USCIS extends TPS for Liberians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans

USCIS announced today that Liberians, Guineans and Sierra Leoneans will now qualify for TPS status based on the tragic ebola epidemic in those countries. You can read the announcement here on the USCIS website.

You must show that you have been here in the United States as of November 20, 2014.  The 180-day TPS registration period begins Nov. 21, 2014 and runs through May 20, 2015.

There are many requirements, so make sure that you speak to an immigration attorney about your particular case before you apply because there is always a risk of deportation from the United States when applying for anything from USCIS.  Our firm handles TPS cases and would be happy to hear from you.

LINK for President Obama’s live announcement TONIGHT!

Tonight President Obama will make a big announcement about the executive action he will take to protect millions of people from deportation. You can watch it here at 7pm Central Standard Time tonight!

Immigration Equality FAQs for Same-Sex Bi-National Couples Post-DOMA decision.

The excellent non-profit group, Immigration Equality, has published a useful list of FAQs for bi-national, same-sex couples wondering how the Supreme Court’s decision striking down Section of the Defense of Marriage Act will affect them. You can read it here.

This is NOT a substitute for specific legal advice about your case. It is really important to get advice about your case before proceeding with any application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services since there is

Free Consultations for Couples Impacted by DOMA decision.

For a limited time, The Bortel Firm, LLC, will offer free consultations to same-sex, bi-national couples to give couples accurate information about their case in the wake of the Supreme Court striking down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”). See our earlier post about DOMA being struck down here. We will offer free consultations through August 31, 2013.

We will be available to couples anywhere in the United States. Or if you are abroad because you could not stay with your partner or spouse in the United States, we can speak to you, too.

Please contact us at 888-328-8384 or to schedule an appointment in person, by telephone or by Skype (bortlelfirm). We can speak English, Arabic, Spanish, French and Russian.

Supreme Court Strikes down DOMA!

In a hugely anticipated decision, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on June 26, 2013. You can read the decision here.

This now opens the door for same-sex, bi-national couples to petition for legal permanent residence (also known as a green card) for their partner as long as they are otherwise eligible. This may also open up other avenues for relief to individuals in immigration proceedings based on their marriage to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident.

It remains important to discuss your particular case with a qualified, friendly immigration lawyer to make sure you understand the risks and benefits, and your general eligibility. There is always a risk of deportation when applying for immigration relief. If your foreign national partner is in immigration proceedings or was in immigration proceedings in the past, you should be sure to talk to an attorney as soon as possible to ensure that you do not lose the ability to act on the elimination of DOMA.


Please call our office at 888-328-8384 to schedule a consultation with our attorney, Angela Bortel, who is the chair of the Minnesota-Dakotas AILA chapter LGBT sub-committee.

New provisional wavier process to start.

On January 2, 2013, USCIS announced new rules to finally begin processing of provisional I-601 waivers for people who are applying for immigrant visas outside the United States. This process seeks to reduce the time families are separated while their case is being decided.

Here is some important information from the American Immigration Lawyers Association about these waivers:

Six Things You Need to Know about Stateside Processing of I-601A Waivers


Please note that these are only available if the person needs a waiver for unlawful presence. U.S. consulates abroad will continue to process all other types of waivers. Remember that you should discuss your case with a qualified immigration attorney before taking any action on your case, because there is always a risk of deportation or that you will not be able to get back into the United States if your case is not properly prepared.

Department of Homeland Security to Issue Written Guidance for LGBT Couples and Prosecutorial Discretion

Last week, the non-profit Immigration Equality reported that  the Department of Homeland Security will issue written guidelines that will, for the first time, expressly recognize officers and field agents to recognize LGBT families when considering certain forms of relief.

The directive essentially applies to requests for prosecutorial discretion for those in Immigration Court or otherwise under jurisdiction of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). This directive does NOT affect the Defense of Marriage Act, which remains the law.  So this directive does NOT mean that foreign nationals with same-sex spouses can now apply for and be granted legal permanent residence (also known as a “green card”).

If you want to know how this directive might or might not help you, you must speak with a qualified immigration attorney BEFORE making any requests for assistance or status with the Department of Homeland Security since there is always a risk of deportation.

Attorney Stephanie Morales discusses deferred action for DREAMers on KFAI.

Bortel Firm Associate Stephanie Morales appeared on the radio program La Voz del Pueblo on KFAI in Minneapolis on July 8, 2012. She discussed the Obama administration’s recent announcement granting deferred action to qualified youth.  The program discussed who qualifies, the process, risks of applying, as well as the importance of seeking legal advice from licensed immigration attorneys and not people who are not licensed to practice law, like notarios.

You can listen to the program in Spanish here and select the program from July 8, 2012.

If you have any questions about whether you qualify for deferred action, you should seek advice from a licensed immigration attorney before applying because there is always a risk of deportation when applying for immigration benefits.

Victory for Same-Sex married couples at the Board of Immigration Appeals!

In amazing news, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) sent the cases of 4 same-sex married couples back down to the agency and ordered that US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) make a thorough inquiry into the legality of the marriages for the purpose of obtaining legal permanent residence. This is an amazing break through, especially since the BIA ordered USCIS to look at whether they are valid marriages, notwithstanding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  You can read more about the cases here.

Please keep in mind that the legality of same-sex marriages is far from settled. The fact that the BIA sent these cases back down does NOT guarantee that these couples or other couples like them will actually receive legal permanent residence.  Although DOMA is being challenged and increasingly found unconstitutional by courts all over the country, it is still the law.

If you have any questions about your specific situation, you must consult with a competent immigration attorney familiar with these issues before filing any papers. There is always a risk of deportation from the United States when you ask for something from USCIS.

Hats off to my colleagues Lavi Soloway and Noemi Masliah, who are handling the cases!

Obama Administration grants temporary reprieve for young immigrants facing deportation.

The New York Times has reported that the Obama Administration will grant temporary relief to some young immigrants at-risk or or facing deportation. The report says that the administration may grant young people who are low priorities for deportation deferred action. This would allow them to stay here and work legally during the time they had that status.

It is important to note that this is not an “amnesty.” It only provides temporary relief. This policy does not provide for any path to stay in the United States permanently by receiving legal permanent residence (or a “green car”) or to become a U.S. citizen.

USCIS has posted a list of commonly asked questions here.

If you are wondering if this new directive applies to you or someone you know, please contact an immigration lawyer to discuss your case before you approach US Citizenship and Immigration Services or US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for help. There is always a risk of deportation from the United States when you ask for an immigration benefit.