Hallandale: (954) 457-1941 Ft. Myers: (239) 931-6558phone

Information on President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration

Articles on Obama’s Immigration Executive Action

President Obama has announced several broad policy changes that will likely benefit million of undocumented immigrants.      Below find information on various components of the president’s plan.

Obama Executive Action on Immigration Summary    A brief synopsis by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) of the Obama’s immigration plan.

Memo on Expanding Provisional Waiver I-601A   A plan to expand the availability of provisional waivers (of the unlawful presence bar).

Obama Executive Action Fact Sheet  November 20th White House fact sheet outlining the president’s “immigration accountability executive action.”

ICE Memo on Seeking Prosecutorial Discretion  Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) memorandum advising individuals in immigration custody or otherwise facing deportation (removal) of remedies available as a result the new policies being put into effect.

2014 Prosecutorial Discretion (Deferred Action) Memo  New policies governing the apprehension, detention and removal (deportation) of undocumented immigrants.

Stay tuned for more information about the implementation of President Obama’s executive action on immigration.

This article is general in nature, and not intended as legal advice.
Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

 

                                                Would You Like to Know More?

 

Mitchell J. Cohen is a 15-year member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association and Member of The Florida Bar, with law offices in Hallandale Beach and Fort Myers, Florida. He has extensive experience litigating cases before the USCIS, Immigration Courts, and Board of Immigration Appeals.

Hallandale Beach (Main) Immigration law Office:                             Fort Myers Immigration Law Office:
1250 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Ste. 500                                             3620 Colonial Blvd., Ste. 160
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009                                                                    Fort Myers, FL 33966
Tel. (954) 457-1941                                                                                     Tel. (239) 931-6558

U.S. Immigrant Investor Visa

What is the EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa?

Million Dollar Visa

Get a Green Card Through Investment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under the Employment Based Immigrant Visa Program, a foreign national can apply for immigrant visas (“green card” status) for himself/herself and immediate family members (spouse and children under the age of 21). The EB-5 visa is generally referred to as an “Immigrant Investor Visa,” the “Million Dollar Investor Visa,” or the “Job Creation” visa. The stated purpose of the EB-5 visa program is to foster investment and job creation in the United States by foreign nationals.

Investment Must be a “New Commercial Enterprise.”

In order to qualify for an EB-5 visa, the applicant needs to invest in a “new commercial enterprise,” which is defined as a commercial enterprise (a/k/a business or company) established after November 29, 1990. If the commercial enterprise was established on or before November 29, 1990, it must be purchased and restructured or reorganized in such a manner that it results in the establishment of a new commercial enterprise, or it must be expanded through the capital investment so that a 40 percent increase in number of employees or net worth occurs.

EB-5 Business Entity Must be For-Profit.

A commercial enterprise for purposes of the EB-5 visa is defined as any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business. Examples of acceptable investor visa companies include:  corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership (limited or general), joint venture, holding company, business trust or other entity, which may be privately or publicly owned.

The Investor will Create 10 Full-Time Jobs.

The foreign investor must in general create at least 10 (ten) full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States on the EB-5 visa.  A full-time employee is defined as one who works at least 35 hours per week.   The immigrant and his derivative family members do not count towards the 10 full-time jobs.

In some cases in lieu of creating 10 full-time jobs, an EB-5 investor may be credited with “preserving” 10 preexisting full-time jobs, if the company deemed by USCIS to meet the Immigration and Nationality Act’s definition of a “troubled business.”

1 Million Dollar Investment.

A million dollar investment in the U.S. commercial enterprise generally required.

The $500,000 U.S. Investor Visa.

The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act provides that a foreign investor under some circumstances may qualify for an investor green card based on an investment of only 500,000 USD.   To qualify, the commercial enterprise invested in must be located within “targeted employment area” which means either designated “high-employment” areas or areas designated as “rural.”

Targeted Employment Areas in Florida include the following areas designated as rural:  Bradford County, Calhoun County, Citrus County, Columbia County, DeSoto County, Dixie County, Franklin County, Glades County, Gulf County, Hamilton County, Hardee County, Hendry County, Jackson County, Lafayette County, Levy County, Liberty County, Madison County, Monroe County (excluding Key West), Okeechobee County, Putnam County, Sumter County, Suwanee County, Taylor County, Union County, Walton County, Washington County.

A map of non-rural, high-unemployment zones – whose unemployment is 150 percent can be found here (Mitchell J. Cohen, P.A. is not affiliated with the site, and does not endorse the map’s accuracy).

