Immigration Questions: (954) 382-5378

  POSTING DATE: February 17,  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 Answer This Letter I Received From Immigration?
Checklist For Filing Your Immigration Case Before the Deadline!
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use...
What Are The Real Consequences For Overstaying A U.S. Visa?

With illegal immigration and the border wall in the news almost daily, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the majority of immigrants inside the U.S. actually came here legally on a visa and simply overstayed. But of course you never hear about that because Trump doesn’t care about facts when it comes to immigration, in fact Department of Homeland Security (DHS) statistics show that of the approximate 54 million foreign visitors who legally entered the U.S. in 2018, more than 666,000, overstayed their visas by the end of that year. 
Question: I have a question about sponsoring my daughter who is back in Jamaica. My husband is a citizen, I came up got married in 2016 and got my 2 yr residency in 2017. We applied for my 10 yr card and are still waiting, so I cant apply for my citizenship yet. The problem is that my daughter will be 21 in june. I heard something like that she can still qualify until she is 21 but my sister says no, it only until 18, so I am very confused. I would like to know if its 18 or 21 and if its 21, can my husband file the papers for my daughter before june and she is still safe to get her green card?
Answer: That’s a very common question. Under the law, a child remains a minor until age 21. However, the rules governing step-parent/step-child relationships require that the marriage between the child’s biological parent and stepparent took place before the child turns age 18, in order for the stepchild/stepparent relationship to be established 
In your case, since you and your U.S. Citizen husband were married in 2016 before your daughter reached age 18, your husband can legally sponsor her until age 21. Once the USCIS receives the case, her age will then be “fixed” at 20, so that no matter how long it takes for her to go through the immigration process (about 12-14 months), she will remain a minor under age 21 for immigration purposes. However don’t delay, make sure the case is filed in plenty of time before she turns age 21. I hope this is helpful to you.
With the “Public Charge” rule deadline looming this week, more than ever, you need to be extra careful about filing any immigration application with the USCIS to make sure that it arrives on time and is accepted. 

Before filing your Immigration application, use the following tips to ensure proper filing.

1) Eligibility: Before filing any application with the USCIS make sure that you meet all the eligibility requirements. This is vital now that an application denial can lead to deportation.
Tips on Responding To A USCIS Request for Evidence (RFE) 

A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a letter that the USCIS officer sends you to request additional information or documentation on your application. RFE requests are generally most frequently issued for missing information or documentation to establish your eligibility.
I never get tired of reminding readers how important it is to be informed about your immigration case, including qualifying, understanding the typical process, timing and staying updated on your case status. So assuming you have done all that, what happens when your case remains pending past the posted processing times? Or, the online status says the USCIS sent you a notice, but you never received it after 30 days? 
How To Make An E-Request On Your Pending Immigration Case
2) Use the correct Form: Be sure you have the most current edition of the form. 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. 

3) Supporting Documents: If possible, 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. However, due to time restraints in getting applications filed before the “Public Charge” rule go into effect next week, certain documents may not be available before the case is sent. In such cases, send the majority of the documents now, then wait for the USCIS officer to send a request for any additional documents missing. Never mail documents in separately once the case has been filed without a USCIS request, since they will be sent back to you.

4) 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. If it’s not possible to get foreign language documents translated in time, wait for the USCIS officer to send a request for it and send it in at that time.

5) Copies: Keep copies of every page of your signed application, all supporting documents and check/money order for your records.

6) Filing Fees: Make sure the USCIS filing fee is correct. Go online to the USCIS website and click on the Forms link to see the current filing fee for each form, then use the USCIS Fees Calculator to determine the exact filing fee. Pay particular attention to applications, which require biometrics fees in addition to the regular filing fees. You can pay your fees by regular personal check, Cashier’s Check, Money Orders, Credit Cards, Debit Cards and even Gift Cards. If using a card, you will need to download and complete form G-1450. However, be very careful about making sure that you have enough funds in the card for the filing fees and fill out a separate G-1450 form for the filing fee for each separate form. For instance, if your residency application is based upon marriage, you will need to fill out a form G-1450 for the form I-485 for $1,225 and a separate one for form I-130 $535. You can get link to USCIS Fees Calculator by visiting our website at: and clicking on the Immigration Newsletter link.

7) Sending your application: Use Fed-ex or USCIS Priority Mail or Express Mail 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. 

8) Sign-up for E-Notification: Always file Form G-1145 with your application (put it on top of your forms), 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). 

9) 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.

10) Check USCIS Processing Times: Go to 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.  

