Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: October 21,  2019
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2019 
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
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

  Immigration News & Updates              eNewsletter
Question: Good afternoon, I am a citizen and applied for my sister July 2007 and received her I-130 approval notice, May 2010. She currently resides in the Bahamas and is wondering what the next steps would be in order to complete the process for her Greencard. Thank you.
Answer: Since you filed the I-130 for your sister in July 2007, that is her PRIORITY DATE. Since she is the sister of a U.S. Citizen, she is in the F4 Immigration category. Right now, there are currently visas available for the date November 2006, so she has another year or so to wait. Once the date is getting closer to her priority date, the National Visa Center (NVC) will send you some bills to pay to get the final process started for her consular interview. You should make sure and keep the NVC (tel# 1-603-334-0700) updated on your address and email so you will get the NVC notification. After the fees are paid you will need to provide all the financial documents required and she will be required to provide civil documents. To prepare, she may want to get a certified copy of her Birth Certificate (for her and her children & spouse), Marriage/Divorce certificate and make sure that her passport is valid for a few more years. I hope this is helpful to you. 
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know If I Can Sponsor My Parents For A Green Card?
Obtaining Residency For Parents

Current Immigration regulations allow U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents for “Green Cards”, while Permanent Residents cannot. For parents of U.S. citizens who are inside the U.S., it does not even matter if the parent is in legal status, as long as the parent entered the U.S. legally (has an expired I-94 card) or is eligible under 245(i). Parents are in the special immigration category called “Immediate Relatives” (which includes Spouses and Minor children of U.S. Citizens as well), which gives them preference over other family immigration relationships. The only drawback of this category is that it is only for the individual parent and does not include any dependents, such as spouses or minor children. 
Tips On Answering USCIS Requests for Evidence (RFE)

Once an immigration application is filed, the USCIS issues a receipt and an officer begins processing the case, he or she may issue something called a Request for Evidence (RFE). 

This request comes in the form of a letter from the USCIS officer to request additional information or documentation on your application. RFE requests are frequently issued for missing information or documentation to establish your eligibility.
 Quick Overview Of Family Immigration Sponsorship
Tips On Preparing For Your Residency And Naturalization Interview
Who Can Be Sponsored And How Long Will It Take 
For Them To Immigrate To the U.S.

While legal immigration continues to be under constant attack by the Trump Administration, thus far, our current family sponsored system remains intact, allowing U.S. Citizens and Residents to sponsor family members to immigrate to the U.S.. The good news is that recently many Federal courts have consistently ruled against Trump, preventing him from arbitrarily denying immigrant visas and residency to thousands of immigrant family members. The bad news is that new assaults from the administration to reduce legal immigration often come daily, leaving immigrants and sponsors alike feeling under siege. 
These days, every immigrant applying for U.S. Residency (a Green Card) and Resident applying for Naturalization is required to have an interview at the local USCIS field office. And while the immigration benefits sought are different, many of the procedures are the same. During typical immigration interviews USCIS officers are required to accomplish certain objectives, which include a full review of the applicant’s eligibility, testimony from the applicant regarding their immigration history, review of information stated on the residency or naturalization application and review of original documents which each applicant is required to bring to his or her interview, depending upon the type of case.
So now more than ever, it’s important to become knowledgeable about basic Immigration Issues. I often get questions from U.S. Citizens and U.S. Residents alike about which family members they are eligible to sponsor, when they are allowed to initiate the process, how many family members can be sponsored at one time and how long it will be before their loved ones can immigrate to the U.S..

Currently, here’s how it works:

U.S. Citizens are eligible to sponsor:
1) Spouses, Minor Children and Parents (called "Immediate Relatives") 
2) Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children) F1, 
3) Adult Married Sons & Daughters (and their spouses and minor children) called F3  
4) Brothers & Sisters (and their spouses and minor children) called F4.

U.S. Residents are eligible to sponsor: 
1) Spouses and Minor Children called F2A and 
2) Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children) called F2B. 

U.S. Residents cannot sponsor their Parents, Adult Married Sons & Daughters or their Brothers & Sisters. If a child who has been sponsored by a Resident marries before the parent becomes a U.S. Citizen, the Immigration case is automatically cancelled, even if the child later divorces.

