What the election means for Immigration Law

Since election day there was been buzz about what this means for immigration law. Donald Trump has made known what he plans to do with immigration law and for those who are not citizens or undocumented, the future may be unclear.

For anyone who has a green card and is eligible to naturalize and become a US citizen, apply for naturalization NOW! Please remember if you are NOT a US citizen, you can potentially be deported! People who have lived in the US their entire lives and have valid green cards can still be deported for certain criminal actions. Please be aware that if you are not a citizen and receive an OUI/DUI/DWI this could threaten your legal status in the US. Please contact an attorney if you would like to naturalize but have a criminal background!

If you have DACA please be aware that once Donald Trump is sworn in as president, in January, the DACA program may be terminated and many could face deportation as a result. Please do not forget that DACA does not give anyone legal status, it only provides an avenue for work authorization and to defer removal action. If you are eligible for a green card or another visa through another avenue other than DACA, please apply as soon as possible.

Also if you are planning to travel, after Donald Trump is sworn in, it may be more difficult to obtain travel visas to certain countries, such as China and India. Please continue to check the State Department’s travel website for any potential issues if you are going abroad.

Immigration law has always been complex, but with a new administration coming in January it is important to know what your rights are and what you can do now. Please contact our office at 508-438-1198, if you have any questions about your immigration status.


#immigrationlaw #donaldtrump #daca #naturalization



Why a Google Search is Not Enough

When faced with a legal issue, the first step many people take is to turn to Google. A quick search, and BOOM! all your questions have answers. Right? Wrong! While you questions may seem simple, often times there are sub-issues that are not apparent to a layperson.

When you meet with a lawyer, the lawyer will look at at the entire issue to ensure that all aspects of your situation are properly addressed. Online forums like Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Rocket Lawyer, Legal Zoom, Avvo may be able to provide a basic, initial answer, but none of these forums are able to provide the in-depth analysis of an attorney. Without the expertise of an attorney, there may be significant issues that are left unaddressed. This could result in major issues down the road that could have been prevented.

The law is continuously changing. It’s a lawyer’s job to stay on top of these changes and advise clients accordingly. There are no guarantees the information you find online is current or accurate.

While the cost of hiring an attorney may be scary, many attorneys are willing to work within a client’s budget. Most attorneys offer free initial consultations, and the courts can provide a list of attorneys who are able to provide services under the Limited Assistance Representation program. So, please, the next time you have a legal question, please consult an attorney, not Google.


This blog was written by Attorney Catherine Taylor and is intended solely for informational purposes. This does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.

Chris Brown & the Search Warrant

Most of you have undoubtedly heard that there was a standoff between the Los Angeles Police and Chris Brown, who was at home. Although this has been a bit sensationalized, the police were at his home after a phone call was made by a woman who claims she was threatened by Brown, but there was no “standoff.”

Instead Brown exercised his right to NOT allow the police into his home without a search warrant. Most people might think that if the police come knocking on your door that you have to let them in, but you DO NOT have to let them in. The home is one of the sacred things that the law protects and that is why we have laws about ‘breaking and entering’ and ‘trespassing.’ So if the police come to your home and ask to come in, you can do what Chris Brown did and ask to see a warrant! If they do not have a warrant and you don’t want them in your home, then they can’t come in! If they DO have a warrant, then you DO have to let them in, but until then it is your call. Chris Brown refused to let the police in without a warrant, but after the police obtained one, he let them in, was arrested and released on bail.

Of course there are always exceptions to this rule and we aren’t sure what is going to happen to Chris Brown just yet, but if you have any questions about your rights or there has been a police search at your home, please call our office at 508-438-1198.


#chrisbrown #searchwarrant #homesearch #criminallaw #yourrights

Collaborative Law in Divorce

It is becoming more common than ever for parties to a divorce action to attempt to resolve their dispute prior to filing any paperwork or stepping foot in a courthouse.

Often times parties to a divorce attempt to come to a resolution through the use of a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who helps the parties come to an agreement. The mediator does not represent either party, but instead works to guide the parties to a mutual agreement. Typically, clients do not have individual attorneys present at mediation sessions, but may consult with an independent attorney prior to signing off on any agreement.

A less common, but emerging, form of alternative dispute resolution is called Collaborative Law. Collaborative Law is similar to mediation in that the parties to a divorce action attempt to come to a resolution of all matters outside of court through the use of a specially trained lawyer who acts as a neutral third party; however, each party is typically represented by independent counsel, as well. The attorneys representing each spouse in a collaborative divorce agree from the outset to not participate in the litigation of a divorce if collaboration is unsuccessful.