USCIS Fees Calculator  
USCIS Overview of Paying Filing Fees
USCIS Tools WebPage

Well, a helpful tool which can sometimes provide you with updated information or a duplicate notice is to file an USCIS E-Request. USCIS allows the E-Request to be filed for the following reasons:

• Your case over the normal processing times posted on the USCIS website
• You did not receive a notice, card or document by mail
• You changed your address online as required, but the USCIS is still using your old address 
• A notice or card you received has a typographical error

If your issue falls within one of these categories, you can go online to the USCIS E-Request webpage and place what is referred to as a “Service Request”, by fully completing the online form. Have your receipt handy so you can input the correct information. Once the request is submitted, you will receive a number and estimated completion date to hear from the USCIS regarding your request. This is usually within 15-30 days. Note that E-Requests complete online will not be allowed to be submitted for a case which you believe it pending too long if your case is not over the normal processing times posted on the USCIS website.

After your Service Request has been submitted, you can expect one of the following responses:

1. You will receive the pending notice, approval, document or notice of correction prior to the USCIS estimated completion date;
2. You will receive a response from USCIS stating the case is within normal processing times and they will process the case as their resources allow; or,
3. You will not receive a response at all. In these cases, wait at least 30 calendar days from the date you filed the previous Service Request, then either place an new one, explaining that the previous one has not been answered, or call the USCIS 800#.

If all else fails and you have filed the E-Request, gotten no response after 30 days, called the 800# and still gotten no response within another 30 days, you should probably go the next step and contact a qualified immigration attorney to sort out your immigration issue and get your case moving again. 

Make an E-Request
Tips On Downloading Your Arrival Record, 
Replacing Your I-94 Card & Obtaining Your Travel History

An I-94 is a small slip of paper which until 2013 was issued to all international visitors and visa holders entering the U.S.. Officially called the Arrival/Departure card, the I-94 contained the date of entry into the U.S. as well as the date by which the individual must depart from the U.S.. Often, individuals do not understand how important this little card is until it is too late.
Understanding The Importance Of Your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record
In order to change immigration status inside the U.S. to any other immigrant or non-immigrant visa status, immigration regulations require that a copy of the I-94 be included with the application to establish eligibility.
Foreign nationals must prove that they entered the U.S. legally and were inspected by an immigration officer in order to qualify to file for immigration status in the U.S.. Those who did not enter the U.S. legally are generally not entitled to obtain any new immigration status in the U.S., even when married to a U.S. citizen unless a Waiver is obtained.

If you entered the U.S. before 2013, you can’t download your Arrival/Departure record online and must instead obtain your I-94 card is lost, stolen or seriously damaged, you can apply to replace it by filing Form I-102, Application for Replacement/Initial Arrival-Departure Document. The USCIS filing fee is $445 and it generally takes about 60 -120 days or more to receive the I-94 replacement card in the mail.

Under a new electronic I-94 system implemented in 2013, international visitors are no longer issued paper I-94 cards upon entry into the U.S.. Instead, individuals are provided with instructions on accessing their I-94 records online and printing the I-94 card out from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency. You can visit the CBP site to print out your paper I-94 cards:

Get Your I-94 Printout -U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP)

Question: me and my husband had my green card interview this past october. We got through it and most of the papers were in order. The officer just said I needed to give him court documents for a driving with an expired license incident I had back in 2012. He said he would send a letter requesting the papers. We did get it a few weeks after that. Once we got it, me and my husband found the papers I had saved from that time and sent them in to the officer way before the deadline. But we are really confused now because we just got a letter that says my case is denied because I didn’t give them what they requested. That is not true, we did give the police report and paper showing I paid the fine. I went to the immigration office and asked to speak to the officer but they said no, if I didn’t send the papers there is nothing they can do. But those papers was all I had, they didn’t give me anything more about it. is it true that they can deny me that way even when I sent the papers in? I see we can’t appeal it but is there something else we can do?
Answer: Unfortunately, when the USCIS issues a request for documentation and you don’t provide the exact documents they are requesting, the case will be denied. However, the problem in many cases is that USCIS Requests For Evidence can often be very vague and difficult to determine exactly what the officer wants. But generally in criminal cases, even those involving driving with an expired license, you must provide the USCIS with a CERTIFIED COPY of both the Police Report or traffic Ticket AND the Court Disposition. If you only provide one, but not the other, the case will be denied. I know it seems unfair, but this is just how the system works. It is true that Adjustment of Status cases cannot be appealed, but we can still make a request for the officer to reopen the case or reconsider it (I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion), and provide the required documentation at that time. Let us know if you want us to handle your case.
Question: I make good money, over $120k working installing security systems on a regular paycheck and I am current on filing my tax returns. We even just filed the 2019 return. But I do owe back taxes from some commissions I got from a business deal a few years and didn’t pay taxes on it. My wife and I have been waiting to file her residency papers until we did our 2019 taxes, but now someone said since I owe irs taxes I don’t qualify to sponsor her, is that true?
Answer: Fortunately, no, immigration regulations do not require a sponsor to be fully up to date in the payment of taxes owed, just in filing required IRS tax returns. For instance, if you filed your 2019 tax return and owe $2,500 you are still eligible to sponsor your wife, however, if you failed to file your past IRS tax returns, for instance 2018 or before, you would not be eligible. The rules are completely different for Naturalization, which requires that a resident demonstrate that they have “good moral character” for the immediate five years preceding the application (three years for spouses of U.S. Citizens who file for Early Naturalization). As part of showing good moral character, a resident who owes delinquent taxes must prove that they have entered into a formal payment plan with the IRS for a specific payment amount each month and provide proof that they have been making all required payments in a timely manner. 
This is similar to years past and likely to current numbers, which will be reported by the DHS next year. The top fifteen countries with the most overstays includes: Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Dominican Republic, France, Germany, India, Jamaica, Mexico, Nigeria, Philippines, Spain, U.K., Venezuela. In order to curb the number of visa overstays, the DHS has stepped up its efforts in the past several years by more extensive screening at airports and ports of entry, which includes searching electronic devices and social media to confirm the purpose of an individual’s visit to the U.S., calling family members and others listed as contacts by the visitor and even sending follow up email reminders that the period of stay will soon expire. These days, it’s not unusual for visitors to receive much less than six months authorized periods of stay, with some as little as several weeks.

