Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
POSTING DATE: October 29, 2018
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2018
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Questions & Answers
This Week's Immigration News
Question: I came here last year as a visitor and then decided I wanted to stay a little longer than the regular 6 months the immigration officer gave me. I wanted to take some time and check out colleges here to maybe do a student visa. So I filed an application to extend my visit here for another 6 months and told immigration why I wanted more time. I got a letter asking for proof of my bank statements and means of supporting myself in the U.S.. I gave them my bank statement that showed $2,100 US dollars and a letter from my aunt saying she would support me. But I just got denied because the immigration letter says I did not show that I had sufficient funds to support myself for the additional time in the U.S. and that I did not prove that I would be going back to Peru if I stayed here longer. My I-94 expired because immigration took over 6 months to give me the answer. My question is if I can I file for a student visa now?
Answer: Unfortunately, the USCIS is becoming much more strict about requiring proof of financial resources and support for visitors who want to extend their stay in the U.S.. That’s why it is so important to make sure that you qualify for an Immigration benefit before you file the application and prepare the petition properly for the best chance of approval. When filing applications to change or extend your status in the U.S., it is vital that applicants understand the risk and if they choose to proceed, to clearly document eligibility, for instance by making sure that the required documentation is provided to prove eligibility. For extensions of stay, an individual needs to include bank statements showing adequate funds in their own account or that of a friend or family member and a letter of explanation or evidence which proves that the visitor intends to return to their home country once the extended time expires.. Under current USCIS policies, this is getting harder and harder to prove. I would say that $2,100 is likely not enough funds to support yourself in the U.S. for the next six months and the officer may believe that you would need to work here illegally in order to provide for your expenses during your extended stay. Now that your request has been denied, you are not eligible to change status to a student or any other visa. Also, under a new USCIS policy, you could be issued a deportation notice at any time since your case has been denied. The safest option would be for you to leave the U.S. as soon as possible. Since you overstayed while waiting for a decision on your case, your U.S. Visa is automatically cancelled. In order to reenter the U.S. in the future, you will need to reapply for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate in Peru. It may be very difficult to obtain a renewal of your visa any time soon and may need to reapply for several years or more before a new visa will be approved for you. Good luck.
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Tips On Renewing Your Green Card
U.S. Permanent Residents receive a 10-year Green Card, which must be renewed before expiration. The renewal request should be filed with the USCIS within 6 months of expiration. However, contrary to popular belief, the expiration of your Green Card does not mean that you are no longer a Permanent Resident, it just means that once the card expires, you will no longer have documentary evidence that you are a U.S. Resident. Those applying for Naturalization must either have an unexpired Green Card, or receipt showing that a renewal application has been filed.
Once the Green Card is within 6 months of expiration or even when it has actually expired, in order to obtain evidence of Residency, a Permanent Resident must file a renewal request.
Make A USCIS e-Request For Simple Errors On Receipts
The USCIS offers customers with pending cases the option of sending an electronic e-Request to request that certain issues be resolved or for information on a case, using an electronic inquiry form on the USCIS Website.
This is common when a case is taking longer than the posted processing times on the USCIS website, or when a receipt is received with a typographical error, like a misspelled name or incorrect birth date. In order to make an inquiry, you will need to have the case number, form type, filing date, zip code on file and other information.
Understanding The New Immigration Bond Requirement
Under “Public Charge” Proposal
Nearly every immigrant has heard about the new Trump Administration proposal called, “Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds” which seeks to disqualify immigrants from obtaining U.S. Residency who officials determine have used public benefits in the past, or are deemed likely to receive public assistance in the future. This rule will also be applied to nonimmigrants, including those seeking to extend student, work or visitor visas in the U.S..
As a result of new restrictions, the government will now require 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 continued until the immigrant naturalizes, permanently departs the United States, or dies and for a nonimmigrant, until they depart the U.S..
Under the rule, the bond will be a minimum of $10,000, but may be much higher, depending upon the individual’s family circumstances, age, family size, health, etc.. A “Public Charge” bond, is utilized to ensure that an individual does not accept 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. The fee for a bond is usually 15%, so for example, on a $10,000 bond, the fee would be $ 1,500. Importantly, since the bond will not be released in residency cases until the resident becomes a U.S. Citizen, it’s expected that many more residents will be inspired to naturalize sooner, rather than later.
