Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: November 18,  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: My husband has been in the US for many years since he came as a student and did not ever leave. We have been together for 4 years and I am a resident for 6 years. I am eligible to file for my citizenship but we are afraid that when I put my husband on the papers immigration that could be bad for him. We don’t want to do anything that could get him in trouble with the immigration. Can I just leave him off the marriage part off the application?
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know the Best Way To Send My Immigration Application To The USCIS? 
Immigration applications and any follow-up correspondence with the USCIS are very important matters. That is why you should take the additional step of sending these documents to the USCIS by a safe, quick method, which allows you to verify the date and time of delivery to the USCIS. This is especially critical when you have received a Request For Additional Evidence from the USCIS and must provide the requested documentation by a specified deadline. Many applicants do not know that if their response sent to the USCIS is postmarked before the deadline date, but is actually delivered and received by the USCIS after that date, the case is likely to be denied. Certified Mail can take up to 10 days for delivery, making it one of the slowest methods of delivery!
Don’t Forget 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. 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, status as a U.S. Citizen across government agency databases, including E-Verify. 
 Trump Administration Plans To Dramatically 
Increase Immigration Fees!
Under a new proposal issued by the Trump Administration, the USCIS aims to increase immigration application fees, including Naturalization fees by more than 60% and Green Card fees by some 56%. For example, the USCIS fee to apply for U.S. Citizenship would increase from the current $725 fee to $1,170 and Residency filing fees to adjust status inside the U.S. will go from $1,760 to $2,750, allowing the USCIS to charge immigrants a separate fee of $490 for the work permit and an additional $585 for the travel permit! Both fees are currently included in the residency application fee. 

Other fee increases include those for DACA applications under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program would rise from $495 to $765.
Supreme Court Seems Poised To Allow 
Trump’s Termination of DACA Program
Answer: You can safely file for your naturalization without any worry about your husband’s legal immigration status and you must list him 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 husband’s information, then on page 8 #7 c. if you don’t know his technical status just mark “other” and list student visa or leave that part blank. At your interview you can explain your husbands circumstances to the officer if asked. Once you are naturalized, you can file for his residency immediately! Let me know if you have any questions. 
The Department of Homeland Security published the fees increase notice in the Federal Register on November 14, 2019, leaving a short 30-day public period for comment, which is only half the normal 60 days given, ending on December 16, 2019. The new fees could go into effect any time after that date. Unlike most government agencies, the USCIS is a fee funded agency, which means that the costs for much of its services are funded by filing fees. According to revised calculation methods used by acting director of USCIS Ken Cuccinelli, current fee levels would result in the agency being underfunded by approximately $1.3 billion per year. The last USCIS fee increase was in 2016, with only modest increases, when historically, fees for processing immigration applications have drastically increased over the years. For instance, in 1985, the application fee to apply for Naturalization was only $35, compared with the new proposed fee of $1,170!

It’s no surprise then, that given the Trump administration’s focus on keeping immigrants out, rather than allowing legal immigrants in, it plans to use over $200 million in filing fees gained from increased payments to the USCIS to fund more Immigration and Customs Enforcement operations, in order to deport more immigrants. Critics say that the substantial proposed fees increases are just a way for this anti-immigrant administration to further restrict legal immigration, to get around long standing immigration laws passed by Congress. Trump’s recent efforts to institute the “public charge rule” and health insurance requirements for immigrants have been temporarily defeated in the Federal courts, but that will likely not stop the administration from devising ever more devious methods to reduce legal immigration in every way possible.

The fee increase comes just as deadlines loom for many Green Card holders to apply for Citizenship in order to vote against Trump in the 2020 Presidential election. Once the increased fees go into effect, no doubt, that many immigrants will no longer be able to afford to file immigration applications and fewer Residents (green card holders) will become citizens, which may in fact be the point. Likely the best gift a family member can give this Holiday season is the gift of the Naturalization filing fee of $725 before the increase goes into effect!!

Here’s the USCIS Filing Fees Comparison showing the current and proposed fee increase for Naturalization and Residency:

Application                                                                 Current Fee               Proposed Fee

N-400 Naturalization application                                 $725                             $1,170
I-130 Family Petition application                                 $535                             $555
I-485 Green Card application with                              $1,225                          $2,195
Biometrics, I-765 Work & I-131 Travel Permit

USCIS Fees Increase Announcement
NBC News
Federal Register Fees Increase Proposal
The Supreme Court heard arguments last week in the long awaited case to determine whether or not Dreamers can continue to receive protection under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, called DACA. The current program, limited by Trump, allows some 700,000 DACA holders to renew status and work permits every two years. For background, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was implemented in 2012 by President Obama to protect hundreds of thousands of young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. by their parents as children and who lack any kind of legal immigration status. However, once Trump took office in 2017, he cancelled the program, refusing to accept any new DACA applications. 
Lawsuits later resulted in Federal Judges preventing Trump from cancelling the program altogether, forcing him to accept DACA renewals. During this time, thousands of Dreamers have been unable to apply for DACA and instead remain in the U.S. without any legal protections. The Trump administration appealed the federal court decisions to the Supreme Court for a final determination. 

