AVVO Top Attorney
BBB
Justia Lawyer Rating
Attorneys For Justice
Martindale-Hubbell
SuperLawyers
SuperLawyers
AVVO
AVVO
AVVO
Tennessee Trial Lawyers Association

Path to Permanent Residence in Nashville, TNThe United States immigration system contains millions of pending applications at any given time. Although many immigrants throughout the United States ultimately submit their applications to obtain lawful permanent residence (i.e., a “Green Card”) or other immigration benefits to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), the Immigration Courts located in the Executive Office for Immigration Review (an office within the U.S. Department of Justice) present a very different, surprising, and far riskier path to lawful permanent residence: removal proceedings.

Without a doubt, being placed in removal proceedings and facing deportation from the United States is probably one of the greatest fears of any immigrant in the United States. If the Government succeeds in its case against an immigrant in removal proceedings, the Immigration Court will order the immigrant removed from the United States and, with only few exceptions, the immigrant will be transported back to their native country. Immigrants placed in removal proceedings because of criminal charges brought against them in the United States may even be placed in federal custody and detained for the duration of their removal proceedings, rendering it difficult or impossible for them to re-connect with their loved ones while their removal proceedings are ongoing, and their ability to secure legal counsel and obtain the necessary evidence to support their defense may be substantially impaired. Indeed, for nearly all immigrants currently residing in the United States – lawfully or otherwise – the possibility of being placed in removal proceedings is a scenario that cannot be described as anything other than truly horrifying and disastrous, as their removal from the United States will mean separation from their families, an end to the life they have built for themselves over a period of months or years, and a return to dangerous or unhealthy living conditions in the country they hoped to flee, leave behind forever, or never return to.

As difficult as the removal process is for countless immigrants, the current legal landscape does provide a little-known silver lining to the removal process: certain immigrants can acquire lawful permanent residence status and a Green Card by obtaining a form of relief known as cancellation of removal in a removal proceeding. Indeed, in certain circumstances, not only can immigrants prevail in their removal proceeding and avoid deportation from the United States – they can actually obtain a Green Card at the conclusion of the proceeding and be admitted to stay in the United States permanently when there would have otherwise been no other avenue available to obtain a Green Card.

Path to Permanent Residence in Nashville, TNIn the United States, one of the most important goals for millions of immigrants is acquiring a “Green Card” – the symbol of lawful permanent residence and a pathway to citizenship. Although many immigrants apply for a Green Card through a family member who is already a lawful permanent resident or United States citizen, many immigrants – both inside and outside of the United States – do not have such family connections and cannot rely on a family member to achieve the goal of obtaining lawful permanent residence. Part 3 of this series discusses employment-based immigration and how those with certain education, training, or other skill sets can nevertheless apply for legal status in the United States as part of their employment or trade, despite lacking any family connection that might otherwise make them eligible for an immigration benefit. If you missed Part 1 of this series (providing an overview to obtaining a Green Card) or Part 2 of this series (discussing family-based immigration), you can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Generally, employment-based immigration is split into five (5) different preference categories:

  1. Priority workers, which include persons with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational managers or executives (EB-1);

Path to Permanent Residence in Nashville, TNThroughout America, one of the greatest struggles facing millions of immigrants is that of obtaining lawful permanent residence or – as it is commonly called – a “Green Card.” There are dozens of possible paths to obtaining a Green Card. Even many undocumented immigrants have a pathway to legal permanent residence available to them. Part 2 of this series focuses on family-based immigration and some of the ways immigrants can seek a Green Card through family relationships they have with relatives who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. If you missed Part 1 of this series (an overview to obtaining a Green Card), you can find it here.

Currently, family-based immigration results in greater numbers of admissions than the other categories of immigrants. As specified in the Immigration and Nationality Act, eligibility for family-sponsored immigration is determined by an immigrant’s familial relationships to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. See 8 U.S.C. §§ 1151, 1153. If an immigrant can be categorized as an “immediate relative” of a U.S. citizen, he or she may be exempt from the waiting times that apply to other categories in family-based immigration. However, immigrants seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status through their marriage to a U.S. citizen may also be subject to heightened scrutiny and evidentiary requirements. Determining your eligibility for a family-based immigration category, as well as which category is best for you, is a complex process that should not be attempted without the assistance of an immigration attorney.

