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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 The Correct Immigration Fees Are? 
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: I have a question about filing for my wife and her two kids ages 13 (son) and 15 (daughter). I am a naturalized citizen and my wife and I met when I was temporarily working in Colombia as an engineering manager. We got married earlier last year and I filed the I-130 application for her and it listed her children as well. They all have visas and have come up to visit me several times last year but only once this year in February due to the pandemic. Right now, they are visiting me here in florida since the Colombian borders reopened, but they plan to return next week. The problem is this, we got an approval of the immigration application recently from the U.S. immigration which only listed my wife’s name. We called immigration and they said that only my wife was included, even though the kids were listed on the application as well. Then the national visa center sent me a notice that they are doing processing of the case so I called them and they said that I had to apply for the kids separately from my wife. We are really confused and worried. Can you please tell us what we need to do now. Will my wife have to be separated from the kids? Is there anything we can do now that they are here in the states to fix this?
In order to begin fulfilling his campaign promises to restore America’s immigration systems to “a nation of immigrants”, the Biden team is hard at work drafting action plans to put into effect once Biden takes office. Some reversals of Trump policies will happen quickly and some will take more time. The immediate priorities will be to terminate all of Trumps Executive Actions, Proclamations, lift immigration bans, protect Dreamers and stop enforcement actions against law abiding immigrants. Biden will likely also quickly move to grant Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Venezuelan exiles in the U.S. and shield them from deportation.
Biden Plans To Act Quickly To Keep Immigration Promises!

                  LAW CENTERS

Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378
 POSTING DATE: November 30, 2020
Answer: So sorry to hear about your predicament, it must be very frustrating! For background, a U.S. citizen or resident can apply for a spouse and step-children, as long as the children were under age 18 at the time of the marriage to the child’s biological parent. If qualifying, the U.S. citizen or resident step-parent can file for the minor children until they reach age 21. Spouses and children (or step children) of U.S. citizens are in a special immigration category called “immediate relatives”, which means they are not subject to any immigration waiting lines and can immigrate immediately subject to regular USCIS and consular processing. However, since these family members are in the special category of “immediate relatives”, you must file a separate application for each family member, one for your wife, one for your stepson and one for your step daughter. Since you filed only one I-130 for your wife, even though your stepchildren were listed, they are not eligible to immigrate along with her. Normally, if the family was outside the U.S., I would tell you that we need to file for your stepson and stepdaughter and wait for the case to be approved, then your wife and the kids could go through consular processing in Bogota, Colombia together. However, since they are here in the U.S. now, the great news is that we can just file the residency cases for the family together to adjust status in the U.S. and they can get their green cards here. We still have to file I-130 petitions for the kids separately, but we will file their residency of status cases at the same time so they can live here legally while going through the immigration process and don’t need to be separated or delayed. Give me a call on Monday and we can get started.
Filing immigration applications with the incorrect filing fee is the leading cause of case rejections by the USCIS. This can be inconvenient and sometimes very serious for certain applications which have filing deadlines. As a result, the USCIS has an Online Fee Calculator to assist customers in calculating the correct fee amounts to include when filing their forms. 

The Online Fee Calculator asks users to select a form, or combination of forms, and then to answer a series of questions. The tool then calculates the correct fee amount that the filer must submit, based upon his or her answers and can be accessed by both computer and mobile devices.
Common Mistakes To Avoid When Filing Your Immigration Application

1) Failing To Confirm Eligibility: One of the most common mistakes made when filing immigration applications is failing to make sure you are eligible before filing. Just because you CAN file an application, does not mean you SHOULD! Friends, relatives, coworkers, the lady who sits beside you on the bus, all have an opinion about what you should do to obtain immigration status. But should you trust their totally uninformed advice? You know the answer. That is like trusting your hairdresser to remove your appendix, it’s that serious these days. So before filing any application with the USCIS make sure that you meet all the eligibility requirements -  end of story.
Yes Public Charge Form Still Required - But Don’t Take It Too Seriously!
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After even more court actions involving the Public Charge rule, the most recent ruling to date allows the Trump Administration to apply the policy and require that all immigrant applying for adjustment of status in the U.S., file form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency along with form I-485. 

