New Laws, effective January 1, 2015, Confirm Ability of Californian Undocumented Aliens to Obtain Driver’s License

Nearly 1.4 million undocumented aliens in California will benefit from a law that will go into effect January 1, 2015 allowing for the receipt of a California Driver’s License with the presentation of proper identification.  Although there have been rumors of this happening since September 2013, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) actually posted the requirements on their website last Friday, November 7, 2014.

Also on the website is a list of acceptable forms of identification (click link), which includes, but is not limited to, foreign passport or nationality card.

It’s been a heated battle in many states, including Oregon, which, in a recent election, overwhelmingly overturned it’s previous approval of state issued driver’s licenses to those without legal immigration documents. In California the law would have gone into effect much sooner, however the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had not approved of the visual design of the license.  On September 17th, 2014 a letter was sent to the Department of Motor Vehicles by DHS director Jean Shiomoto indicating that a design has been chosen in which undocumented aliens can receive a license with the caveat that said license will reflect their immigration status, or rather, lack of status. The phrase “FEDERAL LIMITS APPLY” will be written across the front of the license. Governor Jerry Brown then signed the bill into law, stating that this will be the beginning of a new national movement [paraphrased].

The following states have previously enacted, or are exacting, laws in which undocumented residents can obtain a driver’s license:

  • Utah
  • Colorado
  • Washington (the first State to allow the same, enacted in 1993)
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • District of Columbia (D.C.)
  • Illinois
  • Maryland
  • Nevada
  • New Mexico
  • Vermont
  • California

If one wishes to obtain a license in any of these states, please look to the local Department of Motor Vehicle rules, as each state has different prerequisites for establishing jurisdiction/residency.

Although the new law will at the outset cost California tax payers money, as more staff will be needed to process the abundance of applications to be received, the State of California stands to earn more money in application fees than expending, whilst creating jobs for legal residents.  All in all, it’s a good deal for legal citizens (fiscally), as well as undocumented aliens.

If you have any legal or immigration questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!


Sungina J. Vachhani, Esq.

17918 Pioneer Boulevard, Suite 204

Artesia, California 90701

(562) 402-1677


Country Conditions Worsen in Nigeria- NOW IS THE TIME TO APPLY FOR ASYLUM

A few years ago a Nigerian client came into my office requesting that I file a Political Asylum case on their behalf.  Having no knowledge of the country conditions, I was appalled at the news I found.  Front pages of newspapers from all over the world showed dead bodies strewn on the street, young boys with machine guns standing over dead bodies, be-headings of women and children- absolute horror.  But the American public has no knowledge of these terrible occurrences; recently the “Bring Back Our Girls” campaign shed some light on the worsening conditions of the country, but such has since subsided, and Americans again turn a blind eye to the mass destruction, corruption and killings in this rich African Nation.

There are multiple battles occurring on Nigerian soil daily:

1) The insurgency in the Northeast of militant terrorist sec Jama’atu Ahlis Aunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, better known as Boko Haram (which translates to “Western Education is forbidden”) (site: Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2013, Casualties and human rights abuses associated with Boko Haram attacks continue to escalate. In 2013 the President of Nigeria was forced to declare many states of Nigeria in a “state of emergency,” and was then required to extend said state for another six (6) months in November 2013.

The violence associated with the Boko Haram is palpable, including but not limited to killings, bombings, abduction and rape of women, destruction of property, vigilante killings, and infringements on basic human rights.

Unfortunately due to government corruption, many assailants walk away scott free, including one incident where a former governor was convicted on six (6) counts of corruption and later pardoned by the President.

2) Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life by government officials- the government and its agents committed numerous arbitrary or unlawful killings in 2013 by military, paramilitary, national police, and other security forces.  Authorities, in general, do not hold any of these agencies accountable for the use of excessive or deadly force, or even for the death of people in custody.

