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Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter
POSTING DATE: FEBRUARY 20, 2017
Immigration News & Updates eNewsletter © 2011 - 2017
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Questions & Answers
Question: I came from Jamaica last week with my visitor visa and I had been here to visit a few times in the past 6 months. The officer asked me why and I said I was here visiting friends. He had me go to another room at the airport and an officer there took my phone and asked for my password. I was scared and I didn’t know what to do so I gave it to him. He went through my texts and saw messages between me and my American boyfriend where we were talking about me coming to stay here. I told the officer that it was for a future plan and that I came and left before, just like I would do now. The officer eventually let me in, but only for 30 days, not the 6 months I normally get and he told me I had to leave and I could not stay in the U.S. even if I was the fiancée of an American. I said I understood. It really scared me so bad, I hate to even think of it now. But since that happened, me and my boyfriend are worried that if I leave, I won’t be able to come back and he finally proposed to me and we plan to marry next week. My question is whether you can file my immigration papers now, even though the officer said I could not stay here under any circumstances and once I’m married, do I have to leave the states by the date he wrote in my passport for early next month?
This Week's Immigration News
Fear Spreads Through Immigrant Communities
As Government Steps Up ICE Raids!
In response to criticism against the Trump Administration’s recent raids by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents in Immigrant communities, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly defended the actions and issued a statement on February 13th, indicating that the raids which have lead to the arrest of 700 Immigrants are “targeted enforcement operations” aimed at criminals and individuals who violated immigration laws.
Answer: Yes, 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. I have even been told of instances where the officer called a contact on the traveler’s cell phone list, who the visitor said he would be staying with during his vacation. The story has a happy ending because the friend confirmed everything and the visitor was admitted into the U.S.. 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. 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.
Advisory To Green Card Holders At U.S. Border: Don’t Relinquish Your Residency Without a Hearing!
Helpful Immigration Tips You Can Use
Advisory About Phone Scams and Tax Identity Theft
The big question which looms large in the minds of many Immigrants’ rights advocates, is what now constitutes a “crime” and a “criminal” and has the definition been expanded by the new Trump administration to include any individual in the U.S. who does not currently have lawful immigration status? If this is the case, then simply being in the U.S. without legal status would be a crime, making millions of Immigrants subject to arrest and removal. Does this really mean that Trump is quietly beginning to implement a policy he promised during his campaign of the mass deportation of millions of Immigrants? It’s hard to imagine, but almost nothing is too crazy now, given recently events. In response, many Immigrants rights organizations like Americasvoice.org are gearing up to provide resources to Immigrants, including publishing a “Raid Watch” and urging those who see Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) activities in a community use the hashtag #ExposeICE.
Read more about these new enforcement measures:
According to POLITICO, top ICE officials then met with a bipartisan group of Congress members on February 16th and indicated that more similar type raids, arrest and removals of “unauthorized” Immigrants should be expected throughout the year. Concerns were further heightened last week, as a 23 year old DREAMER, Daniel Ramirez Medina, protected under the DACA program (with no criminal record) who was brought to the U.S. at age 7, was arrested and detained. And while Immigration attorneys are fighting ICE on his behalf, this may be a foreshadowing of a very troubling policy shift emerging from the Whitehouse, to make good on Trump’s campaign promises, even if it means deporting innocent Immigrants like Daniel.
Concerns mount among U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) who plan to travel abroad, amid fears that they will not be allowed to re-enter the U.S. and could have their Green Card taken away at the U.S. border. This comes after reports that Customs & Border Patrol (CBP) officers at airports and other borders have been requesting that Residents relinquish their cards and sign official I-407 forms to "voluntarily" abandoning their status as a "lawful permanent resident of the U.S.. Such actions by CBP officers requesting Green Card holders to voluntarily relinquish their U.S. Residency status is common, in circumstances where a Resident has been absent from the U.S. for a long period of time, including a year or more, or when the traveler otherwise gives information or statements which clearly indicate that he or she does not reside in the U.S..However, recent events at airports have caused heightened alarm among many Residents so much so, that even in emergency circumstances like a death in the family, many fear traveling, even for a brief trip abroad.
Now that Tax season is rolling around again, the USCIS Public Engagement Division issued an alert to Immigrants to beware of tax phone scams. Immigrants are reminded not to fall victim to scammers who call and say they are with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)!
There has been an increase in aggressive phone scams where people call and threaten Immigrants with police arrest or deportation if they don’t pay a fine over the phone by credit, debit card or other means.
