Immigration Double Talk


By Johnson Lazaro, Attorney At Law

Ever go in a lawyer’s office with some pressing immigration questions only to have the attorney spit out some foreign immigration jargon.   You can call it legal talk or gibberish or mumbo jumbo or whatever but you don’t really understand what it means?  In the immigration legal community, there are many terms we use that we presume the lay person knows.  And sometimes we, lawyers, forget to explain.  So – here are explanations for some commonly used immigration law terms.


Grandfathered Petition.We hear lawyers talk about a visa petition being grandfathered.  No –  it has nothing to do with your grandpa.   This is a term used for a visa petition filed on or before April 30, 2001, and which was approvable when filed. This can also mean an approval labor certification application filed on or before April 30, 200.  If you meet the definition of a “grandfathered alien” you may apply for adjustment of status and become a lawful permanent resident (LPR).


EWI.  No – EWI is not a prehistoric type of dinosaur.   Sometimes Immigration Officers notate EWI on immigration forms or applications. EWI is Entry Without Inspection.  Everyone who enters the United States must be properly inspected by an immigration officer. Anyone entering the U.S. with out inspection is subject to removal or deportation. If you are EWI, it does not necessarily mean that you must leave the U.S. There may be immigration solutions available to you.  For instance if you have been EWI for over ten years, clean criminal record, and an immediate relative, you may be eligible to stay.  Another example is if you are EWI but you have a “grandfathered petition.”  You may be eligible to adjust your status. See an immigration lawyer.


Section 245(i).This is a big.  An explanation of this term would take up the entire page of this newspaper much to the dismay of my editor.  So in a nutshell, this is the section of the immigration law that allows “illegal aliens” to adjust their status if eligible.  If you are EWI you may be eligible for 245(i).  If you are “grandfathered” you still may be eligible for 245(i).  This relief is currently not in effect.  However, there are murmurs in Washington that the Democrats may revive 245(i).  If you think that you may be qualified under Section 245(i) please don’t go into the immigration office to apply, they may not let you out.  Please see a qualified immigration attorney.


VAWA.   The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) was enacted in 1994 to provide both protection to and a means to legalize status for battered spouses and children of U.S. citizens and LPRs. This law allows victims of abuse at the hands of U.S. citizens or LPR spouses or parents to self petition and obtain lawful status.


NOID.Notice of Intent to Deny.  When you get a NOID don’t be annoyed.  This means that the immigration may have found you ineligible for your immigration application.  You may be granted some time to solve the problem but you need to work fast and smart. Getting a NOID may not be the end of the world but you need to see an attorney and figure why immigration wants to deny your application.


IIRAIRA.  Immigration lawyers love talking about IIRAIRA.  IIRAIRA is not the immigration drag queen.  The long of it is: Illegal Immigrant Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996.  The past decade in immigration has been shaped by IIRAIRA.  Thousands of immigrants were removed or deported under IIRAIRA in the past several years. IIRAIRA eliminated many forms of relief for individuals convicted of aggravated felonies, including the elimination of cancellation of removal, asylum, and certain waivers for LPRs. This law greatly expanded the definition of aggravated felonies to include most crimes. It may have hurt more immigrants than any other immigration law in US history.  On the political end, this maybe something that Democrats need to scrutinize and reconsider.


Deportability and Removability.  These two words are the favorites of Immigration Judges and Immigration Agents. Again, to make it short, these terms mean that the US government wants to forcibly remove you from the country. Whenever you see these words next to your name, be afraid – be very afraid.  Deportablity or removability will apply to you if you have immigration violations (including overstays, individuals present without lawful inspection, and smugglers); criminal grounds (including crimes involving moral turpitude, aggravated felonies, controlled substance violations, weapon offenses, domestic violence, and crimes against children); security grounds; false claims to citizenship and unlawful voting charges; public charge grounds; and charges relating to failure to register or falsification of documents.


Lawyers will always talk in legal mumbo jumbo. As a client you need to know what he or she is talking about.  You can’t make an informed decision about your future, if you don’t understand the terms. These legal terms may carry harsh consequences for you and your family.  Don’t be timid when it comes to having your lawyer explain.  Have your lawyer explain the doubletalk or the babble gabble.  Simply ask your lawyer: “What are you talking about”?


This article should not be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This is not meant to create a lawyer-client relationship. For questions please call 866-237-9555 or Email:  [email protected]