Blog

Can Border Patrol Search My Phone or Laptop?

The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) seems to be increasing electronic device searches in recent months. These devices include password-protected laptops, phones, and other hand-held devices. Everyone, both citizens and non-citizens, is concerned about smooth entries and potential consequences. Does CBP have the authority to do so? Can CBP refuse my entry to the United States upon information found on my phone? Can they search my laptop under the Fourth Amendment?

The short answer is yes. There are almost no exceptions to CBP’s authority to search electronic devices. Under the Fourth Amendment, the federal government has the right to conduct random searches of persons and conveyances crossing international borders under the “border search exception.” CBP claims that under 19 C.F.R. §162.6, all persons, baggage and merchandise arriving in the customs territory (e.g. port of entry) of the U.S. from outside of the U.S. are subject to the inspection and search authority of CBP.  CBP believes that an inspection of an electronic device transported by an international traveler does not require the consent of the traveler. However, CBP border searches only extend to information physically resident in the device and not stored on remote servers (e.g., iCloud). Also, privileged information (e.g., attorney-client privileged information) may not be subject to search.

CBP, however, will not prevent U.S. citizens from entering the U.S. if the U.S. citizen refuses to provide a password to unlock an electronic device.

 

How to Apply for the 2019 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program

DOS issued a public notice [Public Notice 10121] regarding the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program for 2019. ‘‘Diversity immigrants” are from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For fiscal year 2018, 50,000 diversity visas (DVs) will be available. There is no cost to register for the DV Program.

Completing Your Electronic Entry for the DV–2019 Program. Submit your Electronic Diversity Visa Entry Form (E–DV Entry Form or DS–5501), online at dvlottery.state.gov. DOS will not accept incomplete entries.

Applicants must submit entries for the DV–2019 DV program electronically at dvlottery.state.gov between noon, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) (GMT–4), Tuesday, October 3, 2017, and noon, Eastern Standard Time (EST) (GMT–5), Tuesday, November 7, 2017. Starting May 1, 2018, you will be able to check the status of your entry by returning to dvlottery.state.gov, clicking on Entrant Status Check, and entering your unique confirmation number and personal information.

DOS selectees through a randomized computer drawing. Diversity visa numbers are distributed among six geographic regions, and no single country may receive more than seven percent of the available DVs in any one year.

For DV–2019, natives of the following countries are not eligible to apply, because more than 50,000 natives of these countries immigrated to the United States in the previous five years: Bangladesh, Brazil, Canada, China (mainland-born), Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, South Korea, United Kingdom (except Northern Ireland) and its dependent territories, and Vietnam. Persons born in Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, and Taiwan are eligible.

 

在美国申请庇护 – 庇护基本常识以及流程简介

由于遭受迫害或者害怕在将来会遭受迫害而逃离国土的个人有权在美国寻求庇护。这项最根本的
权利是美国 “移民与国籍法”(INA)的一部分。美国移民法的执法责任是由很多机构共享的,包括国土安全部(DHS)和律政司移民执行办公室(EOIR)。国土安全部(DHS)以下的三个机构 – 美国公民与移民局服务(USCIS),海关和边境保护局(CBP),和移民与海关执法(ICE)。 移民局裁定移民福利申请; CBP视察非公民入境美国; ICE主要负责调查移民违法行为,以及扣留和驱逐违规者。 律政司移民执行办公室(EOIR)主要负责递解出境的程序。 寻求庇护者可能会在庇护过程中遇到很多不同的移民机构。

庇护申请人一定要人在美国才有资格获得庇护。申请人必须要可以证明他在过去遭受迫害或者他可以证明他 “有根据恐惧” 未来会遭受迫害(well-founded fear)。这样的恐惧或者迫害必须基于申请人的种族,宗教,国籍,特定社会团体的成员资格或政治观点。庇护申请人必须要在入境一年以内递交申请。律政司(Attorney General )会最终裁决庇护申请。获得庇护有显着的好处。 庇护者可以无限期的停留在美国,享有工作授权。 庇护成功一年后,庇护者可以申请美国合法永久居民的绿卡身份。 庇护者的配偶和21岁以下未婚子女可以享受跟随庇护者留在美国。 最后,庇护者有权旅行必保持其庇护身份。

