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POSTING DATE: January 27, 2020
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Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
Question: I was wondering if you could be good enough to take a question about my son’s immigration case. I recently got my green card in 2019 through my daughter who is an American citizen. I have a 22 years old single son in Canada who I just filed for. The problem is that after immigration sent me the I-797 notice of action receipt and I looked into the processing times, I also saw there was something about visa lines, which looks like it could take my son about 5 years before he can come here. I had no idea, it seems impossible and I cant really believe it. Can you please clear this up for us? How long will it really take for my son to join me here in the states? Is there an expedite fee I can pay?
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know What Happens After I Pass My Citizenship Test?
Trump Issues New Rule To Crackdown On Birth Tourism
The Trump administration instituted a new rule last week to make it harder for pregnant foreigners to visit U.S., in what government officials claim are efforts to crack down on “birth tourism” or so called, “anchor babies”, (the practice of giving birth in the United States in order to obtain U.S. citizenship for the child). Critics, however, see the move as just the first step in Trump’s ultimate plan to launch a full-scale attack on Birthright Citizenship in the coming months leading up to the 2020 presidential election.
The longstanding principal of Birthright Citizenship stems from the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, providing that all children born on U.S. soil automatically obtain U.S. Citizenship.
Answer: I understand your frustration, but unfortunately, the current waiting time for adult, single, sons and daughters of U.S. Residents is about five years or so. Since your son’s case was filed in 2019, he likely would not be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. until about 2024 or later. There is no expedite option which could move his case faster. Your son is simply in a long line, waiting for a visa to become available to him, because there are 5 years worth of other adult single children of U.S. Residents waiting in the line ahead of him. You can call my office every now and then and I will let you know what the Visa Bulletin says and how much longer he has to wait. I hope this was helpful to you.
New H-1B Work Visa Application Registration System Begins March 1st!
The H-1B Visa season is upon us, with a new application registration system set to start on March 1st. The new system will dramatically change the way H-1B cap petitions are filed in the future.
Under the previous system, applicants applied for H-1B cap applications on April 1st of each year, hoping to have their case accepted through a random lottery process conducted by the USCIS, once they had received a sufficient number of visas applications.
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Reminder To Notify The Social Security Administration Once You Become A U.S. Citizen
Most Naturalized U.S. Citizens know that they should immediately apply for a U.S. Passport and register to vote, but many are not aware that they are required to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) once they obtain citizenship status, so that changes can be made in their Social Security records.
U.S. Citizens are eligible for benefits which many others are not, so it’s vital that your SSA records are up to date to reflect your eligibility.
You Passed Your Naturalization Test, Now What?
Go To Your Naturalization Swearing In Ceremony
Once your Application for Naturalization is approved, the USCIS puts your case in the queue to be scheduled for your Oath of Allegiance which takes place at your naturalization ceremony. This taking of your Oath of Allegiance complete the process of becoming a U.S. citizen.
The new State Department policy gives consular visa officers even more authority to screen for and block pregnant women abroad from visiting the U. S. using tourist visas, allowing officials to deny visas to women who they believe are pregnant and seeking a U.S. B Tourist Visa (called B1/B2) in order to enter the U.S. "for the primary purpose of obtaining U.S. citizenship for the child." It will be up to the applicant to try and prove to the officer that they are not seeking to give birth in the U.S. and are instead seeking to enter the U.S. for another "legitimate primary purpose". It should be noted that visa officers already have the power to deny visas to pregnant women who they believe want to come to the U.S. in order to give birth to a U.S. Citizen child.
One wonders how the new policy will be implemented and what evidence will the applicant be required to provide to prove legitimate intentions to visit the U.S. other than having a child here. It’s not clear how consular officials will determine whether individuals seeking to travel to the U.S. are pregnant. Will all women who are slightly overweight be deemed as likely pregnant? Will for instance the officer require women to provide a pregnancy test to prove they are not pregnant? If pregnant, would she be required to bring proof from her doctor of how many months away she is from delivery?
Further, millions of pregnant women around the world already have B Tourist visas issued to them, some for ten years, which allows them to enter the U.S. without applying for a visa abroad until their current visa expires. Perhaps the administration also intends to issue new guidance to Customs and Border Control (CBP) officers at U.S. ports of entry which will require them to screen pregnant travelers and deny entry to women who they believe are likely to give birth in the U.S. during their stay. This could create nightmares for pregnant women visiting the U.S. who have already spent many hours on international flights, being arbitrarily refused entry into the U.S. due to the advanced state of their pregnancy.
