Document 217137

OCTOBER 6-9, 2007 • ASIAN JOURNAL PUBLICATIONS • (213) 250-9797 •
By Atty. Raymond Bulaon
While bankruptcy is not
something you like to think
about, you may find yourself
considering it at some point in
your life. Life is not perfect and
there may be a time in your life
where you may need a second
chance to start again after
financial disaster. A failed business or marriage, a foreclosure,
job loss, disability, illness or
sometimes just poor decisions
can lead to bankruptcy. The
good news is: It’s not the end
of the world. There is hope for
a “new beginning” available
under the law. You don’t have
to suffer needlessly. How does
bankruptcy work?
Declaring bankruptcy involves filing a petition for relief
with the Bankruptcy Court.
The remedy provided by law is
either in the form of a discharge
of debts as in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy or a court-approved
repayment plan as in Chapters
11, 12 or 13 of the Bankruptcy
Code. For most consumers and
small businesses, the choice is
usually either between Chapter
7 and Chapter 13. When you
file for bankruptcy, an auto-
How Can Bankruptcy
Solve Your Debt Problems?
matic stay goes into effect (it is
automatic because it arises by
operation of law) which prohibits creditors from taking further
collection against you absent
approval from the Court.
In Chapter 7, non-exempt
assets could be turned over to
a court-appointed trustee who
may sell the assets and use the
proceeds to pay all or a portion
of your debts. Okay, before you
panic, let me explain. Some
people have the mistaken idea
that once you file for Chapter
7, you will lose everything that
you have. This is NOT true. As
a matter of fact, most people
who file for Chapter 7 keep
everything that they have- their
home, cars, bank accounts and
retirement plans. Because the
law states which assets are
non-exempt in bankruptcy,
you shouldn’t be filing for
Chapter 7 Bankruptcy, anyway,
if significant assets may
be lost in the process. Your
attorney should explain this
to you. If this is the case, a
Chapter 13 may be preferable
over Chapter 7 and may still
allow you to get a handle on
your debts by reducing what
you owe into one affordable monthly payment.
In Chapter 13, a repayment
proposal is filed with the Court.
Some debts (such as taxes and
back child support) must be
paid in full, some are repaid
as a percentage of the original
debt, and other debts are not
repaid at all. Payment plans in
Chapter 13 are usually 3 years
in length but can be as long as
5 years if necessary. The interest on credit cards is reduced
to zero and in most cases, only
a portion of your total credit
card debts is paid. The result
is one low monthly payment
that you make directly to the
Chapter 13 trustee, who, in
turn, disburses payments to
your creditors each month until your plan is completed.
If you have an attorney, you
don’t need to appear in court
at the confirmation hearing
(It is at this hearing where
the judge decides to approve
or deny your proposed plan)
although you will need to appear at least once at a debtor’s
examination (conducted by the
Chapter 13 Trustee) where you
will be interviewed regarding
your income and expenses.
The debtor’s examination is a
short, informal administrative
hearing that usually lasts just
a few minutes. No judge is
present at the hearing.
If you are experiencing
Continued on PAGE C8
By Atty. Brian Lerner
QUESTION: I have a friend
who is quite elderly and just
has not been able to learn
English. Can he ever become
a U.S. Citizen?
Answer: On September 18,
2007, U.S. Citizenship and
Immigration Services (USCIS)
released a memorandum giving guidance on the adjudication of Form N-648, Medical
Certification for Disability
This is the form necessary
to begin a process to attempt
to waiver the English requirement where the applicant
has a medically determinable
physical or mental impairment
that renders him or her unable
to demonstrate a proficiency
of the English language or
knowledge of U.S. history and
Question: What are the basic
contents of the memorandum?
Answer: The memorandum
begins by noting that Form N648 be submitted as an attachment to the applicant’s N-400,
Application for Naturalization.
The memorandum advises that
the applicant should submit
Form N-648 at the time when
the N-400 application is filed,
‘Can I Still Become a Citizen
Without Knowing English?’
but that neither the submission of Form N-648 after the
filing of the N-400 nor the
submission of multiple Form
N-648s is, by itself, sufficient
grounds to reject a request
for an exception. Nevertheless, the submission of late
or multiple Form N-648s may
raise credible doubts about
the veracity of the medical
certifications or justify additional scrutiny to ensure
the applicant is entitled to
the exception unless there
is evidence of changed facts
or circumstances that would
explain the basis for filing
multiple forms.
Question: What should basically be included in the N-648
package to try to get the English requirement waived?
Answer: It should include
1) an explanation of the origin, nature, and extent of
the medical condition that is
established and documented
by medically acceptable clinical or laboratory diagnostic
techniques, including a list of
the medically acceptable clinical or laboratory diagnostic
tests employed in reaching the
diagnosis that the applicant
has a mental and/or physical
condition preventing him or
her from learning English;
2) an explanation of how the
applicant’s diagnosed medical
condition or impairment so
severely affects the applicant
that it renders him or her unable to learn or demonstrate
English proficiency and/or
knowledge of U.S. history and
government; 3) an attestation
that the disability has lasted,
or is expected to last, 12
months or longer; and 4) an
attestation that the disability
is not the direct effect of the
illegal use of drugs.