 

 

 

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and represents foreign nationals in the greater Miami-Ft. Lauderdale-Palm Beach and Fort Myers-Naples-Tampa Metro areas in Florida, and before U.S. Embassies and Consulates worldwide. Immigration Law Offices in Hallandale Beach (954 457-1941) and Fort Myers, Florida (239 931-6558).

Would You Like to Know More?

 

This article is general in nature, and not intended as legal advice.

New Parole in Place Policy Benefits Military Spouses and Others as Well

The November 15th USCIS Parole in Place Memorandum

USCIS Benefits for U.S. Armed Services Spouses, Parents and Children

USCIS Benefits for Armed Services Family Members

 

The USCIS has announced a policy in which certain relatives of military personnel who entered the United States without inspection (“EWI”), can apply to be “paroled in place.” The parole, if granted, will position the relative to apply for permanent resident status (green card), through the USCIS, without leaving the United States.

The policy was finalized in a binding memorandum, dated November 15, 2013, entitled “Parole of Spouses, Children and Parents of Active Duty Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve, and Former Members of the U.S. Armed Forces or Selected Reserve of the Ready Reserve and the Effect of Parole on Inadmissibility under Immigration and Nationality Act § 212(a)(6)(A)(i).”    See Parole_in_Place_Memo.

The gist of the USCIS memo is that immediate relatives of present and past servicemen and servicewomen in the U.S. Armed Forces and Ready Reserves who entered the country without inspection, can now file a request with their local USCIS office to be paroled in place. Immediate relatives are parents, spouses and certain children and stepchildren of U.S. citizens. Children under the age of 21, qualify as immediate relatives, and would be eligible to adjust status if paroled. Similarly-situated stepchildren may qualify as well, so long as the marriage took place prior to the child’s 18th birthday.

The USCIS Memo Opens the Door for Permanent Residence for Others as Well

The USCIS memo lays the foundation for other groups of individuals to benefit as well. For example, many individuals who entered the United States without inspection, who were then detained and were released under the USCIS parole authority, would also be positioned for adjustment of status under the interpretation set forth in the memo.

In fact, in theory the DHS has the discretionary authority to parole any alien who has not been “admitted” into the United States. Foreign nationals who have entered the United States without inspection may be paroled in place, at the discretion of the DHS. The November 15th memorandum basically creates a large class of individuals who the USCIS as a matter of policy will likely grant parole in place, absent “adverse factors.”

Prior to the USCIS parole in place memorandum, I successfully applied for parole in place for several clients who were not relatives of Service Members. The parole request packages included evidence and a legal brief which highlighted the compelling humanitarian factors present in each case. Among my clients was a Haitian national who had entered the United States without inspection, but was now married to a U.S. Citizen, with whom he had several children. When I was hired by him, he was in Immigration Court removal proceedings in Miami. By diligently advocating on my client’s behalf I was able to persuade DHS to parole him in place. The Immigration Judge granted my motion to terminate proceedings, and my client then was able to adjust his status to lawful permanent resident in front of USCIS.

The USCIS guidance in November 15th memorandum also will likely to clarify the eligibility of people who originally entered the United States without inspection but then traveled on advance parole, and were paroled back into the United States. The memo makes clear that these individuals are not to be “inadmissible” to the United States as aliens who arrives at a place other than a designated port-of-entry. The memo makes clear that the parole cures that issue.

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and represents individuals at Krome, BTC, the Glades Detention Center, and throughout Florida.   Immigration Law Offices in Hallandale Beach (954 457-1941) and Fort Myers, Florida (239 931-6558).

Would You Like to Know More?

 

This article is general in nature, and not intended as legal advice.

Tips for Using the ICE Online Detainee Locator System

By Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire

 

Immigration Detainee Locator When someone is detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) it is often a challenge to find out where immigration has locked them up. ICE has a page called the “Online Detainee Locator System,” which may be helpful in locating someone in immigration custody.  The page states that the locator system can be used to locate current ICE detainees as well as individuals released from immigration custody within 60 days.   The system cannot search for persons under the age of 18. The ICE online detainee locator system allows the user to conduct a search using the detainee’s “A-Number” (also known as an “Alien Number” and his/her date of birth, or if the A-Number is unknown, a search may be conducted by entering the detainee’s biographical information A individual may be assigned an alien number under a variety of circumstances.   It may have been assigned in connection with a person’s application for an immigration benefit.    An individual’s alien number might be found on a USCIS receipt notice (Form I-797).   It can be found on a person’s USCIS employment authorization document (also known as a “work permit), or his or her permanent resident card (a/k/a “green card”).   An individual may also be assigned an alien number as a result of being placed in immigration court removal proceedings.    If a person has not been assigned an alien number previously, ICE will assign a new one upon taking that person into immigration custody.    Sometimes an individual will have one, two or even more alien numbers that have been assigned to him over the years. That is why it may be useful to gather together as many of the detainee’s immigration documents, to ascertain all alien numbers assigned to him/her.

