The calm in the eye of the storm: Celebrating 10 years of service to our community

RECENTLY, I was reminded that our law firm will be celebrating its 10-year anniversary this May 2019. Though I joined this amazing band of legal warriors only in 2012, I have witnessed first hand what good lawyering is as it’s supposed to be. Here in San Diego where I am based, the county seal bears the words: The Noblest Motive is the Public Good. I do believe that we here at Chua Tinsay and Vega embody exactly that, lawyering in service to our community, for the public good.

What I have learned is that part of what it means to be a good lawyer and advocate, is to remain calm. This is especially important as we navigate through the uncertain and uncharted waters in Immigration policies of late.

Did you know that the most part, things are operating as usual at the U.S. Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS)? In fact, in some District Offices, things have moved very quickly for some cases. For example, we have seen Adjustment Interview schedules and Naturalization Interview schedules set in about 4 months. However, we are still seeing delayed processing times in more popular District Offices like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Because timing is everything, here are the most common applications that individuals should pay close attention to for eligibility requirements and filing window.

Removal of conditions on residence. Removing conditions on residence is a requirement: this application must be filed before deadline. This application is specific to those who were initially given a “CR” or conditional resident status, typically for individuals who acquired permanent resident status through marriage to a US citizen. Current processing times for Removal of Conditions on Residence is estimated to be around 17 – 35.5 months. Individuals who are required to file for their Removal of Conditions should file their applications as soon as they are eligible to do so, during the specifically limited 90-day filing window.

Deferred Action (DACA) renewals. The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) reports that as of January 22, 2019, “the U.S. Supreme court had not taken action on the Trump Administration’s request to expedite a ruling on the court decisions that keep DACA program in place.” The new term for the Supreme Court starts this October 2019. For now, “DACA protections will likely remain in place” under current court rulings.

Individuals who were previously granted DACA may request renewal of their deferred action and their employment authorization with the appropriate fee or approved fee exemption request at the USCIS designated filing location, and in accordance with instructions in the Form I-821D and form I-765 applications. The filing window is between 150 – 120 days from the expiration of the current DACA grant.

USCIS is not accepting requests from individuals who have never been granted deferred action under DACA. Moreover, USCIS will not accept or approve applications for Advance Parole request from DACA recipients.

Naturalization applications. Naturalization applications are currently estimated at 10 – 19.5 months. Applicants who are eligible to file for their Naturalization application – at the 3-year mark or the 5-year mark – are encouraged to file their application at the soonest time they are able to do so, especially given the long wait times to be scheduled for an interview. Note that Naturalization Applications are highly scrutinized, and individuals should consult with a licensed and experienced immigration attorney with regard to potential issues in their immigration history that may come up in the Naturalization process.

Credit card payments now accepted for filing fees. This may be a relief for some. USCIS announced last year that it will accept credit cards as a form of payment for certain applications, such as Adjustment Applications. Previously, USCIS had begun to accept credit cards as a form of payment for Naturalization applications.

Consult with a licensed and experienced immigration attorney before filing. We urge individuals to pause and take the time to consult with a licensed and experienced immigration attorney before submitting any application with USCIS. We here at Chua Tinsay and Vega are dedicated to providing our clients with competent service. We look forward to working with you and on your case. Thank you for 10 years of your trust and loyalty.

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Atty. Lilli Baculi Collins is an associate attorney with Chua Tinsay & Vega, A Professional Legal Corporation (CTV) – a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego, Sacramento and Philippines. The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship. Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (619) 955-6277; (415) 495-8088; (916) 449-3923; lbaculi@ctvattys.com; www.chuatinsayvega.com.

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