Immigration Attorneys in Los Angeles - Immigration Lawyers Los Angeles

Ortega, Canossa & Associates, Plc

IMMIGRATION ATTORNEYS

Client Frequently Asked Questions

What are your hours and days of operation?

What services are included in my contract?

What documents do I need to provide to my attorney?

Will your attorneys represent me in my immigration interview?

Do I need to hire an interpreter for my immigration interview?

Will your attorneys serve as interpreters in immigration interviews?

Who do I hire to be my interpreter to assist me in my immigration interview?

Will your attorneys represent me in Immigration Court?

Do I need to hire an interpreter to my appointment before the Immigration Court?

What do I say at my Immigration Court Hearing?

What can I expect to happen in Immigration Court?

What documents do I need to bring to Immigration interview or Court hearing date?

What attire should I wear for my immigration interview or Court?

At what time should I arrive for my immigration interview or Court?

What do I say at my immigration interview?

What can I expect to happen in an immigration interview?

Can I apply for a work permit?

How long will it take so I can obtain my first work permit?

How long will my work permit (EAD) be current?

What is a biometric (BIOS) appointment with an Application Support Center ("ASC")?

Why do I need a biometric (BIOS) immigration appointment?

How do I obtain a biometric (BIOS) immigration appointment?

What is a criminal history report?

Why do I need a criminal history Report?

How do I obtain my criminal history report?

What is a CA DOJ report?

Why do I need a CA DOJ Report?

How do I obtain my CA DOJ report?

What is a criminal court disposition?

Why do I need a criminal court disposition?

How do I obtain a criminal court disposition?

How do I get involved to support immigration reform?


What are your hours and days of operation?

The office of Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC is open Monday through Thursday from 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. and Friday from 8 A.M to 5 P.M. Visitors can schedule their consultation at 10:30 A.M., 3:30 P.M. or 5:00 P.M. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The office of Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC observes the following holidays: New Years Eve, Good Friday, Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanks Giving Day and Christmas Day. During these days, the office will be closed. For more information please visit our Office Information webpage.


What services are included in my contract?

All services included are specifically detailed in the retainer contract. Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC provides a copy of the retainer contract to every client. In every case, we allow all the time necessary for each client to read the complete contract agreement before signing it. We encourage our clients to ask all questions about our contract before signing it. Appeals to denials of Applications for benefits are not included unless specifically agreed in the purpose of the retainer.  


What documents do I need to provide to my attorney?

An attorney from Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC may provide you with a list of documents that you should bring on the day that you sign your contract. However, in case no request of documents is made in advance, an attorney will provide you a list of the documents needed at the start of your immigration process. Every case is different, so documents will be requested according to the special circumstances of your case. However, for every case, clients will need to bring the following basic documents: Foreign or local identification document or driver's license, birth certificate, passport, marriage certificate (if married), divorce certificate (if divorced), children's birth certificate for all children (if applicable) and a CA DOJ record. Bringing ALL of the requested documents at once is highly recommended as it will accelerate your immigration process and will allow us to serve you better.


Will your attorneys represent me in my immigration interview?

Yes, if contracted to do so. The attorneys at Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC can practice immigration law (which is federal law) in all states of the United States. In other words, our attorneys are authorized to represent clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service all throughout the United States.


Do I need to hire an interpreter for my immigration interview (outside of Immigration Court)?

Yes.


Will your attorneys serve as interpreter in my immigration interviews?

No.  Attorneys in general are not allowed to interpret for their clients before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. However, our attorneys are still authorized to appear with you in your interviews. Clients are required to take an interpreter to Immigration interviews before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (outside of Immigration Court.)


Who do I hire to be my interpreter to assist me in my immigration interview?

The interpreter does not need to be certified, but must master both English and your native language. The interpreter must have authorization to be present in the United States. If you find your own interpreter, the interpreter must call Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC at least a week in advance of the appointment so that we can verify his/her knowledge of both languages. Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC can provide you with a list of names of individuals who previously assisted clients as interpreters. These individuals offer their independent contractual service. All interpreters must produce an official and current identification document at the time of the interview.


Will your attorneys represent me in Immigration Court?

Yes, if contracted to do so. The attorneys at Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC can practice immigration law (which is federal law) in all states of the United States. In other words, our attorneys are authorized to represent clients before the Executive Office of Immigration Review including all Immigration Courts of the United States and the Board of Immigration Appeals all throughout the United States. before


Do I need to take an interpreter to my appointment before the Immigration Court?

