My short bio:

My name is Matt Cameron. I think about, write about, and practice immigration law nearly seven days a week. I have been a licensed attorney for twelve years as of September, and the managing partner of a three-attorney law office in the Boston area for the past seven years with a special focus on deportation defense and mitigating the immigration consequences of criminal convictions. I teach "Immigration and Urban America" at Northeastern University's School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs, am a member of the board of the Student Immigrant Movement, and regularly contribute background and commentary to local, state, national, and international media on American immigration matters.

I am here for you to AMA because there is probably no other major public policy issue in the U.S. with such a massive gap between the realities of the current policies and what Americans seem to believe the policies actually are. While the other big issues du jour like healthcare and climate change usually touch on things that we all have to live with, immigration is not an issue that most U.S. citizens ever have to personally confront in their own lives. (This, among many other things, might explain why we just elected a man who ran on the ugliest and most determinedly nativist platform in a century or more of American history while willfully failing to inform himself as to the system that we actually have.)

I thought an AMA might be one easy thing that I could do right now to do my part to fill the gap. For as long as I have been studying this issue, I have always seen people ask counterfactual questions like "why don't they just get in line?" or "why can't you fill out the forms like everyone else?" or "what part of legal immigration don't you understand?", and I thought this might be a good way to provide concise, factual answers to these counterfactual inquiries that could be useful to anyone who is genuinely trying to understand this stuff as well as to gain the benefit of the experience of discussing all of this with people beyond my immediate and extended social circles. (And to be clear: any and all of those three questions are absolutely welcome for further discussion, as are any others at all so long as they are made in good faith. Trolls will starve.)

I will keep my answers as objective and factually-grounded as possible, but full disclosure: I do have a strong pro-immigration (and pro-immigrant) bias, and am well past the point where I can study or work within the American immigration system without recognizing that it is foremost a function of centuries of historic racism and colonialism. So I won't pretend that I don't have my own ideological approach to this... but I also truly believe that immigration should be a non-partisan issue, and one which deserves an adult, open-minded dialectic.

I WILL NOT PROVIDE LEGAL ADVICE OR ANYTHING THAT LOOKS LIKE LEGAL ADVICE here, so please no questions requesting a complete review of possible options once your H1B has expired or if your arrest record could cause current or future immigration problems or if you have all of the right supporting documents for your marriage visa or whatever. I am more than happy to answer those questions--on the phone or in person--for money.

My Proof:

1) My MA ID and bar card: http://imgur.com/gallery/kUenPeW

2) My FB page, in which most of my public posts are about immigration issues: http://facebook.com/mattcameronlaw

3) Twitter: @matt_cam

4) A recent piece in The Baffler on the realities of the American deportation machine: https://thebaffler.com/outbursts/strangers-in-a-cruel-land

5) Boston Globe story on three of my cases this week: https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/03/27/vermont-activists-set-post-bond-immigration-charges/eIcbvNUSCoXJqI4SQDeU5I/story.html

6) Interview this morning on Democracy Now: https://www.democracynow.org/2017/3/31/is_ice_targeting_undocumented_activists_for

Comments: 156 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

Nomad4te7 karma

What would be the best way for attorney's who don't have a background in this area to help out?

evitably11 karma

This doesn't seem to be a popular answer whenever anyone asks me this... but my first response is that if you are an attorney who does not practice immigration law, there is a much better chance that you are earning a decent living and could be in a position to help to fund the work of dedicated immigration attorneys and advocates. Consider becoming not just a donor, but a regular sustainer of a local or national organization (other than the ACLU, which I love but is doing just fine without you) which does immigration-specific work that you believe in.

I would recommend one of the following:

The Student Immigrant Movement (full disclosure: I'm on the board), which is helping DREAMers organize to protect DACA and one another: http://www.simforus.org

Kids in Need of Defense provides attorneys for minors in deportation proceedings who are eligible for Special Immigrant Juvenile status (a rare path to citizenship with several moving parts that most of us can't afford to do in full pro bono): http://www.supportkind.org

The National Immigration Law Center (http://nilc.org) was on the front lines of Drumpf's travel ban and has provided invaluable litigation support and resources for attorneys around the country.

Here in MA, the PAIR Project (pairproject.org) helps to set interested attorneys up with pro bono immigration cases while providing basic training and support for them. If you want to help, you may have a similar organization in your area that could use your time, money, and/or talents.

HupDonegal6 karma

Will the waiting time for sponsorship of family members ever speed up? I would like to be able to sponsor a family member for a green card but I believe the current wait time is something ridiculous like 15 years. Family member is Irish.

evitably6 karma

Guessing this is a sibling? Waiting times for Mexico and the Philippines are abysmal in this category... possibly over 100 years, by one calculation. Most of the recent immigration reform packages have proposed to eliminate the sibling visa and replace it with a faster merit-based visa in which ties to US citizens give the intending immigrants a substantial number of "points." (English skills, education, savings, etc are also possible factors, so your Irish (and any other white European) relatives would be in good shape if this were to happen.)

HupDonegal3 karma

Good to know. What is the chance of such reform passing? I don't see anything happening in the next 4 years with current administration.

evitably5 karma

I know I'm not the only one reading this hoping that this administration won't last four more months, but honestly I'd rather wait four more years than see "reform" (such as it would be) pass under Trump. Whatever Congress ultimately passes will be at least in part a disaster (if not an actual disaster full of unforeseen consequences, IIRIRA-style), but we can count on anything Trump signs to have a healthy side of evil along with the inevitable incompetence, messy compromises, and poor drafting.

hillsfar6 karma

Boston's WBUR just reported on Immigration and Customs Enforcement detaining five individuals who had "final orders for removal". They had shown up for interviews as part of the process of applying for a green card.

