How Has the Coronavirus Affected the Legal Immigration System in Georgia?
Legal Immigration System.
Díaz & Gaeta Law Firm founders, Giovanni Díaz and Zachary Gaeta have maintained a strong commitment to their community throughout the Coronavirus pandemic. Despite statewide quarantines and courthouse closure, they have continued to work open cases for clients and kept the community informed about important updates in immigration and other areas of the law their firm specializes in.
Although many businesses have shut down, partially or completely, Díaz & Gaeta Law has remained open and fully functioning throughout the pandemic. They did however make some adjustments to the way they provide their services during this time. In order to minimize exposure they have decided to operate mostly virtually. They know that this pandemic is dangerous. And, they have taken steps to minimize exposure and unnecessary risks to their team and clients. In addition, the principal attorneys made the following announcements on a series of lives on their social media, which you can see again on their Facebook page:
“We are trying to avoid in-person consultations for the sake of our employees’ and clients’ health. In addition, we continue to work during the same hours, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The consultations are being made by video-call or telephone and the first Consultation is Free”.– Díaz & Gaeta Lawyers –
How has Coronavirus affected immigration?
We know that many of you may be afraid of how the Coronavirus pandemic may affect your legal status in the country. The good news is that the pandemic has in many ways slowed down the volume of court appearances and the few who have found themselves in detention, have found relief by calling on our experienced immigration team.
The Immigration Courts
So far, Immigration courts have cancelled all non-detained cases. These cases are postponed through May 29, 2020. This means that there are no in-person hearings taking place, which can be a great advantage for those with pending cases. It’s important to speak to your attorney to determine any strategic advantages that can be gained by these cancellations.
It’s important to warn clients and prospective clients that failure to attend an immigration hearing will end in an order of deportation. So reach out to an attorney to confirm the status of your case. Information is changing at a very fast pace. Diaz & Gaeta stay informed of all announcements made by the courts.
Most importantly, detained cases continue. If you have a family member detained, it’s important to consult with an attorney to determine eligibility for release from custody and immigration relief. The attorneys at Diaz and Gaeta continue to work hard to achieve release for detained clients.
USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services)
Legal Immigration System.
USCIS continues to process immigration applications during the pandemic. Only in-person services are cancelled until June 6. This pandemic policy change has actually had a positive impact in many of our clients cases. One of the most important requirements of many immigration benefits is the in-person interview at the USCIS office. This requirement is being waived in many cases! Speak to your attorney to look at strategies to waive in-person interviews.
Another concern in immigration is the fear that seeking medical aid for Coronavirus may be used as an indicator that the applicant could be a public charge. Since February 24, 2020, when the definition of what it means to be a public charge was expanded to include some medical benefits, immigrants have been worried about seeking any sort of medical attention. But the pandemic does make way for some exceptions. If someone needs to be tested or treated for the virus, they do not need to worry about being labeled a public charge as a result.
At the Díaz & Gaeta law firm, we know that many immigrants have become unemployed and need to apply for benefits that ensure your physical and financial well-being. Right now, any aid that you receive or qualify to receive in relation to the pandemic or other pandemic related emergency benefits will not likely harm your application for residency.
For more updates on immigration in Atlanta, follow us on our social networks. We plan to bring live updates every Thursday, on our Díaz & Gaeta Facebook page via Live videos.
The State Courts and Criminal Cases
If you have been issued a traffic ticket, been accused of theft, have problems with your landlord, have a non-license charge, get in a car accident, are involved in a domestic violence incident, here’s what you need to know. State courts are closed, at least, until June 13th. So it is very important that you get legal representation as soon as possible for any legal matter that would require you to appear in court or to manage a case remotely.
If you had a ticket in court, you were detained and you are out of jail, you will not likely be scheduled for a hearing any time soon. When you are scheduled you can expect the courts to be fully saturated. If you have already had a hearing scheduled for a date before June 13, please check your mail for a reschedule date and make sure you are ready. Cases for non-detainees have been canceled and rescheduled.
If you changed your address and did not report it, you must notify the courts as soon as possible. Remember that by failing to appear in court, allows judges to issue a deportation order in absentia and can have negative consequences for your status in the country.
For people in detention, judges and lawyers continue to have preliminary and final hearings. Although there are no jury trials being conducted at this moment, Diaz and Gaeta are fighting to get clients’ cases resolved so that they do not need to wait longer in custody for a jury trial. This is sometimes accomplished by negotiating a reduction in charges that avoids having to wait for trial and can save time for the clients.
Unfortunately, cases of domestic violence have increased during the coronavirus pandemic because couples have been forced to remain locked up at home. If you are a victim of domestic violence, don’t be afraid to call the police because they will listen to you. Call the police and allow them to make a detailed report of the situation. Judges continue to hear cases and if their case is favorable, they can issue a restraining order for 12 months so that they do not have direct or indirect communication with the aggressor.
If you are a victim and an immigrant, you may also wish to explore immigration benefits. If you are a victim of domestic violence, and there is a police report and or arrest made to initiate criminal proceedings, you may qualify to get a U Visa.
The U Visa is a tool of the Prosecutor’s Office. If a person lends, testifies, and maintains direct communication with the Prosecutor’s Office, they can obtain a certificate that allows them to submit their request. In addition, if you do not make any mistakes during the next 3 years, you can make the residence request. The great advantage of having a U Visa is that it forgives you of other crimes you have committed in the past, such as deportation.
Conflicts between tenants and landlords
Conflicts between tenants and landlords have increased as a result of the pandemic. However the rules are a bit different when it comes to legal disputes about rent payments. Given the economic crisis, it is expected that many tenants will not be able to pay their rent when it is due. So while under normal circumstances, late payments can be cause for a landlord to initiate eviction proceedings against the tenant, Coronavirus has changed that.
There are people who have lost their income due to the loss of employment and cannot pay their rent. In Atlanta and some surrounding counties, there is a suspension of all eviction orders because of the special circumstances that we are in. It is also partially in effect because the Courts are closed and, for the moment, they are not admitting these types of cases.
If you are late making payments for your home, the Díaz & Gaeta law firm advises you to contact the owner of the apartment or home you are renting or leasing as soon as possible to establish a payment plan. If you are threatened with eviction it is important to know your rights and contact an attorney to defend you right away.
Auto accidents and arrests for non-license
During the pandemic traffic decreased significantly as people stayed at home more. But essential workers continue to drive to go to work and stay at home ordinances are lifted, we anticipate that traffic will increase to nearly normal levels. This means that there will be more chances of being in a car accident. The pandemic has not changed the way these types of cases are handled much. the same basic guidelines apply:
- Seek medical attention if you need it.
- Call the police to report the accident.
- Do not flee the scene, especially if you were not at fault.
- Don’t be afraid and don’t be silent. Tell the police everything that happened.
- If you are arrested for driving without a license and were injured, you still may be compensated for your injuries.
- Call an experienced attorney right away.
If you were not at fault for the accident, get as much evidence of that as possible even if you were driving without a license, you are entitled to compensation that covers damages to your car, personal injury, and medical expenses.
At Díaz & Gaeta Law Firm, we have been helping the community for many years, and for that reason, we are recognized as the preferred providers of legal representation for auto accident cases, criminal cases, and immigration cases. If you, a family member or a friend need legal help, don’t hesitate to call us. Your first consultation is free.