However, applicants should no longer worry about including extensive supporting documentation such as credit reports, educational degrees, bank statements, etc along with the forms. Simply completing, signing and filing the form along with the residency application, initially fulfills the requirements. 
For the past four years, Trump and his evil immigration Czar Stephen Miller have implemented policies which have corrupted and eroded our country’s legal immigration system, using Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents as like attach dogs, unleashed against innocent, vulnerable immigrants. These draconian measures have created an atmosphere of fear and anxiety for most immigrants, forcing many undocumented families to hide in the shadows, wary of Trumps next anti-immigrant Tweet. Even legal immigrants have been living with a sense of dread, waiting to see if the next executive action is meant for them or their families.

Following Biden’s swearing-in on January 20th, one the first steps the new administration plans to take will be to quickly move forward to protect Dreamers by re-instituting the full DACA program. This will allow Dreamers who qualify to apply for DACA benefits for the first time. Biden also plans to put an immediate freeze on all deportations for 100 days, in order to buy time for officials to implement a “kinder and gentler” immigration policy going forward. Under these new policies, the main focus of most enforcement efforts will be limited to serious criminal offenders or those determined to be national security threats, not against law abiding immigrants. Immigrants who are undocumented or who have fallen out of legal immigration status, will no longer be an enforcement priority and will largely be left alone. 

However, one of the harder tasks to be undertaken by the Biden administration is getting a comprehensive immigration reform law passed through congress, to provide permanent legal status to millions of immigrants who lack documentation or who have fallen out of legal immigration status. If Democrats ultimately end up controlling the Senate after January’s run-off election in Georgia, moving quickly ahead with a major immigration legislation will be a top priority. However, if the Democrats lose and Republicans control the Senate, it may not be possible for any such legislation to pass and Biden may have to resort to an Executive Action to protect immigrants. 

The problem with such unilateral presidential actions is that they are subject to being easily stopped or restricted by lawsuits filed against the executive branch. Such was the case with Obama’s DACA program which was initially prevented from going forward the day before it was to be implemented, when a lawsuit was filed in Texas to stop it. DACA did end up going ahead in the months following the lawsuit, but the outcome was not certain and presidential orders do not provide any permanent protection. 
But for now, we can all rest easy, knowing the future of America’s immigration system is in good hands, with a new administration which understands that immigrants are what makes our country great and without them, our economy and national soul suffers. So as Trump issues new anti-immigrant Tweets and expected executive orders, don’t be too bothered, they will be undone quickly once the adults are back in the room on January 20th! Stay tuned….
By the time Biden takes office, terminates Trump’s Public Charge policy and winds down the filing procedures, immigration officers will be issued new guidelines which will prevent them from requiring future submission of the form or any supporting evidence. So, don’t forget to include the signed form I-944 with all I-485 applications for now to avoid application rejection, but don’t stress about including any other documents outlined in the form instructions. 

Get form I-944
Read the USCIS Public Charge Announcement
Tips On Successfully Obtaining Approval Of Family Petitions 
For Children “Born Out Of Wedlock”
Overview of Proving the Parent-Child Relationship 
For Children “Born Out of Wedlock”

One of the least understood areas of immigration law involves children who were born out of wedlock, meaning those born to parents who were not married at their time of birth. Many fathers simply do not know that having their name on a child’s Birth Certificate is not enough to prove that they are eligible to sponsor a child, when they were not married to the child’s mother. 
The requirements for family petitions filed by fathers to sponsor these children and similarly for adult U.S. citizen children to sponsor a father who was not married to their mother, are not the same as for those who parents were married to each other. 

Immigration rules require that the sponsoring father or U.S. citizen child prove not only the biological relationship, but further, that an actual parent-child relationship existed in that the father showed active care and concern for the child’s wellbeing and support before he or she reached age 18. Proving a father-child relationship can be very challenging, particularly for older children due to loss of documentation over time to prove child support payments made by the father and other evidence which demonstrates the requisite relationship. This is especially true for countries like Jamaica, in which 60% of all children are born outside of marriage by some estimates. Further, in such countries there are generally no formal court ordered custody arrangements or child support documents, support for children is often paid in cash, or expenses such as tuition, clothing/supplies and there are few if any records of a father’s relationship with his children.

When an immigration petition is filed by either the U.S. citizen child or father and the father was not married to the child’s mother, the USCIS requires extensive documentation to prove that a parental “relationship” was established between the father and the child while the child was under 18 years of age. The law requires that the father prove he has demonstrated an active concern for the child’s support, instruction, and general welfare; that the father and child actually lived together or the father held the child out as his own; that the father provided for some or all of the child’s needs, or that in general the father’s behavior evidenced a genuine concern for the child. 

