By entering into and residing in the United States, an individual undertakes many duties and obligations. Procedural laws and requirements are in place that must be followed for anyone who wishes to enter into and stay in the United States for any length of time.

Immigration laws are laws that regulate how an individual from another country may qualify for a visa and under what circumstances an individual can be deported. There are many different kinds of temporary and permanent visas available. Depending on an individual’s purpose for entering the United States, they can find a visa that will fit their circumstances.

Individuals already in the United States must also abide by immigration laws. A large number of people who legally reside in the U.S. have a green card, or permanent visa. Many individuals with green cards will seek to become citizens. If they wish to remain in the U.S. and/or seek citizenship, they must refrain from engaging in any activities that would bring removal or deportation. It is advisable to take whatever steps possible to legally reside within the U.S.

Immigration law is extremely complex and can be difficult to navigate, especially without representation. It is essential to consult with an attorney concerning any immigration issues.

What is an Immigration Application?

An immigration application is the paperwork necessary to complete during the immigration process. Usually, it refers to an application for permanent residency, such as a green card application. However, it may also refer to other immigrations issues, including non-immigrant visas and other categories.

In many cases, the process of relocating to the United States begins with an immigration application. Because of this, it is important to seek the help of an experienced immigration lawyer for assistance in order to complete all paperwork totally and accurately.

Are There Requirements for an Immigration Application?

Yes, the requirements for an immigration application will vary depending on the type of visa or document for which an individual is applying. Most immigration applications require common documentation including an individual’s:

  • Birth certificate, of which an original may be necessary;
  • Any medical records;
  • A photo ID;
  • Documentation of a clean criminal record;
  • Record of previous residences;
  • Bank account statement;
  • Employment record; and/or
  • Any other documents as required.

These documents will need to be supplied when an individual submits an immigration application. Failure to provide any requested or required documents can negatively affect an individual’s chances of obtaining a visa document.

Depending on the type of application, an individual may have to submit both original copies and photocopies of the same document. These documents may also be requested in an application for U.S. citizenship. Immigration documents can also be required for other types of applications, including employment applications and/or housing applications.

What are Some Important Immigration Documents to Know About?

The majority of immigration laws involve documents associated with an individual’s immigration status. Sometimes, an immigration document can provide proof of an individual’s immigration status, such as a residency card. In other cases, an immigration document can be necessary for support or evidence in an immigration application.

Important immigration documents can include:

  • A U.S. Passport, required for international travel;
  • A U.S. Visa;
  • A U.S. Conditional Residency Card;
  • A U.S Permanent Resident Card, known as a green card;
  • A U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number, known as a Tax ID;
  • A U.S. Social Security Card, which is required for employment in the U.S.;
  • An Arrival and Departure Record, known as Form I-94; and/or
  • Any Re-entry Permits, which may allow a non-citizen to leave and re-enter the U.S.

Any and all documents associated with immigration laws are extremely important. Immigration documents should be filled out as accurately as possible and submitted within the requested and/or required deadlines. In addition, any instructions regarding when to keep the documents on an individual’s person, either the original or a copy, should be strictly followed.

What are Some Common Immigration Law Issues?

Common immigration law issues include Immigration violations. Immigration violation is a term for violation of the immigration law and policies that are enforced in the United States. Usually, the term refers to an individual who enters the U.S. illegally, but it can include other violations.

Some common violations in California and the rest of the United States include when an individual:

  • Illegally enters the United States;
  • Overstays their visa privileges;
  • Improperly and/or illegally re-enters into the U.S. after deportation or removal;
  • Exercises fraudulent intent when submitting an immigration application;
  • Engages in a sham marriage for the purpose of obtaining a green card;
  • Commits a violation related to citizenship and/or naturalization applications; and/or
  • Hires illegal immigrants as employees.

Most of these violations are willful violations. It is, however, important to note that accidental violations can also lead to negative consequences. It is extremely important to be aware of requirements and/or guidelines such as:

  • Any visa requirements;
  • Any visa deadlines;
  • Any entry instructions; and/or
  • Any other types of immigration guidelines that apply to an individual.

What is the Role of Immigration Law Authorities?

In the United States, immigration law authorities are tasked with enforcing immigration laws. The main federal agency involved in this task is the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Previous federal immigration services, the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) was disbanded after September 11, 2001. The Patriot Act passed after those events enacted the formation of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The Department of Homeland Security is made of 3 agencies:

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS);
  • U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); and
  • U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).

ICE is the enforcement arm of the DHS. Therefore, ICE may be considered the immigration police. They investigate crimes including:

  • Human trafficking;
  • Drug smuggling;
  • Passport fraud;
  • Bomb threats; and
  • Many other crimes.

Law enforcement in local jurisdictions may interact with ICE in order to determine an individual’s immigration status. Local law enforcement may detain individuals for federal custody if it is determined they are in the United States illegally. These interactions will vary by state.

Does California Have Any Special Immigration Laws?

California is considered the state with the most widespread protections for undocumented immigrants. Senate Bill 54, or the California Values Act, builds on previous sanctuary policies to assist federal immigration efforts. It also established statewide non-cooperative policies between state law enforcement officials and federal immigration authorities. This has the effect of preventing federal law enforcement from stepping into possible local immigration cases and holding and/or deporting individuals in custody.

The California Values Act builds upon the Transparent Review of Unjust Transfers and Holds (TRUTH) Act. The TRUTH Act provides due process for individuals in custody of local law enforcement sought by ICE for interview.

The TRUTH Act provides individuals three main protections:

  • The individual may know their rights;
  • Every individual is provided fair notice; and
  • There is increased transparency for law enforcement.

The Act requires that every individual in custody of law enforcement be provided a written consent form, which must be translated into multiple languages, explains:

  • The purpose of the interview;
  • The interview is voluntary; and
  • The individual may decline to be interviewed.

The Act ensures that every individual gets fair notice of information provided by local law enforcement to ICE.

Should I Hire a California Immigration Law Attorney?

Yes, you should hire an immigration attorney in California for any immigration related issues. As previously noted, immigration law is one of the most complex areas of law and may require interaction with many government entities. It is important to fill out all documentation truthfully and accurately and provide everything that is requested.

An experienced immigration attorney can assist in filling out, reviewing, and submitting any and all documents to the appropriate agency. An attorney can also represent you during an application appeal or any court proceedings, if necessary.