For background, under the new rule, immigrants applying for residency or a nonimmigrant visa status will be required to prove they will not become a financial burden to the government, called a “public charge.” Affidavits of Support currently required in residency cases will still be used, but will not be given significant weight. Up to now, as long as the required Affidavit of Support (form I-864) and financial documentation submitted during the residency process shows that the sponsor or joint sponsor possesses sufficient income of 125% over the “Poverty Guidelines”, or assets, the “public charge” issue is satisfied and no further proof is required.
However, under the new rule, USCIS officials are directed to go further and to use additional factors to influence the determination of eligibility, including an individual’s Age, Health, Family status, Assets, Resources and Financial status (including credit scores), Education, Skills and Proficiency of English. USCIS officers are directed to consider negative factors, such as children under age 18 and adults over age 61 who are less likely to be able to work and support themselves, and more likely prone to need government assistance. This is especially true for elderly immigrants with disabilities and chronic health conditions, who are believed to be more prone to use subsidized medical and hospital care. Immigrants unable to speak proficient English can also be considered to be less likely to obtain employment sufficient to support themselves and therefore more likely to require government aid in the future. Public Benefits included in the current proposal are those for 1) cash assistance/food stamps 2) SNAP 3) Section 8 housing 4) Medicaid, 5) Subsidies for Medicare Part D (prescription drugs), does NOT include Obamacare and 6) Subsidized Housing. The Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) while not part of the current proposal may likely be added into the final rule.
A new form I-944 will be used by officials to evaluate whether or not an individual is deemed likely to become a public charge and thus require a bond and form I-945 will be required to be submitted by the applicant to apply for permission to post a bond in order to immigrate or obtain visa status. Stay tuned for more updates…
Contrary to the constant anti-immigrant rhetoric coming from the Whitehouse and Republican leaders, immigrants are not “bad hombres”, rapist, killers, MS-13, etc...the list of Trump’s slurs against immigrants goes on and on. But instead, Immigrants are the engine that drives our economy, the fuel which creates new technologies, state-of-the-art innovations and most importantly, JOBS!
According to a new study by the National Foundation for American Policy, over half of the founders of Billion Dollar startups in America are immigrants, yes, you heard that right!
That is some 51%, meaning about 44 of 87 of the country’s $1 Billion startup companies has at least one immigrant founder. Companies like Uber, SpaceX, Tesla, Avant, to name few. The report finds that the companies with immigrant founders create nearly 1,000 jobs, with the 11 largest such companies employing more than 17,000 people in America. Trump, however, does not let the facts get in his way of spewing and hate and division in America, so it’s up to the rest of us to know the facts and educate others. The American Dream came to be from the hopes and dreams of immigrants, those of your family and mine.
USCIS Further Expands Early Residency Filing
For Certain Immigrants Through November
As recently reported, due to technical calculations of immigrant visa availability, certain family sponsored immigrants who are inside the U.S. in legal immigration status (or eligible under 245(i)) can file adjustment of status applications (form I-485) earlier than the usual Visa Bulletin “Final Action” date.
This opportunity began on October 1st and according to a recent USCIS announcement, will continue at least through November, if not longer. In a further surprise move, the USCIS is expanding the opportunity to include employment-based immigrants beginning November 1st. Those who QUALIFY can file for adjustment of status, work and travel permission and remain in the U.S. legally waiting to receive their U.S. Residency (Green Card)!
As previously advised, immigrants should be very careful not to file for residency unless they are fully qualified to do so, otherwise, rather than obtaining a Green Card, a simple immigration filing could instead lead to deportation. Stay safe, DO NOT file a residency petition without first consulting with an immigration attorney (not consultant). This temporary policy can be a fantastic opportunity for those who qualify and a nightmare for those who file for residency, but don’t.
Question: My wife sponsored me for my green card and we had our interview in June of this year. Everything went fine, but the officer gave me a letter saying I needed to send in some papers about a traffic case I had in 2016 when I was stopped for driving without a license. I told the officer that I paid the fine, but he still wanted the papers about it. My wife and I found the court paper that said I only had to pay a fine, so I sent that in with the paper the officer gave me. Then last week, we got a letter from immigration that said my green card was denied because I failed to provide the requested documents. But honestly, we didn’t really understand what paper exactly the officer wanted, so we sent what we found we had saved from that time. The paper says there is no appeal is there anything you can do to help me get my green card?Thanks for your consideration.
