Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: February 10,  2020
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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              eNewsletter
Immigration How To:
How Do I  Make An Inquiry On My Immigration Case?
USCIS Releases New Public Charge Forms Required For Applications Filed On Or After February 24, 2020
Inadmissibility on Public Charge Grounds final rule
Form I-944 Declaration of Self-Sufficiency 
Form I-945 Public Charge Bond 
Tips On Preparing For New Public Charge Requirements Once They Take Effect - Here’s How!
USCIS Public Charge Forms
USCIS Fact Sheet
Supreme Court Allows Trump To Enact His Public Charge Rule - Time To File Your Application Now!
With the new public charge rule approaching, a dozen immigration forms have changed

​Applications received by the USCIS on or after that date which are not on the new forms will be rejected. The new rule requires immigrants and certain non-immigrants to now provide extensive information and documentation about income, assets, credit, education, English language skills and health status and other items, which may affect eligibility for residency and some non-immigrant visas. To avoid applying under once the public charge rule goes into effect, Immigrants and visa applicants should file applications as soon as possible before the deadline. Plan to file applications no later than Thursday, February 20th, since the 24th falls on a Monday, and USCIS does not accept deliveries on Saturday or Sunday. Finally, send your package using overnight or next day shipping through USPS, UPS, DHL or Fed-ex and never, ever, use certified mail! 
Filing for residency is certainly a very complicated processes, requiring the completion of a large number of forms and preparation of lots of supporting documents. Advanced planning to ensure that all forms are correct and all required documents are submitted is the first step to a successful immigration case. 

However, in many cases, meeting the requirements can be tough, especially when a sponsor does not meet the minimum income requirement and a joint sponsor is required. In such cases, it often takes lots of time and effort to obtain all the documents required by the USCIS from the joint sponsor and prepare the additional Affidavit of Support. 
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
Think Twice Before Applying To Change Or Extend Status In The U.S.

Under the Trump Administration policy to issue deportation notices to certain foreign visitors whose immigration applications are denied by the USCIS, there is an ever increasing risk involved when filing any request to extend or change status inside the U.S.. In fact, under most circumstances going forward, any immigration application made in the U.S. puts an individual’s Tourist visa and future prospects of travel to the U.S. at risk! 
Question: I am a resident since 2016 through my eldest daughter who is a citizen. She got her citizenship through her American husband. In 2017 if filed immigration papers for my son who was 27 at the time and unmarried. I got a letter from immigration with the case number and all on it. My son was just up here at Christmas and brought his girlfriend and they said they plan to get married. I didn’t think of immigration at the time they were here, but now I am wondering if the papers I filed for my son will include his wife when they get married or do I have to start the immigration papers all over again?
Answer: That is a very critical question and the answer is one that many immigrants simply do not know. The law requires that the adult children of U.S. Residents (F2B immigration category) remain single during the entire immigration process. If a child marries after the I-130 petition is filed but before a U.S. Resident parent becomes a U.S. Citizen, the I-130 is automatically cancelled, even if the adult child later divorces. The reason is that immigration regulations do not have a family category for married children of U.S. Residents, only for those who are single. So in your son’s case, if he marries before you obtain your U.S. Citizenship, his case will be cancelled. Since you got your residency in 2016, you would be eligible to file for your naturalization in 2021. Right now the waiting line for single adult children of U.S. Residents is about 6 years, so if he remains single, he will likely be eligible to immigrate to the U.S. in 2022. If he waits on you to naturalize, then he marries, the immigration petition you filed for him will remain valid, but the waiting time goes up to 12+ years. Since his case was filed in 2017, adding 12 years, he would be able to immigrate to the U.S. along with his wife in 2029. The other alternative is for him to delay marriage until he immigrates to the U.S. in several years, then once he gets his residency he can get married and file for his wife, and the most she would likely have to await to immigrate would be about 2 years, a much quicker route! I hope this is helpful to you. 
Question: Me and my wife just got denied by immigration because the officer says we were not legally married. The thing is that I was married before to my exwife who is Colombian. We was separated for a few years and she was living in Colombia and wanted to get married fast, so she got us divorced in Mexico. She said it was legal. I did not have any reason to think it wasn’t. I am a citizen and last year in 2019 I got married to my current wife in florida where we live and I filed her papers. At the interview we just had, the officer asked me a lot of questions about my divorce from my ex-wife and where she lived and did she live in mexico. I was wondering why he asked that but I didn’t say anything, I just thought that was normal. In the end he gave us a letter saying they will make a decision in 120 days. I didn’t think anything of it because me and my wife are real. The problem is that we just got a notice from immigration saying that my divorce which was issued in mexico was not valid because me and my ex did not live in mexico and so my marriage with my wife is not valid. Is that legal for them to deny us for that? My ex wife did everything for the divorce and I just signed the papers, so am I still to blame. Is there some exception since she told me everything was legal?  
Answer:  Yes, it is true, under Florida law your Mexican divorce is not valid and that is a problem in marriage immigration cases. Strangely, the recognition of foreign divorces is a state not a federal matter and many states do not recognize certain foreign divorces. In immigration, the USCIS goes by your state law. In the state of Florida, Mexican divorces are not recognized when neither party resides there. In Florida, at least one party must reside in the state to obtain a legal divorce, therefore, in your case, Florida law was applied to your Mexican divorce. A good tip for those who reside in the U.S. is to simply obtain a divorce in the U.S., rather than in the foreign country, unless the other spouse resides in the foreign country and files the divorce there. In Florida, an individual (including immigrants, even those without legal status) can obtain a divorce very quickly, in as little as 90 days or so, as long as he or she has resided physically in the State for a certain period of time. This is true, even if the foreign spouse resides in another country. 

