Georgia immigration law is much the same as immigration law throughout the United States. However, there are also immigration regulations specific to Georgia like E-Verify regulations and rules for state/city law enforcement, and there are local sites and agencies to be aware of. This page will give you an overview of everything you need to know about Georgia immigration. If you’re facing an immigration problem, contact an immigration attorney for assistance.
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Georgia Immigration Explained
Georgia is home to approximately 1 million immigrants. These immigrants can fall into many different classifications, including undocumented, refugees, naturalized U.S. citizens, native-born citizens with at least one immigrant parent, immigrant workers, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, recipients.
Undocumented Immigrant – A person who lawfully or unlawfully entered the country and stays illegally. Undocumented immigrants are not authorized to work or receive public benefits and could face deportation proceedings.
Lawful Permanent Resident – Holds a green card or has been granted permission to legally work and live in the U.S. on a permanent basis.
Conditional Permanent Resident – Applies to a person whose green card is valid for two years. As a condition of their residency status, a petition must be filed within ninety days of expiration to become a permanent citizen.
Immigrant Who is a Naturalized U.S. Citizen – People who were born in the U.S. or became a citizen after lawfully residing here for at least three years.
DACA Recipient – Recipients are eligible individuals who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors. They may file for a renewable two-year work permanent that allows them to stay in the country legal. However, it does not lead to citizenship.
Asylee/Refugee – A person who has fled from war, persecution, or natural disaster (among other reasons) and has applied for asylum, or protection that includes permanent U.S. residency, within one year of arrival.
Temporary Protected Status – When citizens of designated countries are granted permission to live and work in the U.S. on a limited basis.
Visa Recipients – Individuals who are in the country on a temporary visa. People who may apply for visas are students, fiancées, business visitors, tourists, and those granted temporary protection status.
What is the USCIS?
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) oversees lawful immigration, fairly adjudicates requests for immigration benefits, and secures the homeland. There is one USCIS field office in the Atlanta, Georgia area. It handles a variety of immigration functions including forms processing.
2150 Parklake Dr. NE
Atlanta, GA 30345
Hours: 7:00 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. (Monday – Friday)
Appointment Information: If you wish to speak to an Immigration Services Officer, you must schedule an appointment.
Immigration Scams and How to Avoid Them
You should be aware of fraudulent emails stating you have been chosen for the Visa Lottery, emails offering jobs, and unaccredited colleges offering F-1 student visa sponsorship. To avoid being a victim of immigration scams, do not send money to an individual to file immigration paperwork or reply to emails or phone calls asking for money. The USCIS will never accept PayPal or money orders and payments should be made through the USCIS website.
If you are trying to become a US citizen, facing detainment, or dealing with any other immigration-related issue in Georgia, you may want to contact an immigration attorney.
An immigration attorney can do the following:
Help people obtain citizenship.
Defend people against deportation.
Provide legal advice for immigration issues.
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Georgia Immigration Law
In Georgia, immigration is regulated at the federal level. The Immigration and Nationality Act(INA) and The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) were established to curb illegal immigration, prevent undocumented immigrants from receiving public assistance, and set consequences for employers who hire illegal immigrants. In addition to these US immigration laws, the state of Georgia has some regulations of its own.
Georgia Laws Regarding Immigration
E-Verify Requirements for Workers – Employers can use this online service to verify an employee’s authorization to work in the U.S.
Driver’s License Restrictions/Requirements – People must provide a photo ID and proof of lawful residency to apply for a driver’s license.
Voter ID Rules – Georgia has strict voter identification rules, such as the mandatory presentation of your photo ID before voting.
House Bill 87 (2011) – An anti-illegal immigration bill that requires Atlanta businesses that employ more than ten people to E-verify all employees.
Challenging State Immigration Law
State immigration laws may be challenged in court by immigrants’ rights groups, civil liberties groups, and even the federal government. Namely, challengers often argue on the grounds of racial profiling, especially when local law enforcement is directed to investigate the immigration statuses of “suspicious” persons. Also, they argue against proof of citizenship and legal residence requirements and voter ID laws. Further, the federal government has made the claim that a “patchwork” of immigration laws will not fix the system. Your attorney can advise you if challenging state law might work in your situation.
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Georgia Immigration Detention Center
There are three immigration detention centers in Georgia. These institutions are where illegal immigrants are held in detention for short periods while awaiting trial. The government typically places immigrant in detention centers when they are assumed to be a “flight risk” or a threat to public safety.
Georgia’s Immigration Detention Center Information
Atlanta City Detention Center
254 Peachtree Street
Southwest Atlanta, GA, 30303
8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Wednesdays and Sundays)
Attorneys and chaplains may visit at any time during facility
If you need to get in touch with a detainee to leave an urgent message, you must call the above phone number. You will be directed to leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number, and your own contact information. Your message will be given to the detainee.
Irwin County Detention Center
132 Cotton Drive
Ocilla, GA, 31774
Women and children are held at this immigrant detention center.
Facility Hours: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Monday – Friday)
Visiting Hours: 1 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Males – Thursdays and Saturdays and Females -Fridays and Sundays)
Attorneys may visit at any time, even on holidays.
Phone Number: 229-468-4121
If you need to get in touch with a detainee to leave an urgent message, you must call 404-893-1210. You will be directed to leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number, and your own contact information. Your message will be given to the detainee.
