DACA Renewals: How to Renew your Deferred Action Application.

July 28th, 2014 | DACA,IMMIGRATION |

THE DEFERRED ACTION FOR CHILDHOOD ARRIVALS RENEWAL PROCESS

By Sanjay A. Paul, Esq.

Background:      

Last week, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced details of the renewal process for the hugely popular and successful deferred action for childhood arrivals program. Under this program, commonly known as “DACA” applicants are able to acquire a government issued social security number, employment authorization (work permit) and a California Driver’s license.  The program also defers any action on the applicant’s immigrations status and protects them from removal and deportation.

Although Congress has largely managed to stall any progress on immigration reform, the DACA program stands out as a rare exception and a huge success for the Obama administration.  Critics of the program will point to the fact that the program does not offer any permanent solutions and forces applicants to reapply every two-years for a status that falls short of being permanent.  However, until Congress is able to break through the current grid-lock on immigration reform, DACA offers significant benefits to applicants who currently do not have any status in the United States. For example, applicants who qualify are able to seek employment and get a social security number and driver’s license. These documents help applicants establish a sense of identity and belonging in a country in which they grew up.

Attorney Sanjay Paul was one of the first lawyers in the country to start filing for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals applications when the process was announced in June 2012.  Mr. Paul focused on helping “Dreamers” establish that they satisfy the criteria for the program and has been very successful in getting applications approved.  Mr. Paul has represented undocumented immigrants qualify for this program by focusing on submitting the right kind of evidence and as a result his services have been heavily sought in this area.  Mr. Paul has represented clients from all over Southern California, the Central Valley, San Diego and New York in applying for and obtaining benefits through this program.

Requirements for Renewal:

                In order for the renewal application to be successful, it should be submitted at the very least 120 days before the expiration of the current period of DACA.  This is to avoid a lapse of time and accrual of unlawful presence.  The earliest that an application can be submitted is 150 days before the expiration.

If the applicant has traveled outside of the country or has new criminal activity on their record, all paperwork associated with either of those situations must be submitted along with their application.  There is also a filing fee of $465.  If the status has expired and applicants seek renewal within one year of that expiration date, the applicant may file as a renewal.

Keep in mind that the window for new DACA applications is still open.  If you feel that you should apply, or if you would like to renew your application, contact Mr. Sanjay A. Paul at (626) 993-6725.

Disclaimer: The preceding article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer about the individual facts of your case. 

Tailoring Your Divorce Settlement Agreement

June 19th, 2014 | Divorce,Family Law |

TAILORING YOUR DIVORCE SETTLEMENT AGREEMENT

                Famed Latin singer Marc Anthony has been spending a lot of time in court lately.  Between child custody and support issues and divorce issues, Mr. Anthony has a lot on his plate.  Most recently, it was reported that his divorce from Jennifer Lopez was finally officially finalized on Monday, June 16, 2014.  One of the most newsworthy clauses in the divorce agreement is that the former couple agreed to use their “best efforts” to avoid unwanted publicity when it comes to their six-year old twins.

Additionally, another clause in the agreement indicates that Ms. Lopez receives primary custody of the children, while Mr. Anthony will have the children for seven days a month.  The catch is that when Mr. Anthony has the kids, the nannies must be present.  Also, each of the pop stars gets to take the kids trick-or-treating separately.

One may wonder why such specific clauses in a divorce agreement are necessary.  There are several reasons for this.  The couple may now be estranged for all intents and purposes, other than dealing with each other for the sake of the children.  There are many former couples who want all clauses, especially related to the children, to be as specific as possible so that no arguments ensue post-divorce.  By strategizing with your lawyer during the divorce process, you can include provisions to prevent anticipated disagreements and this in turn can save both parties a lot of potential aggravation, time spent in court and attorney fees.

For example, some grandparents may have houses that pose dangerous situations to the children involved in the divorce.  The grandparents may own dangerous animals, or their living environment is not conducive to having children visit.  For a couple facing that difficult situation, incorporating a clause in which the children cannot be taken to that grandparent’s home would be beneficial to ensure the safety and best interests of the children.