Many court experts monitoring the recent hearing have concluded that based upon the questions and dialog between the justices and counsel for the parties, the conservative majority seemed inclined to agree that the Trump administration is within its authority to terminate the program. While expressing some sympathies with Dreamers, the five conservative members of the court are more likely than not apt to side with the administration’s right to cancel the program. During the hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts appeared to indicate his belief that the administration was correct in that Obama’s DACA program was unlawful, pointing out that the Supreme Court could decide to allow termination of the program in a humane way which would minimize hardships to Dreamers, saying “ It’s not always the case when the government acts illegally in a way that affects other people,” that we go back and untangle all of the consequences of that.” He suggested that the program could instead be wound down in measured steps.

The final Supreme Court decision is expected to be made on the case in the Spring of 2020. And while It’s unlikely that any end to protections for Dreamers under DACA can end “humanely”, hopes are that the program could continue through 2020 to give time for Congress to take legislative action to protect the young immigrants. However with a hotly contested election coming up next year, and Republicans in fear of passing any Bill to benefit immigrants which would anger Trump, its more likely that any such legislation would occur after the election in November 2020. Stay tuned….

 2017 Memorandum ending the DACA program
Read the DACA hearing Supreme Court transcript
Documents Immigrants Should Take To
The Consular Interview To Avoid Delays
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. 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)

State Department Interview Document List
Question: Me and my girlfriend just got married and we want to file my immigration papers. She has a good job now as a nurse and makes good money, but she had some tax issues a few years back and owes about $12,000 in back taxes. She has to make monthly payments from her bank account directly to the IRS every month to pay it back. We are worried that she can’t sponsor me because she owes money to the IRS. Can you please help us with the case and tell us what we need to do so she can qualify.
Answer: In Residency cases, Immigration regulations only require that a Sponsor or Joint Sponsor provide copies of IRS Tax Returns proving that all required tax returns have been filed. There is no requirement that all taxes owed have been paid. In Naturalization cases, however, Residents are required to show that not only have all required tax returns been filed, but as well that either all outstanding taxes have been paid or an agreement for repayment has been reached with the IRS and all payments due under the agreement have been paid as agreed, even if a balance is still due. So in your case, your wife can still sponsor you, even though she owes money to the IRS. I will need to review her current paystubs and income to determine whether she meets the income guidelines, and if not, you can always use a Joint Sponsor who’s income does meet the qualifications.
Question: My dad got married to his American girlfriend many years ago after my parents broke up and I immigrated to the U.S. and got my green card along with him when I was 14 years. Now that I am 21, I want to sponsor my mom. But my dad says maybe that would be a problem because my stepmom was the one that sponsored me. I am all confused now. Is it true that since my step mom sponsored me, I can’t sponsor my biological mom. Can you please help me?
Answer: Good news, under Immigration regulations, U.S. citizens can sponsor both their biological and step parents and biological and step parents can sponsor both their biological children and step children. This means that once a U.S. Citizens child turns age 21, even though they were sponsored by a stepparent for Residency, the child is still able to sponsor their biological parent. Similarly, a U.S. Citizen child can also sponsor both their stepparent and biological parent to immigrate, as long as the requisite relationship qualifies. 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 U.S. citizen would not qualify to sponsor a parent is where the parental rights had been terminated through adoption or otherwise.  
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. You can get a link to download the SS-5 form and find a local Social Security Administration office near you by visiting our website at: and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link.

Find a Social Security Administration office near you
Form SS-5

Not only is this a tragedy for the beneficiary of the immigration application, but in such instances, all the USCIS filing fees are lost, which in some cases can be thousands of dollars. Certified Mail is not delivered quickly and cannot be tracked online and other private courier services like Fed-ex cannot be delivered to the regular USCIS P.O. box address. 

So, since the USCIS is a government agency, like the U.S. Priority Mail or Express Mail (U.S. Postal Service), the safest way to send applications/documents and to safeguard against the unfortunate situation above is to use the U.S. Priority/Express Mail service. The cost is about $8 for Priority Mail and $25 for next day Express Mail and well worth it. You will receive a tracking# so you can go online and confirm delivery. Be sure to send any responses requested by the USCIS at least one week or more before the deadline. Also, make a copy of everything you send to the USCIS including the initial application, supporting documents, Money Order and all follow-up responses before sending to the USCIS and never send originals! Good luck!