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POSTING DATE: January 20, 2020
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Questions & Answers
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
Question: Hi I am doing my papers for my son and trying to deal with this visa center. They keep giving me error messages and so I want to talk to them to try and get everything straight once and for all. The problem is that every time I call, I have to listen to the whole message, then at the end it says due to high call volume I have to call back!!!! I am so mad, I can never get through. Please tell me what we should do.
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know If Immigration Received My Application?
!!!! News Flash !!!!
Trump Makes Emergency Request For Supreme Court
To Allow Public Charge Rule To Take Effect!
Last week the Trump administration’s Justice Department filed an Emergency Motion with the Supreme Court, requesting that the court allow the so-called “Public Charge” rule to be implemented, in spite of several lower court orders temporarily blocking the measure from going forward. This move comes on the heels of a recent new York federal appeals court ruling against the Trump administration, refusing to allow the so called “Public Charge” rule to be implemented nationwide. The Justice Department is arguing that the government will suffer “irreparable harm” if the rule is not allowed to go into effect. In response to the motion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg directed the challengers to file a response to the government’s application by Wednesday, January 22nd.
Answer: I understand your frustration. You have to be very patient when calling the NVC. The secret is to keep calling, listen to the message until it says heavy call volume and keep hitting the redial. After about 6 calls you should eventually get through. Choose option #1 for English and then if your case is processing through the online CEAC system, choose option #5. The telephone number is 1-603-334-0700 and the best hours to call are early in the morning or late at night. The center is open from 7:00 a.m. - 12:00 midnight EST, Monday through Friday. The downside is that even once you do get through and get your place in the queue, you may still end up waiting for 30 or more minutes to speak with an officer. Good luck!
Preparing For Implementation Of
The “Public Charge” Rule
If the Supreme Court rules in Trump’s favor and allows the “Public Charge” policy to go into effect, the Trump administration is sure to move quickly to implement the measure. However, the rule will likely not be retroactive and will only apply to cases filed on or after the date the rule takes effect and hopefully there will be a grace period of 30 days or so to give time for filings before the USCIS begins applying the more stringent criteria.
As a result, immigrants are advised to file qualifying cases early on, to avoid being subject to the new restrictions.
A decision could be issued in a matter of weeks. Some experts say that the Supreme Court may likely rule in Trump’s favor, which would overturn the lower district court’s injunctions and allow the “Public Charge” rule to take immediate effect. Stay tuned….
What is Public Charge?
"Public Charge" is a term used by the Department of Homeland Security to refer to an immigrant who is likely to become primarily dependent on the government assistance for support, (public benefits) including cash benefits, Medicaid and other aid.
How And When Is “Public Charge” Used?
The Department of Homeland Security uses the public charge rule in determining whether to deny an immigrant residency or other immigration benefits, if it is determined that an individual is “unable to take care of himself or herself without becoming a public charge,” and will need to obtain public assistance in the U.S..
What Will Change If The New “Public Charge” Rule Goes Into Effect?
The new policy will significantly change the definition of public charge for immigrants who wish to obtain lawful permanent residency in the U.S. (a green card) or to extend their visa. The new rule expands the list of benefits that USCIS officials can consider when determining whether someone is likely to become a public charge to include individuals who have received any of a set list of public benefits for more than 12 months within any 36-month period. Each benefit used counts toward the 12-month calculation. If an individual uses two benefits at the same time for a one-month period, this will count as two months’ use of benefits. Prohibited benefits include but are not limited to: SSI, TANF, Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly “Food Stamps”) or housing assistance and other federal and state aid programs, as well as long-term institutionalization.