Divorce settlement agreements are an incredibly important part of the divorce process, and can serve to protect the husband, wife, and children in a myriad of different ways.  The clauses referenced above are not limited to the children in a divorce; there are several other clauses that pertain to couples with no children that either partner will want to enforce.  For instance, the partners in a marriage may agree that a community property home must be sold by a certain time, or that specific personal property is divided in a certain way as well.

Having an attorney who understands and guides you through the process is pertinent to a successful divorce settlement.  An experienced attorney will be able to efficiently assist you regarding what your requirements for the agreement may be.  If you are in a divorce proceeding and need assistance navigating the process, please contact Mr. Sanjay A. Paul, Esq., of Dream Law, APC at either sapaul@dreamlawca.com or (626) 993-6725.

Professional Athletes and Child Support Obligations

June 1st, 2014 | Child Support,Family Law,Parentage,Paternity |

Professional Athletes and Child Support Obligations

by Sanjay A. Paul, Esq.

Recently, Dodger’s Star Carl Crawford was brought back into court because the mother of his child requested to temporarily raise his child support payment from $5,000 a year to a “reasonable” $15,000 per month.  The judge has yet to rule, but if approved, this would mean that Mr. Crawford would be paying a total of $189,000 per year in child support for two children.

Los Angeles Dodgers Carl Crawford

Over the last several years, professional athletes are being embraced by the media and paparazzi culture and this has had a positive effect in terms of increasing player earnings. It is common now for athletes to obtain top dollar sponsorships and increase their earnings. In addition, athlete salaries have also increased, thereby increasing earnings in general.  As a result of these changes many athletes are targeted by the opposite sex in order to obtain child support.

Child support in California is guideline based, meaning that the California legislature has come up with a mathematical formula that takes into account the mother and father’s gross salaries and percentage of time the parties spend with the child in calculating the appropriate amount of child support. In addition, the court can also consider medical expenses, child support paid to other children, spousal support paid to former spouses and various other factors.  Child support obligations can therefore easily run into six-figures for a professional athlete.  This can have a negative impact on the athlete and result in reducing his or her performance through mental and emotional anguish.

How can athletes protect themselves or limit their exposure to child support obligations?

The first step is to actually establish whether the child is the athlete’s child. A DNA test can easily determine this and can be requested through a parentage action (also known as a paternity action). If it is determined that the athlete is the biological parent of the child, then the athlete should also seek to enforce as much visitation or if possible, establish primary physical custody over the child. The court will generally look to the best interests of the child in determining the appropriate custody arrangement.

In addition, if there are any decreases in the athlete’s salary, counsel for the athlete should file a petition immediately with the court to reduce child support based on a decrease in income. Child support obligations will generally terminate when the child reaches 18 years old.  In some states, if the mother remarries and the spouse adopts the child, even though he is not the biological father, the athlete may not be responsible for the child support.

Deviation from Guideline Child Support

The state guidelines were created with more traditional income levels in mind.  Therefore, the attorney that an athlete retains must be proficient in presenting adequate evidence to the court to support a deviation from the child support guidelines.  This means that the attorney must convince the court that although the guideline calculations state “x” amount is payable in child support, the court should deviate from those guidelines and instead order “y”, which is a lower amount.

The court will generally deviate from guideline child support if it finds that assigning guideline support would be unjust or inappropriate due to special circumstances. One of the grounds that the attorney representing the athlete can bring up is that the parent being ordered to pay child support has an extraordinarily high income and the amount determined under the formula would exceed the needs of the children.  For example, although guideline child support may state $15,000 is owed per month, the attorney must present a good case of how this amount is clearly excessive in light of the child’s needs and expenses.

If you are a professional athlete and you are facing a divorce, child custody, or child support matter, you should retain an attorney that is experienced in these matters.  Please contact Sanjay A. Paul, Esq., at (626) 993-6725 or at sapaul@dreamlawca.com for a consultation.