The rule also includes a requirement that those traveling to the U.S. for medical treatment must "establish their ability to pay all costs associated with such treatment" including travel and living costs during their intended stay in the U.S.. Most importantly, foreign women seeking visas for medical treatment in the U.S. will now be required to establish that the birth requires "specialized medical treatment,” which is not available in her home country. Further, those seeking a visa for any kind of medical treatment will be required to provide proof of the financial ability to pay for the medical treatment and related expenses.
The overall result of this policy may likely be that women who even inadvertently give birth in the U.S. would be denied readmission to the U.S. in the future based upon the violation of having the baby born while in the U.S., absent extenuating circumstances such as a premature birth. This would also lead to denial of future visa renewals as well.
These and other planned rules are just part of a continuing effort by the Trump administration to successfully limit legal immigration to the U.S.. The Supreme Court may authorized the USCIS to implement the “Public Charge” rule soon and several other measures including the termination of DACA are coming up fast on the 2020 horizon. Trump will also likely reignite his Birthright Citizenship bashing in the coming months and continue to devise ever more devious restrictions on legal immigration through questionable executive orders, proclamations or memorandums.
Those of us who believe that we are a nation of immigrants, who are the foundation of our country’s success, can only keep fighting and hoping that Americans will rise to the occasion and vote Trump out of office in November. Until then, immigrants will have to weather the storm and navigate the increasingly rough immigration waters ahead.
The result was that even though many applications were filed in April, employers often had to wait many months to learn whether or not their applications were accepted, or rejected and sent back. This caused a lot of uncertainty for both sponsoring employers and H-1B candidates alike.
Under the new H-1B electronic registration system, employers are required to submit an electronic registration between March 1 and March 20, 2020. At the end of the registration period, the USCIS will conduct a random lottery from among all the registrations received to determine the cases which will be accepted under the regular cap for Bachelor’s degree holder (only 65,000 visas available), then a second lottery for the remaining cases eligible for the master’s cap (an additional 20,000 visas available). Once that is complete, the USCIS will notify each employer who is selected under the lottery, that they may file an H1B application and provide a 90-day filing window, which is expected to begin on April 1, 2020.
However, uncertainty remains as to whether or not the USCIS will allow 15-day premium processing to begin on April 1st, since in previous years, the service has been suspended for long periods of time. Students on OPT work authorization with an H-1B application pending will receive an automatic extension of OPT until a decision is made on their case.
As in past years, the demand for H-1B Visas is expected to rise again this year, with an anticipated 300,000 applications for only 65,000 regular cap visas and 20,000 master’s cap visas. Because of the anticipated shortage of visas, those hoping to obtain an H-1B Visa this year, particularly students on OPT, should line up a U.S. Employer willing to support the H-1B Visa request quickly, in order to begin processing the case for filing by March 1st.
As background, the H-1B work visa allows qualifying foreign nationals to work for a U.S. employer for up to six years and even longer when an employer sponsors the H-1B worker for a Green Card. To qualify, the H-1B visa requires the foreign national to possess a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and be offered a professional position in a U.S. company. After obtaining an H-1B visa, Immigrants (and their families) often obtain a Green Card through their H-1B employer in a process called Labor Certification.
Understanding The New Immigration Bond Requirement
Under “Public Charge” Rule
Now that the Trump administration has an emergency request pending before the Supreme Court to allow the “Public Charge” rule to be implemented, many experts believe there is a high likelihood that the policy may in fact be instituted soon. As a result, many immigrants may no longer qualify for residency under the new policy and instead, may be required to post a bond.
The same will be true for nonimmigrants, including those seeking to extend student, work or visitor visas in the U.S.. Under the new restrictions, the government will now require many individuals who are determined to be at risk to become a “Public Charge” to post a bond in order to guarantee that they will not obtain government assistance in the future.
The bond requirement would be mandatory until the immigrant has been a U.S. Resident for five years, naturalized, surrendered residency, died or for non-immigrants, have permanently departed the U.S..
So What Is A Public Charge Bond?
Immigration bonds are already routinely required for many immigrants who seek release from detention while their immigration claims are pending, mainly for deportation cases. Bonds are posted in order to ensure that the immigrant appears in court at their scheduled hearing or departs the U.S. under a voluntary departure agreement.
