Lee & Garasia, LLC
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Experience, Accessibility, and Excellence for Over 20 Years
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  • "I would definitely recommend Mr.Lee and Garasia as an immigration attorney because they did a great job with my case i.e. of Adjustment of Status (i-485). Mr. Lee helped us in each and every detailed information and prepared to the best of it. It was all well done and would like to appreciate." Read More

  • "I would like to thank my lawyer Mr Lee & Garasia and the staff for all immense help and patience throughout this entire process, I really appreciate your constant attention to my case, as well to my questions and my concerns. You've really made this process much more comprehensive to me, which I greatly appreciate." Read More

  • "Mr. Lee and Ms. Garasia did a great job with my renewal of my permanent residence application. They help prepare the paperwork with such a great attention to details and accuracy. I will recommend the law firm every time." Read More

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  • "Stalin - Lee did a wonderful job, Got my wife her visa in one year. He is extremely helpful and knowledgeable. I would highly recommend him for all your immigration needs." Read More

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December 2011 Archives

Important Changes for Standalone I-130

There is an important change affecting processing of I-130 applications. Effective January 1, 2012, domestic petitioners who are filing standalone I-130s (in other words, not in conjunction with other applications, such as an I-485) must mail their applications to either the Chicago Lockbox or Phoenix Lockbox. The location of the lockbox will depend on where the petitioner resides, and can be found in the revised mailing instructions of the I-130 starting January 1, 2012. For more information, interested parties should of course consult USCIS or visit their website directly. USCIS has indicated that the mailing protocol for I-130s filed in conjunction with I-485 (adjustment of status application) remains the same.


Here is an interesting and heartfelt blog by a "Dreamer." It really brings some of the issues to the forefront and gives you an idea of what some young people who came here at an early age go through. The DREAM Act, which stands for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors), unfortunately, has been languishing in our Congress since 2001! The House of Representatives did pass the DREAM Act on December 8, 2010, but the bill failed to garner the necessary votes to reach the Senate for further consideration. Despite all the media attention on the plight of "Dreamers" Congress has yet taken the necessary action to do something for these innocent young people who are trying to contribute to and better our great nation.

Theft Crimes in New Jersey Can Be Deportable Offenses

One of the most common types of cases that our office routinely encounters is helping clients to assess whether pleading guilty to a criminal charge may endanger their immigration status. While every case is extremely fact sensitive, theft under the appropriate circumstances can be considered a "crime involving moral turpitude" or even in some cases, an aggravated felony. In New Jersey, theft is graded according to the value of the merchandise allegedly taken. If a criminal defendant is charged with a theft offense, whether it be shoplifting, theft by unlawful taking, receipt of stolen property, etc., with a value over $200, that crime becomes one that is potentially a fourth degree offense. A fourth degree crime carries a potential term of incarceration up to eighteen months. If one were therefore convicted of a theft crime that is at least a fourth degree offense, that individual could be targeted by ICE as a deportable alien. Whether the alien is in fact deportable is a whole other issue--and there are some defenses available--but the point is, any foreign national who is accused of stealing must consider his/her exposure to removal proceedings.

CDC puts out some arresting statistics on domestic violence

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) came out with some startling numbers on December 14. According the CDC, an astounding 1 out of every 4 woman has reported being violently attacked by a boyfriend or husband. Depending on the type of behavior involved, the numbers ranged from 29 to 36 million women reporting incidents of domestic abuse. This is a alarming statistic and even more disturbing when you consider that there are probably many undocumented aliens who were not included in the study. There are countless foreign-born women out there who are not US Citizens or Permanent Residents who have experienced domestic violence but suffer in silence due to their fear of being deported by DHS. Immigrant rights groups and concerned organizations have tried to educate battered immigrant women, but there are countless numbers out there who are unaware of their options, including the ability to self-petition (Form I-360) for permanent residence under certain conditions....

New Jersey DWI Lawyer on Consequences of Drunk Driving on Visas

In this day and age of increased DWI enforcement, especially in New Jersey, more and more people are recognizing the adverse consequences a DWI arrest and/or conviction can have on one's immigration status, ie, potential removability. What is less well known is the impact of a DWI on visa applications, that is, the ability to get here in the first place if one has been arrested for or convicted of drunk driving. Consular officers are specifically instructed to follow a certain protocol when encountering visa applicants whose background checks reveal DWI related offenses. According to the Department of State, consular officers must refer applicants for visas to panel physicians (for further evaluation) in two circumstances: 1) an applicant has a single drunk driving offense or conviction within the last three calendar years or two or more drunk driving arrests or 2) convictions in any time period. This is in addition to referrals based on suspicion of a probable alcohol problem. While alcoholism is not in and of itself a specific ground of ineligibility for a visa to the United States, it is a medical condition that can render one inadmissible under 212(a)(1)(A)(iii) if a panel physician determines that the individual has an alcohol abuse problem which has or is likely to pose a danger to the property, safety, or welfare of the alien or others.

