By AIDA HERNANDEZ
HILTON HEAD ISLAND Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc. (CLINIC) of Washington presented a two-day family-based immigration law seminar at St. Francis by the Sea Church June 14-15. The workshop, which took place at the church’s Family Center, was conducted by Lauren Gilbert and Peggy Gleason, lawyers who are also members of CLINIC.
The seminars, part of the U.S. bishops’ immigration programs, are designed to provide training and technical support. The events are periodically conducted by CLINIC in various regions of the country. The Hilton Head gathering was scheduled through the initiative of Paul Groeschel, director of the Hispanic Office for Legal Assistance of St. Francis by the Sea. He and his wife, Carol, provide aid on legal and immigration matters to a number of Hispanics in Hilton Head as well as Beaufort and Jasper counties. Because of the constant influx of Latinos to these areas, the Groeschel’s work schedule becomes heavier each day. They hope the seminar will relieve some of their workload, as many of the conference participants plan to open centers in their communities to provide the same type of assistance.
About 60 people attended the seminar. They represented various parts of the country, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Florida, Texas, and North Carolina, as well as South Carolina. The audience consisted mainly of priests, brothers, nuns, lawyers, paralegals, social workers, and others, all moved by the desire to gain a better understanding of the immigration laws to help people in their communities.
Among the issues discussed were “quotas,” the limit to the number of permanent resident visas distributed each year to control legal immigration to the United States. Congress authorizes a total of 480,000 foreign-born people per year admitted as family-based immigrants.
Also examined was the difference between the immigrant and non-immigrant categories of aliens living here, and family-based immigration, which grants permanent residence visas to immediate relatives and relatives who fall under the preference system category.
Immigrants are defined as people born abroad who are legally admitted and granted a visa as a legal permanent resident (LPR). U.S. citizens (USCs) are people who were born here or were born abroad but who were naturalized as citizens.
Illegal immigrants are those who only have a tourist or student visa, who enter this country without inspection by immigration authorities, or visitors who remain in the United States after the date which they must leave has expired.
To determine how long a particular visa application will take, call the State Department at (202) 663-1541, visit the website www.state.gov, or subscribe to Visa Office Bulletin from the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Visa Services, Washington, DC 20530.
CLINIC provides training, technical assistance, and other support to diocesan immigration programs throughout the United States. To order a copy of their publication Family-Based Immigration Practitioner’s Guide contact their national office in Washington at (202) 635-2556.