When a Non-US Citizen Needs to Hire Both an Immigration & Criminal Attorney…Is it Possible to Hire Two for the Price of One?

In short, the answer is yes! But it’s not a ‘simple’ yes as explained below. A non-U.S. citizen residing in the United States is always subject to severe immigration consequences whenever facing criminal charges such as larceny, drug use (including marijuana), or driving under the influence.

As an illustration, a student who is in F-1 status for his or her graduate program makes the mistake of getting in their car for a short drive home after having a couple drinks.  The blue lights flash, and next thing…he or she is detained and charged with a DUI. To complicate things, the student’s I-20 just expired and the new I-20 was set to issue in the next few days. As standard, ICE Enforcement & Removal Office (‘ERO’) scans the State criminal charges for the day, and discovers graduate student. A Federal detainer is then placed on student by ICE-ERO.

First and foremost, the student should promptly accept the offer by the State Judge for a Public Defender ‘free’ of charge as a matter of law.  In contrast, immigration lawyers are not free and seasoned immigration lawyers who can actually navigate the cross section of immigration and criminal law are rare and costly.

As soon as a Public Defender is assigned for free, the student would hire an experienced Immigration attorney to defend against removal/deportation and the possibility of a permanent bar to reentry to the United States.  Once the student hires immigration counsel committed to working closely with the Public Defender for every step of the criminal case, the result is ‘two lawyers hired for the price of on!!  The graduate student would pay for one lawyer, but have both immigration and criminal counsel retained for his or her complex legal defense.

ScottVassell Lawyers have years of experience in Crimmigration law (the combination of immigration and criminal law matters). All attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association-AILA.  For detained clients, same day appointments are scheduled with our lawyers whenever possible for an initial no fee consultation.

We serve immigration clients across the United States & globally from our offices located in Washington D.C, Virginia and Maryland. As a full-service immigration practice, we not only represent cases in Immigration courts, but also have over 22 years of experience in representing businesses, entrepreneurs, investors, individuals and families U.S. visa case matters. You may schedule an appointment by emailing info@vasselllaw.com; or visit  us at www.vasselllaw.com.

(Initial 20 minute Free Video or In Office Consultations Available upon Request).

Does Your Immigration Lawyer Have The Deer In The Headlight Look?

Does your immigration lawyer look at you like a ‘deer who has been caught in headlights’ when asked about the following immigration solutions discussed below? If so, you may need to get a second opinion in one of the most complex areas of law in the United States… Immigration law matters.

If you want to learn more about these solutions…Keep Reading!!

Our Immigration legal team believes finding legal solutions for our clients is highly complex and seriously impacts lives when a solution is overlooked. As a result, our law firm has limited our law practice to U.S. Immigration matters for almost two decades.

Here we share a checklist from our law firm that lists some of the legal options you should review if you or someone you know is out of status, or has come into the country uninspected without a visa. Our purpose here is to  make you aware and spot issues with your immigration attorney.  Based on this list, I will go ahead and point out only a few of the legal options on this list for timesake. Okay, let’s get started!!

  1. Nicaraguan Act ( NACARA).  Also called the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act it was a relief available in the 1990s to certain Central and South Americans.  If an individual missed the application window, the good news is that the benefit is retroactive and you may still apply today for  NACARA based Permanent Resident Status if you lived here during the required time period.
  1. Child of a successful NACARA applicant. Even the child of a successful NACARA applicant who was a minor back in the 1990s, may be eligible for Permanent Resident Status based on his or her  parents successful application. This is a very powerful form of relief and should not be missed.
  1. Employment Sponsorship. This option allows a U.S. Employer who wants to sponsor an undocumented individual to do so in special circumstances.  However, a special waiver is required in order to except the years of unlawful presence in the United States. Employment is one of the most popular ways, next to family sponsorship, when an undocumented individual is looking for a path to Permanent Resident Status.
  1. Derivative Citizenship.
  1. U Visa where a crime was committed against non-resident in USA. If at anytime a crime is committed against an undocumented person residing in the United States, it is important to report the crime and cooperate with police authorities. Failure to do so will cause a victim of crime who is undocumented to miss out an avenue to receive permanent resident status with the help of a seasoned immigration lawyer. Don’t forget that sexual harassment and abuse is a crime and being undocumented does not mean you have to endure a crime being committed against you.
  1. Non pro tunc Motion to forgive falling out of status
  1. Family Sponsorship
  1. Asylum even if after one year requirement
  1. T Visa (Trafficking Visa).  Trafficking occurs in a variety of ways. If you have been hired as an au pair, diplomatic Visa helper, or any Visa where you are being forced to work way beyond the scope of specified job without additional pay, or you have been used to perform illegal activity against your will and under threat or duress..a T visa based ‘Green Card’ is a strong possibility not to be overlooked.
  1. Marriage to existing U.S. Fiance
  1. S Visa if you are a key witness and will cooperate with the legal authorities
  1. Self petitioning VAWA if you have been abused, abandoned & mistreated by U.S. spouse.
  1. Ineffective counsel. If an attorney has caused you to be out of status a remedy is possible.
  1. A National Interest Waiver is available if you have high level education or a cause you have pursued where you have impacted the United States public interest; and you have been recognized nationally or internationally for your contribution.

