Danielle Murphy

My Wonderful Year on the J-1 Work and Travel Program

By Danielle Murphy

In October 2013, I boarded a plane for JFK International Airport to spend a year in New York as part of a yearlong J-1 Work and Travel internship program. Leaving my family and friends behind in Ireland was heart breaking, but I couldn’t contain my excitement as the fasten seatbelt sign came on.

It was only a couple of months before then, that I decided to apply for a visa to the USA and after doing research online and talking to other participants, I decided to apply to the Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) in Boston as my sponsor. The application process was seamless, and the IIIC was easy to work with. I appreciated the personal treatment I got from the outset, and always had a contact at the IIIC who immediately responded to any of my questions.

Arriving in the states was daunting. It was an exciting time, but also pretty overwhelming. I had made a list of companies I was interested in applying to, got in touch with any contacts I had in New York, and joined various networking groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

After a couple of interviews, I received a job offer from the Bank of America as a Personal Banker. As part of my internship program, I completed a three- month comprehensive training session in Financial Sales and Services. Not only was I increasing my knowledge of the banking industry, I was also developing my personal skill set and ingraining myself in American culture. My colleagues made me feel so incredibly welcome.

When my training period ended, I was expected to meet various sales goals and targets. For the first quarter of 2014, I became the Top Performer for my region. I continued this momentum, kept building my skills, and developed relationships with my customers, colleagues and management. Besides the amazing professional experience, Bank of America gave me fantastic opportunities to experience American culture. I attended a New York Yankees game, visited the Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park for ice skating, and participated in a Bank of America fun run.

It is without doubt that the year I spent on my J-1 Visa in New York was an invaluable experience. It stands out on my resume and is a great talking point at employment interviews. On the personal level - it was one of the best years of my life! I made lifelong friends, travelled, and got to stay in the liveliest city in the world!

To anyone thinking about coming to the USA on a J-1 Work and Travel visa I say: DO IT, and do it through the Irish International Immigrant Center. It can be scary, but rest assured, you would look back on it as one of the best decisions you ever made!

IIIC Welcomes Tony Marino

 

The Irish International Immigrant Center (IIIC) recently welcomed a new addition to its Legal Services staff. Attorney Tony Marino specializes in immigration law and will be working alongside our other staff attorneys and participating in the IIIC weekly community legal clinics.

Tony holds both a Master’s degree in International Relations and a law degree from Boston University. While in law school, Tony volunteered as a student attorney at the B.U. Immigration clinic program and developed an intense interest in this area of the law. He entered private practice in 2010 at Joyce and Associates, a prominent Boston firm concentrating in immigration law.

Tony is drawn to the work of the IIIC because of the opportunity to serve the broader needs of the immigrant community in Boston and he is especially enthusiastic to be part of the office and community legal clinics offered weekly by the IIIC. In anticipation of some changes in immigration law in the coming year, Tony expects to be quite busy in his new position.

On the personal level, Tony identifies himself as a computer “nerd” but he also enjoys cycling and building bicycles from “scratch.”

The IIIC welcomes Tony and the legal expertise he brings with him!

Executive Action / Deferred Action Benefits Advisory

There has been much discussion over the last week about the President’s announcement of Executive Action. The term “deferred action” may not be familiar to many folks, and thus, it is unclear what sort of benefits one would get by applying for it. If you are eligible, there are a number of factors that we recommend you consider:

1. Deportation Protection: Deferred action is an acknowledgment by the U.S. Government that it knows you are in the U.S., and it has chosen not to deport you. Someone with deferred action is protected from deportation.

2. Employment authorization: The most visible benefit of this status is that it comes with employment authorization. When applying for deferred action, you will also submit an application for employment authorization, and if deferred action is granted, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services will send you an employment authorization card.

3. Social Security: With the employment authorization card, you can apply for a Social Security card, start contributing to Social Security retirement, and building a credit history.

4. Driver’s License: Once you get your Social Security card, you can apply for a driver’s license or state identification card. Obviously, with a license, you can drive a car, be insured, and not worry about the police calling Immigration if you are pulled over.