ICE Arrests Green Card Applicants In Lawrence, Signaling Shift In Priorities
http://www.wbur.org/news/2017/03/30/green-card-ice-arrests-lawrence

What are final orders for removal?

And, care to comment on this new development and, objectively, what it means for the various stakeholders (persons, people, government, etc.) as well as those on the spectrum of the immigration debate (both those for and against deportation of illegal/undocumented persons)?

evitably13 karma

This was big news in the local immigration law community this week... heard the rumor by email and I was actually on a panel a few hours later with Lawrence's (awesome) new state rep Juana Matias who confirmed early details.

A "removal" order is just the legal name for an order of deportation. Showing up to an immigration office with an old deportation order over your head is kind of like showing up to a courthouse with an old outstanding warrant... there's always a chance you'll be held. As with warrants, though, there are quite a few people out there living their lives who do not know or understand that they have these orders--which typically come either from being caught at the border and immediately returned, or from missing a scheduled immigration court hearing.

But just for perspective, this was a totally routine practice before Obama. It's only making news now because (1) it's been more than eight years since it was done anywhere and (2) Trump.

The bigger question for me is how the local USCIS district director (who is known to be firmly against allowing ICE to enforce on USCIS property) allowed (or was made to allow) this to happen.

I will say that immigration lawyers (myself included) got complacent under Obama. Although his administration was far from soft on deportations, it ended these kinds of inhumane enforcement tactics. Walking a client with an old order into a USCIS interview (always risky and never advised) is now only one of many chances that we can absolutely no longer afford to take.

box9910 karma

keep my answers as objective

Then don't call him Drumpf. I'm pro-immigration too but unflattering nicknames are not helpful for persuading those who are not.

evitably4 karma

Agreed--although it's more historical than unflattering--but this wasn't intentional. I still have John Oliver's "Make Donald Drumpf Again" Chrome plugin (and don't ever plan to remove it) and it automatically changed the name when I copied and pasted this comment after an edit. Fixed.

[deleted]2 karma

[removed]

evitably2 karma

Well said! The policy disconnect that I was talking about above is inevitable when a country continues to tell itself the story of how it is a welcoming place and how immigrants have made it great while simultaneously embracing and enacting policies which if in effect at the time that my great-grandparents and others came here would have resulted in a very different country.

DaBozz885 karma

As a US citizen, and someone of Italian decent, I know I can claim Italian citizenship "by blood".

Is that worthwhile? What would the positive and negatives be?

evitably6 karma

Italy has one of the broadest laws on this in the world, and I've had a number of clients go through this process. I've heard it takes some time, but it's a unique opportunity and I would do it myself if I had any claim to citizenship in another country. I can't see anything but positives here... your new EU citizenship would allow you to live and work in any EU nation and have a safe backup from a country with a deeply uncertain future.

One other thing: The U.S. doesn't particularly care about dual citizenship (with almost all countries anyway), but we are one of very few countries which require its citizens to pay taxes no matter where in the world they live and work. If you were to emigrate from the U.S. and had a substantial amount of money that you wanted to protect, you might even want to consider giving up your U.S. citizenship to avoid the lifetime of IRS remittances you'd be facing otherwise. It's becoming more and more common. Just a thought.

hoplias5 karma

I have always heard about the US Green Card Lottery. Is this real and how does one apply for it?

nepaligirl1 karma

Yes, it is real in a lot of the countries. I know for sure it is a thing in Nepal.

evitably8 karma

Yes, although it could be one of the first things to go if immigration reform is finally ever passed... most of Congress seems to agree at this point that those visas could be better allocated elsewhere. "Diversity visas" (the actual name of the program) are available only to residents of certain countries at certain times. Beware of anyone trying to sell you "tickets," as it is free to "play."

https://www.uscis.gov/green-card/other-ways-get-green-card/green-card-through-diversity-immigration-visa-program/green-card-through-diversity-immigrant-visa-program

iclimbskiandreadalot4 karma

I'm a citizen and my partner is from the UK. We are getting married in a few months in NZ. How long is the process to get her in and able to work? (She's a qualified teacher)

Follow up: Is that process thought to be under threat by Mr. Trump's administration?

evitably11 karma

Generally: There are a few other factors I'd have to know about, but in most cases anywhere from 6-12 months. And anyone who immigrates to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident is immediately authorized to work regardless of occupation.

Marriage (together with visa petitions for minor children and adult parents) will always be the fastest and simplest way to immigrate. I've never heard of a single proposal to limit or alter that process.

nothalfas2 karma

If an illegal immigrant really does love and marry a citizen while in the country illegally, can they get a green card?

evitably6 karma

Yes. But how and how long that will take depends entirely on the non-citizen's immigration history. If this is more than a hypothetical, you should consult a qualified immigration attorney.

RTHoe2 karma

Based on your post, it would be safe to assume you are against President Trump's temporary travel hold until our broken immigration system is fixed. Every expert in the matter agrees that the system is broken, in fact, the list of countries President Trump is using for a temporary hold is the list President Obama compiled of countries that needed increased vetting.

My question is, why are you against a temporary hold on immigrants from certain countries that unquestionably lack the proper vetting procedures?

evitably3 karma

I've come to realize that people can mean very different things when they talk about our "broken" system.

I have to disagree with almost everything you wrote, but I'm just going to hit the highlights here.

In fact, our refugee screening system is the world's most thorough and advanced. I was absolutely opposed to Trump's repeated attempts to suspend the entire refugee system for six months (more from me on this here: https://medium.com/@mattcam/this-ban-isnt-a-headfake-it-s-a-shot-on-goal-69a673979e27?source=placement_card_footer_grid---------0-44)

Very important point: the "list of countries" you referenced was only to impose one additional requirement for people who would otherwise be able to temporarily enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program (the highest privilege in any immigration system, reserved only for our closest allies) if they had recently visited one of the seven listed countries. It's a far cry from that to a full ban on all visas from those countries. There has been a significant amount of (almost certainly intentional) misinformation on this point.

psycho1social3 karma

drumpf

Seriously? Out of a lawyer? Bit pathetic

evitably0 karma

I explained this above, but I have the Chrome plug-in that automatically changes it... it's been changing to that every time I edit a comment. I should just turn off the plug-in, but don't want to. Fixed.