Stewart Detention Center
146 CCA Road
Lumpkin, GA, 31815
Stewart Detention Center houses adult male immigrants.
8 a.m. – 2 p.m. (Monday – Thursday),
8 a.m. – 6:30 p.m. (Friday – Sunday)
8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Monday – Thursday, but no visitors will be processed after 2:30 p.m.) and
8 a.m. – 8 p.m. (Friday – Sunday, but no visitors will be processed after 6:30 p.m.)
Includes all holidays.
8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Monday – Friday) and
3:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. (Saturday – Sunday)
Phone Number: 229-838-5000
To leave a detainee an urgent message, you must call the above number and leave the detainee’s full name, alien registration number, and your contact information. The detainee will be given your message.
Steps to Take If Someone You Know Has Been Detained
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Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network
In 2005, the Atlanta Bar Association, several associates from top Atlanta law firms, and Catholic Charities combined forces to become the Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network, or GAIN, formerly known as the Atlanta Bar Asylum Project. Their mission is to provide free immigration legal services to victims of crime and persecution by offering direct representation by volunteer attorneys, providing legal advice, and referring clients to the best, relevant resources.
General Questions and Information – 678-335-6040
Fax – 1-678-335-2530
E-Mail – [email protected]
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Georgia Immigration Courts
There are two Georgia immigration courts where immigration hearings are conducted.
Atlanta Immigration Court
Main Atlanta Location:
180 Ted Turner Drive SW, Suite 241
Atlanta, GA 30303
Main Atlanta Location Phone Number: 404-331-0907
Atlanta Annex Location:
Peachtree Summit Federal Building, Floor 26
401 West Peachtree St. NW
Atlanta, GA 30308
Atlanta Annex Phone Number: 404-554-9400
Hours (for Both): 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Presiding Judges are:
- Michael Baird
- William A. Cassidy
- Scott D. Criss
- John M. Gillies
- Wayne K. House Jr.
- J. Dan Pelletier
- Gwendylan Tregerman
- Earle Wilson
Stewart Immigration Court
Stewart Immigration Court is located inside of Stewart Detention Facility.
146 CCA Road
P.O. Box 248
Lumpkin, GA 31815
Phone Number: 229-838-1320
Hours: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The presiding judges are:
- Dan Trimble
- Njeri B. Maldonado
What happens at immigration court hearings?
Notice to Appear – To begin deportation proceedings, a suspected illegal immigrant must be served with the legal document The Notice to Appear.
Master Hearing – The respondent will enter a plea for the allegations and apply for removal relief.
Merits/Individual Hearing – Where the accused may present evidence, testify to support their application, and call witnesses to testify on their behalf. When the hearing concludes, the judge will decide if they may stay or they will be deported.
Georgia Immigration Help
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Georgia Immigration News
The Southern Poverty Law Center, or SPLC, seeks legal action against judges who violate detainee’s constitutional rights. Atlanta’s Immigration Court is notorious for its 98% denial rate on asylum cases. The SPLC are fighting against Atlanta’s Immigration Court because of judges intimidating detainees, blocking access to fair representation, providing interpretation services, preventing bond requests from being considered on an individual basis, and requiring detainees to wear jumpsuits and shackles and referring to them as prisoners.
Attorneys for the City of Decatur have filed two lawsuits against the Immigration Enforcement Review Board. They claim the IERB failed to comply with the Georgia Open Records Act and the Georgia Open Meetings Act, held meetings in secrecy, and failed to disclose records. Decatur was targeted by the board after a complaint was made by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, accusing the city of being a sanctuary city for illegal immigration.
Senate Bill 452 requires that Georgia law enforcement and court officials report suspects they believe are in the country illegally to immigration enforcement services. Immigrant-rights advocates call the bill unconstitutional because, due to Senate Bill 452, because police will be required to detain people for something they were not arrested before. Supporters of the bill believe it the new bill is good for public safety.
Dalton, GA is suffering from a severe shortage of skilled labor at a time when the Trump administration has threatened to crack down on businesses that hire undocumented immigrants. The state passed a law a few years ago that requires employers to use the federal E-Verify system. Local immigration attorney Joseph Baldwin said, “There are some employers in this area that I know of that do hire a lot of illegal immigrants, that do not have status. They’re saying, I can’t afford to lose these employees that are really sort of running things here,” Baldwin said. “You know these guys have no criminal records. They’ve got families. They’re really part of my family now. What can we do? Unfortunately, more times than not, the answer is, there’s no solution.”
Georgia Immigration Assistance Now
If you’re seeking qualified assistance with the Atlanta Immigration Court, we’re here to help.
Georgia Immigration Law Explained
Georgia immigration law is much the same as immigration law throughout the United States. However, there are also immigration regulations specific to Georgia like E-Verify regulations and rules for state/city law enforcement, and there are local sites and agencies to be aware of.
Your Guide to the Atlanta Immigration Court
Navigating the Atlanta Immigration Court can be very difficult as there are many agencies involved and lots of moving parts. This page will walk you through the basics of what to expect if you’ve been detained or received a notice to appear in immigration court in Atlanta, Georgia.
Guide to I-485
The process, which begins with form I-485, can be complicated. This page will guide you through the basics of an Adjustment Of Status and let you know what to expect.
Guide to I-765
When coming to the United States, finding a job is probably one of the first things you’ll want to do. However, before you can begin working in the U.S. you should obtain a work permit. Read on to find out how you can use Form I-765 to apply for the right to work in the United States.