No.


What do I say at my Immigration Court Hearing?

An attorney will keep a close relationship with you and will prepare you to be ready for your specific court proceedings before the Executive Office for Immigration Review. We will advise you to be forthcoming and tell the truth. There is usually no wrong or right answer. But the answer must be truthful at all times. Please keep in mind that at times where you do not feel comfortable giving a specific answer, you can ask the Immigration Judge to allow you to speak to your attorney in private before giving your response. We will in turn support your decision and ask the Immigration Judge for a recess so we can discuss your concerns.


During initial or master hearings you can expect to be asked basic questions such as your name, address and whether you wish to be represented by an attorney. However, this is not a rule, and in some instances you will be asked more in dept questions.


During final or individual hearings you can expect to be asked many in dept questions.  Before granting you an immigration benefit, the trial attorney and the Immigration Judge will be interested in learning about you and the way you lead your life.  Most of the time, you will have the answer to their questions. Your answer will be based on your own biographical information and past lived experiences.


It is very important that the trial attorney and Immigration Judge finds you credible. If you don't know the answer to a question, you should answer accordingly. You must think before committing to an answer since discrepancies in your testimony will matter and will complicate your case.


It is important that you remember the dates of the important events in your life. For example, you should know your date of birth, date of marriage (if married), all of your children's dates of birth (if you have children), dates of entry and departure from the United States, dates of residence and employment, dates of your arrests (if you have been arrested), and important dates in your immigration process such as dates of filing, fingerprint appointments, interviews and appearances.


What can I expect to happen in Immigration Court?

There are two types of immigration court hearings: master also called initial hearings and merits also called individual hearings. However, in some instances, Immigration Judges will mark a hearing that is not expected to be a final hearing as a merits hearing.


During master hearings, pleadings are taken, relief is requested, and applications and other supplemental documents related to the case are filed. In these hearings, the case is prepared so that it can be reviewed on a merits or individual hearing. If you have an attorney, during a master hearing the Judge or the government attorney is not likely to ask you many questions. Your attorney will be the one answering most questions. With a few exceptions, your hearing before the Judge should only last a few minutes. You can expect to be asked your name, your address and telephone number, any other names that you have used, and (if you have an attorney) if you want your attorney to represent you. However, you must be prepared to answer any questions that the Immigration Judge or the government attorney may have.   When you don't have an attorney during your first hearing you can request for a reasonable continuance so that you can hire one at no cost for the government. In most cases this time should be allowed. However, if you continue to appear to a master hearing without an attorney, you will be expected to represent yourself and in these circumstances although your hearings might still remain short, you will be asked additional questions and will be expected to file your own documents according to the Immigration Court Procedures Manual.  Although it is uncommon (for non-detainee matters), in certain cases, in one of these hearings the Immigration Judge may decide whether you must depart or can remain in the United States.


Merits hearings, with the exception noted above are scheduled once substantial documentary evidence has been submitted and the case seems ready for a decision by the Immigration Judge. During a Merits hearing, as stated in the hearing's title, the merits of your case is to be considered. At a merits hearing you will be expected to answer many questions that will be asked by your attorney, the government attorney, and the Immigration Judge. In many cases, merits hearings take much longer to complete than your regular master hearings. It is during one of these hearings that the Immigration Judge will decide whether you must depart or can remain in the United States. In the interest of efficiency, your attorney should prepare you so that on the date of the hearing you will help the Court focus on the exceptional factors of your case. However, although you must expect an scheduled merits hearing to be your last hearing, these hearings can be rescheduled in certain circumstances, such as when the government attorney does not have a complete result of your background checks, or when the court doesn't have time to complete the case.


What documents do I need to bring to Immigration Interview or Immigration Court hearing date?

We recommend to our clients to bring to every Immigration Interview or Immigration Court Hearing all original documents previously provided to us. The Immigration Judge or Trial attorney are very likely to request the original version of the copies submitted. Original documents should include but are not limited to: birth certificate, passport, identification card, original tax forms, rental or mortgage agreement, pay stubs or receipts; and when in existence: marriage certificate, divorce certificate, children's birth certificates, spouse's birth certificate, family's (spouse, children, parents and siblings) immigration documents such as residence card or naturalization certificate, court disposition and any other documents relating to previous arrests and rehabilitation steps, recommendation letters and letters of support. Please also keep in mind that every one of your witnesses must carry a valid Identification card.