RTHoe-2 karma

I did not mention the word refugee once in my post. You really a lawyer?

The main purpose of President Trump's travel hold was on immigration, not the refugee process (though it is included for Syria specifically).

You have still failed to answer my question. Why should we not implement a 90 day temporary hold on new immigrants from these countries that have issues with vetting?

I'll ask a follow up to that. Did you oppose President Obama when he implemented a 180 day ban on any immigrants from Iraq? That's twice as long as President Trump is proposing.

I would also like to give you a chance to provide a solution of your own, since you are against President Trump's solution. What do you think should be done to ensure we properly vet new immigrants to protect Americans?

evitably5 karma

Both versions of the ban included a full suspension on all refugee admissions (globally, not just the seven listed) along with the visa bans. It was not just a travel ban or a refugee ban or an immigration ban--it was all of those things. The refugee screening process is what most of the conversations on this seem to come back to. I don't want to continue this conversation unless we're talking about the same thing.

Also, the Obama Iraq suspension was in direct response to an actual known threat. There's nothing like that here, at all, and your summary of the issues with the current system is not an accurate reflection of the agreement of most experts.

RTHoe-2 karma

Lol, you must be a lawyer, you refuse to answer direct questions. There was no more of a threat during the Iraq ban than there is today.

evitably2 karma

I try not to engage too much with people who haven't made a good-faith effort to understand the subjects we're discussing.

And this:

"The Obama administration’s 2011 review came in response to specific threat information, including the arrest in Kentucky of two Iraqi refugees, still the only terrorism-related arrests out of about 130,000 Iraqi refugees and SIV holders admitted to the United States. Thus far, the Drumpf administration has provided no evidence, nor even asserted, that any specific information or intelligence led to its draconian order."

http://foreignpolicy.com/2017/01/30/sorry-mr-president-the-obama-administration-did-nothing-similar-to-your-immigration-ban/

RTHoe4 karma

I've made a very good faith effort to understand this issue, which at its core is Islam. I've traveled to three Islamic countries, spending over a year total in them. I've read the Quran and taken both government taught courses on Islam and Islamic culture as well as private ones.

I am not a big fan of President Trump, but I am a fan of knowing who we allow into our country. Whether the Trump administration has failed to provide evidence of a threat from those countries or not is subjective and frankly irrelevant. There is substantial evidence that Islamic terrorists have been coming from those countries.

Examples:

http://theblacksphere.net/2017/01/flashback-26-islamic-terrorist-attacks-plotted-by-immigrants-refugees-in-u-s/

http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/al-qaeda-kentucky-us-dozens-terrorists-country-refugees/story?id=20931131

http://www.voanews.com/a/somali-american-sentenced-to-thirty-years-for-christmas-bomb-plot/2469462.html

These are just some of the seemingly countless examples of people from those countries planning or attempting to commit terrorist attacks. That is only discussing specific terrorism, there are countless examples of people from those countries committing a wide variety of crimes, including murder.

There is a very real problem here. Whether the Trump administration made their argument well enough is one thing, but to deny there is an issue is blatant ignorance.

Again, I ask you, what do you think should be done to solve this issue? Clearly you disagree with any sort of temporary travel ban. That's fine, but what are you bringing to the table? What do you think needs to be done? I'm asking a genuine question here, we can agree to disagree specifically on the travel ban, but the larger problem remains.

evitably4 karma

I have to disagree that the government doesn't have a burden to prove that such an extreme sanction is actually necessary, but I am not naive to the threats.

The Kentucky case you linked to was the exact cause of the 6-month suspension of Iraqi refugees we were discussing above. There's a reason these things all made news: they were extremely unusual.

I see that the Tsarnaevs were featured in one of your links. As someone who was close enough to the Marathon bombings to hear them, I am well aware that they were both admitted as children and radicalized in this country... along with the Somali-American in the other link and so many others. This is a memetic virus. We have to learn how to understand and counter it. Immigration controls will never do that.

And to be totally fair: a few concentration camp guards and other war criminals were absolutely admitted to the US during the refugee crisis following WWII, to name only one example. I am not going to pretend that there is not some cognizable risk. But suspending the entire refugee program (not just for Syria or those seven countries) is a ridiculously extreme measure, and deeply anti-American.

RTHoe6 karma

I'm aware that was the case you referenced and that's exactly why I linked it. President Obama's steps did not solve the issue. Dozens were allowed in that pose legitimate threats. The FBI has said that they have over 1,000 open and active investigations of Islamic terrorism in every single US state.

Immigration controls are not a means to an end, they are how we begin to solve the problem, though. You don't close an amputated limb by starting where the limb was severed, you apply a tourniquet to stop the flow of blood, then you can begin the work.

We cannot try to solve this issue when we continue to let people in that may pose a threat. It's the same concept of illegal immigration. We cannot begin to solve it until we secure the flow of them (from securing the border to tightening the visa program so that those that initially come here legally do not stay illegally, etc.).

If you acknowledge that there is clear risk (regardless of the degree), how can you possibly be in favor of shrugging your shoulders and continuing to allow that risk into the country? A temporary suspension is very logical when you just acknowledged that there is a real risk associated with its current process.

Is it an extreme measure? Perhaps. Are these not also extreme times? Look at how much carnage has come to many European countries. This is serious foreshadowing for America if we do not address the issue head on.

I look forward to your response, and thank you for your time.

evitably3 karma

The FBI has said that they have over 1,000 open and active >investigations of Islamic terrorism in every single US state.

