice, but rather to inform on the situation in Afghanistan, and provide general information on available resources. If you or a loved one needs legal advice on this issue, we strongly urge you to contact our offices as soon as possible.

 

What is happening in Afghanistan?

The situation in Afghanistan is extreme and complicated. The Taliban is in control of almost the entire country, creating serious constraints on the US government’s evacuation of US citizens, workers, and allies. It is reported that the US embassy is closed and has been completely evacuated. US citizens have been urged to make their way to Kabul airport in order to evacuate the country. This means that the only US authority still present in the country is located in and around that airport.

 

Dates and deadlines

President Biden’s Administration has publicly stated the US will continue its evacuation from Kabul airport until August 31st at the latest. This is still the current course of action, regardless of the Taliban’s claim on blocking flights from taking off. At this time, US forces and personal are still processing “Special Immigrant Visas”(SIV) on the ground at the airport. 

 

What are my current options to get to the United States?

There are, generally, two main situations facing those who wish to travel to the United States from Afghanistan at this time.

  1. For those who can leave Afghanistan, by one way or another, and fear staying in Afghanistan due to the Taliban takeover, entering the United States or a third country will potentially offer multiple options. For individuals who can make it to the US, there is the possibility of applying for asylum or other benefits of US immigration law. For those who can leave Afghanistan and travel to a third country, it would be helpful to contact a US embassy or consulate in that country and inquire about ways to gain admission into the US; such as through the United States Refugee Admissions Program, submitting an application for parole into the US based on humanitarian grounds, etc.
  1. For those who cannot find a way to leave the country, Kabul airport is possibly the only option for leaving. If you or the people you know can make it to the airport and gain entrance, it would greatly increase the chances of your/their evacuation to Doha, Qatar, and, from there, to the United States or other countries.

 

What now?

At this time the situation is incredibly dangerous and unpredictable. Kabul itself is in chaos, and news from on the ground is not reaching the United States in real time. Yesterday, August 26, 2021, we learned there were a series of terrorist attacks on the Kabul Airport. It is unclear, at this time, how this will effect evacuations and remaining flights to the United States. We will continue to update the blog with new material as it is learned.

 

What we suggest

Goldstein & Associates urges all people involved to exercise great caution. For those who cannot or do not wish to attempt entry into the Kabul airport, we recommend contacting the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to find other options for evacuation.

 

The phone numbers for the protection hotline are:

079-069-1746 and  070-499-6168 (available on all working days)

You can also email their protection email atafgkaprt@unhcr.org.

 

Contact us for legal advice and free consultations

For specific legal advice about your relatives, please call our to set a free appointment with our experienced staff. Our numbers are 412-258-8080 and 215-982-2381. Please note, however, that due to Consular closures and backlogs, and severely limited immigration options under the current U.S. legal system for immigration to the United States, it may not be possible to obtain a visa at this time. Regardless, we will do our best to discuss your options and work towards finding a solution for your particular situation.

 

We are doing everything we can to help our clients with loved ones in Afghanistan, and are always willing to speak with those seeking to learn about what options may or may not be available.

 

If you or a loved one are in Afghanistan and are looking for a way to safely evacuate and come to the United States, we urge you to contact our office for legal guidance and to evaluate your options. We would be more than happy to connect you with a member of our staff to discuss your situation and come up with action plans during this chaotic time. You can call our Pittsburgh office at 412-258-8080, our Philadelphia office at 215-982-2381, or schedule a free phone or zoom consultation on our site using this link. We look forward to working with you. Keep safe.

Does the court block of Biden’s 100-day freeze on deportations affect you?

 

President Joe Biden sits in the oval office signing a stack of executive orders.

 

You may have seen some information on the news about President Biden initiating a ban on deportations for 100 days. We’ve also mentioned it in our previous blog post. This proposal came on January 22nd, and many of our clients and immigrant families across the United States were excited to hear the news.

 

This excitement was short-lived, however, when a Trump-appointed judge in Texas ruled to block Biden’s deportation freeze. This was the first major blow to President Biden’s immigration policy proposals. This challenge to Biden’s immigration related executive order may be the first of many. The new president has many progressive policies on the docket with his immigration plans, and we are sure there are more challenges to come.

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An AILA analysis of Biden’s early immigration policies

The logo for the American Immigration Lawyers Association – AILA. The website where the information in this blog post was published.