So in your case, since you live in Florida, you‘ll need to quickly get a divorce from your previous Colombian spouse here and then you can remarry your wife. Your divorce in Mexico is not valid (here), thus, your current marriage is not valid, so you likely aren’t required to divorce your current spouse, since you are not validly married. I would not file anything with the USCIS until this is corrected or you will lose all your filing fees! Also, if you married your present wife in Florida, you might have a problem in getting married here again, even though it is not valid, so you might want to consider getting married in Las Vegas! See you next week.
In anticipation of the new Public Charge rule taking effect in just two weeks, the USCIS has released new forms which will be required to be submitted for all residency and some non-immigrant visa cases filed on or after February 24, 2020, including:

Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker 
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA 
Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member 
Form I-864EZ, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act 
Form I-539, Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status, and I-539A
Policy Manual Update
Filing Tips To Avoid Delays In Submitting Your Application
 Before The Public Charge Deadline
Before filing any immigration application, individuals should clearly educate themselves about eligibility and timing. Different kinds of immigration cases have certain processing times. For instance, if you are filing a form I-130 for a relative, you first want to look up specifics on how long the USCIS takes to process the case and how long your relative will need to wait to immigrate. This gives you a clear idea of how the process is supposed to go. Once you know that, you can continue to check on the USCIS website for processing times to make sure that your case is within the normal posted times. 
However, it is well worth the effort, since omitting any required documents can lead to a Request For Evidence (RFE) being issued by the officer and in some cases, even denial. As a result, normally, all required documents should be submitted with the initial application filing. Nevertheless, in cases like that of the public charge deadline, filing an application prior to the deadline is the priority, so its best to get the application filed and provide any missing documentation later once the USCIS officer issues a request for it.

All applications must be filed with evidence of eligibility, so for instance in a marriage case, you file all the forms (I-130/I-485/I-765/I-131), include a copy of the U.S. Citizen’s U.S. Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate or Passport Bio page or Resident’s green card, marriage certificate, previous divorce decrees for both spouses, copy of the foreign spouse’s birth certificate, copy of complete passport, I-94 printout and medical exam. Any documents in a foreign language must include an English translation and certification. To prove financial eligibility, form I-864 must be filed, along with the sponsor’s 2018 tax return, w-2, letter from his or her current employer and the past three months paystubs. If the sponsor does not meet the requirements, a joint sponsor must provide a completed form I-864 along with all the same supporting documentation and proof of residency or citizenship.