Hold up. No way. 1,000 per state? I'm going to need a source for that.

Life itself is a clear risk, regardless of degree. I live within walking distance of a major international airport, as do more than 40,000 other residents of East Boston. My risk of certain respiratory issues and (possibly) certain cancers is higher than yours, but I happen to believe that my neighborhood is one of the world's best places to live and I don't ever plan to leave it.

This country would wither and die if it severely restricted immigration and/or refugee admissions based on fear alone. Refugees especially contribute massively to our economy after a few years here. Do we want to stop all of that just because a vanishingly small percentage of these refugees became radicalized while living in the US?

I'd be interested to hear your articulation of what you believe the current process to be, and what its specific problems are.

grishacat3 karma

I am well aware that they were both admitted as children and radicalized in this country.

The Tsarnaevs traveled to Dagestan for training

Dude, do you work for CNN? This Tsarnaev case seems to be the perfect example to support the kind of travel ban Trump proposed. Yet you claim local "close enough to hear the bomb" cred and then try to use it to further your dismissal of the OPs seemingly genuine question.

I'm glad my immigration status isn't depending on your skills in dealing with hostile parties, your credibility seems to be evaporating quickly here.

My wife immigrated from another country and I am familiar with the background checks conducted on her, as well as how easy it would have been for her to buy clean local criminal records. Another quite drunk friend shared how he purged very sketchy war-crimeish military records. I'm not at all convinced the US can effectively "screen" immigrants, especially from war ravaged primitive countries like Syria. I have friends from there too.

evitably3 karma

You are a hostile party. I was hoping this could be more of a conversation than an argument.

And I am sincerely baffled by your take on the Marathon bombings. You're going to have to explain what that link has to do with the travel ban, or your point, or anything. You don't seem to know anything about the perpetrators or their immigration history.

"Buy" clean criminal records? Did you immigrate before 1965? This is a serious question.

jcadem2 karma

How long, on average, would you say that a family would have to wait to immigrate to the US from Mexico? Let's say they're average working class people, neither poor nor wealthy.

Thanks for doing this, the answers are fascinating!

evitably3 karma

An average family with no prior connections to the US would likely have no opportunity to immigrate from Mexico whatsoever. Was there a particular basis for immigration that you had in mind?

jcadem2 karma

No basis in particular, I'm just looking to get a better understanding of how long the process of immigration takes / who qualifies and doesn't so that I can talk to people (republicans) from a stronger position.

An unrelated question, any books you'd recommend?

evitably5 karma

Virtually no one qualifies to immigrate to the U.S. unless they have an immediate relative (not including a sibling--that's going to take a very long time, as discussed above) or have an opportunity for a high-skilled job. There's no such thing as just sort of generally immigrating or "getting in line."

As a starting point, I'd recommend "Undocumented: How Immigration Became Illegal" by Avi Chomsky and "Guarding the Golden Door" by Roger Daniels.

jcadem1 karma

So we've basically thrown the "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free." out the door, cool.

Thanks for the replies, I appreciate it!

evitably5 karma

JFK suggested that we should add to that "as long as they come from Northern Europe, are not too tired or too poor or slightly ill, never stole a loaf of bread, never joined any questionable organization, and can document their activities for the past two years." That was in 1961. It's much, much worse now. Thanks for reading!

ashmora2 karma

can you let me work for u as a paralegal?

evitably1 karma

Sure, if you live somewhere near Boston and have a good eye for detail. You'd have to learn how to spell out "you," though. :)

relationships_guru2 karma

Do you think with this new administration, will the timetable for applying to be a citizen of you're a green card holder will be longer or shorter?

evitably2 karma

I don't think it will change unless Trump takes steps to defund or scale back USCIS. This is certainly possible given that (no matter what he says) it is clear that he is also intending to limit legal means of immigration. But for the moment USCIS seems to be running as usual.

necessitaeltaxi2 karma

What is the process of gaining permanent residency through marriage, and to what depth is it investigated? I'm from a well off country, where I had a professional job and family and a good amount of savings, but I'm still scared of the process.

My girlfriend's family doesn't know about us at all, let alone getting married because they're like religious nuts and I'm atheist, so I'm worried if they ask her family they'll say it's bull, and I'll be called a fraud.

evitably3 karma

The process is different depending on whether you are adjusting status from another lawful immigration status while in the U.S. or immigrating through consular processing while living in your country. Either way, you need to provide some proof of the relationship beyond the marriage certificate (bills, leases, sworn statements from friends and family, photos, correspondence, etc.) and you need to be prepared for an interview.

And I'm sorry for your situation. I've worked with quite a few people whose parents weren't happy (or even didn't know) about the marriage and I know it adds another level of stress to everything. If it helps, immigration authorities wouldn't contact her family unless there was some reason to believe that there was an obvious, serious fraud going on... and if they're already investigating you that much (which I'm sure they wouldn't given how sincere and concerned this question reads to me) you're probably in trouble anyway. I may be somewhat biased because everyone I'm working with is legitimate (we don't get anywhere near marriage fraud) and is using an attorney to be sure it's done right, but it seems to me that if you provide everything they need up front and are open and honest at the interview that they will take things at face value. It's usually pretty easy to tell when people are only getting married for immigration benefits.

That said, I would strongly advise that you seek out a qualified immigration attorney in your area based on what you've said here. If nothing else, you'll feel much better just having someone else handle the whole process for you.

necessitaeltaxi2 karma

That's really great, thank you for your advice :)

evitably1 karma

Good luck! I think you'll be just fine.

grishacat1 karma

I brought my now wife into the US on a K1 Fiance visa from Canada without a lawyer, it was quite straightforward and easy, even 10 years ago, given online .gov websites, user forums etc. My family was never even involved or questioned.