 

President Biden has had a lot to cover in his short time in office so far. From reversing executive orders set by Donald Trump, to creating his own regulations and policies, the man has been exceptionally busy. In our past blog posts, we have broken down some of the immigration policy changes, both immediate and long-term, that are sweeping through the country. However, there are even more to add to that growing list. Let’s take a look. Continue reading

Embassies and consulates: Appointments, delays, and more

A sign saying, “Expect Delays.” This image demonstrates the delays we are seeing due to Covid-19 and other external factors at embassies and consulates around the world.

 

As many of you have probably realized, it has become nearly impossible to schedule appointment at local embassies and consulates around the US. Some have even outright closed during the pandemic onslaught, making appointment backlogs and service requests entirely unreasonable. Much of this is due to Trump’s stark inability to control the raging pandemic on US soil, and it is now on Biden’s shoulders to find a better way to reopen these institutions, add more staff, and begin allowing appointments for urgent cases once again. Continue reading

H-1B Visas: What’s new? What’s next? Updates for 2021

An animated image of a person holding a H-1B visa with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

 

A large portion of our clientele rely on our services to aid them with their H-1B visas and applications for permanent residence through employment. You, reader, may in fact be one of them. So what has been happening regarding H-1Bs during Trump’s reign over America, and what differences will we see now that we have a new leader with Joe Biden? All good questions, and we’ll get to them here, in our latest blog on H-1Bs.

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Biden’s shift on immigration: A positive force for the US

President-Elect Joe Biden speaks on immigration matters in front of a crowd. He is standing next to a man and putting a hand on his shoulder. The other man is holding an anti-deportation sign that reads, “Not 1 more deportation. Moratorium on deportation on day 1.”

 

Everyone, including us, has been commenting on the fact that immigration will be much easier with the new administration taking over in 2021. You may read about why it might be better to apply for a visa or green card now that Trump is old news and Biden is now in the hot seat – but how are the current policies and laws going to shift exactly? What needs to be done in order for regular people to experience any changes in the US immigration process? Let’s walk through a few things that need to happen in order for us to see a difference between the policies of Trump’s reign, and the immigration regulations of this bright new year.

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Welcoming Veronica Cruz Salazar, LL.M to our firm!

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Goldstein & Associates is excited to launch our new blog series about the immigration heritage of our staff. We would like to welcome our newest attorney, Veronica Cruz Salazar, to the team.

Veronica is from Venezuela where she pursued studies in tax law from the Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas and from Universidad de Salamanca in Spain. Her legal experience includes work for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Caritas de Venezuela, and later as a senior associate and law department manager for the legal department at Taxand Venezuela in Caracas.

Veronica originally came to the United States to study English but as the conditions in Venezuela got worse, her family agreed that it would be best if she stayed in the U.S. Veronica decided to pursue an LL.M because it would allow for her to find many opportunities in America.
During her studies at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law pursuing her LL.M, Veronica found a job posting for Goldstein & Associates and her experience working with refugees gave her the courage to apply for our immigration practice. After a series of interviews, we found her to be a great fit.

Veronica feels that she has learned a lot from her time thus far at Goldstein & Associates. Each case is different and she is aware of the “human factor” of each individual involved in the case. Veronica knows what it is like to encounter new people and move to a new place, “I was an immigrant; I understand.” She knows how it feels to be full of uncertainty and not sure if you will find the right friends. Veronica attributes much of her success as an immigrant to surrounding herself with the right people who helped her, supported her, and allowed her to find opportunities to succeed.

Veronica feels extremely lucky to have found the right people and agrees that finding the right attorney who provides the same comfort and support is important. If you are interested in speaking with Veronica, do not hesitate to contact us online or call at 412-258-8080

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How Central Americans are Affected by Obama’s Immigration Raids

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In May, the Obama administration announced the beginning of a series of immigration raids of Central American migrants to be carried out by ICE officers. Since the raids began, there have been 40 cases reported of women and children being mistreated by ICE officers. The arrests largely to place in homes, schools, and workplaces; some arrests included aggressive and inappropriate conduct according to CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project. Of these cases, more than half have valid asylum claims that have not yet been heard in immigration court and some didn’t even have deportation orders. It is clear that the Obama Administration is approaching this influx of Central American refugees as an illegal immigration problem rather than a humanitarian crisis.