5. Overseas Travel: In very limited circumstances, folks with deferred action may be allowed to travel abroad. These circumstances generally involve an emergency situation, and for more information, please see our website.

6. Peace of Mind: Additionally, there is a lot of peace of mind knowing that you are living in the U.S. with immigration status.

7. Civic Engagement: Some school districts require FBI record checks of all parents before they can volunteer, and with Deferred Action, you can freely participate in your children’s school activities.

In other words, many will be able to come out of living in the shadows.

We at the IIIC are still hopeful that Congress will pass comprehensive immigration reform. Such reform would be more permanent and would not be dependent on the current President’s agenda. Unfortunately, CIR was not possible now, and deferred action is the next best thing. Of course, it could be revoked in the future, but history has told us that it could also lead to a more permanent status in the future.

Whenever applying for an immigration benefit, it is important to weigh the risks with the benefits. While there is a risk that the program could end in the future, the benefits are substantial. We look forward to helping you apply for deferred action. Remember that no one can apply for the president’s new deferred action program yet, so please be cautious of anyone advising otherwise. Applicants should speak with a licensed immigration attorney before proceeding with any application.

For more information, please come to one of the IIIC’s Deferred Action informational sessions where the IIIC’s attorneys will be available to answer general questions about these new programs. For any immigration questions you might have, visit one of IIIC’s weekly legal clinics for a free, confidential consultation with a licensed immigration lawyer.

Disclaimer: This article is published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. For legal advice, seek the assistance of the IIIC’s immigration legal staff. For further information, call the IIIC at 617-542-7654 or check our website www.iiicenter.org

Deferred Action & Travel Eligibility Advisory

Q. I have been reading information about President Obama’s announcement on immigration reform. I think I am eligible for deferred action. Will I be able to travel abroad?

A. The President’s executive action is likely to make it possible for some people to be able to travel abroad but only for very limited reasons. It is still unclear exactly what the rules will be regarding travel, and in the upcoming months, the government will likely provide additional information and clarification. In the meantime, people who think they are eligible for deferred action should not travel outside the US.

In general, it is important to understand the risks of traveling, even with deferred action. First and foremost, immigrants who were previously ordered removed, who have certain criminal offenses on their record, or who have ever lied to Immigration should never travel abroad.

In addition, under the 2012 deferred action program for people who entered the US before age 16, once people were granted deferred action, they could apply for a travel document called Advance Parole. However, even for people who were granted deferred action, there were serious risks for those who had more than 6 months of unlawful status in the US. People in this situation would be barred from returning to the US for 3 or 10 years and would face complications if applying for green cards in the future.

The good news is that included in the President’s announcement was an order that traveling with Advance Parole will no longer trigger the 3 and 10-year bars. This change therefore removes this obstacle to travel under the new deferred action program.

However, there are still likely to be limited reasons for which people can travel. This is because the new deferred action program will likely mirror the 2012 program, which allows people with deferred action to travel for humanitarian, educational or employment purposes only. (Note that people who are not eligible for deferred action are likewise not eligible for travel permission). The government has specified that humanitarian reasons include medical treatment, funerals, and visiting a sick family member. They specifically state that traveling for vacation is not a valid reason to obtain Advance Parole. It is therefore important to wait for the exact rules to be released under the new program to determine what the authorized reasons for travel will be.

Remember that no one can apply for the president’s new deferred action program yet, so please be cautious of anyone advising otherwise. Applicants should speak with a licensed immigration attorney before proceeding with any application.

For more information, please come to one of the IIIC’s Deferred Action informational sessions where the IIIC’s attorneys will be available to answer general questions about these new programs. For any immigration questions you might have, visit one of IIIC’s weekly legal clinics for a free, confidential consultation with a licensed immigration lawyer.

Disclaimer: This article is published to inform generally, not to advise in individual cases. For legal advice, seek the assistance of the IIIC’s immigration legal staff. For further information, call the IIIC at 617-542-7654 or check our website www.iiicenter.org

Quote of the Week:

"God gave us our memories so that we might have roses in December." - J. M. Barrie