I'm not saying there won't be reasons for YOU to need a lawyer, but we didn't, and most that we spoke to seemed to want a lot of money for a boilerplate process.

evitably1 karma

No doubt. The K1 is one of the easier processes, as it is a non-immigrant visa. I've met plenty of couples over the years who have done their own marriage cases (with immigrant visas) as well. I'm not going to say that every non-citizen should need a lawyer to immigrate, no more than everyone needs an accountant to do their taxes. (But of course we're here for the same reason: it can be annoying and awful to do yourself, and with real consequences if you get it wrong.) I should also add that consular processing is very different from adjustment with USCIS, which (I think?) Is the question here.

20202020R2 karma

How much money do you make?

evitably10 karma

A few things before I answer the question directly:

I really don't like money, so I'm in the right practice area for that.

It's very hard for me to tell someone who is legitimately in fear for their lives (as most of my clients are) that they will have to spend most of their extra earnings on my bills for the next several years. So I don't.

Remember that there is no appointed counsel in the immigration court, and no buckets of grant money for well-meaning attorneys who want to do asylum and deportation defense work. We don't get paid unless our clients pay us. (This is why almost all immigration attorneys work for private for-profit entities.)

I voluntarily decided at the beginning of my practice to set out to do things "low bono," significantly lower (typically at least 30-40%, often much less) than my colleagues in the Boston area so that I could serve the local Central American population who wouldn't otherwise be able to afford a lawyer. But I also believe in trying to pay my exceptionally talented staff at least slightly (if not more) above market wages, so there's a natural push/pull there.

Let's start with what I probably "should" be making as someone who has been a licensed attorney working full-time in a specialized practice area for more than eleven years and running a three-attorney practice for seven: probably well over $250,000 gross in individual income. (Although TBQH if you are making that much as an immigration attorney who specializes in asylum and/or removal defense work I'm sorry to say that you're doing it wrong. Come at me.)

But, no. I worked extra hard in 2015 (virtually nonstop, and including my course at Northeastern) and my total income was about $70,000--my highest ever, more than twice as much as I made in any year of my first seven as an attorney. (And TBH I honestly feel some guilt even about making that much.) I haven't filed my 2016 returns yet, but I expect it will be more this year. But: Boston has a significantly high cost of living and a big chunk of my extra earnings go to student loans (which I may not fully pay off for many more years), paying off debt from years of running a de facto non-profit (while still occasionally paying taxes), and reinvesting into my business in one way or another. (I buy lunch for everyone every day, for example, and do not write this off. I know, I know.)

I actual went to a counselor to try to talk through my issues and guilt around money. After giving me the usual speech about how I have to survive financially and will be unable to help anyone if I'm constantly worried about my finances and/or bankrupt, he paused and said:

"Matt, I really think you're just a socialist operating in a capitalist economy. There's no cure for that."

Something like that, I guess.

hillsfar2 karma

You should definitely expense lunch. That is a no-brainer. You have a legal mind and a legal staff. If you can't remember to do it, delegate.

If your clients can't pay, consider having them contribute work. They can bring food, clean your workers' offices and home, garden, provide massage services to your staff, etc. or, if not arms-length enough, have them donate their labor to a local charity.

That said, if you haven't done it, consider working for a charity that can pay you.

Lastly, I've updated my notes on my stance against further immigration, and will update more later.
https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/62qvgp/i_am_a_practicing_attorney_in_boston_an_expert_on/dfooifd/

evitably2 karma

I just don't.... care? I guess? I know I should, but I don't. And yes, we've traded cleaning/painting/handyperson/food services for legal services in the past. It feels good to barter, as long as both parties come out feeling like they got comparable value from the exchange.

Given the total lack of state or federal grant money for this kind of thing mentioned elsewhere in this AMA, there are only a small handful of non-profits in my area (or anywhere) which can afford to have practicing immigration attorneys on staff. There are maybe 5-6 of these jobs total available in all of New England. I was actually just yet again discussing with a friend last night how we could formally convert this office to a non-profit, which is probably the more logical direction.

drmstcks872 karma

Hello. My wife is Scottish and I am a US citizen. We got married in South Carolina about six months ago. We live on a cruise ship together and got married while she was on her valid C1-D visa before boarding the ship. We have submitted the I-130 paperwork and and listed her status as not in the country because we were on the ship at the time. We also submitted affidavits from family and friends.

Is there any reason we should run into problems getting married on the C1-D, or the fact that we don't have an addressed shared residence? Is there anything we should do to prepare for the hopefully approaching interview?

evitably3 karma

This is a little unusual, and there are a number of things you haven't told me here that I'd need to know before providing direct legal advice... which I really can't (and don't want to) do in this forum. You should be sure to consult with a qualified immigration attorney before filing and/or interview on this just to be totally sure, though.

witipedia2 karma

What's the best way for a Canadian to immigrate to the States? Is employee sponsorship the only path?

evitably3 karma

You are the first Canadian in a long while I've heard inquire about this... most of the migration seems to be going the other way these days. :/

The TN visa is the best short-term option if you qualify, although it would go along with the rest of NAFTA if Trump were to make good on that campaign promise. Otherwise, Canadians are treated the same as anyone else in the immigration system. Best to consult with a qualified immigration attorney about your particular situation, though.

Ropes4u2 karma

You and I can swap places!

evitably3 karma

Seriously--I've actually always thought this should totally be a thing, as either a temporary non-immigrant visa for a given period of time or an immigrant visa. It's almost certainly undoable (although much more so now with the Internet), but I love the idea of a sort of pair exchange program in which each side of the pair is responsible for the other one not overstaying the visa or taking public benefits while on it in the other's country. It would have to be by international agreement, like the visa waiver program, but it would have enormous potential to promote international understanding and cooperation. (Also, poutine.)

ivan_alejandro2 karma

As a DACA recipient wanting to leave the country, what is your advice when filling out the paperwork and leaving? I have no real reason to exit the US except to visit my family. Also, how does the future look for dreamers in your opinion?

evitably6 karma

NOT LEGAL ADVICE! It is certainly possible to have advance parole approved to visit family (although you might want to have a lawyer look it over), but AP is a much bigger risk now than it was before the inauguration. I am strongly cautioning clients against it, as are many other immigration attorneys. I have certainly heard of many accounts of DACA recipients and others still able to re-enter with it without too many issues (e.g. http://www.immihelp.com/experience/view-1-4-advance_parole.html) but you should know the risks.

