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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2020 
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
  Immigration News & Updates              
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know What Documents To Take To My Consular Interview?
Questions About Immigration? We have the answers!
We Are Here To Help, Call us now for a FREE consultation (954) 382-5378
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Question: My wife got her citizenship through her mom years ago and after we met in 2018 we dated long distance for a while, then finally got married last year. I have a good job and so does she, and since I have a US visa, sometimes I would come to visit her and other times she came to visit me, so we decided we would wait and see about starting the immigration process. Then came the pandemic and we were separated for months at a time and neither one of us could travel to the other and ultimately, we have decided its best for me to start the immigration process so we can live together in florida. My job hours are reduced due to the virus and my company may be closing soon, so we are ready to get started. We have been trying to get as much knowledge as possible about the process and have read a lot on the websites, but now its like we feel even more confused. I came across some of your articles in the national weekly and thought we could get your advice on the topic. In your opinion, is it best to apply for the green card in the US or do it here in Jamaica? Much appreciated.
As a result of the confusion regarding the USCIS Filing Fees increase, some residency applications filed recently were rejected by poorly trained USCIS personnel, who mistakenly believed the new filing fees had gone into effect.

The USCIS was scheduled to substantially increase fees on October 2nd, but was prevented from doing so by a federal court, just days before the increase was set to take effect.
USCIS Mistakenly Rejects Immigration Applications Due To Filing Fees!

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
 POSTING DATE: October  19, 2020
Answer: Since your wife is a U.S. Citizen, and you have your U.S. tourist visa, there are two options:

1) Adjustment of Status INSIDE the USA: If you came for a visit on your U.S. Tourist visa and you decided to stay in the U.S., you could adjust status inside the U.S. and wait here to receive your Green Card. It takes about 6 months to receive your Work Permit and another few months for your marriage interview and green Card.

2) Consular Processing OUTSIDE the USA: If you want to wait outside the U.S., we would do something called Consular Processing. This allows you to process for your Green Card while you are in Jamaica. The process takes about 12+ months. Your immigrant visa interview will be in Kingston, Jamaica instead of the U.S.. Also, of course you would not receive a work permit, since you would not be applying in the U.S.. Once you receive your Immigrant visa approval and enter the U.S., you will receive your actual Green Card within about 30+ days.

Based upon the information you provided, adjustment of status in the U.S. is likely the best option, so you and your wife can be together while waiting for your green card. Let me know when you are ready to get started and we will go over the details and I will email you a Questionnaire and list of all the documents you will need.
Immigrants sponsored by family members often wait many years to finally begin the process to immigrate to the U.S.. The final processing involves providing documentation to the National Visa Center, then having a medical exam done and finally attending the immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Consulate abroad. 

The process is relatively straight forward, and most immigrants receive approval within a few days of the interview. 
The USCIS has a genealogy program which can assist family historians, genealogists and researchers in obtaining historical immigration and naturalization records of some immigrants. The fee based service provides records searches for deceased immigrants going back as far as those born more than 100 years ago. Similarly, the National Archives contains billions of historical records relating to immigrants from the late 1700s through the early 2000s. 

