Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: December 10,  2018
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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2018 
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
Question: I met my wife on a cruise in 2016, I was working on the ship and we had a week romance then continued to be in contact for months after that. Finally I came up to visit her in 2017 on my visitor visa and we got married after 4 months. She is American, so we filed for my immigration papers and I got my work permit and social security card. We ended up not getting a long and fighting all the time and I did mess up and went with a girl one night and she found out and moved out and is staying with her mom. I have not seen her since earlier this year and we don’t talk. I heard she was dating someone else. We hadn’t had my immigration appointment yet and I am still waiting on it. Someone told me that I can still get my green card since she left and abandoned me so I want to know if that is true.
Answer: Generally in marriage immigration cases, when the couple is no longer together or does not attend the scheduled marriage interview together, the foreign national is not eligible to obtain U.S. Residency (a Green Card) in the U.S.. Further, under Trump’s new NTA policy, not only are immigrant spouses denied residency, but are further issued deportation notices which ultimately lead to deportation from the U.S. For this reason, immigrants should be very, very careful about entering into marriage with U.S. Citizens and filing immigration applications for residency, unless they are certain that the relationship is a strong and lasting one. Crushes and infatuations do not qualify as responsible, mature relationships and often lead to immigration disaster. For the most part, when an immigrant spouse shows up at the required immigration interview without the U.S. Citizen spouse, no matter the explanation, the case is usually denied. This happens as well when neither spouse shows up, unless the couple has requested that the interview be rescheduled. 

There are, however, exceptions to the rule when the marriage involves abuse and the foreign spouse files an application under VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), which is for both women and men alike. The strongest case for Abuse involves threats of or physical violence by the U.S. Citizen or Resident spouse which can be documented. This is typically documented by police reports of abuse and restraining orders filed against the U.S. Citizen spouse. Abuse can involve emotional cruelty and abandonment, but only when other provable factors document that it involved extreme cruelty. In essence, a claim under VAWA is often a challenge to prove, even in the best cases and is not by any means successful in cases where the foreign spouse and U.S. spouse split up due to typical marital issues. In fact now, under Trump’s NTA policy, a foreign spouse who files an I-360 VAWA applications which is denied, can be deported. In your case, given the facts you describe, you are likely not eligible for VAWA. Unfortunately, the reality is that you will likely be denied residency and issued a deportation notice within several months of your denial.

Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...

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Selective Service Late Registration And Naturalization Eligibility 
Men who live in the U.S. or who get a green card at any time between the ages of 18 and 26, are required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, to be called up in a military draft if ever needed. Those exempt include men between 18 and 26 who were only here in a nonimmigrant visa status, like tourists, students, etc. Strangely, undocumented or illegal aliens are required to register. 

The issue of Selective Service Registration generally comes up for Immigrants who apply for Naturalization and are required to list their Selective Service Registration information. And since failing to register for Selective Service can result in Naturalization denial for failure to show good moral character, it’s a very important issue for those to whom it applies.
Naturalization – The Ultimate Gift To Yourself Or Loved One!
Stay Informed - Sign-up For USCIS E-Notification & Email Updates 
On Your Immigration Case 
The USCIS offers several ways for Applicants to get updates on newly filed and pending Immigration cases. Immigrants and Sponsors filing Immigration applications with the USCIS can sign-up to receive text messages and email E-notifications confirming application receipt by the USCIS, along with the case receipt number(s).

 The receipt number allows individuals to track the status of their case online.  
These days new Trump immigration Executive Actions and proclamations are implemented almost weekly, leaving many immigrants feeling vulnerable and uncertain about their futures. 

Even those with Green Cards don’t feel safe. For Residents who qualify, the ultimate safeguard is Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen with all its benefits and protections. 

For many, the only reason for delay is the high cost of the USCIS filing fee of $725. But the benefits far outweigh the sacrifice of cutting back on other expenses to save the necessary fees. Give it as a gift to yourself or to others!
Quick Overview of Who Can Be Sponsored 
And How Long It Will Take 
Understanding Which Family Members Can Be Sponsored Under Current Law

Now more than ever, it’s important for Immigrants and sponsors to educate themselves about which family members can legally be sponsored by U.S. Citizens and U.S. Residents and to understand how long the process will take.
Trump Administration Plans Overhaul of H-1B Professional 
Work Visa Program Selection Process
The Trump Administration has released a proposed a rule that will dramatically change the current H-1B visa program for professional workers with a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree. The new rule will require U.S. employers who sponsor professional foreign workers to pre-register and will give preference to foreign workers with advanced-degree exemption (i.e. the master’s or above) in the H1B selection process, often called the H-1B “lottery”.  