And this is just one lawyer's opinion, but I believe that if Trump were going to revoke DACA he would have done it by now. My best guess is that he's waiting for Congress to pass BRIDGE or something similar to provide yet another temporary fix for DREAMers so that he can revoke it and brag to his base that he has canceled yet another unlawful Obama program.

sul4bh2 karma

Is time to apply for my H1B but my OPT I don't have my OPT EAD card. I have applied for it and it has already been approved. My card was sent to be 2 days back but have not received it yet.

Can I still apply for H1B even if I do not have the card in hand? I am really worried about this.

evitably6 karma

NOT LEGAL ADVICE, but generally speaking if you are in a valid immigration status and otherwise qualify you are eligible to apply for an H1. You should consult a qualified immigration attorney for questions about your particular situation, though.

Eszed2 karma

What should I look for and what questions should I ask to find a good immigration lawyer?

evitably7 karma

Great question!

I'd start by asking around to other non-citizens if they have had (or know of someone who has had) a particularly good (or bad) experience with a local immigration attorney. This is such a personal service that nearly all of our new clients are from word of mouth.

Be sure that the law office/attorney that you are considering either exclusively practices immigration law or has it listed as one of only a select few practice areas. Be wary of someone who lists it way down the list after personal injury, bankruptcy, family law, criminal law, etc. as this is a highly specialized field which requires an intense focus.

evitably9 karma

I should also add that when you are meeting with prospective lawyers, listen and watch their body language closely. Are they giving you a sales pitch and making impossible promises to try to get that retainer ("guarantees" and/or "percentages" are a bad sign), or are they giving you a straight answer--even if it's the one you don't want to hear?

Garretshadows2 karma

Would it be possible for a permanent resident to gain citizen status from a grandmother due to issues with a parents citizenship?

evitably2 karma

I'm sorry, I'm not really sure that I understand the question. It is possible under some circumstances if the non-citizen were included as a derivative in a grandparent's petition for the parent, but this sounds like an extremely technical and specific question that you should take to a qualified immigration attorney for a private consultation.

H4hack1 karma

Why is it so difficult to get a visa to the US even for just tour? Even when you have all the docs. The only reason to deny you would be travel experience. Where do they expect you to start your travel experience from ? You have got to start from somewhere right? If every embassy says travel experience then I guess no one can travel?

evitably2 karma

I'm not sure what you mean by "travel experience," but most tourist visas are denied because the consular officer does not believe that you can show sufficient ties (usually financial, often personal) to your home country. They need to be convinced that you are not going to stay in the U.S. once you arrive.

H4hack1 karma

Thanks for the reply. Travel experience means you have never been out of the country.

evitably1 karma

I thought that's what you meant... but that's not really a factor for a tourist visa. They're mostly looking for a bank account, not a resume.

Punkassdog1 karma

How does the process to get a Green card works? I need to already live in the US or I can apply While still living in my home country?

evitably1 karma

Totally depends on your circumstances. Some people qualify to apply for residence while they are here, some immigrate through their consulates.

MatanKatan1 karma

I'm going to assume you don't support Don the Con, but would you say he's been good for your business?

evitably2 karma

Good for business. Very, very bad for my physical and mental health. I'd happily give up the business for a better future for my clients and our country.

MatanKatan3 karma

Sorry to hear that...the important thing is that you're making a positive impact in your community and in our country and helping others in a meaningful and very real way.

As for your physical and mental health, remember to get 7-8 hours of sleep and get outside to exercise daily. You only get one body and one life to live.

evitably2 karma

I appreciate that, thank you. Just as many people think I'm somehow doing my part to bring the country down.

Insomnia is probably my single most persistent health problem. I'm trying.

Ruquix1 karma

If cities choose to be sanctuary cities, doesn't that put them in conflict with Federal law regardless of their feelings as a community? Couldn't this be construed as a violation of 18 U.S. Code § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection? "Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States." Isn't wilfully ignoring federal law "rebellious"?

evitably3 karma

I can't tell if this is a serious question, but it's fun to think about so:

States and local governments are in no way required to work with ICE. Sanctuary cities still allow ICE to operate freely within them, they just choose not to use state and local resources (especially already-overcrowded jails) to help them do it. And there's no mandate whatsoever that they do.

That said, it's not totally unimaginable that things could get there. If cities and/or states began ordering local law enforcement to actively block ICE from making arrests or to otherwise interfere with their investigations, I could certainly see a "rebellious" mayor/police chief prosecuted under this provision (especially if his orders risked violence against ICE from local law enforcement or the public).

Ruquix1 karma

Federal law always supercedes state law, correct? If they decide to actively NOT follow federal law/refuse to help, is that not the same as acting against Federal agents?

evitably2 karma

Federal law always supercedes state law, correct?

No, fortunately.

And if state and local authorities were required by federal law to enforce immigration matters, I might see your point. As it is, I'm not sure that I do here.

Ruquix1 karma

So the Federal govt couldn't use the supremacy clause to force states to comply? Could Trump classify undocumented people as "hostile" in some way since they are a) sending remittances home and b) Mexico setup help at their consulates to help them not get deported or if they do, provide legal counsel? I'm not against immigrants, I've just had these questions about what is exactly legal, what's gray, and what's illegal

evitably1 karma

I guess my question would be what the feds would be forcing the states to comply with. There is simply no legal or constitutional requirement that states enforce (or help to enforce) federal immigration law.