Such records include those related to immigration, visas, naturalization, passports and even "ship passenger arrival records," with vital information about passengers, including nationality, place of birth, date and place of entry to the U.S., age, height, eye, hair color, profession, name and address of relatives in the U.S., including the amount of money they were carrying.
Trump Administration Plans To Impose Major Restrictions On Student Visas
The Trump administration has long been on the war path against international students and student visas, first trying to kick foreign students who take online classes due to Covid-19 out of the country, then cracking down on students with work permits through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and now planning to restrict student visas to fixed terms. For background, international students who are approved, get issued F-1 student visas for “duration of status,” which means they may remain in the U.S. indefinitely, as long as they are enrolled in school and maintaining student status by taking a certain number of credit hours per semester.
Automatic Text Message Notifications Can Save The Day
 When USCIS Receipts Are Late Or Never Arrive!
Filing an immigration application is a very important step and one which should be taken with the utmost diligence and seriousness. Of course first, Applicants should fully educate themselves about eligibility, qualifications, procedures and timing of the case and keep updated on every aspect of the process along the way. Once applications are being filed, take care to include all required forms and documentation, don’t forget the filing fees and be sure to make a copy of the entire package before sending the USCIS using USPS Priority or Express Mail or Fed-ex/UPS.
Question: I got my residency seven years ago through work and have decided to file for my citizenship before the filing fees go up. I would have done it earlier but my concern has been for my wife, she is not legal. We met several years ago at work after she came on a work visa but once the visa ended she stayed here and never went back. We got married in 2019 but were told that since she is not in status, I could not sponsor her, I understand that, so I want to get my citizenship so I can get her legalized. But I don’t want to do anything that could get her in trouble with the immigration. Like I see it asks about a spouse’s status. Can I just leave that blank, we are so worried about this especially because of trump. Thanks.
Answer: You can safely file for your naturalization without any worry about your wife’s legal immigration status and you must list her on the application. Failing to provide or concealing information on your Naturalization application can affect your eligibility. In Part 10, page 7, list all your wife’s information, then on page 8 #7 c. if you don’t know her technical status just mark “other” and list work visa or leave that part blank. At your interview you can explain your wife’s circumstances to the officer if asked. Once you are naturalized, you can file for her residency immediately! Let me know if you have any questions. 
Question: My mom and dad got divorced when I was 5 and I lived with him since then. His dad filed his immigration papers and me and my dad immigrated to the states when I was 10, then I got my US passport when my dad got his citizenship a few years ago. I will turn 21 in December and want to find out about filing papers for my mom. She gave my dad full custody by signing a letter and getting it notarized when I went to live with him and she only got visitation. Dad thinks that since my mom gave up custody, I cant sponsor her. Mom says that she did not give up her rights, just that I could live with my dad full time not her. I need to know what I need to do next to find out about sponsoring my mom, thank you.
Answer: Good news, yes, you can still sponsor your mother for her U.S. Residency (green card). For background under Immigration regulations, once a U.S. citizens child turns age 21, he or she can sponsor both their biological parents, as well as their step-parents. Step-parents are considered to qualify as “parents” and step children qualify as “children” for immigration purposes, as long as the step-parent/step child relationship was established before the child (now U.S. citizen) reached the age of 18. The only time a child is unable to sponsor a biological parent is when the parent has terminated all parental rights through adoption. A simple written agreement between parents about custody does not terminate parental rights.
Many rejection notices erroneously included a schedule of the new filing fees which were never in fact formally increased. For those who have received rejected application forms, such as form I-765 applications for employment authorization (work permit) or form I-131 application for advance parole (travel permit) with green rejection notices and the new filing fees schedule, you can resend the application(s) back to the USCIS in order for them to be properly filed. 

Make sure and download a copy of the current, unchanged USCIS filing fees and USCIS fees notice that the fees have not increased and write a short note explaining that you attached the correct fees to your application because the filing fees have not increased and the I-765 and I-131 fees were included in the $1,225 I-485 filing fee. You should attach a copy of your I-485 receipt (showing the fees were paid), along with a copy of the biographic page of your passport and two passport photos. Place the green rejection sheet on the top of your package and staple everything together after copying. If the case was family based, send to the mailing address for the National Benefits Center, if employment based, send to USCIS Phoenix or Dallas Lockbox, based on where you live. Be sure to send to the USCIS using USPS Priority or Express Mail or Fed-ex/UPS, never, ever use Certified Mail! 
This allows them to change academic programs and continue to higher degree programs without the need to obtain an extension of their existing student visa. 

Under new administration rules recently published, student visas would have a fixed term of up to four years , (which is shorter than the typical time it takes for a student to complete a bachelor’s degree program) requiring international students to apply to extend their student status if they desire to continue studying in the U.S. past that period. 

The new restrictions also limit the initial visa term to only two years for students from Iran, North Korea, Sudan and Syria and those who are citizens of countries which have a 10% or higher overstay rate, including: Afghanistan, Benin, Bhutan, Burkina Faso, Burma, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Kinshasa, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kyrgyzstan, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Moldova, Mongolia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Rwanda, Samoa, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Togo, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Uganda, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Yemen and Zambia.