What attire should I wear for my immigration interview or Court hearing date?

We recommend to our clients to wear formal attire while attending an immigration interview or Immigration Court hearing. Formal suits are recommended for the occasion.


At what time should I arrive for my Immigration Interview or Immigration Court?

We recommend that our clients arrive to their immigration interviews or Immigration Court hearings at least one hour before the time set in their notice. Often times there are lines before entering the building where the interview or hearing will be held. Cases are often attended on a first come, first out basis.


What do I say at my Immigration Interview?

An attorney will keep a close relationship with you and will prepare you to be ready for your specific immigration process before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service. We will advise you to be forthcoming and tell the truth. There is usually no wrong or right answer. But the answer must be truthful at all times. Please keep in mind that at times where you do not feel comfortable giving a specific answer, you can ask the Immigration Officer to allow you to speak to your attorney in private before giving your response. We will in turn support your decision and ask the Immigration Officer for a recess so we can discuss your concerns.


Before granting you an immigration benefit, the Immigration Officer will be interested in learning about you and your life. Most of the time, you will have the answer to the questions. Your answer will be based on your own biographical information and past lived experiences.


It is very important that the Immigration Officer finds you credible. If you don't know the answer to a question, you should answer accordingly. You must think before committing to an answer since discrepancies in your testimony will matter and will complicate your case. It is always important that you remember the dates of the important events in your life. For example, you should know your date of birth, date of marriage (if married), all of your children's date of birth (if applicable), dates of entry and departure from the United States, dates of residence and employment, dates of your arrests (if you have been arrested), and important dates in your immigration process such as dates of filing, fingerprint appointments, interviews and appearances.


What can I expect to happen in an Immigration Interview?

Before granting you an immigration benefit, the Immigration Officer will be interested in learning about you and your life. The Immigration Officer will then review your background checks, case and documents submitted in great detail. Most of the time, you will have the answer to the Officer's questions, but most importantly, you must make sure that you testify credibly.  During an immigration interview an Immigration Officer will decide whether you will receive the requested immigration benefit (i.e. Legal Permanent Residence or Citizenship).


In most cases, you will be given an appointment at the same time as several others. After you check in, you will be required to wait until an Immigration Officer has reviewed your information and is prepared to see you.


In some cases, at the end of your interview, you will receive your letter of approval by the Immigration Officer who conducted your interview. In some cases, the applicant's passport will be stamped with temporary proof of Legal Permanent Residence.


However, in some cases you will not obtain a final decision on your application on the date of your interview. Instead, you may be asked to send additional evidence or come back to a second interview.  There are also cases where the Immigration Officer is not able to complete your background checks or the Immigration Officer is missing part of your file (i.e. because these documents are at another Immigration Office or in transit.) The immigration officer may then send you the decision via mail.   Unfortunately, an applicant may be apprehended at their immigration interview. This may happen in cases in which the applicant has criminal record that makes him or her a mandatory detainee, the applicant has an outstanding arrest warrant or the applicant has a prior order of deportation on record. There are many reasons why it is important that before attending to an immigration interview, the applicant contacts an attorney with experience in immigration law to discuss the case.


Can I Apply for a Work Permit?

The answer to this question depends on your type of case. Many of our clients are eligible for an employment authorization document ("EAD") or work permit. But unfortunately not all of our clients qualify for an EAD.  At Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC we understand that obtaining an EAD is a priority for our clients so if you are eligible you will be properly informed. Once you obtain an EAD you can request a driver's license and a social security number.


For example, if you have an application for, Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") or a VISA that allows you work before the Immigration Service; Adjustment of Status through an employment, a family petition or as a special immigrant before the Immigration Service or the Immigration Court; or Cancellation of Removal before the Immigration Court you will be eligible for an EAD. If your asylum application has been pending with the Immigration Service or the Immigration Court for over 180 days, and the delay cannot be attributed to you, you will be eligible for an EAD. In some cases you must not pay a fee to obtain a work permit (i.e. if through adjustment application under the new 2007 fee schedule or the first time through an asylum application pending), in some others you do (i.e. if through TPS, NACARA, cancellation of removal, not first time through asylum pending application.)


How long will it take so I can obtain my first work permit?