Searching to ICE detainee locator system by biographic information is more of a challenge, because the system does not employ “fuzzy logic.”   Rather, the detainee’s first and last names must be entered exactly as they are listed in ICE’s system.   It may be necessary to experiment searching with variations of a person’s name,  including or excluding hyphens, or adding or subtracting the mother’s surname, or even entering known aliases. If you receive a phone call from someone in immigration custody ASK WHERE HE OR SHE IS (the name of the facility, and address).   ASK WHAT ALIEN NUMBER AND/OR JAIL NUMBER HAS BEEN ASSIGNED TO HIM OR HER.   Oftentimes the alien number and jail number will be on a wrist-band. Unfortunately, the reality for many is that it can take hours or even days to locate a person who has been arrested by immigration.   The arrested individual may be taken to one ICE facility to be “processed” but then moved to another to be incarcerated.     Even when someone is actually located within a facility, it may several hours or even overnight for that person to be entered into the facility’s computer system.   Again, if calling a immigration detention center, it is helpful to have the A number handy.

ICE detention centers and contract facilities in Florida

18201 SW 12th St, Miami, FL 33194
Phone :  (305) 207-2001 / (305) 207-2100
Krome Detention Center.
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3900 N. Powerline Road, Pompano Beach, Fl 33073
Facility Phone: (954) 973-4485    BTC ICE:  (954) 545-6060
Broward Transitional Center.
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 1297 East SR 78, Moore Haven, FL 33471
Phone:  (863) 946-0062
Glades County Jail Immigration Detention
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1 Sheriff’s Office Drive, MacClenny, FL 32063
Phone:  (904) 259-3311
Baker County Jail Immigration Dentention
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15 Oak Street, Crawfordville, FL 32327
Phone:  (850) 942-8301
Wakulla Immigration Detention
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Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) and represents individuals at Krome, BTC, the Glades Detention Center, and throughout Florida.   Law Offices in Hallandale Beach (954 457-1941) and Fort Myers, Florida (239 931-6558). Would You Like to Know More?

What is an Immigration Detainer?

The ICE Hold

by Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire

An immigration detainer (sometimes referred to as an “ICE detainer” or “ICE hold”) is a notice from the Department of Homeland Security that is given to a state or local law enforcement agency advising that agency that DHS intends to take custody of an incarcerated individual once he or she would otherwise be released.    The reasons for immigration to place a hold on someone are varied, however, usually it has to with DHS intending to remove (deport) that person from the United States.    An individual with an immigration detainer might be placed in removal proceedings or may in fact already have an outstanding order of removal.

If there is an detainer (a/k/a “ICE Hold”) on someone in jail, once that person posts bond on the criminal matter, the jail may continue to hold that person even though bond has already been posted.   Immigration in general has 48 hours then to pick up that person from jail.    That person now may be “processed” at an ICE facility, which may include being interrogated, fingerprinted, and photographed.    A Notice to Appear in Immigration Court may be served on the person being held.  ICE in some cases may release the person on his or her own recognizance or detain further in an immigration detention center or contact facility pending removal proceedings or execution of an outstanding order of removal (deportation).

The Immigration Detainer Automatically Expires After 48 Hours

The detainer only authorizes a law enforcement agency to keep an individual in jail for 48 hours (2 days), beyond the time that person should have been released (excluding weekends and holidays).   It is against the law for the state or local jail to hold a person beyond the 48 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays).   See the provisions listed on Form I-247 Immigration Detainer.

 

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

 

 

  Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.  Cohen represents

  individuals in Immigration Court removal proceedings, and handles a variety of other types of immigration cases.

Immigration Law Offices in Hallandale Beach, and Fort Myers, Florida.   Call (954) 457-1941 (Hallandale Beach Office)

or (239) 931-6558 (Fort Myers Office).    Would You Like to Know More?

