ELIZABETH C. PINES, P.A.

IMMIGRATION LAW

Helping clients navigate immigration issues and the complex legal process.

www.pineslaw.com

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December 2023 Update

  • A Doctor Tried to Renew His Passport. Now He's No Longer a Citizen


  • Facts Regarding Florida's Controversial Law Restricting Property Ownership for Foreign Nationals

I am often asked if you really need an attorney when applying for U.S. citizenship.

My answer is: YES, at least for a consultation!


You want to avoid a bad surprise, just like the 61-year old Virginia doctor who suddenly was stripped off his U.S. citizenship. Siavash Sobhani was born in this country, U.S. Anyone born in the U.S. is an American citizen, right? No! As it happens with U.S. immigration laws, there are numerous exceptions that may apply, and every time you file an application at USCIS or Department of State (DOS) the entire file is opened for review. In case of a finding of a prior mistake or fraud, the benefit granted in the past can be revoked. The fact that Dr. Sobbhani's U.S. passports had been renewed multiple times in the past, does not give any assurance that it will be renewed again. You can read the story below to find out why. 


And more recently I am frequently asked about Florida's new controversial law SB264 banning property ownership for foreign nationals from six countries - Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Venezuela, Syria and China. Even though this relates to real estate law, in an attempt to assist my clients, below is a short summary of important elements of the law that are key to understand. We hope to offer some insight about what SB264 does and doesn't do.


Next seminar:

December 19, 2023 at 9:30am, Coral Gables. Foreign Investment for Immigration Purposes.

To register: click here.


If you should need help with immigration issues, upcoming immigration benefits and/or business-related visas, our firm can be of service.


En Español:

A menudo me preguntan si realmente se necesita un abogado cuando se va a solicitar la ciudadanía estadounidense.

Mi respuesta es: SÍ, ¡al menos para una consulta!

 

Quieres definitivamente evitar una mala sorpresa, como le sucedió al médico de Virginia de 61 años que de repente fue despojado de su ciudadanía estadounidense. Siavash Sobhani nació en este país, EE.UU. Cualquier persona nacida en los EE. UU. es ciudadana estadounidense, ¿verdad? ¡No! Las leyes de inmigración de los EE. UU. tiene numerosas excepciones que pueden aplicarse, y cada vez que se presenta una solicitud en USCIS o en el Departamento de Estado (DOS), todo el archivo del extranjero se abre para revisión. En caso de que se descubra un error o fraude anterior, se puede revocar el beneficio otorgado en el pasado. El hecho de que los pasaportes estadounidenses del Dr. Sobbhani hayan sido renovados varias veces en el pasado, no da ninguna garantía de que se renovarán de nuevo. Puedes leer la historia a continuación y saber porqué le revocación.

 

Y a menudo también me preguntan sobre la nueva y controversial ley SB264 de Florida que prohíbe la compra de propiedades para ciudadanos extranjeros de seis países: Irán, Cuba, Corea del Norte, Venezuela, Siria y China. A pesar de que esto se relaciona con el derecho inmobiliario, en un intento de ayudar a mis clientes, a continuación aquí un breve resumen de elementos importantes de la ley que son clave para entenderla. Esperamos ofrecer alguna idea sobre lo que hace y lo que no hace la SB264.

 

Mi próximo seminario:

19 de diciembre de 2023 a las 9:30 a. m., Coral Gables. Inversión extranjera con fines migratorios.

Para registrarse: click here.


Si necesita ayuda con asuntos de inmigración y / o visas relacionadas con negocios, nuestra firma lo puede asistir. 

A Doctor Tried to Renew His U.S. Passport. Now He's No Longer A Citizen

A 61-year-old Virginia doctor who was born in the US has been stripped of his citizenship - all because of his late father's status as an Iranian diplomat at the time of his birth. 


Siavash Sobhani became stateless when he tried to renew his passport in June this year - with officials telling him that he never should have been granted American citizenship in 1960, according to the Washington Post. 



To read this story, click here.

The Facts About SB 264: Florida's New Property Ownership Law compelling headline

Florida's new law restricting property ownership for foreign nationals from certain countries is causing confusion about who it applies to and what the restrictions mean. So, we have done some research and here is our summary of the most frequently asked questions.


Foreign principals from China, Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, Syria and North Korea may not purchase or own agricultural land property within 10 miles of a military installation or critical infrastructure facility.

