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ILLINOIS OFFICE (CHICAGO AREA): 847-786-2599
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1 EAST WASHINGTON STREET, SUITE 500, PHOENIX, ARIZONA 85004

Texas Office : (281)-674-7658
10777 Westheimer Road, Suite 1100 Houston, Texas 77042

Vietnam Office:
Floor 8, Le Meridien Building 3C Ton Duc Thang Street District 1, Ho Chi Minh City

Knowing My Rights at The U.S. Border (PART 2)

This blog is a continuation of the previous with answers to questions regardings your rights.

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These questions are answered by three U.S. immigration and privacy law experts: Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney from the ACLU, Danielle Rizzo and Leslie Holman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Can My Belongings be Inspected?

Yes.  Everyone travelling into the United States of America must go through a luggage check as well as have their possessions inspected.  Prohibited items such as fruits and vegetables may be seized and destroyed.

Can Electronic Devices Be Searched?

There is no special preference when it comes to bag searching.  Regardless if you are U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident your phone, laptop computer and any other mobile devices can be checked.  For example a NASA engineer by the name of Sidd Bikkannavar was halted on January 31, 2017 by CBP officers and was asked for his phone and PIN to access his phone.

Note that border officers are allowed to browse through your phone and your laptop.  The government can also copy the data on your devices.  Presently, the courts are battling with this issue as it may seem like a violation of rights and privacy.  Wessler states that in 2013 a federal court ruled out that if border agents wanted to orchestrate a “forensic search” they have to suspect that you are a criminal.

According to Custom Border Patrols, electronic devices can be searched for various reasons.  If your name matches a person of interest, your devices could be checked for this simple reason, or it could be a casual search.

Can CBP Agents Request My Social Media Profiles?

Yes.  Legal Permanent Residents and Born Americans may be required to provide their social media information.  While this may feel like a violation of your rights you can always contact an immigration attorney for advice before migrating to the U.S.  “It’s a really tricky area to determine,” Rizzo comments.  Wessler agrees: “The state of the law is so unsettled because the government claims such broad power at the border.”

Back in December of 2016, the United States government started asking certain visitors access to social media profiles.  Though immigrants can willfully render their social media information, it is now included within a form that visiting immigrants from specific countries such as France, Spain, and the UK.

Can your Electronic Devices Be Held?

Your electronic devices such as your phone or laptop can be held for further inspection which may also mean your data may be copied.

Avoid being in a situation whereby your phone is confiscated.  Rizzo commented that “If you don’t want it searched, don’t carry it across the border.”  Wessler’s advice is similar: “The best advice may be to really be careful on how many devices and what kind of data you’re carrying with you.”  Regarding devices, the government cannot search what you do not have available.  It is better to leave your electronic devices at home.  Another, option is to store your data to a secure server, and clean out your information from your devices and then restore the data after passing through customs, commented Wessler.  However, this could raise suspicions at the border and put you in serious trouble.

Visiting the United States has not become any easier for foreigners since the change of U.S. presidency and the establishment of the new executive order.

Consult an Immigration Attorney

If you are concerned about travelling to the U.S. it is better to consult with an immigration attorney.  Contact The Gambacorta Law Office at 847-786-2599 for a consultation at any of the locations in Arizona, Illinois, Hawaii, and Texas.

Knowing My Rights at The U.S. Border (PART 1)

Since the new transition of U.S. Presidency and the executive travel ban that was signed by President Donald Trump, many Legal Permanent Residents, and U.S. citizens are in a panic and afraid that they may be searched by immigration custom officers when entering the U.S. border.  People everywhere are asking questions like: Can custom agents arrest you at border checkpoints or airports? Can the officers search through your electronic gadgets if you have any in your possession?  Will you be penalized if you refuse undergoing a thorough check of your phone and computers?

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Here are some of the answers to your questions as stated by three U.S. immigration and privacy law experts: Nathan Freed Wessler, a staff attorney from the ACLU, Danielle Rizzo and Leslie Holman of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Can I be detained or inspected at the U.S. Border?

Yes.  It does not matter, whether you are a Legal Permanent Resident or a U.S. citizen or in the U.S. with a temporary visa.  Customs and Border Protection agents are authorized to stop any foreigner entering the U.S.  This is randomly done in order to obtain more information about you so a decision can be made whether you are to be allowed into the country.  Immigration expert Holman stated that even if you enter the United States under any temporary visa, CBP officers will ultimately decide your admissibility into the U.S.

Are My Legal Rights The Same in Other Places?

No.  According to the Fourth Amendment designed to protect individuals from being interrogated and arrested without raising any suspicions about a crime that was committed.  This approach may not be applicable at the border, as commented by Rizzo.

Am I Entitled to an Immigration Attorney?

Getting the assistance of an immigration lawyer may be dependent on whether you are a U.S. citizen.  The ACLU advises that all U.S. citizens are allowed to have an attorney available when going through an interrogation.

Non-citizens of the United States of America are not granted the opportunity to have a lawyer present detained for further questioning unless if the immigration customs officer discovers that the traveling immigrant has a criminal record.

Once the asking of questions goes beyond the basics; then every foreigner deserves the right to have an attorney present.

Are CBP Agents Authorized to Confiscate My U.S. Green Card?

No, CBP officer can demand that you sign a form that will have you disown your U.S. Permanent Resident Status.  According to Rizzo, in most cases (except if you have a criminal record and you are under the deportation process) U.S. Green Card holders have the right to an attorney and a court hearing before an immigration judge.  This way you can return to the U.S. to wait for your hearing.

Consult an Immigration Attorney

If you are concerned about traveling to the U.S. it is better to consult with an immigration attorney.  Contact The Gambacorta Law Office at 847-786-2599 for a consultation at any of our locations in Arizona, Illinois, Hawaii, and Texas.