Fort Myers Immigration Physical Resources and 3 Tips for Green Card Applicants

By Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire
Last Updated: 01/15/2013

USCIS Civil Surgeons (for immigration physicals)

green card attorney

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

When a person applies for adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident status (“green card” status), the USCIS requires that the results of an immigration physical be submitted in a sealed envelope. Only designated USCIS-approved “civil surgeons” may perform the examination, and complete Form I-693 Report of Physical Examination and Vaccination Record.

Cohen’s Helpful Hint 1: When going to your immigration physical, bring your vaccination records.

The doctor will advise you of any shots you may have to take in order to “pass” the physical examination. By bringing your vaccination history, you may will be spared needless needles in your arm (or elsewhere).

Cohen’s Helpful Hint 2: The doctor will conduct a TB test on your arm. You will have to return to the doctor’s office in 2 to 3 days to see if you have a positive reaction. So, make sure you will be available for the 2nd appointment.

If you test positive, the doctor will generally conduct a chest x-ray to see if there is evidence of active tuberculosis

Cohen’s Helpful Hint 3: Do not open the sealed envelope – but ask the medical office for copies for your own records.

The USCIS requires that the immigration physical be sealed by the doctor, only to be opened by an immigration officer as part of the USCIS processing of your adjustment of status application. Ask the doctor’s office for a copy of the completed, signed, I-693 and test results for your own records before they place the originals in the sealed envelope. Some medical office staff may tell you that they cannot give you a copy, due to it being “confidential.” That is misguided and wrong. The reason for the requirement that the results be placed in a sealed envelope is to ensure that it is not tampered with prior to submission to the USCIS. You have every right to your own medical records. Having a copy of the completed form and test results prior to submitting the adjustment application is important, as on occasion the form is not properly completed. I always ask my clients to bring a copy of their “medicals” to make sure the form is not missing any key entries or signatures, as a missed entry or signature on the form can delay or seriously jeopardize your green card application.

 Fort Myers Immigration Physical

List of Immigration Physical Doctors in the Fort Myers Area

Below, in no particular order is a list of Civil Surgeons in the Fort Myers area. The information was collected from the USCIS civil surgeon locator on 01/15/2013. Inclusion in the list below does not constitute my endorsement of any particular office:

Dr. Darel R Morris, Morris Medical Weight Loss Center
2621 Cleveland Avenue, Ft. Myers, FL 33901
(239) 418-0775

Dr. Emmanuel Eloi, Sunshine Medical
2711 Park Windsor Drive, Suite 310, Ft. Myers, FL 33901
(239) 274-2001

Dr. James Taylor, Family Health Centers of Southwest Florida
3594 Broadway Avenue, Ft. Myers, FL 33901
(239) 278-3600

Dr. Donita I. Dobson, Family Health Centers
2256 Heitman Street, Fort Myers, FL 33902
(239) 278-3600

Dr. Maria J. Villa, Family Health Centers
2256 Heitman Street, Fort Myers, FL 33902
(239) 278-3600

Dr. Francisco M. Vasquez
4595 Palm Beach Boulevard, Suite 1, Fort Myers, FL 33905
(239) 694-0533

Dr. Julio L Rodriguez, Doctor’s Family Clinic
4881 Palm Beach Boulevard, Suite 100, Fort Myers, FL 33905
(239) 693-9191

Dr. Javier E Sosa, Lighthouse Family Care
9400 Gladiolus Drive, Suite 50, Ft. Myers, FL 33908
(239) 437-7070

Dr. Jose Lopez-Gutierrez
8911 Daniels Parkway, Suite 7, Fort Myers, FL 33912
(239) 939-2200

Dr. Bharti S Lalla and Dr. Sunil N Lalla
14171 Metropolis Avenue, Suite 202, Ft. Myers, FL 33912
(239) 561-2202

Dr. Christine Mackie, Excellence Medical Centers, LLC
4406 SE 16th Place, Suite 104, Cape Coral, FL 33904
(239) 540-0800

Dr. Marta Fernandez, Del Prado Medical Center, Inc.
4419 Del Prado Boulevard South, Suite 4, Cape Coral, FL 33904
(239) 541-1095

Dr. Robert DiFronzo, Estero Island Medical Center
6875 Estero Boulevard, Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931
(239) 463-5741

Dr. Guillermo Navarte
1291 Broad Street, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936
(239) 580-8852

Dr. Ralph Ryback, The Medical Centre of Lehigh Acres, Inc.
1303 Homestead Road North, Suite 100, Lehigh Acres, FL 33936
(239) 303-2700

Need an experienced immigration attorney in Fort Myers? Call the Law Offices of Mitchell J. Cohen, P.A. for a consultation today.