And your second question is more than a little concerning to me. I'm not even sure how to answer it.

Ruquix1 karma

The money they send home is an integral part of those countries and their economies. The countries want this to continue as it is in their own self interest. So they setup help here in the us. Since the govt is providing legal counsel to it's citizens here, encouraging them to stay and send money home, could they be classified as "foregin agents" or whatever the term would be? Those countries also have made the claim that they have the "right" for their citizens to come here. Doesn't all of this provide a legal argument that they are being sent or encouraged to come here and send money home for their benefit regardless of the detriment to the us economy?

evitably1 karma

I'd say that's a political argument, not a legal one.

Ruquix1 karma

The grounds for allowing immigration and tolerating illegal immigration is because they are fleeing war torn places, drug cartels, seeking a better life for their family and all that. It's for the betterment of the individuals and families that come. If it is equally or more important for the money they send home and those economies, then is it actually immigration or exploitation? I'm not trying to be an a$$ about this, but I'm looking fr clear cut legal reasons why we shouldn't follow the guidance from the administration. Is it only political points of view and compassion for other humans or is there actual legal ground to stand on when defending undocumented workers that is not based upon an appeal to emotion?

evitably1 karma

I'm doing my best to give you a legal answer here. The "guidance" from the administration is a set of executive federal enforcement priorities. While I can and do disagree with them, they are written fully within within the executive's authority. But they are not law. They are just how the President intends existing law to be enforced.

Several times in this thread, I think you've conflated law enforcement with law itself. In our federalist system, ICE enforces federal law and state and local authorities enforce state and local law. Obama created a system in which ICE could work entirely apart from state and local authorities to identify non-citizens who posed an immediate threat to public safety and deport them, whether or not they lived in a sanctuary city. I don't understand why Drumpf wouldn't build on that instead of wasting time arguing about whether or not state authorities should be forced (or shamed) to spend money they don't have doing things that aren't within their job description.

Finally, I don't see anything in this conversation having to do with whether or not we should enforce federal law or the desirability or efficacy of that law. That's an entirely separate conversation. Your concern seems to be with how involved state authorities (who have neither the resources nor the training nor the will to be immigration agents) should be in enforcing federal law. I hope I've been fairly clear here that there is no obligation whatsoever for them to have any role in it at all. That's not just my opinion, that's the law.

evitably1 karma

And if you mean in the Supremacy Clause kind of way, then yes--federal law supercedes. But I don't think that's the issue here. By this standard, legalizing marijuana is far more of a "rebellion" than a sanctuary state policy as it directly contradicts federal drug scheduling and enforcement. Sanctuary cities are not doing anything to nullify the Immigration and Nationality Act.

Ruquix1 karma

I don't disagree with the marijuana falling into the same category. There is a "popular bill in our own state legislature right now that states "(3) Neither a law enforcement agency nor the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles shall make any information in its databases or other record-keeping systems available to any entity for enforcement of any federal program requiring registration of persons on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or national or ethnic origin. " S. 1305. That is actual proposed legislation which is directly counter to what the Trump administration is trying to do, right?

evitably1 karma

The Supremacy Clause kicks in when states directly contradict federal law. I believe the things that you are talking about are more about how the state chooses to enforce its own laws (something the feds could and should not do) as well as how they will cooperate with federal authorities. The Safe Communities Act simply doesn't allow the feds to see certain state records. The provision quoted above is specifically designed to ensure that MA state records are never used for any kind of national identity-based registration program. This (fortunately!) does not presently conflict with any existing federal law as there is no such registry. Same with the provision which does not allow state law enforcement agents to be deputized as immigration agents. Given the tremendous unfunded mandates these partnerships (which are voluntary, and not at all required by state law) create, it is well within the Constitutional rights of the states to decline them.

Ruquix1 karma

Would the fed be with in it's rights to withhold funds is states don't comply? Is there any legal recourse for them (the states/cities)?

evitably1 karma

It really depends what they're not complying with. Here, there is no federal law that requires that state and local resources be made available to a federal government which already has its own immigration police.

evitably1 karma

Again, if police chiefs were ordering their officers to actively interfere with ICE arrests (or shoot ICE agents on sight or whatever), that would be an obvious problem in the direction of the "rebellion" you mentioned above. But I think there's a lot of misunderstanding around what "sanctuary cities" actually are and what the implementing laws and regulations look like. Happy to clarify if I've been unclear on something here.

Busperone3211 karma

[deleted]

evitably2 karma

That depends entirely on the charges, as well as the timing and nature of the dispositions. I couldn't possibly advise you until I had complete arrest and conviction records in front of me. Proceed with extreme caution and do not file your naturalization petition until you have consulted with a qualified immigration attorney in your area.

FoodTruckNation1 karma

My wife is a school teacher (early childhood) and we've found it remarkable and disturbing how many families with children are living these days in pay-by-the-week motels. All these places are regular school bus stops. They seem to be primarily two-parent Hispanic families who are recent immigrants--though definitely not all.

Could you possibly step through McKinney-Vento and what rights these families might have that could get them into better housing? Including what documentation they would have to produce. Many of them are suspicious of officials, especially now probably. But they trust my wife and they trust her principal. FWIW a lot of them seem to spend summers in Mexico, they don't reside year round, I don't know if that makes any difference.

evitably2 karma

That is sad to hear, but I really appreciate the compassion and empathy that you both must have for these families to be asking this question. I have not seen or heard of anything like this in the Boston area, but we also don't really have seasonal work here the way that you are describing. I am by no means an expert on McKinney-Vento and don't want to comment on it here... I only know that it applies to all homeless students regardless of immigration status. But I don't know that the families you are describing would either qualify as homeless or would qualify for any benefits if the children are living with the parents. I feel like someone at a local legal aid agency who specializes in housing and/or public benefits law might be better served to answer this question.

