Articles Posted in Illinois Immigration Law

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The Department of State and USCIS are cracking down on fraud and/or misrepresentation, particularly on non-immigrant visa applications such as B1/B2 – visitors visas and F-1 – student visas. Fraud and Misrepresentation findings are skyrocketing so you need to be aware of the increased attention being paid to nonimmigrant visas.  Misrepresenting your intention on a visitor’s visa, for example, can have drastic effects on future immigration benefits you might otherwise be qualified for.  For example, if you inform any Consulate Officer, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) or Port of Entry Officer that you are coming to the United States to visit,  you may be opening yourself up to a fraud and/or misrepresentation finding if you, for example, marry a U.S. Citizen during your vacation stay, and apply to adjust status in the U.S.

In the past, immigration policy on the above scenario was to apply  a 30/60 day rule.  If you entered on a Visitor’s visa and married a U.S. citizen within 30 days, the presumption was that you married solely for the purpose of an immigration benefit; however, the presumption could be rebutted with adequate evidence of a bona fide marriage.  Marriage between 30 an 60 days of entry, followed by application to adjust status, could infer that there was an intent to misrepresent, which also could be rebutted by evidence of a bona fide relationship. After 60 days there was no basis for a misrepresentation finding.

Recently, the Department of State updated its Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) to state that any conduct inconsistent with representations made on applications, to DHS, CBP or ICE agents, or Port of Entry officer within 90 days, can result in a finding of willful misrepresentation.  Inconsistent conduct for a B1 visa holder, for example, would be engaging in unauthorized employment, marrying a US citizen and applying for adjustment of status, enrolling in a course of academic study, or any conduct for which a change of status would be required.  This new policy can drastically affect those entering under Visa Waiver Program, where duration of stay is 90 days.

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According to a recent article from the Chicago Reporter, several groups are calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to enact reforms in the way Chicago Police are allowed to interact with the undocumented population in Chicago. Right now it is estimated that nearly 7% of the Chicago population is undocumented. That equates to over 180,000 individuals that these reforms would protect.

Under current city ordinances and executive orders, it is against city policy for city employees to deny benefits based on the immigration status of an individual. Additionally, city employees are prohibited from inquiring about the immigration status of an individual. Mayor Emanuel also limited how Chicago Police can cooperate with federal immigration officials in order to deport individuals detained by Chicago Police. But Reform groups say those protections aren’t enough and would like to strengthen those prohibitions. According to the Chicago Reporter, under a proposal suggested by a collection of immigration reform groups, several more projections would be enacted, such as:

  • “Eliminate exemptions that allow police to work with federal authorities when dealing with undocumented immigrants who are either wanted on a criminal warrant, convicted felons, charged with a felony, or identified gang members,
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The Illinois Secretary of State‘s Office is now accepting applications for temporary driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. Although these licenses are only a small step towards immigration reform, they can help alleviate the fears and concerns of many undocumented immigrants who risk driving, and being arrested and deported, in order to work.

In order to be eligible for the license, applicants must prove that they have lived in Illinois for at least one year. Applicants can do this by bringing a copy of a lease, utility bills, a valid passport or consular identification card, or other proof of their residency. Applicants must also pass vision and driving exams and obtain insurance before receiving a license.

The licenses will be valid for three years and can be renewed. Applicants should remember that the licenses only legalize driving within the state of Illinois. They will not serve as valid forms of identification for other purposes such as boarding a plane, voting, or buying a gun.

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On December 3rd, the Illinois Secretary of State’s office will begin accepting applications for temporary driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants. In order to qualify for the license, applicants must prove that they have lived in Illinois for at least one year. They must also show that they are not eligible for a Social Security Card. Documents that will be accepted as proof include a copy of a lease, utility bills, a valid passport or consular identification card.

Applicants must also pay a $30 fee and pass vision, written and road tests. The state will then verify application information and conduct a facial recognition search against other government databases. This process may take about 15 to 20 business days, and licenses will be issued once it is complete.

These temporary driver’s licenses will be valid for three years, and applicants will be allowed to reapply after that period. However, these licenses will not serve as valid forms of identification for some purposes including boarding a plane, voting, or buying a gun.

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Highway Safety Coalition State Bill 957, the new law that will make temporary driver’s licenses available to undocumented immigrants in Illinois, will soon be going into effect. Illinois is only the fourth, and largest, state in the entire country to grant driving privileges to undocumented immigrants. Over 250,000 immigrants in Illinois are anticipated to be eligible for temporary licenses under the new law.

Opponents of the law argue that these licenses will be susceptible to fraud. However, Mayor Rahm Emanuel asserts that numerous security precautions to deal will be put in place to deal with fraud.

This new law will make the streets of Illinois safer by requiring that immigrants learn how to drive, get tested and have an insurance policy. The law will also give immigrants more freedom and mobility. For example, parents will now have the ability to drive their kids to school

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On Tuesday, the Illinois House voted 65-46 to allow undocumented immigrants to become licensed drivers in the state. All that’s left is for Governor Pat Quinn to sign the bill into law, which he has announced he will do. Ten months after passage, the new law will take effect, which means that the new licenses should be available some time in October–November of 2013.

Prior to this law, temporary visitor’s drivers licenses were available to foreigners who were present in Illinois legally but ineligible to obtain a social security number. To get one of these licenses, the foreigner would have to present documentation to the state that he was here with authorization from the federal government. What the new law does is allow for any foreigner living in Illinois to obtain a driver’s license, whether he has permission from the federal government to be here or not. The new law DOES NOT give legal immigrant status to anyone and the driver’s licenses are valid for driving only–they cannot be used as ID for anything else, whether that be voting, buying a weapon, purchasing alcohol, etc. The law also DOES NOT allow the holder to obtain a social security number so they are not legally eligible to work if they weren’t before. Vistor’s license holders are also subject to the same examination and insurance requirements as holder’s of normal driver’s licenses.

Although I still believe that the federal government needs to overhaul immigration laws, state laws like the new visitor’s diver’s licenses are a step in the right direction. It is no secret that there are millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, and these reforms do less to encourage illegal immigration than they do to help bring our laws into alignment with reality. The truth is, whether licensed or not, many immigrants are going to drive vehicles on our roads. By giving them a way to drive legally, we can encourage them to become properly trained and insured which makes the roads safer for everyone.

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