Replacing a U.S. Green Card that has been Lost in the Mail

After completing your interview and receiving approval, you are given a document stating that your green card will be mailed to you after making the U.S. Green Card payment.  After waiting three months you observe that you have still have not received your U.S. Green Card.  What should you do?

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By this time you should consider your U.S. green card lost.  If this occurs you can still get your Green Card but you need to be prepared to apply for a replacement card and pay the filing fee again.  According to the USCIS if you did not receive your U.S. green card in the mail at the address you gave USCIS, then you must pay the entire application fee again.

Contact an immigration attorney to help you follow through with the right procedure.  Follow the steps below if your U.S. green card was lost in the mail.

Step One: Submit a Police Report

 Before starting the replacement procedure, it is required that you file your green card as lost.  This will safeguard your identity so that if anyone finds your green card they cannot use it.  You might prefer just to call the police over the phone, but it is better to visit the nearest police department in person to file a report, so you can provide them with the necessary documents.  Failure to give the police the needed information will only hinder you in proceeding with the application process.

Step Two: Gather Every Piece of Supporting Documentation

Collect supporting documents for the replacement application. Gather this documentation early on in the process so as to avoid any setback.  Some documents to collect are listed below:

  • A detailed account describing how your U.S. green card was lost in the mail.
  • Copies of your birth certificate, passport, and driver’s license.
  • Two passports sized photos
  • A copy of the document showing your approval of U.S. green card.
  • Copies of other authorized documentation.

The faster you are able to get these copies the sooner you are able to process your application form.

Step Three: Contact U.S. Consulate and the USCIS.

Not only is it important to contact the police but you also will need to contact the U.S. Consulate and the USCIS about your missing green card.  You will be asked to provide them with information specific to your application process, approval location and your Form I-90.

If you happen to be traveling and your green card is lost, it is vitally important to reach out to the nearest embassy, USCIS office or consulate.

Step Four: Filing an Application to Replace your Permanent Resident Card.

After you have submitted your police report, gathered all of your documents and notified the correct immigration office you are then ready to apply for a new green card.  You will need to file a Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card.  A lawful permanent resident must complete to parts of the Form I-90 each various sections.

Part One: Personal Information about the applicant.  Information about you such as address, name, gender, date and place of birth, alien registration number and information about both parents will be required.

Part Two: Category of application.  You must choose and stated why you are submitting application.  For example you can say your U.S. green card was stolen, misplaced, destroyed, issued but it got lost in the mail, etc.

As frustrating as it may be having to apply to replace a U.S. Green Card that was lost in the mail, do not apply alone. To avoid another mishap, speak with a U.S. immigration attorney so you can receive the appropriate advice and guidance.

Speak with an Immigration Attorney

Contact The Gambacorta Law Office today at 847-786-2599 for a consultation at any of our locations in the Arizona, Hawaii, Illinois and Texas.

Steps Needed to Ensure a Smooth International Adoption

Thousands of children in foreign countries are adopted each year by United States citizens. The process to make this happen can be daunting to the couples who are investigating this method of making a family.

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The safety of the child is of primary concern to the countries involved, but there are also laws in place to protect both the adopting parents and the birth parents. Once an international or intercountry adoption is decided upon, there are steps that need to be taken – some of which can be set in motion even before the child is chosen.

How to Begin

The first step in the process should be for the prospective parents to familiarize themselves with the laws governing international adoption. There are three sets of laws that must be considered:

  • US Federal Adoption laws
  • Laws of the country the prospective child lives in
  • The laws governing adoption in the state or territory the parent lives in

When the parent investigates these laws, they will encounter a multitude of potential challenges. There may be some requirement of the foreign country that might somehow preclude the adoption from taking place. That is why investigating all the laws is necessary, and why retaining a lawyer experienced with this process is a wise first step.

The Hague Convention

Many adoptions of this type are overseen by two entities: The Hague convention and The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services Department. The Hague Adoption Convention has been agreed to by 75 countries, and choosing to go with this group of countries may make for a smoother adoption process.

The adoptee must be under 16 years of age when the adopting petition form is filed out and must reside in a country that is part of the Hague convention. The child must be determined by the country of origin to be eligible for adoption and must have all the necessary consents from that country. There is a list of qualifications that the prospective parent must also fulfill in the Hague adoption process.

It is still possible to adopt outside the Hague’s auspices. This is called a non-Hague or orphan adoption. In this case, the child must either have lost both parents or have one parent that feels they can no longer provide for their child’s well-being, along with other qualifications.

Choose an Adoption Agency

The prospective parent should choose an adoption agency that is authorized to conduct services for a Hague adoption if they choose this route. Even with an authorized agency, it is still important to enlist the help a lawyer for this process. An experienced lawyer will be able to represent you in any matter before the USCIS department concerning the adoption; the agency chosen cannot.

Once the agency is chosen, they will arrange for a home study. This process will be used to determine the suitability of the adopting person or persons. After interviews and background checks, a home study document will be provided and needs to be submitted to the USCIS as part of the list of requirements and forms that need to be completed before an adoption is possible.

The long journey isn’t over even once the adoption becomes official. An adopted child will not immediately gain U.S. citizenship upon adoption – a visa is issued first and citizenship comes later. The transition from visa holder to U.S. citizen is yet another reason for hiring an experienced immigration attorney.

A successful adoption will undoubtedly be a dream come true for both parent(s) and child, but the process can pose a serious challenge for those who don’t have intimate knowledge of the laws and processes.  The Gambacorta Law Firm has successfully represented many adoptive parents in the field of international adoption and can be there for others with the same dream. Contact us today to find out how we can help you in your quest to build a family through adoption.