For those who are short on time and need to prioritize documents required to be filed in order to submit the application to the USCIS before the deadline, here is what you should to include no matter what:

Forms (I-130/I-485/I-765/I-131) and $1,760 USCIS Filing Fee
2 Color Passport Photos of the U.S. Citizen or Resident
4 Color Passport Photos of the foreign spouse
Copy of the U.S. Citizen’s U.S. Birth Certificate, Naturalization Certificate or Passport Bio page or Resident’s green card and the couple’s marriage certificate
Copy of the foreign spouse’s birth certificate, every page of the passport and I-94 printout 
Form I-864, along with the sponsor’s 2018 tax return, w-2, letter from his or her current employer and the past three months paystubs.

Documents which should normally be submitted with the initial filing, but are not available in order to meet the deadline, can be provided later when the officer issues an RFE:

Copy of previous divorce decrees for both spouses (with English translations if applicable)
English translations for foreign language documents which were submitted with the initial filing
Joint Sponsor form I-864, along with his or her 2018 tax return, w-2, letter from his or her current employer, past three months paystubs and proof of residency or citizenship.
Required medical examination can be done just prior to the residency interview and submitted to the officer at the interview. 

For more information about which documents should be submitted when filing for residency
 to meet the deadline, give us a call at (954) 382-5378

This is just the beginning, and as expected, Trump is ramping up his war against legal immigration as part of his 2020 re-election campaign. In his newest Proclamation, he is adding six new countries to the so called “Travel Ban” list, including Nigeria. In the new Department of Homeland Security travel ban Announcement, the administration cites security concerns, imposing restrictions on four countries – Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria for immigrant visas and two countries – Sudan and Tanzania on Diversity Visas. The new ban prohibits nationals of Burma, Eritrea, Kyrgyzstan, and Nigeria from obtaining immigrant visas (for instance through sponsorship by family or employment), but does not restrict regular non-immigrant visas for tourists, business, students and workers. 
Trump Ramps Up Anti-Immigration Campaign 
By Adding More Countries To Travel Ban
Nationals of Sudan and Tanzania can still obtain both immigrant visas and non-immigrant visas for tourists, business, students and workers, but does not allow immigration through the yearly Green Card Lottery for “Diversity Visas”. The immigrant visa bans even include those with approved family petitions who are waiting in line to immigrate.

The ban on Nigeria is particularly troubling, since the nation of Nigeria sends the most immigrants to the U.S., approximately 7,900 immigrants in the last reporting period in fiscal year 2018. However, alienation of foreign countries, especially those in Africa are the least of Trump’s concerns, since travel bans are very popular with his anti-immigrant Republican supporters. Such bans are an easy win for him politically, while a tragedy for many immigrants who will be forced to be separated from their families for many years to come, or until Trump is no longer in office. Prior to the new additions, the existing version of the travel ban includes varying restrictions on nationals of Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria and Yemen, North Korea and Venezuela.

Immigrants from these countries who are already in the U.S., or whose visas have already been approved will not be affected by the new ban can file for extensions of status, changes of status, or for green cards (adjustment of status). Those who are affected are able to apply for a waiver, by demonstrating that they would suffer undue hardship if denied entry, and that their entry would not pose a threat to U.S. national security or public safety and would be in U.S. national interest. However, waivers are discretionary, difficult to obtain and applicants are likely to face an uphill battle in the process. The following exemptions and waivers apply to both the old and new travel ban.
The following are exempt from the restrictions:
Current U.S. lawful permanent residents;
Dual nationals traveling on a passport from a non-restricted country;
Foreign nationals who hold a valid U.S. visa or advance parole; and
Those who are physically in the United States or hold a valid visa or other travel document on the effective date of the new proclamation.

The new ban may be challenged in court and may be temporarily halted, depending up federal court rulings. Stay tuned…..