申请庇护有两种途径。一种是庇护申请人主动申请庇护(affirmatively),无论你是有效入境还是非法入境,你都可以提交庇护申请表。这样的申请会由公民和移民服务局管理的8个区域庇护办公室里裁决。另外一种是被动避难,如果你被移民和海关执法(ICE)或者边境保护局(CBP)逮捕了然后被放置在递解出境的程序中,你也可以向移民法官提交你的庇护申请表。 此时,你的庇护申请的管辖权就被转移到了移民法庭,只有法官可以决定你的庇护申请。

如何拿到庇护工卡

在政庇所收到你的庇护申请的150天后,申请人有资格申请工作许可证(EAD)。 您可以准备并提交表格I-765,申请就业授权。工卡的审批时间会有变动。一般来说30天到90天以内都是正常的,超过90天的话,可以向移民局询问工卡审批进展。

如何证明“迫害”?

对生命或自由的威胁是迫害。 身体以及心灵上的虐待即使不危及生命也一般会构成迫害。 然而,经历的痛苦或伤害必须超过只是骚扰。另外来说,即使有些伤害程度很小,集中起来也可能被视为迫害。 这样的伤害可能包括:1.任意干扰个人隐私,家庭,2. 从院校或者工作岗位开除;
3. 拒绝护照拒绝; 4监视; 和 5.被迫成为告密者, 等等。

如何证明有正当理由恐惧未来迫害?

为了建立迫害的“有根据的恐惧”,庇护申请人需要显示他将受到迫害的可能性。一般性来讲,必须要展示主观以及客观的恐惧。为了满足主观成分,一个人必须表明他确实害怕回到原籍国。为了满足客观的组成部分,一个人必须做两件事情:1. 通过客观证据或有具有说服力的方式呈现具体事实; 和 2.说明鉴于所提供的证据,一般人会体验到害怕。

如何证明过去受到迫害?

根据美国的庇护法,如果可以证明过去受到迫害,未来的恐惧就更加容易证明。如果说申请人可以证明他过去收到了迫害,政府需要举证驳回申请人的未来迫害的恐惧心理是不恰当的。政府反驳的途径有以下几种:1.举证表明,当事人本国的情况已经改变了,申请人不再具有充分根据的恐惧,或者 2. 显示申请人有能力,以及可以搬到他的国家的其他地区避免迫害。

五种庇护理由:种族,宗教,国籍,政治意见和特定社会团体的成员身份

庇护申请人必须建立他具有以上任何一个的保护理由,而且他受到迫害的原因是因为那个特定的理由。 庇护申请人不需要显示迫害者的确切动机,但必须建立要建立是由于这五个理由的其中之一。

如果庇护不成功,还有其他选择么?

在庇护不成功的情况下,申请人可能有其他渠道可以留在美国。 这些渠道包括:1. 扣留递解 (Withholding of Removal)2. 联合国禁止酷刑公约(Convention Against Torture)福利 3. 临时保护状态 (Temporary Protected Status)4. 贩运受害者的“T”签证( Victims of Trafficking)5. 犯罪活动受害人的“U”签证 (Victims of Criminal Activity)6. 自愿离境。以下将一一将是每项内容的不同之处。

1⃣,扣留递解 (Withholding of Removal)- 这类的救济可以短期的保护逃离迫害的个人,虽然不如庇护,扣留递解也是有一定优势的。扣留递解跟庇护的差别在于,扣留递解不受到一年的申请截止限制。 有些有犯罪记录的个人不能得到庇护身份,所以扣留递解是唯一的选择。扣留递解期间的福利是有限的。 被扣留递解的个人不能从美国转移到他自己的国家,但可以被移送到第三国。该个人不得将自己的身份调整为合法永久居留权,但可以获得工作授权。 扣留递解个人也无法申请家属。

2⃣,另外来说,庇护申请人可能可以享受 “联合国公约禁止酷刑和其他残忍,不人道或有辱人格” 的福利(Convention Against Torture)。这个联合国公约禁止遣返任何在其国可能遭受酷刑的申请人。这类受益人可以享受的福利跟扣留递解的受益者差不多。

