Thousands of people nationwide and around the world are going through the strenuous and lengthy immigration process in this country. This includes individuals out of the country and living in the U.S. who are attempting to gain or change their immigration status. It’s essential to understand how federal law impacts New York immigration and which New York laws impact immigrants when they are living in the state.
Immigration Laws in New York
Under federal law, the states can’t pass immigration regulations. Immigration law itself is strictly controlled by federal laws, although states can have legislation that impacts immigrant benefits or documentation requirements, among other things, once immigrants are in the state. Federal immigration laws can be complex and constantly changing.
Federal Agencies That Govern Immigration Law
The governance and enforcement of immigration laws are determined by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of State. The U.S. Department of State is responsible for issuing temporary, permanent, immigrant, and nonimmigrant visas. The State Department is also responsible for determining how many of each visa will be available and running the visa lottery. It is not responsible for customs, border protection, and actually allowing immigrants entry.
The DHS is responsible for enforcing borders and allowing or denying entry. The DHS manages several agencies that handle immigration law:
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The USCIS processes applications and interviews for green cards, sponsorship immigration application documents, and oversees the naturalization process and interview. It also administers the naturalization tests, certain types of visas, and specific immigration benefits. The USCIS also manages background checks, oversees foreign adoptions, and grants asylum. This is one of the most frequently dealt with agencies for immigrants.
- S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP)
The CBP is responsible for securing U.S. borders and points of entry. It inspects and admits or denies individuals and cargo entering the U.S. to prevent illegal immigration and potential threats to the country.
- S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)ICE investigates and enforces immigration law violations within the U.S. This includes the identification, detainment, and deportation of undocumented immigrants. Actions by ICE are meant to prioritize illegal immigrants who are a potential security threat.
Non-citizens in New York and the U.S. may be non-immigrant visa holders or permanent residents with green cards. Some non-citizens can go through the naturalization process to become U.S. citizens after a certain period of time with permanent resident status.
New York Laws That Impact Immigrants
There are certain state laws and benefits that apply to immigrants in New York. These include:
- -Green Light Law
Under the state’s Green Light Law, applicants 16 and older can apply for a driver’s license, regardless of their citizenship status and documentation. An individual without a Social Security number can apply for a standard non-federal, non-commercial driver’s license. There are several other forms of ID that immigrants can use to obtain a license as long as the ID shows proof of their name, date of birth, and state residency.
- -NY Assembly Bill 9612
This bill granted undocumented students access to in-state tuition and limited allowance to state financial aid and scholarships. This same access was provided to students who received status under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
Students must still meet specific qualifications to receive these benefits, including attending a state high school for a minimum of 2 years and graduating or obtaining a GED from a state high school. Qualifications also include proof of state residency, applying to attend higher education within 5 years after earning their high school diploma, and filing an affidavit stating that they will apply for legal documentation when possible.
Q: What Is the New York Immigration Act?
A: The New York for All Act is a proposed bill that would generally prevent state and local law enforcement from carrying out federal immigration laws in the state of New York. The bill would also limit law enforcement from sharing certain information with federal authorities and lessen their ability to move people to the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The bill also has additional restrictions on ICE and Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), which are intended to protect the rights of individuals.
Q: What Is the Cost of an Immigration Lawyer in New York?
A: The cost of an immigration attorney in New York depends on the complexity of the service needed. On average, the hourly cost of an immigration attorney is $150 to $300. However, not all immigration law services are charged on an hourly basis. Straightforward legal issues, such as filing basic forms and applications, will likely be billed on a flat fee. Legal defense for crimes that threaten immigration status and deportation defense is likely to be billed hourly. A longer and more complex case will be more expensive. A more experienced attorney will likely have higher rates, but they may also secure a better result for the case more efficiently.
Q: Can Immigrants Work in New York?
A: Yes, immigrants to New York can work, and many immigrants apply to immigrate to the U.S. on a work visa. Anyone who is working in New York is covered by employment and labor protections and laws, no matter their immigration status. An experienced immigration attorney knows how the specific local, state, and federal laws apply to your unique situation.
Q: What Is the New 7-Year Immigration Law?
A: The 7-year immigration law, called the Dignity Program, is a proposed federal bill that would enable certain undocumented immigrants to gain permanent legal status if certain conditions are met. Undocumented immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for at least 5 years would be able to begin the program if the bill passes. For 7 years, those individuals would pay a tax toward citizenship, pay any outstanding taxes owed, and pass a criminal background check. Most individuals would need to be gainfully employed or completing schooling during that time.
The Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC: Your New York Immigration Attorneys
At the Law Offices of Robert Tsigler, PLLC, we have worked for years in immigration law and understand the intricacies of federal and state immigration policies. If you need individualized and knowledgeable legal representation or support for an immigration issue, contact our firm.