Do what happens when an individual overstays a visa? Well, there are different consequences for those who overstay and remain in the U.S., than for those that overstay and then later leave the U.S.. Of course the best option is always to avoid overstaying a visa at all costs. For visitors, this usually means making sure to double-check the I-94 printout on the Customs and Border Patrol website to be certain to leave the U.S. before the stay expires and to avoid filing any immigration application to extend or change status in the U.S.. Such applications usually take up to six months to process, going past the applicant’s “authorized period of stay” and when denied, leave the individual with no options. Under the new NTA policy, when an application to extend or change status is denied, the USCIS now initiates deportation proceedings against the applicant. Those legally in the U.S. on work and investment type visas should file for renewal six months in advance and use premium processing when available, so that they remain in legal status during the renewal process. This keeps options open in case a renewal is denied, allowing the individual to perhaps file another type applications to stay in legal status.  

Individuals who overstay a visa by even one day, automatically lose visa status (called “Visa Voidance”) and once they leave the U.S., cannot re-enter without reapplying for a new visa at the U.S. Consulate abroad. And of course obtaining a new U.S. visa after an overstay is a very difficult, if not impossible task, which can lead to successive visa denial for many years. 

Those who overstay and then remain in the U.S. for a period of time before leaving face much tougher consequences and are barred from returning to U.S. for 3-10 years, depending on the period they overstayed. Here’s a rundown:

3-year bar: When an individual overstays in the U.S. for six months or more, once they leave they are barred from reentering the U.S. for three years from their date of departure.
10-year bar: When an individual overstays in the U.S. for one year or more, once they leave they are barred from reentering the U.S. for ten years from their date of departure.
Bar to Change of Status/Extension of Stay: When an individual overstays in the U.S., even by one day after their authorized period of stay, they become ineligible to extend their stay in the U.S. or change their status to another nonimmigrant status. The only immigration option is obtaining residency through a real marriage to a U.S. Citizen. 

Clearly, overstaying a U.S. visa has unwelcome consequences which take effect immediately upon the first day of overstay, so the best way to avoid that is to preplan your immigration options far in advance of your visa expiration.
Responding to an RFE from the USCIS

Always read the RFE letter very carefully to determine exactly what kind of evidence or document is being requested. Some RFE's are more complex than the others and it is difficult to determine and some are simple and easy to understand. 
A Request for Evidence (RFE) is a letter that the USCIS officer sends you to request additional information or documentation on your application. RFE requests are generally most frequently issued for missing information or documentation to establish your eligibility.

Responding to an RFE from the USCIS

Always read the RFE letter very carefully to determine exactly what kind of evidence or document is being requested. Some RFE's are more complex than the others and it is difficult to determine and some are simple and easy to understand. For more complicated RFE letters, you may want to retain an immigration attorney to assist you. Once you have determined what the letter is requesting, be sure to provide the exact document requested. For instance, an officer may request a “long form” of a Birth Certificate. If you respond that you do not have one, your case will likely be denied. The appropriate action to take is to request one from the departmental authority in your country of birth.

How much time do I have to respond to an RFE?

Depending on the type of case, you may have from 33 days to 87 days to respond so that the USCIS receives your response before the expiration date. If you fail to respond or filed after the deadline, your case will likely be denied. To be on the safe side, you should always send your response by Express or Priority Mail and get a delivery confirmation. Never send any communications to the USCIS via Certified Mail, which takes much longer and can risk your response being received late. Finally, remember that your response to the USCIS officers request must be RECEIVED by the USCIS ON or BEFORE the deadline. Responses received even one day late result in complete case denials. 

After I respond-what happens next?

Depending upon the case, it could take up to 60 days or more. You can check the online status to see if it is stating that your RFE response has been received, or call the USCIS 800# to ask if the computer show the USCIS received it. For adjustment case (I-485) requests, the officer may wait to receive your response before continuing processing of your Work Authorization application which will cause delays in its issuance. To avoid this, send your response as soon as possible and do not wait until you get near the deadline in the letter.