Under the public charge rule, the new bond will be a minimum of $8,100, but may be higher, depending upon the individual’s family circumstances, age, family size, health, etc.. A public charge bond will be utilized to ensure that immigrants do not accept prohibited public assistance, and if he or she does, the bond will be forfeited, and the full amount of the bond will become due. In a way, the “Public Charge” bond is similar to a "Bail Bond", in that it is obtained from a bond company, which requires an individual to pledge collateral (property/assets, like Real estate in the U.S., Cash (bond company will hold in escrow account), credit card or letter of credit from a bank). The collateral pledged by the guarantor of the bond (the immigrant, family member or friend) guarantees that the bond will be paid if the individual violates USCIS public charge requirements. In that case, the collateral pledged to secure the bond will be forfeited. Without more details provided by the government, generally, the fee for a bond can be 15% or more. So for example, on a $8,100 bond, the fee would be $ 1,215. Importantly, since the bond will not be released in residency cases until the immigrant has been a U.S. Resident for five years, naturalized, surrendered residency or died, it’s expected that many more residents will be inspired by family members who paid the bond premium to naturalize sooner, rather than later, in order for the bond to be released.
Its important to note, however, that a sponsor (and joint sponsor) who signs form I-864 Affidavit of Support still remains liable to repay the government for all prohibited public assistance received by the immigrant and continues to be obligated until the immigrant naturalizes, has received credit for 40 quarters of employment under the Social Security Act, surrendered residency or died.
How Are Public Charge Bonds Paid?
Immigrants who are notified by a USCIS officer that they are required to post a bond will need to contact a reputable immigration bond company (also called a “surety company”) and have themselves or their family pay the applicable bond fee (premium) required in order for the surety company to post the required bond. Under the rule, a public charge bond must be submitted with a new Form I-945, Public Charge Bond, along with $25 filing fee.
How and When Will Public Charge Bonds Be Refunded?
The request to cancel a bond must be made on a new Form I-356, Request for Cancellation of Public Charge Bond, which also has a $25 filing fee. To qualify for cancellation, the applicant must provide evidence that the immigrant has been a resident for at least five years, has become a U.S. Citizen, has surrendered residency, permanently departed the U.S. or died.
Question: I have a question about my boyfriend. I got my citizenship through my dad a few years ago and have been living in florida. My boyfriend has been coming up to see me a lot and last time he stayed from august all the way up til November. A few weeks ago he came back up and the guy at immigration said he was here recently and why is he coming again. He said just to visit me his girlfriend. They asked him if he was working illegal and he said no (he is not) and they asked him for his iphone password. He was afraid and gave it to them and they asked to see his messages and he showed it to them. One message I sent him said something like I want to be with you forever and they said that means that he is coming to stay and he told them no he was not. The immigration officer said he didn’t believe him but would let him in one last time but only for 30 days. They said he cant ask for more time in the US or apply for anything else or he will get deported and they wrote notes in his passport something like cant extend or change status. That was really scary and we are both shook up about it. He has a few weeks to go and we are trying to decide what to do. I am scared that if he goes back, he wont be able to come up again so we are thinking about getting married earlier than planned to do it now, instead of next summer. We are also afraid that because of the note the officer wrote in his passport if we get married, he wont be able to get his green card and will be deported. We are hoping you can tell us if he has the chance to get his green card once we get married, or will immigration hold it against him. thanks.
Answer:Yes, Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) has stepped up its screening procedures and more and more frequently conducts electronics searches like the one your boyfriend just encountered. However, since your boyfriend entered the U.S. legally, he is eligible to adjust his status to a Green Card inside the U.S. and is not required to leave. The notation the immigration officer put in his passport does not prevent him from changing, extending or adjusting status in the U.S.. It was more of a warning to frighten him so he would not overstay and also a message to any future immigration border officer he would encounter if he had left the U.S. and tried to re-enter that this foreign visitor may be coming to work in the U.S., make sure and check him out! I can take care of filing to adjust his status to U.S. residency without the need for him to leave. Once the case is filed, it is currently taking about 6 months to receive the work, travel permit and social security card and another several months for the residency interview. See you soon.
Question:I have a question about an immigration request that I did last year while I was in the states to stay longer. I came there last april and got 6 months to stay until oct 2019. But since it was getting near to thanksgiving, my family wanted me to stay and extra month. So in july I filled out form i-539 to request an extra month and sent it in extra early to be sure that I did things right. The immigration sent me a receipt in aug, and sent me a letter in nov asking for proof that I could pay for my support while I was here. I sent in my uncles bank statement. But nothing happened for a few months until they just sent me a denial saying I had failed to submit enough proof that I could support myself. I cant believe it I only asked for a month extra! Now my i-94 is expired and my aunt says if I leave I cant come back because I overstayed, is that true? Can I appeal?
