Tips on getting your license now before any policy changes

Driver’s Licenses for Immigrants

Caroly Pederson

A growing number of states have passed laws which provide Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants regardless of Immigration status. These laws defy a Federal Law called “Real ID”, which prohibits the issuance of Driver’s Licenses to anyone who is not in legal immigration status. Under the current Obama Presidency, states are encouraged to refuse to implement “Real ID” and to instead issue Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants. However, under the new Trump Administration, which promises strict enforcement of Immigration laws across the nation, the government may “crackdown” on States which continue to issue driving permits to Immigrants.

As a result, such States may have no choice but to suspend issuance of Driver’s Licenses to Immigrants without legal status in the future. However, those who have obtained legal driving permits before any policy changes, will likely be authorized to retain Driver’s License privileges until the permit expires. As such, Immigrants might well be advised to safeguard their right to drive legally and avoid the risk of charges for driving without a license and potential Immigration detention under Trump’s strict enforcement policies, by obtaining a legal Driver’s License as soon as possible, before Trump is sworn in as President on January 20th.

Since Florida law does not allow Immigrants without legal status to obtain a Driver’s License, Immigrants in our state will need to seek alternative options available in other states. According to the National Immigration Law Center, as of July 2016, the following states/districts now provide licenses to Immigrants residing in the jurisdiction, regardless of their Immigration status: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, DC, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Nevada, Puerto Rico, Utah, Vermont and Washington.

You can contact each state’s Driver’s License website to find out what documents you will need and visit the National Immigration Law Center site to get a review of each state’s requirements. You can get a link to find out driver’s license registration requirements in these states by visiting our website at: www.Immigratetoday.com  and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link.

Trump Immigration Plan May Include Authorizing Local Police To Enforce Immigration Policies

In a secret proposal from Trump Immigration advisor (and candidate for possible Homeland Security Secretary) Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, the new Administration may “deputize” local police officers nationwide to carry out Federal Immigration enforcement. This and other Immigration “crack down” proposals were caught on camera under Kobach’s arm, as he carried the documents for meetings with the Trump team to discuss new policy strategies. This controversial policy was carried out by the Bush Administration, and garnered wide-spread criticism, even among law enforcement, for having the effect of alienating communities and interfering with crime investigations, since witnesses were less likely to report crime and talk to police who were acting as Immigration enforcers. Trump will likely unveil these and other proposals soon after his Inauguration early next year. Stay tuned…

THIS WEEK’S IMMIGRATION QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Question:  My sister is American citizen, and she applied for me through the I-130 form. But I’m in the US without returning to my country for more than a year, so my I-94 has already expired. My doubts are: 1 – I applied in June 2011. And at the USCIS website, it informs that the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative US citizen filing for a brother or sister is processing for May 17, 2011 and on the visa Bulletin for October 2016 informs that they are processing November 2003, can you predict when my case will be processed? 2 – Once approved, how I stay over 1 year in the US with I have to proceed?

 Answer:  It takes 12-14 years for a visa to become available to the brother or sister of a U.S. Citizen. If she applied for you in 2011, it will take another 6-8 years. Since you have overstayed your I-94, under current law, you are not eligible anymore to receive your Residency in the U.S. On the other hand, since you have overstayed in the U.S. past one year, if you leave the U.S., you will be barred for 10 years from returning.

The issue of how long USCIS processing times are for family petitions is very different than how long it will actually take a family member to be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. The USCIS processing times are posted to inform the public about how long an application typically takes in the queue to be processed. However, once a case is approved, the USCIS then sends the file to the National Visa Center (NVC) to hold until an Immigrant Visa becomes available for the specific family category of the approved application. For siblings in the F4 Immigration category, the USCIS usually processes the case within 5+ years. Then, once the case is sent to the NVC, it will take another 7+ years waiting for a visa to become available. Immigrant Visa availability is updated each month by the State Department and posted on the Visa Bulletin website. The process can be very confusing and that is why it is so important to get good advice before starting the process, before overstaying a visa and becoming potentially disqualified to Immigrate through a family member.

At this point, because you have overstayed, under current law, your only way to obtain legal immigration status is through a real marriage to a US Citizen.

You can get the link to the Visa Bulletin to view current Immigrant Waiting times,  by visiting our website at: www.Immigratetoday.com  and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link or by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.

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