Not all drug crimes are created equal. Being caught with a very small amount of marijuana is not the same as being caught with heroin. The penalties for possession vary based on the type of drug, but make no mistake, possession of any controlled substance is a serious crime.
The State of Georgia has complex controlled substances statutes. These laws dictate the classification for different types of drugs, and determine the severity of penalties.
Controlled substances classifications
Georgia classifies substances by “schedules.” There are five levels of controlled substances, based primarily on the potential for abuse.
The substances in this category have the highest potential for a abuse. These drugs also have no accepted medical use and are not considered safe even under the supervision of a medical professional.
Examples of schedule I narcotics include heroin, LSD and even marijuana.
Like schedule I substances, these drugs have a high potential for abuse. The difference is that schedule II drugs are used for medical purposes under supervision. These substances also have a high likelihood of psychological or physical dependency.
Examples include OxyContin and morphine.
Schedule III drugs come with a lower risk of abuse, but are still considered dangerous and have a low or moderate risk of abuse or dependency. These are more commonly used by medical professionals.
Examples include Vicodin and anabolic steroids.
Schedule IV and V
These are the lowest classifications of controlled substances. Schedule IV and V include substances that are more commonly prescribed by medical professionals and have a lower potential for abuse or dependency.
Schedule IV substances include Xanax and Ambien. Schedule V includes cough medicines with low amounts of codeine.
Drug possession charges should not be taken lightly — the lowest level offenses can include prison time. Even possession of a small amount of marijuana could land you in jail. Possessing any amount of marijuana over 1 oz is a felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison with a 1 year mandatory minimum, as well as fines.
Penalties for other drug possession charges are as follows:
•2 to 15 years in prison for schedule I or II drugs, with up to 30 years for subsequent convictions.
•2 to 15 years in prison for non-narcotic schedule II drugs, with 5 to 30 years for subsequent convictions.
•1 to 5 years in prison for schedule III, IV or V drugs, with 1 to 10 years for subsequent convictions.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking that possession isn’t a serious crime. Don’t be fooled. Possessing any controlled substance puts you at risk for life-altering penalties.
To discuss the specifics of your case:
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If you handle your case correctly, and your fiancée is not from a country that is considered to have high fraud, then the total wait should be between 7 to 9 months in 2018. The majority of our cases are being completed in about 8 months. Prior to Trump taking office, the fiancée visa timeline was closer to 6 months. This fiancée visa timeline can change. This blog article will explain, in detail, about the fiancée visa timeline.
The most important thing you can do is file a quality fiancée visa petition with USCIS. If you are missing evidence or have other mistakes in your case it is likely that your case will take longer than average. This is why it makes sense to at least consult with an experienced immigration attorney about your situation. The attorney will review you case and point out weak areas or areas which may cause your case to be delayed or denied. You can then take the steps to fix those areas prior to filing your case.
You will file your case with USCIS.
A Notice of Action will be sent to you from USCIS in a few weeks. The notice of action is meant to let you know that USCIS has received your packet and that the case is being processed. After this your case will go quiet. You really should not hear anything for the next 5 to 7 months. (This wait is quite a bit longer than the wait time just a couple of years ago)
If all is well with your case you will receive USCIS approval at this point. Unfortunately, this does not mean that your case has been approved (if only it were that easy). It just means that you have passed the first of three hurdles. Your case will now be sent to National Visa Center. At the National Visa Center level your case will be assigned a new Department of State case number. After the National Visa Center assigns a new case number your case will be sent to the local American embassy or consulate. They will process the remaining part of the fiancée visa case.
The interview should take place sometime within the next month 2 to 3 months. The wait time will primarily be based on the number of cases being processed at the time your case is there. At this stage your fiancée will have her very important interview, have her medical examination done, and be told about obtaining other documents to finalize her case. She needs to make sure that she complies with everything that is requested of her at this point in the process.
The interview is very important. This will probably be the most important interview in your fiancé’s life. If it goes well then she will be able to start her life with you in the United States in a short amount of time. If it does not go well you may have to refile the whole case and start over. This could take an additional 8 months or longer.
The key thing is that she know about you and your life. She should know you very well in order to have a successful interview. She should know about your life in the United States. She should know where you live, what kind of work you do, and all about your family . If you have a criminal past she should know about this and not find out about it at the interview. In addition, she should know about any past marriages. You may wish to read our article about the fiancée visa interview process. This includes the fiancée visa interview questions.
Assuming all goes well at the consulate the fiancée visa will be granted. Congratulations! Approval generally happens in about a week to 10 days. You are then eligible to enter the United States with your fiancée visa.
You will receive a sealed packet that must not be opened until you come to your port of entry. The fiancée visa is valid for 6 months and is a one time entry. I have had potential clients ask if they can get married in the United States and then immediately go to Mexico or another country for their honeymoon. As the fiancée visa is a one time entry visa I have had to tell them that unfortunately they will not be able to honeymoon in Mexico right after their wedding. Instead they will need to get married within 90 days and then file for their fiancée’s green card via adjustment of status. Once they file for adjustment of status there will be a 3-6 month wait to receive a work/travel card. (Btw: there is no rhyme or reason as to why some clients receive this card in 3 months and some receive it closer to 6 months. The results really seem to be random. This is a lot different than even a couple of years ago when everyone seemed to receive this card about 3 months after their adjustment of status case was filed with USCIS.) They can use this travel card (advance parole) in order to travel outside of the United States for their honeymoon. Thankfully, many of our clients are in California and there are plenty of places to go for their honeymoon in California. Once the travel card is issued, assuming that they entered on a fiancée visa, they can then go out of the country for a trip.
I hope you enjoyed this blog article about the fiancée visa timeline. Just a reminder that this timeline is just an estimate and can, and probably will, change over time. You can make sure the case moves as quickly as possible by filing a quality petition with USCIS and timely responding and turning in requested evidence when requested.
