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This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2014  
For questions about U.S. Residency, Green Cards and Immigration Visas, Visit our Website at: or  call our office at: (954) 382-5378

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Questions & Answers

2013 Immigration Reform Roundup
Immigration Reform was a Hot Topic in 2013. Support for reform, including legalization, more Hi-Tech visas and increased border security gained momentum early on in the year, resulting in the historic passage of Senate Bill 744 Border Security Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act on June 28, 2013. This was the first such major immigration overhaul Bill to be passed in decades, due in large part to a Democratically controlled Senate, with the support of several key Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. 

But of course it takes both sides of Congress to pass a Bill which the President can then sign into Law, so the ball was thrown over to the Republican held House side, where it has been ever since.
The Speaker of the House, John Boehner controls which legislative Bills are allowed to be voted on, which essentially controls which Bills can be passed by the House. And until recently, Boehner followed the “Hastert Rule”, a policy which required Republican majority support before any Bill could be allowed to be brought to the Floor of the House for a vote. This was generally seen as Boehner’s concession to the House “Tea Party” members who vehemently opposes any Immigration Reform which would provide for any form of Legalization of immigrants.

In frustration, on October 2, 2013, Democrats in the House introduced their own Immigration Reform Bill which closely mirrored the Senate Bill. In efforts to push Speaker Boehner to bring the new Bill to the floor for a vote,
Question: I am a Canadian citizen and my boyfriend is a Canadian citizen with a US green card as well. He is currently studying medicine in USA and we want to get married in 2015. We would like to get to know the current waiting times for him to get me sponsored. We would also like to know how long it will take me to get a work permit to work in the USA as I have a masters degree. Please let us know. Thank you.
Answer: ​If you wait until 2015 to get married, it will likely take 2 years or more. Right now the estimate is one year, but as time goes by, it gets longer and longer. You won’t receive any work permit during that time because you have to wait until you actually immigrate to the U.S. as a U.S. Resident. Since you are Canadian, before you get married, you can always come to the U.S. to work on a TN work visa, but you need a job offer from a U.S. company here. Then, you can get married early, the immigrant visa petition can be filed for you and while you are waiting to immigrate you are working here legally on the TN. Please let me know if you would like our assistance in handling these matters for you.
Helpful Immigration Hints
Family Sponsorship – Check Out the Visa Bulletin Before Making Plans To Immigrate
Many U.S. Citizens and U.S. Residents sponsor their foreign family members to immigrate to the U.S.. However, often, neither the sponsor, nor the family member fully understands how long it will actually take to immigrate. 

Understanding the approximate length of time it will likely take to be able to immigrate to the U.S. helps foreign family members plan for the future. This is particularly important when family members being sponsored have minor children.
House Democrats and supporters have held rallies, marched on the Capital, been arrested by Capital police, attended “sit-ins”, gone on “hunger strikes”, held protests and prayer vigils outside Speaker Boehner’s home, and embarrassed Boehner by following him around town to his favorite Capital restaurants and attempted to reason with him about the urgent need for reform with media cameras blazing. This has all made life quite miserable for Boehner, who fundamentally agrees with Democrats, but had feared reprisals from the “Tea Party” and possible loss of his Speakership if he defied them. 
But times change and the pressure on Boehner from the “Tea Party” which lead to the 2013 Fall government shutdown and backlash against the Republican Party has taken its toll. Boehner has recently openly criticized Tea Party members for taking the Republican party down the wrong road and as a consequence, has now hired a well know Immigration Reform advocate, Rebecca Tallent, former director of immigration policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center to spearhead his roadmap to getting Immigration Reform done in 2014. 

So where does Immigration Reform go from here? Will Immigration Reform Get Done in 2014? 

