California Immigration Lawyer Blog
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With the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more people are eligible for health insurance including those who previously had a difficult time finding insurance.  One such group of people was elderly permanent residents under 65 years old and who had preexisting conditions.  Now it is possible for those folks to obtain coverage.  I am going to give some questions and answers relating to permanent residents who immigrate as the parents of U.S. Citizens.

Q:  Is a permanent resident eligible for to purchase health insurance in the California exchange (known as Covered California)?

A.  Yes, in order to purchase insurance in the exchange, you must be a be a U.S. citizen or be “lawfully present” in the United States.  Permanent residents are considered “lawfully present” in the United States.  You will have to submit documentation to prove that you have permanent residence status.  Applicants for adjustment of status are also considered lawfully present and the document you would submit would be a copy of an employment authorization card.  (It might be better though to wait until permanent residence is granted as it is easier to prove permanent residency with the green card.)

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This post does not have anything to do with Immigration law, however the topic is important to all of us.  The Relay for Life, a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, will be occurring this weekend, Saturday, August 16 through Sunday August 17.  This 24 hour fundraiser starts at 9:00 a.m. and will located at Benicia High School.  Cancer knows no immigration boarders and does not discriminate.  It seems at times that everyone has cancer or we know someone with it.

The Relay for Life events are a significant part the American Cancer Society’s overall fundraising.  They occur in all cities across the United States.  The idea behind Relay For Life is that cancer never sleeps so neither do we, during the 24 hour fundraiser.  People form teams and set up booths around the track.  There is supposed to be someone from the team on the track during the 24 hour event.  There will be music and various entertainment groups performing all day.

Prior to the event, team members were encourage to solicit donations.  However, it is not too late to join a team or to donate.  I went to the Relay For Life last year and even at the last hour of the event (and later) people were donating.  If you would like to join a team, consider joining mine:  CBI, Hadassah, Family & Friends.

If you would just like to watch,  the best time to be there is for the Luminaria ceremony.  This takes place at 8:00 p.m. on Saturday evening.  The ceremony is a memorial,  to remember those who we have lost to cancer.  It is very moving, sad, and inspirational all at the same time.  For more information about the Relay For Life, check out the Relay For Life main site.


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It is common in Immigration Court for the government attorney to file adverse evidence at the hearing and have it be accepted by the Immigration Judge.   It is unpleasant, to say the least, when this happens because it catches us (Immigration attorneys) off guard.  One immigration lawyer, David Cleveland, a full-time volunteer attorney with Catholic Charities, was tired of this happening at his hearings.  Apparently he had the experience of the government attorney filing a document called ” Profiles of Asylum Applicants and Country Conditions,” at his hearings. These Profiles were published by the Department of State and were not available to general public.

An Asylum Profile is different from a Country Report on Human Rights Practices (“Country Reports”).   Every year, the State Department writes and publishes Country Reports for almost every country in the world.  Country Reports are announced and are easily available on the internet. Asylum Profiles, on the other hand, were written sporadically and were not published.

Mr. Cleveland wanted to review the Profiles before his hearings so he could be prepared and represent his clients well.   He decided to do something about it.  On July 31, 2013, he filed a Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request to the Department of State requesting copies of all Profiles published for every country from 2000 to 2013.

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On August 28, 2014, representatives of the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”)  will be giving a presentation and answering questions about drivers’  licenses, specifically about AB 60, the law which authorizes the DMV to issue drivers’  licenses to people who are undocumented.  (For more information about the law and the DMV’s website see my blog post on “California DMV releases new website to promote information on drivers’ licenses to undocumented individuals.“)  Representatives of the Mexican consulate will also be present to give a presentation and answer questions about Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”)

The event will take place at Liberty Church, 2641 N. Texas Street, Fairfield, CA and is free to the public.  It begins at 6:30 p.m. The presentations will be given in Spanish with English translation available.  If you would like to learn more about this event and others like it in Solano County, check the Facebook page of Voces Unidas Solano, the organization that is sponsoring this event.



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I recently saw someone in my San Francisco office who was interested in applying for political asylum because there is a civil war raging in his country.  Unfortunately there are a number of civil wars raging around the world today so there is no shortage of strife.  The general answer is that a fear of  civil strife by itself is an insufficient basis for applying for political asylum unless you can link the persecution to one of the five protected grounds:  race, religion, nationality, membership in social group or political opinion.