For one-parent families, the children may qualify for Special Immigrant Juvenile status. My office handles many of these, and they are an incredible opportunity for kids who qualify. Unfortunately, it's a lot more work than many other kinds of immigration cases and something which it is nearly impossible for most attorneys to consider taking pro bono all the way through the process. If your wife is able to identify kids in her school who might qualify, she could help them contact lawyers at Kids in Need of Defense ("KIND") to see if they could connect with an attorney who could help.

hillsfar-1 karma

How about American families who are in these pay-by-the-week motels? I have more sympathy for American kids of low-income working poor parents in saturated labor markets displaced by millions of illegal immigrants who arrive to undercut them and take their jobs and decide to have children at taxpayer expense. You remind me of Mayor Rahm Emmanuel. With 60,000 homeless people in Chicago, including women and children, he moved mountains to find homes for a thousand illegal immigrants. When there are precious few social welfare resources, we should not be diluting them to serve those who should not be here in the first place, at the expense of everyone else who is suffering.

evitably2 karma

All children deserve a safe and stable place to live. But there is no excuse for this kind of poverty in one of the world's most prosperous nations. Blaming immigration--especially immigration driven by our disastrous economic and foreign policy, and encouraged by employers relying upon an exploited underclass--for these problems doesn't seem like the best place to start for me.

Beatle_Matt1 karma

In terms of immigration, don't customs officers really have the absolute final say regardless of how thorough the paperwork you do is on the backend?

Like as thorough as you are, all it takes is that one customs officer to deny it for whatever reason they want?

EDIT: talking as someone who was denied a work visa

EDIT 2: spelling

evitably3 karma

Not exactly. They can't turn you away because they don't like your Nickelback T-shirt or whatever (although, maybe flag this for future immigration reform?) but if something comes up at the time of admission that indicates that the visa was fraudulently obtained or that you intend to do something in the U.S. on it that you're not supposed to do (usually working) they can cancel it and turn you around. (E.g., you provided documentation to the consular officer in support of your tourist visa that you'd be staying with your aunt, CBP calls the "aunt" and the person who picks up doesn't know who you are. Or you're entering on a valid student visa and explain to the officer that you have a really good job waiting for you when asked what you plan to do during your stay in the U.S.)

Beatle_Matt1 karma

So for someone like myself - who works for an American company at a Canadian branch - who was getting a promotion in a US branch, which involved a work visa - the customs agent basically didn't think I had enough education to back up my promotion. So I was turned away (I wasn't denied - he said he would say it was "deficient")

evitably2 karma

Interesting... was this on a TN?

Beatle_Matt1 karma

I believe so? It was a year ago so I'm a little hazy?

evitably2 karma

Yeah, that would be my guess from what you described. TNs are fairly informal and controlled much more by CBP gut checks than other visas.

jas13081 karma

This may or may not be within your grasp of law. I want to give my friend Omar 2% in my company but he is from Pakistan. How do I do this?

evitably2 karma

You're right, I don't really feel qualified to answer this. Good luck to you both.

Tallguy7231 karma

My mom just applied for citizenship after being a green card holder for almost 30 years. How long is the process? Is it longer under Trump?

She just did her fingerprints a few weeks ago.

evitably1 karma

Depends on the backlog in your local field office. (It's about 5-7 months from filing here in Boston.) No changes under Trump so far.

Dzm11 karma

Hi Matt,

Can someone who is the spouse of H-1B (H-4 visa) who is not allowed to work in the US, form an LLC as a "passive" member? Whats the proper language that should be in the LLC agreement to clarify that the person's role is passive?

Is it necessary to mention why the person has equal interest [33%] (e.g. contributed contacts)? Is it Ok if every member has no salary and all profits are distributed equally among members?

Anything to keep in mind to avoid problems with future green card application for the H-1B holder (spouse)?

Thanks in advance!

evitably3 karma

You are seeking incredibly specific legal advice, and I'm guessing from context here that you can afford to speak with a qualified immigration attorney to get the answers you're looking for. Good luck!

necromonger1 karma

Are you bilingual?

Do you need to be bilingual to practice immigration law?

evitably3 karma

I can understand and read Spanish, but prefer to speak back to clients through an interpreter as I don't think I sound particularly lawyerly in anything other than my native language.

And you're much better off as a practitioner if you can at least gain a basic fluency in the language that the majority of your clients speak. While most of my clients do speak some English, the things that we are discussing are far too technical and complex for me to expect them to understand them in anything other than their native language. Unless you know for sure that you would be working with a certain population that is typically fluent in English, I would advise anyone who might want to consider a career in immigration law to put the effort into learning Spanish.

All of that said, my office is run by superbly talented, fully bilingual staff who do most of my day-to-day communication on our behalf. They are the best ambassadors to our clients that we could possibly have, and I'm so proud to have them working with us.

necromonger1 karma

I have had plenty of Spanish classes, but I have come to understand that I am simply not going to be fluent in conversation unless I immerse myself.

Thanks for the response.

evitably2 karma

For sure. Big difference between an American Spanish class and the everyday Spanish (with many national/regional dialects and vocabularies) that your clients will be using. Getting out and talking to regular people as often as possible is the only way to truly learn any language. Happy to answer any other questions you have about what I do if you do think it's something you're interested in pursuing.

thanksalmighty1 karma

I have GC. Is it possible to have dual citizenship ?

evitably1 karma

Yes. The U.S. doesn't have an established policy on this.

FarmerDerek0 karma

Build the wall?

evitably6 karma

Did you hear that Mexico will not only be paying for, but actually hosting this thing now http://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/03/29/put-border-wall-mexicos-side-trumps-interior-secretary-raises-eyebrows