Waiting Times For Family Members in all Countries (except Mexico/India & Philippines where waiting times are often much longer): 

1) Immediate Relatives (Spouses, Minor Children and Parents of U.S. Citizens), there is no waiting line, just USCIS and consular processing time (approx 12 months). 
2) F1 - Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 6+ years, 
3) F3 -Adult Married Sons & Daughters of U.S. Citizens, the waiting line is approx 12+ years, 
4) F4 -Brothers & Sisters of U.S. Citizens , the waiting line is approx 12+ years, 
5) F2A -Spouses and Minor Children of U.S. Residents, there is currently no waiting line, just USCIS and consular processing time (approx 12 months). However, the normal waiting time is 2 years.
6) F2B -Adult Single Sons & Daughters of U.S. Residents, the waiting line is approx 5+ years.

Under current Immigration regulations, once an Immigrant receives U.S. Residency, (even Conditional Residency through marriage), and similarly when a Resident becomes Naturalized, they are eligible to sponsor any and all family members in any of the qualifying categories. There is no limit on the number of family members which can be sponsored at the same time. For instance, a U.S. Citizen can sponsor an adult, single daughter, a married son and 3 sisters and 2 brothers all at the same time. However, due to the difference in waiting times, each family member will be immigrating at different times, depending upon the Family Immigration category. Trump and Congressional Immigration reforms in the future may limit the type and amount of family members allowed to immigrate to the U.S., but for now, the number is limitless, so don’t wait until it is too late. 

Finally, in most cases, family members in the F-1 – F4 categories above must be in legal Immigration status (unexpired I-94) in order to be eligible to adjust status to residency in the U.S.. Those filing for adjustment who are not in legal status will be denied and may be put in deportation. Waivers are available but are not guaranteed.

You can learn more about immigrating through family member and Waivers by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.
In Naturalization, the Resident must additionally undergo civics and history questions, as well as demonstrate fluency in English and reading/writing. The serious nature of these official government processes and procedures can often be very stressful for the applicant, so here are a few simple preparations you can do to make the process go much smoother. 

1) Understand Your Eligibility: That seems obvious, but what does it really mean? How do you know if you are eligible? First, you must understand what the legal requirements are for the immigration benefit you are seeking. If you have been sponsored by a family member, you must be prepared to provide the officer with documents and information which prove your eligibility. For instance, one of the main requirements for most adjustment of status case is that the immigrant prove that they entered the U.S. legally and have a copy of the I-94 Arrival Departure card or printout to prove it. If not, with few exceptions (absent a waiver or 245(i) eligibility), the immigrant does not qualify for a green card in the U.S.. In cases where an immigrant did enter legally, most immigrants must also prove that they have continued to maintain legal immigration status in the U.S. until their residency case was filed, with the exception of Spouses, Parents and minor children of U.S. Citizens. For example, a U.S. Citizen parent sponsors her 22 year old daughter who came to the U.S. legally, but has overstayed for several years. In such a case the daughter is not eligible to obtain a green card in the U.S.. Similarly, the spouse of a Resident who has overstayed is also not eligible, until the Resident spouse becomes a U.S. Citizen. 

Residents applying for Naturalization should make sure that they meet the requirement of being a green card holder for at least four years and nine months before applying (or two years and nine months for spouses of U.S. Citizens), ensure that they have acquired enough time being physically inside the U.S. and ensure that they are not disqualified by certain criminal conduct within the past five years (three years for spouses of U.S. Citizens), delinquency on child support or IRS taxes and males between the years of 18 and 25 must have registered for selective service as required.

The issue of eligibility should always be determined before filing any immigration application, however, if any questions exist, applicants should seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney prior to attending any immigration interview.

2) Be Prepared! That means fully reviewing all the information on your application. It sounds simple, but in reality, so many applicants are surprised that they have to answer extensive questions about the information on the application, which causes more stress and anxiety. So review, review, review and be fully prepared to answer questions about your addresses (current and past) employment (current and past), spouses (current and former), children, previous visas, receipt of any public assistance and extensive questions about your immigration and criminal history. Immigrants should specifically review their form I-485 pages 10-14 and be ready to answer questions in this regard. Naturalization applicants will additionally be asked about any trips abroad, payment of child support for minor children, payment of IRS taxes and additional questions about their immigration/criminal history (see form N-400 pages 11-15). 

