Maryland Attorney Handling Matters Related to Immigration and Bankruptcy

The Law Offices of Brian C. Williams is a small firm, established in 1999 in Hyattsville, Maryland, dedicated to working in the best interests of the firm's clients. In some situations, the best interests of a client are to seek solutions to their problems that will exclude the firm from realizing a fee. We will not hesitate to advise clients of alternative solutions to the issues that they face. Maryland immigration attorney Brian C. Williams takes great pride in personalized representation and strives to make his clients comfortable during and even after his representation. We excel at ensuring that our clients’ goals are met and that they are satisfied with the services that we provide.

Immigration

The main U.S. immigration laws are found in the Immigration and Nationality Act. There are many different situations in which a foreign national wishes to enter the United States. Sometimes a foreign national hopes to come for a temporary visit, while in other cases, they hope to live permanently in the United States, either as a legal permanent resident or as a citizen. Sometimes foreign nationals require legal representation because removal proceedings are initiated against them. In other cases, a person fleeing persecution in their home country may qualify for refugee or asylee status.

Non-Immigrant Visas

Foreign nationals who want to enter the country on a temporary basis may be able to obtain a non-immigrant visa. An immigration lawyer in Maryland can help them pursue the appropriate type of status. There are multiple kinds of non-immigrant visas, including non-immigrant visas for medical treatment, education, tourism, and temporary work. A foreign national is supposed to apply directly to a United States embassy or consulate abroad for a tourist or business visa. Simply obtaining a non-immigrant visa does not mean that you can enter the country. A Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry will conduct an inspection to decide whether you are eligible for admission.

Immigrant Visas & Green Cards

Immigrant visas are issued to foreign nationals who plan to live and work permanently in the U.S. There are several kinds of immigrant visas. Often, a family member or an employer sponsors the foreign national with an application submitted to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, workers who have extraordinary abilities, as well as investors and certain other classes of foreign nationals, may be able to petition on their own behalf and obtain an immigrant visa. If you intend to immigrate, you need to present your immigrant visa at a port of entry before the visa expires. You can become a legal immigrant by passing through the port of entry. Foreign nationals applying for green cards may be able to obtain legal permanent residence based on their family, their job, refugee or asylee status, or certain other grounds. A Maryland immigration lawyer can guide you through the application process and address any obstacles that may arise.

Citizenship

You can become a citizen of the U.S. if you meet specific requirements. You can be a citizen by birth if you were born in the U.S. or certain territories or possessions of the U.S., or if you had a parent or parents who were citizens when you were born and meet certain other requirements. Naturalization is the process whereby a foreign national voluntarily becomes a U.S. citizen. You can be naturalized if you have had a green card for a minimum of five years, or at least three years if you file as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, and meet specific eligibility requirements, such as having good moral character, being able to read and write English, and being at least 18 when you file.

Removal Proceedings & Deportation

Removal, also known as deportation, is the process whereby the government decides that a foreign national needs to be removed from the U.S. A removal proceeding is commenced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), often through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement Division (ICE). Sometimes removal is kicked off by a workplace raid, or it may be initiated by a tip. At a removal hearing, an immigration judge will decide whether your actions or lack of immigration status makes you removable and whether you deserve immigration relief. The removal process is complicated, and it is imperative to retain a Maryland immigration attorney who can develop a strong defense strategy.

Bankruptcy

Bankruptcy is a procedure authorized under federal law that permits individuals, couples, and businesses to discharge their debts and get a fresh start, free from the trouble associated with debt. Many people become overwhelmed by their bills when an unexpected event like the loss of a job, a divorce, or an accident occurs. This means that they will be excused from repaying some or all of their debts. Bankruptcy can occur under several different chapters of the Bankruptcy Code. It may be a liquidation bankruptcy, or it may be a reorganization bankruptcy. In the former situation, you will need to surrender your assets, which may be sold in their entirety or partially, with the proceeds distributed to creditors. You can keep your assets in a reorganization bankruptcy, but you will need to repay your creditors some of what you owe.

Chapter 7

The most common bankruptcies are filed under Chapter 7. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is a liquidation bankruptcy, you need to turn over your non-exempt property to a bankruptcy trustee. There are certain amounts of different classes of assets, including tools, clothes, household items, a family car, and a family home, that are considered exempt. The trustee takes your non-exempt property and sells it to obtain funds to pay back some or all of your creditors. When this process is done, the rest of your debts are forgiven and cannot be collected by creditors. You must pass a means test to be able to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

Chapter 13

Individual debtors who cannot pass a means test may file for bankruptcy under Chapter 13. Chapter 13 is a reorganization bankruptcy that allows you to keep your property by agreeing to make installment payments each month for 3-5 years. It also offers various tools to keep property. It may be possible to modify obligations such as mortgages, car loans, or other secured debts. You will need to come up with a legitimate payment plan before you file for bankruptcy.

Foreclosure

Lenders must follow certain procedures and laws to make sure that a Maryland homeowner knows the reason for a pending foreclosure. Both federal and state laws have been enacted to stop lenders from taking actions that could surprise homeowners or that could be considered unreasonably extreme. In Maryland, there is less involvement of the court in the foreclosure process than in judicial foreclosures in other states. The procedure starts when a lender sends a Notice of Intent to Foreclose, as well as a loss mitigation application, which must happen a minimum of 45 days before the foreclosure starts. Lenders sometimes make mistakes when they are trying to foreclose. In that case, you might be able to stop the foreclosure. You also may have a chance to negotiate a loan modification.

Debt Collection

You have certain protections under federal and state laws as a debtor against whom creditors or their debt collectors are trying to collect. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act forbids debt collectors from using deceptive or abusive bill collection practices. The Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act also protects consumers and applies to anybody trying to collect or collecting an alleged debt arising out of a consumer transaction. The federal law applies only to parties in the business of debt collection, while the state law also covers creditors, collection agencies, and lawyers hired to conduct debt collection. Under Maryland law, if a collector purposefully reveals information about a debtor, knowing it to be false, the debtor is allowed to sue for damages. If a collector’s actions are extreme and outrageous, it may be possible to recover damages for emotional distress or mental anguish.

Mediation

The Foreclosure Mediation Law was enacted to provide a conference in which a lender and a homeowner come before a neutral third party, known as a mediator, to talk about and negotiate loss mitigation options to try to avoid a foreclosure. Loss mitigation options could include a loan modification or other changes to the loan terms so that a homeowner can stay on the property. Sometimes a foreclosure can be avoided by a short sale or a deed in lieu of foreclosure. Within the Notice of Intent to Foreclose sent to you will be a loss mitigation application and the address of someone who conducts loss mitigation analysis on behalf of the lender, which requires a lender to try to explore alternatives before commencing a foreclosure. If a foreclosure mediation is not successful, it may be possible to ask for a stay of foreclosure or to use the automatic stay of bankruptcy to stop an auction.

Retain an Experienced Maryland Attorney

At the Law Offices of Brian C. Williams, we can represent you if you need an immigration attorney in Maryland or guidance in a bankruptcy or foreclosure matter. We assist clients in Washington, D.C., Baltimore, and throughout Prince George's, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Carroll Counties. Call us at 301-891-8485 or contact us through our online form.

Recent News

Did you know Bankruptcy Laws have recently changed? Learn how the new rules may affect you here.

The U.S. Department of Labor has instituted new regulations for the department's Permanent Foreign Labor Certification (PERM) program. Learn about the new regulations here.

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