You should receive your work permit in 30 days (for pending asylum cases) or 90 days (for most other cases) since the application for your EAD is sent. In some instances it takes longer than expected.  To avoid delays, we recommend that the applications be initially sent with evidence of eligibility attached.  In such cases, we can contact the Immigration Service to follow up with the pending EAD application.


For how long will I have a work permit?

You will see the expiration date of your EAD in the face of the card; work permits are often valid for at least one year. However, the validity of the EAD lasts according to the pending application. For example for TPS recipients, the EAD is extended for the duration of the TPS period. In some instances work permits are even valid for two years. You can file an application to renew your work permit 120 days before the current expiration date.


What is a biometric (BIOS) appointment with an Application Support Center ("ASC")?

Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC has created a document that explains in great detail this process.  A biometric appointment with an Application Support Center ("ASC") is a means for applicants for immigration benefits in the United States to appear before an authorized office to provide (usually contractors of) USCIS with basic biographical information, a scanning of all 10 fingerprints and a digital picture (which will be taken during the appointment.) In turn, the USCIS conducts an FBI fingerprint and name check to assure that the applicant does not have a background that will affect his eligibility for the immigration benefit requested. This appointment does not mean that an application is being approved, it is only one more step of the immigration process. The applicant's eligibility will generally be determined at a later appointment either with an immigration officer or Judge.


Why do I need a biometric (BIOS) immigration appointment?

Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC has created a document that explains in great detail this process. Most applications for immigration benefits require that the applicant goes through these checks. Both immigration officers and immigration Judges review the result of these checks before approving an application for immigration benefits. If an applicant fails to provide her biometric information or appear to this appointment, an immigration officer or Judge may consider the application abandoned and the applicant may ultimately face harsh consequences, such as an order of deportation. Therefore, we ask that all of our clients provide their biometric information through an Application Support Center at least once every 15 months. We ask that our clients make sure that they be fully be fingerprinted (not partially as sometimes is done,) and their digital picture be taken. After 15 months, the biometric information provided expires.


How do I obtain a biometric (BIOS) immigration appointment?

Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC has created a document that explains in great detail this process. Applicants, including our clients, that require a background check should be scheduled to appear at a specific Application Support Center (ASC) for fingerprinting a few weeks after the application and/or fees for the application are received by USCIS.


Usually, applications and fees for applications are to be mailed to designated USCIS Service Center. Applicants then receive a Notice of Action, Form I-797, with the address and time of their appointment. If an applicant does not receive a biometrics appointment in four weeks since the date posted in their receipt of their initial application or payment of fees receipt; or if the expiration date of the biometric information is approaching, we recommend that the applicant appears at the closest USCIS cashier (locally located in the Los Angeles Federal Building), show evidence of prior filing and receipt of payment of application and biometric fees (when payment is required) and schedule the appointment in person. No additional payment should be required. Applicants should then receive the appointment personally or within a week. If the applicant lives away from an USCIS district office, the applicant can call USCIS customer service and request that a biometric appointment be scheduled. The applicant can follow up by sending an email to USCIS if necessary. However, before calling, we recommend that our commuting clients contact our office so we can appear personally at the local office since we are likely to resolve the matter. You can visit the USCIS Service and Office Locator  for information on your closest Application Support Center. We hereby remind our clients that it is ultimately their responsibility to comply with their biometrics appointment.


What is a state criminal history report?


Each state has the capability to produce a criminal history background report.  This report is used  as evidence of a person's existent or non-existent criminal record. In some instances these checks may need to be performed at the city or county level.


Why do I need a state criminal history report?


A state criminal history report will assist immigration attorneys, USCIS and EOIR Judges to establish whether past arrests or convictions will affect a person's eligibility to become or remain a legal permanent resident of the United States. It can also be used as evidence of a clean criminal record and a good moral character. Immigrants are often asked to obtain this report by their attorneys, trial attorneys, immigration officers or judges as a requirement to complete their immigration process. We ask that all of our clients obtain a report at least once every 12 months for every state in which they have resided. After 12 months, the CA DOJ report expires.


How do I obtain a criminal history report?


Depending on each state, or in some instances, the county, or the city, fingerprinting must be done by a certified fingerprint roller or qualified law enforcement personnel. Rolling fees vary from location to location and cover only the operator's cost for rolling the fingerprint images. Additional processing fees are usually required, but should be accessible.  You can find more information on how to obtain a criminal history report from the background check agency of your state.  Often times, this agencies have valuable information on their official websites; often times these agencies provide useful instructions over the phone. 