Answer: Unfortunately, what you have experienced is very common these days. USCIS processing times for extensions of stay and change of status can take 6+ months. Usually by the time the decision is made, one of two things has occurred, 1) if it’s a denial, the individual’s I-94 has expired or 2) if the extension is approved, only six months from the date of the request is given, so again, the individual’s I-94 has expired by the time they receive the extension approval. As a result, in both cases, the individual’s U.S. visa is automatically cancelled. This policy seems to have the effect of penalizing any foreign national who visits the U.S. and applies to extend their time here, since in many cases, the mere act of filing such an extension causes the visitor to lose their U.S. B1/B2 visa, sometimes for many, many years. The best advice for visitors is to avoid filing for extensions or change of status inside the U.S. if possible to avoid the potential nasty consequences of a denial or an approval which has already expired.
Benefits include eligibility for certain disability benefits which are only available to U.S. citizens, easier qualification for retirement, social security benefits, ease in obtaining replacement of lost Social Security card, and status as a U.S. Citizen across government agency databases, including E-Verify.
To change your status, you can download form SS-5, then visit a local Social Security Administration office in person, to register the change and speak with a representative about your social security record. Bring your Certificate of Naturalization or your U.S. passport and some other form of picture ID such as a driver’s license.
Understanding the types of Oath Ceremonies: There are two kinds of Oath of Allegiance ceremonies, one, is a judicial ceremony, where the court administers the Oath of Allegiance for Residents who have requested a name change and the regular administrative ceremony, during which the USCIS administers the Oath of Allegiance.
So what’s going to happen at your naturalization ceremony?
1. Receive Your Naturalization Ceremony Notice to Take the Oath of Allegiance
While some Immigrants who request it may be able to participate in a naturalization ceremony on the same day as their naturalization interview, many Residents must wait for the USCIS to mail them a notice with the date, time, and location of their scheduled naturalization ceremony, called a Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony (Form – N-445). Those who cannot attend the scheduled naturalization ceremony must return the notice to their local USCIS office, along with a letter requesting a new date and explaining why they are not able to attend the scheduled naturalization ceremony. Residents who fail to show up for their naturalization ceremony without having requested a rescheduling may receive a denial of their naturalization case.
2. Complete Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony before checking in at the Ceremony
Residents should complete Form N-445, Notice of Naturalization Oath Ceremony before arriving at the ceremony, prior to check in with USCIS. During check-in, a USCIS officer will review your responses to the questionnaire.
3. Surrender of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)
Residents who are becoming U.S. Citizens must surrender their Permanent Resident Cards to the USCIS at the time they check- in for the naturalization ceremony. Those who have lost their cards can receive a waiver.
4. Taking the Oath of Allegiance to the United States
A Resident is not a U.S. citizen until he/she takes the Oath of Allegiance to the United States during the naturalization ceremony. After the Oath, new U.S Citizens receive their Certificate of Naturalization.
5. Notes about the Certificate of Naturalization
New U.S Citizens should carefully review the Certificate of Naturalization for accuracy while still at the ceremony. Any inaccuracies must be brought to the attention of the USCIS before leaving the ceremony. Unless or until you apply for your U.S. Passport, your Certificate of Naturalization is your official proof of your U.S. Citizenship. Those who lose their Certificate of Naturalization must request a replacement by filing Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document and paying the $555 USCIS filing fee. The waiting time for a replacement can be lengthy.
6. Time to apply for Your U.S. Passport
Once you receive your Certificate of Naturalization, you can immediately apply for a U.S. passport. You will receive an application for a U.S. passport at your naturalization ceremony, called the “U.S. Citizenship Welcome Packet” or you can go online to the U.S. Passport office
7. Time to Register to Vote!
Now that you are a U.S. Citizen, it is your right and privilege to vote. You can register to vote at certain locations in your community, which may include post offices, motor vehicle offices, county boards of election, and offices of your state Secretary of State. You can read more about registering to vote by reading the government publication: “A Voter’s Guide to Federal Elections."
8. Final Step: Update your Social Security Record
After you become a U.S. Citizen, you will need to notify the Social Security Administration (SSA) to update your Social Security record. You can find your local Social Security office by calling 1-800-772-1213 or by visiting: www.socialsecurity.gov. You can go to your local SSA office about ten days after your ceremony to give time for the SSA to be able to access your new status in the USCIS records. Be sure to take your Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport with you. Good luck!