Disclaimer: This is not intended to be legal advice.  Please consult with a lawyer about the facts of your case.   

Determining Child Support in California

May 6th, 2014 | Family Law |

On May 3, 2014 Latin and American pop singer Marc Anthony took the stand in his child support case with his ex-wife, Dayanara Torres, who is requesting $100,000 more a month in child support from him.  Anthony’s ex-wife took him back to court to request additional child support alleging that Anthony was hiding money in order to pay less child support.  Anthony insists that he is not hiding any money and has been paying all of the costs in relation to his children’s needs.

Marc Anthony and Dayanara Torres

While Marc Anthony’s case did not  take place in California, it presents  an interesting question regarding what is taken into consideration when determining the amount of  child support that should be paid.  California Courts offer assistance with determining guideline child  support, however it is often complicated to understand where  the numbers come from.

Who is Child Support Paid To?

Child support will generally be paid to the primary custodial parent.  The primary custodial parent is the parent that the child lives with for more than 50% of the time.  There are cases in which this situation will differ, however. There are some instances where the difference of income between the parties is so vast that even a parent with less than 50% custody will receive child support from the primary custodian parent who earns the higher income.

What Are The Factors Considered?

There are two primary factors that California’s family courts look to when calculating child support: the first is each parent’s income and the second is the time that each parent spends with the child/children.  The time is input using percentages (e.g., 70%, 30%, 50%, etc).

All judges and courts in California follow the same guidelines when calculating the specific amount of child support. This formula is very complicated, and therefore the courts depend on a computer program called DissomasterTM to calculate monthly child support amounts.  Both parents are responsible for providing the information to input into the program.  This program will provide the parents with “guideline child support”, meaning the exact number that the program calculates.   However, a skilled family law attorney can and will negotiate certain items with the other parent to ensure the proper child support is received each month.

Are There Additional Factors?

There are other factors that can be taken into account in determining child support.  These factors can be decided between the parents in order to either increase or decrease the amount of child support paid to the primary custodial parent.  For example, one parent may agree to pay the child’s health insurance, day-care or child-care and extra-curricular activities. In addition, the courts will consider whether the payor is already paying child support or spousal support in previous marriages and whether there are any mandatory retirement deductions or union dues that are deducted from his or her paycheck.

How long is child support paid for?

Under California law, child support is paid until the child is eighteen years old, but may continue until the child is 19, if the child is unmarried and attending high school full-time.  In some special circumstances, the court may order child support to continue after the child emancipates because of special circumstances.

It is important to note that if there are arrears on child support (missed payments, pursuant to a court order), then the payor will likely still be liable for making payments even after the child is emancipated until the arrears are paid in full, including any accrued interest.

Once child support is set, is there any way to modify it?

Yes. Typically child support can be modified in California if the one of the parents is able to show a change in circumstances from the previous order that warrants a change in the child support order. Common change in circumstances include, changes in income; changes in parents work schedules or changes in custody that result in modifying the child support order.

Navigating through child support issues can be difficult to do alone.  Attorney Sanjay A. Paul has extensive experience with these issues and can help you to determine what options will work best for you.  Mr. Paul has negotiated child support in court in front of family law Judges as well as in front of the Department of Child Support Services (DCSS). Contact Sanjay A. Paul at (626) 993-6725 for a free consultation today.

Sanjay A. Paul is a California licensed attorney and owner of Dream Law, a Los Angeles based law firm that focuses on Family Law and Immigration matters. He can be reached at sapaul@dreamlawca.com.

What is Community Property in California?

April 30th, 2014 | Family Law |

What is Community Property in California?

By Sanjay A. Paul, Esq.

Introduction

You often hear terms being thrown around like community property and separate property.  What exactly does this mean and how does it impact a married couple in California? Before we can get into the differences between community property and separate property, it is useful to get a background on the difference between community property jurisdictions and common law jurisdictions.