More ominously, the new rule requires officials to consider the “totality of circumstances” when making public charge determinations, including the individual’s age, health, family status, financial status, education and skills, which are either positive or negative factors. According to this criteria, children under age 18 and adults over age 61 who are less likely to be able to work and support themselves, may be considered more likely prone to need government assistance and thus, negative factors in the determination process. This is especially true for elderly immigrants with disabilities and chronic health conditions, who are believed to be more likely to use subsidized medical and hospital care. Immigrants unable to speak proficient English may be a negative factor, since they may be considered to be less likely to obtain employment sufficient to support themselves and therefore more likely to require government aid in the future. Officials will also determine whether an applicant has “adequate education and skills to either obtain or maintain employment” (if authorized to work), by looking at employment history, high school degree and higher education, “occupational skills, certifications, or licenses,” and proficiency in English or other languages.
Along with the current Affidavit of Support (I-864) requirements for sponsors, a new requirement is added for the actual immigrant, which requires an individual to have assets, resources, or annual income to support him or herself and all dependents, giving the USCIS officer the authority to determine that the threshold amount of income/resources must be higher than 125% of the poverty guidelines.
For example, under the rule, heavily weighing positive favors for an individual would be:
Possession of financial assets, resources, support or annual income of at least 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines. For 2019, 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines is $31,225 for an individual and $64,375 for a family of four;
Work authorization and current employment with an annual income of at least 250 percent of the federal poverty guidelines;
Having private health insurance appropriate for the expected period of admission, but not including health insurance purchased with subsidies through the Affordable Care Act.
Heavily weighing negative factors against an individual will be:
Absence of current employment, employment history, and the reasonable prospect of employment;
Previous receipt of public aid;
A medical condition that will likely require extensive treatment or institutionalization, or that will interfere with the individual’s ability to be self-sufficient and work
Lack of private health insurance coverage or some other non-subsidized means of paying for treatment;
What Is The Public Charge Bond?
The new rule provides that at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security (and in limited circumstances), an individual who has been determined to be inadmissible based on public charge grounds may be admitted after posting a minimum $8,100 public charge bond, adjusted annually for inflation. The bond will be submitted with a new Form I-945, Public Charge Bond, which will have a $25 filing fee.
Which Immigrants Will Be Affected by the New Public Charge Rule?
The new policy will be applied to immigrants who apply for a green card, or who request a visa extension to stay in the U.S., as well as to individuals who apply for a visa from abroad.
Those exempted from the Public Charge determination include:
•DACA •Refugees •Asylees •Afghan and Iraqi nationals with special immigrant visas •T visa holders •U visas for certain crime victims •TPS •Individuals applying for or granted status under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) •Special immigrant juveniles •Certain people paroled into the U.S. •Those to whom DHS has granted a waiver of public charge inadmissibility •Individuals who are enlisted in the U.S. armed forces or who are serving in active duty or in any of the Ready Reserve components of the U.S. armed forces. In addition, DHS will not consider the receipt of public benefits by the spouse and children of such service members.
Which Public Benefits Are Excluded From the New “Public Charge” Determination?
Benefits which are excluded include, but are not limited to:
•Medicare Part D Extra Help •Qualified Health Plans on the Marketplace* •Disaster relief •WIC •National school lunch programs •Foster care and adoption •Student and mortgage loans •Energy assistance (HEAP) •Food pantries or soup kitchens •Homeless shelters, and •Head Start, among others •Medicaid benefits received by children under the age of 21 or by pregnant women or used for the treatment of an emergency medical condition
When Will The New Rule Go Into Effect?
The Supreme Court is expected to decide the matter quickly within the next several weeks or months. If the court rules in Trump’s favor, it will allow the new “Public Charge” rule to be implemented nationwide nearly immediately. In such a case, the policy will remain in effect until the lower court cases resolve the matter during the normal judicial process, which can take years, or until Trump is voted out of office!
Quick Overview of Dual U.S. Citizenship
Dual citizenship refers to individuals who hold the nationality of two different countries at the same time. This allows them to travel frequently between countries without the need for a visa, and without time limits on their stay in either country, as well as the right to vote in both countries. The downside is that many countries like the U.S. require citizens to pay taxes on worldwide income, making U.S. Citizenship an expensive proposition for the very wealthy.