There are also the below Waivers to forgive criminal, unlawful presence, misrepresentation and so much more:

  1. I-601/I-601A Waiver
  1. Criminal Waivers

I hope this list can empower anyone who does not know where to begin in resolving his or her out of status issues. Schedule an appointment and meet with experienced legal counsel today. Even if your lawyer gives you the “deer in headlights” look, don’t give up; and seek another legal opinion elsewhere.

All of our lawyers are Members of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. We serve clients throughout the United States & Internationally from our offices based in Washington D.C., Maryland & Virginia. Thank you for (listening). This has been ScottVassell Law U.S. Immigration Minutes.

The Six Month Travel Game

Becoming a U.S. Permanent Resident of the United States is a very exciting accomplishment until you can’t find work, qualified affordable child care, or a close family member falls ill unexpectedly. These are a few of the reasons Permanent Residents often leave the United States for extensive periods of time despite the risk of abandoning their U.S. Permanent Resident Status.

Unfortunately, it is a myth that once a U.S. permanent resident you come back every six months there is no risk to being stripped of U.S. status by U.S. Customs Border & Patrol (“CBP”).

It’s important to note that the requirements to not lose one’s permanent resident status and the rules to apply eventually for Naturalization are very different. First, Permanent Residency requires a reentry permit, proof of continuous residence. Working with experienced immigration legal counsel is an essential step before relocating abroad for even  for a short period of time.

Naturalization, on the other hand, requires consideration of an N-470 to preserve time counting towards citizenship and the guidelines are very strict to be eligible for Citizenship after extended travel abroad. It is encouraged to always apply for I-131 reentry permit. However, to apply for citizenship one must demonstrate the following:

1) Resided continuously in the United States for at least 5 as a lawful permanent Resident;

2) Have resided for at least 3 months in the State or USCIS District where residency is claimed before filing for Citizenship (N-400);

3)Have resided continuously in the United States from the date of filing N-400 up to the time of administration of the Oath of Allegiance and Be physically present in the United States for at least 21/2 years at the time of filing Form N-400.

To balance and ensure that U.S. Immigration laws are satisfied when traveling abroad, always consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who will explain the overlapping and independent issues between ‘not abandoning’ U.S. Permanent Status and becoming ‘disqualified from’ applying for Naturalization Citizenship.

The Critical Link Between a Conditional Green Card and US Citizenship

The Critical Link between Conditional Green Card & Applying for U.S. Citizenship

The N-400 Application to become a U.S. Citizen can be a landmine for Permanent Residents who do not understand the critical link between the I-751 Removal of Conditions and Citizenship process. An N-400 Naturalization Application often resembles an audit. Hopefully, with the help of experienced immigration counsel you will file for Naturalization successfully without delay or surprise

Winning the H1-B Lottery

Recently, we had an individual who came to our office flabbergasted that despite winning the H-1B visa lottery; and getting a chance to legally work as a professional in the United States, she was ultimately denied a work visa.. Her biggest  mistake, was to prepare and file her visa application pro se without any guidance from legal counsel leaving her unaware of the unique ‘counting’ process essential for a successful grant of H-1B work visa status.

Keep Reading and I’ll explain:

In order for an H-1B visa application to be receipted and processed by the Department of Homeland Security  or DHS, a foreign national applicant must compete against thousands of applicants from all over the world for a limited number of visas under the H-1B cap. However, many individuals end up ‘giving away’ their visa ‘win’  by not properly counting and completing the beginning and end date of their H-1B visa application properly. Let me explain how this works:

The First step in applying for an H-1B visa is getting certified by the Department of Labor. This application  is called a Labor Condition Application ( known as LCA). However, it can be submitted no earlier than 183 days (approximately 6 months) before the start date of the job. Once the LCA is certified by DOL, the next step is to file the  I-129 H-1B visa application. But the calculation of dates on this form is different from the LCA to ensure the maximum allowable time on the visa.

Since these two applications have different counting requirements, it is important to note when completing the LCA and I-129 that while your start dates may be different, your ending dates must be the same. Ask your immigration attorney to explain and calculate these two separate forms to reconcile the  counting process in order to be approved for H-1B work visa status.

Well that’s it for now, H-1B visas continue to be the most popular and sought after work visa, and to stand a chance in winning the visa lottery, learn how to count your dates by consulting with legal counsel.

Our lawyers here at ScottVassell Law Group have over 21 years experience practicing immigration law, and we are a full service immigration law firm. We are also members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association. You may contact us at info@vasselllaw.com or visit www.vasselllaw.com to call the office nearest to you.