Department of Homeland Security Announcement
Trump New Travel Ban Proclamation

Question: I am a us citizen. My son is 18 and lives with me here and I filed for him a few months ago and he is in the green card process. He just told me that he got a girl pregnant and he wants to marry her. She is here illegal. I agree he should take full responsibility and provide for the girl and his child, but I begged him not to get married now because I was told that it would ruin his immigration case. Can you please tell me what the facts are so I can sit down with him and show him the reality before he makes a decision?
Answer:  Unfortunately, under Immigration rules, a minor child must be under age 21 and unmarried. In such cases, there is not waiting line and children can obtain residency very quickly. However, married minor children, even though under age 21, are no longer eligible to immigrate as minors. Therefore, if he marries, he will move to an immigration category for adult children for citizens called F1, and he will have a waiting line of about 5-6 years. Also, if he is not in legal immigration status in the U.S., he will be ineligible to obtain residency, even after waiting all that time. He is in a very risky situation right now, since his residency process is pending. If he marries, once he goes to his residency interview, he will not only be denied, but could be deportable. My strong advice is to have him come with you to a consultation and I will explain it to him in detail. After he gets his residency, he and his girlfriend can get married anytime.
Commonly, in the past, a foreign national visiting the U.S. on a Tourist/Business Visa, called a B1/B2, could extend his or her stay or change to a new visa like an F-1 Student visa status, by filing an application with the USCIS. Once filed, the applicant could remain in the U.S. legally, while waiting for the application to be processed, typically within several months. An example would be a case involving an international tourist wishing to extend his or her vacation for several months in the U.S. or an individual seeking to become an international student to study English or enroll in an academic program. 

However, things have gotten much more complicated in the past few years, due largely to new strict immigration policies, which make it very risky for anyone who wants to change or extend status in the U.S.. There are several reasons:

First, foreign nationals must generally wait for 60 days after the date they entered the U.S. before filing any immigration application with the USCIS, including those to extend or change status. Any application filed before 60 days can lead an Officer to presume that the applicant had a preconceived intent to stay in the U.S. and misrepresented their true intentions when they entered the U.S..

Second, the USCIS processing time has increased so drastically, to 4-9 months, that in most instances, an individual’s “period of authorized stay” in the U.S. will almost certainly expire while waiting for their application to be processed. 

Third, as part of Trumps immigration measures, it is even more difficult to obtain approvals and foreign applicants must now withstand more scrutiny about their intentions to return to their home country, and risk denial if they are not able to provide documentation which establishes that they own property and continue to maintain a residence in their home country, to which they intend to return once their visa in the U.S. expires.

Fourth, under another new policy, all applicants to change status to an F-1 student or other visa in the U.S. are first required to file applications to extend status in the U.S.. This is not only confusing, but can lead foreign nationals to believe that once they file the application to extend status, it will automatically be granted and there is no risk, when nothing could be farther from the truth. 

Finally, under the administration’s NTA policy, if an individual’s immigration status has expired by the time a denial is issued by the USCIS, the agency is now directed to issue a deportation notice to the Applicant, which is the first step to initiate his or her removal from the U.S.. 

This controversial change in policy was first announced in June 2018 and implemented on October 1, 2018. An NTA means that in these denied cases, a “Notice To Appear” for deportation is issued. Of course due to ever increasing immigration application processing times, many if not most individuals filing applications for Residency or change of status naturally have a lapse in status while their immigration applications are pending. An individual with an expired period of authorized stay is technically considered to be ”unlawfully present” in the U.S. at the time of denial. This includes those who file an application while they are still in legal status, but due to the time involved in processing the immigration case, have fallen out of legal status by the time a denial of the case is issued. The initial application of the NTA policy covered an extremely wide range of circumstances, including millions of foreign visitors who innocently file applications to change or extension of status in the U.S. every year.  