3) Recent Illegalization of Same-Sex couples- Consensual same-sex activity is illegal under federal law and punishable by prison sentence of up to fourteen (14) years.  In the northern states,   adults convicted of engaging in same-sex sexual activity may be subject to execution by stoning. On December 17, 2013, the Senate passed a “Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Bill,” indicating that supporters of LGBT rights, including individuals who support gay clubs, societies, or meetings will be given a sentence of ten (10) years in prison.

Therefore, not only are members of the LGBT community chastised by the government, but because of the government backing, the general public is abusive and discriminatory against those in same-sex relationships, ending in severe physical abuse or death.

4) War over oil- Nigeria is a land which is rich in oil, and therefore major conglomerates have entered the land to exploit the locals by buying out their lands for little to no money and having said locals work the land to produce oil.  Although this does help the economy, the Nigerians have become tired of said exploitation which has led to an all out war in the Niger Delta between Nigerian Militant Groups and the Foreign Oil Companies. Truth be told that this war has been present since the late 1980’s, however, the problem has merely escalated with time, causing more violence and destruction.  In September 2013 the President of Nigeria placed the Niger Delta on the “State of Emergency,” list, and it remains so presently.

Not only is the entire country in a state of war, but there are numerous civil and social wrongdoings daily, including, but not limited to, Child Labor issues, Gender Discrimination, Female Genital Mutilation, and the like.

So what is the answer you ask?  I’m not sure, but what I do know is that for Nigerian’s who are currently in the United States, now is a better time than ever to apply for Political Asylum.  Political Asylum is loosely defined as the persecution of an individual because of race, religion and/or social orientation, i.e. a member of the LGBT community; a Christian in the predominantly Muslim part of the country; a Muslim in a predominantly Christian part of the country. Said person must show proof that they are scared to return to their home country because of such discrimination, and that they themselves have been a victim of hate.

To discuss your options further, please contact us at:

The Law Office of Vachhani & Associates

17918 Pioneer Blvd., Ste 204

Artesia, California 90701

(562) 402-1677 ;

he insurgency in the Northeast of militant terrorist sect Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, better known as Boko Haram (which translates to “Western education is forbidden”), continued. Casualties and human rights abuses associated with Boko Haram attacks and the government’s response escalated. On April 24, President Jonathan inaugurated a Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North. Self-appointed Boko Haram spokespersons rejected dialogue or amnesty. On May 14, President Jonathan declared a six-month state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, which was extended for another six months on November 20. – See more at:
he insurgency in the Northeast of militant terrorist sect Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, better known as Boko Haram (which translates to “Western education is forbidden”), continued. Casualties and human rights abuses associated with Boko Haram attacks and the government’s response escalated. On April 24, President Jonathan inaugurated a Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North. Self-appointed Boko Haram spokespersons rejected dialogue or amnesty. On May 14, President Jonathan declared a six-month state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, which was extended for another six months on November 20. – See more at:
he insurgency in the Northeast of militant terrorist sect Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati Wal-Jihad, better known as Boko Haram (which translates to “Western education is forbidden”), continued. Casualties and human rights abuses associated with Boko Haram attacks and the government’s response escalated. On April 24, President Jonathan inaugurated a Committee on Dialogue and Peaceful Resolution of Security Challenges in the North. Self-appointed Boko Haram spokespersons rejected dialogue or amnesty. On May 14, President Jonathan declared a six-month state of emergency in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states, which was extended for another six months on November 20. – See more at:


**ATTENTION DREAMERS** Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Extension Applications Are Being Processed


Approximately two (2) years ago the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) passed a law in which individuals who had either (a) entered the country illegally; or (b) overstayed their visa were entitled to remain in the country and obtain work authorization if they met the following requirements:

1) Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

2) Entered the United States before reaching his/her 16th birthday

3) Has resided continuously in the United States wince June 15, 2007 to present time (i.e. any trips outside the United States were merely for vacation or emergency)

4) Has graduated from high school, is currently enrolled in high school or a literacy program, or, in the alternative, has obtained a G.E.D.

5) Has not committed a felony, or three (3) or more misdemeanors. 