In order to proceed with Collaborative Law, both parties must agree and retain collaboratively trained attorneys. Although each party has independent counsel, the costs of collaboration tend to be lower than the conventional litigated divorce.

Once an agreement is reached, the parties may then proceed with filing a Joint Petition for Divorce. A finalized agreement is submitted to the Court for approval in an uncontested hearing.


This blog post was written by Attorney Catherine Taylor and is not intended to be construed as legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.

Padilla v. Kentucky: It’s impact on Criminal & Immigration Law

In 2010, the court held in Padilla v. Kentucky that counsel’s failure to advise a criminal defendant of the deportation consequences of a guilty plea constitutes ineffective assistance of counsel. Therefore if your defense attorney did not advise you of the immigration consequences of your plea, the disposition could be vacated. The problem is that the Supreme Court held that the new rule in Padilla should not apply retroactively to criminal convictions before March 2010.

The good news is that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court didn’t like that, so in Commonwealth v. Clarke, the court held that Padilla v. Kentucky applies retroactively to guilty pleas entered after April 1, 1997. If Padilla applies to you, you still have to prove ineffective assistance of counsel.

There is a two prong test to whether there was an ineffective assistance of counsel. The first prong is found in Commonwealth v. Saferian and states “whether there has been serious incompetency, inefficiency, or inattention of counsel — behavior of counsel falling measurably below that which might be expected from an ordinary fallible lawyer.”

The second prong is that the consequence of counsel’s serious incompetency must be prejudicial. In Clarke they define prejudice as “a ‘reasonable probability’ that ‘but for counsel’s unprofessional errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”

Therefore in order to prove ineffective assistance of counsel you have to prove that your lawyer didn’t act or advise you as a normal lawyer should AND that your criminal proceeding results would have been different if you had received proper advice.

Padilla was significant, because now non-citizens must be advised of immigration consequences if they are in criminal proceedings, but in order to get your case vacated it may still be a long road ahead!

If you have any questions about whether Padilla applies to your current situation, please call our office at 508-438-1198.


#criminallaw #immigration #padilla #retroactive #clarke

Taking the English Test

When you apply for naturalization you must pass an English and Civics Test. But for certain people there are exemptions.

The first one is called the 50/20 exemption. If you are 50 or older at the time you file for naturalization and have lived as a green card holder in the United States for 20 years, you are exempt from the English test.

The second exemption is the 55/15. If you are 55 or older at the time you file for naturalization and have lived as a green card holder in the United States for 20 years, you are also exempt from the English test.

If you qualify for either exemption, you must still take the civics test. But if you qualify for these exemptions, then you can take the civics test in your native language!

If you have any questions about naturalization or the English or Civics test, please call our office at 508-438-1198.




#naturalization #englishtest #civicstest #greencard #uscitizen


How do you become a green card holder? Part Two

So in part one, I explained how you can obtain a green card through a US citizen. This post will talk about how to get a green card through another green card holder/legal permanent resident.

A green card holder can petition for only certain family members. They can petition for a spouse or an unmarried child. The child may be over 21, they just cannot be married! If the child marries and divorces, the green card holder could petition for the child. The main thing to remember is the child must NOT be married!

A green card holder is much limited in who they can petition a green card for. If a green card holder wanted to bring parents or siblings over to the US, they must wait an appropriate amount of time, then naturalize and become US citizens. Once they become citizens they can apply for their parents, siblings, and married children.

Another issue with a green card holder petitioning for a spouse or child is that there is a wait time, whereas US citizens who petition for spouses do NOT have a wait time and the visa is immediately available. For spouses and children of green card holders and other familial categories of US citizens, there are only a certain amount of visas granted every year. So every month the government puts out a bulletin of how long the wait time is.  Depending on the category the family member is in it normally takes years, but if you are from India, Mexico, or the Philippines where the backlog of visas is higher than other countries, you will wait MANY years.

If a green card holder petitions for their spouse and it is approved, but then the green card holder becomes a US citizen, the spouse will not longer have to wait for a visa, because now he or she is a spouse of a citizen and those visas are available immediately.

Green card holders can only petition for spouses and unmarried children, but there will be a wait time. If possible, it’s always better to naturalize because there are more options available!

If you have any questions, please call our office at (508) 438-1198.


#greencard #naturalize #uscitizens #legalpermanentresident #lpr