Many of our regular service users have checked in with us after hearing the news of immigration reform efforts among Senate and House members in Washington DC. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) met at the White House on Feb. 26th with President Obama and Vice President Biden to discuss immigration policy and early reports indicated all were very pleased with the meeting. A lot of work remains to be done because opposition remains in particular in the House of Representatives.

Meantime, some immigrants are applying for tax identification numbers anticipating that part of any reform agreement might include undocumented immigrants having their tax returns in order.

Irish ministers to advocate for undocumented

The Irish government has recently committed to advocating for reform for the Irish undocumented as part of reform during upcoming St. Patrick’s Day events in Washington, DC. We will answer questions on immigration reform matters at our clinic March 5th.

J visas

Mary in Galway emailed me this week for information on J1 visas. These particular types of visas are issued to allow a person to enter the US for a period up to 18 months to work for a US employer and gain experience in a field of work. A spouse and/or children may enter on a J2. A person on a J2 may obtain permission to work from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) but only for their own support and not for the support of the J1 recipient. In recent years, the 18 month J-1 trainee program visas have been more difficult to obtain.

The J is a “non-immigrant” visa. This means that it is temporary in nature, and requires you to prove to the USCIS that you do not have the intention to remain in the US forever. In order to be eligible for a J visa, one of the issues you will have to demonstrate to USCIS is that you have non-immigrant intent. This means that you have to show some evidence that you intend returning to your home country at the end of the J visa. Email me for more information on the one year and the 18 month J visas.

Arrests and the right to silence

Some people may not realize it but a police officer may ask you to identify yourself or question you briefly at any time without actually arresting you. The 1955 Miranda decision in the US Supreme Court mandates that police officers advise you of special rights.

If you are asked to sign any forms or statements, be sure to understand the information on the form, and if you don’t understand it, ask for an interpreter and consult with your attorney before signing any statements, consents, or forms. You have a constitutional right not to answer questions relating to a particular situation though you may give police your name and address. Immigrants should always consult an attorney on such matters.

We’ve had a few inquires lately about old arrests. Anyone attending our next legal clinic on such an issue is reminded to bring all paperwork relating to the case including certified docket sheets.

Legal Clinic

The attorneys who advise on cases each month, Chris Lavery and Dan Harrington, donate their time at our legal clinic. Questions on visas, green cards, citizenship and other legal matters are answered one to one on a confidential basis. Our March clinic is on this Tuesday, March 5th, starting at 6:30 pm.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information contained in it is provided to inform generally, and is not intended as a substitute for individual advice. Immigration law is subject to frequent changes and individual circumstances can affect the application of certain legal provisions. For individual legal advice, please contact the Irish Pastoral Centre directly regarding upcoming legal clinics or consultation with an immigration attorney.