Without documentary evidence, the USCIS will generally deny family petitions filed for children or a father, even when the USCIS has no doubt about the biological relationship. The main issue is always, did this biological father show “care and concern” for his child while the child was a minor under age 18. This can be shown by documentation including:

-Cancelled checks or receipts of money given by the father to the child, Western Union/MoneyGram receipts, etc.
-Father’s income tax returns showing the child as a dependent.
-Father’s medical Insurance records listing the child’s medical coverage.
-Father’s insurance policy showing the child as a beneficiary.
-Child’s School records showing petitioner as the child’s father.
-Child’s medical/Vaccination records listing the father’s name.
-Pictures of the father and child together
-Child’s Baptism & Church records showing the father’s relationship with the child;
-If the father and child lived together, documents from each showing their address was the same
-Other similar and relevant documents, including: Letters, telephone bills, airline tickets, email printouts and other communications between the father and child.
-Notarized affidavit from the child’s father and mother regarding the father providing support, caring for the needs of the child and providing for the child’s general welfare, as well as other notarized Affidavits of relatives, friends, neighbors, school officials, or other associates stating facts showing that they personally know that there is a bona fide father and child relationship.

It’s important to note, however, that Affidavits alone are generally not enough proof of the relationship without other documents such as proof of child support payments, etc. I like to sit down with client and go over a detailed history of their father-child relationship to assist in determining which type of documents my client may be able to obtain which will best suit their case. In many cases where a father is in the U.S. seeking to sponsor a child abroad and support has been paid through Western Union or other money transfers, I advise clients to order a transaction history (if available) in order to show support payments to the child or his or her mother. That, coupled with several other types of documents, photos and well-written Affidavits will often suffice to win a case. The most critical aspect of every immigration issue is fully understanding what the exact requirements before filing the case! That saves a lot of money, time and heartache. 

We can assist you in proving the parent-child relationship. Get free information by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.
Question: My husband and I dated for a few years and I ended up overstaying my visa in 2018 just to be with him. We finally got married last year and filed for my papers. We got our immigration appointment in September but it did not go well. The officer seemed mad from the start and did not even smile or act pleasant even once. She asked us for a lot of papers that we didn’t have like a lease because we live with my mom and utilities we don’t have because they are in my mom’s name. we don’t have a car so no insurance and I have my drivers license with my mom’s address on it but my husband never changed his once we moved in together. We had an affidavit from my mother in law (my husbands mom) and from my sister who is a citizen and our original marriage certificate and a few statements from our savings account but we don’t have much in there. The officer said they had to do further investigations and gave us a paper that said they couldn’t make a decision and have 120 days. Its getting close to that time and we haven’t hear nothing. We called immigration a few times but they said we have to wait, but we are not sure what to do now. Can we somehow speed up the process? Can you help us?
Answer: So sorry to hear about your unpleasant experience. It is unfortunate, but sometimes you get an immigration officer with a bad attitude. Although I will tell you that most are very pleasant and act very professionally. In your case, from what you described, you and your husband were not well prepared for your interview. Couples who go through the marriage immigration process need to establish lots of marital evidence as early as possible to provide to the officer at the interview. The main issue in marriage-based immigration cases is the critical necessity for a couple to clearly establish that the marriage is real - by providing extensive documentation from the time of the marriage until the interview, not just for the past month (for example Joint: lease, bank statements, driver’s license or state ID at the same address, auto insurance, utilities, both names on the lease, tax return “married filing jointly”, lots and lots of photos, etc. the list goes on and on. Affidavits attesting to a genuine marriage are usually not given much weight by an officer and are generally used as a last resort when a couple does not have enough other “real” documentary evidence to show. USCIS officers have a lot of discretion to decide whether a marriage is real or not, based upon the totality of all the evidence presented by the couple, as well as the way a couple presents themselves and especially the way they interact together at the immigration interview. 