If you have not applied for DACA, please contact this office, they are still accepting first time Applicants.

If you have applied for DACA and need a renewal this are the things to consider:

Approximately One Hundred and Fifty (150) days before the expiration of your Work Authorization card you should put your application in for extension.  This timeline is key, for if you apply within the correct period of time the government should be able to grant or deny your file before your work authorization expires.

If you apply for the extension at least One Hundred and Twenty (120) days before the expiration of your work authorization, and you have not heard an answer regarding your renewal, Immigration will most likely extend your work authorization for a short period of time while we wait for an answer.

It is very important that one applies for renewal of their DACA status at least one hundred and twenty (120) days before the expiration of their work authorization.  In the event that you apply after this date and immigration does not give a nominal extension while your application is pending YOU WILL BE OUT OF STATUS, and therefore deporatable, and will likely lose your current employment.  

We recommend that you use the service of a professional to help with the renewal, as you do not want a minor error to stand in the way of you and your legal residency in the United States.

Here are a few Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) regarding the renewal process:

(1) I have committed a crime since my first application for DACA was issued, can I still get the renewal?

  • Depending on the severity of the crime, YES, you can still get a renewal

(2) When I initially applied I was under 31, now I’m above the age, can I still get the renewal?

  • YES- the extension is not dependent upon your age at present, only concerned with your age at the time of initial filing

(3) Do I have to be working or in college to get the extension?

  • NO, you merely need to show that you have been present in the United States from June 15, 2012 to present

(4) If my file is denied will I get deported?

  • NO, The Service has indicated that files will not be forwarded to ICE officers for removal, but it does mean that you will be out of status, and therefore if ICE does get a hold of you somehow (generally through a criminal arrest), you will be put into Deportation/Removal Proceedings.

(5) I currently have DACA but I also have an Immigration case pending (either my spouse, family member or my employer has applied for me), can I still apply for an extension so I have work authorization?

  • YES, one thing has nothing to do with the other; you can have both cases going at the same time, so that you can remain working while waiting for your Greencard

We hope that this article was of service to you- if you have ANY questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us!


17918 Pioneer Blvd., Ste 204

Artesia, California 90701

(562) 402-1677 ;

Bring Your Fiancé or Spouse to the United States From Overseas…it seems easy, but do you know all your options??


A majority of the clients who walk through our doors are United States Citizens wishing to bring their spouse or fiancé from overseas and wanting to know their options.  Each time I give them a detailed breakdown of the four ways in which to do so.  Not once did I think of typing it out and keeping it ready for their reference…until now.  Like all other areas of law, these are muddy waters, riddled with pitfalls and caveats, so you should seek professional counsel to help you through this process or your case could be held up for YEARS in Immigration or at the Consulate abroad, merely because you checked the wrong box or answered a question incorrectly.

But, here goes- the four ways in which to bring your spouse or fiancé from abroad in order of most desirable to least desirable:

1)  Visitor Visa followed by Adjustment of Status

The easiest way to obtain a Greencard for you future spouse is for them to come to the United States on a Visitors Visa, or Visa Waiver for the countries that qualify- UK, Canada, Austrailia. 

Once they land in the United States, wait a minimum of ninety (90) days, then get married.  After you marry, apply for Adjustment of Status.

Timeline: About 6-9 months from date of filing your spouse will receive their Greencard.

Pros:  Everything is filed here in the United States which means that you, and your attorney, have much more control over the case. 

Cons:  Your spouse cannot travel to their home country after entering the United States until they receive a travel document from immigration, this usually takes four (4) months from the date of filing = seven (7) months from the date they entered the United States.


2)  Have your spouse enter the United States on an already approved Greencard

You and your spouse are to get married, anywhere in the world.  Once you marry you begin the immigration process from here in the United States while your Spouse remains in their home country.  Once the case is approved in the United States it is then sent to the National Visa Center, also known as the NVC, for processing; soon thereafter your spouse will receive an interview notice at the local United States Consulate.