Community Property vs Common Law Jurisdictions

All states in the United States follow one of two legal systems when it comes to property ownership between spouses: common law or community property.

In community property states, such as California, any assets acquired or income earned after the date of marriage is categorized as community property. This includes property that is acquired even under just one spouses’ name.  Separate property is defined as property acquired by a spouse before the marriage, during the marriage by gift, devise, or bequest, and after the date of separation.  If you do not have any agreements in place when you get married (such as a prenuptial agreement), then assets and income acquired during marriage will follow the property laws of California and be generally be categorized as community property.

In common law jurisdictions, as a general rule property acquired during marriage, if it is titled under one spouse’s name, will be considered the separate property of that spouse. Now that does not mean that the stated property will automatically belong to the spouse who’s name it is under upon a divorce; but this is the presumption that it creates.

How is community property divided in California?

California law requires that the community estate be divided equally if there is no written agreement regarding a particular division of property.  This translates to a mathematical formula where the joint obligations of the parties are subtracted from the total fair market value of the community assets, which then yields the community estate.  Each spouse must receive half the of the net community property estate unless an agreement to the contrary exists.

The law does not require that each physical object needs to be divided.  What is required is that at the end of the dissolution, each party receives an equal amount of the net value of the community property assets.  (Please note that the parties can waive equalization however upon a divorce in some circumstances.)

Typically it is not difficult to ascertain whether an asset is separate or community property. The timing of the acquisition or the transaction is the most important factor to consider.   However, there are complex situations that arise where a more in-depth analysis is needed to determine if a property is community property, separate property or quasi-community property.  For example, if there is a house that was owned by one spouse prior to marriage, but during the marriage the community contributed towards the mortgage payment and improvements, then there is likely a community interest in the property, even though the house was separate property.

How are pension or employment benefits divided?

Generally speaking, when a spouse accumulates an interest in a retirement, profit-sharing, pension, or other employment benefit plan during the marriage, the portion that was accumulated during the marriage is community property and is subject to division in the dissolution.  The portions that were contributed to the plan before marriage or after the date of separation are separate property and therefore not included in the division.  There are a few ways that pensions are divided as they can be a more complicated asset to divide in a divorce.

Sanjay A. Paul is a California licensed attorney and owner of Dream Law, a Los Angeles based law firm that focuses on Family Law and Immigration matters. He can be reached at sapaul@dreamlawca.com

Disclaimer: The preceding article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer about the individual facts of your case. 

Divorce Basics: Should I Get a Legal Separation or a Divorce?

April 23rd, 2014 | Divorce,Family Law,Legal Separation |

When you are married or in a registered domestic partnership and you are looking to end your relationship, it is important to be knowledgeable about all of your legal options.  The two common routes to terminate a marriage or domestic partnership are a divorce (also known as a dissolution) or a legal separation.  When determining whether to file for legal separation or divorce, there are differences to consider in making your decision.

What is the Difference between a Legal Separation and Divorce?

            The initial steps for filing a legal separation or divorce are almost exactly the same when initiating the legal process.  The paperwork, including a Summons, Petition, and financial disclosures, must be filed the same way.  Property division and support (either child or spousal) are also indistinguishable in either legal separation or divorce.  Lastly, a judgment finalizing the relationship is declared at the end of both a legal separation and divorce.

The most differentiating characteristic of a legal separation is that the parties cannot remarry, while after a judgment of dissolution, the parties regain their status as single persons and may remarry again.  Therefore, the parties should consider whether they envision themselves entering another relationship, partnership or marriage in the future. If they are likely to do so, then a legal separation might not be the best choice.  Although a legal separation does not prevent a party from dating someone else, it will prevent him or her from legally marrying because they will not be considered divorced.

Why Would Anyone Choose Legal Separation Over Divorce?