3⃣,临时保护状态 (Temporary Protected Status)。临时保护状态(TPS)只适用于律政司指定的国家公民。为了获得TPS,申请人必须证明他是该指定国的国民。具有TPS的个人可以在美国工作,在保护期间,不得被驱逐出境。 符合TPS资格的人必须向政府定时注册以及维持TPS状态。 政府可以否决任何未及时注册的人员的TPS。符合TPS条件的庇护申请人应考虑提交和维护TPS。

4⃣,贩运受害者的“T”签证( Victims of Trafficking)。“T”签证是用来保护“贩运活动”的受害者,包括性贩卖的受害者,被招募,运送,用于商业性行为。 “T”签证也可能包括被招募,或运送的个人劳动服务,非自愿奴役,奴役或借债的债役强制,欺诈或胁迫。

5⃣,犯罪活动受害人的“U”签证 (Victims of Criminal Activity)。这些符合条件的的受害者需要协助执法机关对罪行进行调查或起诉。 申请者必须符合以下标准:1.由于这项犯罪活动, 受害人受到严重的身体或精神虐待; 2. 受害人掌握有关罪行的信息;3.受害人协助执法机构或检察机关调查或起诉犯罪活动; 和 4.犯罪活动必须违反美国法律。

6⃣,最后的话,庇护不成功者可以申请自愿离境,自愿离境允许个人在指定的时间内从美国自费离开,以避免强制递解出境。

申请庇护是一项复杂的漫长的过程,你需要一个有经验并且负责的律师。根据你的所在地,当地的法律援助有可能有提供免费或者低收费的服务项目。或者你可以搜索所在地的移民律师名单。

USCIS to Conduct In-Person Interviews for Employment Based Green Card Applications and Refugee/Asylee Relative Petitions

Stating 10/1/2017, employment based green card Applicants will need to attend in person interviews

On August 28, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it will start conducting in-person interviews for permanent resident “green card” applications, effective Oct. 1. USCIS will start interviewing the following two categories of green card applicants:

  • Employment-based adjustment of status applications;
  • Refugee/asylee relative petitions (Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition) for beneficiaries who are in the United States and are petitioning to join a principal asylee/refugee applicant.

USCIS stated the changes is to improve the detection and prevention of immigration fraud pursuant to Executive Order 13780, “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.” USCIS is planning an incremental expansion of interviews to other benefit types.

The two categories of immigrants were not subject to in-person interviews before. Employees who are applying for adjustment of status based on qualifying jobs are in the United States with valid non-immigrant status.

Read AILA 2017-18 President-Elect, ‘s thoughts on this issue.

如果被警察或者移民官员拦下,如何保护你的权利

你需要知道自己的哪些权益,需要如何维护自己的权利呢?

