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  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter

  POSTING DATE: January 1,  2018
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2018 
For questions about U.S. Residency, Green Cards and Immigration Visas, Visit our Website at: or  call our office at: (954) 382-5378
Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

Question: Hi Ms. Caroly, I hope you can answer this question for me. I came to America 6 years ago on a work visa and never renewed. I stayed here and got married to my husband who had his Green Card at the time. Well, he finally got his citizenship last year in August and he filed for my I-130 in September. We got the confirmation notice from immigration with the case number, but nothing else since then. I never got my biometrics appointment and it's been 3 months now with nothing I am anxious to get my work permit. I called the immigration telephone number and they said it takes about 8 months for the application to be approved, but did not have any information about the finger prints appointment or work permit. I made an appointment at the immigration office and the lady got me even more confused, she said something about the application he filed for me means I have to go to the embassy to get my visa that I cant get my green card here. We are so confused now. We didn’t have any money to pay for legal fees to have you do the case in the beginning, now we think that was not such a good idea. My husband will get a tax refund in a few months and we will come in so you can take over our case. But before we come in next month, can you please tell me a few things. How long does it normally take to get the fingerprints and work permit? Did we file the wrong application? Is it true that I have to leave America and go to the embassy to get my residency? Hope you had a nice Christmas and will have a Happy new years.
Answer: Great questions. The Residency process can often be very confusing, so let me try to make it simple. When a foreign spouse is inside the U.S. and eligible to adjust status to Residency, in addition to the I-130, the entire adjustment of status petition must be filed along with the request for work authorization in order to obtain a Green Card. Once filed, it takes approximately 30 days to receive your Biometrics Appointment notice and another 60 days for your Work Permit. Your marriage residency interview generally comes in another 6-8 months.

In your case, your husband only filed the I-130, which is simple a spousal petition. Nothing will happen to adjust your status in the U.S. from this petition alone, without your adjustment of status case being filed on your behalf. Generally, the I-130 is filed for spouses who are abroad and who are processing through the U.S. Consulate. In these cases, once the I-130 is approved, the National Visa Center prepares the case for the spousal immigrant interview abroad.

So now, as long as you are eligible to adjust your status to U.S. Residency in the U.S., meaning that you entered the U.S. legally and your spouse is a U.S. Citizen, then you’ll need to have the adjustment of status and request for work authorization properly filed with the USCIS in order to process your adjustment of status in the U.S.. Don’t worry, you do not need to leave the U.S. to obtain your immigrant visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad, you’ll be able to get your Green Card right here in the U.S.. I will email you a Firm questionnaire, document list and link to USCIS authorized doctors so you can have your required medical exam. See you next month!
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use
Immigration How To:
How Do I send my immigration application to the USCIS?
Applying For Immigration Benefits You Are Not Qualified For Could Get You Deported!
Never, Never, Never Send Your Immigration Application Using Certified Mail
Now more than ever, its vitally important that Immigrants fully understand their eligibility under immigration regulations before filing an immigration petition, since denied applications may now lead to swift removal from the U.S.. 

Under Obama’s lenient Immigration policies, only criminal aliens are given priority for deportation and most other Immigrants are largely left alone. However, under a Trump administration, Immigrants who are denied for Immigration benefits may be automatically targeted for deportation. This may be especially harsh for those who engage in fake marriages and are denied for marriage fraud, as well as many Immigrants sponsored by family members who file for Residency in the U.S. after their I-94 stay has expired and are no longer eligible to adjust status in the U.S..
Immigration Roundup – Looking Ahead To 2018
The year 2017 has now come and gone, with no major Immigration legislation enacted, however the year ahead is likely to bring a flurry of Immigration initiatives and congressional consideration, which could make major historical changes to our existing U.S. Immigration system. 

Here are a few of the major immigration related policies and initiatives expected to emerge or continue during 2018:
On December 27, 2017, the USCIS updated its DACA information regarding the refilling of rejected DACA applications for late filing and other “rejection” issues. Entitled “Guidance on Rejected DACA Requests”, the USCIS update confirms that it is sending letters to qualifying DACA applicants who’s applications were rejected, inviting them to resubmit their DACA request within 33 calendar days. 

Since Democrats failed to advance legislation to protect Dreamers in 2017, they plan to push for a permanent DACA protection Bill in the early months of 2018, using the leverage they have over the 2018 Budget negotiations with Republicans. While there are currently several DACA Bills pending in congress, most only provide temporary fixes and do not permanently protect Dreamers. The favored DACA Bill which called the ‘‘Dream Act of 2017’’which would provide permanent protection and a path to Citizenship.

Ramped-up, Extreme Immigration Enforcement: 

 During the past year, the level of immigration arrests have skyrocketed as part of sweeping ICE raids throughout the U.S., targeting criminals and any other innocent “illegal” Immigrants encountered during these enforcement sprees. This comes as a result of Trumps long touted “ tough Immigration agenda”. It comes as no surprise that at the very start of his presidency in January 2017, Trump issued an executive order that rescinded a previous policy by former President Obama in which Obama specifically limited immigration enforcement to those with criminal records. 