3) Bring the Required Documents:

RESIDENCY: Immigrants Should Bring Documents To The Residency Interview Including:

- Interview notice 
- current Passport & all prior Passports  
- I-94 card (if you entered the U.S. PRIOR TO 2013 otherwise “online I-94 printout”)
- Work Authorization card/Travel Permit
- current Driver’s License
- ORIGINAL Birth Certificate 
- ORIGINAL Marriage Certificate for current marriage (not for past marriages)
- ORIGINAL Divorce Decree for every marriage in the past
- ORIGINAL/CERTIFIED Criminal Documents for any criminal case of any kind, including traffic cases which required a court appearance. Criminal Documents must include: a) CERTIFIED Police Report or Traffic Ticket and b) CERTIFIED Court Disposition (you must bring both a & b to give to the officer at 
your interview)

****Marriage Cases also require additional extensive documentation to prove a “real marriage”

In Marriage Cases, additionally, every U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident sponsor should bring:
For marriage residency: U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident Spouse’s Original Divorce Decree for every marriage in the past, in addition to extensive marital documentation (see below)

- ORIGINAL or CERTIFIED Birth Certificate 
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or U.S. Residency (i.e. ORIGINAL Naturalization Certificate , US passport or Green Card
- Driver’s License
-While not required, it’s also helpful for the U.S. Citizen or U.S. Resident to bring an updated tax return and W-2 for the current year since filing the residency case, a currently dated employer letter and current paystubs

Marriage residency cases are particularly complicated, since in addition to the above, the USCIS officer will expect the married couple to provide extensive documentation of their lives and financial affairs together, including:

- Photos of the Couple: Original Photos of pictures you have together, during the time you were dating, pictures of your wedding and all pictures you have taken since you married. Assemble photos in Photo Albums. As many as you can, the more the better. The officer will not look at digital photos on your cell phone or camera. Include at least 8 Original Photos of you as a couple together (Wedding, Holidays, etc) for the officer to keep in the USCIS file
-Tax Returns FOR ALL YEARS since you got married, showing “married filing jointly” AND W-2’S for Both spouses;
-Joint Bank accounts statements showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present -stmts only, not checks
-Joint Credit Card Statements/Investment Accounts showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present (if available) 
-Joint Auto Insurance policies & Insurance Cards showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present 
-Joint Health Insurance card/policy & Insurance Cards since you have been married (if available) 
-Joint Warranty Deed, Joint Closing Documents, Joint Homeowner’s Insurance policy;
-Joint Lease Agreement showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Utility Bills in Joint Names showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Separate Utility Bills in U.S. Citizen’s/Foreign spouse’s name showing marital address to prove you reside together even though the bill is not in both spouses names 
-Joint Auto purchase contract/Automobile Registration showing both spouse names
-Joint Travel tickets/itineraries and boarding passes for trips showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Receipts for items purchased together, for example, furniture showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Birth Certificate for child born to the couple (if applicable)
-Joint Gym Memberships showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint Church & Club Memberships showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Joint BJ’s, Costco & other similar Cards showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present
-Other documentation to show parties have been living together as married spouses showing both spouse names since before and after you got married until present. 
-Copy of Driver’s License for both spouses showing the same marital address.

NATURALIZATION: U.S. Residents Should Bring Documents To The Naturalization Interview Including:

- Interview notice 
-Original U.S. Residency Card (Green Card);
-Original Driver’s License
-Original Passport
- ORIGINALS or CERTIFIED copy of your Marriage Certificate, Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates
-If ever arrested or detained for any reason, bring CERTIFIED Police Report & Court disposition 
- Proof “Selective Service” Registration for those ages 18-25
- Name change documents: If you changed your name to something other than that which appears on your Green Card 
-Proof of Child Support for all minor Children 
-Taxes: If you owe any IRS taxes bring a copy of the IRS Installment Agreement & proof of all payments

In Early Naturalization Cases based upon marriage to a U.S. Citizen Residents are also required to bring additional documentation to prove a continuing “real marriage”

Additional Documents To Bring To Your Naturalization Interview For All Marriage Related Naturalization Cases

