Archives for October 2009


Congress has temporarily extended the nonminister immigrant visa category, but only until October 31, 2009. Therefore, nonminister religious workers can presently file, or have adjudicated, their I-485 applications for permanent resident, but only for the next two weeks. Congress will consider a further extension, but when, or if that happens is uncertain.

1. Consider filing for adjustment by October 30, 2009, if you did not already

do so:

Because of the impending cutoff date, this means that the I-485
application for non-ministers must be filed and received at the relevant CIS Service Center, no later than Friday, October 30, 2009.

If you are a nonminister,
or represent a nonminister, who remains otherwise eligible to adjust status under INA 245, but did not file in September when no visas were available due to the sunset of the category, you should consider submitting the adjustment of status application now. Note that pursuant to Ruiz-Diaz, an I-360 and I-485 can be filed concurrently. You must still meet the other eligibility requirements relating to qualifications: that is, an available job at a qualifying religious organization, and without having in excess of 180 days of unlawful presence/employment.

Filing the application for adjustment of status should cut off any unlawful
presence /unauthorized employment that is accruing or will begin to accrue against the applicant after expiration of R-1 status. If you do not accomplish this for a nonminister whose R-1 runs out while a further extension by Congress is in limbo, your client could run past the 180 day grace period of INA 245k and be ineligible to adjust.

2. Seek expedites of pending non-minister I-485 applications:

Likewise, if your nonminister religious worker I-485 is pending adjudication, you should promptly request an expedited decision so the approval issues on or before October 30, 2009. My office is presently trying to confirm the best procedure to obtain such an expedite and will post this as soon as possible. If the application is not approved by October 30, adjudication cannot occur until Congress again extends the program.

The Law Office of Robert F. Mirque, Jr. has been representing clients with immigration matters for over 18 years. Mr. Mirque is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and is prepared to take on your immigration issues. If you or someome you know has questions about non-minister immigrant visas or any other immigration issue, please call us at 616-233-9300 to schedule an appointment.


I Overstayed My Visa, Can I Apply For A Green Card If I’m Married to a US Citizen?

A foreign national who is married to a United States citizen can apply for a “green card” in the United States provided their last entry into the United States they presented themselves for inspection at a United States port of entry and were legally inspected and then admitted or paroled into the United States.

This provision of the law forgives the fact that the foreign national has not maintained their legal status in the Unted States and forgives any unauthorized employment by the foreign national.

This means that even though you fell out of status, you are eligible to apply for a “green card” because you were legally admitted as an nonimmigrant and you are filing for the green card based on the fact that you are married to a U.S. citizen.

However, this provision of the law does not forgive other grounds of inadmissibility, such as criminal convictions, misrepresentation, or being subject to the unlawful presence bar. So the foreign national must otherwise be eligible for admission as a permanent resident.

If you have questions about applying for your “green card”, please give me a call at 616-233-9300 to schedule an appointment.


Holiday Travel Tips Across the US – Canadian Border

The Law Office of Robert F. Mirque and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reminds travelers planning trips across the border into the United States to have their approved travel documents and to anticipate heavy traffic during the celebration of the holidays.

The Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, implemented on June 1, requires U.S. and Canadian citizens, age 16 and older to present a valid, acceptable approved travel document that denotes both identity and citizenship when entering the U.S. by land or sea. WHTI-compliant documents include a passport, U.S. passport card, enhanced driver’s licenses (EDLs) — now produced by the states of New York, Michigan, Vermont and Washington; also the Provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, and British Columbia — or a Trusted Traveler Program card (NEXUS, SENTRI and FAST). For more information, visit thw WHTI Web site. 

We also want to remind U.S. lawful permanent residents that the I-551 form (green card) is acceptable for land and sea travel into the U.S.

Border traffic volumes are expected to be greatly increased during this holiday weekend and all travelers are reminded of a few simple steps they can employ to cross the border.

Tip #1 – Travelers should familiarize themselves with the “Know Before You Go” section of the CBP Web site to avoid fines and penalties associated with the importation of prohibited items. “Know Before You Go” brochures are also available at border ports. 

Tip #2 – Travelers should prepare for the inspection process before arriving at the inspection booth. Individuals should have their crossing documents available for the inspection and they should be prepared to declare all items acquired abroad. In addition, individuals should end cellular phone conversations before arriving at the inspection booth.

Tip #3 – Members of the traveling public should consult the CBP Web site to monitor border wait times for various ports of entry including Blaine and Sumas, Wash., Sweetgrass, Mont., and Pembina, N.D. Information is updated hourly and is useful in planning trips and identifying periods of light use/short waits.

Tip #4 – During periods of heavy travel, border crossers may wish to consider alternative, less heavily traveled entry routes.

Tip #5 – Travelers should plan to build extra time into their trips in the event they cross during periods of exceptionally heavy traffic (i.e. Thanksgiving holiday and adjacent weekends).

Tip #6 – Know the difference between goods for personal use vs. commercial use.

Tip #7 –Do not attempt to bring fruits, meats, dairy/poultry products and firewood into the United States from Canada without first checking whether they are permitted.

Tip # 8 – Understand that CBP officers have the authority to conduct enforcement examinations without a warrant, ranging from a single luggage examination up to and possibly including a personal search. Even during the holiday travel season, international border crossers should continue to expect a thorough inspection process when they enter the U.S. from Canada.

You should be aware that CBP will continually monitor traffic and border crossing times at area ports of entry. The agency stated that it plans to fully staff all inspection lanes during peak periods and  implement various traffic management operations to maintain the flow of traffic during periods of exceptionally heavy usage.

The Law Office of Robert F. Mirque, Jr. wishes everyone a safe holiday season and if you have an immigration issue, please give us a call at 616-233-9300.

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