Instead, Trump initiated a new extreme enforcement program which targets all immigrants. And the scope of these extreme measures appears to be unlimited, with no area “off-limits”, including targeting Immigrants at courthouses, while dropping off children at school and at work locations. Predictably, these draconian enforcement measures have spread great fear and panic through the Immigrant community, driving many law abiding Immigrants who lack legal immigration status, back into the shadows. These extreme immigration enforcement measures are expected to continue and escalate in 2018, leaving millions of law abiding Immigrants at risk of apprehension.

Reduction In Legal Immigration: 

The RAISE ACT: Republicans aim to reduce legal immigration by stopping so called “Chain Immigration” wherein Residents and U.S. Citizens can sponsor family members to immigrate to the U.S.. The RAISE Act currently pending legislation would eliminate most family immigration and substitute it with a new “Merit-based” system. Only spouses and minor children under age 21 would be eligible to immigrate. All Democrats and a few Republicans oppose this measure, however both Congress and the Executive branch are controlled by Republicans, who are basically in favor of reducing immigration, so the chances are high that some form of legal immigration restrictions will be part of immigration legislation in 2018. If an immigration Bill is successful, there is a high likelihood that the F4 Immigration Category for Siblings (Brothers/Sisters) would be eliminated and possibly even the F3 Immigration Category for Married Children of U.S. Citizens.

Elimination of the Diversity Visa Lottery: Trump and many Republican leaders have targeted the Visa Lottery for termination by misrepresenting the program as one which allows criminals and terrorists to immigrate to the U.S. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however in this era of Trump, the truth never seems to get in the way. The RAISE Act includes a provision eliminating this vital immigration program and given the anti-immigrant sentiment among Republicans and Trump supporters, the Diversity Lottery program may not have much of a chance of surviving any serious immigration reform negotiations.

U.S. Border Screening: Foreign visitors, Residents and even naturalized Citizens are subjected to scrutiny of their social media and searching of electronic devices including laptops, tablets, smartphones, emails and other communications, aimed at finding information which indicates that an individual has or intends to violate the terms of their visa or immigration status. This often includes texts or emails from visitors indicating a desire to work or live in the U.S., etc.

Reducing Visas: During the presidential campaign and following the election, Trump and Republican leaders have taken aim against all immigrants and non-immigrants, both legal and illegal. The result has been a wide range of measures, including multiple executive orders signed by Trump prohibiting foreign nationals from certain countries from entry into the U.S. (“Travel Ban”) and extreme U.S. border vetting of travelers to the U.S..

Most importantly, without even having to pass immigration legislation, the Trump administration has effectively reduced legal immigration by twisting the interpretation of existing immigration policies to meet its ends and applying arbitrary standards which unfairly punishImmigrants. Under new Administration policies, Consular Officers are encouraged to “re-adjudicate” prior visa approvals issued by the USCIS and to more carefully scrutinize applications for work, study, investment and immigration visas, effectively encouraging consular officer’s to use their own “subjective” belief about an applicant’s eligibility, even when all technical qualifications have been met. This has resulted in arbitrary adjudications of applications and a sharp increase in visa denials. This is particularly targeted Student Visa applicants who otherwise meet all the criteria for visa issuance, but are denied the visa because the consular officer simply believe, without any objective evidence, that the applicant may not return to their home country after their studies in the U.S. are completed. 

Abrupt Policy Changes: For instance the Administration recently changed the policy regarding the period of time an individual must wait after entering the U.S., in order to file an immigration petition to change or adjust status inside the U.S.. Until recently, it was known as the 30/60 Day Rule that a person cannot have preconceived intent to enter the U.S. for a purpose different from that permitted under the visa they entered the U.S. on. If any immigration actions are taken within 30 days of entry, the presumption is that the individual had “preconceived intent” and actions takes within 60 days does not lead to that presumption. Now the policy has been changed to 90 days.

Reduction of Humanitarian & Relief Programs: The Trump Administration plans to cancel and reduce even more Refugee and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) programs in the future. In 2017 the government cancelled both the Nicaraguan and Haitian TPS programs, issuing only a short program extension to give nationals time to arrange to leave the U.S.. While the fate of Honduran and Salvadorian TPS remains uncertain. However under the current anti-immigrant climate, the odds are not good that these programs will remain in place much longer. In the Fall of 2017 Trump further reduced the level of Refugee acceptance to 45,000 and chances are that not many of that number will actually end up immigrating, since his Administration will likely initiate delays in security vetting and processing which could take many years to complete.

Take Action Now!
As we know from the recent passage of the Republican tax bill, legislation can move fast and family immigration can be lost in the “blink of an eye”! So this year, like no other, is the time for all of us to become politically active and let our Republican Senators and Representatives know that we support a permanent DACA program with includes a pathway to Citizenship, we strongly oppose the RAISE Act and any restriction of legal family immigration and do not support changing to a merit-based immigration system. 

Contact your local Republican Congress person
Dream Act of 2017
 USCIS Issues DACA Re-filing Update
The notice further states that any DACA applicant who believes they were affected by the rejection can proactively resubmitted the DACA request even before receiving a letter from USCIS. 