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Due to the numerous conflicts around the world, a fear of being conscripted into the military is often a claim that arises in political asylum cases.  Recently, the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) issued some guidelines for persons who have been harmed or fear harm in the future if they were required to serve in their country’s military.  The Guidelines are known as, “UNHCR Guidelines on International Protection No. 10.” U.S. asylum law is based on international law as described in UNHCR’s Handbook on Procedures and Criteria for Determining Refugee Status under the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees (“UNHCR Handbook”).  The guidelines expand topics in the Handbook  by further describing a claim of refugee status based on military conscription so they are worth reviewing in preparing an application for asylum.

First, the Guidelines note that countries have a right of self-defense under both the UN Charter and customary international law.  Countries are allowed to require citizens to perform military service for military purposes and this does not in itself violate an individual’s human rights.  Thus, it is not enough for a person to say that he does not want to serve in the military because he does not want to learn how to shoot a gun.  There has to be a basis for it under refugee law which is described further in the Guidelines.

The Guidelines describe that there is a right to conscientious objection and there is an absolute prohibition on child soldiers and their participation in hostilities.  The Guidelines describe five situations in which claims may relate to military service:

1.Objection to State Military Service for Reasons of Conscience (absolute or partial conscientious objectors)

2.Objection to Military Service in Conflict Contrary to the Basic Rules of Human Conduct

3. Conditions of State (Country) Military Service

4.Forced Recruitment and/or Conditions of Service in Non-State Armed Groups

5. Unlawful Child Recruitment

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When preparing my clients for their green card interviews based on marriage, they often ask me whether they can just show the USCIS officer their Facebook page to prove that they have a real marriage. The answer is “no,” at least not during the interview. USCIS officers do not have time during the interview to log onto the internet and look at your Facebook page. It is a better practice to bring in the evidence in paper to show them. (See next paragraph for examples of documentation you should bring in.) However, USCIS officers do have access to the internet. At a recent liaison meeting between USCIS and representatives of AILA (American Immigration Lawyers Association) USCIS representatives indicated that they may look up something on the internet in the course of adjudicating a petition or application.  You do not want them surfing the internet to find out information about you. It is best to give them what you want them to see. You should set your Facebook settings to private and make sure there is no derogatory information about you on the internet before filing any type of application or petition with USCIS. Continue reading →

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On Saturday, June 7, 2014, at 10:00 a.m., I will be giving a talk on Immigration Law.  The talk will be given in the virtual world of Second Life©.  My talk is sponsored by the Second Life Bar Association (“SLBA”).  I will be speaking on Family Based Immigration focusing on fiance visas and marriage to US Citizens.  I will be giving an update on immigrating on the basis of a same sex marriage.  I will also talk about DACA (Consideration of Deferred Action on Childhood removals) and give an update on the renewal process.  Finally, I will talk about H-1B visas and other strategies to immigrate to the United States on the basis of employment.

Second Life is a virtual 3-D world which is created by users.  Users create avatars who then interact with other avatars in the virtual world.  (The picture above is a picture of my avatar in front of the Second Life Bar Association Building.)  To hear the talk, you must first download the Second Life viewer and create an avatar.  This all takes some time so allow some time to do it before 10:00 a.m. There is no charge to join Second Life.

The Second Life Bar Association is an international group of attorneys and others interested in the law and in virtual worlds.  We hold monthly discussions on law related topics.   We just remodeled our Bar Association headquarters on Second Life so take some time to look around after my talk.  To find the location of the talk, log on to Second Life and then teleport here:



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The consulate of Mexico located in San Francisco will be holding a “mobile consulate” day in Fairfield, California on June 14, 2014.  The consulate will process applications for passports and Mexican identification cards “matriculas.”

The event will take place at:

Armijo High School

824 Washington Street

Fairfield, CA 94533

It is necessary to schedule an appointment in order to obtain services.  You may schedule an appointment either by telephone:  1-877-639-4835 or via the internet at:  (

This is a great opportunity for Solano County residents to obtain services locally instead of having to drive to San Francisco.

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driver's license

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) has launched a new website to provide information on the implementation of AB 60.  AB 60 is the law which permits an undocumented individual to obtain a driver’s license in California, after passing the required exams, beginning on January 1, 2015.  (The website is also available in Spanish.)

There are currently no regulations yet on the implementation of AB 60.  The law allows the DMV one year to issue the regulations.  The DMV is working on them and they have held several public workshops seeking comments on the type of documentation they should require to prove identity and California residency given that the population this law will help has no documentation.

While the DMV works on drafting the regulations, they are encouraging people to start studying to pass the written driver’s exam.  The AB 60 implementation website has links to the written handbook and sample tests in 11 languages including Russian and Spanish.

I will write a future update on the implementation of AB 60 when the DMV publishes regulations.