For background, the USCIS begins accepting new H-1B work visa applications on April 1st every year. Since there are only 65,000 work visas available for those with Bachelor’s degrees (called “cap”) and an additional 20,000 for those with Master’s or above (called Master’s “cap” from U.S. institutions), the high demand for such visas, mainly from the Tech world like Google, Microsoft, etc, results in all the visas being taken within the first few days. 
Here’s a few of the main benefits of becoming a U.S. Citizen:

No risk of Deportation from the U.S.. Even though Residents have legal status in the U.S., they can still be deported in certain circumstances. Even one serious criminal incident by a Resident who has never done anything wrong in the past, however unintentional, can result in removal from the U.S.. U.S. citizens who are convicted of any crime, no matter how serious, cannot be deported. Remember, no one ever thinks they will be convicted of a crime, until they are.

Benefits of a U.S. Passport. Residents may still need to obtain a visa to visit many countries around the world. However, U.S. citizens can travel to a majority of foreign countries without the need for a visa and receive easier entry through foreign borders as well. Another benefit for parents with minor children under age 18 is the ability of your children to automatically naturalize and become U.S. Citizens at the same time and you.

Ability to vote, obtain federal jobs, government benefits and even run for Public Office. Only U.S. Citizens are allowed to vote and even Naturalized U.S. citizens can run for most elected public offices (except the presidency). Similarly, certain federal jobs require U.S. Citizenship and certain benefits are only available to U.S. Citizens.

Ability to sponsor more Family Members. Becoming a U.S. Citizen allows you to sponsor your parents, married children and siblings. Similarly, immigration waiting lines are eliminated for spouses and minor children.

Ability to take long trips outside the U.S. Residents must be very careful about the amount of time they spend abroad and are often fearful of staying outside the U.S. for too long a time. Those who remain outside the U.S. for 180 to 364 days can be challenged by immigration officials about whether or not they reside in the U.S.. Those who remain outside for 365 days or more risk losing their Green Card. U.S. Citizens, however, can remain outside the U.S. indefinitely and still retain all the benefits of citizenship. 

With all these benefits it simply does not make sense to delay filing for Naturalization. Family members looking for a great Christmas Gift should consider paying the $725 USCIS filing fee for a loved one to apply for Naturalization! That’s a gift that keeps giving and lasts for a lifetime, how many other gifts can you say that about?

Under current Immigration Regulations, 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. 

Note that 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.

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 be immigrating at different times, depending upon the Family Immigration category. 

Finally, it’s really important to understand that in most cases, family members in the F-1 – F4 categories above must be in legal Immigration status (unexpired I-94) in order 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 under new rules, put in deportation under the Trump Administration’s NTA policy, so get professional advice before filing any residency case! Waivers are available which allow family members who are out of status to obtain residency through consular processing, but not through adjustment of status in the U.S. 
H-1B work visas allow qualifying foreign nationals to work for a U.S. employer for up to six years and even longer when an employer sponsors the H-1B worker for a Green Card. To qualify, the H-1B visa requires the foreign national to possess a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent and be offered a professional position in a U.S. company. After obtaining an H-1B visa, foreign workers (and their families) often obtain a Green Card through their H-1B employer in a process called Labor Certification. 

Under the Electronic pre-registration requirement, H-1B lottery petitions subject to the 65,000will need to be electronically pre-registered from April 1 to7th. Following that, in accordance with the proposed H-1B Masters Cap Allocation Preference provision, the USCIS will run the random lottery for Master’s Degree petitions first, then for selection of the regular H-1B Bachelor’s Degree petitions. The aim is to increase the number of petitions approved for foreign workers with masters or higher degrees. The USCIS estimates that the new procedure will increase the number of H-1B beneficiaries with a master’s degree or higher from a U.S. institution of higher education by some 16 percent (or 5,340 workers). The proposed rules gives 60 days for comments before the measure is finalized and will likely take effect in early 2019, just prior to the start of the H-1B visa season beginning in April 2019.