To discuss the specifics of your case, call us at 678.324-8511 or e-mail us at email@example.com today to learn more.
In what appeared to be a win for civil rights the Supreme Court defined what “notices to appear” in immigration court as defective if they did not provide a (1) date, (2) time, and (3) location for an immigrant to appear in court. The Immigration Customs and Enforcement’s (ICE) own paperwork requires this information! It is only common sense that a person can’t honor the requirement to show up without knowing when and where.
The ruling issued in June 2018 affects immigrants’ applications for cancellation of removal proceedings. The cancellation of removal application must show that the person has resided in the U.S. for a defined amount of time. ICE argued that, even if it is defective, the notice to appear stopped the immigrant’s accrual of time toward their minimum stay. In other words, it eliminated their ability to show they met the burden for length of stay.
The Board of Immigration Appeals issued a new rule in September 2018 skirting the Supreme Court decision. If ICE issues a notice later that includes the date, time and place that counts as a correction to the original notice to appear. According to the BIA, the date of the original notice becomes valid and thus stopped the accumulation of time on that earlier date.
If the BIA rule is allowed to stand then immigrants will lose some of their required residency time despite the fact they have been physically present. A skilled immigration attorney can assist with this tricky, yet unfair practice. Losing some of their required residency time despite the fact they have been physically present can also mean that immigrants and their attorneys may not be able to determine whether the applicant met the minimum physical presence requirement for cancellation of removal.
Essentially the BIA is saying it it does not have to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, or at least the spirit of it.
Experienced immigration attorneys provide your best chance to fight defective notices to appear and obtain a cancellation of removal. We have the knowledge to help you with your individual situation. Click here or call us at (678) 324-8511 for an evaluation of how we can help you!
Green Card for Battered Spouse, Children & Parents
“Our office has assisted many abused spouses to obtain the legal residency using the VAWA (Violence Against Women Act). You can apply for this benefit even if you under deportation and even if you entered the U.S. illegaly.” As a battered spouse, child or parent, you may file an immigrant visa petition under the Violence against Women Act (VAWA). VAWA allows certain spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) to file a petition for themselves without the abusers’ knowledge. This will allow you to seek both safety and independence from the abuser. The provisions of VAWA apply equally to women and men. Your abuser will not be notified that you have filed for immigration benefits under VAWA. Help is also available for battered spouse, child or parents from the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224. The hotline has information about shelters, mental heath care, legal advice and other types of assistance, including information about filing for immigration status.
Who is Eligible to File as a Battered Spouse, Parent or Child
- Spouse: You may file for yourself if you are, or were, the abused spouse of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. You may also include on your petition your unmarried children who are under 21 if they have not filed for themselves.
- Parent: You may file for yourself if you are the parent of a child who has been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse. You may include on your petition your children, including those who have not been abused, if they have not filed for themselves. You may also file if you are the parent of a U.S. citizen, and you have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
- Child: You may file for yourself if you are an abused child under 21, unmarried and have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent. Your children may also be included on your petition. You may file for yourself as a child after age 21 but before age 25 if you can demonstrate that the abuse was the main reason for the delay in filing.
Eligibility Requirements for a Green Card as a Battered Spouse under VAWA
- married to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or
- your marriage to the abuser was terminated by death or a divorce (related to the abuse) within the 2 years prior to filing, or
- your spouse lost or renounced citizenship or permanent resident status within the 2 years prior to filing due to an incident of domestic violence, or
- you believed that you were legally married to your abusive U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse but the marriage was not legitimate solely because of the bigamy of your abusive spouse.
- have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse, or
- have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse abroad while your spouse was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services, or
- you are the parent of a child who has been subjected to abuse by your U.S. citizen or permanent spouse.
- entered into the marriage in good faith, not solely for immigration benefits.
- You have resided with your spouse.
- You are a person of good moral character.
Eligibility Requirements for a Battered Child under VAWA
- are the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser or
- were the child of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident abuser who lost citizenship or lawful permanent resident status due to an incident of domestic violence.
- have been abused in the United States by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent or
- have been abused by your U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent abroad while your parent was employed by the U.S. government or a member of the U.S. uniformed services.
- You have resided with the abusive parent.
- You have evidence to prove your relationship to your parent.
- You must provide evidence of good moral character if you are over the age of 14.
Eligibility Requirements for a Battered Parent
- You are the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter or were the parent of a U.S. citizen son or daughter who lost or renounced citizenship status related to an incident of domestic violence or died within 2 years prior to filing.
- You have been abused by your U.S. citizen son or daughter.
- You have resided with the abusive son or daughter.
- You are a person of good moral character.
Filing Process for Battered Spouse, Child or Parent
- You must complete the Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, including all supporting documentation.
- You must file the form with the Vermont Service Center (VSC).
- If you meet all filing requirements, you will receive a notice (Prima Facie Determination Notice) valid for 150 days that you can present to government agencies that provide certain public benefits to certain victims of domestic violence.
- If your Form I-360 is approved and you do not have legal immigration status in the United States, we may place you in deferred action, which allows you to remain in the United States.
Working in the United States If you have an approved Form I-360 and have been placed in deferred action, you are eligible to apply to work in the United States. To apply to work in the United States, you must file the Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, with the Vermont Service Center. Your children listed on your approved Form I-360, may also apply for work authorization. For more information on working in the United States, see the “Working in the U.S.” link to the right.
Permanent Residence (Green Card) for Battered Spouse, Child or Parent)
If you have an approved Form I-360, you may be eligible to file for a green card. Your children listed on your approved Form I-360 may also be eligible to apply for a green card.
To discuss the specifics of your case, call us at 678.324-8511 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org today to learn more.