New Jersey cracking down on unauthorized practice of Immigration Law

Our office recently attended a meeting at USCIS regarding the unauthorized practice of law by notaries or "immigration consultants." If you want to read a chilling story of what happened to somebody who used an immigration consultant instead of a licensed attorney or accredited representative, check out this recent article from The Star Ledger. It is encouraging to see that the government and the Newark District Office is taking this seriously. With increased civil as well as criminal enforcement, predators will hopefully be discouraged from taking money from innocent victims and ruining them financially as well as legally--sometimes, irreparably. One of the many benefits of having an qualified immigration attorney complete your forms as well as represent you is that a licensed professional is preparing your forms with an understanding as to how certain answers affect your eligibility for immigration benefits and/or relief. There is also accountability. There have been many instances where some of these scam artists who profess to be immigration officials or consultants have absconded and disappeared, leaving their "clients" high and dry....

Newark Immigration Attorney on lines outside the building

Anybody with an appointment to go to USCIS in Newark for an interview or court appearance should be aware that the wait to get into the building can be extremely long. Due to security issues, everyone, including attorneys, must go through metal detectors to be screened for weapons, etc. During the winter, the lines and wait become longer than usual because individuals must take off their winter coats, jackets, scarves, hats, etc. prior to going through the metal detector. Additionally, security guards must repeat their security protocol to every group that is allowed in to be processed. Occasionally, entrants do not speak English and are unable to follow directions, resulting in even further delay and frustration. I would therefore recommend that individuals planning on traveling to Newark give themselves ample time to get to the city, find parking, and get on line. I always instruct my clients to arrive one hour early and especially in the winter, dress warm because you will be waiting....

Visa Waiver Immigration Restrictions for Aliens Entering NJ

Our office has had many consultations from visitors from Visa Waiver Countries interested in extending their stay or changing their "visas." Many are surprised to learn that if they did enter the US from a visa waiver country, they are not permitted to extend their stay or change their status, for that matter, with a few exceptions. Under Section 217 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 USC 1187), visa waiver entrants are admitted for a period of 90 days without having to apply for a visa. On the other hand, entrants taking advantage of this program waive the right to 1)to review or appeal under this Act...an immigration officer's determination as to the admissibility of the alien at the port of entry into the United States, or 2) to contest, other than on the basis of an application for asylum, any action for removal of the alien. INA §217(b). If an individual from a visa waiver country has therefore overstayed past his/her 90 days, he or she may be removed without the right to a hearing before an immigration judge. Cases like this get very complicated because sometimes individuals from visa waiver countries enter the United States with every intention of leaving before the ninety days, but sometimes due to other circumstances, end up staying past their allotted time. There are also thorny legal situations in which visa waiver entrants wind up getting married to US citizens and wish to adjust their status. Anybody who finds themselves in this type of situation should certainly seek legal advice given the draconian consequences of being deemed a visa waiver violator.

NJ Deportation Lawyer on Immigration Post Conviction Relief Applications

While the subject of post conviction relief applications often arises within the context of whether an attorney should have advised a criminal defendant of the potential immigration consequences of a plea, most of the case law seems to center around deportability: that is, whether someone who is already physically present in the United States and in many cases, lawfully admitted, may be removed from the US on account of the plea to the criminal charge. What is rarely discussed but arguably equally important is the issue of admissibility. The issue of admissibility may arise in a number of contexts including when someone physically present in the United States is applying for permanent residence as well as when Lawful Permanent Residents travel abroad and technically make an application for admission when they return. Foreign Born criminal defendants who are not United States Citizens should bear in mind that deportability and admissibility are not necessarily coterminous, and that while a certain plea may not necessarily render one deportable, it doesn't necessarily insulate one from admissibility issues. Equal consideration should be given to both, even if criminal defense attorneys are only aware of the deportability ramifications.


    • The National Advocates | Top 100 Lawyers
    • Rated by Super Lawyers | Angie Garasia | 5 Years
    • Avvo Rating 10.0 | Superb
    • Client Distinction Award martindale.com | 2016 Martindale-Hubbell Client Distinction Award
    • New Jersey State Bar Association | Paris Lee Chair - Immigration Section 2015-2016
    • Nationally Recognized | Newsweek Nationwide Showcase | Top Attorneys 2013
    • New Jersey Chapter | American Immigration Lawyers Association | Angie Garasia | Chapter Chair 2015-2016
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Lee & Garasia, LLC
190 State Route 27
Edison, NJ 08820

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