Timeline:  Your Spouse should be expected to arrive in the United States, with a Greencard, about nine (9) to twelve (12) months after filing.

Pros:  This process is much cheaper. 

  • Filing fees in the United States are $ 1,490.00 these are fees paid directly to Immigration and are separate and apart from the fees you will pay to the attorney you choose to represent you. 
  • Whilst if you choose this option, obtaining your Greencard from overseas, the fees will be approximately $ 700.00- half of what you would pay here in the United States

Cons:  You will be separated from your spouse for nine (9) to twelve (12) months; you can go visit them in their home country, but they are unable to visit you.  Also, you will have a little less control of the case as the major decision making will be done at the United States Consulate abroad.


3)  K-3 Visa followed by Adjustment of Status in the United States

The only reason this option is third and not second is because the timelines often range.  The government came up with this option as many applicants complained about option #2, indicating that it was unhealthy for their new marriage to be separated for so long. In response, Immigration opened the K-3 option, in which the first step of the marriage based filing would be filed in the United States, approved, then sent to the United States consulate abroad; at that time the Consulate would issue a visa that allows the Spouse to come to the United States and file the second portion of the visa here in the United States, thereby uniting the couple sooner.

Timeline:  As indicated above, the timeline varies, but in an ideal situation one would receive their K-3 visa is 4-5 months, then arrive in the United States and obtain their Greencard in about six (6) months. 

Pros:  The couple should ideally be separated for only four (4) to five (5) months, thereby allowing the Spouse to close up their affairs in their home country and then make the permanent move to the United States

Cons:  The timelines can vary, I have seen it take as long as eight (8) months to get an approval, at which time the Applicant feels as though they have wasted their money and should have just gone with option # 2. 


4) Fiancé Visa (K-1) then Adjustment of Status in the United States

This one is pretty self explanatory with the title.  You file for your fiancé to come to the United States, then once they arrive you marry them within sixty (60) days, after such time you file for their Greencard.

Timeline:  six (6) to eight (8) months to obtain the fiancé visa, once your Spouse arrives you marry then apply for the Greencard which will take another six (6) to nine (9) months.

Pros: Allows your fiancé to wrap up their affairs overseas before moving the United States permanently. Unlike options 1, 2, 3, does not require you to marry your spouse before applying for immigration status, thereby giving you a grace period to make up your mind as to if this is what you really want. 

Cons: The Government does not usually like to issue these visas, from personal experience I find that the Consulates abroad question these applicant’s more so than any other visa, apart from F-1 student visas.  Also, this is not a short process, and requires an extra filing fee (and attorney fee) for the processing of the fiancé visa, over and above the general Greencard application.


We hope that this information has been useful to you.  Please remember that timelines in these types of cases are very sensitive and you should speak with a trained professional before moving forward so as to avoid any problems in your case.  Fee free to contact our office if you have any questions!


17918 Pioneer Blvd., Ste 204

Artesia, California 90701

(562) 402-1677 – tel ;


Want to hire a Nanny, Au Pair, Cook or Housekeeper from overseas (and do it legally)? Here’s how!


As an immigration attorney of Indian decent it’s a common occurrence to receive queries regarding hiring help from overseas.  After MUCH research we have been able to find answers for those who need this kind of help!

Immigration has released a “Temporary Worker” visa, also called an H2B visa, for employers in this exact predicament.  There are a few key factors one must take into consideration before applying or inquiring about said visa:

  1. Must be for TEMPORARY employment.  The visa will be granted for between 1- 3 years and in no circumstance will be extended beyond the 3 year period; 
  2. The visa application process will take up to one year prior to approval, therefore the Alien must be either in legal status in the United States or will remain abroad in their home country while the visa is processing;
  3. Immigration will require that the employer pay the overseas employee fairly- meaning that one must pay the employee the same amount of money (at least minimum wage) that one would pay a US citizen worker;
  4. Employment can be full time or part time, depending on the employers preference.