Hallandale Beach Immigration Law Office:
1250 E Hallandale Beach Blvd
Suite 500
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Tel. (954) 457-1941
Fort Myers Immigration Law Office:
3620 Colonial Boulevard
Suite 160
Fort Myers, FL 33966
Tel. (239) 931-6558

 

 

This article is intended for general informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice.

What Happens at 333 South Miami Avenue (Immigration Court)?

By Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire

333 South Miami Avenue

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

333 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33130 is the home of the Miami Immigration Court, which handles deportation and deportation-type proceedings for South Florida area (the 8th Floor houses social security). There are also detention facilities which have immigration courts embedded within them, such as the Krome Processing Center in Miami, and the Broward Transitional Center (BTC) in Pompano Beach. The Miami Immigration Court also handles IHP (“Institutional Hearing Program”) removal proceedings, generally on the 7th floor of the building. IHP involves persons who are still serving their criminal sentences in jail. Their removal proceedings are handled through a closed-circuit television system.

The building opens at 7:30 AM, and there is a parking lot adjoining the building, which charges $20 cash. Be dressed appropriately. Security at the building’s entrance asks for identification, and scan one’s belongings through an x-ray machine. Then you step through a metal detector. Leave any sharp objects in your car. Do not bring any matches or lighters. If you are scheduled for a hearing, it is important to give yourself plenty of time to find the court building, park, and to get through security. It is a common occurrence for people to get ordered deported in their absence (“in absentia”) when they fail to show up on time for their Immigration Court hearing.

The lobby has some seating and a bank of elevators. There is also a list of judges and their courtrooms posted nearby. If your notice of hearing lists Room 700, that is the clerk’s office. Go to the 7th Floor, and ask the clerk at the window which courtroom to go to. An alternative, is to call (800) 898-7180 the automated information system, press #1, then enter your alien number (also known as an “A” number – it is on your notice to appear and notice of hearing and is an 8 or 9 digit number beginning). Press #1 again, and hopefully you will be told the time, date, and place of your immigration court hearing (including the Immigration Judge’s name). Still yet another method of obtaining information about your hearing is to call the clerk’s office at (305) 789-4221, and give them your alien number.

Here is a guide to the floors of 333 South Miami Avenue:

Floor 1: Lobby
Floors 2 and 3: Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of the Chief Counsel (a/k/a “Trial Attorney Unit” or more informally “Immigration Prosecutor’s Office)
Floors 4-7: Immigration Judges’ Courtrooms
Floor 7: Clerk’s Office (“Room 700”)
Floor 8: Social Security Administration

On each of the floors where there are courtrooms, there are waiting rooms by the elevators. Inside the waiting rooms on the wall are listed each judge’s docket for the day (list of individuals and their hearing times). Make sure you are in the judge’s courtroom by the time your hearing is scheduled to begin. Silence or turn off your cell phone before entering the courtroom. Do not chew gum in court. Keep noise at a minimum. When the judge walks into or out of the courtroom, the proper protocol is to stand up.

If you are unrepresented, you should show the judge’s judicial assistant your hearing notice, so you are entered on a list of those present waiting to be called. Once your name is called, you will sit down at the “respondent’s table.” A respondent is the immigration court equivalent of a “defendant”. At a minimum, you will be asked to confirm your name, address, and telephone number.

Given the fact that U.S. immigration law is extremely complicated and harsh, it is generally a terrible idea to attempt to represent yourself in immigration court, even “a little.” The best time to hire an immigration attorney is well before your first hearing. Statements or admissions that you make about seemingly inconsequential things may inflict serious damage to your defense. Even acknowledging that you were born outside of the U.S., or that you were “properly served” with the notice to appear, or admitting that you committed a crime, may advance the government’s case against you. An unrepresented person may ask the immigration judge for a “continuance” (postponement) to find an attorney. If you are unrepresented at the initial master calendar hearing, the judge should ask you if you want time to find an attorney or if you wish to represent yourself. A polite affirmative request from a respondent seeking time to find an attorney may be “Your Honor, may I please have some time to find an attorney?” The judge may, at his or her own discretion, then reschedule your hearing to a later date, at which point you will be expected to appear with your attorney. The decision to grant or deny the request for time to find an attorney is up to the immigration judge. Therefore, it is best to have your immigration attorney from the start. The judge is much less likely to grant a second request for a continuance to find an attorney. If the continuance is granted, you will be warned about the consequences of failing to appear at your next hearing, and handed a hearing notice. You will also be handed a change of address form (Form EOIR-33C). Any address change must be filed with the clerk’s office (7th Floor), and a copy served on the Office of the Chief Counsel (2nd Floor).

