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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter ©  2011  - 2017 
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
Question: My girlfriend is here in Miami on a tourist visa visiting from Venezuela. I plan to propose to her on Valentine ’s Day and want her to stay here in the U.S. so we can get married. I am a resident and will go to my swearing in ceremony to get my American Citizenship in a few weeks. My questions are, once I get sworn in, how long do we have to wait before you can file her immigration papers so I can sponsor her? If we get married at the courthouse, can we use that certificate or do we have to have the wedding ceremony first? Also, once you file her papers, does she have to go back to Venezuela or can she stay here with me while she goes through the immigration process? Thanks.
This Week's Immigration News 
By Immigration Attorney Caroly Pedersen

Appeals Court Refuses To Re-instate Trump’s Travel Ban!
Last week the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denied Trump’s request to lift the hold on his Executive Order travel bans. For background, on January 27th, Trump issued an Executive Order called “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States” which would “ban entry into U.S. from Certain Muslim-Majority countries for at least 30 days and some up to 90 days for all immigrants and non-immigrant nationals of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen”. 

Following the Executive Order, the state department cancelled visas and put all visa processing on hold for nationals of the named countries, including initially applying the ban to U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) causing hardship, detentions, denial of entry into the U.S. and chaos at airports, Consulates and the USCIS. 
Answer: Great question. To be validly married, you must: 1) get your marriage license and either 2) have your civil marriage ceremony performed at the clerk’s office, or 3) have a religious clergy member or notary perform the ceremony. The quickest way is usually to get your marriage license and have your ceremony performed at the clerk’s office at the same time. You can always have your religious ceremony later, without delaying the filing of your wife’s immigration petition.

Once you are married and you become a U.S. Citizen (the same day) we can file your wife’s residency petition. However, first, she needs to have a medical exam performed by a doctor authorized by the USCIS, so we can include her medical report in the immigration package when filing. Since your girlfriend entered the U.S. legally, she can stay here in the U.S. legally during her entire Residency process. Once the case is filed, she will receive her work authorization card in about 90 days and then she can apply for her social security number. Once she has that, she can apply for her Driver’s License. The process in Florida generally takes about 6-8 months or so to receive her Green Card.

 Here are the contacts for several South Florida Marriage License websites:
Broward Marriage Licences
Miami-Dade Marriage Licenses
Palm Beach Marriage Licenses
Republicans Propose To Dramatically Reduce Overall U.S. Immigration!
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use
Tips On Obtaining Green Cards For Your Parents, as "Immediate Relatives" Now, Before Its Too Late!
Under current Immigration regulations, Parents are in the special immigration category called “Immediate Relatives” (which includes Spouses and Minor children of U.S. Citizens as well), which gives them preference over other family immigration relationships. 

This allows U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents for “Green Cards”, while Permanent Residents cannot. Even Parents of U.S. citizens who are inside the U.S. with expired immigration status are eligible, as long as the Parent entered the U.S. legally.
On February 7th, Republican Senators unveiled planned Immigration legislation which would dramatically change America’s entire legal immigration system. Called the “Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act” the proposal intends to cut all legal immigration by 50%, exclude parents of citizens from the current special designation as “immediate relatives” and instead force them to wait in long visa lines, eliminate the yearly diversity (Visa Lottery) program, and cut refugee visas by half. 

Most tragically, the measure would eliminate all immigrant visas for adult children of U.S. Citizens and Residents, and all siblings (brothers & sisters) of U.S. Citizens, allowing only spouses and unmarried minor children of citizens and permanent residents to obtain Green Cards. 
Immigration How To:
How Do I Know Who I Can Legally Sponsor Now For A Green Card - Before The Law Changes?
Understanding Which Family Members Can Be Sponsored Under Current Law
Now that even legal Family Immigration is under fire, it’s more important than ever for Immigrants and sponsors to educate themselves about which family members can legally be sponsored by U.S. Citizens and U.S. Residents.

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. Trump and Congressional Immigration reforms in the future are likely to limit the type and amount of family members allowed to immigrate to the U.S., but for now, the number is limitless, so don’t wait until it is too late. For instance, the most recent Republican proposal is to eliminate Parents from the “Immediate Relatives” category and force them to wait in long immigrant visa waiting lines and to totally eliminate the F1, Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children), F3 Adult Married Sons & Daughters (and their spouses and minor children) and F4 Brothers & Sisters (and their spouses and minor children) categories, as well as the F2B category for Adult Single Sons & Daughters (and their minor children) of U.S. Residents. 