Generally, the process of obtaining a Green Card in family-based immigration starts with the filing of a visa petition by the immigrant’s relative in the U.S. Visa petitions are generally filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), an agency within the Department of Homeland Security. Generally, a USCIS Officer will be responsible for adjudicating the visa petition. Approving a family-based visa petition can be discretionary for a USCIS Officer. Therefore, it is crucial to complete the visa petition in the legally correct manner and with sufficient supporting evidence to prove the bona fide nature of the family relationship. To gather the necessary evidence and complete the visa petition properly, it is important to secure the legal counsel of an immigration lawyer before submitting a visa petition to USCIS or any other government agency.

Path to Permanent ResidenceThe “Green Card” – to some, it is a symbol of hope, accomplishment, and security for a new life in America. To others, it symbolizes peace of mind, enduring stability with loved ones, and extinguishing the fear of deportation. Regardless of background or viewpoint, obtaining a Green Card means successfully completing the path to legal permanent residence. While millions of immigrants throughout the United States want a Green Card, relatively few of those immigrants ultimately succeed in acquiring one. For a variety of reasons, many immigrants find obtaining a Green Card challenging and difficult. This series of posts – while far from comprehensive or a substitute for legal counsel – discusses some of the ways immigrants in the United States can obtain status as a lawful permanent resident.

In the legal sense, acquiring lawful permanent resident status is the same thing as obtaining a Green Card. Upon receiving lawful permanent resident status, the immigrant is given an identification card. Over time, people began referring to these identification cards as “Green Cards” due to the green backdrop on the cards. Thus, while many people consider the Green Card to be the key to legal status, the card itself is really nothing more than a piece of plastic – the true prize is obtaining the status of lawful permanent resident.

But how can you get status as a lawful permanent resident? It depends. Every case is different, and there are dozens of possibilities. The current immigration system utilizes four (4) main categories of immigrants: (1) family-sponsored immigrants; (2) employment-based immigrants; (3) diversity immigrants; and (4) humanitarian immigrants. Within each category there can be several additional sub-categories, all with differing eligibility requirements. In addition, many of those categories have numerical limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year, resulting in various wait times. Therefore, it is not uncommon for many immigrants to be eligible to apply for legal permanent residence but have a waiting period before they can actually complete the process and obtain their Green Card. Even outside of these four (4) main categories, there are several other possible paths to receiving lawful permanent resident status. Indeed, even immigrants currently in removal proceedings and facing deportation may be able to obtain a Green Card and adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

Separate v. Marital PropertyProperty owned during a marriage in Tennessee is classified as either separate property or marital property. This distinction becomes quite important for many spouses when considering divorce. The concept is worth understanding because only marital property is subject to equitable distribution during a divorce. Separate property includes property which was owned by a spouse before marriage; property which was acquired in exchange for property which was already owned prior to the marriage; income and appreciation of separate property; property acquired by a spouse through gift, bequest, devise or descent; pain and suffering awards; victim of crime compensation; future medical expenses; future lost wages; and property acquired by a spouse after an order of legal separation in which a court has completed a final disposition of property.

Where the separate property analysis gets tricky is a carve out section, T.C.A. § 36-4-121(b)(1)(B)(i). This section states: ” ‘Marital property’ includes income from, and any increase in the value during the marriage of, property determined to be separate property in accordance with subdivision (b)(2) if each party substantially contributed to its preservation and appreciation” This requires an understanding of substantial contribution and preservation and appreciation. Thankfully, the statute includes some more helpful information by defining a substantial contribution. A substantial contribution may include, but not be limited to, the direct or indirect contribution of a spouse as homemaker, wage earner, parent or family financial manager, together with such other factors as the court having jurisdiction thereof may determine.” Preservation and appreciation are not further defined in the statute.

Let’s consider a few hypotheticals. In Marriage A, Wife was gifted a significant amount of publicly traded stocks from a family member prior to marriage. Husband paid taxes on Wife’s stocks when sold. Are the stocks marital property? In Marriage B, Husband bought a house before the marriage that was never used as the marital home. Wife’s name was never put on the deed. However, when the house needed repairs, Wife paid for the HVAC to be replaced. Is the house Husband’s separate property? In Marriage C, Wife purchased a house during the marriage and the house was foreclosed on. Can Husband be awarded dissipation?