The other thing one must consider is that not all countries can qualify for an H2b visa, for example, people of Indian Citizenship are not eligible for such, here is a list of countries that qualify: (effective as of January 14, 2014)












Solomon Islands




South Africa



The Netherlands

South Korea







New Zealand










Costa Rica


Papua New Guinea






Dominican Republic


The Philippines





United Kingdom

El Salvador














Two other points to consider are: A) that the employee you are considering sponsoring need be qualified for the position; therefore, he/she must have experience working in the industry you are hiring them for; and B) you, as the employer, need to prove a “need” for the worker, i.e. expecting a child, need child care, need a cook for the opening of a restaurant or for a specific event, etc.

The entire process is rather complicated, BUT such cases have been approved by Immigration.  With the right legal guidance you too can be successful.  Should you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us:


17918 Pioneer Blvd., Ste 204

Artesia, California 90701

(562) 402-1677 – tel ;


Immigration Consequences of Divorce


So, you have previously received your Greencard via your US Citizen Spouse, but, things aren’t working out in your relationship….NOW WHAT?!?The question isn’t as difficult as it appears, and with the help of a qualified attorney, you may be able to receive permanent residency and sometimes even citizenship!

If you have obtained your greencard via your US Citizen spouse you will most likely receive what is called “Conditional Permanent Residency,” or a two-year greencard.  This means that when you first applied for permanent residency  you were married for less than two years.

Ninety (90) days before your initial greencard expires you will need to apply for a removal of condition.  This is where USCIS, also known as Immigration, will determine if you entered your marriage in good-faith.  The key word here is “entered.” You do not need to be currently married to your US Citizen spouse, in fact, you do not even need to be fully divorced from your US Citizen spouse either- for all those who are in complicated relationships.

Under normal circumstances of course you and your US Citizen spouse would jointly file for the I-751 (Removal of Condition), providing evidence of your marriage, i.e. tax returns, children’s birth certificates, proof of joint bank accounts, etc.  But things are not always “normal.”

If you have recently filed for a divorce, but the divorce is not finalized you are still eligible to apply for a permanent greencard, you will merely apply with a “waiver” of your US Spouse’s signature.  At this time you will indicate to Immigration that you entered the marriage in good faith, via the documents you provide as support of this claim, but due to irreconcilable differences, your marriage has broken and as a result you, or your spouse, has filed for a divorce.  If you provide enough information regarding the validity of your marriage, and show proof that you have filed for divorce, you should be able to receive an approval.

If you are separated from your US Citizen spouse, but still on good terms with them you have the option of filing the I-751 jointly or with a waiver.  Just understand that if you file your petition jointly and get called for an interview with immigration, your US Citizen spouse MUST attend the interview with you.

If you have a finalized divorce decree it’s the same process as above.  You will file for your I-751 petition with a waiver of your spouses signature;  at the time of filing you will need to provide evidence that you entered into the marriage in good faith, as well as a certified copy of the finalized divorce decree.  If the Immigration officer who reviews your case determines that enough evidence is provided you can obtain your permanent greencard, sometimes without even an interview!

Sometimes the situation is more complicated, for example:

what happens if you separate during the process (after the petition has been filed), or

you get a request for evidence requiring more documents, but you have no more joint documents,

you have been abused by your US Citizen spouse

the best thing to do when your situation gets complicated is to consult an experienced immigration attorney.  The last thing you want to do is have a denial on your case, as a denial on an I-751 leads to an automatic referral to an immigration judge/deportation proceedings.

If you have any further questions, feel free to call us:


17918 Pioneer Blvd., Ste 204; Artesia, CA 90701

(562) 402-1677;


Student (F-1) Visas- AVOID THE PITFALLS


It’s common for Immigrants to come into our office and ask “I came into the country as a visitor, how can I stay in the United States?”  Our most common answer is, F-1/Student Visa.  The reason for this is: 1) there is no cap on the number of visas issued; and 2) so long as you have the required documents, Immigration/USCIS will not deny the visa.