Without a crystal ball it is impossible to know for certain, but the signs are looking very promising. Fed up with Tea Party opposition, Republican House Speaker Boehner has recently made it known that he intends to move on Immigration Reform in a “piecemeal approach”, by pushing through a series of smaller version Bills , each dealing with specific components of the Senate Bill. For instance separate Bills for the Dream Act, Increased Border Security, Hi-Tech visas, and some form of legalization for undocumented immigrants which may or may not include a “pathway to citizenship". The general feeling among Republican proponents of legalization is that it is better to take care of the legalization issue in the least controversial way to improve its likelihood of passing. Then at a later time, once the “dust has settled” and conservatives are more comfortable with the issue, new legislation can be introduced to then provide some negotiated “path to citizenship”.
But for those who have lost all faith in Congress, in the end, there is still always the so called “Nuclear Option”. In this final option, which the Whitehouse reserves as the ultimate fall-back, President Obama could expand the “Deferred Action” program (currently available to DREMERS) which provides work authorization and a quasi-legal status in the U.S. to other immigrants, in an effort to provide a defacto legalization without the actual law to go with it.

So as 2014 gets going in full swing, stay optimistic and keep your finger, toes and eyes “crossed” and lets look forward to Immigration Reform early this year, stay tuned….

Question: I got my Green Card in the U.S. about 20 years ago through my marriage to my U.S. Citizen wife. But me and my wife had marital problems and we got divorced about 5 years ago. After that I left America and moved back home to the U.K. and gave up my Green Card at the American Embassy. But I lost my job recently and now I want to move back to America and live there permanently. I’d like to know how to go about getting my Green Card back. Thanks.
Answer: ​Once a U.S. Resident formally “relinquishes” (gives back) a Green Card at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the officer usually requires that State Department form I-407 be signed, abandoning all rights to Residency. When this is done, all U.S. Residency status is lost and any desire to obtain Residency again requires a whole new application process. However, in order to qualify for U.S. Residency again, the immigrant must still have a legal basis for eligibility, for instance, being married to a U.S. Citizen, or being sponsored by a U.S. Citizen child, parent or sibling, since there is no way to apply solely on the basis of requesting the old Green Card status again.  

There are instances where individuals have formally surrendered their Green Card at a U.S. Consulate, then later applied for a new one in the U.S. by filing the I-90 application for a replacement Green Card and were successful in obtaining their Green Card again. However, this is not in accordance with immigration regulations and can be tricky and potentially problematic when re-entering the U.S. from travel abroad and when applying for Naturalization in the future. The main problem arises when the applicant has obtained a U.S. Tourist Visa in order to re-enter the U.S. to apply for the Green Card replacement, since the USCIS can easily see the non-immigrant visa in the Passport. Obtaining a non-immigrant visa once an immigrant has U.S. Residency can itself result in a technical abandonment of Residency. 

In your case, since you are no longer married to a U.S. Citizen, you would need to have some other eligibility in order to apply for U.S. Residency again. An individual can obtain U.S. Residency through sponsorship by a qualifying relative or through employment. 

You can learn more about obtaining a Green Card through Family and Employment Immigration by visiting our website at:
Immigration regulations only allow children who are immigrating along with parents to obtain U.S. Residency if they are under age 21 at the time the family is called to the U.S. Consulate for the final Immigrant Visa appointment. As frequently happens, children who were minors at the time their parents were originally sponsored, may have “aged out” and be in their mid to late 20’s and thus ineligible to immigrate to the U.S. along with their parents. This is a tragic situation, but very common. 

The only saving grace is that under the Child Status Protection Act “CSPA”, the time the I-130 family petition was processing can be subtracted from the age of the child. For instance, if the I-130 petition was filed in 1998 and was not approved until 2003, it was processing for 5 years. Therefore, at the time the Immigrant Visa becomes available, 5 years can be subtracted from the age of a child to determine if the child is still “technically” below age 21 for immigration purposes.

So, the best advice is to visit the Visa Bulletin website at: Visa Bulletin  to view the various family relationship waiting lines so you understand how long the wait will be and understand that some older children may not be eligible to immigrate along with the parents when the time comes. You can find out more about immigration waiting times by reading our resource section: Understanding the Immigrant Visa process

Good luck!