Question: What if the adjudicator thinks my friend is
committing fraud?
Answer: Adjudicators have
been instructed that they are
not to presume the existence
of fraud merely based on the
number of applicants who
seek a medical examination
from a particular medical
professional, noting that, applicants of an immigrant community commonly seek the
care and services of medical
professionals who share the
same language, culture, ethnicity, and/or nationality and
that this practice is not, in and
of itself, an indication of fraud.
If the adjudicator has a reason
to suspect fraud, the adjudicator is instructed to consult
with the Office of Fraud Detection and National Security
(FDNS). If the FDNS does not
provide a final response within
120 days from the date of the
initial interview, the adjudicator is instructed to proceed
with the adjudication of the
Continued on PAGE C8
How to Successfully File Petition
on Behalf of Your Spouse
By Atty. Eugene Palacios
TODAY we are going to
discuss the various issues that
one has to consider when filing an immigrant petition on
Continued on PAGE C8 behalf of a spouse.
The law allows a lawful
permanent resident (LPR) or
a U.S. citizen to file a petition
on behalf of his spouse. The
petition filed by an LPR on
behalf of his spouse belongs
to the 2nd preference A (F2A)
family-based category while
the petition filed by a U.S.
citizen on behalf of his spouse
belongs to the immediate
relative (IR) category.
According to the visa bulletin issued by the Department
of State for October 2007,
immigrant visa numbers for
the F2A category (Philippines) are available only for
applicants whose priority date
is earlier than the cut-off date
of November 15, 2002. This
means that if the case was
just filed recently, it will take
years before the beneficiary
of said petition could file an
application to adjust to LPR
status or an immigrant visa
For example: Pamela, an
LPR, married Gary, a Filipino
national, in Las Vegas. If Pam
decides to file a petition on
behalf of Gary today, would
he be allowed to file an application to adjust to LPR
status simultaneously with
said petition? The answer is
no. Gary has to go home and
wait for his priority to become
current before he could file
an immigrant visa application
with the U.S. Embassy.
If Gary decides to stay in the
U.S. while waiting for his priority date to become current,
would he be allowed to adjust
to LPR status eventually? The
answer is no. Unless Gary is
able to find a way to maintain
lawful non-immigrant status
while waiting for the priority
date of his case to become
current, he will be considered
out-of-status upon expiration
of the date indicated on his I94 and will not be allowed to
adjust to LPR status later on
unless there is a special law,
i.e., 245(i), etc., that applies to
his case or, unless his spouse
becomes a U.S. citizen later
on and his case moves from
the F2A category to the IR
In the case of a petition filed
by a U.S. citizen on behalf of a
spouse, since the beneficiary
belongs to the IR category,
the immigrant visa number
is readily available and the
beneficiary could immediately
file an application to adjust to
LPR status. In addition, unlike
in the case of the beneficiary
in the F2A category, an immediate relative beneficiary
is generally allowed to adjust
to LPR status even if he or she
is already out-of-status or has
failed to maintain lawful nonimmigrant status in the U.S.
What are the things that the
petitioner must prove in order
for the application to adjust to
LPR status or immigrant visa
application of his spouse to be
• His status as LPR or U.S.
• That they have genuine
relationship before, during,
and after the wedding.
• That they were legally
• That the beneficiary will
not become a public charge.
In the case of an application
to adjust to LPR status, that
the beneficiary was legally
inspected when he entered
the U.S.
In the case of an application
to adjust to LPR, if the case
belongs to the F2A category,
that the beneficiary is either
not out-of-status or covered
by a special law that allows
such individual to still adjust
to LPR status despite being
out-of-status. This last requirement does not apply to
petition filed by a U.S. citizen
on behalf of his spouse because an immediate relative
beneficiary is allowed to adjust to LPR status even if he
is already out-of-status.
To find out more about this
topic, we invite you to call us
at (818) 956-8844 [Glendale]
or at (626) 331-8188 [Covina]
to schedule an appointment
for your free initial consultation or you may visit us at
Attorney Eugene M. Palacios is a
highly experienced immigration attorney
with a successful track record in handling
employment and family-based petitions
as well as PERM and naturalization
applications. His offices are located at
100 North Brand Boulevard, Suite 600,
Glendale, California 91203 and at 800
South Barranca Avenue, Suite 250,
Covina, California 91723.
The above article does not, and is not
intended to, constitute legal advice for
a specific immigration problem and does
not create an attorney-client relationship
between our office and the reader. It is for
informational purposes only and reflects
our law firm’s opinions and views on general
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10/5/07 4:59:36 PM