There are many factors which immigration officers consider when making a determination about whether or not a marriage is real. Officers like to see lots of photographs of the couple with other people and family members at celebrations or events (not selfies), a joint lease or a home deed to show that one of the spouses owns the property and utilities from each spouse at the same marital address. Officers have a mental check off list of certain factors which tend to show a marriage is more real than not and the lack of these items tends to show that the marriage may be fake. High on the list of fake marriage “red flags” is a couple who does not have a joint lease and who instead live with relatives and do not have any utilities in their names. Similarly, spouse’s who’s driver’s licenses do not match the marital address cause heightened suspicion that a marriage is not real. Joint bank accounts are also important, but can also be a cause for concern. For instance, officers are looking for the couple to have joint bank accounts for a long period and to show that it is the only account both spouses use, deposit funds into and pay bills out of. Couples who open a joint account and put a $100 in which stays in every month looks more suspicious than anything else, leading to the belief that each spouse has their own separate account which they use, not the joint one. Especially since officers know that fake marriage partners do not trust each other enough to actually share a bank account.

With all of that said, it is becoming more and more common in recent months for officers to issue notices to couples at the end of the interview which says that a decision cannot be made at this time and the officer has 120 days to make a decision. This just gives the officer time to adjudicate that case, perhaps have a supervisor review it and in many cases, issue an approval with a month or so. 

If the officer requires more marital evidence, you should be receiving a Request For Evidence (RFE) in the mail shortly, which gives you the opportunity to submit additional marital documents to prove that the marriage is real. The officer may also schedule you for a second interview where you will likely be separated. For now, you should very seriously take steps to establish joint marital evidence. Move to your own apartment asap, open a joint checking account and you both deposit your work checks there and pay for joint household expenses using only that account. Your husband must get his license changed to your new marital address, also, get utilities in both names, maybe electricity in your name and cable/internet in his and don’t do anything paperless, make sure all your bills come in the mail showing your names and addresses. I can help you respond to an RFE if you get one and represent you in your case by helping you prepare for the interview and accompanying you as well. Just remember that documents are everything in these cases, so the more you have, the easier it is to get your residency approval. 
Question: my mom got her residency in 2017 through my brother who is a citizen. I am married and she wants to file for me and my husband. I heard there was something like expedited citizenship, is my mom eligible for that?
Answer: Expedited citizenship is commonly for residents who are serving in the U.S. military, which allows them to naturalize after one year of service or for some spouses and children of military members who are stationed overseas. There is also something known as early naturalization for spouses of U.S. citizens who have been married to U.S. citizens for at least three years, which allows them to apply for naturalization after two years and nine months of residency. All other residents must wait four years and nine months from the date they obtained residency before applying for naturalization. In your mom’s case, she must wait until she has been a resident for four years and nine months and can file for naturalization in 2022.
2) Using Outdated Forms: Most applications are rejected by the USCIS simply because the forms are expired! So always, be sure you have the most current edition of the form and never pay for forms, they are free. To download the current edition of each form, go to and click on the Forms link, then choose your form, you cannot go wrong.

3) Wrong Filing Fees: Another common reason many applications are rejected is due to failure to submit the correct amount of filing fees, either too little or too much. Note that the USCIS does not issue refund checks for overpayments, they just send your entire application back! For instance, the I-485 Residency application fee is $1,225, so if you enclose a check for $1,230, the USCIS will reject your whole case. Always make sure the USCIS filing fee is correct by going online to and clicking on the Forms link to see the current filing fee for each form. On a special note, now that the USCIS accepts credit/debit/gift cards, there are also many rejections based upon shortage of funds. For instance, some debit cards have a daily limit on charges and some credit cards are rejected when the filing fee exceeds the credit limit. Similarly, gift card balances may not be enough for the fees charged. So be sure to check the available gift card balance just immediately before filing your application. Remember if you pay by credit card, you have to download and complete form G-1450 and place on the top of your application and you must complete a separate one for each form fee. For instance, the I-485 and I-130 are often filed together. If you pay by check, you can write one check for $1,760, but if you pay by credit/debit/gift card, you have to complete a separate 1450 for each application, ie. $1,225 for the I-485 and $535 for the I-130. Finally, these days you can use a personal check to pay the filing fees, just note that it can take several weeks or more for the USCIS to cash your check, so make sure the funds are there, otherwise there is a $30 “insufficient funds” fee. If you use a Money Order, have it issued by your bank, rather than a convenience store or postal service, in case you need to get a copy of the cancelled check (to see your case number on the back-in case you don’t receive a USCIS receipt).