  • Buyers must provide an affidavit attesting that the buyer is not a foreign principal.
  • An exemption exists for agricultural land owned before July 1, 2023, but foreign principals who own agricultural land after that date and wish to continue to do so must comply with a registration requirement. Foreign principals who fail to register in a timely fashion will be subject to a $1,000 per day civil penalty
  • Consequences for noncompliance include both civil (including forfeiture) and criminal (knowing sale of agricultural land or real property on or around a military installation or critical infrastructure facility to a foreign principal is a misdemeanor of the second degree)

There is also an exemption for foreign principals, who are natural persons, to purchase one residential property up to 2 acres in size if:

  • The property is not located within 5 miles of any military installation;
  • The person has a U.S. Visa that is not limited to tourism, or has official documentation confirming that the person has been granted asylum in the U.S.
  • The purchase is in the name of the person who holds a visa or official documentation.

The law also places specific limits on citizens of China:

  • Prohibits China, the Chinese Communist Party or other Chinese political party officials or members, Chinese business organizations, and persons domiciled in China, but who are not citizens or lawful permanent residents of the United States from purchasing or acquiring any interest in real property in the state.
  • The law provides a registration requirement for owners prior to the effective date and requires buyers of real property after the effective date submit an affidavit attesting that the buyer is not subject to the requirements of this section.
  • Provides a limited exception from the ownership restrictions for the purchase of one residential property by a Chinese national (directly in their own name) of up to two acres, as long as it is not on or within five miles of any military installation in the state and the purchaser possesses a valid U.S. visa.not limited to tourism or official documentation confirming that the person has been granted asylum in the U.S. And, the purchase is in the name of the person who holds the visa or official documents.
  • Real property that is used for diplomatic purposes is also exempted.
  • The law includes a "de minimus" indirect interest exception and also precludes a group of individuals with de minimus indirect interests from pooling their ownership to acquire a controlling interest in a property.
  • Civil and criminal penalties may be imposed for failure to follow the statute's requirements

There is an exception for natural persons associated with China to purchase one residential

property up to 2 acres in size if:

  • The property is not located within 5 miles of a military installation;
  • The person has a U.S. Visa that is not limited to tourism, or official documentation confirming that the person has been granted asylum in the U.S.
  • And, the purchase is in the name of the person who holds the visa or official documents


A group of Chinese citizens have filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of SB 264. 


If you'd like to know more specifics about the new law, Florida Realtors association has put together an outline of what's in the law. To read, click here.

Contact your legislators

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R - D1) 

202-225-4136

Rep. Neal Dunn (R - D2)

202-225-5235

Rep. Kat Cammack(R - D3)

202-225-5744

Rep. John Rutherford (R - D4)

202-225-2501

Rep. Al Lawson (D - D5)

202-225-0123

Rep. Michael Waltz (R - Dist. 6)

202-225-2706

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D - D7)

202-225-4035

Rep. Bill Posey (R - D8)

202-225-3671

Rep. Darren Soto (D - D9)

202-225-9889

Rep. Val Demings (D - D10)

202-225-2176

Rep. Daniel Webster (R -D11)

202-225-1002

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R - D12)

202-225-5755

Rep. Charlie Crist (D - D13)

202-225-5961

Rep. Kathy Castor (D - D14)

202-225-3376

Rep. Scott C. Franklin(R - D15)

202-225-1252

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R - D16)

202-225-5015

Rep. Gregory Steube (R - D17)

202-225-5792

Rep. Brian Mast (R - D18)

202-225-3026

Rep. Byron Donalds (R - D19)

202-225-2536

Rep. Alcee Hastings (D - D20)

202-225-1313

Rep. Lois Frankel (D - D21)

202-225-9890

Rep. Ted Deutch (D - D22)

202-225-3001

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D - D23) 

202-225-7931

Rep. Frederika Wilson (D - D24)

202-225-4506

Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R - D25)

202-225-4211

Rep. Carlos Gimenez(R - D26)

202-225-2778

Rep. Maria Salazar (D -D27) 

202-225-3931

__________________ 

Sen. Rick Scott (R) 

202-224-5274

 

Sen. Marco Rubio (R) 

202-224-3041

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Elizabeth C. Pines

epines@pineslaw.com

www.pineslaw.com
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