Read the new DACA announcement 

Question: : I called your office, but I guess you are closed for the holidays, so I’m emailing you instead and I hope you can answer me. I immigrated to the U.S. from Venezuela six years ago and recently got my citizenship through my American wife. My parents are here visiting us from Venezuela for the Christmas and New years holidays and weve been talking about maybe having them stay here due to the bad situation back home. I have a few questions. First, are they allowed to stay or do they have to go back to caracas and come back through the embassy? Second, if they can stay here, I read your column a few months ago that they have to be here for 3 months before we can file for their status. If that is the case, what happens if their visa status expires while we are waiting for their green cards? I heard it can take a year or more. Finally, how long will it take for them to get a work permit and social security number? 
Answer: U.S. Citizens can sponsor their Parents to immigrate to the U.S., either through the U.S. Consulate if they are abroad, or by adjustment of status to U.S. Residency if they are in the U.S. and entered legally. Parents in the U.S. who entered legally can file for Residency and wait to receive their Green Card here - since there is no need to travel back to the home country. Until and unless the law changes, Parents of U.S. Citizens are in a special immigration category called “Immediate Relatives” which allows them to obtain a Green Card in the U.S. - even if their I-94 cards are expired. 

Therefore, if your parents decide to stay and adjust status to U.S. Permanent Residency (a Green Card) here, it will not be a problem if their I-94 period of stay expires, even before applying. Currently, after applying for Residency, it takes about 3 months to receive a work/travel permit and Social Security card. If filed properly, the entire Residency process for Parents of U.S. Citizens is about 8+ months from start to finish to receive a Green Card. You can give me a call in the office, we will be back to work on Tuesday, January 2nd. Have a Happy New Years!

It’s very important to understand that most adult family members sponsored by parents or siblings, who’s legal status in the U.S. has expired, are not eligible to file for residency in the U.S. without a Waiver, even after waiting for many years in the Family Immigrant Visa line. Presently, making the Residency application with the USCIS nearly always results in the receipt of a work permit and social security card, whether or not the applicant is really eligible for residency. It is only once the applicant attends his or her residency interview, that they learn they are not eligible because their I-94 has expired and they receive a denial. Under current Obama policy, no removal action is normally taken against those denied for residency, even though technically, under the law, such Immigrants are deportable. However, once Trump takes office, such denials will likely result in the automatic initiation of removal proceedings against many Immigrants. 

So the best advice is to absolutely avoid entering into a fake marriage, especially out of fear of possible Trump Immigration crack downs. I can guarantee that not only will you likely be denied a Green Card, but also likely deported and lose all hope of ever returning to the U.S. again. Best to stay safe….wait for real love and only then get married and file for Residency. Similarly, no Immigrant from this day forward should ever apply for any Immigration benefit without having confirmation by an Immigration attorney of his or her eligibility. Understand that there is a big difference between simply filing for residency and actually being eligible for and receiving it. In all cases, the USCIS will accept your application fee and issue a receipt, that does not in any way mean your case will be approved. 

Most Importantly, avoid immigration services and paralegals, since they often do not understand Immigration regulations or simply want to take your money and file Immigration applications that they know the Immigrant is not eligible for. Going forward, these kinds reckless Immigration applications will likely result in tragic consequences in 2018. There is no excuse now to remain ignorant about Immigration issues, or listen to advice from your friends or family – who have no idea what they are talking about. 

Remember, doing nothing is much safer than filing for something you are not eligible for, since as soon as you apply for something, you immediately put yourself on the USCIS “radar”, when otherwise, you would have remained safely “anonymous”. 
Be smart, educate yourself, have a free consultation with a qualified Immigration attorney before you file any application, even if you plan on filing the case yourself. We are here as a resource and most of us welcome the opportunity to review your Immigration circumstances for free and give you the best advice possible, so you don’t get yourself in an Immigration mess you won’t be able to get yourself out of. Be safe and have a wonderful 2018!
Immigration applications and any follow-up correspondence with the USCIS are very important matters. That is why you should take the additional step of sending these documents to the USCIS by a safe, quick method, which allows you to verify the date and time of delivery to the USCIS. This is especially critical when you have received a Request For Additional Evidence from the USCIS and must provide the requested documentation by a specified deadline. 
Certified Mail is NEVER the best route and can take a long, long time to be delivered, much longer than many other delivery options. Many applicants do not know that if their response sent to the USCIS is postmarked before the deadline date, but is actually delivered and received by the USCIS after that date, the case is likely to be denied. 

Not only is this a tragedy for the beneficiary of the immigration application, but in such instances, all the USCIS filing fees are lost, which in some cases can be thousands of dollars. Certified Mail is not delivered quickly. So, since the USCIS is a government agency,  the U.S. Priority (2 day) U.S. Postal Service is the best, cheapest way to send applications/documents and to safeguard against the unfortunate situation above and the cost is only about  $7. You will receive a tracking# so you can go online and confirm delivery. Be sure to send any responses requested by the USCIS at least one week or more before the deadline. Also, make a copy of everything you send to the USCIS including the initial application, supporting documents, Money Order and all follow-up responses before sending to the USCIS and never send originals! Good luck!