The USCIS and IRS wants Immigrants to know that the a real IRS agent will:
NEVER call and demand immediate payment over the phone
NEVER try to threaten or intimidate, NEVER demand payment with a prepaid debit card, or ask for your credit card or debit card number over the phone and
NEVER threaten to call the police or immigration agents if you don’t pay.
U.S. Residents who really do live in the U.S. and who have not been travelling abroad for extended periods of time (180 consecutive days or more) recently, and who do not have any serious criminal convictions, should not fear travelling abroad and do not risk losing their Green Cards when they try to re-enter the U.S..
Here’s a few quick tips:
Take documents with you which show that you actually live in the U.S. like
1) Paystubs for past several months
2) current electric or other utility bill and
3) copy of a current Lease or property Deed and
4) current bank statements which show regular purchases and use of the bank account in U.S..
Note that items such as U.S. Driver’s License or tax return do not necessarily show that a Resident actually lives in the U.S., especially if the tax return shows foreign earned income and does not show employment in the U.S..
Never stay outside of the U.S. for more than 179 continuous days at one time, since that not only “resets” the clock for accrual of physical presence for Naturalization purposes, but it is also a potential red flag to the CBP officer that you may not actually reside in the U.S. and can lead to more serious questioning, which can sometimes lead to a request for you to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card.
Understand your rights! You are not required to voluntarily relinquish your Green Card at the border and have the right to request a hearing before an immigration judge and you will be allowed to enter the U.S. to wait until that hearing. During the hearing, you have the burden of providing substantial documentary proof that you actually reside in the U.S. and that your absence from the U.S. was temporary. It’s always a good idea to have a qualified Immigration attorney to advise and assist you in understanding what kind of proof is required to present your best case to the Judge.
Finally, as I have advised in the past, things are likely going to get tighter at the airport inspections and other borders. U.S. Residents who do not now live in the U.S. should start making plans to either begin residing here for more periods of time during each year and start establishing documentary proof of residence, like having a lease, utilities, car, insurance, etc in your name. Remember that Residents are required to file U.S. tax returns as Residents and must report worldwide income (but not assets). It’s best to prepare now, rather than face losing your U.S. Residency because you were not better prepared.
Once a Resident loses his or her Green Card, they cannot ever get the same one back, instead, they must start all over again. Sometimes that is possible if you are the parent or spouse of a U.S. Citizen, but in many cases, a Resident obtained their Green Card through a marriage that is now dissolved, or through parents that are now elderly or through siblings and may have to wait a decade or more once the process is started all over again.
Trump Says He Will Issue New Executive Order This Week To Replace “Travel Ban”
Trump announced last week that he will be “issuing a new executive action next week that will comprehensively protect our country.”
In a press conference last Thursday, he said that he would rescind the executive order that created the travel ban, which was rejected by the 9th District Appeals Court and instead tailor a new Executive Order (EO) which “…eliminate[s] what the [Ninth Circuit Court] erroneously thought were constitutional concerns.”
The original EO barred people from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the country for 90 days, banned refugees from most countries for 120 days, and those from Syria indefinitely. Experts assume that the rewrite of the old EO may include a few non Muslim countries like North Korea and limit the ban to nationals of the “banned” countries which have not yet been issued U.S. visas or previously travelled to the U.S. and explicitly exclude U.S. Residents (Green Card holders) and other classes of individuals like visiting scholars, etc.
If you get a call like this, report it to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration by calling 800-366-4484.
Watch A Video About Scams:
Visit the IRS Tax Scam Website:
USCIS Scam Advisory:
Immigration How To:
How Do I Get A Copy of My I-94 Card?
An I-94 is a small slip of paper which was, until several years ago, 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. 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 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. You also may file Form I-102 if you wish to receive a replacement I-94 card with corrected information on it — for example, if the immigration officer spelled your name wrong on the initial I-94 card. The nonrefundable filing fee for Form I-102 is $445. It generally takes about 90+ days to receive the I-94 replacement card in the mail.
Under the 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:
Draft Government Plan Calls For Deployment of 100,000 National Guard Troops To Arrest Undocumented Immigrants
Fears spread through immigrant communities as the government steps up ICE raids, amid rumors that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) plans to use National Guard troops to enforce Trumps Immigration crackdown. As reported by AP News, a January 25th Draft Memorandum outlines government options to deputize troops in order to carry out the administration’s planned Immigration enforcement actions. AP News reports that White House spokesman Sean Spicer denies plans to use the National Guard for Immigration enforcement and a DHS official noted that the memo was only a draft and deployment has not been seriously considered.