在美国居住生活难免会跟警察打交道,最近电视新闻里关于警察侵权的报道难免令人沮丧害怕。如果你被警察拦下,你需要知道自己的哪些权益,需要如何维护自己的权利呢?
如果你在户外被警察拦下:
  • 你有权利保持沉默。你需要告诉警察你选择保持沉默 (I choose to remain silence)。在有些州,你需要告诉警察你的名字。不要用假名字。
  • 千万保持镇定。不要跑,不要慌张。不要争辩,抗拒,或者妨碍警察执行公务。这些可能都是可以累加的罪名,例如 obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, etc.
  • 把手放在警察可以看见的地方。不要放在口袋里或者包里。警察如果看不到你的手,就会怀疑你有武器。
  • 询问警察你是否有被逮捕或者扣留 (Am I under arrest?) 如果警察没有可以逮捕你的理由,你可以询问是否可以离开 (May I leave?)
  • 如果警察允许你离开的话,保持镇静,慢速走开。不要跑,让警察可以看到你的手。走开始不要讲话。
  • 如果警察征询你的意见想要搜查你的物品或者你本人,你可以拒绝 (No)。
如果你在驾车时警察亮灯拦下了你:
  • 尽量把车停到车流少的地方,这是为了你的安全,也是为了减少堵车隐患。你可以拐到小路上或者停在高速的隔离带上。
  • 把车熄火,如果是晚上的话, 打开车内的灯。把车窗摇开一半,把上手放在方向盘上。
  • 警察会要求你出示驾驶执照 (license),车辆登记证明 (registration),以及保险 (insurance)。如果你没有这些证明的话,是违反法律的 (Driving without a license/ Driving without insurance). 有些警察会同意你给保险证明,比如过邮件或者上个月的保险。
  • 如果警察想要搜查你的车辆,你可以拒绝。除非警察觉得你的车内有犯罪证据,他们是不需要你的许可就可以搜查你的车。比如说,如果警察看到你车内有大麻或者大量现金,警察可以在不经你允许的情况下搜查的车。这个的原因在于警察有 probable cause 认为你用你的车辆进行非法活动。
  • 车内的乘客均有权保持沉默。如果你不是司机,只是乘客,你可以询问是否可以离开。
如果你被询问你的移民身份 (immigration status):
  • 你有权保持沉默。任何关于你的出生国家,以及你是否是美国公民,你都有权拒绝回答。当然,这个只限用于你在美国本土,若果你在机场或者入境港口被边境海关询问这些问题,你需要如实回答。你需要向移民官员出示你的真实的文件。
  • 不要谎报你的名字或者身份,说谎或者出示假证件会有非常严重的后果。
如果有移民局官员到你的家里去:
  • 你不需要让他们进门。除非它们有法官签署的命令 (Search Warrant)。
  • 要求他们出示法令。执法人员必须要给你看法令,这份法令上会有详细的他们可以搜查的地点以及物品。
  • 如果移民官员持有逮捕令 (arrest warrant) 并且觉得这个被逮捕人在家,他们有权进入这个人的家。
  • 递解/驱逐令 (deportation order) 需要住户的同意才可以进入房屋。如果这个被递解者不在屋内或者不住在这里,你无需让移民局进门。
  • 在你给你的律师打电话之前,不要说任何话。你可以选择保持沉默。你所有讲的话都可以作为证词。
如果你被警察逮捕了:
  • 不要抗拒。抗拒的后果会伤害到你自己甚至累计罪名。不要跑。更不要袭击警察。
  • 告诉警察你希望保持沉默 (Remain silence)。要求一个律师或者政府给你提供一个律师。
  • 在没有律师的情况下,你不要回答任何问题。在堪萨斯州,警察盘问你的时候是不需要给你提供翻译,意思是你没有法定的权利指派翻译。如果你不知道警察问你什么,千万不要回答。
  • 如果你给律师打电话,警察不可以旁听你的交流内容。
如果你被关到了移民局:
  • 你有权聘请律师。政府不会提供律师。只有刑事犯罪政府才会提供律师。但是移民监狱会提供一份免费律师或者低收费律师的名单。
  • 你有权利联系中国领事馆,或者让执法人员把你被逮捕的事宜通知到领事馆。
  • 你需要告诉移民官你保持沉默。
  • 不要和其他人讨论你的移民身份。这个很有可能会移民官员知道。如果有移民官员来找你,不要签署你不能理解的文件。
  • 仔细阅读所有文件,理解内含的内容。某些放弃你的权利的文件千万不要签署。移民官员可能让你签署放弃绿卡,或者自动离境的文件。如果你看不懂的话,要求一个翻译。
  • 记住你的A号码,你的随身物品可以让家人去取。根据你被关押地点,你的家人可能需要给你打钱使用电话或者用自动售货机。

如果你觉得你的权利被侵犯了的话:

  • 如果你受伤了,你需要要求医生或者去医院。把自己受伤的部位拍下来,记住当时发生的细节。
  • 很多执法部门有申诉的渠道。或者你可以告诉你的律师要求民事诉讼赔偿。

What Does the Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act Seek To Do

There had been many talks around the Republican-backed proposal: Reforming American Immigration for a Strong Economy (RAISE) Act. In a nutshell, it will significantly reduce the number of people allowed to legally immigrate to the United States. Although unlikely to pass Congress, what changes does the RAISE Act seek to bring exactly?