You may be wondering why a couple would choose legal separation over divorce as an avenue for ending their relationship.  There are many legitimate reasons why a couple may choose legal separation rather than divorce.  Many cultures and religions forbid divorce or it is considered taboo; therefore legal separation offers couples who abide by those tenements an option to successfully divide their assets without engaging in a culturally or religiously prohibited act.  Another situation that arises is that the couple would like one spouse to remain on the other’s health insurance and a divorce proceeding may eliminate that as a possibility.

In addition, another benefit is that while in divorce proceedings there is a statutory wait period of six-months in California for a divorce to finalize. However, there is no such waiting period for a legal separation.  Lastly, if a party has just moved to California and does not meet the residency requirements to file for divorce, he or she may file for legal separation first and then amend the petition to a dissolution once the residency requirements are met.

How Long Can You Be Legally Separated?

A couple may be legally separated for as long as they prefer.  Some couples remain separated for the rest of their lives.  Another option some couples take is after a period of legal separation, moving on to filing for a divorce so that one or both parties can then remarry.  There are different options that work for each unique situation.

Is there a downside to choosing a legal separation?

Whether to file for a legal separation or divorce is a personal choice that must be made by an individual based on his or her personal preferences and circumstances.  Generally speaking, one of the major downsides to choosing a legal separation over a divorce is that if the parties decide that they want to divorce in the future, then they will have to re-start the process all over again, including filing a summons, petition and other financial disclosures.  This typically means more costs and more time spent on a matter that could have been resolved once around with a filing of dissolution.

What Is the Best Decision For You?

Are you unsure about which path to take?  Dream Law can help you learn more about each option while explaining each step of the process to you.  Contact Los Angeles Family Law Attorney Sanjay A. Paul at sapaul@dreamlawca.com or (626)-993-6725 to discuss your options.

Disclaimer: The preceding article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer about the individual facts of your case. 

I’m Married – Is it Too Late for a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

April 8th, 2014 | Family Law |

I’m Married – Is it Too Late for a Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

An Introduction to Post-Marital Agreements

By Sanjay A. Paul, Esq.

Attorney at Law 

            For most couples planning their nuptials, discussions of pre-nuptial, or pre-marital, agreements do not arise.  After a couple has been married for a few years, they may begin to acquire more assets, either in the form of property, income, inheritances, or investments.  As assets grow, a couple may begin to ask themselves why they did not secure a pre-nuptial agreement before.  No need to fear, however.  There is a legal device called a post-marital agreement that acts similarly to a pre-nuptial agreement, however it is devised after the couple is married, in contrast to pre-marital agreements, which are devised to be executed prior to marriage.

What is a post-marital agreement?

A post-marital agreement is a written contract executed after a couple is married or has entered into a civil union, to settle the couple’s affairs and assets in the event of a separation or divorce.  Provisions of the agreement vary widely, but commonly included provisions are for the division of property, spousal support, etc.

Why would anyone ever need a post-marital agreement?

There are several situations that may give rise to the need for a post-marital agreement: one spouse may begin to consider what spousal support will be offered to them, one spouse may have received an inheritance that he or she wishes to protect from community interest, there may have been a sudden large increase in income or assets that one spouse may like to protect from community interest.  The list of possibilities is endless.

What are some requirements of post-marital agreements?

In California, there are some rules governing post-nuptial agreements that must be followed in order for the agreement to be effective.  The first is that the agreement must be in writing.  This is a great requirement as it helps for the spouses to be able to refer to the promises that they made to each other.  The second requirement is that each spouse must have a separate lawyer.  Each spouse having a separate lawyer helps to ensure that the rights of both parties are equally represented and no spouse has an unfair advantage over the other.  In addition, a post-marital agreement must also be entered into while the marriage is still intact. A couple cannot enter into a post-marital agreement when they are anticipating a divorce. For more details, consult with an attorney today.

How can one find a post-marital agreement attorney?