Obviously, the every increasingly USCIS processing times for immigration applications, coupled with the requirement of waiting 60 days following entry into the U.S. before filing any non-immigrant application is a lethal combination for any foreign national who values their U.S. visa, since overstaying an individual’s “period of authorized stay” in the U.S. by even one day, results in immediate cancellation of that person’s B1/B2 visa. Another risk that many visitors do not understand is that even if they apply to extend status in the U.S. and are legally approved, once they leave and later try to return to the U.S. again too early, they risk heightened scrutiny about their intentions in the U.S.. In some cases, visitor’s even risk denial of entry or even B1/B2 visa cancellation if the officer believes they are seeking to reenter the U.S. with the intention to change or extend status again. Finally, if an individual applies to extend or change status in the U.S., then leaves the U.S. after his or her “period of authorized stay” in the U.S. has expired, before the USCIS has issued a decision on their case, again, it results in immediate cancellation of that person’s B1/B2 visa. 

For example, Matthew and his wife come to the U.S. on vacation to visit family and were issued authorization to stay in the U.S. for six months. However, during their stay, they decide that since Matthew has some extra vacation days through his employer in Jamaica, the couple wants to extend their vacation and drive up to Washington DC with some friends for several more months. So the couple, who have been in the U.S. for five months, innocently files form I-539 to request to extend their stay in the U.S. for one more month. Unbeknownst to Matthew and his wife, the application they just filed will have serious negative consequences that they could never have imagined. After filing the application, they receive a receipt from the USCIS and optimistically anticipate receiving a quick response so they can plan the trip. But weeks go by and no response is received. Their authorized stay expires and a week later they call the USCIS 800# and are told that their case is within the normal processing time (for example, four months) and that another inquiry can be make only after that period of time. They ask if they can stay in the U.S. while the case is processing and are told that they can, until they receive a decision. The couple decides to take the trip to Washington DC and then to return home to Jamaica, believing that since they filed the form I-539 to extend their stay they followed the law and it was not their fault that the USCIS processing time took so long.

They return home and decide to return to the U.S the next summer and take the kids to Disney World, however, once they arrive at Orlando International airport, the officer informs them that they overstayed in the U.S. the last time they visited and so their U.S. Tourist Visas are automatically cancelled. The officer cancels the visas and tells the family they cannot enter the U.S. and must return on the next plane back to Jamaica. Once they return home, Matthew makes an appointment at the U.S. Consulate in Kingston and explains that he never intended to stay in the U.S. illegally and had filed form I-539 before the six months authorized period had expired, it wasn’t his fault that the USCIS took so long to process the request and they had to return home while it was still pending. The officer tells them it does not matter and that based upon the couple’s overstay, no new visa could be issued. 

This is not an extreme example, it’s quite typical these days, given the baffling policies of our U.S. immigration system. So clearly, filing any application to extend or change status in the U.S. is risky and should be very carefully considered before any application is made. Given this, in most cases its best to avoid ever making any request to extend time inside the U.S. and to apply for student and other non-immigrant visas abroad through the U.S. Consulate

If it is not, you can call the USCIS 800# and have them make sure the case is still pending and no USCIS request, called an RFE has been made that you never received. To check USCIS processing times, go online to the website first choose Check Case Status then type in the case number. You should receive a message which tells you the date the application is filed. Then click on Check Processing Times, and choose the form number, for instance, I-130, then choose the USCIS Service Center (listed at the bottom of on your receipt) from the dropdown list. Once you see the list of I-130 case types, look for the one which matches your case. For instance, you have a choice if U.S. Resident filing for spouse or minor child, U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister, etc. and you can see the average processing time for that type of application. For example, U.S. Resident filing for spouse or minor child 18 to 24 months (2 years), U.S. citizen filing for a brother or sister 89 to 115 months (8 to 9 years). If your case has gone over the processing time you can make an online inquiry for a case pending with the USCIS by filing an “e-Request”. It will usually take about 2-4 weeks to get a response. If the response is not received by that time, you can call the USCIS 800# and ask the representative to make another inquiry for you. 

For more information, visit the USCIS E-Request webpage