The rules governing dual citizenship vary depending upon the country, and can occur either automatically according to the current rules of the countries concerned, or by the choice of the individual. For example, a child born in a foreign country to U.S. citizen parents may be both a national of the country of birth, as well as a national of the U.S.. Similarly, an individual having one nationality at birth may later naturalize and become a citizen of another country.
It is important to note, however, that not all countries recognize dual citizenship, which usually means that nationals who obtain foreign citizenship in another country automatically lose citizenship in their birth country. This is the case for nationals of China and India and even Spain, which only permits dual nationality with certain Latin American countries.
Under U.S. law, American citizens are permitted to hold dual nationality with another country and are not required to surrender their citizenship in any other country, unless the other country requires them to do so. For example if a Jamaican national immigrates to the U.S. and later naturalizes and becomes a U.S. Citizen, he or she does not lose Jamaican nationality and is not required to surrender it, in order to obtain U.S. nationality. Naturalized U.S. Citizens will note that at the swearing in Oath Ceremony, they must pledge to renounce all allegiance and fidelity to a foreign country, however this does not apply to citizenship, unless it is required by the other country. Here is a list of countries, which do and do not recognize dual nationality:
Countries which specifically permit full or limited dual citizenship
Antigua and Barbuda
Spain (only limited countries)
Countries which do not permit dual citizenship:
Papua New Guinea
United Arab Emirates
Question: I got a question about adding my wife and 12 yr old daughter to my case. I have a son who got his US Citizenship and filed for me last year. I got contacted by this National Visa service to start doing my case. I noticed that the letter they sent does not have my wife and daughter’s name on it. I know my son clearly put that on the immigration application so I am really confused about why only my name is there. My wife is like my son’s mother, he was only 4 when we got married and he lived with us for over 10 years. Is there anything you can do about getting my wife and daughter put on my case?
Answer: That’s a very good question and important for you to understand. The Immigration category for Parents of U.S. Citizens, called “Immediate Relatives” does not allow for any dependent (Spouse and children) to immigrate with the Parent to the U.S.. Immediate Relatives can only immigrate as individuals, not as a family. In order for the spouse of a Parent (step-parent to the U.S. Citizen child) to be able to immigrate, the marriage between the U.S. Citizen child’s biological Parent and the step-parent must have taken place before the U.S. Citizen child reached age 18. If it did, then the step-parent can immigrate as a separate Immediate Relative, just like a biological parent would. However, children of the Parent do not qualify to accompany the immigrating parent. The only way the child, who is the sibling of the U.S. Citizen sponsor can immigrate through the U.S. Citizen, is in the F4 Immigration category for siblings, which can take about 14 years.
In your case, since you married your wife when your U.S. Citizen son was 4, she qualifies as his stepparent and he can file a parent petition for her, just like he did for you, his dad. However, your daughter will not be eligible to immigrate along with either of you. The best strategy is likely for you to immigrate to the U.S. and immediately file to sponsor your daughter. Once you do, it should take about a year for your daughter’s case to be approved and ready for her to immigrate to the U.S..