What is a CA DOJ report?

The California Department of Justice provides an automatic system for criminal history background checks. Live Scan technology allows digitally scanned fingerprints and related information to be submitted electronically to the Department of Justice. The CA DOJ report document is usually one page long when there is no record and two or more pages long when the person has been arrested before. For more information you can visit the background check section of the California Department of Justice website or call (916) 227-3835.


Why do I need a CA DOJ report?

A CA DOJ report will assist immigration attorneys, USCIS and EOIR Judges to establish whether past arrests or convictions of a person who resides or has resided in the state of California will affect that person's eligibility to become or remain a legal permanent resident of the United States. It can also be used as evidence of a clean criminal record and a good moral character. Immigrants are often asked to obtain this report by their attorneys, trial attorneys, immigration officers or judges as a requirement to complete their immigration process. We ask that all of our clients obtain a CA DOJ report at least once every 12 months. After 12 months, the CA DOJ report expires.


How do I obtain my CA DOJ report?

All California Applicants must submit Live Scan fingerprints, and complete Form BCII 8016RR, pdf. Applicants living outside California or the United States must submit manual fingerprint card, and complete Form BCII 8705, pdf. The Live Scan system allows digitally scanned fingerprints and other personal information to be submitted electronically to the Department of Justice instantly and allows criminal background checks to be processed within 72 hours. In California, fingerprinting must be done by a certified fingerprint roller or qualified law enforcement personnel. Rolling fees vary from location to location and cover only the operator's cost for rolling the fingerprint images. Additional processing fees are required for the State (DOJ).   To find a provider near you please visit the California Department of Justice official fingerprint services providers listing. Most of our clients request their CA DOJ report through A1 LiveScan, Notary & Passport Photo Services conveniently located three blocks from our office at 553 South Olive Street, Los Angeles, CA 90013, in the corner of 6th Street and Olive Street. To make an appointment you can call them at (213) 489-4559. For more information and to obtain instructions related to criminal history background you can visit the background check section of the California Department of Justice website or call (916) 227-3835.


What is a criminal court disposition?

While a criminal history background check provides essential but limited information, a court disposition provides in depth information regarding a person's criminal history. A court disposition provides valuable detail regarding a person's criminal court proceedings such as sentence, probation time, fines, a person's compliance with the Court's orders, existing warrants and the case termination date. Instead of a court disposition, a person can also request a certification of no record for a previous arrest as evidence of a clean criminal record and a good moral character. A court disposition is usually two or more pages long.


Why do I need a criminal court disposition?

A court disposition will assist immigration attorneys, USCIS and EOIR Judges to establish with more detail whether the past arrests or convictions of a person will affect that person's eligibility to become or remain a legal permanent resident of the United States. Immigrants with an arrest history are often asked to obtain this document by their attorneys, trial attorneys, immigration officers or judges as a requirement to complete their immigration process.


How do I obtain a criminal court disposition?

Certified photocopies of a criminal court disposition can be requested in the Clerk's Office at the appropriate Court location. You can usually find out where the appropriate Clerk's Office is located by inquiring in the same building where your criminal case was tried. Courts usually offer contact information on their official website. The Clerk’s Office will conduct a name search. You must provide the name used by the Defendant in the case, even if the Defendant used another name besides his own. Since this document is a public record, usually any one (not only the Defendant) can request a court disposition. Service fees vary by county and state. Court disposition information is usually not provided over the telephone, however, instructions may be available. You can contact your local Clerk’s Office for more information.


For court proceedings that took place in the Los Angeles County you can request your court disposition at the Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center. There, name searches are limited to cases filed within Los Angeles County. Requests for court disposition may be made in person in the Clerk’s Office or through the mail. Results may be picked up or returned by mail in a self-addressed, stamped envelope. The Clara Shortridge Foltz Criminal Justice Center is located at 210 West Temple Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012. The criminal records office's phone number is (213) 974-6141 and it is located on the 5th Floor. For this particular office be prepared to pay a fee of 50 cents for each page of the document requested plus 25 dollars to have the document certified.


How do I get involved to support immigration reform?

Ortega, Canossa and Associates, PLC offers an immigration advocacy page. We hereby encourage our clients and visitors to stay informed, get involved, contact congress, contact the media and vote.