Understanding USERRA

USERRAThe Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA) is a federal law designed to protect the civilian employment of active, reserve, and national guard military personnel in the United States called to active duty.1 The three major purposes of USERRA are protection against discrimination, minimize disruption by providing for prompt reemployment, and protection of one’s pre-deployment job.2 The law clarifies that it is illegal for employers to discriminate against employees because of past, present, or future military service

Enforcement

BLOG-PHOTO-GREEN-CARD-ON-FLAG-copy-300x199The Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or so-called Green Card Lottery, gives a chance to millions of foreigners to receive a U.S. Green Card just by applying through USCIS.

There is no fee to enter the lottery and you can apply through www.dvlottery.state.gov. According to the Department of State, in 2010 there were approximately 50,000 Green Cards distributed throughout the entire world as part of the Green Card Lottery. The immigrant visas are drawn randomly among the entries.

The USCIS outlines a few requirements to enter the lottery if you are outside the U.S. You must establish that:

Every battle is won or lost before it is ever fought.”

Divorce PreparationAlthough we say, “until death do us part” and fully expect our lives with that special someone to last forever, unfortunately, sometimes those expectations fall short of the reality.  Whether it’s because one spouse did something unforgivable or you simply grew apart, divorce may become the new reality.  As an attorney, I often find that by the time a client has made it into my office, much of the damage has already been done. This article was inspired by such clients in an effort to prevent the same type of damage to others who find themselves in similar circumstances.  Make no mistake, although we would like to think the person we committed our lives to would never purposefully try to deceive or deprive us, a divorce can be, and often is, a battle to be won or lost.  Recognizing this fact and understanding the “Art of War” is the first proactive thing a spouse can do for themselves.  It was Sun Tzu, a Chinese military general and strategist, who literally wrote the book and emphasized the importance of preparation for any victory.  His words transcend the battlefield and could not be truer than they are here. Proper preparation can mean the difference between victory or defeat, and much of a divorce battle is fought before the first court filing.

Documentation

Hippa RegulationsHIPAA is a complicated law with numerous provisions. HIPAA is the abbreviation of the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Public Law 104-191.1 HIPAA included provisions in the law that authorized the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) to adopt national standards to protect the privacy of personal health information. HIPAA mandated that HHS take action that ensures privacy protection for individually identifiable health information.2 

According to the official HHS website, HIPAA requirements include those found in Public Law 104-191, a final privacy rule adopted in December 2000, a final Security Rule adopted in February 2003, an Enforcement rule, and an Omnibus Rule.3 An unofficial version of all HIPAA regulations is found in a combined regulation text on the HHS website.4 This unofficial version of regulations is 115 pages long. You may read the full regulations for yourself if you want. However, the purpose of this article is to provide a snapshot into what HIPAA is and the basic requirements it imposes on businesses.

First, it is important to note, that HIPAA does not impose requirements on all businesses. Instead it only applies to the following entities: “(1) A health plan; (2) A health care clearinghouse; (3) A health care provider who transmits any health information in electronic form in connection with a transaction covered by this subchapter; or (4) an individual or “business associate” that provides certain services to a covered entity.”5

DOCTOR HOLDING CREDIT CARDSIn most instances under the law, debt is incurred in the capacity of the person(s) involved in the transaction only. Yet, there are several exceptions to this rule. State contract and family law apply to determine if one spouse may be liable for the debt of the other spouse. Tennessee law has provisions for garnishment, to levy bank accounts, to foreclose on property, and place a lien in certain circumstances.1 Additionally, if you sign a contract as a grantor for the medical care of a friend or family member and agree to contractual provisions that you will pay in the event that they fail to do so, you may be legally bound by that contract.

One of these lesser known exceptions to debt being incurred in an individual capacity only is the obligation to pay the medical bills of a spouse. Tennessee courts have directly recognized the common-law doctrine of necessaries to require a spouse to pay the medical debt of the other spouse in certain circumstances since at least 1997.2 In Outpatient Diagnostic Center v. Christian, a medical care provider attempted to hold a husband liable for medical services provided to his wife.3 The husband argued that he should not be liable for his wife’s debt because she was not acting as his agent in the transaction and he did not ratify her debt. The court reasoned that a spouse’s duty to pay for necessary medical expenses for the other spouse is a straightforward application of the common-law imposed duty on a husband to furnish support for his wife.4 Additionally, the Tennessee legislature appeared to ratify this doctrine in 1974 in T.C.A. § 47-18-805 “Liability of spouse.”5 The court also reasoned that other states confronting similar disputes have recognized the common-law necessaries doctrine as creating this obligation.6

The Court defined the limits of the doctrine: “[A] provider of medical services can make out a prima facie claim for recovery under the necessaries doctrine by proving that

Contact Information