            To determine whether you require a post-marital agreement, or what your post-marital agreement should contain to be effective, please feel free to consult with Sanjay A. Paul, Esq., of Dream Law.  Email sapaul@dreamlawca.com or call (626) 993-6725. www.DreamLawCA.com

Disclaimer: The preceding article is not intended to be legal advice. Please consult with a lawyer about the individual facts of your case. 

Uncontested Divorces: Why it might be the best thing you can do for yourself.

August 24th, 2013 | Uncategorized |

We’ve all heard the nightmare stories about divorces that have been dragged through court for years, with thousands of dollars spent, tens of hours of your life consumed in litigation and the use of expert witnesses, CPA’s, therapists, counsellors, witnesses and hours of testimony. There are not doubt marital dissolutions that are so complex that unfortunately they require these kind of resources. However, I am always surprised by how divorces that are not complex and that can be resolved in a fairly amicable manner are dragged through the litigation process in a process that is similar to extracting water from a stone.

What is an Uncontested Divorce?

When I say “uncontested,” I generally mean that the parties agree on (the majority) of the terms of the divorce. Couples hardly agree on every single term of the divorce, but the question you have to ask yourself is, “Is the one issue that I disagree about worth a fight in court that consumes hours of my life and will costs thousands in attorney fees?”  The better approach might be to reach a compromise.  Keep in mind, there is no win or lose in a family law case. This is about what’s doing best for yourself, the children (if there any) and moving on with your life.

Here are some tips to figure out whether you can have an uncontested divorce to make your dissolution a lot easier on your self.

Do You Agree On the Terms of your Divorce?

If you have children, property, assets and debts, then there is usually more room to disagree. However, if you do not have children and there is no property or assets, then chances are you agree on most of terms. So the first step to assessing whether you can proceed on an uncontested divorce is whether you feel you agree to most of the terms of the dissolution. There is where speaking to an attorney or hiring an attorney to advise you on your rights is instrumental. A good family law attorney can advise you on whether there are rights you are giving up in your dissolution. From there, you can assess whether it is worth fighting over

How to Choose the Right Attorney:

Attorneys come from all backgrounds and bring different styles and practices in how they handle their cases. I strongly advise that you find an attorney who works to resolve your case with as little conflict as possible and always approaches your case with a cost benefit analysis. In other words, is it worth it to take a litigious course of action to get what you want? In some cases it is. This is where an attorney that is good in court can really help your case. However, in a lot of instances it is more advantageous to both parties to reach an agreement out of court, or in court. Litigation is not always the key and the attorney you choose should boast an impressive settlement record in addition to being comfortable in court.

Feel free to give my office a call to discuss your case.  I will be happy to discuss how to effectively resolve the issues in your case.

Best,

Sanjay A. Paul, Esq.

What Couples Should Know Before Getting Married

August 4th, 2013 | Uncategorized |

If you are going to be getting married soon, chances are the words “prenuptial agreement” have crossed your mind, but you don’t know much about it ( don’t worry, most people don’t:) and you’ve been worried about bringing it up with your spouse. Most people worry that discussions around a prenuptial agreement will kill the romance prior to a wedding and might even turn-off the other spouse and create conflict.

These are fair concerns and this article will help you think about how to approach discussions around prenuptial agreements and how it can be one of the most beneficial things you can do for your relationship. Contrary to popular belief, a prenuptial agreement is not just for a wealthy spouse to protect himself or herself from marriage to a spouse with a lower net worth. It actually benefits both spouses from all backgrounds. Let me explain.

What is a Prenuptial Agreement:

A prenuptial agreement is a contract entered into prior to marriage or a civil union, that generally speaking keeps property from before marriage as separate property and avoids the creation of community property during marriage.  This avoids commingling of assets and debt and if executed properly, will be effective upon a parties dissolution.  An easy way to understand a prenuptial agreement is to think of it as,  ”what’s yours is yours, and what you earn or accumulate during marriage is yours too.”