Answer: What you are experiencing is very common and avoidable. It’s important to understand that when the USCIS issues a request for documentation, you generally only have one opportunity to provide EXACTLY what is requested or the case will be denied. With USCIS Requests For Evidence, it is crucial to determine exactly what the request is asking for, so that you can provide it, since there are no second chances. For criminal cases, Immigrants must provide the USCIS with a CERTIFIED COPY of both the Police Report or traffic Ticket AND the Court Disposition. One or the other will not be sufficient.
It’s also important to know that in many cases like yours which cannot be appealed, an Immigrant can still make a request for the officer to reopen the case or reconsider it (I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion). The filing fee is $675. A motion to reopen must be based on factual grounds, such as the discovery of new evidence or changed circumstances, while a motion to reconsider must establish that the decision was incorrect based on the evidence of record at the time of that decision. Unlike a motion to reopen, in a motion for reconsideration, no new evidence can be submitted to support the request. While not required, due to the technical legal issues involved in such Motions, its always best to have a qualified Immigration attorney prepare and submit the request. In some Immigration cases, filing an Appeal, Motion to Reopen or Reconsider is not advised and just a waste of money. These types of cases involve eligibility issues, for instance when an Immigrant files for residency or some other immigration benefit that they are clearly not eligible for. For example, when a Resident sponsors a married a child. In such a case, no eligibility exists, since there is no immigration category for a adult married child of a Resident, only for single children. Only U.S. Citizens can sponsor their married children.
However, in your case, I think it may be worth it to have me file a request to reopen the case in order to submit the correct documentation and explanations as to why the documents were not initially provided. Processing times can be 3 to 6 months and if approved, the USCIS will reopen your case and approve it.
Question: I got my conditional Green Card through my previous marriage to a U.S. Citizen husband in 2012, but did not receive my actual permanent card until 2015, then I filed for my Citizenship. In 2017 me and my husband split up and divorced. We have a five year old son together. Soon after we split up, I met my current husband and we dated for about 6 months then got married. He is from Jamaica and I want to file his immigration papers. My sister said that I cant do that yet, because of a rule that says if I got my green card from marriage, I have to wait for five years after that to sponsor my husband. She says that means my permanent card and doesn’t mean the temporary 2 years card I got in 2012. Can you please clear this up for me? Thanks.
Answer: Under Immigration regulations, Immigrants who obtained residency through marriage, whether currently a Resident or Citizen, who seek to sponsor a new spouse for Residency within a five year period after obtaining Residency, are required to prove that the initial marriage through which they gain Residency was real (also called “bona fide”). The problem arises when the sponsoring spouse files a spousal petition within the five year period and is then unable to provide adequate documentation to prove that the past marriage was real. The five year period begins when the foreign spouse receives his or her initial conditional residency. In your case, since you obtained your initial residency in 2012, the five year period has already elapsed and you are no longer subject to the rule. However, in all marriage cases, the USCIS is allowed to inquire about a previous marriage through which residency was obtained, in order to be satisfied that it was not based upon fraud. In your case, since you had a child with your ex-husband, there will likely be no question about the legitimacy of your previous marriage.
For those who file renewals which are pending, but need to travel or otherwise provide evidence of current residency status, your local USCIS will issue a temporary residency stamp (called I-551) good for six months as proof of residency. To request the stamp, make an INFOPASS appointment at your local USCIS Field Office and take the Green Card renewal receipt provided to you by mail from the USCIS, your passport and expired green card. Once the temporary residency stamp is issued, it can be used as a temporary Green Card until the renewed Green Card is received and be used to work, travel, obtain Driver’s License renewal and any other purpose that an actual Green Card would serve. For those who file for Naturalization before your green card has expired, but it expires while your naturalization case is pending, you will need to obtain evidence of residency before travelling. In these cases, some local USCIS may issue a temporary residency stamp good for six months as proof of residency. However, it depends upon the policy at your local USCIS office. Some offices have a policy to only issue the stamp once, and other have been refusing to issue the stamp at all, without a copy of the I-90 receipt, showing that you filed to renew your green card, an additional fee of $540. Its an ongoing problem and one which will likely not be resolved any time soon.
The moral of the story is, file for naturalization as soon as possible, at least a year or so before your green card expires.
For example, after filing your residency case, you receive the I-797 Notice of Action receipt for your I-485 residency case and your birth date is wrong. After checking your I-485 form to make sure that you correctly listed your birth date, you can visit the erequest website and request that your receipt be re-issue or the error corrected. It can take up to 60 days or so for the error to be corrected and you will either receive a new I-485 receipt or a letter letting you know the date was corrected.
Click Here to Visit the USCIS e-Request Webpage