Depending on the nature and individual facts of your case, you may have several immigration court hearings over the course of several months or even in some cases years. Typically the early phase of the hearing involves the immigration prosecutor trying to establish that you are subject to deportation from the United States. In some cases it may be possible for your immigration lawyer get the proceedings terminated based on defects in the notice to appear (the charging document) or based on effectively contesting the substance of the charge(s). Should the government prevail on that issue, then the next issue is what if any immigration relief you qualify for. If the Immigration Judge finds that you are eligible to apply for relief, he or she will require the filing of the application(s) and supporting documentation, and conduct one or more hearings on the application(s), where testimony of witnesses will generally be presented. At the conclusion, the Immigration Judge will rule on the merits of case.

In 1922 the Supreme Court noted that deportation “may result in loss of both property and life, or of all that makes life worth living.” For a person in Immigration Court proceedings the stakes are extremely high, as a deportation order may effectively mean permanent exile from United States. That is why it is very important to hire a good, experienced immigration attorney.

Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire has law offices in Fort Myers and Hallandale Beach, and has extensive experience representing clients in Immigration Court.

Hallandale Beach Immigration Law Office: 1250 E. Hallandale Beach Blvd., Ste. 500, Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Tel. (954) 457-1941

Fort Myers Immigration Law Office: 3620 Colonial Avenue, Ste. 160, Fort Myers, FL 33966.
Tel. (239) 931-6558

www.greencardcohen.com

This article is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice nor should it be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

Important Information Regarding Immigration Detainees the Broward Transitional Center (BTC)

By Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire
12/15/2012

 

Broward Transitional Center

The Broward Transitional Center (“BTC”) is a detention facility that houses – among other individuals – immigration detainees that the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is in the process of attempting to deport. Some of the individuals detained have final orders of deportation, whereas others may have pending Immigration Court proceedings. BTC is currently managed by a private company, the GEO Group. There is an Immigration Court located within the facility, where removal proceedings are held. Immigration detainees at the facility may be eligible for a bond or order of supervision, depending on the circumstances of their case.

The facility’s address is: Broward Transitional Center, 3900 North Powerline Road, Pompano Beach, FL 33073. Tel. (954) 973-4485. ICE’s main telephone number within the facility is (954) 236-4900. The ICE Supervisory Deportation Officer in charge of the facility can be reached at (954) 545-6060. Detainees cannot receive incoming calls, however, ICE states that a person may leave an “urgent message” for a detainee by calling (954) 973-4485, making sure to “leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number and your name and telephone number where you can be reached.” A short guide by ICE about the facility and its policies is located at http://www.ice.gov/doclib/dro/facilities/pdf/wccpbfl.pdf. Some of the information, may be dated. For example, immigration bonds may now be additionally posted at the Miramar “ERO,” located at 2805 SW 145th Ave., Miramar, FL 33037 (tel. 954 – 843-5800).

The currently published hours of visitation for friends and family are Mondays through Fridays, 8 AM to 9 PM. I recommend that you call the facility first before visiting, to make sure that the person you wish to visit is there, and that he will be available to see at the time you wish to visit. There are frequent “head counts,” and other routines in the facility which could interfere with your visit.

If you receive a call from a friend or family member who is in immigration custody, it is a very good idea to ask them the following questions, in order to be able to locate them “in the system”:

Where are you (name and address of the facility)?

What is your alien number? (If a foreign national (a/k/a “alien”) has not been previously assigned an alien number (a/k/a “A number”), he will be once he is in custody and processed by ICE. Sometimes a person will be assigned more than one alien number over the course of his or her life. Having the person’s alien number will greatly facilitate locating the person in the system and obtaining critical information about pending or prior Immigration Court proceedings. A detainee will often have a wrist band with the alien number printed on it. The alien number will have the format A__ __ __ – ___ ___ – ___ ___ ___ (for example: A012 345 678). Sometimes the number may have only 8 digits.

What is the exact spelling of the name that you are detained under?

What is your date of birth?