Why a Prenuptial Agreement can be beneficial for your marriage:

When at attorney drafts a prenuptial agreement, he or she will ask both parties to list all their assets and debts in order to figure out their net worth and debt. This exercise in itself is highly beneficial, because it forces both parties to see how much the other is worth and what kind of debts they have prior to marriage. I often hear spouses during a divorce say that they had no idea the other spouse came into their marriage with so much debt or money and this is because people often times avoid that discussion.

No one likes to talk of money right? It appears cheap and is not a discussion that one wants to have while planning their dream wedding and honeymoon. However, the benefits of knowing exactly what each party is bringing into the marriage financially can lead to more trust, more understanding and present a clearer picture to both spouses about their respective financial positions in life.

Can a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Limit Child Support Payments?

It is important to know that prenuptial agreements can vary widely. However, there are a few terms that are not enforceable because they are against the law. Parties cannot limit or waive child support payments in a prenuptial agreement. In California, it is also generally unenforceable to have “at-fault” provisions in a prenuptial agreement that bar spousal support if there is infidelity in the marriage, etc.

California is a “no-fault” state, meaning that the State generally speaking does not care what the reasons for divorce are when parties file a dissolution. The law is just concerned with helping the parties start the next chapter of their lives without revisiting the reasons for a break-up.

Can a Pre-Nuptial Agreement Limit Spousal Support Payments?

Yes. It is very common to have prenuptial agreements that limit spousal support or bar the payment of spousal support. If executed properly and with the right disclosures, it can be effective.

Conclusion:

Still unsure about the nature of prenuptial agreements? You should call a reputable family law attorney to have a discussion on how a premarital agreement can benefit you and your spouse.

Comprehensive Immigration Reform 2013

February 14th, 2013 | Comprehensive Immigration Reform |

What is Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)?

CIR is the name used to describe immigration reform that is being discussed in Congress to reform a severely outdated immigration system. CIR will address backlogs in the current immigration system for lawful residents and citizens who are trying to bring family members. In addition, CIR will also tackle how to bring out of the “shadows” the roughly estimated 11 million undocumented persons in the United States.

When can we expect Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) to Pass?

The Obama administration reacting to the overwhelming support of the Latino vote during his re-election, got started on immigration reform just days after his second inauguration. The Senate has given themselves a deadline of March 1, 2013 to put together a bill for CIR that embodies the principles outlined by the Obama administration. Once a bill is introduced in the Senate it will go through markups, Senate hearings and debated and voted on the floor of the Senate. To overcome any fillibusters, the bill will need to recieve at least 60 votes.

What are the Basic Principles that will be addressed under Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR)?

President Obama has outlined 4 core principles that are likely to be part of CIR:

1) Strenghtening Border Security: Any proposal for immigration reform will include a component to prevent the continuning stream of illegal immigraiton into the United States. This will be undertaken by increasing security at the border and removing criminals from the United States.

2) Streamlining Legal Immigration: President Obama’s proposal will provide visas to foreign entrepreneurs looking to start businesses in the United States and help promising foreign graduate students in science and math stay in the U.S. after graduation.  The President’s proposal will also help reunite families in a timely manner instead of the current significant backlog of family visas.

3) Earned Citizenship for Undocumented Persons: President Obama’s proposal also provides undocumented immigrants a legal way to earn citizenship so they can come out of the shadows. It will hold undocumented persons accountable by requiring they pass background checks, pay taxes and a penalty, go to the back of the line, and learn English. It requires everyone to play by the same rules.

4) Cracking Down on Employers Hiring Undocumented Workers: President Obama’s proposal is designed to stop businesses from exploiting the system by knowingly hiring undocumented workers. It holds companies accountable, and gives employers who want to play by the rules a reliable way to verify that their employees are here legally.

Conclusion: CIR has been long overdue and Congress will be engaging in a lively discussion over the next several months. What is clear is that CIR will be landmark legislation that addresses the backlog in family pettitions and employment petitions as well as address the estimated 11 million undocumented persons in the United States.  The complete details and exact qualifications for CIR have yet to emerge, but stay tuned as we will update you as the details emerge!