Foreign Nationals Living in Trump’s America – What can I do?

Mar 08, 2017

Foreign Nationals Living in Trump’s America – What can I do?


By Arti K. Desai, Esq., Senior Associate Attorney at the Nair Law Group.


Since the election, the foreign national communities across the United States have been living in a state of uncertainty and fear; uncertain about the current state of affairs and afraid of what the future holds. With large scale immigration crackdown against undocumented foreign nationals underway; documented or foreign nationals who are in the US legally are rightfully concerned. Over the past few weeks, our office has received several emails and phone calls from concerned individuals asking us what they can do now. Whether they should be carrying their immigration papers with them? We have answered their concerns individually and we hope this post clarifies and answers some of yours as well.


Is there a law that says I have to carry my immigration papers with me at all times, no matter what I am doing?


Actually, yes there is. INA Section 262 plainly states that “ Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d)…”


This means that any foreign national in the United States is required to carry their “immigration registration” document with them at ALL times. No exceptions.


What happens if I don’t have my paperwork on me?


If the paperwork in not provided immediately upon request, the foreign national can be found guilty of a misdemeanor and upon conviction be fined up to a $100 for each offence or be imprisoned for not more than 30 days, or both which could have serious immigration related consequences.


For example, it is important to understand that a misdemeanor conviction can have a negative impact for any foreign national who want to either become a green card holder; or a green card holder who wants to  become a naturalized citizen.


What should I carry? What are immigration registration documents or immigration papers?


The most notable examples of such a document is the Form I-94 (can be printed from CBP website); I-551 (also known as a green card); Form I-766 (also known as an Employment Authorization Card); Form I-20; Form DS-2019; or Form I-797 Approval Notice.


Due to the current climate in the United States, we advise that foreign national currently residing here (regardless of immigrant or non-immigrant) status always carry with them a current photo identification (i.e. driver’s license, passport) and their relevant immigration documents in original and photocopy. We advise that foreign nationals carry the original and several photocopies of their immigration documents with them at all times so that a photocopy can be submitted to the government official if needed for their record keeping. 


This is not a new law, it has been on the books for decades but its provisions have rarely been enforced. However, considering the current climate and the renewed vigor with which local law enforcement and immigration officials are conducting their duties, it is imperative that we remain diligent and make sure to comply with all rules.


Lastly, we also advise that every immigrant or non-immigrant foreign national residing in the United States update their residential address with USCIS, as required under the law, within 10 days of any move. The process known as filing an AR-11 is very simple and can be done online at I hope this post has been helpful and eases some of your concerns. Please do not hesitate to reach Nair Law Group with your questions and concerns. As always, we are here to help.