What country does ICE have you listed as a native of?

Have you been issued a bond?

Do you have an upcoming Immigration Court hearing?

When talking on the phone to a detainee at the facility, be aware that the calls are monitored.

With an alien number, it is possible to call the Immigration Court automated telephone system to find out about an upcoming hearing or the date, place and outcome of concluded Immigration Court proceedings. That telephone number is (800) 898-7180. Another source of information about a detainee’s Immigration Court proceedings is the Krome Processing Center Immigration Court, which has administrative control over the BTC Immigration Court. Krome Immigration Court’s Clerk’s Office can be reached at (786) 422-8700.

Immigration detainees who over the age of 18 might be located using the ICE “Online Detainee Locator System,” located at https://locator.ice.gov/odls/searchByName.do.
If you have a friend or family member in immigration custody, it is generally critical that they obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Unlike a defendant in criminal proceedings, there is no equivalent of a “public defender” for people in deportation or removal proceedings. Immigration Court hearings for those in immigration custody occur very swiftly, and the respondents in these proceedings are often not given very much time to secure an attorney. As a result, many end up representing themselves, usually with catastrophic results. Others may already have orders of deportation or removal (sometimes entered in absentia, that they were not even aware of). In some cases, it is possible to motion the Immigration Court or Board of Immigration Appeals to reopen the deportation or removal proceedings, and eliminate the order of deportation before the Deportation Officer accomplishes a detainee’s deportation.

I have been successful in securing the release of many individuals who were detained in Immigration custody, and obtaining durable Immigration relief for many clients through litigation in Immigration Court.  If you have a friend or family member detained at BTC, Krome, or other immigration detention facility, call me at my law office, Mitchell J. Cohen, P.A., 1250 E Hallandale Beach Blvd., Ste. 500, Hallandale Beach, Florida 33009. Tel. (954) 457-1941.   Fort Myers Law Office: 3620 Colonial Boulevard, Suite 160, Fort Myers, Florida 33966.   Tel. (239) 931-6558.   www.greencardcohen.com.
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Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

5 Common Immigration Interview Mistakes to Avoid

By Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

1. Showing up late (or not showing up at all).

If you are not on time for your USCIS appointment there is a good possibility that your application will be denied. A good idea is to do a test drive to the USCIS Office before your interview date, to make sure that you know the route. Failure to appear at your interview normally is deemed to be an abandonment of your application. Give yourself plenty of driving extra time to make allowances for traffic and lines getting through security at the building. Leave sharp objects, liquids, lighters and matches in the car.

2. Not bringing original documents.

The immigration officer conducting your interview will normally ask to see the original of copies you submitted with your petition or application. For residency cases based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, this will include a certified copy of the marriage certificate, certified copies of any divorces decrees, certified copy of birth certificate of applicant, the original U.S. passport or certificate of naturalization of the U.S. Citizen spouse or certified copy of U.S. state-issued birth certificate. Any certification must come from the official records custodian (for example, the clerk of court). In most cases, the Immigration Officer will want to see the passport that the applicant entered the United States on, and I-94 card, if any. The immigration officer also likes to see the original birth certificates of any children born of the marriage. He or she may also ask to see the originals of the copies you may have submitted demonstrating the bona fides (good faith nature) of your marriage, so have a set of originals of these as well (photos featuring the couple, driver licenses, joint bank statements, lease agreement, etc.) If you have been arrested or cited for a crime, certified copies of the arrest report, and court documents including the disposition will be requested by the immigration officer.

Failure to bring an original (or certified copy) may result in a delay in the processing of your case, or worse, a denial of your case if the officer is not in a charitable mood. If you have lost or cannot find one of your original documents do go to the interview however, as failure to show up will usually result in an automatic denial. I recommend that you try to bring to the appointment evidence that you have requested a replacement original or certified copy.

3. Not bringing an interpreter (if one of the interviewees is not fluent in English).

The USCIS does not provide interpreters for their interviews. The agency requires you to bring your own interpreter. Husbands and wives cannot interpret for one another. Attorneys are not allowed to interpret for their clients. If the immigration officer is having difficulty communicating with a petitioner or applicant because of a language barrier, he or she may reschedule the interview, or worse yet, deny the petition or application.