It has been reported that gang-related violence, drug trafficking, and corrupt criminal justice systems have plagued Central American countries such as Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. As a result, families have fled from these countries to seek asylum in the U.S. despite women and children being the least mobile group-they don’t leave unless there is no other choice. While these migrants may have valid asylum claims, it has become clear that these immigrants have not had the chance to be heard in court. In fact, many did not have legal counsel or even receive a notice to appear in court.

Immigrants in removal proceedings are afforded all appropriate due process under the law. The number of migrants who are being denied this right in our nation’s immigration courts is growing rapidly. The Obama Administration’s response to this surge in Central American migrants is inappropriate and devastating to the immigrant community while ignoring basic humanitarian decency.

Goldstein & Associates urges anyone who is unsure of their status to contact us immediately online or via phone at 412-258-8080.

Updated USCIS Procedures for Unlawful Presence Provisional Waivers

Illegal immigrants who have family in the United States can now remain on U.S. soil as they wait for their visa interview, thanks to provisional unlawful presence waivers.

Select immigrant visa applicants who are immediate relatives of U.S. citizens can now reduce the amount of time they must spend away from family members as they wait to become lawful citizens themselves. The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that, as of March 4, 2013, applicants can now apply for provisional stateside waivers (provisional unlawful presence waivers) while they are still in the United States.

Immigration Process Changes

Before March 4, applicants who were not able to adjust their status in the U.S. had to travel abroad while waiting for their immigrant visa. This often meant spending years away from their family members in the U.S.

The process of obtaining a visa remains the same, with applicants required to leave the U.S. for their immigrant visa interview in their home country. And, although this process is a convenient opportunity for applicants who are approved, the provisional nature of this waiver means that the process is extremely selective. Many applicants will be denied with no chance to appeal or reconsider. Submitting completed forms is extremely important to decrease the chance of denial. If their application for visa is still pending at the point of their denial, they may submit a new provisional statewide waiver application.

Waiver Eligibility Requirements

  • Applicants must be 17 years of age or older and an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (spouses, children and parents)
  • Applicants must be able to prove that their immediate family member with U.S. citizenship would experience hardship in the case that they would not be admitted into the U.S.
  • As immigration attorneys, we’re here to help with every step of the process

To review all of the eligibility requirements for a provisional unlawful presence waiver, visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. If you would like more information on this process, to find out if it fits your needs or to begin this process, please email us at mgoldstein@mglaw.com.

New Waiver Procedures for Certain Undocumented Immigrants Announced

On January 6, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced its intention to change its current process for certain applications for waivers of inadmissibility filed in connection with an immediate relative immigrant visa application. Specifically, USCIS proposed policy changes which will allow certain immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (ie: individuals unlawfully present in the United States who entered the U.S. without inspection) to request provisional waivers under section 212(a)(9)(B)(v) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, prior to departing the United States for consular processing of their immigrant visa applications.

Under current procedures, an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen with an approved Petition for Alien Relative (I-130), must depart the United States and file their permanent resident application and waiver of inadmissibility application at the appropriate U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. This process causes the foreign national to remain outside the United States while the waiver application is being processed, which frequently takes more than a year. U.S. citizens are often separated from their family members during this long wait.

The proposed new process is intended to reduce the time that U.S. citizens are separated from immediate relatives during the lengthy process of obtaining a waiver of inadmissibility. Under the new procedures, an immediate relative with an approved I-130 will be able to remain in the United States while the waiver of inadmissibility is processing. The spouses and children of U.S. citizens who are eligible for a visa to immigrate legally to the United States, but who need a waiver of inadmissibility for unlawful presence in order to obtain that visa expeditiously, would apply for a provisional waiver before leaving the United States to have their immigrant visa application processed at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

The attorneys and staff at Goldstein & Associates have successfully obtained numerous waivers of inadmissibility for our clients. This new policy will not change the way we prepare the substance of a waiver application; it will still be based on proving that the U.S. citizen qualifying relative will suffer extreme hardship if the waiver application is not approved. The change, and the main benefit of this new process for adjudicating waivers, will be that our clients will not be separated for lengthy periods of time during this difficult process. Goldstein & Associates applauds USCIS for proposing this change, and eagerly awaits its implementation.

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