Every June, the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) holds its Annual Conference. This year, 3,000 immigration attorneys and paralegals converged on Washington, D.C. for three days of learning about all things immigration.
With over 140 sessions, I couldn’t attend each one, but the ones that I sat in on all provided excellent information on how to improve my practice and how to be an even better lawyer.
The world of immigration law is constantly changing. Events like the AILA Annual Conference allow attorneys to share their stories, experiences, and to get the most up to date information from the government. I’m always learning, just as any good attorney should.
Below are some of the biggest immigration news stories that emerged during this year’s sessions.
USCIS IS PLANNING ON A MAJOR OVERHAUL OF FORM I-485
The I-485 is the green card application. Right now, it’s eight pages long. USCIS has created a new I-485 that is over 20 pages long. The instructions are over 120 pages!
The new form hasn’t been released yet, and we’re not exactly sure when it will. If you are planning to file for Adjustment of Status in the near future, you may want to do it sooner rather than later to avoid the massive amount of paperwork that is on the horizon.
IMMIGRANT VISA SHORTCUT FOR FAMILIES OVERSEAS
When a U.S. citizen marries a foreign national and they live overseas, under certain circumstances, they have the option to file for a green card in the country they live in – bypassing the regular process done in the United States.
Generally speaking there has to be a USCIS office in that country. If there is, the entire immigrant visa process can be done within a month or two through the Consulate or Embassy, as opposed to the nine months if they had filed through the United States.
The process is even easier for Active Duty U.S. Armed Forces families stationed abroad – even if there is no international USCIS office in the country where they live. They can complete the immigrant visa process for the foreign family member through this new program. This is a huge help particularly for those stationed in South Korea and Japan.
MORE FRAUD FINDINGS FOR LGBT COUPLES?
Although USCIS has generally done a good job with adjudicating cases for same-sex couples, a new trend may be emerging. It appears that if the foreign national had been married to someone of the opposite sex in the past, and particularly if any immigration paperwork had been filed based on that marriage, USCIS may be claiming that the first marriage was fraudulent.
There are many problems with this. What if the person wanted to please their family, so they married someone of the opposite sex? What if they are bisexual and are equally comfortable in relationships with people of both genders? What if they were trying to convince themselves that they were ‘straight’ by being married?
We’ll keep a close eye on this to make sure that if the practice is truly happening, that it stops.
Immigration law is complex and it seems to change by the minute. There is no humanly way that one person could do the work we do and stay on top of each and every change and trend that occurs within the law. Thankfully, conferences such as this one allow attorneys to share their expertise and experiences with one another so that we can all be better informed and thus better serve our clients.