Question: I am worried about my son back in the Bahamas. I got a job in Florida as a server in a big hotel on a work visa going on 10 yrs now. In 2015 I got married to my husband who had a greencard. He got his citizenship papers in 2016 and filed for me and I got my green card in 2018. My son is still back home living with my sister and her family and we were trying to save money to bring him here with us. But things are so bad there and we cant get him here because he doesn’t have a visa. The problem is that he will be 21 next month in february. I never knew that if I waited too late to file for him he would have to get in a long waiting line for over 5 years once he turns 21. My question to you is if there is anything you can do to get him here quicker? I am worried sick about him. thanks
Answer: The issue you are discussing is extremely important and one which often causes years of separation between children and parents, all due to an issue of timing. For background, as a Green Card holder (U.S. Resident), you can file for your minor children (under age 21), in the F2A Immigration Category. Currently, there is no waiting line for residency for minor children. However, due to USCIS processing delays, it can take a year or more for the case to be processed and approved by the USCIS and another several months for the National Visa Center to begin consular processing. If a child reaches age 21, he or she technically “ages out” and moves to the F2B category for adult, single children of U.S. Residents which has a waiting line of about 5-6 years. However, using the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) we can reduce the child’s age down by subtracting the time that the I-130 petition is pending with the USCIS prior to approval, but that is all. If after subtracting that time, the child is still age 21, then the child automatically moves to the F2B category. In your case, I have an easy solution. Since you and your husband married in 2015 your son was still under age 18, under immigration regulations, that allows your U.S. Citizen husband to be regarded as his step-father and thus to sponsor him for his residency as an “Immediate Relative”. As the minor child of a U.S. Citizen, once your husband files the I-130 petition, your son’s age will be technically “fixed” on the date the application is filed. So that means that as long as the USICS receives the I-130 petition and enters it into the USCIS system before your son turns age 21 in February, he will still be able to immigrate as an “Immediate Relative” step-child of a U.S. Citizen in about a year or so and you don’t need to worry once he turns age 21. However, my advice is not to wait until next month. We can file the petition now and get him in the USCIS processing queue, the earlier the better!
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Delays In Filing For Your Naturalization Can Cost You Money!
Think the current USCIS filing fee of $725 is steep? Wait much longer and the application fees are expected to increase to a whopping $1,170 in the coming months of 2020. There is no doubt about it, being a U.S. Citizen has many more benefits than just being a U.S. Resident (Green Card holder). And even though many residents want to obtain U.S. Citizenship, they often delay for many reasons including the high cost of filing for naturalization.
But many residents do not realize that by delaying filing for naturalization, they actually increase their overall costs even more, since a resident must apply for naturalization six months or more before their green card expires, in order to obtain automatic renewal of their residency status. Otherwise, once their green card expires, they will not have any proof of their legal immigration status to extend a driver’s license, travel abroad or even obtain employment. Up until a few years ago, residents who filed for Naturalization before expiration of their green cards were able to obtain residency extensions until they naturalized, however these days, local USCIS offices often no longer provide such extensions without a receipt showing the Resident filed his or her green card renewal application. The current green card renewal fee is $540, nearly as much as the current fee for naturalization! So don’t end up wasting money filing to renew your green card, when you could spend the money for your naturalization instead…
Once you file your immigration application, it generally takes the USCIS about 7-10 days to issue you the I-797 Notice of Action Receipt, which shows the date of filing and case type.
However, you don’t have to wait up to 10 days to know your case was delivered and to receive your receipt in the mail, when you can get a text message from the USCIS once it receives your case, along with the case number!
Stay Informed - Sign-up For USCIS E-Notification & Email Updates On Your Immigration Case
The USCIS offers several ways for Applicants to get updates on newly filed and pending Immigration cases. Immigrants and Sponsors filing Immigration applications with the USCIS can sign-up to receive text messages and email E-notifications confirming application receipt by the USCIS, along with the case receipt number(s). The receipt number allows individuals to track the status of their case online. E-notifications are issued within 24 hours after the USCIS receives the application.
To request e-notification, download and complete form G-1145 and mail along with all Immigration applications. Once you receive your case number, go to the USCIS website and sign up for Email Status updates on your case through the USCIS My Case Status program. Once you register and enter your case number(s), the USICS will automatically email you notifications and updates on any actions take on your case so that you are better informed about your case status.
For instance, once your Immigration application is filed, the USCIS may issue you a letter requesting more evidence in order to continue processing the case. If you are registered to receive case status updates, you will receive an email notification that the USCIS has issued the request, which helps you to be aware that you should be receiving the request by mail soon. If you have not received the request, you can then make further inquiries. Similarly, once you respond to the USCIS request, you will receive an updated email notification that they have received your documentation. It’s a great way to stay informed and keep up to date on the status of your case as it is being processed.