Adjustment of Status
A large part of Aust Schmiechen’s practice is representing individuals who apply for Adjustment of Status to be a Lawful Permanent Resident (‘Green Card’). There are many ways a person can apply for a Green Card. It could be based on: marriage to a U.S. Citizen, through employment if a Labor Certification has been filed by an employer, if you have a close family member (parent, child or brother/sister) who filed a family petition for you, or if you came to the United States as a refugee or were granted asylum. Aust Schmiechen can assist in all these aspects of Lawful Permanent Resident applications, from filing the necessary forms and documentation to preparing for and attending the interview at the USCIS office.

If you have experienced harm in your home country or fear that you will be hurt if you return to your country of origin, you may be eligible to seek asylum in the United States. Attorneys at Aust Schmiechen represent a large number of asylum seekers in Minnesota and throughout the country. We represent asylum seekers in front of both the Asylum Office and the Immigration Court. Our asylum legal services include preparing or supplementing the I-589 application, and working with clients to write a statement about who they are, what happened to them in the past and what they fear will occur in the future should they return to their country. We also work with our clients to identify documents or witnesses that will help prove the individual’s asylum claim. Additionally, we assist our asylum clients to renew their work authorization documents and change their address with the U.S. government. Most importantly, we understand that seeking asylum in the United States can be stressful; as such, we try to provide care and support to each of our clients throughout this difficult process. 

Citizenship and Naturalization
Once a person has been a Lawful Permanent Resident for 5 years (3 years if married to and living with a U.S. Citizen), theycan apply for naturalization (citizenship). The attorneys at Aust Schmiechen can assist in preparing the necessary forms and paperwork as well as prepare you for and attend your interview. Also, citizenship for minor children can be acquired automatically once the parent becomes a U.S. Citizen. The attorneys of Aust Schmiechen can assist in applying for a child’s Certificate of Citizenship or Certificate of Report of Birth Abroad.

Consular Processing
Not all immigration cases occur in the United States. In cases where a person is overseas, the law requires a person apply for a visa (immigrant or nonimmigrant) at a U.S. Consulate. The attorneys of Aust Schmiechen assist in making sure applicants for visas at overseas Consulates have all of the required paperwork and are prepared to be interviewed by a consular officer when applying for a visa.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
Are you a person who entered the United States before your 16th birthday? If so, you may be eligible for DACA. Eligible applicants who meet the age and entry requirements, and have lived in the United States since January 1, 2010 without long absences, were physically in the United States on June 15, 2012 and are currently out of status, have a high school diploma, GED or a working toward a diploma, were honorably discharged from the military and have limited criminal records may request DACA. We can help you apply for DACA even if you are in immigration court.

Employment Immigration (H-1B, Labor Certification, etc.)
People with certain skills can either temporarily or permanently live and work in the United States. The most common visa for temporary work is the H-1B visa, where an employer seeks to hire a foreign born person for a “specialty occupation” (defined as a position that requires a college Bachelor’s degree or higher). There are currently 85,000 visas available per year (20,000 are set aside for persons with U.S. acquired Masters degrees). Permanent employment based immigration is possible starting with individuals with little skill up to those with international awards of recognition for skills and research. The employment based system for permanent immigration to the United States is complex and the wait can take many years. The most commonly understood process is “Labor Certification”. This process involves the filing of a form with the Department of Labor showing that an employer has tested the labor market for a particular job but was unable to find qualified U.S. workers. If approved, the employer then files a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If that petition is then approved, the foreign worker can then apply for Adjustment of Status (“green card”). Some higher tier categories of workers (researchers, professors, executives/managers and individuals of extraordinary or outstanding ability) do not require a Labor Certification. However, they are required to submit extensive proof of their background to demonstrate qualification in these upper tiers. The attorneys of Aust Schmiechen are experienced in all areas of employment based immigration and can assist in finding a category that suits your needs and abilities.

Family Immigration (Marriage, fiancé(e), parents, children, brother/sister)
Currently, immigration law provides that U.S. Citizens can file petitions for the following family members – husband/wife, child, adult son or daughter (single or married), mother, father, brother sister. Lawful Permanent Residents can file petitions for the following family members – husband/wife, child, adult son or daughter (single only). Spouses, parents and minor children of U.S. Citizens are considered “immediate relatives” and can apply for adjustment of status (“Green Card”) or an immigrant visa right away. All other categories are subject to an established annual quota of immigrant visas. The wait times vary by category from a couple to more than 20 years – see The Visa Bulletin.  The attorneys at Aust Schmiechen can help you immigrate your family members either in the U.S. or at a U.S. Consulate.

GLBT Matters
On June 26, 2013, in the case Windsor v. United States, the U.S. Supreme Court held that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defined marriage for purposes of federal law as only between one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. For purposes of seeking federal benefits, USCIS and the State Department, in the wake of the Windsor decision, have stated that their agencies will recognize any marriage, including between same-sex spouses. This means that a U.S. Citizen can file an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (if already married) or an I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) (if not yet married) for their same-sex spouse or fiancé(e). There are even implications for persons who have a non-immigrant visa and who are married to a person of the same gender.

I-9 Compliance
Are you an employer with questions about the I-9 form? Do you worry about which documents are acceptable proof of employment authorization in the event of an audit of your business? We can help answer any questions you have about your existing employees and files before a government audit.

Immigration Custody
Do you have a family member in the custody of the Department of Homeland Security? We can assist with bond hearings, custody reviews as well as facilitate communication with the Office of Enforcement and Removal regarding medical conditions in the detention facilities and other custody related matters.

Notice of Intent to Deny/Revoke
Did you receive a letter from USCIS telling you it is planning to deny your immigration application or take away your immigrant petition? We can help you identify and address USCIS’s concerns and write a persuasive legal memo urging the United States government to approve your case.

Removal (Deportation) Defense
Has the United States Government asked you to come to Immigration Court? If so, we can help you explain why you should be allowed to stay in the United States through your family, asylum or other immigration laws that you may qualify for.

Special Immigrant Juvenile, U and VAWA
United States immigration law provides special protection for children who have been abandoned, for domestic violence victims and for crime victims. If you are such a person, you may be eligible for a special visa. We can carefully guide you through any one of these humanitarian processes so you can be safe.

Temporary Protected Status
When natural or human made disasters befall certain countries, the President has the authority grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to people in the United States. A person who is granted TPS is given a work permit and is allowed to remain in the United States. The U.S. currently has TPS programs for persons from El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.

Certain individuals are not eligible to apply for Lawful Permanent Residency. The specific reasons for ineligibility are many, but generally fall into the following categories – health related grounds, criminal grounds and immigration violations. If a person is determined by USCIS or a U.S. Consulate overseas to be ineligible for a visa, then U.S. immigration law offers the possibility in some cases to apply for waiver of that particular ground of ineligibility. The attorneys of Aust Schmiechen are experienced in the intricacies of waivers and can assist in these waiver process.