4) Failing To Provide The Required Supporting Documents: All immigration applications require the applicant to provide documents which prove eligibility for the benefits sought. For instance, in family cases, like a mother filing for an adult child, you should submit a copy of the mother’s U.S. Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate, U.S. Passport or Green Card and a copy of the child’s Birth Certificate. If the documents are in a foreign language, translations must be provided as well. Marriage cases can often be very complicated, necessitating extensive documentation so make sure and include all required documents so your case is not delayed. Read the Form Instructions and enclose copies of the required supporting documents listed. Never send originals!

5) Failing To Provide Translations and a Certificate of Translation with Foreign Language Documents: One of the most common reasons for the USCIS to issue a Request For Evidence, is failure to provide translations for foreign language documents. All documents in a foreign language must be accompanied by an English translation and “Certificate of Translation” signed by the translator, attesting to the fact that they are fluent in the foreign language and English. Example: I [name of translator], certify that I am fluent in the English and [type in name of foreign language, for instance, Spanish] languages, and that the above is an accurate translation of the attached document. Have the translator sign, date and type in his or her address. Note that an Applicant, family member or anyone else can be the translator, you do not need a certified translator or any other special certification.

6) Failing To Make Copies of your entire application: Very commonly, issues can arise in an immigration case. Either you receive a request from the USCIS for additional evidence, which you believe you already provided, or may need assistance in resolving problem issues in your case. In either instance, you always need to have a copy of exactly what you have provided to the USCIS, as well as copies of any letters/requests you have received. Without that, it is very difficult to get complex issues resolved. So make and keep copies of every page of your signed application, all supporting documents and check/money order for your records!

7) Sending your application to the wrong address: Another common reason for case rejection is that your case was sent to the wrong USCIS address. The agency changes the address for applications continuously, therefore immediately before sending your package out, you must go online and double-check the address. Also, its best to send all applications to the USCIS using USPS Priority Mail, Express Mail or Fed-ex/UPS with tracking. Be sure to get delivery confirmation a few days after you send your application, to confirm it was received and save the confirmation for your records. NEVER use Certified Mail, it is too slow.

8) Failing To Keep Updated On Your Case: These days, the USCIS makes it really convenient to keep in touch with the status of your application and receive updates. So always file Form G-1145 with your application, to receive a text message or email e-notification confirming that the application was received and accepted for processing by the USCIS along with the case receipt number(s) and sign-up for E-Mail Case Updates once you receive your USCIS Receipt (called I-797 Notice of Action) – usually in about 10 days, go online to and click on “Check your case status” then sign-up for email updates on your case using your case number.

9) Failing To Properly Respond To A USCIS Request: Failing to provide the USCIS with the exact information or documentation requested in a “Request for Evidence” (RFE) issued by the officer processing your case is one of the most common reasons applications are denied. For example, let’s say a U.S. Citizen mother files an I-130 application to sponsor her single adult daughter in Colombia. The immigrant visa waiting line is about 7 years, and the typical USCIS processing time for such an application is about 4 years or so. Once the application is filed and the USCIS receipt is issued, nothing generally happens until the case is sent to an officer for processing in about 4 years time. Once the officer reviews the case, he finds that the mother only attached a copy of the child’s baptism certificate and failed to provide a copy of her daughter’s birth certificate as required. The officer issues an RFE requesting that the child’s birth certificate be provided showing her mother’s name and if the document is not in English, an English translation must be provided and gives the mother 87 days to respond. Once the mother receives the RFE she sends the officer a copy of the child’s original birth certificate in Spanish, but fails to send an English translation. In that case, the officer denies the case, since he is not required to provide the mother with a second opportunity to provide a document, which he had already requested. Click here for more advice on Responding To RFE requests.

10) Failing To Understand USCIS Processing Times For Your Case-Type: Different kinds of immigration applications have different processing times. For instance, Form I-765 application for work authorization generally takes about 6-8 months for residency applicants, but only a few months for DACA applicants. Form N-400 for Naturalization can take 6 months in some places and 12 months in others. It very important to educate yourself about the processing times BEFORE filing an application so you can plan accordingly. And always expect longer processing times than posted now that we are in the era of Trump. To check processing times, go to and click on “Check your case status” then scroll down and click on “USCIS Processing Times Information” and click on the Service Center or office where your case is processing to see the current processing times for your application type.

 I can take care of handling the entire process for you and your family, to give you peace of mind that your case is professionally prepared and filed according to USCIS regulations so as not to delay processing! Just give us a call for a FREE consultation at: (954) 382-5378.