Read the USCIS announcement 
Read the Proposed Rule

Question: I got to fort Lauderdale airport last week with my tourism visa and the guy at immigration was asking me a lot of questions about did I work here the last time I came in and was I coming in to live here and things like that. He said that because I had been here to visit a few times this year and stayed too long that he wasn’t going to let me stay for 6 months this time. He only gave me a month! He also said that I should be careful and not come back for a while or they would not let me in next time. He got my password and looked through my phone and saw that I had friends here in florida and said that he would know if I didn’t leave. He called my cousin who I said I was staying with and asked him if I was really staying with him like I said and would I leave when I said I would. It was really scary. The truth is that I have been coming in a lot to see my boyfriend and I don’t think that is illegal. But after that we are really scared about me leaving because now we don’t think I will be able to come back for a while. We are serious with each other and planned to get married next year when we could plan a wedding. But because of this now we think we will do over the holidays and not wait to get married at the church. We want to know if you can file my immigration papers now, even though the officer said I could not stay here under any circumstances. Once I’m married, do I have to leave the states by the date he wrote in my passport for early next month? Also, will my cousin get into trouble since the officer made him promise that I would leave by 30 days?
Answer: It’s becoming more and more common for the Dept of Homeland Security (DHS) to use personal data, including those on cell phones, computers and social media, when a CBP officer suspects a traveler may be coming to the U.S. too often and may be working or intending to immigrate or engaging in other activities which violate immigration regulations. But this just goes to show how much of our lives are public now and how increasingly this will be used by the DHS for border and immigration purposes. Since the CBP officer did allow you to enter the U.S., regardless of his admonition, once you get married and your Residency petition is filed, you will be allowed to legally remain in the U.S. while your adjust of status is processing. You will not be required to leave the U.S. by the date the officer wrote in your passport and your cousin will not be held responsible for you staying in the U.S.

 However, it should be noted that under current law, only spouses, minor children and parents of U.S. Citizens are allowed to remain in the U.S. past their authorized stay, as long as they are filing to adjust their status to Residency. Other family members like adult children and sibling of U.S. Citizens and spouses and children of Residents are not allowed to stay in the U.S. past their authorized stay and in most cases, lose their eligibility to get a Green Card once they overstay. 

Once your case is filed, it will take between 4-6 months to receive your Work/Travel permit and another 1 ½ to 2 years for your residency interview. Once we meet, I’ll go over all the documents you and your new husband will need and go from there.
Question: My husband and I have been together for 12 years. He was sponsored by his company for his green card and we both got it last year, it’s good for 10 years. The thing is that we have had problems for a while and recently I moved out and have decided to divorce him. He says that if I divorce him, he will report it to immigration and I will get deported. My friend said that is crazy, but I want to ask you about it first. How long do I have to stay married to him to keep my green card? Is there any way he can get immigration to take it from me?
Answer: I am sorry to hear about your marital difficulties. Fortunately, that is not the case. Since you and your husband were a bona fide (real) married couple at the time you immigrated, you will not risk losing your Green Card if you divorce. There is no requirement for a couple to remain together for non marriage cases. However, the case is much different when residency is based upon marriage to a U.S. Citizen and can be much more complicated. In your circumstances you will be able to keep your residency (Green Card) whether you remain married or get divorced.
For some, it’s not too late to register: Men preparing to apply for Naturalization (U.S. Citizenship) who failed to register for the Selective Service in the past, but who are not yet age 26, can still register online. However, those who have passed age 26, are not eligible to register and must face the potentially negative immigration consequences of passing the required registration date. For those who failed to register, the easiest thing to do may be to wait until you are age 31 to apply for Naturalization so you have five years of good moral character or 29 years of age to show three years of good moral character (if you have been married to and living with a U.S. citizen).

If you don’t want to wait, you will need to prove to the officer that you did not know you were supposed to register and that you didn’t “willfully” fail to register. To do this, you can submit the following along with your naturalization application:

1) Status Information Letter from the Selective Service System (obtained from the Selective Service System website or by calling 847-688-6888.)  
2) your sworn declaration, and sworn declarations from people who knew you, attesting to the reasons why you failed to learn about and did not know about the requirement to register or believed you were automatically registered.

E-notifications are issued within 24 hours after the USCIS receives the application.

To request e-notification, download and complete form G-1145 and mail along with all Immigration applications. Once you receive your case number, go to the USCIS website and sign up for Email Status updates on your case through the USCIS My Case Status program. Once you register and enter your case number(s), the USICS will automatically email you notifications and updates on any actions take on your case so that you are better informed about your case status. 

For instance, once your Immigration application is filed, the USCIS may issue you a letter requesting more evidence in order to continue processing the case. If you are registered to receive case status updates, you will receive an email notification that the USCIS has issued the request, which helps you to be aware that you should be receiving the request by mail soon. If you have not received the request, you can then make further inquiries. Similarly, once you respond to the USCIS request, you will receive an updated email notification that they have received your documentation. It’s a great way to stay informed and keep up to date on the status of your case as it is being processed.