- Proof that your spouse has been a U.S. Citizen for at least 3 years (copy of Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate, or Valid U.S. Passport);
- Original or CERTIFIED copy of Marriage Certificate for current marriage;
- Original or CERTIFIED copy of all Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates for all your past marriages before the present one;
- Original or CERTIFIED copy of all Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates for all your spouse’s past marriages before the present one;
- Copies of original IRS Tax Returns for past 3 years showing “married or original IRS Transcript for past 3 years (Call the IRS at: 1-800-829-1040) ;
- Copies of Joint Bank accounts statements
- Copy of your home’s Warranty Deed, mortgage documents or Lease in joint name for current marriage;
- Copy of Auto Insurance in joint names;
- Certified copies of Birth Certificates for all child(ren) born in the U.S.;
- Copy of current Utilities statements showing joint names for current marriage;
- Driver’s Licenses copies of each spouses license showing living at the same marital address.
Question: My wife is a citizen and we got married in 2016 and I got my green card in early 2018. Since we have been married for 3 years, I want to apply for my citizenship, can you help me with that?
Answer: Great question. The basic guide for Early Naturalization is called the 3/3/3 rule: meaning that in order to apply for your Naturalization early based upon your marriage to a U.S. Citizen, you need to meet the following three requirements: 1) Have been a U.S. Resident for at least three years AND 2) Have been married to a U.S. Citizen for at least three years full years (continue to be in a valid marriage living together) AND 3) Your U.S. Citizen spouse must have been a U.S. Citizen for at least three full years. However, you are allowed to apply for Naturalization 90 days before you have actually been a U.S. Resident for three years (2 years & 9 mo.). According to your date of Residency in 2018, once you have had your green card for two years and nine months, as long as you and your wife are continuing to live together as a married couple, you can apply for early Naturalization in 2020 and I can assist you in that process, but for now, you are not eligible.
Question: my citizen husband and I are planning on getting married in the next few months. I came on a tourist visa with my daughter 6 years ago and overstayed. She is 21 now and I am worried that she wont qualify because she is too old, so we want to know if once we marry, can my husband file for her?
Answer: Your U.S. Citizen spouse cannot sponsor your daughter, because under Immigration regulations, the stepparent relationship had to have been established by your marriage, before your daughter reached age 18. Unfortunately, if she leaves the U.S. now, your daughter will be legally “barred” from re-entering the U.S., since she overstayed her period of authorized stay. Once you become a Resident, you can petition for your daughter, but under the current immigration regulations, she will not be allowed to adjust status in the U.S. due to her overstay. The only way she can get legal status if she stays in the U.S., is through a real marriage to a U.S. Citizen or through some future immigration reform.
Responding to an RFE from the USCIS:

Always read the RFE letter very carefully to determine exactly what kind of evidence or document is being requested. Some RFE's are more complex than the others and it is difficult to determine exactly what the officer is requesting. For more complicated RFE letters, you may want to retain an immigration attorney to assist you. Once you have determined what the letter is requesting, be sure to provide the exact document(s) requested. For instance, an officer may request a “long form” of a Birth Certificate. If you respond that you do not have one, your case will likely be denied. The appropriate action to take is to request one from the departmental authority in your country of birth.

How much time do I have to respond to an RFE?

Depending on the type of case, you may have from 33 days to 87 days to respond so that the USCIS receives your response before the expiration date. The RFE request will state exactly how many days you have to respond. If you fail to respond or filed after the deadline, your case will likely be denied. To be on the safe side, you should always send your response by Express or Priority Mail and get a delivery confirmation. Never send any communications to the USCIS via Certified Mail, which takes much longer and can risk your response being received late. Finally, remember that your response to the USCIS officers request must be RECEIVED by the USCIS ON or BEFORE the deadline. Responses received even one day late result in complete case denials. 

After I respond what happens next?

Depending upon the case, it could take up to 60 days or more. You can check the online status to see if it is stating that your RFE response has been received, or call the USCIS 800# to ask if the computer show the USCIS received it. For adjustment case (I-485) requests, the officer may wait to receive your response before continuing processing of your Work Authorization application which will cause delays in its issuance. To avoid this, send your response as soon as possible and do not wait until you get near the deadline in the letter.
Therefore, if the parent has a spouse who is not considered to be your parent (for immigration purposes**see below), he or she would not be able to immigrate along with the parent. The same is true of any minor children of a parent (your brother or sister). This is a harsh rule which often causes difficult choices for parents of U.S. citizens. However, once the parent obtains a Green Card, the parent can then sponsor his or her children and if applicable, a spouse. **Step-parents are considered to qualify as “parents” for immigration purposes, as long as the step-parent relationship was established before the child (now U.S. citizen) reached the age of 18.