So what exactly is it that is needed to successfully receive an F-1 Visa?  There are the 5 requirements:

  1. Are you interested/qualified to attend an academic institution, language training program, or test preparation program?
  2. Your intention must be to be a “full time” student; what that means is that you must take a minimum of twelve (12) units per session.
  3. Is your future school eligible to accept and sponsor foreign students? Ask the school’s international counselor, they will advise you correctly on this matter.
  4. You must be able to show that you have enough funds to pay for your education- whether on your own, or from a sponsor (any US citizen or Greencard holder, or parent abroad).
  5. You must be able to show that you are in legal status in the United States; or, if currently outside the US, you need to show the US Consulate that you intend on returning to your home country after the completion of the program.

Seems easy right?  Well, it is!

We do often come across situations in which the school counselor has not followed through with the immigration paperwork correctly, which in turn negatively effects the application; or, when the Applicant attempts to process the application themselves, without having the know how to do so.  Because there is no cap on the number of visas issued, and because the issuing officer (especially in US Consulates abroad) has full discretionary authority to deny your case, any missing document, mistype, or holes in the application will lead to an automatic denial.

The best idea is to go through a qualified Immigration Attorney, This will ensure that you are aware of your rights (i.e. if you can work, where you can work, if you can travel, if you can extend your visa, etc.), and that your application will be filed timely and correctly.  Of course no Immigration attorney can ever guarantee an approval, but in general if 65% of ALL F-1 applications are approved, it’s safe to say the other 35% are denied because of miscellaneous errors, or mistakes made by the Applicant at the time of the interview.

Here is a basic review of the steps:

  • Obtain I-20 from qualified school
  • if outside the country, make an appointment at your local US Embassy to process your visa and for an interview.  Go to for information regarding your local embassy procedures.
  • Pay your SEVIS fee of $ 200.00 (this is the computer system that processes said applications, whether in the US or abroad) with an internationally accepted credit card.  You can pay the fee at:
  • If you are abroad you will now pay the visa issuance fee along with filing the required online forms; if you are in the United States you will pay the fee for filing the required form.
  • If abroad you will attend an interview; if in the United States the visa will be mailed directly to you or your attorney of record.



If you retain an immigration attorney, they should be able to prepare you for your interview abroad by doing a “mock interview” with you on the phone, letting you know what sorts of questions the officer will ask, and how you should answer said questions to receive the optimum support


Some will tell you that you can appeal said denial, this is false.  What you can do is ask the officer “why” you were denied.  This will allow you to determine whether or not you should reapply.  Some consulates, i.e. Mumbai, India, has an expedited/special process for Student Visas which are filed within one year of a previous denial.


Yes.  Once you have a valid visa you can travel. We would suggest traveling with documents indicating that you are enrolled in your said educational program so as to avoid any problems at the port of entry.


The short answer is YES.  You can work 20 hours per week on campus, but there are other programs you can work out with your school in which you get units for paid internships, similar to a work-study program.  You should contact an attorney for detailed answers on this question. Contact Us


This is another loaded question, there are a plethora of options once you have completed your course of study, including but not limited to:

  • Transferring to another F-1 program (a four year degree, certification course, or master’s program)
  • OPT- this is a form of training which allows recent Bachelor’s graduates and Master’s graduates the opportunity to work for 12 or 18 months (depending on course of study).  The benefit of this is of course a work authorization card which allows students to earn in US dollars, legally, after graduation.
  • Transfer to another non-immigrant visa, i.e. H-1(b).
  • Marry a United States Citizen (always an option no matter what)


Timing is key here! You cannot apply to soon, or else immigration will suspect immigration fraud, and you cannot apply too late, or you will fall out of status and as a result get a denial on your visa.  Try and plan as early ahead as possible and call a qualified immigration attorney to guide you through the process.

We hope that you have found the answers you’re looking for here, but if not, feel free to contact us with any questions or comments.



(562) 402-1677