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Elmhurst criminal defense lawyer for marijuana and immigrationThe state of Illinois passed several new laws that went into effect on January 1, 2020. One of the more notable laws made it legal for people 21 and over to purchase and use recreational marijuana. An Illinois adult can possess up to 30 grams (approximately one ounce) of the cannabis flower. A person can use marijuana in his or her own home and on-site in certain marijuana-related businesses.

Although marijuana is now legal in Illinois, it is essential to understand how the new law relates to U.S. immigration if you are currently living in the country (or visiting) as a non-citizen (i.e., you are not a U.S. Citizen).

Previous Convictions for Non-Citizens

The new Illinois marijuana law also affects people who had previous convictions for possession of the drug. As of January 1, 2020, those who were charged with having under 30 grams of cannabis prior to legalization will have their records automatically expunged if the charges were dismissed or if they were acquitted. Those who were convicted of possession of less than 30 grams will have their records referred to the state’s Prisoner Review Board and then to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker for a pardon. However, the convictions must not have involved a violent crime. 

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Cape Town, South Africa immigration attorneyImmigration has been an integral part of the United States since the Europeans discovered the “New World” in the 1400s. Each year, the U.S. sees tens of millions of visitors from around the world, many of them staying in the country long-term or permanently. Though some of the biggest immigrant populations in the U.S. are comprised of people from countries such as Mexico, China, and India, there has been an increase in recent years in the number of immigrants from African countries. The majority of African immigrants are from sub-Saharan countries, and one that is rapidly growing is South Africa. Estimates from the Migration Policy Institute show that there were thought to be around 100,000 immigrants from South Africa living in the U.S. in 2017.

Family-Based Visas

Family-based immigration is one of the more popular ways to immigrate to the U.S., no matter the country you are emigrating from. You may be eligible to receive a family-based visa if you are:

  • A spouse of a U.S. citizen

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Addison U Visa AttorneyIn 2000, Congress passed the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act, which created the U nonimmigrant status, also known as the U visa. This law was intended to allow law enforcement agencies to better serve the victims of crimes such as sexual assault, domestic violence, and human trafficking. Immigrant victims of crimes who have suffered mental or physical abuse and who are willing to help law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute these crimes are eligible to receive a U visa and remain in the United States.

Eligibility Requirements

To receive a U visa, all of the following eligibility requirements must be true:

  • You are the victim of a qualifying crime.
  • You suffered substantial mental or physical abuse because of that crime.
  • You have information about the criminal activity.
  • You are helpful, were helpful, or were likely to be helpful to law enforcement officials during the investigation and prosecution of the crime.
  • The crime occurred in the United States.
  • You are eligible to be in the United States.

In addition, you must submit a signed certification from a law enforcement official to be used as evidence in support of the petition for a U visa. This certification will give U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) information about the criminal case, including your willingness in the investigation, prosecution, or sentencing of the crime. Any federal, state, or local law enforcement authority who plays a part in the criminal case may complete the certification. Other officials such as child protective services, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and the Department of Labor can also complete the certification.

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Bolingbrook spousal immigration attorneyEach year, thousands of immigrants become permanent citizens of the United States. As the country was founded by immigrants, the U.S. promotes family unity by allowing U.S. citizens to petition for their foreign-born spouses to come to the U.S. to live with them permanently. In some cases, you can also petition for your spouse’s children to also come live permanently in the United States. Immigration law is extremely complex, and it can sometimes be difficult to understand what exactly you must do to file a petition. A knowledgeable Bolingbrook immigration lawyer can help you understand the process and the steps that must be followed.

Beginning Steps

The first thing you must do when petitioning to have your spouse come to the United States is fill out Form I-130, which is the Petition For Alien Resident form. If your spouse has already entered the United States lawfully, they must fill out Form I-485, which is the Application to Register Permanent Residence, and this must be submitted along with Form I-130. When you submit this form, you must also submit the filing fee, which is currently $535.

Supporting Evidence

In addition to your applications, you must also submit all required supporting evidence for your petition. If you are a U.S. citizen, you must prove your status by submitting a copy of one of the following:

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Woodridge fiance immigration lawyerImmigration has been a hot topic in recent years. Under the current presidential administration, immigration policies have been under scrutiny, and fiancé visas - officially known as K-1 visas - have taken a hit. According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), around 90 percent of fiancé visas were approved in 2016. In 2017, when President Donald Trump took office, the percentage of approved fiancé visas dropped to around 66 percent. Even though fiancé visas are getting harder to obtain, it is not impossible to get one - you just need the help of a skilled immigration attorney.

Eligibility Requirements for a K-1 Visa

In order to successfully obtain a visa for your fiancé, you must meet certain requirements. Though every visa petition is different, there are a few common requirements that you must meet. Eligibility requirements include:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen;
  • Both you and your spouse must be able to become legally married;
  • You must intend to marry your fiancé within 90 days of receiving the visa;
  • You must have physically met each other face-to-face at least once within the past two years; and
  • You must meet certain income requirements to prove that you can support your fiancé.

Other Elements of the K-1 Visa Process

In addition to meeting the requirements for a fiancé visa, you must also complete a series of other steps in order to successfully complete the process:

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