Finally, 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 likely put in deportation under Trump’s Administration, 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.

Find out more about Family Immigration:

Overview of Family Immigration Waiting Lines

You can learn more about sponsoring a family member by visiting our website at:           or by calling our office at: 954-382-5378.
As a result, the states of Washington and Minnesota filed a lawsuit to stop implementation of the ban, citing its violation of U.S. law and the Constitution. A Federal Judge in Washington then issued an order to “stay” (hold) the ban from being implemented, pending a trial on the legality of the Executive Order. The Trump Administration then appealed the stay, which resulted in the current ruling by the 9th Circuit Appeals Court to uphold the stay. The Administration can appeal the decision or rewrite the Executive Order in an effort to make it more acceptable under the law¸ for instance only apply the ban to issuance of new visas to national’s of the named countries, etc.. Stay tuned…
Introduced by Republican senators Tom Cotton and David Perdue, the Act, would dramatically alter our current legal immigration laws and by Cotton’s own estimate, “cut annual immigration in half, from 1 million to 500,000 green cards per year”. An exception in the proposal would allow qualifying elderly parents to obtain temporary visas to stay with sponsoring U.S. Citizen children in the U.S., but would require proof of health insurance and not allow the parents to work or receive public benefits.

According to CNN, Sen. Cotton, said he's been in "close contact" with Trump's staff as they've worked on the details of the bill and that he's spoken with Trump about it as recently as Tuesday morning. Referring to Trump, Cotton reportedly told reporters, "He strongly supports the broad concept of moving legal immigration towards a merit-based system,". The Senate Bill is expected to be introduced in the coming weeks and as we know, things are changing at lightning speed.

So with family immigration under fire, it’s only a matter of time before some version of a Restrictionist immigration Bill is signed into law by Trump. As a result, U.S. Citizens should not delay in filing petitions for Parents, adult Children (single and married) and Siblings now! Similarly, U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) should file petitions to sponsor their adult single children as well. As in the past, immigrant petitions for all these family members filed now before the law changes, will remain valid in the future, even if family categories are later restricted or eliminated.
This radical immigration proposal is just the start of similar legislation to come under the Republican controlled Congress and Whitehouse. There are few limits on their powers, except public opinion! This is your opportunity to voice your opposition to any Congressional proposals to restrict legal immigration, before it’s too late! 

Call your local Senators now and tell them you do NOT support the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act and want to stop any efforts to restrict legal immigration. 
Read Senator Cotton's Proposal:
Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act outline

Read more about the proposed Immigration restrictions:

For Florida, you can call your Senators at: 
Democrate Sen. Nelson : 202-224-5274 
Republican Sen. Rubio: 202-224-3041 

Contact your state’s Senators:
Senate Contacts

For more Information about sponsoring your family members now, 
before the law changes, call our office at: (954)-382-5378
As "Immediate relatives", Parents do not have to wait in long visa waiting lines and are allowed to immigrate immediately, only subject to regular USCIS and if applicable, consular processing. The process is very quick, 8+ months or so from the start to Green Card! If this changes, Parents may have to wait several years or more to complete the process and may be subject to work and other restrictions. 

The only drawback of this category is that it is only for the individual parent and does not include any dependents, such as spouses or minor children. 
Therefore, if the Parent has a spouse who is not considered to be your Parent (for immigration purposes), he or she would not be able to immigrate along with the Parent. Step-parents are considered to qualify as “parents” for immigration purposes, as long as the step-parent relationship was established before the child reached the age of 18.

The same is true of any minor children of a Parent (your brother or sister). This is a harsh rule which often causes difficult choices for Parents of U.S. citizens. One option for Parents abroad who have minor children (or a spouse) is for them to obtain F-1 student visas for their minor children (or spouse) before immigrating to the U.S. In that way, both the Parent and his or her child (and/or spouse) can be in the U.S. together. Once the Parent obtains a Green Card, the Parent can then immediately sponsor his or her children and if applicable, a spouse and under current law and processing times, it takes about 1 1/2 to 2 years to immigrate as the spouse or minor child of a U.S. Resident.

Find out more about sponsoring your Parents, before the rules change:

Obtaining Residency For Parents