Rules state that extensions will only be approved “if the additional time needed is due to a compelling academic reason, documented medical illness or medical condition, or circumstance that was beyond the student’s control,”. Such draconian policies will surely result in an even lower level of international students attending colleges and universities in the U.S. and may mean an increase in fees for U.S. citizens and residents, since high international student tuition rates typically keep regular tuition rates lower for home grown students.

Sadly, this new proposal is just another sign to the world that the U.S. no longer welcomes visitors and just another message to the international community to “Keep Out” we don’t want you here. The rule could go into effect  by the end of this year, unless stopped by a federal court. Stay tuned… 

Read the new proposed rule

But even when an application has been prepared, properly sent and received by the USCIS, occasionally receipts are misdelivered or never sent out and immigrants are left in limbo waiting for notification that they are in legal status. When this happens, it can take hours of waiting in a phone queue to report the problem to a USCIS operator and then days or months for them to resend the receipts. The best way to avoid the problems caused when USCIS receipts have not been received is to ensure that even if that happens, you still have your case numbers.  

To receive your case number, all you need to do is enclose form G-1145 with each application separately, (by placing one form G-1145 on top of each separate form in the package), in order to receive notification by the USCIS once the case is received and be provided with a case number via text or email. For instance, when an applicant is filing for residency, generally the application package will include several separate application forms, usually including form I-485, form I-765 and form I-131, which would necessitate a separately completed form G-1145 being placed on top of each form, so three (3) in total. This is a free service provided by the USCIS and very important to have proof of receipt and the case number for each application filed, in case the actual USCIS I-797 Receipts for the filing are lost in the mail or otherwise not received. Having the case numbers allows applicants to call the USCIS 800# and request duplicate receipts by mailed once the initial receipts have not been received within 30 days of filing. Receiving the case numbers via text or email also allows applicants to sign up for Email Status updates on their cases through the USCIS My Case Status program. Once registered and the case number(s) entered into the system, the USICS will automatically email the applicant notifications and updates on any actions take on the case, to keep them informed about the case status. 
It is important however, not to confuse searching genealogy records with requesting your own Immigration records through a Freedom of Information act (FOIA). Genealogy records provide historical documents and information, while FOIA requests provide a copy of your current immigration file. 

Genealogy program
Genealogy Samples
National Archives
However many immigrants end up experiencing delays in receiving final approval, often due to a simple misunderstanding of the documents they are required to bring to the scheduled interview. 
Another common delay results from late scheduling of the medical exam, which causes the medical exam results to be unavailable at the time of the interview. For this reason, I always advise immigrants to schedule their required medical within a few days after receiving the consular interview notice. Every U.S. Consulate has their own list of documents required for the final interview, however here is a list of the most common items which every immigrant and family member should bring to the appointment

Interview letter 
Unexpired passport valid for six (6) months beyond intended date of entry to the U.S and a photocopy of the biographic page of the passport
Two (2) color passport-size photographs (5 cm x 5 cm, or 2 inch x 2 inch). Some Consulates require four (4) photos
Confirmation page from the Form DS-260 Application for an Immigrant Visa submitted online 
Original Birth Certificate and a photocopy
Original Marriage Certificate and a photocopy (if applicable)
Original Divorce Decrees for all prior marriages (if applicable)
Original Birth Certificates for all other children (even those not immigrating)
Original Police Certificate (if applicable, age 16 and above)
Original Medical Exam (if not send directly to the U.S. Consulate by the medical center)
Court and Prison Records (if applicable)
Deportation Documentation (if applicable)
Military records (if applicable)
Original Custody/Adoption documents (if applicable)
Copy of Sponsor’s Form I-864 Affidavit of Support , U.S. federal income tax return (or IRS Tax Transcript) and relevant W-2s and current paystubs (same for Joint Sponsor, if applicable)
Copy of Sponsor’s Naturalization Certificate or U.S. Passport Bio Page
For Marriage Cases, copy of Sponsor’s previous marriage Divorce Decrees (if applicable) and evidence of the real marriage (i.e. photos, correspondence, joint ownership documents)