When Temporary Protection Status Is No longer an Option…Think PERM!

With the sunsetting of Work Authorization through Temporary Protected Status (TPS) fast approaching, thousands of employees will no longer be able to  legally work and remain in the United States. Several countries such as El Salvador and Honduras will no longer have TPS; and seeking new work and status options is essential.

TPS will be eliminated in 2019, leaving individuals who entered the U.S. without inspection undocumented. It is important to have a plan if you or someone you know is undocumented.  The good news is that U.S. employers may petition for his or her employee in TPS status with the assistance of experienced immigration legal counsel.  But first, the U.S. employer must complete a process called PERM. This is a labor certification program that is essentially a market test by the Department of Labor (DOL).

This market test is very involved and DOL guides the process and supervises as needed the U.S. employer.  The attorney’s role is to work with DOL and the U.S. employer to systematically work through each stage of the process, step by step.

The types of workers that are eligible to be sponsored by a U.S. employer include the following:

  •        Skilled Workers
  •        Unskilled Workers
  •        Professionals

To determine which category a job falls under, consult with legal counsel.  However, once the category is determined you and your lawyer will need to also complete the following steps:

  •        Check the Department of State (DOS) visa bulletin to see when your visa category

will be current

  •        Plan your PERM strategy taking into consideration status and visa expiration; along

with risk assessment;

  •        Discuss waivers such as I-601A required to overcome ‘entry without inspection’


While the above legal process is very time intensive and complex, your U.S. immigration lawyer with careful planning can guide the U.S. employer and employee through each step providing a strong viable option once TPS status is eliminate in 2019.

Our lawyers have over 21 years practicing immigration law, and we are a full service immigration law firm. As members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (AILA)  for over a decade, we keep abreast of fast pace new and emerging laws. This allows us to build stronger cases for our clients and determine how new laws can increase legal status options.

You may contact us at info@vasselllaw.com or visit www.vasselllaw.com to call the office nearest to you.

My Fiancée Visa I-129F is Approved What Next? And is There a Faster Way?


FINALLY!!! You’ve met your knight in shining armor or your Cinderella and you’re ready to get married. The only problem is that you live on opposite sides of the globe.  You may have heard of the K-1 fiancée visa, but you don’t know where to begin.  Or maybe, you managed to complete the I-129F for the K-1 visa and get approved, but wedding bells are still not a reality!

In this article, we will discuss the two steps of the K-1 fiancée process; and how to ensure the fastest processing times. We will also briefly dispel a couple myths regarding ‘faster’ alternatives to the K-1 fiancée process.

Step 1: A K-1 fiancée visa is filed by a U.S. citizen on behalf of future spouse.  The first step requires filing form I-129F. This form is filed within the U.S. at the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS).  Working with experienced immigration legal counsel is best when submitting the first step I-129F application to understand the approval process and prepare accordingly for the 2nd phase of the fiancée visa process.

Step 2: When an approval is received, the I-129F is then transferred from USCIS to the U.S. Consulate abroad. The U.S. Consulate requires another set of forms and fees to be completed, which can significantly delay the K-1 visa final approval, unless your U.S. immigration lawyer updates you in advance of the following: Any new requirements, fee structure, and any changes in forms required.

Once the Consulate sends the notice to the applicant, the applicants’ fiancée must then carefully complete all stages and steps before an interview is scheduled.

The fiancée should work closely with their U.S. Citizen petitioner and their lawyer to gather information and records needed to avoid unnecessary delays in Consulate interview being scheduled. Flush through any possible issues prior to meeting with the Consulate Officer who will make the final decisions on the K-1 fiancée visa. Once a successful interview is completed, a visa should be issued same day.


A Faster Way?

Processing time depends on a number of factors. However, it is important to dispel the following myths:

  1. We can just marry abroad, and a spouse visa will be much faster than the K-1 visa process. (i.e. K-3). This is false, as a non-immigrant spouse visa can often take longer, and the path to becoming a U.S. Permanent Resident becomes much more involved and expensive for the couple. Another myth…
  2. I know, if we use a different visa, such as a visitor B-1/B-2 it will be faster, and we can marry then. This is also false and may result in a finding of “fraudulent intent” by the U.S. Government when the couple applies for Permanent Resident Status in the United States.


Our attorneys are members of the American Immigration Lawyers’ Association (“AILA”) and have over 20 years of experience in U.S. Immigration matters. We are standing by to answer questions. We serve clients through the United States and abroad representing K-1 Fiancée visas, U.S. Consulate Representation, K-3 visas for married couple, ESTA, Visa waivers, Adjustment of Status, I-485, I-864 Support Affidavit, Appeals, Motions to Reopen, Motions to Reconsider, I-751, Waivers, VAWA, U visas & Removal of Condition Applications.


Our offices are located in Washington D.C, Virginia and Maryland. You may email info@vasselllaw.com or visit www.vasselllaw.com. (Phone and Video Consultations Available upon Request).