4. Being unprepared.

The old adage “if you fail to prepare you prepare to fail” rings very true in the area of immigration interviews. Like in any important test in life, those who are prepared are more likely to succeed, whereas those who fail to prepare may be walking into a nightmare scenario. Failing to bring enough proof of the marriage may result in the immigration officer having serious doubts about the marriage, and conduct a separation marriage interview, in which each spouse is interrogated separately, and their responses looked over with a fine tooth comb, looking for any discrepancies in the answers. An unprepared applicant’s answers to seemingly harmless questions may result in a denial (and even placement in removal proceedings). Many applicants are unpleasantly surprised when they find they are being asked questions that the officer has about previous applications they filed with immigration. In fact, an officer will deny a marriage petition if he or she determines that a previous marriage was entered into solely for immigration purposes. Some applicants have outstanding orders of deportation or removal that they do not even know about and may face arrest at the interview. Others do not understand the implications of their arrest or admissions to crimes. These may completely disqualify the applicant from the benefit sought, or require a waiver to be filed and approved in order to obtain residency.

5. Not realizing that the immigration officer is a human being.

Immigration officers are human, and they experience the same range of human emotions as the rest of us, including frustration and annoyance. When someone goes to an immigration interview and is giving non-responsive answers, or spends the majority of the interview digging through bags looking for documents, the officer’s level of frustration may increase – which in turn may increase your chances of being denied. Attending an important interview by a USCIS officer is a formal matter, and one should dress appropriately for the interview (translation: no flip-flops or shorts). That way, the immigration officer will at least see that the interviewees are taking the interview seriously.

Given the perils, high stakes and complexities involved in a residency (adjustment of status) application, it is a wise idea to be represented at every stage of the process – including the immigration interview – by a competent attorney well versed in immigration law.

Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).  This article is general in nature and should not be construed as legal advice for any particular matter. Looking for an Immigration Attorney in Hallandale Beach or Fort Myers areas?  Call the law offices of Mitchell J. Cohen, P.A.

Hallandale Beach Immigration Law Office:
Mitchell J. Cohen, P.A.
1250 E Hallandale Beach Blvd., Ste. 500
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Tel. (954) 457 – 1941
Fort Myers Immigration Law Office:
Mitchell J. Cohen, P.A.
3620 Colonial Boulevard
Fort Myers, FL 33966
Tel. (239) 931-6558

 

www.greencardcohen.com
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7 Tips for Making the Most out of Your Immigration Lawyer Initial Consultation

By Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire

immigration lawyer

Attorney Mitchell J. Cohen

1. When you call to make the appointment, advise the law office if the case is an emergency. For example, if you received a decision denying your application or petition, or ordering you removed from the United States, time is usually of the essence. Likewise, if you are scheduled for an immigration interview or immigration court hearing in the near future, you should make that known to the office when scheduling an appointment.

2. Bring any immigration receipts, notices, and decisions, and any copies of documents filed with immigration (USCIS, Immigration Court, ICE, CBP, BIA, AAO, State Department, etc.)

3. Bring (if you have): your passport(s), I-94 card(s), permanent resident card(s), employment authorization card(s). It is also a good idea to bring your birth certificate, marriage certificate, divorce decree(s),

4. If you have ever been arrested or cited for a crime, bring copies of the arrest report or citation and the disposition of the case(s).

5. If you are coming about a relative’s immigration case, bring as many of the above-listed documents as you can.

6. If you are coming to meet the attorney about someone who is detained in criminal or immigration custody, try to see about getting that person’s alien registration number (also known as “Alien number” or “A number”), date of birth, correct spelling of name under which he or she is detained. Ask where the person is being detained, and whether he or she has an upcoming hearing, and if so when. If s/he has a criminal attorney, get the name and telephone number of that attorney as well. Be aware that when talking to an individual in detention the communications are generally monitored.

7. Its often helpful to write down your questions/concerns and bring them to the consultation for your own reference, so you don’t forget to bring them up with the attorney.

By following these suggestions you will have a more thorough and effective consultation with an immigration attorney. The more relevant background information you are able to provide me, the better position I am to evaluate your case. In the words of Jerry McGuire, it will “help me help you.” To schedule an immigration legal consultation at my Hallandale Beach law office, call (954) 457-1941. For my Fort Myers law office, call (239) 931-6558. I look forward to hearing from you.

Mitchell J. Cohen, Esquire

Hallandale Beach Law Office:
1250 E Hallandale Beach Blvd.
Suite 500
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Tel. (954) 457-1941
Fort Myers Law Office:
3620 Colonial Boulevard
Suite 160
Fort Myers, FL 33966
Tel. (239) 931-6558