First, the RAISE Act seeks to eliminate the Diversity Visa Program. The Diversity Visa Program gives immigrant visas to nationals from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. For a list of countries/areas by region whose natives are eligible for DV-2018 and DV-2017, please refer to the DV Instructions.

Second, the RAISE Act seeks to cap the number of refugees who may be admitted in any fiscal year to 50,000 and requiring the President to “annually enumerate the number of aliens who were granted asylum in the previous fiscal year.” Limiting refugee numbers has always been President Trump’s priority, and it is no surprise the RAISE Act mentions it.

Third, in the family-sponsored immigration arena, the RAISE Act wants to change the definition of “Child” at INA §101(b)(1) from an unmarried person “under age 21” to an unmarried person “under age 18,” and change the definition of “Immediate Relative” at INA to include only children and spouses of U.S. citizens (removes parents of adult U.S. citizens). Similarly, it seeks to only allow children and spouses of LPR (green card) holders to immigrant to the U.S. This will effectively eliminate the following current available categories: (1) unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (FB-1); (2) unmarried sons and daughters of LPRs (FB-2B); and (3) married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (FB-3); and (4) brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens (FB-4). Parents of U.S. citizens will remain unaffected because under the new legislation, a new category for parents of USC citizens above the age of 21 will be created. The legislation seeks to cap the worldwide level of family-sponsored immigrants  admissions to 88,000 per fiscal year. The effort will significantly reduce the number of family based immigration and make many ineligible to reunite with their families in the United States.

All the above are part of the administration’s efforts to limit the number of immigrants to the U.S. Further, it seeks to replace of Employment-Based Immigration Categories with Immigration Points System. On the numbers, it seeks to limit the number of points-based immigrants to 140,000 (including spouses and children) per fiscal year. This so-called Points-Based System comes with an online portal and a required fee of $160. President Donald Trump has already announced his support for a the points system.

The immigration point system seeks to prioritize immigrants based on their degrees and skills. If they have equal points and equal educational attainment, they will be further ranked according to their (1) English language proficiency test scores; and (2) age, with applicants nearest their 25th birthdays ranked higher. And every 6 months, USCIS is said to invite the highest ranked applicants to file a petition for a points-based immigrant visa. If you want to see if you qualify to immigrate to the U.S., test your scores from Times.com here: http://time.com/4887574/trump-raise-act-immigration/.

Last but not least, the RAISE Act will prohibit naturalization of an individual if the person who submitted an affidavit of support on his or her behalf failed to reimburse the federal government for all means-tested public benefits received by the individual during the 5-year period immediately after the individual became an LPR. It therefore seems that, at no fault of the individual seeking naturalization, she or he might be barred from it. It is unclear whether the individual seeking naturalization is allowed to reimburse the government.

The Act does not mention temporary work visas such as H-1B and H-2 or temporary visitor (B-1/B-2) or student visas (F-1). Its focus remains on the number of available immigrant visas.

Read the full RAISE Act here: https://www.cotton.senate.gov/files/documents/170802_New_RAISE_Act_Bill_Text.pdf If interested, you can read this excellent summary of each section from American Immigration Lawyer’s Association (AILA): 17080732

 

 

 

 

Pew Research Center – Foreign Graduates Are Staying in the U.S. for Employment

International students choose to study in the U.S. for many different reasons, and many choose to stay and work after they graduate from U.S. colleges and universities. The Pew Research Center analyzed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data and found that more and more high-skilled foreign graudates find jobs in the United States under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program. The OPT program provides an important opportunity for foreign graduates to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months or 36 months, depending on their field.  Many students choose to take advantage of the OPT programs to utilize the skills they learned.

The Pew Research Center found that the federal government approved nearly 700,000 OPT applications between 2008 and 2014. Below are the interesting findings:

  • The annual number of OPT approvals rose from 28,497 in 2008 to 136,617 in 2014.
  • Many of those working in the U.S. under the OPT program go on to apply for H-1B visas to stay longer in the U.S.
  • Those with STEM majors had a higher employment rate (73%) than non-STEM majors (57%).
  • Foreign students from India and China accounted for more than half (57%) of all those who were approved for OPT.

To read the full report by Neil Ruiz: click here.